Friday, August 16, 2019

Keri Arthur: Cursed

This is the second book in Keri Arthur's Earth and Air series, Unlit is the first book but there is no connection to the first books in the series. I enjoyed the first, so if you can pick it up too.

Keri Arthur enters back into the world of Earth and Air but something is draining the Earth of it's magic:

Whomever draws the sword from the Glass Throne is destined to be the next ruler and bring peace and prosperity to Cannamore. For thousands of years that individual was the first born son but Princess Nyx Bel-Hannon is not male and not the first born but she and not her brother was able to draw the sword. As this defies tradition and her father's plans Nyx is forced into silence and her powers muted. But darkness is starting to flow across the land, The Earth is losing her power, her voice and those in power continue to ignore it. As punishment for a crime Nyx is sent to the front lines to battle of the battlefield in the hope that she will be killed but Nyx has extremely different plans. To free herself from the bonds that tie her and to take her rightful spot on the throne and to save the land that she loves.

Although this was the second book in this series, you really could lead it as a stand alone. I actually do not know where in the timeframe this book takes place after the first, maybe thousands of years later or maybe just a distant land. We are really given no frame point, which I am kind of disappointed in as I enjoyed the first book. There are some similar themes between the two book such as being an outcast, never truly fitting in, hiding/concealing true power, fears of discovery, flaunting authority etc. Additionally, the creatures are similar to the first one, bug like creatures that live within the Earth and want to rule all. As it was similar to the first I felt like I knew what was going to happen as after reading this book it does not feel completely unique as I found the first.

Nyx is a great lead character, and hardly the princess that anyone expects her to be (really they think she is a trollop who will sleep with anyone). Nxy was never the daughter that her father wanted and with her mother dead, he takes full advantage of his power over her. The hatred that Nyx has to her father and brother is really what she uses to survive as long as she did and her thirst for revenge. She does not trust anyone, other than herself, and she can come across as spoiled at times in her comments as she thinks she knows best but she is really just trying to protect herself. What I liked about Nyx was her resilience to be true to herself when she could, as well as, never forgetting what has happened to her and powering through it all to learn new skills and help others. 

As this was a Keri Arthur book I knew that there was going to be some type of romance in the novel, however, I was pretty surprised how the romance is downplayed, really  more flirting and sexual tension for the most part. This probably has much to do with Nyx's past and what she was forced to do as her father could control her. However, there is quite a bit of talk /innuendos about man parts and sex.

This was a good read and an interesting different, but yet the same, take on the world that Arthur has created (still wishing there was more connection to the first). Nyx was the standout for me in this book, kind of like Neve in the first book in the series. I look forward to picking up the third book in the series.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wendy Walker: The Night Before

In her new book Wendy Walker takes a look at what happens when meeting someone online for a date goes terribly wrong:
Laura Lochner has never had any luck with men or love, starting from when she was a child. She remembers her childhood as always being second to her older sister Rosie and that her parents loved Rosie more than her but it never stopped Laura from looking for love. This trend has followed her into adult life, always falling too hard, too fast for the wrong man. Laura has decided to change her approach and be a different Laura after another heartbreak. She decides to go on a blind online date with Jonathan Fields. The problem is Laura doesn't come home that night. Her sister Rosie fears the worst, there are some violent events in Laura's past that have never been explained and Rosie worries that this might be another one. Where is Laura and who is this Jonathan Fields, Rosie is determined to find out what happened The Night Before.
I am a Big Fan of Walker, I loved her first two books, especially her debut All is not Forgotten, but for me this book is the weakest of the three. This is not to say that I did not enjoy this book in the end, I just enjoyed the previous two more. I found this book hard to really become engaged with the characters and story until over half the book was done as there were times it failed to hold my attention. And I will admit that I almost didn't finish reading it but I knew there had to be something big in the end, and there was, I personally was able to see it coming, but the twist was there. I just felt like Walker has a lot more to give and there was something lacking or even cliché about this book.

