Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Richelle Mead: Gameboard of the Gods

Richelle Mead starts a new series where the world no longer believes in God(s) but Gods now have something to say about this lack of belief:

In a futuristic world where religion almost destroyed humanity, people now live in a very limited religious upbringing, where people pray to their country and not to some higher being. Justin March was a researcher for RUNA (Republic of United North America) and certain events have lead him to believe in the existence of Gods and the supernatural, so when he finds himself in exile he is not really surprised. He is about to get the biggest surprise of his life when RUNA comes calling for him to investigate mysterious murders that have been occurring throughout the country. They want him to prove that the supernatural is not involved, but the more that Justin uncovers the more convinced that not only is the supernatural involved, that they are gearing up for a major even that will knock everything that RUNA has tried to implement to its feet.

This book had everything going for it. It had an interesting premise and I thought the use of Gods and Goddesses and the "cults" that follow them was done in a unique way. I liked that Mead chose to create a whole new world where the belief was cater to there being no Gods, people were more about respecting and worshipping their country than anything else. As with any change there are always a few that choose to believe in something they are unable to see or quantify but their acts were closely monitored by RUNA and if the following got too big they were no longer allowed to practice. At times it seemed to have a parallel to what has happened in our past of people trying to force one way of thinking on others. As I stated above Mead has an interesting world and concept here.

The characters that Mead chose to feature also had interesting beginning that you wanted to know more about them. I personally was interested in the super soldier Mae and the powers she has been able to obtain as being part of RUNA military. She is so cool and calm under pressure it is downright scary. Justin is her complete opposite so at time their interactions were heated as neither can understand the motivation of the other. However overall other than an interesting beginning I felt that Mead stalled on giving more depth to her character. Maybe Mead did not want to reveal too much in the first book of the series, but I felt like I needed more from both of them. I did think it was interesting how Justin received his Ravens, and honestly the Raven's in his head were one of my favorite parts of the book as they were sarcastic and ever critical of his every move.

As I said before, this book had everything going for it and I should have been on the edge of my seat the whole time, not wanting to put this book down, however it was the complete opposite. This book slow, tedious and at times I was bored. It took me a lot longer to read than I thought it would. There was mystery, a bit action but all of this was extremely spread out and not well thought out where it was places. It seemed like Justin was forever just droning on about something and Mae just sitting there trying to keep her cards close to her chest. These were their endless conversations between them when they are supposed to be investigating murders but really not doing anything about that aspect or at least the reader is never aware of what they are doing as Mead never takes sufficient time to explain the investigation. Everything seems to hang on Leo figuring out how the surveillance cameras were manipulated, but Leo is never a major part of the story. There are also jumps in time where the reader does not know what has occurred in their investigation but all of sudden it is one week left before the next murder is to take place. Well what were they doing for the other three weeks before?

I am on the fence about this book. I found the world building and characters interesting for the most part but I think that Mead had a poor execution of the plot as a whole. There were too many gaps in time, not enough explanation or time spent on the investigation and a lack of entertaining things happening that would keep the reader engaged. I really think that Mead could have had something with the ideas that are expressed within this book, I just wonder if she can do better further in the series and I question whether I want to find out or not.

Instead of This,
Check These Books Out:
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2011/06/anthony-francis-frost-moon.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2012/07/j-c-daniels-blade-song.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2014/01/rebekah-turner-chaos-born.html

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Emily Goodwin: Stay

Emily Goodwin introduces us to Adeline Miller, who is about to learn that good deeds do indeed get punished:

Addie was home from her first year of college studying to be a nurse, when her and some friends from home decide to attend a parade. Addie never knew that this would lead her to the most terrible events of her life. Witnessing a horrific event, Addie does the right thing and intervenes, but this leads her to being kidnapped, drugged and beaten. Addie has just become the newest victim of the sex slave industry. As a sex slave she is forced to perform terrible acts but she strives to never give up hope to stay true to who she is and never stopping to look for a way to escape.

If you base this book by the cover you will realize that this is not my usual read and review but I was seeing so much of this book I decided to look at the premise, which did end up intriguing me enough that I decided to pick this book up. This book has mainly been portrayed as either Erotic or Dark Romance, but for me neither of these genres fit this book. I would classify this book as a contemporary thriller. I do not think that it is Erotica (and I make this statement as a person who does not read this genre) but there is a lack of description in the sex/rape scenes (yes there is one major rape scene that occurs but other than that it is more implied what Addie and the other girls are doing) and I believe that description of sex is something I would expect in a Erotica novel. I also would not consider it Dark Romance, as yes there is a romance aspect to the book and overall the book is dark themed, but the aspect about the book that stood out the most to me was Addie's struggle for survival.

