Friday, 26 May 2017

Survivor - Samantha K. Duke

                There are so many things about this book that should make me give it a rather poor review but the thing is, there are so many things I like about it, too. The story has all of the bones of a really good young adult novel. There’s romance, the supernatural, a bit of mystery, and some humour. Unfortunately, the humour often leaves the characters looking ridiculous and unrealistic. Even though this is a work of fiction, I still want to find some realism in the characters and their dialogue.

                Amy and her group of friends are the oddballs of their age group and are often the butt of jokes made by the cool kids. A new boy moves to the school and Amy falls head over heels for him. Max, however, starts missing time, having blackouts and some of the jocks that he has had run-ins with have disappeared or, worse, are found dead. Is Max behind these strange events or does the ghost that Amy sees have something to do with it? Amy, Max and her friends are determined to save their school mates from the same fate that has happened to their peers but they may end up dead themselves.

                I understand the idea that this is supposed to be a bit tongue-in-cheek but coming back to school the day after students go missing and some are murdered seems a bit unbelievable to me. Also, Amy is attacked in quite a nasty way but casually goes back to school the next day and doesn’t bother to inform the authorities. The dialogue is not always at its best either. One kid states he doesn’t want to go to jail because they don’t have Nintendo. I know today’s kids are fairly materialistic but really?

                Having listed all of these complaints about the book, I still have to say that I really liked the overall story. The ending is sweet and I loved the character of Bobby who is sad and tragic even as he tries to be menacing. Amy and Max are also well written characters and I’d love to see them in a future book. This book has every bit of potential to be a great young adult novel and Ms. Duke has a lot of talent once the wrinkles get ironed out.

                I read the digital version of this book and it formatted well, although there were a few minor editing mistakes. The cover has significance to events in the book and pertains well to the young adult genre. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Escape to Death - Stephen Perkins

                It all starts with the murder of a young prostitute named Clover who is sacrificed by witches. Her ghost is set on returning to human form so she can get revenge on those who have killed her and those that helped to cover the crime up. Moving back and forth between the worlds of showbiz, law enforcement and the highest political office in the United States, Escape to Death is a book all about getting to the top by any means necessary and not caring who you step on (or kill) along the way. Add in some witchcraft and a bit of the supernatural and this really should have been a fast paced and entertaining book.  Instead, I spent most of the time trying to stay interested and had to stop myself from putting it down and not picking it up again. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good points to the book and maybe with a little bit of character development, a tweak to the storyline and some work on the editing, this could be a much better read. There are a lot of characters but none are likeable enough for me to actually care about remembering who any of them are so it got a little bit confusing. If even a couple of the main ones were a little more fleshed out then maybe I would have actually remembered them. The dialogue was a fairly big problem for me because most of it was not believable. For example, if two cops made as many derogatory comments about individuals, in a professional setting, as what was written in the book, they wouldn’t be on the job. It was all very “cheesy” and had a B-movie vibe to it. Also, the characters were often referred to by either their first names or their last names but not consistently so I was always confused as to who was being referred to or who was talking. I felt like I needed a spreadsheet to keep track of everything and that’s because the book didn’t keep me interested.
                The book starts with the sacrificial murder of Clover and I thought I would be diving into a fantastic book. Unfortunately, Clover’s ghost is rarely mentioned for the first chunk of the book. More of her would have really lent to the supernatural aspect of the story. Some of the scenes were quite humorous in their outlandishness however I don’t think they were meant to be taken that way. One scene in particular is a sex scene involving Vasquez that is just strange and made me laugh although I don’t think that was what the author intended for a reader to do.
                All in all, the idea for the book is a good one but it just didn’t work on paper. The cover is interesting but doesn’t really pertain a whole lot to the story. I read the digital version and it formatted well to my ereader.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

See Me Forever - Susann Oriel

                See Me Forever is a fast paced mix of murder, mystery, the supernatural and erotica. The cover doesn’t really do the book justice as it gives off a horror vibe and some readers who would enjoy it may pass the book by for this reason.
                Annie has just bought an old house and fixed it up, making it into her dream house. Inhabiting the house is a spirit (they don’t like to be called ghosts) who becomes infatuated with Annie. Annie has the ability to see him and wants to help him to pass over. The problem is that Edmond really doesn’t want to pass over. He built this house and he has no intention of leaving it. He will do anything to protect the house and Annie. This includes any murders that he needs to commit.
                Logan is a cop who investigates a strange occurrence at Annie’s house and winds up falling in love with her. He doesn’t believe in ghosts or her story about Edmond, the angry spirit, but he is willing to look into the cold case of who killed Edmond over one hundred years ago.
                I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The story catches your attention from the first page. It’s told from various viewpoints including that of Edmond’s which is very interesting as to how he sees the way things are in modern times. The writing style is easy to read and flows nicely. There are some fairly graphic sex scenes which are tastefully written but if you have an issue with that sort of thing then you probably shouldn’t pick the book up. If you like romance then this will definitely pique your interest. Combining all of these different genres into one book can often make for a confusing story but Ms. Oriel really makes it work and this is partly due to the characters being so well written. Not all of them are as well developed as Annie and Logan but it doesn’t affect the story. The only thing I would change would be that I would have liked to have read more about Edmond’s past. I think it would have added to the story nicely if the reader knew more about his relationship with his wife and why he is as angry as he is.
                By the way the book ended, there could be another one involving these characters and I would love to read it. I read this book in digital form and it formatted perfectly.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Expired Listings - D.M. Barr

