Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reena Jacobs: Shadow Cat

In her debut Indie paranormal novel, Reena Jacobs takes the reader to the Rainforest of Malaysia where the Tigers are more than what they seem.

Berani, is a novice shaman in her tribe, she is free and independent has the rainforest as her playground, but all is not well in her homeland. Her homeland is being attacked on two fronts, one from the Humans and another from some evil forces that that are causing her and their way of life to become extinct. However, Berani is unable to keep her eyes off one human in particular, he has invaded her land and will cause nothing but trouble but she can seem to stay away from her, he calls to something inside her. Eric is in Malaysia to search for the next big thing in the pharmaceutical industry, but he may just find himself in need of some pain medication, if he tries to control Berani but then some pains are worth it.

I already know that some people who have been reading my reviews for awhile now know that this is not a typical read for me, and know that I am not the biggest fan of paranormal romance. However, when Reena Jacobs asked me to review her book, I was honest with her and told her that it was not my preferred genre and gave her an example of where I believed there was too much sex and not enough storyline. I thought that she would say no thanks to me reviewing her book, but to my surprise, she asked me to review her book and was really looking for My Honest opinion about the book. I really admire Jacobs for asking and wanting this.

Okay, so my thoughts on the book is that it was meh, also know as slightly below okay (but take note, that this is not a genre I would normally read). The book was able to keep me somewhat entertained but I did Not have the feeling that I could not put it down. I found there was still a few too many sex scenes in the book for me, and that the romance part was the book is the main aspect, the hunt of the penanggalan was secondary and does not really become a somewhat major aspect till the end of the book. True the penanggalan is a creepy type of a creature once you find out what they actually are, but the focus was really away from them that I did not the dark or horror sense of them that was maybe intended.

Jacobs did a good job at setting up this world inside of the Malaysian rainforest and what life would be like there for a tribe to live there and the difficulties of being an undiscovered tribe and have Humans encroaching more and more on their territory. You also get the tribes and Berani sense of urgency about protecting everything they know when humans enter and destroy their territory. Also Jacobs grasp of the Malaysian culture, beliefs and language were an added bonus as it showed that she did her research and tried to make it as authentic as possible. I mean if there was an undiscovered tribe within the Malaysian rainforest and they spoke English, I'm pretty sure I would have put the book down right there.

I do have one ponder about the book, that could maybe (and I stress maybe) lead me to read a second book about Eric and Berani and that is Berani's experience within the city. Jungle to city, would be an interesting transition. I believe I would have enjoyed the book more if it was darker and had less romance, but that is really my personal preference.

I believe that people who are a fan of paranormal romance and/or indie books will enjoy this book. To me it was something different from other paranormal romance books that I have read (keep in mind I have not read too many) and I believe it would keep lovers of the genre entertained. So next time you are looking for a were romance book, try this indie book.


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chuck Hogan: Prince of Thieves

Chuck Hogan brings us the story of a bank robber, who has known nothing else in his life but is wanting to change for a woman.

They are wearing mask, carrying guns and are lying in wait for the bank managers to get to work. Doug MacRay is Boston based career thief, who along with his buddies have become well known Bank Robbers. But this robbery is different for Doug, the prep-work was different he found himself asking more and more questions about Claire Keesey, the banks manager, questions that have nothing to do with robbing the bank but more personal questions. After the bank robbery Claire has been badly traumatized and it is the perfect entry for Doug into her life, while she is vulnerable and scared. But is Doug ready to leave his current life, he is surrounded by friends who look up to him and rely on him, but the allure of a better life with Claire is ever present. Doug may never reach this better life, there is always the next job to plan, and the FBI are getting closer that it becomes a cat and mouse game. However, in the world of Charlestown one is never sure whose the Mouse and whose the Cat.

Prince of Thieves, is the book that inspired the movie The Town, which is the reason I picked this book to read. I really wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, which I think most book lovers like to do. I have yet to watch the movie, as I just finished this book the other day, but I hope to watch it soon.

The first part of this book is fairly slow, other than the robbery at the very beginning. The book begins to lag after this bank robbery as Hogan begins to show who Doug MacRay is; his life, situation and his want/need to escape it. I did find myself not very interested in this book at the beginning as it was slow and times I would just put the book down and not read it for a bit (as you can tell by the length of time that it was as my currently reading book).  However, this lag is extremely important in setting up the rest of the storyline and the choices/decisions made by Doug. Once this period is over, (about a 100 pages in) the book becomes more fast paced and was able to draw me in and  had me wondering what is going to happen next and what decisions Doug, his Crew,  Agent Frawley and Claire would all make.

