Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ted Dekker: Boneman's Daughters

 Ted Dekker is a well known author in the Thriller genre, however, this is my first read of one of his books. He does not disappoint with his portrayal of the BoneMan who is obsessed with finding the perfect daughter.

Is there any lengths that you would not go to save your daughter? Even if it meant that you had commit murder yourself? These are the questions that army intelligence officer Ryan Evans has to ask himself. Ryan has just returned from his latest tour, but for traumatic reason, he was kidnapped tortured both physically and mentally and all he can think of is getting home to his wife and daughter. But Ryan's choices over the years to take tour after tour has estranged both his wife and daughter and he soon realizes that he has never been the perfect father, which is exactly what the BoneMan is looking for. In the middle of the night the BoneMan kidnaps Ryan's daughter for himself, and Ryan will do everything to keep Bethany alive. However, as the evidence unfolds the FBI and political figures become convinced that Ryan is the BoneMan. Ryan is on the run from the authorities and he is running out of time to save his daughter.

This is the first book that I have read by Dekker and I have wanted to read this particular book for a long time (I think since the first time I saw the cover) and it was lost in my shelf for too long. This book did not start out how I thought it would, I was picturing the typical picturesque family which is more typical for these types of novels, but this book was in no way typical. I liked that Dekker chose a different type of family setting that I think set the stage better because it felt like Ryan truly had more to loose than his daughter, his sanity was also in question as he frantically searched for her and played the BoneMan's game. As you near the end of the book, you really do not know how it was going to end and I really appreciated that Dekker kept the dark feeling and aspects throughout and was willing to take it to the very end.

BoneMan was a very interesting character, that I do not think that anyone could completely understand; however, for me this was not a draw back because how can anyone truly understand a psychopathic mind. This book does has chapters from BoneMan's point of view, therefore, those who do not like novels that have this aspect will want to avoid this novel for that reason. BoneMan's technique is terrifying, original, and cringe worthy every time I think about it. Just thinking of the agony one would have to be in makes your muscle tighten. I really appreciate Dekker's originality with BoneMan as there can be some redundancy in serial killer books. Additionally, you know who the BoneMan is before everyone else in the novel but I did not find that this took away from novel, as Ryan was not pervy to the information that was developed or found out by the investigators. I personally like novels that take the time to develop the killer into an actual character than just a figure in the background, this does not always mean I want to know the identity of the killer, just read from their point of view.

I did not know that Dekker was considered a Christian writer while reading this book, I did not find out after till I was reading some reviews of his other books. Dekker does use some passages from the Bible in the book that act as clues, but this can be a common aspect in serial killer books. I did not find the Christian aspect to be the integral part of the book, it really was more about the thrills and hunt for me in this book. If you were avoiding this book or author because he has been classified as a Christian writer, I think you are making a mistake, while there may be some Christian elements within the book, they are the main theme or element within the book. I would have even mentioned this aspect if I had not read that he was a Christian writer.

I cannot wait to read the next book by Dekker, he has the suspense, hunt and mystery that I am looking for in a thriller novel, that he is able to keep the reader on the edge of their seat throughout the book. I cannot picture myself putting one of his books down if it can live up to the standard he has set with this novel.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Alex Adams: White Horse

In her debut novel Alex Adams holds nothing back in a dystopia novel that will take you into the darkness of humanity.

THEN: Zoe leads a fairly ordinary life that has had it share of hardships that she is struggling to get past. She is currently working at Pope Pharmaceuticals cleaning the floors and cages as it mundane work that keeps her busy. One day a strange container finds it way into her house, and she gets the feeling that will change everything in her life but does not know why.

NOW: Zoe is struggling to survive in this new world where the humans are on the endangered species list, and there is not much hope of their survival. The disease known as White Horse has killed most of the world population and the majority of those who have not died have mutated into strange creature that now hunt the humans that still live. Zoe is traveling to her one last place of Hope a remote village in Greece, it is what she lives for, but things in the world have changed too much that there is no longer a place for hope.

