Saturday, June 28, 2014

John Lutz: The Night Caller

John Lutz is a well known for his suspense fiction and in the Night Caller, when a former police officer is the one to discover his daughter dead:

 Ezekiel Cooper, Coop to everyone, is a former NYPD detective who is about to be pulled into the hunt of his life. His daughter has been murder and he is determined to find who is responsible. He never thought that he would find himself paired with a novelist who is attempting to make a name for herself in True Crime, but Dani has connections that even Coop does not have and it turns out they need each other in order to solve this case. They want to go about the investigation entirely different ways, and Coop is always questioning Dani's motives, but he needs to find out who murdered his daughter as it looks the killings are not going to stop anytime soon.

I'm pretty sure that this is the first book that I have read by Lutz which I am surprised at as I do tend to read the serial killer thrillers quite often and enjoy the hunt that are within them. I am always searching for something new and someone new in this genre and I think that Lutz succeeded in some points but not others, the serial killer was not that original and seemed very scattered when you read the chapters from their point of view. There is one path in the book that I did not think that Lutz would take as  it would probably have been easier to go a different way but I'm really glad with his choice and it was one of the highlights of the book (sorry about being vague but I dont want to give it away). Nevertheless, I never really felt on the edge of my seat in this book, and I think that is a must when a book is set up as a thriller. I found the story and mystery very entertaining but I wanted to feel the suspense of each moment.

I think the aspect I liked the best within this book is Coop being the father of one the Night Caller's victims and the lengths he was willing to go in order to find the killer. This very personal interest is what shapes the story and the plot and basically everything that Coop needs to achieve. In order to add another time limit to things there are additional murders occurring but also Coop has/had brain cancer. This not only limits him physically, it also really limits the time frame he can do it in. Although he does have brain cancer, he doesn't let it slow him down, he is resilient and at times pushes himself too far, but all for a good cause. Coop is resilient, a good detective, patient and likes to take his time to make sure he gets the investigation right, all things I like to see portrayed in a detective (well former detective). I also liked the interaction that Coop had with other characters within the book, especially his ex-wife. I'm not sure if Lutz intended it but those interactions were almost the comic relief  for me, as the craziness of some of her views of people, culture and women rights.

I don't think anyone could like Dani and I do not think that Lutz really wants you to like her. I secretly wonder if she is based upon another writer that he either knows or is friends with, but her personality is lacking a friendly vibe. She is only concerned about herself and writing her book so she can "make it big" again. She has no concern for the murder victims, or their families, she only allows them to think this so she can dig additional information out of them for her book. She is also very self centered and will use whatever she can to manipulate people and situations, so I do have to applaud her for being a chameleon, I mean she is even able to charm Coop's ex-wife.

I would read another novel by Lutz and I can begin to understand as to why he is a popular serial killer writer I just hope that some of his other novels have more of the suspense and thrills that I am looking for with these types of books.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mark Alpert: The Furies

Mark Alpert takes the readers to a secret culture that has hidden within the USA since the Europeans traveled to North America and it has been their seclusion that has ensured their survival.

For centuries and in different regions throughout the world the Furies have lived amoung us, they worked with the people, were their wives and created lives. But during the age of century where everything suspicious was a verdict for death, especially for women, they settled into the New World America where they could forge their own way and land and be left alone in peace. Fast forward to our time, John is not really living his life, he doesn't have a job, has lost his family and he is existing not really living. On a chance encounter in a bar, John is instantly taken in by Ariel's beauty and the fact that she seems interested in him, is even more shocking. This one moment, this one event is about to drastically change John's life forever, and he doesn't know whether he will survive this change or not, but he knows that he has finally found something worth living for and protecting once again.

When I originally read the premise of this book I assumed that it was going to be about the Fae, I could not have been more wrong. Alpert created a very interesting, creative and different twist on witches or Wicca. It is always nice to have someone put a different spin on things and I like that he started the book during the witch hunts in Europe. This helped explain some of the culture choices that the Furies made in the future and the rules that were created in America. I am always interested in the cultures that an author sets out in a book and while we get a hint of the Furies culture, the main information you get is the difference between the Men and the Women both culturally and genetically.

