Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Synopsis From Back Cover:
A deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton, KC, to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that he aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but also to the doors of those who practice the dark arts of commune with the spirit world. Determined to prove Ralph Lawton either dead or alive, Maisie is plunged into a case that tests her spiritual strength, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission will bring her to France and reunite her with her old friend Priscilla Everden, who lost three brothers in the war, one of who has an intriguing connection to the case.
Since I started reading this series with the seventh book, I've since read the first, second, eighth, and ninth in the series. By this time I feel as if I have a good feel for who Maisie Dobbs is, but I've made a goal to read the rest of the series by the end of the year. With Pardonable Lies done, I can now check off the third book.
It was nice to go back and actually experience for myself some of the events and relationships that are mentioned further on in the series. I enjoyed getting to see her relationship with the doctor develop and then fall apart, though I could have handled a little bit less angst about it. And now that I'm thinking along those lines, it dawns on me that when it comes to men, either in this book or further along in the series, Maisie Dobbs does not seem to have it all figured out. A lot of her self doubt and internal struggles seem to revolve around the men in her life. And it's just not with her romantic relationships, she seems to have issues with her father and her mentor as well. Since I'm not a psychoanalyst, I'm not going to explore that theme any further, but it's something to be on the lookout for later on.
It was also a treat to meet Priscilla Everden again, she is such a fun character, that it was nice to see her from the start. On the surface, she seems to be the opposite of Maisie in so many ways. But when you get to know her, see her with her family, and witness the effect she has on Maisie; Priscilla is more like Maisie than I think either of them are aware of.
When Maisie realizes that the side investigation into what happened to Priscilla's brother will lead her to the fate of Ralph Lawton, it's one of those odd connections that Maisie seems to draw towards her. The way in which the two cases become tied together, and with the way Maisie comes across that connection takes upon itself an almost take on a cosmic force feel to it. When you throw in the spirituality aspect of the story, including one medium who has true power, spiritual health is explored in a few different ways in this book.
The mystery of the missing aviator wasn't all that hard to figure out. I was able to figure out why the man would choose to remain "dead", rather than go home, fairly quickly. Between his father's attitude towards the young man, the pictures Maisie finds, and the reaction of the former friend, it's fairly obvious why Ralph Lawton would choose to play dead, if in fact that is what's going on. I also have to say, it is a rather sad choice to make. Ralph proved himself in the war, undertaking missions that most men would not only be scared to do, but physically unable to do them as well. He was a true war hero, maybe under different circumstances, his father could have come around to see that.
I've already read the fourth book in the series, Messenger of Truth, and that review will be coming up in the next few weeks. Now I just need to get my grubby hands on books five, six, and ten. I can't wait.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Synopsis From Back Cover:
The streets of the city are no longer safe. They are filled with zombies - the living dead, rotting predators driven by a need to kill... and eat. Some of the living have struggled to survive, but with each passing day their odds grow worse. Others have fled, frantically searching for a place to escape, even briefly, the slaughter around them.
For Lamar Reed and a handful of others, the safe haven is a old Coast Guard ship out at sea, with plenty of water separating them from the grasping hands and tearing teeth of the dead. These desperate survivors are completely isolated, but off from the dangers of the mainland. But their haven will soon become a deathtrap, and they'll learn that isolation can also mean no escape.
When I wrote my review of Darkness, Tell Us by Richard Lymon, I mentioned I had bought three different horror novels from The Dollar Tree. I also mentioned that I didn't really like one, loved another, and was in the middle on the third. Dead Sea by Brian Keene, was the one I loved, but when I started it, that wasn't what I was expecting. I had tried a Brian Keene book before, Urban Gothic, and I really didn't care all that much for it. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure if I even finished it. I didn't enjoy it, found nothing new about it, and am still surprised I was willing to give another of his books a try.
There is nothing new about a zombie apocalypse destroying all humanity, wiping the human race off the face of the Earth. It's been done so many times, and there are only so many ways the story can be told. I'm not even a huge fan of zombies, and with a rare exception, I tend to go out of my way to avoid them. And if this book had not been a dollar, I probably would have avoided it as well.
What hooked me from the beginning was the character of Lamar Reed. The story is told from his viewpoint, everything that happens is told with his voice, in real time as it is happening. Through him, we get an idea of the genesis of this particular apocalypse. It started with rats attacking humans in New York City. One bite, and the victim became one of the undead. Nicknamed Hamelin's Revenge, the disease quickly spread and nothing seemed to keep it in check. It jumped to dogs, cats, squirrels, goats, bears, coyotes, and even to sheep. Between the infected humans and about every land based animal on the hunt, the human race was quickly overrun. A bit wasn't even necessary to turn someone. All it took was blood or pus getting splashed on the skin, easily done when you are trying to shoot the monsters attacking you. Inhale or ingest even a small piece of debris would do the trick just as easily. The only saving grace, it hadn't jumped to insects, birds, or aquatic life as of yet.
