Sunday, November 23, 2014

Andrew Gross: No Way Back

Andrew Gross takes the readers into a world where one decision not only alters a woman's life forever but puts everyone around her in danger:

Wendy meets a stranger at a bar and normally she would not even entertain talking to him, but she feels like her husband and her are drawing apart and her friend is not showing up so she can vent has placed her in a new situation. The conversation eventually lead to her going up to his hotel room but things don't go quite as planned, Wendy ends up witnessing a murder and now is on the run for her life. Those hunting her are not your typical bad guys, actually they are on the completely other side of the law. She is on the run from Homeland security agent who is looking to shut Wendy up permanently and frame her for murder while he is at it. Wendy has not only put herself in danger but everyone she turns to as well. The only way to get out of this is to figure out why they wanted the man from the bar dead, but time is ticking and there is more than one player who wants to see Wendy disappear permanently.

Okay, this book was never able to completely draw me in. I know that this book was supposed to be suspenseful and the beginning of the book certainly would fit this description. Gross does a great job of pulling the reader in the first few chapters of Wendy being on the run but then it slows down quite a bit. It is almost like Gross put all the action and suspense in the first part of the book and then did not have enough for the second half of it. I found myself waning in reading this book and it personal felt like it took forever for Wendy to put the pieces in place that we as the reader are aware of from the two side by side stories that Gross has for part of the novel. 

Overall I enjoyed the mystery aspect in the book and the connection that Gross was able to create to the first scene in the book where 5 Americans are gunned down by a strong Cartel in Mexico and how everything stems from that. As I said before I felt like it took Wendy too long to make the connection. If we did not have Lauritzia's point of view the was Wendy acted would have been okay, but since we do it seems to take forever to bring the two women together, which you know is what Gross is going to do.

I'm not sure how to describe Wendy as a character. Gross basically describes her as an urban mom, who used to be an ex-cop but has had some marriage problems which basically lead her into the mess she finds herself in. I think my main problem with the description is the ex-cop part. Other than identifying herself as one in the beginning of the book, there is no other reference to her being an ex-cop (other than her retelling the story over and over again) and her actions are really basic that I think really anyone would think of. I think that an ex-cop would have better ideas, and more experience of where they would look for information and how to go to ground and what to expect in an investigation of this type. Wendy uses her cell phone, relies on friends which puts them in danger and went to places where I thought the Homeland guys would be for sure.

This is the first book that I have read by Gross, and I did like the story overall and the interconnection of the two stories. I have read some other reviews about this book from readers who have read other Gross novels and many of them stated this was one of his weaker books. That has me impressed and makes me want to find some other titles by this author.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Amber Lynn Natusch: Unborn

In the start of a new series Amber Lynn Natusch takes the reader from the Underworld to the surface and back again, as one woman searches to discover who she is and discovering her place in both:

Khara has spent most of her life, centuries in fact discovering everything about the Underworld and while that place may hold nothing but death, despair and torture to some, Khara sees it as home. It is where she has felt love, has felt safe and has a father there. However, there were dark moments as well, of loneliness, torture, pain but still it is her home. When Khara is ripped unexpectedly from the Underworld and taken to the above ground town of Detroit, Khara does not know what to expect. She has never spent time above ground in a city with other people, so she is unsure how to behave or act. Everything is different here and as much Khara tries to stay out of the way and not attract any attention the opposite is true. When she discovers she has a large family of half-brothers above ground she is over joyed, but she is leery as it was a dark force that brought her to the surface and she does not want to put her new found family in danger. But if it is one thing that Khara learned growing up in the underworld there is danger around every corner, you can trust no one and you really just have to rely on yourself to survive.

I think that Natusch came up with a really interesting concept for not only her world building but the overall premise of the story is was unique. However, I wish that the premise in general was executed better. I wish there were more books that featured the underground, as I enjoyed when Khara was talking about her time in the underground and how she was happy there and how her brothers could not understand how it could be her home. The book just mainly seemed to flow badly. It felt like it was all over the place at times and that nothing seemed to happen. This is basically how the book played out: They try to figure out what Khara's is/what her ability will be, they go to club, maybe go hunting for some soul suckers maybe not, one of the brothers or Oz hooks up with a girl, Oz is a douche to everyone and repeat. This seemed to be the main aspects that continued over and over again throughout the book.

I did like Khara as a character, she had some redeem qualities, but for all her fighting that she claimed to have to put into to survive and live in the underworld, we never actually get to see those skills in the real world. She is unable to fight, with her fists or with weapons, she claims her skill is the ability to be invisible but she is the most visible person in the group. I appreciate that Khara does not back down from danger or a challenge but for the most part she was a hindrance to her brother in more way than one.

