Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Deadly Proof~Rachel Dylan | Review

Title: Deadly Proof (Atlanta Justice #1)
Author: Rachel Dylan
Genre: Romantic Mystery
Length: 320 Pages
Release: September 2017

Review
Deadly Proof was my first time reading anything by Rachel Dylan and... wow!... was it good or what? When I first heard about it, I was very interested in reading it. It did not disappoint! I was hooked from the first chapter and never wanted to put it down. The action and suspense continually progressed. There were lots of twist, turns, and shocking surprises. It definitely kept me guessing.

Kate's a super strong and powerful attorney who's fighting for the underdog, the innocent victims. It's not about the money for her, she genuinely wants to help people. She's very relatable and easy to like. Landon's protective and extremely thorough with his job. He's got some demons, but is actively working to become a better person.

It was very interesting to get an inside look at corporate law and learn some of the ins and outs. Dylan did a great job at explaining all the legal terminology without it being clunky or sounding out of place. I really enjoyed getting to see both sides of the case. While it was mostly from Kate's side, there was also a peek at the opposing counsel.

I haven't read many legal thrillers, but after absolutely loving this one, I can't wait to check more out. And I'm definitely going to check out Dylan's other books. I can't recommend this book enough and I can't wait for the next one!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fear Nothing~Dean Koontz | Review

Title: Fear Nothing (Moonlight Bay #1)
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Suspense/Horror
Length: 432 Pages (Paperback)
Release: December 1998

Review
"Although I wasn't trained for this work, there was no one but me to do the job."


This quote really sums up almost every Dean Koontz protagonist, and Christopher Snow is no different. Although there is darkness and creepiness in this book, it is very inspiring. It gives hope, because no matter what is happening in the world, there is always something good out there. 

"A lot of the time, reality is what you make it."


I don't know why I haven't read this book before, because it's one of the best Koontz novels that I've read. The characters are vivid, the storyline is creepy, and it has a beautiful message. Although Chris has a less than ideal life, he lives. Life isn't about what you're given, it's what you make it. 

"When a society erases its past, for whatever reason, it cannot have a future."


There isn't a lot that I can say about this book without giving away lots of the plot. If you like Koontz you will probably enjoy this. You spend most of your time in Chris Snow's head, following a trail that leads to creepier and creepier revelations. The writing is stunningly beautiful. Orson, Chris's dog companion, is fantastic. Sasha and Bobby are wonderful friends. 

Just read the book. Right now. 

"I believe in the possibility of miracles."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chasing Secrets~Lynette Eason | Review

Title: Chasing Secrets (Elite Guardians #4)
Author: Lynette Eason
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 333 Pages
Release: August 2017

Review
Haley Callaghan's early life in Ireland wasn't easy but she has no idea just what she lost years ago and the truth is about to come out. And someone is determined to keep her from learning the truth that has been hidden for over 25 years.

Living in South Carolina, Haley has no idea that her past is about to find her and place her and those around her in the crosshairs of danger. And her job with Elite Guardians places her in enough danger as it is and Haley has just taken on a case that has made her an enemy that has a way of escaping justice. With more than one target on her back, Haley has caught the attention of Detective Steven Rothwell who is determined to help her stay safe.

Now Haley just has to survive long enough to discover who wants her dead and rescue those who've been put in danger because she cares. With Steven determined to not lose another person under his protection and the rest of the Elite Guardians backing her up, Haley has a fighting chance to see tomorrow. And Haley has a whole reason to see tomorrow - one she never expected to have.

This is the concluding book in the Elite Guardians series and fans of the series should not be disappointed though it would have been interesting to learn the back story on some of the later additions to the group. Haley's story is interesting and the various potential suspects and the overlapping of personal and professional just adds another layer to the suspense.

For readers who haven't previously read any or all of the books in this series don't worry, you won't get lost, as each book focuses on a different character or characters. Each story builds on the previous one much like one's own life - time passes and new acquaintances enter while others leave. The old and new in your life don't have to meet to enjoy (or not) spending time with you. So take the time to get to know Haley as she uncovers secrets from her past.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Legend~David Gemmell | Review

Title: Legend (The Drenai Saga #1)
Author: David Gemmell
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 362 Pages
Release: April 1984

Review
Fantasy is my favorite genre and I've been trying to read more titles from the vast collection that exists. This author and series came up in discussion in a group here on goodreads, so I decided to give it a try. And while it was not my favorite novel, I am glad that I read it. 

