Category Archives: Thriller

Origin- Dan Brown – Review

OriginLangdon is called to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain for a special presentation by a former student and good friend of his, Edmond Kirsch. A presentation that is heralded to change the way the world thinks. It promises to answer the questions, “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?”.

Before he can make his announcement Edmond is killed. It is  up to Langdon and the museum director Ambra to find a way to release the presentation to the world. They are not alone though, there are those who will stop at nothing to make sure the revelations of this presentation never see the light of day.

What I Loved_-4

I liked the character of Winston. I enjoyed the way the AI seemed so human. I forgot more than once that he wasn’t a real person. I enjoyed the play between him and Langdon. I thought it was an interesting touch to the story.

I wanted to see him involved more. I felt like there was potential for Winston to play a much bigger part in this story. I did like the reveal at the end that involved him, that was a fun twist. Though it wasn’t an unexpected one.

I also found the “Where did we come from?” question’s answer interesting. I have heard theories about that question and this was a different take on it. I felt like this could have been the whole presentation and that would have been perfectly fine. I thought it provided enough shock value to move the story and justify the other events of the book. It tied into the region theme well.

What I was just okay with

(Spoiler for the presentation at the end of the story.)

I wasn’t thrilled with the second part of the presentation. The answer to the question of “Where are we going?” was very anticlimactic. I saw that coming from a mile away.  How many times have we heard that technology is going to consume us and destroy human life as we know it? Probably about a 1000. It is on the TV all the time. There are always new studies about it. We hear numerous doctors talking about the danger of screen time. There was nothing new or astounding about this revelation.

He used a computer to run a simulation about the timeline of this takeover. Anyone could do that without a computer. It takes half a minute to see where technology is going. I was not shocked at all by this aspect.

I didn’t understand why people were scared by it in the story. Is this world different then our own? Have they also not read the studies or heard the news stories? Do they not live with the people who are constantly talking about how much worse this generation is because of technology? (Something I firmly believe is over-exaggerated).
Why is this new information? Why did it affect the world at all?

If I had seen that presentation the first part would have intrigued me. I would have probably shut off the announcement at the second part. I have heard it, not going to change anything and moving on.

I also kind of understood why Langdon wanted to get Edmond’s presentation out the world. He was a good friend and he trusted the man. But I still wondered why he didn’t at least preview it before posting it to the world. Edmond was killed because of it. Don’t you think you may want to know what you are responsible for letting out to the general public? He could have been calling for the extermination of a race and Langdon would have had to bear the guilt of hurting people. I just thought it was odd to see him trust the man so much.

What I Wished was Different_
I have read all the Langdon series books. I loved Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code. I thought both of those were different. They were fast paced, had intriguing plots and fascinating ties into history and art. This one has little to none of that.

I read Da Vinci Code because of the tie into art. I loved how there were hints and symbols in famous paintings. I actually was in Italy and France and found some of the pieces mentioned. I thought it was fascinating to see the different interpretations of these famous paintings and sculptures.

This one had a little history about places in Spain and William Blake but nothing significant and nothing that tied the plot together. None of the happenings truly hinged on the clues in history or literature or art. All of it felt very surface level. It felt flat compared to what I have read from him before.

I wanted the fast pace as well. I am used to seeing Langdon and his companion running around searching for clues. They always have someone on their tale and always are just lucky enough to escape. They go around whole countries and many times across other countries. They are always running.

This one felt like they were barely running. There never felt like there any real threat to them. Even when they encountered the main villain, it was a short fight with no satisfying resolution. It all felt too easy.

This books was also way too long. You could have cut about 2/3 of it out . There was so much repetition that it started driving me insane. We did not need to be told who someone was ten times. We are literally told that Monica Martin is the PR Coordinator for the palace every time she appears. After the fourth time I was getting angry. I know who she is, you told me already. There is no reason to repeat it over and over and over again. You have to trust the reader to pay attention. There is no reason to repeat details unless they are going to drive the plot forward somehow.

I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. I finished it because I just wanted to get to the end. I hoped it would get better but it never did. I hope that Dan Brown gets out of this form like writing he has fallen into and one day gives us a completely new and different story.

Copy of What I was just okay with

“Well, science and religion are not competitors, they’re two different languages trying to tell the same story. There’s room in the world for both.” (pg. 14)  ( I think if this had been more central to the plot the story would have been so much better.)

