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Juniper Grove

Blog of author Jaidis Shaw!

Of Shadow and Stone - Michelle Muto

Kate Mercer is a rising actress. Working hard to make her way into the spotlight, she has finally achieved recognition and landed a role in a film trilogy that put her in the public eye at all times. While she enjoys the fame, she hates the other things that go along with it like paparazzi following her everywhere, crazed fans stalking her, and annoying ex-boyfriends. So when she starts dreaming of herself at a castle, she welcomes the change of scenery. Is she really dreaming or is she actually transporting to this mysterious castle so she can take her role as the next sentinel?

I am conflicted with this book. While I love that the book is written about gargoyles, I wish the story line would have featured them more. By the synopsis, I was led to believe that Kate was a mortal that was chosen to be the next sentinel so that she can control the awakening gargoyles. However, the story didn’t really focus on that aspect of the book until the end and even then, it was very short. The majority of the book was detailing her life as an actress, a crazy stalker who is following her because he loves her, and a boyfriend who is only with her because her fame helps his career. There was also more focus on the secondary character, Ian, who is a novelist who is currently staying at the castle so that he can overcome his writer’s block. It is never really explained other than a few lines here and there, how she can actually transport to the castle, what the job description of being the next sentinel is (other than to control the gargoyles until she can put them back to sleep), why the gargoyles are changing, and so forth. I wish there had been more back story on the paranormal aspect rather than the minor details of Kate’s love life, or lack thereof.

Overall, this was an okay read. I’m torn between rating this story a two or a three. The story had a great concept, it just lacked in the way it was executed. However, I loved that it had gargoyles in it, even if briefly, and there aren’t many novels, at least that I’ve read, that include them. Because of that, I’ll push the rating up to a three.

I was provided a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

New World Order - S.M. McEachern

Sunny and Jack are back in the last installment of the Sunset Rising trilogy. We left off with the slaves being set free from the Dome and everyone trying to find a way to run the new city that everyone agrees with. Although people from the Pit are now free, it's hard to break a habit that has been forming for the last 300 years. It's hard to look at things with a fresh perspective but that is just what everyone needs to do if they are to live in harmony.

Having survived out in the wilderness after the war, Ryder believes he has been selected by the gods to repopulate the earth and spread their word by becoming the next president. Though some view his ways as kidnapping and enslaving, he and most of his followers, view it as saving and protecting. As Jack, who has been captured by Ryder's men, tries to understand Ryder's thinking, he longs to just be set free to return home. Sunny sets out to find Jack with the help of Summer and Reyes and what should be a straightforward mission turns into something much more. There is another uprising back home between the bourge and urchins and she needs to find Jack and take him back before time runs out.

New World Order was a thrilling read! I enjoyed where it picked up and was pleased to see what I had hoped for in book two had actually happened in this book. This story kept me entertained and guessing at what would happen next. It was a great way to end a series and I'm looking forward to see what future stories from the Pit may hold. If you haven't checked out this series, be sure to do so. You won't regret it!

Worlds Collide - S.M. McEachern

Worlds Collide is book two in the Sunset Rising trilogy. It picks up right where book one, Sunset Rising, left off which I loved since we were left with a cliffhanger. In this one, Sunny and Jack have made it out of the dome and now must figure out a way to survive in this new environment while continuing their efforts to free the people left in the Pit. They are met with several surprises and obstacles along the way as they learn that the outside world isn't toxic as the president had lead everyone to believe. Not only that, but there are people living outside already, building a new city for residents of the dome. But is that city open to everyone or is it by invitation only?

I absolutely loved book two! We are finally able to meet some characters that were mentioned in book one briefly and are also introduced to several new ones. The characters were written well and had unique qualities, making me like some of them and despise others. As Sunny and Jack learn more about president Holt's plans for the future, they realize that time is running out not only for people of the Pit, but others that aren't deemed worthy. Not knowing who they can trust, Sunny and Jack must stay united and take some risks if they hope to succeed. There are many surprises that made the story intriguing and kept me wanting to know more. Some of the questions that were left unanswered in book one were cleared up for me and I really liked that. I'm interested to see where book three will take us.

Overall, another great read and I'll definitely be continuing on to see how this trilogy ends.

Sunset Rising - S.M. McEachern

The year is 2024 and Benjamin Reyes is a hermit who the town thinks is crazy. He has a feeling that something bad is going to happen and that it is only a matter of time before the world is under nuclear attack. Once said attack actually occurs, the town is left in disbelief and turn to Benjamin for an answer. He leads them through the Valley to a military base where they attempt to seek shelter. Things do not go according to planned and Benjamin must condemn the people to a life of slavery in order to save them.

The story jumps to the year 2307 and we meet Sunset "Sunny" O'Donnell. Sunny has grown up in the Pit as a slave. All slaves, or urchins as they are called, have assigned jobs in the Pit where they work for credits that allow them to pay for basic necessities like an apartment. If that wasn't bad enough, they are also forced to follow rules set by the "bourge" or the upper class that live upstairs in the Dome. One enforced rule is the annual cull, which is a way to control the population. Once an urchin reaches the age of 35, they are executed. After losing her mother to the cull, Sunny is left to take care of her father who has lost the desire to live. In an effort to create change in the Pit, Sunny agrees to an absurd request by none other than the president's daughter, Leisel. The request backfires and Sunny is now on the run, with Leisel's fiancé Jack, and she must take desperate measures to not only save herself, but everyone who lives in the Pit.

I enjoyed the story and found it unique compared to other dystopian novels I've read. The author's writing flowed well and I could envision the characters and their surroundings. I particularly enjoyed the budding relationship between Sunny and Jack as they discover that what they thought they knew growing up may be just a sliver of a much larger picture and that everything may not be what it appears. However, I found myself with questions that weren't answered in the story as I felt they should have been. The book did end with a big cliffhanger so perhaps the questions I have will be answered in the second book, which I will be picking up. Overall, a pleasant story that I'd recommend to lovers of dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels.