Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Amanda Carlson: Full Blooded

In her debut novel Amanda Carlson takes readers into the werewolf world that is dominated by males, until one female all of the sudden has the ability to turn.

Jessica McClain has just become one of a kind. She is the first female ever who has turned into a full blooded werewolf, the pack has been only males for centuries. it does not matter that Jessica never expected this to happen or that she was 10 years late for the change to occur it has which makes Jessica a target both within and outside the Pack. This threat is due to the Cain prophecy which states that says that a female werewolf will destroy them all. Now Jessica is struggle between wanting to maintain the life that she has built for herself, staying alive and trying to come to term with the new powers that she has developed. But if Jessica thought all of that was going to be easy she was wrong, just trying to stay alive is going to be a challenge because she never knows who is going to attacker her next.

It has been quite a while since I have read a predominantly werewolf based book, as I was finding that they were all becoming the strange. Therefore, when I saw that this book was getting some really good reviews, I thought I would give it a try and I have to say overall it is a really good read. However, I do not think that Carlson added anything new to the paranormal genre as many of the concepts I had read before, and there were aspects of the book that I found predictable. I think people who are a fan of Rachel Vincent Shifters series will enjoy this book as it has a similar premise to the first book in that series Stray (Sorry I do not have reviews for these books on my blog I read this series year ago, I want to say at least five years ago).

I find the norm within the paranormal genre, especially those that involve werewolves, is to have them jump into romance and sex and this book does have both. However, although there was some sex within the book (and of course this did not surprise me), I was very appreciative that Carlson kept them short, 2-3 pages max and there was not too many scenes (and by not too many I mean one). Sure there is some sexual tension especially the farther you get into the book, but Carlson does not follow some very regular werewolf paths in making the female lead (for lack of a better descriptive word) a slut, and even Jessica stating that she does not want to become one received high points from me and I hope that Carlson is able to maintain it in future books.

I liked Jessica as a main character and her struggle to come to terms with something that should not be possible. I also liked the struggle between Jessica and her wolf, it was very reminiscent of Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series, which was one of my favorite aspects within that book; therefore, although it is not something original I still enjoyed this aspect. It was very interesting to see how the wolf and Jessica would get along, who would be dominant and I especially liked when Carlson took the time to show what the wolf was doing in Jessica head, for example, doing a little happy dance when meeting someone she liked.

I like Carlson's description of the pack/werewolf culture within this book. This is one aspect that always intrigues me in werewolf books, as I like to see how the author puts their spin on it and what dynamics they have taken from wolves. I do not think that Carlson added anything too original in this aspect, however, her description of the pack, and the hierarchy system was extremely well done and you are not left wondering how the system works. It was also interesting with the development and size of the territories even just within Canada. The stray system or lone wolf system is also interesting as a wolf can leave from one pack to another, however, if they fail to find a pack that will accept them within a month they are open season, but I do wonder how this affects other shifters as there are a few within the place where Jessica resides, but I am unsure how they fit in pack culture as wolves appear to be the most dominant or the species with the highest numbers. I am excited to see how many more feathers Jessica can ruffle with regards to the pack hierarchy as well as the introduction to other shifter species and really who does not want to know what type of large cat Rourke is.

Not going to lie I had a WTF moment at the end of the book. I was very disappointed as to where Carlson decided to end the book. I understand leaving a cliff hanger at the end, but now I feel like there was nothing really accomplished in this book and I have to wait to read the second one to have a full book experience. I do not understand why a writer would do this, it almost seemed like she did not have enough to make two strong books, so she decided to split the first book into two instead. I have not read the second book yet, but now I feel I am almost forced to read it based upon how this book ended. It almost now feels like the first book was a filler book and I question why Carlson would do this as it does not set a very good stage for a long term series if this is how you treat your debut. Sure i'll be back to read the second book to see how the first one should have ended, but will you keep me as a reader after that, I guess only time will tell.

Although there were points within the book that I found a bit predictable, and that there was nothing very original within the premise and werewolf aspects (and I won’t get started about the ending Carlson chose), this book was a good read and I think that it will appeal to a lot of readers within the paranormal genre, especially if you are fond of shifters.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Seeley James: The Geneva Decision

In his debut novel Seely James introduces a heroine who is a professional soccer star, until she is forced to take over her father's security company.