This is the first book that I have read by Goodwin and I know that it will not be the last. Goodwin's story and writing style was able to capture me and draw me in right from the beginning, so much so that I did not want to put this book down. Addie's struggle for survival is an emotional roller coaster ride that you will find yourself not wanting to stop reading. Goodwin is descriptive in some aspect and not in others. As stated above there is one rape scene that is elaborated on and two attempted rape scenes, but other than that it is more implied what happens to not only Addie but the other girls as well. There are also some physical abuse scenes that are more descriptive but quite a bit of that abuse occurs when Addie is not around and we as the reader only see the injuries to the body afterwards or hear the sounds of it occurring.

This book is all about Addie and her struggle (sorry about mentioning that more than once, but it really is the main aspect in the book). I think there are so many qualities that Addie is portrayed with that I think that anyone would find it hard to find fault with her character and not cheer for her. The atrocities that she is forced to go through all the while attempting to stay true to herself is amazing. Her strength is amazing and even when she loses hope you can tell that she is still going to fight.

I read in a few reviews that Goodwin did a good job in portraying Human Trafficking and for the most part I disagree with these reviews. For the most part I think that most of the other reviewers do not know what Human Trafficking is. There is actually only a very small portion of the book that delves into Human Trafficking. I would say that this book is more about Addie being forced into sex slavery than anything else as Addie does not leave the USA in this book or even the state that she is from and from some of the descriptions it appears to me that she is even near where she grew up. Human Trafficking involves the illegal movement of a person, normally between countries, but it can be within one country, where they are forced into slave labour. So to me there was a very tiny tiny aspect of Human Trafficking within this book and that part was done okay. However, the sex slavery aspect I thought was done really well and I greatly appreciated that Goodwin did not attempt to romanticize this aspect at all. I thought that it was interesting the different relationships that the girls had with Zane and their different views they had with their situation. Some of them suffer full Stockholm syndrome and are willing to do anything for them. This psychological aspect was done very well.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book (and who doesn't like surprises), as I was not really sure what kind of book this was going to turn out to be. I know that this will not be the last book that I read by Goodwin and I am excited to discover the other novels she has out there.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2011/10/sandra-brown-witness.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2013/03/maegan-beaumont-carved-in-darkness.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2011/05/xavier-leret-heaven-sent.html

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

James Dashner: The Maze Runner

James Dashner takes the reader to a mysterious place where problem solving is the main asset that anyone there could have:
Once a month a new boy is send up into the area of the the maze with no memory of where they came from or who they are. They all realize that the have the same purpose to survive and solve the maze. They know that they need to get out of there and return to where ever they came from. Thomas is the newest "greenie" to enter into this unknown place, but Thomas is different, he questions everything and feels the need to know everything. Thomas is about to change everything which is a good thing as an event is going to trigger the ending of those in the maze and the need to solve it just became more of a life and death situation.

I will admit it that the only reason I pick this book up was that it had been made into a movie. I remember picking up this book once in the half price bin and putting it back down as it was a YA novel. Since then I have read quite a few YA novels that I have really enjoyed so I thought why not give this one a try too. However, for me this book was a disappointment and did not live up to the hype of the books or the movie trailer promises.

I found the premise really interesting and you have to try to think what type of game these boys have been forced to play over the two years that they have been there for and this is a game that plays for keeps. A maze that appears unsolvable, as you have maze runners who investigate and map it each day to look for a way out or a pattern, but nothing seems to be working. Very cool idea and you have to think why are they there, who put them there and there must be a way out. I can get behind a premise like that, but you need more than just an interesting premise to make a book succeed. The book needs to have interesting characters, and scenes that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I personally was not get behind really any of the characters and I found the book predictable, which did not leave me wanting to read more. I always felt like I was a few steps ahead of the characters and waiting for them to catch up.

I was not a fan of being in Thomas' head for the most part of the book as I could not get behind him as a character. I found his thought process hard to follow at times and I understand that he does not have any memory of before but his thoughts were staggered and then there was times the reader was not allowed to know what he was thinking and then other times you are. I think it has to be either one way or the other either we are inside his head or not. The book is only told from his point of view and I wish that Dashner would have spread it around a bit. I think my favourite character was Minho and it would have been interesting to know what he was going through since he had been at the camp since the beginning and had been a maze runner for a very long time. I feel like he was a character I could have gotten behind had I had the chance to get to know him better.