“But uncertainty is always a precursor to sweeping change; transformation is always preceded by upheaval and fear. I urge you to place your faith in human capacity for creativity and love, because these two forces, when combined, possess the power to illuminate any darkness.” (pg. 412).

“Sometimes all you have to do is shift your perspective to see someone else’s truth.” (pg. 437)

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series – Carlos Ruiz Zafon- Review

51gU0eNxl+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_There is a place where forgotten books find a home. It is a secret bestowed on a select few. Once you are brought into the cemetery you are given a chance to chose one book. This becomes your book, you are charged with protecting it.

This series tells the story of one particular family, the Sempre family. They are booksellers, a family that understands the intrigue and power of books. A family that understands the importance of books and keeping them safe. The series is a tale of this family keeping not only their business alive but also finding ways to make connections with others around them. It is a tale of a family who gets intertwined in mysteries that change their lives forever.

What I loved:

I actually started this series backwards. I started with The Angel’s Game, not realizing it was part of a larger series. The Angle’s Game and the subsequent books had this deep air of mystery. You were always wondering what exactly was going on. Each book had its own mystery, one that slowly unwound around the reader.

I enjoyed the slow and steady pace of these books. Sometimes with mystery books there is a long drawn out hint at what is going on. Then at the end everything gets wrapped up in a few pages. This was different. The mystery unfolded piece by piece. We meet new characters and figure out what is happening. This pace is what keeps you reading, wanting to find out the exact details.

I also like that this whole series was around one family. I enjoyed slowly learning about them. We got different generations in the books. We saw the evolution of the family and the long term effects of events in the earlier books. I liked this connection that built on themselves throughout the stories.

I also enjoyed the air of otherworldliness in The Angel’s Game. This was the first one I read and I twas captured by it because I had this feeling something was happening under the surface. I liked this kind of floating feeling I had throughout the story. I had a theory and later learned I was right; but I liked that it was in another novel that I found out what was truly going on. This was what kept me reading this series. I wanted more of this atmosphere though unfortunately  that wasn’t present in the the other books.

1232What I was just okay with:

I started with The Angle’s Game and found out that it was the second book in a series of three. When I finished The Angel’s Game I believed that The Shadow of the Wind would have taken place before The Angel’s Game, or at least have a solid logical connection it. That was not the case.

The Shadow of the Wind actually took place after The Angle’s Game which left me very confused. I could not fathom why the series was written in this order. I read The Shadow of the Wind expecting to have more understanding of The Angle’s Game but that wasn’t true. It did nothing to help tell The Angel’s Game any different.

I struggled I think because I started The Shadow of the Wind with a certain expectation. When I realized it was not going to do what I expected it to do, I felt let down. I felt lost which I think took me out of the series.

If I had read the series in order maybe I would have felt differently about the series as a whole. But as the way I read them, I felt I was missing a vital piece to this story in the end.

9781922079886What I wished was different:

The last book The Prisoner of Heaven felt like it had nothing to hold itself up. The Angle’s Game and The Shadow of the Wind were two good stories that stood alone if necessary. The Prisoner of Heaven did have a nice connection to The Angel’s Game but it was a history of one of the characters, nothing more.

I wanted to hold a true story but it felt like it could have been integrated into the other books. The last book felt unnecessary which left me feeling detached and disappointed by the series as a whole.

 

As a whole the series was alright. I gave it between 3-4 stars on Goodreads. I liked the mystery elements, I liked how it held me captivated but wish that the series felt better connected with one another. In the end I felt like the series could have been stand alone stories and it would have worked as well if not better.

Genius – The Game (Leopold Gout) – Review (Minor Spoilers)

51kdkbvkdyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Rex, Painted Wolf and Tunde are considered geniuses. They are only teenagers but they are people who have skills that many will never have. Rex is an expert hacker. Tunde is a mechanical and technical wiz who uses what he has around him to make his creations. Painted Wolf knows how to get around obstacles to expose the truth.

Together the three of them have created an online group. They are best friends, helping each other when needed and relying on each other for understanding. Then they are all invited to join in The Game, a mysterious competition that it said to change their lives. They find out that there is much more to this game than they initially thought.

I picked up this book because I liked the sound of the story. I have read this premise before, the mystery game that will change lives. It is not a new concept but it is one that can be done a hundred different ways. Change the way the game is run and those competing and you have a whole new story. So, I was interested to see where this book would take that idea.

