Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jennifer Estep: Spider's Revenge

This is the fifth book in Jennifer Estep's Spider Assassin series therefore there are four others that you need to read before this book, Spider's Bite, Web of Lies, Venom and Tangled Threads.

Gin Blanco, also known as the retired assassin The Spider (though she is really far from retired) has decided that it is time to make the one hit that is really going to matter and change the lives of everyone living in Atlanta; Killing Mab Monroe. Gin has been killing as The Spider for years, she know patience, planning and the deadly arts needed to kill but for some reason killing Mab is not quite going as planned. As more people that Gin loves are put in danger and a price on Gin's baby sister Bria's head, Gin is going to have to work fast or Gin is going to be on the wrong side of Mab's fire magic.

Honestly, this is the book that I have been waiting for in this series, this is what the previous four books have been leading up to the fight between Mab and The Spider and what a fight it is. The fight in this book is what I wanted to happen in Ilona Andrews' novel Magic Breaks but that book never got there, it was just more mind games. I like that Estep drew out the fight and showed that even The Spider can have a bad day and does not always succeed; I like how this tests Gin. I still love Gin as a character, and I found that Gin did grow in this book with allowing more of her friends to actually help her as well as her relationship with Owen. It is always nice to have an author that is able to allow their main characters grow and change.

I wish that Estep was a little freer with having some of your favourite or secondary characters die or get hurt. I find that you knowing (based upon all the other books) that everyone is going to be okay takes away from the overall suspense of the battle scenes and that Gin and her friends are involved in. I thought that Estep was going to get there in this book, but she didn’t quite make it there. I also find that Estep repeats herself in each book about how Gin started as an assassin, her history/how she ended up with Fletcher and her ice and stone magic, her preferred weapon ect. The only way you would not know these things is if you have not read the previous 4 books, which I doubt since not too many people start with the fifth book in the series. I wish that Estep would fill these repeats (and I mean she does mention it more than once in the book) with something of more substance, instead of filler in each chapter.

I do wonder where Estep will go from here as this would have been a good end to the series but I think she is up to number 13 in this series and I really am not sure there is that much story left here as Estep would have to create an entirely new path for Gin and her friends. I know I will check out the next book in the series just to see where Estep takes it from here and see if she can keep the series interesting, innovative and alive.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blake Crouch: Pines

Blake Crouch takes the readers to Wayward Pines, where this small little town in Idaho has many deadly secrets to hide:

Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke was sent to Wayward Pines to locate two missing federal agents who have not been heard from in a month. Ethan is on his way there with his partner but the next thing is he awakes in a hospital bed being told that he was in a major car accident. The problem is he has no ID, no service weapon, briefcase and cell phone; Nothing to ID himself as a federal agent. As Ethan slowly makes his way around town, trying to piece together who he is and what has happened to him he keeps running into road blocks and the town just feels off. The more that Ethan tries to discover what happened to him and the other Agents, who were there before him, the more the town Sherriff becomes convinced that Ethan is not a Secret Service Agent. Ethan doesn't know it but he is part of a deadly game and it is Ethan vs. an entire town.

I wasn't sure about this book at first, but the more you read it the more you get drawn into the story of trying to figure out what is wrong with Wayward Pines and just when you think you have this little town figured out Crouch throws in another twist or turn. I think this is where Crouch succeeded in this book as he really does keep you guessing but then at times it does seem like he threw a few too many ideas into the mix but overall it is an entertaining read. The best way I can kind of explain this book is to use some movie references as that is what I kept thinking the entire time I read this book. This book is part The Truman Show, The Purge, and Pleasantville. I realize that using these movie references will give some of the book away, but it nothing that you do not figure out yourself in the first part of the book.

I like Ethan as a main character. I thought his ability to push through the pain of his injuries a little bit extreme for the most part, as there are times when he gets quite injured and then expected to perform some pretty amazing feats. There are some action scenes within the book but they are mainly one on one battles that Ethan faces and Ethan proves himself resourceful and capable in each situation.

I have a thing for small towns in books (I've probably mentioned this in pervious reviews) but I love the subcultures that each author creates for their small town and the human interactions that they have with outsides. Let’s just say that in the small town of Wayward Pines, they have some very very different cultural ideas and how to deal with those who try to interrupt their perfect way of life and are willing to get violent to protect it.

I'm not sure I'm satisfied about how this book ends. I get why Crouch decided to end the book this way but part of me wanted something different, maybe a different choice to be made. I have just found out that there is a second book in this "series?" I thought that Crouch wrapped this book up at the end, so i'm going to take a look at what entails in the next book.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Susan Ee: End of Days

As this book is a trilogy you will need to read the first two books in the series Angel Fall (one of the best debuts I have read and it completely caught me off guard which was even better) and World End, in order to understand the fight that is coming as well as the relationship that Penryn and Raffe have developed.

Susan Ee is back with the conclusion of her End of Day Trilogy and it is a fight for the human race:

Penryn and Raffe are on the run after escaping the angels of the aerie. They are on the search for the twisted doctor who transformed Penryn's sister Paige into some form of a monster/human hybrid to see if he can fix her as well as Raffe's wings. But the angles are never far behind and Penryn now has a price on her head that makes her an attractive target for humans and angels alike. When apocalyptic nightmares are released on the human, the Angels know that the end battle is here and that the humans must be cleansed from the Earth to prevent it from falling into darkness. Penryn and Raffe are forced to choose a side, their own kind or each other.

I Loved this book, I was a little concerned about how Ee was going to end this trilogy as I found the second book a little slow and basically a remake of the first but holy crap, Ee did not disappoint with this book. This book had the spark of the first book in the series that I was hoping and waiting for.

I really liked the darkness that Ee introduced with the inclusion of scenes from the Pit. I also liked learning about Beliel through Pookie Bear. The tortures that he and the fellow watches suffered because they fell in love with the woman of men were very dark and I was surprised (but a good surprise) once again about the amount of detail that Ee chose to go into for those scenes This was one of the aspects that I found missing in the second book and the scenes in the Pit also added to the overall suspense of the book.

As this is classified as a New Adult or YA book I was not sure how far Ee was going to take Penryn and Raffe's relationship.
This is a YA book so you know that Penryn is going to be awkward about the relationship, not know how to proceed and maybe make some bad choices, this is what happens in adolescent and I think this might even be heightened if you grow up in a apocalyptic world and have to take care of your family before anything else. Guys are really the last thing on your mind.

As you have read in the previous two books they do care for each other but know that it is bound or relationship that they are unable to act on. I personally like that the entire plot was not completely centered around their needing to be together, they understand each other on a different level than that. Raffe knows that Penryn will do what she can to make sure that people survive and Penryn knows that Raffe needs to be with the Angels as that is who he is. They accept each other for who they are and I think that is the best part of their relationship, yes they both want to take it to a different level and there is some of that in this book albeit it is a bit clumsy especially on Penryn's part, but I don’t think it ever would have got there if the plot was centered around their romance. Although I will admit I thought there would be a different ending to this book around their relationship.

There were some things in this book that I found were not fully answered, explored or were hinted there would be more but never was. These aspects are mainly centered on Penryn's sister Paige. I think this is where Ee fell flat in this book. Within the book it was made to seem like Paige may actually be the saviour of Man with some of their new abilities and Locust friends, but once these ideas were introduced they seemed to fall by the wayside. And in the second book we discover that Paige has to now eat human flesh and she struggles with doing this so she starves herself because of how wrong it feels to her. I think the issues with Paige are wrapped up too neatly, off page and were not explored enough in this book as they should have been,

As a trilogy I was very satisfied of how Ee had the book play out and how it ended. That said would I would be okay if Ee decided to continue to write in this world, yep I would pick up future books, but I would worry about the story getting stale wonder what Ee will do next and I cannot wait to find out.


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Monday, June 15, 2015

Taylor Stevens: The Doll

You will need to read the first two books in this series, The Informationist and The Innocent in order to truly grasp who Vanessa Michael Monroe is, what she has survived and what she is capable of. They are also fantastic reads so that helps as well.

Taylor Stevens is back in the next installment of her Vanessa Michael Monroe series and Michael is going to ask the age old question of how far would you go for the ones that you love?

Typically when Michael finishes a job she makes sure that all of her enemies are unable to come back to hurt her permanently. However, it seems like someone from Michael's past has surfaced and knows how to pull all of the right strings to get her to perform how they would like. Michael is kidnapped by a man only known as the Doll Maker and thrust into the underground world of human trafficking but Michael is not the ideal type to be purchased, no she is tasked with the delivery of a very important and specific package that could be recognized by many around the world. As Michael struggles to allow someone else control her and looking for a way out, back home Bradford and the team are desperately looking for Michael and her best friend Logan. Michael has entered a deadly game and while she is not afraid to die, she hates to see those she loves and innocents suffer and when those two come into conflict she is going to have to choose one or the other and not everyone is going to make it out alive.

