Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Amanda Carlson: Hot Blooded

The second picks up right where the first book left off, so you will need to read the first book Full Blooded in order to get a grasp of what I occurring in this novel.

Jessica is one pissed off werewolf. Not only has she recently turned and at times has to struggle to control the wolf inside her, but she is also in a race against time in order to save her mate Rourke from a goddess who set on killing him and her. But if Jessica thought it was going to be easy to get Rourke back she is mistaken, Selene has some very interesting tasks for Jessica and her group to beat in order to even reach her lair. Through it all Jessica struggles to keep herself and everyone in her party alive and she is going to learn, just what being a werewolf means and that there are enemies everywhere and a evil goddess may just be the least of her worries.

In the first novel, I was disappointed where the book ended, I thought that the story was just getting started and then all of sudden the book was done, and I could not believe that was where Carlson decided to end her debut novel. However, I was happy that Carlson basically started this book where the first one left off. I would have been very disappointed if there was a big time gap between the two. This book starts off a little slow as there are some pack politics that need to be handled first, however, Carlson picks up the pace throughout the rest of the book with plenty of action and adventure as Jessica and her band make their way to Selene's cave. Especially when you near the end of the book Carlson takes a darker turn, which I will say was unexpected, but I think that the story needed in order to enhance the way that the series is going to go.

I liked the exploration of Jessica's powers and the development of them. I felt that Carlson had quite a good imagination with the expression of Jessica's power(s) the further the reader gets within the book and you never really knew where Carlson was going to take the powers next. I also enjoy that Carlson lets Jessica have a brain and a heart with which she makes all of her decisions.

It was interesting that Carlson introduced a few new villain type creatures as the tests that they have to get to in order to reach Selene's liar. Each one seemed very unique and I like how each coincided with Jessica discovering something new about herself and abilities.Plus there were zombie goats, I mean how can you not like zombie goats, lol. When you throw zombie goats into the mix I will say that allowed Carlson to keep me guessing as to what she would come up with next, which was nicely refreshing.

There are some very new/complicated/interesting relationships developed in this novel. I especially liked her partnership/friendship with Naomi and how complex it is going to become with there never being an ally between the two factions before. I also like Naomi as a character, she is a great strong female secondary character within the book and I would enjoy reading and learning more about her. I think she is a strong secondary lead that was needed within the book. The fact that she is a vampire also enhanced my curiosity about her.

So I guess some of you reading this may wonder if Jessica was able to rescue her mate, Rourke, in time, well I'm not one to give too big of spoilers so read the book and find out :). I like the direction that Carlson has taken this series (especially with the darker side coming through) and I look forward to see where she goes next. I personally think this book was better than the first.


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chris Knopf: Dead Anyways

Chris Knopf brings readers an intelligent thriller, where your life can really change in one second:

Arthur Cathcart, is a market researcher, the finder of information no matter how well hidden it appears or if someone is not wiling to talk; Arthur gets the job done. However, he never expected that his life would be turned upside down in one moment, one moment when everything you have worked so hard for in your life vanished and you yourself should be dead. Arthur makes a difficult decision, he decides to stay dead, and the only person who will still know that he is alive is his sister. Arthur enters a world where he was only on the fringe on before, but the more he uncovers about his wife's execution the more dangerous it becomes for him, but Arthur peruses on as he should be dead anyways, his life is the least of his worries.

I was not sure what to expect from this book as I had never heard of Knopf before, but the premise sounded interesting and something a little different. I was not disappointed and I am very glad that I picked up this book. I think my favorite part within this novel was Arthur. I like his way of thinking, very analytical and seeing things from all angles. I also liked that he had the ability to think outside of the box in order to obtain the information. I did have one issues that he only used Google to find his information, when there are so many other (and better) search engines for some of the type of information that he is looking for; though I did like that he was willing to scroll though the 63 or more pages that Google will give you.

I like that Knofp was aware throughout the book of Arthur's strength and weaknesses especially after the trauma that he suffers. Knofp is very aware that Arthur's strength is in his brain. He is not the most physically fit person before or after the trauma and I like that Knofp does not have him miraculously change when he is getting better into this super human person, which would be completely implausible. However, due to Arthur's lack of physical abilities there are not very many action scenes with guns blazing and fights happening (if you are looking for just that in a book, look some where else) but this is not to insinuate that there is not suspense within the book. There is, it just takes on a different form and more co-insides with the mystery.

