Persona

Persona

By: Genevieve Valentine

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

The best way I can describe this is as a sci-fi thriller.  It’s set in a near-future world where something like the UN rules the world and the diplomats that we see on the television are nothing more than faces that do and say what the rest of their committee says.

By the end of the book, I found myself rooting for the main character and wanting to know more about what the future holds for her.  The secondary character is just as well written.  Overall, the plot and writing were well done, and the story was well executed.

If you’re a fan of science fiction that takes place in a world that’s only a few degrees from the world that we live in, you should give Persona a try.  I really enjoyed it, and am hoping that there’s a sequel upcoming.

 

Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies

By: Sandra Block

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  I really like it when a book grabs hold of me as a reader and drags me into the story.  It’s something special when a story is so well written that you jump into it and end up trying to find any extra time that you can to advance further into it.  Little Black Lies was such a book.

The one bad thing that I have to say about this book is that I had the ending figured out about half way through the book.  But, even with that fact, I still raced through it to find out if I was right.  The story is a gripping one that is fast paced and easy to read.  The characters that Block has written are both believable and lovable.

I’m not really sure how best to classify this book.  It’s both a psychological suspense and a detective book of sorts.  A mashup of genres if you want to call it that, I suppose.  In the end, it’s a highly readable book in either case.

Righteous Fury

Righteous Fury

By: Markus Heitz

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

This is the first book by Heitz that I’ve read.  The book, along with most of the rest of Heitz’s books were originally published in his native German before being translated over into English for those of us who are mono-lingual.  There’s a series that comes before this series, The Dwarves series.  From what I can tell from other reviews, and from having read this book, it’s not necessary to have read any of the other books in order to read this one.  The Dwarves series, as it’s name implies, tells the stories from the perspectives of the dwarves in this world, while Righteous Fury is the first in the Alfar series told from the perspective of the Alfar.

The Alfar are Heitz’s version of a dark elf.  At least, from what I can tell.  They’re an evil race with visual similarities to the Elven race.  The two main characters are Alfar who begin as rivals, but are forced to get along in order to execute on a plan that their rulers have chosen them for.  From there, we’re led through a journey as they fight amongst themselves, as well as with many of the other inhabitants of the world.

It’s hard for me to comment much on the actual writing of a book that’s been translated.  By default, when translated, the language had to be restructured in that most languages have a different grammatical structure than English.  So, I just won’t.  I can comment on the structure of the story though.  From a structure piece, there were a few places where it was a bit weak, and it seemed like we jumped from some dire circumstance right into the saving action.  Perhaps it was necessary, but it almost felt like the story had been written into a corner and it was the most convenient way of getting it out.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  It’s a well written fantasy story that doesn’t extend itself into the length of the epic tomes that seem to be dominating the market just now.  I suppose it bears warning that the main characters are evil Alfar, so you’ve got to be able to get through a few grotesque descriptions and overall evilness of the people in order to really enjoy the story.

 

Pardon The Ravens

Pardon the Ravens

By: Alan Hruska

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

Ravens is billed as a legal thriller.  In that regard, I think it falls down.  While it is technically set with a main character that is a lawyer, and has some legal elements in it because of that, there’s very little of it that really qualifies it as a legal thriller, in my mind.  It does live up to the thriller part of that though.  From very nearly the start to the end, there’s plenty of twists and turns as the characters find a way to make plans then have them tossed and turned by events.

Hruska’s writing is pretty good.  Some of the dialogue felt a bit flat, but overall, that characters were well rounded and easy to understand.  This is a thriller, so don’t expect to get heaps of plot.  You get a main issue, with a few minor plot lines and an ultimate tying up of the main plot.

If you like thrillers (with a side helping of legal) that are quick reads and well done, Pardon the Ravens is worth the pickup.

Lucifer’s Hammer

Lucifer’s Hammer

By: Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Of the many genre’s I read, my favorites are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the subset of both called Apocalyptic fiction.  If you look at most lists of the influential novels in those genres, you’ll most likely find Lucifer’s Hammer.  That’s what convinced me that I needed to add it to my to-read list and, eventually, to get around to reading it.  Having read it, I see why it’s on many of those lists.

Hammer is a novel that is based around the discovery of a new comet, and the eventual meeting of that comet with planet Earth.  The story follows a host of characters that are involved in some way before the comet arrives and then after it arrives.  Having been written in the late 70’s, some of the ideas and references are dated, but the writing has certainly stood the test of time.

Nearly the first half of the book is spent building up to the eventual impact of the comet.  We meet the characters who all have their own independent lives, and are led through so many avenues of how people might feel should they be faced with a comet that is going to pass threateningly close to Earth.  After the comet arrives, we get a wonderful post-apocalyptic story about the survival of the human race, and how those humans react to the upsetting of the world as they know it.

Lucifer’s Hammer is a great apocalyptic story that’s maintained that story despite being almost 4 decades old.  If you’re at all interested in apocalyptic fiction and haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to add it to your list.

A Better World

A Better World (Brilliance Saga #2)

By: Marcus Sakey

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

A Better World is the second book in the Brilliance Saga, a series of books about an evolution in the human race, and how the world reacts to it.  It will elicit lots of comparisons to the popular X-Men comic books, although the “mutations” are not as pronounced as they are in X-Men.  In a way, the evolutions in the world of Brilliance are a bit more believable.  The main character, for instance, has an advanced ability to recognize patterns and use those recognitions to anticipate what it is that people are going to do before they do them.  Another character has an evolved perception of time where each second for a non-brilliant is perceived as 11 seconds to him.

The world, and the characters that live in it, are all believable written. Of course, there’s a certain level of suspension of belief if you’re to fully immerse yourself into the story, but that is pretty easy in this case.  The plot lends itself to a quick read that draws the reader deeper until you find yourself pulling from all your spare time to finish it up and find out what happens.  That’s a huge sign of a great book.

If you’re a fan of well written science fiction without spaceships, or love a story with a great human story to it, the Brilliance Saga should find it’s way onto your reading list.

 

Scarlet Tides

Scarlet Tides (Moontide Quartet #2)

By David Hair

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

In my review of the first Moontide Quartet book, Mage’s Blood, I closed with some pretty hefty praise:

When completed, the Moontide Quartet, of which Mage’s Blood is the first book, will likely be thought of as one of the best examples, in recent memory, of epic fantasy.

Fortunately, the second book in the series didn’t disappoint.  Hair maintained the same level of excellent storytelling that was throughout the first book while escaping some of the heavy world building that was necessary in Mage’s Blood.  Where some authors might be content to leave the same amount of story in a book, and just write a shorter book without as much world building, Hair didn’t do that.  Scarlet Tides is still a heavy tome with lots of excellent story inside of it.  The magic system becomes even more fleshed out as things are revealed, the world grows with new locations and characters, and there were a minimum of 3 or 4 double-cross plot twists that brought a fun level of “what next” to the story.

The copy I read was an ARC, so I won’t say too much about the writing.  There were some obvious grammatical and spelling issues, but that’s to be expected when it isn’t a final draft.  I’m sure the finished version has all of that nailed down.  Those typical ARC issues aside, Hair’s style is one that still screams epic fantasist to me.  The books are long and full of really deep character development.

If you’re a fan of epic fantasy, you’ll want to pick up Mage’s Blood and Scarlet Tides and give them a read through.  Mage’s Blood has a 3.82 star rating at Goodreads, and Scarlet Tides is currently holding on to a 4.32 star rating.

Traitor’s Blade

Traitor’s Blade

By: Sebastien De Castell

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

I’m a big fan of fantasy novels.  The Name of the Wind is one of my favorite novels of all time.  I set a pretty high bar when it comes to fantasy.  It has to be fun to read.  I don’t want to get mired down in uber complex magic systems that the author takes half the novel to describe and explain.  Exposition is good in small doses, but I read fantasy to indulge in something fantastical, not long sections of droll.

Traitor’s Blade avoids all of that stuff I don’t like about fantasy, and excels at all the stuff I do like.  In fact, it’s easily in the top 5 books I’ve read so far this year.  It tells the story of three Greatcoats.  The Greatcoats were the elite guard of the King.  Until the King was usurped and beheaded.  Now, they’re labeled as traitors (thus the name of the novel) and cutthroats.

Traitor’s Blade pulled me into it’s world quickly, and the writing and plot kept me there for long periods of time.  Sure signs of a well written story.  It falls somewhere between the shorter fantasy novels and the epic ones.  It’s an excellent read that any fan of fantasy will enjoy on every page.

Reckless Disregard

Reckless Disregard

By: Robert Rotstein

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

Reckless Disregard is a novel in the Parker Stern series.  I’ve previously read and reviewed Corrupt Practices in the same series.

In Reckless Disregard, we’re back in L.A. with Parker Stern, the stage-fright inflicted lawyer.  He’s now working as a mediator at a low rung service just to avoid having to do any actual courtroom work and face his stage-fright.  Of course, that wouldn’t make a very good story if all we were reading about is his mediation of legal battles.

In our world that’s constantly moving more and more transactions, financial, social, and otherwise, into the online space, Reckless Disregard is a wonderful taste of what it looks like when an anonymous online persona takes the law into his own hands.  When that action ends up with some legal trouble, Poinard enlists Stern as his defender.  Stern is thrown into another dangerous battle, legal and otherwise, as he digs up the truth and attempts to defend his client.

Once again, Rotstein has written a gripping story full of suspense and mystery that is just dripping with legal realism.  Any fan of legal thrillers would be remiss if they skipped reading Rotstein’s Parker Stern novels.

 

Pandemic

Pandemic

By: Scott Sigler

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

Pandemic is book 3 in the Infected series by Sigler.  I haven’t read any of the first two books in the series, but the important bits and pieces from the first two were nicely interwoven into the story here allowing for me to pick up book three and still be able to enjoy the story.  I like that in a series book.  I like reading books in order, but sometimes it just isn’t possible, so whenever an author helps me out in this way, it’s an great help.

Pandemic reads like a well written book should.  Quick paced, with lots of careful plot and character development.  I quickly fell into the world and had a hard time putting it down.  It’s a world where an alien intelligence had developed a means to take over the human body and cause the human race to self destruct.  Of course, humans aren’t so easily eliminated, and we find ourselves deep into a plot of survival and a fight for the very existence of the human race.

The ending was satisfying and reasonable.  Overall, Sigler’s writing is excellent.  The whole book flew by, and was one of the rare books where I found myself struggling to put it down, and reading for far longer than I had intended just to see what the next development would be.

Pandemic is a masterwork of suspenseful drama with a very nice post-apocalyptic feel to it.  If you enjoy books with suspense, alien life, and human heroics, the Infected series is a must read.