Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Brad Taylor: One Rough Man

In his debut novel and first in a series, Brad Taylor shows what a man is capable of when he has nothing left to live for:

Pike Logan was one of the most successful leaders of specialized off the books black ops task force but he is about to embark on his last mission, as his instincts seemed to never be wrong and he was okay with asking forgiveness later in order to get the job done. Serving his country has always been important to Pike, often putting it before his family. He has promised his wife that this will be his last mission, but when unforeseen events up the timeline of when Pike needs to leave there are disastrous consequences. Pike is now a man with nothing to live for except for the first 30 seconds when he first wakes up in the day and the drinks he has at night. He doesn't care about himself or country, he just wants to be left alone. Although Pike to suffer just wants to waste away suffering in his own demons, there is a new terror that has been discovered that was centuries in the making. Pike is going to have save his country, world and maybe even himself one more time.

I have seen the name Brad Taylor many times at the book store, but this is my first read by him and I am extremely happy that I picked this book up. This is a great action adventure/thriller book that plays on the the fears of the USA and the war on terror. I also appreciated that while the main terrorists plot that they are aware of stems from the Middle East (very current events, even though the book is a few years old now) they were not the only bad guys that Pike and Jennifer had to deal with. There were some homegrown terrorists as well that would stop at nothing to have them both dead. I will say that the homegrown terrorists were far more scary that the Middle East ones, and what they were trying to accomplish. I think you can tell that Taylor may not have been impressed with the politics involved in the war on terror and military in general. And speaking of Taylor and the military, you can also tell the Taylor knows what he talking about when he has Pike planning and executing missions (though I'm sure it is stretched a bit at times) as he served for 21 years in the army and served in many places around the world. Always nice to read an author that has some sort of expertise in the field that they are writing about as it makes the story that much more real.

I really liked the desperation that Taylor forces on his characters; they are given a no win or only one option in order to survive many times in the book especially as they could only rely on each other and at times they question that partnership as well. This added to the overall suspense and there were times when you as a reader question who of the two main characters will survive as well as the secondary characters as well. There are 2-3 torture scenes that occur within the book, and while they are not described in great detail, they are pretty descriptive in the aftermath.

I questioned Pike's thought process to begin with in Part 2, it seemed to go against everything that he knows is smart. But the more I think about it the more I realize that this was just part of his downward spiral of not caring about his life or whether he died or not. Pike will not always be a character that you like, he's not really the anti-hero but there are times when he questions whether he should help Jennifer out or just leave her to her fate which would leave her dead. Pike has an amazing skill set that I think those who enjoy the action adventure genre will appreciate. I enjoyed that Taylor had Pike participate in mainly hand to hand combat in this book and had him rely less on guns, added to the danger and the suspense of the situations that he finds himself in. Plus Pike did not have any resources on this mission, did not always have access to guns and those that he does get his hands on he had to take someone out first.

Jennifer was an interesting character, that was fairly well developed (I was surprised that Taylor gave her as much book time as Pike) but there were times when I thought that Taylor just pulled an ability that she had out of no where when it was convenient for him. I liked that Jennifer was able to contribute something to the mission so she was not just the damsel in distress all the time but I though that Taylor could have introduced her "abilities" in a different way. I really liked that Jennifer was able to learn new skills as the book went on and Pike did not have to carry her throughout the plot.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout and I loved Pike as a main character. I'm glad that this is the first book in what seems to be a fairly established series and I look forward to picking up the next book as this book satisfied all my needs in an action adventure novel.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Aimee Hyndman: Hour of Mischief

In her debut novel, Aimee Hyndman takes the reader to a steampunk world where the Gods are never finished meddling in the human's lives. 

Seventeen year old Janet Redstone has had to fight for everything she has in her life, which has lead her to become the leader of one of the famous thief gangs within the city. Janet prides herself in her planning ability and keeping her friends and accomplishes in line and getting them out each job. When a job of stealing from the Clockwork God's temple goes wrong and Janet and her friends end up in prison she is willing to do anything to get them out. The God of Mischief  has comes calling right when Janet is the most desperate and offers her a deal that she knows she cannot refuse. Janet is going to have to use every skill she has developed in over the years in order to succeed as not only her life and that of her friends are at stake but that of the human race are all hanging in the balance

I liked this book, it has been a while since I have read a book that had Gods meddling in with humans' life, so for me it was a nice change. I also think that Hyndman did a good job at world building, it has a steampunk fantasy feel to it especially it seems like there are a lot of mechanical aspects in the world and also the main character, Janet's arm. I will say that the Gods at times became a bit confusing as Hyndman seems to mix a few different Gods from throughout history, but this was a minor point in the world building. I did like that the Gods that Hyndman did feature in the book were different interpretations of the classics, for example the God of love being Male and really more of a man whore than about love, lets say love is loosely interpreted in this book.

