Friday, May 30, 2014

Jane Casey: The Burning

In her debut novel (2010) and first book in her Maeve Kerrigan series. Jane Casey takes readers to both the high and low life of London's parks where a young constable is trying to make a name for herself:

The Burning Man, is the name the London media has given it's latest serial killer. He is known for his randomness and his choice to burn the bodies of each of his victims. Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan has been assigned to the task force and desperately wants to make a name for herself. However, being the youngest and the lowest in seniority plus being a woman means that she often gets the jobs no one else wants. When a fourth victim is found Maeve is assigned to dig into the victim's life and determine where she was the night of her murder. As Maeve digs more into the crime scene and the victim's past, she is more and more convinced that there is more than one killer now roaming free in London.

For the most part this book is not about the serial killer, The Burning Man, that the premise states it is and really as the title insinuates as well, I am not sure why the premise (not the one above, but the one on all the book sites) was written this way or why this title was chosen as it is very misleading. Mauve (love her name by the way) is tasked to investigate a murder that appears to be done by the Burning Man but might also have been used cover another killer's tracks. This means that she has to dig into the victim's life and try to figure out where the victim was the night of the murder and whether someone could have wanted her dead. I think this is what makes the book slower than most readers will want it to be or were expecting. There is not a large body count that occurs within the book (there are three previous victims before the reader enters into the story), there is no interaction with the serial killer but what this book has it the feel of what a real police investigation is like. It is not all guns blazing, kicking down doors and wild theory chasing; this book had more of a feel for how an investigation goes.. It can be slow, you need to follow all the leads you can and at times you really just need to follow your gut, which makes this book a who-done-it mystery with a small sub plot with a serial killer.

I'm on the fence with Maeve, there were times that I really liked her and her willingness to follow up all the leads that she has and really just wanting to go with her gut on certain things, which sometimes paid off and other time it did not. However, there were times when I felt like she wanted to please her boss too much, was looking for all kinds of praise or notes within his body language that she had done a good job (made me think she had a crush on him when it first happened) and tries too hard to prove that she is just one of the guys.

The format was different it changes chapter by chapter between Mauve and Louise and later on in the novel Rob. You will probably question why there is a point of view given by Louise in the book (I know I did), who is the latest victim's best friend but you understand why as the novel progresses, and you really get to see more into the newest victim's life through Louise and more of what her previous boyfriend was like as well.

This novel is a solid start to a series, but this book is not the thriller that the premise portrays it to be it really is more of a who-done-it mystery, so if you are looking for something more on that pace then this book is for you. I'm interested to see how Casey develops Maeve's character further and to see how she develops as a detective constable.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kevin Hearne: Hounded

In his debut novel and the first novel of his Iron Druid Chronicles series, Hounded, Kevin Hearne introduces the reader to a 2000 year old Druid who has had to fight every day to live for those 2000 years and now he is fighting during our time:

Atticus O'Sullivan, is last of the Druids and he has decided to reside in Arizona running an occult bookshop and spending his time between the pub and hunting with his Irish wolfhound Oberon (who Atticus has a special ability to talk to). However, the peace in Atticus' life is about to be interrupted when an angry Celtic God has tracked him down and his minions have failed to relive Atticus of a sword that he believes is rightfully his. Nothing is ever simple with Gods who have centuries to plan and build alliances. Atticus is going to need all his power and hope that his allies will stick with him to help him survive, but one can never fully trust Gods and they never battle on their world but ours, so the bloodshed is about to begin.

I loved loved loved this book, I do not think I can express enough how much I enjoyed this book. It had all the elements that I am looking for in an Urban Fantasy series. I have never read a book about a Druid before, so even before I picked the book up I was intrigued about the concept and Hearne did not let me down. I love just reading something new, it is extremely refreshing as the Urban Fantasy can (and has become) an over saturated genre where every book follows the same guidelines.

I really liked Atticus from his ability with druid magic and the sword to helping out an old Irish lady with mowing her lawn, there is hard to find fault in Atticus' character. I also find the druid aspect extremely interesting. I do not think that I have encountered a Druid in any of the other books that I have read in the UF/PN/F books that I have read. I did know that Druid "magic" or "powers" do come from the Earth and Hearne stays true to this concept as well as the use of runes. It was really interesting seeing them expressed in this book, just a really cool concept that I really enjoyed.

