Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Michael Connelly: The Lincoln Lawyer

Moving away from the thriller series of Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly enters the court room with a defense lawyer whose greatest fear is to not know innocence when he sees it.

Mickey Haller works his defense lawyer practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln town car. This allows him to travel throughout the state of California as well as reach clients that other, probably more normal lawyers are unable to reach. From drug dealers, gang banker, motorcycle gang members to prostitutes Haller has represented them all. For Haller, it is never a question of guilty or not, it is about the manipulation of the law, police procedures and the court room in order for Haller's client list to get off. It is very rarely about justice for Haller, however, he does believe that once he helps someone out of a charge that they may turn to the straight path. However, when a Beverly Hills playboy is charged with attempted rape, assault and attempted murder he calls on Haller to represent him. Haller thinks that he has made it big time, a client that can finally afford to properly pay him. But as the case unfolds, Haller begins to question his client's at first obvious innocence and as more information and evidence begins to appear Haller starts to see that he is playing a dangerous game that brings to front his greatest fear, his ability to see innocence when it is staring him in the face.

Okay, so I may have only picked this book up because it was being made into a movie but in my defense I have been reading Michael Connelly for years, and I had never heard of this book. He does have 25 books written I was bound to miss one or two, and I tended to stick to the Harry Bosch Series (which I really enjoy and would recommend).

So now on to my thought of the Lincoln Lawyer. I really enjoyed this book and the suspense, intensity and desperation you feel that Haller goes through in the book becomes more and more heightened the farther into the book you get. Connelly has created a story that holds up to any courtroom based book that I have read (You can tell that he did his research, Thank You) and he was able to keep me interested as Haller fallows the evidence to prove the innocence of one man, and hopefully regain his own humanity in the process.

Micky Haller is a very realistic character, and I think the struggles he goes through are what some real life defense lawyers would have concerns about as well. Haller's main fear is that he would be unable to recognize innocence within a client, and he puts these skills to test. He is a attempting to live up to his father's standards, a man he only got to know through reading books about. However, Haller is not above manipulation of those around him, mainly his ex-wife Maggie as well as what occurs within the courtroom (though this might be an aspect of a great defense lawyer). His life is truly all about the cases he works and although he wants to do right by his daughter he struggles to find a balance. It is easy to like and hate Haller at the same time as he a defense lawyer, at times his morals are questionable and he does have an ego, but you also see him trying to make things right and protect whatever family that he has. I think this balance is key to the storyline and also fully understanding Haller as a character.

I will say it time and time again, even though I do read the paranormal genre and there are all sort of scary creatures that have been created, I think the thing that scares me the most is the reality that humans/people are the most evil. Roulet is all types of evil, pure sociopath if I have ever read one before. Connelly does a good job of creating an almost silent evil in the Roulet character. You are never really sure as to who Roulet is and how far he is willing to go to ensure his freedom and even if he is the worst individual within the story.

I think my only complaint is I do not think that Connelly took enough risks with the story and plot line. There were some unexpected parts, however, there were also parts that were very predictable, and there was no point within the story where Connelly has a fantastic twist that no one sees coming. And I hate to say it but most of the ending was a little predictable. These facts did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, but I think that if these factors had been changed the book would have been amazing

Connelly is a great storyteller and whether you are reading his stand alone novels or his harry Bosch series, you can an expect an enjoyable read with all the aspects that are needed in a mystery, suspense and/or thriller novels. Although I found The Lincoln Lawyer a great read and a nice departure from the Bosch series, I still prefer that series to this stand alone book (though if I were to recommend another of his stand alone books it would be Void Moon). I would be interested to see where Connelly were to take Mickey Haller next, or to read another court room book from him, as he does what happens in a courtroom justice. I am looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out and comparing it to the book. I have seen which actors have been chosen for the roles, and they seem like perfect fits to me. If you have seen the movie and read the book, let me know what you thought of either or both


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Monday, June 13, 2011

Natasha Rhodes: Dante's Girl

 In her debut novel Natasha Rhodes brings us a story where love is supposed to conquer all, but what happens when the person you love is murdered and asked you to get revenge on those who killed them. Would you be able to pull the trigger?

