Darktown is a Must Read. Especially Now.

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgResponding from pressure on high, the Atlanta police department is forced to hire its first black officers in 1948. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers and their authority is limited: They can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they can’t even use the police headquarters and must instead operate out of the basement of a gym. When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up fatally beaten, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust the community has put in them, and even their own safety to investigate her death. Their efforts bring them up against an old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood like his own, and Dunlow’s young partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. (From Goodreads)

This is such a great powerful read. On one hand you feel like going into the book and start punching every bigot you see since they’re such awful hateful people. Yet on the other hand, you feel for Boggs and Smith. They’re trying so hard to elevate themselves and make everything a better place for the community and pretty much for their race. Yet they’re non stop met with opposition from both sides and it’s disheartening to see yet the most awful thing about all of this is, this all happened in the last century. It’s mind blowing and horrible how humans are but it’s a reality we all must know and be aware of.

The plot itself was very interesting and the pace is steady. There’s plenty of characters to read about and the supporting characters gives the story plenty of substance. The emotions and tensions are dutifully felt in the book and you can only read on with the feeling of hopelessness as Boggs and Smith attempt to try and do their jobs as best as they can but they’re thwarted at every turn. It’s amazing they stick with the job, and admirable because of the amazing amount of strength and grit they display to go through all the obstacles they face while trying to do their investigation.

The plot was also good at showing both sides of the story. Besides Boggs and Smith you also have Rakestraw who seems more moderate thinking than the rest of the characters, his behavior is certainly different and he tries to be understanding – however still maintaining his superiority mentality. It’s a start I suppose to eradicate this kind of behavior in a character but you can’t help but feel frustrated as this type of hatred and belief that is so deeply ingrained in everything; in society, thinking, in life. It’s horrible to see and to think this type of behavior still persists in other forms and methods.

Definitely recommend this read despite the awful things some characters do in the book. It’s eye opening and gripping read. It will elicit powerful emotions but it’s accurate and detailed. No sugar coating here but the truth. Worth the read.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

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Medical Thriller with a Steady Plot..

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Can you love someone to death?  Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others claim she’s obsessed and can’t stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter’s expense. Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, doctors intervene and immediately suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what’s going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand? (From Goodreads)

The pace of this plot was steady and although it did keep your reading and page turning, there just didn’t seem to be enough to get me to really like the book. Yes I was intrigued by what was going to happen next, if everything was really all in Becky’s head, if there were other things behind it, or if Meghan really was sick with some weird rare condition.

The mystery aspect of it was not too bad and getting to the bottom of it was basically what carried the novel for me. It did feel like bits here and there were dragging and by the last third of the book I pretty much wanted it over with as it was just getting too much. You really do feel for Meghan here because she’s caught between both her parents and you can feel her isolation.

I don’t feel much for the other characters mentioned in the book. They’re really not that likable – Meghan would probably be the one I like the most in this book but even then her personality is flat and not that much substance is put into anyone.

The last third of the book got me to forgive the slow dragging plot. It was like watching an avalanche go down a hill and the pace got super quick after that. It was enough to get me to forgive the book for the slow dragging plot as I pretty much wanted to know what was the final outcome and what was the ending of it all.

Slow plot, great mystery aspect with bland characters, it’s an interesting read and if you’re into the slow build up to a climactic ending, then by all means read it. It was okay for me.

I give it 6 out of 10.

Thank you St Martin’s Press for the Review Copy!

Anti Heroes are Awesome

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They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of enchanted black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda. Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amid the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—the young noblewoman Tyannon—to guarantee his escape. Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of Audriss—an upstart warlord following Rebaine’s old path of conquest—can stir the retired warrior to action. Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons. Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine once more dons the armor of the Terror of the East and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer. Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda . . . well, to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement. But even if Rebaine can convince his onetime comrades to join him, he faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to? (From Goodreads)

I haven’t read a good fantasy in such a long time! And this one was excellent! It’s fun to see a bunch of misfit anti heroes come together to try and save the world because not only did they leave on bad terms back then in the day, Corvis actually had the galls to come back to ask them for favors (we all had that one friend didn’t we?)

