Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Scott Sigler: Alive

Scott Sigler takes a reader to answer the question what would you do if you could not remember who you are? Would you rise above or fade to the background:

Em awakes to a stinging sensation in her neck and finds herself stuck in a coffin. She is extremely confused, she knows today should be her twelfth birthday and she should be celebrating with her family. But she has no recollection of who she is, where she comes from or even her name. When she is able to break out of her coffin, she discovers there are more in this strange room than just hers. So begins a journey of Em and those who have also survived as they try to remember who they are, where they came from and how long they were in the coffins for and why. Em's about to embark on a journey of not only self discovery but survival as well.

This book almost became a DNF book for me. I really struggled through the first half of the book, in not only connecting with the characters but also trying to figure out what where Sigler was planning on taking the story. One of my main issues with this book and why it almost became a DNF is that in the first 100 pages all the are really doing is walking in straight line, with a little bit of interactions with each other but they just keep walking never really going any where. This was just a boring and it was hard to hold my attention.

As the main characters in this book do not have any memory of their time before, I found it hard to get attached to them. You get to know them slowly as really they are just figuring out who they are and their own tendencies, personalities and strength, I guess I would equate it to very delayed puberty. They were put in the coffins when they were 12 but now they are in the bodies of around 17 year old, so their thought processes are that of a 12 year old, which for me was very hard to relate to and understand.

I struggle to figure out what age group this book is best suited for. I know this book is a YA novel but the main characters think that they are 12 years old but in adult like bodies. As an adult I was unable to connect with the characters and I wonder if a mid teen would be able to as well. That said I think the darkness (which would have been nice to have throughout the book instead of just walking) that occurs in the latter part of the book is not something that I would let a 12 year old read. So for me Sigler's book is stuck somewhere in-between all of those age categories, not really fitting for anyone.

I will say that the book is way better in the last third of the novel and Sigler was able to adds some twist in that I do not think that many people will see coming. However, I struggle to recommend a book where it takes two thirds to really come together and become interesting. I personally do not think I will continue on in this series.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sandra Brown: Mean Streak

New York Best Selling Author Sandra Brown is back with a novel that puts one women against everything she has ever believed in:

Dr. Emory Charbonneau is a well known pediatrician and philanthropist so when she goes missing while running in the mountains of North Carolina, people are not only concerned with her safety, but wonder why her husband took so long to report her missing. Emory wakes up in a strange place, with a strange head injury and a strange man. Emory is not sure what to make of her situation but she knows she is not going any where any time soon, even if she could. The mountain man has made it clear that she is not going anywhere. Emory needs to not only figure out this mountain man (curb her attraction towards him) so she can get away but also try to figure out who wants her dead. But nothing is ever simple in the mountain wilderness as mother nature and human nature tend to take over.

I think fans of Sandra Brown will enjoy this book as brown has a formula that she likes to use and she sticks to it in this book. This is probably why I only really read a book by her once a year. So basically those who like Browns' formula will like this book. If you are looking for something different from Brown then you will find this book pretty redundant. There have been books by Brown in the past that I found really engaging and wanting to know what the big twist is going to be or for the other shoe to drop (so to speak). However, I found that the big secret was nothing really so big or interesting, I was expecting more from Brown in this aspect.

I liked that Brown decided to have point of views from the three main characters, Emory, Jeff (her husband) and the mountain mystery man. I think the added a better view of what was going on in the story and these characters minds. I think the story would have suffered if it was only told from Emory's point of view. However, I never really felt anything towards the characters for the most part, well other than what an Ass Jeff was, but I found that the characters were secondary to the story and trying to figure out why the mountain man was so secretive. There are also come secondary points of view in the story but they are not constant through out but they do provide some additional information about the mountain man, which the story needed as Emory is not very good at being a detective and figuring things out.

While reading this book all I could think of was that Brown was trying to capitalize on Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl as there are some parallel themes with in this book, and not really any new ideas expressed here. However, this does not any where close a dark or suspenseful as Flynn's.

While not my favourite Brown read, this book was still able to keep me entertained and I do think that those who like Brown's formula will like this book. Though I do hope that one of these days Brown will create something new and really surprise me.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pierce Brown: Golden Son

You will need to read the first book in this series, Red Rising, in order to understand this book, world and what is at stake for Darrow. Also it is one of the best debuts that I have read, so really you should just pick the book up for that reason :)

Pierce Brown is back with the next novel in his Red Rising series and if Darrow thought the games of the school were shocking, nothing has prepared him for what real Gold life will be like:

Darrow has infiltrated the Gold’s life and culture. He is highly regarded by many of his peers, friends and those at the top of this ruling class. But Darrow knows that everything still hangs in the balance, that he is still on a life or death mission that with each day that passes becomes more crucial to complete but also the lines become blurred to more he gets to know some Golds. Darrow is used to the battlefields of the school and the academy neither of which has properly prepared him for the political games that he needs to play. Darrow needs to learn quick who he can trust, if the rebellion is still on and that betrayal is ever common in the Gold lifestyle as he tries to bring down this elitist society from within.

After reading Red Rising I was hooked, and knew that I would be reading this book, however, I purposely denied reading this book right away as I knew that book three was not coming out till 2016. I think I am still in shock about how this book ended (bumped this book up to 4.5 stars for me as Brown totally changed the game) that I find that I am speechless, breathless and wanting more as in NOW. I cannot believe how long some people have waited for book three; I would not have wanted to wait as long as others have.

I liked that Brown took a more political stance with this book, which I think was very important in this stage of the game as not everything can be accomplished through war (though at times it does help). This is not to say that this book lacks in the action points from the first, there are still several battles and fight scenes for readers to enjoy, but it is the backroom conversations and plays that the reader needs to pay attention to in this book. I personally love any book that can combine political intrigue and action and Brown does it extremely well in this book.

While I did miss finding out what Darrow has been up to for the first two year of the school, I do not miss them at the same time. I wanted to see Darrow would grow as a character but I think that writing a book about his time at the academy would have just been Red Rising all over again. It was interesting to see Darrow a few years down the road to see how he had developed as a character and as a Gold, but I hate to say it but I found that Darrow had not really changed or learned some important lesson.

Darrow is the Sword not the Pen and the more you read Golden Son, the more you realize that Darrow has some very valuable lessons that he still needs to learn, especially on the Pen side of things. He thinks he can read people, he thinks he can play the political game and while he is a quick thinker when thrown into a deadly situation, he still seems to lack the ability to see the whole picture or the long game. I was just hoping for more overall character growth in this book (as the book does pick up 2 years later) and with the events of how this novel ends, it will be interesting to see where Brown takes Darrow as a character and if he is able to push him further.

So happy that Servo is back, as he is one of my favourite characters from Red Rising and Darrow needs all the friends that he can get and Servo is someone who has never wavered in loyalty to Darrow. Servo may be crude, rude and sadistic at times, but I think he is a good sounding board for Darrow and sees things as they are more than Darrow does. Servo's ideas may seem extreme at times, but he was raised a Gold and they are known to have no mercy.

One of the things that I truly appreciate about Brown's writing in this series is that he does not take sci-fi to the point where I no longer understand what is going on. I do not need a degree in physics to understand some of the concepts and I do not have to been reading sci-fi my entire life to understand the world that Brown has created. The world being placed in our solar system probably helps as well though as I know the planets and where they are located. Brown is extremely smart for doing this as it opens his books up too non-sci-fi readers (like me) to now only enjoy but relish in a genre that I do not read very often.

