Sunday, July 25, 2021

Kiersten White: Chosen

You will need to read this first book in this series Slayer in order to understand the dynamics between the characters especially Nina and Artemis. Plus there are quite a few events that define what happens in this book so you really need to read the first book. 

The Slayer and Watchers are back, with a whole new bad and a whole new apocalypse that threatens the world:

Nina is trying to accept her new role in life as a slayer instead of a medic, and trying to change what the Watchers have been taught to do for generations and this includes being accepting of certian types of demons. Nina has decided to change the castle into a sanctuary where slayer and demons can co-exist and help each other. Nina just hopes that she is doing the right thing, so much is now on her shoulders, especially with Artemis fleeing the castle and Nina feeling even more darkness inside of her, so much she is having trouble controlling it. There also seems to be a new threat emerging, something to do with a strange triangle that seems to be popping up everywhere something bad happening and everything points to the apocalypse.

I feel like this is a Must Read for those who Loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer growing up, even though most of the comments surround Buffy are basically bashing her or really undermining what she had done for the whole (Honestly I feel at time White hated Buffy as a character) but it is an interesting world nonetheless. In this book there are more appearances and nods to characters that were both in Buffy and Angel series which I liked as it was like revisiting shows that I loved growing up.

I liked that there were POV from both Nina and Artemis, and I found that Artemis POV was a bit more interesting as she does act more grown up than Nina at time. Additionally, many of Artemis' POV were darker and more mature in nature so I think that had to do with why I enjoyed them more. I found that Nina's POV were thinking about a boy and being mad at Artemis. Also I love Doug as a character, there is something about his ability to smell how people are feeling, and letting people know that they are off and his overall love of Cold Play that I just loved him as a character.

I have one main problem with this book is that we know who the bad guy is right from the beginning, I wish that there would have been hints or something about someone that they trust betraying them. Instead we find this out basically at the beginning of the book and as the reader we are waiting for the main characters to figure this out and this completely takes away from the overall suspense of the book. It even takes away from the manipulation, because you know that it's manipulation.

I enjoy this series as it takes me back to the world of Buffy and I really enjoy this world. I am looking forward to seeing where White takes this series.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Melissa F. Miller: Irreparable Harm

In the first book in a series, Melissa F. Miller shows readers what it takes to be a top lawyer at a firm:

Sasha McCandless has one goal in life, make partner at her firm. Everything else in her life is on hold until that happens. When a commercial airline crashes, everyone on board is killed, it is Sasha's firm who is representing the airline company, they know there will be a class action lawsuit. This is Sasha's big chance and big case that could have the payoff that she is looking for. But the farther Sasha digs into the plane crash and company many aspects are not lining up and she discovers the unthinkable, could the plane have been crashed on purpose?

I love courtroom procedural books (and I don't read them often enough) when they are done right and I think when this book is taking place in the courtroom it is interesting and well done, but when the book moves away from the courtroom and lawyer aspects the book just becomes okay (at best). I found the book was predictable and you as the reader were waiting for the main characters to catch up with the information that we know, like we know who the bad guy is in the first half of the book. This is not my favorite way for a plot to be laid out as I find it hinders the suspense, causes to the plot to really lag as well with me, as the reader, trying to figure everything out which is part of the reason I read books.

Feel like this book shows that it was written in 2011 by having the female lead not only as a kick-ass lawyer but also amazing at some sort of marshal arts skills, that I cannot remember the name of, that no one can beat her at, especially when the thugs after her are the heavy just throw punches guys. She has some sort of tragedy in her past that she lives with and defines certain things she does now. On the other side of things, I really liked Sasha's mind and how she things of things in the law/court based approach of things and what she can do legally. Additionally, her moral compass is on point and even when there are millions even billions on the line vs human life.

I think that the relationship aspect was forced even though this is very secondary to the story with just some thoughts here and there it is totally not needed in the book and really did not even need to be hinted at throughout the book. Why can't male and female characters just work well together without them becoming a couple in the end. These two worked really well together and I felt that having them in a relationship didn't add anything to the plot (I feel that this also shows that this book was written in 2011).