This book is a fairly fast paced read with Janet trying to complete the tasks that Itazura, The God of Mischief, has set out for her, in order to save her friends from prison. However, there were times when the tasks or trouble that Janet would get in were over too quickly and really Janet no worse for ware because of Itazura's power. For me this caused the suspense and at times the mystery to falter as you knew Janet was going to make it out alive and well, there was really no cause to worry over her. There is a hint of romance in this book, but it does not dictate the story (yet, I have feeling there is more to come) as Janet is all about loyalty to her friends and wanting to save them.

Janet is an interesting character and I loved that she had a mechanical arm, such a cool idea, and it gives her something special to rely on when dealing with gods and thugs as most of them do not expect it. I like that Janet has had to struggle to obtain everything that she has in life including her friends, who she is loyal to, to a fault. Janet is very street smart, able to think on her feet and while she may only have a rudimentary education she does not allow this to hold her back. It is also interesting that Janet scorns all the Gods, especially the God of love because of her mother being a whore but prays to him nonstop for the love she seeks but never receives it, and yet it is Janet who the God of Mischief seeks out. I do wonder how he chose Janet and I hope that this is explained in future books (I'm pretty sure this is going to be a series) as I am also pretty sure that Itazura rigged the job that Janet got caught for.

This book ended in a weird place. I mean I'm all for a cliff hanger but in this book it felt like a strange place to end in a way that it felt like I only got half the book. Overall, this is a good read and I really liked Janet as a character as well as the steampunk world that Hyndman created. I would continue on in this series but I haven't seen any news for the next book to be released. I would recommend this book to those who like the steampunk feel and/or like books with Gods meddling with humans.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

M. J. Arlidge: Eeny Meeny

In a first in a series, M.J. Arlidge will have you questioning what would you do in a situation where all hope is lost and the choice of survival is left between two people:

Two people are kidnapped and left in a place where it is impossible to escape, they are left with a cell phone and a gun with one bullet, they receive a call, you choose who lives and who dies. The game, only one person will leave  alive and it is up to them who decides who walks away. Detective Helen Grace is assigned to this case and she can't believe what the victims have told her. This killer is playing a twisted games and is all too happy to include Helen in it. As more people go missing Helen knows that she is on a deadline, as people can only last so long in dire situations before the need to survive overcomes the need to hope that someone will find them.

This book was good read and I really liked the overall premise of the book. It was great that Arlidge was not scared to have death in his book, there is quite a body count here and as more people go missing you know that not everyone is able to survive. I mean how long do you think you would last in a place where you are thirsty, cold, hungry, scared and there is a way out. Do you do the nice thing and sacrifice yourself or do you take someone else life into your own hands? It is a very interesting questions and overall concept of the book. 

The mystery aspect is well thought out, but I will say that I do not think that a reader will be able to predict who the killer is in the end. You can get the idea about some connections but who the identity of the killer is I think would be an impossible feat to figure out. I think this is the one aspect that I did not enjoy about the book, a killer that I felt was pulled a little bit out of left field without a set up to it. However, I think the rest of the book is really well done, and I guess I cannot figure every book out, I just like the option to figure it out. I also found that the ending was over a little too quickly especially as there is this big build up to the reveal and then the book just ended. I was hoping for something a little bit more of a "showdown" between Helen and the killer.

Maybe I jumped to the wrong conclusion on some of the parts/chapters in the book but the revelation in the latter part made me feel like I really didn't know Helen at all at by the end of the book and some of her choices did not make as much sense as they could have. Helen is a very cold character, she shows very little emotion even when she is showing someone that she cares and most of her emotions are based around controlling people around her and well controlling her emotions as well. I'm not sure quite where the BDSM life style that Helen is part of and how this fits in her overall character (she is a submissive...kind of) but maybe this is explained further in the series.

I like that Arlidge was not afraid to have his main character suffer, both emotionally and physically, but to add some fuel to the intrigue about this book not everyone is going to make it by the end of the book. If you were a fan of the first (and I stress first) Saw movie then you will enjoy this book as well as it has similar undertones to it. Arlidge has piqued my interest with this first book in this series as I like books that make me question what would I do in this situation. I look forward to see where Arlidge takes Helen, this series and what new game he has in store for readers next.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Victoria Aveyard: Red Queen

In her debut novel and first book in a new series, Victoria Aveyard takes the reader to a world divided by blood and powers, those who have them and those who do not, but one girl is about to change everything:

Mare Barrow lives in a world where your blood decides your fate. If you are born a Silver you live in luxury and have some form of a power. If you are born a Red you serve in some way or another and if you do not have a skill set by the age of 18 you are sent to the Army to fight the never ending war. Mare's 18th birthday is approaching and the only skill that she has developed is one as pick pocket, but that was the best way that she could help her family survive. There is a revolution brewing that Mare wants to help Mare's life is about to change forever, with a chance meeting with the Silver Prince and his ability to change her life as a maid in the palace. However, Mare is about to change the world altogether, in front of the Silver court a hidden power is released from Mare the first Red to ever to display a power. Mare now is locked in a struggle of trying to protect her family and keep it a secret of her blood color, as well as help the revolution that is brewing as being in the palace gives her a unique access. Mare is just a country girl and is not ready for the secrets, the shadows and dealings that happen in court life, Mare needs to figure out quick who to trust as the Reds are counting on her to succeed and free them from tyranny.

Victoria Aveyard is being hailed as one of the best YA debut authors of the year (actually just saw on goodreads that she won the debut goodreads author award) and I kept hearing about this book so I decided to give it a try. This was a really good read, better than I was expecting, and it exceeded my expectations right from the beginning. I'm not really sure what I was expecting but I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I would personally say that it is a more action packed (and more interesting in my opinion) version of Kiera Cass' The Selection.

I really liked the revolutionary/rebels part of the book as this is a pivotal theme throughout the novel and Aveyard does a good job on highlighting it as well as throwing twists and turns along the way that has Mare questioning not only herself but who she can trust (and by all the way through I mean right to the end). Mare never forgets where she comes from and the hardships that they faced on a daily basis. Mare at times is a typical teenage with her indecisiveness not only with aspects with the revolution but with guys as well (see below), which means she does make mistakes, which is nice as sometimes the main characters in these books are portrayed as perfect.

There is more than a love triangle in this book, not sure what to call it when there are three guys that want one girl, but that is what occurs, and it was at time annoying having Mare question her choice of who she wants to be with, then change her mind and then change it again. I think I have just come to accept ever since the success of the love triangle in The Hunger Games and Twilight series, that YA novels with a female lead are going to have this aspect in the plot in some way (I will say this is the majority, not every book is going to have it, but you have to agree it is a common theme). While the "triangle" is prevalent in this book and does shape the story somewhat, I did not feel like it was the only aspect that that Aveyard wanted to highlight. Best part was that Mare never really becomes the puppy dog eyed love sick girl that is also prevalent in YA novels. Maybe this is due to having some choices that she needs to make, or maybe she just has more important things on her mind, like a revolution and changing the lives of the Reds. Thank you for a nice change there Aveyard.

Aveyard does a great job in setting up a new series that I think fans of the Hot/popular YA novels out there will enjoy this book as well. While Aveyard does not really add anything new to genre, she is able to take some of the best aspects of those popular novels and bring them together for a great read. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Barry Lyga: Game

You will need to read the first book in this series, I Hunt Killers in order to understand where Jasper comes from and begin to understand who/what Billy is. It is also a really great read for either YA or adult readers and caught me completely by surprise.

Barry Lyga is back with the next installment in his Jazz & Billy Dent series and if there one thing that Billy knows how to do it's how to play a good game:

Jazz found what it was like to be on the same side as the law as he helped the police track down a murderer in Lobo’s Nod however, since then Jazz has been craving something more, wanting to help more there are just not that many murders that occur in a small town. When a NYC police detective shows up at Jazz's door asking for his help, he would never refuse. NYC is being held in a strangle hold by the Hat-Dog killer whose killings are nothing like anyone has ever seen before, the murders make no sense and at times do not even seem to be connected. Jazz is thirsty for a new challenge but he never would have guessed how dangerous of a game he has entered.

I love the way that Laga's mind works (twisted amazing awesomeness that it seems to be) and the way he sets out the plot and multiple games that are played within this book is amazing, you never really know which turn he is going to take next and often it was one that you will not see coming. When I am unable to see something coming from an author in a plot, I know that I have found a winner in an author, and I have found this in spades with Lyga.

Lyga understands that the world is just a game to a serial killer, a game with real people as the pieces and always trying to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. It may seem slightly far fetched for  a 17 year old to be approached to help on a NYC serial killer case, but Lyga does a fantastic job of making it feel like this is a real possibility. I mean why not use the best to catch the worst. Lyga is the real deal when it comes to serial killer novels and those who like adult or YA books will enjoy what Lyga has set out here.

I liked that there were more point of views from Connie as she struggles to not only be Jazz's girlfriend but to also help him see that he is not his father and that she is not going anywhere. It was also interesting to see Connie push the boundaries as what she believes in and really how far she is will to prove herself to Jazz. I also found that at times I was annoyed with Jazz as he does not know what he has in Connie but also it seemed like he did not take her seriously when she was trying to help with the case. There is no doubt that Jazz's up bringing gives him a unique perspective but he also does not realize that this causes him to be blind in certain aspects as well both in his investigative work and in his relationship. Jazz does grow as a character in this book as he learns some valuable lessons, some that are very dangerous and have permanent consequences. All the frustrations that I have with Jazz, he has with himself and Connie has with wanting to take their relationship to the next level, makes Jazz all the more real of a character that you want to root for.

This book did not end where I expected it to, talk about cliff hanger (Damn you Lyga, Damn you). I went to turn the next page and there was the acknowledgments part, I was thinking maybe I only got part of the book but saw that other reviews feel the same way as I do. Basically I do not think you can read this book and not pick up the third, I dont know what kind of reader would not want to continue on. There is so much unresolved in this book, and by unresolved I mean lives hanging in the balance that I need to pick up the next book ASAP.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Scott Sigler: Alive

Scott Sigler takes a reader to answer the question what would you do if you could not remember who you are? Would you rise above or fade to the background:

Em awakes to a stinging sensation in her neck and finds herself stuck in a coffin. She is extremely confused, she knows today should be her twelfth birthday and she should be celebrating with her family. But she has no recollection of who she is, where she comes from or even her name. When she is able to break out of her coffin, she discovers there are more in this strange room than just hers. So begins a journey of Em and those who have also survived as they try to remember who they are, where they came from and how long they were in the coffins for and why. Em's about to embark on a journey of not only self discovery but survival as well.

This book almost became a DNF book for me. I really struggled through the first half of the book, in not only connecting with the characters but also trying to figure out what where Sigler was planning on taking the story. One of my main issues with this book and why it almost became a DNF is that in the first 100 pages all the are really doing is walking in straight line, with a little bit of interactions with each other but they just keep walking never really going any where. This was just a boring and it was hard to hold my attention.

As the main characters in this book do not have any memory of their time before, I found it hard to get attached to them. You get to know them slowly as really they are just figuring out who they are and their own tendencies, personalities and strength, I guess I would equate it to very delayed puberty. They were put in the coffins when they were 12 but now they are in the bodies of around 17 year old, so their thought processes are that of a 12 year old, which for me was very hard to relate to and understand.

I struggle to figure out what age group this book is best suited for. I know this book is a YA novel but the main characters think that they are 12 years old but in adult like bodies. As an adult I was unable to connect with the characters and I wonder if a mid teen would be able to as well. That said I think the darkness (which would have been nice to have throughout the book instead of just walking) that occurs in the latter part of the book is not something that I would let a 12 year old read. So for me Sigler's book is stuck somewhere in-between all of those age categories, not really fitting for anyone.

I will say that the book is way better in the last third of the novel and Sigler was able to adds some twist in that I do not think that many people will see coming. However, I struggle to recommend a book where it takes two thirds to really come together and become interesting. I personally do not think I will continue on in this series.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sandra Brown: Mean Streak

New York Best Selling Author Sandra Brown is back with a novel that puts one women against everything she has ever believed in:

Dr. Emory Charbonneau is a well known pediatrician and philanthropist so when she goes missing while running in the mountains of North Carolina, people are not only concerned with her safety, but wonder why her husband took so long to report her missing. Emory wakes up in a strange place, with a strange head injury and a strange man. Emory is not sure what to make of her situation but she knows she is not going any where any time soon, even if she could. The mountain man has made it clear that she is not going anywhere. Emory needs to not only figure out this mountain man (curb her attraction towards him) so she can get away but also try to figure out who wants her dead. But nothing is ever simple in the mountain wilderness as mother nature and human nature tend to take over.

I think fans of Sandra Brown will enjoy this book as brown has a formula that she likes to use and she sticks to it in this book. This is probably why I only really read a book by her once a year. So basically those who like Browns' formula will like this book. If you are looking for something different from Brown then you will find this book pretty redundant. There have been books by Brown in the past that I found really engaging and wanting to know what the big twist is going to be or for the other shoe to drop (so to speak). However, I found that the big secret was nothing really so big or interesting, I was expecting more from Brown in this aspect.

I liked that Brown decided to have point of views from the three main characters, Emory, Jeff (her husband) and the mountain mystery man. I think the added a better view of what was going on in the story and these characters minds. I think the story would have suffered if it was only told from Emory's point of view. However, I never really felt anything towards the characters for the most part, well other than what an Ass Jeff was, but I found that the characters were secondary to the story and trying to figure out why the mountain man was so secretive. There are also come secondary points of view in the story but they are not constant through out but they do provide some additional information about the mountain man, which the story needed as Emory is not very good at being a detective and figuring things out.

While reading this book all I could think of was that Brown was trying to capitalize on Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl as there are some parallel themes with in this book, and not really any new ideas expressed here. However, this does not any where close a dark or suspenseful as Flynn's.

While not my favourite Brown read, this book was still able to keep me entertained and I do think that those who like Brown's formula will like this book. Though I do hope that one of these days Brown will create something new and really surprise me.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pierce Brown: Golden Son

You will need to read the first book in this series, Red Rising, in order to understand this book, world and what is at stake for Darrow. Also it is one of the best debuts that I have read, so really you should just pick the book up for that reason :)

Pierce Brown is back with the next novel in his Red Rising series and if Darrow thought the games of the school were shocking, nothing has prepared him for what real Gold life will be like:

Darrow has infiltrated the Gold’s life and culture. He is highly regarded by many of his peers, friends and those at the top of this ruling class. But Darrow knows that everything still hangs in the balance, that he is still on a life or death mission that with each day that passes becomes more crucial to complete but also the lines become blurred to more he gets to know some Golds. Darrow is used to the battlefields of the school and the academy neither of which has properly prepared him for the political games that he needs to play. Darrow needs to learn quick who he can trust, if the rebellion is still on and that betrayal is ever common in the Gold lifestyle as he tries to bring down this elitist society from within.

After reading Red Rising I was hooked, and knew that I would be reading this book, however, I purposely denied reading this book right away as I knew that book three was not coming out till 2016. I think I am still in shock about how this book ended (bumped this book up to 4.5 stars for me as Brown totally changed the game) that I find that I am speechless, breathless and wanting more as in NOW. I cannot believe how long some people have waited for book three; I would not have wanted to wait as long as others have.

I liked that Brown took a more political stance with this book, which I think was very important in this stage of the game as not everything can be accomplished through war (though at times it does help). This is not to say that this book lacks in the action points from the first, there are still several battles and fight scenes for readers to enjoy, but it is the backroom conversations and plays that the reader needs to pay attention to in this book. I personally love any book that can combine political intrigue and action and Brown does it extremely well in this book.

While I did miss finding out what Darrow has been up to for the first two year of the school, I do not miss them at the same time. I wanted to see Darrow would grow as a character but I think that writing a book about his time at the academy would have just been Red Rising all over again. It was interesting to see Darrow a few years down the road to see how he had developed as a character and as a Gold, but I hate to say it but I found that Darrow had not really changed or learned some important lesson.

Darrow is the Sword not the Pen and the more you read Golden Son, the more you realize that Darrow has some very valuable lessons that he still needs to learn, especially on the Pen side of things. He thinks he can read people, he thinks he can play the political game and while he is a quick thinker when thrown into a deadly situation, he still seems to lack the ability to see the whole picture or the long game. I was just hoping for more overall character growth in this book (as the book does pick up 2 years later) and with the events of how this novel ends, it will be interesting to see where Brown takes Darrow as a character and if he is able to push him further.

So happy that Servo is back, as he is one of my favourite characters from Red Rising and Darrow needs all the friends that he can get and Servo is someone who has never wavered in loyalty to Darrow. Servo may be crude, rude and sadistic at times, but I think he is a good sounding board for Darrow and sees things as they are more than Darrow does. Servo's ideas may seem extreme at times, but he was raised a Gold and they are known to have no mercy.