Genius The Game, had all the pieces but unfortunately they did not end up fitting together right. The characters were good. Rex, Painted Wolf and Tunde come from whole different worlds. They live in different countries, with vastly different families and life conditions. I liked that they built this strong friendship despite their differences. When they met face-to-face for the first time at the competition they melded together well. There was no tension, it was like they had always hung out. I liked that.

The biggest problem I had with the story was that the subplots didn’t feel like they fit in well enough with the main plot. The main plot is The Game. Everyone wants to win it, for some reward. (Though no one knows what that really is.) Then each of the characters has their own subplot.

Rex needs to find his brother, who disappeared mysteriously. Tunde has to build a Jammer for a war lord who is threatening his village and family. Painted Wolf wants to find out what her father has gotten himself tied up in.

The problem is that each of these stories feel like they were put in, in order to give the characters an excuse to go to this Game. The pretige and reward is not enough. Rex wants to use the quantum computer, Tunde needs the advanced technology available and Painted Wolf wants to follow the head guy in order to find out what her father is doing. I found it odd that they needed a further excuse to get to this Game. The Game wasn’t enough for them, which was strange.

The subplots would have been fine if they had been developed. The summary that I gave above was about all the amount of detail we got about them. I wanted more. I wanted to know if Tunde had a history with the war lord. Why choose Tunde? I wanted to know more about Painted Wolf’s father. Is he a shady character usually? Or someone who is gullible? What kind of relationship was there between Rex and his brother? How much did his disappearance really affect the family?

We got an idea that they all had other things to worry about but nothing too deep. I wanted these plots to develop the characters more, but they didn’t. They didn’t inform me of the characters or change them really at all.

I also had an issue with the believability of some of the plot points. First this Game is just something that pops up one day. The participants get the invitation and are told where to go. They have no other details.

These are teenagers, some who are as young as eleven. I do not see how all their parents just sent their kids on their way without one question. They just nod and say sure. They have no idea who will be there, what the place is like or who is in charge. My parents would have had like thousand questions about this. Few parents just let their kids run around the country or world without some questions or concerns.

Once at The Game Tunde has to not only win The Game but he also has to create a Jammer. I am not a tech person, so I am not sure how much time this stuff takes but I have a feeling it would be a while. In the story, they have two days to solve riddles and also to build this Jammer. He has to not only design it but build and test it. I feel like doing that plus solving the puzzles would take much more time. I just could not see how he could do both.

He builds the Jammer in a few hours without a problem. There is no urgency or sense that he would not do it in time. I wanted a tension between the two. I wanted him to almost to have to decide between the two, but never did. He completed it and moved on, no problem.

I did enjoy most of the story. It ended in a cliffhanger so I am curious how it will end. It just wish that there had been more depth included in the story. If the stories twined together better I think it would have been a much stronger story.

The Poet By Michael Connelly Review (Minor Spoilers)

32506My uncle lent me The Poet by Michael Connelly because we were talking about how I like mystery stories. He told me this was one of the better detective novels he has read. At fist I had trouble figuring out what he saw in this story, it started out very slow. But once I got to about the halfway mark the story went from zero to sixty and I could not put it down. What at first appears to be a simple detective novel is much more. It is full of twists, turns and suspicion on every page.

Jack McEvoy’s is a reporter whose specialty is death. A specialty that takes on a whole new meaning after he takes the case of his brother’s apparent suicide.

The novel starts with Jack learning about the death of his brother. In his shock and dismay, he begins to doubt the actions of his brother. He had a complicated relationship with his brother but he knew that suicide was not something his brother would have done to himself and his family. Jack begins to look into the details of his brother’s death more and finds that things are not as they seem (a theme for this novel). He begins to look into other cases of homicide detective suicides and finds evidence of a string of murders.

Jack takes his case to the local PD and then to the FBI where they begin to investigate a serial killer. It is an investigation that brings out much more than any of those involved was hoping to find.
As I stated above the story started out pretty slow. Jack has to deal with his brother’s death. Then he begins to question things and has to find the evidence that proves his brother was murdered. That research leads into more investigation into similar cases. Much of the first portion of the story is him looking up everything, which can be a bit dry.

The momentum of the story picks up when Jack gets the FBI involved. The case is open and they hit the ground running. A cast of new characters shows up which adds much-needed conflicts. The investigation begins and with it a sense of something not being quite right also begins to plague the reader.

Connelly carefully crafts an air of suspicion around the story. Something feels off about one of the new characters and the circumstances that take place during the investigation. As I read I just could not place my finger on what was wrong.

