Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hollie Overton: Baby Doll

In her debut novel, Hollie Overton tackles the journey of a young girl who went from captive to freedom:

Eight years ago Lily disappeared without a trace, many think that she is dead, but she is not. She has been taken captive, abused, and taught to be his perfect Baby Doll, she would never try to escape, the punishments have been too harsh in the past when she has tried, but this night is different. She is sure she did not hear the door lock and heard him leave the house, is this another trap to see if she is still his perfect doll, or is this her one chance to escape. Lily has to make a decision and she has to make it now for her own life and that of her daughter's Sky. But will anyone believe her if she makes it, will they accept that a trusted member of their community was her kidnapper and tormentor, she has to take the chance, it is the only hope she has left. This is the story that happens after.

Overton is no stranger to writing, she is also a writer for the Shadow Hunter Tv series (I do not watch this series so I cannot comment on the writing for that show), however, this is her first novel. As far as debut novels go, this one is good but there are certain aspects you can tell that make this a debut novel. I found that there were areas that I thought needed more exploring that were only hinted at throughout; mainly the Twin connection. The twin connection is referred to quite often in the book but never really expanded upon in any way. I never really felt like Lily and Abby were twins most of the time (other than their looks), just sisters and I think just having them as sisters would have made no difference in the book or how it played out. What I did like about them was that they were completely different people when Lily came back. Lily was stronger than ever and more protective than ever while Abby was weak on many front in her life. I enjoyed reading about this contrast between the two.

I am always a fan of a book that can surprise me and I there were times in this book that Overton was able to achieve this, especially in regards to Abby's character. There were events that I did not see coming or a turn that a character would make that I had not expected. I think surprises are key in this type of book when things can go very straightforward, so I am happy that Overton was willing to take some risks. I also think that Overton did a good job of understanding the dynamic between Lily and her kidnapper and the relationship that they had "built" through their year together. I wish there would have been a little bit more focus on this, but this is just a preference.

I dislike that the publishers compare this book to Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, this book is neither. I do not mean this in a bad way, this book has a different writing style, tone and overall idea that it is unfair to compare it to these two books. I also do not think that this book should be classified as a thriller, but that is my personal opinion when it comes to that genre.

This was a good read and a good debut novel. There were a few elements that I think could have been expended on and developed more, but overall I enjoyed reading this book. I look forward to reading more from Overton.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ilona Andrews: Magic Shifts

This is one of my favourite urban fantasy/paranormal series, and in order to fully understand the world and characters you will need to start at the beginning Magic Bites. I dont have a reviews for the first few books in this series, as I started reading them before I started reviewing and blogging, but there are some great reviews out there and I encourage you to check them out.

Ilona Andrews is back with the next book in her fantastic Kate Daniels series, and everyone want to know if Kate and Curran can survive without the safety of the Pack:
Kate and Curran are starting to adjust to life outside of the Pack, but it seems like the Pack is not quite done with them yet. The Pack offers Curran a stake in the Mercenary Guild and Curran sees it as a new opportunity for him and Kate. However, the Mercenary Guild want nothing to do with Curran or Kate and the Guild has fallen into dis-repair in both the office and the jobs they take. Kate knows to get things up and running they have to do all the dirty work and that means the jobs that have been left unfinished. But there are some strange happenings on the jobs and they all seem connected and  it is going to take everything they have to defeat this ancient being.

I have been reading Andrews since I started reading Urban Fantasy in the early 2000 (did I just date myself there?)...Anyways, Kate Daniels is still one of my favourite series and characters in this genre and I look forward to the release of the next book in the series each year. I have started many series throughout the years but some get forgotten or go by the wayside, but this has not happened with this series. I think that this is mainly due to the fact that Andrews has allowed Kate and Curran to grow as characters throughout the series. Yes they still have some of their same personality quirks that they had in the beginning but they have grown as characters and not so stuck in their ways that they cannot move on (I'm looking at you Anita Blake).

I loved the creativeness that Andrews showed in this book with the mutation of the bodies from one species to another. I kept thinking it was a different form of a hydra, kill one form of the species and the next one that comes out is harder and more deadlier than the last and I know that Andrews has not used this type of idea in her previous books in this series. That is one thing you can count on in this series is creativeness.
There were some interesting interaction between Kate and Roland, I cannot wait to see what type of game they are going to play with each especially with the premonition that was given to Kate from the witches. This premonition also shows the growth that both Kate and Curran are going to take and I hope that Andrews does not take too long to get there.

