Sunday, May 9, 2021

Michael F. Haspil: Graveyard Shift

In the first book in the new series, Michal F. Haspil adds a new warrior to the urban fantasy world, one that has been dead longer than most vampires have been alive:
Alex Menkaure, former Pharaoh and now a mummy, is now a cop in a specialized unit that deals with vampires and anything else that goes bump in the night. Alex also has a partner Marcus, a vampire, that he has worked with previously in a specialized government unit and together they are probably the best team when it is discovered that someone is poisoning the artificial blood supply. Instead of sating the vampire that drinks it, instead they enter into a blood frenzy and kill anyone who is around. Alex and Marcus need to discover the source of the poisoned blood in order to stop mayhem from erupting on the streets, but there are old and strong forces at play here, human and vampire and only one can win.
Well this was a really fun book and had me reading way past my bedtime and trying to read every extra minute that I could get, even if it was just a page or two. All the usual suspects are here with werewolves, vampires and vampires assimilating into the human world, synthetic blood and such. But where Haspil shines is with his addition of adding a Mummy into the mix, yet you read that right a Mummy. Who would have thought that would change the dynamic so much, but trust me it did. Also this was Haspil's debut novel, and it was really well done and I think the mystery aspect with the synthetic blood was fairly well developed.

Personally, I love Alex as a character and he does have some character growth in this book which is appreciated and unexpected for an individual who has walked the Earth for centuries. Haspil had such a cool, unique and different idea by bringing Egyptian culture into the paranormal one, and honestly it makes me think why it has not been done more. Haspil found such a cool way to fight vampires and really who better than someone who is powered by the Sun, the complete opposite of the Vampire life. Alex also doesn't give much of Fuck about most things, seeing as how he has lived a long time, this does make him feel like an anti-hero at times.

I think the main problem that I had with this book was that it does not read like a first book in a series. There are too many references to the past and I get that Alex and Marcus are centuries old, and there will be history there, but I think a better first novel would have been one where they were just starting out with UMBRA or still under that program. UMBRA is a government agency that they both used to be apart of toe "deal" with the emerging Vampire program, so I would have been an interesting book too. What happens in this book is that Haspil refers back to UMBRA too often (I want to say several times in each chapter) that it makes the reader feel like they are missing something, that there was a book before this one that fleshed out the relationship between Marcus and Alex more and how they both came to be police cops.

I really enjoyed this debut novel and I think that Haspil brought some fresh ideas into the urban fantasy genre. I do hope that he continues on with this series, as I know I would pick up the next one.

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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Catherine Ryan Howard: The Nothing Man

Catherine Ryan Howard takes the readers into the mind of  a serial perpetrator, The Nothing Man, where anyone could be his next victim:

 Eve Black, aged 12, was the only survivor of a serial killer attack on her family and she has made it her mission to bring the perpetrator known as The Nothing Man to justice. The problem is that there was never any clues left at any of the crimes scenes and there were often different types of crimes that were committed that the police were never sure if it was The Nothing Man or not, as one day he just stopped. Jim Doyle is the Nothing Man, and one day on shift at work he sees a book that features his name and he is compelled to buy it. The book takes him back to what he would consider his Glory Day, when he could be who he truly was. The farther that Jim reads into the book, he realizes how close Eve is and knows that she will stop at nothing to find him, unless Jim can stop her first.

I really enjoyed this book, as it was something different from an very overwhelming saturated serial killer genre. This is one of the first books that I have read in this genre where you actually know who the killer is and you get almost everything from their POV. In that way it had a true crime type of feel to it.

What sets this book part is that one of the main POV is that of the killer/rapist/assaulter and the other is that of the book that was written about him and his terror on the public many years ago. This way we get a play between the crimes that Jim committed all those years ago, him reliving them and then wanting to become that man again. As well it shows two different perspective, how the police viewed the crimes and how the perpetrator did as well, and they do not always match up.

I wish that Howard would have gotten in deeper with Jim. I felt that the chapters from Jim's POV were too short and I "understand" parts of the reasons why Jim began his other way of life, I just wanted to know more about the man, more about his past, and more about what he did to curve the urges when he stopped, as we can tell from his current day POV he still has this craving to put people who wrong him in their "place". Honestly if this was a real person he would be want by every behaviorist and forensic psychologist out there.

As we know who are killer is throughout the book, there are not as many twists and turns along the way. The main mystery in this book was were Jim and the police able to figure out who The Nothing Man was and whether he would become that man again. I would say that there were two main twists (that I was able to figure out) and a third smaller twist that I did not see coming.