The things I like most about this novel are the pacing and the magic. Now, the pacing wasn't perfect for reasons that I will mention in a minute, but I did appreciate the fact that it was fast paced and didn't have a lot of pointless slow time in the middle. And the magic, while not explained in detail, was really fascinating. It was mostly used by the Thirty, a group of men who separate themselves from the world and come close to the Source. There were several moments within the novel where these guys did some fascinating things that had me really intrigued. It would be fun to have a novel just focused around them, actually. 

There is little character development within this novel, which is my main drawback. And I think some of that has to do with pacing. Since everything is so fast paced there isn't a lot of time to really build the characters and give them layers. I never felt like I knew any of them very well because every time I was starting to connect with one the story would hop into the head of another. This seems fairly common for fantasy written around this time (1980's and 1990's). 

And the romance in this was insane. It wasn't the main focus of the book, which was good, but it still managed to annoy me. The characters meet, don't like each other, suddenly impress each other, and are in love. And this all happens within around fifty pages. Had there been a little more character development for one or both of the characters involved in the romance before they met I might have been more ok with how it progressed. As it was, I was more annoyed than anything. 

Overall this was a good but not great read for me. It had a lot of interesting ideas and I think the world has a lot of potential, but the lack of character development kept me from ever being able to fully connect. There are more stories within this series but I don't know that I will be continuing. If I do, it likely won't be any time soon. A good book, but nothing that kept me invested.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Death of Dulgath~Michael J Sullivan | Review

Title: The Death of Dulgath (Riyria Chronicles #3)
Author: Michael J Sullivan
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 448 Pages
Release: December 2015

Review
Ever since I read Age of Myth in June I can't seem to get enough of Michael J Sullivan's books. Now that I've finished the first two Legends of the First Empire, the Riyria Revelations, and the first three Riyria Chronicles, I just have his science fiction novel Hollow World left to read. And then I'm waiting for December, when the fourth Chronicles book will come out. I might even start rereading before then. Who knows. 

But anyway, let's get to talking about this novel, since that should be the focus of this review. I just wanted to give you a little outline of my journey with Michael J Sullivan thus far. 

This is probably the strangest of the entire collection of Riyria novels. There is a lot of interesting information and some connections with the Legends series, but it felt so odd at times. That's now to say that I didn't like it, because I did, I really did. It just felt a little different than the other novels and there was this otherness about it that I hadn't really expected. But those connections to Legends were pretty insane and make me even more curious about that series. 

We also get to meet some new characters that don't play into the events in Revelations, which was interesting. It was nice to see another job that Royce and Hadrian were hired for and not have all of the connections to Revelations, since it meant that a lot of the information would be entirely new and fresh. 

So let's talk some about what makes these books great: the characters.
"Now that you've met Hadrian, let me introduce myself. I'm the one you don't want to know."


Anyone who has followed along with my reading and any of my reviews for the Riyria novels probably already knows how much I love Royce, but I will highlight that again. His character fascinates me. And it feels like he gains depth with every single novel. I also really like that Sullivan was able to show his progression from meeting Hadrian to the Royce that we know in Revelations, because they are quite different. 

Royce learns a lot about himself in this installment. It answered a few questions I had from Revelations about how he knew the things he knew about himself, so it was nice to have that side of the story tied in. And once again I have to praise Sullivan's storytelling technique with that. It was well executed and just worked

"What good is a world--what is the point of living--if generosity and kindness are myths?"


And then of course we have Royce's near opposite, Hadrian. Just like with Royce, it's nice seeing where Hadrian started and what he progresses toward. I can't really connect with Hadrian quite as much, or don't find him quite as compelling as Royce, but I do really enjoy his character. Still, he does and thinks some things that annoy me. But I think that Sullivan has also done an excellent job of showing what a younger Hadrian was like. In some ways there is more of a difference in Hadrian from when they met to when Revelations start than there is with Royce. Mostly because he has grown up more. 

"Royce wasn't so much a closed book as one that was chained shut, locked in a box, and thrown into the sea."


The friendship between Royce and Hadrian is really the best thing about these books. I love getting into each of their heads and seeing what they think of each other. It's a really beautiful bond they have and I think I could keep reading about it forever. I could probably write about it forever as well. Instead I'll give you a few quotes that I liked involving these two. 

"If he suffers so much as a stubbed toe, I'm coming after you first."

"You have no idea how stupid I think you are, and honestly, we don't have time for that conversation."

"Royce didn't buy the story of Hadrian's death. But if it was true, dagger or no dagger, hands or no hands, (spoiler) would never leave this room alive."


Those are just a few I had marked, but really any scene with these two is great. Or any time they think about each other. They are so different, but they make the best of friends. I just love it. 