One of the things that I truly appreciate about Brown's writing in this series is that he does not take sci-fi to the point where I no longer understand what is going on. I do not need a degree in physics to understand some of the concepts and I do not have to been reading sci-fi my entire life to understand the world that Brown has created. The world being placed in our solar system probably helps as well though as I know the planets and where they are located. Brown is extremely smart for doing this as it opens his books up too non-sci-fi readers (like me) to now only enjoy but relish in a genre that I do not read very often.

This is a fantastic series; I’m hooked, I want more, and I am really looking forward to the third book, which comes out early next year (as I said still in shock how the book ended). I highly recommend it to those who read sci-fi and those who don't as I think Brown was able to find some common middle ground that both can appreciate. You need to check out this series.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lis Wiehl: Face of Betrayal

In the first book her triple threat series, Lis Wiehl mixes murder and politics, and how perception is everything for both:

A seventeen year old goes missing while walking her dog, normally this would only gain some attention from the media but Katie Converse was a senate page and all have to wonder what type of foul play may be occurring. So the search for Katie not only at home, but who was Katie as she was working as a page, who did she interact with who did she see. Katie may have presented herself as a good girl, but perception is everything and people want to know the truth. The media storm of this case has attracted three friends to the case all with different occupations and callings, television reporter Cassidy Shaw, Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. All have a different stake in finding out what happened to Katie and it's going to take all three of them to figure it out before more people get hurt.

The more I read this book the more I equated it to the Netflix show The Killing as it is a mixture of murder and politics but with three women trying to work out the crime all with alternative motives. It also does into get as dark as the Killing does, it never seems to go over the edge as I would have liked it too. There are some good twists and turns thrown in to the book that will make you sway back and forth about who you think did it, but I personally was able to figure it out quite a bit before the end.  I was hoping that Wiehl would be able to shock me by having a different outcome, but she did not, my first instinct was the right one. This is very much a who-done-it mystery book and not one of suspense and thrills, so if that is what you are looking for that then this book is not for you.

Wiehl tries to have three main characters in this book as each is given a point of view and what they are doing to help the case but I felt that Allison was the true main character of the case. Personally I really began to dislike Cassidy by the end of the book (this does not mean that I did not feel sorry for her and her domestic abuse situation) but I felt that she used her friends on more than on occasions just to get ahead in her job. I understand that she is a reporter and doing her job but to push her friends as she did for the facts and the exclusive (which I still think they should not have given her) made me cringe each time. They were putting their own jobs in jeopardy just to help her and she never really seemed grateful for it. I felt that in this book you never really get to know Nicole and she takes a back seat to the other two characters as there seemed to be very few chapters or sections from her point of view. Nicole was only really mentioned if Cassidy or Allison is there.

I found that Allison as a character that was portrayed with too much religious beliefs for me as I do not think that her time spent at Church or talking/praying to God really added anything to the plot or story line, it was just there. If everything was connected back to a religion or a Church somehow I would have understood adding this in, but none of it was so these aspects felt more like filler points to me, get a few extra pages in the book here and there. I think maybe Wiehl was using it as a way to separate her from the other characters but I think her occupation, her personality in general and really being the middle ground between the other two was enough to make her distinct

This book was okay, I did not enjoy it as much as the other Wiehl book that I have read, and while I found the mystery aspect of the book was fairly well done I was still able to put it together well before the end of the novel. Overall, not a bad read, and people who like who-done-it mysteries will probably enjoy it. I would read another book by Wiehl, but probably not in this series as I was not a fan of one of the "main" characters and Allison was a little too religious for me without it linking back to the actual story.


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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Eva Darrow: The Awesome

In the first in what I believe will be a series, Eva Darrows introduces the reader to the world of Monster Hunting and nothing said you had to be an adult to do it:

Maggie Cunningham has a different type of upbringing than most people in her life, her mother is a Monster Hunter and Maggie is determined to follow in her footsteps. However, Maggie has s slight problem when it comes to the social aspects in life, in which she is an utter disaster in talking to people she does not know and her fashion sense is directed to Monster Hunting. This poses a problem as in order to move up the chain and be able to Hunt Monsters worth more money Maggie needs to lose her virginity as something in virgin blood makes the Vampires go crazy. Maggie needs to battle some ghosts, goblins and other things that go bump in the night as well as find a date but even that may be more than she asked for.