It's in this environment that Lamar has been trying to survive in urban Baltimore. As a twenty-something, black gay male, living in a poor neighborhood, it hasn't been an easy feat for him to accomplish. Before the infestation, he was struggling. He had been laid off from the manufacturing plant he had been working for, was quickly going broke, didn't have anyone in his life, and had just stolen a car from a dealership. Since the trouble started, he has been holed up in his home, sharing what he has with a neighbor. In less that a few hours, he had to shoot his friend in the head after he was bit, and is fleeing the city as it starts to burn.
He has an idea to make his way to the harbor, and along the way he rescues two young kids, after they rescued him. He escapes their burning building and makes it within sight of the docks when it seems the end is near. The entire area is overrun with zombiefied humans and dogs on the hunt, it seems as if every last mobile creature in Baltimore has had the same idea, head to the docks. Along the way the run into Mitch, a man who looks like a biker, but was a Bible salesman before the end came. He was in the city looking for his son, a son he never found. The four, after some harrowing action, escape with their lives onto a ship that is just pulling out of port.
Once on the ship, they get to know the other survivors, the few who managed to escape the burning city of Baltimore. Some of their fellow passengers are good people, others, they could probably do without. But life quickly drops into a routing. Lamar, Mitch, Malik, and Tasha are becoming a family unit, relying on each other to survive the chaos of what has happened to them. After a truly horrific and quickly aborted landing for supplies, the men and woman who remain on board seem to be stuck in a malaise of doubt. They aren't sure what to do next. Then the unthinkable happens, Hamelin's Revenge has jumped species once again. What happened on land, is now happening under the waves. A war between the living and the dead is now raging in a world they can't see.
When one of the infected fish manges to get itself hooked for dinner, those who are left alive on board, quickly run out of options. Only four of them make it on board an oil platform far out to see. After escaping their fellow passengers who wanted to eat them, and being pursued by decaying sharks and whales trying to sink them, the four survivors are exhausted, but they quickly realize they may have found a save haven after all. There is plenty of food and fresh water on board, they have entertainment to keep their brains engaged, and they quickly start to put their lives back together. And just when you think they may be able to ride this out after all, the disease finally jumps to the birds.
I know I said it earlier, but I loved Lamar as a character. He, without realizing itself, has become a man to be looked up to. He becomes a father to Malik and Tasha, and finds a true friend in Mitch. He becomes a leader on board the ship, a man some of the others look up to. He is forced to overcome all his doubts and fears, and become the man and father he never knew himself. The relationship he forms with the kids feels organic and real. And when the horrors finally catch up to them on board the ship, and his biggest ally is ripped from him just as quickly, Lamar steps up to the plate once again to make sure those two kids are taken care of. It's through his actions that anyone is able to survive the bloodbath that ensues, and it's his decision to head towards the platform.
I love that fact that in Lamar, there is a young gay character that doesn't fit into any stereotype. His sexuality never comes into play, who hast time for romance or sex when all they can think about is survival. He is a character that just happens to be gay, it's not what defines him or dictates his behavior in the context of the story he is put into.
The other aspect of this book that made total sense to me was the idea of this disease jumping species. It has never made sense to me that the zombie disease would only infect humans. Why wouldn't it cross species, and the manner in which it does in this book is truly horrifying. The scenes on the water, including an amazing scene with a whale, are mind blowing in their scope and allow the reader to grasp the true horror of what has happened to this planet.
With Dead Sea I have found something I never thought I would, a true zombie horror novel that never bored me, kept me on tenterhooks, and made me care about the characters involved. Not sure if lighting will ever strike again, but I'm glad I decided to spend the dollar on this book.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Synopsis From Dust Jacket:
In the summer of 1893 in Portland, Maine, police detective Archie Lean follows a trail of ashen footprints to the site of a dead body. the victim is horribly scorched, and ominous occult symbols mark the nearby walls. But what troubles Lean most is what he saw two days earlier: this same dead man being lowered into his grave without a burn mark on him. Perplexed by the diabolically staged scene, the brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey.
Grey faces a mystery of his own when he agrees to a wealthy businessman's deathbed plea to locate his missing granddaughter. The dying man's kin resent Grey, a half Abenkai Indian, intruding into their affairs. They seem less interested in the vanished woman than in the recent theft of the thunderstone, a peculiar family heirloom marked with curious symbols. Phebe Webster, the sister of the missing heiress, complicates matters for Grey when she joins forces with him only to find her own life in danger.
As the Webster family's shadowy history is revealed, the three mysteries intertwine to draw Lean and Grey into a maze of murder, deceit, and revenge. Each deadly new clue points toward an even greater puzzle that will pit Grey against a devious murderer in a race to decipher the thunderstone's riddle - and reveal a centuries-old secret that men will kill to possess.
So in the last review I posted, I was reminding myself about how I used to have this habit of getting involved in a series, not from the beginning, but from somewhere in the middle. I actually did it with the last book I reviewed for Crown, The Bedlam Detective. So it should come as no surprise to anyone, let along myself, that once again I'm reviewing a book that takes place after another one. And much like The Bedlam Detective, I'm finding myself a bit lost this time around.
