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review 2017-09-25 11:47
Had potential
The Nero Protocol - Victoria Zagar

This had the potential to be something great but unfortunately it ended up being underdeveloped.

Elias started off as a hard-boiled homeless guy, then as soon as he returned home he regressed to a whiney teenager and his character never really recovered. I felt as if the author never really had a true grip on Elias' personality or his history. Also there were points where I almost felt she was hinting that Elias was a synth himself, but that line of thought was either a red herring or me reading too much into certain phrases. 

I never really felt the romance between the leads and since Ario was a sex robot it would have helped to know he wasn't just following his programming. There were hints but it wasn't a strong enough connection for me to be sure.

The plot kind of went haywire for me towards the end, things reaching a crescendo and being wrapped up too quickly.


Had some interesting ideas on humanity and what makes us human but failed to deliver on the romance front and a solid end to the plot.

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review 2015-11-27 00:00
The Dragon's Curse
The Dragon's Curse - Victoria Zagar Sometimes war is inevitable. While we feel like it can be avoided, a power hungry king can make all of your efforts feel for naught. Lord Aiden and Prince Varion have been secretly meeting to see what they can do to keep the peace between Prince Varion’s Summer Kingdom and Lord Aiden’s Greenlands. However, the king of Summer Kingdom craves the power of the dragon and will stop at nothing to get it… even if it means killing his own blood.

Varion and Aiden have made a blood pact that they will do whatever it takes to keep the Dragonfolk (people said to be descendants of dragons) safe from Varion’s father, King Cendali… even if that means Varion committing treason. Varion has also made a promise to his mother that he will protect his younger brother from their father. What do you do when your brother is determined to be the apple of his father’s eye?

King Cendali grows tired of Prince Varion’s “inability” to kill Lord Aiden, who has offered asylum to Prince Varion. He has sent Prince Varion to kill Lord Aiden. If he can’t, then his brother will. Aiden and Varion have learned the secret behind the power of the Dragonfolk… the power of the Dragonfolk allows them to become a dragon at will… but at a great cost. As Aiden and Varion race to save the Dragonfolk, can they save themselves from certain death and still find a way to be together?

It was a quick story about how war can define a person and what’s important to them. Varion and Aiden are young men who have an idea of how to bring peace to the world and how everyone should love one another, with no bloodshed. While it is idealistic… unfortunately, not realistic. It was something they learned early on. Another lesson they learned… your life may not turn out how you thought it would, but your life is exactly what it should be… and if you’re lucky, you can find love in the process.
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review 2015-05-05 00:00
The Dragon's Curse
The Dragon's Curse - Victoria Zagar Review copy from Netgalley

3.5 Stars

On the eve of war between their two countries, Lord Aidan of the Greenlands and Prince Varion of the Summerlands finally voice their feelings for each other. The two men have been meeting in secret for over a year trying to negotiate peace, but due to the warmongering of Price Varion’s father King Cendai this is not achievable
King Cendai is a vicious and cruel character who has fathered seven sons from at least 5 wives. His newest war is to try and take out the Dragonfolk, a people who are descended from Dragons. The dragonfolk live under a horrible curse that kills the Male once they mate, and King Cendai is after the knowledge of the Dragon power which allows anyone to turn into a dragon but at a cost to the person. To achieve this he uses two of his son’s Varion and Tiernon.
Varion is a kind and noble man, one who doesn’t fit into Cendai’s court. Somehow he has kept his humanity while growing up in this father’s court because everyone else we meet from this court is cruel. He is held captive by a deathbed promise he made his mother to look after his brothers and ensure they don’t turn out like their father. This promise is one that hurts Varion time and time again, Tiernon the only brother we meet, is already manipulative and cruel like his father believing that this is the only way to survive his father’s court, but Varion holds to his promise and tries help Tiernon regardless of the cost to himself.
Aidan is the nephew to the king of Greenlands. He is a brave character that will do anything to help the people he cares about. When we meet the two men Aidan offers Varion asylum which Varion refuses. When Varion and his father are in trouble he uses the dragon power to transform into a dragon at great cost to himself.
Even though it was a short book, the world the author built was enjoyable. It moved quickly through and each scene was fleshed out. I liked Aidan and Varion together, they were well suited and fought to protect each other.
My only niggle is that I felt the ending was rushed and care wasn’t given to some of the characters there was more emotion shown to the death of Niall than the death of Aidan’s father. At the time he just blinks and back onto research. Regardless of if it was expected, I still would have expected Aidan to at least react to the death of his father, not just dismiss it entirely
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review 2014-12-30 15:37
Wings of Destruction by Victoria Zagar
Wings of Destruction - Victoria Zagar

I bought this, after considerable internal debate, because it was tagged “asexual romance.” The reasons why it took me a while to finally hit the “buy” button included reviews that said it wasn't very good, its price-to-word count ratio (it cost about twice what I would normally be willing to pay for something this long), and angels (I don't read much angel fiction).

Anyway, this novella takes place an indeterminate amount of time in the future. An economic collapse plunged the world into chaos, and now everyone is either affiliated with a gang or living in fear of the gangs. If you're with one of the gangs, you're either a sex slave or you have a mate and are marginally protected. Martin, an asexual man, is scared and depressed. He's just been left by his latest mate – every one of them ends up wanting more from him than he's willing to give. Seeing no other acceptable options, he decides to kill himself by jumping off Spire Rock. He is saved by the angel Anael, who has been sent to evaluate humans and determine whether it would be best to destroy everything with Black Rain, thereby wiping the slate clean for God's next new world. The angel decides that Martin will be his guide as he makes his final decision.

I'll start with the good. I was interested enough in the story to see where the author was going to go with all of this, so the 59 pages weren't as much of a slog as I'd feared they would be. Also, it was nice that both the asexual character (Martin) and the transgender character (that one's a spoiler) got happy endings.

Now for the bad. According to the copyright page, this had two editors. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they checked for typos and did little else. This needed a lot more work than that. There were phrases and word choices that needed tweaking, and world details and character interactions would have benefited from someone going over it all and asking “Does this make sense? Is any of it contradictory?”

Some examples:

“A tormented expression and the rings around his sad, blue eyes had made him look older than he actually was.” (9)

I'm pretty sure the author actually meant “circles under his eyes” rather than “rings around his eyes.”

“Matching red uniforms finished their costumes, a red that signified the color of the Scrapers, the gang that ruled these parts.” (13)

This is redundant, as we're told twice that their uniforms are red. Also, red doesn't signify a color, it is a color.

As far as the world went, I have no clue how it was able to function. George R.R. Martin's Westeros is less brutal than this place – neither adults nor children were safe from being turned into sex slaves by the gangs, and it didn't seem like anyone did anything but hide (if you weren't in a gang), fight, or rape. How was everyone staying fed? Readers were told that the gas had run out long ago, so I wouldn't think there'd be much canned food left, but at the same time no one seemed to be producing any new food. Where were the gardens, the livestock, and the people to take care of it all? Oh, and where did the gangs get all those bullets? They used them like they were playing a video game with unlimited ammo.

Another thing the author didn't think through very well was time. Readers were told that God slept on the Sabbath, “one day in Heaven that spanned a thousand years in Earth time" (6). However, later on we saw characters in Heaven looking in on people on Earth, 25 years later in Earth time. We were told that the people in Heaven had had “enough time to build a life" (56). Now, math is not my strong suit, but even I know that those numbers don't work out. The characters in Heaven got only a tiny fraction of a day together while those 25 years sped by on Earth.

Now I suppose I should talk about the whole “asexual romance” aspect. Anael and Martin's love for each other was very sudden and bland. I think Martin fell for Anael primarily because Anael didn't have sex organs and was therefore the “safest” romantic partner possible. Anael fell for Martin because Martin saved him, and also maybe because he was “pure.”

This touches on something that made me a little uncomfortable. It felt like readers were supposed to see Martin's asexuality as making him better and purer than others. Sexual feelings were dirty and corrupting. I also didn't like the mention of Martin having been raped “twenty-or-so years ago,” because that came a little too close to indicating that he was asexual because he was raped.

Zagar's efforts to write Martin as an asexual person sometimes felt like being smacked in the face with the exact opposite. For example, here is Martin noticing Anael's appearance: “For a non-sexual being, he was the perfect sculpture of a man. Martin felt the stirring of a yearning that had nothing to do with sexual hunger.” (15) And here's one I cut short to avoid spoilers, although I'll mention that it made my skin crawl in context: “His tender hands moved the sponge over Anael’s body without the slightest hint of wanton desire . . .” (22) By repeatedly telling readers there was nothing sexual about his actions, Zagar managed to make it seem like Martin was thinking about sex all the time.

There are a lot of other things I could write about, like the utter lack of details about characters' lives (What were the names of Martin's mates? No wonder they all left him, if he never bothered to talk to them like they were people) and my discomfort with the magical changes everyone needed to go through in order to be happy, but this review is already long enough. All in all, while I'm glad I wasn't expecting much, I still feel a bit disappointed. The story did manage to hold my interest, but the writing and world-building needed lots of work. I can't see myself ever recommending this to anyone.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2014-12-29 15:35
Reading progress update: I've read 12 out of 59 pages.
Wings of Destruction - Victoria Zagar

"You [humans] have been a troubling experiment. Even more so than the dinosaurs."


Both mentions of the dinosaurs so far have made me laugh, and I don't think they're supposed to. 

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