So not my favourite read, I may try the second book in the series to see if there is more lawyer/courtroom scenes as I think that is what Miller did really well in this book and I hope that Sasha grows as a character too.

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Monday, July 12, 2021

Marie Lu: Skyhunter

In the first in a new series, a girl who is seen as a street rat, will be the one that helps the world she lives in survive:

There is only one country standing, Mara, against the Karensa Federation, who have made it their mission to conquer any country that stands in their way. Talin is a refugee from the Karensa Federation and although she is seen as an outcast there, Talin is part of the legendary Mara force, The Strikers and she is one of their best. When the Federation sends more and more Ghost creatures during each battle, Talin does her best to kill them all. When a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front lines, all of Mara is seeking his death, but Talin sees something more in him, is he a spy, or a secret weapon that could help save them all. With the Federation on their doorsteps Talin and the Strikers have to strike now in order to save Mara and all of her people.

This is the second book that I have read bu Lu and I liked it better than Warcross. I found that book was more mature and darker than Warcross and I felt that the characters were more complex as well. You can tell that Lu takes on larger topics in this books with the class system, racism, discrimination and sexism too. I have no problem with these topics being introduced in a YA novel, as all these aspects occur in our society now, but some of the darker moments may be a bit too mature for a younger YA audience. There is also a political game that is played throughout this book and I think this adds another dimension to the overall story that I really enjoyed, and this is where you see a lot of the class system and disparity played out in the story.

Talin became mute from the attack on her former home but she has not let this define her in any way shape or form. She is one of the best fighters in Mara's elite force, the Strikers but not just that she is smart and appears to understand battle strategy better than some of her superiors. It also has allowed her to remain on the outside of things and observe body language and read lips in order to understand what is going on around her. Talin is a survivor and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect those she loves and the country of Mara even though many of them scorn her.

The darkness in this book really stem from the Federation and what they are will to assure that they win at all cost. This includes threats to their soldiers' families as well as the creation of the Ghosts. Honestly the Ghosts are the scariest things in this book, and to have to witness a family member become one is just horrible to think of. 

I found the world building a little lacking in this book and I had to use my own imagination to fill in some of the gaps, but I think because we are learning about this world from Talin's POV. Her life was altered at a very young age, she does not fully understand why the people of Mara do not accept her and those who also fled there, but also why The Federation is hell bent on conquering everyone. We do get some bits and pieces of this information here and there but not to fully flesh out this world and it's part (though I have a feeling more is to come in the next book).

Now does this book feel like it has a bit of a formula that we often read in the YA genre, Yes, but that does not mean that I did not really enjoy reading this book (Plus I'm happy to report that Lu stayed away from the love triangle aspect, that you Lu). 

This book is a fast paced dystopia YA book that will have you want to read it in one sitting. Lu has mastered creating strong/interesting female character. I really enjoyed this book, and found that I was turning the pages faster and faster in order to read what happens next. I look forward to reading the next book in this series to see where Lu takes the story and her characters.

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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Mary Dixie Carter: The Photographer

In her debut novel, Mary Dixie Carter shows the extent a woman will go to to have the perfect family:

Delta Dawn has an amazing gift when it comes to photographing children, so much so that she is called upon NY elite to capture the important family events. When Delta is hired to capture the events of the Straub's only daughter, Natalie, birthday, Delta begins to wish that she was part of their lives. This is where Delta hatches a plan, to do everything in her power to become part of the Straub's life, t be part of there picture perfect family. Detla realizes that she's just as good at manipulating photos as she is manipulating people.

I think this book had a lot of promise and I have not read a book like this in a long time, but you can tell that this is a debut novel. This book attempts to be a psychological thriller but I do not think that it made it there, it was more of a slow burning domestic suspense. It is basically a book about a woman who becomes obsessed with a family, in a pretty creepy way, but it never surpasses the creepy factor to becomes a full on thriller. 

