Monday, March 29, 2021

Suleikha Snyder: Big Bad Wolf

Suleikha Snyder takes readers to NYC where it has become a sanctuary city for supernaturals:

Joe Peluso has blood on his hands, not only from his overseas missions with the army, but now he has killed the Russian Mobsters murdered his foster brother. Neha Ahluwalia is a psychologist and lawyer and she has been tasked with getting under Joe's skin enough to help them formulate a defense for his up coming trail. However, the Mob would like nothing better that for Joe not to make it to trial at all. When a hit goes wrong Joe and Neha are forced to flee together. Now they are on the run from the Mob, but something has brought them together, a need to be with each other, they just don't know if they have enough time to fully explore what is between them.

Now this book is a DNF for me, I made it to about 40% and could not continue reading this book. However, I do not completely fault Snyder writing/story for me not finishing this book. I know that may weird but the book is actually really well written, has some interesting ideas within it it, but it was just not what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting something more a line with Ilona Andrews books instead I got pure paranormal romance/erotica. I actually blame Netgalley more than anything for not putting the correct categories associated with this book. 

This book is liked on Netgalley as Sci-fi and Fantasy, no secondary categories. I mean even some of the books I have read by Ilona Andrews have the romance category next to them as well. Did I guess by the cover that there was going to be some romance involved in the book and reading the premise you know that is going to happen, but I did not expect there to be the enormous of sex and thinking about sex that occurred in this book. 

The sex is honestly the theme of the entire book. Hey I'm in prison and a hot lawyer walks in, all I'm going to think about is sex and her body (probably justifiable in that situation), said lawyer also thinks this about inmate. Hey bad guys are chasing us, lets just get a quick one on in the alley.  Hey bad guys are still chasing us, all I can think about is sex and not about how to deal with the situation at hand. Hey more bad guys are chasing us, lets have more sex. Honestly that is what feels like occurs within 40% of the book, with just a smattering of the actual plot, which I'm not entirely sure I understand.

I flip back and fourth whether there are too many POV in this book or not. On one had I wish the POV were just Joe and Neha and their story but from them all we really get is sex and get more of the substance of the book from Danny and Yulia's POV as they more in touch with what is occurring with the Russian mob and well frankly not having sex at this time. So from them I know about a specialized force that is there to help shifters and the the Russian Mob is trying to take out Joe.

I have read other reviews that have slammed the book for having a depressive feel to is and continually talking about racism, both normal and paranormal ones. Well if you're not a White person, welcome to the world as other people see it. Additionally, Snyder is not white, why would she write a world for how white people see it? That just does not make sense to me at all. She should and did write about her own experiences surrounding her culture and growing as a non-white woman.

I just wish it was more story and plot than sex. Maybe the next 60% it got better, but I wasn't willing to find out. However, those who like paranormal romance/erotica would most likely enjoy this book. I read a review that gave it A+ for sex scenes, so if that is what you like to read, check this book out. It was just not for me. 

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Kelley Armstrong: A Stranger in Town

This is the 6th book in the Rockton Series by Kelley Armstrong and if you have not picked up this series yet you need to. Do not start on this book, in order to understand not only the characters and relationship but the overall plot of this book you will need to read the previous 5 books (City of the Lost, A Darkness Absolute, This Fallen Prey, Watcher in the Woods and Alone in the Wild)

Kelley Armstrong is back with the 6th book in the Rockton series, and although the wilderness can be unpredictable, it's the people you need to watch out for:

There has been a downturn in the residences that have been coming into Rockton and few people have been granted extension to stay. Dalton thinks that it is just the ebb and flow of Rockton life, but Casey is not so sure. When an extremely injured hiker stumbles into a party  held by some of the first settlement teenagers panic starts she appears to be the sole survivor of a hostile's attack.With the increase in Hostile's attacks the council is on the verge of shutting Rockton down, something none of the current residences want. It's all hands on deck as Casey and Dalton rush to discover if there are any others in her camping party alive, try to keep the Rockton a secret as well as try to convince the council that Rockton should stay open.

From the very first sentence I am transported back to Rockton and the wilderness and every time that happens I absolutely love it. I feel like I am there in the Yukon forest with Casey and Dalton as they explore the wilderness or more often than not, on the hunt for a killer. Each time I read in this series I think that Armstrong gets better and better at setting the atmosphere of the wilderness that surrounds the town and immersing the reader in it.