Pia Sabel always plays to win. That is how she became a professional soccer player and that is how she intends to run her father's private security company but there is a difference between playing on the soccer field and "playing" in the real world but Pia is more than determined to prove herself. From her very first meeting with a prospective client, Pia shows that she has learned some skills throughout her life both on and off the soccer field that will assist her in running her company. However, even Pia has not learned enough to dodge bullets all the time and she has become the target of some assassins. Pia now enlists the help of other agents not only to help teach her the ropes and keep her alive but to also hunt down who tried to kill her and who killed her prospective client. The first thing that her agents try to teach Pia needs to learn, that things are not always what they seem and by learning that simple rule she may just survive.

This book was able to capture my attention right away with the opening scene and I was hopeful the James would be able to keep the action and suspense going and for the most part he succeeded. I found that the actions scenes were well thought out and entertaining and I was happy that James was okay with letting characters  get hurt or die, except for Pia but i think that James will hopefully change that in the next books. However, there were a few flaws in the over all execution of them. The first one is sleeper darts vs. bullets. I personally know which side I would want to be on. Then if you add in the facts that the sleeper dart guns are not accurate from a distance so you can only really use them up close and personal where depending on the type of gun you can have something at any range this did not make sense to me when dealing with professional assassins. This to me adds more danger to both Pia and her agents, as you now need to be a lot closer to the person that is shooting you to be affective against them. This seems to be counter to what Pia is attempting to achieve with the darts, less injury and death.

The second part that I did not enjoy for James' action scenes was the use of Pia's soccer skills and abilities to take down the perpetrator. This is most seen in the very first action scene where Pia attempts to stop an assassin by slide tackling him as he is running away; never mind the fact that she is wearing a dress and that she is slide tackling on payment and yet she gets up without sustaining any sign of road rash. This is completely impossible and I do not think a slide tackle is the best way to attempt to apprehend a person. While there are other times where Pia talks or uses her soccer reference in action scenes, this was the one that bothered me the most. I think that the juxtaposition of soccer and security life is an interesting idea, I just did not think that Pia had enough experience to be making those comparison till she got her feet wet.

To begin with I did not like Pia's character, she really is the spoiled brat and while I believed in her dedication to soccer, her constant comparisons between soccer and the real world, were at times valid at other times, but it felt like she had never lived in the real world. I think that Joelle, one of Pia's bodyguards, hit the nail right on the head with Pia's character to begin with calling her a spoiled rich brat even though Pia will deny it. However, then Pia would do exactly what Joelle would accuse her of, use money to get her way. I was not the biggest fan of Pia at the beginning of the book, I liked Joelle better and then Tania as well when we are introduced to her and I would have gladly read a story based around either of those two women as they both were more mature and experienced in combat. However, I did enjoy that James allowed Pia to grow as a character become more mature and it felt like she was to somewhat leave the soccer world behind her and I think as she gains more skill the reader will see less soccer and more competent agent. Pia’s back story was also interesting and I am looking forward to see the direction that James takes with this information and how Pia will handle her role and if she will use her resources wisely to discover the information she seeks about her past (I don’t want to give “it” away).

I do not think that there is any doubt that James can write, nevertheless, this book was just okay for me. I liked that James allowed Pia to develop as a character and in the end I was able to like her and over all I found the book entertaining and able to hold my attention, however, what I found James' novel lacked was an aspect of realism in the bullets vs darts idea as well as the likelihood of some of the decision and actions that Pia took, that put a negative spin on the book for me. Nevertheless, due to the fact that Pia became a character I liked and I think with additional actual training and less soccer this could be a really good series, therefore, I would read the next book in this series.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trevor Shane: Children of the Underground

You need to read the first book in this series Children of Paranoia (click for review) before you read this book. Children of Paranoia sets the stage for Children of the Underground, plus I think that Children of Paranoia is a must read for those who like Thrillers and Action Adventure but I think this series could be enjoyed by almost anyone. I suggest you stop reading this post now if you have not read Children of Paranoia as reading further will completely ruin the first book for you, so if you choose to read further do not say that I didn’t warn you.

Trevor Shane is back with his long awaited sequel to his first book Children of Paranoia. The war is still occurring and both sides are still suffering losses but Maria is desperate to enter the world she know nothing about in order to get Christopher, her son, back:

Maria does not know how to go about it but all she knows is that she needs to track down her son Christopher to save him from the fate of the war, the same fate as his father endured and to have a normal life. Maria has search throughout Joe's journals looking for a clue as to where she can find help and she thinks she has found it, Michael, one of Joe's best friends. Michael knows the ways of the war as he grew up with them like Joe did, but she does not know where to find him and how dangerous he will be towards her, but she needs to take this chance, finding Christopher is all that matters, even it means putting her own life on the line.

