Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chris Knopf: Cries of the Lost

I have read some reviews that have stated that is book could be read as a stand-alone novel, but I completely disagree. I think you need to read Dead Anyways before this book as it sets up everything and more for this book and I feel that a reader would be at a disadvantage if they did not read the first book in the series first. Plus the first one ends in a nice cliff hanger which will bring you to this book anyways.

When Arthur Cathcart emerged from a coma, he thought that that only mystery was who killed his wife Florencia and attempted to kill him. But his search for justice has uncovered a whole new mystery that Florencia seemed to be involved in, and what appears almost a whole life that Arthur knew nothing about. Arthur does what he does best, finding out information about people, he just never thought that he would have to do it on his deceased wife and what he would find would start the bullets coming for his head again. As Arthur follows the path around the world to track down who Florencia really was, he soon realizes that he is in a Cat and Mouse game with the USA government and terrorist groups alike.

It was a while ago that I read the first book in this series, so it took me a bit to remember what had happened in the first, but Knopf did a good job on going over the main parts of the previous novel in this series. That said I do not think that this book could be read as a standalone book as everything in this book is based upon the first one.

This is a book that you cannot just skim over you have to pay attention as there is a lot of information coming to the reader and just missing the tiniest piece will throw you off. This is why I liked this book so much, it is smart, intelligent and you never have the full picture as you are waiting for Arthur to uncover the next piece of the puzzle for you both to put it together. There is no figuring it out beforehand in this book, though you’re welcome to try (I always do). Additionally, I liked that it is not all about thugs and guns and shoot ups (though there are a few in there as well). It is more about the digital age that we live in now, how information is accessed and how easy it is to find information online as well as procuring things online as well. It is amazing what you can do with a little bit of knowhow.

What I love about Arthur is that he is not willing to leave the mystery alone; he has this quality in him that he NEEDS to know. He needs to know his who deceased wife Florencia was why she did what she did and who she was involved in. It is not enough to just pull the thread he needs to unravel the entire thing. This just adds to Arthur tenacity to the point that he is willing to put himself and his girlfriend Natsumi in danger. Arthur is really more about his brain than physical ability and the relationships that he has made along the way are who help him out with the brawn that he needs. Arthur is very aware of himself and what he can and cannot do as well as his physical appearance and it is nice to have a character that is very self-aware. The one thing I do not like about Arthur is that he always comparing his old mind to his new one because of the bullet to the head and the coma he suffered. I understand that there is a change in how he thinks but he just really does need to accept it and that his new mind is just a brilliant as the old just in a different way.

My only complaint of this book and I think I had the same complaint in the first book was Arthur's reliance on just Google. There are so many other websites out there, Google really only gives you max of 10% of what is on the Internet and that includes going through every page. While you can tell this book is well researched in the art of money laundering, coding and searching for information, I wish that Knopf would have branch out from Google.

I like the sophistication that Knopf writes with and the way he takes his main character around the world. You really do need to pay attention as you read this book in order to solve the puzzles that Arthur is trying to compute, so I guess with those words I would not consider this book an easy read that you can just skim through. I will for sure continue on with this series and have found that Knopf has written another one as well that I will be checking out.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too: 
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2014/03/matthew-quirk-500.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2013/12/russel-blake-silver-justice.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2012/03/angela-gerst-crack-in-everything.html

Friday, July 24, 2015

Kiera Cass: The Selection

Kiera Cass takes the readers to on a journey that I am sure most little girls and some adult women dream about, the chance to marry a royal Prince:

Thirty five girls are given the chance of a lifetime, a chance to improve their life and that of their family. America is probably the only girl in all of IllĂ©a that does not want a chance to wed the Crown Prince, she has found her love in Asher a boy that belongs to Caste 6. That is the problem though he is in a caste below her and that can cause problems for them when they decide to wed. Asher knows what a chance of being part of the selection would mean for America and her family so she encourages her to submit her name. When America is selected among the thousands she is forced to leave everything she knows and enter into a competition where up for grabs is a chance to be a princess, which means fierce competition. America did not know what it meant to be in the palace and to live that life, there may be luxury but also fear as there are rebel attacks where some become deadly. She doesn’t know if she wants to stay, but then she meets Prince Maxom and all her well laid plans seem to change.

