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  • Rebekah James 4:00 pm on June 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kop, , science fiction,   

    Kop – Warren Hammond 


    Normally when I write a review, I tell you what I liked about the book, the characters and anything else that stood out for me. I Jot down a few notes when I finish the book, and I will pick it up again and flip through my favorite passages as I write the review. I didn’t do that this time because the truth is, I didn’t like this book.  I know how much effort and stress goes into writing a book, so I wasn’t going to post a review at all, but someone pointed out that I currently have no negative reviews up and I need to be fair about what I liked or didn’t about my reviews. With apologies in advance, here goes.

    Kop is set on a planet that is roughly 10-year’s space travel away from Earth. The entire population of the planet lives in one of two cities, and the majority of them are refugees living in homeless tent camps because the original economy has collapsed. In this setting, a group of dirty cops is collaborating with the local mafia to have control of pretty much everything. The new mayor however has other ideas.

    There are a few problems with world consistency here. While I can accept that travel from earth to this planet would take 10 years, the author has also set the same 10-year communication delay. Ok, except that the bad guys (or perhaps, worse guys in this case since there are no clearly defined “good” guys) don’t seem to have the same delay issues. They seem to come, go, and communicate as they please. there are also inconsistencies in the level of technology available – for example, there is a character who has electric implants in her skin (very advanced) and yet we are also told that even basic computers aren’t available.

    Enter our main character, Juno, a crooked cop who is indistinguishable from a street thug, or any other mob enforcer. The problem  is that, while he is retiring from being a thug, it isn’t because of his hidden heart of gold, or anything else even vaguely noble. He has no tortured inner soul that longs to be free of this life of evil and thus redeem himself, and give us a something to sympathize with. He’s just getting old and worried he can’t keep up with the young guys who are beating him up now and spends a lot of time bemoaning the fact. When he isn’t extorting local barkeeps, he proves his manliness by pushing around and causing the death of, a disabled teen. Even in the flashbacks to his younger years, there isn’t anything likable about him. When his best friend decides to take over the city by being worse than the bad guys are, Juno hardly even stops to think before agreeing to go along with the plot. While character flaws make for interesting characters, Juno is so flawed he is indistinguishable from the villain, who in this case is the new mayor who wants to clean up the corrupt police department. It probably would have helped if we had seen something of the new mayor and the other supposed “bad guys”, but sadly we are only given a small glimpse that doesn’t really tell us why we are supposed to side with Juno. The only character growth  is when Juno decides to not cheat on his wife with his partner, Maggie who clearly isn’t even interested in him, and he realizes he is old enough to be her father. Yay, I think.

    There is a lot of action in the story, but not all of it actually serves to further the plot. Some scenes feel like they are there more for the sake of adding words than anything else. At first, I attributed this to my own dislike of overly violent and gory scenes, but as a few more of them piled in, it seemed to me that the gore did little to further the plot and many of the scenes left me confused and disgusted rather than intrigued or informed. In the end, I cared so little about Juno and his crew that I didn’t finish the last two chapters of the book and forgot that I didn’t finish. My husband recapped for me a couple of weeks later. My husband did like the book, and the next one. He can tell you about Juno’s revenge for being knocked out of his position of power but honestly, I needed something more than a corrupt cop angry at being caught to keep my interest in this book and really wasn’t concerned enough to pick up the next one.

     
  • Rebekah James 2:12 pm on June 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Charley Davidson Series, Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right, , paranormal, , urban fantasy   

    First Grave on the Right – Darynda Jones 


    A woman’s work is never done – especially when that woman is a grim reaper – the Grim Reaper in fact. Turns out, the job is exhausting, but it does have its advantages, like solving crimes. When you can simply ask the dead who it was who killed them, it’s all fairly routine at this point for Charlotte “Charley” Davidson. So what happens when Charley runs into a someone who isn’t dead, but apparently isn’t really alive either? Who also happens to be really really hot? Well, even a Grim Reaper has problems.

    I have to say, I love this book. When it was first recommended to me, I was hesitant to go for yet another entry into the somewhat overpopulated hard-as-nails-private-detective-chick grouping, as much as I admire strong female characters, there seem to be a lot of female private detectives in the Urban Fantasy genre The first chapter lured me in however. Darynda Jones has created a character that has just the right amount of sarcastic attitude, enough internal conflict to propel an entire series, and of course, has managed to build a solid mystery. She even solved the end leaving room for the soon to be released Second Grave on the Left without leaving you on a cliffhanger.

    The pacing is very tight here with two separate and unrelated plots woven around one another skillfully. While they aren’t really related – neither one is relegated to subplot – those are present too and resolved neatly as well. Jones has a clear vision of who her characters are, and shares just enough of their back-stories that we want to know more about them, but again, we are spared a long, boring info dump. Our characters are very busy, no sitting around in introspection, and even when that is exactly what they are doing – the introspection is just as busy as the main storylines and ultimately very much a part of the plot. Information is given as needed. My only observation is that if anything, there are characters introduced who are parts of various storylines that we probably would have liked to know a little more about. Jones is writing with the premise that you will be intrigued enough that you will want to read the next book to find out what she left out this time. In this case at least, she is right.

