Dreaming of Spring while Singing the Flues Blues and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Maryland seems to have dodged another major “storm of the century” that is still leaving its impact on New England and the NE corridor from Philly to Maine is coated with the white stuff.  While those unfortunate fellows are digging out from under several feet of snow, we had to deal with wind and rain and little else.

Unless you count the flu.   Yes, that’s right, the flu. Or maybe you have the norovirus, that’s going around too.  Either way, like myself, you are probably feeling less than stellar.  I did gather all the right stuff around me as the symptoms hit. Hot tea? Check.  Loads of tissue? Check.  Blankets to huddle under?  Check. Every over the counter cold drug you could buy? Check. Reading material and knitting projects? Check.  So what is missing?  My ability to focus and stay awake.  I have no energy.  Sigh.  So while I have a schedule for this week, it might be touch and go to stay by it.  Let’s see what happens in between doctors appointments, shall we?

Here are the reviews planned:

Monday, Feb. 11:              Lessons in Seduction by Charlie Cochrane

Tuesday, Feb. 12:             Feeling His Steel by Brynn Paulin

Wed,, Feb. 13:                   Brothers in Arms by Kendall McKenna

Thurs., Feb. 14:                 Superpowered Love: Losing Better by Katey Hawthorne

Friday, Feb. 15:                 The God Hunters by Mark Reed

Saturday, Feb. 16:             Reader Questions.  If you could talk to an author, what would you ask them?

Meanwhile here is a vid making the rounds that cheered me up.  Love the reaction of the older sister.  These kids rock.

Review: Something New Under The Sun (Falling Sky #2) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 5 stars

Something New Under The SunLiam  Lansing is a genetically modified vampire who makes his living as a contract killer but once lived as a favored scion in his wealthy family’s compound in The Sky.  Daniel Harding, heir to  Cybernetix, hated the modifications his father’s corporation built and loved one person, Liam.  Their relationship cost Liam everything as his family disowned him for loving Harding and cast him into The Gutter.  Daniel remained behind working surreptiously to bring his father down, imprisoned in an ivory tower and thinking his former lover was dead.

Former lovers and antagonists, Liam Lansing and Daniel Harding have been reunited and resumed their relationship under the most traumatic events.  Daniel’s father, head of Cybernetix a modification empire, hired Liam to kill his son but had  laid a trap for Liam as well. But the father’s plans backfired when the men united to escape into The Gutter where they schemed to destroy Daniel’s father and his corporation along with him.  But there are more things at stake than Liam is aware of.  Hidden secrets hold the key to the destruction of their plans and the future of their relationship. Can Liam and Daniel put aside the past to maneuver through the obstacles looming before them?  Or will the forces combining against them bring them down once and for all?

Something New Under The Sun picks up right after the events in A Chip In His Shoulder.  I loved reading one book right after the other and felt that it maximized my enjoyment of this intense, suspenseful series. Not necessary but it satisfied my impatience to more forward after the events that occurred in the first book.  Over twice as long, this second book achieves everything L.A. Witt set out to accomplish with her first story.  We are back in The Gutter, that distempered landscape of grimy factories and downtrodden workers, the unholy existing along side the broken. It is a hellish place that L.A. Witt brings to life and where we meet up with Liam and Daniel once more.

In a neat twist, the pov switches from Daniel Harding to Liam Lansing at the beginning of the story and more of Liam’s back history is revealed to the readers. Witt outlines enough of her previous book that any reader fresh to the series is not totally confused by the events of this story.  From the beginning, the author starts to build the suspense and reader anticipation as we watch Liam and David weave together their plans for retribution and the destruction of Cybernetix.  As they cobble together the plans and equipment, more of The Gutter and its inhabitants are revealed.  We traverse the filty, narrow alleys and meet up with Gizmo, a modifications wizard who has been helping Liam, for a price of course, with his own “enhancements”.  Gizmo is quite a wonderful character and I could see him so clearly in my mind, from his dialog to his physical form.  Gizmo made such an impact on me that I hope to see more of him in the coming installments.

And this brings me back to the marvelous characters that L.A. Witt creates for her stories.  Daniel and Liam, larger than life in the first story, have been given additional depth and dimension here in the second.  We learn more about what drove Daniel to take the actions that set in motion Liam’s fall from grace and his own isolation.  And even more of Liam’s past seeps out to tease the reader further about those first years of survival in The Gutter.  I cannot help but think that more will be forthcoming in future stories to flesh this out this part of Liam’s past.  Even though we still have gray areas with respect to their backgrounds, these are beautifully realized people, flawed and determined to regain what was once theirs.  I loved them more as I discovered the basis for the hurt and pain their past has cost them.

The author, after establishing characters that grasp at our hearts and minds, proceeds to set the reader on a thriller of a ride when Daniel and Liam actually set their plans in motion.  Quickly upping the suspense and anxiety we feel for our heros, Witt moves the action along at a fast pace as they set out for The Sky and the Cybernetix building.  Really, the events escalate so rapidly that it is breathtaking.  We barely get through one nasty surprise, then another is quickly upon us. And neither the reader and the two men we have come to care are allowed a moments rest.  This is a A Ticket white knuckle ride and I loved every hair raising minute of it.

