Friday, October 5, 2012

Clutch, Fledge, and Flight by J.A. Huss

Title: Clutch
Author: J.A. Huss
My Rating: A-

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Story Overview:
How long can you lie to yourself before it all comes apart?

In 2152 the avian race is on Earth looking for something stolen from them decades ago – their genetics. At the center of the search lies the Rural Republic; a small backwards farming country with high hopes of military domination and a penchant for illegal bioengineering.

19 year old Junco Coot is the daughter of the Rural Republic’s ranking commander. She’s the most foul-mouthed, wildly unpredictable and ruthless sniper the Rural Republic has ever trained. But when her father’s death sparks a trip into forbidden places, she triggers events that will change everything she knows to be true.

As an elite avian military officer, Tier’s mission is to destroy the bioengineering projects, kill Commander Coot’s daughter, and return home immediately. There’s just one problem. Junco isn’t who she claims to be.

With no one to trust, not even herself, Junco must confront the secrets of her past and accept her place in the future, or risk losing herself completely.

CONTENT WARNING The I Am Just Junco series is NOT YOUNG ADULT. This series contains foul language and graphic violence

My Review:
What a completely different and completely original book. This is one of those books that you keep reading just to find out what the heck is going on and a lot of that is because the heroine of the book, Junco, is clueless too. 

Junco is a 19 yo soldier on the run after her father's funeral when she runs into an animal that sends her vehicle, and somewhat symbolically her life too, careening off the road. An Avian, Tier, rescues her. Avian's are humanoid, but they have wings. 

As I sit here and try to think what else I can tell you about the story that won't provide a spoiler of some sort...I don't think there's anything else I can say specific to the story without messing with your enjoyment of the book. That's one of the reasons that this book is so has a seriously interwoven story line that moves and reveals little bits when and where you least expect them. I never knew what was going to happen next. It was so good in that way.

Junco is amazing. She is one messed up girl, but she continues to come up swinging when anyone would just give up. This girl does not know how to quit and I loved her character for it. She receives blow after blow after blow...some of them so fierce that they left me as the reader gasping and crying for her. *gah* My heart just ached for her. At the same time, this girl is fierce...she doesn't think twice about doing WHATever she has to do to survive ANYway she can. She has a recurring dream throughout the book and when it came out as to what this dream was about, I was literally sobbing for her. 

Then there's Tier, the Avian who obviously cares deeply for her. I love the way that J.A. wrote his character. Nothing is ever really said about his feelings for her, but there is so much depth that you can feel just crawling off the page when he's dealing with her. Teeny-tiny spoiler: She doesn't know it, but he's been a part of her life for 2 years. In that time, he's come to care for her and the amazing person that she is. He also realizes that she simply needs someone to be on her side. He decides to be that person...she just has to accept him and his help. I thought it was going to kill me waiting for her to do that. I truly fell in love with his character (and will admit that it scares me a bit to not see his name on the story description for book #3...*eeks*....I will be a basket case if something happens to him...I'm just warning you now.)

This book ends in somewhat of a cliffhanger, but that is the brilliance of the way that J.A. has released these books...the first three are releasing at once. I love that and am now dying to dig into reading book #2...(yes, I write my reviews as soon as I finish reading the, even though my review for #2 is below, when I actually wrote this review, I hadn't read #2 or #3 yet.)

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Title: Fledge
Author: J.A. Huss
My Rating: A

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Story Overview:
Well-trained soldier or genetically engineered monster?

Junco Coot can’t even remember her trip off Earth; she was too busy being morphed into her new avian body. But reality hits her hard when she wakes up to find her new life is not what she expected. Not even close.

Tier is on trial for treason, the avian president wants her dead, her new military team is hostile, her body is being taken over by an illicit AI, and her only friend is a ten-year old throwaway boy.

In most places the avian Fledge ritual would be nothing more than mass murder, but here in the capital city of Amelia, it’s called growing up. Junco has two choices: fight to the death to prove her worth, or get sent back to Earth in the hands of her enemies.

In a foreign culture and surrounded by people she can’t trust or count on, Junco must find a way to save herself and Tier without losing her immortal soul in the process.

CONTENT WARNING - Just like CLUTCH, Book Two has lots of bad language and extreme violence. You've been warned. This series is NOT YOUNG ADULT.

My Review:
Wow, Wow, WOW...this book ROCKED! OMG, it was so good. Honestly, I'm debating between an A and an A+ rating on this one. I think I will go with an A, but that is only because there were certain parts of the books especially the battle scenes which I found to be too closely reminiscent of the Hunger Games battle scenes....especially the tubes. BUT you all know that I adored the Hunger Games, so that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

But back to this book. Did I say WOW?? There is so much creativity to this series. This book finds Junco on the Avian world and learning a new culture, with a whole group of people that she doesn't know. Lucan is in charge and he's the one who had given the kill-order on her originally. Tier is on trial for treason for not killing her and the penalty if found guilty is death. In the midst of all that, Junco is now part of a warrior team 039. She's the 9th member of this 8-man team. In book #1, we learned that Tier had been watching her for 2 years and that's how he has such strong feelings for her. Now we find out the ENTIRE team has been watching her for that long...and yeah, I think they are all halfway in love with her. (sidenote: OMG, I love each and every one of these guys...seriously!!! I love the way that J.A. has written their characters!)