    My Review this time -4 out of 5 stars

     
    • Cinette 10:37 pm on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I haven’t heard of this one. It’s sounds awesome; I’ll have to check it out!

  • Rebekah James 2:07 pm on June 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Site relaunch 


    As you may have noticed, I have been undergoing some changes here.  Many of the original blogs have been reposted, but this has been rebuilt from the original blog. Yes, I know right now it is mostly book reviews – that is what I have the most of sitting around, but dont worry – there are definitely more travel stories, and other postings coming soon!

     
  • Rebekah James 3:21 pm on June 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Labyrinth (Greywalker Series #5) by Kat Richardson 


    Meet Harper Blaine.  She is tough, gritty and makes her living as a private investigator.  She also sees ghosts. But not just ghosts,Harper sees the Grey – the place that exists between this world and the next – overlaid like a veil on everything she sees.  It also means that spot the others in this world – Vampires and other supernatural creatures. She has been manipulated by these forces and now is realizing just how far they have gone to make her what she is.
    This is the 5th book in the Greywalker series, and for those new to the game, probably not the best place to start since it is tying up a long story arc that began in the first book.  As always, the story is fast moving, and Richardson has a knack for adding just enough detail about the scene without cluttering the writing.  Some of the story lines here have been pulled through all the way from the first book, including those wonderful details that at the time stood out, and suddenly make sense.  Richardson does extensive research on her books, as talked about on her webpage (http://katrichardson.com/) and it definitely shows.   Harper has moved through denial, anger, to acceptance of her new abilities and the strange world it has opened up for her.  Now in this book is she learning what her power really means.  She is dealing with issues from her past, and in a way growing.   Only one observation this time – I love Kat Richardson’s books, I really do, but I found myself frustrated a little bit that Harper this time who seems to be determined to be so hard boiled and independent it reduces her love interest, a strong and fascinating character on his own, to begging for her to let him in on the story.

    My review this time – 4 out of 5 stars.

     
  • Rebekah James 8:00 am on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Jon F. Merz, Lawton Vampire Series, , The Invoker, , vampires,   

    The Invoker by Jon F. Merz 


    On a rainy autumn night in Boston, Lawton is sent to terminate a man whom he believes is a drug dealer. It is just another day in the life of a fixer – a guardian of the secret vampire society that lives within our own, and has its own rules and Council. As the man lays dying, Lawton realizes that there is something wrong with the entire situation and the man – who pleads with Lawton to protect his son – is not at all what he thought. Lawton soon finds himself caught up in a tangle that leads him on an around the world chase, and tied to a 10 year old boy with a remarkable talent.

    This is the second of Jon F. Merz’s Lawton series, and if you are looking for vampires that sparkle, chase after waitresses or mope about in old castles, this isn’t the book to read. (Though admittedly, there is a lot of sex appeal going on, even though in this particular story there is no romantic line.) As with the first book, there is little time spent developing the world, we are thrown right into the story from the first opening scene. However, Merz has clearly done his homework, and has built a fully formed and airtight world that he never strays from. We get enough explanation to know what is going on, but not enough that you lose the flow of what is happening. Actions first, explanations later – exactly what you would expect from someone like Lawson, a vampire who is part police officer, part hit man and all action hero. Merz has taken an otherwise questionable character and made him complex, sympathetic and dare I say it – human. Lawson has to take time to recover from injuries (granted not as long as a human would, but still) has weaknesses, gets confused and has moral dilemmas. We can relate to him.

    The pacing is very good on this novel – we are kept running right along with Lawson and his charge. There is of course the question of what a vampire action hero does with a 10-year-old boy in tow, so there are the curious choices of babysitters. Just at the point where I was starting to think, “How stupid are the bad guys they aren’t noticing the kid is with the sitter instead” Merz throws in a twist that sends the story off in a different direction. The writing is excellent and there are the continuations of subplots from the first book that clearly are going to be carrying over through the series. There is enough romantic interest thrown in to make Lawson complex, not enough to interfere with the story line, and even the “darlings,” characters that seem untouchable are not invincible or immune to being killed. The only complaint I have – out of the four Lawson novels I have read so far – the bad guy is always part of, or sanctioned in some way by the Council, and they are predictably pissed off at Lawson. While these are more thriller/suspense than mystery, it makes one wonder if the five or six people on the council were really so rotten, why haven’t the rest of the vampires booted them out by now? Even bad presidents are voted out eventually. It is strange that these Council members have been in place for several hundred years and no one has noticed them being evil until now.

    My review this time – 4 out of 5 stars

    The Invoker by Jon F. Merz

     
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