I wanted everything within this book to be more extreme, more manipulation, more Delta inserting herself into the family's life. I wanted to know more about Delta and her metal state, why she is doing what she is doing. I mean Carter hints to her past throughout the book, but is Delta really this way as she is just looking for and wanting a better family of her own? Or is there something deeper there as to her reasons why she is willing to do what she does for this family. I mean if you have read this book Delta does sacrifice quite a bit for the family as well.

I wanted Delta to be more manipulative than she was, I think there were opportunities for the within the book but Cater did not take them. Also as this book is only told from Detla's POV, we cannot really see what the inner workings of the manipulations that Delta has started, other than she just always seems to get her way. I just wanted more, and everything more extreme. Why just stick to the photographs of some of the things she picture, why not put more of those fantasies actually into the book. I also wanted a bit more in the ending, maybe Natalie's POV in the end, how her time with Delta had shaped her. Also, the ending seemed so abrupt and a complete 180 in attitude for Delta, like it seemed like she completely changed as a person.

This was an audio-book read for me and I was not a fan of the narrator in this book. She was good when she was doing other character's voices but I did not like her voice for Delta. I found it whiny and did not sound like it fit the character that Delta was.

This book was just okay to me, I wanted Carter to take a more extreme approach in Delta's behaviour, as i thought that there was just a gradual escalation of events and manipulation that never really hit the high point. I would try another book by Carter, I just suggest if you do read this book do not expect a thriller.

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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tyrell Johnsons: The Wolves of Winter

Tyrell Johnson, in his debut novel, takes reader to a small family group living in the Yukon after the collapse of civilization:
Forget everything that you knew before, as it will not help you survive in this new world. Civilization has collapse. Everyone who had Nukes used them and now Lynn and her family forge ahead, learning how to hunt, trap and grow their own food in order to survive. But everything is about to change when Lynn happens upon a stranger, it starts a chain of events that no one could see coming and the life that Lynn knew is about to change forever.
Really enjoyed the book (though I will say that I found the middle a bit slow) and it did not read like a debut novel as I found the plot, world and characters really fleshed out. I liked the atmosphere that Johnson created in this book, it was one that was all about survival and what it takes to survive and I think many people would be shocked to realize what we can live on and what we can live without. I liked that this book was all about nature and elements that one needs to survive not only in the forest by in Yukon (think way northern Canada, so long winters with lots of snow and -40 temperatures). I was on the edge of my seat each time Lynn decided to venture into the forest as you never know if she was going to return if nature or the elements would be the thing to take her, and trust me there are a few times where you do know if she will make it.
I enjoyed that Johnson took sometime to set up the past as to why Lynn and her family are now living in the forest, away from big cities and what caused everything to fall. Without these tidbits we would really be left wondering what was the point of it all. I like that Lynn does not know everything as this does leave some elements of surprise along the way as the book unfolds.

Lynn is a great character, that you really feel that you know right from the start. I could feel her struggle of trying to come to terms as the what her life is like now (she remembers, cell phones, TV and all the conveniences of modern life) but she really does excel at it. I find it funny that even in the need for survival and feeding the family, there were times when Lynn was told she was not allowed to hunt even though she was great at it. Lynn has an adventurous streak about her, and wants to know more about what happened to the world, though this does get her in trouble, but it is this that has helped her fight and survive this long.

One thing that was very interesting in reading this book in 2021 is that we learn along the way that civilization collapsed due a virus that was started in China which caused a pandemic. There are some other revelations around this aspect as well but I will leave them for you to discover when you read this book. If was just interesting foreshadowing on Jonhsons' part.

I will say that overall I did find the twist and overall layout of the plot a bit predictable, this did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, but I felt that the book followed a fairly standard formula, but I will also forgive part of this as this is his debut novel.

Although this book does not need to have a follow up or sequel, I would enjoy the chance to return to this world and Lynn as a character. I enjoyed the world, atmosphere and characters that Johnson has created here and I look forward to reading more books by him.


