Monday, March 2, 2015

Amy Plum: After the End

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Amy Plum introduces the reader to girl who is about to have her entire world and belief system turned up-side-down:

Juneau is one of the only survivors left of WWIII. Her clan survives in the traditional was of living off the land, being one with nature and hiding from those who may have also survived or those who have turned. Juneau knows every inch of her clan's territory and is one of the group best hunters. When Juneau hears a strange sound overhead that is heading towards her clan's camp, she hurriedly makes her way back only to discover that everyone is gone. Juneau is about to learn that everything she has been told is a lie, there was never a war, they were not the only survivors the world has continued on. Juneau now has to travel to civilization in order to discover where her clan has been taken to but as Juneau hunts for them she too is being hunted.

It was the premise that first drew me to this book. It made me think what would I do if I found out that everything I knew and believed was false and that I had been lied to my entire life. However, I figured out about a quarter of the way through this book that this YA book is more for young adult readers age than it was for adults who enjoy the occasional YA read (but I more of a fan of new adult books), but I continued on as I do not like not finishing a book. Therefore, the rest of my review may seem negative (but I don't think too much so) to some, but it really from an adult perspective that a young adult one.

Juneau and Miles' relationship is very kid like and this mainly has to do with Juneau  being sheltered from regular society for her entire life. She does not understand the "proper" or "cool way" to interact with Miles, which I kind of liked as she is just herself with him the entire time. She does not feel like she needs to hide who she is with him as that would be a foreign concept for her. Miles is extremely confused about Juneau and questions everything that she does. He does not believe in her powers, story or clan and just wants to impress his father, even though he thinks it more of showing his Dad up. I will say that Plum allows Juneau and Miles to grow within the book, but more growth is really seen with Miles and it was nice for him to change.

Juneau has very interesting abilities that come from her connection to the Yara and nature. I think that Plum did some research into Native American traditions and culture in order to form the ceremonies that Juneau uses and talks about as well as some of the abilities that Juneau has. Plum does a good job in showing Juneau struggle with holding onto the power of the Yara when she enters civilization as well as start to question her belief in everything.

This book goes back and forth between Juneau and Miles' POV and I think that this was the best format to tell the story as Juneau and Miles react and interpret things differently. However, I was not a fan of this at the very beginning of the book as Miles had very very short POV sections and I am glad that this changed later on in the book.

I think that this book is great for a young adult, the story is interesting, both the female and male lead are strong but also have imperfections as well as trying to discover what it means to have a relationship with someone who is completely different from you. However, for an adult I felt that the book was just too young for me, from the relationship, the decisions the characters make and even the writing style. I personally wouldn't continue on in this series but if you have a young adult reader at home, I think they would like this book.

Cheers!!!
Instead Of This,
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Michael Kardos: The Three-Day Affair

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In Muchael Kardos debut novel he takes the reader to place where no one wants to go. Where one decision can destroy everything you have worked so hard to achieve:

Will, Jeffrey and Nolan have been best friends since college and once a year they get together to reconnect and relive their past adventure and well golf. Each has taken a different path in life, Will is working at a small recording studio and expecting his first child, Nolan has gotten into politics and is running for Congress and Jeffrey was able to cash in on the dot com boom when he was part of a small internet start-up company. But how much do people really change from college and how much do you really notice it in your friends. Will Jeffrey and Nolan are about to find out, in one night they will all redefine their relationships with each other, who they are and how far they will go to keep a secret that could ruin them all.

This book shows the reader how much people can change from college and how priorities change from person to person. It also shows how much people try to ignore the changes they may or may not see in their friends. This makes the book more of a psychological novel than a thriller or mystery as really there are not really any thrills in the book and only a slight mystery so I was disappointed about that aspects. However, I think that Kardos addressed the aspects of how much people change throughout their lives really well and how each person processes a problem differently, we are not all the same therefore, our reactions will differ as well. There was an interesting twist thrown in in the end of the novel that I was only able to figure out part of it but not all of it which is a great feat for any author, I always like a good surprise.

