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. 

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

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.

If You Liked This,
Check These Out Too:

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.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Haylen Beck: Here and Gone

In her debut novel, Haylen Beck takes the reader on a parent's worst fears.

Audra Kinney is fleeing an abusive marriage with her two children and she thought that they would be safe, she just needs to get to California. On a pit stop she spots a police officer and Audra is wary as her husband has quite a bit of influence, and she had a right to be wary. Sheriff Whiteside sees an opportunity in Audra and her children and when he pulls her over and finds a bog of marijuana in her vehicle he arrests her for possession. Audra know it is not hers, she does not know where it came from but when she asks about her children and the response is "What Children?" her worst nightmare has just begun. Across the county a man watches the news about Audra's case and it all sounds way too familiar to him and he see an opportunity to find out what really happened to his family, but the answers they find are even more than anyone can imagine.
This book is very very unsettling and extremely terrifying and traumatizing as a parent. From the very first scene Back is able to grab hold of the reader and keep that hold until the end. This book is really well paced and I liked that Beck took the time to have several points of view as this was needed as we know who the bad guys are so there is no mystery there, it was more about what will happen to Audra and her children. I find that this created a more well rounded story and plot as a whole. There are also shifts in time in this book as we learn where Audra came from and why she was running away from her husband.

I think one of the most interesting characters within the book was Sheriff Whiteside, and how he ended up on the other side of the law. He is probably one of the most evil men that I have read about in a long time and he is basically the perfect antagonist in this book and the lengths he is willing to go to protect himself were great. Also as the Sheriff this gave him additional powers that he has no qualms about using. However, while Sheriff Whiteside is an interesting character, the rest of the cast was not so interesting, they acted fairly predictable in my opinion and I think that Beck missed an opportunity with Danny Lee

I wish Beck would have had more with Danny Lee at the end of the book as his part and what occurs seems to end suddenly so this does make me wonder if maybe there will be a second book featuring him with his own personal quest. I also felt that Danny Lee was not developed as much of a character as he could have been.  

This was a good debut novel and the farther you read in to this book the more invested you become in Audra and her children. I look forward to seeing what Beck comes up with next, a new author to keep an eye on for sure.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A. J. Eversley: Watcher

In the first in a series and debut novel by A.J. Eversley, she takes the reader to dystopia Earth, where machines that look like human rule and the humans that are left are slowly losing the battle save humanity:

Sawyer is the younger Watcher in her resistance that is sworn to protect humanity. It is her job to watch over the city and protect the few humans that are left. The Bots and Carbons that come out each day to try and find the last humans so they can be taken away to who knows what fate have been changing and evolving. They have now decided to target the Watcher's themselves. On a rescue mission Sawyer is faced to make a choice who lives and who dies. But something about this mission does not add up, someone has betrayed them.
Sawyer made a promise to protect humanity, but that comes at a cost as she tries to figure out who is friend and who is foe and who ultimately needs to die.

This was a really interesting debut novel and I really enjoyed getting to know the world and main characters that Eversley created. The world is very interesting, you can tell that Eversley used some tried and true ideas from other popular media forms, but I think that overall she was able to make them her own on most fronts by blending them together. I did not sit there reading thinking to myself oh here we go again with any of the ideas presented in this book. Additionally, I think that Eversley understood the flow that this book needed, and while it was fast paced moving from action scene to action scene, Eversley also took the time to let the reader get to know the two main characters better.

I enjoy reading within the dystopia genre and some of them have been geared towards YA readers and what I really appreciate with what Eversley did within this book is to not make the book about Sawyer's romance or the need to have a guy help/save her (and also a plus in my books is that there does not seem to be a love triangle coming...finally). So this leads me to not only enjoying this book more but also liking Sawyer as a character. Though at times I found her slightly immature in her thinking process or her actions outside of a battle, but that was something more that would come in time and maturity which I do not expect Sawyer to have yet even though she has had to grow up in a war zone. Like I said above I was extremely happy that she was not boy obsessed and when push comes to shove she will do what needs to be done, even if that means killing someone. With this being said you can probably guess that there are some darker undertones within this book that I was not expecting as well.

This book was like part Matrix part Terminator, so if either of those descriptors piqued your interest you should check this book out. This was great debut novel and I am looking forward to continuing on with the serires. I am really looking forward to where Eversley takes the readers next.

If you Liked This,
Check These Out Too:

Monday, June 4, 2018

Ali Land: Good Me Bad Me

In her debut novel Ali Land explores how much our parents have the ability to shape us:

Milly's mother was a Serial Killer but Milly still loves her, but she knew the only way to stop her and save other children was to turn her in to the police. This allows Milly to have a fresh start, with a new identity, try to rewrite her past as well as a new foster family. But anyone can see that Milly has secrets and she has to fight to keep them. As Milly's mother's trial comes closer and closer Milly does not know if she will be able to testify against her mother, but more than anything she wants to keep the foster family that she was placed with. Milly begins to wonder how much of an influence her mother has had over her, how much of it has shaped her and whether she is really destined to just become her mother one day. As things become more and more intense in Milly's life she is going to show exactly the type of person she is; Good or Bad.

Wow, this book is insane and intense. Dark, twisted and disturbing on so many levels, but I enjoyed it all. What made this even more impressive is this is Land's debut novel. Honestly I do not know how she will be able to top this novel. This had so many positives in the execution and the way of psychology and the whole idea of nature vs nurture aspect played out that I think it will be hard to top this book. I think Land will have to go in to a completely different direction with another book as anything similar would not hit the mark.

This book did have some writing flaws but I think that because it was told by Milly there were times when the dialogue was sloppy on purpose as Milly tries to adapt not only to her new posh surroundings and the people she comes in contact with, but it also expressed how different Milly was from all of these other people. Milly is such an intriguing character on her own I understand why Land chose not to have other points of view in this book; Milly was more than enough.

I'm not really sure I'm completely happy with the ending, more so when it ended not how it ended. I wanted more, to know what was going to happen next with everyone (I don't want to give  too much away of what I wanted more of as that would give some major things away in the book). Nonetheless, I was able to figure out one of the major plot lines or twist near the end but I think that Land makes it easy to find or realize on purpose, as you as the reader secretly hope that you are wrong. That said it is great that you are right as Land is okay with showing the dark side of human nature.

This was a great debut novel by Land that has you questioning how much your upbringing can shape you and really explores some of the darker sides of human nature. I look forward to seeing what Land comes up with next.


If You Like This,
Check These Out Too: