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review 2017-11-02 21:21
A thoroughly entertaining sequel to Rebel of the Sands...
Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands) - Alwyn Hamilton

Book Title:  Traitor to the Throne

Author:  Alwyn Hamilton

Narration:  Soneela Nankani

Series:  Rebel of the Sands #2

Genre:  YA, Fantasy

Setting:  Maraji

Source:  Audiobook (Library)

 

 

 

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Plot:  4.2/5

Main Characters:  5/5

Secondary Characters:  5/5

The Feels:  4.5/5

Addictiveness:  4/5

Theme or Tone:  5/5

Flow (Writing Style):  4/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4.5/5

Originality:  5/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Narration:  5/5

Ending:  4.2/5  Cliffhanger:  Yes!

Steam Factor 0-5:  2

Total:  4.3/5 STARS - GRADE=A-

 

 

 

Once I could keep most of the characters straight on who is who, I found myself enjoying this, and what amazing characters they are.  Amani is with-a-doubt one of my favorite YA heroines of all time.   She isn't whiny, she uses her head and she's kind of bad-ass too.  I did really miss Jin, we didn't get nearly enough of him.  I really wish we could get inside his head, just once, at least.  Also, the narration is excellently done by Soneela Nankani.  

 

Will I continue this series⇜  Yes, I will…I need to not wait so long, though, because I was lost for a bit on this one.  There's a lot of names to keep straight.  Even with the first chapter re-capping what happened in the book one. Hero at the Fall is due out in March of 2018.

 

 

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review 2017-10-13 20:38
The Fifth Element by Jørgen Brekke
The Fifth Element: A Novel (Odd Singsaker) - Jorgen Brekke

I started reading this in Norwegian shortly after it came out four years ago, but then my Norwegian neighbour wanted it back to lend to someone else, as I was taking too long. So when I saw it had been translated to English, I immediately put it on my 'to-read' list, and I'm glad I did. The American English translation is excellent.

 

The book isn't written chronologically, but jumps back and forth in time from different POV's. It takes some getting used to, but, once done, it's an absorbing read. 

 

It's very 'Scandi noire': short sentences, spare descriptions that let the reader fill in the blanks, yet always enough to keep building the pressure in some areas, yet letting it out in others.

 

For me, the underlying theme is, what is evil? Is it banal, as Hannah Arendt wrote? Do good people do evil things, and evil people good things? When do we cross the line from good to evil? Are we all a mix of both? There are no answers here, just many questions, if the reader is one who muses over those sorts of things.

 

But that's the subtext. The plot itself is a good, solid thriller. Here's the American publisher's blurb:

 

Police Inspector Odd Singsaker has been captured, imprisoned on an island off the Northern coast of Norway. He wakes to find himself holding a shotgun. Next to him is a corpse. But what events led him to this point? And how did he get here?

A few weeks earlier, Felicia, his wife, disappeared. Though he didn’t know it, she was trying to find her way back to Odd to reconcile, but then she vanished into a snowstorm. Possibly involved is a corrupt, coldblooded cop from Oslo, a devious college student who’s stolen a great deal of cocaine from drug dealers, and a hit man hired by the drug dealers who have been robbed. All of these lives intersect with Odd’s as he searches for Felicia.

 

The Fifth Element is ultimately the story of what happened to Felicia Stone. Within that journey, brutal crimes are uncovered, tenacious love shines through, and chilling characters with nothing to lose will stop at nothing to get what they want. Jorgen Brekke once again delivers a chilling thriller that readers will tear through to unravel what happened-and why.

 

I can understand why the existential undertones of the book are played dow--they wouldn't exactly sell it to an American market, but I've been living in Denmark for so long I've come to expect them. The first books I ever read in Danish were Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's, which, I later read, are the pillars of crime fiction from the 70's on. 

 

Recommended.

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text 2017-10-09 23:29
Reluctant Hero by @DebraWebbAuthor @ReganBlack
Reluctant Hero (Harlequin Intrigue) - Regan Black,Debra Webb

A thoroughly enjoyable suspense read with a nice hook. Here's the blurb:

 

For top security expert Parker Lawton, the anonymous threat is explosive. Return the gold stolen during his intelligence unit's last Iraq mission—or they'll each be hunted down. And when one of his men is killed just before meeting investigative reporter Rebecca Wallace, he must take her under his "protection." But her persistence in getting the real story is even more dangerous—and irresistible. 