Connelly does a great job of giving us characters to doubt but then pulling that doubt away. One of the detectives is harsh and unlikable for much of the story. But then Jack spends time alone with him and you learn there is more to him than we initially thought. The female leader and romantic interest doesn’t feel right either. She latches onto Jack quite quickly and I wondered why. But her interactions with Jack made her not seem all that bad when they were alone. Every time I thought I had it all figured out Connelly would throw a wrench into the mix and I would begin to question everything all over again.

By the time I got to the end I did not have any real idea of what was going on. I just knew that something was not right and I was eager to learn what it was. When the reveal came I was thrown off my feet. I had a lot of suspicions and thoughts and none of them matched what happened. I did not see the ending coming at all and I love that.

One of the reasons Connelly was able to keep the reader guessing until the very end was the way he incorporated chapters from one of the suspects points of view. We get a few chapters giving us an insight into what he was doing and why. He is a demented individual and he elicited no sympathy from me. I wanted him to be caught and taken down.

Not only did these chapters gives us an interesting look into this character’s mind but it also played a part as sort of red herring. We think he is the only culprit in this whole thing and that makes suspecting anyone else difficult. We know he is working alone, we know where he is and where everyone else is at the same time. I wanted to try to force pieces to fit with him but couldn’t.

It wasn’t until the end that you learn that he was only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. The way Connelly laser focuses our attention on that point but is doing so much more behind us is fantastic. It is like going to see an illusionist. They are showing you one thing, making you think that is all that counts but they are actually doing so much more just out of your eye line. Connelly does that with this story.

You realize with about 100 pages left that something is still coming but you have no real idea of what. I kept reading and flipping pages because I had to know what was truly happening. I loved the way that played out. It kept me intrigued and wrapped up in the story until the very end.

I also loved how the whole thing ultimately ended. There was no happy smiling ending. It ended exactly how I suspected this type of story to end. There are a lot of lives disrupted by the events and everyone involved isn’t going to be content and calm for a while. I am glad things weren’t forced into a happy-ever-after type ending. The story was twisted and tore apart a lot of lives during the course of its telling, giving us a more true look into what this type of life could actually be like.

Heart-Shaped Box- Joe Hill (Review)

153025I am not what you would call a horror person. I do not generally enjoy being scared. I am the person who watches horror films through their fingers. Hell, I can’t even watch the commercials half the time. Halloween is my least favorite holiday, except for the free candy thing. I do not go to haunted houses, preferring not to spend an evening screaming and crying in fright. So picking up this book was a step outside of my comfort zone.

I have read one other book my Joe Hill, Horns. (Which I reviewed here). I initially read Horns because the movie looked interesting to me. I did not think of it as a horror story so I wasn’t that adverse to reading it.

I loved Horns, it was interesting and the one of those books I had trouble putting down. I then looked up Joe Hill’s other books and read some reviews. Many of the reviews stated that Heart-Shaped Box was one of his scarier books. I was hesitant at first to read this book. As I just stated I do not enjoy being scared. But I wanted to see if I could manage a horror book and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this story a lot. Yes, I did have to read most of it during the day but I found myself pulled in despite the horror elements.

Heart-Shaped Box is about Jude, a kind of death-metal rock musician. He was once part of a successful band but has gone solo because of many of the members of the band dying. He is now on his own and past his rockstar heyday. He fits the stereotype of the death-metal rock genre. He is interested in the macabre, which is why he buys a suit that is said to have a ghost attached to it. He doesn’t think twice about it.

It turns out that the sale was set up as revenge from the owner. He is out to get revenge on Jude for the death of his step-daughter. The ghost begins to haunt and try to kill Jude. Jude and his girlfriend have to run for their lives. As they run they learn there is much more to this haunting than what the auction site stated.

I have stated in a number of reviews is that characters are what draw me into stories. The plot is, of course, important but if I cannot form a connection with a character I tend to not be able to make it through a book.

At first, I was skeptical about Jude’s character. He starts the story as a selfish, almost heartless seeming man. He has a girlfriend but she is just one in a long line of women he has been with. He doesn’t even refer to them by their names, instead naming the women by the states they came from. He takes advantage of his assistant who basically hero-worships him. For the first few chapters, he isn’t a man that I would never spend more than an hour with. He feels like the kind of person you get a bad first impression of and then have trouble seeing past that impression.

But we learn quickly why Jude is this way. Jude grew up in an abusive home and has since had trouble forming any real connections to anyone in his life. Hill does give Jude one redeeming quality though, his care and love for his dogs. We see that while it appears that Jude has a cold heart, that is not entirely true. There is still something inside of him that can show care and love for something in his life.

