Thursday, December 31, 2020

Anne Bishop: Lake Silence

While this is the first book in a new series, it is set in a world that is already developed therefore, I would recommend at least reading Written in Red which is the first book in the other series to familiarize yourself with this world.

In a new series based in the world of the Other, Anne Bishop takes readers to Lake Silence where there is no separation between the humans, Others and Wild Country:

Vicki received The Jumble in her divorce settlement but she was not entirely sure she knows what she has gotten into when she comes into her kitchen to see her only lodger Aggie, one of the crow guard, trying to heat up a human eyeball in the microwave. This event leads to a murdered human body. When the detectives arrive they are keen to blame the murder on Vicki. But why would they want Vicki out of the way? As Vicki and her friends search for answers, one thing is certain the Wild Country is deadly.

It has been a long time since I have read in Bishop’s Other series and while I think that the first series went on maybe a book too long, I was happy to return to the world in a completely different setting. I liked that Bishop used a similar format in this book, with three main points of view, two humans and one other. I like that this gave an overall view of the story as well as how they all see a situation.

I’m trying to think of the words to describe the story in this book as it not quite a mystery or thriller or romance, just a series of events and really getting to know the characters in this world and story. I was not surprised by how the events played out and who the bad guys were. There were also some patella and minimal interaction with characters from the other Other series, but this did not make this story feel less independent. I did enjoy the overall story and I think it had laid the ground work for additional books.

Vicki is a character that you root for and feel sorry for. She has many “flaws” in her thinking that had been ingrained in her by her ex-husband. Basically she see her self as too fat, hair too wild, everything is her fault when it goes wrong and that she is worthless. So while you cheer for Vicki as a character and she does have some character growth in the book but some of her chapters it is quite depressing. You can also see how nice and understands Vicki is a person and is the perfect person to run the jumble. 

I really enjoyed entering into the world of the Others again in a different setting and I look forward to the next book in this new off shoot series.

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Daco S. Auffenorde: Cover Your Tracks

In her debut novel Daco S. Auffenorde takes readers to a train, where two strangers are going to have to trust each other to survive:

Margo Fletcher is heading from Chicago to Spokane in the middle of winter, back to a family that she has been distant from for many years now. But she is eight months pregnant and there are some things that need to be said and put behind them. While passing through the Rocky Mountains, something triggers an avalanche. A stranger comes up to Margo and tells her they have to get to the back of the train if she and her baby are to survive. Margo ends up listening to him and it save their lives. However, now they are stranded in the wilderness with nothing to survive. Luckily for Margo Nick is an ex-army Ranger and a hunter and knows his way around the outdoors. He promises to help her and the baby. But should Margo trust him? He did just save her life, but he is a stranger, and some things just don't add up. Everyone has secrets and some are just more deadly than others.

I was drawn to this story for the premise of the book. It idea of having to survive in the winter with a stranger but also being extremely pregnant, I can read that, I haven't read a survivalist story in a long time but this is where the premise kind of steers you wrong.

This book tries to do too much. I think that the book should have been separated into two different parts with the the first being used to describe how Margo ends up taking the train. In the second part there could be more of a focus on the survival aspect and then had Nick's flashbacks in there as well. There are quite a few flashbacks throughout the book, and this muddles down the survival book aspects that the premise offers readers. Personally, I enjoyed the flashback aspects of how and why these two people ended up being on the train, more than the survival aspect, as once again it did not seem like this was the true focus of the book.

I also think that having the flashbacks with Nick throughout the book instead of a second part that I was able to figure everything out and the "big" twists that she had planned throughout the book.There was no shocker there for me. Don't get me wrong I was invested in both the characters throughout the story I just wish I would not have been able to figure the whole situation out. Trust me the flashbacks are extremely interesting and you get to know the characters from when they are children and has shaped them to be the people are now. If you like character development, Auffenorde gives it to you in spades.

The is one aspect within the book, that did not make since to me. Nick who is an Army Ranger, hunter, he knows his wilderness yet he states to Margo that there are Snow Leopards out there. Ummm nope, there are not, Snow Leopards do not live in North America, they live in a small region in Asia. I think Auffenorde meant Puma, mountain Lion or Cougar and none of those are refered to as a Snow Leopard. I realize it is a small detail but it goes against Nick as a character and I wonder how did the author or editor not catch this flaw.