This book was recommended to me by a friend, she told me not read what it was about beforehand and just give it a try which I thought sounded a little bit fishy. When I saw the cover I knew I would never have picked this book up, as it looked way too romancey based for me, but I still decided to give it a try. I will not lie, I got sucked into America's (is the main character's name, not the country) story I wanted to see how it played out and I was intrigued in about the different caste system that Cass introduced the reader to as well as the rebels fighting against the palace. For me this was a good read as it was an easy one and was able to keep me entertained and I needed something like this after the most recent books that I have read.

I don’t know if i'm alone here, but I am not a biggest fan of her name, America, it did not bother me that much when I was reading the book, maybe because she was mainly referred to as lady America in the book but each time I write it in this review, the name is starting to bother me. Besides the name, I liked America as a main character, I liked that she was not afraid to question the Prince and those around her, would fight for her friends, caste and those in the caste around her. Does she have some silly girl teenage moments in the book, sure, but this is a YA read for a reason, so I cannot hold that against her. Personally, I'm actually surprised at how mature America ended up at the end of this book and the decision that she made.

I found that the world building was lacking a little bit in this book and Cass does try to make up for this by have the selected go through a history of the realm class in order to fill this void. I also wanted more information about the North and South rebels why they are fighting against the palace and the rule, and really what they want. I think this may be addressed in the next novels as it seems to be information that Maxom is trying to gather, but I think not knowing what they are fighting for does hinder the story. I wish there was a little more action with the scenes with the rebels instead of them happening more on the peripheral. Personally I could see America fighting them off and putting herself in danger to save others as she does flaunt convention many times in the book. I would have liked this type of twist or threat of danger in the book. I hope that Cass is just starting to build the interactions with the rebels and how dangerous they are and there will be more interaction with them in the future books.

I'm never a fan of a love triangle in a book, it doesn't matter on the genre or whether the book is written for a YA audience or an adult one, I have never been a fan of them. In this book you have the poor boy from America's home town, Asher, who she has two years of history with up against The Crown Prince, Maxom, who well is a Prince (see above about many little girls’ dreams, lol).

I guess you can say that I am surprised first that I finished this book and second that I kind of enjoyed it. I'm sure I will continue on in this series as I did enjoy the easiness of the read that this book presented me with but I think it will be awhile before I need this type of a break again, but it is always nice to have book likes these to read. For me this was the right read at the right time, but those who enjoy this type of read on a normal basis I’m sure will enjoy this book.


If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2010/10/kathryne-kennedy-enchanting-lady.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2012/10/ilsa-j-bick-ashes.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2014/02/emma-pass-acid.html

Monday, July 20, 2015

Layton Green: The Shadow Cartel

This is the fourth book in Layton Green's Dominic Grey series, the three before this The Summoner, The Egyptian and The Diabolist are all great reads and do set up the relationships that Grey has. However, I do think that this book could be read as a stand-alone novel, but I do highly recommend the other books in this series.

Layton Green brings Dominic Grey back and this time the cult he and Viktor are investigation goes hand in hand with drug trafficking and even more:

Dominc Grey is known for his investigation skills and the ability to get the job done no matter what, so when a former lover contacts him to look into a death of a family friend Grey never thought that he would become involved in an international narcotics trafficking investigation. Multiple murders of drug dealers would be seen as a positive to many people, but it is the manner of death that seem to be associated with a bizarre religious ceremony and a mythical assassin that the FBI believes it is only a matter of time before the public gets caught in the cross fire. FBI Agent Federico Hernandez and CIA operative Lana Valenciano are running down the same path as Grey but they all seem to have their own agenda and trust is always in question. Grey and Viktor need to need to figure out the religious connection in order to identify the General, the one pulling the strings which has all the cartels scared and the body count on both sides of the law increasing.

I honestly do not know why Green is not a more well-known author or on the top of best read lists. His books are well researched, well written, intelligent, interesting, sometimes downright scary, great investigative work and lots of action scenes. His Dominic Grey series is one of my all-time favorites as it had a mix of everything I want in a mystery/action adventure/thriller novel. I love that Green lets his main characters get hurt, both physically and mentally and he is not afraid to push the limits and boundaries of either of them. You can also tell by his writing style that you never know who is going to make it out alive or whole in each book and that also goes for the main characters as well. This adds to the overall suspense of the book, as you start to think, will this be it for them. I know that helps keep me on the edge of my seat.