Doug is a pretty depressing character, his life is in a downward spiral, but he to want to change; Change his life, the people around him and possibly get out of Charlestown forever. But wanting it and doing it is easier said than done. He has a lot of history with Charlestowns and the people here, although he believes that she (Claire) can help save him and get him out of Charlsetown to a new life, he is still left questioning everything. Doug, I found, was a mixture of a hero and an anti hero. You want him to change and succeed in what he does, but at the same time his inability to walk away from bank robberies and his friends (who are slowly bringing him farther and farther down) makes you want him to get caught just so he is forced to make changes as you can see him as a better man (or who he could be if he maybe had a different up bringing).

Hogan does a great job of showing how one background can shape a life, but he also shows that one decision can change a life forever as well and that these decisions can also affect all the people around us in either a positive or negative way. Our choices shape who we are and the life we live.

I liked this book as Hogan has proved to me that he is okay with taking chance with his characters and no one is safe. This book is definitely more than just bank robbery book, it is about how your life and friends can shape a person and the choices  In a book like this it would seem counter or unrealistic if everything turned out okay, I applaud Hogan for not taking the easy way out. I would recommend this book to people who are thinking of watching the movie The Town, and for those who are looking for a different psychological thriller, with a little less thriller and a little more psychological.


I do not have a book that I have reviewed that is similar to this, so if you have read this book and can recommend something similar please leave it in the comments....Thank You!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Faith Hunter: Skinwalker

In Faith Hunter's new series, Skinwalker she introduces the reader  to the world of a skinwalker, an individual born with the ability to change into multiple animal forms.

 Jane Yellowrock, vampire hunter, Cherokee, skinwalker and past unknown. She has been hired by the Vampire Council of New Orleans to find and kill and rouge Vampire. Jane knows that trouble is heading her way if the council is unable to take out this rouge, but Jane knows that she can handle herself even if the vampire can't place just what she is. This means that the council is trying to keep an extra eye on Jane, as she cannot be trusted and her ability to disappear while they are watching is very disconcerting to them. But Jane is not about to trust the Vampire in this town either or the man (the Joe) who seems to be following her around. Jane knows that the Vampire Council is not telling her everything, this rouge does not smell right and why are they so afraid of it. Jane may need to watch her back as it seems that no one in this town can be trusted and she may have bit off more than she can chew...

 I  enjoyed this book and it was able to keep me entertained. Not going to lie (and it may be counter to some recent reviews I have written0, I like Jane but part of the main reason is that she is a motorcycle riding and shot gun toting girl. I happen to love motorcycles, I think more books need motorcycles in them, lol, I guess that is just my thing. Jane is basically part of the typical Kickass vampire hunter female protagonist that is very common within the paranormal genre. However, there are different aspects with in this book, and personally my favorite part of the book was Hunters introduction to Beast. 
Beast is it's own entity, with it's own thoughts feelings and has the ability to make decisions. The Beast is not hindered to one form, as long as Jane has a piece of an animal but Beast prefers a black panther.  I believe that this is the best aspect within this book. The interaction between Jane and her Beast is what sets this book apart from others. The book has a pretty good storyline, but nothing too new within it, but it Hunter's imagination on this one aspect that was really able to really hold my attention. I  enjoyed how in Human form Jane determined what was right and wrong, but when Beast was in charge it had control and often there was a battle between the two as to right and wrong (talk about multiple personalities). Hunter also did a good job in showing the difference between when Jane was in control and when Beast was in control. When Jane was in control it was a normal Human decision making process, but when Beast was in control it was more primal and animalistic thought process. As I said above it is this aspect that makes Skinwalker different from other novels, and gives it the reader something new to contemplate and discover about.

I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading paranormal books that are more about action and mystery than romance (as there is no romance in this book) and for someone who enjoys a kickass heroine but is looking for something with a different edge.


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dianne Sylvan: Queen of Shadows

In her debut novel, Dianne Sylan introduces the reader the the Shadow World of the Vampires.

Miranada Grey (Mira) had a gift for the guitar, other instruments and music as soon as she picked them up. She was able to lull the crowd around her, and they would only be there to see her, to listen to her. This is when she discovered she had the power over people's emotions. Through her music she could make the crowd feel anything she wanted them too, but this has also hurt her life as well. She has secluded herself from human contact, afraid that she would influence the people around her thoughts and feelings that they would never have an honest thought. Her only escape was her music, but even that was getting harder and harder to control, she was on a downward spiral, with insanity approaching quickly.
The only thing that can save her is to learn how to control her power. Enter David Soloman, who sees a person in pain, and in need of help. David is the Prime (leader) of the Vampire in this area and though his world is slowly crashing around him with old enemies coming forth to take back the throne, he wants to help Mira have a normal life, even if he will not have his for that much longer.

