Author: Travis

A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea is an interesting sci-fi novel about first contact, misunderstandings and events spiraling out of control.  I read a lot of sci-fi but a novel that is essentially focused on first contact and the repercussions of that contact is a premise I have not seen very many times. This book is really well paced in the front half and kicks into gear early on with the death and dissection of a major character only a handful of pages into the book.  While it isn’t the rip-roaring ride you would get from a thriller this book moves fairly quickly for a thoughtful work of sci-fi.  That pacing does have some issues in the second half however as the story bogs down and the end feels a little rushed as Cambias works to put all the pieces together and wrap everything up. The idea behind the pitfalls that could come… Read more »

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I Shall Be Near To You

I Shall Be Near To You

I Shall Be Near To You brings historical fiction to an interesting yet not often talked about occurrence from the 19th Century, women pretending to be men in order to enlist.  Erin Lindsay McCabe manages to make the subject both historically interesting while presenting a story that was interesting and moving. Something many may not know is that woman masquerading as men to enlist was a real event.  In the Civil War alone there are many recorded cases of it happening, and almost certainly many more that were never recorded.  It is clear that McCabe did solid research not just of Civil War battles but of the home life of the time.  Everything beat felt historically right, which is something I often feel is missing from much of the historical fiction I read.  This book also manages, with one exception, to avoid the trap of having the book involve major… Read more »

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The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress

Books that revolve around fictionalizing a real life mystery have always fascinated me, as do books set in the 20s and 30s with their iconic art styles.  Those two things come together in The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress in a way that, if not completely amazing, were at least enjoyable. This book manages to take the style that I love of that time period and really bring it out on the page.  Through the dialogue and the attitudes you get a feeling of this world and in Ritzi and Maria Simon you get head strong female characters that embody everything I like about the changes in society at the time.  Lawhord really does an excellent job in pulling the reader into the New York of that Era and gives you both the glitz and grime that really make it so enjoyable to read about. The real historical mystery… Read more »

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The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

A fictional take on a real mystery, The Ghost of the Mary Celeste takes a strange nautical event and turns it into a ghost story.  I was really excited by the premise of this book as I love it when a writer plucks a real history out of history and turns it into an intriguing ghost story.  That unfortunately is not what this book is. One of the biggest problems with this book is the overall structure and how disjointed it feels.  This book is really not a cohesive story but rather tales that are barely related to each other being mashed into a single story.  While the delineation between stories is clear, so at least the reader isn’t confused, it makes it both hard to care about what is happening and keeps the book from feeling like a real take on the mystery.  And if you make it through… Read more »

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Red Rising

Red Rising

Red Rising is the story of a dystopian future and a lie that has been perpetuated against workers on Mars.  For those who love a good sci-fi novel set in a less then idyllic future this book really aims to hit all the points you would want. The plot itself is very well done.  The overall setup with multiple castes and the inherent tension that causes and a huge secret that could rock the very foundation of their society is well thought out.  That premise alone offers a lot of possibilities and on top of it a Brown does a good job living up to a lot of those possibilities.   This is further supported with excellent and well thought out world building, which helps give the rest of the story pretty solid bedrock. Unfortunately, while the story is good the pacing is only ok. It tends to drag in sections,… Read more »

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Snowblind

Snowblind

Strange occurrences surround the return of a blizzard where years before many residents went missing.  On first examination Snowblind dredges up thoughts of ghost stories told around a campfire.  It however really isn’t that, at least not completely. For this kind of supernatural suspense book Snowblind is a lot more subdued and restrained then you find in most other mainstream books of the genre.  Sure there are scares and surprises but it tries to play with your mind more than hack and slash its way to horror.  It is more Stir of Echoes than it is Nightmare on Elm Street.  Because of this the pacing is a lot slower the some will be used to.  Not to say it is overly slow as this is the type of pacing you need to make a story like this work.  However this also causes the middle of the book to really drag. … Read more »

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Two for the Dough

Two for the Dough

Two for the Dough is another installment in the Stephanie Plumb series continues the mix of mystery and humor tinged with hints of Evanovich’s history of writing romance novels.  Don’t get me wrong, while this does have the undertones of a romance novel it is not that.  The sense of humor in the book along with a half-way decent mystery really elevates out of the chic lit arena into a fun read for everyone. The best thing about this book continues to be the characters.  All of the cast of supporting players are back and you can’t help but love all of them.  Plumb herself is incredibly endearing and the way the book revels in her complete ineptitude as a bounty hunter really wins the reader over.  You really want her to succeed. The mystery plot line in this is not quite as good as the first book.  While chasing… Read more »

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Easy Prey

Easy Prey

What starts off as a dicey crime scene and a dead supermodel becomes more confusing when the cops find a second body stuffed in a closed.  Drugs, artists, angry families and socialites make Easy Prey one of the more confusing of the prey series, but in a good way. While the last several installments of the prey series have been more action/thriller based this book swings the plot back towards the mystery side of the street.  While previously we have known exactly who the bad guy was in Easy Prey, Sandford keeps that information not only hidden but completely obfuscated with a truck load of red herrings.  Honestly I am torn between the two styles this series seems to jump between and each has their merits.  I will say it took me longer to really get pulled into this book then it has with his previous work.  I am not… Read more »

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One Rough Man

One Rough Man

A former black ops commando working for a secret taskforce struggling through a personal tragedy stumbles upon a major attack just days away from happening.  This is the first book in the Pike Logan series following a group known as the Taskforce as they try and stop terrorist attacks from before they happen. I am a fan of the military thriller genre, especially one that focuses on tactical fights and the “man on the ground”, so this book really worked for me.  To be clear this will never win any awards for being high art but it does succeed at being fun and captivating. The main character is fairly run of the mill for this type of book.  On the edge, a little bit angry, bucking the system and highly capable, pretty much what you always get in a military thriller.  The addition of Jennifer however manages to push On… Read more »

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