Book Review : Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity  by Pete Planisek

Book Review : Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity by Pete Planisek

Book Review –

Free eBook Giveaway : Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity

by Pete Planisek

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Rodney Strong
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A Nicely Written Story

It’s always tricky to take a well known literary world and expand on it.  In this case the world, as the title suggestions, is that of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

In this book, the family Frankenstein faces new challenges, as well as the possible return of the demon that Victor Frankenstein created.

The story generally flows well, although it does get bogged down in patches.  The writing is very good, and captures the period perfectly, and the world Planisek has created is fleshed out nicely.

There were some minor issues with formatting of the epub version I received which made following the constant chopping between POV difficult to follow, and the introduction of characters only to not see them again for some time, does make things stutter a bit.

Overall though a nicely written story.  4/5 Stars.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

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Book Review –  Mares Nest by Larry Darter

Book Review – Mares Nest by Larry Darter

Book Review –

Mares Nest (A T.J. O’Sullivan Novel)

by Larry Darter

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Rodney Strong
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Fun and Easy to Read

T.J O’Sullivan is an LA private investigator hired for a missing person case in Hawaii. As soon as she arrives things take a dramatic turn and suddenly she finds herself in a race to get a kidnapping victim back, as well as the ransom, all while fending off the lecherous advances of her client.

Darter has an easy writing style that suits the fast paced nature of thrillers.  This was a short book compared to others, and the first three quarters of the book flew past in no time at all.  The author has a good grasp of action sequences, and although the characters were a little cliched, they were well written and T.J in particular is a good mix of physically and mentally tough.

The author has given T.J a New Zealand background, and as a New Zealander myself it was fun to see the colloquialisms mixed throughout the book.  However there were instances where it jarred and didn’t fit with my image of the character.

There was a lull in the book in patches where the author seemed to be setting things up for future books rather than focusing on the story at hand, which was a little distracting, but overall I enjoyed the read.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

 


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 A Fast-Paced and Exciting Ride!

Hold on tight!  Larry Darter’s new series starring private investigator T.J. O’Sullivan is a fast-paced and exciting ride with plenty of twists and turns along the way!  T.J. is smart, tough, cheeky, highly skilled, and very self-confident. She’s definitely a gal to be reckoned with.

We first met T.J. when she helped Los Angeles PI Ben Malone on a case in Cold Comfort. Now Malone has sent her off on her own to Hawaii to try to find the missing daughter of a wealthy client. Immediately T.J. finds that the case is far more complicated than first described.  Mare’s Nest is an idiom that refers to a deliberate hoax and that’s exactly what T.J. stumbles upon. Danger abounds, especially when T.J. discovers that she’s been set up to take the fall for murder.

Actually I liked T.J. as a character a lot and I do hope author Darter will continue to bring us more T.J. Sullivan suspense thrillers. I especially liked the friendship she develops with a pilot named Jackie (every woman needs a real friend!) as well as a more romantic relationship with a police detective.

One issue that must be addressed: how much detail do we need to know about a protagonist in a suspense-thriller? We don’t want so much that the momentum is slowed down. But we don’t want so little information about the protagonist that the reader is left frustrated rather than intrigued. I would have been happy to have learned more about T.J.: why she ended up in L.A. instead of her native New Zealand, where she learned all those skills, and most of all, not just what she does, but also what she thinks and feels about the life she lives. Maybe future installments of the T.J. O’Sullivan series will fill in her picture.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Desert Jade

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Book Review –  The Carnival Keepers  by Amber Gulley

Book Review – The Carnival Keepers by Amber Gulley

Book Review –

The Carnival Keepers

by Amber Gulley

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Rodney Strong
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A Solid Book With a Promise of Something Special

The Carnival Keepers by Amber Gulley follows the misadventures of James over the course of one day, as he seeks to complete a series of random bets made with his friend.  At least they seem random to James, but just like the carnival that has set up next to the river, there is more than meets the eye in this story.

This was a tricky book to read.  Early on in the story a character is brutally murdered by an unseen creature and things looked like they were heading down one path, only to take strange and unexpected turns along the way.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it means The Carnival Keepers is a book you need to focus on when reading, as it cuts between sets of characters, and between first and third person POV, quite a bit.

