A Vision of Fire

A Vision of Fire (The Earthend Saga #1)
Authors ~ Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin

As probably most people who will have randomly come across A Vision of Fire, I picked up this book because of Gillian Anderson.

If you've never heard of Gillian Anderson before, well you are definitely not a child of the 90's with a nostalgia of The X-Files

I live in Vancouver, BC, where The X-Files was originally filmed and I distinctly remember watching the show with my mom and on nights when I was babysitting.   So yes, an old love of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder is what propelled me to read this book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work. 

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.

A Vision of Fire isn't a great book, but neither is it a bad book.  It's mediocre in everything it does.  From combining Norse, Voodoo and Aliens, to Caitlin O'Hara having a deaf son who provides her with the ability to understand unspoken languages, A Vision of Fire tries to do to much and doesn't really succeed with anything.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading A Vision of Fire, I did, but it isn't a great book, it's just middle of the road, something to read in-between other more exciting books.  

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 3

This review is the third part of a three part series of reviews of The Gray Tower Trilogy.

Please note that by reading this review, there may some very minor spoilers for book 1 and 2 of The Gray Tower Trilogy (The Tower's Alchemist & Dark Rift) if you haven't read them yet.

Circadian Circle (THE GRAY TOWER TRILOGY #3)
AUTHOR ~ Alesha Escobar

The third and final book of The Gray Tower Trilogy, Circadian Circle is full of intense magical action from start to finish.

Demons.
Nazis.
Dragons.
Time Shifting Wizards.

Isabella George has a lot on her hands to keep the wizards of The Gray Tower together and defeat the bad guys in this action packed conclusion to The Gray Tower Trilogy.

When I say action packed, I really mean it.  The majority of this Circadian Circle is one action scene to the next.  Quite often when a novel has to much action in it, and not enough story, I tend to gloss over the action bits, getting bored with reading, how yet again, the protagonist defeats the antagonist, but in this case, I was ok with the extensive action and enjoyed it.

I think I enjoyed the heavy action in Circadian Circle because the previous two novels (The Tower's Alchemist & Dark Rift) did a wonderful job of building the story and the world that it takes place in.  When it came time for the final action packed booked, I was heavily invested in the characters, both good and bad, and wanted to find out what would happen to them and I felt the action was a benefit to the story, expanding on what I already knew, as opposed to using action to gloss over the fact that the characters are not well rounded.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and the series as a whole.  It was a fun and entertaining read, the characters had growth over the series and there was a satisfying ending.  

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 2

This review is the second part of a three part series of reviews of The Gray Tower Trilogy.  

Please note that by reading this review, there may some very minor spoilers for book 1 of The Gray Tower Trilogy (The Tower's Alchemist) if you haven't read it yet.

Dark Rift (THE GRAY TOWER TRILOGY #2)
AUTHOR ~ ALESHA ESCOBAR

Dark Rift takes place almost immediately after the events in The Tower's Alchemist, at the most, a few weeks have passed and I think I enjoyed Dark Rift even more than The Tower's Alchemist.

As with any sequel, reading the synopsis of the next books prior to reading the first book, there are potential spoilers.  I've tried to be very vague with my synopsis but if you are a purest and don't want any spoilers for The Tower's Alchemist, you might want to skip reading the rest of this review.

Synopsis

Amidst the terror of World War II, there is another battle going on, between the Nazi warlock vampires and the wizards of The Gray Tower.  

The Nazi warlocks want to get their hands on the Drifter aka: The Time Wizard as they believe that the Drifter will provide them with ultimate power and The Gray Tower wants to destroy the Drifter so no one can have this power.

Isabella George, an alchemist trained by the Gray Tower knows the identity of the Drifter and and believes that The Gray Tower is wrong to destroy the Drifter.

Isabella sets of to prove to the other wizards of The Gray Tower that the Drifter is an ally and could help to bring about the end of the war.

The second instalment of The Gray Tower Trilogy left me wanting even more than the first instalment.  The characters were well rounded and very interestingly written.  They are all also very multi-faceted, the good guys were not just goodie-too-shoes, they had depth to them that wasn't just black and white.  

