Sunday, April 28, 2019

In another life by C.C. Hunter

Chloe Holden thought she had a great life - until her father decided to move on with a younger woman, and her mothers life was destroyed a second time with a cancer diagnosis.  It's hard not to feel angry and bitter towards her father, especially when her mother is still feeling hurt and betrayed and spits bile and pain whenever she talks about her father.  It is a challenging time, especially when her father's partner seems determined to stamp her mark on the relationship and push Chloe out of his life.  Her own pain and anger are constantly bubbling under the surface, especially when she compares her new life to her old.

When she storms off mid argument with her father one day she has no idea that fate is about to intervene in her life in a big way.  Cash Colton is a foster child biding his time until he turns 18 and ages out of the foster system.  His current foster family, the Fullers, are amazing and treat him like he is their own son, but something inside tells him it's not real and that he can't keep taking from them.  He watches everyday as Mrs Fuller tries to come with the loss of the daughter who was kidnapped from them and never found - and he has to watch as people prey on the Fuller's hopes and dreams.  He doesn't feel like he truly belongs, but he feels protective of the Fuller's and wants to protect them from the scammers and tricksters who see them as a pay day - he should know after all, the son of a con man knows all the tricks of the trade. 

When Cash and Chloe meet Cash is blown away by her resemblance to the age progression photo of his foster parents little girl Emily, and he is instantly suspicious.  As he learns more about Chloe he grows suspicious of her, but she also seems so innocent and ignorant about the Fuller's and their plight.  As Cash swings between thinking that Chloe could be Emily and thinking it is just all a con, he also finds himself growing closer to Chloe.  When Chloe learns what Cash suspects it is a shock, and knowing she was adopted as a young child opens the doors to all sorts of painful thoughts and fears.  Chloe and Cash are both determined to solve the mystery, but it may come at a terrible cost.

In another life is a well told and emotional read that may cover an idea that has been covered before in books like The face on the milk carton, but takes the story deeper and makes a more emotional and intense story.  Chloe is going through a time of intense personal stress and turmoil, and her mother has a great deal of anger and hostility towards her father which means Chloe has to tackle this discovery on her own.  Cash is just as complicated, a young man who has been raised on cons and deceit which makes him cynical and inclined to see the worst of people.  This background makes the story very intense, emotional, and something of a rollercoaster - and as the story plays out other elements come into play that make it even more of a thriller (no spoilers from me).

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The deceivers by Kristen Simmons

Life in Devon Park is hard, especially when your mother's partner is a paranoid drug dealer who thinks you owe him.  Brynn has been walking the knife's edge for years, quietly working small (and not so small) cons to save money for college so that she can leave Devon Park behind for good.  Everything seems to be going well, even if some boy seems to be popping up wherever she is, until Pete discovers her stash of college money and assumes that she either a) stole pills from his supply and sold them or b) stole the money directly from him.  

Her only hope to raise the money she needs in the short time she has is to sell pills for Pete, a dangerous prospect when there is a very territorial gang in the neighbourhood who doesn't take kindly to people who try and sell on their turf.  It seems like all her hard work has been for nothing, until she accepts a wild proposition that sees her accepted as a student at the mysterious Vale Hall.  Vale Hall has only a handful of students and a very special curriculum and field trips - including learning how to run cons on people in real world situations.

For the first time Brynn has something to focus on other than Pete and his drugs, or earning enough money to get out of Devon Park.   Vale Hall is a great opportunity, a chance for a great education and a college fund, but it also means follow the rules and doing what Dr. Odin wants her to do.  Letting go of the past is tricky though, especially when the little contact she does have proves that her mother is not safe.  The more time Brynn spends at Vale Hall the more she learns about her fellow classmates, and the more she learns that no one is what they seem - including her.

The deceivers was a brilliant and addictive read that hooked me from the start with a complex and interesting main character walking a tough line between being a good girl and getting out of town, and being a bad girl who can actually afford to get out of town.  Her somewhat wonky moral compass makes her more interesting, and her complex relationships make her more relatable and realistic.   Her family life is complicated, and when her 'lucky break' appears it is not a clean break - nor is her new 'family' as golden as it might seem at first.

The deceivers was one of my favourite books this year, and it has had some rather stiff competition.  This is a cleverly crafted book that has twists and turns, both subtle and extreme, and Kristen Simmons did an amazing job of keeping it interesting without being too clever.  A great take on the myths of Odin, and hopefully at some point we get to see Brynn and her world again.