I think my one complaint with the novel is there were a few mixed messages. For example after the shooting he does not have a brain for numbers any more, I think at one time he expresses that he feels he is back to only a grade 6 level, yet he able to follow some fairly complex flow of money. I'm not sure, maybe this used a different part of the brain, but I still believe that some sort of accounting math would be involved (which I believe is still higher than what you learn in sixth grade, but that was awhile back for me now, lol).

I was shocked where Knopf decided to end the book the novel, there is a cliff hanger that is for sure but at the same time the reader gets some sort of closer by the end of the book. I know that I would like to read the next book in the series especially as I think that Arthur is one of the most interesting characters I have read in a long time as he is more brains than brawn any day. I liked the intelligence he had and his attempt to rework his brain and life. It was also interesting that due to the fact that Arthur did not have the physicality to achieve the muscle he required (even though he liked to use his Client Eastwood voice) he was smart enough to figure out how to recruit the muscle that he needed.

This is book for those who are looking for an intelligent mystery/thriller where the most well laid path of evidence cannot be taken as our main character is working outside the law. Knopf does a great job of creating a story that keeps you thinking and on your toes at the same time. I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading another one by Knopf.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tillman Gilson: The Very Secret Weapon

Tillman Gilson's debut novel introduces a female type James Bond, who is willing to do anything in order to get the job done to save her country and those that she loves.

Alex is known as a socialite around the world, though her home base is in D.C. but it is her position as a socialite that the American government has benifitted greatly. Alex has been working as a spy/agent of the government since the end of WWII. She has cultivated sources and people around the world and to this day they still feed her information. While attending one of the many yearly events around the world, she meets a British Man named Simon, who runs his own mercenary type business and Alex is instantly attracted to him. However, there is other business that needs to be done and spying business is never safe for you or the ones that you love. 

When the book first started out, I was very interested to see what kind of spy book it was going to be as I had saw other reviews relate it and Alex to a woman version of James Bond.  The book starts out, with Alex in Russia meeting with a source in order to obtain information about a Russian mobster and using unconventional ways to achieve this. However, as I continued reading this book I was a little bit confused about what the overall premise or purpose of the book was. I thought it was going to be more of a spy thriller but that was definitely the secondary plot within the book. The number one plot in this book is about Simon and Alex and their relationship and romance. When it came to the mystery/thriller/spying aspect it was more ho-hum, fairly straight forward and at times extremely predictable.

I appreciated that while the overall theme of the book is about a Simon and Alex’s romance and relationship Gilson kept that sex scenes (and there could have been multiple of them in this novel) short and really did not do into that much detail (which is high points for me). However, the farther I got into the novel, there were more and more sex scenes that I felt like the rest of the plot and premise were almost nonexistent, with only a paragraph of chapter here and there that was about Alex’s secret spy life. I also felt that because so much of the time is spent with Alex and Simon exploring their relationship and each others bodies there was a lack of character development. The book seemed to span what they were going to do together, which restaurant they wanted to eat at or where they wanted to shop, as very surface level information about the person. I did enjoy learning the snippet of Alex's past in the post WWII days and wish there would have been more of this or something more substantial about Alex's character because I truly wanted to get to know her.

The flow of the novel had a disjointed feel as there were unknown spans of time that were unaccounted for where the reader does not know what has occurred in that time. This mainly coincides with Simon and Alex's relationship and when they see each other (once again shows the overall point that this book is about their relationship), however, after some time you do get used to the flow, it was just a bit annoying at the beginning of the book.

Overall, I do not think that this book is for me due to the fact of all the romance and the relationship/sex aspect being the major premise within the book. However, I do think that those who like their romance novels that show a relationship that unfolds, even if the flow is a little bit disjointed, like the mysterious man aspect with a slight bit of mystery would enjoy Gilson's novel, but it was just not for me.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

George R.R. Martin: A Clash of Kings

I think that everyone who is considering to read this series knows that you need to start with the first book A Game of Thrones in order to understand anything that occurs within this book. The first book sets up everything that is to come and needs to be read first.

In the second novel in his his series George R.R. Martin shows the reader what happens when multiple people are all vying for the crown.

Now that the two great leaders are dead (Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon), there is struggle and unrest within the seven kingdoms as more that one individual believes that they should rule. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming by not only his mother and uncle but by other forces as well. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.It remains to be seen who will rule the kingdom, but one thing is for sure, there will be blood, betrayal, heartache and death before there can be a ruler.

This book was an amazing followup to the first, I was glad that Martin was able to keep the momentum going, with everything that happened within the first novel. I love all the political intrigue and movements that are made in this book. I love how the most subtle things are the most important and you actually need to pay attention to what is going on in order to figure things out. This is not a book or series for someone who just wants an easy or light read, you need to have the ability to pay attention and remember even the slightest things to try to figure out what will happen next.

