Saturday, November 3, 2018

Jack Heath: Hangman

Jack Heath introduces readers to a very disturbing anti-hero who works for the FBI when they need the best and his payment is taken in Flesh:

When a 14 year old boy is kidnapped and there is a ransom call with a deadline the FBI have called in expert consultant Timothy Blake aka Hangman. Blake is not only a genius known for solving the impossible cases but he is also a sociopath. But Blake may have met his match on this case. The kidnapper is cunning and foils Blake at every turn. Along with his newly assigned partner (Blake doesn't work well with other), he has to be on his toes not only to find the kidnapper but to keep his dark secrets. You see every time Blake saves a life be gets to take one in return, and Blake needs his pounds of flesh in order to survive. Clock is ticking and who knows who will come out of this alive
Unfortunately with book has been moved to my DNF shelf and I am extremely bummed about it. I always hate when I cannot finish a book, I think every reader and reviewer hates the feeling where a book sounded promising but just couldn’t grab a hold of you. This is the problem I had with Hangman. I’m not sure where this book went wrong for me. It has an interesting and down right disturbing anti-hero, has a cat and mouse type “game”, a different type of premise and yet there I was having read 50% of the book and it felt like work to pick up the book to read it. And trust me I have so little time to read these days, I don’t want to have something I love feel like work, when I need it to be enjoyable.

I’m sure many people will love this book and I’m truly shocked I could not get in to this book or characters. Maybe I’ll revisit it later but right now not for me. Those  of you who would like to check it out, be warned it is not for the faint of heart. As mentioned above the main character is an anti-hero and let’s just say he has some Hannibal Lector qualities about him (and by that I mean the eating kind) as well as some Dexter qualities and truest me Heath is not sparse on the details for this and other aspects in this book. Timothy Blake is really like a marriage between Lector and Dexter but with even more socially awkward qualities and none of either of their charisma. See what I mean I should have loved this book....

Oh well you cannot win them all I suppose. On to my next read, I'm truly disappointed that I was unable to finish this book.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mira Grant: Into the Drowning Deep

In the first in a new series Mira Grant takes the readers to the Mariana Trench where humans are on the menu:

Seven years ago the Atargatis is set off for the Mariana Trench to create a mockumentury about the existence of Mermaids. The voyage ended in tragedy with not a soul on the ship surviving. The footage that was shot on The ship has been locked away and those who have seen it cannot believe that it is real. Now the production company is sending another ship to that area to investigate what had happened and to prove once and forall if Mermaids do exhist. Everyone on the boat is going to get way more than they bargined for.

I have not read a Mira Grant series in a long long time, but it was Grant who intorduced me to reading zombie books, so it is really only fitting that she introduce me to Mermaids books as well. This book was amazing, it had aspects of mystery, horror and urban fantasy all rolled in to one. You really did not what was going to happen next and who was going to survive. I mean who does not love the idea of the deadly mermaids instead of the Disney style ones. Due to the fact that Grant has mixed a few genres within this book you might think that it is oversaturated with ideas but Grant he does not shy away from any of the genres and took the best aspectsnofneach to create this story. Some of the scenes are quite brutal in their description but these are countered with the scientific discovery aspects so there is a nice balance and Grant does not hit you with death after death. There is also a nice suspense aspect as there are so many points of view throughout the book that you are not 100% sure which views are going to be there in the end.

The imagination and research that Grant put in to this book was exceptional. She tried to cover all different types of angles when it came to mermaids from where they live to additional organizism that may be down in the mariana trench as well. You can also tell that Grant put in a lot of thought as to how the mermaids would be able to interact with human on both their territory as well as above the surface. The intelligence that they have is awesome and are basically killing machines that can work in groups or solo. I’m glad that Grant did not make them mindless killing machines, they have the ability to adapt and plan their attacks which makes them that much more interesting.

There are quite a few points of views in the book so you get a fairly rounded story as to why many of the individuals are on the mission to find mermaids, however, the most frequent point of view that we encounter is Victoria's. Victoria is on the ship for several reason, most importantly she wants to prove that mermaids exist as her older sister was on the maiden voyage of this research ship and no one from that vessel made it home. She is also a brilliant scientist who wants to use her knowledge of ocean sounds as a guiding tool for the discovery. In many ways Victoria is the scientist and is very calculating in everything she does. This does make her portrayed as naive at times And this is most seen in her relationships with people (I’ll say slightly typical for the scientist type to be portrays this way however, Victoria does gain more and more confidence the farther in to the book you get).

