Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Web of lies by Jennifer Estep

Web of lies is the second book in the Elemental assassin novel series and there are ***SPOILERS*** in this review if you have not already read book one, Spider's bite, so don't read any further unless you are prepared to come across some ***SPOILERS***

Since she retired from the game and hung up her knives, Gin Blanco has been playing the role of store owner and eternal student very convincingly - to the point where two young idiots decide that the Pork Pit is the perfect target for a robbery.  Taking out two young punks isn't much of a challenge, even if one of them does have some elemental magic to call upon, but stopping them creates more than a small headache for Gin when daddy dearest decides to play hardball to keep his son out of jail.  A little harassment is nothing Gin can't handle, but when someone tries to assassinate one of her customers in an attack she thought was aimed at her, Gin begins to realise that maybe the Spider shouldn't stay in retirement after all, that her skills as an assassin may just help her be one of the good guys for a change - especially in the eyes of one Detective Donovan Caine.

The months since Fletcher died have been kind of lonely for Gin, despite the company she gets from spending time with Sophia and Finn, but nothing makes her happier than spending time with Detective Caine, and when they are both drawn into the case of protecting Violet Fox and her grandfather it looks as though things might be looking up for Gin.  With the bad guys prepared to use deadly force, including attacking a young girl like Violet, it looks as though Gin's unique talents for providing a swift and painless (or sometimes not so painless) death are in dire need again.  Things also look really promising when Detective Caine doesn't back down from the case even though he knows Gin is looking for a final solution to the problem of Tobias Dawson.

Web of lies builds on the strengths of Spider's bite and I look forward to reading more of the series as I read them around other things that are waiting to be read and reviewed.  Estep has a deft touch for blending together magic, action, adventure, and mystery with just a little bit of sex on the side to keep everyone happy.  It does appear that this series is published under two different titles as this book is also published as Spider's web.

If you like this book then try:
  • Spider's bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Daughter of smoke and bone by Laini Taylor
  • The demon trappers daughter by Jana Oliver
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Grave witch by Kalayna Price
  • Stormwalker by Allyson James
  • Dark descendant by Jenna Black
Reviewed by Brilla

Agent 21: Reloaded by Chris Ryan

It has been over a year since Zak Darke became Agent 21, and he has already survived his first operation - but the training has not stopped.  Raf and Gabs are still pushing him, still testing him, and still teaching him the skills he needs to survive as an agent, and he is going to need them because he is about to go on his first truly solo mission.  Agent 21 is off to Africa, to intercept a diamond shipment that is destined to fund terrorist actions, a mission that will bring him into contact with some of the nastiest people on the planet, people who genuinely enjoy torture, power, and murder.  For the first time he will be working solo, and has strict orders to be careful who he trusts - orders that may lead him into more trouble than he can handle.  Someone is keeping secrets from Agent 21, and the worst of which is that his cousin Ellie may be in serious trouble, because she is a target for someone who badly wants revenge against Agent 21.

Reloaded is the second Agent 21 novel and continues on from the first, with Zak throwing himself into his training to become the best agent he can be, although he is a little bit haunted by the fall out from his first mission and the fact that he had to turn on his friend.  He is oblivious to the fact that his cousin Ellie is in danger, and you sort of get the sense that he would try and do something if he knew.  Agent 21 is definitely in the same vein as other junior spy series out there, but it feels more real than some of the other series, probably because so much of the action is based around things Zak does rather than the gadgets he uses or the neat "tricks" he uses.  There is also, unfortunately, a sense of formula and writing to a style, but the books is well written enough, and the pace keeps up strongly enough that it is not too noticeable.

Another great adventure from Chris Ryan, and another great read for boys and anyone else who likes a good adventure stories with bad guys, good guys, explosions, treachery, twisted storylines and guns blazing.  Don't expect too much high brow literature, and you will thoroughly enjoy this action packed romp.

If you like this book then try:
  • Agent 21 by Chris Ryan
  • The recruit by Robert Muchamore
  • People's republic by Robert Muchamore
  • Deep end by Sam Hutton
  • Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
  • Boy soldier by Andy McNab
  • Code Red: Battleground by Chris Ryan

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Slinky Malinky, early bird by Lynley Dodd

It is early morning and nothing in the house is stirring, nothing except a little black cat named Slinky Malinky.  Crawling out of his bed he is off through the house, searching out the human members of his family and getting into all sorts of mischief as he tries to get them out of bed.

Slinky Malinky is one of my favourite characters from the wonderfully creative mind of Lynley Dodd, the creator of one of New Zealands favourite-ist dogs - Hairy Maclary.  I loved this book because Slinky Malinky (and his antics) reminds me very much of my early morning wake up calls from one of my cat, who knows just how to get me out of bed in the morning by walking across my chest of drawers and knocking things off, or climbing on the book shelves and knocking the books onto the floor one at a time, or even running across my head to get to the windowsill! 

The rhyme and rhythm of the story adds to the charm and makes this another great addition to the library of Lynley Dodd.

If you like this book then try:
  • Slinky Malinky by Lynley Dodd
  • Slinky Malinky, open the door by Lynley Dodd
  • My cat likes to hide in boxes by Eve Sutton; illustrated by Lynley Dodd
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldsons dairy by Lynley Dodd
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • That magnetic dog by Bruce Whatley
  • Dogs by Emily Gravett
  • Slobcat by Paul Geraghty

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kitty goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Norville is the voice of the Midnight Hour, a syndicated radio show that she broadcasts from a different city each Friday night, always on the move to keep one step ahead of her past.  Her show was a neat gimmick at first, a werewolf talking about life as a werewolf on national radio, while also encouraging listeners to call in with their own supernatural experiences.  For some people she will always be the person with the weird gimmick, living a lie to get good ratings, but for others Kitty is very real - and they see her as a very real threat.  Summoned to Washington to appear at a Senate hearing into the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology, Kitty soon finds herself on the receiving end of some very unwanted attention.  For someone who has always gone to great lengths to keep her real identity and what she looks like a secret, Kitty is about to get more exposure than she counted on. 

