I usually read Gena Showalter’s adult series. I know she has one other YA series, that I have read. Though, unfortunately, she is not going to finish that series which disappointments me. I like her writing and storytelling and this sounded like an interesting concept. Your Firstlife is only a way of setting up for your Everlife. You have to choose between two realms (Troika and Myriad). Once you die you are taken to those lands and live a whole new life, one that lasts an eternity. I loved the concept but wasn’t sure where the story itself was going to go. Ultimately it was a story about choices, what they mean to us and how they effect the people around us.
Ten is being held in an asylum because she refuses to sign with Myriad. Myriad is the the realm that her parens have signed with and they are all about strength and winning. They like power and thrive in darkness. Troika is the opposite. Troika is about light and seeking the truth. They live life with a few simple principles. From the descriptions you would think that choosing wouldn’t be all that difficult but both realms have their benefits.
Ten refuses to make a choice. She doesn’t hate the idea, or resent Myriad for a reason. She just wants to be able to make her decision without the constant pressure from her parents and people around her. She grew up being told over and over again you have to choose. Some think one realm is better than the other and they are constantly pushing their agenda on her. She gets fed up and will not choose until she can think about the choices on her own without all the voices in her ear.
Ten plans on enduring the turmoil and torture of the asylum until her eighteenth birthday. Once she is a legal adult no one can force her to do anything, she can sign or not sign. No one has stake in her decision anymore. Problem is Ten is not just another soul, she is a special one. Both realms want her because she is a rare person who they need to take out the other realm. Because of this she is sent two Laborers, kind of like guides, who are charged with getting her to sign with one realm or the other. Archer is her Troika Laborer and Killian is her Myriad one.
They try desperately to make her choose but she refuses over and over again. Eventually they learn that this whole thing is bigger than any of them thought at first. There is much more going on and at stake. They begin to work together to keep Ten safe and help her decide what she needs to do.
At first Ten’s character confused me. I could not keep up with her thought process. She switched opinions with each new blink of her eye. One minute she hated Killian, the next she was falling for him. One second she was all about Troika and the next she realized that Myriad may have a point. I could not figure out what the girl wanted.
It took me about half of the novel to figure out how to exactly read her character. Ten’s whole life has been voices in her ear telling her how to think. She has not been able to make her own decisions ever. She is constantly being told to think one way, look one way and act a certain way. She was a puppet for a long time.
Once she gets out of the asylum suddenly she is on her own. She has to think for herself and she has no idea how to do that. She can’t decide because she never had to before. Her choices were never her own. They never hurt anyone because she never made them. Now, every move she makes matters and she is in turmoil.
She was frazzled for much of the novel but as it went on she began to figure out what was going on. She realized that her choices mattered. Realized that she had to think more before acting.
I liked that she even acknowledged her scattered way of acting and thinking. She would references her weird thinking manner. It felt very real to me. Someone who has been controlled for much of their life is going to all-over-the-place when they get to think for theirselves. They don’t know how to do it and they have to learn. We got to watch Ten learn that skill and that was interesting.
I liked this world. I loved the concept. The only issue I had though was the set up wasn’t the best. I found myself lacking details about how exactly things worked. The rankings confused me at times and concepts like Fusion were a bit hard to follow. They had basic definitions but I found myself not really connecting them to the story and their point in the story.
I thought for much of the book that we were supposed to like both realms. They both had good points and bad points. I thought we weren’t supposed to make a choice but that changed in the end. I won’t say which is the “villain,” but I found that a bit jarring. I liked thinking both were decent places to live. To find out one was harmful and sadistic was hard to come to terms with. I’m hoping I can find a connection to the realms better in the next book.
Archer and Killian were two fascinating characters that I want to know more about. They are from opposite realms but have a deep history with one another. There is an interesting connection there that I want to learn more about. Both of them have these outside personalities that they portray to the world but have much more to them. I like that they opened up and we learned who they really were throughout the story. I hope we get too see more of them in the next novel and get to learn more about their history.
I really enjoyed this story. I thought it was fun and interesting. A new concept that kept my attention. I think the world building could have been stronger but hopefully that improves with the next book. If you like YA, witty characters, and a story about learning who you are and what you can do, you will enjoy this one!