Two books in, that I read back-to-back, and I was still eager to get started on the third book, Circadian Circle the moment I finished Dark Rift.  To me that is always the sign of an enjoyable story.

 

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 1

This review is the first part of a three part series of reviewsof The Gray Tower Trilogy.

The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy #1)
Author ~ Alesha Escobar

The Tower's Alchemist has one of the most ridiculous synopsis I've read for a book in a long time. 

Wizards Vs. Nazi Warlock Vampires.

Yup, you read that correctly, Nazi warlock vampires.   I received this book in a witchy Story Bundle I purchased in May 2017 and I have to honestly say that I would have been unlikely to read this book had I just come across it on my own, the premise just sound ridiculous.  Boy, I sure would have missed out on a FANTASTIC read.

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Nazis have unleashed occult forces throughout Europe and the Allies are forced to recruit and employ wizards to counter their attacks. Among them is the battle weary spy, Isabella George, a Gray Tower dropout trained in Alchemy. Longing for retirement and a life of peace, she accepts one final job-extract a deadly warlock from Nazi occupied France and prevent him from unleashing an alchemical weapon that will devour the continent.
But France is crawling with the Cruenti, vampiric warlocks who feed off other wizards. When things don't go according to plan, one Cruenti sets his deadly eyes on her.
Betrayal is everywhere. Even some of her closest allies cannot be fully trusted. Worse still, she finds, she can't even trust herself. She becomes a woman torn between her charismatic spy lover who offers her what she desires most, and one of her closest confidants, whose soft seductive eyes hold deadly secrets about her past, and the Gray Tower itself.
Plans within plans. Plots versus counter plots. Heists gone wrong, sword-wielding Catholic priests, and the greatest manipulation of history that has ever been seen, is just a taste of what Isabella George is in for, in her final mission.

Thank you Story Bundle to introducing me to author Alesha Escobar and The Gray Tower Trilogy.  The ridiculous synopsis of Nazi warlock vampires is really well done.  Hitler had an obsession with for the occult so it would make sense, in a world where wizards and magic existed, that Hitler would have Nazi warlocks on his side.

In researching spy's during World War II, Escobar discovered some pretty amazing women who went undercover and helped the Allies ultimately win the war.  Bits and pieces of these women, and their accomplishments, shine through in The Tower's Alchemist and you feel like they could have been real people.

All of the characters in the story are very intriguing.  Good, bad, neutral, I was fascinated with all of them and really wanted to know what what going to happen to them.  

I sure am glad that I gave The Tower's Alchemist a try and I'm extra glad that I happen to have the second and third books in this trilogy as I immediately started Dark Rift (the second in the series) once I finished The Tower's Alchemist

 

Origin

Origin (Robert Langdon #5)
Author ~ Dan Brown

By the author that brought you the world-wide sensation, The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown has another home run with his latest Robert Langdon adventure, Origin.

Robert Langdon finds himself at the Guggenheim Museum, invited to an extraordinary scientificpresentation presented by his former student, Edmond Kirsch.  With religious and scientific repercussions, Kirsch has discovered the answer to the age old question of Where do we come from?
Where are we going?  
Moments before the big reveal, the evening erupts into chaos and Langdon finds himself forced to flee the Guggenheim, with the museum coordinator and future queen consort of Spain, Ambra Vidal, in tow.

Aided by Kirsch's assistant, Winston, Langdon and Vidal must find a way to help Kirsch to reveal his secrets to the world.  

I was a little hesitant to get back into the Robert Langdon world.  I didn't much like the last book in this series, and felt that it was a little too outrageous and over the top.  I wasn't expecting much from Origin, but I surprised myself by liking it.  

Origin is a popcorn book, plain and simple.  If you are expecting any more depth to this book, you will be sadly disappointed, but if you are going in, knowing that it's going to be just a little ridiculous, just a little silly and a whole lot of "that would never happen in the real world", Origin will be a fun read.  

With a few twists and turns Origin is a fun read and if you have enjoyed Dan Brown's other books in the Robert Langdon series, Origin is a very good addition and you will surely enjoy it too.

Contact

Contact
Author ~ Carl Sagan

Contact is one of those books that has been on my TRL for years and years, but also one of those books that I have put off reading for ages.    

A Signal has been detected in the vicinity of the star Vega.  It is intelligent life?  Is it god?  We don't know, but with this signal, the course of human history is forever changed.

For a science fiction book written by scientist, Carl Sagan, I was surprised that Contact explored more than just the possibility of life in other parts of the universe.  Contact explored how that life would effect the religious communities of Earth.  

I don't know why this surprised me, I guess I was expecting a fun novel about the possibility of life outer-space, instead I read a novel that used the fictional story as a way to deliver questions about other live and how if would impact religions here on earth.  It really felt that the characters in the story were the vehicle that Carl Sagan was driving to explore his own thoughts about religion.

I enjoyed reading Contact, it just wasn't the space adventure alien story I was expecting to read.  

 

 

Annihilation

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Annihilation (Southern Reach #1)
Author ~ Jeff Vandermeer

In the upcoming weeks and months you are going to start reading and hearing more about Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer because it has been turned into a movie, starting Natalie Portman.  I actually had no idea that it was turning into a movie.  I found out about this book from a friend and it sounded interesting when I read the synopsis.  It was only when I was about half-way through the book that the teaser trailer for Annihilation dropped.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world by a gigantic invisible barrier.  Inside Area X is a vast wilderness of pristine condition. 

Since the time Area X was cut off from the rest of civilization, expeditions have been sent to explore the area.  They have not gone well.  Mass suicide, attacks from strange creatures, gunfire as members turned on one another, some explorers returning as shells of their former selves, riddled with cancer.

Four women, with no names, only referring to themselves as their job descriptions; anthropologist; surveyor; psychologist; biologist, make up the twelfth expedition.

The secrets they uncover will change them and everything they know.

For the most part, I found Annihilation an interesting yet boring read.  Nothing happens, yet a lot happens, just very slowly and only to past characters not really in this story.  The narrator of the story is "The Biologist", and she spends a lot of her time in her head, thinking.  Thinking about her past, thinking about her trip to Area X, thinking about what's happening there...always thinking.  

This is one of those books that make you ask a whole bunch of questions about who, what, where, when, why, but it never actually answer's anything.  I have a feeling that this might be one of those few times where the movie will be better than the book (my most favourite example of this is Forrest Gump.  The movie was WAY better than the book).

I'm interested in watching the movie when it does come out and compare the two of them to each other.  I have no plans on reading the two follow-up books to this series, maybe they would answer the questions that Annihilation made me ask, but I'm not driven to find out those answeres, at least, not at this time.

 

Heart and Brain

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Heart and Brain: Body Language
Author ~ The Awkward Yeti aka Nick Seluk

I LOVE The Awkward Yeti.  It is my favourite comic series and I can never get enough of them.  

Heart and Brain are two of the characters from The Awkward Yeti series.  The main series features a blue Yeti names Lars and Nick Seluk created a kind of spin-off series, Heart & Brain.  Featuring Lars's organs.  

This really is the best comic series out there, almost every single comic will illicit at least a smile on my face, if not genuine out loud laughter.  

Heart and Brain: Body Language was awesome to read.  A collection of mostly new comics and a few previously seen classics, I think it was my favourite of the three books Seluk has put out so far.  I love all the organs and their antics and since my gallbladder was removed, I have an extra special fondness for Sad Gallbladder, having even designed and crafted my own Sad Gallbladder cross stitch.

Full of out-loud laughter, Heart and Brain: Body Language imagines what your organs would be like if they had their own personalities.  I was planning on only flipping through a few pages, slowly taking my time through the book, but I just couldn't resist reading the entire thing in one sitting.  

This is one of those books that you will read again and again, always finding new humour in it. 

All Systems Red

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All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)
Author ~ Martha Wells

As I was reading All Systems Red by Martha Wells, I can honestly say that I didn't realize what this book was actually called and I kept referring to it as "the murderbot book".  This was a quick read, written up as a novella, that I very much enjoyed.

In a future, taken over by corporations, a group of scientists are exploring a new world.  The corporations provide security in the form of a company security droid.  

While on a mission, one particular security droid has become self-aware and has hacked it's own governor module.  Referring to itself as "Murderbot" all this unit wants to do is be left alone to watch the soap opera; Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon.