This was a really enjoyable read, and I appreciated that Howard took a different approach here. There are times where serial killer books, even from different authors, follow the same format so it is refreshing to find something new. I look forward to reading another book by Howard.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Rachel Aukes: Bounty Hunter - Lone Gunfighter of the Wastelands

In the first of a series Rachel Aukes takes readers to a lawless place that is mainly controlled by the Bounty Hunters:

The world is in the Shits. The revolution was supposed to make everything better, but from what Joe can tell nothing has really changed, other than a lot of people died and now he works as a Bounty Hunter. When some brother named Sloan want to make the Wasteland's their own territory there are more than a few Hunter Guilds that want nothing to do with it. But the Sloan brothers refuse to take no for an answer. When they come after the company that Joe works for they're about to learn why he earned the named Havoc in the revolution. Joe hates nothing more than a bully so the Sloan brother better watch out, or they are going to find out why you never corner a Bounty Hunter

This book is a really fun read and for those who love sci-fi and western mash up they are sure to enjoy this book. I recently started watching the Mandalorian (I know I’m late to that party) but this book reminded me of that series just no space travel. Even the cover of the book has some Mandalrian flare to it. It has great action/fight scenes that play out in very dramatic fashion, especially if a character named T-Rex is there. He has some creative ideas on how to piss the other guys off, and I really enjoyed every second of those events. It also has quite a bit of heart to it, that I was not expecting from this book.

Joe is a great character, he is loyal to a fault, has some pretty high morals but also a badass to go along with it. Trust me you want Joe to be on your side in a fight. He is resourceful, thinks a few steps ahead but also on the fly. I appreciate that Aukes let Joe get hurt and that he was not invincible and had to compensate when this happened. I really like Joe's loyalty to a fallen soldier from one of the past revolutions and his need to take care of that man's family and also to his employ Reuben even though he could make more money or not have people shooting at him every two seconds if he were to betray him.

The main issue I have with this book is that the World wasn’t fully developed. There were constant reference as to what happened before the world got this way and which side Joe fought for, that I just felt like there was a book before this one. I know there was a revolution, maybe even two to get to the world that Joe is living in now, but even the current world is really undefined. I know they are in the wasteland, but why is is called that? Is there other cities or civilizations outside of the wastelands or is that all that is left after the War(s). This is the area that the book lacks the most, I actually checked to see if there was a book before this one just to make sure it was me and not the book that was off on this point.

I enjoyed this book as it was a fun ride from beginning to end especially if you like cowboy sci-fi action. I look forward to checking out the next book in this series and hope that the world is a little better defined.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Kate Quinn: The Rose Code

Kate Quinn returns to WWII, but this time it is the story of the women who helped with the code breaking against the Nazi's, only to discover a Spy in their midst:

1940s England and England has been preparing to fight a war with Nazi Germany. What Germany does not know if that England has intercepted and eventually decoded the Enigma machines. It is this ability that brings three very different women to the secret base of Bletchley Park, where the mission of those there is to intercept, decode and translate the messages from the Axis powers. What they begin to realize is that their own lives and those they love are in the messages that go through Bethcley Park and they must do everything in their power to keep them safe. But there is a trader at Bletchly Park that has seen to it that the one woman who could discover them is put away in an insane asylum. Now those who no longer trust each other must work together to figure out who.

I do not read a lot of Historical Fiction novels, but I have found when I do, I reach for Quinn when I am look for one. As I started writing this review I discovered that I never wrote on for The Alice Network last year (and I highly recommend that one too), and this one follows a similar format but I really liked that all the women are in both time frames in this book. This book really has everything in it and will make you feel a wide range of emotions. There is love, heartbreak, anger, deceit, friendship, mystery and of course betrayal. I actually loved the mystery aspect of this book and had me questioning everyone at Bletchley Park and the women as well, if one of them was the traitor and I am happy to say I did not figure it out (which does not happen very often).

I found both periods interesting and appreciated that the after the war periods were shorter until the latter parts of the book as this really sets all three women up as full fledged character. I enjoyed Osla, Mab and Beth's and that Quinn did not recopy each of the women. Yes, they do have some similarities in their overall stories, but not so close that I was not interested in them. However, I will say that the book was starting to feel a bit long by the 80% mark of the book. I got to the point where it was alright enough about the women’s lives and love lives and let’s find the traitor, get Beth and put some sort of plan into action to figure out who it is.

The most AMAZING part of this book is that the women that Quinn features in this book are real and I had no idea until the book was finished. I mean of course Prince Phillip (May he Rest In Peace) but I had no idea that the women featured were real as well. It made me want to look these woman up and know more about their lives, and see which aspects that that Quinn put in the book were true, especially that ending. All I can say is that these woman are extremely amazing and what they were able to accomplish at this time in history is truly special and amazing.

I feel like Quinn can weave an almost perfect story of intrigue, mystery, love story and all with strong female characters. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to those who like Historical Fiction and to those who want to read something outside of their usual genres. I look forward to reading other books by Quinn.