What Are You Reading Wednesday, #WAYRW, is a weekly feature over at It’s a Reading Thing. It is pretty simple to take part in, just answer the following three questions about the current book you are reading!
1.) What are you currently reading? – FirstLife by Gena Showalter
2.) Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your eBook and share a couple of sentences.
“Forget the next life. What about this one? Tell me why you’re here.” I motion to our illustrious cell with a tilt of my chin.
“My guardian sent me.” She strides to the second twin bed and sits, and there’s nothing graceful or feminine about her. “Told me to be a light.”
3.) Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?
The world is an interesting concept. Your “firstlife,” is where you set up your next life, which is your eternity. You have to choose between two realms, one that is about light and one is about dark. They each have their merits. I like the idea of living beyond this life but there seems to be a lot of pressure to choose between the two. Everyone is telling you which to choose and it doesn’t seem like you get to make the choice for yourself. There is nothing I hate more than being told what to do and not being able to choose for myself. So I would say no, I’ll pass on this world.
I have been adding a number of books to my “want to read,” shelf on my Goodreads account over the last few months. Between recommendations from blogs and BookTubers I watch, the list has been growing quick. I decided it was time to go on a bit of a book splurge and buy a few of them. I really shouldn’t have because I do have a big trip coming up that I should have been saving my money for but I have zero self-control when it comes to books!!
First up is A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. I just finished the first book in this series (A Darker Shade of Magic)and loved it. ( I will be putting up a review sometime soon.) When I like a series I need to continue reading it. I won’t read a book in-between if I can help it. So this is the one I am currently on and am excited to see what happens next with our characters.
One of my favorite paranormal authors is Gena Showalter. Firstlife is the first in a new young adult series she is writing. It is about a world where your first life is just practice, your real life begins after you die. You have to choose where you will go once you die and a young woman has to decide between two factions and worlds that want her. The concept of being able to choose your afterlife, and that being what is important was an interesting concept to me. I am interested to see what this story is like.
Another Gena Showalter that I bought. This is the next book in The Lords of the Underworld series. I have reviewed the previous book on my blog, (here). I love this series and am so excited to read Bane’s story. I am eager to see where the story goes. Though I was confused when I got this one just because all the other books have been in paperback; but this one is hardback. It won’t detract from the story, it will just look very odd with the other ones from the series on my shelf.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera is one I actually saw a review for by a BookTuber I watch and it sounded really interesting. It is about a sixteen-year-old who is struggling in his life. His girlfriend is helping him but he is falling for his male best friend. He is struggling with what it means and is given a way to help himself. A memory-alternating procedure can help him but leaves him wondering who he truly is. I love the concept of the memory-altering idea and what it means for person and who they are. The reviewer said this one was emotional and gave a lot of “feels.” I am hoping for an emotional journey.
Everyday by David Levithan is one of those books I have been wanting to get for a long time. I really love the other books I have read by Levithan and this one sounded really interesting. It is about someone who wakes up in a new body and a new life each morning. This concept is fascinating to me. I really liked the show Quantum Leap and this sounded similar. I am interested in what this story will end up being about.
One of my favorite things is to have a pile of books waiting for me in my apartment. I anticipate the adventures that I will go on when I am able to dive into their pages. There is a certain air of anticipation in the air when I have a pile of books that are waiting to be read. These are not the only books in my apartment that haven’t be read but they are the ones that I am most anxious to dive into right now.
The first book on my list is Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (A.K.A. J.K. Rowling). I have written about my love for J.K. Rowling
in previous posts. I have also written reviews for the previous two books in her Cormoran Strike series of novels. There was no question that I would be reading this right after it came out. This is probably the one I am most excited to read. While I am not a huge fan of detective novels, the way she dives into the the two main characters lives as well as giving us a intriguing mystery is just fantastic. The summary of this one makes it seem like the mystery here hits much closer to our characters, which means we will be diving deeper into them and learning more their lives which should be great. I am sure it will only take me a few days to finish this one and when I do I will defiantly be posting a review of it!.