If you found that the first novel had too many points of view and it was hard to follow, I think that this novel had less point of views when compared to the first novel and that you get to know the core characters even better. At the beginning once again there are quite a few characters, but due to circumstance and well death(s) there are less towards the second half of the novel. I believe that by the end of the second novel we mainly get points of view from about six characters with another one character thrown in every once in awhile.

It was interesting that there was less of Catherine Stark within this book as now it seems to be more of a "Man Game" (as each "King" attempts to out maneuver the other) and you can tell that she feels put out and really just want to get the girls and go home. However, on a different note there seemed to be more sections based around Ariea which I personally liked because she was one of my favorite characters within the first and I am interested to see what overall role she will play in the books to come.

The demon aspect within this book is downright creepy, when birth is given to the demon, I could not help but cringe.On that note, this book does have a bit more fantasy aspect that many might have found was missing within the first series. There are the dragons, a woman with mysterious powers, the development of Bran's powers and well the demon mentioned above. However, once again the fantasy aspect did not take front and center to the overall plot of things (although they were used in some major occurrences) as the political aspect and literally the clash of kings is what this book is about.

Martin knows how to keep the reader guessing, you never really know who is going to survive from novel to novel and I will say that I enjoy this unpredictable aspect. While the amount of political basted moves may be boring to some, I personally love that part of the book and attempting to figure out what minute detail will matter later and possible determine a characters life or death. I believe that Martin's novel are for anyone who wants an interesting read whether you like to read in the fantasy genre or not, I personally think (so far) that the series is that good.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Laura Bickle: Embers

In her debut novel, Laura Bickle introduces the elements of fire that can be harnessed and used by elemental  people.

Detroit is a city that has had a hard time, unemployment, despair are visible within the people of the city and crime is never far behind. Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, this work to her benefit as Anya is also a Lantern; she has the ability to communicate with ghost, devour the evil ones, but also has some elemental abilities of fire. Anya is going to need all her abilities to help solve a serial arsonist who keeps getting bolder and bolder and the fires are starting to become deadly. Anya had until the Devil's Night to uncover what is happening or an ancient evil is going to awaken and devour the city of Detroit.

This book was interesting, it had some really high points but also some low points as well. I see this book as a combination of a few authors that I have read both recently and over the years, mainly Amanda Stevens, Darynda Jones and Jennifer Estep. This is mainly seen in Anya's powers and abilities. Anya's powers seem to be a combination of Charley Davidson's grim reaper powers, Gun's elemental powers over fire, so in total an interesting combination. The story I found was written in a darker and depressing world that is more seen within Steven's novels with the main character trying to fit into a world, where she does not quite fit in.

Overall, this book tends to have a slower pace and flow, and I think that this has something to do more with the profession that Bickle chose for Anya to have. She is a fire investigator, therefore, less "regular" police work when compared to a main character is a police investigators. The investigation overall seems to unfold slowly even when there is a suspect is identified and confirmed and for some reason this also means there is  lack of action within the book as well (and this includes the ending which I found lack luster).

I absolutely Loved Sparky, I think that he is my favorite part in the book. Sparky was something different that I had not read before and I found that he was the comic relief when Anya is in her downward spiral. I thought it was interesting that sparky was attracted to anything that was electrical and shiny and that his favorite toy was a light up glow worm. Sparky was just the relief to the depressing attitude that has surrounded Detroit.

The D.A.R.D is an interesting aspect, and very current idea as it seems like ghost hunting has become once again popular, but it has gone past the simple weegie board to going to places to try to find ghosts. However, in Bickle's book the D.A.R.D help relieve places and people from evil spirits. Whether an individual believes in this type of thing or not I think that Bickle does a good job in covering all bases and have it equal to what has become more popular today.

I was not a big fan of Anya's two love interests. I never really felt like there was a connection with either man and that everything was just forced upon her, or what she thinks that she should be feeling especially with Brian. The forced attraction to Drake kind of made sense with Mimi holding the reins (and due to circumstances), but I was not really a fan of either  man. I think that this is part of the place where Bickle struggled the most maybe with the thought that she had to have some sort of love interest with  I think she could do a lot better and possible listen to Sparky more with her man selection, lol

Overall, I liked the book and the combination of elements that Bickle brought into this novel, however, I did find the book to be a rather slow read and lacked the action (especially in the ending) I have come to expect in the urban fantasy and paranormal genre. I think that I will pick up the next book in the series as I want to see how Anya's powers grow and to read more about Sparky as for me this was the most interesting aspect within the book, but this is not for those who like books that have action.

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