Thursday, June 11, 2015

Darkness Brutal, by Rachel Marks

It turns out that this is a young adult book. (Amazon has it listed in both the "teens" and "romance" categories; had I known that ahead of time I'd probably have avoided this even though it was available for free. I guess that will teach me not to jump to conclusions.) Anyway, the YA category does explain a bit about why all the lead characters are teens and why some of their decisions are, well, the kind of decisions that teens make.

The hero is Aidan, who sees demons. Orphaned, he strives to protect his younger sister Ava who is in a foster setting while he lives on the street. It turns out his abilities are significant and the usual mayhem ensues.

I don't read much of the para-normal genre, but it seems to me unusual to find a lead character burnishing a Star of David to ward off a demon. So that was pretty cool.

There were some annoying aspects of the book, but overall it was quite interesting - enough so that I do intend to read the sequel, even if I can't get it for free.

Darkness Brutal (The Dark Cycle Book 1)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hazardous Duty, by Christy Barritt

This is the first in a long series of novels featuring Gabby St. Claire, a wanna-be forensic scientist who runs a crime scene cleaning business and solves murders. Of course, she's constantly in danger herself, and woe to those who befriend her as the corpses pile up.

I read this for free and it was well worth it. But there are parts of the book that are a bit off-putting. Only when I looked the book up afterwards did I notice it is in the sub-genre of "Christian mystery and suspense." So those awkward parts where religion enters into the novel unexpectedly and without advancing the plot line -- nor character development, surprisingly -- well now it is explained.

The remaining volumes aren't free, which means I won't be reading any more about Ms. St. Claire.

Hazardous Duty: Squeaky Clean Mysteries, Book 1: An Amateur Sleuth Mystery and Suspense Series, Christian Fiction

Half the World, by Joe Abercrombie

Although this is a sequel, I haven't read the prior novel and that didn't cause much confusion. The primary hero of this book is the main character, a young lady named Thorn who wants to be a warrior, or at least to kill people. The slightly less fleshed out hero is Yarvi, a brilliantly scheming minister.

It would be easy to have complaints like why is the kingdom of Gettland having the issues it is, or why do the elf people and their technology feel so much like modern society. Perhaps some of this was addressed in the previous book.

While not a fabulous read, it is entertaining and interesting; I'm going to try to find the sequel at my public library.

Half the World (Shattered Sea)

Empire, by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard

I picked this book up at the library not knowing it is the middle book in a trilogy; the next volume is due in 2016. At first I was unsure I'd keep reading: the opening chapters seemed unpolished. Immaturely written. But I kept going, and am pleased that I did because the story hooked me.

How to summarize: Syl and Paul are the good guys, separated friends. Earth's been captured by the Illyri species who themselves are controlled by another species with dark plans for the planet. And among the Illyri there are political factions working at cross purposes.

This ended up a really interesting read and I look forward to the next volume. On the other hand, I'm not going to bother reading the first as it would feel like a prequel to me now, and although the story was excellent, the writing just wasn't enough to draw me to more.

Empire: Book 2, The Chronicles of the Invaders

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Quantum Lens, by Douglas Richards

I enjoyed an earlier book by Mr. Richards, so thought I'd give this one a go.  This one is, however, less science fiction and more fantasy or para-normal. Somewhat interesting but it really didn't have a tight hold on my attention span; luckily I was on an airplane where I'll read almost anything.

The good guy is Craft who can do things with just his mind. The bad guy is Haddad who can do things with just his mind. The mandatory lovely lady slash brilliant spy type researcher is Aronson. Haddad is a cartoon version of an Islamic extremist. There are many plot twists. But not enough to make this book one I'd recommend.

Quantum Lens

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Element 42, by Seeley James

This is the third book in the series about amateur spy and do-gooder Pia Sabel. I've read the previous and this one was similarly satisfying. Although certainly not fine literature it is an amusing read.

Element 42 (Sabel Security Thriller #3)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Once Dead, by Richard Phillips

This book takes a very unusual twist to the "ex-CIA assassin now saving fair maidens" genre. The hero, Gregory, is about to die from wounds in Kolcata when an alien force makes him an offer. By agreeing to host the alien, Gregory gets to live. On the other hand, with a bit more bloodlust than he previously had.

Fast forward to Gregory having been considered dead by the CIA, working as "The Ripper," fixing problems for those maidens...

As for the rest of the novel: bad guys, they do bad things, they die. Good guys mostly win. As you'd expect. I intend to read the sequel.

Once Dead (The Rho Agenda Inception)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Arena Mode, by Blake Northcott

In 2041 times are tough. Super humans abound (think X-men).  Our hero, Moxon, is smart but under -motivated. He like comic books but does little work. He learns that he has a probably fatal brain tumor; it could be treated but at a price Moxon can't afford. Meanwhile, billionaire Frost hosts a new reality TV show: think Hunger Games with 13 super humans in the streets of New York. With a huge, $10B grand prize.

Moxon enters, figuring that even second or third place would give him enough money to pay for the potentially life saving operation. He lacks a super power, but fakes it, with help from his buddies Gavin and Peyton.

That's about it for the summary, to avoid more spoilers.

This novel feels like so many others, but still doesn't come across and annoyingly derivative, and is interesting in its own way. It is labeled "book 1" and I'll probably read the sequel.

Arena Mode (The Arena Mode Saga Book 1)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Terminal Rage, by A.M. Khalifa

The hero of this novel is Alex, who had been an FBI hostage negotiator until he quit because a case went awry. That part was poorly done, as there's nothing about the description of the bad situation to justify Alex quitting over it. Similarly, Alex's demeanor certain doesn't seem like what one would expect of a cool headed hostage negotiator. So that was a problem.

Also a problem was why Alex was in this story at all (yes I realize he's the hero): someone took over a New York building and demanded Alex as the negotiator. Even at the end of the novel I couldn't tell you why.

Ignoring those kinds of issues, the book was fairly interesting. There were a few plot twists and they worked pretty well.

Terminal Rage