Sunday, July 25, 2021

Kiersten White: Chosen

You will need to read this first book in this series Slayer in order to understand the dynamics between the characters especially Nina and Artemis. Plus there are quite a few events that define what happens in this book so you really need to read the first book. 

The Slayer and Watchers are back, with a whole new bad and a whole new apocalypse that threatens the world:

Nina is trying to accept her new role in life as a slayer instead of a medic, and trying to change what the Watchers have been taught to do for generations and this includes being accepting of certian types of demons. Nina has decided to change the castle into a sanctuary where slayer and demons can co-exist and help each other. Nina just hopes that she is doing the right thing, so much is now on her shoulders, especially with Artemis fleeing the castle and Nina feeling even more darkness inside of her, so much she is having trouble controlling it. There also seems to be a new threat emerging, something to do with a strange triangle that seems to be popping up everywhere something bad happening and everything points to the apocalypse.

I feel like this is a Must Read for those who Loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer growing up, even though most of the comments surround Buffy are basically bashing her or really undermining what she had done for the whole (Honestly I feel at time White hated Buffy as a character) but it is an interesting world nonetheless. In this book there are more appearances and nods to characters that were both in Buffy and Angel series which I liked as it was like revisiting shows that I loved growing up.

I liked that there were POV from both Nina and Artemis, and I found that Artemis POV was a bit more interesting as she does act more grown up than Nina at time. Additionally, many of Artemis' POV were darker and more mature in nature so I think that had to do with why I enjoyed them more. I found that Nina's POV were thinking about a boy and being mad at Artemis. Also I love Doug as a character, there is something about his ability to smell how people are feeling, and letting people know that they are off and his overall love of Cold Play that I just loved him as a character.

I have one main problem with this book is that we know who the bad guy is right from the beginning, I wish that there would have been hints or something about someone that they trust betraying them. Instead we find this out basically at the beginning of the book and as the reader we are waiting for the main characters to figure this out and this completely takes away from the overall suspense of the book. It even takes away from the manipulation, because you know that it's manipulation.

I enjoy this series as it takes me back to the world of Buffy and I really enjoy this world. I am looking forward to seeing where White takes this series.

Enjoy!!!
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Monday, July 19, 2021

Melissa F. Miller: Irreparable Harm

In the first book in a series, Melissa F. Miller shows readers what it takes to be a top lawyer at a firm:

Sasha McCandless has one goal in life, make partner at her firm. Everything else in her life is on hold until that happens. When a commercial airline crashes, everyone on board is killed, it is Sasha's firm who is representing the airline company, they know there will be a class action lawsuit. This is Sasha's big chance and big case that could have the payoff that she is looking for. But the farther Sasha digs into the plane crash and company many aspects are not lining up and she discovers the unthinkable, could the plane have been crashed on purpose?

I love courtroom procedural books (and I don't read them often enough) when they are done right and I think when this book is taking place in the courtroom it is interesting and well done, but when the book moves away from the courtroom and lawyer aspects the book just becomes okay (at best). I found the book was predictable and you as the reader were waiting for the main characters to catch up with the information that we know, like we know who the bad guy is in the first half of the book. This is not my favorite way for a plot to be laid out as I find it hinders the suspense, causes to the plot to really lag as well with me, as the reader, trying to figure everything out which is part of the reason I read books.

Feel like this book shows that it was written in 2011 by having the female lead not only as a kick-ass lawyer but also amazing at some sort of marshal arts skills, that I cannot remember the name of, that no one can beat her at, especially when the thugs after her are the heavy just throw punches guys. She has some sort of tragedy in her past that she lives with and defines certain things she does now. On the other side of things, I really liked Sasha's mind and how she things of things in the law/court based approach of things and what she can do legally. Additionally, her moral compass is on point and even when there are millions even billions on the line vs human life.

I think that the relationship aspect was forced even though this is very secondary to the story with just some thoughts here and there it is totally not needed in the book and really did not even need to be hinted at throughout the book. Why can't male and female characters just work well together without them becoming a couple in the end. These two worked really well together and I felt that having them in a relationship didn't add anything to the plot (I feel that this also shows that this book was written in 2011).

So not my favourite read, I may try the second book in the series to see if there is more lawyer/courtroom scenes as I think that is what Miller did really well in this book and I hope that Sasha grows as a character too.

Cheers!!!
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Monday, July 12, 2021

Marie Lu: Skyhunter

In the first in a new series, a girl who is seen as a street rat, will be the one that helps the world she lives in survive:

There is only one country standing, Mara, against the Karensa Federation, who have made it their mission to conquer any country that stands in their way. Talin is a refugee from the Karensa Federation and although she is seen as an outcast there, Talin is part of the legendary Mara force, The Strikers and she is one of their best. When the Federation sends more and more Ghost creatures during each battle, Talin does her best to kill them all. When a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front lines, all of Mara is seeking his death, but Talin sees something more in him, is he a spy, or a secret weapon that could help save them all. With the Federation on their doorsteps Talin and the Strikers have to strike now in order to save Mara and all of her people.

