Marked in Flesh (The Others book 4) by Anne Bishop.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

I absolutely love The Others series, so I look forward to each new book with trepidation. And I have reviewed all the previous books so you can check them out if you want: book one, book two, book three.

First things first, even though I absolutely loved this book, it’s not one a person unfamiliar with the series can pick up and enjoy. If you have never read any of the Others books, you wouldn’t understand 80% of what’s going on and just how high the stakes are, so I would recommend that you start at the beginning with Written in Red. Then you have four whole books of excellent story to look forward to.

Now that I’m done with that disclaimer, let’s dive into the story. Back in book 3, the Elders asked Simon a crucial question: How much human the terra indigene will keep. And the future of all humans in Thaisia rides on the answer to that question.

This book is really about reaping the consequences of what all the characters sowed in the previous three books. I knew that humans and the terra indigene were headed for a confrontation if not an all-out war. All the events in the previous three books hinted on that. Heck, the third book ended with the terra indigene declaring a breach of trust. So the question was not whether there would be a conflict, but just how bloody and all-encompassing it would be.

The Humans First and Last (HFL) Movement is pushing for an open conflict and the annihilation of the “animals” that they consider the Others to be so that the human race can finally have unlimited access to all the resources that the land has to offer. Unfortunately for them, they operate under the (false) impression that the Wolfguard, Crowguard, and Sanginati they are used to seeing in city Courtyards are the only existing terra indigene. But the Intuits, Simple folks and some selected humans who closely work with the Others in Lakeside, know the truth. These terra indigene are but a buffer between humans and the Elders, the ancient and ageless beings who roam the deep country. So far, they hadn’t paid much notice to the clever monkeys living on their allotted piece of land, happy to let the various guards to keep the peace. But with the humans getting bolder by the day, they start to take notice. And that’s very bad news, because those Elders aren’t called Namid’s Claws and Teeth for nothing…

This book shows just how big of an impact Meg’s presence had on the Others and humans alike, both in Lakeside and in smaller communities like Ferryman Crossing and Sweetwater.  If the Elders had asked Simon that question in book 1 or even in book 2, he would have answered “None” without a shred of hesitation. Now he worries and even looses sleep over it. And what’s significant is that he isn’t worried about Meg. In fact, none of the terra indigene are worried about Meg because to them, she has become part of the pack. She is just as terra indigene as they are. But they worry about all the other humans that she had brought to the Courtyard – the Meg’s pack which includes a “gaggle of girls” (I chuckled at that definition), as well as the police officers who did everything to help the Others and cooperate with them throughout the previous books. It also includes the Intuit villages and Simple folks that had been more than willing to cooperate with the terra indigene and are being persecuted by the HFL movement for that.

A great storm is coming, and for the first time in his life, Simon is worried about how to make sure that the human pack he got entangled with would survive the certain annihilation of human kind in Thaisia.

All the characters show tremendous growth throughout the series and I love that we see the progress Meg, Hope, and Jean have made to deal with their limitations and the strive they have to adapt to their new lives. I love that when faced with tough choices, the Lakeside police officers like Monty and Burke side with the Others even if that means being declared Wolf Lovers and being shunned and persecuted. I love that the Intuits of Sweetwater don’t think twice when they get Meg’s warning and grab not only their own children but ride to the terra indigene village and evacuate all the pups as well. I love that when the night of reckoning comes, a lot of terra indigene return the favor and stand guard in front of the human villages that helped them, telling Namid’s Teeth and Claws, “We’re here. Those are our humans. Pass along. Leave them be.”

By the end of this book, the landscape of the world has changed irrevocably, but thanks to the cooperation and friendship of a few humans and terra indigene, there is still hope for the human race in Thaisia…

I loved this book and the further insight we got into the rules of this land and the different kinds of terra indigene that populate it. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one and to see how life will unfold for your protagonists now that the Others have reclaimed the land. And what impact would the Elders’ interest towards the “howling non-Wolf” have on the lives of all the cassandra sangue.

Once again, I will say that this is one of the best urban fantasy series out there right now and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who likes great complex worlds and excellent characters, but you need to start at book 1.

PS. I received and advanced reader copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Courier by Gerald Brandt.

Stars: 3.5 out of 5.

