In the Domicile, one does not ask questions or have interests outside of their leadership, the Elders. Blind faith is the highest expression of good citizenry. In the aftermath of a global revolution the Sixth Domicile and it's sister facilities were erected as a refuge for the remnants of humanity. In which were instituted the Common Law, an ever growing body of legislation which strips every trace of personal autonomy for the sake of harmony and safety. The Common Law not only establishes marriages arranged by the Elders, but forbids the exposure of one's skin and assigns alpha numeric designations in lieu of names.
The Sixth Domicile's female protagonist, Q437B “Q”, has lived in the Domicile since birth. Orphaned in early childhood, Q was left to be raised by her Grandmother. As her grandmother had lived in the time before the revolution, she was in a position to plant a seed of speculation and defiance within Q. This seed has brought Q to choose the companionship of a male that is not her betrothed. And, in the process uncovers a fundamental lie in the Domicile's doctrines.
Q must decide whether her personal choices are worth the risk of punishment. But there are forces unseen in the politics of the Domicile, which may leave her without an alternative. Will she be martyred for a cause that she has barely become aware of?
I was given a digital edition of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What I liked about this book
Provocative Social Narrative
Whether it was intended or not, The Sixth Domicile poses extreme forms of current social tendencies.
The foremost is the insistence upon conformity, with divergence being treated as a threat to peaceful coexistence. In the way that the Domicile requires masks, we too are increasingly discouraged from expressing individual differences. Such expressions are frequently (and mistakenly) equated to bigotry and intolerance.
The Domicile punishes criticism, and does so by the tacit consent of it's citizens. Much like the inhabitants of the Domicile, we are also being taught to accept the punishment of dissenters as they are political criminals or worse.
The Domiciles were created in the wake of the largest tragedy in human history. The Sixth Domicile is a somewhat disturbing, if not realistic, example of what amount of oppression a frightened and desperate people will gratefully accept for the promise of safety.
First, a warning: This book contains explicit sex and abusive violence. Rather than employing implications, Ruggles goes into the details of Q's experiences. This creates the depth needed to relate to her internal struggle. This is especially important as the story is given from her first person perspective.
What I disliked about this book
As this book is written from first person, there is much that happens outside of Q's awareness. The time line for the circumstances leading up to the climax is not unreasonable, but Q comes into it very late in its progress. This makes for an effect that can be compared to slipping on ice. The climax and conclusion were almost the same moment. I do not think that this could have been improved upon though, as it is the most appropriate and natural development of the events as described by an unlikely heroine. Ultimately I must forgive the short drop. Especially in the light of an announced (and much needed) sequel. Vrai Domicile is available for preorder now.
About Courtney Ruggles (From author's website)
Courtney's love for writing dates back to short stories on a word processor (What?? Word processor with floppy disks?). Oh yes, she literally had a card filing case full of floppy disks. Now she continues her writing (she upgraded to a laptop) while living in Southern Ohio with her husband and son.
Although Courtney has always lived in Ohio, sometimes closer to the Ohio River and sometimes futher away, she dreams of the mountain ranges out west and the sandy Florida beaches. She married the man of her dreams and had a beautiful blond haired blue eyed boy. Before she sought publication for her first book The Sixth Domicile: Book One of the Domicile Series, Courtney worked as a social worker in a mental health agency where she counseled and provided therapy. After she left full time work, she taught social sciences at a local univeristy and began a photography business. The "extra" time gave her the ability to focus on writing again.
Courtney's background in social work fuels the grit in her stories. When Courtney isn't writing her next book, you can find her doing homework (drag) and sipping flavored coffee, reading young adult and new audlt books (because social work text books are only so interesting), or daydreaming about all the future beach houses she intends to buy.
Seventeen-year-old Jez Parker knows what Hell is like. She spends ten months a year in it in the form of a life with her abusive mother and stepfather. Two months out of the year, she lives with her werewolf dad and twin brother.
Abused and beaten she’s ordered by her mother and stepfather to find information on her dad’s werewolf pack – The Small Town Pack. Vowing to protect her dad, brother, and newly bonded mate, Jez asks for help from the Cloverfields, a supernatural clan that helps those in need.
Cole Patrick thought his life ended when he was told Jez had died in a house fire. Now that she’s alive and back in his life, he believes he can keep his feelings for her a secret from his best friend, who happens to be her twin, as well as from her dad. He soon realizes something weird is happening within his pack and that Jez is being targeted. He knows she’s hiding something and he vowed to protect her.
But when secrets are revealed and lives are betrayed, will they have a future together?