This is a fantastic series; I’m hooked, I want more, and I am really looking forward to the third book, which comes out early next year (as I said still in shock how the book ended). I highly recommend it to those who read sci-fi and those who don't as I think Brown was able to find some common middle ground that both can appreciate. You need to check out this series.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lis Wiehl: Face of Betrayal

In the first book her triple threat series, Lis Wiehl mixes murder and politics, and how perception is everything for both:

A seventeen year old goes missing while walking her dog, normally this would only gain some attention from the media but Katie Converse was a senate page and all have to wonder what type of foul play may be occurring. So the search for Katie not only at home, but who was Katie as she was working as a page, who did she interact with who did she see. Katie may have presented herself as a good girl, but perception is everything and people want to know the truth. The media storm of this case has attracted three friends to the case all with different occupations and callings, television reporter Cassidy Shaw, Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. All have a different stake in finding out what happened to Katie and it's going to take all three of them to figure it out before more people get hurt.

The more I read this book the more I equated it to the Netflix show The Killing as it is a mixture of murder and politics but with three women trying to work out the crime all with alternative motives. It also does into get as dark as the Killing does, it never seems to go over the edge as I would have liked it too. There are some good twists and turns thrown in to the book that will make you sway back and forth about who you think did it, but I personally was able to figure it out quite a bit before the end.  I was hoping that Wiehl would be able to shock me by having a different outcome, but she did not, my first instinct was the right one. This is very much a who-done-it mystery book and not one of suspense and thrills, so if that is what you are looking for that then this book is not for you.

Wiehl tries to have three main characters in this book as each is given a point of view and what they are doing to help the case but I felt that Allison was the true main character of the case. Personally I really began to dislike Cassidy by the end of the book (this does not mean that I did not feel sorry for her and her domestic abuse situation) but I felt that she used her friends on more than on occasions just to get ahead in her job. I understand that she is a reporter and doing her job but to push her friends as she did for the facts and the exclusive (which I still think they should not have given her) made me cringe each time. They were putting their own jobs in jeopardy just to help her and she never really seemed grateful for it. I felt that in this book you never really get to know Nicole and she takes a back seat to the other two characters as there seemed to be very few chapters or sections from her point of view. Nicole was only really mentioned if Cassidy or Allison is there.

I found that Allison as a character that was portrayed with too much religious beliefs for me as I do not think that her time spent at Church or talking/praying to God really added anything to the plot or story line, it was just there. If everything was connected back to a religion or a Church somehow I would have understood adding this in, but none of it was so these aspects felt more like filler points to me, get a few extra pages in the book here and there. I think maybe Wiehl was using it as a way to separate her from the other characters but I think her occupation, her personality in general and really being the middle ground between the other two was enough to make her distinct

This book was okay, I did not enjoy it as much as the other Wiehl book that I have read, and while I found the mystery aspect of the book was fairly well done I was still able to put it together well before the end of the novel. Overall, not a bad read, and people who like who-done-it mysteries will probably enjoy it. I would read another book by Wiehl, but probably not in this series as I was not a fan of one of the "main" characters and Allison was a little too religious for me without it linking back to the actual story.


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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Eva Darrow: The Awesome

In the first in what I believe will be a series, Eva Darrows introduces the reader to the world of Monster Hunting and nothing said you had to be an adult to do it:

Maggie Cunningham has a different type of upbringing than most people in her life, her mother is a Monster Hunter and Maggie is determined to follow in her footsteps. However, Maggie has s slight problem when it comes to the social aspects in life, in which she is an utter disaster in talking to people she does not know and her fashion sense is directed to Monster Hunting. This poses a problem as in order to move up the chain and be able to Hunt Monsters worth more money Maggie needs to lose her virginity as something in virgin blood makes the Vampires go crazy. Maggie needs to battle some ghosts, goblins and other things that go bump in the night as well as find a date but even that may be more than she asked for.

First off I'm not one to comment on a book cover, especially as they seem to change and have multiple version, but when I saw this cover, how can I say no, lol. I can honestly say it was the cover that drew me to this book originally and maybe I should have read the premise a little better before I read this book (reasons below) as it wasn't quite for me, but I was very distracted by the neon awesomeness that was happening in the cover.