For some reason I could not become invested in either Laura or Rosie. Yes, I felt sorry for Laura at times, but at the same time I found that she acted more like a teenager than an adult. I also found her thought process became too repetitive throughout the book, about not trusting her emotions or instincts, when those things had saved her time and time again. She was trying to be a completely different person in a moment when she knew that she shouldn't. Rosie I just felt came off as a whiny character, and I do not think that her perspective in the book really brought anything out in the story, other than it is her, her husband Joe and their long time friend Gabe who are actively looking for Laura. I'm not sure who Walker could have used instead for the present point of view but I just wasn't feeling Rosie

The one thing that I love about Walker is how she has decided to tell her stories. I love the back and fourth between the past and present and how the past slowly catches up to the present timeline. I find that this adds to the overall suspenseful feeling that you are supposed to feel while you are reading her books as you greatly anticipate what it going to happen next, what will Walker reveal.

While not my favourite book that Walker has written, it was able to grab me more in the latter half of the book. I know that this will not stop me from reading her novels and I anxiously await the next book that she releases. Pick up this book if you like more of a psychological suspense or domestic suspense read.
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Holly Black: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Holly Black takes readers to Coldtown, where Vampires rule, human are there for their blood but hoping to make the eternal turn:

It was supposed to be just another summer party, that was until a window was left open by mistake. Tana awakes in the bathtub, and thinks it must have been some party. As she leaves the bathroom, things do not make much sense, where is everyone? When she enters the living room, she sees the horrors that unfolded in the night. All her friends are drained of blood, there is chaos everywhere. As Tana struggles to come to terms with what has happened she hears cries for help from the bedroom. Her ex-boyfriend is there tied to the bed, bitten and the soon to be snack for the vampire chained in there. Tana has a decision to make, does she flee and try to find help but risk Adian dying or help those in the room. Tana chooses to stay and help which changes her life is forever.

This was a good read, what would have made this an exceptional read is not having the main female character fall for the crazy vampire (and I mean legit crazy, was tortured to be crazy and now has very few sane moments). I get that this romantic connection or fascination that Tana feels towards Gabriel fuels many of the decisions that Tana makes and even to some extent Gabriel too but urggghhh I just don't get it. I get that Black was trying to un-pretty the vampire genre a bit when this book was written, but she still had this dysfunctional relationship in here book but all the vampires are still beautiful. While the setting of a Coldtown is nothing fancy sound more like a slum at points, the Vampires themselves are still beautiful. Other than that I really enjoyed this book.

In this world when you are bitten by a Vampire you have 87 days to not drink human blood. If you make it that long you don't turn you go back to human (I believe, not sure if you are forever changed but the hunger will have passed). The catch is the longer you stay "cold" the more you thirst for blood and basically become crazy with the need of it, so I'm guess not a lot make it that far. Hence the need for the creation of Coldtowns. A place where people can go after they are bitten so that they do not harm anyone else. Problem is once you enter a Coldtown it's almost impossible to get out, for a human.

Black’s concepts of coldtowns was interesting with the perceived safety and regulations they present to the human populations. The have created a reserve type system but with way more regulations and lacking of some modern conveniences and foods. It was also interesting that some of the towns were just created while the human population was still living there so you have people that will never be able to escape. Black also did a great job at highlighting the use of social media and how this affects not only how people think but act as well, and the misrepresentation that is often presented in this medium, not everything is rainbows and gum drops which many of our characters quickly learn. Additionally, some of the vampires have used social media in order to not only promote themselves, but entice humans to come join them in Coldtowns where they do need a constant supply of blood. I think that this quite smart of them, using social media to create a fascination with them and to keep the blood supply up, even though the older Vampires did not see it this way.

Tana is a character you can really feel for and get behind (you know minus the whole falling for the crazy vampire thing, but she is a teenager, so I guess that is excepted). She is loyal, take charge, brave and will do what is best for others before herself. She is always on the lookout for her younger sister and wants to make sure that she is protected and she makes quite a few of her decisions, especially in the beginning of the book, with this in mind.