Green has introduced me to cult from around the world that I have never heard of and shows the ever reaching power they can have over people, cultures and society. I do not think I have read a series that divulges into to the cult world so thoroughly that you can tell that Green does a massive amount of research before he write these novels. I will say that the second half of this book had less "cultness" in it and it was more about the power of the General, but the power that The General was ever reaching and in some ways I feel like Green is pulling on something that has actually happened.

At the beginning of this book, Grey almost seems normal. I mean he still has his demons from his past, and his interactions with cults in previous books, but he seems to be working on something positive in his life. I actually wish that there would have been more of a connection to the beginning of the book of Grey teaching students the art of fighting and self defense. I really enjoyed this new aspect in Grey's character and wellbeing that I was a little disappointed that there was not more of it. But this would not be a novel written by Green if he made Grey’s life easy.

In the previous books the parts that were detailed by Viktor Radek I tended to find a bit slow, but I understood their importance in the novel as Viktor is really the brain of the operation and Grey the brawn. I found that Viktor was missing in his book and his detailed explanation on how the cults works was missing and this was a key piece that I always enjoyed in Green's novels. Green uses so many unique cults that Green has introduced me to that I find these part really interesting. I understand why Green had to put Viktor on the back burner in this book, and you will have to read The Dialbolist to understand, but I really did miss him in this book. I hope that we see the return of more of the partnership between Viktor and Grey in the next book, well that is if Grey can survive.

Layton Green is an author that I have been enjoying for a few years now, and while I think this is my least favourite so far in the series, this does not mean this is a bad read. It still had many of the aspects I have come to expect from his writing that will always keep me coming back for more. Highly recommended author and series, there needs to be more books written like this series and of course more Dominic Grey.

If you Like This,
Check These Out Too:
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2011/06/richard-doetsch-thieves-of-heaven.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2014/03/taylor-stevens-informationist.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2015/01/michael-koryta-those-who-wish-me-dead.html

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Justin Cronin: The Passage

Justin Cronin takes the reader on a tale of survival, with the story of Amy who may be a young girl, but she is the hope for all of mankind:

Amy is abandoned by her mother at a nunnery thinking that she may be safe there, in the house of God with many new mothers to look after her. However, her mother's decision does not stop the shadowy government figures that have been hunting her from the day she was born from looking there and causing casualties. Amy is special but no one seems to  knows why but it has something to do with government experiment, called NOAH, that is being performed on the worst of society. When Special Agent Brad Wolgast, one of the agents sent to hunt Amy down, meets her he knows that he cannot hand her over to the government agency that he works for. Brad was a man who had nothing to lose, but he will go to any lengths to keep her save especially when the government experiment goes wrong and it is about to collapse society and the human race as we know it. All Brad know is that Amy is special, she is the key and keeping her safe is the only thing that may save them all.

This is a pretty epic read but a long winded one; you do need to commit a bit of time to this book from one century to the next. This does not mean that I did not enjoy this book but I will admit that I took a break between two of the parts. Vampires have become too cuddly feely so I like when an author decides to go in the complete opposite direction. While these are not called Vampires in the book, they are called Virals, Vampires is the closest paranormal creature to associate to them. These are not your twilight vampires (thank God) they are the creatures of nightmares, hunting, killing and creating more of themselves that they threaten to overthrow the human population. Though some people equate this book to a horror novel, and while there are some parts that are scary (I think the whole government NOAH project is one of the scariest I have ever read) and depiction of gory scenes I don’t think it quite qualifies as a horror novel, for me it just did not get there.

The first part of the book is about Amy and that she is special, though we don’t really know why till part 2. You come to really feel for this little girl who does not understand what is going on, why her mother decided to abandon and why there are people after her. This leads her to Brad Wolgast who does not know why the company he worked for wants this little girl, but he knows that he cannot hand her over to them and he risks everything to save her. The love that her and Brad (very much a father daughter relationship) is amazing as Brad realizes just how important she is. Amy is a young girl so in the first part of the book she is depicted well as the child she is and you feel for her and the loses that she experiences as well as the fear she goes through.