One of the Best debut novels that I have read in a long time. I have been shying away from the vampire part of the paranormal genre for a few months now, just for lack of imagination and redundancy that seemed to be occurring. This book was a nice surprise when I decided to revisit the genre. It was more than just, what has become typical in the vampire paranormal genre, is Hot Vampire, sexy female protagonist who falls for Hot Vampire. This book had more depth, it had political and self finding thrown in, but not in a way that was cheesy or felt out of place, it was part of the natural flow of the story.
The characters that Sylvan develops within the book are amazing. Once again the non-kickass protagonist is what holds my attention. Mira may have whit and humorous comments now and then, but she knows when she is out matched and that she has weaknesses. She is scarred, emotionally, psychologically and physically and has to work through all of these aspects on a day to day basis in order to survive and grow through out the book. Additionally, I like how Sylvan related what Mira was going to like an addition that she could not control, and how it was slowly bringing her down and was going to get her killed. Also how this addition had lead her to becoming an alcoholic, in order for her to be able to sleep at night. It really showed the downward spiral that Mira was heading in.

I also really liked the character Faith, she was dark, silent and deadly warrior that make me think of the kickass protagonist from other novels, who the story would normally be about. As I have stated I like the change in direction but it is still nice to have the kickass woman in the story, but she is better as a secondary character. I think if Sylvan was trying to go more with the flow of the books published right now in the paranormal genre, then Faith would have been the protagonist in this story.

Overall this is just a well written and thought out story and story line. It had everything that fans of the paranormal genre could want, it was dark and gritty at times, had action, suspense and some romance (though not with the multiple over the top sex scene, it is really more about true romance...hope that makes sense). To me to seemed like Sylvan has been writing books for years as her writing and style had depth of someone who was more experienced than her debut. Her story drew me in so much that I did not want to put the books down.

I do have a few slight criticism is why do so many authors in the paranormal genre use rape as part of what changes an individual's life. I understand that this is a traumatic event that would really shape a life, just seems that is a common theme, (to check out more what I mean visit Scooper Speaks).  Also, as much as I loved this book and everything about Mira and her growth within the book, I wonder if she has grown too much and the sequel will be lacking because of it, I can really only speculate on that front. However, I still think this is a great read and even if it is only good as a one off, it is still worth checking out. I know I will be checking out the sequel.

So I recommend this book, for those who love the paranormal genre, I think this should be one of the books that you read this year by a debut author.


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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Alex Berenson: The Faithful Spy

The first in a series, Alex Berenson debut takes the reader on a Spy Game that is very realistic to the World`s current state and one gets the feeling that everything written could happen today.

John Wells is an All-American from Montana, now he is the only operative that had successfully infiltrated al Qaeda, even to the status of a commander of a small force, but his resolve is the same to kill Bin Laden. But Wells does not travel an easy road, it is hard for him to make contact with the agency as he is in the hills of Pakistan and the agency is beginning not to trust Wells, as he was unable to prevent September 11. Years pass and Wells has taken up the Muslim faith with vigor, not just to blend in, but he feels at peace with his Quran. He has accepted the al Qaeda view that America is shallow, useless, spineless and mindless culture that has a vice for over indulgence and violence. He does not understand the American Way any more. But Wells will get his chance, to revisit America for al Qaeda has plans for Wells, he is going home, but the main question is, Is he still a CIA operative?

Berenson has created a novel that has a very real feel to it, and that the possibilities that are presented could really not be that far off from the truth. I enjoyed that he did not go so far out there that what he was writing was impossible. It made me think, Do the Americans have an Agent in al Qaeda?

I like Wells as a character, and how Berenson shaped him through out the book. Wells has definitely been shaped by hi choice to leave his family, life and America to serve the CIA in al Qaeda and what haunts him the most is his inability to kill Bin Laden and to prevent September 11. These facts weigh heavily on his mind, and are the basis of many decisions that he makes. But what makes Wells truly interesting aspect is his belief in the Quran. Studying it`s words, teachings and developing a hate for everything that America stands for and what America has done, he really questions whether he wants to protect that or not.

This was a nonstop thriller that was not overly violent just really good suspense and wondering how Wells will get through everything and what will happen next. You also get a good sense of the "Bad Guys" as Berenson has written chapters from their point of view, which help show why they following the teachings of the Koran and sometimes why the chose to join al Qaeda as wells as give hints for the final their plans. I found that this added more depth to the storyline and gave the reader just a touch of insight to the other side. Khadri is the type of today individual/radical that one should fear, for he is the brain who comes up with the attacks and is able to manipulate people to commit them for him, whether they are aware of it or not. To me that is a truly scary person.

The Faithful Spy is a great adventure thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat and questioning, Could something like this really Happen, but being unable to put it down as you want to know what will Wells choose and how will it end.


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