Tag Archive | Drugs

Flotilla by Daniel Haight

FlotillaSource: Copy from author
Format: Ebook
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Flotilla is an unyielding exploration of people and technology in a perilous world. When 15-year-old Jim joins his dad on Colony D, he doesn’t see it as the new frontier in green technology and sustainability; he sees a free pass out of rehab to spend the summer on a man-made island in the Pacific. Jim thinks his troubles are marooned on the mainland, but it turns out that his dad has secrets of his own. When things stop adding up, and Jim becomes suspicious, he makes a horrible discovery.
But now, that’s the least of his problems.

The United States come under attack, and Jim’s parents go missing. Drug runners and modern-day pirates are coming to settle a score. All he and his sister have now are an old boat, limited supplies, and each other. Jim must race against time if he wants to escape the catastrophic meltdown of civilization.

Jim is fourteen years old, and an alcoholic. Or at the very least, a party-going heavy drinker. He comes out of hospital after his latest round of drinking, and is ‘sentenced’ to spending a summer with his Dad, Rick Westfield, on Colony D., a man-made island in the Pacific that houses those farming fish for an on-shore company. Ostensibly, Jim’s father is a fish farmer.

I felt quite sorry for Jim through most of the story. From everything he says (Jim narrates the story), he really is trying to get his life back onto an even keel. He learns (not with much help from his dad, Rick, mind) that life is better when one stays away from alcohol, and he just wants to be a normal person. The only problem is, Rick is anything but normal, and keeps throwing Jim into deep ends that he has to wade out of – not helpful deep ends either, much. Jim eventually figures that Rick is running “scams” (deals) with other people in Colony D – though he never directly admits to doing so – and Jim keeps getting caught in the middle of them.

There were some really touching moments when Jim speaks of his little sister Maddy, and one can tell, despite the issues he has with alcohol and his parents, he really loves and cares for her. But is helpless at the hands of his parents, who barely attempt to comprehend him.

Though this book does end on a post-apocalyptic note, I wouldn’t classify it as post-apocalyptic. The vast majority of the action takes place on Colony D (the flotilla of the title), and is a study in the culture of the colony. It follows Jim’s adventures, or misadventures, as he gets to know the inhabitants of the colony (at the hand of his dad, who is rather off-hand about most things), all while trying to not drink. It was, for me, more reminiscent of a disaster story, when all hell breaks loose towards the end.

Overall a very interesting read, and I would be happy to read another book by Haight.


Hidden in Ashes by Rachel Leigh Smith

Hidden in AshesSource: ARC from author
Format: ebook
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Childhood enmity turns to love, with one problem: his heart isn’t his to give.

Lorin is a daro, a Lokmane man trained to make humans feel special and valued. As Prime of Arkos House, no one stands between him and the safety of the daros under his care—except his mistress. The dead one, and the new one. He needs to focus on the Essence crisis infiltrating the Houses, and his sister’s safety. Not figure out how to balance his duties with falling in love.

When her mother dies, emotionally wounded Sagira Memeos becomes the Marcasian Empire’s newest High Lady. And reluctant owner of the most sought after daro in said empire. He’s her childhood nemesis, and way too sexy for his own good. With his kindness finding its way into her bruised soul, asking for his help to navigate her succession to ruling high lady probably isn’t her brightest idea.

Lorin wants Sagira. But not if he has to pay for it with innocent lives. She’s a distraction he can’t afford while the bedrock of Marcasian high society is under attack. Not to mention facing losing his sister to the man who wounded Sagira. If the daro houses fall, all hope of freedom goes with them.

An up-front warning – this book is not for the faint of heart, or those unable to deal with abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual. There are some graphic descriptions of abuse: while most action is off-page, it is discussed on-page.

This is, I think one of Smith’s gentler novels, but at the same time, she still takes her time taking your heart apart piece by piece – and at one point, she certainly ripped mine to shreds – and then patches it all back together again ready for the end.

My goodness. Nothing in the universe Smith has created ever comes easy – especially for the Lokmane. In this novel we get to know Lorin – a Lokmane daro we met briefly in Freedom’s Embrace – and Sunny, who some of us may have met as a babe in a short story Smith shared a while back. And as usual, Smith’s characters are broken people – usually through abuse of one form or another – who are trying to learn how to stand on their own two feet again.

Smith made me cry. Now, I am NOT a person who cries easily when reading books. The fact that this was the second book within a month that got to me says more of my fragile health at the time than anything else, but even then I think I would have had tears in my eyes at a particular revelation in the book. In all, I have huge respect for an author who can engage my emotions in a story that far.

I loved learning more about the Marcasian society, and it was special getting to know Lorin and Sunny. I look forward to meeting them again one day, as surely their story is incomplete.