I'm not sure if this book will pan out to be a series or not but I think there are some elements here that could be further explored and I would pick up the book if there was a second. That said the book did come to a conclusion and overall I did enjoy the book especially Black's writing style.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Kelley Armstrong: City of the Lost

In the first book in a new series Kelley Armstrong takes readers to Rockton Yukon where a town full of secrets has a murderer among them:

Casey Duncan is homicide detective that who holds a secret, she committed murder when she was in college. The man she murdered was the grandson of a mobsters and she knew that one day it would catch up to her. So started the self destructive tendency of her life of playing Russian roulette of what she had done. And it does catch up to her and almost kills her, but her friend Diana has a plan. Diana is on the run from her abusive ex-husband who has been stalking her; A town names Rockton. You must apply to live there and if you are accepted you must leave all your old life behind you. Casey isn't the best candidate, they do not take murderers, but she is something the town needs, a homicide detective.

I have always liked Armstrong as an author, though I will admit it has been a few years since I have read any of her series but I am so happy to find this series as this book was amazing in my opinion. I love a small town as they always seem to have some mysterious secrets well in Rockton everyone has secrets so I knew i was going to like this book. People leave their old life and ways behind them when they come to Rockton so it is a secret as to why each person is there  and their reason can vary so much that no two people are alike or have the same backstory. Some are white collar criminals, some are fleeing stalker or abusive husbands, some are fleeing the law but are actually innocent. Rockton is supposed to provide them with a fresh start. It’s like Armstrong personally asked me what I would like to see for a setting of a book and totally delivering on it. I could not have done it better myself (you know if was actually an author who was on the NY times best seller list lol).

I found the plot intricate, compelling and sophisticated all at once as Casey wades through the information she receives and having to do detective and forensic work the old fashion way. I think that is what really stands out in the book, there are no labs to run tests on samples found it is good old fashioned detective work of putting the pieces together so they are able to track down their killer. This helps set this book apart from others written these days taking detective work back to its roots but in a modern way as well. Let’s say there is no DNA or forensic evidence coming that is going to change everything or put the pieces together. This back to basics approach that Armstrong decided to take was really refreshing.

As this town is small 200 people you are introduced to the murderer along the way it is up to the reader to figure out who. I will say I was able to figure it out. I wasn’t always 100% confident in what I was thinking as Armstrong does a good job of making a lot of people suspects but in the end I was right. There were also some secondary story line twists that I did not see coming at all and Armstrong does a good job of intertwining these events  into the main plot line and mystery. Yes, there is some romance aspect that is put in to the book that did take a bit away from the overall plot but at the same time I can see why it happened, I mean it is a town of 200 and women are in the minority so it was bound to happen.

I really enjoyed Casey as a character, her morals and self destructiveness were are interesting combination as well as her continuing to pursue becoming a police officer. I like that Armstrong did take time to flesh out her back story as who Casey is now is very much dependent on her past, and her reasons for coming to Rockton. Through Casey we are able to get to know some of the other people in the town and due to the fact that she is a homicide detective we get to know why some people are there and it shapes her opinion of them and the council.

This is an awesome start to a new series. It had everything I wanted and then some for a mystery/thriller read. Armstrong knows how to set the stage and keep the story not only flowing but interesting as well. I know I’m invested in Rockton now and cannot wait to read the next book.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Nicholas Sansbury Smith: Hell Divers Wolves

This is the Fourth book in this series, so you will want to read the first three (Hell Divers, Ghosts, Deliverance) in order to understand this world and well not have some major spoilers from this book. Also this series is amazing, one of my favourites that I have been reading the past few years, so yeah you should just go pick it up. Also don’t keep reading as major major spoilers if you haven’t read the previous 3.

Nicholas Sansbury Smith returns to the original premise of the series of trying to find a place for humans to survive on the desolate Earth:

The Sea Wolf helmed by X and Magnolia set out for their search of the mysterious and deadly Cazadores and their metal island. The ocean is a vast place but X has been there before traveling across what was once the United States, he has the time, patience, and skill to match anything that the ocean can throw at him, or does he. Brutal storms, sea monsters, and the cannibalistic Cazadores may be the least of their worries as the discover what really caused the wars and left mankind struggling for survival in the air. One thing is for sure if X can find those in the air a new home he will, no matter what the cost.