This is one of my favourite series out there and this is a strong addition to the series. I liked that Armstrong has taken the time over several books to cement the relationships within this book and how everyone works together. Armstrong has added some great and interesting secondary characters in the past few books and in this book there is even more interactions with them. April was a great addition to the secondary cast and the different perspective that she brings not only towards the town (and life in general) but the development of Casey as a character as it gives a different look into her past. Also I'm really loving Sebastian as a character. I feel like he is guy that no one has figured out yet. They all keep a close eye on him, but I get the since that he is playing everybody and I look forward to seeing how that turns out. He is a true psychopath if you ask me.

This book is a bit more complex than the previous entries in this series, this is due to the multiple threats that are occurring within this book as well as Armstrong deciding to bring some closure to story lines that have been ongoing since the beginning of the series. I applaud Armstrong for taking the time to flesh out these story lines as they are important to Casey and Rockton. However, some readers may find it a bit convoluted if they have not read the previous books in this series recently. I was able to follow along and actually predict some of the twists (but not all) but I had read three books from this series last year.

I highly recommended series, if you like books with a small town feel, full of secrets, great detective work that relies more on the mind and putting clues together than anything else this is the series for you. I look forward to seeing where Armstrong takes Rockton next.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Keith C. Blackmore: Mountain Man

Keith C. Blackmore, takes readers to a small Canadian town where one man is trying to survive just by his whits:

Gus has all the things he needs in order to survive; Boomstick, Samurai Bat, Motorcycle leathers and a will to live. He has been living on his own for quite sometime now, looting what he can from long abandoned stores and homes (especially the liquor store). Gus has learned to live day to day as he never knows when his time will come. he may die while drunk or out on a run for supplies but one thing he does know is that he does not want to become a zombie. Really Gus only has his will to live that keeps him going until meeting another survivor changes everything.

I feel you can tell that this book was written in 2011. It has a dated feel to it and just the basic ideas of what you need to have in a zombie book. I just feel like it needs an update and some new ideas in order to make it feel more modern. Zombies are not really the creature that people are going to strive to read about right now, so you need something that makes it different and great from all the other Zombie stories that have already come.

I get that the main character, Gus, is a pretty crude guy that doesn’t have a care in the world and really just say fuck it to everything but I don’t need to read about him scratching his balls every few pages, once was enough thanks. Also all the metaphors for his penis, balls, overall manliness it just got exhausting and we get it already. I was really happy that Blackmore added Scott's POV. If it would have been Gus' POV throughout the whole book, I would have stopped the book before halfway, as I just could not deal with how he thought and spoke. Scott is more of a guy that you would cheer for in this book, he is not obsessed with getting drunk, sex and such that it was easier to read his POV.

Balckmore did a good job in describing the fight and fleeing scenes with the zombies and these occurrences within the book were entertaining. I think one of the areas that Blackmore needed to tone down was the description of bodily functions. I did not need to know about every trip to the bathroom and how it went.

I think the idea of Tenner is where Blackmore would have been really successful in having something a little different within this book. Wish there was more from Tennar's POV as he is basically like a kid in the Candy store with being a serial killer and all. I wish why he did what he did and was he the reason all the zombie bodies seemed to be disappearing, this would have really added more of a twist to the book other than about two POV from him. Tenner was a tertiary character that had so much potential that was not used.

I'm not sure where Blackmore will take this series, it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger but I am not sure I want to read the next one in the series yet, it will be a wait and see thing.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Alex Finlay: Every Last Fear

In Alex Finlay debut novel readers are introduced to family that has given everything to prove the innocence of their oldest son:

The Pine family has suffered a great loss of their eldest son to the judicial system, as they all believe that Danny is innocent of the murder he was convicted for. The Pine Family, especially the Dad, Ethan Pine, has dedicated everything to proving that his son is innocent and Maggie Pine, sister, who knows how to use the internet and Social Media to get armchair detectives going. With the airing of a doc-series send the trail back into the public's eye they are sure that they are going to finally get the answers they seek. But the Pine family has more to give and their middle son Matt, the one that wanted nothing more to do with Danny's case, is about to give everything he loves for it and return to a place he never thought he would visit again.

I was really impressed with this book especially since it was was Finlay's debut (at least I think it is a debut as Alex Finlay is a pseudonym). Finlay shows a seasoned ability to weave an intricate story that will have readers on the edge of their seat from the very first pages. This was a great book, with lots of twists and turns throughout as you try to figure out two different crimes, one current and one from the past and whether or not they are linked together. I will say that for all the red herrings thrown in the book that will have you questioning many aspects of the murder and murders, I was able to figure it out quite early what kept me reading was Finlay's ability to tell a story, and of course to make sure I had it right.