I  would classify this book as a light fantasy thriller novel that is basically non stop action through out. You will find it hard to find a place to put the book down as who wants to put down the book on a fight scene, especially when there are badass bikers around. It is light on the fantasy side of things, as the world is basically the same as ours, just with a secret society, where the women have some special abilities (I don't want to give away the book) and the men are born normal but strive to be extra special like the women.

It is always interesting to read a book and not like either main character, however, I do not think that that is what Alpert was going for in this book. I found John was too complacent and  too willing to please and falling right in love with Ariel was a bit annoying. John also was so unsure of himself and seems to think he has no good qualities that you can only really feel sorry for him and that is about it. I found that Ariel was really really manipulative and I struggle to wonder if Ariel ever really loved John. I'm not sure if this is just what she has trained herself to do after living for so many years but she definitely uses John's feelings towards her to her advantage, even when she knows it could lead to his death. This is where Alpert did not succeed in his story, I never really believed the relationship between John and Ariel and in order to really enjoy a story I think you have to like the characters somewhat or at least have some sort of strong feelings for them. I think that Ariel and John just fell and felt really flat.

This book was able to keep me entertained and I liked Alpert's writing style, I found the plot interesting and he had some great fight scenes (I mean who steals a ferry boat) but I found the character development and chemistry lacking between characters and I think this is important must within a book. Still the plot and ideas in the book were enough to get me though. I would read another book by Alpert, but I do not think this book is a must read, only a read it if this review piques your interest.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lis Wiehl: A Matter of Trust

In the start of a new series Lisa Wiehl delves into the world of prosecutors where, your case load can define you life and when you life ends:

Mia Quinn has had to adjust to a major event in her life, her husband was killed in a car accident and she is attempting to get her life back in order and trying to support her kids as much as she can. This first meant she went back to work in the prosecutors office. While on the phone with her friend and fellow prosecutor Colleen hears the most horrific event, her friend being shot and killed in her own home. Now Mia is not only struggling to keep her home life together, she is tasked with finding Colleen's killer, a case with leads that are drying up the longer the case stay open. It is going to take everything Mia can to solve this case and make sure that her kids don't burn the house down.

The opening chapter of this book will drive it's hooks into as Wiehl is able to start out strong, but the book does kind of flounder a bit and never hits the high it has in that opening scene. I do not think that this is the fast paced thriller that it is made out to be, this book is more of a who-done-it mystery. This is the second book I have read this year where they try to make it out into something that it is not. I like who-done-it murder mysteries, I still think that there is a market for them, I do not think that every book on the shelf has to use the word thriller and mystery in it, they are two separate things but the words seem to have become interchangeable. I do not think that it is detrimental to a book just to be a mystery book, I love a great mystery book, I just don't like being mislead as to what I am picking up to read (okay enough of my ranting).

I like Mia  as a main character and her struggle to have a work life balance, especially after her husband recent death in a car accident. You really feel for Mia throughout the book as she struggles to be a good mom but also wanting to find out who murdered her friend, and at times you realize that she is making mistakes on both fronts, but that is what happens in real life. I found that Mia was an intelligent character who is willing to help the underdog out and knows the power that she wields and wants to use it to make things right. I was also impressed that while Wiehl introduced male characters in this novel that both could have been love interest for Mia and while Mia does notice them (her husband died about a year ago) she does not actively pursue either of them. I'm glad that Wiehl did not fall into the need for sex in the novel book-club.

It was interesting that Wiehl decided to have Mia pursue two very different cases throughout the novel. I liked watching Mia attempt to go back and fourth between the cases, both of which she deems are important and she really does seem to dedicate a lot of her time to the case of internet bullying, even though people around her think she should focus solely on Coleen's murder.