See more about L.C. Miller on her Facebook, on Goodreads, and at Anchor Group Fan Club!
"It was up to God now whether they survived or not."
Before I go into the review of this book I would first like to disclose a few things. I was not supposed to like this book. I agreed to post a fair review in exchange for a copy, but was not sure if it would even be posted on this blog (rather than just on Amazon and such). Being a romance crime novel, I had thought that it would truly not be my cup of tea, no matter how well written. I was entirely wrong. I LOVE this book. Hopefully their story will continue? Well then, let's plunge right in then!
Detective Scarlet Anne Martins, originally from South Africa, works as an investigator for the NYPD. That is, she did until her entire world is torn apart in a series of events. Conspiracy abounds, and Martins is left unable to be certain of who she can trust. Not even the disturbingly handsome and talented Alaric Blade, who at every instance appears to be her guardian angel. But is she just being maneuvered by him? This question becomes even more dangerous, as she finds herself becoming less able to resist his charms the longer she is around him. Being framed for crimes of terrorism, Martins must uncover the evidence which will bury the dirt-bags who set her up. She must do so, while avoiding capture by the police or the criminals, without resources, and before every trace of evidence evaporates. Will she get a step ahead of the game before it is too late?
What I liked about this book
Realistic Romantic Development
The main protagonists certainly do not have love at first sight. Martins started out as viewing Alaric as an overdressed, arrogant, Special Agent which had been thrust upon her investigation. Their transition from this initial contact was not easy or convenient. In fact, their relationship was a rather tenuous affair for most of the story. For those who want a story with gratuitous amounts of steaminess, this is not your book. I however, found their doubts and inconvenient circumstances to be refreshing. I don't imagine that many romance stories will delve into this aspect of relationships, but the uncertainty and unsatisfied longing made the lives of these two tangible, potent, and more realistic.
Action, Suspense, and Plot Twists
It never seems to slow down. Even when Martins and Alaric are not in imminent danger, the narrative directs attention to the torrent of their minds. Like the romantic development, the action was realistic, as nobody was some sort of rare human weapon. The constant flow of events and action kept the ball rolling smoothly. The plot was like a mythical hydra. With every answered question, came more questions.
Locales and Sensory Details
Like many other “cat and mouse” stories, Infallible follows our heroes around various settings. The diverse landscape of the East Coast is used effectively to provide new challenges as the environment changes. Quinn spared no important environmental details and sensory clues. In many instances, I found myself immersed in their world; feeling every jarring bump in the road, the biting cold of a Pennsylvania winter, and the stark terror of an armed stand-off.
What I disliked about this book
Do not read it. I have heard more than a few people say that they do not read prologues. I would suppose the common sentiment, is that prologues delay the start of stories and can create confusion instead of questions. In this instance the latter accusation is especially true. There were times where I had re-read a paragraph several times just to get the pronouns sorted out. While this may be a failing on my part as a reader, I still believe that certain things should definitely not be displayed out of context.
While I try to not to look too deeply into the accuracy of technical details in a story, there are some instances where the error is provocative to the point of distracting. To be entirely fair, many of the technical errors I found would be overlooked by most readers, as specific training or education would be needed to spot them. There are two exceptions of “I'm just being obsessive,” and merit mention:
(1) References of position and movement within a complex building. When a character's movement has enough details, I not only visualize it, but also see the spatial orientation. That is, my mind keeps track of where they are, and how they got there. In one scene, there was some ambiguity of how the prison facility was laid out. I lost my inertia as I tried to figure it out. I would either suggest vague descriptions, or a detailed model to serve as a reference.
(2) Continuity of characters present within a scene. Much like visualizing the layout of a building, I also see the positioning of people within it. In the prison scene, I had to go back and start counting people up. More detail should be given to explaining arrivals, departures, and encounters of characters.
I recommend this book, as a challenge, to anyone who think they can't enjoy a romance.
About Bailey Quinn (from author's website, edited for updated info)
Bailey Quinn is the pen name for Award winning YA science fiction writer, Carlyle Labuschagne who resides in the beautiful country of South Africa. This die-hard dreamer who is fascinated by a great story is compelled to share these imaginary worlds with others.
Her love for writing spills over into every aspect of her life where she has founded a library project aimed at the youth, creator of SAIR writers events, and is co-founder of a publishing company. Her other addictions include cappuccino, being outdoors with her loves ones, and avoiding dishes at all cost.
Her next SF crime thriller Tethered, set for release in 2017, also takes place in the wonderfully exciting city of NYC where she has visited a few times and found that by writing about it - will keep the city in her heart and mind forever more...