I love that this book is about mermaids and Grant’s idea of the mermaid is not the little mermaid that we all grew up with. These are deadly killers who have human meat on their menu and according to the mermaids it’s a tasty feast. I look forward to the next book in the series to see where Grant takes it.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Spencer Kope: Collecting the dead

 In the first in a new series Spencer Kope introduces readers to an FBI tracker that  is known as the Human Bloodhound:

When regular trackers are unable to find someone or a clue then the FBI calls in Steps and Jimmy. They are the elite trackers and are able to find anyone, even in remote locations, even when others have failed. Steps has a special vitality he calls shine that shows him where people have traveled to, what they have touched etc. He uses this ability to hopefully bring those who are lost, missing or kidnapped home safely. However, more often than not this does not happen. In their latest case Steps and Jimmy are called to a crime scene where Steps recognizes the Shine from a previous case. Based upon what Steps found they have eleven missing women who fit the same pattern and they are in a race against time to find them before its too late.

I have read other tracker based books before but those involved search and rescue dogs as part of the main story not just a person, so I did find this concept interesting. Kope does a good job of showing how Steps hides his ability while on a track but at the same time you have to think in real like these trackers do some amazing things, that maybe there is an aspect of realism to this idea; the ability to see what others cannot. Kope also does not shy away from the fact that not everyone makes it out alive when they are missing as well as having fairly detailed crime scene information as Steps details what happened.

Steps has the ability to see what he terms Shine. He has has it ever since a near death/he did die when he was a young child. Shine is the essence of an individual. It follows you where ever you go, each person has a different color/colors and this color changes based upon the living status of that person. This is how Steps is able to find people and clues that no one else is able to see. All of this makes Steps an interesting character with his gift / curse as he struggles with those times when he is not able to find the victim in time and Steps can tell mid-track if the person he is tracking is still alive or dead. This plays on his sanity and he struggles with whether he should continue on or not.

I will say that the secondary characters are not fleshed out as much asI would like them to be, even Steps’ partner Jimmy. This book is very much Steps’ story and that is where Kope decided to focus on with not only the plot but character development as well. For secondary characters you basically just get to know them/see them through their relationship with Steps.

This was a really good read with an interesting twist on the tracking idea. I like the idea of the elusive serial killer that Steps has been tracking for years but has been unable to find, this added an additional dynamic to the story as it does test Steps' focus. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in this series.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Elise Kova: The Alchemists of Loom

In the first in a new series, Elise Kova takes the reader to with world of the Loom, ruled from above by the Dragon King:

Ari lost everything; friends, her lover, her way of life, when the five guilds resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now she uses the skills she learned in the resistance, her ability as an engineer and magical talents to be the White Wrath enemy to every dragon and known for contributing to a thriving underground Dragon organ market. That is until she meets Cvareh, a Dragon who claims to be on the side of those in Loom and he is willing to bargain something very precious, a wish,  if Ari is able to get him to the alchemists so that the resistance can start again. Ari knows she cannot trust Cvareh, and that the task may be near impossible as assassin after assassin is sent after Cvareh by the Dragon King, but a wish from a Dragon can give Ari the one thing that she desires most and hopefully the freedom for Loom.

I do not read many fantasy genre novles, but I was drawn to this book first for by the cover, second by the description of the book and third I haven't read a fantasy book in quite some time so I was excited to try something different. Kova uses a tried and true premise to frame the world and story around; one society/culture/people oppressing and abusing the other and those that try to take the power back. This is done in a completely fantasy world that had some very interesting and disturbing elements (think Frankenstein/plastic surgery to the extreme) and the thirst for power that goes along with it. Loom is divided into 5 different Guilds (Raven, Rivet, Alchemist, Revolver and Harvesters) and where you are born is what specialty you will grow up perfecting, if you show any sign of weakness or do not live up to the Dragon's standards you are killed (this mainly happens to children). Loom supports The Dragon's world above with the introduction of machinery and some magic, it were these aspects that the Dragons became aware of Loom and wanting to possess and control it. With all the machinery and magic this novel does have a very steampunk feel to it, especially with Ari and her engineer abilities.

I really like Ari as a main character, she is strong, confident, smart, often thinks the worst about people, has a past that we don't know too much about but she has a caring side especially when it comes to Florence. Florence is an awesome sidekick to Ari, she just needs to gain confidence in herself. She is probably the character that grows the most in this book, as she is forced in to circumstances that she has never been in before and many of them are a true test for her character both physically and morally. Cvareh is a good counter point to Ari with his obsession with things that are pretty and complaining about his clothes getting dirty or having to wear clothes out of fashion. He truly shows the differences between Loom and Nova. It is also interesting to watch Cvareh grow as a character as he tries to survive not only the threats on his life from other Dragons and Ari but also trying to navigate a new world in Loom.

I find that Dragons does not seem to be an apt description of the characters just based on the cover art of the books in this series, but also how they are described in the book. To me they seem that they would be more of Elfin or Fae or some other magic creature that Kova could have created. Based upon descriptors and the fact that they do not have wings or the ability to fly or shape shift in to what I would call traditional Dragon form. You say Dragon to someone we will probably all come up with some sort of similar image, and what is presented in this book is not that image. Maybe the reason they are called dragon is explained in the next books in this series but I think that is a slightly misrepresentation of these individuals.

