Archive for December, 2012


Review: Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

poison princessPoison Princess by Kresley Cole

Published October 2nd, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Synopsis and cover photo from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

Rating (out of 5): 3 star

Review:

This book and I had a love/hate relationship throughout the course of it and it disappointed me.  But let me back up a second.  I haven’t read a Kresley Cole book before.  I have heard a lot of really great things about the books and have several of them on my TBR list, but just haven’t gotten to them yet.  Then I saw this book and I fell in love.  The cover on this book is simply amazing.  It is so gorgeous that I can hardly stand it.  Since the premise sounded interesting too, I pre-ordered it sight unseen.  Then I noticed that it had a blurb on it from PC Cast and I thought “Oh God, what have I done!”  This is the woman whose book I had to put away because it made me want to vomit so much, and she’s recommending this!?  I considered that perhaps I had made a very serious mistake.  But I persevered and overall I am happy about that, but not entirely.

I liked Evie for the most part.  I found her to be kind, sweet, plucky, and determined when she needed to be.  But typical YA heroine stuff started leaking into her personality and I didn’t like that.  As soon as Jack got into the picture she was whiny, annoying, dependent, and stupid to the point of being suicidal.  I shouldn’t agree when another character calls her useless, but I did…often.  I got so angry with her for fawning over this stupid boy so much that I wanted to shake her.  However, her character redeemed herself in the end by finishing the book in a serious kick ass fashion.  If only we didn’t have this stupid, silly little love triangle in the book it would have easily been 5 stars.

Now let’s turn to Jack.  Was I supposed to like him?  Was I supposed to see him as a sweet and romantic love interest for Evie?  Was I supposed to giggle at his cuteness?  Because I didn’t, not to any of that.  I found him to be an absolute asshole.  I’m really hoping that at some point YA will figure out that “bad boys” are NOT SEXY!  Someone going to jail and being suspended from school and leering at girls is not cute or romantic or sexy or sweet!  It is creepy and the pinnacle of douchebaggery.  Jack is a drunk, I can’t even call him an alcoholic because he doesn’t think there’s a problem.  There isn’t a single time he’s mentioned where he’s not knocking back the booze.  He is crude and sexually inappropriate constantly.  He sexually pressures Evie on multiple occasions, several of which were while she had a boyfriend.  He leers at girls constantly and makes inappropriate comments when he hardly knows them.  And he is just downright horrible to Evie so often that I stopped keeping track.  He calls her names all the time, he puts her down, he belittles her opinions or feelings, he is passive aggressive to the extreme, and is a complete man slut.  I mean, for God’s sake, at one point he threatens to throw Evie onto any available horizontal surface and bang the living daylights out of her…for touching his stomach while riding on his motorcycle!  Apparently that means he can’t control himself anymore.  How is any of this romantic?!  I wanted to take a long hot shower with liberal use of bleach and then file a restraining order against this creeper!  But the other love interest, Brandon, isn’t much better.  He tries to pressure Evie into having sex as a reward for what a good and faithful boyfriend he’s been and he deserves it.  Yet at the same time as trying to get in her pants, he shows a total disregard for her feelings and is much more interested in leering at other girls in her presence.  Luckily he wasn’t around long enough to enrage me as much as Jack.  I just have no more words for any of this.  Do I have to get out the signs of domestic abuse again?  I REALLY think I do.

Let’s move on to the plot now, shall we?  I was fascinated by this plot, as much as the characters infuriated me it was the plot that kept my interest alive.  I LOVED the idea of these people representing the Major Arcana of the Tarot.  Now, as a pagan, I am fairly well versed in the Tarot and so I was acutely aware of what everyone’s role was and what their presence probably meant once I learned what their card was.  It is such a unique idea and I loved it very much.  I also was enthralled with the way this plot started out with Arthur because he was royally creepy.  I wanted so badly to know more about Arthur and how Evie got to be in his presence.  The one big downside to the plot was how much time we spent on Evie’s issues with Brandon and Jack at school prior to the end of the world happening.  How exactly were Evie’s text messages relevant to the overall plot? Why did any of these people matter at all since most of them ended up dead by the middle of the book?  We spent way too much time on that and it frustrated me, I wanted to get on with things.  Once we did move on with the plot I loved every page.  I didn’t know what was coming next and I adored the twists and turns to the plot.  Then I reached the end and was left with my mouth hanging open and the only words I could muster were, “Holy fuck, I didn’t see that coming.”