I actually enjoyed this book quite a lot. It’s fast paced, well written and entertaining. The story is solid and the protagonist quite engaging. So why did I give it only 3.5 stars? Because it could have been so much better if the author had worked on his antagonists a bit more…

But we will get to that later. So what is this book about? Well, Kris Ballard is a motorcycle courier who tries to scrap a living doing courier jobs between levels 3 and 4 of San Angeles, a huge multilevel conglomerate city that has swallowed the west coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco. She makes barely enough to put food on the table and a roof over her head, so when Dispatch sends her after a late package, promising better rates and a tip, she grumbles, but goes anyway. After all, her bike needs new tires. Only the delivery goes all kinds of sideways when she walks in on a murder. Now she is on the run with the package that every corporation out there seems to want and her life is pretty much over if she can’t stay one step ahead of the hunters.

First, let’s talk about the things I loved about The Courier, and the most notable one would be Kris herself. She is one tough young woman. She comes from a background of tragedy and abuse, but she had the strength and courage to pull herself out of the muck and build herself back up again. She doesn’t expect handouts from anyone and relies only on herself. She is smart and street savvy and doesn’t scare easy. And one thing I really like about her is that she is too stubborn to give up. No matter what life throws at her, no matter how bleak the situation, she finds the strength to keep on going. So Kris immediately had my affection, and following her through her story was a blast.

Second, as I said, the story is well thought out and fast paced. I didn’t have time to take a breath because everything was unfolding so fast, which is actually a good thing because it stressed the urgency of Kris’s situation. The tension revs up the moment she starts running for her life and doesn’t let down until the last pages of the book.

I also like the world the author has created where big corporations have pretty much divided zones of influence on Earth and own everything, from the government to the police, healthcare and entire giant cities. Earth has been pretty much depleted of all resources and those rich enough have fled to the Sat cities who orbit the planet. Those who weren’t so lucky are trying to scrap a living on a polluted dying planet. This premise has potential, and we have only seen a small fraction of the world in this book, since Kris never left San Angeles. From what I understand, this is the beginning of a series, so I’m looking forward to exploring this world a bit more in the consecutive books.

Now I need to talk about the stuff that I DIDN’T like, because even though the book was well-written, the flaws were jarring enough to make me knock 1.5 stars off my score.

First of all, apart from Kris and Miller, all the other characters we encounter seem pretty one-dimensional. In fact, most of them are more like walking names or stereotypes. Devon is a nerd with uncanny computer skills. Dispatch is a down on her luck woman who seems like a b*^ch but has a good heart underneath. And Jeremy is a megalomaniac as well as a possible psychopath.  Not to mention the very simplistic approach that since the corporations are bad, everyone who works for them is bad as well.

I mean, take Quincy for example. He is part of the corporation’s Black Ops, which by definition should be a group of very skilled professionals right? Wrong. Instead of getting in and out and done with the mission as cleanly as possible, he plays with his victims, he tortures them, and he isn’t even against an occasional rape.  I would understand if he was a common thug or gangster, but he is a Black Ops team leader, for God’s sake!

My second problem with this book is that the idea that an untrained 16 year old girl would be able to escape several trained killers and Black Ops over 5 times and then even kill one of them is rather ridiculous. One or two times I would understand, but more than that? That screams of sheer incompetence on the killer’s part or too much luck on our protagonist’s part. After a while it’s simply not believable.

But all those flaws become apparent only AFTER you finish the book, because while you are immersed in the story you are too busy running with Kris to notice this. Though admittedly, the sadistic villains got on my nerves even while I was reading this book.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fast-paced story with a strong protagonist though.

PS. I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Help the Author – The Importance of Book Reviews.


I love reading books. I read a lot. In fact, I usually read one or two books a week. I’m also friends with a lot of avid book readers. But there is one thing that baffles me every time I hear it – it’s when those friends say something like this:

“I loved this book! It’s one of my favorite authors! But I don’t want to leave a review because I can’t formulate my thoughts well enough for it, or I’m afraid that I would make too many grammatical mistakes, or because it takes too much time.”

I’m sad when I hear that, because the BEST thing you can do for that author that you love so much (after buying their book legally of course) is to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book review sites for other readers to see.

You see, the publishing world is not what it was even 10 years ago. Putting a book for sale on Amazon is incredibly easy now – takes less than 5 minutes. So there is a literal sea of new content being put out there every day. And that book that you absolutely loved is just one tiny fish in that sea, easily overlooked by readers browsing for their next book.

So how can you help the author get more sales, which means she or he will get paid enough to write another book? By making their book more visible to potential buyers. And one easy and free way you can do that is by posting a review.


Reviews are important because, at least on Amazon, they increase the visibility of the book. The more reviews it has, the better are the chances that it will be included in the different lists or the “also viewed / bought” tab.

With so many books clamoring for my attention every time I go on Amazon or in a book store, I ALWAYS read a couple reviews before I decided if I will spend some of my hard earned money on a book or not. And I don’t only read 5 star reviews either. I usually pick up one 5 star, one 3 star and one 1 or 2 star review to make up my mind. Which should tell you the reason why all sorts of reviews matter.