I also could have done without the romance aspect that is hinted at. I mean why does there have to be a romance element? Ari and Cvareh they dislike each other in every way, yet drawn to the other individual as well. Why cant they just not like each other but are forced to work together for a common goal, why does that have to lead to attraction????

I still have a lot of Why questions after reading this book, which is not a bad thing as I know this is a series, however, quite a few of those questions are world based, so there are a few things that are not so clearly set out. I found the characters in this book to be very interesting and why I kept turning the pages to see what they would do next. I look forward to reading the second book in the series and hoping some of my questions are answered. 

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Hollie Overton: The Walls

In her second novel Hollie Overton takes the reader inside a destructive relationship:

Kristy Tucker is the press agent for the Texas Department of Corrftiown. This means that she gets face to face with some of the worst criminals in the state as most of the men she deals with are on death row and she feels she can tell who the worst people are. When Kristy meets Lance, her sons’s martial arts instructor she is leery at first but soon Lance wears her down and Kristy believes she has found the one. She could not be more wrong; Lance is a monster, full of physical and verbal abuse. Lance is also a master manipulator and has everyone convinced even Kristy’s family that he is a saint. Kristy does not know how much more she can take, but she has to be willing to take things in to her own hands; Can she get away with murder?

This is the second book that I have read by Overton and I appreciated that it was a completely different story than the first. This book did not go in the direction that I thought it would, especially based on the title and cover of th book but I think the title has more to do with the walls that one creates around the self in order to survive and not the walls of the prison where Kristy works. Overtone does not spend that much time having Kristy at work especially in the latter half of the novel. So if you are expecting a prison type novel this is not what you are going to get here. It also takes a bit for the overall story line to get going and I had to go back an read the premise of the book to see what was supposed to happen in this book. As you r was farther in to the book you understand why Overton took the time to develop the relationship between Kristy and Lance as well as how Lance is going to fit in with Kristy’s family.

I personally do not think that I could do Kristy’s job, not only dealing with inmates on death row but also the families that those men have affected. This would take a toll on any person and that Kristy does this job very professionally speaks to her strength as a character. She is also a fantastic mom and daughter as she puts their needs way above her own and her want/need to portray that everything is perfect. It is these two strengths that start he to take action and start to make plans to make sure she never gets hurt again.

This book is not going to be for everyone and it definitely will have some trigger moments for individuals as Overton does not shy away from the domestic abuse that Kristy suffers, both verbally and physically. It also highlights what an individual is willing to go through in order for those that she loves can retain a normal life and so she chose to suffer in silence. This book really shines a light on domestic violence and the secretive nature that it can take on as even those close to you do not know what is going on.

This was a good read that was a bit slow to start. You will like Kristy as a character and her struggle to find love and then stuck with a man that is abusive towards her. I look forward to seeing what Overton comes up with next.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

S.J. Kincaid: The Empress

This is the second book in a series so in order to understand this world, where the main players stand politically and who Nemesis is and where she cam from,  you will need to read the first book in this series The Diabolic (which is also a great read).

Tyrus has won the long game that he has played his entire life, so far, however his choice for Queen is being met with a lot if resistance as well as Tryus' view of the future. But having the power means nothing if you are not able to keep it and changes are not always welcome especially those who are tied to the old ways. There are several plots afoot to not only keep Tyrus in power but also to remove him from it. Nemesis will protect Tyrus at all cost but what if that jeopardizes their future as well as Tyrus' hold on the throne. The Question for everyone in the books becomes, what are willing to do to achieve the ultimate power and what are you willing to do to keep it?

Wow this book is absolutely crazy, you don’t know who Nemesis can trust and what an ending I did not see it coming at all. Kincaid really shines in this book as she keeps you guessing till the very end and throws in so many twist, turns and red herrings that you just hold on and enjoy the ride. This book is full of political intrigue and espionage with a lot less fighting and action scenes when compared to the first book. This book really highlights what people are willing to do in order to obtain power but also be the ones to control it as well. It shows that people will go to ant lengths for these two things and this includes Nemesis and Tyrus. If you did not enjoy all the politics of the first one then you will not like this one as it takes it up ten fold. I personally liked all the political games of the first book so I really enjoyed this one.

It was interesting see Nemesis develop more “human” emotions and not really sure whether to trust then or not, as many of them go against her programing but really Nemesis is in a position that no one even considered that a Diabolic would be in. Nemesis also has to learn to be more subvert in her actions and not just a mindless killing machine, so it was very interesting being inside her thoughts as she decided to kill or not to kill an individual who may threaten Tyrus' rule. It was interesting to see Nemesis and Tyrus relantionship develop not only as Tyrus attempts to seal his spot on the throne but also how the changes that Nemesis is experiencing shapes the decisions that she decides to make throughout the book; many of them are very again the Diabolic way and not something she would have even considered at the beginning of the first book. There are times when her new found humanness really gets in her way.

I really enjoyed where Kincaid took this book and where she is going with this series. I like that this book and series seems to be going more of the political route as who should rule and what kind of ruler they should be is in questions. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

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