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Friday, June 18, 2021

Alex Michaelides: The Maidens

Alex Michaelides shows readers how susceptible people can be when they are entranced by an older man:

Mariana is a group therapist who is trying to combat her own trouble since her husband died in a tragic accident. Mariana knows that group therapy will not only help her but those in the group as well if they will let it. But Mariana is going to have to put her group session behind her when her niece Zoe calls her to tell her that her roommate is missing, and the police are investigating. Mariana knows that Zoe needs her so she drop everything and head to Cambridge, a school she once studied at as well. While Mariana is on her way, her body is found. What Mariana discovers when she reaches Cambridge is the murderer in Edward Fosca, however, no one is willing to believe her and he appears to be untouchable. He has created a group of young women called the Maidens who he rules over and they will do anything for him. Mariana will have to put all her training to work in order to prove that Fosca is the murderer before any more of the girls get hurt.

I think this will be a different type of review, as I am sure that most people who read The Maidens really enjoyed Michaelides debut novel, The Silent Patient. I'm here to say that I was one of the few that did not enjoy The Silent Patient, however, I did recognized that Michaelides had the ability to tell a story, I just found The Silent Patient was too much of a slow burn for me

So now that we have that out of the way, I will say that this book is the complete opposite of The Silent Patient and a much more traditional mystery novel. So if you are here for something different, like what was presented in The Silent Patient, you will be disappointed. I don't think I can say this enough, this is NOT The Silent Patient.

I wasn't a fan of Mariana "detective" type work? I found it a it mundane. Mariana was a slightly boring as a detective character as she just seemed to muddle her way through it, and thought that by just asking questions she could get the answers that she wanted. This is not how one would conduct an investigation as she completely ignores other evidence. Yes, questioning people is one part, but people are so subjective, remember things differently, and eye witness statements are often not trusted as you can have 10 different people tell you 10 different things after witnessing the same event. That said I think that Michaelides did a good job of lining up quite a few people who could be the murderer and I was just frustrated that Mariana seemed to focus on only one person, I guess it was a perfect example of tunnel vision in regards to a case. For me the more attention the author focuses on that person the less likely I'm going to believe that it is them, as everyone seems to believe there needs to be a big twist in the end, nothing is so straight forward any more. I was not able to figure everything out and did not see one of the twists coming that is for sure, so well done Michaelides, well done.

I liked the nod to The Silent Patient that Michaelides put into this book, it was fun to read and added a time context to everything that was happening and in a way changed how I saw certain things in the Silent Patient. It was not needed in this book but I think that is was a fun add.

I think that as Michaelides keeps writing his books will get better and better. I enjoyed this book much more than his debut and you can tell that Michaelides has the ability to tell great stories, just some of the details need to be worked out.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Tracy Deonn: Legendborn

In her debut novel Tracy Deonn she has brings the story of King Arthur to modern times:

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree is willing to do anything to try and get away from those memories. So when an opportunity for smart and bright high school students to attend a college, especially when her best friend Alice can go to, Bree jumps at the chance. Bree hopes that this will be the fresh start in her life and a way to figure out what she is feeling. That is until she witnesses a magical demon attack on her first night. Bree learns of a secret society called the Legendborn, who hunt down these creatures, and have for centuries as they are all descendant of King Arthur and his men. After witnessing the attack it it unlocks a memory that Bree had when her mother was in the hospital after her accident. This leads Bree to need to know more about these Legendborn, what she finds out will change her life forever.

This is Deonn’s debut novel and Wow did she start off with a winner. This book was well written, had interesting characters and story, the world building around the society was really well done. Simply put this was an Awesome Book, that I did not want to put down. Yes, there are a few slower parts in the book, but these are needed to help set up the world and Bree as a character. Yes, sometimes there is a little bit of a data dump for information about the world and society, but these are well placed in the book and make sense when they occur as we learn about everything at the same pace as Bree and well it is a big learning curve.