Kayla was preparing for one of the best nights of her life, she knew her boyfriend was going to propose to her, but he never showed up. No phone call, text anything to tell her that he was not coming. Completely depressed she sets out on the town to drink her sorrow away, only to be attacked, almost raped and possible eaten, though Kayla is not too sure what she saw. As if her days could not get any worse, she discovers that Karrel had not stood her up, her had been murdered. Kayla now seeking answers to what she saw the night before and into Karrel's death. It will take her to places that only nightmares should be, but she will put everything on the line, as Karrel's once last request of her is to seek revenge on those who had him murdered. However, Kayla knows nothing of the dark world Karrel was working in (he was part of a group called Hunters) and has no idea who she can trust. All she wants to do is go home and cry but that is no longer safe as the enemy and the Hunters has discovered Kayla's existence and one or both will stop at nothing to make sure that she does not see her next day.

In all honesty I bought this book well over year ago and it has sat on my shelf all that time. In a effort to read the books that have been sitting on my shelf the longest, I have started "making" myself read these books. I think this book has sat on my shelf as long as it has because I have shifted in my reading to not include as much as paranormal romance which is what I thought this book would be. However, I could not have been more wrong. Yes, the entire premise is based around a woman's love for her boyfriend and essentially the influence everything that she does, but this does not mean that the book is about romance. Nonetheless, there are sex scenes in this book, but not that many, I think 3 tops, so nothing that would over power the story.  This book really surprised me, I think for reasons stated above I thought that I was going to hate it and have to force myself through it, but I really enjoyed the book. There was a lot more action than I expected and the book turned out to be a fairly dark book (which made me even more happy). I have actually already looked into getting the second book as I want to see what happens next which I think tells you how much I liked it.

I liked the twist on human experimenting and the use of people's vanity as their ultimately downfall (I mean the book is based in LA, I don't know a place where more pressure is placed on looks). The human experimenting was something new to me in paranormal genre, I think I may have read a book or two that touch on the subject but it was often the different paranormal creatures that were being tested on rather than humans. The experiments that go on are down right freaky (don't worry Rhodes does not go into detail, you just find out the afterwards what the side affects were) especially what was done to the Vampire Cyan, I could not even imagine (I could compare it to a wolverine type but much worse). The cosmetic testing side affects that were going one made me never want to have any form of beauty treatment.

I liked Kayla as a character, though I do question her morals at times with her interactions with Mutt (Yes a werewolf named Mutt). I mean Karrel has just been murdered and all of a sudden you're in Mutt's arms a guy who is suppose to be your boyfriend's friend I guess grief does things to different people. I think that Kayla is a fairly believable character. After everything that she has been through all she really wants to do is run home and hide and I do not think that the reader could blame her for not being the kickass heroine in this book. There are other individuals who can fulfill that role. Kayla's role, I think, is to remind people of the human aspect of compassion when interacting with creatures that are not human. Not to say that Kayla does not through down, I guess better terms would be stumbling through it and running, lots of running. I like that Rhodes did not have Kayla all of a sudden become the kickass heroine, she needs to learn train ect before she is able to reach that point. I also like the Hunter Phil, he was nice comic relief within the book. I especially liked the scene with the guitar and the vampire near the end of the book (I had a nice laugh at that part).
The cover may throw you off and you will think that this is mainly a vampire book (I know it did for me), this book is more based about werewolves and werewolf hunters. Yes there are a few vampires within the book and while one might be one of the main enemies, they are still secondary to the werewolves.

This was a great novel debut, I was hard pressed to put the book down. It was well written with some great action scenes and plot line. I guess my one fault is knowing who the enemy is beforehand, but that does not mean that the backstabbing and twists and turns do not stop. I think fans of paranormal books should jump at the chance to read this book and hopefully series (i'll let you know once I read the second book). This book has a good blend of realism and paranormal aspects that I found refreshing. It was also scary to think about what cosmetic testing could be and really one of the most evil individuals within the book is a Human (I know it made me stop and think). The other nice thing about starting this series is there are 3 books already out, no need to wait a year before you are able to the next one. :)


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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anthony Francis: Frost Moon

In his debut novel Anthony Francis bring the reader on a wild roller coaster ride in the edge world of the city of Atlanta where one woman is about to act as the go between for the police and the things that go bump in the night, whether she wants to or not.

Dakota Frost is the best magical tattoo artist in the Southeast of the USA. People flock to get a "Frost Bitten" tattoo. The magic tattoo can range from protection symbols to a simple butterfly that can move around one's body. But tattoo magic is not fully understand and my be more powerful than anyone ever expected, especially when there appears to be a serial killer collecting these tattoos from his victims while they are still alive. Dakota is caught in the middle between wanting to help the Feds but the werewolf and vampire worlds are more complicated and to warn everyone is going to take every favour she has, but all those favours cannot protect Dakota when it appears when more than one person wants her dead.

