Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jennifer Estep: Spider's Bite

In Jennifer Estep's first novel in her elemental assassin series, she introduces the reader to an assassin who you never want to double cross.

The Spider is an assassin shrouded in mystery but not to those close to her. Many think that that the Spider could only be a man but Gin is the one to prove them all wrong. After her family was murdered, Gin sought refuge on the streets and just tried to survive when she was taken in by an assassin to train her as his protege. Gin excelled with his teaching and found herself with a new family. But when someone murders her handler and double crosses her, Gin has no qualms in doing anything to get to the the people responsible, even if it puts herself and those around her in danger. More than one person needs to pay with their life.

I have had this book on my TBR shelf for a very long time, I'm thinking close to when it came out in 2010, so a very very long time. I'm unsure as to why I never picked it up, maybe I was seeing so many reviews for this book coming out one after another that I decided to hold off, though now I wish I had not. This book was fantastic. It had me hooked from the first line "My name is Gin and I kill people." I mean how do you put a book down after that. I was a little worried about making such an impression right off that I thought it might fail, but it kept me interested and entertained right to the end. It was everything that I wanted it to be and more.

Estep introduces some fresh new ideas that were great. I especially liked that the paranormal "creatures" within the book were not invincible, were they harder to kill sure, did they have powers yes, but two bullets in the back or one head was going to kill them too. I liked this vulnerable aspect to creatures where the normal focus is how invincible they are. The introduction of the elemental powers was interesting, one each for; air, fire, earth and water. I have not read a book that has taken the aspect of the elements and power this specifically and I am very interested in reading more about the powers that Gin and others have. The world building was okay in this novel, it was not as well developed as other areas, but there is definitely room to have the world grow more, but I think this can be achieved as Estep takes the readers through her other novels.

I know I have read some reviews that stated that the mystery within the book was not really there and I would have to agree with them. But this is not your typical good vs evil  or private detective or police officer trying to solve a crime. This book is about an assassin (who most people would consider on the side of evil) who has been double crossed, therefore, it is more about the hunting, stalking and well torturing their prey in order to get the information that they need and these are the aspects that Estep focuses on her book.

Overall I really liked Gin as a character, she is smart, deadly and efficient at what she is able to do as an assassin. I really like that Gin has learned to be a deadly assassin without using her powers. I like that she does not have to rely on them and only really using them for scouting reasons. I think that this makes her even more deadly as if she can kill you with a knife imagine what she could do if she started to use her powers. I look forward to seeing how Estep develops Gin as a character.

The one aspect I could have lived without in the book was Gin's side thoughts about sex and Dominic, I could have lived without the comments, they are not too too often and they did not diminish how much I liked the book, just more of a personal preference than anything else. This was especially true when they decide to get it on when they should be working and it happens at a pretty important moment in the book. This type of act seemed out of character for Gin as she is always about getting the job done first and foremost, especially when it involves following a lead that could lead her to her handler's killer. I wish that Estep would have held off Gin and Dominic getting together as the sex scene almost seemed forced as if she felt she "had to" put it in.

Are you looking for your next really good paranormal read, with action, assassins, things that go bump in the night and even a little bit of romance mixed in, then check out Jennifer Estep's debut novel Spider Bite, I do not think that you will be disappointed. With memorable characters, a well thought out plot, Estep will entwine you into the web that is Spider's Bite. I look forward to reading the next book (good thing I had already bought it before I read the first one, I should have taken that to be a sign and read it earlier).

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Joy Fielding: The Wild Zone

Joy Fielding is a bestselling author, but for some reason this is the first book that I have read by her. Fielding explores what happens when a small bet turns into a big amount of trouble.

It all starts in a bar called The Wild Zone. Two brothers Will and Jeff, who don't know each other very well and couldn't be more different and Jeff's best friend Tom, are drinking having a good time and looking to have some fun. Enter Suzy, who has come into the Wild Zone a few times, but is looking for something more than just a random hook up, she is looking for someone anyone to help her escape from her abusive husband. But one bet by the men at the bar and everything is about to change for all of them Will, Jeff, Suzy and Tom all their lives are about to spiral out of control and not everyone can handle the ride.

As stated above, Fielding is a bestselling author, but judging by this book, I do not understand why, I was very disappointed with it. This is one of her newer books, therefore, I was expecting a lot more out of Fielding in regards to story and plot line. The main problem with this book is that Fielding attempts to do too much. Too many "main" characters, too many subplots, and not enough focus of the main issue that is introduced, getting Suzy away from her abusive husband. While the subplots were interesting, there were just too many of them for them to be fully developed, it almost felt like a mishmash of different ideas for novels rolled into one.

Where Fielding does excels is in character development, and while I did not like any of the characters within this novel, that does not mean that they were not well developed or well thought out. You got to know each character's personality and you knew how each was going to react in each situation. Personally, I found all the characters depressing, whiny and at times very immature. Each had a personal issue whether it was more recent or from the  past, there appeared to be no light at the end of the tunnel for any of the characters. Even when the characters had something good going on in their life (however, these events are few and far between in this book) or their relationships grew into something that would have made other individuals happy none of the characters really get there. It almost felt that Fielding was punishing each of the characters in this book, that none of them could have a truly happy moment, as I stated above, the character were really depressing most of the time.

I will say that the villain within this book is quite scary and very human. He was the epitome of an abuser, manipulator and controller of his wife. I liked how Dave was a Doctor and took care of others, but at home his care for his wife was very lacking. Fielding did a good job on getting Dave just right and very scary real. I could hear this creepy voice in my head every time he spoke to Suzy.

