Friday, July 22, 2011

Trevor Shane: Children of Paranoia

In Trevor Shane's debut novel, he takes the reader into a secret War that is occurring throughout the world one side good the other evil. You are either born into the War or not, but if you are born into it you must follow the rules, if you break the rules, you become a target for both sides.

Every War has it rules , break the rules and it doesn't matter which side you are on, you becomes a target for everyone. At the age of 16 Joseph was told about the secret war that his family has been fighting for year and the truth about how his parents died. At 18 Joseph became a solider with a mission to kill as many of the other side as he can. Killing people is the only life he has ever known. He is meticulous as he plans each assassination, but when one goes wrong he is punished and forced to go a killing spree that challenges him both physically and mentally, but all he can think of is completing the one job that he failed, and getting back to Maria, a woman who will change his life and what he believes in.

I can use one word to describe this book, GRIPPING. I cannot say how much I loved this book. It is a fantastic debut, one of the best that I have read this year. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, as I was drawn further and further into Joseph's story. The book had me hooked from the very beginning as it starts with Joseph committing an assassination. This book is nonstop suspense and action, with the thrilling tale of a secret war, I cannot think of a better storyline.

Joseph is a great character, he a solider (more like assassin) for one side of the war (you really don't know which side is good and which is evil). He is given a name and information about a person, he then plans and kills the people so that there are no clues and the death will go unsolved. Due to the fact that Joseph has been a part of the war for so long, that he does not question what he is doing. He has a heightened sense of paranoia that has been ingrained (basically brainwashed) into him sense he was 16. He is living in a life or death war, where he could be the other side target at any moment, and his side can push him as much as they want to kill people. However, Joseph has been part of the War for about 10 years and he begins to question everything that he has been taught and his world slowly starts to unravel and become concrete at the same time. It is very interesting to watch the change that Joseph goes through in the book and I think that Shane does a pretty accurate portrayal of how Joseph would change but also stay the same. I really enjoyed Joseph as a character.

This book is written in a journal type format, but for the most part it does not read like a journal, more just the point of view of the main character as he recounts his past, why he entered the "War" and some of the kills that he has done. The story flows extremely well, that you do not even realize that you are reading a journal. So if you are not a fan of the journal format this book will still work for you. It only become more of a regular journal format closer to the end of the book and by then you will find yourself so invested in the book that you will want to continue to read it.

This book is full of action, suspense and an entertaining story. If Jason Bourne was recruited as a teen and then wrote a journal of the missions he was sent on and how his life started to unfold and unravel, I think it would be similar to what Shane has written here. I cannot wait for the next book, I need to know what happens next and how the story develops. If you like action, suspense and a great assassin type story, mark September 8, 2011 on your calender and pick this book up.


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Sunday, July 17, 2011

L. J. Sellers: The Sex Club

In the first book in the Detective Jackson Series, L. J. Sellers introduces the reader to a killer who is about the self preservation of family, and who thinks they have God on their side to justify their actions.
A bomb rocks a planned parenthood clinic in the city of Salem Oregon, then a young teen is found dead in a dumpster the same day. She was a patient at the clinic that was bombed and one of the nurses Kera Kollmorgan does not think that it is a conquasadence. On the other side of the line, Detective Jackson, has attended both scenes and does get the feeling that there are two offenders in town. Kera finds information that links some girls that have attended the clinic to a bible study group, but feels pressure not to reveal the information to the police from her boss. The more Kera uncovers, she becomes the sole target of "God's Messenger", and Jackson needs to act fast if he is not only to save Kera, but other teenage girls. What do a dead teenager, a ticking time bomb and a bible studies class have in common, you have to read to find out.

