Review: Rogue Hunter: Inquest (Rogue Hunter #1) ~ Kevis Hendrickson

Rogue HunterLUST AND FURY COLLIDE IN A GALAXY ON THE VERGE OF WAR.

Fearing retribution from ruthless gangsters over an unsettled debt, intergalactic bounty hunter Zyra Zanr ventures to a distant world to collect the reward for Boris Skringler, a notorious terrorist, who has been sentenced to death by political rivals of the InterGalactic Alliance. When she fails to secure his release, she decides to break him out of prison. Zyra soon finds herself an unwilling participant in events that lead to a climactic showdown between the most powerful worlds in the galaxy.

Torn between her desperation to rid herself of the threats to her life and her guilt in agitating the conflict between two galactic superpowers, Zyra is horrified to learn that the lives of an entire world of people hinge on her ability to return Skringler to his captors. However, her distrust of Skringler gives way to lust, unraveling her plans. Will Zyra give into her passion and allow Skringler to go free? Or will she surrender him to her enemies to stop an impending war? The fate of billions depend on whether she chooses life for a killer or the death of her lover.

3 Thumbs-UpAt just under 200 pages, this is a good fast paced read that is a promising start to the Rogue Hunter series.  However, for those who may find them offensive, it does include LGBT relationship scenarios and, with this in mind some readers may want to avoid it.

As befits the beginning of a series of short books that mesh together as they progress, there is little or almost no character development in this piece.  The main protagonist is an ‘anti-hero’ type of strong female, but as to why she is this way, I couldn’t seem to find in my reading through this book.  It was not just the main character that seemed to lack any colour, most of them were so flat that if they weren’t mentioned for a couple of pages the reader could easily forget about them and what role they were playing in the whole storyline.  A great step forward for this book, and I’m not sure if the Author is intending to do this as the series progresses, would be to develop the characters more by giving them more of a back story that the reader can relate to and, in time, possibly come to care about them.  As it reads at the moment, the characters just appear, and we are left wondering what is to come.  I also felt that the sex scene in the book was a little gratuitous and did take away from the story at that point.

Having said this though the book does take place in the grand sweeping arena of outer space, which allows the reader’s imagination to run rampant and fill in the descriptive blanks with any manner of alien life forms; the Author also has taken a great deal of time to include a lot of detail to aid the imagination on its journey.  The action is definitely fast paced and keeps the pages turning, especially once you reach the main part of the plot, and this made up for the lack of development in the novellas characters and kept me reading to the end.  Unlike so many e-books out in the market-place currently, there was ample evidence that time and care had been taken when editing this one, as it was not filled with grammatical and proofreading problems; a lot of readers find these irksome to say the least so it was a pleasant change to read one that was so error-free.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of lighter science fiction, and also those who enjoy the Star Wars series.

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Review: Halls of Ivy: Pathfinder (Halls of Ivy, #2) ~ Roland Nuñez

Halls of IvyFollowing last year’s suicide scandals, Sun Valley University is finally taking its first steps to recovery.

Cheyenne Winters, now suspicious of the university administration, returns to Sun Valley to find out what other secrets it hides. She gets involved in a budget war between the university’s faculty and staff that surfaces a larger conspiracy involving everyone on campus.

Enlisting the help of science professor Steven Garcia, Cheyenne endeavors to put an end to the lies once and for all. That is, unless Steven’s own secrets get in the way.

Told through intertwining stories of Cheyenne and her students, Pathfinder continues the university thriller series chronicling Sun Valley University’s downfall.

4 Thumbs-Up

This book is the second book in a series of four, Halls of Ivy, and continues following the students and faculty the reader was introduced to in the first novel, Halls of Ivy.  This book does not have to be read as part of the series, as the Author thoughtfully included the biographies of all the characters from the first book, making it a good stand-alone read.  However, to truly grasp all the nuances it would be advised to read book one first.

In this novel the reader follows the students they met in book one as they advance into their second year of university and, as there are two more novels to come we can be sure that we will be seeing them again as the reader follows them through to the end of their studies.   Also the Author has included several sub plots that provide enough twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes, and also give us an insight into the fact that academia may not be the peaceful vocation some imagine it to be.  This serves to make the book more readable, as opposed to the dissertation style writing that was encountered in the first novel.

As in the first book, the Author has continued telling the events taking place through the use of biographies and transcripts of interviews that the main female lead conducts with numerous college students this provides a good continuation from the first novel and makes the reader feel at ease and familiar with the characters, although to add a nice twist and some extra depth to these characters there are a few revelations that appear regarding them.  Again there is not any really deep character developments, but  the foundations of the back story and interesting character traits for the female lead, that were laid in book one are continued in this installment of the series.

I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I did the first in the series, and was pleased to see that the Author’s writing style had developed considerably; I would recommend this book to lovers of the mystery genre, and those looking for a good but thoughtfully written read.