If you like this book then try:

  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • Little white lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • Burning blue by Paul Griffin
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Such a pretty girl by Laura Wiess
  • Living dead girl by Elizabeth Scott
  • Court of fives by Kate Elliott
  • NEED by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Grave mercy by Robin LaFevers
  • The girl of fire and thorns by Rae Carson
  • The mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  • Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
  • I swear by Lane Davis

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, April 19, 2019

Siege by Chris Ryan

Max Johnson is an orphan, which is lonely in more ways than one - but Max doesn't let it get him down.  Living in a residential care home gives him a place to live and call home, but it doesn't give him a family.  He throws himself into activities like Combined Cadet Force training, and because he excels at it his school pays for him to attend a week long camp climbing in the Lakes District.  All Max dreams about is joining the Army when he grows up, and the camp will add another layer to his skills - even if he has to put up with being the outsider because his fellow campers know he is an orphan living in a care home.

When disaster strikes on a big climb, it is Max who has to come to the rescue - using his knowledge of climbing gained from experience, YouTube, and books to help pull them out of a dangerous and life threatening situation.  Max didn't step in for fame and glory, but he also didn't expect to be whisked away in a helicopter by a mysterious man who won't even tell Max who he is.  The mystery is soon unraveled when Max discovers that the man has brought him to the Special Forces Cadets selections camp.  Max is determined to make the most of being at the camp, but not everyone is happy he is there and joining the Special Forces Cadets is going to be an uphill fight.  Can Max prove himself and finish the grueling selection test?

Siege is the start of a new series by Chris Ryan, and if the first book is anything to go on this series has great promise.  From the start it is easy to connect with Max and his story, and through the story that connection and sympathy grows stronger.  Ryan has a knack for writing series that are easy to believe are real, the training and testing Max and the rest of the teenagers go through seems quite realistic - as do the individual traits and characteristics of each person.  

The writing style is punchy and moves at a rapid pace which adds some nice tension to the story but doesn't bury you in detail.  In short - this is another fantastic teen read from Chris Ryan and hopefully the rest of the series is just as good as it means there will be quite a few good books to look forward to over the coming years.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Out of the dark by Gregg Hurwitz

Out of the dark is the sequel to Orphan X, The Nowhere man, and Hellbent and while you can read the books independently there are ***SPOILERS*** in this review if you have not read the first books in the series.  I highly recommend reading the books in order for the ultimate reading experience.

Orphan X is done hiding in the shadows and waiting for death to find him, he is going to kill the man who has set death on his tail and he is going to take him out first.  It's a bold move, and a tricky move, because how can one man hope to take down the President of the United States - one of the most heavily protected men in the world.  It is going to take all of his training, and all of his skills to unpick the levels of protection around the President and find a vulnerable spot he can exploit.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the threat posed by President Bennett is very real, not only for Evan but for every Orphan ever trained.

President Bennett knows Orphan X is after him and he will use every weapon at his disposal to try and stop him - including arranging for the release of Orphan A, who has a very personal grudge against Orphan X.  The Secret Service is on high alert for danger, and while one man shouldn't pose a threat , Orphan X quickly shows just how highly trained and dangerous he is.  Hunted by law enforcement, the Secret Service, and Orphan A Evan should have no chance at success - but this is a fight he is desperate to win and desperate times call for desperate measures - and deals he wouldn't normally make.

As Evan's window of opportunity slowly closes the Nowhere Man receives a phone call from a young man whose family has been targeted by a man who is used to getting what he wants through violence and threats.  The timing couldn't be worse as the last thing Evan needs is a distraction, especially when that distraction burrows under his layers of defences and makes him put aside some of the training and rules that he has followed for so long.  As his window of opportunity draws closer so does an increasing conflict of interest as there may not be time for Orphan X to do his thing at the same time as the Nowhere Man needs to do his thing - which will Evan choose, duty or revenge?  For the first time Evan has really been pushed to the edge, and when you're desperate you will cross lines that you wouldn't normally cross.

The Orphan X series has been a great read right from the start with complicated and well developed characters and a hero you can't help but like - even if he does seem as prickly and standoffish as his cactus sometimes.  Each book in the series has built on the previous story, and with each book we learn more about Evan and his world - complete with some rather spectacular bombshells along the way.  I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes thrillers and crime stories - and I will recommend it to other people who are just looking for a good book.  Sometimes the name dropping becomes a little bit much with the brand names, but other than that there is a lot to like about this series.  Now comes the wait to see what happens next for Orphan X.

If you like this book then try:
  • Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
  • The killing kind by Chris Holm
  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
  • The Postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Truth or die by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
  • Dead secret by Ava McCarthy
  • Never never by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeffry P. Lindsay
  • Kiss the girls by James Patterson
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Kamp

Reviewed by Brilla