I really really disliked the relationship between Khara and Oz. Oz is more than your typical bad boy and you know from when you first meet that Natusch is going to attempt to bring them together. Oz is too full of himself, too unwilling to let people in, too much of an ass really, I mean Natusch attempts to give him some good guy moments, but never succeeds at getting there he always just seems to turn into an ass part of the way through. The thing I don't get about Oz is that all of them hate him but yet they let him live with them, hang out with them, he gets way too many chances and most of the brothers just seem to think that eventually he will change.

The ending was interesting and really not what I expected so Natusch get extra points from me for that, but I just wish overall that the premise had been executed better. Due to the fact the ending was really well done, I would seriously consider reading the next book in this series to see if Natusch is able to achieve something more, but I honestly can’t recommend this book for someone to read as I just found too many flaws within it.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Anne Bishop: Murder of Crows

You NEED to read the first book in this series, Written in Red, in order to not only understand the relationships and world that Bishop has created, but the first book is fantastic, so you should just go and pick it up, as in right now :)

Anne Bishop is back with the second book in her Others series, where tensions between the human and the Others are at an all-time high:

It starts with a video game that allows the humans to kill crows at will, to myths about how to capture and kill some of the Others, to the eventual murder of Others. These murders are helped with the creation of two new drugs that affect Humans and Others in very different ways. This is just another step causing Human and Others communication to break down and the all-out exile of humans from certain lands. Even the Courtyard has come under attack and as Meg gets the urge to cut and speak prophecies more frequently everyone knows there is danger in the air. As murder and mayhem are occurring all around the courtyard, it is up to the Others' and the few trusted human that work there to work together to not only stop the direct threat on them, but also the creation of these two new drugs before the world enters into an all-out war.

Murder of Crows is an excellent follow up book to the first novel Written in Red. This novel essential picks up a few weeks after the first book finished as Meg is out of the hospital and back at work. However, everyone is treating her with kid gloves as she is still seen as not 100% well from her close to death experience. I liked that Bishop chose to not have too much time pass between books as so much of the story is centered around Meg's relationship with Simon and the other Others that to have too much time pass would mean that we as the reader would miss too much of this relationship development.

If you did not like the first book (which really I don't understand how that could happen, but to each their own) with its lack of action you will probably not like this one as well as there is even less. This book is much more political based that the first book as the tension between Humans and The Others is fast moving towards out of control, which leave the Courtyard in a unique position not only because of Meg but also the other Human employees they have and their developing relationship with the police. I liked that the "trusted" humans in the book were given not only a more active role in this book, but were also trusted enough to actually help the Others out. I will say that there were meetings upon meetings in this book (maybe even meetings about meetings) and I think that took away at times the overall sense of urgency and suspense as it never seemed like there was going to be a time for action, until the very end. However, to me this was just a minor point in the whole scheme of the world, characters and plot.

I cannot put my finger on it as to why I am so drawn to this series as I normally like more mystery and action within the books I read, but there is just something about Meg and the world that Bishop has created that draws me in. I think there is no question that Bishop took the time and efforts to not only create a world that is very believable but also to create interesting main and secondary characters. Additionally, I was surprised that Bishop decided to add a darker elements to the story, mainly how the new drugs were being created. I thought this brought more depth to the plot and a sense of urgency of what is to come. I was also surprised that Bishop decided to take on a major antagonist within this book and it makes me wonder what is to come in the next book, and where she is going to take the overall plot/story.

I honestly think this series will appeal to all readers in the UF and Paranormal genres, as there is really something for everyone in this series, especially with the introduction of dark elements in this book. The third book in this series comes out in early 2015 and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Bishop's Other series has become a must read for me, as her character driven plot, world and story keep drawing me further and further in. I cannot wait to continue on in this series, I truly hope that Bishop can continue to impress me with this series, as I have no problem coming back for more and more.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

F. G. Cottam: The Lazarus Prophecy

F.G. Cottam combines past, present, serial killer and religion that takes the reader to one of the darkest points in London's history and to a very famous unsolved case:

Jane Sullivan is the lead Detective assigned to a serial killer case that is going to take her into a completely different realm of belief and theology. This Killer in London that has a flair that is very familiar and reminds the people of London of a murderer that should be long dead, Jack the Ripper. But this serial killer is not content to kill prostitutes and switches their MO to women who think they are safe. Sullivan is convinced that this is just a copycat, a Fan of the Ripper, but a secret sect of the Catholic religion knows better. They have faced this type of evil before and they know what they have to do to stop it, even if it mean sacrifices another individual's soul to the devil himself.

