Colomba and Dante are Awesome

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When a woman is beheaded in a park outside Rome and her six-year-old son goes missing, the police unit assigned to the case sees an easy solution: they arrest the woman’s husband and await his confession. But the Chief of Rome’s  Major Crimes unit doubts things are so simple. Secretly, he lures to the case two of Italy’s top analytical minds: Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, and Dante Torre, a man who spent his childhood trapped inside a concrete silo. Fed through the gloved hand of a masked kidnapper who called himself “The Father,” Dante emerged from his ordeal with crippling claustrophobia but, also, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and hyper-observant capacities. All evidence suggests that the Father is back and active after being dormant for decades. Indeed, he has left tell-tale signs that signal he’s looking forward to a reunion with Dante. But when Columba and Dante begin following the ever-more-bizarre trail of clues, they grasp that what’s really going on is darker than they ever imagined. (From Goodreads).

This was one of the better thriller/mystery novels I have read so far this year. Wow. It was well written, filled with lots of twists and turns and the way everything is tied together is fantastic and makes the writing flow to keep you engaged and the pages turning.

The characters speak for themselves. They’re heavily flawed and are dealing with horrible pasts. I like both of them and Dante and Colomba do make a great team. Dante certainly has his quirks and his mannerisms due to his being a previous kidnapping victim. It feels like they certainly complement each other and they have an amazing chemistry when working together. They’re both very strong characters, no doubt.

If any of you have read The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius I found some similarities between Colomba and Alet in the fact they both don’t take crap and go beyond their limits to solve things and they’re certainly not afraid to take a swing or kick to make their point across (Colomba has a good share of that throughout the book)

The plot was really good and what I really enjoyed reading the most was the way everything was seamless and how it was put together. Everything that happened to Colomba and Dante was related and well explained. The explanation as to the origins of Colomba’s situation was very well done! I enjoyed that aspect of the plot. The only thing is, the book is rather long and the plot a bit on the slow side but it’s nevertheless a great read and going through the twists and turns was completely worth it.

And yes, there’s a cliffhanger ending. I can’t wait to read the second one.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

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When the Past Comes Back…

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Somewhere on the South African veldt, 1901: At the height of the Boer War, a doctor at a British concentration camp conducts a series of grim experiments on Boer prisoners. His work ends in chaos, but two children survive: a boy named Benjamin, and a girl named Tessa. One hundred years later, a disgraced young police constable is reassigned to the sleepy South African town of Unie, where she makes a terrifying discovery: the body of a young woman, burned beyond recognition. The crime soon leads her into her country’s violent past a past that includes her father, a high-ranking police official under the apartheid regime, and the children left behind in that long ago concentration camp. (From Goodreads)

This is not a book to read, leave and come back to later. The reader needs to read this carefully and put the pieces of the puzzle together to understand how every character was involved and when the loose ends have been tied, it’s an amazing read and we’re left with a wow experience at the final page of the book.

It’s definitely not a quick read but meant to be read slowly as the book spans through the early 1900’s right until present time. One must also follow who’s who in the book and keep in mind the characters. As the ones in the past are still playing in part in what’s happening in the present. Its written through different various points of view so the reader gets both sides of the story but it’s so well written and eventually the reader will be witness as to how the murder has taken place and how Alet is central to what’s happening. The plot was very well done. Some historical information may help to better understand the situation if needed, but otherwise it’s very clear and understandable. What may cause a problem is there’s a lot of terminology and references to various words in Afrikaans. Some words do make sense but others may need some dictionary to help understand it better.

What I enjoyed the most of this book is how characters are tied into the past and the present. The book goes back and forth and you get to see them as how they were in the past, and how they are in the present. Their personalities don’t really change, but you get to see how they evolve and what led them to their positions, and how all of them come together to make this murder case.

Alet is, from the start of the book one big mess (thanks to her past) and although she’s not that likable, she earned my sympathy at the end when her investigation reaches a climax. You certainly feel for her at the end of the book but at the same time admire what she went through to get the information to solve the murder case and you admire her strength afterwards for what she had to do, to put it behind her.

At times this book can be a hard read as corruption is rampant through the police force and those in higher positions are not entirely innocent or have shiny records of achievement. Yet because of their privilege and of who they are, they’ve gotten away with it. You feel the injustice and the resentment throughout the book. You feel sympathy towards those who have been wronged and bear the abuse. I really felt for Flippie, and Jacob. Trudie/Tessa who was central to this story along with Alet, her story was so interesting as all she wanted to was to live peacefully and lead a somewhat ‘normal’ life. It was interesting to read her story from when she was born to the present.

I really enjoyed this novel, I was hoping it would be a series, but perhaps it’s better if it is a stand alone. I don’t think Alet could have gone on that far with what she went through. I greatly recommend this book to anyone who has a liking to a good murder thriller, with historical fiction mixed in. It’s a long read but well worth the journey.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

This Savage Song is worth the hype

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Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. (From Goodreads)

I didn’t know what the hype was all about until I saw the second book released just recently. Took out this book and in the first day I was half way through. It was addicting and it moved at a fast pace.

It took me a little long to warm up to these characters and the setting. The setting is interesting, with the three different groups of monsters infesting the area. There was some sort of catastrophic event and the area was split into two. I rather like the way the world is being set up in this case. We have monsters. Not vampires, or werewolves, or some other mythical creatures we are familiar with. These are different and nothing that I have come across yet in the novels I have read in the past. I rather wish there was more history in regards to world building. Or at least, a bit more information but it doesn’t deter the reader from enjoying the novel.

Kate and August are both great characters and opposites. Kate, who is a complete bad ass and August who is trying to fit in and be normal. I like them because first of all, they aren’t filled with besotted love like some YA novels have out there or worse yet, they fall in love and the world crashes around them. I’m glad this book doesn’t have any of that nonsense. They both use each other as a means to an end but they end up being unspoken friends despite their differences. What I like the most about these two is, they both exposed themselves to vulnerability to each other and learnt a lot from their respective groups.

The plot itself is very interesting and readable. The action is good and not over the top dramatic. The twist near the end is predictable but what you didn’t see coming is the ending and you’re left with either being blown away or….well there’s no other is there? You’re just straight out blown away.

Definitely recommended for YA readers. I’m off to get the second one. I enjoyed this book immensely.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

American War is one of the must reads in your lifetime. You have to pick this one up.

0316182885.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgSarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be.  Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike. (From Goodreads)

I really enjoyed reading this book. It wasn’t a light read that’s for sure. Yet I liked following Sarat through her life and how she became to be.

Sarat’s childhood is pretty much ripped apart and continues its’ descent as the book goes on. She’s pretty much robbed of it – although she’s not like other children. She’s a tomboy, taller than most kids and sticks out like a sore thumb. She’s also very inquisitive and curious. Now if you sum those characteristics and consider the living conditions she’s in, and the setting, this is ripe for anyone to take advantage of these people and manipulation is key here.

You have to admit, you had to take a liking to Albert Gaines. He was proper, soft spoken, intelligent, was able to spin history as tales and stories for you to imagine. You knew what was underneath that exterior. You knew he had another agenda in his mind (it was evident that Sarat knew about this too, as did other camp inhabitants) but it didn’t matter. Living in squalor and having nowhere to go, someone with that much charisma can certainly be attractive, and Sarat was no exception. She felt special and wanted. She was perfectly manipulated into becoming an instrumental machine to their cause. You can’t blame Sarat for becoming what she ultimately came to be later in the book.

The setting and plot was good. It’s pretty much civil war in the USA and climate change has wrecked havoc in some parts of the East. You also have alternate future elements in the book where you have the Bouazizi empire who have expanded and wield influence in the world, and of course you have the North and the South fighting against each other again.

What really compliments the setting are the characters. There’s not many to choose from, since Sarat is really central to the story. Her family: Martina, Dana, and Simon are secondary characters. (Simon plays a larger part later in the latter half of the book). However, they’re very well rounded and you’re so attached to Sarat because she’s human. I loved Sarat for her strength and resilience. She displayed this even when she was a young child. That carried her throughout the novel and she maintained the strength up until the end. I really felt for her as she suffered immensely and yet you would completely understand her situation if it had happened to you. You would be out for revenge every chance you get. However it also goes to show how far her manipulation went and the consequences.

It’s definitely not a light read but one to read slowly and to be carefully thought through. Definitely recommended.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and I can’t believe I fell for the Darkling…

0316182885.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgSurrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart. (From Goodreads)

 

I was so immersed in the book I didn’t even realize what time it was when I was halfway (about 2 AM in the morning.) Yes it was that good. I loved everything about it.

The plot was fast moving and good – although it had some different elements, it is with the same template of: “Girl finds out she’s got extraordinary powers to make a difference in the world and is sent to a boarding school to enhance those skills”. Although it’s not any different from those types of books out there, the characters and the setting make up for it and provides an exciting read.

It seems like the language is based on Russian words (correct me if I’m wrong here.) With the terminology and setting loosely based on the language. I found this pretty interesting and fun to read, it certainly does provide a particular theme and flavor to the novel which adds to the joy of reading the book.

Character wise, I loved just about everyone in the book. Alina isn’t your typical character. She’s got a wry humor and has a tendency to be hard on herself. I really like her though. She’s not a damsel in distress, she’s a tomboy, but when push comes to shove she can look like a girly girl and enjoy it if she wants to. Her character develops throughout the book and she goes through some real tough times. She’s not whiny about it but she takes it all in almost to the point of admitting self defeat. I actually liked reading this about her. It’s makes her more human.