Stevens' books never seem to tackle the same topic twice (which is fantastic and keeps the reader wanting more), in this book Stevens’ set the stage for human trafficking and the fact that no one is really safe from it which is scary as hell. I liked that Stevens approached human trafficking from a different perspective in the use of the Doll Maker who has the ability to fulfill custom orders for his clients. Meaning his clients tell him what and sometimes who they want and he fulfills the order every time and the order that he wants Michael to help him fulfill is one of his most prestigious yet. As this takes place back and forth between Europe and the USA you are always worried about things getting muddled along the way; Stevens does an amazing job of laying out the plot and intersecting what is happening between the USA and Europe that I never felt lost in who was doing in what was going on. I think this was helped by having two main points of view which is different from her previous two books which had mainly POV from Michael.

Bradford saw a big jump in chapter time from his POV in this book and this mainly has to do with Michael not being able to be in two places at once but it shows the amount the Michael has learned to trust more and let him more in her life. Michael also realizes that she cannot do it herself and the amount of trust she places in Bradford is amazing compared to the Michael that we met in The Informationist (I love character growth). This did cause the book has some slower points when it comes to the action surrounding Michael as she is handicapped by the fact that the Doll Maker is holding hostage some of the people she loves and she knows any misstep will cause them to die. We do not really get to see the brutality that is associated with Michael at all in this book, not saying this is a bad thing just a change from the previous two, but as I said above, character growth. This also means that the fight scenes of the book occur with Bradford at the helm. While Bradford may not have the finesse that Michael has he is still pretty badass.

Michael's main talent that is highlighted in this book is her ability to assess every scenario and how she can use it to her advantage and how she has the ability to somewhat predict what her adversaries are going to do. Michael is unable to release the darkness that is inside her as there is more lives at play than just her own and while she is willing to let herself die there are those that she will not. It was also interesting seeing Michael's interaction with Neeva who is more of a hindrance than anything else but I found that Michaels was somewhat soft on her. But you have to give it to Neeva for being stubborn as hell and wanting her piece

I'm always happy when a book can surprise me and this book did not end as I thought it would be but that should be expected in Stevens' novels, no cookie cutter endings here. I'm always satisfied after reading a book in this series and it always leaves me wanting more so I am looking forward to picking up the next book in this series. Keep them coming Stevens as I know I will be there to read them.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Matthew Reilly: The Great China Zoo

Matthew Reilly is an author known for his non spot action and this is no different, well except for the introduction of dragons:

The Chinese have been hiding their biggest secret yet for the past 40 years, they have made a discovery that had the ability to change, shape and even destroy the world. They have proven the existence of dragons a discovery that will amaze the world, at least that is what they are hoping to achieve with the opening of The Great China Zoo. Chinese leaders have allowed a few very important and influential people from the West to view the zoo before they officially open and among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron who was once the foremost researcher on the largest known lizards on earth, crocodiles. But all her knowledge and training will not prepare her for what she about to witness. Although their Chinese hosts assure them that everything is safe with everything that mother nature’s creates and humans trying to shape it to their will, there will always be consequences.

Matthew Reilly's Scarecrow Series is one of my all-time favourite series for an action adventure read. In that series Reilly is not afraid to have his main characters injured or even die (the death in the book Scarecrow still breaks my heart). I have tried to get into some of his other series, Jack West Jr. Series (7 Ancient Wonders) but they have lacked some of the chemistry and characters for Reilly's Scarecrow series. When I saw that Reilly had a new book out with a female lead I wanted to give it a try, Reilly tends to always have a strong female character or two in all his books and I wanted to see how he had one as a lead character.

CJ is way way too lucky in this book it seemed like at every turn that there was a tool that she could use to get herself out of trouble and she was even more quick thinking and on her feet that a trained solider, which I found a bit off. CJ main comes unscathed throughout the novel (yes there is an injury here and there, but it never really seems to slow her down) and I found this took away from the suspense for the book. Any time she was in a situation that looked impossible I was just waiting for the perfect tool to show up, which it always did. This is not to say that CJ is not resourceful, she is to an extreme degree but it seemed like she was able MacGyver her way out of every situation, which takes away from the thrills and suspense Reilly was going for.

Reilly does take you on a thrill ride through The Great China Zoo, there are some interesting and unique action sequences that he has written out and this mainly has to do with the introduction of dragons into the book. Reilly is also very creative in some of the death of the characters in the book and some are downright gruesome.

I think the aspect that Reilly did the best with in this book was his creation and take on the dragons, the different kinds and really the strength and weakness of each. He gave the dragons the ability to be the superior being in all sense. It was interesting to watch the dragons execute the plan that they had made, and how us dumb humans who think we are above everything, never saw it coming.

I appreciate that Reilly took a different step in the use of dragons in his novel, though this is not the first time he has introduced a different creature (see his book The Temple, which is a good read too), however, I think this book lacked the suspense of his previous book of no one really being safe which I know I missed. I think Reilly is a great action adventure writer but missed the mark on this book with some of the things I have come to expect and appreciate in his other works.

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