I feel like this story is very Now / in this moment, with the use of a Making a Murderer style docu-series that was released in order to highlight the injustices that the Pine Family has faced and even having some of the scenes from within the movie play out in the book. I think that this modern take would really appeal to audiences even though it is something that is becoming used more often in books. However, I feel like Finlay does it in a fresh way by having the docu-series crew in the book as well, wanting to make a followup to their hit show, this changes some of the dynamics. Finlay also shows the power of social media in the book and how it can sway things, for example the FBI being put under more pressure because the President's daughter is #TeamDanny.

I felt like Matt was really well developed as a character and you feel his pain about what his family has gone through, what he is going through and his reluctance to be apart of it all until he is forced to. However, I do think that the secondary characters that could have been interesting were not well expanded on. Finlay tries a bit more Sarah, but I still feel like she isn't that fleshed out as a character. Sarah seems like such an interesting character to me, a Economic Crimes investigator who gets thrown into this new role for dubious reasons, but she just comes across as a typical FBI agent and I feel like there is more to here. Additionally, I wish there would have been more in Mexico, that story did not feel like it had fully played out and there was more there than what was let on, or maybe that was just me as I liked Carlita Escobar as a character. I just want to throw this out there but a Sarah Keller and Carlita Escobar book sounds like an amazing idea to me. I will say that I did have a problem with Matt's group as it was basically had every stereotype you could think of for a group of people of and call them the the Misfit Toys, just didn't sit well with me.

This was a great debut novel and Finlay has set the bar high for himself for the next book. I hope that the great story telling ability shown here continues on. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Kerri Maniscalco: Kingdom of the Wicked

Kerri Manscalco a tale of two sister, one whom is murdered and the other who will stop at nothing to find the murderer:

Emilia and Vittoria are witches who secretly live among the regular folk, doing all that they can so hide in order to avoid persecution. Emilia and Vittoria may be twins but they are far from same personalities and risks they are willing to take. One night Vittoria fails to show up for dinner and Emilia goes looking for her, and soon finds her body desecrated. Emilia makes a vow to find who killed her sister and to do all she can to stop them. Emilia does not realize that there is more at stake here than she thought, Vittoria was not a random murder. Murdered young witches have been showing up all over Sicily forces Emilia to venture into Magic she never though she would use.

I have tried a book by Maniscalco before (Stalking Jack the Ripper) but I didn't get that far into the book before I realized that it was not for me. However, I had heard so many amazing things about this book (plus look at the cover of this book) that I decided to give it a try. I honestly wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this book at first as I believed there was going to be too much of a focus on a romance aspect and while there is, I felt like it did not take away much from the story of Emilia trying to figure out who murdered her sister and why. There is for sure sexual tension between Wrath and Amelia but it does not overshadow everything else going on in the story.
This book had a little bit of everything I expect in the paranormal genre; witches, demons, curses, religion, religious fanatics, soul selling, deals with the devil, over bearing grandma and murders, quite a few murders in fact. This also made the book bit darker than I was expecting it to be, from the murders to the powers of the demons, and what Emilia ends up doing with her powers, there are quite a few dark scenes. I like that Maniscalco made the book darker as I think that it fits the plot of the book and how everything plays out.

I really liked the Witch aspects in the book. I feel that Maniscalco did research into Wiccan and weaved it into the story. She does not give the witches just these magical powers, but powers that are based with herb, bones, earth etc, it all has a very nature based feel to it, whether they are practicing white or dark magic or cooking in the restaurant kitchen. This does not meant that they do not have power, it just takes more than a flick of a finger or wiggle of a nose to achieve things. I like this authentic feel that Maniscalco gives to this book with the research she has clearly put in.

One thing I'm not 100% sure is when this book is taking place in time, it could be now, with the restaurant business that the family owns, having Emilia as the head chef and the food ideas/combinations that she comes up with. But there seems to be quite a few restrictions on girls/women at time that do not jive with current times. Plus no ones seems to mention modern technology at all, not even in passing, so I think it might be more Victorian times, which would also go along with the clothes that Emilia wears, I'm just not 100% sure

Really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. If you are looking for a dark witch read that has murder, mystery and quite a bit of mayhem, then pick this one up.

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