Sunday, April 27, 2014

K. A. Stewart: A Shot in the Dark

You will need to read the first book in this series, A Devil in the Details, before this book as it explains what it means to be a Champion and the overall battling for other people's souls idea. Plus it was a great read so why not enjoy it.

K. A. Stewart is back with Jesse James Dawson and this time it is a beast from his past that is after his soul:

Jesse James Dawson is just looking to get his life back to normal after his last demon fight, but things seem to be out of perspective, he just doesn't feel right. He is hoping that his annual guys trip will help put things back on track. He should have known things were going to go wrong when Axel all of a sudden shows up after being absent from his life for months, pretending to be his friend and not a Demon that wants to claim his soul. Jesse just blows him off but he is now on edge about everything. Even the trees on the mountains cannot seem to calm him. Jesse's secret about what he does for a living on the side is about to be exposed to all is friends and a literally a demon from Jesse's past is out to get him and is skirting the demon rules to do it.

I should have not waited this long to continue on in this series. The only positive about this is that the third book was released in 2012 and it looks like the fourth book will be sometime this year so I am happy I do not have to wait to continue on in the series. Although Stewart's books (so far) have been on the shorter side of things between 2-3 hundred pages, she is still able to create a complex plot as well as interesting characters. The flow of her books are fast paced that you won't want to put it down and will be seeking the next book in the series he draws you farther into Jesse's world, family and life.

Jesse James Dawson is one of my favorite characters in all of the urban fantasy genre. I love his whit, humour, ever resilient nature and dedication to follow the teachings and rules of the samurai way. He is loyal to a fault and is more than willing to put his life on the line for others. I mean that is what it truly means to be a champion. The thing that also make Jesse unique is that he appears to be "only" Human. He does not have any magic to assist him when he fights off the demons for the souls that they possess and this makes him very unique in the guardian world.

I love that Stewart has brought not only a male lead to the urban fantasy genre but also a different idea and perspective of demons that really goes back to basic, promising your soul in exchange for something in this life. It is always interesting to see what the people that Jesse help have traded their soul for, sometimes it is to help other people, but in the case of some of the teenagers he helps they want a cool car. I really liked that we got to see more of Axel in this book, and got to find just a tidbit of where he ranks in the demon underworld and you have to wonder what Jesse is in for when Axel decides to go for his soul. I am also interested in the underworld and the hierarchy that is done below. I hope that Stewart is able to give us more information about it in her future books.

K. A. Stewart is not a well known Urban Fantasy author but I personally think this series is a must read for those who like this genre especially if you like a male lead in your books. Stewart know how to create an interesting plot and great character. I cannot wait to get my copy of A Wolf at the Door. You need to pick up this series.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene: Kill Switch

Baer and Greene are famous or known for being the executive producers of Law & Order: SVU, so you know that they know there way around writing a suspenseful screen play for TV but the question is whether they can transfer it to a novel?

Dr. Claire Waters has just landed her dream job as a psychiatric doctor treating criminals, but with treating criminals the stakes are higher. When Claire recommends the release of her first client an accused serial killer, Claire gets way more than she bargained for. When a new body turns up not 24 hrs after his release Claire realizes how grave of a mistake she has made and now not only is he on the hunt for her, she is now on the hunt for him as well and only one of them is going to get out alive.
To answer the question I posed above, right now my opinion is No, Baer and Greene were not able translate their award winning screen plays to a novel. Maybe with time it could get better but for this book right now, it did not work for me, there were too many things wrong with the plot and I personally did not like one of the main characters. I'm surprised that I actually made it through this book as I kept thinking this is just wrong or what were they thinking, but I did finish it.

I had real issues liking Claire. I did not like her approach to her patient, and she took wanting to prove herself way too far. For someone who is supposed to be so smart I do not know how she could be so stupid in her profession. I do not know what would lead a psychiatric doctor to think that dressing up as the most recent victim would help your patient or yourself or even the victim would be in anyway beneficial. I could not follow her thought process throughout the book

There were times when things seemed fairly far fetched and that Baer and Greene were grasping at straws to make the book work and this caused the book to feel like it dragged one. There were too many issues and too many problems that Claire  and Nick needed to solve, it almost become 2 books in one. I am not really sure how the first half of the book and really the first mystery is connected to the second half. I think that Baer and Greene were just trying too hard and just put too much into their first novel. If they would have just take one of their ideas for this novel and developed it more properly I think the book would have been a lot better.

