Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kim Falconer:The Blood in the Beginning

In the start of a new series Kim Falconer shows that finding out where you came from may be the very thing that saves your life:

Ava has always known that she was different, but she has always attributed it to her autoimmune disease that is in her blood. She has studied hard as an undergraduate student with the hopes of working for the CDC to better understand her disease. In order to make ends meet she works as a bouncer at night time at a dive bar, where she no longer has to prove that she can handle herself, she's had a tough life up until now and has had to do some questionable things in order to survive. When Ava is attacked by a possible serial killer on the way home from shift one night she is able to fight back but ends up in the hospital  where she meets the mysterious Dr. Miguel Rossi who only seems to speak in riddles to her. He claims to know more about her origins than she does. Ava needs to figure out quick where she came from as she is attracting all the wrong attention and her life hangs in the balance

I really liked this book and I think it is a great start to a new series (also bonus points for that book cover). It was a refreshing change for me from other urban fantasies that I have read lately as Falconer chose to focus on a different "creature". You will not find vampires or werewolves or zombies in this book which is very refreshing these days. This book is also quite a bit darker than I thought it would be. The level of violence against Ava when she is attacked as well as some other scenes in the book. I think that Falconer was able to have a balance between Ava trying to live her normal life, figure out who she is as well as trying to figure out her stalker/murderer is. 

The world building is well done and I personally envisioned it in a blue/grey scale with a noir feel to it. I think this has to do with the reference to the Big one in which parts of California broke off and slipped into the Pacific Ocean as well as the idea of the pollution that has caused so many changes to the world. There is often reference to the need to buy organic food or non-GMO due to the pollution and contamination of the planet. It was also interesting the contrast between what on land appears to look like and that of the Ocean.

I really liked Ava as a character she was confident in herself and her abilities but not cocky at the same time. Her belief in what she can do is further supported by her friends in her life, in particular Rourke who uses Ava as bait to try to catch the copy cat killer. Ava is also very intelligent and I'm glad that Falconer was able to show that you can be book as well as street smart. Often in this genre the female protagonists are rarely portrayed this way. I think that Falconer did a good job in portraying Ava's confusion in what she is and where she came from. My one complaint about Ava is her over need to state how hansom/sexy/good looking the men who are in her life or come in to her life during this book. However, I will applaud Falconer that while there is some sexual tension in this book on more than one front, I'm happy that Ava does not feel the need to have sex with every guy that she meets.

This is the first book that I have read by Falconer and it will not be the last. I look forward to seeing what is going to come next in this series, it really is a great start to a new world.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fiona Barton: The Widow

In her debut novel Fiona Barton asks the questions of how well do we really know our spouse:

It is a parent's worst nightmare their child being snatched from the front yard without a trace and no suspect, but someone has to have little Bella or know where she is. It's a wife's worst nightmare when her husband is accused of taking Bella. She knows her husband right? But as the police start asking more and more questions and everyone is searching for the truth and she doesn't know if she can face the facts so she chooses to continue to stand by her husband's side. After all he knows best, right?

This is Barton's debut novel and it is probably the best one, in this genre, that I have read this year. The depth of the characters is where she excels in this book and the mystery/psychological parts are well done. This book takes the inclination we all have when a horror story comes out on the news and it turns out the perpetrator has a family, we tend to question about how could the family not know. The fact of the manner is that most of these type of perpetrator are really good at hiding their other side of their lives. They are master liars and manipulators. There are times in this book where you question who is manipulating who as everyone seems to not only wants something but also something to hide. I think that some people will find it a bit slow but it is kind of a slow burn throughout.

I loved the different points of view that Barton decided to use and I felt like she portrayed all of them accurate for this type of situation. For the Detective who wants to do everything he can to find Bella and bring the perpetrator to justice and anything less he sees as a failure and is willing to risk it all to succeed. For the Reporter she wants the story of the lifetime to help save her career, to try to stay on top and while she pretends to be someone friends the story is all that matters to her. For the Widow who stands by her husband never wavering her commitment to him and her belief in his innocence, I mean she would know right if he was guilty. For the Mother, who desperately wants to believe that her daughter will be found alive and justice will be served. For the Husband who has secrets but don't we all have secrets and fantasies that we don't want to share with other doesn't mean that I am a bad man. With a few chapters from the point of view from some of the other secondary and tertiary characters within the book. I will say that the majority of the chapters are for the Widow and the Detective but I enjoyed when some of the other point of views were thrown in to give some new insight and perspective about the case. It's funny though while I like the characters that Barton created I never actually liked any of the characters.

You need to pay attention to the dates of each chapter so you know in the context of the story when that person is, which also means that you need to pay attention to the details in each chapter. This is what created the slow feeling to the book, but I actually think that this enhances the story instead of hindering it.

You will go back and forth about whether Glen committed the act of taking Bella as the information that the police use to go after Glen is circumstantial and there are so many factors that you as a reader can see that are overlooked in the investigation as the police do get tunnel vision (which I am glad that Barton included as I think this makes the case more real as it seems at times police believe they have found "their man" and use the evidence to make it fit). However, Barton counters this by having Glen seem very creepy and while he does not physically hurt his wife you can tell that he has control and power over her. If Glen is not guilty of taking Bella there are quite a few other things that he is guilty of.