I would recommend this book to almost any fantasy or post-apocalypse fan.  It is a worthy edition to the genre once you get passed the annoying stereotypical YA parts.  The plot alone is worth the investment.

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Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

the twelveThe Twelve by Justin Cronin

Published October 16th, 2012 by Random House

Picture and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.

To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral—but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

Rating (out of 5): 1 star

Review:

***Warning: Spoiler alert!  Consider yourself duly warned!***

It is with great sadness that I give this book one single star, and even that might be more than it deserves.  The Twelve is the sequel to 2010’s The Passage and is the second book in the trilogy.  I read The Passage and I absolutely loved it.  I admit that there was a large section of the middle that was horribly boring and tedious, but overall I thought the book was one of the best I had read.  I looked forward to The Twelve with much fervor and excitement.  I pre-ordered it almost a year in advance and tapped my foot impatiently that the release date wouldn’t get here any quicker.  When the book arrived at my house I tore open the packaging and spent a lot of time just starting at it in wonder.  It was finally here!  Then I plunged into it and was stopped dead in my tracks.  This book that I had looked forward to for over a year was just not good!  It took everything I didn’t like about The Passage and amplified it a hundred times.  I was so distraught that I thought perhaps it was my fault and I should put the book down for awhile and come back to it.  So I took a month long break, and it still wasn’t any good when I came back.

My first irritation with this book was something I noticed in The Passage but it was much much worse in this one.  Cronin has a tendency to use really weird word choices sometimes.  And he falls into purple prose constantly.  No, scratch that, he doesn’t fall into purple prose, all he writes is purple prose.  I got really sick of hearing about the undulating crimson waves of light shimmering across the cerulean sky as the sun peeked it’s head just over the dusky horizon as if afraid to make any further appearance.  It got really old and I just wanted SOMETHING to happen already. Stop describing everything in such an unnecessary way and give me some plot, please!  And the word choices were just strange at times.  It would completely pull me out of the story as I stopped short and thought, “What?”  For example he described Amy as “meager”.  Okay, I know what meager means, but he is using it to describe her as humble and that is not a very common usage of that word.  Or describing a rape as “peculiar ministrations.”  At first I wasn’t even sure what the hell he was talking about.  It took me almost five pages to realize that was a rape scene.

My next problem was how often we jump around to different characters.  Literally every two or three pages we jumped to a completely different plot and a different narrating character and then a few pages later it was something else.  This made it really hard to track what was going on or whether we were even in the same time period.  Were we at directly after the virus or a hundred years later, I often didn’t know.  Then you add in that certain characters were present in both time periods, with no real explanation of how that happened, so that made it extra confusing about where we were.  Then you have a huge cast of characters that is impossible to keep track of on top of the confusing narration.  At one point I had to put the book down to scratch my head because I know for a fact that X character died in The Passage (I read it 3 times, he died, we buried him!), yet all of a sudden he’s back and a viral.  I think the author confused himself with the multitude of characters.

I’m also still not sure exactly what the plot was.  When I finished The Passage, I was fairly certain that we were going to be hunting down the eleven remaining virals out of the original Twelve.  But, 95% of the book was spent NOT doing that, so I have no idea just what the hell we did for nearly 600 pages.  Instead we jumped around from character to character and had a character making the virals into some kind of deity and enslaving people.  Because the plot was so vast and confused, we missed out on some great opportunities.  At one point, a young boy wants to run into a stadium after the virus is released and they don’t want him to see the horror.  What horror?  I still don’t know.  They may have wanted to protect the boy but, I wanted to see it!  I wanted to know what was going on there!  The boy escaped the adults and managed to see it, but I still didn’t.  This trend continued throughout the book.  At another point Peter is fighting a viral while locked in a cage.  We get a whole two paragraphs before we get a narrative AFTER it’s over and find out it lasted a total of 27 seconds.  I felt so incredibly ripped off.  All of the potentially good horror or action scenes were skipped over like they didn’t matter so we could spend 10 more pages on purple prose that made my eyes want to explode.