I really enjoyed this book. I fell into this world, it is not that Francis has created a world that is completely unquie but just unquie enough to capture and hold my attention. The storyline is also well done, I think that Francis took more risks that some authors in this genre. This book could have very quickly turned into a paranormal romance but Francis was able to hold off writing something that (i think) is more popular with the masses right now. So Thank you Anthony Francis for not taking the easier route. That said, there are several possible "love" interests for Dakota but they are not extensively explored, they are very secondary to the overall story.

I have not read a book before where tattoos were able to come to life off of the skin and had magical powers that could be stored within the tattoo. I am interested in more exploring on this topic. I believe that The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Lui has something similar but I have not read that series yet, so I am unable to properly compare the two. Though after reading Francis' book it makes me want to pick up Lui's book, as I am really intrigued about the magical tattoo aspect. Francis give great visual description to the tattoo I really felt like I could see Dakota with her tattoos, and them moving about the body. It really made me want a magical tattoo. Also how Dakota was able to draw the tattoos on herself and her ability to transfer to others was also really neat. And finally the power of the tattoos, you begin to see how powerful they really can be and I look forward to seeing Dakota discover more about the tattoo's powers.

Dakota sports a colored mohawk, wears quite a lot of leather and is covered in tattoos (including on her scalp), many of which she tattooed on herself, needless to say, Dakota tries to be the tough as nails chick where no one can hurt her, which is a typical aspect for the herone in the paranormal genre. However, I really appreciated it when her attitude gets her into a lot of trouble that she is unable to get out of. I'm glad that Francis was willing to go there. It was really refreshing when author are willing to put main characters and even secondary characters in peril and it becomes questionable whether they will survive or not.

I think my only criticism in this book is that Dakota's first thought when she someone attractive (male or female) are sexual thoughts or getting that tingly feeling. It makes me think that she has not been with someone since her last girlfriend. Although, Francis is trying to portray Dakota as Bisexual she seemed to really only be attracted to the men of the book, and it almost like she was "playing" being attracted to women, other than towards her ex-girlfriend Savanna. I think this aspect is the weakest part of the story that Francis has created, however, since Dakota's love life is secondary, it does not take from the overall enjoyment of the book.

This was a really good debut and I think Francis is a great new voice to add to the paranormal genre. I am looking forward to reading more about Dakota Frost, her tattoos and what type of trouble her or Cinnamon will get into next. I think those who enjoy the paranormal genre will like this book, those who are not used to the paranormal genre there may be too much of the paranormal aspects in the book for you to start with this one. I have read on Francis' blog that he has completed the second book, so hopefully it will be out soon.


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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Richard Doetsch: The Thieves of Heaven

In his debut novel Richard Doetsch explores what a man will do possible save to life and soul of the women he loves, even it means breaking a promise to her, his friends and bringing in to question everything that he believes.

In a small room in one of the most protected places on Earth The Sistine Chapel a master thief has come out of retirement to steal what are considered some of the most precious things are Earth, the two keys to Heaven. Michael who has given up on God and religion has no qualms stealing the keys if it means he may have the ability to save his wife. Although Michael may not believe in the Keys there are those who do and they will stop at nothing to possess them. Michael is unaware of the havoc he will create on Earth if he is able to steal the keys and they fall into the wrong hands. Everything Michael knows and believes will be tested, but everything he does is to help save his wife Mary, in this world and beyond.

Great book, great story, great characters, everything was well done in this novel. There is something about a good old fashioned good vs evil plot line that just that the ability to draw the reader into the story. I really enjoyed this book. Doersch writing style, characters and storyline had all aspects that I look for and enjoy in a thriller. This book does have a religious basis, as it is Good (good in this book is based around the Catholic beliefs) vs Evil, however, I am not religious in any way, shape or form and I really enjoyed this book. I do not think that it was Doersch's intention to use religion in this book to sway an individual to follow the Catholic ways. Religion and good vs evil just go really well in hand.

Michael, is a master thief, but he puts away the only career that he has known for the love of his life Mary (well that and the pesky thing of getting caught). Michael is a strong and weak character all at the same time. His wife is dying and he will do anything to protect her, help her even if that means going against the beliefs that his wife has. Michal also struggles with his own beliefs about and whether he believes in God or not all he truly knows is that he believes in Mary. There is also something about characters for me when they are a Thief. Just the planning and skill that they have to acquire to accomplish their mission has always intrigued me. I find that Doetsch did a great job of giving Michael a believable skill set and I do not think there was one point in the book where Michael did something that was (for lack of better comparison) Dirk Pitt like. Michael's interaction with his wife and Paul (his PO and best friend) are really well done in the book. You can tell that Michael does not want to disappoint or betray either of them but he finds himself backed in to a very tight corner, and he is unsure of which option is the right choice.