There were times I did not mind the format that Wiehl decided to write the book in with each chapter being dedicated to a different character, however, it was mainly from the point of view of either Mia or her son. But other times I did not understand her choice as it did not add anything to the plot as the narrative jumps back and fourth between characters that I didn't think needed to have something told from their point of view. At times there was even some overlap as to what each character saw but what they saw and how the explained what was happening was basically the same, so it didn't add anything to to story.  Wiehl could have had the book just go between Mia and her son and still achieve the same affect and have the reader's continued interest in the book.

I would read the next book in this series as I really enjoyed Mia as a character and Wiehl's use of multiple cases within the book. This book is an easy who-done-it mystery read that I think will appeal to the masses, but not so much to the people who are looking for a thriller novel. The writing is well done and I enjoyed the mystery aspect as well.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Dana Cameron: Seven Kinds of Hell

In her first full length book (I understand that there are some short stories within the same world that she has also done, but I have not personally read) in a paranormal series, Dana Cameron takes the readers on an archeological hunt for figures that could unlock one of the most deadly forces that has ever threaten mankind:

Zoe and her mother have been on the run as long as she can remember. Her mother swears that Zoe's father is part of a bad family and they need to avoid them at all cost. When Zoe's mother dies, she plans to take their exit plan and leave the city but Zoe's "cousin" is kidnapped by a Russian mobster who is obsessed with a Greek figurine that Zoe has in her possession as well as wants her to find the others to complete the set believing that they hold the key to Pandora's Box. Zoe will do anything to save his life, but her father's "people" have found her she is on the run from them as well. However, they hold to secret of who/what Zoe really is, she is Fangborn and only they can help her control the powers that she has kept hidden for so long. It is going to take every part of Zoe to track down the missing pieces of the box and to save herself and friends in the process, that mean allying herself with the people that she has been running from her entire life.

I always struggle to find a werewolf based book, especially in the past years, that are not over sexualized and the book is more paranormal romance than paranormal mystery. In this aspects Cameron really succeeds and made me very happy, lol. This book had everything that I wanted it to: Werewolves: Check. Different concept involving Werewolves and Vampires: Check. Cool use of archeology and anthropology: Check. But for some unknown reason I could not get into this book. I have no idea why, but something in this novel never grabbed a hold of me and I found that I was willing to put the book down.

I honestly don't know what happened, the only think that I can find that I did not like about the book is I found that Cameron (and it is not really a dislike but more of a criticism) is that I found that Cameron tries to pour too much information into this book. Cameron finds the need to explain the world because Zoe does not know what she or where she came from. This means that the reader is learning about this world along with Zoe, so that is a lot of information to take in. On top of this information the reader is given in relation to the search for the artifacts, proper archeological terms and techniques as well as the history about the artifacts and the time that they came from. The book just gets a little too convoluted to all the information that Cameron is trying to bring forward.

Zoe is a very likeable character. Although she does not what she is or if she is going insane, she is willing to put herself on the line in order to save those that she loves. She always seems to come second in every situation, even though she is not a fighter, she is willing to use her wits in order to survive, as her and her mom had being doing so for a long time. I am interested to know more about the Fangborn and how Zoe's father and family rank within their hierarchy as well as their history. Although Cameron tries to put in as much as possible about the Fangborn, there are still many gaps that need to be filled and I want to know more.

I would read the next book in this series, as it seemed to have so many things going for it that I am unable to actually pinpoint why I was not able to get into this book. I think that Cameron could have something here, and I want to know more about Zoe, I just hope the next book can really deliver.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Derek Haas: The Right Hand

Derek Haas is starting to make a name for himself with his espionage thrillers and the spy game always works outside of legality:

Austin Clay is the right hand of the USA government, he executes missions that no other operative has the ability or skills to pull it off. The only person who knows who Austin Clay is is his handler,and he is given the missions that his government can deny involvement with. When Clay is sent to track down a missing American agent who appears to be captured just outside of Moscow, he discovers that the agent was on a mission that was set to identify a mole in the top level of the US government. Clay's priority is no longer just to get the agent out, but also identify this mole, which means he has to loose contact with even his handler. His country is going to think that he abandoned and as the forces against him grow, Clay knows he must do everything to survive in order to protect his country.