I think what I like about Bree the most was that she was so normal. She is attempting to deal with her grief of losing her mother and not sure how to deal with those feelings. She is living away from home for the first time and that is a struggle too. Additionally, when she is finding out about the secret society she is not afraid to be who she is and has to hit back at the racism that many of the members present to from the very beginning. I appreciate that Deonn did not have Bree hide behind Nick. To sum it up, although Bree is a normal girl who has entered into a crazy world, she is strong, fearless, smart and willing to push herself in order to find out the truth.

I like that Deonn did not shy away from the inherent racism that is part of society as well in of wealthy and white secret societies and how those within  it either embrace it, accept it or are blind in the fact that it was occurring (looking at you Nick). Additionally there are all the subtle and not subtle showing  of racism of what Bree faces on a daily basis.

I really liked the use of King Arthur and the retelling that Deonn has presented here but this seems to a common occurrence these days, this retelling  of the story or bringing it into modern times. I do wonder where one main character that is part of Arthur's story that is not mentioned at all in this book and I hope it is addressed in the next book. I think this is the third book I have read in the past few month that has followed King Arthur's story, I’m not complaining but I think I need a break from it for awhile.

I was not a fan of the insta-love with Nick, I think you understand why it is there once the story unfolds, but at the same time I think it hindered Bree's growth at times. I will not pass judgment on it yet, but I get the feeling of a love triangle coming, and I truly hope that Deonn does not follow many other YA authors into this trope of needing this. Are their things within this story that makes me think that she would have a better match with Selwyn at times, yes, but I guess I just have to wait and see how Deonn is going to play it in the next book.

What can I say, I really enjoyed this book, cast and world that Deonn has written was fantastic. It is great that Deonn has added her voice to world of authors, and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I still cannot believe that this was her debut novel. Bravo Deonn, Bravo.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Alice Blanchard: The Wicked Hour

This is the second book in a series and it is really important to read the first book Trace of Evil before this one, as there are many events within the first book that shape Natalie as a character and the town as well.

Alice Blanchard is back with the second book in her Natalie Lockhard series, and during Halloween all thing afoul in Burning Lake, including murder:

Burning Lake is known for it's connection to Wicca, so that means that people come from far and wide to take part in the Halloween fun that occurs each year. Every police officer is expected to help out in some fashion to help keep everything in line. Natalie goes above and beyond as she also volunteers the next morning to help cleaning everything up, but leave it to Natalie to find a young woman lying dead in a dumpster, with no ID. So the search begins to find out who this woman is, why she was in Burning Lake. But this case also bring up more from Natalie's past, something she had not thought about in a very long time, and with recent events already on her mind, Natalie doesn't know if she has it in her to work on another murder. All that keeps her going is the need to keep busy and to get justice for the murdered woman.

This was a good second book in the series, but I do not think that is it as good as the first. This book had a tricky balance to follow up from the events in the first book, as there are many events that occur in the first book that really shape Natalie. You can see at times Blanchard’s struggle with the mystery involved in this book and then personal struggles that Natalie is going through, she is unsure which should take center stage. I don’t think Blanchard gets it quite right, I found more time was spent on Natalie focusing on her own trouble and not that of the case she is working and understandable if this was the real world that is how it should be, but in book format it really slowed the book down. 

As with the first book and the Pager, this one seemed to get a few details wrong the main one that irked me the most was people do not use Vaseline to block smells (of a dead body), they use Vicks. I wonder who is proof reading her books, anyone with a police background? Also, I don’t understand why Blanchard has Natalie switch between calling her parents by their first name and then call them mom and Dad. There are times when I forget their first name and then in the next sentence she states that it is her mom, why not just stick to mom?

I really really missed the Wicca aspect from the first book, I mean i feel like Balnchard has created a unique opportunity by having her books set in burning town and then not taking advantage of it in this book. Yes there was little bit about Wicca here and there but nothing like the first book, and that is where the first book shined.