I'm trying not to take anything away from A Study in Revenge, because the story itself, is terrific. What I struggled with, where the relationship between the characters. So much of what happened in the first book, is reflected in this one. I feel as if I started watching a movie halfway through. A movie I loved, but didn't fully get.
One day I will get around to reading the previous book, then maybe I will get why the librarian is so important or why the mysterious occult leader seems so bent on his diabolical, evil ways. I may even begin to understand the full connections between the two protagonists. It is definitely worth looking into, now I just need to find the time.
The wonderful group at Crown Publishers have generously offered my readers the chance to win a hardcover copy of this book for themselves. The giveaway will last until 11:59 pm, CST, on 5/27/13. You must be a resident of the United States to enter, and all you have to do is leave me a comment with your email address.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Synopsis From Back Cover:
A young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge.
As the trail grows cold, Samantha - a new detective (and the only woman) with the Botswana police force - is reminded of a childhood friend who had gone missing, and she devotes herself to keeping the first case open. she suspects that the girl was killed for muti, the traditional African medicine usually derived from plants and sometimes animals. But recent evidence shows that human parts are being incorporated into certain potions to conjure up a supposedly more potent formula. Detective Kubu joins forces with Samantha to take the investigation to the next level.
Meanwhile, Witness is convinced that his daughter, too, was murdered for muti - for a potion to ensure an election victory for opposition leader Marumo. On the night of Marumo's win, Witness waits outside the politician's home and murders him before fleeing town. Now Kubu and Samantha have yet another murder investigation on their hands, and the search of Marumo's home yields a sample of muti that confirms their worst fears: the formula includes traces of human DNA remains.
Kubu and Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop a serial killer or killers - and those who would pay for their special, lethal muti.
Back on Thursday, September 22, 2011, I was lamenting the fact that I found myself falling into a pattern. Back then I was agreeing to review books that sounded so good, I wouldn't do my diligent research into the book. Over and over again, I found myself agreeing to review a book that was actually in the middle of a series that I've never heard of before. On that day, I was reviewing Death of the Mantis, the book that precedes this one. Back then I was picking book after book, series after series, and none of them from the beginning. I said Death of the Mantis was worth the frustration,and it must have been since I was more than willing to read Deadly Harvest.
What I loved about the previous book, I still love with Deadly Harvest. Kubu is one of those detectives that I could sit down with over a huge platter of pasta, some good wine, and enjoy every moment of the conversation. He has a brain that is worthy of putting him amongst the best in the business, and one day I hope he will be considered one of them. The secondary characters, from Kubu's family to Samantha and the rest of the police force, are strong well written individuals that add so much to the overall story. Even the bad guys, and this time around, they are truly evil, are three dimensional nasty bits of work.
The mystery itself is one of those that pulls you in and never allows you to catch your breath or fully grasp the horrifying truth of what's been going on. The idea of men, women, and children being slaughtered for their body parts, to benefit someone else, is revolting. The fact that you can die because of your name, a name that someone else wants to harness for it supposed power, should scare the living daylights out of everyone who reads the events that take place in between the covers of Deadly Harvest. The name of the book itself lends itself to the horror of the depravity needed to justify such actions.
I don't know if I will ever have the time to go back and read the books that took place before Death of the Mantis, but I'm pretty sure I'll continue along with the series as it goes forward.
I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book. Please visit the tour page to read other reviews.
The wonderful group at TLC Book Tours have generously offered my readers the chance to win a copy of this book for themselves. The giveaway will last until 11:59 pm, CST, on 5/25/13. You must be a resident of the United States to enter, and all you have to do is leave me a comment with your email address.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Things are starting to calm down a bit down. I've moved into my new apartment, finally found a new job (keeping my fingers crossed that nothing happens to mess that up), and I'm starting to feel a bit better about the direction my life is taking this year.
I had to leave the computer alone for a bit, mainly so I could focus on what was going on in my life. I experienced a few setbacks earlier, and I needed to be able to get things back on track. I'm hoping that that direction is finally turning and that I'll be able to focus on the things I enjoy doing again.
I have a review coming up later on today, and I hope I'll be able to get some other posts done and scheduled for later on in the month. I'll be away for a bit, hopefully training for my new job, but I think once I get into the swing of things, the blog will come back into focus.
Thank you for sticking with me over the last few months. Your support and encouragement mean more than you will ever imagine.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I may be M.I.A. over the next week and a half. Real life seems to be taking over again, which means I'm going to have to be away for a bit. That probably means I won't be on Facebook either, but hopefully things will be in much better shape once I do come back.
If for some bizarre reason I'm not back within the next few weeks, I will find a way to let you guys know that it may take a bit more time. I don't want anyone to worry about me, I'm hoping everything will work out and I will be able to resume my life right back the way it was.
Take care of yourselves, and I will see you on the other side.