This book exceeded my expectations especially as I found the book before this to be the weakest in the series so far and maybe I was just a little bit worried that Andrews had lot her touch. I'm happy to report that the previous book, was just a blip in this series and I'm looking forward to the next book.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Paula Hawkins: Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins takes readers on a train ride (pun intended, you ride the train a lot in this book) of mystery and emotions, when you cannot quite remember what happened:

She rides the train in to London every day, just to cover up that she has lost her job and is no longer working. While on the train each day she starts it with a few drinks and watching the people who live along the train line. She passes her old residence where she had love and a future. Now there is a new happy couple living there and one of them is her ex-husband Tom. This is why she drinks, she cannot face the life that she now has when she once had the best life with Tom. the other house she notices is the one at the end of the street, where a new couple lives and she imagines them having a perfect life as they both look perfect. But when Megan goes missing, Rachel feels like she has seen something, knows something about her life that can find her. She wants to help the police but her own turmoil of a life put everything she knows and saw as well as her life at risk.

I tend to stay away from books that have a lot of hype around them (like fifty shades of grey) at least until the hype dies down a bit but I'll admit that I picked up this book because that it was being turned in to a movie and I always like to compare the book and movie. Based upon how amazing and awesome this book is being hailed, it took me way too long to finish it and I do not think that I should be able to figure out the "big" twist ect, fairly early in the book too, so this hindered my overall enjoyment of the book. I think that Hawkins does a good job of trying to lead the reader to different opinions on what not only happened to Megan but ultimately who is responsible, I just think her attempts were lacking in imagination.

I liked Rachel as a main character with all her flaws around alcoholism, blackouts and her bipolar disorder. This adds real dimension to her character as she tries to muddle through what happened to her that night. All these flaws make her character not only damaged but also interesting. As her mind is pretty jumbled chapters about her and from her point of view can be frustrating as a reader as you really just want her to remember. Her decision making process is also not the greatest too and she end up getting herself in trouble more than once with the decisions she makes, but it is her overall eagerness to help that makes her endearing and the character you cheer for.

I think that I must have a different idea of what a thriller is supposed to be but for me other than the last quarter of the book I did not have this feeling. For me a thriller needs to leave me on the edge of my seat, have me staying up late to read just one more chapter and this did not achieve this for me. It was an interesting who-done-it type of book, but thriller it is not.

For me this book was a disappointment due to all the hype associated with it and the fact that it was being turned in to a movie. I would read another book by Hawkins as I think that she explored some interesting aspects in the book especially around Rachel's alcoholism.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Darynda Jones: Third Grave Dead Ahead

If you want to start this series, you will want to read the first two book before this one, First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left.

In the Third book in her Grim Reaper series, Darynda Jones takes the reader on a ride from Reyes to a missing person case:

Charley Davidson, aka Grim Reaper (though not the cloaked skull looking one) did not know what the consequences would be by binding Reyes to his physical body. She certainly did not see it leading to her not sleeping for 14 days straight. It's hard for her to function or do work in her private investigators business but she trudges ahead. When a strange missing person case comes to Charley she has to drink as much caffeine as possible in order to stay on her game as it sounds to her that this missing person case is about to become a homicide.

It was about 2013 the last time I read a book in this series, it was one that I remembered enjoying but for some reason stopped reading it. So I decided to pick it up again, and I will say that it is funny how taste can change over a few years. You basically get hit with a sex scene right from the beginning (not my favourite thing in books) and this set the main tone for the majority of this book. I will say that it was easy to pick back up in this series even after three years as Jones does a good job of rehashing the major points from the previous two books in the series

I'm a sucker for a Grim Reaper. I personally have not read too many books that feature a Grim Reaper so I am always interested in seeing different authors interpretation of that character. I find that Charlie is the portal to heaven interesting and I wonder if that aspect can be developed further later in the series. I also find it interesting that Charley does not know the extent of her powers, other than talking to the departed, and that she has not taken the time to really learn what she can do. I also hope that her additional powers are developed later in the series.

I can say that I am not fan of Charley for the most part of the book, I just found her pretty whiny and maybe a little too much of a smart ass. Maybe all her snarky comments was just Jones playing up her lack of sleep in the book. I cannot remember her in the previous books and what she was like, but I do remember liking her, so it is possible that Jones is really trying to make Charley as real as possible. I know I would be barely (and I really mean not) hanging on without sleeping for 14 days. However, Charley does have her redeeming characteristics of putting herself in the line of danger so that others can survive or do not get hurt. Can you enjoy a book and not really like the main character? I would say in this instance yes, as I did find myself enjoying the book, just with more eye rolls that usual as I read it when Charley would have a very immature, stupid or extremely bad timed comment.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, minus the main character, so I'll see how things goes in the fourth book to really help me decide if I will go on from there (I checked and there are eight books so far in this series, that is serious commitment if I do not like the main character).

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