Well I got it wrong who the bad guy was, so that always boosts a book in my opinion if I cannot figure it all out. There seems to be too many options in Burning Town and I appreciate that Blanchard fooled me till the very end. I just wished more of the book was spent on the mystery aspect and i feel like there are certain things that remained unresolved in the book especially around her high school friend, Bella, which I have Blanchard addresses at another point as I feeling like I was left hanging on that aspect in the story. I mean it does play a main part in Natalie's thought process in the book, so it seems off that all was not addressed there.

This book was good and it does have a lot of character development for Natalie but I found the book to be slow, the mystery aspect too a back seat and I missed the Wicca aspect. All that said I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Kelley Armstrong: Cursed Luck

In the first book in a new series, Kelley Armstrong introduces readers to the art of Curse Weaving, that can be a bit of fun or very sinister:

Kennedy Bennett comes from a long line and well known curse weavers, who practice their craft out in the open, although the general public thinks that it fake, what they do is very real and can have long lasting consequences to those who possess the cursed object. When a famous cursed necklace is about to go up for auction, suddenly everyone is scrambling to get their own curse breaker and there are those who want to get their hands on a curse at any cost. When Kennedy' sisters and fellow curse breakers are kidnapped there is much more on the line for Kennedy than breaking a centuries old curse.

I’m a really big fan of Armstrong, so when she starts a new adult series, I’m going to pick it up. This book originally started out in a serial format that she wrote last year during the pandemic at the time. I did not read it in the serial form so I was really happy when she put it together into a book.

I like that his book does not try to take itself too seriously and is a fun easy read. I absolutely love the idea of a curse weavers / breakers and honestly I have not read a book that deals with curses this in-depth. I really liked the idea of objects being cursed, and that not all curses are bad, some are the joker’s curse which is more like a joke than anything else. I mean there is always someone who talks about a cursed family heirloom and such and this book just takes it all to the next level.

Kennedy was a fun character who has the best job I can think of buying cursed antiques, breaking the curse on them and then reselling the furniture. Kennedy takes her profession seriously and her attention to detail when she is unweaving a curse is amazing, she “sees” what other cannot. Aiden, the main male lead, was just okay as a character he just seemed a bit boring and i get that he is basically the complete opposite of Kennedy, but I just wanted him to have a bit more of a spark to him. Though I did find his balance to his luck use funny, and I wanted to read more of that. I also did not really feel for the relationship that took part in the book, I get opposites attract, but for some reason I could not get behind it. Hopefully in future books it will grow on me.

I enjoyed the fun mystery within this book and the curse/myth surrounding the necklace as well as who has kidnapped Kennedy’s sisters. Plus there were some fun twists, both plot and character wise that I did not see coming, some from total left field but in this book they just worked.

This is a great fun urban fantasy that is an easy read that you will not want to put down. Another great book Armstrong, can’t wait for more.

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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Alice Hunter: The Serial Killer’s Wife

In her debut novel Alice Hunter raises the question, how well do we really know the ones we love?
Tom and Beth have the perfect marriage, life and family. That is how everyone sees them, two people perfectly in love with a beautiful daughter. But all that changes one night when the police knock on their door and take Tom away for questioning in the disappearance of his previous girlfriend Katie. Beth knows Tom and know he would never hurt anyone. But as more comes to light Beth begins to question everything she knows about her husband and the life they have built. They are husband and wife, till death do us part.
I had extremely high hopes for this book, I thought it would be a different perspective, the wife's, that is not featured too often in the mystery/thriller genre. Plus answer the question how well do you know your spouse and how could you not know that they are a killer. I'm sure that is the questions the media and public ask every time a new serial killer is caught, how could the family not know. I’m sad to say I did not fully find out. I made it to 52% in my kindle and I just couldn’t read anymore. 

My main issue with this book is that in the first half of the book, nothing happens and each chapter/day seems monotonous especially after Tom is taken in for questioning for the disappearance of his formal girlfriend. I mean Beth is worried about Tom but makes no effort to see him or talk to him and her main concern is Poppy (which I don’t disagree with). Then there is her concerns about what the posh mom’s group is going to say about her and then she heads to her shop to run it. And that is about it for the first half of the book, each day the same. Yes there is one or two chapters from Tom’s POV but his main thought are they cannot know, which was intriguing but not developed further and hoping that Beth and Poppy are okay. Then a bit from Katie, Tom’s missing girlfriend, but once again not enough there to keep the story flowing and interesting.