The story is told from Will's point of view throughout but it is mainly him looking back at the weekend that went wrong with his two friends from college (so that in itself shows he makes it out in one way or another). I question whether this was the right point of view as the feelings and emotions that Will was going through at the time of these events felt muted and Will just explaining how he felt not what he was feeling. There were also pieces from the friends' past, once again told from Will's point of view, as to how the friends met and what they were like back in college and I think these were to show hwo they were all different back then as well and set part of the back story for why some of them have changed so much. This also means that we get to know Will more than any of the other characters in the book and while he is the main character, I don't really get that attached to him as he is in story telling mode, this is not him now, this is him looking back at everything.

Pretty good for a debut note but it was not quite the thriller that I was hoping the book to be (seems to be a problem I have been running into lately), but it had some interesting psychological aspects that kept me reading. I would read another book by Kardos as I liked his writing style.

Enjoy!!!
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Kristi Charish: Owl and the Japanese Circus

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In her debut novel Kristi Charish takes the readers to the secret world of the antiquities procurement and theft:

 Owl is an ex-archaeology grad student but don't let the ex part full you, she has turned her skills into one of the best international antiquities thief in the world. She never meets with her clients face to face, she always gets money up front and she absolutely will not work with paranormal creatures. After completing a job her current higher wants a meeting face to face, and she is not in any position to say no. She also learns that not only has she learned that the jobs she was doing for Mr. Kurosawa, were for a paranormal creature, she learns she has been working for a Dragon and this Dragon is about to make an offer that Owl cannot refuse, it could lead to her having a normal life again. Owl heads around the world in search of ancient scrolls that have the ability to change the world.

For me this was just an okay debut novel, I mean there is a Dragon in it and if there is a Dragon in UF for some reason I am drawn to read the book. I think maybe this is due to them being an under used creature in the UF setting that makes me hope that this UF/paranormal read will be something unique and different. It was nice to also see vampires in this book (and they were not all the beautiful ect kind) but it was nice that they took a back seat to some of the other creature that are not as common and some I have never heard of before, which I am always on the search for.

I'm not 100% sure about the world that Charish created. It is mainly about keeping the paranormal/fantasy creatures a secret from human society, and it appears that those humans who discover them, mainly through archeology sites, are basically told you know nothing and by the way we are going to ruin your career as well. I mean if they wanted to keep these people silent, I can think of a few better ways to achieve this. And the over seeing body of all this is the International Archaeology Association (IAA) is supposed to be this powerful association. Granted we do not have any interaction with the IAA in this novel other than Owl telling something about her past experiences, but I personally just find it hard to believe.


I didn't like the addition of the World Quest aspect to the book. I never found that it or Carpe added anything to the story and was waiting for the connection between that world and the real world to combine but they never really do (other than the tombs in the World Quest world are made based upon the real life ones so natural Owl has been to many of them and knows their secrets).

I did not really like Owl as a main character and don't know why her friends stay by her . She is beyond reckless when it comes to her life and even that of her friends and I don't think she knows how to make a plan. I have no idea how she became a "respectable" antiquities thief, in this book she seems to wreck more than one ancient artifact and disturb some others. She had no finesse it seemed to get anything done and was too busy flying by the seat of her pants than to care about anything else.. To me it seemed more like Nayda is the smarter one and who had her life together and seemed just as brave as Owl. I guess I just wished that Owl had some of Nayda's qualities.

I could have done without Rynn as a character and did not think that his relationship with Owl added anything to the story as she was forever ditching him to do things her own way. However, their relationship did take a backseat for the most part in the book and while I could get behind Rynn as a friend for Owl, I just don't think that the book needed a romance interest.

My favourite thing in the book is Captain. Yep Owl's cat lol. He had his own personality and who doesn't love a cat that can take down a Vampire by himself. Seems like a cat I would like to have, you know just in case.

This was an okay debut novel for me and I felt like Charish really wrapped up the book in the end so there was not much of a cliffhanger that makes me desperate to read the next book in the series. It is one of those reads that if I move onto the next book good, if not I don't think I will be overall disappointment as to not knowing where Owl goes from here, and I guess that in itself sums up my feelings about this book.