If you are going to use the Canadian legal system within your book perhaps they should have done some research first first, it is not the same as the American system. Life in prison does not actually equal life it equals 25 with the first chance of parole being available once a 1/3 of the sentence has been served. Unless the individual in prison is designated a dangerous offended, which means they are not going to get out of prison. However, it can be hard to have this designation assigned to an individual and I hate to say it but probably just murdering one individual would not get that designation assigned to that person. So there was every likelihood that **** (sorry that would be a spoiler if you decide to read it) would have gotten out of prison, especially if he had good behaviour.

NYPD Detective Nick Lawler was really the only redeeming quality in this book. Although I had issues with his character as well, I like that he was more real, he had issues both psychological and physical as well he did not seem to be the over demanding over sexualized male lead that often happens when you put a male and female team together. One of my main problems with is is that he  has degenerative eye disorder that impairs his site so eventually he will not be able to see, which in itself is an interesting concept as you get to know Nick you realize how much being a cop means to him and what it would feel like for him to loose his job because of it. But my issue is that issue just seems to completely disappear in the second half of the novel until the very end, it seems to no longer impede him like it should and is never even mentioned.

This book overall had too many far fetched ideas and flaws for me to enjoy it or even recommend for people to read it. I think that Baer and Greene do have talent for this type of wet in for TV but as for authors of novels there are still a lot of things that need to be worked on.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chloe Neill: Friday Night Bites

You will probably want to read the first book in this series Some Girls Bite, before this one. While I do not think that it is 100% necessary to read the first book, well first, as much of what happens in the first book is basically covered in this one, it is always nice to start at the beginning of a series when you can.

Choel Niell is back with the next book in her Chicagoland Vampire series, and if Merit thinks that being a vampire will keep her safe she is far from wrong:

With the Vampires now out in the open to the human population, it was only a matter of time when the public was going to become obsessive about them. So it is to be expected that there would be paparazzi following the major figures within each house and this includes Merit. The journalists are not only looking for celebrity style dirt on the vampires but some are trying to prove that they are a danger to the human race. When Merit and Ethan get word of Vampire Rave massacres they need to anything they can to stop it and prevent word from reaching the public. However, this is easier said than done, there is someone that does not want Vampires and Humans to get along, they want an all-out war. What Merit and Ethan need to figure out is is the perpetrator Human or a Vampire and how long do they have before an all-out war happens.

This book was a pretty good follow up to the first book, though part of me thinks that the first two books could have been combined into one, as at the end of the first book I felt there was not really the conclusion I was looking for and it was not really a cliff hanger either. This book really just feels like a continuation of the first book as it really follows the same format and really no new information is achieved in this book and they are still fighting the same battle and nothing new is really introduced. I wish that Neill would have either made these two books into one, or had a different plot or story arc for the second book so it did not feel like deja vu.

I like Merit as a character and it was interesting to see her interaction with her family, especially her father. I personally cannot see her fitting into that affluent type of lifestyle even now being part of Cadogan house even, she is more down to Earth and gritty than any of those people seem to be. It was also interesting to see the development of her skills and powers and I look forward to see where she is able to go from here.

I know some people would have wanted Merit and Ethan's relationship to hit it into high gear in this novel, but I am glad that Neill has decided to take it slow and make Ethan work for it. There are too many novels where the heroine just want to jump in the sack with every hot vampire she comes across. There is still that sexual tension there that I am sure the romance fans will love and want to see more of but I cannot help but applaud Neill for her restraint on this fact.

Neill's novels are easy short reads that do not delve too much into conflict or characters so they are great reads when you just want to escape. I can understand why this series has done so well because they do allow the reader to escape and there is not really anything dark or disturbing within the novels that would put some readers off. I like to pick her books up when I have read too many books that are dark and intense in their themes.


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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

In Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, she explores a relationship that is far from perfect, but could it really lead to murder:

Amy and and Nick Dunne seemed like the perfect couple leading perfect lives, until Nick looses his job at a print magazine as everything was turning to digital, they soon find themselves struggling to make ends meet in NYC. Nick decides, despite Amy's misgiving, to move back to him hometown North Carthage, Missouri for work and to take care of his dying mother, but Amy is never really happy there. On the day of Amy and Nick's 5th wedding anniversary Amy Dunne is missing. Nick is beside himself with grief and he feels that the only way to find Amy is to piece together the treasure hunt that she does for him every year (even though he is not very good at it). As Nick puts the clues together he tries to hide them from the police, making him the number one suspect but could Nick really have murdered his wife?

