Monday, January 26, 2015

Alex Marwood: The Killer Next Door

Alex Marwood takes the reader to a boarding house and one event will bring the tenants closer together but they will also realize how very little they know about each other:

Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret and this is just the place that Collette needs to be to hide from the men and police that are chasing her. She needs a place where keeping a secret comes natural to the six tenants of the boarding house. But one of the residents has the ultimate secret that can never be found out. When a strange series of events push the tenants close together, hiding all of their secrets is about to become impossible and some secrets are worth killing for.

This is the first book that I have read by Marwood and I was really impressed with her writing style, plot and different take on psychological thriller/serial killer novel. Although the premise of this book makes it seem like Collette is the main character within this book, she is not, all of the tenants of the boarding house have their parts to play. This mean that the book has multiple points of view, basically one for each tenant in the building, and each of them has a story and history they are trying to get away from. It is through these point of views that you try to figure out which of them is the killer and based upon the information you get from the killer's point of view or The Lover as he likes to call himself this really narrows down the suspect pool for the reader. I think the most interesting part of this book is that none of the tenants within the apartment building  realize that there is a serial killer living in the building and makes you realize that you don't really know who your neighbours are along with a very creepy landlord.

I truly mean Creepy Creepy landlord, Roy, who watches everything that his tenants do and in their most privates moments. He also has the personality of a slug (and the shape too) as he walks through the halls and tries to intimidate his renter into paying more as he discovers that they are running from something. I especially feel sorry for Cher who is an young teenager girl who has run away from a horrible foster situation but Roy would love to sample what she is trying to sell on the streets, so he continually jacks up her rent in the hope that she cannot pay. As I said creepy. As I'm not one for sex scenes so I'm really not going to like masturbation scenes and I found that this one had too much description attached to it especially when you take into account the shape that Roy is in, made it downright disturbing. This book makes me really glad that I am done living in a condo or apartment buildings.

I was really intrigued when Marwood brought in the mummification techniques that The Lover would do to his ladies. Marwood is very detailed in what The Lover would do from the oils he used to keep his ladies' skin from flaking away to the way in which he removed the organs to keep them from decomposing further. Additionally, you get to learn what happens to a body when he decides that he no longer likes one of his ladies and how that can do damage to the sewer system and I would not want to be there when the sewer decides to back up.

I was able to figure out who the Lover was before it was revealed by the author, but as much as this book is about a serial killer it really is not. It is about how little we know people in our life and no one is really who they seem to be, well except for the landlord, he was one creepy man and he was portrayed that way. Although this was not quite what I expected I still found the I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't the thriller or as scary it was portrayed to be (though I will say that there are other reviewers out there that found it scary and even Steven King thought it was scary). I would read another book by Marwood, as I liked her writing style an her different take on a mystery/thriller book, I'm going to check out her debut novel Wicked Girls.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Hailey Edwards: Dog With a Bone

In the first novel in a new series, Hailey Edwards explores just how far people will go to have some part of the Fae:

Thierry is a half blood, half Fae half human and she is really only given two choices become a marshal and enforce the Fae laws or go back to human society. Thierry doesn't really have much of a choice as she is a special type of Fae, where her powers are not completely understood, but she can cause a lot of damage. Fresh out of the academy Thierry is about to get the case of a lifetime and she is going to have to rely on her partner Shaw more than she would like to admit but this case is way bigger than her and Shaw, and Thierry is about to learn that the Human side of her is where the monsters really lie.

When I requested to read this book on Netgalley I did not realize that this book was going to only be 100 pages. Contrary to what some people believe it is actually harder to write a short story than a regular pocket book as there is so much that the author needs to achieve in a lot fewer pages. I will say that Edwards succeed on a few fronts but not all. I think she was able to create a world that I understood (for the most part) in which the humans do not know about the Fae and that some Fae even consider humans food. They have their own form of government and police themselves. Perfect I understand that part of the world, though i'm not sure how the whole half blood thing happened as humans are kind of seen as taboo, but i guess forbidden fruit kind of thing maybe. Edwards also did a good job in introducing and reinventing different types of Fae. I'm not sure 100% what some of them were but quite a few of them sounded really different interesting and cool and there was a whole spectrum of what they look like, I hope that Edwards is able to keep that up in future books.

I think that Edwards had a great idea for a story but was unable to execute it to the fullest extent as the book was short. I felt like everything was rushed and maybe Edwards tried to put too much in the book. I never felt like I got to know the main character Thierry, Shaw and the history that they have together. I know they are paired up because Thierry's magic won't work on him but that is never fully explained. The power that we are able to see Thierry use is bad-ass, but that is also not fully explained or why she is such a rare Fae. I also felt that the mystery aspect was rushed as well, and a little too well laid out for Shaw and Thierry to the point where they seemed to be the only investigators that could get it done and were just too lucky with the information the received.

There were dark aspects of this novel that I was surprised were there as at the beginning of the book I thought it was going to be a paranormal romance with a bit of mystery which is kind of true but the mystery went a lot darker than I thought it would. It seems like every moment that Shaw and Thierry can spare (and there are quite a few considering it is an active investigation) is about their relationship and if they should have one or how Shaw is making Thierry feel weak in the knees. I kind of got sick of this by the end of the book.