There were some very well written passages in the book, especially the action sequences, where the author lets things flow and everything moves along at a cracking pace.  It’s the other parts where the story fell down for me.  It was a little like death by adjective in places, with it not uncommon to find sentences containing three or four of them.  The over abundance of descriptions serves to slow the story down.  The second concern I had with the story is that there never seemed to be a clear idea of where it was going.  It ducked and weaved so much it was difficult to see where the author was going, which is a shame because the premise and the early stages of the story held such promise.

As I said Gulley writes extremely well in places and I will be interested to look at some of her other work to see what evolves, but for me this was a solid book with a hint of what could have been special.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

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Book Review – No More Heroes by Roo I. MacLeod

Book Review – No More Heroes by Roo I. MacLeod

Book Review –

No More Heroes

by Roo I. MacLeod

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Rodney Strong
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Book Review by Rodney Strong

Difficult to get into but picks up the pace nicely…

No More Hereos is a dystopian thriller set in some unknown time where society is governed by the Man, and various factions fight against each other. In the middle of all this is Ben, the protagonist who really just wants to keep his head down and drift through life. He’s run away from the draft, not interested in fighting in the Man’s war, and now dodges the Army, amongst others. His life is drinking and smoking and hanging out with friends. Until one day an old friend shows up asking him to deliver a bag to his mother for him. Before Ben can answer chaos erupts and the friend is killed and the bag disappears. The only trouble is alot of people seem to think Ben still has the bag. And thus the plot develops.

I liked the character of Ben. At first he seems a little one dimensional, but as the book goes on we begin to see different deeps to his personality. Likewise some of the secondary characters are well formed and in varying stages of likeability (You’re not supposed to like them all, which means the author has done their job right).

The plot does wear thin in spots and there are some scenes that seem to be there for padding, not really adding to the main story, but the description of the action is done well, and there’s plenty of it.

I did find the first 40-50 pages difficult to get into though. There was a lot of overwriting in the beginning, with almost wall to wall adjectives for a bit. However the author settled into their work nicely, and the story really started to flow.

I would read more work from this author, and the ending of the book sets up a sequel, so it will be interesting to see where Ben goes next.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

 
Book Review – A NECESSARY END by Diana Rubino

Book Review – A NECESSARY END by Diana Rubino

Book Review –

A NECESSARY END, The Act of a Desperate Rebel

by Diana Rubino

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An Entertaining, if Slightly too Long, Book.  Would Look for Other Work by Ms. Rubino

“A Necessary End” re-imagines the events leading up to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, told from the assassins point of view.  Throw in some supernatural elements and great attention to detail of living during those times and you get an entertaining, if slightly too long, book.

The author has obviously done her homework when it comes to creating an authentic world.  The detail is superb and the readers get a  clear sense of the conflict between the Confederate and Union sides of the civil war.  John Wilkes Booth is both a compassionate, and ruthless man who is driven to take action against an unjust president who breaks a promise to spare the life of a friend.  Over the course of the book he forms conspiracies, even while there are those that conspire against him.  At the same time he is haunted by a spirit, and this increasingly directs his actions.

This is a long book, and at times I felt frustrated at all the sub plots and, how all the female characters swooned over Booth.  It became a little repetitive, especially as the book progressed.  It felt like twenty pages could have been knocked off the total and we still would have had the essential story and characters.

It’s these little frustrations that stopped me from getting completely immersed in the book, and therefore giving it a 5 star rating.

Having said that, I was overall entertained by the book, and would look for other work by the same author.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint”

 
Book Review – Final Notice by Van Fleisher

Book Review – Final Notice by Van Fleisher

by Rodney Strong 0 Comments

Book Review – Final Notice

by Van Fleisher

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Rodney Strong
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Shrabastee Chakraborty
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A Solidly Written Book that Just wasn’t Thrilling enough for me

“A new smart watch has the ability to predict how long someone has to live, sending them a “Final Notice” to get their affairs in order.  Everyone reacts differently, but in some cases, getting their affairs in order means picking up a gun and killing other people, or themselves.