Simon's character was also really well done. I think that Doetsch could create a whole series of books around Simon. Simon is a priest who holds a whole different type of sermon, also know as he is a the protector of God and the items He has left of Earth and Simon is not above killing to see that they are protected or killing those that evil so evil is unable to achieve the upper hand. You get to see pieces of Simon's past, why and how he became, essentially a killing machine for the church. There is a lot of depth to Simon's character and I think this book only truly scratches the surface of it (hence my belief that Simon could have a series of his own).

Normally, I do not enjoy books when you know who the bad guy or enemy is, however, in this book I found that I worked extremely well with the storyline, plot, characters and I think the overall effect that Doersch wanted to achieve. Some of the Evil elements/people within this book do have some supernatural aspects, but they are fighting the darkness of the Catholic religion so I think this can only be expected. Plus these supernatural elements are not in your face and occurring all the time, so those who are not a fan of the genre will still be able to thoroughly enjoy this book. The evil in this book is down right scary and even to me who is not religious it made me think, what if this actually happened, which I think speaks to how well this book is written. The evil characters are well done and scary and are shown that they can be any where and no one is the wiser, which is always a scary aspect.

This book had everything that I look for in a thriller, a great mystery, lots of suspense, some action and a great cast of characters. Excellent book, and I look forward to reading more about Michael and I hope Simon too. I recommend this to anyone who is looking for their next suspense book, I do not think that you will be disappointed with this one.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

S. L. Pierce: Secrets

In a debut indie novel S. L. Pierce explores not only a marriage where secrets are kept but the secrets that we all keep in order to survive in this world.

Gwen has been keeping a secret from her husband since the day that they met, she used to be an assassin for the USA government, and when a man enters her house with the design to kill her she thinks her cover has been blown. Gwen now must protect the life and family that she has now, and when a seemingly inconspicuous event has turned her whole world upside down she will stop at nothing to setting things right using her very own black and white set of moral and skills.

This book piqued my interest from the very first lines "Don't move,' he said. It wasn't the words that concerned me. It was the cold metal presses against my temple" (Pierce, p. 1). I mean if that does not get you interested I don't know what will. This book is a quick read (165 pages on my nook), but being a short book does not mean that the book lacked in story (I have read books that were many times longer than this one and did not have as well rounded as a story).  This book would be classified within the mystery genre with a touch of action and romance.

My one problem with the book is that it was pretty straightforward in how Gwen and Jack were able to put the clues together, and there were a few more twists and turns but once again it was a short book. I also wish there would have been something more that had grown out of Officer Walters interaction within the book. I think that the parts in the novel with Officer Walters did not need to be there, as they did not add that much suspense to the story and how they wrapped up in the end, was not what i expected (but not in a good way). I think Pierce lost a great opportunity not developing the Officer Walters aspect more. However, I think the writing style, story, character development and ideas are there if Pierce were decide to make the venture into a full novel.

Gwen is a really strong character, although she may be a few years out of the assassination business she still has many of the skills in order to protect her life and Jack's. Gwen has a strong sense of morality and what she sees as right and wrong, it is very black and white to her. She points out a few times within the book that she is not a psychopath, but she does have some tendencies of one. Jack, her husband, is the perfect balance for Gwen's black and white view on life and helping develop a better way to getting people to talk to her other than torture. The reader also gets to see Gwen and Jack's relationship redevelop as the secrets that Gwen has kept about her previous life come out. I actually think that this is where Pierce's talent was in this book was her development and change shown within her characters and their relationship (remember this is only 165 page book, so in order to have these developments and have them flow well and make sense is a great feat, and Pierce is able to achieve it flawlessly).

The more I think about it I do wish that the book was longer as I am intrigued about the characters and I think with a slightly longer book Pierce would have been able to further develop the characters, their relationship and create a more in depth mystery story. That said I think that when Pierce decides to write longer books, I think that she has the writing style and possible the beginning of a series that many will enjoy (I'm thinking either following Gwen and Jack, or books that are centered around the other women who were part of Gwen's assassin "team"). If you are looking for a book to read a fairly fast paced novel with a good mixture of mystery, action and a touch of romance, this is for you. Plus you are supporting a indie author and we need to more and more of that. You can find Pierce's book on Smashwords.


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