This is the second book that I have read bu Lu and I liked it better than Warcross. I found that book was more mature and darker than Warcross and I felt that the characters were more complex as well. You can tell that Lu takes on larger topics in this books with the class system, racism, discrimination and sexism too. I have no problem with these topics being introduced in a YA novel, as all these aspects occur in our society now, but some of the darker moments may be a bit too mature for a younger YA audience. There is also a political game that is played throughout this book and I think this adds another dimension to the overall story that I really enjoyed, and this is where you see a lot of the class system and disparity played out in the story.

Talin became mute from the attack on her former home but she has not let this define her in any way shape or form. She is one of the best fighters in Mara's elite force, the Strikers but not just that she is smart and appears to understand battle strategy better than some of her superiors. It also has allowed her to remain on the outside of things and observe body language and read lips in order to understand what is going on around her. Talin is a survivor and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect those she loves and the country of Mara even though many of them scorn her.

The darkness in this book really stem from the Federation and what they are will to assure that they win at all cost. This includes threats to their soldiers' families as well as the creation of the Ghosts. Honestly the Ghosts are the scariest things in this book, and to have to witness a family member become one is just horrible to think of. 

I found the world building a little lacking in this book and I had to use my own imagination to fill in some of the gaps, but I think because we are learning about this world from Talin's POV. Her life was altered at a very young age, she does not fully understand why the people of Mara do not accept her and those who also fled there, but also why The Federation is hell bent on conquering everyone. We do get some bits and pieces of this information here and there but not to fully flesh out this world and it's part (though I have a feeling more is to come in the next book).

Now does this book feel like it has a bit of a formula that we often read in the YA genre, Yes, but that does not mean that I did not really enjoy reading this book (Plus I'm happy to report that Lu stayed away from the love triangle aspect, that you Lu). 

This book is a fast paced dystopia YA book that will have you want to read it in one sitting. Lu has mastered creating strong/interesting female character. I really enjoyed this book, and found that I was turning the pages faster and faster in order to read what happens next. I look forward to reading the next book in this series to see where Lu takes the story and her characters.

Enjoy!!!!
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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Mary Dixie Carter: The Photographer

In her debut novel, Mary Dixie Carter shows the extent a woman will go to to have the perfect family:

Delta Dawn has an amazing gift when it comes to photographing children, so much so that she is called upon NY elite to capture the important family events. When Delta is hired to capture the events of the Straub's only daughter, Natalie, birthday, Delta begins to wish that she was part of their lives. This is where Delta hatches a plan, to do everything in her power to become part of the Straub's life, t be part of there picture perfect family. Detla realizes that she's just as good at manipulating photos as she is manipulating people.

I think this book had a lot of promise and I have not read a book like this in a long time, but you can tell that this is a debut novel. This book attempts to be a psychological thriller but I do not think that it made it there, it was more of a slow burning domestic suspense. It is basically a book about a woman who becomes obsessed with a family, in a pretty creepy way, but it never surpasses the creepy factor to becomes a full on thriller. 

I wanted everything within this book to be more extreme, more manipulation, more Delta inserting herself into the family's life. I wanted to know more about Delta and her metal state, why she is doing what she is doing. I mean Carter hints to her past throughout the book, but is Delta really this way as she is just looking for and wanting a better family of her own? Or is there something deeper there as to her reasons why she is willing to do what she does for this family. I mean if you have read this book Delta does sacrifice quite a bit for the family as well.

I wanted Delta to be more manipulative than she was, I think there were opportunities for the within the book but Cater did not take them. Also as this book is only told from Detla's POV, we cannot really see what the inner workings of the manipulations that Delta has started, other than she just always seems to get her way. I just wanted more, and everything more extreme. Why just stick to the photographs of some of the things she picture, why not put more of those fantasies actually into the book. I also wanted a bit more in the ending, maybe Natalie's POV in the end, how her time with Delta had shaped her. Also, the ending seemed so abrupt and a complete 180 in attitude for Delta, like it seemed like she completely changed as a person.

This was an audio-book read for me and I was not a fan of the narrator in this book. She was good when she was doing other character's voices but I did not like her voice for Delta. I found it whiny and did not sound like it fit the character that Delta was.

This book was just okay to me, I wanted Carter to take a more extreme approach in Delta's behaviour, as i thought that there was just a gradual escalation of events and manipulation that never really hit the high point. I would try another book by Carter, I just suggest if you do read this book do not expect a thriller.

Cheers!!!
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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tyrell Johnsons: The Wolves of Winter

Tyrell Johnson, in his debut novel, takes reader to a small family group living in the Yukon after the collapse of civilization:
 
Forget everything that you knew before, as it will not help you survive in this new world. Civilization has collapse. Everyone who had Nukes used them and now Lynn and her family forge ahead, learning how to hunt, trap and grow their own food in order to survive. But everything is about to change when Lynn happens upon a stranger, it starts a chain of events that no one could see coming and the life that Lynn knew is about to change forever.
 