This is such a catch-22 book for me, I loved the idea of the premise, it's not fully achieved until the end of the book, so i was disappointed by that. Yet i could not put this book down as I really enjoyed discovering who the characters were and what lead each of them to take a train across the country in the middle of winter. I think that this a is a good debut novel, and that Auffenorde story telling ability will get better the more she writes. There are great bones here and interesting twists that would knock people out if they were executed in a different way. I look forward to seeing what Auffenorde comes out with next.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Intisar Khanani: Thorn

In her debut novel Intisar Khanani takes readers on a journey where one Princess has two futures she must decide between:
Princess Alyrra made a horrible mistake growing up she displeased her family and the court, not their only use for her is make their contempt for her known. When a King shows up to offer his son's hand in marriage all of the Kingdom is shocked, why would anyone want Alyrra, but the marriage is advantageous therefore the documents are signed. However, there is another that wants the Prince for herself, one who has vengeance on her mind. The Lady, a sorceress will stop at nothing to claim the Price. When Alyrra refuses to hand him over, she robs Alyrra of her identity and her title. But Alyrra does not see this as a punishment, more of an opportunity to a new life, even as a Goose Girl. The more Alyrra learns about the Prince, the land, the people and the suffering, she must decide if her own happiness is worth that of the sadness of the kingdom.
This is a good debut novel. It does start off a little slow, but the second half of the book really picks up. You really get to love Alyrra as a character and the struggles that she goes through, and I will not lie there is one point of the book where I was maybe ugly crying a little bit, but I challenge anyone not to at that point. The world is not really defined in the book, but I likened it to something in the King Arthur era with the technology, setting and Mages instead of Wizards. I'm okay with the world building not being too strong as I did not find that it really took away from the story at all once I myself had established the world I believed it was taking place in. Also this book is not as romance as the premise of the book portrays, the "romance" in the book is really more of a relationship building than anything else and I like that Khanani did not see the need to have romance or sex in the book just to have it. The story unfold amazingly without it.

The beginning of the book felt a bit off as Alyrra is hated by her family but it is not explained why. Other than she is too honest, but what was she honest about or too honest about. So I was a bit confused and not sure about this book. However, by, I believe, chapter 3/4 we find out what Alyrra has done to earn the disliking of all those in her family and court. I just wish this would have been explained a bit earlier on, especially as it has so many ramifications on Alyrra's life at home, and we experience many of the verbal and physical abuses that she suffers from due to her being too honest.

I like that Alyrra is not your typical main character for this type of book, she is not kickass or knows how to fight or a smart add. Instead she has a quiet strength, the ability to adapt and a strong sense of protectiveness to those she cares about. She does struggle with what her choices are, best for her or best for the masses. She has no special abilities like some of those around her, but another of her strengths is to be humble, which is not something you see very often in princesses. Really it is hard not to love her as a character.

This book was originally published in 2012 and was just released again this year (2020), and it looks like there is going to be a second book in this series, which I look forward to reading. If you want a lighter fantasy read then this is a good book to pick up. I really enjoyed the story and Alyrra as a character.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

B.A. Paris: The Delimma

In her latest book, B. A. Paris shows how a small group of friends, has all the secrets of a small town:

Today is Livia's 40th birthday and she has been planning her party for 20 years, it is to make up for the wedding that she never had. All she wants to do is be the center of attention, bask in it and enjoy the night. But Livia has a secret one that will change everything not only in her family but for those who are attending the party as well. She is determined to tell Adam, her husband, about it after the party is over, she just wants one more night of normalcy. What she does not realize is that Adam is keeping a secret from Livia too, one that also has the ability to change everything, but he just want Livia to have one more night, have the party she deserves and the decisions they both make this night, will change everything.

This one is a hard one for me to review as there are quite a few aspects that I really enjoyed in this book but there was one main character that I could not get behind their thought process so when reading from his point of view I found it pretty infuriating. 

I think the aspect that I liked the most, was that this one party was like a small town in itself, all the secrets and lies that each person is keeping from the others for one reason or another. Some secrets are to protect others, others have the ability to destroy lives and relationships. I also enjoyed that this book is basically told within one day and that Paris did not draw it out over several days, due to the plot of this book, this timeline makes sense and I think with the flashback thoughts that the two main characters have, the reader get enough information in order to understand the history and relationship between the characters. I also like that Paris kept the secrets that Livia was keeping were not given away right away, this caused me to have several, albeit wrong, guesses as to what she is hiding from her family and friends. I also understand Livia's reasons for not telling Adam the secrets that she is keeping from him, but Adam is a completely different story.

This book really fell for me each time there was a point of view from Adam. I just could not fathom why he chose to keep the secret that he had from Liv. I mean if I found out what he did I would say Fuck the party, Fuck everything, I need to find out the truth now. I feel like that is how most people would react to this situation, and not want to have one last party for their wife. I don't care that she has been planning it for 20 years, there are just some things that take priority over others.