It was interesting to see the connection between the first and second parts as you wonder what happens to Amy as what happens to her at the end of the first part is not clearly detailed (but I believe that Cronin does this on purpose). It has been about a 100 years since the first part and the world has gone to hell. The world has become one where you need high walls and as many ultraviolet lights in order to protect the cities (or more like Colonies) that are left. Cronin does an amazing job depicting this apocalyptic world of the future and the desperate state that the people are in. We also get introduced to a whole bunch of new characters that are a rag tag of survivors who are desperately looking where they believe is a human stronghold and hopefully answer as to how the world became this way. I don’t want to give too much of the second part of the book away but Amy is still alive 100 years later and does meet up with this group of colonists.

I think after reading this book you may feel like a break but know that you need to pick up the next book in this series. I am very interested to see where Cronin takes us in the next book in this series and I know I will be picking it up soon, I mean with the ending that this book had, you would be crazy not to pick up the next book.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2010/10/richard-kadrey-sandman-slim.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2013/02/alex-adams-white-horse.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2011/05/guillermo-del-toro-chuck-hogan-strain.html

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Amanda Kyle Williams: Don't Talk to Strangers

This is the third book in Amanda Kyle Williams' Keye Street series and the first two books in this series The Stranger You Seek and Stranger in the Room are both really good reads if you like serial killer books. However, since Keye moves away from Atlanta in this book and has little to no interaction with the people back there this book could be read as a stand-alone novel. Willaims' does a good job of showing who Keye is.

Amanda Kyle Williams is taking Keye out of town where a killer has taken years to re-offend:

Two bodies have just been found in the woods of Whisper Georgia, one recently dead the other had years to decay but there are similar elements of death that makes the Sheriff Ken Meltzer thinks that they are connected and he needs outside help. Outside help leads him to hiring Keye Street who was once an up and coming FBI profiler when her destructive tendencies and addiction issues got in the way and she found herself kicked out. When Keye enters into Whisper she can feel that an outsider is not wanted in this town but Keye has a job to do. As she looks over the evidence the more she is convinced that it is a town member who has committed these crimes but no one save the Sheriff is willing to believe her, they all think they know the people in the town better than her. When another young girl goes missing Keye is working against the clock to save another life, but as she gets closer she doesn't know if she can get there in time.

I found that this book was slow to start with Keye really just trying to get an idea of the town and the murders that have been committed. As this offenders seems to be okay with having a long cooling off period there are not any new bodies or kidnappings for Keye to be a part of at the start. Mainly she is dealing with historic information, which means less suspense than the case in the other two books. Also she is away from Atlanta so the relationships she has there do not play out that much in this book. I know that I missed the constant banter with Neil as he was often the comic relief in the book and while we do get a few phone conversations with Neil is it not the same.

I like that Keye has some time away from Rauser in order to really figure their relationship out and how not to screw this one up but I did not like how Williams kept bringing up Keye's sex drive and that she really wants to get it on with the Sheriff. I don't understand why she needed to have this in the novel it did not add to story other than to show that Keye is still insecure with her relationships and her constant reminder that she has screwed a whole bunch of them up. I do not think it added to her character in any way, if you have read the previous two books in this series you know who Keye is, her past and how she acts.

I have a thing for small towns in books, they always seem to have that creepy and eerie quality to them as well as their own sub culture and cliques. You get the full force of that as to how Keye is treated in this town not only for being an outsider and a woman but also Asian. She especially feels out of place with her interactions with the two detectives at the Sherriff’s department who cannot believe that their boss brought an outsider to help on this case. You can tell with each of her interactions with them that they think they are superior to her in every way even on the case because the Know the people in this town and are convinced it is a drifter/outsider.

I was able to figure out who the killer was about three quarters through the book, which I guess lets you know that you meet the killer in the book. This aspect takes away from my overall enjoyment of the book as I wait for Keye to catch up to what I already figured out. Though I will say the book did not end in the way that I expected, not so cookie cutter, which was unexpected and always appreciated as things do not always turn out right in the end in real life.

I think this is my least favourite book so far in the Keye Street series. This is a good book and it is still a good series and with interesting characters but I found that Williams was not as inventive in this book as the first two, I missed some of the other regular characters and this book lacked the suspense I wanted it to have. That said I would read another book by Williams, I personally want to find out what happened to Wishbone and when Williams is going to bring him back.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:
http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2011/01/kathryn-fox-malicious-intent.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2013/08/stephan-talty-black-irish-novel.html  http://j9books.blogspot.ca/2015/05/angela-marsons-silent-scream.html