I really loved the Murderbot.  While there was no specific gender to the Murderbot, I definitely thought of it as female when I was reading the story.  Full of cynicism and quick wit, Murderbot was a story that I was sad to see end so quickly.  All the Murderbot wanted to do was to be left alone, not interacting with humans and watch soaps.  I think everyone can relate to Murderbot and just sometimes wanting to be left alone, and not worry about working.

Honestly my only real complaint about All Systems Red is that the story was written as a novella.  Usually not my favourite things because I find that the story ends so quickly, or just as you are getting into the characters and situations the story is over.  Well's did a fantastic job writing All Systems Red though.  It is a complete story, and I wasn't left feeling that I was missing something.  I just wanted to read more about Murderbot and it's story.  Thankfully there is a sequel (Artificial Condition) coming out May 2018, which you can pre-order on Amazon.

It's been a while

It has been a busy few weeks.  Since it was summer, I was in and out of town, filling out a huge pile of paperwork and generally complacent in updating this site.  I now finally have a little bit of time, and energy to let you kind readers know what I've been reading lately.

I haven't read a lot in the last month and I've been feeling kind of slovenly because of this.  The last few weeks found me watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  I made it all the way to season 3 before my obsession of watching the show waned a bit.  So in the meantime I only found time to read four books.  

  • Artemis by Andy Weir (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • Paradox Bound by Peter Clines (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • When you Disappeared by John Marrs (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • Rituals (Cainsville, #5) by Kelley Armstrong
  • The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Gray

Reviews!

artemis-cover

Artemis
Author ~ Andy Weir

Artemis is the newest novel by Andy Weir (The Martian).  To say I was excited about Artemis is an understatement.  The Martian was a great novel, with lots of humour, that I really enjoyed so I had high hopes for Artemis.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it.

Jazz Bashara lives on the first and only city on the moon.  As a way of making ends meat, she smuggles in the occasional bit of contraband.  When Jazz receives a request that is too lucrative to turn down, she stumbles into a conspiracy to overtake control of Artemis, the moon city.

Artemis was well written, and I could tell that a lot of time and research went into the science side of the book, and overall the story wasn't that bad, but the main character, Jazz Bashara, ugh.  I just found that she had zero redeeming qualities.  It wasn't until the very very end of the book where you actually found out her motivations.  

Aside from my dislike of Jazz, the overall story was interesting and entertaining.  This is nothing like The Martian though, so don't start reading this novel thinking that you are going to find a similar story.  

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

 

paradox-bound-cover

Paradox Bound
Author ~ Peter Clines

I had a hard time getting in Peter Clines most recent novel, Paradox Bound.  

Time Travelling through American History, Eli and Harry are on the search for the "American Dream".  In this case, the "American Dream" is a literal object, created by the founding fathers of the United States of America and lost for the past sixty years.

I usually like Peter Clines's novels, but I think with the current state of the USA, constantly being in the news, it's dotard leader and now on the brink of war with North Korea, this was just a bit to much America for me.  I did enjoy that this is set in the same world as two of Clines other novels, 14 and The Fold, but unless you read those two novel, the one sentence that lets you know this is the same world, would be glossed right over by other readers.

I look forward to Peter Clines's next novel, but this one just wasn't for me.

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

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When you Disappeared
Author ~ John Marrs

After a couple of dud books I was reluctant to start yet another ARC from Netgalley, however, When you Disappeared by John Marrs hooked me immediately.

Catherine wakes up one morning, her husband, Simon, is gone.  Thinking he was out for a run then off to work, Catherine didn't worry about him until his colleague called her looking for him.  

Meanwhile, Simon is alive and well, having left his family because he knows the truth about the life they had lead.  Alive and thriving, Simon is doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of his past.

Twenty-Five year later, when Simon shows up on her doorstep, Catherine is finally introduce to the man Simon is, and she wished she never met him.

When I finished this book, my first thought was just, wow.  I really enjoyed this book, which was great since the last two books I had read were not my favourites (Artemis & Paradox Bound).

I also found the way it was written well done.  The story took place in "the now" with past memories of Catherine and Simon being told to each other.  It was a very effective piece of storytelling that I throughly enjoyed.  

