Saturday, September 26, 2015

Zack (Armed & Dangerous #1) by Cheyenne McCray


Synopsis via

Ever since bad boy Zack Hunter left her ten years ago, breaking her heart, Sky MacKenna hasn't been able to find a man who sets her on fire the way he did. Then he comes striding back into her life—bigger, badder, and sexier than before.

Zack Hunter never thought his job as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent would lead him back to his small hometown, and he never thought he'd set eyes on Sky again. Leaving her behind had been the stupidest thing he'd ever done, but this time he isn't going to let her go. And as soon as Zack lays eyes on Sky, he makes it clear that he intends to make her his all over again.

When Sky becomes entangled in the case he's investigating, Zack can't help but take the threat personally. As the danger mounts, their passion burns even hotter.

**Please note: Zack was published in print only with St. Martin's Griffin. Zack was originally published in eBook and print with Ellora's Cave under the title Wildfire. Character names were changed at St. Martin's request, and the "Armed and Dangerous" versions were expanded considerably from the original "Wild" series.

I have read the original version Miss McCray wrote and I have read this new version. Which is better? Actually I don't think one is better than the other. I think Miss McCray took an excellent read and expanded on it. She is a writer who knows exactly what her readers want and gives it to them.

Zack and Sky are an interesting couple. Here are two people who have a history together. A history that was painful for Sky and difficult for Zack. Zack hurt Sky in a way a woman never forgets. Now Zack is coming back to his home town years later determined to win her back.
This is a story full of emotion, conflict of the heart, and a love that survived time.

I find it hard to write a review for some of Cheyenne's stories. It isn't because the story is bad. It is in fact because the stories and characters are so well written that putting emotion into words can be a very difficult endeavor for most. I fell in love with Zack and Sky as a couple and as individuals. I felt the anxiety Zack felt as he rode back into town. I felt the lust and hurt Sky felt when Zack drove onto her ranch. Cheyenne writes with such heart and emotion, that the story comes alive in your heart. You can't help but cheer for Sky and Zack. You can't help but hurt when they hurt or feel fear when they feel fear.
Zack is book #1 in the Armed and Dangerous series, but I promise, you won't stop reading until you have completed the series and then, you will still want more!!

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review. Thank you to Miss McCray for this opportunity.

Arena One: Slaverunners by Morgan Rice

Arena One Small.jpg (159731 bytes)

Synopsis via

New York. 2120. American has been decimated, wiped out from the second Civil War. In this post-apocalyptic world, survivors are far and few between. And most of those who do survive are members of the violent gangs, predators who live in the big cities. They patrol the countryside looking for slaves, for fresh victims to bring back into the city for their favorite death sport: Arena One. The death stadium where opponents are made to fight to the death, in the most barbaric of ways. There is only one rule to the arena: no one survives. Ever.

Deep in the wilderness, high up in the Catskill Mountains, 17 year old Brooke Moore manages to survive, hiding out with her younger sister, Bree. They are careful to avoid the gangs of slaverunners who patrol the countryside. But one day, Brooke is not as careful as she can be, and Bree is captured. The slaverunners take her away, heading to the city, and to what will be a certain death.

Brooke, a Marine’s daughter, was raised to be tough, to never back down from a fight. When her sister is taken, Brooke mobilizes, uses everything at her disposal to chase down the slaverunners and get her sister back. Along the way she runs into Ben, 17, another survivor like her, whose brother was taken. Together, they team up on their rescue mission.

What follows is a post-apocalyptic, action-packed thriller, as the two of them pursue the slaverunners on the most dangerous ride of their lives, following them deep into the heart of New York. Along the way, if they are to survive, they will have to make some of the hardest choices and sacrifices of their lives, encountering obstacles neither of them had expected—including their unexpected feelings for each other. Will they rescue their siblings? Will they make it back? And will they, themselves, have to fight in the arena?

This book was brought to my attention by my 17 year old son. He asked if I had read it yet, when I said no and asked if it was any good, he simply replied "Yep. You need to read it." For Josh that is a very high recommendation. Well, I read the book and here I am.

What I liked about the book: I enjoyed that it was fast-paced and full of action. It pretty much ran like an action-adventure movie in my head the whole time I read it. There were enough "pause" scenes between the action to explain the back story and nuances into each of the characters, yet not so many that the action was disrupted.
I read some of the other reviews and something that stood out to me was the complaint that some of the action wasn't realistic. Well, I understand that some people need reality to keep them grounded. But the truth is, every day on TV and in the movies we see scenes where reality is tweaked a little to add to the drama or the romance. I don't know how many times during a medical drama I turn to my husband and say "There were so many things wrong with that scene". Or when we are watching a police drama and my husband will say "They make all of us look crooked". You see I love reading because you can go anywhere and do anything you want!
What about readers who just want a book that is a great read and will take them away on an adventure. Arena One will do that. Like I said earlier, it is full of action and adventure. You will have a hard time putting this book down.
So, let's talk about the deeper, more intellectual part of the book:
I enjoyed Miss Rice's take on how we would end up destroying our own country. It is very apropos to the state of our government right now-the republican and democratic nominees slinging mud and how the president and congress keep facing off. Not to mention the intensity of tension and skirmishes on social media between everyday people on current events and politics. Was it meant to be a political statement? I don't know, but you can't help but think about the ramifications. Was it meant to just be a story to carry the action junky away? I don't know, but it works for me. Was it meant to be a means to get young people back into reading for the love of reading and not just for school? I don't know, but my son found another book to keep him reading and that alone is worth it for me as a mother.
Here is my take on this book: I think it should be brought in to schools and offered as a comparison to George Orwell's 1984. Arena One is more relevant to today's politics and state of unrest than 1984. But by reading both, the reader will be able to see how different, yet similar writers of the different decades viewed conflict within our own country's leadership.

I place this book on the "must read" list of reader who like Dystopian Fiction and/or Young Adult.

Happy Reading Y'all!