Grave Robbers, by Matt Drabble

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Available June 20th, 2017!

I love it when a book excites me so much that I can’t wait to write a review. Grave Robbers was good. Really good.

A bank robbery botched in a brutal way leads Lucas Grant and his new partner, LT, into the arms of an intense mystery. To be fair, the novel starts intense. Then stays intense. The plot composition fit nice and tight, like the perfect puzzle.
Characters were brilliant. Their personalities and development meshed together so well with the story. They were so well-written–both men and women alike. But, I have so much love and respect for how the women characters were crafted. As characters, I adored all of them. I loved the way the women were received within their story. And all of them were useful, serving to further the plot in one way or another. Equally as important to the story as any of the other characters, without serving as only the “love interest.” Their development was on point.
There are so many things that go well together, and the coolest one thus far has been crime-fiction with zombies. And I’m fairly certain I spotted a nod to George Romero. Which, if it was, was kind of cool because the closer the end gone, the more Land of the Dead it felt. I like the fact that the author takes a different approach to the crime boss that served as the story’s antihero. Comparing character endings, his was my favorite. He had a unique story line that strayed from the stereotypes and norms of the genre. He was also a well-crafted character.
Action is a difficult thing to write. The action scenes in this novel were so awesome. There wasn’t anything flowery or lengthy about the style. Nor was it short and to-the-point. The perfect median between the two, in fact. The wording and pacing helped enhance the imagery. Visualizing everything was simple. I never had a problem seeing exactly what was going on.
It ended in the perfect way. Sure, there’s (hopefully) a huge hint that there’s going to be more. However, I would not be upset at all if this was the only novel. The ending serves both purposes. Not only that, but the stories all wrapped up with an appropriate ending.
This book was awesome. It was a non-stop thrill ride from beginning to end. It’s very rare I come away from a story with zero complaints. An absolute must-read.

Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted, by Angelina Kerner

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4 stars

This is one of the cuter romances I’ve read.

 

Chanel, a senator’s daughter, got a bodyguard for a gift after an altercation with reporters. I think we all know where this is going. And boy, I’m a sucker for that trope.

 

It was nice to see a novel that featured someone with a disability. Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted made use of the most common trope, but strayed enough to stay interesting. There’s not a whole lot I can critique about it, not having the disability myself. I will go so far as to say I thought Chanel was a well-written character.

 

Character interactions were my second favorite part. Dialogue was clunky and awkward in some places. The meaning got through easy enough, however. Character relationships changed and morphed at a nice pace with the plot. We didn’t learn about them all at once. Instead, we put them together piece by piece as the story unfolded.

 

Best of all, I didn’t mind how the relationship progressed. It didn’t feel like it moved too fast or too slow. It felt like a healthy relationship. That goes right back to how the characters interacted with each other.

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this novel. I’m always overly-critical of romance, but this one surprised me enough that I really enjoyed it. I was only left with a few questions when everything was said and done, but I liked the way the ending played out. It really suited the narrative.

 

Buy it here!

 

Related: Deity’s Soulmate

The Quantum Ghost, by Jonathan Ballagh

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Writing sequels and series is tough. Often, they start strong, lose steam about halfway through, and then maybe the ending saves it. Seeing something that could be potentially consistent throughout the series is exciting.

 

Quantum Ghost is the second novel in the series, and it’s as good as the first one. It picks up not long after Quantum Door, with a different main character. A young lady by the name of Remi. While her story is new, Nova’s and AJ’s continue from where they left off. It feels a bit like when the Doctor switches companions. They’re still on a quest, they just get a new teammate. There are some things that won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the first one. I would almost recommend going back and reading Quantum Door first. Even if you don’t, it this will be an excellent read.

 

Writing style still suits the genre. It reads like a young adult book. The kids feel like kids. They have a different voice than the adults. It also reads a little different than the first novel. It stops the voice of the narrator from sounding like the previous characters. It was nice. The pace of this novel was faster than the last one. Lots of action, but plenty of time to lay out the exposition. Getting to know the characters was a pleasure. They stood out from one another, they were three-dimensional. Everything they did drove the story forward. Interactions were flawless. Dialogue never felt clunky or awkward.

 

The portrayal of women continues to be a wonderful talent of this author. They have their own identities separate from any romantic subplot. Personalities mesh and they get along; there’s no competition between them. Again, the narrative shows that men and women can be friends without the need for something more. Nova and Remi could do things on their own. Sure, they needed help from time to time, but their characters weren’t compromised by it.

 

Once more the imagery was fabulous. It wasn’t flowery and flowing, nor was it jargon-heavy, like some descriptors in sci-fi. It reflected the natural progression of the story, aiding in tone and voice. The landscape was consistent with the first one. Hopping right back into the story was easy.

