Monday, November 26, 2012

Devon Monk: Magic to the Bone

In the first of a series revolving around magic Devon Monk shows that using magic is not all it is cracked up to be: 

Using magic has its price and every spell will exact its price from the user, but with the discovery and commercialization of magic, people have discovered a way to offload this price onto unsuspecting and innocent individuals. This is how Allie Beckstorm makes her living. She is a Hound and has the ability to track the magic back to the person who has offloaded it. Allie is summoned to the St. Johns part of town where an offload has taken hold of a young boy and Allie is determined to find the perpetrator. When the Hound leads back to Allie's father she is not surprised and has vowed that he will pay. What Allie does not know if that this was not a one time thing and this Hound back to her father will throw her back into the world of Black Magic that she has tried to hard to get away from and this time being around black magic will exact a fatal price.

I enjoyed Monk's take on magic, it was interesting, and slightly different from other magic based novels I have read. I especially liked that there were magic free areas around the world, where if people wanted to they could live a life free from magic. I also liked Monk's forethought on how the use of magic could be commercialized, utilized and sold as a product, very capitalist of her and to me very interesting as well as beyond the more typical idea of just paying people to perform magic (which does still happen in the book). Now there were magic companies where they made expensive clothing or homes or anything commercial I am sure one could think of. It was also interesting that when you use magic there is always a consequence for the magic that the person has used. Everything from a head ach to bruises to death, magic will always exact it's price.

Allie is portrayed a street smart woman, even though she came from a well off family, but seven years away from that life has really shaped her. I found it interesting that magic's side affect for Allie is different from other people and that she looses pieces of her memory. Therefore, she is forced to write down her notes in a book that she always keeps with her (think of the movie Memento, but not as extreme, great movie by the way). I wonder what would happen if her note book was to go missing, how much of her life would she forget or has forgotten. However, I did not like that Monk decided to have one of those instant romances in the book. As soon as Allie met Zayvion, she needed him and wanted him in a span of a few minutes. Allie, who had been independent for most part of her life now, needed someone else there, to help her through everything. I just felt that this contradicted the character that Monk had created at the beginning of the book.

Zayvion himself is an interesting character and I wonder of his power and his love for the Pine smell. This it the only book I have read in this series so immediately I think he has some sort of werewolf roots, but there is nothing to completely support this theory in the book. I’m not 100% sure yet that I like Zayvion as a character, his handling of certain events did not make him my favorite character, but he is an interesting character nonetheless

This book was okay for me, as I found it sided more with the paranormal romance genre than just paranormal. I do think that Monk was able to create some interesting twists in the use of magic and I did like the interaction between magic, technology and commercialization, however, I do not know if that is enough to bring me back to this series. I found that this novel was lacking action sequences that I personally enjoy in novels as well as a lack of mystery. I believe you are able to figure things out fairly early in the book and are waiting for the main character to catch up to you. I think if you are a fan of paranormal romance you will enjoy this book and probably this series, but if you are like me and like things on the darker side and less romance, you will probably want to skip this one. So we’ll see, I may pick up the next book, just not too sure yet as I have so many other books to read. I’ll have to check out some reviews of the second book to help me make up my mind


If You Like This,
Check Out These Too:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jennifer Estep: Web of Lies

This is the second book in Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series. You will need to read the first book in this series Spider's Bite, as it shows the development of Gin's character, relationship and the powers that she has.

In the second book Estep explores what happens when the Assassin the Spider decides to retire.

She was one of the most feared assassins in the world, known only as the Spider to those who would seek her skills or by those who want to hunt her down. But now she has decided to retire based upon the advice of her murdered handler, she is giving the normal life running the Pork Pit a try. Gin should have known that there could never be a normal life for a former assassin especially when running a money making establishment. Not only has Gin had to deal with would be robbery (in which one of  the robbers turns out to be the son of wealthy high up elemental in the city) but also gun shots into her establishment which were meant for a rather unassuming young woman, Violent Fox. Gin never likes to see the innocent harmed therefore; she offers her bodyguard and detective duties to Violent and her grandfather. With the shots raining down on them and some pushy high up elementals that Gin feels need to get taken care of, Gin begins to wonder if retirement really will be the thing that kills her.

I really enjoy Estep's Elemental Assassin series. Even though I am only two books into the series, I think that Estep has created a unique set of characters, world and plot, but yet is able to keep the basics of what makes the paranormal genre interesting and what keeps readers coming back for more. This is a really good follow up book to the first book, and I think that by having a strong second book, Estep is setting a great tone for the rest of the series (I find that there are many times when the second book does not live up even close to the first book, this one is right up there). Estep has a great gift for having the ability to mix action (and there is quite a bit of that in this book which I loved), mystery, romance and paranormal elements which helps keep a reader interested throughout the book. I think that due to the fact that Estep is able to achieve this mixture she will appeal to larger variety and range of readers. Estep would also be a safer choice for those who want to try out the paranormal genre because the world that she has created is not too different from our own, as well as the powers that the elementals possess are not too far out there. They are controlling elements which I think that people are able to easily comprehend (I may be dating myself here, but think of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and who didn’t love that show a child)

I really like Gin as a character. She tells it like it is and at times she may come out as harsh, but she does consider all options, just the most likely answer for Gin is just to kill the person. I really like the progression of all of Gin's relationships within this book both the both good and evil ones. Although some of the characters and readers may not think it, Gin is actually very smart and analyzes each situation as to decide whether she should reveal and use her abilities that she had developed as the Spider or play the dumb blonde that many think she is. I think this is a true warrior ability, to not only pick and choose your battles but to be very particular about who and what your show even you allies.

I wonder how much longer Gin will be able to keep off Mab's radar. I think it will be very interesting and I cannot wait for the day that Gin is able to do some damage to Mab as this seems to be a constant theme within the book, as well as the mystery behind Gin's missing and possible alive sister. I think it is this eventual duel that I will cause me to continue to read this series and cannot wait to get my hands on Venom.


If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Allen Wyler: Dead Ringer

Allen Wyler is a neurosurgeon and teacher of neuroscience and has now decided to try his hand at a medical thriller that will have you questioning what happens to your body after you die:      

Dr. Lucas McCrae is a well respected neurosurgeon who has managed to specialize in some very difficult specific surgeries, therefore, he is often sought after to give demonstrations world wide. Right now Lucas is in Hong Kong getting ready to demonstrate the techniques he has mastered, but he has felt a pit in his stomach since he got there, he knows something is wrong, but he must do the demonstration. Lucas requires a fresh dead human head to demonstrate his techniques and Lucas never expected to know the person whose head he was going to demonstrate on, but when he removes the sheet he finds himself staring at his best friend Andy. Lucas does not understand maybe it was just a trick of the light or someone who looks similar to him but when he returns home to Seattle he is unable to find Andy and discovers that he has been missing over a week. Lucas starts to ask questions to the wrong people, which put him and those he loves in danger of being an unwillingly participant on the operating table.

I have never heard of Wyler before reading this novel, but he appears to have published quite a few books. Dead Ringer is his fourth book and a fifth that has just been released. These books a definitely medical thriller books, which not surprising as Wyler is writing what he knows about, which is the medical world more specifically the world of  a neurosurgeon. Now I know that a few of you have already decided this book is not for you as soon as you saw the word neurosurgeon think that this novel is going to be filled with medical terms and jargon that individuals outside of the medical community would not be able to understand. Do not worry, Wyler does a very good job in keeping the medical terminology and techniques to a minimum. The medical side is not at the forefront of the novel, it is a means for discovery, by the mystery aspect of this book is what is focused on. This book will creep you out right from the first chapter and it will make you think twice about what has happened to your love ones once they have been shipped off to the funeral home. I know if I was in Lucas' shoes at that beginning of the book I would have reacted the same way.

Wyler has taken a 1800s murders and tale (Click for more info about the Burke & Hare Murders) and revamped and modernized it, but the premise has essentially stayed the same; body parts living or dead are worth money, lots of money and why shouldn’t someone capitalize on that. I think that Wyler did a good job adapting to the current times and the changes that has occurred within a society in regards to the changes in religious beliefs as well as the increased popularity of cremation. I think that the way in which Diller and Gerhard’s run their business is really genius, as there is very little chance of detection.

When an author writes a novel where the reader knows the killer before the detective it can be seen as a positive or negative to the reader and I think that this is based around personal preference. For me it goes on a book by book basis, however, my overall preference is to attempt to discover the killer myself. In this novel you do know who the killing team is right from the beginning, but the investigator also has an eye on the same target, so you are not waiting for the investigation to catch up to what you already know. You are more waiting for the investigators to discover enough evidence to arrest the killer. This aspect did have some positives and negatives around it as well. I enjoyed learning about Diller and Gerhard as a killing team and their separate motives for what they do as well as their interactions with each other. However, it took a very long time for Lucas to determine a key piece of evidence that would help them out (one that I was able to think of right off the bat), so I was a little bit frustrated with this part of the investigative part. But overall I do not think that the book was hindered by kowning who the killers were upfront

I think this was an interesting read that will make you think twice about what will happen to you or your loved one's body at the funeral home. I found that Wyler was able to keep my attention but there were a few cliché aspects in the book and overall it is a good book and quick read. I think that those individuals who are fans of the medical thriller/mystery genre would enjoy Dead Ringer and I personally would read another novel by Wyler.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too: