Friday, September 30, 2011

High Midnight by Rob Mosca

***Cross posted at The Literary Mind Blender, you should check out the site, it's great with a wide range of reviews and books alike!***

Synopsis: Ghouls, crytids, homicidal clowns, knife wielding chimps and the best damn phantom bordello north of the border… welcome to Unity, Texas! A gonzo pulp western for the 21st century, High Midnight is a timeless tale of blood and redemption set against a preternatural and pre-apocalyptic Texas.

Review: I am a very new reader to the horror genre. I think this may actually be my first horror book, but as a lover of books I figured I would give the genre a go. Mosca’s writing is really well done, descriptions are very vivid, and it is very easy for the reader to picture the scenes unfolding in their own minds. One of the first things I noticed when I started reading the book was how easy it was to follow even with the use of flashbacks, something I really appreciate in an author.

When you start reading this book it is clear you are entering a universe that quite different from your own: homicidal clowns, a sheriff drinking out of a bottle of liquor while on duty, and of course “sleep walkers” on a mission to devour anything in their path.

The story starts out introducing the main characters, and it ultimately comes down to the gang of clowns and the sheriff. The gang of clowns are clearly only interested in themselves and willing to do anything to get what they want. The Sheriff is introduced as a very flawed man, as law enforcement you would expect him to represent good, which while he ultimately does fight for good he has his own evils within him. In many ways this book is kind of a warped version of the classic good versus evil tale, with redemption of certain characters along the way.
While I don’t think this book is necessarily for me, I can think of at least five of my friends who would love this book. For that reason alone I am going to give this book a rating of “Like It” because even though it isn’t one of my favorites, it’s well-written, amusing at parts, and would clearly be a good read for fans of this genre.
Buy High Midnight on Amazon!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Fool's Journey by Mary Chase

***Cross posted at The Literary Mind Blender, you should check out the site, it's great with a wide range of reviews and books alike!***

Synopsis: Deirdre Kildeer is a woman with a secret past that she doesn’t want anyone to find out about. She believes she has finally escaped her past and carved out a new life for herself as a professor. But what begins in celebration quickly turns into fear as the past she thought she has left behind comes back to haunt her as well as threaten the life she has made for herself.

Review: The book centers on Deidre, who at face value just appears to be a young professor and poet who is working her way up the academic ladder. While her story begins with the celebration of being awarded for her work in poetry it quickly takes a bizarre turn. While shopping and having lunch with her friend Panda, a stranger in the market cuts off a chunk of her hair. And from there the events of her life just keep getting stranger.

After the incident at the market, Deirdre starts to allude that she has some heavy secrets in her past that she does not want to come to light. She seems to suddenly come under attack from both long lost family members as well as members of the academic community where she teaches at, and both could result in her secret coming out.

Thankfully, Deirdre is not alone throughout the story; she has several friends who try to help her along the way, as well as her housekeeper, Rosa, who ends up being a mother-like figure to her. Rosa and her nephew Manny end up being people Deirdre can trust and provide a much-needed sense of relief for her. These two characters are the only ones that Deirdre really lets her guard down around, and it is within those scenes where the reader really gets to know her.

Overall, I think the book starts off a little slow for my taste. There is a lot of build up to finding out what the secret Deirdre has been holding on to is, and about half way through when you find out what it is, it makes her more likable as well as helped make me want to know what was going to happen to her, and ultimately to root for her. There is a little bit of mild romance in the book, although it felt a little bit unfinished. If you are looking for romance this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a quick, enjoyable read with some mystery thrown in then I think you will like this book. Also if you are a poetry lover the book is laced throughout with poetry references and poems, and they are intertwined in the plot quite well. Overall, I liked it.
Buy Fool's Journey on Amazon!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Man with the Golden Torc by Simon Green (Secret Histories #1)

So as discussed in previous posts I am all about exploring this genre and trying new things. I've noticed lately that I read mostly books written by women authors, and it's not that I don't like male authors it's just how things happened to be. So I figured I would try out a book written by a man so here we go.

The concept of the series is that there is a family that protects the world and humanity from basically any and all things that threaten the way of life. It takes place in a world similar to ours, in London, although with the added magical/supernatural elements. The Drood family accomplishes this because each member of the family has their own Golden Torc, which essentially makes them invincible. Eddie is a member of the Drood family, who is a field agent, so basically if there is a supernatural problem, Eddie is one of the agents called in to take care of the problem. However, somehow Eddie is declared to be a rogue, so basically suddenly the entire family is out to kill him, this story is how Eddie finds out not only why he was declared a rogue but the truth of his family altogether.

Eddie meets some very amusing people along the way while trying to find his own way. One such character would be Mr. Stab (aka Jack the Ripper) as well as some other very colorful characters. Eddie ends up finding himself a counterpart in Molly. Molly is someone who has gone up against Eddie in many of his field work missions, and they have always been on opposite sides, so for the two of them to be linking up together is a very interesting dynamic. Molly is a very powerful witch, and I actually find her magic to be more impressive than being a Drood.

Personally I have always found characters who have a huge amount of "super powers" to be boring, I have this issue with superman. I kind of come from the philosophy that if someone is going to have a power it should be limited to 1 or 2, 3 would be pushing it, anything more than that is just too much and becomes uninteresting. The Torc kind of walks that line. Everyone is invulnerable, and in action sequences when your being rammed with cars and shoot up with machine guns by tons of people, doesn't make the action sequence suspenseful. It almost comes off as boastful or bragging, not impressive or making me sit on the edge of my seat, or anything like that.

Kind of on the same line of thinking there was a lot of the book that was just too overdone. The outlandishness of it all was kind of like the author was trying to hard, or was trying to be funny without actually being funny. In fact in some parts he ends up being cheesy instead of funny.

With all that being said, the last third of the book is significantly better than the first two thirds. Green gives up on the unnecessary details and cheese factor and focused more on the plot. Once the focus is purely on the plot the characters become more real, more relate-able, and ultimately more enjoyable. The relationship between Eddie and his family are shown a real relationships, everyone can relate to having parts of their family they like and ones they don't, and the same is the case for Eddie; although with Eddie it comes with a major twist.

Overall I would give this book an "okay" rating. It definitely has some room for improvement within the book, I think it lacked focus throughout a lot of it. However, the idea behind the story is solid and enjoyable, and the ending makes you really think and I am even looking forward to reading the follow up book.
Buy The Man with the Golden Torc on Amazon!

UPDATE: I am also going to be doing book reviews for another website starting now, called Literary Mind Blender: and my next review will be cross posted both on here but also on the new site :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Working Stiff by Rachel Caine (Revivalist #1)

I'm a big fan of Rachel Caine, especially in her beginning books. I loved the Weather Warden series at the beginning and same thing with Morganville Vamps, after a while I stopped loving them as much but still thought they were great reads and enjoyable. So when I found out she had a new series coming out I was super excited. I love the beginnings (lets face it when a series that you like ends you kind of dread reading that last chapter). As stated in the previous book review, I am trying to open myself up more to genre as a whole including the zombie/horror subgenre. I bought this book after I already started Strange Angels, and figured this would be the perfect follow up, if anyone could make me enjoy a book about zombies, it would be Rachel Caine.

The thing I love about paranormal books is that the author really gets to make the rules. I can't tell you how many times I have picked up a book about vampires and found that they all kind of have the same general idea but the differences in one authors version of a vampire to another is sometimes drastic. So as far as zombies go, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I love Caine's interpretation of it. Bryn being a zombie never really grossed me out the way zombies in general do, and she didn't gross me out because Caine didn't make her some creepy crawly thing that goes bump in the night. Instead Bryn is still the same person she always was, just with a daily injection to maintain her in "living" status, along with a couple other surprises about her condition that go along with the plot. Even so, Bryn is just a person, her thoughts and feelings are the same as they were before she was murdered and brought back to life.

Another thing I like about the book is it "big bad" if you will is totally believable especially this day in age. There is a pharmaceutical company out to cure cancer and instead "cures" death (as long as you get your daily injection that is). While companies like these are responsible for most if not all of the drug advancements out there, it's easy to see them as the bad guy because let's face it they are all about the profit margin. And the company in Caine's book takes that concept to the extreme, image what a company could do or control with a drug like this and you have a slight idea of how this book goes. In the end the bad guys in any book or story are all about getting power, and this book is no different. What makes this interesting for me though is that I can believe a company like this could be a bad guy in the world I live in. In most paranormal fantasy books I can't imagine a rogue werewolf faction showing up in my community and wrecking havoc. Making the bad guy believable in the real world was great and intriguing.

As for the characters for the most part I liked them, particularly the main characters. Bryn is trying to find her way in a situation that can only be described as F-ed up, and suddenly she has to handlers if you will to keep her together, alive, and on the right path. Joe is much more likable right from the start, he's as open as her can be and friendly, he puts Bryn at ease which in turn allowed me to get to know Bryn better as I was reading. Patrick on the other hand is more stand offish, there is clearly more going on with him than meets the eye, and while some insight is given as the book progresses, I have a feeling that a lot more will be revealed as the series goes on. Thankfully the book isn't all serious, or completely go go go, in fact there were some amusing moments in there where the characters felt more real and in a way became more dynamic because of that. This was particularly true in one scene with Patrick and his "butler", Liam, joking about how he was Alfred, and how Liam would be willing to search the lower levels to see if there was a Batcave somewhere.

In the end I was very pleased with this book. The novel didn't end on some huge unsatisfying cliff hanger, but left it open enough for the reader to have an idea of where the next in the series was going to start. I'm looking forward for the next book to come out.

Buy Working Stiff: A Revivalist Novel on Amazon! It's a MUST read!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow (Strange Angels #1)

I'm somewhat new to the paranormal genre in general. I have always loved reading, but really found reading vampire books addicting and seriously enjoyable. It brought back my love for reading, and when I couldn't find books at the bookstore on vampires I branched out into werewolves; I never thought I would continue that into the zombie realm, or the paranormal horror. After spending some time in book forums, the idea of those books started to become intriguing. I picked this book to start with for several reasons. 1) It's YA, which in general I don't gravitate to, but I figured it would be a tamed down version of these types of books. 2) It's written by a very well known author who a lot of people love (even though I myself have never read her).

I surprisingly have a lot to say about this book. This was in no way what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting a full on book about Zombies, which I was completely wrong about. Really there was only one zombie in the entire book and it was a very short appearance. Dru is a great character, a young girl who is literally forced to figure out how to fend for herself very suddenly after her father becomes a zombie and she has to kill him.

Before I get into the specifics of the book I want to point out that I had a hard time reading this book, in fact I started it several times, starting in June. I felt like the book was so slow. And not only was it slow but it didn't keep my attention so when I would take a break from it I would have to start reading it again from the beginning to even remember what happened. I think St. Crow spent so much time trying to establish the characters and the back story without actually doing so during action that it became almost tedious to read the first half of the book. However after the first part of the book, the action started to pick up and it became a lot easier to read. I'm hoping that later down the line in the serious they won't start off that slow because the back story has already been established.

Graves is a really interesting character to me, even more so than Dru. Clearly the book revolves around Dru, but along her journey she finds Graves. Graves clearly is a nice guy, who extends himself to help Dru in her time of need, without really even knowing her. Throughout the book it is revealed that he is also on his own, and really living on his own down to a science, he knows how to survive on his own. In contrast Dru has always had someone to take care of her, and even though she had been trained by both her father and grandmother, the second she is on her own completely she really has no idea what to do. Graves really helps her out in the beginning and then helps to give her a purpose. Graves' wanting to help her ends up exposing him to a world he didn't even know existed. Not only does he become aware of the creepy crawlies of the Real World but he becomes one of those beings he didn't know existed.

Really i think this book is about the two characters, Graves and Dru, finding their way, and really finding out who they are. Graves suddenly becoming a werewolf, and being launched into a world he knows nothing about. And Dru, who believes she knows what she is, and believed that she knew a lot about the Real World, is suddenly told she is something completely different, she's not fully human, and all of the information she knew about the Real World barely scratched the surface. And now that these two people know who they are I have a feeling that the next book is going to be about the two of them finding their respective places within this world.

While I wish the book would have been more interesting to start with, it redeemed itself in the end, and made me interested to find out what happens in the next book. I also think this is one of the better YA books. YA books in my opinion normally end up being good or really bad, there really is no in between. And thankfully this book falls into the good category.

Buy Strange Angels on Amazon!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent (Unbound #1)

I have been looking forward to this book coming out since the moment Rachel Vincent announced there would be a new series. I'm not sure I knew what to expect or even if I cared what the book was about, all that mattered was Shifters was coming to an end and this new series meant I got to keep reading Rachel Vincent's words. It's funny that I didn't panic a little that the books had nothing to do with the typical supernatural creature, a big departure from the were world Vincent had already created, but I have never not liked anything I have read of Vincent's so I knew it was going to be good, thankfully it was.

If I had to pick one thing as Vincent's best writing skill is she is great at world building. She never throws it all at the reader, she gives just enough a little at a time. I never feel confused by whatever world I enter when reading one of her books, and the same was true for this one. The concept was really interesting, everyone is human, but some of those humans are Skilled. It's kind of like magic with a weird twist, only some people have certain skills. Liv and Cam (main characters) being different forms of trackers, blood and names respectively. I don't know if the Skilled people would be nearly as interesting if they didn't live in a city that can only be described as mob controlled times 10. The difference is being in the mob is taken to the extreme because you can be bound to that organization by blood, meaning not fulfilling your contract means death.Talk about intense.

Liv is a great lead character, she's broken to an extent but still fighting as hard as she can. She can dish it out and she can take it, as shown numerous times throughout the book. Cam is also broken to extent, losing Liv before the events take place. Them separating ultimately ends up with them being on two different sides of the city and in one way or another bound to a different syndicate. This certainly complicated every aspect of the plot.

Liv and Cam come together for the first time in six years in order to do a favor for a mutual friend, a friend that Liv happens to be bound to help. The events that happen all happen very quickly, in the course of maybe a day and half. Books that move that fast almost always make me wonder how the following book is going to be, will it be months into the future, or will the main characters just live an insane month over the course of several books, makes me wonder how Vincent is going to handle the second book.

I think one of my favorite things about this book is so many people within the book betray each other in so many different and sometimes terrible ways, and as a reader you want to hate those people and then you have to remind yourself, they did all those terrible things against their will. I have to admit being rather annoyed at some people and then being annoyed that I couldn't really fault any of these people for their actions, because they were compelled to do; especially since most of the characters in the book fought their bonds and found as many loop holes as they possibly could. Although towards the end on the "mob" bosses said something that stuck with me, that while people are just following orders they all entered into their bonds on their own, and everyone was responsible for their actions. As much as know some of the actions were done against their will, they all made the decision to give up their free will, so that has to be considered. I makes for quite a quandary when trying to decide if I like a character.

I loved the book, like seriously loved this book, I literally had to resist the urge to read it a second time immediately after I finished reading it in one sitting the first time. I don't know why by Rachel Vincent's writing sucks me in more than any other author I have read. Her books are not just an enjoyable read, but they make me think. No one is ever perfect in any of the world's she creates, and it's those imperfections, both big and small that make me enjoy her characters so much. I love the dimension of the characters, that everyone is in one way or another a little broken or jaded from life. I also love that even though this book is one of a series she wraps up the plot. Nothing is more annoying than when I have to wait an entire year for one plot to be concluded. Sure in the last two pages it is clear that there are going to be new challenges for Liv and Cam, they are going to be new challenges, and I am not going to have to wait a year to find out how the first plot ends (thank you so much for that Rachel). I would recommend this book to anyone, even those who aren't really big on the supernatural, while this book does give some humans a type of power, they are still human and I think it would make a great read for people who aren't into vampires and weres. Already looking forward to the next installment.

Buy Blood Bound on Amazon! It's a MUST read!