Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chloe Neill: Friday Night Bites

You will probably want to read the first book in this series Some Girls Bite, before this one. While I do not think that it is 100% necessary to read the first book, well first, as much of what happens in the first book is basically covered in this one, it is always nice to start at the beginning of a series when you can.

Choel Niell is back with the next book in her Chicagoland Vampire series, and if Merit thinks that being a vampire will keep her safe she is far from wrong:

With the Vampires now out in the open to the human population, it was only a matter of time when the public was going to become obsessive about them. So it is to be expected that there would be paparazzi following the major figures within each house and this includes Merit. The journalists are not only looking for celebrity style dirt on the vampires but some are trying to prove that they are a danger to the human race. When Merit and Ethan get word of Vampire Rave massacres they need to anything they can to stop it and prevent word from reaching the public. However, this is easier said than done, there is someone that does not want Vampires and Humans to get along, they want an all-out war. What Merit and Ethan need to figure out is is the perpetrator Human or a Vampire and how long do they have before an all-out war happens.

This book was a pretty good follow up to the first book, though part of me thinks that the first two books could have been combined into one, as at the end of the first book I felt there was not really the conclusion I was looking for and it was not really a cliff hanger either. This book really just feels like a continuation of the first book as it really follows the same format and really no new information is achieved in this book and they are still fighting the same battle and nothing new is really introduced. I wish that Neill would have either made these two books into one, or had a different plot or story arc for the second book so it did not feel like deja vu.

I like Merit as a character and it was interesting to see her interaction with her family, especially her father. I personally cannot see her fitting into that affluent type of lifestyle even now being part of Cadogan house even, she is more down to Earth and gritty than any of those people seem to be. It was also interesting to see the development of her skills and powers and I look forward to see where she is able to go from here.

I know some people would have wanted Merit and Ethan's relationship to hit it into high gear in this novel, but I am glad that Neill has decided to take it slow and make Ethan work for it. There are too many novels where the heroine just want to jump in the sack with every hot vampire she comes across. There is still that sexual tension there that I am sure the romance fans will love and want to see more of but I cannot help but applaud Neill for her restraint on this fact.

Neill's novels are easy short reads that do not delve too much into conflict or characters so they are great reads when you just want to escape. I can understand why this series has done so well because they do allow the reader to escape and there is not really anything dark or disturbing within the novels that would put some readers off. I like to pick her books up when I have read too many books that are dark and intense in their themes.


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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

In Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, she explores a relationship that is far from perfect, but could it really lead to murder:

Amy and and Nick Dunne seemed like the perfect couple leading perfect lives, until Nick looses his job at a print magazine as everything was turning to digital, they soon find themselves struggling to make ends meet in NYC. Nick decides, despite Amy's misgiving, to move back to him hometown North Carthage, Missouri for work and to take care of his dying mother, but Amy is never really happy there. On the day of Amy and Nick's 5th wedding anniversary Amy Dunne is missing. Nick is beside himself with grief and he feels that the only way to find Amy is to piece together the treasure hunt that she does for him every year (even though he is not very good at it). As Nick puts the clues together he tries to hide them from the police, making him the number one suspect but could Nick really have murdered his wife?

I'm not going to lie, I did pick this book up because I saw that it was going to be made into a movie. I had heard of the book before and it was on my TBR shelf but no where near the top (But I am extremely happy I moved it up, this book blew me away, I was not expecting it to be as good as it was). I am one of those people that does like to read the book before the movie and compare. So I am interested to see how they portray this book in a movie as it is written in a format that I do not think that would easily translate on to the big screen.

The format of this book is mainly divided into sections that transfer back and forth between Nick and Amy. In the first part of the novel Nicks POV is in the present as he is dealing with his missing wife and Amy's POV are from the past, a diary that she has written while her and Nick were dating and eventually married. These past point of views are to show how Amy saw their relationship and how she has dealt with the hardships that have been in their lives. It was an interesting format, and one that I had not read before, I have read some book where they go between the past and present but never from the POV of two different people. I liked the contrast that it provided in the novel and gave a back history to the events, though you really do want to get to the part of Amy Elliott Dunne Day Of. To see what happened on that day. If you are not a fan of flipping in time each chapter as well as character you will not enjoy this book, this format is key to the plot and the unfolding of the information and I do not think that this plot would be successfully executed with a regular single POV writing style.