Follow Father Antonio Molinari of the Order of Saint Michael, a secret team of specially trained priests. His life, as he knows it, is thrown on end when he refuses to execute his duty to destroy a vampire child. While attempting to evade his relentless pursuers, he is forced to question his unyielding regard for the monsters and demons he had hunted. Haunted by the uncertainty of whether or not it is God's will to protect and redeem the child, he does not realize it may be he who needs salvation.
What I liked about this book
Clever Wordplay of Title
As chiaroscuro refers to the use of contrasting light and dark in art, it is an apt title for this book, as it centers upon Father Molinari's struggle to define the boundaries between light and dark; his only reconciliation being the recognition of “shades” and the dangers of blurring those boundaries.
Compelling Storyline & Powerful Conclusion
This paranormal novel has decent hooks. Within the third chapter, I was more than curious as it provided mystery and then a fast start of action. A few chapters later, and the suspense kept me on. By chapter sixteen, the depth of the characters had me completely attached and needing a resolution to their story… and I got it. It was a bittersweet, but necessary and inescapable conclusion.
Use of Environment
Cox employs an appropriate amount of environmental sensory details. They are immersive, but not overwhelming. I enjoyed that they are not just present for their own sake, but serve as a backdrop for Molinari's changing states of mood and situation. The world, as built, is accurate to applicable historical references and maintains an intact continuity.
Confident in Reader's Abilities
This is a intelligent read. I appreciate that Cox wrote from the assumption that his readers do not need to be guided to every critical plot point. Nor that they should be reminded of details from earlier in the story. This aspect is something I find to be complimentary. There were instances where some dialog appeared to be repetitive. Which, in some ways, it was. However, this must be forgiven as this is appropriate for child characters, and adults who are plagued with anxiety.
Cox's command of the written word is impressive, but certainly not applied in daunting way. If you have language references for Latin, French, and Italian, keep them handy as they are occasionally used. Not to worry though, most of these occurrences are explained through context. Be careful of subtle inferences, as certain segments take on entirely different meanings when read with deliberation. The structure of Chiaroscuro is well planned as each transition is smooth, and the formatting is easy on the eyes. Many thanks for a thoroughly edited work.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys vampire genre or compelling narratives.
What I disliked about this book
If not for my invested interest in the plight of these dynamic characters, I would have had trouble reading through some of the chapters. To be fair, there were only a handful of instances in which I found myself a bit bored with the protagonist's moments of peace. Most calm sections of the book were well used to develop the characters and story line. This is the reason for the half leaf demerit.
About Matthew Cox (from author's website)
Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world, in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.
More recently, he has forayed into young-adult and middle grade novels.
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour, and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.
He is also fond of cats.
Be sure to check out the release party for this book. One lucky participant will receive a FREE signed copy of Chiaroscuro!
In the summer of 2011, my wife and I decided that we would not have enough space in the house for everything as our little baby would get older and need more personal room. So, we committed to building a small storage shed (12 feet square).
Since then it has also served as a workspace for a metal art studio, where I created my blades (knives, swords, etc.), armor, and other creations. I had pursued this for a while, but I required that I spend many hours away from my family.
I had recently attended Utopia Con in Nashville, TN. It was there that I met an extraordinary group of people that, are in various ways, connected to the writing industry. It was an experience of transformation and clarity for myself and my wife. While she has always had an interest in books, stories and the craft of a tale, she never pursued authorship. Her new friends from that conference have given her the confidence to pursue publishing. For me I also enjoy books, and being in the company of others that do as well. So much that I would share my finding of a next good adventure with people I hardly knew. Before Utopia Con, I did not know that book blogging was a "thing." Now that I do, I know where my next adventure is going.
Which brings us back to the shed, and it's transformation. As a shop, it had sat idle for a few months before the conference. Now we need it for a new purpose: to become a place of solitude and tranquillity for both of us to delve into our respective roles in literature, without the frequent distractions that are commonplace for parents of young children. Please join me on this adventure as I renovate a space, sustain various injuries, and discover a new aspect of my creativity.
I am super excited to be a part of the upcoming release of this book! A review will be published on Chiaroscuro's release date July 18, 2016. In the meantime, Matt has posted the blurb here on Thunderclap. Please go read it and see why I am so excited. Also support the Thunderclap so we can get this awesomeness to even MORE deserving readers.
I love books! For most of my life I have been reading them, and giving my insights to friends and family. This blog is for sharing that passion with the many others that love books too.