Consumed (The Hunger #2) by Jason Brant

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A review by:  Terri Kinckner

(I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review)

Wow.  Where do I begin?  This book takes off exactly where Devoured (book 1) ends.  This is not really a stand alone, so I recommend that you read the first in the series before this one.  Actually, the awesomeness of this book doubles when you read Jason’s short story, Lotion, that was in Cynthia Shepp’s Apocalypse Anthology.  Lotion was the story that started this entire series, introduced us to this world, and to a couple of the characters.  This latest installment in this series does not disappoint!

The action was intense and pretty much nonstop throughout the book.  That’s not the only great thing about this story.  This book is well-balanced.  What I mean by this is that the characters are written beautifully and grow through the story, the action is intense, the horror is vividly real, and there is just enough humor and even the occasional “Awww” moment to keep the scary stuff from overwhelming the reader.  This book has it all!

When this book starts off, Lance and Cass, Eifort and Dr. Emmett Brown (haha), are living on the Duchess, a boat, in the middle of the Allegheny River to avoid the victims of the Xavier virus.  These vampire-like once humans have taken over the night and have infected or eaten the majority of the population.  When their boat is destroyed, they have to move on and find another safe place to hide out from the monsters.

To make matters worse, a militia-like group of survivalists headed by a psychopath named Ralph are on a mission to wipe them out, too, thanks to Lance unwittingly angering Ralph in a restaurant in the previous book.  This just adds to the horror, as the group of four can’t seem to avoid one nightmare encounter after another.

There are several moments of hilarity in this book.  The banter between Lance and Cass had me laughing even through the scary moments, the Doc Brown and Back To the Future references and jokes made this geek giggle, and the daily ham radio reports from the Wild Man of Monroeville.  The Wild Man seemed to know exactly what was going on in the Pittsburgh area from his seemingly impenetrable hidden location, and his descriptions of the people and events had me literally laughing out loud.

There are some serious developments in this book that I didn’t see coming, and wow… that’s all I can say about that without giving away spoilers.  The end of the book had the stories coming full circle, with characters from the short story Lotion making their appearance, and the ending really threw me for a loop!  I didn’t want to put this book down, and re-read several sections after I finished because I simply was not ready to be done with these wonderful characters in this frightening but realistic world!

 

I give this book 5 stars out of 5!

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Xianne: A Comedy of Cultures: Volume Two

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Description of the book:

Abstract:
At the Moon, Jim Street and Saxon Caine leave XIANNE, with Chief Moses Jones, for a mission down to the famed settlement of Sunita and the nearby Duncan Industries HQ—hub of Captain Duncan’s Helium-3-based financial empire. There they encounter Chief Financial Advisor, Harry Dobbs, and the lovely Alex Andreivich. But by the time they get acquainted with the amazing siblings, Pod and Clark, there are revelations and even more mysteries about Captain Tom Duncan and his enchanting wife, Dr. Sharon Miles. Jim and Sax must meet very personal challenges as their journey continues aboard XIANNE….

My take:

I received this book from the author as a beta read. I loved the first volume, and the second did not disappoint! I do have one warning about this book… do not read this in places where laughing out loud is not appropriate! (I think I irritated people in my doctor’s office waiting room, but oh well!)

After reading the first volume, I had really come to love the characters Jim and Sax. They are the quintessential opposites that begrudgingly become friends. Living in a porn culture that Sax fully embraced, Jim is quite the opposite, having a sexual orientation of “nay”. When they leave the Xianne, for the lunar city of Sunita and Duncan Industries, they meet an entirely new group of interesting people.

Mose and Dobbs were so funny! Their banter was brilliant and their friendship was more like a marriage at times. Learning more about their pasts made them even more real to me. I adored them!

Alex was wonderful! The chief of security certainly blew any preconceived notions of what a person in his position should be. I fell in love with him right away! He seemed to bring Jim a little bit out of his shell, and dragged Sax right out of his closet!

Pod and Clark were also very interesting characters. The siblings held high positions in Duncan Industries, and as seemed to be the status quo, were full of surprises themselves. I really loved the early interaction between Pod and Jim, and it only got better between those two!