This the first book that I have read by Cottam and I do not think it will be the last. Cottam had a really interesting concept I really enjoyed the mixture of the Catholic faith and a serial killer investigation. Often times there is a fine line between preaching the religion that you believe in and using the religion to tell an aspect in the story and I think that Cottam does a good job of keeping it to the latter. It was also interesting how Cottam was able to show that one suggestion, no matter how crazy and with no evidence to support it, can spark a revolution and revolutionary thoughts in people that most would consider of sound thinking, but that is what fear does to people.

Where Cottom really excels in this book is his description writing, the words he chooses really transports the reader to the location of the character, his visual writing is excellent. This is also seen in the description of the murders and the crime scenes. Cottam tells you just enough but lets you imagination fill in the rest as to what the scene looks like and what has occurred

There are quite a few POVs within this book and they tend to go back and forth between London where the murders are occurring and Christian sect mountain home and I think that character development suffered because of this. Jane is a good character, though the more I look back on this book we as a reader never get to know her that well even though she is one of the main characters. She is a strong lead detective who knows how to "play the game" in order get the job done. Jane does not shy away from any suggestion or crazy idea as that could be the break in the case. There is even a physic element within the novel that I think that Cottan introduces well and it plays really well into the overall plot of the novel. As for the rest of the characters in the novel I think they fall on the same way as Jane, never fully developed, which is a shame as the rest of the book is really well written and developed.

My main criticism with this novel is the ending was really anti-climactic and I wish Cottam could have found a different way and/or a more exciting way to end this novel. I mean this is what we are waiting for, everything builds up to this moment and to be let down is never a good thing. I mean the ending was clever, but not even close to what I was expecting.

I enjoyed the mystery that Cottam was able to put forward and I would have rated it higher if the ending had not been so lack luster. However, Cottan a great way of mixing a serial killer, religion and historical aspects together that I would pick up another book by him.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kass Morgan: The 100

Kass Morgan takes the readers to the future, where humans have been forced to live in space for hundreds of years due to nuclear winter, but unforeseen events are going to lead to an early return Earth:

100 teens have been chosen for the ultimate test of life or death, whether the Earth is safe for human life. They were going to be killed when they turn 18, so this gives them at least an opportunity to try and live. The Colony is failing and it is in these teen's hands to prove that Earth is livable and if not, this may be the end of the human race. But there are some elements of human nature that never go away and the possible radiation on Earth should be the least of everyone's worries.

If you watched the TV show and are planning on reading this book to get more than what the TV show portrayed to the view, you are going to be pretty shocked. This book is very very different from the CW TV show. There are some of the same names and the overall concept of sending the 100 is the same but that is where the similarities basically end. The reason for going to Earth is somewhat the same but how that situation occurred is very different, both of Clark's parents are dead and they show more of the Class system that had been developed on the colony in space. There are also many additional character within the novel that never made it onto the TV show, even one that seems to have a lot of POV time in the book Glass, who escapes being sent back to Earth and is the main POV on the Colony.

There are way too many point of views in this novel especially as it is a short novel, you never really get an attachment to any of the characters. You also only get small snippets of what is occurring and it felt at times that you were left to fill in the cracks and draw your own conclusions about what was happening. For me my attachment to Clark is based upon liking her in the TV show. I also like Octavia in the the TV show, but the Octavia in the novel is extremely different character, I do not think they share any of the same traits and I do not like her character in the book.

This book is teenage drama set in a post apocalyptic world, that's right a cool premise of living in space and then returning to Earth and the main aspect that Morgan decides to focus on is "will Luke forgive me for what I have done" or "should I forgive Wells for what he did, but I really did like kissing Bellamy, I think."  I cannot fault this book for taking a more YA approach than an adult approach as this book is for a YA audience, I just think that Morgan could have decided to focus on something else (maybe taken a bit more time to do some world building and actually describe The Colony and Earth state better).

The book just seems to end, with a lot of missing pieces are left open, I understand that Morgan probably wanted to leave a cliff hanger at the end, but it seemed to me that this is the moment we had been building to in the novel and then just to have it end was not a very satisfying ending for me. I am not sure why Morgan decided to end the book when she did, it felt like the plot was finally going to be something more.

This is another YA book that I think is best left for the young adult crowd. This book was very much a teenage drama throughout and that seemed to be the main focus that Morgan wanted to take. While I enjoyed the TV show, this book is vastly different, really only the character names are the same. So if you are a young adult looking for a YA read, this is for you, if you are an adult and have enjoyed books such  as the Hunger Games, Angelfall ect then I think this book is not for you.

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