Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Brian McClellan: War Cry

Brian McClellan drops the reader in the middle of a war zone where the platoon is playing a cat and mouse game with the enemy:

Teado has been part of the war since he was a child working in the aircraft and ammunition factories to begin with and then when he got older and his shifter powers presented themselves he was moved to the front lines of the war. Now with his platoon behind enemy lines with little support, they attack the enemy when they can in a cat and mouse game. Though it looks like the end may be near, the enemy has pushed their forces back leaving one of their bases vulnerable and loaded with supplies and the platoon is determined to take advantage but this supposed to be last raid is about to change the course of the War forever.

This book had some really interesting aspects going for it especially around the main character Teado and his abilities but this were overshadowed by the lack of world building, backstory and lack of overall premise as well. Yes, Teado and his platoon are playing a deadly cat and mouse game with the enemy but who is the enemy and why? Why is the platoon who are serving an important job have little support or resources? What planet or world or wherever is this story set? It has an early WWI feel to it but there is also magic and shifters abilities. I think my main problem with this book is I had more questions than answers. I know this was a novella but I have read other novellas that are better laid out and give some sort of backstory and world building so the reading gets the idea of what is going on and why. The story did get more interesting the further you read with Teado going on a mission, but it just wasn't enough for me.

The one aspect I liked in this novella was the main character.  His abilities are really interesting and different from other shifters more like a lizard alien thingy, with armor that bullets are unable to pierce. I liked that he was extremely brave and was willing to push himself to his limit and beyond as well as sacrifice himself in order to save his team. However, other than those qualities we do not really know much about him and why he joined the war, once again missing some form of a back story.

So this novella left a lot to be desired for me as I just have too many questions left off after reading this book. If this does lead into a series or a second book i'm not sure I would continue on even though it got a little more interesting near the end.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Agatha Christie: And Then There Was None

Agatha Christie’s takes 10 complete strangers from very different backgrounds to a remote Island where murder is a foot:

"Ten little boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little boys traveling in Devon; One said he'd stay there then there were seven. Seven little boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in half and then there were six. Six little boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five. Five little boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four. Four little boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. Three little boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Two little boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one. One little boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none."

The above poem really does a good job of setting the whole premise of the book, and while there are 10 characters for you to get to know I will let the book tell you about them. I wonder if Christie read this poem and designed her whole plot around it. It is such an interesting, morbid and different poem that I could see why it inspired her. I have not read many Christie books but those that I have I have enjoyed and this book was not exception. I like that this book takes place in the past where there is not sudden discovery of DNA or some computer software that can find the perfect evidence or clue at the perfect time. It makes so much more interesting and challenging to just go on the bare facts.

I think that this book has aged well, for the most part. I mean stick some strangers on a remote island with not cell service or internet access and you could have this book in modern time. Other than some verbiage (Queer is the word of this book, I mean it is said every few pages), this book does hole up really well. Though I believe the previous versions the verbiage were much more of the time.

It is hard to really get to know any of the characters as there are 10 in total and really with them dying all the time it is hard to really get to know them. It was interesting to see who they would point their fingers at and their reasons for it. Stereotyping was quite common in their reasoning as well as you guessed it the word Queer. 

I really enjoyed this book and trying to figure out who the killer was, was it one of the 10 or someone hiding in the house or on the Island. It was great fun to try and figure out what was going to happen next and how Christie would interpret the poem to her advantage. 

Agatha Christie really is the Queen of mystery and I look forward to finding another book by her. What are you favourite Christie reads?

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Friday, January 3, 2020

BR Kingsolver: Shadow Hunter

In The first in a new series BR Kingsolver shows what happens when a trained assassin leaves the Illuminati:

Erin was sold to the Illuminati by her parents when her magic developed and how strong it was. So began her life of learning to be a Spy, Assassin and Thief. She is told that she is helping people and that the Illuminati are guiding the world for the better place. What she learns when she is tasked with eliminating a rival secret group and stealing an artifact is the opposite; The Illuminati are only about their own power and gain. She had been lied to for most of her life. She has been working for the dark not the light. This causes her to take drastic measure and somehow she ends up miles away on the run working as a bartender at Rosie O'Grady's Bar and Grill. Erin just wants the quiet life but trouble seems to follow wherever she goes.

This was the first book that I have heard of by Kingsolver and I wonder why I have not heard of her before, as this book was really fun to read, had interesting characters and I was wanting more of Erin and Rosie's Bar at the end of the book. I actually found it a nice replacement for Kate Daniel's Ilona Andrew series (So far, but we are only one book in) as there are some definite similarities between the two main characters (I still love Kate more though, lol). I really felt like the beginning was a bit rushed with Erin's training and being part of the Illuminati. As this is what has defined her for so many years it would have been nice to have a  bit more background than just the beginning few pages and snippets throughout the book. It also seems odd at times that with all her training that they did not do more cultural integration into a new environment as there are times in the book where she feels lost/naive in what should be familiar situations/events but she can mix any drink Sam asks her about, seem a bit of a clash in her characterization. 

What is really interesting in how Kingsolver decided to do with Erin (aside from her school powers) is as much as she tries to hide, she does not do it very well, where did all the spy training go? There are times when she almost flaunts her powers and abilities, so of course people are going to be suspicious of her and her possible connection to not only the Vampire deaths but also possibly being a hunter as well. However, by not really hiding her powers Erin shows who she really is and her need to help and protect those around her even if she has only known them for a short amount of time.

There is a nice sense of magical community and all your favourites are there, witches, werewolves, mages, Fae etc but there are some that I was not familiar with as well. It seems like Kingsolver has done some research on different entities from different cultures. But the world building is nothing special but I do not mind that as I was able to immerse myself into the story right away.

This is great start to a new series (though there are some flaws in Erin's characterization i think and the world building is lacking) and I look forward to learning more about Erin, this world and her history with the Illuminati. I am also going to check out some of the other series that she has written as well. Really happy I discovered her book. 

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