Final Notice is billed as a political thriller, which is the biggest issue I had with the story.  When I hear the description “thriller” I assume edge of the seat, lots of action and suspense.  Unfortunately Final Notice didn’t have any of those things.  It was a solidly written book, but in my opinion definitely not a thriller. Making the company manufacturing the watches, cooperative and the good guys really took away a prime opportunity for conflict.

There were some nicely written passages, and I particularly liked the relationship between Vince and Trudi, and really liked the nice little twist from Trudi at the end.  However there were too many characters introduced, and most of them were superfluous to the story, even the FBI agent seemed to have little to do, and didn’t add any tension to the plot at all.

The author fell right into the trap of telling rather than showing readers, and there was quite a bit of over writing in places. Also the author took readers out of the story at times by adding little notes from the author into the text, which were distracting and unnecessary.


The Reviewer is the Author of Troy’s Possibilities

 

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To Whatever Genre it May Fit, “Final Notice” is a Grand Book

Wow!, Just Wow! That was my first thought when I finished this book. Normally I would write a synopsis first but I found this difficult to do, so bear with me.

The main story follows the testing stage of the VT2, a new sport watch- and I use the term loosely – which monitors your body and blood to the extent that it can accurately predict (within 30 days) when you will die. The watch sends out a Final Notice giving the wearer the number of days they have left. So what would you do if you knew you only had X number of days to live? Would you make sure your affairs were in order and say your goodbyes or would you settle a grievance with a gun, knowing that you would never have to pay for your crime?

This book follows the stories of several Final Notice recipients who did just that. The FBI becomes involved when it’s realised there is a link between some recent, and perhaps strange, murders and the VT2.

But there is also the story of Vince (70) and his wife Trudi who rail against the easy availability of guns until an incident that leaves them feeling the frailty of their age. They are truly conflicted.

This book is set in the near future and powerfully highlights the political influence of the NRA, but other social issues such as the indifference and lack of respect spot wards the ageing and the growing hatred of foreigners, especially Muslims, are also approached within the story.

It took me a few pages to understand how this story was put together, but once I did, I was fully engrossed in all of it. It is a complex tale of serious topics but it is tempered by moments of humour and the odd step out of the story by the author. I loved that. It made it quite personal, in effect giving you a kind of relationship with the author as well as the main characters. Very brave, Mr Fleisher.

The main characters are well developed and the book moves at a rollicking pace. I’m not sure where it fits in; it’s touted a s thriller and mildly sci fi, but I’m not sure it fits either of those well. Social commentary perhaps, but wherever it fits, it’s a grand book and I look forward to the next one


Originally posted on “Once Upon a Place” Blog
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Thought-Provoking Novel, but Not Much ‘Thrill’.

“What would you do if you knew- for certain- that you had one week to live?” -the very first question Van Fleisher raises at the start of “Final Notice” jolts the readers. While we keep pondering over this, a high-tech company is shown to introduce a health-monitoring watch that can accurately predict the user’s death within a time limit of a week. With this knowledge of impending death, some people use the remaining time putting their affairs in order or standing up for their ideals one last time; while others kill people they had issues with, thus settling the score once and for all.
The author plunges into an intricate account of US society and introduces a plethora of characters: Vince and Trudy Fuller, an elderly couple; Vijay Patel, the inventor of VitalTech; Quasim and Rasha Melho, an immigrant couple; Zoe Brouet, a Special Agent of FBI; Senator John McAdam- to name a few.
Several other questions gradually come into focus: by encouraging possession and use of guns, will NRA help to counter violence, or rather increase it? Will arming the school teachers and common people help them prevent mass shooting at schools and other acts of crime, or will that prove to be a disaster just waiting to happen? How does ‘NRA Senior Discount’ on guns affect the judgement of the elderly people, who often have to suffer humiliation and disrespect from younger generation? How do the immigrants in USA feel when racist comments are directed towards them?
Described as a ‘political thriller’, the story has a definite political undertone, but does not elicit much thrill. The pace, at least in the first few chapters, is too slow for my choice. The narration is frequently interspersed with side notes from the author and musings of the characters, without which the story could have been more compact. Background details of many characters are given, which seems unnecessary. Also, the dialogues sometimes sound like staged monologues, not real conversations.

