Tuesday, October 22, 2019

C. J. Archer: The Last Necromancer



C.J. Archer starts a new series off with a girl in hiding for her special ability to raise the dead:


Fleet Foot Charlie has been living on the streets since her father threw her out 5 years ago, but tonight she was not a fleet footed as she should have been. In a cell with men who have horrible ideas on their mind, one man ends up dead and that is when her true abilities come to life and allow her to escape. But those in the cell with her do not remain silent, and soon there are people desperate to find her to help with their own agendas. Charlie doesn't know who to trust and how long she can keep pretending she's not the necromancer they seek and with Queen and Country at stake she will have to decide who she can trust.


This was a good read. It had some interesting aspects in it especially the further you get into the story I just think there was a bit too much time spent on attempting to figure out Charlie's secret, that she was not a boy but a girl. This aspects takes about half the book to be found out and it took away from the actual plot of someone wanting Charlie to help raise an undead army to attack the Queen. This leads to the incorporation of a classis horror story and I think that Archer did a good job at melding the two books together and having the events/ideas unfold in an interesting way. Book was darker than I expected it to be, which was a nice surprise. I mean I feel like a book like this should be darker with having an individual who can raise the dead.


I wish that we had more than Charlie's point of view. I liked Charlie as a character but I felt that this story was not as well rounded as it could have been if there had been another point of view. I think that Archer should have had some points of view from Fitzroy as he is also the main male lead in the book. He was also an interesting character, as he was raised from birth to be the leader of the Ministry of Curiosities. We do not get a true sense of Fitzroy in this book, but I will say he seems to have some abilities that are not entirely human so I look forward to discovering who/what he really is.


I appreciated that while there is what a school girl crush that Charlie has on Fitzroy, Archer does not really peruse this aspect in this book. I feel like a romance between the two would muddle the plot, and you do get more of an older brother feel from the male character to Charlie.


I'm interested in seeing where Archer takes this series and if she chooses to connect her stories with other classic novels. I also hope we get more exploration in to Charlies' abilities and have her use them more often (I guess I'm being morbid as this means people have to die for this to happen) but the true extent of her abilities goes unexplored in this book. So I will be looking to read the next book in this series.


Enjoy!!!

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern takes readers on a decades long battle between two magicians:

The Night Circus just appears one night without warning and it is the most interesting place you will ever be. All are drawn towards it and no one will experience it the same, or each time they visit. But the circus is more than just a place to entertain, it is also the battle ground for two Magicians; One born with the magic, another who learned it. They are pitted against each other in a game fought by two long time rivals, who are the only ones who know the rules and will determine when there is a winner.

Alright, maybe I'm in the minority on this one but I just wanted the book to get on with it, get to the point, get to the battle that seemed to be promised in the premise of this book. I was like the two main characters, I had so many more questions than answers even as you read farther into the book. What are the rules, how do you decide the winner, what is the overall point of the circus. I understand these questions do get answered, it just painful at times getting there. Plus this all out battle that I thought was going to happen in some form, well I hate to spoil it for you, but there never really is a battle in the common use of that word. This battle is more of whits, imagination, moves and power (but not like chess, as this is stated several times throughout the book).

I felt like I never got to really know any of the characters, I think this had partly to do to the multiple points of view but also the writing style (characterizations are sideline for descriptive words). None of the characters exuded any emotions even at traumatic events. They were all written in a way that made them fall flat, as if they were all emotionless creatures. This caused me as a reader to no really care about any of the characters, sure there were some that were interesting but I never really felt engaged with them. Further, I never really understood the relationship that came of Marco and Celia, in my opinion it kind of came out of left field. I get that they had respect for each other as opponents but I just never felt the passion that they supposedly had for each other.

What this book has going for it is that it is beautifully written. The words flow together amazingly and Morgenstern description of the atmosphere or location of where the characters are you truly feel transported there. Honestly, if this book would not have been as well written as it was, I would have put it down part way through (well that and trying to figure the hell out what was going on...it was so frustrating at times). Additionally, I cannot fault Morgenstern with the creativeness that she display in both the idea of the plot and of the Night Circus itself as well as what the magicians are able to achieve. The Night Circus is a place that I would love to visit and I feel that I have through the many scenes the Morgenstern had take place there.

This book is a bit of a puzzle for me, while it was beautifully written I struggled to connect with the characters and plot. Maybe if Morgenstern can find a way to make her characters more engaging for the reader and the plot slightly less slow she would have a winner in my books. I think I would try a book by her again just for her ability to put words together.

Cheers!!!

Not sure I have anything similar to this that I could recommend, so I you have something you think I should try instead of this or like this, let me know.



Monday, October 7, 2019

Kelley Armstrong: A Darkness Absolute

This is the second book in Armstrong's Rockton series and while this book could be read as a stand alone novel, if you are okay with not knowing the entire backstory of Casey and how she became a resident at Rockton, but I HIGHLEY recommend the first book, City of the Lost, as it is a great read especially if you like the small town mystery/thrillers like I do.