Really enjoyed the book (though I will say that I found the middle a bit slow) and it did not read like a debut novel as I found the plot, world and characters really fleshed out. I liked the atmosphere that Johnson created in this book, it was one that was all about survival and what it takes to survive and I think many people would be shocked to realize what we can live on and what we can live without. I liked that this book was all about nature and elements that one needs to survive not only in the forest by in Yukon (think way northern Canada, so long winters with lots of snow and -40 temperatures). I was on the edge of my seat each time Lynn decided to venture into the forest as you never know if she was going to return if nature or the elements would be the thing to take her, and trust me there are a few times where you do know if she will make it.
 
I enjoyed that Johnson took sometime to set up the past as to why Lynn and her family are now living in the forest, away from big cities and what caused everything to fall. Without these tidbits we would really be left wondering what was the point of it all. I like that Lynn does not know everything as this does leave some elements of surprise along the way as the book unfolds.

Lynn is a great character, that you really feel that you know right from the start. I could feel her struggle of trying to come to terms as the what her life is like now (she remembers, cell phones, TV and all the conveniences of modern life) but she really does excel at it. I find it funny that even in the need for survival and feeding the family, there were times when Lynn was told she was not allowed to hunt even though she was great at it. Lynn has an adventurous streak about her, and wants to know more about what happened to the world, though this does get her in trouble, but it is this that has helped her fight and survive this long.

One thing that was very interesting in reading this book in 2021 is that we learn along the way that civilization collapsed due a virus that was started in China which caused a pandemic. There are some other revelations around this aspect as well but I will leave them for you to discover when you read this book. If was just interesting foreshadowing on Jonhsons' part.

I will say that overall I did find the twist and overall layout of the plot a bit predictable, this did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, but I felt that the book followed a fairly standard formula, but I will also forgive part of this as this is his debut novel.

Although this book does not need to have a follow up or sequel, I would enjoy the chance to return to this world and Lynn as a character. I enjoyed the world, atmosphere and characters that Johnson has created here and I look forward to reading more books by him.

Enjoy!!!!

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Friday, June 18, 2021

Alex Michaelides: The Maidens

Alex Michaelides shows readers how susceptible people can be when they are entranced by an older man:

Mariana is a group therapist who is trying to combat her own trouble since her husband died in a tragic accident. Mariana knows that group therapy will not only help her but those in the group as well if they will let it. But Mariana is going to have to put her group session behind her when her niece Zoe calls her to tell her that her roommate is missing, and the police are investigating. Mariana knows that Zoe needs her so she drop everything and head to Cambridge, a school she once studied at as well. While Mariana is on her way, her body is found. What Mariana discovers when she reaches Cambridge is the murderer in Edward Fosca, however, no one is willing to believe her and he appears to be untouchable. He has created a group of young women called the Maidens who he rules over and they will do anything for him. Mariana will have to put all her training to work in order to prove that Fosca is the murderer before any more of the girls get hurt.

I think this will be a different type of review, as I am sure that most people who read The Maidens really enjoyed Michaelides debut novel, The Silent Patient. I'm here to say that I was one of the few that did not enjoy The Silent Patient, however, I did recognized that Michaelides had the ability to tell a story, I just found The Silent Patient was too much of a slow burn for me

So now that we have that out of the way, I will say that this book is the complete opposite of The Silent Patient and a much more traditional mystery novel. So if you are here for something different, like what was presented in The Silent Patient, you will be disappointed. I don't think I can say this enough, this is NOT The Silent Patient.

I wasn't a fan of Mariana "detective" type work? I found it a it mundane. Mariana was a slightly boring as a detective character as she just seemed to muddle her way through it, and thought that by just asking questions she could get the answers that she wanted. This is not how one would conduct an investigation as she completely ignores other evidence. Yes, questioning people is one part, but people are so subjective, remember things differently, and eye witness statements are often not trusted as you can have 10 different people tell you 10 different things after witnessing the same event. That said I think that Michaelides did a good job of lining up quite a few people who could be the murderer and I was just frustrated that Mariana seemed to focus on only one person, I guess it was a perfect example of tunnel vision in regards to a case. For me the more attention the author focuses on that person the less likely I'm going to believe that it is them, as everyone seems to believe there needs to be a big twist in the end, nothing is so straight forward any more. I was not able to figure everything out and did not see one of the twists coming that is for sure, so well done Michaelides, well done.

I liked the nod to The Silent Patient that Michaelides put into this book, it was fun to read and added a time context to everything that was happening and in a way changed how I saw certain things in the Silent Patient. It was not needed in this book but I think that is was a fun add.

I think that as Michaelides keeps writing his books will get better and better. I enjoyed this book much more than his debut and you can tell that Michaelides has the ability to tell great stories, just some of the details need to be worked out.

Enjoy!!!
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