Finally, I got sick and tired of the religious references.  I had the inkling that we were going down that road from The Passage and I didn’t mind it.  But the author just tried too hard to make the connections.  I started trying to predict what the next religious reference would be.  Oh, is he the new God?  Yep, he proclaimed himself to be.  Is she going to die and then get resurrected?  Yep, she did…oh look twice.  It was pathetic that trying to predict the absurd religious references was more entertaining to me than the book itself.  It almost felt like the author was standing and looking over my shoulder saying, “See, do you get it?  Twelve Apostles and Jesus?  I’m clever huh, don’t you get it?”  Yes I get it and it’s fucking stupid!

In the end I cared about this book so little that I honestly didn’t even want to finish it.  The only reason I did finish was to see if there would be ANYTHING that would spark my interest in the third book.  I couldn’t even care that my favorite character got raped, because I had no idea that’s what happened until long after it happened.  Then I couldn’t even care that she got revenge on her rapist because it was just glossed over like it wasn’t important…like everything else that was good in this book.  At this point, I will not be reading the last book.  I loathed every page of this book and I hate the direction this plot is taking.  I don’t care how it ends anymore, this book killed any enthusiasm I had for this story.  I keep trying to figure out where all these good reviews are coming from because I am not even sure we read the same book.

To end, I want to add a personal note to Mr. Cronin:  Yes, we realize that you are a highly literary, intelligent individual who has a degree and can write literary works of genius.  But, guess what, you are writing a horror trilogy.  I know you feel guilty about “selling out” for a big paycheck and being in that dreaded mass market category, but that’s no excuse to bastardize your own work.  You have destroyed this story by trying to make it highbrow and literary.  Assuage your guilt about selling out some other way.  I swear you are on some personal mission to make me hate your book, congratulations I did.

Review: Breed by Chase Novak

breedBreed by Chase Novak

Published September 4th, 2012 by Mulholland Books

Picture and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.

Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.

Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.

Rating (out of 5): 1 star

Review:

As much as I was looking forward to this book, by the end I hated it.  No, hated it not a strong enough word.  I loathed this book.  So many times I wanted to put it down and never pick it back up, but I soldiered on until the very last page and began to wish I had followed through with the urge to abandon it.  This book was a perfect example of a great idea that was executed terribly.  This was written by bestselling author Scott Spencer, under the pseudonym Chase Novak.  I, for one, will not be checking out anything under either name.  This saddens me because I was looking forward to this book so much that I suggested it for my online book club to read, that ended up being a very poor decision.

***Warning:  From this point forward this review may contain spoilers.  Stop reading now to remain unspoiled.***

The basic premise of this was intriguing.  An affluent couple who is so desperate to have a child that they travel to an unknown part of the world to have an unknown procedure performed on them.  Here is where I ran into my first problem.  At one point Leslie decides not to go through with the procedure.  I can’t argue with her, she’s in a country she’s never heard of, in a filthy office, about to be injected by a weird doctor with something and the doctor won’t tell her what it is.  She starts hollering and the doctor orders her husband from the room…and he complies!  For all he knows they are holding her down and injecting her against her will!   I was furious on her behalf.  But then I got furious with her.  She just lets it go and proceeds on their lives together, including having sex with him that same day!  I would have gotten a good divorce lawyer before I was out the door of the office after beaning the doctor in his skull with my foot!  So that bothered me.

Another huge problem I had with the beginning of the story was the POV.  It was written in third person omniscient.  So it basically read like a news report.  We would see what was happening and how it happened.  But we’d have no idea why it happened, what they thought or felt about what happened, or any of the details that make you care about the characters.  At one point Alex grabs a small rodent and eats it and I had no idea why.  Since i didn’t know if this was an impulse he’d struggled with or a thought he couldn’t ignore anymore it had all of the significance of a pointless sidenote.  For that reason I found that I didn’t really care about Leslie or Alex because the only things I could see about them were ignorant, selfish, and horrendously stupid.

After the twins are born the POV shifts to third person close, which was slightly better than before but by that point I just didn’t care.  I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t care about the plot, I wanted something to happen. Yeah yeah, I get it the parents are monsters now.  They are fighting off the inhuman urge to eat their children.  Gotcha, now let’s do something with it.  What they did was that the twins ran away and spent most of the book running from their parents.  Along the way they discover other kids that are like them and who have parents like them.  Apparently there are hundreds of these people wandering around and yet…no one else in the world has noticed.  That stretched my reality a little too far to be believable.