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

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Rituals (Cainsville, #5)
Author ~ Kelley Armstrong

My popcorn novel.  I've been really enjoying the Cainsville series from Kelley Armstrong.  If you haven't read the first 4 in this series, don't bother reading Rituals, as you will be totally lost, and instead start at the beginning.

Olivia Jones must make a choice between two rival supernatural forces.  

I've enjoyed all of the books in this series and Rituals was no exception.  I do wonder how many books Kelley Armstrong has planed for this series because as I was reading Rituals, I could feel the story start to wind is way up.  It is by no means complete and there are still a lot on unanswered questions, and new questions that have appeared, but I suspect there will only be 2 or 3 more books in this series.

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The Ghost Line
Author ~ Andrew Neil Gray

I purchased this book on recommendation email from Amazon.  The Ghost Line was a surprising read, and quite quick.  It only took me a few hours to read it, but it was an intriguing story.  

The Martian Queen is a mothballed ship when Saga and Michel are hired to hack into it and changes it's course, effectively destroying the ship and openings up the shipping lane it has been occupying. 

Expecting an easy payday, Saga and Michel end up stranded aboard the Martian Queen, fighting to maintain their humanity and find their way back home.

The Ghost Line would make an excellent movie.  The story is pretty simple but also interesting.  It has a little bit of mystery, that isn't easily discoverable until it is revealed to you by the author.  I enjoyed reading this one.


I feel that this particular post is a little lacking in depth, but I also wanted to get something out to the readers of this website.  It's been a while since I've posted anything, and I kind of figured something was better than nothing.  If you have any questions or comments about the books I've briefly reviewed here, please let me know.  I'd be happy to answer them or pleased to read your comment.

It's been a long week

This isn't so much a book review, but rather more a post to inform my readers why there is no "official" book review this week and what I have been doing rather than reading and writing a book review.

Life!

Yup, that thing we are a living and happens to everyone at times, just got in the way of me doing fun stuff. Basically a big pile of crap fell down and buried me in stress and I just haven't felt like reading at all.  Long and short; bureaucratic crap that Michael and I had paid a lawyer to help us navigate so we wouldn't end up buried in crap.  Apparently that money would have been better spent if we flushed it down the toilet, maybe it could have made some nice bedding for a sewer rat?  In any case, I just haven't felt like reading at all this week, so I'm behind on my book reviewing.  I didn't want to disappoint the three readers I have (Hi Mommy!) and not write something, so in the end I've decided to tell you about Jenny Lawson.  

Have you heard of her?  Jenny Lawson, otherwise known as "The Bloggess," is a blogger and author who writes dark humour about her life, including being brutally honest about about her periods of mental illness.  Every post of Lawson's that I read will elicit a genuine chuckle from me.

I've been following her blog for a little while now, having discovered her because of the cover of her second book, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things.  I had never heard of this woman before, but the cover features a picture of a raccoon with a maniacal expression and open arms and it was this cover alone that caused me to pick up the book and read the cover. 

I have to admit, I didn't buy it right away.  I don't usually read autobiographical books, so it just wasn't something that I thought I would enjoy. The cover haunted me. I started seeing it everywhere, in stores, on Amazon, on Goodreads, there is was.  Every time I saw it I would click on the link or pick up the book and look at that cover again.  Those eyes, they follow you.  It was hypnotic.  In the end, I bought the book because that raccoon.

If you have ever suffered from any sort of mental illness, known someone who has suffered or just want to get a better understanding of what people who suffer from mental illness go through, this is a must read.  I have been lucky enough in life not to suffer from mental illness, but I have a number of close friends who do deal with it on some sort of basis.  Reading Furiously Happy, I think, gave me a better understanding of just some of this things those friends deal with on a regular basis.  The best part about this book though is the humour. Michael ended up calling it the "giggle book" because every time I read it, I would giggle at things that The Bloggess wrote.  Dark humour for sure, but I enjoyed every minute of Lawson's elegant way of describing her suffering.

This brings me to Jenny Lawson's most recent endeavour, You are Here: An Owner's Manual for Dangerous Minds.  Full of inspirational prompts, advice, dark humour and illustrations, You are Here is part colouring book, part self-enrichment, and part therapy.  