The side characters in this were quite likable. Sherwood was probably my favorite. He's an artist who sees more than anyone else and I found him really interesting. Scarlette, Fawkes, Lady Dulgath, and the other characters in the town are all quite interesting, but I don't want to get too spoilery about anything so I will stop there. 

We also get a little bit of Gwen, which I always appreciate. 

Overall this was another great installment in Royce and Hadrian's story and I am looking forward to the next phase of their adventures.

Monday, September 25, 2017

His Majesty's Dragon~Naomi Novik | Review

Title: His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire #1)
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: 353 Pages
Release: March 2006

Review
This is going to be a hard book for me to review. The premise is really interesting, despite the fact that books with dragons generally don't appeal to me, and I was really excited to read this. And while I enjoyed it, there was still something lacking for me. 

The writing style took a little getting used to, as it very much reads like a classic British novel. That in itself is really neat, but I wasn't expecting it, so it was kind of jarring at first. Once I was used to the style, I did quite enjoy the style. There were other things that I did not enjoy as much, however. 

Characters--as I'm sure anyone who has ever read a review from me knows--make or break a story for me, in general. While the characters here were interesting and overall likable, I never really felt like I was connected to them. I know some people are off put by Laurence's manners, finding him stiff, but I really liked that aspect of his character. But even still, I never felt like I knew him. 

Temeraire was also likable and I did like how the dragons were written and that his development was so fast. It was an interesting process to follow. But, again, he didn't feel that real to me. The relationship between Laurence and Temeraire was pretty great though. It was nice that they became so attached to each other, particularly once you see the way some of the other dragons and riders interact. 

The world created here was well done and intricate. Dragons fighting in the Napoleonic wars is such a fun concept. And don't worry, you don't have to know all the details of this period in time to appreciate the story. The types of dragons were also well explained and explored. 

Overall this was just kind of forgettable to me. It is enjoyable enough while reading, but I don't find anything that compelling in the story. I don't know that I will continue the series. I can see why it appeals to so many, but I couldn't bring myself to feel more than a general like for the story and characters.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

To Look a Nazi in the Eye~Kathy Kacer and Jordana Lebowitz | Review

Title: To Look a Nazi in the Eye 
Author: Kathy Kacer and Jordana Lebowitz
Genre: Nonfiction WWII
Length: 256 Pages
Release: September 2017


I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review

"He didn't look evil. He didn't look like the murdering Nazi that he was accused of being. With a complete exhale of breath, Jordana thought, he looks like my grandfather."

This book tells the real story of Jordana Lebowitz traveling to Germany to witness the trial of Oskar Groening that took place in 2015. The ninety-two year old Groening was on trial for crimes committed while he was part of the Nazi war machine in Auschwitz during the second World War. While Groening never personally killed anyone, he was complicit in the murder of roughly 300,000 Jewish people. 

The book reads more like a story than an account of a trial, which I think will make it more relatable to many readers. It tells of Jordana's struggles to get to Germany for a trial that she felt passionately about. It outlines her relationships with the survivors that she bonds with while she's there, her mixed emotions about Groening, her expanding views of Germany and its people. And while it obviously touches on very dark subject matter, it never gets too dark. It would be suitable for many middle-grade readers and could be a good introduction to the history of the Holocaust. 

"I was on the ramp when the selections took place...I was there."

Groening's testimony was inserted between various pieces of Jordana's story, which worked really well. It was easy to see his viewpoint on many things, though it was hard to see where he was coming from on others. I can understand that many were indoctrinated with hateful beliefs, but how could you ever view the destruction of a group of people as right? If you were there, witnessing what was being done to men, women, children, no matter your personal role, how could you live with yourself? 

One thing that I cannot understand is how anyone can deny the Holocaust and what happened. This isn't something that happened hundreds of years ago and records have been lost. It was less than one hundred years ago. There are survivors today, telling their stories. And these are people on both sides of the situation. Groening speaks against Holocaust deniers, telling them that he was there, he saw what happened. And there are those who were inside, being tortured for experimentation or forced into hard labor, with the tattoos still marking their skin, the memories still haunting them. How can you deny the reality of what happened when there is so much evidence that supports it? It is something I will never understand. 

This is not complex or deep overview of what happened during the Holocaust or of the events of this trial, but it is the honest view of a teen's experience of this historic event. History is important, no matter how ugly it may be. It needs to be taught and learned from. If we don't make a conscious effort to prevent history repeating itself, then it will. 

I definitely recommend this to those interested in the history of this dark period in history. Jordana is a modern girl trying to spread awareness and spread goodness. You can see some of her own opinions changing within the story as she grows. Her own opinions and beliefs were skewed by what her parents and grandparents taught her, but she began to see that not everything could be so easily categorized. Nothing is simple.