This is the second book in the "Kitty" series, and it has been some time since I read Kitty and the Midnight Hour, so it was nice to be able to just slot back into the story and carry on without fumbling and trying to remember what happened in the previous book.  Kitty is a lovable character, full of whit, charm, plenty of one-liners, and the flaws that make a well rounded person.  The cast around her is interesting, especially some of the other weres that she meets in Washington, and there is a really strong subplot that boils away under the surface and keeps you guessing about what will come next - and when it does finally come it is well worth the wait.  Books of the paranormal setting often depend too much on graphic scenes of morphing from one form to the other, or the inner conflict of the main character as they come to terms with their condition, or just depend on hot steamy racy sex scenes - and while there is plenty of action and some "personal encounters", it is the plot that drives this story forward.

This was a fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan on reading the next book in the series as soon as I can get my hands on it - though there are other books on the shelf waiting to be read and reviewed first.

If you like this book then try:
  • Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Kitty takes a holiday by Carrie Vaughn
  • Dark descendant by Jenna Black
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Cry wolf by Patricia Briggs
  • Grave witch by Kalayna Price

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Never the face: a story of desire by Ariel Sands

What would you do if a man you once loved came back into your life and said he wanted to go to dinner with you?  Would you be excited, would you have hope, would you have dreams - and what would you do if he said he had spent a lot of time choosing the right stick to beat you with?  "Kitten" doesn't think he is serious, but David is very serious about his "Kitten" and the plans he has for her - plans that include submission, dominance, collars, cuffs, riding crops, and pain.  While she may struggle with a traditional sex life, Kitten is not ready for the world of pain and control that David craves, the world that he forces upon her, and while she may crave more he is unwilling to leave the wife who knows about Kitten and the relationship she has with David.  But is it really a relationship, is it really love?

Never the face is a difficult read, not so much because of the sexually explicit content, but because the way David treats Kitten is outside the norms of the dominant-submissive relationships that have been expressed in other novels.  Kitten is not a willing participant to begin with, she is forced into being a submissive to David, but even when she is more used to the relationship and craves some of the things he has introduced her to, there is still a brutality to the role played by David that leaves a sour taste.  David isn't her dominant to take control and to guide her down a path, he is violent and physical to fulfill his needs only, he only worries about himself and offers her no way to keep herself safe - no safety words for David, no sir.  Overall this was an interesting read from the point of view of showing the breakdown of their relationship, for showing the "wrong" side of BDSM, for showing what a woman (or man for that matter) shouldn't put up with in a relationship.

The ending was reached at a rapid pace through a book which shaved away a lot of the excess and cut straight to the heart of the story, but there was also a sense of being left wanting, that you never really know what happened between Kitten and David.  In many ways I wish that I hadn't pick the story up because of the ending, but the content of the story and the sheer grit of the story made it a worthwhile read. 

This is one of the few books where I struggle to suggest other books like it to read, so instead I am going to break with tradition and say that instead of reading other books like Never the face, try reading a book that was very unlike it, one that shows a "better" BDSM relationship and try Sweet addiction by Maya Banks instead.

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Michael Bennett is one of New York's top detectives, a man with a knack for solving high profile and difficult crimes with a flair that leaves most of the other cops in his dust.  He has been involved in some truly insane cases over the past few years, but the next one is going to be a real killer - literally.  When Michael joins a task force to bring in Manuel "the Sun King" Perrine, a drug kingpin who will stop at nothing to get his message across - he has murdered cops, federal agents, their wives, their children, and he has an iron grip on his organisation.  Capturing him is a coup, but the price is almost too high for Michael to bear. 

A year later and Perrine is due to go on trial, but he is determined to escape, and his is wiling to fight dirty to make sure he can escape.  Michael is ready to stand in the witness box and state his case, but things soon get personal and his family becomes a target, even though they have left New York city behind to relax in the Bennett lakeside holiday home.  With all his kids around him, it should be a pleasant time, but he finds himself being drawn back into the case again and again.  Perrine is the most dangerous criminal Bennett has ever come up against, and he has resources that Bennett can only imagine - and he is a cold blooded killer who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, and he doesn't care how many people get in his way, he will go through them to get to his target.

I, Michael Bennett is the first book in this series where I feel confident saying that you can just pick it up and read it without having to worry about spoiling the plot for other books in the series - while the others don't have to be read in strict sequence you do get references back to other books in the series that can make you go d'oh if you haven't read them yet.  As always the book is fast paced and action packed, a movie played out in novel form.  The cast built around Bennett includes his family and a host of new characters (that almost seems like a cast of thousands at times), and there are some brilliant inter-relations between them, and there are some laugh out loud moments too.  The people are the centre of this story, and Patterson and Ledwidge have an amazing writing chemistry - especially with this series.

I was reading this at the same time as another family member and when I reached the (amazing / satisfying / gob smacking) end I had to avoid them to stop ruining the ending for them.  This is my favourite book in the series so far and the ending has really left me tap dancing for the next book in the series - with an ending like this they have to do something pretty amazing for the next one!

If you like this book then try:
  • Step on a crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Run for your life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • The basement: A novel  by Stephen Leather
  • Kill switch by Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene
  • The silent girl by Tess Gerritsen
  • Now you see her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Last to die by Tess Gerritsen
  • Hide by Lisa Gardner

Reviewed by Brilla