We also learn a little bit about the original doctor and what was in the original shots.  A very little bit.  I was excited about that and expected this story to become a quest for answers.  But it didn’t.  We were still on some stupid chase from the parents which was boring and starting to drag.  When the parents finally catch them I thought, yay good stuff coming!  Nope, it just kind of stopped.  Complete with some death and mayhem.  And THEN we go on a quest for answers back to the original doctor.  All I could think was, “Why did no one think of this in the last 10 years?”  But even that proved worthless because there were no answers to be had.  The plot never went anywhere and then you reached the end and realized that you had spent several hundred pages on a pointless quest for nothing.  This plot had so much potential and all of it was squandered.  When I reached the end of the book I was mostly relieved that it was over.  If there is a sequel, I will buy it only to tear out off the pages and shred them by hand.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.  All that you’ll gain from it is feeling vaguely nauseous and then being angry that there was no pay off for the grossness.

 

 

TheProtectorsbannerThe Protectors by Bernard DeLeo

Published July 24th, 2012 by RJ Parker Publishing

Banner and synopsis provided by the author.

Buy this book at: Amazon

Synopsis:

Connor Bradwick and Ellie James enforce the law in one of the perennially most dangerous cities in the country: Oakland, CA. Bradwick snaps when he and James bust in on a kidnapping ring, enslaving children for pornography. He brutally executes the three kidnappers, stunning James. He sets up the scene to pass for self-defense with Ellie James cooperation. Their ruse succeeds, triggering a two cop crackdown on crime the city of Oakland’s leaders scurry to stop. Dedicated to end ‘look the other way’ crime suppression tactics, ending in destruction and death for the common people in Oakland, Bradwick and James decide it’s time to go on offense.

Connor explains it this way after they rescue the kidnapped children, “The kids made me start thinking about how I want folks to look at us. I don’t care anymore to visit someone to tell them we found the people who broke into their business or house and robbed them blind. I want them to wave at us from their house or business as we go by because we prevent the gangbangers, drug dealers and thugs from terrorizing them.”

The crime war takes on different meaning when they bust an MS-13 El Salvadoran gangster’s illegal alien processing center. Connor and Ellie run headlong into a corrupt politician on the gangster’s payroll, and the terrorists behind him. Soon, everyday crime fighting busts become a fond memory.

Rating (out of 5): 3 star

Review:

This is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”  Except I’m not sure that’s accurate.  Either this book just hit me in the midst of a slump and I didn’t like it but it’s an otherwise great book, or my mood was perfect for it but the book just wasn’t that great.  I am not sure which it is, but I do know that it’s one of the two.

This was pitched to me as resembling a “buddy cop” drama and I was looking forward to that.  On that front I was not disappointed.  The interactions between Ellie and Connor were really great.  I loved their banter.  Even though I initially thought that surely real cops were occasionally serious and not joking around all the time, but I still enjoyed them.  It made me laugh.  I also was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Connor.  In the beginning, I hated him.  He murdered three people in front of children and then asked them not to tell!  Yes they were criminals, but do cops go around executing people now with no due process?  I was prepared not to like Connor, but I ended up enjoying his character a lot.  He was not quite the vigilante that he seemed at the beginning.

I was also prepared not to like Ellie either.  Her first line was “Do I look fat?”  I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking, great another one of THOSE stereotypical females.  To a certain extent I still feel that way because she was frequently overly sensitive, too emotional, and irrational but I grew to like her.  She has a good sense of humor and knows how to get a good dig at Connor’s expense.

Even the plot started to grow on me, though I don’t think I ever truly enjoyed it.  This is where my biggest problem with the book lies.  Books require that you suspend reality for a little bit for the sake of the story.  This required me to just abandon reality completely and I didn’t like that.  On every page I had a hard time taking it seriously.  I don’t care what dangerous city you’re in, you are NOT tasing, shooting, or macing people on every call!  I have been to the “bad” parts of Oakland (where this is set), and seen cops on calls and never seen a gun drawn once.  I also had a hard time believing that a police Sargeant would say “Yeah sure, make arrests on your off time, no big deal!  It’ll be great actually!”  Um, nope I can’t get there either.  And if all cops have this many anger management issues, I might want to rethink calling 911.  So that got to me a lot.  Good for the story but not good for me.  So if you are a fan of cop drama type books then give this one a try, you might like it more than I did.  This book does have its merits and I enjoyed a lot of it!  But if you are reading my review and nodding your head and thinking “she makes a lot of good points” then perhaps this isn’t the book for you.

