Monday, February 23, 2015

Michael Kardos: The Three-Day Affair

In Muchael Kardos debut novel he takes the reader to place where no one wants to go. Where one decision can destroy everything you have worked so hard to achieve:

Will, Jeffrey and Nolan have been best friends since college and once a year they get together to reconnect and relive their past adventure and well golf. Each has taken a different path in life, Will is working at a small recording studio and expecting his first child, Nolan has gotten into politics and is running for Congress and Jeffrey was able to cash in on the dot com boom when he was part of a small internet start-up company. But how much do people really change from college and how much do you really notice it in your friends. Will Jeffrey and Nolan are about to find out, in one night they will all redefine their relationships with each other, who they are and how far they will go to keep a secret that could ruin them all.

This book shows the reader how much people can change from college and how priorities change from person to person. It also shows how much people try to ignore the changes they may or may not see in their friends. This makes the book more of a psychological novel than a thriller or mystery as really there are not really any thrills in the book and only a slight mystery so I was disappointed about that aspects. However, I think that Kardos addressed the aspects of how much people change throughout their lives really well and how each person processes a problem differently, we are not all the same therefore, our reactions will differ as well. There was an interesting twist thrown in in the end of the novel that I was only able to figure out part of it but not all of it which is a great feat for any author, I always like a good surprise.

The story is told from Will's point of view throughout but it is mainly him looking back at the weekend that went wrong with his two friends from college (so that in itself shows he makes it out in one way or another). I question whether this was the right point of view as the feelings and emotions that Will was going through at the time of these events felt muted and Will just explaining how he felt not what he was feeling. There were also pieces from the friends' past, once again told from Will's point of view, as to how the friends met and what they were like back in college and I think these were to show hwo they were all different back then as well and set part of the back story for why some of them have changed so much. This also means that we get to know Will more than any of the other characters in the book and while he is the main character, I don't really get that attached to him as he is in story telling mode, this is not him now, this is him looking back at everything.

Pretty good for a debut note but it was not quite the thriller that I was hoping the book to be (seems to be a problem I have been running into lately), but it had some interesting psychological aspects that kept me reading. I would read another book by Kardos as I liked his writing style.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Kristi Charish: Owl and the Japanese Circus

In her debut novel Kristi Charish takes the readers to the secret world of the antiquities procurement and theft:

 Owl is an ex-archaeology grad student but don't let the ex part full you, she has turned her skills into one of the best international antiquities thief in the world. She never meets with her clients face to face, she always gets money up front and she absolutely will not work with paranormal creatures. After completing a job her current higher wants a meeting face to face, and she is not in any position to say no. She also learns that not only has she learned that the jobs she was doing for Mr. Kurosawa, were for a paranormal creature, she learns she has been working for a Dragon and this Dragon is about to make an offer that Owl cannot refuse, it could lead to her having a normal life again. Owl heads around the world in search of ancient scrolls that have the ability to change the world.

For me this was just an okay debut novel, I mean there is a Dragon in it and if there is a Dragon in UF for some reason I am drawn to read the book. I think maybe this is due to them being an under used creature in the UF setting that makes me hope that this UF/paranormal read will be something unique and different. It was nice to also see vampires in this book (and they were not all the beautiful ect kind) but it was nice that they took a back seat to some of the other creature that are not as common and some I have never heard of before, which I am always on the search for.

I'm not 100% sure about the world that Charish created. It is mainly about keeping the paranormal/fantasy creatures a secret from human society, and it appears that those humans who discover them, mainly through archeology sites, are basically told you know nothing and by the way we are going to ruin your career as well. I mean if they wanted to keep these people silent, I can think of a few better ways to achieve this. And the over seeing body of all this is the International Archaeology Association (IAA) is supposed to be this powerful association. Granted we do not have any interaction with the IAA in this novel other than Owl telling something about her past experiences, but I personally just find it hard to believe.

I didn't like the addition of the World Quest aspect to the book. I never found that it or Carpe added anything to the story and was waiting for the connection between that world and the real world to combine but they never really do (other than the tombs in the World Quest world are made based upon the real life ones so natural Owl has been to many of them and knows their secrets).

I did not really like Owl as a main character and don't know why her friends stay by her . She is beyond reckless when it comes to her life and even that of her friends and I don't think she knows how to make a plan. I have no idea how she became a "respectable" antiquities thief, in this book she seems to wreck more than one ancient artifact and disturb some others. She had no finesse it seemed to get anything done and was too busy flying by the seat of her pants than to care about anything else.. To me it seemed more like Nayda is the smarter one and who had her life together and seemed just as brave as Owl. I guess I just wished that Owl had some of Nayda's qualities.

I could have done without Rynn as a character and did not think that his relationship with Owl added anything to the story as she was forever ditching him to do things her own way. However, their relationship did take a backseat for the most part in the book and while I could get behind Rynn as a friend for Owl, I just don't think that the book needed a romance interest.

My favourite thing in the book is Captain. Yep Owl's cat lol. He had his own personality and who doesn't love a cat that can take down a Vampire by himself. Seems like a cat I would like to have, you know just in case.

This was an okay debut novel for me and I felt like Charish really wrapped up the book in the end so there was not much of a cliffhanger that makes me desperate to read the next book in the series. It is one of those reads that if I move onto the next book good, if not I don't think I will be overall disappointment as to not knowing where Owl goes from here, and I guess that in itself sums up my feelings about this book.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Pierce Brown: Red Rising

In his debut novel Pierce Brown takes the reader to Mars, where the human traits of wealth and corruption have followed the inhabitants all the way from Earth:

The Earth is dying, so the human race had to find other planets to colonize in order to insure the survival of the human race. Mars was one of the planets that was chosen to be colonized, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done before it could be colonized. Darrow, is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. The Reds' mission to extract enough of a precious element that helps make the surface of Mars habitable so that the human race can survive there. It is the Reds' that are helping to ensure the future of the human race and for a few hundred of years they have been living a lie. Mars has been habitable for several generations of people all of whom who have been using the Reds' as slaves. Darrow may not have been one to make push for changes on Mars, but heartbreak can make an individual do anything to see vengeance through and so begins Darrow's journey.

When I first started reading this book I thought that it was going too sci-fi for me with all the different terms, machines, that I was actually thinking of putting the book down and moving on but holy crap I'm so happy that I stuck through this book. Brown did a really good job at world building and creating the life and structure of where Darrow lived on Mars. I also liked how Brown showed the world through Darrow's eyes and learning with him the strange people, things and places that he has never been before as well as the final testing grounds. I liked the medieval twist that Brown was able to put into the novel, which kind of more familiar ground for reading material for me and it was a great counter to the sci-fi world that the book is set in. It was also in this medieval setting that Brown took the book to a darker place than I thought it would go. From rape to maiming to fighting dirty, even torture Brown does not hold back on the dark side of human nature. Although Brown does not go into great description of these events you know what is happening. It was a surprise that Brown went as dark as he did and I liked that he did. This made the book much more of an adult novel than a YA book in my opinion.

It was interesting that through all the technology that has been created over the years, humans are still like to divide themselves into a caste system, greed rules their lives and everything is about power. However, I found the weeding process that the Golds have to perform really interesting, unexpected and once again a lot darker than I thought Brown would go. It was also interesting that they do try to learn from the past and what caused other great nations to fall. They mentions the Roman Empire more than once.

Although Darrow is 16-18 years old within this novel he is portrayed more as an adult, as he has already worked for many years of his life, has is own home as well as a wife. He has had more life experience than any of the Golds that he runs into later in the story. I became enthralled with Darrow's story and the pain both physical and emotional that he has to endure through the book. You can tell that Darrow is a survivor even when he is not making the best decision, he wants to survive. Darrow grows as a character throughout the book as he is constantly learning from his mistakes and those of others.

Another character I was really interested in was Sevro. I felt like he was never a Gold as you can tell by the way he acts and the tasks that he takes upon himself to achieve for Darrow. Darrow could not ask for a better ally in this fight especially when it seems like Sevro has not limits to what he will do or try. He is basically a guerrilla army in himself, so basically awesome in my books.

I am so happy that I continued on reading this book, it was great, imaginative and Brown did an excellent job getting the reader to become invested in Darrow and his struggle and story. Highly recommended read for those who like the sci-fi genre and for those who want to try it out as it get less sci-fi and more medieval-ish later on in the book. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Jeff Altabef: Shatter Point

Jeff Altabef takes the reader to the future where new drugs are being developed, the city is more of a caste system and there is always someone who wants to rule it all:

Normally I would write a premise here about how I think the book should be portrayed and sometimes it is similar to the author's but other times it is not. With this book I do not know how to write a premise for this book and I guess that would start the beginning of the issues I had with this book...

I think that Altabef tried to put too much into this book, struggled to connect everything together and for me keep me entertained throughout. I personally got bored about half way through, I just kept waiting for something more to happen but it felt like it never was going to, almost like the book and plot had already hit its peak. Altabef could have separated this into two separate books that could have had some commonalities, but had different focuses, on for the government/fourteenth colony and the other one on Cooper. I say this as while the premise sounded interesting (it is what drew me to this book), I almost feel cheated in some instances. I wanted more time with Cooper and his sadistic nature which is what the premise is about but very little about this in the book. I found it was more about EFB-22 and fourteenth colony than it was about Cooper and Maggie.

I'm not sure why the author felt he had to place this plot in the future could have taken place today with very few changes and often I forgot that they were in the future, as there was not much different from today. I personally just read it as taking place today as I do not think that Altabef was very innovative about his world building about the future.
I thought that when Jack was given EFB-22 he would gain some sort of super human powers and while his hearing appears to have improved and he becomes sensative to light (maybe some night vision is kicking in, but we never really get that far), he really is more of a hindrance than help in most of the situations. Really his brother Tom who is a black belt in jiu jitsu is more useful than Jack ever is in the story and I really question introducing EFB-22 into the story as that storyline never really adding anything to the story other that Altebef's attempt to bring the two intersecting storylines together.

I think my main problem with this book is I never felt any type of connection with the characters either good or bad. They were just there and maybe Altabef tried to have too many points of view or too many characters but it has been awhile where I have felt nothing for even one character in the book.

I found out after reading this book that there is one before it called The Fourteenth Colony, maybe if I would have read that one it would have had some of the threads already figured out. However, I read some other reviews who said this one could be read as a stand alone, so I'm not really sure what to think. All I know is that Altabef has some good ideas in this book, but I think that he had too many and it became a challenge to put everything together that I as the reader got bored with what was occurring. I was hoping there would be more about Cooper and his sadistic serial killer ways, as that is how I read the premise. This book was just not for me.

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