From start to finish this is an action packed ride that will appeal to those want a book to grab a hold of them right away and not let up to the end. It does become a spy vs spy book the more you read into it and you questions who is going to win out in the end and really who are the good guys, as who Clay can trust is never clear. I thought it was interesting that this book took place in Russia, as with the tensions that have been going on there lately. It was a nice change to read something with this perspective as many of the espionage books tend to take place in the middle east. Other than having the book mainly take place in Russia Haas does not add anything new to the genre (and really having it take place in Russia send is back to the cold war roots), but that does not mean that it was not a good read, just nothing new is ventured here.

I really liked the history parts about Clay, but I never really felt like got to know him. I think part of the problem is the three different points of view throughout the book, but you know that Clay is the main character. I think there should have been more Clay and less of the other two guys. Other than the history parts, which there were not enough in my opinion, Clay feels very one dimensional. One thing I will say about Clay is he knows how to fight. The action scenes within this book were really interesting and I liked going through the thought process with Clay to see how he would handle each situation and never doing more (also known as killing) than he has to.

This book is perfect for a quick read on the beach or soaking in the rays in the backyard. You will be flying through the pages as Haas keeps the action coming. While the character development is really lacking in this book, I would read another by Haas as he was able to keep me turning the pages to see what would happen next. I especially would read another book with Clay as the main character as I am interested to see how he became the top spy/agent that he is today.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Choel Neill: Twice Bitten

This is the third installment of Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampire series, which mean you need to read the first two books Some Girls Bite and Friday Night Bites, before this book to understand how Merit became a vampire and the relationships she has developed since.

Chloe Neill has brought Merit back and if Merit thought navigating Vampire politics was difficult, it has nothing on the Shifter culture:

Shifters from across the country are about to descend on Chicago to talk about peace as well as the recent reveal of Vampires to the general public. A gesture of peace and good faith Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered Merit to be their leader's, Gabriel Keene, bodyguard for the duration of his stay in Chicago and if affords her an opportunity to spy Ethan is not going to throw that away either. What was supposed to be an easy task turns fatal when someone is hell bent on killing Keene and taking over the shapeshifters or is the assassin another Vampire house. Merit needs to put all her training into play in order to protect her charge or risk an all out war. Merit doesn't know who she can trust shapeshiter or vampire all she knows is the tenetative peace hangs in the balance as well as her life.

I was a little worried after the first two books that Neill was going to be a bit redundant in her following book, but I am glad that she realized that she needed to introduce a new aspect into Merit's life and world as just the vampire aspect was getting slightly tired as we are now in the third book. Neill achieves this with the  introduction of more shifters into the storyline. Although I find the plot/mystery a little bit of paint by numbers, Neill is still able to keep me engaged and interested as a reader, I just hope that in the next book(s) there is a little more mystery and events that will keep me second guessing.

I really really enjoyed the addition of the fight scenes as it keeps being stated that Merit is a warrior but we have yet to see her fight (other than getting her butt kicked by Celina) or training with either Catcher or Ethan. I'm glad that Neill realized that is was about time to show what Merit could do in a fight. In all honestly if Neill did not add the fight scenes into this book I would not have continued on in the series, as then i would have just been a normal paranormal romance novel, which is not my thing.

Speaking of action, the fight scenes are not the only thing that heated up in this novel as the romance between Ethan and Merit is on a very physical level in this book, and i'm glad that Neill was able to wait this long before letting the get together. Though there are times when I want to strangle each of the at different times with their misunderstanding or jealousy, especially Ethan with all his hot and cold "play" with Merit.

This is a good addition to the series, and I like that Neill took the time to introduce the readers to an more in depth aspect of the shifters population. I hope that Neill will continue to have the fight scenes and a more of a mystery vibe to her books. If she does this will keep me coming back for more.
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