Normally I recommend books similar to this one, but I do not read enough Historical Fiction to do that. As stated above The Alice Network by Quinn is also a great read.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Adrienne Young: Fable

Adrienne Young takes the readers to the ways of the traders life, who live and dies by the ways of the sea:

Fable has spent the past 4 years of her life stranded on an island, forced to do what she can to survive, in order to make enough coin to buy passage home. Fable is the daughter of the most respected and feared trader. He is also the man who left her on the island and told her that if she could make her own way home, he would respect her and that she was more cut out for the life among the traders than he believed. But her father has rivals and enemies a plenty all of whom would like to get their hands on Fable for her unique gift with stones. Fable has to figure out who she can trust and use all her instincts in order to be able to survive this world. When she meets a trader names West and his small crew, she hopes that he is someone she can trust, but everyone has their own secrets.

This book had the was one of the host raved about YA novels last year and while I do read some YA novels I am fairly selective in those that I do read. This one had so many great reviews associated with it that I decided to give it a try, plus I haven't read a pirate based book, since....ahem, I read romance novels many many years ago (full on bodice ripping on the cover type, lol).

This book can basically be summed up as fun, easy read, with a strong female character that takes places on the high seas. The writing is good and the plot is easy to follow, flows well but there are no real big surprises throughout (except the end). Mainly the plot is a little simple and not a lot happens in the book. The beginning was really strong with Fable struggling to live and get off the island, things happen in the middle and then around the last 20-30% things really pick up again. In between that there is just a lot of sailing and going to other islands, that's about it. I will say that I was surprised with a few darker moments in the book that elevated the book in my opinion.

There are times where I thought that the secondary characters seemed more interesting than Fable. I mean Fable has a strong start with being stranded on the island to fend for herself and her power is pretty interesting (and I hope it is explored further in the next book), but she seems to fizzle out once she leaves the island, kind of like a fish out of water thing who does not have the ability to follow orders and lacks common sense a few times

This book was a good, easy read and I think that any YA reader will be happy with the plot and story as it unfolds. As an adult reading this book it felt a little simple and I wasn't completely sold on the romance in the story, I wish they would have taken a longer period for it to develop. As well I just felt like it took too long for the plot to unfold, the middle portion of the book doesn't add a lot of substance to the book. However, with a cliffhanger like Young leaves at the end of this book, I know I will be checking out to next book.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Courtney Summers: The Project

Courtney Summers brings readers into the world of The Unity Project and one woman's mission to find her sister:

Lo feels like she has been alone most of her life. After her parents died in a car accident, her sister Bea abandoned her to go be part of the Unity Project which Lo is 100% sure is a cult. Lo has spent those years after her sister disappeared trying to contact her, just even to talk, have some sense of family, but she has never heard from Bea. When a prospect presents itself for Lo to see the inner workings of the Unity Project Lo knows she cannot pass up this chance to reunite with her sister and finally have the family that she has dreamed of. However, it's hard to reunite with someone who does not want to be found and as Lo delves deeper into the Unity Project and gets to know the leader Les even more she has more and more questions, and she can only hope that one of the answers will lead her to Bea.

This is the second book that I have read by Summers and I enjoyed that this book is completely different from Sadie. I think that the cult idea/aspect that is not written about as much in modern fiction so I very much enjoyed that Summers was going for something that not a lot of people are reading about these days. However, I did find that the book was quite slow until the last 20% of the book where things really started to pick up. I also found a few events predictable and at times the time shift was confusing.

I would not put this in the horror genre as the book is being advertised as, I would say more of a psychological mystery not even a thriller as I never felt the chills or suspense that I expect from that genre. Really what you are reading towards in the book is the whether the Unity Project is good or not. I think that is where Summers excels in this book is having you question if the Unity Project is a cult but also whether they have done anything wrong or not. One thing you can be sure of is that The Unity project seem to be there when someone is in their moment of Need, very cultish I guess?

I really enjoyed the two POV within this book however, the time frame does jump around and it not linear in Bea's POV at all. There are year gaps sometimes that go back and fourth when it is her POV and this was confusing at times. Thankfully Lo's POV was pretty steady, I think if both jumped around like that, you would lose readers really quick. With the dual POV you do get to see how similar the sisters really are, even though they did not grow up together. What I find really interesting about Lo is even though she did not grow up within The Unity Project, how naive she is about simple things in the world, from her workplace to how a car works to even what a cult is at times. There were times when I really questioned Lo's thought process as it could not all be chalked up to age.

I think where Bea ends up is really predictable, I was able to see it coming after we learn about Bea from Lo's POV, even before people start telling her that Bea does not want anything to do with Lo. I will say I did not see that ending coming, but at the same time seemed like a bit of a cop-out. I mean what actually happened there?

This was a good read as I liked the cult aspect, it was well written and I really enjoyed how the story was told, but it wasn't quite what I thought it would be and lack the overall suspense I wanted from this book. I think that her novel Sadie was better and for me personally Sadie had me on the edge of my seat throughout, as we need to find out what happened to her. I look forward to seeing what Summers comes out with next. One thing is for sure, she has a great ability for storytelling and as far as I can tell is keeping it formula free.

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