This book was a good read that was able to hold my attention, and for me it was something a little different than other books that I had read because of the good Christian woman, acting out Gods will, plus another perpetrator thrown into the mix as well. I would classify this book as a Medical Mystery (I do not think that the book had enough suspense to be classified as a thriller). Also the medical aspect is very general and does not become something that a regular person would not understand. It was interesting to see two different individuals who wanted to discover the same connections but they went about it in very different ways; one following the medical information, the other following the clues of serious crimes

There are essentaillly two main characters within this book, Det Jackson and Kera Kollmorgan who is a nurse for planned parenthood. Each character brings something different to the book but they both share some similar personality traits. They both have inquasative minds which is essentail for Jackson, but Kera mind in peaked because of a medical exams that she had performed on  kids in their early teens, and she wants to help them out as much as she can. Kera, however, becomes the victim from the first scene where the clinic she worked in is attacked, however, this does not stop her but motivates her more. I also felt sorry for Kera as she wanted to help Jackson more with his investigation and the information that she had

This book had an interesting style of writing. There are two perpetrators within the book, you are aware of one, but not the other. You are aware that the bomber, Ruth, is an individual who has a very high belief in God and believes that God has shown her a way to expose and punish the sinners who work within abortion or planned parenthood clinics. It was very interesting to read chapters from Ruth's point of view and how she justified not only the bombs she was making but also her actions towards her children. However, the rest of the book is based around attempting to find the other offender, as the reader is aware but the characters are not, that they are not the same person.

I think that Sellers, was pretty realistic in the actions that the children were taking in order to have sex and that even though the children feature in this story are Christian, they are still looking for and wanting sex, especially when they think or find out that everything their parents have been teaching them is a lie as their parents were doing things that they have taught in their children as wrong because of what the bible said. Sellers did a good job of capturing the mindset and thought process of the youth of that age, that you could see the thought process of several of different children and why they joined and/or left the bible club. Unfortunately, the culture we live in these days promotes sex and even sex at a young age. This is not to say that every young teen is having sex, but it appears to be happening more often these days, from both religious and nonreligious children. I have a friend who work within a religious school system teaching kids in grade 7-9 and it is shocking some of the stories she has told me about children and sex, and her attempt to try and teach them them about not only safe sex and abstinence but even that sex is meaningful and should not be traded or bartered with and that it is not a game. (okay enough of my opinion today).

There are a few things that bothered me about the book. First, was Kera's lack of ability to inform the police about what she found because of doctor patient confidentiality. However, after the first girl died and there is a possible connection to the clinic, others could be in danger. Therefore, I believe the doctor patient confidentiality does not now apply because there is the potential danger to other individuals. The other aspect that I found inaccurate was that Jackson also seemed like a crime scene analyst, in which he collected his own evidence and even moved the body. I'm not sure if it is a smaller city thing or not, but I am pretty sure that most police forces have a crime scene unit who do those things in order to enure that evidence is collected properly.

I think that Sellers' book was interesting and even though it was a fiction book, it does raise the questions that every parent I am sure has had of really how well do they know their children and friends. This book was able to keep me entertained not only for the chapters where Ruth was the subject, but also attempting to figure out who the other perpetrator was, as there are several good candidates. I look forward to reading another book in the Detective Jackson Series.


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Monday, July 11, 2011

Kelly Gay: The Better Part of Darkness

In her debut novel Kelly Gay introduces a new aspect to the paranormal genre in which the monsters that go bump in the night are not native to Earth but from another planet, which is dying and some are looking for a new home.

Charlie Madigan came back from being dead, literally. She is not a vampire or a zombie, but she knows that she not exactly the same as when she died. But she still picks up where she left off as a detective for the Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force (ITF), however, if Charlie thought her life would go back to normal she should have known better. Plagued by nightmares from how she was revived from the dead, she is also facing problems that hit close to home when her daughter's babysitter is discovered to have overdosed on the new street drug Ash. Ash is nothing that could be made from anything on Earth and it appears that the introduction of Ash may be more than just having a new street drug. There are political actions happening behind the scene that have everything to do with Ash and Charlie. Charlie better figure everything out quick as not only she, and her family are in danger, but also her whole world.

This was an okay debut for me and from reading other reviews and the back I really wanted to love this book. There is no doubt that Gay has the ability to write and she created a good story/premise to go along with the world that she had created for this book, however, I did not have the "can't put it down feeling" when I was reading this book, especially the first half of the book. The book does become more interesting the farther in that you read. However, to begin with I thought that I was going to be reading a paranormal romance book as Charlie could not stop thinking about her partner Hank and then the first appearance and scene with Will (Charlie`s x-husband). The book really does change focus in the book and I think that is why I liked it the farther into the story I got. I feel like to begin with Grey was unsure of where she wanted to take the story.