Joe hill does a great job at setting up Jude’s character for the journey is going to start in this story. In the beginning, Jude appears to be a man who doesn’t seem to be living for anything or anyone. He seems dead inside.

Then the ghost enters his life. Jude is blamed for something that he did not do. But he did have a part in because of his standoff way of taking on life. He has to run for his life. Jude never truly fought for much in his life until this point. He learns that there are things in his life worth fighting for, that his  life itself is worth fighting for. The fight against the dead reawakens the life inside of Jude.

There are points throughout the story where Jude wonders if continuing to run and fight are worth it. The ghost torments him, trying to kill him. For a man who was floating along and just existing for much of his life, this is the journey that gives him a reason to live again. He opens his heart and life is breathed into him.

This was a page-turner story. You get caught up in the story wondering how Jude and his girlfriend are going to manage to get out of this predicament. You wonder where they are going to go next. How far are they going to run and how do you fight a ghost? The descriptions of the ghosts are chilling. There are points that send chills down your back which only heightens the suspense of the story. If you like horror with emotion, as well as  journey of self-discovery you will enjoy this book.

Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith – Review

91PgRZrbnXLWhen I read the Harry Potter series the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban, was my favorite. That was because it was where I thought J.K. Rowling hit her stride in the story and everything really got moving. After reading Career of Evil, I have the same feeling about the Cormoran Strike series. This book was exciting and really gave the characters truth depth.

The book starts when Robin, Strike’s partner and secretary, takes in a package with a severed leg inside. Almost at once Strike has three suspects that he believes would do something like this to him. Three men that he has had encounters with in the past, all of them disturbed and evil in their own ways. The story surrounds Strike and Robin hunting down these men and trying to figure out who would have done something so gruesome. The investigation gets disturbing at times, but the book, as a whole, really gave a greater depth to the characters.

After reading the summary, I thought this book was going to be a lot about Strike. The three suspects are all people he has encountered in his past. Each one has a vendetta against him for various reasons. I thought we were going to get an extensive look into Strike’s past. Instead, we got a better idea of who Robin is.

This book was really Robins’ book. We learn about Robin’s past, the past that created a fighting spirit inside of her. Robin hasn’t had an easy life. In college something happened that nearly destroyed her life. Robin found a way to fight her way back from that and overcome it. Because of it, she is now someone who doesn’t back down easily.

Becoming a detective has always been a dream of Robin’s. She ended up at Strike’s office because of a temp placement, but she was meant to be there. Until that point, Robin didn’t believe she would ever be able to have the life she wanted. Then she met Strike and we see that she grabbed a hold of her dream again and she is not going to let go easily.

We see that Robin has a moral compass that will not allow her to walk away from people in need. She makes a decision in this book that helps someone but ultimately hurts her. The result knocks her down a peg, but she doesn’t give up. Robin is strong and she will not walk away from a fight easily.

Robin is someone whose life has kicked her around. She has been hurt in ways many can’t recover from. While she has been knocked down she has found a way to get back to her feet and stand strong. The world tried to take away her hopes and dreams, but she has fought and gotten them back. She has fought hard to overcome her past and we see throughout this novel the lengths she will go to not go back to that time and place.

The insight into Robin’s character was juxtaposed with a deep look into the mind of the man who committed the crime. We haven’t had this before from these novels. We got short chapters where the killer rambled on, sometimes getting quite disturbing. But it gave me a better idea of what was going on.

The insight was important to this book. It helped to center what was going on and why. It gave us an idea of what the killer was doing and why. It was easier to understand Strike’s and Robin’s decisions when we got to see what the killer wanted to do. I liked this aspect because it gave us a different viewpoint in order to compare Robins’ and Strike’s actions and decisions against.

This was a much more harsh book than the previous two. There were some moments that were difficult to read or imagine. But Rowling tied the investigation well into the lives of Strike and Robin. We got a deeper appreciation and sympathy for the two main characters.This story grew their relationship with each other and the surrounding characters. I am eager to see where this series is going to go next.

Sigma Force series character analysis – Seichan

FotoFlexer_Photo_zps5b9bd1dfI’ve stated in previous reviews how my favorite type of characters are the ones who start out as the “villain,” and then have a transformation. I love the process of someone realizing their previous ways are hurtful and detrimental to the world and themselves. The process of fighting past a curtain of darkness to find the light on the other side is fascinating to me. Regina and Hook in “Once Upon a Time”, Jamie in “Game of Thrones” and, to a lesser extant, Daryl in “Walking Dead” are all characters who have had this type of transformation. Watching someone step back, and reevaluate themselves and their choices is always an interesting character arc to me.