Each of the characters have their distinct quirk and personality. Also they’re not afraid to tell Corvis how it is (and he surprisingly takes it…which makes them a more fun bunch to read) I can’t really say I have a favorite although I admit I was disappointed in Khanda towards the last half of the book. He definitely had the best and more fun personality to read on but he just *had* to do it didn’t he? (you’ll see when you finish the book)

The plot had a steady pace and it was good. I was actually surprised as to who the Serpent really was as you’d think it was obvious. It was a good surprise and the action in the last third of the book was massive with lots of action. Although it gets pretty dark at times and Corvis isn’t a hero per se (more like a terrorizing horrible despot who decimates towns and villages to his liking) it has black comedy elements in it and overall because of this provides a ‘lightness’ to the story. It helps that the cast of characters have witty retorts and comebacks which also provides a few laughs here and there.

The world building and setting is pretty much your standard fantasy setting that is portrayed in most novels of the genre out there. Nevertheless it doesn’t take away from the novel and still provides a good foundation for it.

A plot rich with a variety of characters, good light banter, and some action is what makes up this book in a nutshell. I definitely recommend it as it was an enjoyable read.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Eye Opening Retelling of The Iliad

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The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war’s outcome. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army. When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and coolly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position, able to observe the two men driving the Greek army in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate not only of Briseis’s people but also of the ancient world at large.Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war—the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead—all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives—and it is nothing short of magnificent. (From Goodreads)

This is a retelling of The Iliad – no need to read it however a bit of the basics of it would help you understand this book more, just for background information.

It can be a rather difficult read. Not to say it’s hard to understand, but more of the detailed subject matter. It’s shocking to read when these women are going through an era where war is prevalent, and the best outcome for them is to be a trophy, instead of a slave. (Although, those two terms are pretty much the same thing if you think about it) It’s scary, and eye opening at the same time. These women go through a lot of trauma and Briseis has it slightly better than the other women out there (which says a lot). They’re pretty much treated like cattle and nothing could be done with it. Unfortunately this is the norm during war.

The relationship between Briseis and Achilles was interesting. Despite the conqueror and war trophy titles, it develops and evolves as Achilles goes though life changing events through the novel. You do however, have a heart for Patroclus. He seemed more human and his friendship with Briseis is what might have kept her going through all this time in the book. In a sense too, she also benefited from being with Achilles (albeit, not her choice)

This is definitely word a read through if you’re interested in Greek Mythology and retellings this is worth the read, despite the slow but steady pace. The retelling of the Iliad from Briseis’ point of view is a good one.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

 

B Movie Book, Quick and Disappointing

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Three went in. Three came out. None even a shadow of who they once were. When their car breaks down, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his brother Mike walk through a winter storm to take refuge in a nearby town called Purity Springs. When they arrive, the emergency sirens are blaring and the small farming town seems abandoned. With no other shelter, they spend the night in an empty house. But they soon discover that not everything in Purity Springs is as it seems. When the town’s inhabitants suddenly appear the next morning, Dee, Luke, and Mike find themselves at the mercy of the charismatic leader, Elijah Hawkins, who plans to make Dee his new wife. Elijah’s son, Joseph, offers to help them escape . . . but the price of his help may be more than Dee and her friends can bear. (From Goodreads)

This one read out like a B movie. Entertaining for the most part, but then you’re left empty and at times it felt like you were cheated out of a potentially good story. It was over so quickly hence why you get the feeling you were cheated. Which is too bad. The plot had promise, but it fell short.

It started off well. Just enough to get your attention, the creep factor was all set. A breadcrumb trail was set up and it was good enough to keep the plot going steady. Considering the length of the story, you don’t really have the time to connect with the characters, which is all right. I suppose the same would be said of characters in a horror movie. You’re just there to see their untimely end 😉

Despite there being a shocking moment in the book, it wasn’t enough to redeem the plot. There were so many unanswered questions and a rather drab mediocre last third of the book. You wanted to know so much and yet nothing much was produced. I’m not sure if that was meant to be a teaser but it was disappointing.