                Expired Listings is a tongue-in-cheek exaggerated look at the cut-throat world of realtors as they jostle and connive to win sellers’ listings. Set in the fictional community of Rock Canyon, Dana Black is a realtor with a few kinky secrets of her own. She likes to use empty houses that are currently for sale as places for her and her BDSM partner, Dare, to play out “scenes” that usually entail some twisted game where Dare inevitably ends up “punishing” Dana. It’s all fun and games until realtors start going missing and turn up dead. There are numerous possibilities as to who the killer could be or even what the motive may be. The author nicely weaves the characters together into one cohesive story that is fun and entertaining. Dana has trust issues due to a horrible childhood and it doesn’t help that she has the occasional black out. Dana may be the killer and the reader doesn’t really know for sure until the end of the book. She enlists the help of an attractive investigator who she has been interested in for a while but has never approached. Where does that leave her BDSM partner, Dare? That turns out to be quite a twist all in itself and just one of many that the author provides throughout the book.
                The cover of this book, although eye catching, infers that it will be sexually explicit and it does have some erotica in it but nothing too graphic. It is heavy on the BDSM aspect but for me it was just full of information. The author definitely knows her subject matter on this, right down to the language and terminology. I have always wondered how this sort of thing works as I can’t understand why anyone would be interested in it but this book explains a lot of the psychology about it. The author does provide a warning at the beginning of the book regarding the sexual content as well as some points about how realtors work. The best part about this book is the author’s style of writing. It’s fun and easy. If it weren’t for the BDSM, it may even fall into the cozy mystery category. There’s no blood and gore, just a fun and fast-paced mystery. The characters are great and easy to keep track of even though there are quite a few of them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and fully intend to look for more to read by D.M. Barr.
                I read this on my ereader and it formatted very well.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Sphere - M. Black

                Sphere is the futuristic sequel to a previous novel that I’ve read and reviewed named Exotiqa. I really enjoyed Exotiqa and had high hopes for Sphere. Ms. Black did not disappoint. Sphere is fast paced, exciting, and quite hard to put down once picked up. The key to really enjoying Sphere is having already read Exotiqa. It’s not absolutely necessary but this futuristic world created by M. Black is so intricate and detailed that you really need to have the back story that Exotiqa provides in order to really appreciate Sphere.
                Sphere continues the story about human, Fione and her life like Flexbot friends, Pix and Maci, as they try to survive in an ever changing world where the Flexbots are becoming more aware and conscious of their feelings and emotions. Due to some horrible events in Exotiqa, Fione is no longer truly human. Instead, she is part human, part Flexbot, which is known as Humanbot. Russell Wagner, the brains behind Flexbots and the proverbial evil genius of the book, has a nasty plan that basically would result in the end of humans and Humanbots running the world. There are a lot of twists and turns within the story and the reader never really knows who to trust or who may really be part of Russell’s evil plan. The novel is set in Canada which, for me, is quite nice but it’s also not a huge part of the book. It really could be set anywhere. Place names are only mentioned a few times.
                One of the things I love about this book is how it pertains to issues being played out in the news right now in regard to racial issues. The differences between people, races being pitted against each other and different cultures trying to find ways to exist side by side are all explored in Sphere and would make for perfect reading for those in high school. The story is so entertaining that for a change students may actually want to read the required book for English class. At the end of Sphere, the author has also provided some thought provoking questions for discussion.

                I always enjoy books written by M. Black and Sphere has been added to the list. She creates amazing and believable worlds even though they are set in the future. This is a must read for dystopian lovers, whether you are a young adult or a part of the older generation. Excellent!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Pearl of the Seas - Ruth Finnegan

                Pearl of the Seas is the second book written by Ruth Finnegan that I have read, the first being Black Inked Pearl. I wanted to read Pearl of the Seas because I was interested in how Ms. Finnegan would handle a children’s book. Written as a prequel to Black Inked Pearl, this book tells the story of two adventurous children who, along with their sweet and comical dog, sail off in a log that they have found and built into a boat. They discover a land where the king bestows them with wisdom in a God-like way and there are numerous lessons to be learned by anyone reading the book. The story itself is quite a lot of fun and the characters of Chris, Kate and Holly (the dog), are playful and fun. However, the reader has to dig deep to find the actual story. It’s buried under layers of needless words that either don’t make sense or don’t add anything to the story. For example, in chapter one, page two as read on my ereader, when Kate splashes Chris with water and runs away, the description is “the splash lashed dashed bashed him.” For a child reading on their own, all of the wordiness would make them lose interest rather quickly. If this book is being read to a child, it would be received better because an adult could make the words and tone of voice fun and interesting. Eventually though, this would no longer work because the story is lost. The book is also a little too long for younger readers to read on their own. There are illustrations but not nearly enough and they are black and white. A little colour would make them much more interesting to children.
                Ms. Finnegan has so much talent as a writer and the stories are there if there was less use of unnecessary nonsensical words. I did read parts of the book to my niece and shortened it to just the story and she really enjoyed it. I read this on my ereader and it formatted well. The cover is quite lovely and colourful.