Many thanks to the author, who provided me a copy of this book and a spot on the blog tour!  The book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

terminal islandTerminal Island by Walter Greatshell

Published December 4th, 2012 by Night Shade Books

Cover and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

Synopsis:

Henry Cadmus grew up on Catalina Island, a scenic vacationland off the Southern California coast. But Henry’s experiences were far from idyllic. Today, even though Henry has seen firsthand the horrors of war, the ghastly images that haunt his dreams is one he associates with his childhood… and the island: a snarling pig-man holding a cleaver; a jackal-headed woman on a high balcony, dripping blood; strange occult rituals… and worse. If it was up to Henry, he would avoid the island entirely.

But Henry is returning to Catalina Island. At his wife Ruby’s insistence, Henry, Ruby, and their infant daughter are coming to Avalon, so that Henry can face his fears, exorcise his demons, and reconcile with the one he fears most… his mother.

From Walter Greatshell, author of Xombies comes Terminal Island, a novel of cosmic horror.

Rating (out of 5): 3 star

Review:

This book was…strange, there really is no other word for it.  I have postponed writing this review for a few days to find a better word to describe it but I can’t find one.  Parts of this story had me clutching my ereader in a death grip with fear for the characters.  Parts of this story just left me scratching my head as I thought “Wait, what?”  The basic premise is that Henry lived the life of a wanderer when he was growing up, his mother moving him from place to place with regularity.  When his mother decided to move him to Catalina Island he fell in love with the place.  Shortly after, however, he begs his mother to leave and she complies.  Now that he is married and has a child, his mother has dropped off the map.  They were never close, but now he hears that she has moved to Catalina Island and is returning his letters. His wife, Ruby, suggests that they go find his mother and sort this out.  Henry is overcome with apprehension at returning to the place of his childhood nightmares but agrees.

This novel jumps between Henry’s perspective of the island in the present and flashbacks of his time on the island as a child.  This is very disconcerting and pulls the reader out of their comfort zone, I thought this was a very good tactic.  This is supposed to be a horror type novel, I shouldn’t have a comfort zone!  And with this novel I never did and I liked it.  While reading, you are never quite sure what is real and what isn’t.  Henry has memories of the girls at his school chasing him down and trying to kill him and stumbling into a butcher shop where the butcher is wearing the head of a pig and brandishing a cleaver.  He has dreams about nearly drowning and finding himself face to face with a monster that lived under the ocean and tried to hold him underwater.  Part of me wanted these things to be real because the descriptions were fascinating.

The writing of this book and the plot were all very good.  The pacing was also good but it got a big slow at the end.  As the pieces of this story began to unravel I found myself growing more intrigued with this story than I was at the beginning.  But I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled with everything.  There was a large section of time when I kept thinking to myself “Wait, is X in on this or not?  And if they are, how long has this been going on?”  Then there is a part when Henry is trying to protect his daughter, who was just barely yelling and calling for him, and the ending of that part was just weird and it didn’t feel genuine to me.  Similarly the occult ritual that takes place was very long and I started to skim it to get to the interesting parts.  I was still not totally aware at the end what was real and what wasn’t and that annoyed me.  But also at the end it just started to get cheesy.  For example, this line: “They killed the sheriff.  But they did not kill the deputy.”  I swear to God that’s actually in there.  That was so corny and dumb it just pulled me right out of the story.  When we reached the ending I was so ready for it to just be over that I started skimming again.  Because of that, there was never a big monumental moment of “Oh my God!” about the ending.  It was just over.

This was a good book in its entirety.  It was intriguing and entertaining but I felt like the unraveling of the mystery could have been done better.  And the ending was pretty lengthy and it started to drag which effected my enjoyment of the conclusion of the plot.  If you are a big fan of mysteries and horror novels then this is one that you should give a read.  But if you are not deeply interested in these genres then I would suggest you give this one a miss.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  Thank you Night Shade Books!

 

the sum of her partsThe Sum of Her Parts by Alan Dean Foster

Published November 27th, 2012 by Del Rey (a subsidiary of Random House Publishing Group)

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover image and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Synopsis:

In this thrilling science fiction adventure-the triumphant conclusion to the Tipping Point trilogy-New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster returns to a near future in which genetic manipulation and extreme body modification have changed profoundly what it means to be human.

