Source: Netgalley

Divider

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 »

Divider

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 »

Divider

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 »

Divider

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 »

Divider

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 »

Divider

The Con Men: Hustling in New York City

The Con Men: Hustling in New York City

When I started reading Con Men I was expecting stories about big time cons in New York.  I was thinking about the classic con men like we see in the The Sting, The Grifters, or Catch Me If You Can.  That really isn’t what this book is about.  This book is about the street level hustler.  The guys paying three card monte and running scams on neighborhood stores. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book.  If you are looking for a behind the scenes look on how someone can talk tourists out of their money, convince a store to let merchandise walk out the front door, or set up Ponzi schemes, then this book delivers.  The authors spend years with scam artists plying the streets of New York and delivers an amazing view into that world you can’t get from reading news accounts or trial transcripts.  They tell you… Read more »

Divider

Spy for Hire

Spy for Hire

Mark Sava, John Decker and friends must protect a small orphan being used as a pawn in a turf war between governmental agencies.  Spy for Hire is a straight up action thriller and for fans of the genre it ticks off all the boxes you would expect. The story itself is about as cookie cutter spy/action thriller as you get.  It isn’t bad mind you, just a bit ho-hum.  The good guys are clever and often manage to outwit their adversaries and there is some good action with a few plot twists thrown in to keep you on your toes.  The only real problem with the plot twists is that they are completely telegraphed.  You see where the twists are going almost as soon as they are introduced and readers of the genre will find very few surprises.   Additionally there are problems with the sub-plots.  Mayland introduces events and side… Read more »

Divider

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

Bread & Butter meshes a restaurant/chef story in the vein of Kitchen Confidential with a more traditional family drama to create a new take on the culinary drama.  While not everything in this book really works I can see what the author was going for and commend her for it. Two things are clear from reading this book.  One is that Michelle Wildgen is a foodie and has a real passion for the subject.  Her descriptions of the food and the cooking of it are the literary version of food porn.  You can almost taste the meals from her descriptions.  Her ability to describe food is what I enjoyed most about the book.  After reading a chapter of Bread & Butter what I really wanted to do is get into the kitchen and cooks something. The other thing that is obvious from reading this book, at least to someone who… Read more »

Divider

Runner

Runner

In Runner, Patrick Lee takes the standard military thriller and manages to add some new twists that elevate the book beyond what is expected from the genre.  Since I am a fan of the thrillers and read a lot of these types of books it is pretty rare that I am surprised by them.  I was really pleased that this one managed to surprise me by the second chapter. This book is an interesting mixture of the standard ex-special forces hero comes out of retirement to save the girl type of story and adds a light sci-fi element giving the plot a nice spin.  What is better is that the twist isn’t held until the end of the book but instead put up front in the first few chapters. The other thing that really helps this book is the pacing.  A lot of thrillers claim to be “fast paced” but… Read more »

Divider

Three Princes

Three Princes

Imagine a world where the Egyptian civilization never fell; a world where the Pharos still maintained power and a legacy going back generation.  That sounds like a pretty good premise for a book, right?  I thought so too.  Unfortunately while Three Princes has that awesome setup and gets the feel of the world right the actual story just doesn’t hold up. This is a book I really wanted to like.  I love Egyptian history and the Egyptian “style” so the idea of bringing that forward into modern times really intrigued me.  And that is the big thing this book gets right. Add to that the fact that in the story the Incans also remain and are the Egyptians main adversary and I am totally on board.  Ramona Wheeler is very good at describing the world in such a way that you can almost feel it.  While the alternate history lover… Read more »

Divider