Ah how I love this series, it is amazing and I will not stop singing praises for it. This book had action, twist turns,  suspense, character development and in true Sansbury Smith fashion you never know who is going to make it out in the end. I liked that Sansbury Smith decided to change things up a bit as the mainland was getting so boring (not really but I liked the new direction) and what better way than to have the Hell Divers end up on the Ocean. Sansbury Smith is known for his imaginative creatures on land, so just think what he can come up with in the Ocean, now think scarier and bigger and you're almost there. I also think many of the readers of this series have questioned, how did we as a species get here, why did the world go to hell and why did people flee to the skies. Well four books in and it was nice to get some answers that were more indepth than the little that the AI Timothy could provide. 

This book has a lot of focus on X as he is now. In the previous book we got to see how X changed and became the man he is so it was nice to have this new X be more of a focus in this book. X is the ultimate survivor and fighter and though he may not see his life in the sky anymore as he has spent too many years away plus he prefers his dog Miles to people, he still has those he cares about in the sky that he wants to protect. We also have more focus on Mags in this book and I am happy that she has come more to the forefront as a character.

We are first introduced to the Cazadores in the previous book and X’s previous encounters with them as well as the shock that some humans have been able to survive on Earth. If it's one thing I have noticed in all of the Sansbury Smith books I have read, there are some truths woven in to the story of apocalyptic adventure, so you know that he has well thought out and researched a possibility of the Cazadores and their survival.

One of the most interesting post-apocalyptic series out there and one of my favourite series in general. As long as Sansbury Smith keeps writing this series I will read it. Now on to book 5, Captives.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Neil Russell: City of War

In the first of a new series Neil Russell what a rich ex-Delta Force gets up to when he sees a wrong being committed:

Rail Black is stuck in traffic when he sees a cargo van door open and naked woman leaps out, he know he has to help her. What starts as help on the freeway turns into a deadly cat and mouse game that is rooted in history. Kim has found some information that has lead to murder, a rare treasure and the greed of those who want it. Rail didn't know it at the time but he is about to put all his resources and training to use as he tries to help Kim not only stay alive but discovery what is the City of War.

I'm a little on the fence with this book, while I enjoyed the plot and story that was laid out, I wasn't a big fan of the characters and you're supposed to like them in this book so that tampered my ability to really enjoy this book. There are many points in this book and characters that are pretty far fetch. I guess I just question if there is a man like Rail out there, just like maybe you question whether James Bond could work in the real world (as portrayed in the movies) and I guess the richness with all the connections and toys kind of feels a bit Bruce Wayne to me. All these factors should make for an interesting character in Rail right? Well, in my opinion he fell flat and was pretty full of himself (alright if a guy was a Bond/Batman hybrid he would be full of himself). Additionally, it seemed like Rail had charm for days and every woman he meets wants to sleep with him and that right there basically sums up how Russell portrays female characters in this book and there are quite a few of them.

Where Russell excels in this book is the mystery. I didn't have a clue as to what the Kim was hiding and what The City of War was or its importance as Russell does a great job of hiding this from his readers. When Rail or Kim or Archer discovers something the reader is discovering it for the first time as well. There are so many twists and turns within this book that you may get dizzy but I loved the intricate plot that Russell decided to put in a book that could have been all action and know substance. I enjoyed that Russell looked to history for this book and in crafting the conspiracy aspects around the City of War and what it really means.

Well you can tell a man wrote the sex scenes in this book and there are quite a few of them which was surprising, but they are short which I appreciate. However,  there is really only one sex scene where I was like WTF; It involves using caviar as lube for anal sex.... really??? (sorry if I just put that image in your head). Maybe I’m a prude but this just coincides with how Russell portrays his female character, sexy and ready for "action" at any time.

I enjoyed the mystery/conspiracy aspect of this book, most of the characters I could take or leave, there was nothing really interesting about them even when Russell was trying to make them flawed or different. I think I would read the next in the series just to see the story that Russell is able to weave but I'm out of there is there is another caviar scene.

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