Didn't like that Dashner tried to introduce new slang or words to mean common things. The boys seem to have knowledge of the English language but for some reason he decided to try to name something different or just used words to avoid swears, for example "shuck-face" or "klunk". Hate to let Dashner know but YA use swear words, and they all know what you are trying to say even though those words are not written there. All these changes really just made the dialogue sound off in my head as I was trying to read it.

I think the best part of this book was Dashner's world building. He does a fantastic job of describing the maze and the world that the boys live in. You can say that Dashner has an imagination for this aspect of the book and he does it really well. However, this description process does not actually extend to the characters or the actions that they take, these aspects were very one dimensional.

This is not the best YA novel that I have read. I think that there are some better ones out there. I found this book predictable  and I figured out what they needed to do next to solve the maze it seemed like chapters before the protagonists did (though I will say that I did enjoy the ending and cliff hanger of the book). This book is probably better suited for the YA that it was written for as i think adults would find it lack luster compared to other YA novels that they have read.

Instead of This,
Check These Out
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2013/04/susan-ee-angelfall.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2012/10/ilsa-j-bick-ashes.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2011/10/suzanne-collins-hunger-games.html

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


WOW, I cannot believe how the time has past when I started this Blog 4 years ago. I honestly didn't think that it would last this long or I would meet and chat with so many different bloggers and authors. Thank you to those who have been reading Blood Rose Books since the beginning and Thank you to those who have decided to give it a try. I hope that you have been able to find at least one new read or author that you had not heard about before or decided to try a book based upon my review. Here's to another great year of reading and reviewing and I cannot wait to see what authors, series and books I can discover this year :)

The giveaways will end this Friday at Midnight to make sure you get your entries in by then.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Matthew Quirk

I am always on the the lookout for up and coming as well as debut novels. When I had a chance to read Matthew Quirk's The 500, I knew I had found someone who can not only write but create an interesting story and characters. Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books:

Matthew Quirk

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why?
I might say William Goldman. Marathon Man was a big influence on my first novel, and he’s had a part in writing many of my favorite movies going back to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s hard to imagine a better guide on how to tell a great story.

You began your writing career working for The Atlantic, what prompted the change to writing novels? How did it help prepare you for writing fiction?
It's easier to jump when you get a little push. Print journalism has been having a really hard time, and when the economy crashed in 2008 I was let go in a round of cuts at the magazine. It was awful, of course, but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I had been working on a novel for many years, and I decided to live off my savings and make a go of writing full-time. I still can’t believe it worked out. Reporting is great practice for writing fiction. Living and working in Washington, I picked up a ton of material about politics, foreign affairs, and high-level intrigue. The discipline of writing professionally and being whittled down by talented editors proved invaluable for writing books.

While writing for The Atlantic the resume of what you reported on was terrorism and gang crime types, why did you decide to write in what would be considered white collar crime? Do you see parallels between terrorism and/or gangs with white collar crime that has yet to be explored in fiction novels?
Interesting question. The white collar crimes were closest to the social and political worlds I knew pretty well, so that was a natural place to start. There is a healthy dose of non-white-collar criminality in the books, too, and that has been a lot of fun to research and learn how to do myself: sneaking into buildings, running a con game, picking locks. I’d love to explore those parallels you mention. Terrorism definitely has those facets—what starts or masquerades as politics or ideology in the end is about greed—that would make for a good theme for a book.

Your debut novel, The 500 would fall into the mystery/thriller genres which can be a hard genre to get a following in as there are many well-known and well followed authors within it. How do you think that your novels differ from other authors within this genre?
I like to think that they have a distinctive voice and humor, and I try to have my heroes react like real people would in these very dangerous situations: they’re not invincible supermen. I still have my reporter habits, and love doing research and adding authentic details to the books. For my book about the Federal Reserve, The Directive, I worked with security experts and even sneaked around the New York Fed. For my next book, I just came back from a training in LA where I was kidnapped and had to escape expert trackers who were hunting me down through the city. It gave me a lot of great insights for book three.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Literary novels. It’s very difficult to make a compelling 350-page book out of fine-grained character observations and quiet epiphanies. I read someone like Tobias Wolff and I think A. This is amazing and B. I could never do this.

There are points within your novel The 500 that seem to ring true in which the few control the many or in this case the 500, how true do you think this is with Corporate America? Did you have to do additional research to make your book have a real feel to it?
I was fortunate with The 500 that I had lived and worked in Washington, DC for many years and seen a lot of that up close. I had friends who worked at the White House, or big lobbying shops, or Congress. One of the main problems in politics is that interest groups that aren’t representative of citizens’ desires wield outsized influence on the political process. If you look at the money in politics, it’s incredible how few people bankroll campaigns and how much time politicians spend begging them for money.