The dystopian society L.A.Witt has created for her Falling Sky series is a vividly realized world populated with people I cannot get enough of.  The ending came a little too soon and perhaps too easily for me but I am greedy like that.  I would have wished for a more drawn out resolution to Liam’s family issues.  Perhaps that is coming in the next books in the series and I still want to hear more of Gizmo, he deserves his own story within this remarkable framework.

After finishing this book, I immediately wanted more, a testament to the author’s power to create a world easy to escape into and dwell for a while.  I absolutely recommend Something New Under The Sun.  Buy it and settle down for a wild ride of action, adventure and romance as lovers reunite in the Gutter and aim high for The Sky.

Cover art by LC Chase is lovely with its easy to read titles and dark towers behind the model.  Again I only wished that there had been a way to put some of the physical modifications on the model that are so important to the plot.

Books in the Falling Sky series:

A Chip In His Shoulder (Falling Sky #1)

Something New Under The Sun (Falling Sky#2)

Review: A Chip in His Shoulder (Falling Sky #1) by LA Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars

A Chip in his ShoulderWhen assassin Liam Lansing receives the name of his next target, he sees the chance for not only a big monetary pay off but a chance for revenge as well. The name of his next victim is Daniel Harding, heir to the Cybernetix empire and the reason for Liam’s descent into hell and his life as a contract killer.  A formerly wealthy vampire, Liam now lives in The Gutter, the place where all the earth’s industry and refuse (material and human)  is consigned. Liam once lived in The Sky, with the clean air and fantastic skyscraper towers where the wealthy live and play, where Liam’s family still live.  All lost because he took a human lover, Daniel Harding.

Daniel Harding hates his father and Cybernetix, the modification empire his father founded.  The firm exists on the exploitation of it’s workers, the environment, and Daniel hates that the modifications are turning people into more machines than human beings.  Even the vampires has been seduced into the modification frenzy that Cybernetix promises.  But Daniel has been imprisoned by his father in his condo in The Sky and waits his father’s next move in their war between them.

Liam’s hatred for Daniel runs to the father as well.  So taking money from Harding to kill his son seemed like a wonderful idea until he finds out that Harding doubled crossed him and has laid a trap for Liam, with Daniel being the lure.  But when Liam and Daniel comes together again after years apart, will Liam’s hatred hold true or  can he put it aside long enough for them to work together and escape the trap planned for them both.

It is hard for me to believe that A Chip in His Shoulder is a mere 78 pages, as it is such a densely packed vision of a vividly described dystopian world.  Witt really makes both The Gutter and The Sky come to life, especially the torments of life in The Gutter.  I had visions of Victorian England in the worst parts of the city, blackened by coal, air dense with sooty particles.  The Gutter has much the same acrid flavor and the author makes you feel the grimness of life there and the poverty of spirit acutely.  The Gutter is contrasted beautifully by The Sky with its dwellings, sleek structures of steel and glass that shine brightly in air that is being constantly cleaned to the detriment of all who live beneath in The Gutter.

Dropped into this setting are just wonderful characters that will find you craving more of their backhistories.  Liam, the reluctant contract killer, who once was an idealistic young man in love with the wrong person.  Liam was then, like many a fallen hero, thrown out of heaven or in this case The Sky for his impudence and life choices and lands in hell.  During his confrontation with Daniel, we get glimpses of just how far Liam fell but nothing further.  Perhaps that will come in future books.  But it all adds up to a marvelous, multilayered character who captures our empathy and imagination from the start and never lets it go.

Daniel Harding is that recognizable erstwhile well off idealist whose privileged background has given him the reason as well as outlet for his pent-up anger and outrage.  He is perhaps not as immediately emotionally accessible as Liam, but as their confrontation continues, it becomes clear that the author has given just as much thought to Daniel as she has Liam, and that there are hidden depths waiting to surface in him.  Daniel really grew on me in this story and one of it’s major frustrations is that the book stops just when you feel you getting a handle on him as a character.

The plot is tightly woven and intense, the swift-paced action  moving the story forward at a clip.  Really, parts of this story will take your breath away.  Had this been a movie, the popcorn would have been munched at as rapid a pace as the story unfolded.  The au;thor really knows how to build the suspense and keep it balanced right on the edge, before she drops you  over.  L.A. Witt does such a great job that when the end does come, you are not quite prepared to let this couple and their story go.

And that is my major and only quibble with this story – the length.  The author just did not seem to complete the picture she started painting.  The outline and major elements are brilliant, the swatches of paint bold and applied with fervor but just a little more detail was needed to complete this portrait of a couple and world in the first stages of revolution.  I just loved it and am moving on quickly to its sequel,  Something New Under The Sun (Falling Sky #2).  Really, what an amazing start to a new series.  A Chip in His Shoulder is another example of why L.A. Witt has become a “must read” for me and many others.  Don’t pass it by.

Cover:  Cover art by L.C. Chase.  I find the cover very dramatic.  I only wish there had been some way to convey some of the modifications on the model that are so central to the characters and the story.