There is just not enough in this book to keep me going. I wanted so much more from Beth as she is supposed to be the main character in this book. I wanted her to look into the details of Katie’s disappearance. I wanted her to be more involved with Tom’s lawyer (who was not very helpful to Beth) and to have her reflect on her and Tom’s relationship, could he have done it? What did she know about Katie? What had Tom told her, something, anything to pull this book along.

This book just moved too slowly for me and just became repetitive with each day from Beth’s POV. I think that Hunter had a great idea here, especially for a debut, but just lacked in the execution of the story. 

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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Michael F. Haspil: Graveyard Shift

In the first book in the new series, Michal F. Haspil adds a new warrior to the urban fantasy world, one that has been dead longer than most vampires have been alive:
Alex Menkaure, former Pharaoh and now a mummy, is now a cop in a specialized unit that deals with vampires and anything else that goes bump in the night. Alex also has a partner Marcus, a vampire, that he has worked with previously in a specialized government unit and together they are probably the best team when it is discovered that someone is poisoning the artificial blood supply. Instead of sating the vampire that drinks it, instead they enter into a blood frenzy and kill anyone who is around. Alex and Marcus need to discover the source of the poisoned blood in order to stop mayhem from erupting on the streets, but there are old and strong forces at play here, human and vampire and only one can win.
Well this was a really fun book and had me reading way past my bedtime and trying to read every extra minute that I could get, even if it was just a page or two. All the usual suspects are here with werewolves, vampires and vampires assimilating into the human world, synthetic blood and such. But where Haspil shines is with his addition of adding a Mummy into the mix, yet you read that right a Mummy. Who would have thought that would change the dynamic so much, but trust me it did. Also this was Haspil's debut novel, and it was really well done and I think the mystery aspect with the synthetic blood was fairly well developed.

Personally, I love Alex as a character and he does have some character growth in this book which is appreciated and unexpected for an individual who has walked the Earth for centuries. Haspil had such a cool, unique and different idea by bringing Egyptian culture into the paranormal one, and honestly it makes me think why it has not been done more. Haspil found such a cool way to fight vampires and really who better than someone who is powered by the Sun, the complete opposite of the Vampire life. Alex also doesn't give much of Fuck about most things, seeing as how he has lived a long time, this does make him feel like an anti-hero at times.

I think the main problem that I had with this book was that it does not read like a first book in a series. There are too many references to the past and I get that Alex and Marcus are centuries old, and there will be history there, but I think a better first novel would have been one where they were just starting out with UMBRA or still under that program. UMBRA is a government agency that they both used to be apart of toe "deal" with the emerging Vampire program, so I would have been an interesting book too. What happens in this book is that Haspil refers back to UMBRA too often (I want to say several times in each chapter) that it makes the reader feel like they are missing something, that there was a book before this one that fleshed out the relationship between Marcus and Alex more and how they both came to be police cops.

I really enjoyed this debut novel and I think that Haspil brought some fresh ideas into the urban fantasy genre. I do hope that he continues on with this series, as I know I would pick up the next one.

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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Catherine Ryan Howard: The Nothing Man

Catherine Ryan Howard takes the readers into the mind of  a serial perpetrator, The Nothing Man, where anyone could be his next victim:

 Eve Black, aged 12, was the only survivor of a serial killer attack on her family and she has made it her mission to bring the perpetrator known as The Nothing Man to justice. The problem is that there was never any clues left at any of the crimes scenes and there were often different types of crimes that were committed that the police were never sure if it was The Nothing Man or not, as one day he just stopped. Jim Doyle is the Nothing Man, and one day on shift at work he sees a book that features his name and he is compelled to buy it. The book takes him back to what he would consider his Glory Day, when he could be who he truly was. The farther that Jim reads into the book, he realizes how close Eve is and knows that she will stop at nothing to find him, unless Jim can stop her first.