Kelley Armstrong takes readers back to Rockton where a woman thought to be long dead is very much alive:


Casey And Will are hot on the trail of a runner from Rockton. He got cabin fever and decided to get out of there by going full force into the wilderness without proper supplies, when a blizzards hits out of nowhere. They are forced to weather the storm in a nearby cave and that is when they make a disturbing discovery. Nicole Chavez has been missing from Rockton for over a year and she was assumed dead but the truth was much worse. She has been held captive and only given enough just to survive by some unknown man. As Casey and Dalton look for clues as to who was capable of this, was it a Rockton residence or one of the unknown people of the forest, they discover the bodies of two other Rockton women who were presumed missing. There has been a serial killer lurking around Rockton taking advantage of the forest and those who venture one. Now it's up to Casey to find them before the next woman goes missing and it might just be Casey.


Wow this is an amazing follow up to the first book in the series and while it may have to contend with similar elements as the first, the story is completely different. There is much more focus on the mountains and cave systems that are accessible to those who live in Rockton as well as those who live in the forest. There are quite a few spelunking (never thought I would get to use that word in a review) scene that if you have a fear of claustrophobia your hands may sweat. Heck I don't have a fear of small spaces and Armstrong's writing made me uncomfortable. Armstrong also does a good job at keeping the suspect list long, which really is not hard considering the residence of Rockton all have secrets and some are more disturbing than other. I was able to figure it out, but that does not mean that Armstrong did not have me questioning myself more than once. There is also the outside meddling of the council who are able to really oversee and affect some decision that are made in Rockton as well as who they let in and their meddling is ever present in this book.



What I really like about this series and setting is that although this book is set in modern times they are forced back many decades within regards to forensic evidence. There isn't any fancy lab in Rockton and even if there was there would probably be no way to power it. There is no outside lab that they can send evidence too, what Casey and the other officers have to rely on in their own interpretation of the evidence when trying to solve the mysteries. It takes it back to good old detective work and I really love that.


Interesting to see the development of the relationship between Casey and Dalton and how this dynamic also affects some aspects of their work one. Especially with Dalton as he can be very domineering and Casey basically telling him that he has to be able to separate the two in order for their relationship to survive. And well Dolton get Casey a puppy so he gets points in my book.


This is an amazing series so far and I am completely hooked. I'm off to buy the next two books in this series. I read the blurb at the back of this book for the next book and it sounds amazing. I cannot get enough.


Enjoy!!!
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Monday, September 30, 2019

Steve Hamilton: Exit Strategy

You will need to read the first book in this series The Second Life of Nick Mason in order to understand how Nick has gotten himself in to the predicament he is in. Also the book is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it if you like Thriller and / or Action Adventure type genres.

Steve Hamilton is back with the second book in his Nick Mason series and Mason is determined to find an Exit Strategy:

Nick Mason has one goal: Taking back control of his life but doing this is much more complicated than it seems and first he has to partake in a new missions. Nick's mission is to take on WITSEC, the top-secret federal witness-protection program that has never been compromised, locate the three men who put his boss, Darius Cole, behind bars for life, and kill them but some of them are more deadly than others. But if Cole were to be free will Mason truly be able to live his own life? Mason will risk everything in order to complete his mission, but he hopes if he can complete it, it will lead him to his bigger goals, safety for his family and his life back.

This book is action packed and once it starts it does not take a break. So buckle down the hatches and get ready to read this in one sitting, as there never seemed to be a "good" time to put it down. I'll admit that Mason does seem to move from one insane situation to the next (talk about action imagination from Hamilton) and when Mason does have a bit of a break in the action he  spends his time trying to figure out how to get out from under Darius Cole's thumb and live his own life. Alright all I can say is, WOW I did not see that coming. There are not that many times when a book just throws a curve way out of left field that I do not have some sort of hint that it is coming. Well Bravo Hamilton you made that happen and it was awesome.

I personally like being in Mason's mind and being part of his thought process so it probably does not come as a surprise that I like Mason, and the assassin (and anti-hero) that he has been forced to become. Mason has become so good at planning the assassinations with his analytical and problem solving mind, planning is just his thing, pulling the trigger is something that you never thought he would do especially with some slightly more innocent lives but Mason does have the ability to kill and try to survive. I think that is what I struggle the most with Mason as a character how he goes from a low level thief to assassin. I don't understand how Darius Cole would be able to see that Mason has it in him. But on the same point Mason is trying to protect his family and would do anything in his power to do that even if it means murder. 

One thing I did not like was how Hamilton handle the relationship with Lauren. I felt like there was this big set up with her in the first book only to be let down that Hamilton really just discards her early in this book. I just feel like having the relationship was for nothing and but getting rid of it so soon in this book added nothing to the plot or story. I mean Mason has already lost his family I think he already understands loss loneliness and lack of normalcy in his life. I don't know Lauren just seemed to ground him a bit more and added a bit more human side of him and I was sad for Hamilton to take that away.


Alright this is the second book that I have read by Hamilton and I enjoyed it from beginning to end, he just has a way of grabbing hold of you and never letting go. Now I need to check out his other books and series and hope the third book in this series gets published.