It was a quick read, this could be considered something to read in between books, or a light one to pass the time. Nothing eye opening or any wow factor will redeem this one. You’re not going to miss much if you pass this on.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

This one had so much Promise!! :(

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Germany, 1943: Twenty-six-year-old Rosa Sauer’s parents are gone, and her husband Gregor is far away, fighting on the front lines of WWII. Impoverished and alone, she makes the fateful decision to leave war-torn Berlin to live with her in-laws in the countryside, thinking she’ll find refuge there. But one morning, the SS come to tell her she has been conscripted to be one of Hitler’s tasters: three times a day, she and nine other women go to his secret headquarters, the Wolf’s Lair, to eat his meals before he does. Forced to eat what might kill them, the tasters begin to divide into The Fanatics, those loyal to Hitler, and the women like Rosa who insist they aren’t Nazis, even as they risk their lives every day for Hitler’s.

As secrets and resentments grow, this unlikely sisterhood reaches its own dramatic climax. What’s more, one of Rosa’s SS guards has become dangerously familiar, and the war is worsening outside. As the months pass, it becomes increasingly clear that Rosa and everyone she knows are on the wrong side of history. (From Goodreads)

I was hyped that I got this book for review. It had such an interesting historical point of view and a lot of promise. However I was a bit disappointed with the way it was written and the entire plot of the book wasn’t really what I was expecting.

Perhaps it is because this was translated from its’ original language (Italian) so there may be several instances of the writing being ‘lost in translation’. I just found the writing style filled with so much ‘fluff’. Fluff in a sense where there was so much rambling and wordiness. This is where it feels like the author is trying to make the story more ‘lyrical and poetic’ and you’re left with a very slow drawn out plot, a very uninteresting main character, and it feels like you’re watching one of those black and white art movies where some parts just don’t make sense. I was left after some chapters wondering what was I reading and why was this even in the story. It didn’t make sense and it’s taking up space in the story where there should be more interesting things mentioned.

The chapters were sometimes written out of order, there were moments of how Rosa and Gregor met and their first moments of marriage, then it shifts back to Rosa being taste tester for Hitler. Then it goes back even further to Rosa’s childhood, or her past moments in Berlin, and then as the book ends there’s more time jumping. It’s not cohesive and it doesn’t let the plot flow. It also makes you wonder what the purpose of it was. So if it weren’t for this, the plot would have been more smooth and easier to read.

The plot was flat and I was expecting a lot more. There were key moments in the plot where there were moments of interest. Such as the bombing of the Wolf’s Lair, and Ziegler’s confessions of ‘working’ in Eastern Europe. It was things like these that saved the story from becoming a did not finish for me.

The characters in the book were uninteresting and bland. Rosa wasn’t much likeable. I rather preferred Elfriede because she had more character and substance to her. Other than Elfriede though, the other characters don’t really stand out much. The plot including Elfriede really stood out to me. Unfortunately it was over rather quickly.

I wish I could like this book better, but I couldn’t. The writing was too much for me, the plot was flat and lacked flow. I wish knowing the outcome of some of these characters, as it would have satiated my curiosity and would have made a good amount of closure in the plot and characters. Sad to say, this was a disappointing read for me.

I give it a 4 out of 10.

Thank you Flatiron Books for the review copy!

Late to the Party on this one..

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After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. (From Goodreads)

Pardon me I’m extremely late to the party for this one. There’s so much love for this series and now that I finally had the opportunity to read it, I know now why there’s a lot of talk about it. It’s a magnificent start to what looks like a really good series.

It can be somewhat on parallel with Hunger Games except on a fantasy setting and sans the dystopia. Celaena is quite the character to like. She’s witty, smart, she’s got the talk and has the walk to prove it, she’s everything you like in a strong female character and more. I love her sass and overall personality.

The plot itself was good and engaging to read. There’s a mix of everything. Mystery, intrigue, action, and romance. I’d have to say it’s a little bit too much of a mix. I was really more into reading about the competition and Celaena’s skills. The mystery aspect did not really capture my attention and didn’t think it was very exciting. Sure, it did keep you guessing but it wasn’t filled with any twists and turns one might expect in a mystery.  The romance was all right although I also didn’t think a love triangle was necessary in this one. (It was pretty hard to choose which one of the two were better. They both had their qualities that made them likable so I’m going to sit on the fence and be neutral on this)

I also enjoyed reading into Celaena’s and Nehemia’s friendship. I rather liked the bond they shared and Nehemia can hold her own as well so I liked how the two of them shared some common ground.

The ending was excellent and I’m going to be reading the rest of this. I hear it gets better! So I’m looking forward to getting the second.

I give it an 8 out of 10.