I don't think I have ever read a book where I did not like either of the main characters. But this does not mean that I did not enjoy the book. I found it very entertaining to the point of being in the edge of my seat wanting more. Even though there was no action in this book but it was more like watching a train wreck you cannot look away from . We seem to have this fascination with watching people ruin their lives and how they have gone about it, but Flynn has created a surprisingly complex plot that I do not think that anyone will see coming as she continually reveals new information each chapter that will flip your opinion as to what has happened, who is responsible and keep you guessing to the very end and the end (it is really something that I did not see coming).

This is the first book that I have read by Flynn and I will be sure to pick up her other books now. I love the complex nature of this book and how Flynn took a different way to create a mystery/thriller book where the body count does not add up. Although I enjoy serial killer books, they seem to be getting a bit monotonous lately, it's nice to read something different, it is refreshing. This is a must read for people who enjoy mystery novel, the reviews do not lie.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

S. K. Anthony: Kinetic

In her debut novel S.K. Anthony introduces us to the Luminaries who are part of a secret organization who are tasked with government jobs that no one else can succeed at:

Annie Fox was saved from a bad foster home situation when she was a teenager and brought into the Org to start her training, she knew that it would eventually lead to her changing all the way down to her DNA. When Annie was genetically altered she gained strength, unlimited strength and energy courses through her body and she has spent years learning how to harness this strength to take down the criminals of the world. But there is one thing that all the strength in the world cannot heal, her broken heart. Her husband (ex-husband now) betrayed everything that they both knew and he is on the run from the Org and Annie has vowed to be the one to end his life, but a split second can change everything, some feeling really never go away as much as you would want them to as Annie finds it hard to kill someone that she has loved, but she knows he is a bad man, right? Annie finds herself questioning everything which puts her and her friends in danger, all for a love that no longer exists right?

I was really really excited to read this book, the premise sounded interesting , I thought that Anthony was going to add something new to the Urban Fantasy genre, however, I think that Anthony only succeed on part of this (Note: the above is my premise of the book not the one that the publishers used so the following criticism are based upon their premise). First off, I think that the Luminaries idea was very interesting/cool, the thought that people could be genetically enhanced in order to get different powers, but you never know which power you are going to get beforehand, you can get anything from super strength to healing to being able to teleport. Very cool, makes you wonder what in your DNA would cause you to get certain powers. Now here is the fuzzy part as it is never really explained how this process works or even how it happen or discovered. There is about 1 page that describes an asteroid coming to Earth and the particles from it being turned into a liquid that is injected into people to create the powers. It was something along those lines (I think), all I can say is that I was really scratching my head when I read that ONE PAGE. I think that maybe Anthony did not think this part out enough and just tried to squeeze it in there. Maybe it is something she wants to address more in later books, but I think it is something that should be discussed right up front.

My disappointed with the premise is that it made me think that this was going to have some romance elements in the book but that it was not only going to be based on romance but the hunt for her ex husband who has been killing people and stealing the secret from the Org. This is not the case. Instead what we seem to get a book that is mainly romance based, with the characters trying to figure out what is going on, but you never have the lead character, Annie, doing any sort of investigative  work (as she is basically under house arrest), she receives all her information from the secondary characters and if there was danger to them, she never really learns or experiences things first hand. This book may revolve around Annie, but I felt like she never really does anything in the whole book, minus the beginning and ending.

I will say that the latter quarter of the book started to redeem itself as it became interesting again and there was some much needed action that was missing. The majority of the book felt like it was soap opera, where nothing really substantial ever happened. What made it even more odd was the passage of time sometimes between the chapters. They would start out with "One month later" or "Four months later", I mean there are some serious things that are supposed to be occurring, what has happened in those months, why has it taken so long to find this information or come up with a plan of what you should be doing. I just felt it was an odd approach to the novel. Overall I found myself getting bored with the novel and I did not really want to pick it up to finish it (I did, but I think that sentence says everything).