I'm not going to lie, I did pick this book up because I saw that it was going to be made into a movie. I had heard of the book before and it was on my TBR shelf but no where near the top (But I am extremely happy I moved it up, this book blew me away, I was not expecting it to be as good as it was). I am one of those people that does like to read the book before the movie and compare. So I am interested to see how they portray this book in a movie as it is written in a format that I do not think that would easily translate on to the big screen.

The format of this book is mainly divided into sections that transfer back and forth between Nick and Amy. In the first part of the novel Nicks POV is in the present as he is dealing with his missing wife and Amy's POV are from the past, a diary that she has written while her and Nick were dating and eventually married. These past point of views are to show how Amy saw their relationship and how she has dealt with the hardships that have been in their lives. It was an interesting format, and one that I had not read before, I have read some book where they go between the past and present but never from the POV of two different people. I liked the contrast that it provided in the novel and gave a back history to the events, though you really do want to get to the part of Amy Elliott Dunne Day Of. To see what happened on that day. If you are not a fan of flipping in time each chapter as well as character you will not enjoy this book, this format is key to the plot and the unfolding of the information and I do not think that this plot would be successfully executed with a regular single POV writing style.

I don't think I have ever read a book where I did not like either of the main characters. But this does not mean that I did not enjoy the book. I found it very entertaining to the point of being in the edge of my seat wanting more. Even though there was no action in this book but it was more like watching a train wreck you cannot look away from . We seem to have this fascination with watching people ruin their lives and how they have gone about it, but Flynn has created a surprisingly complex plot that I do not think that anyone will see coming as she continually reveals new information each chapter that will flip your opinion as to what has happened, who is responsible and keep you guessing to the very end and the end (it is really something that I did not see coming).

This is the first book that I have read by Flynn and I will be sure to pick up her other books now. I love the complex nature of this book and how Flynn took a different way to create a mystery/thriller book where the body count does not add up. Although I enjoy serial killer books, they seem to be getting a bit monotonous lately, it's nice to read something different, it is refreshing. This is a must read for people who enjoy mystery novel, the reviews do not lie.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

S. K. Anthony: Kinetic

In her debut novel S.K. Anthony introduces us to the Luminaries who are part of a secret organization who are tasked with government jobs that no one else can succeed at:

Annie Fox was saved from a bad foster home situation when she was a teenager and brought into the Org to start her training, she knew that it would eventually lead to her changing all the way down to her DNA. When Annie was genetically altered she gained strength, unlimited strength and energy courses through her body and she has spent years learning how to harness this strength to take down the criminals of the world. But there is one thing that all the strength in the world cannot heal, her broken heart. Her husband (ex-husband now) betrayed everything that they both knew and he is on the run from the Org and Annie has vowed to be the one to end his life, but a split second can change everything, some feeling really never go away as much as you would want them to as Annie finds it hard to kill someone that she has loved, but she knows he is a bad man, right? Annie finds herself questioning everything which puts her and her friends in danger, all for a love that no longer exists right?

I was really really excited to read this book, the premise sounded interesting , I thought that Anthony was going to add something new to the Urban Fantasy genre, however, I think that Anthony only succeed on part of this (Note: the above is my premise of the book not the one that the publishers used so the following criticism are based upon their premise). First off, I think that the Luminaries idea was very interesting/cool, the thought that people could be genetically enhanced in order to get different powers, but you never know which power you are going to get beforehand, you can get anything from super strength to healing to being able to teleport. Very cool, makes you wonder what in your DNA would cause you to get certain powers. Now here is the fuzzy part as it is never really explained how this process works or even how it happen or discovered. There is about 1 page that describes an asteroid coming to Earth and the particles from it being turned into a liquid that is injected into people to create the powers. It was something along those lines (I think), all I can say is that I was really scratching my head when I read that ONE PAGE. I think that maybe Anthony did not think this part out enough and just tried to squeeze it in there. Maybe it is something she wants to address more in later books, but I think it is something that should be discussed right up front.

