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Tag: "adventure"

Review: No Fortunate Son by Brad Taylor

[ 0 ] February 27, 2015

no fortunate son book coverReviewed by A.D. Cole

In the seventh book in the bestselling Pike Logan series, Pike and Jennifer suddenly find themselves fired from the Taskforce, a super-secret organization that Pike has dedicated years of his life to. Kurt Hale, the man in charge of Taskforce operations, has just found out that his niece has gone missing. He can’t legally use government resources to find her, so he recruits Pike and Jennifer – now free agents – to do an off-the-books search and rescue.

In the meantime, several military relatives of high-ranking U.S. officials, including the Vice President’s son, have been kidnapped by an unknown terrorist organization. All of the government’s resources are being used to find these men and women, but it’s Pike, during his search for Kylie Hale, who stumbles onto the trail of the bad guys.

No Fortunate Son is an intricately plotted, high-action thriller, absolutely on par with Brad Taylor’s high quality of storytelling. This story was a little different from previous books in two ways. First, the villains weren’t quite as villainous as, for instance, the drug cartel in The Polaris Protocol, or the deadly female suicide bombers in The Widow’s Strike. The ticking clock is still there, so the action is still fast-paced and urgent. The villains were simply not as scary.

And second, Pike and Jennifer are usually working with their whole Taskforce team. But in this situation, the team is being used as a government resource while Pike and Jennifer are off freelancing on their own. This had a positive effect in that it showed a strengthening of Pike and Jennifer’s partnership. But I admit, I missed having Knuckles, Brett, and Retro around for the first half of the novel.

Still, I have no complaints. This was another action-packed thriller from probably the best current writer in the genre. If you’re new to political thrillers, I recommend Brad Taylor as a starting point. Who better to describe high-tech, high-octane military operations than a former Special Forces commander? Beyond that, these books stand out from the genre due to the very real, very relatable characters. Even Pike, who should be a larger-than-life superhero, is made approachable by Taylor’s down-to-earth writing style.

As a side note, I have to applaud these books for their feminism. Generally in these types of books, the female character is introduced in order to give the main character motivation, and usually she’s killed off within a couple of books. Jennifer has continued to evolve and is as much the main character in these stories as Pike is. She was put through the ringer in No Fortunate Son, shouldering more responsibility and risk than ever. I truly appreciate Mr. Taylor for breaking free of convention and giving us an awesome female lead character.

I recommend this book to readers of action and adventure novels. You don’t have to read this series in order, but it helps to get background on Pike’s motivation. Plus, they’ve all been amazing.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Line War by Neal Asher

[ 1 ] February 26, 2015

line war book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Line War is the fifth book (sixth if you count the prequel) in the Ian Cormac series which is set in the Polity universe. I’ve read Gridlinked – the first installment – and then I tried this one as an audiobook. I have to say that the gap between the first and the fifth book was too big for me to fully grasp the story. If you’re new to the series, I would not recommend starting with Line War. However, I think the series has merit and I have the prequel sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

The Polity is a human based government that spans a large portion of the Galaxy. The AIs have fairly bloodlessly taken over and in general do a much better job than humans ever did. They appear to be a benevolent oligarchy for most of humanity–like shepherds guiding and protecting their simple charges from their own stupidity. But sometimes things aren’t always what they seem…

A new threat is emerging at the Polity and it stems from one of their own. A rogue AI left the Polity and brought back many volunteers, including some who aren’t quite with it. This AI integrated with some alien technology and renamed himself Erebus. The technology he used has been around for eons, slowly destroying each civilization it comes into contact with.

Now both humans and their rulers have an enemy. Erebus is attacking the Polity and the AIs don’t seem to be doing much to outguess him. As a matter of fact, they seem to be only reacting to his moves. This turns out to be a major problem that almost costs everyone in the Polity much more than they can imagine.

