Firewall, Sonya Clark
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
The final book in the Magic Born series, and its a real stunner. I thought after the last book there was still so much discord, and the groups so fractured and struggling for day to day survival, I didn’t see how on earth Sonya would or could pull it all together for a satisfying conclusion in just one more book. But she does, and its just perfect!!
The people in Freaktown and its outskirts are struggling just to get food, now their jobs and contact with the other side where the Normals live and work has been stopped, and they rely on rations which simply aren’t enough, and are stopped when they protest. Its like the old slavery laws we had where children didn’t belong to the parents, but were subject to owners, in this case any Normals having an child that tests positive for magic has them taken away, the kids that are lucky get adopted by a witch but most end up in orphanages, and struggle once old enough to find a job and home.
Its been six decades now and recently the Normals who’ve had children taken away are beginning to protest and band together. The news that some wealthy people have paid to get past the test, and secretly keep their kids has added to the furore. Magic Born younger people are protesting, using their skills even though they risk death or long imprisonment by it. Tuyet is one who was brought up in the orphanage, and taken from the streets as a young adult to work for the Rangers, a secret Gov unit. It wasn’t really a choice issue though, and she was there until they decide she was no longer useful….then three years ago she used her magic to escape. Partner Dale thought she’d be living in a country where Magic Born are free, and contents his mind with that – at least one of them has a decent life. She asked him to leave with her, but he felt he owed everything to the Rangers, having been with them and worked his way up from a poor background. He’s been ridiculed since and demoted though for not stopping her, even though she made it look as though he’d been overcome by her…now he’s told she’s been ID’d in New Corinth and he’s to bring her in or else lose everything he’s worked for – failure isn’t an option. He loves her though – how can he sentence her to death?
Out in the field he’s still trying to work a way out of it when he has to chose sides, and he choses her. Then he sees what has been supressed, that the Gov is hiding what they are doing, and what he’s really been working for…Now he’s able to help Tuyet and her friends with info from inside. When they get caught in a riot that kills many innocents, and know that without their film no one outside will know about this, they don’t leave for safety but stay and help. They end up working with a group spearheading revolution to get the Magic Laws overturned. Its very dangerous though and they come so close to capture I was breathless for them.
Tuyet and Hale have some great chemistry, I could feel their attraction even when they were still on ostensibly opposite sides. It was good too to catch up with the others from earlier books, Lizzie and Vadim, Calla and Nate and others. I love the way they band together once organised, and the way that Sonya works threads from earlier books into circumstances that have now become important. Its easy when people have nothing for them to just get over the top and not see reason, to ruin plans that are so needed, and the team have to work hard to ensure they cover all aspects and changes that can happen- or at least as many as possible. Of course something different always happens, but its terrific the way in the story it turned so that the solution is believable, talents and skills people already have are used to get out of the problem, not some new unheard of superpower – that’s one of my real pet hates and in each of these books Sonya has thankfully avoided that easy, but for the reader intensely frustrating option. It makes for a harder job for the author but ultimately a much better novel.
Sonya did what I thought wouldn’t be possible, and in this book came up with a workable and believable solution to the Magic Laws, and its been a great read all the way through the books, full of action and magic, steam and sensuality and a trio for the keepers file.
Stars: Five of course, its been a fabulous conclusion to a riveting and unusual series. I’m always amazed at how authors create their worlds, and with this one Sonya has worked something that for me at least is almost unique, something I’ve rarely read about, Magic and Technology combined with natural Magics. I’ve read some where this has been combined, but not in the way Sonya has done to create such a believable and structured world.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
New Year’s Promise, Anna Clifton
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, women’s fiction
My first read from Anna, and I really enjoyed it. There are plots that could be almost cheesy, irritating and yet they aren’t, they fit the overall story arc perfectly. It made me cry, a lot, towards the end, and I love a book that moves me like that.
When we first meet Ellie and Justin, she’s been working for his firm, and we quickly get pulled into their background, their close childhood friendship. I was a little puzzled how come they’d all managed to remain so close, given Justin moved away when he was a young teen, and I thought they’d lost contact, but I guess I must have missed how they reconnected, or maybe stayed in contact some way – whatever, it’s clear there’s a very strong relationship between Justin and Ellie and her four brothers.
Ellie’s lovely, loyal and adores her family. She’d taken over mothering them all since their mum died, and somehow never seemed to stop…now they’re anxious she takes time for herself with a dream position in Paris opening up for her. Her brother Harry though has a problem, he knows if he tells her about it she’ll drop the Paris job and stay, and he doesn’t want that but he does need her around til the new year. He tells Justin about it and persuades him to tell her he won’t waive her notice period, but accept two weeks instead of the four she should give. Somehow though Justin finds himself asking – well telling – her to spend it with him, so they don’t have to go to the usual holiday events alone, as they’ve both just come out of a relationship. He’s always been attracted to Ellie, but has a huge secret that makes him not act on it. Ellie too has always had strong feelings for him, and they come pretty close at times when they’re out together. In the middle of it all though some huge secrets come out, that shatter them both and cause lots of angst and strife.
Its an unusual romance, more tear jerking story that straight romance, though that angle is well covered. There’s so much more here, illness and how families cope with it, mothers who struggle to do just that, and how the love of a family can provide so much joy to everyone. Its not a book I’d re read, but was one that I loved as a one off, it’s so packed with emotion. As I said earlier some of the plots could have descended into Hallmark film territory, ( fine if you like that but I don’t) and yet they’re covered in a way that’s natural, and doesn’t fall into that trap but feels so real that I was tearful reading it. In the middle of all that Ellie and Justin have to decide what they really feel, and whether they’ll do anything about it or just go their separate ways. Of course as a romantic I was rooting for things to work out, and there were moments when I felt the bars placed between them felt forced. Not the “big” one, that was understandable, but the later little ones when they were at odds with each other over how they thought the other person felt. It just seemed to get over complicated and that’s where it lost a half star from me. I didn’t feel that part felt real, but as if it was put in simply to extend the should they/shouldn’t they emotion.
Stars: Four and a half, a great read and have the tissues ready.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers