Thursday, February 25, 2016

L. J. Sellers: Secrets to Die For

This is the second book in the Detective Jackson series but I don't think that you need to read it first book The Sex Club as this book only refers back to it at the beginning and the main relationships that comes out of the first book is once again only at the beginning and very much in the background. 

Raina Hughes is a young social worker who wants to protect all the children under her charge. When she arrives at a trailer to protect a child from abusive and drug addicted parents things turn deadly. Detective Wade Jackson arrives at the same location later the next day, now investigating Raina's murder but there may be more to her murder than a home check gone wrong. There is a serial rapist in Eugene, Oregon and looks like he may have just upgraded to murder.

The beginning of this book is really strong and will have you hooked within the first few pages and really set the tone for the rest of the book. Overall, this book was good, an easy and fast paced read. I personally wanted the case to be a little bit more complex than Sellers portrayed in this book and this is mainly due to the fact that the main suspect that Det. Jackson is looking for is already known by the readers (there are chapters from his point of view) and it take the majority of the book for Jackson to make the connection.

I like that sellers likes to take on different topics in the books in this series (see the Sex club review for the first book). In this book it is about a man who rapes lesbian women (eventually kills one) due to the fact that they are lesbian, though his reason for doing it is not something original, it is not a topic I have read often before in a book. I also appreciated that Sellers included chapters from the perpetrators point of view as it gave a more in-depth reason for his reason and who and why he was after his next victim. It was also interesting that the police themselves in this book avoid the line of questioning in regards to the victims being lesbian on two basis; that they the police were uncomfortable about asking those questions and the physical look of the victims were not what they believed lesbians look like and for these reason the cases did not go in the direction that they should have. I think that it was great that Sellers highlighted these aspects in her novel.

There was not a lot of character development of Jackson in this book as there was in the first, except for the fact that he does put his work above all else at times. There are some secondary relationships with his daughter and girlfriend in the background but they are not really expanded on from the first book (they are pretty prominent in the first book) and I hope that Sellers does bring them more to the forefront further in this series.

I like that Sellers takes chances with the topics of crime and victims in this series so far. While I wanted the plot to be a little bit more complex and not quite as predictable, I still enjoyed reading this book. I like Sellers as an indie author and I would continue on in this series.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

E.M. MacCallum: The Demon's Grave

E.M. MacCallum takes the reader where your nightmares literally come to life:

Strange shadows and whispers have recently started invading Nora's life, but this is not the first time it has happened to her, the same thing occurred when she was a child. When her friends ask her to join them on a weekend getaway she hopes that it will help her run from what is happening to her. They end up going to Aidan Birket's Victorian family home that has not been lived in for many years. While exploring the house they locate a marble doorway that should have remained closed. They are trespassing on the Demon's Grave and the only way to get out is to face that which scares and haunts you the most but each challenge you play for keeps die or fail the challenge and you are stuck in the Demon's grave forever. 

The prologue of this book really caught my attention,it was interesting, suspenseful and dark and I thought that it set the tone really well for the book to come, however, there were times that the book did not live up to the prologue. Other than the appearance of the Demon it does take more than half the book to make the connection to the prologue, I'm not saying this was a complete negative there were just times where I questioned if there is was two different books. I also think that to book dragged on at times, yes the challenges were interesting (and at times disturbing) but there was almost too many of them as it also took away from the side story as to really why they are all there. 

The characters within this book are supposed to be of college age, but to me they read more like they were high school students, even the college campus sounded like a high school. Maybe they were just first year college students but their maturity level is not one that I would associate with individuals in college. It's bad to say when you read a book but I really did not feel any connection to the main character Nora, I found her underdeveloped and the main traits that I could associated with her character are flat and whiny. I actually think that all the characters are underdeveloped and typical/typecast in this book, there was really no imagination.

I liked the challenge aspect of this book and the idea of playing on the nightmares that we have all had. This book had me reliving some that I had when I was a child (and they were disturbing to say the least especially as I was a child when I was having them) and I think that is the scariest part of the book. Would I now be able to handle my own nightmares if they came to life? I think that is truly the horror aspect of the book, looking into yourself. However, other than that, the challenges did not really play on any true fears that I have, but it you are afraid of spiders for example, you will find some scenes within the book disturbing and probably more scary than I did.

I have noticed that this book is part of a series but I question whether I would continue with it. While I enjoyed some of the aspects in the plot and the darkness that MacCallum has throughout, I really did not feel any connection or feel invested to any of the character which I find essential when reading a book.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

William Landay: Defending Jacob

William Landay show just how much a father loves his son and what he will to do protect him:

A teenage boy is found murdered in a park in an affluent part of a Massachusetts suburb. Andy Barber is the district attorney for the area and he also lives there with his wife and his own teenage son. Andy is assigned to the case and he immediately starts working the theory of a pedophile in the area. However, people start to questions whether Andy should be involved in the case, as his son went to the same school as the victim and they knew each other. Andy does not see this as a conflict of interest but there is another DA working a different theory and all of a sudden Andy's son Jacob is charged with murder. Every instinct that Andy has is to protect his son and believe in his innocence. But damning facts come to life and a history that Andy has tried to keep hidden has come to light and may be the fact that seals Jacob's fate.

This is the first book that I have read by Landay and I know that it will not be the last. This book was really really good mystery novel and lawyer procedural novel. I absolutely loved how Landay decided to lay out, and tell the story in this novel, which is from Andy's point of view at two different time. The first is Andy telling the story as it happens and the second is Andy on the witness stand in the courtroom as he recounts what happens and answers questions from a prosecutor, (Neil) who basically makes it known he does not like Andy and wants his job. I think that the two points of view add more dimension to the story and you wonder what type of trouble Andy has gotten into to end up on the witness stand. I also really enjoyed to banter between Andy and Neil as Andy challenges Neil on many occasions as he is questioned.

Andy Barber is a person that you would want as your father or on your side if you were in need of a lawyer. He never wavered in believing Jacob's innocence, and he desperately wanted to believe that his genetics were not the cause of some of Jacob's flaws. He may hold on to hope a little too much and have a little bit of too much forced optimisms with his wife, but he stays strong throughout the novel which made him really likable throughout.

Landay raises an interesting concept in this book of the "killer gene" which predisposes an individual to commit violent acts. It was interesting that it was the prosecutor that wanted to bring in this information when this type of concept is still widely debated in the scientific community. However, the more you get to know the prosecutor Neil you understand that he would do anything to win.

You do wonder throughout the book whether Jacob is guilty or not, there are just so many aspects from the evidence to Jacob's personality that you really will go back and forth throughout the book and the ending I think will shock most people. I personally did not see it coming which made this book that much more enjoyable for me.

Really enjoyed this book and I always like when an author can surprise me, the ending will not be what you expect, I know I was not expecting it at all.. I look forward to picking up another book by Landay. Highly recommended if you like lawyer novels but with a different twist on them.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Pittacus Lore: I Am Number Four

In the first book in a series Pittacus Lore lets us know we are not alone out there and their war has traveled to Earth:

Since coming to Earth John and his guardian Henri have been on the run. At any sign of danger or something unusual they have had to move in order to stay safe. John is one of the few left of his kind and their number are falling based upon the marks on his leg. He is number four, the next who will be targeted for death. Soon John hopes to have a fighting chance, his legacies are set to come into power every day, but as is next to be hunted, to be killed, he does not have much time, he is number four.

This is a good book for a teenager or young adult age reader. As an adult reading this book I found it to be quite slow and hard to relate the main character at times as he is going through his teenage troubles. Ah teenage love....I could do without, but at least there was not a love triangle in this book, though I think this has more of the fact to do with the main character being male, but still I appreciate that aspect (I actually wish there were more male based urban fantasy/paranormal books out there for both YA and adult books). There was not much needed in world building as it takes place on Earth, but I think that Lore did a good job in describing Lorien to the readers that was not too sci-fi and which made it easy to understand.

I found that this book was very slow and was more about John trying to be a normal teenager than actually trying to stay alive. The action in this book really does not pick up till the very end when John is really put to the test, but before that it is manly about John and Sarah, how much they like each other and how John never wants to leave this place. I will say that you do feel for John as he now has a girlfriend and friends for the first time and he does seem to blossom in this situation, but you know that it is always temporary because he is the next in line to be killed and he will have to flee eventually.

It was interesting the powers or Legacies, as Lore refers to them, that John develops. This was one of the most interesting parts within the book and it does make me wonder what other legacies John would develop over time. I also liked that they were not typical and all of them for offensive purposes, for example the lights that come out of John's hand (though I'm not 100% sure what the lights are for other than providing lights, but that aspect is usefull if you are in a dark room...). I think that Lore put a lot of effort into trying to be imaginative in the Legacies and it does show when they are described and used. I also loved Bernie, but I'm a sucker for animals and his antics within the book were very cute and I liked the twist about Bernie that was thrown in.

I do not think that this series is for me, as I stated above a good read for a teenager, I just wanted there to be more in this novel and story, maybe a bit darker, less teenage love story. However, I do state this as n adult reading this novel. I will say that the ending was done really well and does leave something that will make you want to continue on in the series for those who enjoyed the book throughout.


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