Enjoy!!!
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Pierce Brown: Red Rising

In his debut novel Pierce Brown takes the reader to Mars, where the human traits of wealth and corruption have followed the inhabitants all the way from Earth:

The Earth is dying, so the human race had to find other planets to colonize in order to insure the survival of the human race. Mars was one of the planets that was chosen to be colonized, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done before it could be colonized. Darrow, is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. The Reds' mission to extract enough of a precious element that helps make the surface of Mars habitable so that the human race can survive there. It is the Reds' that are helping to ensure the future of the human race and for a few hundred of years they have been living a lie. Mars has been habitable for several generations of people all of whom who have been using the Reds' as slaves. Darrow may not have been one to make push for changes on Mars, but heartbreak can make an individual do anything to see vengeance through and so begins Darrow's journey.

When I first started reading this book I thought that it was going too sci-fi for me with all the different terms, machines, that I was actually thinking of putting the book down and moving on but holy crap I'm so happy that I stuck through this book. Brown did a really good job at world building and creating the life and structure of where Darrow lived on Mars. I also liked how Brown showed the world through Darrow's eyes and learning with him the strange people, things and places that he has never been before as well as the final testing grounds. I liked the medieval twist that Brown was able to put into the novel, which kind of more familiar ground for reading material for me and it was a great counter to the sci-fi world that the book is set in. It was also in this medieval setting that Brown took the book to a darker place than I thought it would go. From rape to maiming to fighting dirty, even torture Brown does not hold back on the dark side of human nature. Although Brown does not go into great description of these events you know what is happening. It was a surprise that Brown went as dark as he did and I liked that he did. This made the book much more of an adult novel than a YA book in my opinion.

It was interesting that through all the technology that has been created over the years, humans are still like to divide themselves into a caste system, greed rules their lives and everything is about power. However, I found the weeding process that the Golds have to perform really interesting, unexpected and once again a lot darker than I thought Brown would go. It was also interesting that they do try to learn from the past and what caused other great nations to fall. They mentions the Roman Empire more than once.


Although Darrow is 16-18 years old within this novel he is portrayed more as an adult, as he has already worked for many years of his life, has is own home as well as a wife. He has had more life experience than any of the Golds that he runs into later in the story. I became enthralled with Darrow's story and the pain both physical and emotional that he has to endure through the book. You can tell that Darrow is a survivor even when he is not making the best decision, he wants to survive. Darrow grows as a character throughout the book as he is constantly learning from his mistakes and those of others.

Another character I was really interested in was Sevro. I felt like he was never a Gold as you can tell by the way he acts and the tasks that he takes upon himself to achieve for Darrow. Darrow could not ask for a better ally in this fight especially when it seems like Sevro has not limits to what he will do or try. He is basically a guerrilla army in himself, so basically awesome in my books.

I am so happy that I continued on reading this book, it was great, imaginative and Brown did an excellent job getting the reader to become invested in Darrow and his struggle and story. Highly recommended read for those who like the sci-fi genre and for those who want to try it out as it get less sci-fi and more medieval-ish later on in the book. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

Enjoy!!!
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Jeff Altabef: Shatter Point

Jeff Altabef takes the reader to the future where new drugs are being developed, the city is more of a caste system and there is always someone who wants to rule it all:

Normally I would write a premise here about how I think the book should be portrayed and sometimes it is similar to the author's but other times it is not. With this book I do not know how to write a premise for this book and I guess that would start the beginning of the issues I had with this book...

I think that Altabef tried to put too much into this book, struggled to connect everything together and for me keep me entertained throughout. I personally got bored about half way through, I just kept waiting for something more to happen but it felt like it never was going to, almost like the book and plot had already hit its peak. Altabef could have separated this into two separate books that could have had some commonalities, but had different focuses, on for the government/fourteenth colony and the other one on Cooper. I say this as while the premise sounded interesting (it is what drew me to this book), I almost feel cheated in some instances. I wanted more time with Cooper and his sadistic nature which is what the premise is about but very little about this in the book. I found it was more about EFB-22 and fourteenth colony than it was about Cooper and Maggie.