Travel with Zoe through her THEN and NOW experiences where the world changes around her and when everyone she loves dies, she struggles with keeping her own humanity when faced against people who have lost theirs and keeping her own Hope for life alive.

I was completely engrossed with this book, I did not want to put it down, the story and characters just drew me in from the very beginning (though the the writing style takes a bit to get used to). However, I will be the first to say that this book is not for everyone. It shows the a darker side of humanity when the world is falling apart and people do what they feel they need to to survive, which does not always mean the right, sane, practical or human thing todo. This book is dark, gritty and disturbing with the events that unfold as well as the interaction between the characters. I think that Adams does a great job of setting the tone of the book within the first chapters and that you know going into the book that there are going to be some aspect that you will find disturbing and you may want/need to put it down.

I enjoyed Zoe as a character the reader becomes invested in her as each event unfold both in the "Now" and "Then" segments within the book. You want her to succeed but there really is part of me that for awhile wondered if everything truly was in her head, the jar, the war, the end of the world (or as she liked to say the sky is falling). However, as the story progresses you realize that for all of Zoe's paranoia she has been her protection. You really get invested in Zoe as you learn more and more of her story as well as her never ending will to try to protect what is left of her own humanity.

The world develops as Adams transfers back and forth between Zoe's Then and Now times in her life and it was an adjustment to get used to it. However, I like the two different worlds that Adams was able to set up within one book.  People who do not like reading books where the time period changes will not enjoy this book as it goes back and forth between "Now" and "Then" constantly throughout the book, sometimes only after a paragraph has been written. I was surprised that this was the format that Adams chose to write her novel in, but I personally think that it fit the story-line.

I think that there are a few aspects where Adams missed the mark. The new creatures that have developed because of the White Horse disease are never really fully explained or that there were different "types" of them. These creatures play a fairly big part in the book especially near the end and I was confused why there were differences between what they were like at the beginning and what they were like at the end and why this was never really explained. Additionally, the ending was a little too neat and cookie cutter for me. I was hoping Adams would maintain the darkness throughout the book even to the end, but I understand the need for some joy in Zoe's life and maybe just the need to wrap up the story, I am unsure.

This book pulled me right in from the beginning and has set a new standard for dystopia type novels for me. Adams keeps the fine line between the darkness and light, but even that is flirted with regularly, therefore, as stated above this book is not for everyone, only for those who are venture into the darkness every now and then.


Note: Please be aware, that within this novel there are depictions of violence, rape and sexual abuse of a teenager, and these events are not just hinted at, in some of the situations they are described.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cassie Alexander: Nightshifted

In her debut novel Cassie Alexander introduces reader to the paranormal side or nursing those that go bump in the night and all the extra difficulties that go along with it.

Edie is the newest nurse on the specialized Y4 unit and while nursing school would have prepared Edie for a lot, nothing could prepare for working on the creatures that Edie was not aware that they even existed. Edie's current patient is a vampire servant who is being anything but cooperative and Edie is having to keep a constant eye on him just to make sure he stays alive. However, Edie did not know that this one patient is about to change her life, as he dies under her watch it sets into motion events that no one could foresee and she is haunted by his dying request to save Anna. Edie finds herself trapped in a game that she has no control over.

This is really good easy read that I think readers of the paranormal genre will enjoy. This book was light and funny at times and was not overly dark which is part what made it easy to read. This is not to say that nothing happens within this book, overall there is quite a bit of action and mystery throughout the book, but Alexander did really good job in balancing it out with humour and Edie's whit. Alexander was able to create a good story and right off that I was able to get engaged and invested with the characters within this book within the first few pages. I appreciated that Alexander kept the romance and sex to the minimum but I still think that there is enough there to satisfy those who prefer the paranormal romance sub-genre. I think that his book had something for everyone who enjoys the paranormal genre (paranormal, not horror), especially if you are looking for some a little bit different and easy to read.

Many of the creatures within the book are a common within the paranormal genre, therefore, there are vampire, werewolves, zombies (not like  have read about them before, but I am sure others have), but Alexander does take her time to establish a new being, Shadows. These creatures protect access to the hospital, however, their talent is not just turning unsuspecting humans away, they feed off of the despair of other people (and really what better place to be housed that the hospital). I think the Shadows are interesting and while they have a fairly important role you do not really get to know too much about them and what they have the ability to do, so I hope that Alexander explores them further in series.

I liked the idea of Edie being a nurse who works specifically with paranormal creatures and really you name it she treats it. It will be interesting to see what creatures come in for a visit the in the next book. Edie is a great character who may not be the regular kick-ass heroine you normally see in the paranormal genre but what makes Edie unique is that is is Human, that's it plan old human. Who knew that just being Human would be an unique aspect in this genre, but it was nicely refreshing. Edie is also in a tough spot in her life, and the reason she is working on Y4 is to help her brother stay sober from drugs and alcohol, even though he is determined to get High, however, Edie does not complain about this situation she just knows that she needs to do it. Edie is very self aware of her strength and weakness and has a sense of her own self worth, which means there are times where she get depressed, as I stated above, not the typical kick-ass heroine in this book. I think Edie is a breath of fresh air as a character in the paranormal genre.

This is an easy read and I think sure to please those who read in the paranormal genre. It has something a little different from the norm, especially with the main character Edie and the fact that she is a human, as well as the overall flow, plot and mystery within the book. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thomas Perry: The Boyfriend

In the first book in a new series Thomas Perry introduces Jack Till a former LAPD homicide detective turned PI who discovers a killer who is killing all across the USA.

Jack Till retired from the police force to try to have more of a normal life, and while the Private Investigator work is at times like police work it affords him more time with his daughter Holly. However, when parents of a recently murder daughter (about Holly's age) comes in asking for his help he is unable to say no. This girl had been living a secret lifestyle as a high class escort, that had recently turned deadly and the parents want Till to find out who murdered their daughter. What Till actually discovers is a series of escorts who have been killed around the USA and all of them have a remarkable resemblance to his murder victim. Till must find what else connects the girls and what is the killer’s end game, as it appears that more is going on than “just” the murder of high class escorts.

I am having a hard time deciding whether or not I liked this book. I'm not sure if it was the writing style, the plot or something else, but the whole book has seemed a little off to me. This book did not have the thrills I was looking for (I believe some other reviews classify this book as a Thriller, I would not). I found that there was no suspense throughout the book, and while the mystery was okay, the reader knows who the killer is way before Jack Till, therefore, you are always waiting for Till to catch up.

For some reason I could not get invested in the main character Jack Till. There were things about him I liked and disliked but I never felt invested in him, therefore, I found I did not become too attached to him. I actually found that I like the escorts that Perry introduced more than Till, as he humanized them more than he did Till. He attempts to humanize Till with the introduction of his grown daughter who has down syndrome and how he raised her himself, but she still seemed to only be a side part of his life. I think that Perry has plans to develop this relationship further in the future, but I could not get invested in Till as it always appeared that he had nothing to lose. I will say that Perry did a good job of showing his investigative techniques and his tenacity to help the parents of this girl and he grows to great lengths (and sometimes too far) to find the killer.

As with many of the mystery book I read I like when there are chapters from the killer's point of view. I enjoyed that Perry took the time to show how Joey became who he is and what lead him to kill. Additionally, it was interesting to be a part of his thought process once he is given a target and once he finds an escort to his liking. Those who do not like reading from the killer's point of view will not enjoy this book, as the chapters tend to go back and forth between Till and Joey.

Overall this book was okay. It did not have the thriller aspect that I wanted this book to have, and the mystery throughout was okay at best. Where Perry shines is his depiction of the killer and how he became who he is. I enjoyed the insight that Perry provided into Joey's life and did enjoy the chapters from his point of view. I know that Perry has written another series (Jane Whitefield series) that has been well reviewed, so I think I will check out that series.

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