Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mini Reviews: Anathema + Queenie's Brigade

ANATHEMA (Cloud Prophet Trilogy #1)
Megg Jensen
206 pages
CreateSpace
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Forget prophecy. Make your own destiny.

Sheltered from the outside world with no hope for escape, slave girl Reychel dreads her fifteenth birthday - when her master’s symbol is burned on the back of her bald scalp. Her best friend disappears the night before, leaving her to face the branding ceremony alone. She soon discovers nothing is as it seems when people desperate for freedom beg for Reychel's help.

Can Reychel learn to believe in herself?

MY THOUGHTS
Anathema is an incredibly quick read, having an almost fairy-tale quality to it as we watch a slave girl with no idea who she is learn destiny has a unique plan for her. The short page length is both a benefit and a detriment to this tale, drawing us into the story instantly but also denying us some of the rich character development we find ourselves hoping for, Reychel being someone we root for superficially instead of with our full hearts and minds. Her relationship with love interest Mark forms rapidly after only a couple brief interactions just as her friendship with fellow slave Ivy deteriorates with equal quickness, and our time with each of the two of these secondary characters is so short we feel a bit detached from the changes taking place, existing as spectators to the action rather than engaged participants.

Additionally, allegiances shift with shocking speed to create a bit of confusion as to who is to be trusted and who isn’t, and though some of the befuddlement in this epic character chess match seems intentional, we are still left at the end a bit bewildered at how fast everything has happened. Overall, however, Ms. Jensen has written an intriguing first installment with a likable heroine who piques our interest as well as a world positively ripe with possibilities moving forward. Hopefully future installments will provide us with a way to sort through all the constantly-changing relationships so we can have a single focus to latch onto and hold tight.

Rating: 3.5/5


QUEENIE'S BRIGADE
Heather Massey
Adult SciFi Romance
e-book
Red Sage Publishing
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Captain Michael Drake desperately needs an army to save Earth after a crushing defeat by alien invaders. When his damaged starship docks at a remote prison colony, he discovers Earth’s last best hope—an army to replace the one he lost.

But, Queenie, the feral goddess ruling the prison, has other plans for the rugged star ship captain. After imprisoning Drake and seizing his ship, she prepares to lead her blood-thirsty band to freedom before the invaders track them down.

Despite her intentions, Queenie secretly falls for the sexy, hotshot captain. Drake makes it plain he wants to win back Earth with her by his side. But is following her heart worth betraying her people?


MY THOUGHTS
Queenie’s Brigade thrusts us forward in time to a world of space travel and science fiction, Earth faltering under the onslaught of a more advanced conquering empire as her remaining line of defense is reduced to a single ship. Despite the fact that this is a novella, Ms. Massey manages to make each word count, the Relentless and her crew as well as Queenie’s prison environment easy to picture given the information we’re provided, and the heavy threat of a seemingly unwinnable war is clearly felt.

Though the world and the faceless villains are well-executed, our hero and heroine themselves leave a little to be desired. This is a sci-fi adventure with underlying romantic themes, however, the romance itself is something we can't wrap our minds around quite as well as we can the situation we’ve been dropped into. Queenie is supposed to be a mix of toughness and vulnerability, but somehow neither trait is fully believable on her, and Drake’s fairly instantaneous attraction to her is a bit puzzling. He can’t help but notice some of her finer features while he’s being held prisoner, but such observations come to him at inappropriate times (like when she’s torturing one of his crew members), so it’s extremely hard for us to see through his eyes when what we’re seeing with our own elicits remarkably less positive emotions.

Ms. Massey does do a very nice job drawing the romance out so it’s not a case of two enemy strangers falling into bed and declaring love mere hours later, but even with the added time we’re granted with them, the story itself seems as though it would have held up perfectly well, if not better, if that element were removed entirely or explored more thoroughly in a later installment. There’s clearly a great deal of potential for more at the conclusion of this tale, and though the relationship didn’t quite appeal, it’s still a world I wouldn’t mind revisiting in the future.

Rating: 3/5

25 comments:

  1. Oohhhh, a fairytale-ish story and space traveling science fiction? Those definitely sound so awesome! :) Even despite a few flaws, both books sound like such cool reads -- I have a weakness for books with a fairytale feel to it, and I've been looking for a cool space book ever since I read Across the Universe! :)

    Awesome mini-reviews, Jenny! I think I might have to check these out!

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  2. Mmmhhmm, Anathema's one of the many books on my kindle that I haven't had a chance to read yet... It sounds interesting though a little confused. Maybe I'll get to read it next year so it goes towards the TBR Challenge.

    Queenie's Brigade sounds really interesting though. I'd love to read that.

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  3. Anathema sounds like it's quite good. Seems like one of those scenarios where if it had gone through an editor and gotten out all the bugs, it could have been really good. Would you agree?