Mike has a very interesting skill set that he developed over the years watching his father and brother work as con-men, why did you think that these skills would be an asset to a lawyer?
The confidence games are really about understanding human nature, so I’m sure that would be valuable to a lawyer. The other, more criminal skills, like picking locks, aren’t helpful in the day to day legal world, but when Mike finds himself in a scrape, they prove to be very handy. Faking IDs, picking locks, stealing cars—it’s been a lot of fun to research the skills Mike picked up in his bad old days. Picking locks has come in handy in real life quite a few times!

You have had the opportunity to take Mike Ford from a stand-alone novel to a series, as an author what makes Mike Ford such a compelling character to write about? What do you think the benefits are between writing a standalone versus a series?
Mike’s life and background brings out some great themes: Sometimes those outside the law have more honor than those who write the laws. Mike lives by the law, but comes from a family of criminals. These ideas tie readily into contemporary political and financial corruption, and I love to explore them. Series are great, because you have this continuing exploration of characters and their relationships. And I like to do standalones, as well, because then your characters can really surprise your readers by revealing secrets about their pasts or their true natures.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I’m deep into my third book now. It’s fast-paced thriller about a special operations team at work inside the US. And I’ll be at Bouchercon in November 2014.

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think everyone should read?
That’s a tough one. I’m looking at my bookshelves now, and a few leap to mind. How about Catch-22? I haven’t read it in a while but I remember it being by turns hilarious and heartbreaking.

I want to saw thank you once again to Matt for being part of my Blogoversary and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of The Directive. Matt has very nicely provided a giveaway to go along with his interview so check out and fill out the Rafflecopter information below :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Timothy Hallinan

You know you're reading a great book when it can keep you on the edge of your seat but also have you laughing out loud at the same time. This was my experience with Timothy Hallinan's novel Crashed. Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books:

Timothy Hallinan

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why? 
I'd be too intimidated to write with any of my favorites, but if I were magically courageous and self-confident, I'd say William Gibson. He has an original and prescient take on the present day—he was the first, I think, to realize that branding has replaced reality in many areas of life—and his language is so clean and essential. 

You have been a very busy man with your Junior Bender series, releasing 4 novels in less than 2 years. Did you have the stories and series preplanned or laid out in your head? Why did you decide to release the books so closely together? (Not that I am complaining about it.) 
I actually wrote the first three Juniors over a period of two years, at the same
time I was writing three Poke Rafferty books, Breathing Water, The Queen of Patpong, and The Fear Artist. My publisher at the time, HarperCollins, didn't want them and my contract was exclusive, so I self-published the first two Juniors, Crashed and Little Elvises as ebooks, and I had just put The Fame Thief up on Amazon when my editor at Soho, the great Juliet Grames, asked why Soho wasn't publishing them.  I said maybe it was because they didn't publish novels set in the United States, and Juliet said, “We'll make an exception.”  

I insisted that they be published fast because I was already writing the fourth at the time, and if they'd gone out on the usual one-per-year schedule, it would have been five years before Herbie's Game appeared in print. So four books came out in about 19 months.  I'm now happily at work on the fifth book, King Maybe. 

But no, I did no pre-planning at all, neither for the series as a whole nor for the individual books. I just wrote them as they arrived in my fore-brain, the way I write everything.  I'm completely incapable of outlining or doing much of any kind of planning ahead, about writing, at least. I never actually know what a book is about until I'm writing it. 

If you go to many popular or well-known author website, they mainly state that they will not read manuscripts and often just refer people to their agents, but you have section on your website to help would be-authors. In 2012 you spearheaded “Making a Story” where you and other authors described how they went about from turning an idea into a plot for a novel. Why did you decide to write this book? Was there an author that really helped you along the way when you were just starting out? 
I had a miserable time with my first novel. I wrote three absolute dogs before I figured out anything at all. (Raymond Chandler famously said about his own learning curve, “It took me six months to get his hat off.”) Many writers were very generous with guidance and advice, and I just wanted to pay it forward. For about five years I taught a college-level class about how to finish a novel, and that's what the material on my site came from. It's been used by more than 1000 writers who emailed me to tell me so, and a couple of them not only finished their books but also went on to sell more copies than I do.  

The Twenty-One Writers series will eventually deal with plotting, character, setting, getting out of trouble, and a bunch of other practical writing issues.  Each book is a collection of essays by writers whose work I admire, just talking about how they approach the issue under discussion. As of now, Making Story: Twenty-One Writers on How They Plot is still the only book, and that's my fault because I got snowed under with my own writing. But it's a terrific collection, I think, and it's really cheap as an ebook on Amazon. 