I know some people who have complained that Atticus is 2000 years old but acts like a teenager, but I actually think this is more realistic than you think. Just think of all the other Gods portrayed in this book and even in myth that even though they can "live" forever, they still get mad about fickle things and act like children or teenagers to resolve them, instead of talking about it like adults. Plus Atticus is trying to blend into the age of the day, so lets just go with he is doing a good job at it.

Not having a background in mystical gods from around the world and from different places in time, following all the different Gods that Hearne introduces can be confusing at time, but I was able to work through who was alined with who and why and why some Gods had disputes with others. However, I will say I learned about a few Gods that I have never heard about before.

I liked the comic relief that Oberon provided and really who doesn't love a dog that can speak (well kind of), and he does became an integral part of the story. I like the team aspect that Oberon and Atticus have that it is much more owner and dog.

Interesting concept, something unique and some very cool action scenes what more could a reader ask for. Love it all. Cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. It took me way too long to start this series, if you have this book on your TBR shelf you should pick it up and start reading now :)

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Brett Battles: No Return

Brett Battles is known for his Jonathan Quinn series but he has also written some stand alone novel, and in this one an army training run goes completely wrong:

An small independent film company is in Mojave desert to film a travel show. While out in the desert they look up to see a F-18 Navy fighter that suddenly looses control. Wes Stewart is the first to react, frantically racing towards the crash to try and save the pilot if he is still alive. Wes cannot believe that the pilot survived the crash and desperately tries to pull him free. As Wes runs for a knife to cut the pilot free, the fighter plane bursts into flames and the pilot is destroyed. The Navy finally arrives and questions everyone, but Wes feels like there is something completely wrong with the situation and the more the Navy tries to tell him No the more involved he gets questioning everything and find himself against the local US military and it becomes a no prisoner taken type of conspiracy.

I personally struggled with this book. I found this book fairly slow especially when I compare it to Battle's Quinn series. It took way too long for the fighter jet to go down and it felt like nothing happened in the first few chapters. I was expecting more from Battles in this book and it made me miss the Quinn series.  Overall the book fell flat, it was not the page turned I was expecting. I was actually more interested in what followed the book, which was an interview with Battles about his inspiration and background for the novel was interesting, and executed a different way I think this book could have been a hit, I just think I was spoiled with reading his Quinn books first.

I found the US Military conspiracy an interesting aspect within the book, and you wonder how far up the chain it goes, as well as whether Wes can trust his old high school friend. However, I never felt the thriller or sitting on the edge of my seat any time that the Wes was in danger.

Wes Stewart, could have been an interesting character, but I never felt the connection to him in the book, other than the chapters from his past growing up in the town, that is when I felt he was real.  Yeah I really have nothing much to say about Wes as a main character, he was there in the book, but I felt like any of the other characters could have taken his place or been the main character.
I will say that the twist at the end was unexpected and interesting, I just wish the rest of the book would have lived up to the ending and the possibilities lined out in the premise and the interview at the end of the novel. Not Battles best book, but that does not mean I would not read another of his stand alone books and well I love his Quinn series so i'm happy to continue on with reading those books by him.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

James Patterson: Zoo

James Patterson is known for his murder mysteries and thrillers but he takes a new path where the killers are no longer human:

Jackson Oz, a former undergrad in biology has seen the signs for years and has been sharing his theory of increased animal attacks on humans with whomever will listen, but everyone thinks he is crazy, and it is part of the reason he is a former undergrad. However, everyone who thought he was crazy is about to get a wake up call. It starts with lion attacks in the zoo, with brutality and smarts that the keepers do not see coming to a planned ambush by lions in the wilds of Africa. The human race is no longer at the top of the food chain, all types of animals are striving to eliminate the human race and it is up to Oz and his scientist friends to discover what has caused this massive shift in animal behaviour before it is too late.