That’s why authors are so desperate for reviews, and that’s why reviews are so hard to come by because most of the readers think exactly like the example above.

For some reason, a lot of people still think that only professional book bloggers / book magazines can write reviews for Amazon and other sites. This is so not true! Most of the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have been posted by normal readers like you and I who loved a book (or hated it, or just thought it was so-so) and took the time to drop a  line or two and give it a few stars.

Yes, a book review doesn’t have to be a detailed analysis of the plot and characters that’s over 1k words long. It can be as short and or as long as you want. You liked something about this book, right? Or you didn’t like something, that’s okay as well. So write about that! ALL reviews are important and useful, as long as they’re honest.

Amazon Reviews

If you are still unsure of whether you should leave a review or how to approach it, here are a few tips:

  1. Write about the book, not the author. Never get personal in your praise or your critique. Never treat this more than a fictional story you read.
  1. Be honest. Write about what you liked or didn’t like about the book. Leaving a glowing 5 stars review on a sub-par book will actually do a disservice to the author in the long run. Others will read the book as well and might not be as forgiving, so your review will attract more negative attention then positive.
  1. Avoid spoilers. Maybe there is a plot twist you absolutely loved in the later part of the book, but don’t mention it in your review. You don’t want to spoil other readers, do you? You want them to reach that point and be as blown away as you are.
  1. Don’t worry if your review doesn’t look professional. So what if you didn’t structure you sentences properly or made some spelling and grammatical mistakes? You aren’t writing a dissertation or an article for New York Times. You are just sharing your opinion with fellow readers.

So now that you read all this, how about you go to Amazon and Goodreads, open the page of the last book you read, and leave a review? Share your love by helping the author get more visibility.

There is no such thing as too many books.
There is no such thing as too many books.

The Park (Evenstad Media Presents Book 1) by Voss Roster.

Stars: 1 out of 5

The Park is the perfect example of how to bomb what could have been an interesting story.

The premise is fun, even though it’s been done before. We’ve had something similar in Hunger Games or Battle Royal, but there is always a way to put a new spin on an old story.

Evenstad Media kidnapped 12 randomly selected people and put them in an enclosed trailer park with cameras everywhere. Only one can come out alive and win the big price. If done well, it could have been an action packed adrenaline ride or a grim illustration of human greed and our society’s unhealthy fascination with reality shows and violence.

So I was actually very excited to pick up this book after I read the short summary on NetGalley. I love dystopian stories like that. Unfortunately, the author made some bizarre narrative choices that totally ruined this book for me.

Those survival stories where it’s a fierce battle of one against all have to grip the reader immediately and keep their unwavering attention until the end. This is best accomplished if the book is narrated in first person present tense. That creates the illusion that you are right there with the character, and the present tense implies that whatever is happening on the page is happening in real time. So your heart starts pumping when the character gets into a sticky situation because you don’t know if he or she will survive it in one piece. That’s what makes readers turn the pages. That’s what makes them engrossed in this kind of story.

But what do we have in The Park? For some reason, the author chose to tell this story entirely in the form of emails and journal entries. Which… just doesn’t make sense. A journal entry is by definition written after the scene its recapping already happened, so there is no suspense, no action. If the character is here to write the journal entry, we already know that they survived whatever encounter they’ve been through, so there is no worry about them. Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy reading a summary of an action scene after the fact. Drop me in the middle of a fight and I’ll be engaged, but try to tell me about it after the dust already settled, and I will probably fall asleep before you are done.

That’s by itself wouldn’t be a deal killer if the characters in this book had a distinct voice, but unfortunately they don’t. I don’t understand why the author chose to tell the story through at least 12 different POVs (or even more, since we have the 12 participants and the people in Everstad, the media, etc.) It’s hard to pull off even 2-3 distinct POVs before all protagonists start sounding the same, but 12+? That would be a feat worth of the Guinness Records book.

Unfortunately, that feat didn’t happen here. The characters have no voice. Zero. Nada. They all sound the same. They are so similar in fact, that I was quickly confused whose entry I was reading and what their previous entries were about. Add to that the fact that we get almost no background on any of the 12 participants and no real character development and you have 12 cardboard cutouts that I, as a reader, found very difficult to root for.

So no memorable characters to root for and no action to speak off makes for a very boring story.  I finished it, because I don’t write reviews for books that I didn’t finish, but I will not recommend this book. There are plenty of other stories in this genre out there that are better written.

PS. I received and advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.