I'm not sure why the author felt he had to place this plot in the future could have taken place today with very few changes and often I forgot that they were in the future, as there was not much different from today. I personally just read it as taking place today as I do not think that Altabef was very innovative about his world building about the future.
 
I thought that when Jack was given EFB-22 he would gain some sort of super human powers and while his hearing appears to have improved and he becomes sensative to light (maybe some night vision is kicking in, but we never really get that far), he really is more of a hindrance than help in most of the situations. Really his brother Tom who is a black belt in jiu jitsu is more useful than Jack ever is in the story and I really question introducing EFB-22 into the story as that storyline never really adding anything to the story other that Altebef's attempt to bring the two intersecting storylines together.

I think my main problem with this book is I never felt any type of connection with the characters either good or bad. They were just there and maybe Altabef tried to have too many points of view or too many characters but it has been awhile where I have felt nothing for even one character in the book.

I found out after reading this book that there is one before it called The Fourteenth Colony, maybe if I would have read that one it would have had some of the threads already figured out. However, I read some other reviews who said this one could be read as a stand alone, so I'm not really sure what to think. All I know is that Altabef has some good ideas in this book, but I think that he had too many and it became a challenge to put everything together that I as the reader got bored with what was occurring. I was hoping there would be more about Cooper and his sadistic serial killer ways, as that is how I read the premise. This book was just not for me.

Cheers!!
Instead Of This,
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Alex Marwood: The Killer Next Door

Alex Marwood takes the reader to a boarding house and one event will bring the tenants closer together but they will also realize how very little they know about each other:

Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret and this is just the place that Collette needs to be to hide from the men and police that are chasing her. She needs a place where keeping a secret comes natural to the six tenants of the boarding house. But one of the residents has the ultimate secret that can never be found out. When a strange series of events push the tenants close together, hiding all of their secrets is about to become impossible and some secrets are worth killing for.

This is the first book that I have read by Marwood and I was really impressed with her writing style, plot and different take on psychological thriller/serial killer novel. Although the premise of this book makes it seem like Collette is the main character within this book, she is not, all of the tenants of the boarding house have their parts to play. This mean that the book has multiple points of view, basically one for each tenant in the building, and each of them has a story and history they are trying to get away from. It is through these point of views that you try to figure out which of them is the killer and based upon the information you get from the killer's point of view or The Lover as he likes to call himself this really narrows down the suspect pool for the reader. I think the most interesting part of this book is that none of the tenants within the apartment building  realize that there is a serial killer living in the building and makes you realize that you don't really know who your neighbours are along with a very creepy landlord.

I truly mean Creepy Creepy landlord, Roy, who watches everything that his tenants do and in their most privates moments. He also has the personality of a slug (and the shape too) as he walks through the halls and tries to intimidate his renter into paying more as he discovers that they are running from something. I especially feel sorry for Cher who is an young teenager girl who has run away from a horrible foster situation but Roy would love to sample what she is trying to sell on the streets, so he continually jacks up her rent in the hope that she cannot pay. As I said creepy. As I'm not one for sex scenes so I'm really not going to like masturbation scenes and I found that this one had too much description attached to it especially when you take into account the shape that Roy is in, made it downright disturbing. This book makes me really glad that I am done living in a condo or apartment buildings.

I was really intrigued when Marwood brought in the mummification techniques that The Lover would do to his ladies. Marwood is very detailed in what The Lover would do from the oils he used to keep his ladies' skin from flaking away to the way in which he removed the organs to keep them from decomposing further. Additionally, you get to learn what happens to a body when he decides that he no longer likes one of his ladies and how that can do damage to the sewer system and I would not want to be there when the sewer decides to back up.

I was able to figure out who the Lover was before it was revealed by the author, but as much as this book is about a serial killer it really is not. It is about how little we know people in our life and no one is really who they seem to be, well except for the landlord, he was one creepy man and he was portrayed that way. Although this was not quite what I expected I still found the I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't the thriller or as scary it was portrayed to be (though I will say that there are other reviewers out there that found it scary and even Steven King thought it was scary). I would read another book by Marwood, as I liked her writing style an her different take on a mystery/thriller book, I'm going to check out her debut novel Wicked Girls.

Enjoy!!!
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