I really liked the darker elements that Edwards was able to put into her story, but for me there was a little too much of the romance in the storyline for me, but those who like paranormal romance will probably like it. I think if the book would have been longer the romance aspect would not have been so condensed and I also think she could have developed her characters more. It was good first try, but I think it still needs work and maybe will improve with the next book.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Michael Koryta: Those Who Wish Me Dead

Michael Koryta takes his reader to the vast wilderness of the Montana Mountains where death can come at natures hand at any moment but this time, nature is not the most deadly thing on the mountain:

Jace Wilson is swimming in a quarry when he comes across a dead body where there is no question that the individual has been murdered. While trying to escape the quarry and the body he becomes aware that there are people headed towards him and he witnesses a murder committed by the Blackwell brothers. Jace it put into witness protection, but they need to place him some place special as those who can afford the Blackwell brother's services have fingers in all type of law enforcement. With a new identity Jace is enrolled in a wilderness skill summer program where only the witness protection officer knows he is there. Ethan and Allison Serbin who run the program each summer know why one of the boys is there but have no idea which one he is. Ethan takes the job seriously of protecting the boys, but the Blackwell brothers have no issue with slaughtering people in order to find out where Jace has been hidden. With a trail of bodies behind them they are on their way to Ethan and Allison's ranch and nothing is going to stop them from taking care of Jace or any one else who stands in their way, permanently.

This is the first book that I have read by Kortya, actually I had never even heard of him before this book and I don’t know why. This book was great and a high grade thriller novel with twists and turns that you will not see coming. I know I was surprised more than once throughout Koryta's novel and I did not want to put it down. I like that Koryta has the ability to let his characters questions themselves, get hurt and yes even die off. I always like an author that is able to take risks with his characters and that made me love every minute of this book. Just a great read all around.

The Blackwell brothers are very scary assassins they are the type that you higher when you want something done and have no fear of emotion coming to play into it. That mens everyone is a target for them; men, women, children all are fair game. They are emotionless creatures(?) and the way they would talk in that monotone voice like their victim was not even there just lets you know how serious they are about the wet work that needs to be done and the victim also realizes that there fate has been sealed. The brothers are some of the best killers I think that I have ever read in a book. The way they have their murders planned (or think on the fly), the torture they decide to use, to never being able to look at them both at the same time, they are masters at the art of death. I think the brothers were my favourite part of the book and plot that Koryta wrote.

There are a few main characters in this book therefore, there are multiple points of view throughout the book. The main views are that of Jace Wilson, Ethan and Allison Serbin and later on in the book Hannah Faber. Jace is a 13 year old boy who is trying to be tough but you can tell underneath that he is just a scared boy, but when survival is at hand especially his own survival he tries to think like a man. He does have some 13 year old moments in the book, but he needs to as after all he is just a kid.

Allison Serbin is an one tough lady and the sacrifices that she makes within the book are amazing and I question whether I would be able to be as strong as her. Ethan was an interesting character as he struggled to do what was right not only for Jace but also to protect his wife and often in order to do both they were at odds with each other. He had some hard issues to deal with and you can tell that he is mentally strained by the end of the book by continually trying to do what is right. We don't get to know Hannah too well, but we do get a glimpse to her past and why she is manning the fire station, I think that Hannah is an interesting character but not as developed as the other due to her less page time and really most of her life is based around fire and fighting fire.

This is the first book that I have read by Koryta and I know that it will not be the last. I enjoyed every minute of reading this book and I look forward to discovering his other reads. Really well written, well thought out plot, with twists and turns you will not see coming, as a reader you really cannot ask for more. One of the best thrillers I have read in a long time.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Amanda Carlson: Red Blooded

As this is the fourth book in Amanda Carlson's Jessica McClain series you are going to want to read the first three books in this series first; Full Blooded, Hot Blooded and Cold Blooded.

Jessica McClain's life is about to go to Hell, literally. Her brother has been kidnapped by the Prince of Hell and has told Jessica that the only way to get him back is to come get him herself. Hell has it's own creatures, rules and landscapes that Jessica is going to have to transverse in order to save her brother and this time she is on her own with who knows when help will come. Jessica may just find out what it is like to live eternally in Hell.

There are times in every series where you start to question if you are going to continue on in them or not. Book two Hot Blooded was my favourite book and the books since then have only been just okay for me. Now we are in the fourth book in the series and I wonder how I got here and how much Jessica changed as a character. I may be the minority here but I preferred the first half of this book when Jessica is travelling through Hell on her own. I find when Rourke is in the picture he is way to over protective and Jessica is basically forced to take a back seat to him. I understand that she is his mate but times it seems like all he sees her as is good for sex. Wen Jessica is by herself or in this case with Lily she is forced to make her own decisions and fight which I found missing in the latter half of the book. Rourke for me takes the spark out of Jessica as a character, one which I really loved in the beginning of this series.
When you have your character enter Hell I guess as an author you get to decide which way you are going to take it; the conventional Hell of dark doom and gloom or do you try to redefine Hell. I'm not a 100% sure which way Carlson was trying to go. The Hell landscape and description she created was creepy but never scary (as in I never want to visit there) but the demons who reside there are forced to glamour themselves to look human, not so scary if you ask me and possible a lack of imagination on that front. What I found interesting about the Hell that Carlson created was the caste system and the business like ventures that the demons enter into, but still not scary. As well as the preferred eating choice of the demons, some piglet type thing be alive when they eat it; still creepy and kind of gross but not scary. I personally want Hell described to me as the most desolate place you could ever go to and have the hair on the back of my neck stand up as the scariness and horror of the place freaks me out. Maybe the UF genre is not the place for this type of Hell, but I think if you are going to bring your characters to Hell maybe you are transporting out of that genres in a way.

One character that I really want to know more about and his transformation is Ray. He seems like a completely different character from the first book in this series in more than one sense. I like the way he has changed and I am interested in knowing more about his power as a reaper.

This is not my favorite book in the series, and like I said above I prefer when Jessica is out of reach of Rourke as I find he hinders Jessica as a character. I know there is another book in this series, and I debate whether I will continue on or not. I've come to the point where I hope that Carlson can recapture what she had in the first and second book, but I'm beginning to have my doubts.

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