For a dashing war hero, Parker is the most guilty-acting innocent man Becca has ever seen. Still, working with him is the only way to stay ahead of a ruthless enemy. And as her instincts and Parker's skills hone in on the truth, trusting the desire simmering between them could be their only chance—or the last move they'll ever make.

 

I though V for Vendetta when I read the beginning of the book, and there are a few similarities. Except Parker realises he's made a mistake shortly after making it, and that's where the similarity ends. I liked the way it's really Becca who's the emotional rock. Parker Lawton is no traditional Alpha: he lets emotions get in the way of common sense, and he makes a few bad decisions because of it. Which only makes him more human and sympathetic, despite basically kidnapping Becca. It's explained in the book, and the explanation rings true in the novel's world.

 

I've mentioned before that I find it irritating when the reader is constantly reminded by characters how "strong" the female protagonist is. That should be evident by her words and actions. It happens once in this book, and it's Parker thinking it while he was alone. And, given his own gung-ho military background, it's perfectly reasonable he'd be surprised given Becca's background.

 

The plot is very suspenseful but it's a bit more in the background, which is necessary given that circumstances dictate a slower development of the romantic interest.

 

<Sort of digression> very many romances use the trope of the first attempt at bonking being interrupted to build up the tension before they finally 'do it'. I remember wondering, the first time I read a modern romance at the beginning of this century, what the purpose was. Then I remembered the circus and the trapeze artists. The pièce de resistance was always 'the most difficult manoeuvre ever attempted'. And they always failed the first two times, and made it on the third. If they made it on the first try, what was so difficult about it? The equivalent in pro wrestling are false finishes, where the 'babyface' (hero) almost pins the 'heel' villain at the end, getting to a two and three-quarter count twice or thrice before finally finishing him off by getting the three count. It builds up tension the same way. Easy is boring. <end digression> 

 

Recommended. 

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review 2017-10-06 09:35
Daddy Defender by @janiecrouch
Daddy Defender (Omega Sector: Under Siege) - Janie Crouch

I look forward to every new Intrigue from Janie crouch, and this one is another winner. A fleshed-out recurring villain, a well constructed suspense plot, a terrific cast of characters whom we recognise from the other books in the series, and a romance that is both touching and funny.

 

Here's the blurb:

 

What a serious case of mistaken identity. Ashton Fitzgerald is no unassuming handyman but a highly trained sharpshooter intent on protecting Summer Worrall and her baby daughter. The Omega SWAT member has a debt to pay and he isn't about to let Summer out of his sights. 

For someone else has set their own sights on the lovely widow. Her unexpected relationship with Ashton has put Summer and her child straight into a madman's line of fire. Suddenly a mission to make amends becomes Ashton's quest to defend this little family with his very life. 

 

The mistaken identity hook is great, and provides an entertaining contrast to the very suspenseful plot. 

 

Janie Crouch, along with Paula Graves (grinding Appalachian poverty), Elle James (the plight of American family farmers) and Elizabeth Heiter (terrible US adoption system) has underlying themes in her books that lend richness and depth to them. In the current series, there's Damien Freihof, a demagogue who uses people as pawns in his own game (and Freihof's next pawns are a family called Trumpold).

 

One of my favourite books in this series is Man of Action, with the romance between Brandon and Andrea. There's an underlying theme of how stigma hurts. I wrote about it here One of my fave characters from that book, stripper Keira Spencer, may even get her own story soon. I hope so; she's a wise person.

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review 2017-10-02 23:29
Pine Lake by Amanda Stevens
Pine Lake (Harlequin Intrigue) - Amanda Stevens

Terrific book! The plot layers peel away very well, and the dialogue is excellent and as realistic as possible given the limitations of the format. And this is important, as this a very dialogue-heavy book. 

 

Here's  the blurb:

 

The murder of security expert Jack King’s girlfriend has haunted him for fifteen years. Returning to Pine Lake, Texas, where the townsfolk still consider him suspect, might not be the smartest move, but a killer seems to be holding up a mirror to his past. The same witness to this new murder was also present the night Jack’s girlfriend dieds…but both times, she was sound asleep…

Sleepwalking has gotten Olive Belmont into some sticky situations. Being the witness to both murders may have put her on the killer’s list. Even so, she doesn’t think the killer is Jack and is willing to help him. But will putting his past to rest ease her mind or leave her with even greater nightmares?

 

The descriptive passages are spare, yet work well in setting the unsettling mood. Everyone has secrets, and Jack and Olive can only trust each other as everyone else has a skeleton in the closet.

 

Highly recommended.

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