I was disappointed in this book, it could have been so much more as I think that the premise had promise. I think that Fielding just attempted to do too much in this novel and lost her way some where. I am unsure if I will read another book by Fielding, maybe one of her earlier books that actually was a best seller. Let me know if you have  great reads by Fielding that I should pick up.


Note: This book has some pretty descriptive scenes of Domestic Abuse, so please take caution with reading this novel

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Angela Gerst: A Crack in Everything

In her debut novel Angela Gerst looks at what happens when you combine love, politics and murder.

Susan Callisto is a real estate lawyer but also a small time political campaign consultant and she should have known better when Charles "Chaz" Renfro walked into her office, offering her 20, 000 dollars in order to be part of his campaign, as the election was only a few days away. But charmed by his smooth talking Susan agrees to offer him advice if he can only get the voter signatures needed to run. If Chaz getting the signature was Susan's only issue thing would have been great. However, in a span of a few days she discovers a dead body, is under investigation for murder (which is being investigated by her ex that she doesn't really know how she feels about him) plus working on for all the other campaigns and her lawyer office none of which seems to be going right as well. The more that Susan is able to uncover, the more she becomes the target and the killer is dead set on her not making it out to vote. 

This was an interesting read for me. Gerst was able to keep me entertained. Gerst showed a great ability for story telling and plot execution for her debut novel. Everything  within the book stems, naturally, from money and the ever searching cure to something that all humans suffer from mortality. No this is not a paranormal novel, it is a mystery novel with some politics thrown in.

This book is a little bit slow in parts as Susun tries to put everything together, plus she has other events in her life that need to be taken care of, both personal and business. I like that Gerst was able to mix real life and the investigation together in the book and still hold my attention. I like the web of lies, maniputation and deceptions that occur throughout the book that Suzy never really knows who she can trust and whether to trust her gut or not. I think that this is where Gerst excels in her manipulation of the plot and the people that you never really know what is going to happen next and where the next lie, manipulation or deception is going to occur or be uncovered.

I liked Susan as a character, she has a witty and fairly dry sense of humor that had me smiling as I read. I liked Susan's ability to just be what people needed her to be for the most part. I think that she got this from being a lawyer and knew how to play up her strengths and down play her weaknesses. Although Susan may appear strong to those around, she is a very depressed woman, who is often living in the past; past events, past mistakes, they all haunt her. It was interesting being in Susan's mind throughout the novel and seeing how she looked at the world, the case and her life.

THANK YOU Angela Gerst for not falling into the ever so common trend these days of page after page of sex scenes. Gerst did it right in this book, some sexual innuendos and scenes that are leading up to sex, but not expanding past that. This is one of the first books i have read in a long time (by a female author) that has done this. I applaud Gerst from moving away from this norm.

The one part I did not really understand was her relationship with Michael. They had pushed each other away and really blamed the other person for it. I just felt very Hot and Cold feelings flowing between them (i'm sure some people would say this could have been helped by having some sex scenes...lol....but that is not the point). I just thought that there was a lack of connection between the characters, maybe they just needed to work through more of their own personal and relationship issues.

This book keeps going right to the end with it overwhelming web of lies that surround everything Susan knows. This book was a constant puzzle (but in a good way), so those looking for something that will have you thinking a little bit harder trying to figure everything out right till the end, will want to pick up this book. This was a good read and I liked the mixture of mystery, politics, money and real life drama. I look forward to Gerst's next book.


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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ruth Barrett: Base Spirits

Indie author Ruth Barrett takes the readers to London to an old manor where unspeakable things happened to the previous owners from the 17th century and let just say a house never forgets.

Clara is an aspiring play right and alcoholic with a controlling verging on abusive husband Scott who she is trying to away from. Easier said than done when he very much wants to control every aspect of her life and always have her by his side. However, when Scott's research takes him to England Clara has finally devised away to get away from him, at least for a awhile, while she stays out in the Country to work on her play while he gives his lectures elsewhere. Clara thinks that the Old Hall is the perfect place to get inspiration for the next play she is writing and one that will be featured in a Shakespeare festival. As Clara settles into her new home, she does not realize that the Old Hall has a lot more in store for her than letting her write her plays, it has more sinister plans for her and Scott.

This book was something a little bit different from what I normally read. I think Barrett was trying for a horror novel, but I think it was more creepy based than horror. This is not say that it was a bad read, but just missed the mark for a horror novel for me.

I felt sorry for Clara while reading her interactions with Scott. I personally wanted to jump into the book and kick his ass for the way he was treating her. You understand why Clara is depressed in her life and why she has turned to alcohol to make things "better". However, Clara has a shinning moment in the hope of writing an amazing play for a Shakespeare festival and she is trying to make sure that Scott and her alcoholism do not get in the way. You really cheer for Clara in this book. I liked the realism in her character and her fight to stay independent at all costs, as well as her fight on her growing dependence on alcohol, even though through out the book she is loosing more than one battle with the problems in her life as well as against the house.

I have mixed feelings as to how Barrett introduces what has happened in the house. On one side I do like how she just delves into the history as Clara watches, but on the other side I wish that it would have taken longer for this to happen and have more information come out in the creepy way like it did at the beginning (for example Clara tripping over blood on the floor that was not really there). I think that by delving into the history instead of it being uncovered bit by bit, the creepy aspect of the house diminishes. I think the beginning part was great where you get a taste of the history and you Know that something bad has happened there, I just wish that the horror or suspenseful parts of the house wanting to show Clara what occurred would have been consistent throughout the book.

Not going to lie this has some creepy moments and had me listening that much harder for strange noises occurring throughout my house, but I wish that Barrett would have stuck to this formula throughout the entire book. All in all it was a good read and I think that Barrett is an Indie Author to watch out for if you are looking for a more traditional bump in the night of a book. Once Barrett gets her stride in horror she will be a must read.


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