First off I'm not one to comment on a book cover, especially as they seem to change and have multiple version, but when I saw this cover, how can I say no, lol. I can honestly say it was the cover that drew me to this book originally and maybe I should have read the premise a little better before I read this book (reasons below) as it wasn't quite for me, but I was very distracted by the neon awesomeness that was happening in the cover.

I was unsure of this book at first as I found it a bit slow and Maggie was way too obsessed with having sex/losing her virginity so that she can move up in the Monster Hunter business. As this book is touted as a YA book, the thought of Darrow almost promoting having (basically) meaningless sex with a guy you just met just to lose your virginity did not entirely sit well with me. So with those notes I would say that this book is for older young adults, not younger and for me as an adult reading this book there were times when I felt that Maggie was too much of a teenager for me.

There were things I liked about Maggie mainly that her appearance is not what you would think a typical heroine in this genre would look like. I liked that she took the time to point it out and I like that she makes a point to say that she wears crappy clothes and doesn't wear high heels as fighting monsters can be dirty work and really I know very few teenagers who can walk in heels let alone run in them. And then she became too much of a teenager for me, which is fine for a teenager reading this book, not so great for the adult.

The book got better the further that I read in the book and I glad that I stuck with it, as the book became more about monster hunting and that society than Maggie trying to not only find a date but someone to have sex with her. Her relationship with her mother is also an interesting aspect, almost that her mom does not want to grow up as she realizes that her life can be over in an instant with Monster Hunting. I think this is why Maggie and her are so close and have a very (for the most part) open relationship with each other and her mother supports her in her decision making.

Does this book add anything to the YA or urban fantasy genre, no (except for maybe having the main character be more of a true representation physically), but it was still a interesting read at times and did make me laugh out loud a few times, so for me those are both wins. I just found Maggie to be a bit too much of a teenager for me, so at this time I am undecided whether I would continue on in this series.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Helen H. Durrant: Dead Silent

Helen Durrant takes the reader to a smaller detachment where resources are stretched thin but that does mean that criminals out there commit crimes any less:

A college girl goes missing, yet no one seems to notice or find it odd. A body is found in a car crash, but the suspicious thing is that the girl was already dead with a live stock tag stuck in her hear. And a little girl goes missing but her parents are being less than truthful about the circumstances. This is just another day and case load for Detective Inspector Tom Calladine. He is in a race against time (and his department) as he knows there is more at play here than anyone can fathom and it is up to Tom Calladine and his team to figure out before more lives are lost.

For me this book was just okay, edging to towards the feeling of "meh". There were aspects that I liked but for some reason I had a hard time becoming invested in the characters and story. As this is a fairly short book (around 200 pages) it took me a lot longer to read than it should have. I have issue with the cover of this book stating "A Gripping Detective Thriller Full of Suspense" without a reviewer or author backing up this claim. If this is the author's opinion about this book that is fine, but to me I find it a bit misleading, as this book (for me) did not have the thrills or suspense that I would expect in a book that was not only making this claim but in the thriller genre in general.

This is the second book in a series but there is not too much referral back to the first book that you could read them out of order. The only real reference back to the first book is about Calladine discovering that he has a daughter (who is a secondary character in this book) and another secondary character who was injuries in the previous book/cases. Perhaps if I would have read the first book I may have been more invested in the characters that I was but I really just found most of them flat.

I liked that for the first half of the book the police team was forced to spread it's resources thin and had to investigate two cases and Calladine tries to prioritize which case is more important all the while needing result but having a penny pinching management that will not get you any more help. To me this is a very real aspect of police work, so I really appreciated that Durrant highlighted this. However, I found that the child abduction case really fell by the wayside in the book and Durrant attempts to bring the two cases together in a way but never really makes it and to me it seemed forced.

I think there are better books out there that have the thrills, suspense and mystery that fans of the thriller genre would like. I think that Durrant had some great ideas here that I think executed a different way could have been very successful and I did like her portrayal of the police way of life. I was just never able to become invested in the characters or story which I think every reader needs at least one of those to enjoy what they are reading.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jesse Petersen: Married with Zombies

In a debut novel and first in a series, Jesse Petersen seems to know the best thing to fix any relationship problem....A Zombie Apocalypse:

Sarah and David have become a typical couple, they fell in love, got married and now they are struggling to keep the spark that was their marriage alive. They each blame the other one for their situation but they are trying couples counselling to try to make it work. On their trip to see the counsellor they notice that things are a little off in Downtown Seattle. The usual traffic jam is non-existent and the all known security officer seems to be missing from his post. None of these things would have set off red flags for either Sarah or David but when your counsellor is chewing on the patients that were supposed to be before you, it is time to face the facts quickly. Sarah and David may still need to work on their marriage and issues, but there is nothing like killing zombies to get some of that anger out. They may be at odds about what to do next, but they know they have a better chance of survival if they stick together. But how long can it last with the zombie apocalypse happening right on their door step, and no one would really question if you decided to kill your spouse.

