Author: Travis

The Memory Tree

The Memory Tree

This was an interesting book that I’m having trouble gauging how I actually feel about it.  The setting and world building, in the parts of the book set in the future, are interesting. The characters are, for the most part, well done. The story overall is intricate and precisely meticulously plotted. Yet, there are things I found challenging about reading it. The main idea of the book, about memories and how they work, and interconnecting the storylines is interesting.  The stories flowed together well enough and made the overarching plot of the book interesting and fun to read.  Sadly, the book did not stop with just that. There are just too many twists and turns.  Each timeline has different characters with different motivations.  The book doesn’t just break from the traditional structure of a novel but destroys it.  Halfway through the book, it became a slog as I had to… Read more »

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Holy War

Holy War

Holy War has an interesting premise, and Mike Bond seems to have a much stronger understanding of the region, both through the lens of understanding terrorism and the understanding the culture in general, than most of the thrillers set in the Middle East that I have read previously. The story structure is one that I’ve seen before in more general fiction, but not nearly as often in Thrillers. The jumping between protagonists or in some cases antagonist and not just giving you their POV but presenting it in a way that is sympathetic to that character is something I enjoyed. I should give a word warning that some of the characters and viewpoints might turn off some readers. I, however, read a lot of thrillers and was happy to get characters outside the usual cookie cutter mold. I should also say that the structure, while interesting, has its issues. The… Read more »

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The Dragon’s Playlist

The Dragon’s Playlist

I will start by saying the Dragon’s Playlist is possibly one of the best books I’ve read this year. The characters are well developed and captivating, the story moves at a brisk pace and keeps the engrossed even when the story deals with mundane things and elicited real feelings from me as a reader.  And considering I read a lot of books to review and have honestly grown a bit jaded when a novel tries to tug at my heart strings, that’s saying something. This book blends the real everyday world with a fantasy element, a style that has worked well over the years.  If you think too hard about the fantasy elements, it can come a bit undone, but that applies to most of these types of books.  And the book is written skillfully enough that it’s easy to ignore the cracks in the premises when they do show… Read more »

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The Sixth Gate

The Sixth Gate

The Sixth Gate is a sprawling fantasy story about, well, that’s a bit of a problem.  The book has some difficulty pinning down what the story its telling is actually about. When I say the story is sprawling, that isn’t an understatement.  Munson has built a complex world that, if taken by itself would be pretty interesting.  It’s clear the author has either a love of world building or a talent for it or both, the interconnectedness of the universe she’s built is pretty impressive. And Munson describes the world well in flowing details that really brings each part alive.  I admire her ability to clearly set a scene for the reader.  She does an excellent job giving the reader a good feel of the mood of what’s going on and making it connect interestingly. This author is clearly very talented, and this book seems to have had a lot… Read more »

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The Ghost Line

The Ghost Line

The Ghost Line falls in a unique subset of sci-fi that is near and dear to my heart, sci-fi suspense that border on horror. It’s a genre that I love in books, movies and TV (although it is massively underrepresented on television), so I was really looking forward to reading this book. I will start off by saying I generally liked most of what this book did.  The characters are interesting, if not exactly unique to the genre, and I liked the fact that the main character was from Iceland.  It added a bit extra to her characterization, especially when it casually dropped some lesser known Icelandic folklore into a random conversation. The authors also did a solid job of getting across the emotions of their characters, and from the outset, I felt the almost crazy sneakiness of Wei and the real affection Saga and Michel had for each other…. Read more »

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The House of Memory

The House of Memory

The House of Memory is a suspense filled ghost story, and a mystery rolled into one.  It’s a combination I’ve seen before, but done with a degree of skill that is often missed in this type of book. While the mystery part of ghost story/mystery was done well, it is the ghost story portion that really made this book an enjoyable read.  Too often books that focus on ghosts either concentrate on the supernatural aspects to the exclusion of all else or go the horror route and make the undead seem as gruesome and scary as possible. One of the things I really liked about House of Memory is, while ghosts were the major aspect of the book, the world the story lives in wasn’t solely focused on them.  The way ghosts are introduced as part of the world, existing next to everyday mundanity, made them feel somewhat more real… Read more »

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Frappe Today Dead Tomorrow

Frappe Today Dead Tomorrow

Frappe Today Dead Tomorrow is the definition of a ‘cozy mystery’.  It has a crime, in this case an assault that puts a young woman in a coma, the hero who isn’t an investigator but is thrown into the role, and a villain with shady plans, and little on screen violence. I will say this had a nice twist to it, in that Star, the girl in the coma, joins the investigation in a supernatural way by being able to communicate with Emma, the main character, and minimally affect the world around her.  It is sort of like a ghost side kick, with the exception that the person isn’t actually dead.  There is a lot of supernatural/metaphysical stuff in this book that I did not expect when I first started reading it.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  The subject is generally well handled and while a bit to new-age… Read more »

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Rise of the Phoenix

Rise of the Phoenix

Rise of the Phoenix is a fairly standard action thriller that, while it has issues, gets a lot of things right.  You have the two main characters, both excellent in their field, mixing humor and action as they seek to stop a terrorist threat.  Formulaic?  Sure, but it’s a formula that works, so why mess with it. The action is what this book gets right.  Once you get past the setup and introduction, which I will address in a moment, the action is high paced.  For the lovers of adrenaline fueled thriller action, Gibbs hits the right marks.  The main characters are also well developed, but as individuals and with their interaction with each other.  They are believable as characters with enough backstory to keep them from being just stereotypical stand-ins, which is a problem in many books in this genre. I do have two issues with the book, one… Read more »

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Emerge: The Awakening

Emerge: The Awakening

Emerge is a fairly standard young adult novel that hits all the boxes on the YA checklist.  Thankfully it does so competently and with a plot that is interesting.  You have Allie, the girl who is different but even she doesn’t know how different.  Read, hidden special powers.  The guy she meets that accepts her for who she is, and turns out to be special to.  A secrete destiny waiting to be discovered. Formulaic however does not equal bad.  Allie is a completely likable character and has an emotional depth which is refreshing to see.  Her relationship with Aiden is believable and well done. In a genre where relationships are all to often one dimensional or unbelievable, I was happy to see Craven knew how to avoid these pitfalls. The backstory is also well done.  There was a lot thought put into the backstory of the world and while yes,… Read more »

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Ex-Heroes

Ex-Heroes

Ex-Heroes is an interesting mashup of two very different book sub-genre’s, super-hero action and the zombie apocalypse.  What is even more surprising than the mashup even existing is that it actually works. It seems the difficulty level of this is pretty high, but Clines pulls it off. The story is set after the apocalypse has already happened, so naturally Cline has to spend a lot of time in flashback explaining what happened.  Thankfully this doesn’t break up the pacing and works in the narrative fairly well.  Most of the books I have read that relied on flashbacks for exposition it did hurt the pacing, so the fact that this book still flows well is a credit to the writer. I found the use of heroes particularly interesting in Ex-Heroes.  First is the fact that, even with all their superpowers, they were unable to stop the apocalypse from happening.  Superheroes in… Read more »

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