I really enjoyed this book, as it was something different from an very overwhelming saturated serial killer genre. This is one of the first books that I have read in this genre where you actually know who the killer is and you get almost everything from their POV. In that way it had a true crime type of feel to it.

What sets this book part is that one of the main POV is that of the killer/rapist/assaulter and the other is that of the book that was written about him and his terror on the public many years ago. This way we get a play between the crimes that Jim committed all those years ago, him reliving them and then wanting to become that man again. As well it shows two different perspective, how the police viewed the crimes and how the perpetrator did as well, and they do not always match up.

I wish that Howard would have gotten in deeper with Jim. I felt that the chapters from Jim's POV were too short and I "understand" parts of the reasons why Jim began his other way of life, I just wanted to know more about the man, more about his past, and more about what he did to curve the urges when he stopped, as we can tell from his current day POV he still has this craving to put people who wrong him in their "place". Honestly if this was a real person he would be want by every behaviorist and forensic psychologist out there.

As we know who are killer is throughout the book, there are not as many twists and turns along the way. The main mystery in this book was were Jim and the police able to figure out who The Nothing Man was and whether he would become that man again. I would say that there were two main twists (that I was able to figure out) and a third smaller twist that I did not see coming.

This was a really enjoyable read, and I appreciated that Howard took a different approach here. There are times where serial killer books, even from different authors, follow the same format so it is refreshing to find something new. I look forward to reading another book by Howard.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Rachel Aukes: Bounty Hunter - Lone Gunfighter of the Wastelands

In the first of a series Rachel Aukes takes readers to a lawless place that is mainly controlled by the Bounty Hunters:

The world is in the Shits. The revolution was supposed to make everything better, but from what Joe can tell nothing has really changed, other than a lot of people died and now he works as a Bounty Hunter. When some brother named Sloan want to make the Wasteland's their own territory there are more than a few Hunter Guilds that want nothing to do with it. But the Sloan brothers refuse to take no for an answer. When they come after the company that Joe works for they're about to learn why he earned the named Havoc in the revolution. Joe hates nothing more than a bully so the Sloan brother better watch out, or they are going to find out why you never corner a Bounty Hunter

This book is a really fun read and for those who love sci-fi and western mash up they are sure to enjoy this book. I recently started watching the Mandalorian (I know I’m late to that party) but this book reminded me of that series just no space travel. Even the cover of the book has some Mandalrian flare to it. It has great action/fight scenes that play out in very dramatic fashion, especially if a character named T-Rex is there. He has some creative ideas on how to piss the other guys off, and I really enjoyed every second of those events. It also has quite a bit of heart to it, that I was not expecting from this book.

Joe is a great character, he is loyal to a fault, has some pretty high morals but also a badass to go along with it. Trust me you want Joe to be on your side in a fight. He is resourceful, thinks a few steps ahead but also on the fly. I appreciate that Aukes let Joe get hurt and that he was not invincible and had to compensate when this happened. I really like Joe's loyalty to a fallen soldier from one of the past revolutions and his need to take care of that man's family and also to his employ Reuben even though he could make more money or not have people shooting at him every two seconds if he were to betray him.

The main issue I have with this book is that the World wasn’t fully developed. There were constant reference as to what happened before the world got this way and which side Joe fought for, that I just felt like there was a book before this one. I know there was a revolution, maybe even two to get to the world that Joe is living in now, but even the current world is really undefined. I know they are in the wasteland, but why is is called that? Is there other cities or civilizations outside of the wastelands or is that all that is left after the War(s). This is the area that the book lacks the most, I actually checked to see if there was a book before this one just to make sure it was me and not the book that was off on this point.

I enjoyed this book as it was a fun ride from beginning to end especially if you like cowboy sci-fi action. I look forward to checking out the next book in this series and hope that the world is a little better defined.

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