I do not normally read Patterson's books. I do not think that I have read a book by him since Kiss the Girls or Along Came the Spider and that was a long long time ago maybe early 2000s. Therefore, I think my review will be different from die hard Patterson's fans. I enjoyed this book, it was an interesting concept about the animals to be the ones who are going to override the human race, not some sort of bomb, alien, or zombies but animals. What I liked most about this concept is that you  realize that do not want to piss mother nature off as she will pay you back 100 fold. Although some people may comment that the concept seemed far fetched (more far fetched than an Alien invasion though??) there is still something to the theory that Patterson has brought forward, is there is just a hint of probability in this concept.

I feel like I never got to know the main character Jackson Oz very well. Your main interactions with him in the book are really about promoting his theory about the increase of animal attacks on humans. You do get to see his protective side with his friends and family and the tenacity with trying to get his point across at all costs, but you do not really get to know him.

I liked that Patterson did have some of the book from the point of view of the animals that were "turning", as their thought process or what Patterson believes that their thought process would be is interesting. However, by having this point of view, you as the reader can somewhat figure out what has caused the change in animal behaviour and you are waiting for the scientific community to catch up to what you already know. This also made me not understand the four year gap which I talk about below.

I think my one main complaint is the time gap within the book. Four years is a long time for things to "stew" and you would think that things would have gotten a lot worse a lot faster as that is what the timing spread was suggested within the first part of the novel. I think the novel would have flowed better if the animal aggression would have increased rapidly, as well, when the "cure" is discovered it seems to take immediate affect and I think this would be counter to the four years it took the world to be in this state, you think it would take another four year.

Overall I found Zoo to be an interesting read with a different type of apocalyptic concept. I'm not sure if Patterson's die hard fans will like is as it is a drastic difference from his Alex Cross or Women's Murder Club series, but sometimes authors just need to write something different.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Patrick Lee: Runner

In his new series Patrick Lee introduces a new hero Sam Dryden who is just trying to escape his own demons when he is pulled into another person's demons:

Sam Dryden is a former special forces operator, but all he wants to do in the sleepy town in the coast of southern California is live a peaceful life and try to move on from the death of his wife and child. On a run late at night he encounter someone who is going to change his life forever. He sees a young girl running for her life from a group of heavily armed men. He cannot fathom what this young girl, Rachel, could have done to cause this situation, but all Sam knows is that he needs to protect. This one decision will change his life and Sam is now on the run for his life and trying to protect Rachel as well. But Sam does not understand what he is getting himself into, there is something very strange and different about Rachel, something he never thought possible and Sam has to decide if Rachel is really a threat to him, more than the mystery military group that is hell bent on tracking them down and eliminating them as a threat

This book had me interested from the very beginning as it picks up speed in the first chapters and really does not let go till you have finished this book. I really did not want to put this book down. It was action from beginning to end, with some interesting side plots as well to round out the novel and let the reader receive additional information about Rachel and how she became the way she is. I found that the action scenes were well thought out, interesting and yes at times they went to the point of impossible, but that is why we read fiction books. It is also a very scary actuality the extent that the military and subgroups will go to in order to have the next best weapon, to always one up other companies or countries and to always be on top no matter what.

I find that there are times when I am reading in the sci-fi genre that I get lost in the world, ideas and terminology. But I like how Lee appears to seamless intertwine a touch of sci-fi into his books that you don't feel like you are reading a sci-fi novel. There are only interesting touches here and there and I think that the book takes place in our time/world. So do not be discouraged if you are not a fan of the sci-fi genre I think that you would still enjoy this novel as well.

I felt like I never really got to know Sam in this novel, but the things I did find out about him I did like. Right from the beginning you can tell that he is willing to put his life on the line for others and for what he thinks is right as well he is loyal to a fault and both those are qualities that I like in my hero. I am interested in Sam's back story as well as his previous missions, he seems to have some very unique skills. I am always interested to learn how a character has been shaped by his past and I hope that Lee will explore this in future books.

I have really enjoyed the two books that I have read by Lee, both from different series and look forward to reading more. I really enjoy Lee's ability mix action adventure, thrills and sci-fi all into an interesting plot and face paced read.

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