I think that Gay introduced some different aspects within the paranormal genre and that is having the different species come from a planet outside of Earth. If a human has some for of ability then it means that somewhere in their heritage, that person has a Elysia or Charbydon ancestor. I also liked the introduction of gene therapy, in order to make an individual more powerful and immune to certain types of sickness (this does not seem really that far fetched to me, maybe the results were, but the use of gene therapy, no). I also liked seeing some paranormal species that we do not normally get to see. For example, Hank (Charlie's partner) is a siren, and he has to wear a voice modifier so that everyone who hears him talk does not become enthralled by him. I liked that this was an old mythical creature reinvented to fit this time and I would like to see more of that in her book.

I was not the biggest fan of Charlie as a character, I am unsure of what it was that I disliked about her, all I know is there were points where I wanted to slap her. I know one if the things that I disliked about her was that she always felt that she had to protect everyone, and only put herself at risk, even though there are people around her that are more powerful than she is, especially before she died. I did like Gay's attempt to humanize about Charlie with the use of her daughter and her x-husband Will, I like when there are people within the book that make the main character vulnerable in some way. I also appreciated that Gay was able to let Charlie grow and help her get out of her ego, that was standing in the way, but I question how long that will last.

As stated above, this book was an okay debut for me. I like that Gay introduced some new aspects into the paranormal genre but I question whether this was enough to bring me to buy the second book. I really wanted to like this book, but I just found it lacking. I think I will pick up the second book to see how Gay progresses the story, however, it is no a priority for me. I have read quite a few better debuts this year so the second book in those series will definitely be ahead of this one.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

K. A. Stewart: A Devil in the Details

In her debut novel K.A. Stewart bring us into the world of Demon contracts for a Human's Soul and the Champions of the world who fight to get them back. Enter an ultimate battle of Good vs Evil.

Jesse James Dawson is a Champion, he helps those individuals who have sold their souls to a demon, for a wish. However, there is always a cost to save another person's soul. A battle to the death, with a set of rules of course. Each time Jesse fights a demon his own soul is on the line, and he has everything to loose. Only relying on his samurai practices he does the ultimately battle of good vs evil for the human soul. However, there is trouble brewing within the Champion world. Champions have gone missing and there is no information as who they were helping and whether they are alive or dead. All the Champions are told to be wary, someone has changed the rules of this dangerous game and if Jesse cannot figure out the new set of rules, his next battle may result in him loosing his soul.

Stewart has created something different on an old saying "be careful what you wish for". This book starts you off right in a battle sequence, so how could it not grab your attention, plus Jesse is battling for the soul of the President (makes you wonder what he traded his soul for, maybe winning an election). Also the demon that he is fighting also grabbed my attention as it was not your typical demon (well mainly in the paranormal genre the Demon is some hunky looking man or women, this is drastically different....I talk more about the demons further on).

The Champion concept kind of reminded me of the league of extraordinary gentlemen, with less powers, however the book does not go into too much detail as to what powers some of the other champions have and I hope that Stewart explores this in future books. Jesse, is the rare one (and I mean only one) in the league as he does not have any powers, his wife, Mira, is the powerful one in the family as she is a witch. You also get a sense that his daughter, Annabell, has some form of powers as she is always asking her Dad if he is going to come back to her tonight, or to be careful. I think that this might be something that Stewart may develop in future books. Mira appears to be a fairly powerful witch as she is able to create wards for the house and Jesse, as well as perform other spells that I do not have a name for. I enjoyed that the individual with the powers in the book is the person who is not fighting the Demons, well unless you count hurricane Annabell.

This is a male lead book, but this did not take away from the story for me. Jesse is a great character, he is the perfect mix of bad-ass Samaria (a Scottish Samaria to be more specific, lol) and father (I know a very interesting mix). His appearance is one that may have you walking on the other side of the street but he has a good heart (well most of the time). He has a great whit, that had me laughing, but he is honourable and is willing to help those out who are truly regret selling their soul. I think the best part about Jesse really is his lack of power and relying on his human powers and skills with different blades in order to fight the demons. He is also different from the typical demon slayer in the fantasy or paranormal genre as he is not over steroid males like many of the male leads in this genre (Jesse is the first one to let you know that he is not small, just Wiry. Trust me this leads to some funny moments).