James Rollins’s Sigma Force series is a fast paced action adventure series. It is a fun ride, that throws twists and turns at you with every flip of the page. All the characters are likable and have some fantastic qualities to them. Grey, Painter and Monk are all strong male characters who fight to maintain a fast paced life along with a family oriented one as well. The series is great because it also has some strong and great female characters. Lisa and Kat are two women who stand toe to toe with the men and many times come out on top. They can handle themselves. They stay in the thick of the action all the time, never settling for staying in the background and watching what happens. They aren’t just two operative though, Kat is a fierce and loving mother and Lisa loves and adores Painter.

My favorite of all the characters in the series is Seichan. Seichan is that character that started off as someone we did not trust or like. She worked for the shady Guild which was behind all the issues the team was dealing with. We never knew if she out for herself or was telling the truth.

I did not start this series from the very beginning. I started at “Judas Strain”, (I will go back one day to read the few that I missed) so I did not see Grey and Seichan’s first meeting. But I have learned from the summary of the other books that their first meeting was not a good one. Seichan actually shot Grey. This established her at first as someone we are supposed to be seen as a ruthless killer.

Seichan was part of The Guild. An organization that is full of secrecy. This organization cares about nothing but their own self preservation. They do not care about others lives. Seichan was raised inside this group so it is no wonder that she grew up to be cold, calculating and manipulative.

Seichan had a miserable childhood, one with little love or care. She never knew her father, always believing he was someone who just up and left her and her mother. Her mother was dragged away by force, leaving Seichan alone. She was adopted by this organization where she quickly learned that emotions were a weakness. Weakness was not tolerated and would never be a way to survive. That is how she saw the world for so long.

Then fate steps in and Seichan meets Grey and her world begins to change. In Judas Strain she goes to Grey for help. She shows up on the run and injured. He could have thrown her out but instead he helped her. Throughout that story she witnessed something else she had not seen for ages, pure love. She saw his concern for his parents and I believe it started to put a crack in her tough exterior.

Seichan really works hard for a time to deny the feelings she is starting to feel for Grey. She sees how much he cares about his parents and about his friends. She wants that. She wants to care again. She wants something beyond the world she knows. She leaves The Guild because she can’t work for their ruthless evil ways anymore. Even though she was raised to be a killer and has done some horrible things there is still a part of her that regrets those actions. Seichan is not a psychopath. She sees a different way of life and she wants that for herself.

She is scared though. It was drilled into her that weakness will get you killed. To survive you have to destroy those who oppose you. You have to fight everyone to stay on top. She believes herself nothing but a cold hearted killer. She doesn’t even know if she has the ability to care and love left inside of her anymore. But there is this spark that will not die.

In “Bloodline” she learns about her mother and that spark becomes a flame. She can still care. She can still love. Everything she knew has been turned upside down. She finds herself feeling lost and scared; emotions that she is not familiar with. She tries to do it all on her own but she quickly realizes she needs someone to lean on, and that person is Grey. She can’t do this all alone. She can’t fight all she has known without an outside hand to help her.

Rollins doesn’t have her falling in Grey’s arms right away though. This process of opening herself up to the good sides of herself is going to be a longer one. I love that it isn’t a snap of a finger deal. This seems much more realistic to me and when it all does come together it will be a stronger relationship. One that will keep Seichan on the right side. This evolution will be interesting to watch.

“Judas Strain,” Review- James Rollins

71F8KeHKHsLI have read a few of James Rollin’s Sigma series books before. I picked them up because I have always enjoyed historical adventure type of stories. I like the idea of there being more to history than the basic stories we have always been told. Mix that idea in with an adventure and you have an entertaining story.

While I have read a few of Rollin’s stories before I did not read any of them in order. For me I tend to read these type of stories out of order; thinking the story is more about whatever the main characters are seeking and trying to preserve or destroy. That was until I read “Judas Strain,” this last month. I had been in a spell of reading fantasy and was in the mood for something a bit different for a bit. I went to my bookshelf and picked up “Judas Strain,” and was pulled in like I usually am to these novels.