In spite of those shortcomings, I feel the story-line is perfectly relevant in today’s society, as it addresses several crucial questions and makes the reader think and re-think their answers. The main characters show bravery, goodwill and compassion for their fellow humans; their actions often implore us to rise over petty vengeance or personal grudges and to be kind.
The last twist is unexpected, and while it reflects good intent from Trudy’s part, I leave it to the readers to decide whether it is justified or not. Finally, the end of the story holds a beacon of hope for a better future.

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Book Review – Desert Jade by C. J. Shane

Book Review – Desert Jade by C. J. Shane

by Rodney Strong 1 Comment

Book Review – Desert Jade

by C. J. Shane

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Book Review by Rodney Strong

I’d be happy to read anything from the author in future!

Desert Jade starts in the desert with the desperate struggle of an illegal immigrant, and over the course of the book takes in murders, Chinese triads, and rather surprisingly, love.

C.J Shane has written a solid thriller, with some particularly descriptive passages of the desert, and of Tucson. The characters are well drawn, and although there are a lot of them, the author mostly manages to juggle them successfully. A minor quibble here is that Shane spends quite a bit of time on characters that aren’t seen for most of the book, which distracts from the main story.  For example the entire first section is about a Mexican woman being rescued from the desert, and then we don’t see her again until the very end of the book.

Letty is a likeable character, and it was nice to have a private investigator that wasn’t hard-boiled, or burnt out.  She has her demons, like everyone, but they help round out her character rather than dominating her actions.

There is a little too much exposition in places, which slows the action down. In several spots the characters relate story aspects to other characters, that the reader already knows, so there’s a sense of repetition.  Also some of the dialogue is a bit stilted.

Tightening up these areas could have turned a good book into a great book.  Having said that I’d be happy to read anything from the author in future.

4 stars out of 5


The Reviewer is the Author of Troy’s Possibilities

 
Book Review – The Master by Dora Ilieva

Book Review – The Master by Dora Ilieva

Book Review – The Master

by Dora Ilieva

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Book Review by Rodney Strong

Bored with working at Starbucks – The Master is a solid book but not spectacular

The Master, by Dora Ilieva sees Kossara Kirilova being offered a job.  A chance to track down a long missing book.  Bored with working at Starbucks, and keen to utilise her brain once more she accepts the challenge, and soon finds her way from Canada to Europe, where she must keep her wits about her at all times if she’s going to survive.

There are some nice descriptive passages throughout the book, especially where it comes to locations in Europe, and the Bogomils.  Some of the dialogue is stilted, but it mostly flows well, and there is a clear sense of relationship between Kossara, Ben, and Sam.

The Master is billed as a thriller but for me there was a distinct lack of tension in the book.  There’s no sense that they are actually getting close to finding the book, and although the villian’s make several threats, Kossara and her friends are never aware of them.  Most of the deaths that occure could have been natural causes, so there’s no sense of fear from the protagonists.

Aside from an intriguing prologue there is no understanding of what’s so important about the book that people would kill for it, so the reader doesn’t know what the stakes are, and neither do the protagonists.  As far as they know they are just looking for a historical book.  The other thing that stood out was the number of coincidences that happened to push the story along.  It was almost as if the author hit a wall in the story so put in a family on a metro to provide an important clue, for example.

While Kossara is mostly well written, she is an inconsistent character.  She’s suspicious of the job offer, but completely oblivious to the coincidences of Pedro following her around.  In one scene she’s a strong, independent woman, in the next she’s indecisive and relying on her friends.

The book ends rather abruptly, which makes me wonder if there is a sequel planned, but there is no real resolution for any of the characters which is a little frustrating.

Dora Ilieva has some good plot ideas and executes some of them well.  Unfortunately there is too much repetition.  There is a descriptive passage used as a clue to the book’s hiding place, which is repeated three or four times in full.

For me, this was a solid book without being spectacular.

3 stars out of 5