As a way to help ease her anxiety, Lawson would doodle illustrations and she would occasionally share these online.  Fans loved them and would even bring printed copies of the doodles and illustrations to book signings and ask Lawson to sign.  Eventually, somehow, You are Here was created.  A book that I'm confident that only Lawson could create (it say's so on the book jacket and everything)

All of the pages of You are Here are removable, so you can colour them, frame them, burn them...whatever floats your boat.  Flipping through these pages during the last stressful week as provided just a little bit a relaxation in the evening. I might have to buy a second copy, just so I can colour and write in it.

It's been a long week, and the stress isn't quite over yet, but in the end, I know everything will be alright. Jenny Lawson say's so.

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Is Death Really the End?

A Review of Afterlife
Author ~ Marcus Sakey

There are some books that you just read that have no effect on you, there are some books you read that make you cry, other books that make you laugh, and then there is Afterlife, which makes you think about life and death.  

In Marcus Sakey's new book, Afterlife, he explores life after death and a love that transcends both.  Not only does Afterlife make you ponder the meaning of life, but it is also filled with pop culture references that made me chuckle every time I came upon them.  I found that it made the character of Will Brody more relatable, despite actually being dead for most of the story (don't worry, that's not a spoiler). 

When FBI agent will Brody tries to stop a serial sniper form terrorizing Chicago,  little does he know that the sniper is possessed from an evil from beyond the grave. When Will loses his life to the sniper he discovers that there is more after death then he ever believed.

Claire McCoy, FBI task force leader, and secret love of Will Brody, is devastated by the loss of her agent and lover. She becomes even more consumed with discovering the snipers identity and walks herself into a dangerous situation, subsequently loosing her life, but taking the snipers life with her.

In the afterlife, Will and Claire find each other and are horrified to discover beings that devour the souls of the dead, some of these beings are so powerful the can "ride" the living.

It's up to Will and Claire to lead the other souls in the Afterlife, standing up to these beings so called gods before they can continue killing the living.

I have to admit, it took me quite a long time to write this review, I found myself struggling to articulate how I felt about this book.  I really did enjoy it, and at times I found it hard to put down, which for me is the sign of an good story, but it was almost like there was so much going on, I didn't know how to write about it. 

At a certain point, all I can do was to write down a few thoughts and press the publish button.  Would I recommend this book to someone else, yes, and I would tell them that it was an interesting and enjoyable read.  Am I excited about the prospect of Afterlife becoming a movie, I sure am.  I think that it could make a stunning movie and provide a lot of interesting discussions about the meaning of life and death.

4 Penguins

I received an free ARC of Afterlife from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It's going to be A Cold Day in Hell

A Review of A Cold Day in Hell
Author ~ Lissa Marie Redmond

There is something about a well written police procedural story that I always enjoy, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Cold Day in Hell.  Written by retired police officer, Lissa Marie Redmond, I found that this book had a very authentic feel to it, which you would hope it to have if written by a former police officer. 

Lauren Riley is a detective at the top of her game, solving crimes in the Cold Case Investigations of the Buffalo Police Department.  Single mother of two, who's girls have gone off to college, Lauren finds that she has a bit too much time on her hands.  Frank Violanti, slick defence attorney, who's questionable clients and theatrical behaviour in court make him one of the best.  When Franks's eighteen year-old client, David, is arrested for murder he begs Lauren to take the case on as a private investigator.  Normally on opposite sides of the bench, Lauren and Frank don't generally see eye to eye, but upon meeting David, Lauren can't help but feel she needs to prove his innocence.  Unravelling the conflicting evidence, Lauren discovers that nothing is quite as it seems.  With an abusive ex stalking her and the press all over the case, Lauren puts here career in danger as doubt starts to plague her motives.

I have to say that with a lot of police procedural's, I usually have a pretty good guess who-done-it before the big reveal.  I may not always be right, but I have my suspicions.  That is half the fun of reading these, to see if you can pick out the clues the author has given.  When reading A Cold Day in Hell, the clues were there, but I was never able to make up my mind, until the reveal happened.  I also enjoyed the fact that while there was the big investigation to prove David's innocence, Lauren was still working her day job in the cold case department.  TV is often very sensationalized with great intuitive leaps, but reading this book dispelled a lot of what you see on TV and explained that solving crimes is a lot of hard and diligent work and a fair amount of luck, especially in the cold case department.  