“Judas Strain,” is about the Sigma force trying to find the source of, and combat a new bacteria that is causing people to get sick on Christmas Island. What they find out is that the outbreak is much more dangerous then previously thought, and that its origins go all the way back to Marco Polo. They are in a race against time to save the population of the world from a pandemic while also fighting an enemy they have encountered before.

I enjoyed the story by itself. The pace was fast and kept you turning pages. Someone was always in danger and there was always a feel that not everyone was being completely truthful. You doubted loyalties and wondered if everyone was going to make it out of the predicament alive.

The outbreak was an intriguing concept as well. It was a different way of looking at a common idea. It makes you wonder what would happen if your own body fought against you.

What I liked most about reading “Judas Strain,” was realizing how much better this series is if you read them in order. Like I stated before I usually read them out of order, not really concentrating on the characters, but more of the mystery and the historical aspect. “Judas Strain,” made me care a lot about the characters of Grey, Painter, Monk and Lisa. I realized how connected these books are and I was eager to read the next book in the series, “The Last Oracle.” I wanted to see how the characters were coping after this encounter and what was going to happen next with some of the loose ends.

It is said that you always see something you miss in a second reading and for me that is very true with this book series. I now want to read them in order so that I get even more involved with the stories. Now I am not only intrigued by the story line or the history mystery but I also deeply care about the characters as well. Rollins heightens the suspense by bringing these characters alive more and more with each story. I am excited to continue reading the series. If you like historical adventure novels you will enjoy Rollin’s stories. You get a fun adventure with characters you actually care about more and more with each book.

Horns- Joe Hill- Review (Spoilers)

Horns_coverThis is another book I picked up because I saw that it was becoming a movie. As I have stated in previous reviews I like to read the books before seeing the movies. I want to see where the original story came from then see how they compare. I did not have a clear idea of what the movie was actually about. I thought it was more a love story. The main idea being having to accept and love someone despite the demon they may have in their soul.

What the book was really about was accepting the darker side of oneself and trying to determine what good can be done with that darkness. A reader learns that avenging a loved one can bring out the darkest sides of someone and sometimes that is necessary. I enjoyed the book so much because I was left questioning my idea of good and evil and what it means to live out a life defined by one or the other. And as I have stated previously as book that makes me question anything is always a book I enjoy.

Ig Perrish wakes up one morning with zero memory of the previous night. He also has a pair of horns growing out of the top of his head. He has no idea where they came from or what they mean. Almost immediately he learns what they do though. The horns compel people to express their darkest desires or confess their worst deeds to Ig. Unless they are in possession of a cross they can’t help telling him the worst sides of themselves.

Naturally at first Ig is confused, lost and upset. This is all made worse by the fact that the horns showed up a day after the anniversary of the murder of his girlfriend Merrin. He quickly realizes that he all those he leaned on and trusted are against him. They all harbor ill feelings or negative opinions that tear Ig apart. He is left alone and desperate to figure out what is going on with his life.
Ig does find a new mission for his life. Under the influence of the horns his brother tells him who killed Merrin, their old friend Lee. Ig instantly decides that he has to kill Lee to avenge the love his life. He becomes consumed with this mission and this mission only. He can’t rest knowing the man is walking around free.

I thought we were going to see Ig striving not to sink under the horn’s influence. I thought it was going to be a story about a man fighting not to kill and not lose himself to the darkness. What we got was a story about Ig learning that darkness and good are part of each other. They are meaningless concepts without each other. You can’t have pure evil without pure good because without one the other is just a word or idea with no reference point. Ig fights to find a balance between his good and evil side.

Ig is human and is not perfect. At first he doesn’t know how to control his urges. He pushes his grandmother down a hill when she confesses she wished she was dead and not dealing with him. He lashes out like many of us have. We all have had that moment when we hit someone with words or fists in anger. We all have a moment where we go too far. Ig realizes that he can’t let himself go around punishing everyone who confesses to him, despite the rush he gets from those actions. He decides to focus his energy on killing Lee instead.

We see his growth when he goes after his own brother. He believes his brother had to have something to do with Merrin’s death. He then sees that his brother had no control over the situation. He was present but not responsible. He wanted to confess was his hands were tied. He can barely live with his actions and decisions.
The easy thing, the devil thing, would have been for Ig to kill him or punish his brother no matter what. He could have stabbed him or tortured him just because he had the information for so long. Instead Ig tries to send him away and to his own life again. He does not want him to suffer anymore. This is the moment when we see Ig taking a step back and realizing that there is a line he has to walk no matter what is poking out of the top of his head.