There are so many scenes of absolute hilarity, ranging from a bathroom fight with boxers on their heads, to Jim sending Sax into a trap situation with Pod that had me laughing so hard that I was in tears! Speaking of tears, that’s how this book ended for me! The ending was brilliant, but left me stunned. I am waiting with bated breath for the next volume. I can’t wait to see what adventures still await these guys!

Here is just a small part of one of the many hilarious parts of this book:

That’s when I lunged forward to snatch the little blue
panties out of his hand. From that point on, however,
everything just seemed to go wrong….
Not being completely acclimated to Lunar gravity, my
lunge caused my legs to collide rather violently with the
bench that separated us. I lost my balance and fell in a
sprawling fashion over it, one hand still outstretched as Sax
whipped Sharon’s panties out of my reach like a matador
teasing el toro.
Of course, everything doesn’t really move in “slow
motion” under one-sixth g; but, relatively speaking, things
seemed even slower as I realized what was about to happen.
In fact, I’m quite certain that all of the anguish, agony,
desperation, and despair ever experienced throughout Human
history was reflected upon my face. My soft, freshly-shaven,
boyish face…which glided smoothly along the length of a
massive erection to finally make full contact with the soft,
freshly-shaven, manly scrotum of Saxon Caine….
Saxon Caine: the undeniable Spawn of Satan.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Aces High, by Elle Casey and Jason Brant

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A review by Terri Kinckner

I consider myself insanely lucky to have gotten this book to read as a beta. I’ve been a big fan of both Elle Casey and Jason Brant for a while now, and LOVE interacting with them as they insult one another on Facebook. That being said, when it comes to beta reads, I’m tough, impersonal, and fair.

This story had me hooked by the very first paragraph. One can not simply walk away and leave this book to read more later. This is a one sitting, marathon, fly by the seat of your pants ride! Being so familiar with both writer’s styles, I could tell who wrote what parts, but they meshed so perfectly. This book is a work of art!

Charlie has been in foster home after foster home her entire life. Now, at 18, she is on her own and has the street smarts to survive. Normal rules don’t apply to Charlie. She is bold, smart, funny, and has the quickest wit of any of Elle’s characters to date (that is saying a lot!) She gets by beating old men in poker in the basement of a Chinese restaurant. When she catches her across the hall neighbor, Douglas, peeking into her keyhole, Charlie does what she does best. A shock and awe type confrontation ending in a meal of eggs and an unlikely partnership. (Huh? Yeah, I know, but it makes sense once you read it, I swear!)

Douglas is a recently expelled college student. He was expelled for hacking into his teacher’s computer for all the right reasons. He wasn’t ready to tell his mother and decided to spend some time living in his deceased author father’s apartment, living off of his father’s royalties until he could work up the nerve to tell her. Too late. She found out, wiped out his accounts and evicted him, literally leaving him homeless and broke. His only hope to make enough money was partnering with Charlie to catch fugitives and collect the reward money. With him as the brain, and her as the brawn, what could possibly go wrong? Jason Brant wrote this character incredibly well. Douglas is insanely smart, awkward, germaphobic, and exactly just enough wit to compete with Elle Casey’s Charlie. A perfect match! The evolution of their partnership into friendship, and the trust that it required was really heartwarming.

The story itself is flawless, the characters so real that I completely forgot I was reading a book. That is what seals it for me, I HAVE to be emotionally involved enough in the story that I forget that I’m turning pages and reading words. This book did this for me! I laughed out loud (not recommended for reading in a place where hysterical bouts of laughter are not acceptable), I shook my head at the decisions these youngsters were making, cheered them on, and when I got to the supernatural twist, I was floored. This is something I’ve never read about, but always wondered about. I won’t divulge more information, you’ll have to get the book and find out yourself! I also learned a whole plethora of new insults that I’ve already tried on my co-workers. You can never go wrong with Casey/Brant insults!

If it were possible to give more than five stars, I’d give…like…elevendy seven! I am so looking forward to the next book in this series. (YAY! It’s not going to end!!!)

I give this book 5 stars out of 5 (a royal flush, of course!)