It takes quite a bit for an author to get on my radar to the point where the next book that they have written comes out and I put everything else down that I am reading and doing and just read their book. Well Shane's debut novel blew me away that when I found out that the second book was out, I needed to get a hold of it, and start reading it right away.

Children of the Underground is about Maria's struggle to come to terms with feeling like she let Joe down as well as letting them take Christopher away and her fight to get him back. This book does not have as much action and over all suspense as the first book, and this is due to the fact that Maria is writing them after the fact. She has to rely on what Michael tells her had happened; therefore I found that the action scenes were not as crisp as they were in the first book. However, even with less action I still felt myself drawn into the book through Maria and this struggle and did not want to put it down. Shane definitely hits you with all the high and low points on the scale of emotions as he takes you through Maria’s story. Although there is less action within this book, that does not mean that the book is slow or boring, the reader will really get drawn into Maria's story, just like they were drawn into Joe's. Shane has a great ability to draw the reader in through his characters and write them in such a Real fashion that you are there with them in each event and emotion.

As with the first book, this one was also written in a journal like fashion, however, the books do differ in how the books flowed. While in the first you did not really notice it until the end that you were reading Joe's journal within this book you know that you are reading a journal as Maria is writing to Christopher for him to read when he is older or if something were to happen to her, she wants Christopher to know what the War had done to her and his father. At times Maria's journals are a bit disjointed and you do not know exactly how much time has past, however, I did not find them hard to read or follow and you could feel the true emotion that Maria had with each word that she wrote.

It was interesting that Shane introduced two new characters, Even and Abby, into the story opposite of Maria's. To begin with you don't fully understand why Shane has done this and the reason does not become clear to more than halfway through the book, but rest assured there is a reason and actually a good one, but I know I questioned it when I first started to read these sections. These sections were not written in journal format as they were happening outside of Maria's search for her son, but they do add additional depth to the story once you fully understand why these sections are within the book.

Trevor Shane is an amazing up and coming author that has shown the depth of his ability within the first two books of this series. I cannot stress enough how much I have enjoyed both his books and I am looking forward to reading the third book in the series Children of the Uprising which is schedules to come out October 2013 (Thank for not making us wait another year for the next book). I think that his books are for everyone, as they are much more than thrills and actions. Shane’s characters in his books make you feel every emotion which pulls you more and more into their struggle, this was a fantastic read, this book and series is highly recommended.


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ilona Andrews: Magic Slays

I'm sorry to say that I do not have the reviews of Andrews’ other books on this blog, but I was reading this series way before I started this blog, so if you are looking for reviews of the first four books I would recommend checking out the reviews on Good Reads. The books in order are Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds. You will want to read those books before you get to this one because everything from the world to relationships is set up in the previous books, so if you just decide to pick up this book I believe you will find your self lost. But do not worry the first four books are great reads and I think they should be read by those who like the paranormal genre.

Ilona Andrews is back with another Kate Daniels book and this time it is the disappearance of Magic that is wreaking havoc on the city of Atlanta:

Kate has officially left the Order and while the Order gave her more power and a role within society, she would never go back to working within the confines of being part of it. She has decided to open her own P.I. but has yet to have a single customer, this might be due to the fact that potential customers know that she is attached to the beast lord Curran, but Kate is not willing to give up she knows something is going to happen (but hopefully soon). It starts with a Vampire on the loose, it was lost by it's controller and is heading straight for Kate. Magic is disappearing throughout Atlanta and this is putting Kate and all the magical creatures (Vampire, witches, weres ect) in danger as it is magic that holds them together, but even Kate cannot fight something that has the ability to take away magic away and without magic none of them would be able to exist. It has now become a life and death struggle to keep Magic in Atlanta.

This is one of my favorite series. I think that all the books have the right mix of action, mystery, darkness and romance. I think that this series should be on everyone's book shelf that is a fan of paranormal genre, there is really something and someone for everyone in this book. I also like that Andrews has taken the time to develop the world and have the characters grow both as themselves and their relationships within the book. Kate is one of my favorite heroines and it is nice to see her change but stay the same as well. I am always interested in finding out more about Kate's history (which we get in this book) as well as more about her father as I think that all faithful readers of this series are looking forward to the eventual show down between Kate and Roland, but Kate does need to get stronger in order to do that and she makes some strides in order to achieve that within this book.