Even when he is at peak devil he still thinks about others. His ex-girlfriend Glenna comes looking for him. He could hurt her. He could punish her for cheating on him or the number of other negative things she has done in her life. He could do a lot of things but he instead tells her she deserves more and sends her away. He tries to give her a better life. He wants her to get what she deserves in life.

Ig Perrish wakes up with horns believing his turning into the devil. What he learns, as well as what the readers learns, is that the line between being good and being evil is a very hazy line. They are two concepts that are woven together and trying to separate them into two completely separate concepts is nearly impossible. We all have angels and devils inside of us. We just have to determine when to let which side out and how to make them work together instead of against one another.

The Maze Runner Series- Review – Spoilers

The_Maze_Runner_cover“The Maze Runner,” series by James Dashner is a post apocalyptic novel series. The first book, The Maze Runner, has been made into a movie recently. This keeps on the track of dystopian novels that have gained popularity since “Hunger Games,” came out. What this series does differently is that it is extremely action packed, there are very few moments where the main characters aren’t running from someone or trying to save themselves. It also keeps us in suspense for the entire series. You get small tidbits of information, and believe that by the end you will have all the answers you desire to fully appreciate the choices made and the course of the story, but unfortunately you get few answers and are left hanging at the very end of the series.

The series starts with Thomas showing up in the maze. He is brought in like many of the others through a metal box. He has no memories of his life before the maze. He is in this place, and has  to survive with a number of other boys; all who are determined to find a way out of the maze and back home. What we learn is that the maze is only the first trial on the list. They are all being used as experiments to help find a cure for what is called, the Flare, a diseases released after sun flares devastated much of the planet. Thomas and his friends spend the series trying to  survive in order to get to some type of safe life back.

Dashner knows how to write very plotted out action and suspense. I kept turning page after page because I had to see what was going to happen next. I had to make sure everyone got out of the current situation or that we might get some type of valuable answer. Someone was always on the edge of danger. Every chapter ended with a moment where you were holding your breath. I went through each book always waiting for that moment when we were going to lose someone else.
Not only was I always afraid of losing someone, I was also eager to get answers. What was WICKED’s ultimate goal? What did the trials have to do with finding a cure and blueprint? How would a blueprint cure the disease? What did Thomas do for WICKED before the trials? Why did he work with them? Why did he go into the trials without his memories? Did he know everything? Or only a part of the whole situation? What was his true relationship with Aris and Teresa?

The_Scorch_Trials_coverSo many questions and I was disappointed because I never got any answers to those questions, at least none that satisfied me. The end just left me hanging and confused. The actual physical ending was even a question in and of itself and made me scratch my head wondering what was the point? I am a reader who loves to have questions through out the novel that keep me wondering. I am perfectly fine wondering about something until the last page but I expect the last few pages to give me enough answers. Not all questions will be answered but I want most of them to be. Unfortuneatly this series gave few if any answers.

Dashner started off with two very strong characters. Thomas was lost without his memories but he was courageous and determined to do what he could to save everyone. He was caring and he was strong. Then the next two books never built on his strength in the first book. I felt like never knowing his true past made it very hard for him to grow. He was so determined to not remember that he became single minded. He wanted to save his friends and get away from WICKED and that was it. Though we kept being told that he had some part in starting the whole ordeal.

I really wanted to see Thomas have this crisis of consciousness moment. He did not have to think what he did in the past was right. He could have seen it with new eyes now that he survived both trials and could have changed his opinion. But without his memories he was just purely hating WICKED because of very little information that he had. I wanted to see Thomas have to figure out what to do with his past and present since they seemed so vastly different.

Teresa was the same way. She was the outsider in the maze, being the only girl and the reason that the whole place started falling apart. But she never gave up on getting out and she formed a connection with Thomas. A connection we know they had before the whole thing started. But then after they escaped that whole thing crumbled. We barely saw her in the other two books. They never had a real talk about their pasts, even after Teresa got her memories back. She drifted back and forth so much that I lost interest in her.

It would have been great to see these two stand together to overcome their pasts and rescue everyone. They knew what happened and they were the only who could be able to really relate to one another and understand what they did and why. I would have loved to see them play off each other and keep each other going. Instead of having Brenda randomly show up and sort of take that role. But again she had a significant past that we never got to truly understand. I was left wanting more from everyone.

The_Death_CureDashner knows how to write suspense and action very well. If you want a nail-biting novel series that keeps you wondering after every page this one is for you. Unfortunately I wanted more answers then I got, and got less character development then I usually like.

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