Authors Showcase: Out of this World
March 7, 2013
The Book: The End of All Things
The Author: Lissa Bryan
The Story: After a terrible virus ravages the planet, Carly Daniels, one of the few survivors, hides in her apartment in Juneau trying to survive the best she can with only occasional forays to gather food. With her is Sam, a wolf puppy she found starving on the streets. He becomes her companion and a reason to continue when giving up sometimes seems like the more attractive option. Still dazed with shock and grief, she hopes for the world to go back to normal soon.
She is discovered by Justin, an ex-soldier who is intent on making his way to Florida before the winter sets in. Justin coaxes her out of her hiding place and convinces her to join him on his journey, because a warmer climate will be their best chance against the extremes of Mother Nature.
Together, they begin a perilous journey through a nation laid to waste by the disaster. Challenges abound along the way. The weather, injury, and shortage of supplies all help to slow them down. In time, they discover that they aren’t the only survivors. Some are friendly but some have had their minds destroyed by the high fever. Then there are those who simply take what they want, leaving Carly and Justin with no choice but to defend what is theirs.
But their journey is not without joy and love. Together, they face every struggle, including an unplanned pregnancy. Despite the perils of bringing a child into a world of chaos, their baby is a new beginning for themselves and a symbol of hope for the other survivors they find along the way.
This is the story of their journey to find a place to begin a new life, and a home in each other.
Review by Sherry Gomes: Carly believes that she and the puppy, Sam, she rescued are the only survivors in her area to live through a terrible virus that has swept over the world, killing untold numbers of people. She meets Justin, another survivor, but can she trust him. Gradually, he shows her he is trustworthy, and they begin a trek from Alaska to a warmer climate, hoping to make it to Florida before the weather gets cold and threatens their survival. Together, with Sam–who turns out to be a wolf cub–a horse and a cat they rescue along the way, they make their way through a world changed beyond recognition, meeting other survivors, good and bad. How will they survive? Can humanity go on? What about future children? They face danger along with wonder and love as they try to figure out answers to these questions, particularly, how to live in a world without electricity, refrigeration or medicine.
I loved this book. I’ve read several post-apocalyptic novels, two of which I’ve enjoyed, The Stand and Alas Babylon, and The Stand is one of my all time favorite books. But Lissa Bryan’s entry into that genre is sure to become another much loved book. She gives us the devastation mixed with hope of other such books, but without the supernatural or weird elements of The Stand. As she always does, she creates vivid, believable characters, people you feel you could know and wish you could meet.
Carly, who doesn’t think of herself as courageous and yet finds strength in herself she wouldn’t have imagined. (Not to mention the delightful way she names her animals after Lord of the Rings characters.) Justin, who thinks he’s not worthy of being loved, who is one of the most endearing male leads I’ve read in a long time.
And of course, there’s Sam, the beloved wolf, who protects his “pack”, human, equine, feline and whatever else Carly decides to adopt on the journey. Shhh, don’t tell the humans, but I think Sam is my favorite character of them all.
I had to take a week after finishing this book, just to think about it and process it. It moved me deeply, and I knew I would never be able to find just the right words to say how much and why. One of the things I love is the humanity of this book. We don’t learn much of the gory details of the virus or follow the tragedies of characters before during and after the sickness. What the author gives us is a story of characters who are strong, who can survive and can love, even in the midst of heartbreak and a world changed forever. That’s why I love it so much, and why I’m still pondering it today and wishing I knew more and could see the world the survivors will create.
The Author: Travis Luedke
The Story: Vampires, Aaron Pilan and his master Michelle, live by one rule — no bloodslaves. EVER. Aaron breaks that rule when he meets Anastasia. All Anastasia wants is to be loved and cherished, but the predatory men she’s attracted to bring her only pain and abuse. Escaping one train-wreck relationship for another, she finds happiness with Aaron and Michelle as a bloodslave, a ‘pet.’
When Aaron uses his telepathy to win thousands at the gambling tables, he attracts the deadly attention of the Colombian Cartel and Aaron and Michelle are ‘disappeared’. Addicted to the bite of her vampire lovers, Ana is desperate to find them. But, Las Vegas isn’t ready for vampires mixing heroin, sex and vengeance. Ana is trapped in the spiraling chaos.
Review by KaylaS: Michelle and Aaron are living it up in Las Vegas until Aaron complicates their lives with his attention-attracting success in the casinos. Not to mention falling madly for Anastasia, a young woman with psychic sensitivity who he instantly converts to a bloodslave.
Ana is a fascinating, complicated character who provides a unique view of the passionate relationship that exists between our two vampires. However, she soon falls victim to the events Aaron set in motion when he fleeced a drug dealer at poker. Plus, Michelle has attracted the lustful attention of a casino boss that results in an attempt to hook her on heroin. Drug addiction is a major theme in this story – both heroin and vampire venom, equally addictive, lethal, and dangerous.
Seeing these two vampires high on drugs was compelling reading and, at times, utterly terrifying. It proved impossible to put this book down as the story raced to its climatic and horrifying end. Nothing will be the same for this loving threesome again. Ana will steal her way into your heart.
Mr. Luedke is skilled at defining his characters. You will feel their raw emotion and their passion, you will cringe as they dispatch their enemies with either finesse or abandon, and revel in their vengeful bloodletting. Powerful stuff. I highly recommend this erotic, sexually-charged and original paranormal story, second in the Nightlife Series.
Review by Tina St. Clair: Okay, I confess, I am obsessed with the world of vampires, so much so that I aspire to be one. I like them in all sorts of ways, including the sparkly ones!
Travis Luedke immersed me in the world of sexy, blond and French Michelle and otherworldly beautiful and passionate Aaron, and hooked me from the start. I fell in love with the stunning, but damaged Ana who finally found peace, love and happiness with the vampire duo; who loved her so much that I did not mind that they fed of her and had toe curling, bone melting, wild animalistic threesome with her! The intrigue of the seedy backdoors of the Las Vegas Nightlife with drug dealers, high rolling gambling and wrestling in a kid favourite dessert kept my heart pounding and on the edge of my seat through each breathtaking page turn.
In my opinion, the true test of a really great book is it involves all my emotions, allows me to dive into the world with the characters in such a way that they seem real and make me love them long after I close the cover, with tears in my eyes.