Enjoy!!!
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Monday, September 23, 2019

Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkenan: An Anonymous Girl

Greer and Pekkanen show you what can happen when a test about ethics and morality goes wrong:

Jessica thinks that when she sees an ad on a clients phone looking for women aged 18-32 to be part of a ethics and morality study that it will be easy money, money that she desperately needs. When the questions starts they seem simple enough "Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?"  but as each question unfolds, Jessica feels like she is truly being tested as the questions are live to her answers. Jessica is being tested. Dr. Shields is looking for the perfect participant for her study. To push the subjects boundaries, see how far Jessica is willing to go for some extra money. And Dr. Shields motive? All in the name of science she assures you...

Alright, this book will having you thinking on more than one level and questions what you would do in each situation, not to mention the whole aspect of morals and ethics we face with each aspect of our lives (the questions of morals and ethics does get a bit tedious at times, and there were points where it kind of felt jammed down my throat, but that just may be how I read and interpreted the book). Lets just say If you like books with manipulation then this book is for you as the farther you get in its about the manipulator manipulating and then the manipulated trying to start her own manipulation (That all make sense?). All that manipulation can make your head spin, but I think that Hendricks and Pekkenan did a good job of not overcomplicating the plot with additional people and kept it mainly between Jessica and Dr. Shields. I think if there was another person that was really focused on it would bee too much. There is a bit of a mystery thrown in to the plot as well, which I appreciated as we needed something else to focus on other than Jessica going through the moral/ethical dilemmas that Dr. Shields puts her through. Plus trying to uncover Dr. Shields motives was interesting.

I really liked that it shifted between the two point of views  Jessica and Dr. Shields and I appreciated that Dr. Shield's chapters were much more clinical in how they were "voiced" as this is who she is as well as her detailing of how Jessica reacted. She was very observant to her behaviour and really took the time to know Jessica, from how she would react to her tells when she was considering what to do. It was always fascinating to see the same event from two different points of view, one that the event was happening to and the other an outsider looking in. Through Dr. Shields you really do see the power that one's mind can have and add a little authority behind it and Wow the things you can make people achieve as well as destroy.

I think my main flaw in the book as I did not feel it was a suspenseful as I wanted it to be and while I was drawn into the story it was not the suspense aspect that kept me reading. This book was much more of  in the domestic genre book category than the thriller/suspenseful one. 

This is the first book that I have read by Hendricks and Pekkenan and I found the story and how they told it different and refreshing. I will be checking out their other works.

Enjoy!!!
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pamela Kopfler: Better Dead

In the first in a new series and debut novel Pamela Kopfler shows what happens when the dead aren't willing to leave you alone:

Holly is toasting to her new found freedom with the sudden death of her husband. She does not want to sound insensitive but Burl checked out of their marriage many years ago (with a red head) and she would have filed for divorce if he was still alive. But Burl did leave a few things behind, massive debt, spending all their money and now his spirit. Burl was refused at the pearly gates as he has unfinished business in this world and it centers around Holly's B&B business Holly Grove. Holly is about to find out that while she may have known some of Burl's secrets at the end, she did not know all and some of his secrets could get her killed as well.

This was better than I expected it to be. I'm not one that reads cozy mysteries that often (okay I cannot remember the last time I read one), but needed a book for a square in Halloween BINGO so that is how I came across this book. I did not know that this was a debut novel till I looked up information about Kopfler. That right there shows that this book was well written, the story was well thought out, flowed well and had some interesting characters from the ghostly to the living. The mystery was fairly straightforward, but I think that Kopfler did a good job at keeping the reader guessing (I was able to figure out the smugglers) but Kopfler used the B&B to her full advantage with the list of suspects. So for an easy, cute and cozy mystery read I was pretty hooked.

Holly is a true southern woman (or what I picture one to be, I personally do not know any) where everything is about family, history and sticking with your roots. This is why she is so attached to Holly Grove and will do anything to keep it. She makes several reference in to the book about the long line of women in her family who have done everything they can to keep Holly Grove. Holly is determined, stubborn, smart and makes a mean mint julep (see end of book for instructions).

While I knew there was going to be some sort of love interest going into this book (no not between Holly and ghost Burl), I appreciate that Kopfler had the attraction there between Holly and Jake but did not over due it. This allowed Kopfler to plays up the history that Holly and Jake have and with a lot of the unanswered questions between them.

One of the best parts in the book was the interaction between Holly and Burl. It was quite entertaining to have Holly hash everything out with a ghost, especially when she is the only one who can see him. This creates an interesting dynamic when Holly is not by herself. And poor Nelda, Burl takes a real liking to haunting her and her response is pretty epic with all the voodoo she can muster.

This is not my typical read, but I did enjoy the characters that Kopfler created and the story overall. While I may have been able to figure out the mystery, Kopfler reminded me that sometimes you just need an easy read to change things up from the dark and gritty stories I prefer and with that i'll be looking for more books by Kopfler.

Enjoy!!!
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