The Demons that Stewart has created are interesting as well, though their practices are like those of lawyers. They key in on every detail in a contract that is made and are always trying to find the loop hole. There are several different classification of demons and they range in power. The amount of power that they have determines what type of form they appear on the human plane. For example, at the beginning he is fighting a Scuttle (as Jesse calls them) so it appears, what I pictured as a giant crab. The higher on the scale the more sophisticated the form of the demon. It also makes me wonder what Axel, a demon who Jesse associates with on an almost daily basis, form is as he is able to take over creatures bodies. Axel is a very scary demon, as he acts as Jesse's friend, but Jesse always has to keep in his mind that Axel is ultimately after his soul. So Jesse needs to tread carefully especially with how he words or questions Axel as he could inadvertently enter into a contract.

Stewart really brings new life to be careful what you wish for saying, as there may be someone or something there that can make your wishes and dreams come true, and it is probably not worth the consequences. This book kept me interested throughout. I think Stewart has an easy yet detailed writing style, that kept me reading and wanting to see what will happen next and that includes picking up the next book in this series.


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Friday, July 1, 2011

Kathryn Fox: Without Consent

This is the second book in the Anya Crichton series, the first book is Malicious Intent. It is not necessary to read the first book before this one. The first book does set up Anya as a character and her profession, however, you are still able to get a good grasp of who Anya is and why she has chosen her profession.However, I strongly recommend that you read the first book, Malicious Intent, just for a great read.

Kathryn Fox is back with her Forensic Physician Anya Crichton in another breathtaking novel that brings the reader into the world of forensic pathology..

Dr. Anya Crichton is a forensic pathologist who not only examine the dead but she also helps treat those who have suffered a sexual assault. It is while Anya is helping out a patient that she discovers some similarities to previous case. Anya has stumbled upon a disturbing situation, she has discovered a serial rapist. The key suspect is Geoffrey Willard, who has been recently released from prison for sexually assaulting and murdering a 14 year old girl. As Anya follows the evidence she encounters one of the biggest ethical dilemmas she has ever faced, the old evidence points to Willard being innocent and it is an old colleges findings that put him in jail. The police are convinced that Willard is the perpetrator and although Anya believes the evidence shows his innocence if she is wrong she could be setting a killer free. But Anya raises a scary question, if Willard is not the killer, then who is?

This was a really interesting read. I enjoy how Fox lays out the details within the case without going into too much medical detail. (I believe that there is less medical terms and detail than the first book). She has perfected the ability to weave the medical information and the story together that makes it easy to understand as well as interesting. The book is fast past but does not overload you with too much happening that you get lost in the evidence. Fox has also created a cast of offenders where it becomes interchangeable and questionable as to who the actual the offender is. All the men in the book have aspects in their past and future that makes them good candidates. It also help to keeps you guessing till the very end (really most of them should probably be in jail for one reason or another). There are some chapters from point of view  of the main suspect Willard . You get a fairly good idea and picture as to Willard's mental state and how he copes with social situations, also known as interactions with women. They way he interprets a situation, a look, or interaction with a women more than it it meant to be is true stalking behaviour, and gives you that creepy feeling inside.

I enjoyed that Fox started out the book with something slightly different from other thrillers and that is to have a serial rapist. Granted this eventually turns into homicide case, however, having the serial rapist aspect allows for better integration of Anya into the story as she is a sexual assault expert. My one criticism is that Anya seems to take on more of a detective role that a forensic pathologist role. I think this is where Fox gets a little bit away from the realism of the story, but it does not affect my overall enjoyment of the story, I guess what it shows is Fox's drive to help seek justice for the women who have been sexually assaulted.

Fox has created a very believable and real character in Anya, she has passion for her work, compassion for the women that she help, but her overall goal in life is to just be a good mother. She is smart, strong, and respected in her profession yet she has lost custody of her child and her business is struggling to survive, but she still has the drive and need to help out women who have been sexually assaulted, even it takes her away from her son. As I stated I think that Anya is a very real character and is constantly trying to balance between work and real life.

Fox has created a very entertaining series, with stories that are enthralling and keep you guessing till the end. With very real characters, scenarios and offenders, Fox has proven herself as a thriller writer that will keep you coming back for more.


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