While I enjoyed reading A Cold Day in Hell and was interested in the story developing and what was going to happen, for me, I was easily able to put this book down at night and I didn't find myself with the urgent need to read the book as fast as possible, until the last 2% of the book.  Redmond has done an excellent job with a hook at the end that makes you want to pick up her next book ASAP.  Now she just needs to write it.

3.5 Penguins

A Cold Day in Hell will be released on February 8, 2018 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon or Midnight Ink's Website.

I received an free ARC of A Cold Day in Hell from Midnight Ink via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review ~ Integral (Visceral Book 1)

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Integral (Visceral Book 1)
Author ~ Adam Thielen

Vampires and Mages?!, these are two of my favourite things to read about in speculative fiction, so I was sold on this book the moment I read the description.  Having now finished reading Integral, I'm happy to report that I wasn't oversold at all.  

The time is 2029 and the world's governments have collapsed, corporations have taken over the management of people, places and things, always with a notation of governing to improve their bottom line.  Matthias and Frank, vampires, are two investigators for Noxcorp, the public face of the ancient vampire council.  When a human is murdered, and it looks like a vampire did the deed, it's up to Matthias and Frank to find the fiend before the public does.  Things turn complicated when the University charged with "protecting" the magical born turns to Noxcorp for their assistance in tracking down one of their escaped mages, Sandra.  Quickly Matthias and Frank find themselves caught in the middle of a power grab, and Sandra appears to be at the centre of it all.

Each chapter in Integral (Visceral Book 1) is an "episode", so the whole novel sort of jumps a little bit in it's narration, but it works.  I found this futuristic world quite believable, despite the presence of vampires and mages.  The idea that corporations will take over, not unrealistic to me at all.  I also found the vampires in Integral to be refreshing, I don't want to say anything more why I found them refreshing for fear of spoiling the story (if you really want to know, just send me a message and I'll explain).  

I found Integral to be an interesting story, and I loved having vampires and mages mixed together.  There is a rather long battle sequence near the end of the book, and while it was actually well written, I personally would have liked it to be a little shorter.  The mages are also treated poorly, that whole be afraid of what you don't understand type thing, that I would love to have more background on, their history sort of thing.  I can only hope that if Thielen write a sequel, I'll get some more background on the mages.  

3.5 Penguins

I received an free ARC of Integral (Visceral Book 1)via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review ~ The Memory Agent

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The Memory Agent
Author ~ Matthew B. J. Delaney

The first thing I thought to myself as I read the last sentence of this story was, "that was a good book".  The Memory Agent is a fantastic roller-coaster ride of suspense and science fiction and I was entertained the entire time I was reading it, quickly turning pages to find out what happens.  

Roger Parker is a professional prison breaker, skilled at breaking minds out of the virtual reality rehabilitation prison where convicted criminals serve their time. This time Parker and his team head into a virtual reality set in 1950's Manhattan.  With strange visions, mysterious identities and anti-virus programs chasing Parker and his team through this dream reality state, The Memory Agent will keep you guessing right till the very end.

I found the very beginning of The Memory Agent a little confusing as the story starts out in Egypt in 1933.  A group of people are on an archaeological dig and they just discovered the impossible.  As they investigate they are attached by the "Brotherhood of Anubis" and must seek the protection of the dig site.  

To say I was confused with what was happening is an understatement.  This was nothing like what the book-jacket described, and there a legitimate moment where I was seriously contemplated that maybe I received the wrong book.   I figured that eventually the story would start to be more like the description on the book-jacket, and sure enough it was.  Slowly the puzzle pieces start to come together and make some sort of mind-bending sense.  There were also several suspenseful moments when a "monster" is chasing the characters and I still remember my heart beating away in my chest while reading these scenes.   

I enjoyed reading this book, it was sort of like a combination of Inception meet The Matrix meets The Adjustment Bureau.  I enjoyed all three of these movies immensely because of the mind-trippiness of them.  The Memory Agent is right up there with it's mind-trippiness and I was easily entertained as I was reading it, finding it hard to put down at times.  If you like mind-tripy books, you will definitely enjoy reading this story.  The Memory Agent is available on Amazon July 18, 2017.