Dr. Ingrid Seastrom was once a respected American physician. Whispr, whose body has been transformed to preternatural thinness, was once a streetwise thief. Now, in a world on the edge of catastrophe from centuries of environmental exploitation, they are allies-thrust together by fate to unravel an impossible mystery-even as they are stalked by a relentless killer.

Ingrid and Whispr are hunted fugitives bound together by a thread: a data-storage thread made of a material that cannot exist, yet somehow does. Their quest to learn its secrets-and, in Whispr’s case, sell them to the highest bidder-has brought them to South Africa’s treacherous Namib desert. Beyond its dangers waits a heavily guarded research facility that promises answers, if they can survive long enough to get there. But that won’t be easy, not with Napun Molé on their trail. They’ve already escaped the assassin twice, and as far as Molé is concerned, finishing them off isn’t just a job anymore . . . it’s personal.

Rating (out of 5): 3 star

Review:

This has been a difficult book to rate.  Once again I find myself torn in between a not so good two stars and a very good four stars, which ultimately leads to the conclusion that three stars is the most accurate.  I had an interesting journey with this book and it made it difficult to form my thoughts on this.  Now I will share that journey with you.  Now, to start, I do want to point out that this is the conclusion to a trilogy.  I did not know this when I received the book for review and I have not read the previous two books.

Not reading the prior books led me to my first problem with this book.  In the entirety of the novel there is literally no recap of the major characters or plot points in the previous books.  For dedicated readers that might not be a big deal, but for a reader who may have forgotten or a new reader to the book this is vital.  I was thrust into a world with its own language, its own geography, its own rules and I had nothing to guide me in that world.  When a character would say something like, “Remember what happened in X?”  And all I could think was, no I don’t please tell me.  But I never got told.  Certain things I stumbled through and figured out, like that manip meant a body modification procedure.  Or gengineering was genetic engineering.  But all I knew of the plot was that Whispr got his hands on a data thread and went to Ingrid for help deciphering it.  This led them on a journey to a very dangerous place to try to find out what was on the data thread, and for some reason an assassin was hired to get the thread back and eliminate them.  The why, how, and when of all this I have no idea.

However, even without any recap of the prior books, I found myself drawn in.  The characters were very well crafted and enjoyable to read.  Whispr made me laugh and quite frankly was often the voice of reason when Ingrid had me rolling my eyes at her naivety.  I was drawn into their journey and even though I didn’t know why this data thread was important I was rooting for them to figure it out successfully.  I loved this story!  I was so enthralled with it that I no longer cared about my initial confusion.  I loved this world and the people in it.  I got shivers when the bad guys showed up, and I laughed at the absurdity of some of the happenings.  I mean, come on, how can you not giggle at murderous genetically modified sentient meerkats? That’s hilariously creative!  I fact, I think the meerkats might have been my favorite characters!  I enjoyed this story so much that I was preparing my purchase of the first two books so that I could read the entire journey.  And then I got to the ending and I was no longer sure that I wanted to read the entire journey.

The ending of this book made me feel incredibly ripped off and like I wasted my time.  At first it was alright because it was just Ingrid being an idiot, Whispr had always been my favorite anyway and he still kept his brains about him.  I was so angry that they figure out this mystery they have risked their lives for and then….just threw their hands in the air and went “okay, we’ll go with that.”  No, no and no!  Then Whispr fell into it too!  I was so angry and I felt like I had just read all this for nothing.  If I was a dedicated reader of the entire trilogy I would have been severely disappointed that it all ended that way. So for that reason, I don’t think I want to read the rest of the trilogy knowing that it ends so badly.  Luckily this book had enough good things in the middle to keep me relatively happy with the story in general.  And so I write this review torn, disappointed, and yet still vaguely amused by those meerkats.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley  in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you Del Rey!

Review: Red Island by Lorne Oliver

Red IslandRed Island by Lorne Oliver

Published May 23rd, 2012 by the author

Synopsis and cover image from the Goodreads book page

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Synopsis:

Was it the nightmare that woke him or the late night phone ringing that brought on the dream? Sgt. Reid of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police brought his family to Prince Edward Island, “The Gentle Island,” to get away from crime and homicides. He had to get away from the nightmares and concentrate on his family. PEI is a lovely place to live. The sound of the ocean crashing against sandy beaches, sand dunes covered in tufts of dancing green grass…

…And then there was the young woman hanging from a tree. It wasn’t a gentle island any more.