I am a fan of Paris, but this book is far from my favourite. I think that the general idea for the book is a great one and I enjoyed the small town feel at one party, but I just could not get past Adam's thought process and since he is one of the two main characters, you get a lot of his points of views. I will say that all of the books that Paris has released are all different from each other, so I am looking forward to what she comes out with next.

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Monday, December 7, 2020

Ernest Cline: Ready Player Two

I have read that some people do not think that you need to read Ready Player One before this book, but I would disagree with that assessment. I do not think a reader would fully understand the addictiveness of the OASIS and the format that Cline uses with his plot without reading that book first. So if you are interested in Ready Player Two, I would suggest reading the first book in the series beforehand.

Days after Wade win's Halliday's quest, Wade makes an amazing discovery in a vault in Halliday's home. It is a device that will make the OASIS even more addictive than it is now, as it gives users a new way to experience the OASIS. However, if Wade chooses to share the invention with the world there are some consequences that will affect not only the OASIS but real life as well. As Sam, is trying to save the world and prevent it's destruction, Wade's decisions will put everything in jeopardy, but they can prevent tragedy but they need to complete one more Halliday Quest.

Do you ever think that authors write a followup book for no reason, especially when things are wrapped up nicely in the end.For most of this book I was questioning whether a second book in this series was necessary. There were not really any plot lines that were still open from Ready Player One that there needed to be another book in this series. So I wonder why Cline decided to have a follow up nine years after the first book ended (was it for the money? or maybe to get the book back in the mainstream after the movie came out a few years ago?). Even more puzzling is that the book picks up just days after the first book end, so we don't really get any growth from the characters in the first bit they are still the same teenagers they were when the first book ends.

Honestly, the first third of this book is SSSSSLLLLLOOOOOWWWWW, like are we just reading this so that Cline can drop some obscure 70s, 80s and 90s pop culture references for us and nothing really happens, at all. Other than Wade discovering a new way to interface with the OASIS, people in the high 5 fight and this goes on for the first third of the book, on and on and on. If you can make it through the first third of the book the speed does pick up, but does it get better?

The best part of this book was finding out who the villain was going to be, what new threat the high 5 was going to have to deal with and I will say it was a surprise and one I did not see coming. But other than that, I did not find the quest as interesting and the tasks that they had to do each time, felt a little bit too drawn out to keep the reader interested, especially (in my opinion) the Prince one.

I kind of got sick of only having Wade's point of view as often times it was depressing to read how little he thinks of himself and finds his only value in the amount of Halliday knowledge he had. I like that this quest had him rely more on those within the high 5 and outside of it as well but I wish there would have been some chapters from other character's point of view to make it more of a well rounded story especially when they are the ones who have the knowledge to pass the quests, not Wade.

If you liked Ready Player One, I think that you will be disappointed with this book like I was. If you like all the obscure references that the first book had, you will probably enjoy this book a lot more than I did. It just felt to me like Cline was grasping at straws a lot of the time.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Megan Goldin : The Escape Room

Megan Goldin shows how disastrous one elevator ride can be:

Vincent, Jules, Sam and Sylvie are called in for a last minute meeting, they all believe that they are either going to get their bonuses or they are going to get fired as their team had not been performing well as traders and investors. What they do not realize is that the elevator they are about to enter it s trap, one that was designed specifically for them, one that will test their friendships, the hierarchy of their team and their own sanity.

I really enjoyed this book and one of the best parts was that it was completely different story than The Night Swim, which I read earlier this year. Yes, there were some similarities in format (present and past alternating chapters) but that was about it. What is different is the story angles in the past we have the point of view or Sarah Hall the newest member on her team and in the present you get points of view from each of those trapped in the elevator. 

I like that Goldin had the idea of an Escape Room, which have become popular as team building exercises and in this plot it make sense for this team to do something like that, with their struggles. I also like that this book highlighted some of the problems within Wall Street, especially the sexism and what people's worth is seen as solely based upon their gender. This is seen in several different ways throughout the book, from hiring to year end bonuses.

I like that it starts at the beginning and then takes us back as to how these four people end up in the working elevator and trying to figure out who put them there. We get to see how ruthless each of the people in the elevator are and how they would do anything from money and to protect themselves. This book is about the long game for each of the characters, how to succeed themselves while hoping others around them will fail. And although this is a close nit group, that does not mean that they play dirty with each other as well. There are some twists and turns along the way about who would put them in the elevator and while I able to figure some of twist (mainly the big one) I was not able to figure it all out.

Goldin is one of my favourite discovery of an author this year. I cannot wait to see what book and story she comes out with next. Highly recommend this author and book.

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