4 Penguins

I received an free ARC of The Breakdown from 47North via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review ~ M*A*S*H* Goes to Maine

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M*A*S*H* Goes to Maine
Author ~ Richard Hooker

You were likely aware that the original M*A*S*H TV series that was on the air for eleven season was based off a movie from the 70's starring Donald Sutherland and Tom Skerritt?  But did you know that the movie was based off a book written by Richard Hooker?  Well from 1968 to 1977 Richard Hooker wrote Fifteen M*A*S*H books, and only the first one took place during the Korean war.

M*A*S*H Goes to Maine is the second book in this series.  If you've never seen the movie and have never read the first M*A*S*H book, you will be quite lost as you read this book.  There are characters in these books that never show up in the TV series, or were only in the series for a few episodes.  I loved the TV series, I remember watching it as a child, then again in my teens and once more as an adult.  It was one of those shoes that you could watch over and over again, and it always seemed to be on TV.  I would always skip over the nightmare episode though as I found it quite disturbing as a child and those feelings still linger there as I remember Major Margaret "Hot-Lip" Hoilihan standing there with blood running down the front of her nightgown, shudder, but that's all I remember of that episode.  Thankfully the rest of the episode's memories have been lost to time.

Back to M*A*S*H Goes to Maine.  The second book is written pretty much the same as the first,  a bunch of short stories held together by an overall premise, in this case the opening of the Finestkind Clinic and Fishmarket.   This was Maine in the late 50's and medicine back then was very different than what it is now (be glad).  The surgeons of the swamp, Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, Duke Forrest, Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones, are all tops of their respective fields and have banded together to provide the residents of Maine the very best or "Finestkind" medical clinic and fishmarket.  Get your medical exams and procedures done in the morning and on your way out in the afternoon pick up some fish for dinner.

M*A*S*H Goes to Main is a quick read that I enjoyed, however, If you don't like M*A*S*H or struggle with understanding the time frame something was written, then I don't think you would enjoy this.  It's quite disjointed in the way Hooker tells his story, hopping around from one "small town event" to another.  There is also quite a lot of crude language, racial slurs and outdated views on women in M*A*S*H Goes to Main.  This book was written forty-five years ago, and then also written about a time fifteen years earlier than that.  Societal views on language, race and women were very different then than they are now.  It made me glad that in many ways society isn't like that any more.  We are not perfect, we will likely never be perfect and there is still a long long way to go before everyone feels safe, but it is better than it once was.

Maybe one day I will go on to read more of this series, but for now, I'll take a pass.

3 Penguins

Review ~ Equus

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Equus (Rhonda Parrish's Magical Menageries)
Anthology

The friend who originally suggested to me that I start to write book reviews managed to hook me up with my very first "official" review.  I was so excited to receive an ARC copy of the Equus anthology from Rhonda Parrish and be given the chance to write a review, but I failed...sort of.

Not every book is for every person, and Equus is just a book that isn't for me.   I will preface this by saying that short stories in general are hard for me to get into.  There have been some short stories that I have enjoyed in the past, but I've always been surprised when I do like them.  For me I find that with short stories, just as I'm starting to get into them, the story is over.  The second thing that Equus had going against it (at least one I discovered as I started to read it) is that I just don't care about horse.  I mean, I like them and I think they are pretty cool and I always go and see the RCMP Musical Ride at the Pacific National Exhibition, but aside from a periphery care for horses, I discovered that I don't really want to know anything more about them.  So my attempt to read Equus and review it made me gain some new knowledge about myself,  horses just are not my thing.

All of the stories I did read/skim through had quite a bit of description of the horses, how they move, the equipment they need the feeling or riding one. I just had a hard time caring about all this description of the horses and their riders. If you like horses I suspect that you would enjoy this anthology quite a lot. It just wasn't my thing and after attempting to read it for the past few months and finding myself dreading picking it up, reading a page or two and then putting it back down, I decided that it would be better to put it down for good and move on.

0 Penguins (with the notation that I would recommend this to someone who likes horses)