To begin with I was fan of Annie, the opening scene was priceless and I thought maybe we have another Gin Blanco type here take no prisoners, someone betrays you you take them out, and then she fell off the deep end. Yes, she is a great fighter, but I found her too complacent with the rules that are set out for her, even when she knows that they are bogus. Then I found some of her reactions to situations to be off and just she could not get over things even when she is showed evidence to counter what she thought she new.She just was hard to relate to, and just lacked the spark to be a lead character, plus having her cloistered in her house for most of the book while the secondary characters did the leg and dirty work also hindered everything as you do not get any other point of view in the book other than Annie's. Maybe if Anthony would have had the views from some of the other characters as they completed missions this book would have flowed better and been more interesting.

Those who want something new, and that is more romance soap opera than mystery you will probably enjoy this book. Personally this book was not for me and I would not continue on with this series, even though I think that Anthony could have had something great here if it was executed a different way.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Andy McDermott: The Shadow Protocol

The first book in a new series by Andy McDermott, he tests the limits to what the US government will go to in order to get the information they need to stop terrorism:

Adam Gray has been created into not only the ultimate spy but the ultimate assets in an interrogation. Adam has the ability to get into his targets' head, literally. Called the Person Project Adam have become the perfect vessel for the project, which allows him to copy the brain patterns of the terrorists and operatives he meets in the field. He not only takes their memories but also their personalities so he is able to impersonate them if need be. Adam has just found out a key piece of information, one that could change the course of the super powers forever,  a plot to release a radioactive isotope, and as Adam and his team go from mission to mission acquire new targets and their memories for Adam, he begins to question who he really is and why he cannot remember anything before becoming part of the project. Some of the biggest betrayals are always close to home and not everyone is going to survive this mission.

This book was able to surprise me and this is mainly centered around the overall concept of the book; creating an interrogation process minus the interrogation. Having the ability to literally take all of an individual's memories, thoughts and personality and transfer them to another individual and a disk is something right out of  left field. I can personally say that I have not read another book with this concept or even heard of this concept before. For originality McDermott soars.

This book does have some slow sits in it especially after the opening capture/release scene.  It took approximately another 50 pages for me to get into the book again. McDermott takes this slow time to catch Bianca (the scientist who is going to help with the Persona Project) and the reader up with what the persona project is and how the transfer is achieved. But I'm not going to lie I kind of glazed over when they started to talk about about different brain chemicals and how they were manipulated to make the Persona Project work. Luckily this is the only part of the book that is slow the rest of the book reall is action packed.

It was hard to get to know Adam since he has lost not only his past but his personality that goes along with it. He truly was a blank slate for the Persona Project to work with. I understand why McDermott did not have any back history given for Adam other than his reoccurring dream, but I wish I would have been able to get to know Adam more as he is the main character in this book. Maybe this will develop further if this becomes a series, as there are events that take palce, that makes you want ot find out more about him pre-project. I like the relationship between Bianca and Adam. It is interesting how the other personas that Adam acquires, picks up on the relationship with Bianca as well, but some of them are more blunt than others.

I really enjoyed this book and I think that McDermott has the making of a very interesting series, if he chooses to take it that way. This book has a lot of action in it that I think will appeal to those who like the fight scenes as well as an interesting and different premise that really sets this book apart. I would enjoy reading another book about Adam and the Persona Project.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Timothy Hallinan: Crashed

 In the first novel of his Junior. Bender series, Timothy Hallinan takes a burglary with an exemplary career and turns him into one of the good guys a PI:

Junior Bender is Los Angeles burglar since he was 14 years old and breaking into houses has been a very lucrative past time for him. But now after 22 years of a "spotless" record he is set up on a job that he barely survives. Now that Junior has the main objective of a burglar don't get caught he is forced to work for mobster Trey Annunziato in order to keep his skin.Trey has an interested project for Junior protecting an once famous child actor Thistle and discovering who is trying to put the porn production shoot out of business. Although this is not Junior's usual gig he goes have some investigative type skills that are more towards the other side of the law. As Junior sets out he discovers that protecting Thistle from herself is going to be a challenge in itself, but coming out this job alive seems to be less and less likely.