As a new Avian, Junco is having to go through the Fledge....this is a brutal, horrific physical challenge that results in the majority of the 1000 contestants who start to be killed in the most horrible ways. There are 7 total challenges and by the end, there were only around 8-10 left...yes, out of 1000. Having been taught how to kill at will since the age of 6, this should be old-school for Junco, but the majority of those 1000 are kids....some that she grows really attached to over the course of the challenge. To say it's mentally trying puts it mildly. 

In the midst of all that, she's also trying to figure out how to save Tier, how to deal with the new AI technology living inside of her, how to live in this new society, and how to deal with confusing feelings for several of the men in her life. It's a lot for anyone to handle, but Junco continues to fight on. That's what makes these books so good...her indomitable spirit. It's amazing how she continues to battle up out of her psyche and move on when it would be just so much easier to lay down and die. I really do love Junco's character. First and foremost, she's incredibly tough. She's had to be because that's how they've created her. I love her attitude. So many times she goes into no-win situations with no idea how she's going to escape, but she goes anyway. She's a completely balls-to-the-wall kind of gal in each and every situation. But she's also completely open and honest. Some of the things that she says, she knows are going to get her into deep problems, but she says them anyway. That's just the way that she is. I love her. Her team loves her. 

A lot happens in this book and there are a lot of shifts among the characters that I did not see coming. It will be interesting to see how and if it all plays out in the coming books. I have one more in the series to read. I'm hoping that's not the end of the series though because I am truly enjoying it!! If you enjoy sci-fi or urban fantasy, I think you're going to like this one!!

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Title: Flight
Author: J.A. Huss
My Rating: A

Purchase Links:

Story Overview:
You don’t want to owe that Luck bastard anything. It always asks for something in return.

There’s a new twist on an old prophecy and this one brings the End of Days. Junco must make a choice – human or avian? Only one race can survive.

Lucan has secrets and the lies are flowing like a mountain river during spring thaw. But he needs Junco to cooperate just a little bit longer or it all falls apart.

The Siblings on Earth are waiting for the Seventh to return and pull their clutch together. But Earth has secrets too – secrets that change everything.

Junco has survived against impossible odds, but the cost of survival is higher than she ever imagined. Luck is about to catch up with Junco Coot and her debt must be paid.

CONTENT WARNING - You know the drill...this is Junco we're talking about, right? Bad language, no qualms about killing

My Review:
Hmm, I'm not sure what to do with this installment in the series. Honestly, I am still reeling from the emotional impact of this book. This is definitely the book to leave me with the book hangover...which is so not good since I have no idea when book #4 is coming out. (please, I really need it to be released SOON!) This book was painful in so many ways, but that's the sign of a good book, right? You know when you are so emotionally invested that it leaves you completely wrung out? That's the way I feel after this book.

There were so many hits for Junco in this book and there aren't any that I can even discuss without spoilers. Throughout this book, Junco is definitely more emotionally fragile than in the other two books before this. Everything that she's gone through is just piling up on her. This girl needs a vacation in the worst way...instead she has the weight of the world, her team, and Tier all upon her...pressuring her to be strong. She's just 19 and is buckling under it all. As a reader, it emotionally hurts to read this book. Every time she turns around, there's another blow...and you just don't know for sure who she should be trusting.

In this book the team is headed to Earth to save the five siblings who remain there. Almost the entire book is a huge battle...and it's not pretty. In between, Junco is learning more truths about her life that she didn't know or didn't remember. She's been so messed up by everyone in her life. It's amazing that the girl holds it together as well as she does. And in the end, I agreed with what she did...wholeheartedly, but am not sure about how I feel with the outcome. Lucan? I'm just not feeling it. I just don't connect with him the way that I do the other characters. Maybe because he holds so much power? I'm just not sure I trust that. 

There is one thing that's been a constant in Junco's life, besides the constant killing...there has never been a single person whom she's loved that's ever managed to stick. As a result, she takes comfort and love whenever she can get it. In fact, in this book Istan calls her out about it, calling her too free with her love. She becomes really emotionally intimate (not so much in a sexual manner, but it's still an intimate thing) with several of the guys throughout these books which doesn't really feel right knowing her relationship with Tier, but when you look at her life, it's understandable. And it makes it that much more crushing emotionally once again when someone she loves disappears from her life. Unfortunately, there is too much of that loss in this book.

Then there is the small teaser for book #4 and it just makes me want to sob for her. *gah* Again, this is a sign of an amazing series...I care so much about this character. It's probably not healthy since this is completely fictional world and set of characters, but I have come to love them and care about what's happening. I can't even imagine where the series goes from here, but I'm very excited to find out. (again....soon, right?? Please....)

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

About the Author:

J. A. Huss never took a creative writing class in her life. Some would say it shows. Others might cut her some slack. She did however, get educated and graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Equine Science. She had grand dreams of getting a Ph.D. but while she loves science, she hated academia and settled for a M.S. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida.

She went on to write science curriculum for homeschoolers and now runs a successful home business that creates and offers online science unit studies. When she’s not writing science curriculum or fiction, she works as a farm inspector, traveling the Eastern Plains of Colorado in variety of environmentally friendly vehicles that never have four-wheel drive, so when she gets stuck in the mud in said vehicles, she has to beg for assistance from anyone who will help her. She is not bitter about that at all. 

She’s always packing heat and she is owned by two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.

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1 comment:

Julie said...

Christi! You did SUCH a great job in these reviews with the no-spoilers stuff! I'm touched by what you wrote! Thank you so much - and if you want to be a beta reader for the fourth book, just let me know... :) Junco seriously needs some happy times in the next book!