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  4. Mimi - Anathema had a lot of good stuff in it, just some of the relationships felt rushed for me. I know there are several more books though, so things may develop more in those:)

    Kris - Yay! Can't wait to see what you think of it:) I really liked the world of Queenie's Brigade, I just wasn't quite on board with the romance.

    Alison - It was good, and there's lots of potential I think. I would continue the series for sure:)

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  5. hmmm...I've heard a lot of mixed things about anathema...The plot sounds really cool but...idk...maybe I'll keep it on the tbr pile for a tad longer

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  6. Both of these sound fun, but Anathema seems more my style. I love that it has a fairy tale quality to it! :) Thanks for the mini-reviews, Jenny!

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  7. On both books, it seems the characters and relationships weren't fully developed and flushed out creating a kind of fly-by plot. My favorite part of a story is the romance aspect, even if it is small, but I like to see it fully developed to the point that I feel something for the characters and so I understand their actions. I'm glad as plots and worlds they were excellent books, but I think I'll wait to see what you think of future installments. :D

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  8. Anathema would have interested me if it wasn't for the fact that the plot seems to move pretty quickly and that you weren't really able to connect with the characters. Great reviews though, Jenny!

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  9. Andra - I really enjoyed the plot, I just wanted a little more time to kind of feel my way around with some of the characters:)

    Lauren - It definitely did. I like the slave who becomes something more concept:)

    Jen - They definitely didn't seem fully fleshed out to me. I like to really get to know my characters and I didn't get to do that with either of these. Those who don't need that kind of connection as I do though won't find it as problematic!

    Zahida - It definitely does move quickly, there were several places I just wanted to spend a few more minutes with everyone:)

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  10. I've had Anathema downloaded onto my Kindle for a while now, but due to my ever growing TBR list I still haven't done it. Great review. ;)

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  11. I loved Anathema. The book really brought a smile to my face. I have not heard of the second book. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the reviews Jenny!

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  12. Hmm... I haven't really read anything about either book so thanks for these quickies. Sci-fi isn't really my thing, but I could go for the faery tale. :)

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  13. Both books sound pretty intriguing even though I haven't heard of them. I think Anathema sounds good--definitely an edge of your seat type of read. I like that you said it has a fairy tale quality...definitely a favorite genre of mine. Great review, Jenny and hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

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  14. Oh great minis. I think sometimes these are harder to write. Okay "I" think they are harder to write. ;) You still rock them out brilly! I will read Anathema as it is on my tbr. I'll have to check out Queenie's Brigade. I do like sci-fi.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

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  15. I really liked Anathema! I'm not sure if I'll give Queenie a go though... Lol!

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  16. I just downloaded a copy of Anathema! Looking forward to reading it, especially taking into consideration that it has a "likable heroine who piques our interest as well as a world positively ripe with possibilities moving forward".

    Thanks for the great review Jenny!

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  17. Jordan - That happens to me all the time, I just get distracted so easily:)

    Savy - I loved a lot of it, that was part of the problem though - I wanted to spend more time with the parts I loved and I didn't get it:(

    Missie - SciFi usually isn't my thing either, but I like it now and then to give me something different:)

    Christina - I love fairy tales too, and this had the makings of that for me:)

    Juju - Thanks! And I will:)

    Melissa - I think they are too. I find myself having to go back and delete a lot of things because I tend to just keep on typing.

    Ashley - I liked the world and premise of Queenie, I just couldn't quite get behind Queenie herself most of the time.

    Avery - Oh good, can't wait to see what you think! I always love reading your reviews:)

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  18. I've been curious about Anathema for a while now. (I love the cover for it!) Sorry to hear the relationships seem rushed. I really hate it when that happens!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on both of these books!

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  19. Though books seem to have elements that aren't quite flushed out, they do seem promising and have piqued my interest. I think I'll wait for reviews on the next installment to form my opinion. Thanks for bringing these books to our attention, Jenny!

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  20. When I see the name Queenie (okay, I think this is the first time I've seen it) I think of the Berenstein Bears, remember Queenie? Anyway, neither of these are books that I would pick up on my own but I'm happy to hear that even though they still had downsides they did have good things as well. It's hard knowing what to expect from books that don't have a lot of reviews and that's great you gave them a chance :)

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  21. Anathema sounds like one helluva read--one that I'd be bummed at finishing before really delving into these characters and this world. It sounds like Megg's put a lot of weight on Reychel's shoulders, which is the kind of protagonist whom I want to spend a lot of time with.


    Smiles!
    Lori

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  22. Two interesting-sounding books. Anathema -- burning a symbol into the girl's head? Eek! But I think I could really get into it. Not sure about Queenie's Brigade but it sounds unusual enough to intrigue. Thanks for the reviews!

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  23. Hm, good to know about Anathema. I tend to prefer shorter books because the action tends to be more constant, but it is a shame when characters and plot logic take a hit.

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  24. I've got Anathema to read. Had it for ages. And I've known it was going to be good. I'll pick it up soon. I liked the way you reviewed it. Mini reviews are good!

    Heather

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