I’ve got three (technically four) bite-sized reviews today, including two for graphic novels I’ve read recently. I just now realized how bleak or horror-filled all of these titles sound, and I suppose that the books are a bit on the bleak side (though Hunted is more of just a regular fantasy—paired with the others, it sounds bleak indeed!). I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
The Blood Will Dry by Kate L. Mary
Published by Self Published on August 15th 2017
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
Source: The Author
My content rating: Adult (Some sex, Violence)
Five years after an alien invasion, the earth is unrecognizable. The human race has been decimated and the sun completely blotted out by dark clouds that bring constant rain. All indigenous plant life has been killed off and replaced by vegetation that has proven to be as deadly as it is invasive, and the aliens that have taken over the planet are seemingly invincible.
Living in a crowded building with other survivors, Diana Foster wants nothing more than to forget what she lost the day the aliens arrived. But an incoming platoon brings a familiar face, one that not only opens old wounds, but also forces her to deal with the painful memories she's worked hard to forget. Bryan may not be the same cocky kid he was before the invasion, but his sudden appearance still turns Diana's world upside down in ways she never expected. When he showed up she knew it would mean finally facing her past, but she never thought she’d find a future that was actually worth living.
After years of struggling to find a weakness in the aliens' defenses, Diana stumbles upon a solution just as a new and more deadly threat surfaces. Faced with an attraction she never expected and a battle that most believe can't be won, Diana must work through her painful past as the survivors mount a battle that may determine the fate of mankind. If her plan fails it very well could be the end of humanity, but if works it will mean having a real future, and a chance to allow the blood to dry once and for all.
Kate L. Mary has once again managed to pull me into a unique post-apocalyptic world with her newest book. If you’ve been on my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably seen my reviews of her Broken World zombie series (a definite favorite of mine). This new book delves into a world of aliens instead of zombies, but it’s just as heart-stopping.
At the beginning of the book, we meet Diana and see how she struggles to get past the losses she endured when the aliens invaded. She hasn’t been able to open herself up to anyone in years and can’t bear to even tell anyone about her life before. Diana is an incredibly relatable character that you can’t help but feel for. Her circumstances are painful, and it’s easy to see how she’s turned that pain to strength in some ways and denial in others. When she meets someone from her past, she can’t avoid her pain any longer, though—she has to face it.
As the book progresses, we learn about the strangeness of the world now that the aliens have taken over. There’s a lot of suspense built up over the aliens because they haven’t been seen for so long, but they’re always a threat, out there, lurking. I love the bizarre alien world that the earth has become in this book—it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and there are so many details that make it both incredible and terrifying. The romance in the book is important but it doesn’t overwhelm the plot (always a good thing in a book like this, in my opinion), and I couldn’t help but root for Diana and Bryan—both for their romance and for them to outlive their painful past. The book is about surviving against insurmountable odds—but it focuses even more on getting past the pain of past heartbreak and fighting to truly live.
The Blood Will Dry is a post-apocalyptic tale with a unique take on aliens and a highly shippable romance.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTeen on March 14th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Narrator: Will Damron, Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 9 hrs. 19 min.
Source: Edelweiss, Library
My content rating: YA (Deals with death, Some violence)
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
I don’t know why I put off reading this one for so long, but I finally decided to go with the audiobook version, and I’m glad I did—that narration was fantastic, and I really loved hearing Beast’s parts of the book in his gravelly voice. I enjoyed the second half of this book, but it definitely took a little time to warm up to. I found the beginning dragged a bit (while Yeva—or Beauty—is still at home with her sisters) and when Yeva first ended up with the Beast, I was having a hard time accepting that she would fall in love with him based on some of the circumstances. Later in the book, things change and you find out that a key assumption wasn’t correct—also, you start to understand better how the Beast wars with his beastly nature and his human nature, which makes some of his earlier actions make more sense. I really loved the Russian fairy tale aspect of the story, but I figured out most of the twists regarding that fairy tale pretty early on—still enjoyed them though! I loved the writing, and I think that Spooner is a gifted storyteller. This was a unique blend of the classic story of Beauty and the Beast with Russian Folklore and Spooner’s own twist on those tales.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (though I ended up listening to the audiobook version from my library). No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda
Published by Image Comics on July 19th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
My content rating: Mature (Lots of violence and gore)
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.
Monstress is a beautifully dark tale, filled with true horrors.
The first volume introduces us to Maika Halfwolf, who houses a terrible secret within her. The setting is vivid, calling on Asian folklore and steampunk elements, with magic and demons galore. And (as you can see from the picture below) the artwork is stunning. It took me a little time to follow the storyline completely since there are many elements packed into these panels—for instance, a war that brought destruction and the oppression of many of the non-human (at least not completely human) inhabitants of the world. This story is extremely brutal (and many of the images are as well), so I appreciated the innocence of the little fox-girl character to help balance that out. Overall, I give this first volume 4.5 Stars.
The second volume digs into Maika’s backstory more as she tries to discover the secrets of her past, including details about her mother. We discover quite a lot in this installment about how and why Maika came to be. This volume is just as savage as the first but I think I liked the overall story even more since we got some answers about Maika and the world she inhabits.Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda
Published by Image Comics on July 11th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past... and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12