What do you think are the key elements to writing a thriller/mystery novel? How do you think your novels stand out from the ever increasing crowd? 
The most important thing to me in any kind of book is character. As far as I'm concerned, we read to meet characters, whatever the story or genre might be. To me, plot is what characters do, dialogue is what characters say, setting is the interaction between place and character, action arises from conflict between (and within) character, etc.  Almost the only thing I think about when I'm writing is being true to the characters. Although I also frequently visualize someone sitting across the table from me and imagine that I'm trying to hold that person's attention as I tell the story, mainly as a way to avoid bogging down. 

And I have no idea whether my books stand out from the crowd. I'd be the last person to answer that question. 

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why? 
The great thing about crime fiction is that there's an inevitable structure: a question is asked at the very beginning and the story eventually answers it. I think it's kind of funny that a question mark is shaped like a fish hook, because properly used, it really does hook the reader and drag him/her across 100,000 words or so. But the fact that there's a mystery at the center of the book does NOT mean that the story doesn't explore the characters in adventurous and original ways.  

Having said all that, I think literary fiction would be hard for me because I've grown accustomed to the story momentum a good unanswered question provides. 

In your Poke Rafferty series, it seems that Poke is always getting into trouble trying to write his travel books (but that's really point of his books), have you had any Looking for Trouble
experiences in your travels or the time that you lived in Thailand? 
Yes, but in Cambodia.  When I was writing the first Poke, A Nail Through the Heart, I went to Phnom Penh to try to meet Vann Nath, an artist who lived through the worst of the Khmer Rouge world and then put it into absolutely horrifying paintings.  I talked to a bunch of people about arranging an introduction, and one day my car (I had a car and driver because I didn't have time to get lost all a hundred times a day) was pulled over by four heavyweights in a black SUV. Each of them stood at one of the doors of my car, and it was impossible for me not to notice that my driver, whom I'd always assumed to be working with the police, was both shaking and pouring sweat. There was a very sharp exchange in Khmer. The four men left, one of them slugging the driver's door as he walked away, and my driver says, “We not look for Vann Nath now.” 

Junior is very much the anti-hero, he is a burglar and private eye for other criminals, what do you think is the appeal of writing your protagonist as an anti-hero? Do you think that this give Junior a unique skills set and contacts to work with? 
For many crime fiction writers, including me, crooks are the most fun. They can say what they think, they don't have to be politically correct, and it's kind of exhilarating to write a character who's improvising his or her moral code on the fly.  The first things that came to me when I began to write Junior were his regret over his divorce and his love of his daughter.  The next thing was his mentor, Herbie Mott, and Herbie's rules. A lot of Herbie's rules are about not getting caught, but a couple of them are moral, in a way, the best of them being, “Learn to spot the one thing in the room the victim couldn't live without. And don't take it.” 

So those things made a kind of triangular base for Junior's moral code. It's elastic compared to mine and (probably) yours, but carved in stone as far as he's concerned. 

I know that I wondered this when I was reading the first book in your Junior Bender series, Crashed, is Thistle based on any star in particular or a few of the child stars out there? 
There have been so many, for decades and decades, both boys and girls. Stardom is hard on kids. I didn't choose a real model for Thistle's character, but for a physical image, I used either of the Olson twins, who—for all I know—live on wheat-grass juice and orange peel, but who for years featured on a kind of I just put down the needle and came into the light and it hurts look, which made them irresistible to Manhattan paparazzi, who were all after the shot in which they looked the wettest. 
Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share? 
More than you want.  The sixth Poke Rafferty, For the Dead, comes out on November 4, and I think it's a good one. I just finished the seventh Poke, The Hot Countries, and it's too recent for me to have an opinion, but if it stinks it won't be because it's not ambitious. And I'm now writing the fifth Junior Bender, King Maybe, another Hollywood showbiz story, and it has the potential to be very good if I don't screw it up. 

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think everyone should read? 
Oh, boy.  For the very patient, I'd say a good translation (Robert Fitzgerald's, maybe), of Homer's The Odyssey, the root story, more or less, of the warrior trying to get home while the gods aren't looking. So much of storytelling begins here, and the world it depicts is so fresh, so clean, with beaches that have never borne a footprint and new islands always just over the horizon.  The ragged right-hand margin might look forbidding to those who don't read poetry, but just ignore it and read a few pages. If it captures you, keep going.  You'll hear its echoes through a lifetime of reading. 

I just want to thank Tim for taking the time to answer to be part of my Blogoversary. You should read Tim's novel if you like adventure along with satire and humor. Tim has very nicely supplied two giveaways (INT) to go along with his interviews, So fill out the rafflecopter information below.