The second book on my list is The Phantom TollBooth By Norton Jester. I haven’t read it in a long time. I generally try to read new books but sometimes I have to go back to old favorites to see how they have changed for me. I actually dreamt about this book for some reason and woke up with a very strong desire to read it. I actually had to buy it again because I am not entirely sure where my original copy ended up, (there is a good possibly it is buried in my mom’s teaching closet. It was easier to buy it again then try to dig it out). I am excited to read this one again and see how much different it is for me now that I am older. Many times our favorites books take on a whole new life when we read them with new eyes and minds shaped by age and experience. I am eager to see how this resonates with me now.
The third book on my list is The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman is another one of my favorite authors. I have reviewed a number of his books. He is a master at looking at the world through intriquing and different eyes. I admire the way he writes and the directions his stories take. I actually saw him speak about a week ago. I have not read his graphic novel series but after hearing him talk I had a strong desire to find out what it was all about. I know it is loved and heard a number of people mentioning it during the talk. I’ve read the summary and love the concept and am eager to meet these unique characters in this story.
The fourth book on my list is Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I read and reviewed Horns by him and I really enjoyed that book. It was horror but not overly frightening. It was an interesting story about a man’s decent into the darker side of himself. I was hooked by it and wanted to give another one of his book’s a try. I’ve heard good things about Heart-Shaped Box, though I am a little weary of reading this one. That is only because I have heard it is scary and I am not that great with true dark horror. I tend to get scared easily but I still want to give this one a shot and see if maybe I can open the door to more horror stories for myself.
The sixth book on my list is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This is just a classic book that I have never gotten around to reading. I was never assigned it in school and always had something else I wanted to read before this one. But I was in the bookstore getting something else and saw this on the shelf and decided it was time for me to read it. So I bought it. I do love the dystopian novel genre and I know this is a classic in that area. This is more of me catching up on a book that I have been putting off for too long.
The last book on my list right now is Burning Dawn by Gena Showalter. Showalter is my favorite author in the paranormal romance genre. It is a genre, that I guess, you could call my guilty pleasure. The Lord of the Underworld is my favorite series but this series is good as well. This is the third in The Angles of the Dark series. It is a series that is in the same universe as the Lord series and concerns the trials and tribulations of angels and their romances. These series give me my romance shot with a fun paranormal twist.
Shameless Plug Time:
That is my current list of what I plan on reading over the next few weeks. Do you need something to add to your to-read pile? Why not check out my new short story collection, Is There More? under my penname Brittney Rz ? If you enjoy stories in the vein of Twilight Zone where reality is just a bit off,you will enjoy these stories. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iBooks. This weekend (Friday-Sunday) the e-book will be on sale for only $0.99! So why not take a chance and check it out? If you do and enjoy it, a review would be much appreciated!
What is on your to-read list? Which is your favorite of the ones on my current list?
Romance isn’t my favorite genre of story in either books or movies. Just a plain romance novel generally fails to hold my attention; which is why I tend to gravitate toward paranormal romances. I do like the romance element but I need a more substantial story with some type of fantastic element to keep me from getting bored or distracted. I have read a number of authors and books that are considered paranormal romance but Gena Showalter happens to be my favorite. And The Lords of the Underworld is my favorite of the many series she has written and is writing.
The Darkest Touch is actually the eleventh (and newest) book in the series. The Lords of the Underworld are immortal warriors that used to serve Zeus. They were his elite guard. One day they decided to kill Pandora and open Pandora’s box, upset because Pandora was given the privilege of guarding the box. In so doing they released the demons inside and as punishment Zeus then puts the demons inside each of the Lords. Each Lord houses one demon from Violence and Promiscuity to Pain and Misery. For many centuries they a ravage and destroy the world because they do not have control over their demons. Finally they each are able to get control. They split into two groups, one wanting to destroy their enemies the hunters and the others just wanting to live their lives without problems any longer. They rejoin once again when one of them ends up in trouble. The series is about the twelve of them finding love while also searching for Pandora’s box, in order to rid themselves of their demons and live their lives.
Darkest Touch is Torin’s story. Torin is infected with the demons of disease. He can’t have any type of skin to skin contact with anyone. If he touches anyone they sicken with some horrible disease and if they are mortal, die. If they are immortal they may survive but then they become a carrier of that disease and cannot touch anyone themselves. Torin is responsible for many of the plagues that have ravished the world.