The best way I can describe this book is a good easy fast cute read (can you describe a zombie book as cute when the zombies are brain eating monsters?). Any ways, you get the funniness that is Sarah and David’s relationship and the guts of killing zombies but this book never really makes it into the horror or extremely violent categories in my opinion. There were times that I laughed out loud as they tried to determine what to do next and often they were at odds with each other, all the while killing some zombies in their wake.

Who knew a zombie plague could help save a marriage and I don't mean kill your spouse kind of save. The two main characters are fun and funny as they were trying to save their marriage pre-zombie plague and not are kind of stuck with each other post zombie plague and they still have quite a few issues to work out. But really what better way to get some anger out than taking out a zombie or two or three. I liked that Petersen kept Sarah and David's relationship very true even after the zombies started appearing, I mean it is not like they are going to change overnight.

You do not really get to know each main characters individually as Sarah and David are always together and really the story is premised about them being together. I would be surprised if Petersen decided to ever have them apart as their relationship and banter is such a key aspect of this story. This does not mean you do not get to know the personalities of the character, but you really do find out more about what caused their marriage to fail. It is more about how they interact with each other and what is going on in the world around them, than getting to know them on an individual basis.

Overall, this is a fun read, that I was able to get into and I think that this was due to Petersen being able to find a balance between the cuteness, comedy and zombie violence in this book/premise, which I think will help this book appeal to more people. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Angela Marsons: Evil Games

While I do not think that it is completely necessary to read the first book in this series to understand the relationships and who Kim is in order to enjoy this book. I think you would be doing yourself a disservice of not reading Silent Scream as it was an awesome debut novel and I highly recommend it.

There are a series of murders and events happening that do not seem to be connected, yet D.I. Kim Stone has a feeling that there is more to these murders than meets the eye. Convicts who were doing well on their programs are all of a sudden taking part in revenge killings, but nothing seems to link them. Kim doesn't know it yet but she is up against a sociopath who likes to know the weaknesses of everyone who comes into contact with her and she is determined to make Kim on of her victims. As Kim struggles with trying to put the cases together, she realizes that her own past is about to be brought to the forefront and she just might not be able to handle the consequences. A cat and mouse game of the minds is about to occur and it is winner takes all.

When you read not only an amazing debut but one that is going to be part of a new series, you often wonder if the author can follow up with another great read and Marsons does it in spades. Often I find that once authors have a formula that works they tend to stick to it, this is not true to with Marsons. In Evil Games, Marsons creates a whole new set of cases and adversaries for Stone and her team to be up against. It was also interesting that Marsons decided to put Kim up against as Sociopath instead of a Psychopath (thank you for doing something different) which adds whole new elements to the story and Kim as a character but also Marsons' ability to create an interesting plot.

Kim is a fantastic character, yes she is damaged, she really does not hide it (but hides the context of it really well), but I really appreciated that Marsons forced Kim to, start to overcome the damage parts of her that her past has caused. This shows to me that Marsons is going to let Kim grow and change as a character over time, which I think is needed in every series.

In this book you know in one case that Kim and her team are working who the bad guy (or gal in this case) is, however, unlike other novels that have done this, Kim is aware of who the criminal is as well but she is struggling to put everything together. I liked that I was not waiting for the main character to catch up with the information that you, as the reader, already know. While reading it and Kim's struggles you feel more part of the investigation and the frustration that Kim has than just waiting for her to play catch up. I loved the interlude of word play between Alex and Kim as each tries to dismantle the other mentally. This book has the true cat and mouse game between the two of them and you never really know which one is the cat and which is the mouse.

What I like about Marsons' writing is that she understands that Kim and her team will never work just one case at a time. There are always new major crimes cases that need to be solved and you have to split your time, energy and team between them. This to me sounds very true for any police team, constantly pulled in more than.

Marsons is fast becoming one of my favourite mystery/thriller authors out there and I hope that she can keep up the awesome ideas and writing. I am looking forward to the third book, Lost Girls, in her D.I. Kim Stone series, is a must pick up and read for me.

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