This book brought back quite a few of the ‘heros’ from the previous books and I recognized several from the one book I read previously. The rest I’m sure I’ll get to know as I catch up with the rest of the series. I would define this book as hard space opera, with a bit of James Bond thrown in for spice. If that sounds like your cup of tea, pick up the first book and start reading! Line War definitely has that action mixed with technology speak mixed with philosophy thing going on.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: A Portrait in Time by Charles J. Schneider

[ 3 ] February 20, 2015

portrait in time book coverReviewed by Jenna Arthur

If you love mystery, intrigue, history and out-there theories, you will love Charles J. Schneider’s A Portrait in Time. Set in Paris, the book opens with the grotesque scene of a mangled and crushed body  and a beautiful, naked, and mysterious young woman strewn about Paris’s most famous museum. Thrown through time, this beautiful young woman, Nicole, wakes up in the Musee d’Orsay naked, cold, scared and confused. Beside her is the mangled corpse of a man she does not remember. She realizes she’s neither in the same location nor in the same time she came from. Nicole suffers from amnesia; she only knows that she must hide away and figure out who she is and what events led up to her being left in a museum next to the grisly body of the strange man.

A glimpse of Nicole on a security camera starts this story off on its cross genre plot, using Nicole’s doppelganger – museum assistant director Suzanne Bruante – to frame a story that is both delightful and suspenseful. Ms. Bruante’s uncanny resemblance to Nicole makes her the prime suspect in the mystery man’s murder. She is forced to hide from the law while also utilizing past connections to find out who this mystery woman is and how the formless man came to be in the museum.

Can Suzanne find Nicole, find out her connection to the past and send her back to the right time? She must call on all of the ones she loves and has loved to answer these countless questions or face the police. But with Inspector Michele Crossier on the case, trailing behind, ready to apprehend her at any time, can Suzanne prove her theories and her innocence before the inspector catches up to her? Read this book to find out!

Though crossing genres is often unsuccessful, a twist ending and descriptive writing style make Charles Schneider’s A Portrait in Time a mind bending and attention getting novel from start to finish. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and other historical and detective novels you will find this a fun read.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jenna lives in the bustling city of Pittsburgh, PA with her wife, her chihuahua Penny, her retriever Ella and her two beautiful cats. Along with her passion for reading and the literary world, she is also an artist, writer, environmental activist, creative coordinator and aspiring culinary genius. She believes there is nothing better to her then a good book, and lives one cover to the next.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Starlighter by Bryan Davis

[ 1 ] February 15, 2015

starlighter book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Jason has grown up hearing the myths about a planet of dragons whose inhabitants kidnap humans and enslave them, but he never believed in those tales until now. After Jason’s brother, a believer, goes missing and leaves behind a cryptic note, Jason must open his mind to the possibility that the stories are true. As he searches for the fabled portal that leads from the dragon’s realm to his own, Jason becomes the scapegoat in a political assassination. In the depths of the dungeons, Jason reconnects with his childhood friend Elyssa, who was thought to have been taken and mauled by hostile bears. Elyssa has powers of her own that are a threat to the current government. With Elyssa and Tibalt, another prisoner who has ties to the dragon realm known as Starlight, Jason will enter the portal in search of his missing kin. Jason finds horrors greater than any he could have imagined, and must race against time to prevent a dark prophecy from coming true.

Koren, a human enslaved on Darksphere, vaguely remembers a world where humans were free. Though a slave, Koren’s assignment is much more comfortable than that of most of the humans in her realm. Koren has a gift, a powerfully persuasive ability to enchant her captors with stories, that will either be the salvation of her people or their ultimate demise. Koren and Jason must work together to set the Lost Ones free and bring them back home to Darksphere. A prophecy surrounding the mysterious black egg which contains the unborn dragon prince threatens to thwart their efforts of overthrowing the dragons. With the help of an unlikely ally, there is still an inkling of hope for Jason and Koren.