 

*****spoilers below you’ve been warned*****

Now who to choose? Mal or the Darkling? I fell for the Darkling. I really did. I loved his mystery and his charm and I wanted to kick myself in the butt for falling for him as hard as Alina did. He just HAD to be the bad one. Well, sometimes we just fall for the bad ones don’t we? 😉

I liked Mal too though. He was everything you wanted in a guy friend about to be boyfriend. He was just as charming but he had the good boy persona on him. I’d have to say, Alina had some good prospects (if only the Darkling didn’t have such a horrible agenda.)

Overall I loved this book and I’m definitely going to grab the second one. Can’t wait to see what happens!

I give it a 9/10

Mischling by Affinity Konar makes you feel what the characters feel. It’s beautifully written.

0316182885.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgStasha must care for: the funny, the future, the bad. It’s 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain. That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks–a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin–travel through Poland’s devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it. (From Goodreads)

I don’t know what to say except it was a beautifully written novel given the subject matter. It’s never easy to write about this particular period in history and never will be. However at least what an author can do is make it readable and make it a good story worthwhile to read.

You really do feel for Stasha and Pearl once they’re herded into the camp and are used as experimental fodder to play with. You see both of them mature rapidly and have their childhoods robbed from them near the start of the novel. They were already close to begin with yet because of the circumstances they’re closer with them trying to hold and support each other. It’s almost heartbreaking to read because without one, the other just simply feels they don’t exist.

As to when Pearl disappears, you feel the separation anxiety as you progress through the novel. You feel Stasha’s pain and emptiness. Her other half is gone and she has no idea if she’s alive or not. You can feel the void within Stasha and as you continue reading, you’re still feeling the pain and you’re wondering throughout the novel if she will ever see Pearl again. This is great writing on the authors part as you can distinctly feel what the characters are feeling throughout the novel.

There’s a small cast of characters in this book. Some stand out more than others. Bruna stood out for me a lot. I loved every aspect of her and her strength. Then you have Peter, Feliks and the nursing staff at the camp. You don’t get attached to them as much as Pearl and Stasha are the main ones to be focused on. However, for me, I really loved Bruna.

The only criticism I would have for this book is I found it sometimes a little too wordy and poetic at times. It made it for some areas of the book hard to follow – it would be best to avoid this type of writing. Yes it sets the mood and makes it melancholy but the subject matter itself is already sad and tragic to begin with. I believe that’s enough as it is.

Definitely recommended for those that are interested in this particular historical period.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

#urbanfantasy at its’ finest #bookreview of Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

0316182885.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgNecromancer is such an ugly word, but it’s a title Eric Carter is stuck with. He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He’s turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course. When he left L.A. fifteen years ago he thought he’d never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him. But now his sister’s been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why. Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it’s the patron saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who’s taken an unusually keen interest in him. Carter’s going to find out who did it and he’s going to make them pay. As long as they don’t kill him first. (From Goodreads)

This is a perfect book for you to get out of your reading rut and to get back into your reading groove! It’s got everything you needed. Lots of action, a protagonist that tries to have a heart but doesn’t because he still ends up looking like the jackalope of the year. Wow. Where do I start with this one.

Eric is the lone wolf type of character who although he tries to reach out and have some friends- sometimes it’s just not a great idea. Seems like everything around him likes  to crash and burn. Don’t mistake that for him being a tragic hero. He’s a jerk all right. Yet he’s a jerk because of what he’s gone through and what he’s put his loved ones through. That’s what makes his character readable and what makes the book a good one. Here, you don’t have the typical hero who’s out to save the day and you don’t have the sad sap that’s out to prove himself. He did some bad things, left town, and came back and is most likely going to do more bad things. It’s about time we read an anti hero like Eric.

Plot wise, it’s pretty straight forward. Lots of supernatural elements and magic. Lots of action and fighting. There’s not much guess work but it’s pretty much figured out who did what and why (although the revelation at the end paves the way for the next book). I rather like the Santa Muerte plot arc. I think there’s going to be more where that came from and can’t wait to read more. Setting wise, it’s generic but when it gets to the supernatural elements with the ghosts and how Eric can travel between both worlds makes it more interesting (the part where he goes to find Santa Muerte is even better it’s like alternative worlds with a supernatural twist to it)

Loved the book, and I’ll keep going with this series. If you’re into The Dresden Files, or Urban Fantasy with a jerk anti hero this is the book to read. It’s quick and fast paced if you’re fully immersed in the book as I was then this book will be finished in no time.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

(One mark off because I hated the romance in it. The dude was hurt and looked like a truck hit him and he still can have some booty? I think not. Ain’t got time for that when I want to heal up.)