Friday, April 20, 2018

Tooth and claw by Nigel McCrery

Tooth and claw is the sequel to Still waters and while you can read the books separately you will enjoy the series more if you read the books in order.

DCI Mark Lapslie is good at his job, but his synaesthesia makes it challenging (if not downright impossible) to do his job in the normal, expected fashion.  Working on reports for the higher ups keeps him gainfully employed, but his superiors seem determined to push him into applying for early retirement on medical grounds and he is too stubborn and determined to let them push him out.  When he is assigned not one, but two different murder cases the pressure builds, and it becomes increasingly difficult for Lapslie to keep his condition under wraps. 

It might be the stress he's under, but it also seems like the symptoms of his synaesthesia are getting worse, despite doing everything he can to keep it hidden as the case progresses he is exposed to his colleagues in rather spectacular fashion.  With his professional life starting to unravel at the seams, and with challenging cases to solve the one saving grace for Lapslie is the unswerving support of his DS - Emma Bradbury.

This series is a real pain to review because all the tasty little tidbits you would normally put in the review would be spoilers for the little twists and turns that make this series so interesting.  I loved the character development, especially watching the way the killer slowly comes under the spotlight and you learn more about him.  We also get to learn more about both DCI Lapslie and DS Bradbury which makes it easier to connect with them as characters and helps expose some of what makes them tick.  It will be interesting to see how the characters develop over time, and how McCrery keeps the storylines fresh and engaging once the surprise of Lapslie's synaesthesia wears off.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Time bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

Six young lives are about to change for ever, wrenched apart and shaken by multiple explosions in their high school.  Each of them has a reason to be at school, and each of them is keeping secrets or keeping part of themselves hidden.  Rashid is a young man struggling with his identity, struggling to find a balance between practicing his faith and fitting in with his "American" classmates.  Cas is struggling to fit into her new school, pressure from her family to lose weight, be more sociable, be more popular is more than she can stand.  Frankie and Tad are struggling with a relationship that has changed and yet not changed, heading towards a line that one of them might not be ready to cross.  Diana is tired of being the perfect politicians daughter, always pushing her own thoughts and feelings aside to make her father look good.  Recently orphaned by the death of his mother, Z is failing out of school and about to lose his home, but he has a plan.

Six young people all keeping secrets from their friends and families - six young lives about to be changed in the worst way possible.  Trapped in a building that has been badly damaged by multiple explosions, and with part of the building on fire it seems grim.  When they learn that the bomber has been caught it is not the good news they needed, the bomber was not working alone, and according to the news reports on the radio the bomber has a partner who is still in the school.  Trying to escape is hard enough, but when suspicions grow about who the bombers partner could be tension turns to accusations and threats.

Books like Time bomb run the risk of becoming purely didactic and artificial, the author preaching at their audience rather than connecting the reader with a story that needs to be told.  Some authors tackle these topics with amazing skill and insight - to the point that you don't even realise there is a message - while others are like a sledge hammer nailing home their message with little finesse or skill.  Time bomb falls somewhere in between these two extremes, as while Charbonneau does build her characters, keeps the tension high, and generally makes an effort to make the characters and their stories relatable it just lacks a spark - though for me this could be mainly because I guessed who the bomber was very early and it then felt a little like she was going through the motions.

Do I think this was a book that needed to be written - yes.  Does it provide valuable insight into the pressures teenagers face at school and in their lives in general - yes.  Do I think this book might have benefitted from one more draft - yes, just to tie the story more tightly together and make it more about the characters rather than the bombing.  Don't get me wrong, this was a good book, but I think with a little more polish it could have been a great book or even an amazing book.

If you like this book then try:
  • NEED by Joelle Charbonneau
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • What waits in the woods by Kieran Scott
  • Burning blue by Paul Griffin
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • Missing Judy by Anne Cassidy
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
  • Hate list by Jennifer Brown
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
  • I swear by Lane Davis
  • The mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  • Thousand words by Jennifer Brown

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, April 2, 2018

Alien tango by Gini Koch

Alien tango is the second book in the Alien series, and while you can read it as a stand alone you will get more out of the book if you read Touched by an alien first.  This review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not already read Touched by an alien so I highly recommend reading the series in order.

After all the excitement and action of her introduction to Superbeings and the team from Alpha Centauri coming down to business as usual is a more than a little frustrating for Katherine "Kitty" Katt.  Sure, she has an amazing relationship with her team of human and Alpha Centauri operatives, but things have been rather quiet over the past six months and she is starting to get twitchy for some action.  They say you should be careful what you wish for, and that is certainly the case for Kitty and her team because they go from zero to crisis point in a matter of hours when a ship that was sent on a long range mission to Mars returns to Earth in a most unexpected fashion.  Flying by the seat of her pants, and based mainly on intuition, Kitty manages to get involved right in the thick of the action (as usual). 

In the midst of chaos Kitty is in her element, but it's also the last place Jeff Martini wants her to be - and when he gets worried he gets uber protective and sulky.  As Kitty, Jeff, and the rest of their team start to uncover the different layers of the conspiracy against them they quickly realise that this time they can't stop the big bad by the usual methods - this is an enemy where working smarter is the key, not using bigger weapons.  Fighting the enemy is what they are quickly becoming used to, but what happens when the person who feels like an enemy is your family?  The time has finally come for Kitty to meet Jeff's family and it is going to be a somewhat bumpy ride for everyone because Kitty is not your typical A-C female, and when she sees something wrong she deals with it.  

I first read Touched by an alien over three years ago, and seeing another book in the series made me decide to re-read it and I am glad I did because it reminded me how much I had enjoyed the book and I dove straight into reading Alien tango to keep the roller coaster ride going.  Alien tango picks up a few months after Touched by an alien and while there are common threads through the series so far, each book does have a focus on a different conspiracy and enemy for the team to deal with.  Kitty is one of my favourite anti-heroes, mainly because she doesn't care what people think about her and she is not afraid to fight for what she believes in (and is not so tough that she also doesn't burst into tears occasionally). 

The cast of A-C characters also adds to the charm of the series because the way they react to things and the way they function is just so - alien.  Sometimes the differences result in laugh out loud moments, sometimes they result in eye rolling moments, and sometimes you just go "huh".  Jeff Martini and Christopher White create quite a few comic moments because of who they are for the A-C community, and also because of who they are - and the A-C women add some great moments too.  It is interesting that Koch has been able to create such a human seeming alien race, and she has deftly inserted them into the human race in a way that makes sense and you can easily picture a race of aliens living amongst Earths people just like this.  

Currently waiting for the third book in the series to arrive so I can keep the fun going and see where Koch takes Kitty and Jeff next - because it is bound to be a thrill ride, but it is also hard to see how she can top what happened in the first two books in the series.

If you like this book then try:
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Angel's blood by Nalini Singh
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
  • Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Undead and unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
  • Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
  • Eight million gods by Wen Spencer
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • Tinker by Wen Spencer
  • Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway
  • Prowlers by Christopher Golden

Reviewed by Brilla