In Starlighter, Bryan Davis creates a vividly haunting alternate universe where dragons have enslaved humans. Magic is generously used to further the plot and develop some of the main characters and their purposes, making for an epic fantasy adventure. Many characters are introduced in this first installment of a four book series, and sometimes I found it difficult to keep the characters and their strengths and weaknesses straight. Overall, they are well-developed with strong personalities of their very own, and room for growth in future books. The most fascinating character to me was Arxad, Koren’s dragon master. He is loyal to his own people, but risks his own scales to assist Koren and Jason in their mission.

Starlighter is more than just a young adult fantasy, however. Throughout the novel there are subtle religious messages, but I did not find them to be preachy in any way. Readers who are just interested in a magical tale will not be disappointed, and those looking for more meaning behind the words will also discover what they are looking for. I’d recommend Starlighter for any church youth group to read and discuss with one another.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson

[ 2 ] January 30, 2015

mitosis book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Mitosis is a novelette sequel to Steelheart (which is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read!). I think the narrator of the audiobook, Macleod Andrews, did a great job reading. If you have never read any of Brandon Sanderson’s work, you could do much worse than give this a listen. If you already like what he writes (and I certainly do!), I’d recommend starting with Steelheart before setting  your sights on this one.

Mitosis is about a world of super powered people. Unfortunately, all of them seem to already be or to turn insanely evil. It’s a planet with supervillains devoid of any superheroes. So it took a few regular people to become regular heroes and stand up to them. This story takes place after the first successful revolt of the regulars.

It is still too early for the vast majority living in the city to feel confident that they are free of the super. On top of that many are afraid another one is going to show up any day and lay claim to the ‘abandoned’ city for themselves. The fledgling government has tried to think of ways to deal with such a situation by putting into place a few emergency measures.

It’s a good thing they started planning right away, because they do have a problem. Mitosis has just snuck into town and he is a load of trouble. His special power allows him to duplicate himself so he can be his own spy network, or maybe army. He’s come to town looking for the man who claims to have killed Steelheart. He plans to show it was a sham, partly to keep the non-supers down and partly to bolster his own sense of god-hood. It doesn’t look good for our little hero.

Brandon Sanderson is an excellent writer; he has a very wide range of ideas that he has thankfully turned into books. I have almost all of his books, with only a couple left that I haven’t had a chance to read and I’ve enjoyed every single one. Many might have trouble with the young adult series Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians (though I thought it was hilarious) but I recommend this author very highly nonetheless!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Meritropolis by Joel Ohman

[ 0 ] January 23, 2015

meritropolis book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

After the “Event”, the surviving humans have worked together to build a new life within the the walls of Meritropolis. Unfortunately, the population of 50,000 lives in fear of a brutal system that assigns each citizen a merit score that determines whether they get to live or die. Most of the population have accepted this as simply how life works now and are content with the trade off of being allowed to live from day to day. But for one high scoring individual, conforming is not an option. Charley is seventeen years old and has an agenda. He wants to bring the system down in the name of his brother, who was unjustly put outside the gates to die.

Charley soon finds out that he has bit off more than he can chew and that brute force may not be enough to get the job done. As he teams up with other young adults, unhappy with the current rule of thumb, things aren’t exactly what they seem and there maybe a darker force at work.

Futuristic post-apocalyptic books are all the rage these days and Meritropolis jumped on that train. It is a fresh take on the current “everything is a fight for your life, let’s let the children battle” genre and I was impressed with that fact. Charley lives in a small city type area and each week is uncertain because you need a certain score, a merit, to stay safe. If your score isn’t high enough, you risk being put outside the gates, fresh meat for whatever malicious wildlife may come for you first. And these aren’t run of the mill animals, these are random combination creatures that were created either by nuclear fallout or even worse, mankind with ill will in mind.

Meritropolis is a series in progress and it definitely comes out feeling unfinished. It’s always tricky business trying to make a series that keeps you wistful for more whilst making sure you wrap it up at the end of each book. I wish Joel Ohman had waited and just kept it all as one book rather than trying to split it up into a series. I was definitely left with a half-finished piece and not in a good way. I’m still trying to decide if I dare bother when the next book in the series is eventually published…

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Joel Ohman. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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