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Review: The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars, #1) ~ Frank Beddor

The Looking Glass WarsAlyss of Wonderland?
When Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, must flee through the Pool of Tears to escape the murderous aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carroll, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!
Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may eventually battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions surrounding mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination

3 Thumbs-UpThis is NOT Alice in Wonderland, it is the first novel in The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy and a debut work for this Author.

 Also, I have to say that this was a lot more interesting to read than the original Alice and, in some way this book could even be said to be nudging into the Steampunk genre.  Without giving away any spoilers, I’m going to say if you are looking for the drug crazed explanation people like to put behind Carroll’s book, don’t read this book.  If you’re looking for an enjoyably good read, and are prepared to have an open mind, settle in for the night.

The intent of this book is both intriguing and audacious, with a hint of healthy disrespect thrown in for good measure.  The Author does away with clichéd characterisations in his writing, and makes all the players in this Trilogy exactly who they seem.  There are no grey areas, good and bad, or hidden agendas that the reader has to get their minds round but even so, some of the characters in the novel may seem striking familiar giving a feeling in the back of the mind that they have been encountered somewhere before.  This lack of development of characters, and even the lack of a devious plot twist, made this book a little hard to digest, and I kept thinking that it would pick up and have me beginning to actually care about Alyss as the pages turned.  This was not to be, I found her to be spoilt and imperious; disrespectful and a downright bore at times.

Location descriptions were a little better for me, as it brought into the book an aspect that was lacking in its one-dimensional characters.  I was made to think of ‘Whoville’ and ‘Oz’ (as it appears in the recent release of this take), and I could actually see the colours and places in my mind.  This brought me to thinking that maybe a more suitable medium for this book would have been a graphic novel, were the artwork plays a more integral part in the story telling, and there isn’t as much expectation from the writing side of the house.  Another reasoning behind my thinking this would fare better as a graphic novel is that it was the image on the dust jacket of the book, and the artistic representations of the suits in a deck of cards that first attracted me to the Trilogy; I was hoping the writing contained in its pages would do justice to the graphics unfortunately it was not to be.

When reworking a classic, I feel it must always be done with some measure of guile and finesse, neither of which I found to be in evidence here. All that the Author seems to have produced in this novel is a sloppily plotted mish-mash of ideas, which failed to convince me in any way.  I will read the remainder of the Trilogy, however, to see if the writing style does improve and that this book was just a case of first work nerves coming through on the page.

I would recommend this to teens, as this is the demographic it appears to be aimed at, but also to anyone wanting a quick read that they don’t have to put too much thought into.

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Review: Lexicon (The Young Witch’s Chronicles #2) ~ Calista Anastasia

LexiconMercy is trying to control her new-found powers. Although she is outwardly living as a ‘normal’ teen, attending high school in her home town, she is enrolled in witching lessons as dispensed by Darynda, her trainer on WTC (The Witch’s Training Channel). Oh, and BTW, Alistair, her grandmother’s cat, has been appointed her guardian. A new threat arises as The Dark Coven tries to take over the town and restore their lost powers. Mercy must battle The Dark Coven, keep her boyfriend, Greg, in the dark and keep him from being jealous of Charlie, the hunky teenager she has somehow manifested.

 5 Thumbs-UpThis is the second instalment of The Young Witch’s Chronicles, but the first of the series that I have read.

The fact that I didn’t read Book 1 in this series in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book, which works just as well as a stand-alone.  It’s true I may have missed some of the characters back stories and development when the foundations were laid in the earlier instalment, but this is such a fun and easy to read book it really didn’t matter.  The main character lead reminded me very much of Samantha from the old TV series ‘Bewitched’, but her personality and the way she approached things also contained elements of ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’.  She has two best friends and a boyfriend, apart from that the reader doesn’t need to know anymore about her when they enter this series a book in.

The thing I did find interesting in this book aimed at younger teens upwards, was the writers skilful use of pathetic fallacy, that starts early in the novel and continues throughout.  This is something readers rarely see in a book with this target demographic, and it is seamlessly included in the pages of this one.  This shows a great skill on the part of the writer, which in turn makes this book accessible to readers of a more mature age who are looking for something entertaining and enjoyable.  It is apparent that the Author has a wide and creative imagination that is obviously fuelled by the inner child she has not let die, as this novel gives a gateway to complete escapism from the strains and stresses of modern-day life to readers of all ages.  There is nothing in this book that could offend the overly sensitive or the politically correct crowd; the only people who may have issues with it are the devoutly religious, but then again I doubt that they would pick this up based purely on the title.

Even though this is listed as being a YA Fantasy, I would highly recommend it to readers from young teens upwards; also lovers of the fantasy genre and books about magic and witches would most likely find this enjoyable read.  I am looking forward to reading the next instalment in the Chronicles, and will be reading Book 1 to see if I missed anything important.

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