I was unsure of this book at first as I found it a bit slow and Maggie was way too obsessed with having sex/losing her virginity so that she can move up in the Monster Hunter business. As this book is touted as a YA book, the thought of Darrow almost promoting having (basically) meaningless sex with a guy you just met just to lose your virginity did not entirely sit well with me. So with those notes I would say that this book is for older young adults, not younger and for me as an adult reading this book there were times when I felt that Maggie was too much of a teenager for me.

There were things I liked about Maggie mainly that her appearance is not what you would think a typical heroine in this genre would look like. I liked that she took the time to point it out and I like that she makes a point to say that she wears crappy clothes and doesn't wear high heels as fighting monsters can be dirty work and really I know very few teenagers who can walk in heels let alone run in them. And then she became too much of a teenager for me, which is fine for a teenager reading this book, not so great for the adult.

The book got better the further that I read in the book and I glad that I stuck with it, as the book became more about monster hunting and that society than Maggie trying to not only find a date but someone to have sex with her. Her relationship with her mother is also an interesting aspect, almost that her mom does not want to grow up as she realizes that her life can be over in an instant with Monster Hunting. I think this is why Maggie and her are so close and have a very (for the most part) open relationship with each other and her mother supports her in her decision making.

Does this book add anything to the YA or urban fantasy genre, no (except for maybe having the main character be more of a true representation physically), but it was still a interesting read at times and did make me laugh out loud a few times, so for me those are both wins. I just found Maggie to be a bit too much of a teenager for me, so at this time I am undecided whether I would continue on in this series.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Helen H. Durrant: Dead Silent

Helen Durrant takes the reader to a smaller detachment where resources are stretched thin but that does mean that criminals out there commit crimes any less:

A college girl goes missing, yet no one seems to notice or find it odd. A body is found in a car crash, but the suspicious thing is that the girl was already dead with a live stock tag stuck in her hear. And a little girl goes missing but her parents are being less than truthful about the circumstances. This is just another day and case load for Detective Inspector Tom Calladine. He is in a race against time (and his department) as he knows there is more at play here than anyone can fathom and it is up to Tom Calladine and his team to figure out before more lives are lost.

For me this book was just okay, edging to towards the feeling of "meh". There were aspects that I liked but for some reason I had a hard time becoming invested in the characters and story. As this is a fairly short book (around 200 pages) it took me a lot longer to read than it should have. I have issue with the cover of this book stating "A Gripping Detective Thriller Full of Suspense" without a reviewer or author backing up this claim. If this is the author's opinion about this book that is fine, but to me I find it a bit misleading, as this book (for me) did not have the thrills or suspense that I would expect in a book that was not only making this claim but in the thriller genre in general.

This is the second book in a series but there is not too much referral back to the first book that you could read them out of order. The only real reference back to the first book is about Calladine discovering that he has a daughter (who is a secondary character in this book) and another secondary character who was injuries in the previous book/cases. Perhaps if I would have read the first book I may have been more invested in the characters that I was but I really just found most of them flat.

I liked that for the first half of the book the police team was forced to spread it's resources thin and had to investigate two cases and Calladine tries to prioritize which case is more important all the while needing result but having a penny pinching management that will not get you any more help. To me this is a very real aspect of police work, so I really appreciated that Durrant highlighted this. However, I found that the child abduction case really fell by the wayside in the book and Durrant attempts to bring the two cases together in a way but never really makes it and to me it seemed forced.

I think there are better books out there that have the thrills, suspense and mystery that fans of the thriller genre would like. I think that Durrant had some great ideas here that I think executed a different way could have been very successful and I did like her portrayal of the police way of life. I was just never able to become invested in the characters or story which I think every reader needs at least one of those to enjoy what they are reading.

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