We get to see further into Curran and Kate's relationship and I personally like the time that Andrews has put in to its creation and development. I know one of the reasons I really enjoyed this series is that Curran and Kate did not exactly hit it off right away I believe Kate said "here Kitty Kitty" to Curran the first time they met. I also like that Andrews has decided not to make her stories about sex and have endless sex scenes throughout her books. This is not to say that nothing happens in the romance department it is just toned down in the size of the scenes when compared to other books within this genre. I think that this is also why this series will appeal to a wide variety of readers. There are some interesting insights made within this book towards their relationship and how "true" it actually is and there are questions by both Curran and Kate if their relationship is actually a good thing and the struggle for more honesty within their relationship and less manipulation.

I found that this book did not have as much action in it as the previous books, and I personally was missing some of this action. I found the ending was too quick of a battle and it wrapped up way too soon. I wanted to see more of a struggle to achieve their objective. I think this was partly due to the fact that this book was slightly more about the relationship of Kate and Curran, which I think needed to happen, I was just sad to see some of the action lost out because of it especially because the opening few chapters were action intense

I am really looking forward to the next book that comes out July 30, 2013 (pre-order? Yes I will). This is one of the best paranormal series out there and if you have never heard of it, go pick the books up and if you have been thinking about reading the series go pick them up. You will not be disappointed.


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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Susan Ee: Angelfall

In her debut novel, Susan Ee introduces a new world where Angels are not the guardians of men but the killers of men.

Angels have descended on Earth and reaping their own type of an apocalypse on the humans. They are demolishing everything in their path and the government and religions around the world have fallen, therefore, street gangs now rule the cities and Penryn now has made the decision that she and her family need to flee to the countryside. On the night that Penryn decided to leave is the day that the Angels decide to make an appearance in her city, but it is not to destroy it but to destroy one of their own. Penryn does something she never thought she would do, making a deal with an Angel, but if it means saving her family then Penryn will do anything to achieve it. Penryn learns more about Angels she realizes that there is more to them than what has been on the news, and that there may actually be some good in them, but Penryn knows she can never trust them, even though she desperately needs an ally in her fight for survival.

I actually did not realize that this was a YA book when I picked it up, I really need to start reading the premise better to know what I am getting into. I should have looked at who published it first too, but I am actually glad for my mistake because all of that said all I can say is WOW, Truly WOW. This book was amazing; I was engaged with the story and yes even the main character. I had no idea that YA novels could be as dark as this novel was, and there were even times that I was questioning whether it should be classified as a YA novel. I did not want to put this book down and when I was finished I went searching for the next book (coming out October 2013).

Ee really knows how to engage the reader right from the first pages and create a compelling story that makes you want to read more and more. I was also surprised that this was her debut novel. It was overall interesting, dark, gritty, well written and the world building was superb. Additionally, Ee was able to introduce something new to the paranormal genre for me, having the Angels be the cause/reason that the apocalypse occurs was a new concept for me. Furthermore, I really liked that not all the Angels were beautiful, and I look forward to learning more about their culture and hierarchy in future books, as while this information is touched upon it is not fully explained, but this fact does not take away from the book, I just find those aspects interesting.

I found the Penryn was an interesting character and did seem to have that mix of adult and youth within her personality. There were times that I would forget that Penryn was in her teens as her actions were that of an adult, and I have no doubt that this stems from her childhood or lack there of. Penryn for the most part has a very grown up relationship with Raffe that at times I wondered if Ee would take there relationship that much further, making this book not very YA in my opinion. However, there were times where Penryn showed her age in some of her thoughts and the language that she would use when talking to Raffe.

As I stated above I was surprised at how dark the book is at times considering it is a YA book. I think that Ee flirts with the line between YA book and adult book with some of the content she covers within the book as well as some of the description that she gives in some of the situations. I have not read that many YA classified books, but I do not remember any of them being this dark. I am not complaining about this fact, I like books that are on the darker side, I was just completely surprised by it in this book. I think that Ee made some great choices in where the story went and was able to get into the mindset of the dark side which makes me hopeful for the next book.

This book Blew Me Away and it was even better because I was not suspecting it at all. I think this book would appeal to both young adults and adults (but I do not think that young teens should read this book). Ee was able to surprise time and again with how dark her writing could be and she kept the suspense at a high most of the time. I am really looking forward to reading her next book, well done Ee with your debut novel you have set a new standard for me as to what a YA book can be. Dont' be surprised if you read this in one sitting, it is that good.

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