All the Lords are very different and have a variety of personalities. Many of their traits are emphasized by their demons. Torin is a loner, he is terrified of hurting someone or causing someone else to be the one to hurt others. Out of fear he locks himself away. He is in charge of the computers and security system keeping him out of action. He hates being left behind and not being able to be around his friends but he believes that it is for the best.
That is until he meets Keeleycael, Keys for short. He meets her in a prison where she is being held, the same prison where he watches, yet again, as his demon kills someone he has become close to. Keeleycael is known as The Red Queen and she strikes fear in every heart whenever they hear her name. She is kind of like a spirit that is in-tune and connected to the Earth. She changes appearances with the seasons and her power is unrivaled.
Like many of the Lord’s stories the two love interests start by either hating each other or highly distrusting one another. Torin and Keys are both out to destroy one another when the story begins. Keys wants revenge for Torin killing a friend of her, (because he touched her) and Torin needs to get rid of her in order to make sure his friends stay safe. For a while they play a game of chase and attack, but as always happens in these stories they realize they are attracted to one another.
Gena Showalter has a kind of formula for her romances, at least for this series. The two love interests are initially only physically and sexually attracted to one another. (An FYI for anyone who has not read this series and is wanting to read it; the series can get very risqué. If it was a movie I would give it a rating of R without a second thought. The sex scenes are very graphic, so be warned if you plan on reading). They berate themselves for the attraction but quickly they realize they can’t shake the feelings. They are drawn to one another and this attraction pulls them together generally forcing them to work together in some fashion.The physical/sexual attraction pulls them together allowing an emotional attachment to begin to grow. In this book especially the, “I want to touch you but can’t,” is played up because of Torin being literally unable to physically touch Keys without grave consequences.
Torin has never been able to let himself be close to a woman and is actually a virgin. He has always been a kind of awkward and solitary man. He doesn’t want to get close to Keys and he hates how he feels but he slowly realizes that he doesn’t care. He values her life above all others, even his friends who are his only family. The Lords are constantly struggling with the idea that they have these demons who can make them to do terrible things and they don’t want to put the women they love in the path of possible death or destruction. All of them are terrified of hurting the one they have come to love and Torin is no different. He knows he could kill Keys and he will not do that, no matter how much it hurts him.
Another aspect of these books I really like is how strong so many of the women are. They do not take no for an answer and they don’t let themselves be pushed around. They don’t do what the men want all the time and they fight them tooth and nail many of the times. (Especially Lucians (Keeper of Death’s), significant other Anya.). Keys has power beyond anyone’s imagination and she is not going to be pushed around or handled with gloves. She has her own doubts about Torin but she fights for him just as much as he tries to fight for her.
Keys is unsure if she can trust Torin at first. She has been in a few bad relationships and as been taken advantage of. She is cautious and doesn’t open up easily. She needs to make sure he loves her and isn’t just using her because she can help him and his friends find a few items and people. As their relationship grows she sees that he would sacrifice everything for her and she lets herself be open to him.
The love story is the main aspect of the books but there is a very detailed and intricate plot that has been twisting and twining its way through all the books. It started with trying to just take out the hunters and find Pandora’s box but a number of new elements were thrown in and the story has gotten too complicated to be summed up here. People are constantly being kidnapped and tortured, one item is found only for something else to go missing or a new thing to be needed. One enemy goes down while another one shows up who is stronger. I love not only the love story aspect but this plot as well. It is full of mythology, mystery and action and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.
There was only one aspect of this particular book I was disappointed with, which may be rectified later. Baden, a Lord who died centuries ago, is finally brought back to his friends but we don’t get a real reunion scene which was disappointing. His whole return actually felt very quick and for a series they has developed so much, this element felt forced and hurried. I hope we get more about Baden in the last few books, and even a book of his own would be nice.
As with many romance novels some of the writing does get repetitive, (you want to touch each other but can’t, we get it), but it doesn’t draw you out of the story. Just as it may get boring or too much a wrench is thrown in putting you back on the edge of your seat. Each Lord, their significant other, as well as some side characters all have unique personalities. No one disappears completely from the story, all of them come back with their lovers and even children.
This is a fun and captivating paranormal romance series that will have you thrilled and anxious while also making you awe at the love story.