My disappointed with the premise is that it made me think that this was going to have some romance elements in the book but that it was not only going to be based on romance but the hunt for her ex husband who has been killing people and stealing the secret from the Org. This is not the case. Instead what we seem to get a book that is mainly romance based, with the characters trying to figure out what is going on, but you never have the lead character, Annie, doing any sort of investigative  work (as she is basically under house arrest), she receives all her information from the secondary characters and if there was danger to them, she never really learns or experiences things first hand. This book may revolve around Annie, but I felt like she never really does anything in the whole book, minus the beginning and ending.

I will say that the latter quarter of the book started to redeem itself as it became interesting again and there was some much needed action that was missing. The majority of the book felt like it was soap opera, where nothing really substantial ever happened. What made it even more odd was the passage of time sometimes between the chapters. They would start out with "One month later" or "Four months later", I mean there are some serious things that are supposed to be occurring, what has happened in those months, why has it taken so long to find this information or come up with a plan of what you should be doing. I just felt it was an odd approach to the novel. Overall I found myself getting bored with the novel and I did not really want to pick it up to finish it (I did, but I think that sentence says everything).

To begin with I was fan of Annie, the opening scene was priceless and I thought maybe we have another Gin Blanco type here take no prisoners, someone betrays you you take them out, and then she fell off the deep end. Yes, she is a great fighter, but I found her too complacent with the rules that are set out for her, even when she knows that they are bogus. Then I found some of her reactions to situations to be off and just she could not get over things even when she is showed evidence to counter what she thought she new.She just was hard to relate to, and just lacked the spark to be a lead character, plus having her cloistered in her house for most of the book while the secondary characters did the leg and dirty work also hindered everything as you do not get any other point of view in the book other than Annie's. Maybe if Anthony would have had the views from some of the other characters as they completed missions this book would have flowed better and been more interesting.

Those who want something new, and that is more romance soap opera than mystery you will probably enjoy this book. Personally this book was not for me and I would not continue on with this series, even though I think that Anthony could have had something great here if it was executed a different way.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Andy McDermott: The Shadow Protocol

The first book in a new series by Andy McDermott, he tests the limits to what the US government will go to in order to get the information they need to stop terrorism:

Adam Gray has been created into not only the ultimate spy but the ultimate assets in an interrogation. Adam has the ability to get into his targets' head, literally. Called the Person Project Adam have become the perfect vessel for the project, which allows him to copy the brain patterns of the terrorists and operatives he meets in the field. He not only takes their memories but also their personalities so he is able to impersonate them if need be. Adam has just found out a key piece of information, one that could change the course of the super powers forever,  a plot to release a radioactive isotope, and as Adam and his team go from mission to mission acquire new targets and their memories for Adam, he begins to question who he really is and why he cannot remember anything before becoming part of the project. Some of the biggest betrayals are always close to home and not everyone is going to survive this mission.

This book was able to surprise me and this is mainly centered around the overall concept of the book; creating an interrogation process minus the interrogation. Having the ability to literally take all of an individual's memories, thoughts and personality and transfer them to another individual and a disk is something right out of  left field. I can personally say that I have not read another book with this concept or even heard of this concept before. For originality McDermott soars.

This book does have some slow sits in it especially after the opening capture/release scene.  It took approximately another 50 pages for me to get into the book again. McDermott takes this slow time to catch Bianca (the scientist who is going to help with the Persona Project) and the reader up with what the persona project is and how the transfer is achieved. But I'm not going to lie I kind of glazed over when they started to talk about about different brain chemicals and how they were manipulated to make the Persona Project work. Luckily this is the only part of the book that is slow the rest of the book reall is action packed.

It was hard to get to know Adam since he has lost not only his past but his personality that goes along with it. He truly was a blank slate for the Persona Project to work with. I understand why McDermott did not have any back history given for Adam other than his reoccurring dream, but I wish I would have been able to get to know Adam more as he is the main character in this book. Maybe this will develop further if this becomes a series, as there are events that take palce, that makes you want ot find out more about him pre-project. I like the relationship between Bianca and Adam. It is interesting how the other personas that Adam acquires, picks up on the relationship with Bianca as well, but some of them are more blunt than others.

I really enjoyed this book and I think that McDermott has the making of a very interesting series, if he chooses to take it that way. This book has a lot of action in it that I think will appeal to those who like the fight scenes as well as an interesting and different premise that really sets this book apart. I would enjoy reading another book about Adam and the Persona Project.

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