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June 5, 2013

Braine Reviews: Last Chance by Michelle Birbeck






Series: The Keeper's Chronicles 2
Format: Digital ARC
Release Date: May 30, 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Source: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy
With her race saved from the brink of extinction, Serenity’s life could not be better. Married, finally, to Ray, and back in London for the first time in a century, retirement isn’t coming easy. Being a housewife was never in her make up.

But when Lizzy calls to say the Keepers’ records have been stolen, retirement is preferable over the danger they now face.

Targets once more, Serenity’s isn’t inclined to sit back and let her brothers and sisters face the losses she witnessed, but the order to move an entire race comes at a price.

Whoever is behind the threat, they show none of the mercy The Seats once did. No broken families left to suffer the loss of parents, aunts, uncles. This time they’ve gone too far, and when they take the lives of the race’s children, Serenity’s mind is made up.

This time they will be no threats, no mercy.

This time there’ll be no survivors.

LAST CHANCE is the sequel to one of my favorite reads last year, The Last Keeper, and book two of Michelle Birbeck's fantasy series, The Keeper's Chronicles. For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, it's mainly about vampires and the Keepers are these superhumans who help keep the blood suckers in check. They are sort of a supernatural police with their own unique abilities and the one leading them is the very compassionate but certainly a kick-ass green-eyed, redhead heroine, Serenity Cardea Synclair. When The Last Keeper ended, things are starting to get manageable for Serenity with the Keeper lines revived and a delicate truce set up with the vampires are set, one would think she's on her way to live her HEA with Ray and her family.

Wrong!

Being a Keeper sure is hard work especially if you're The Keeper everyone has their eye on. With the Keeper lines restored, a militant group of supes are after them, murdering not only descendants but innocent men, women and children and Serenity's on a mission to put a stop to the killings but with a hefty prize. The list of ordeals, near-misses, heartaches and heartbreaks Serenity and her friends went through it wrenching. For me the most poignant but powerful part was when Serenity and Ray were doing their mind thing, taking a trip down memory lane, back to where their love affair started. Hoping that their love will awaken Ray from his bloodlust. They've both come a long way and to reminisce with them was very touching. 

As my version is an ARC, I found it a little difficult to read through because of the absence of chapter breaks. I never realized til reading LAST CHANCE how important book chapters are! But aside from this minor technicality, Izzy's  super seeing powers are a little scary/over the top. She's beyond a super computer, being able to see everything before it actually happens. It's close to impossible to be under the radar as far as this girl is concerned. Now my favorite character in this book has to be Poppy! In The Last Keeper Poppy is described as this very infamous and vicious vampire who've gone a little makeover. To see glimpses of her formal feral self was very satisfying.

LAST CHANCE and The Keeper's Chronicles for that matter is a beautiful and emotionally powerful series. The main thread that being about love and how it triumphs anything that life can hurl at us, immortal or not. As for the specifics, MBirbeck really did a great job in contrasting immortality and the temporariness of life. The beauty of living several lifetimes versus the curse of losing loved ones in the process, showing us that even immortals aren't immune to grief and loss. MBirbeck's prose is beautiful and emotional it's hard not to get emotionally involved. Fans of Deborah Harkness will love the series.



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Non-fiction/Contemporary everyone should take the time to read 
Most of the non-fiction books I read are about torture and serial killers. However, if you ever spot any on that subject they do make fascinating reads. It's also great to have serial killer books to had for writing horror, as you never know when you might need a new way to kill someone. They also give great insights into what makes people tick. I have too many on the subject to name them all, but they are all worth keeping an eye out for. Also, they are great for getting rid of unwanted guests if you keep them on display in your living room. (Great decorating tip, I'll make note of this)


Song that never fails to make you bust a move
I go through phases of songs. Certain ones will make me get up and dance or sing at the top of my voice for weeks at a time, but then weeks later it will have me skipping the track. However, though my tastes vary from week to week and sometimes even day to day, there are several that appear on every playlist I have. 

Decode, by Paramore. 
Closer by Nine Inch Nails.
Protectors of the Earth by Two Steps From Hell.
And the Doctor Who/Greenday crossover song. 


Fellow author you really want to meet aside from Anne Rice
l'd like to say Richard Laymon, but unfortunately he isn't with us anymore. So I am going to say J.R Ward. Because I would love to shake the hand of the woman who brought us the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and more specifically, Wrath. (I agree!)


Last book you read
The last full length novel I read was Lover at Last by JR Ward, and the last short story I read was a re-read of The Secret of Dreams by Lisa Fox. 


Guilty pleasure
Guilty Pleasures. The book. By Laura Lee Guhrke. The reason it is a guilty pleasure is because it is straight romance. Nothing supernatural. Nothing other than humans going bump in the night. Romance from cover to cover. It's an unusual choice of book for me, as I prefer monsters and creatures and anything paranormal, but I've had my copy a long time now and have read it several times. There is just something about it that I love. 


Beach or the mountains?
Oh, that's a tough one! Part of me wants to say beach as I have always lived near the ocean and I adore the sea. However, the other part of me wants to say mountains. I spent quite a bit of time walking, and still do, and mountains and forests are fantastic for little known walking paths. If I could, I would have a beach at the bottom of a mountain. If not, then the beach, because I can live without the mountains. I can't live without being able to visit, see or hear the sea. 


Favorite junk food
Chocolate and pizza. I like my pizza with meat, a little bit of cheese, and lots of spice, slightly on the undercooked side with a nice, thin base. And I like my chocolate white or milk with melting truffle centres. And now my mouth is watering at the thought of chocolate. 


Wine, hard liquor or beer?
Wine as a permanent part of my house in either sweet white or rose, any kind of red, or the occasional bubbly. But I do like rum on occasion, Baileys as a treat, coffee schnapps because it is far too nice, and pear cider for nice days in the garden. Can't stand beer, though, at all!


Place you want to visit soon
Where do I start! Germany. I would love to visit my friend in Germany. But I also want to see the pyramids (though I refuse to go inside them, I will be happy to see the outside only), and the bunny island of Japan, and Texas. 


Next book signing/book conference/appearance gig
My immediate next one is the launch party on June 14th, but I am also at Ormesby Library (Middlesbrough, UK) on August 7th, and I will be at Goth Weekend in Whitby in November!


Michelle is 30 and has been writing and reading her whole life. Her earliest memory of books was when she was five and decided to try and teach her fish how to read, by putting her Beatrix Potter books in the fish tank with them. Since then her love of books has grown, and now she is writing her own, and looking forward to seeing them on her shelves, though they won’t be going anywhere near the fish tank.


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