The more I think about this book and look back on it, the more that I like it. As I stated above I loved the characters that Barton developed and their interactions with each other. I am excited to see what Barton comes out with next, I'm thinking she is an author to watch out for.

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Side Note: This book has it stated in the premise on GoodReads that it is similar to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. I have not read Girl of the Train so I can not compare it, but this book has a completely different feel and even genre, in my opinion, when compared to Gone Girl. This is not to say that this is a bad thing, but if you are reading this book expecting a Gone Girl type of book you will be disappointed, as The Widow is more of a psychological mystery than thriller.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ransom Riggs: Miss Peregrine's Home For Pecular Children

In his debut novel Ransom Riggs takes the readers on an adventure for the peculiar:

Jacob's grandfather has a box of old photographs of children with them doing the strangest things or very weird appearances. Jacob's grandfather assures him that they are not fake and the children did exist. However, as Jacob gets older he begins to questions everything his grandfather told him and begins to believe that his grandfather was just making everything up. That is until his grandfather's murder and Jacob is there to witness it. What he sees changes everything for him, and he questions his own sanity as he is haunted by his grandfather's last words. Jacob needs to solve the riddle in order to find some peace, and have his adventure begin.

I've had this book on my TBR shelf for quite some time now but I can say that the reason that I picked it up was due to the fact that it has been turned into a movie and I try to read the book before the movie comes out. This book was fairly slow for the majority of the book and I guess it had to be as Riggs needed to set up the scene and worlds that Jacob lives in and is learning about. However, I never really felt the world building that Riggs was trying to portray in the book got to the depth that Riggs wanted it too, especially since he took a lot of time to get there.

I'm a bit confused about the "children" under Miss Peregrine's care (I use the term children loosely as many of them are in their 80s). I get the idea of the loop and how it would preserve them from aging, but does that mean that it keeps their mental age the same as when they entered to loop. This is never fully explained as to why an individual who may look like a teenager or child but is 80 years old and yet still will have the mindset of a teenager or child. This part was confusing to me. However, the peculiarities that the children have are a bit different and interesting and really not seen as powers, just abilities they are born with so that can be helpful and some that are more of a deformity.

Did anyone else think that the relationship/love interest thing between Jacob and Emma was creepy? I mean Emma was Jacob's grandfather's girlfriend when he was there and now Emma is trying to basically replace him with Jacob. Just creepy and kind of wrong to me especially when you couple it with the maturity issue stated above. I think the book would have been just as successful if Jacob and Emma were just friends, no live interest is really needed in this book.

I think my favorite part in this book was the Whites. Their history, how they become a white, their search for power and why they want it was really interesting. They also have some interesting abilities and powers that I will not go into here as it would spoil some key aspects within the book.

This book makes you think that all those wild stories that your grandparents and great grandparents told you may be true and that is the true charm of this book. This book is great for those who are of young adult age and would recommend it for those youth to read not so much so for adults. I'm not sure yet whether I will continue on in this series.

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On a side note, as I stated above I read this book as I saw the trailer for the movie and even just based up the trailer I can tell that there are some significant difference between it and the book, especially the main character Emma and her peculiarities. It will be interesting to see what else they have changed.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Richard Newell Smith: Naked Fear

 Richard Newell Smith shows just how far one woman will go to ensure her survival:

A good old fashion Whore Hunt (yes, you did not read that wrong) that Annie finds herself part of. The last thing remembers is sharing a cup of coffee with the last patron in her bar and the next thing she knows she's on a secluded island with men with guns and hounds hunting her and two other women. Now Annie is on the run for her life and she wonders if she can stay alive long enough to get her own revenge on these men and turn the hunter into the hunted.

This book was not quite what I expected it to be and it moved a lot slower than I thought it would. I thought this book was going to be about the hunt and that the actual hunt would be a longer scene in the book other than just the first chapter. Also based upon the description I pictured more of Annie fighting back during the hunt but instead we get Annie fighting back in the real world. So you may have guessed it she does survive the whore hunt (I'm not really giving anything away this is literally the first chapter) and makes it her mission to get revenge on those who were part of it. I guess I wanted more of a blood battle and what I got was white collar type of revenge. This shift from what I thought the premise was for the book is what caused it to feel like it moved at a slow pace; with Annie planning, getting close to the men and then putting her plan in action. I was not really enjoying this book till the latter half when Annie finally is able to put her plan into action and once this was occurring the book did become way more interesting. However, I will say that it felt like her plan fell in to place way too easily with her meeting the right people and finding things out right really quickly.

Annie is an interesting character and to begin with she has the blood lust of just wanting to shoot the men involved. However, based upon her lawyer's advice she decides against that action and decides to ruin them in a more white collar way. I will say that this is smart of her, but i question if really changing her hair color is enough to be enough of a disguise especially when she gets up close and personal with them. She also is way too trusting of people she just met and does not stop to think of the consequences involved with her actions.

The secondary characters in this book are not developed in this book, so all the information that we gain it through Annie. I think it would have been interesting to have some points of view of the men that were hunting Annie just to show how two faced and evil these men were and it might have added to my interest in the story.

Although the book grew on me by the end, I just was expecting something very different than what I got that it spoiled to book for me. I noticed this book is possible part of series and I wonder where Smith can take this book and characters from here. I read this more as a stand alone.

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