Rating (out of 5): 3 star

Review:

***WARNING: This review may contain spoilers, stop reading now if you wish to remain unspoiled.***

This book is a hard one for me to put my finger on and say I liked it or I didn’t like it.  In the end, I really liked some of it and I really didn’t like some of it.  I liked the story, it was decent and well constructed.  I really disliked Sgt. Reid, he annoyed me on nearly every page.  And I absolutely loved Ben the serial killer, he was the shining star of this entire book!

Let’s begin with the story.  Like I said, it was decent and well constructed.  Sgt. Reid is still recovering from an emotional case involving young girls being murdered and brings his family to Prince Edward Island, where things like that just don’t happen.  But no sooner does he get there then that kind of thing starts to happen.  Bodies of young women are turning up, proudly displayed in public, and Reid must face everything all over again.  I thought that things progressed at a fairly good pace as far as the progression of the killings went.  It was logical and made a lot of sense.  All that was good.  But I really didn’t like the police work in this.  I give the author big props for doing so much research into police procedure and keeping it so real to life.  However, there is a big reason that TV shows and movies make police work so fantastical…it makes it interesting.  Reading scene after scene of the police scratching their heads and going “I dunno what to do?  What should we do?  Wait for another killing?  Go talk to more people?  I dunno.”, might be true to life but it’s also not very interesting.  I was sitting there screaming, “SHE SAID HE WAS A PHOTOGRAPHER!!!  YOU ALREADY TALKED TO HIM AND HE TOLD YOU THAT!!!  WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!!!??”  Maybe it was because Reid was too focused on his partner’s ass..ets, but more on that in a minute.  I was mildly perturbed about knowing the name and identity of the serial killer right off the bat, but since his scenes were so good I stopped caring at all.

Now let’s talk about Reid, and yes I have to call him Reid because we never learn his first name.  At first that was kind of amusing as people guessed and never got told, but it got old fast.  And when it was used as a cliffhanger at the end, I was just over it.  The woman says, “Do me a favor, tell me your first name.”, end of book.  I didn’t care anymore at that point, it wasn’t amusing anymore, so I didn’t mind that I don’t know his name.  I also firmly believe that Reid has a medical condition.  This man has the most tingly, twitchy groin that I have ever heard of.  Sees the dead mangled body of a girl, he thinks about her nice body and tingly groin!  Sees his partner walking around, twitchy groin!  Looks at pictures of the murdered girls before they died, tingly groin!!  Looks at a butterfly, twitchy groin!  About the only time there is no tingly, twitchy groin is when he’s with his wife.  I think he should see a doctor, he has a serious problem.  I also think Reid couldn’t solve the murders faster because his every single thought is about cheating on his wife.  The wife who is at home, calling to make sure he was safe and had dinner while you working his case, that controlling dirtbag!  She didn’t do a single thing except love him and support him and he’s thinking about screwing around on her constantly.  Even at crime scenes and during interviews.  No wonder you couldn’t find the killer bud, you were too busy thinking about your twitchy groin than the case.  Needless to say, I despised Reid very much.

So far all of this is mixed, liked some and hated some, but then we get to Ben the serial killer.  If this book had been Ben only, it would have been five stars all the way.  I loved watching him as a young boy killing small animals, to progressing and refining his skills as a rapist and then finally as a killer.  The look into this psychopath’s mind was fascinating and I loved every page of it. I never did quite figure out why Ben decided to taunt Reid which ultimately got him caught though.  Until then, the cops had figured out nothing and were waiting for him to tell them how to catch him.  If he hadn’t done that he could have gone on forever because they cops had nothing that he didn’t hand them.  I think this was supposed to be part of Ben’s de-evolution and descent into madness.  But it didn’t feel totally genuine to me.  He’d been completely stable until that point and then just jumped off the deep end.  I still liked it, but it felt rushed.  At the end of this book I have to take what I hated and take what I loved and I come away with one conclusion:  It was good and I would choose to read it again if given the chance, but I probably won’t reread it now that I have already done so once.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  Thanks to the author for providing this book!