Even though the beginning of the book was very entertaining, with the botched burglary and dogs trying to eat Junior it still took me awhile to become invested in the story and characters, but I'm glad that I stuck around with this book. It not only became very entertaining to read, but I really enjoyed the sarcastic tone that the book is told in by Junior. I will say that much like the TV show that is talked about in the book, the book really starts to shine when Thistle enters the picture. Thistle makes this book very entertaining, with her antics and child like behaviour that makes you think of a starlet or two who were child stars. I kept trying to decide which starlet that Hillinan used as his inspiration for Thistle.

Junior is an interesting character, he doesn't like to think of himself as a good guy as he is a master thief, but some of his actions definitely show him as the good guy. The way in which he "mothers" Thistle shows how much really really cares about people. He knows the difference between right and wrong in this situation and he does everything he can to prevent Thistle from hurting herself with drugs, but also help her stand up tot he press who hound her. Having Junior as the only voice in this book was the right choice by Hallinan, it made me like Junior so much more as he is very witty and he likes to play the dangerous side of things, for what he thinks is "right".

I liked that this book showed that Hollywood lifestyle can turn out to be so glamorous, and that things can go downhill really fast. I do not think that Hallinan lacks inspiration from the real world and I guess that really is the sad reality of Hollywood and I'm glad that Hallinan does not sugar coat it in his book. The book does show what drug addiction can do even to those who have the money to support that habit and what an addict will do to get the fix for that habit. He also shows the ruthlessness of the press and how they push people to their limits just to get a story or a picture.

Witty and satire are the best ways to describe this book and if you are looking for something in that tone this book is for you. While there are some slower parts within this book, I think that Hallinan is able to keep the reader really entertained with his cast of characters and it is his character development that will keep me coming back f or more.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Taylor Stevens: The Informationist

In her first novel in her Vanessa Michael Munroe series, Taylor Stevens has Michael going back to Africa where she was created into the woman she is now:

Vanessa Michael Munroe deals in information. She has the ability to get information that no one else is able to obtain and she goes through some extreme measures to get it. Michael has the ability to adapt, be who people need her to be in order to achieve the information required. You would never know Michael was there unless she wanted you to know. When she is approached by a an oil tycoon to find his daughter who has gone missing in Africa, Michael is forced to return to the place where she was tormented, abused and reshaped into the women she is today. The places where Michael needs to go are just as wild and dangerous as all the years ago when she escaped, but it is time to put certain demons to rest in Africa before they have the chance to kill her first.

I found that this book was not an easy read and I do not believe it was written to be one. This is not only because of the dark elements within this book but also you need to pay attention to all the events happening in order to follow Michael's thought process but also the events that are unwinding and where the clues lead next. You never really know throughout the book who can be trusted and who is Michael's ally or foe or both at times, this keeps you guess with all her relationships in the book which means to me that this book was the perfect mix of mystery and thrills. Further, I liked that Stevens was not afraid to take the readers to Michael's dark past to see how she was created into the woman she is today.

With this book you either like Michael or not and this will probably be the deciding factor as to whether you will enjoy this book or not. Michael has such a dark history that it is amazing that she is able to function in regular life many people would not have has the strength to carry on. Michael is a complete chameleon and it was interesting to watch her transform herself to fit not only in to different culture and situation but also the stereotypes that people have. You can see that she used this ability to be useful to the rebels in Africa and how she was able to survive the torture she endured.

What an ending, it had me on the edge of my seat even though some aspects were a little predictable. This is a great debut novel and first in a series. This book, for me was well thought out and written so much so that it appeared like Stevens had been writing for years and could outshine some big name authors. I cannot say how much I enjoyed this novel and Michael and I would definitely read the next book in this series. Bravo Stevens.

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