 

I’m really enjoying this series. Quantum Ghost particularly. Still young adult, but the narration feels older than Quantum Door. This is a talented author. The young adult genre needs more authors like this.

 

Buy it here!

Adam, by Shari Sakurai

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4 stars

Set in the future where the rich can buy the traits they want for their kids, Adam is one such person. He’s a rebellious kid, and because of that, he’s always in trouble. Right when he thinks he’s got his life back on track, it keeps knocking him down. Maintaining relationships doesn’t seem to be Adam’s strong suit.

 

The opening had me convinced that Adam was going to be another “bad boy loner” type character. I expected quite a few common tropes to make their way into the writing. That didn’t happen. At least, not in the ways I expected. The author set things up to where situations explain quite a bit of Adam’s personality. The difference is that the author didn’t go overboard with it. He was dark and brooding, that’s for sure. Except Adam was never portrayed as an abusive person. Adam was far from flawless. He wasn’t riddled with flaws, either. The author managed to set up a nice balance with his character.

 

Many of the minor characters had plenty of detail with them. Their character development is as obvious as Adam’s, which was nice. There were some spots where dialogue and exposition were a little clunky. Otherwise, things flowed well. A bit of editing needed here and there, but it won’t knock you out of the story. The writing style suited the narrative. Things paced well, and because of that the story unfolded in a smooth, logical way. The narrative itself had a distinct young adult tone to it, and I’m not sure why.

 

It’s a companion novel to larger series. However, the author takes meticulous care to make sure that the novel can stand alone. As a reader that hasn’t experienced the other series, I never felt lost. The world, people, and situations get summed up in quick ways. The author did their best to make sure they sprinkled all of that throughout the narrative.

 

There were a few areas where tropes that plague LGBT fiction became apparent. While utilized, the author does so in a way that’s enjoyable. Things that happen do, in fact, directly affect the plot. They served a purpose–not added in because ‘why not?’ I liked that.

 

Adam was a nice read. Enjoyable characters that managed to bend stereotypes and an interesting narrative. A companion novel that doesn’t require the reader to know the rest of the series first. I would almost go as far to say it feels like a prequel. It will definitely serve to pique the readers’ interest in the rest of the series!

 

Buy it here!

The Shadow Above the Flames, by Daniel Swenson

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4 stars

Released on June 6th, 2017!

A dragon and a modern setting walked into a bar. Now Henry, ex-military and his brothers’ shadow, has to extract Rick from said bar. And by bar, I mean Ireland. That’s almost the same thing, right?

 

In some ways, Shadow Above the Flames felt like a retelling of the Hobbit. Except there was a small military group instead of dwarves. A data core instead of the Arkenstone. No kingly madness, but the brothers overcame differences that had them distanced.

 

I liked the fact that the author got creative with the modern setting. Mutated squirrels, lizards, and other animals caused problems for the intrepid heroes. Besides the dragon, that is. It managed to separate the novel from common fantasy stereotypes. They were still there, just presented in a way that they didn’t feel overused. The setting also served to offer some great solutions to the conflicts. Plot devices were well thought out. They allowed for unique situations. I liked how the story itself progressed. Things occurred in a logical manner, and at the right time. Not too fast or too slow. There was quite a bit of action, which served to make the story feel fast-paced. Everything served a distinct purpose to further the plot.

 

Dialogue and narration were a little awkward and clunky in some areas. That, in turn, made character interactions a bit forced and unnatural sometimes. Narration and dialogue also had the same tone on occasion. While it was universal, changing the tone could have enhanced reader experience. Description favored telling rather than showing. It doesn’t have the whimsical voice that a lot of fantasy novels have. Which, given the setting, worked out in its favor for the most part. The reader still gets a very good vision of what’s going on.

 

Henry and Rick, as characters, felt fleshed out. They’re noticeably different at the end than at the beginning. It felt like a little less attention got paid to the minor characters. That didn’t do a whole lot to detract from the story itself, though. As a whole, they were all good.

 

I did have one or two questions left at the end. There was a pretty awesome epilogue, so if we’re lucky, there might be future installments? It sets things up to get a whole lot more dangerous. I’d love to see where it manages to go, and what kind of world the author is creating.

One Decent Thing, by Michael E. Wills

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One Decent Thing, by Michael E. Wills…how do I begin explaining the sense of relief I felt as I started into this book? It was that good.

 

The story itself is set in 1975 England, during a time when terrorist bombings were common, thanks to the IRA. Scottie is a middle-aged alcoholic womanizer that lost the love and respect of his ex-wife. And his daughter. The story begins with him visiting his daughter in college.

 

Scottie has a run in with two IRA members along the beach at night as they crash land on the shore. After a dubious moral choice, Scottie is in possession of very sensitive documents. Now here’s where things start to pick up.

 

The action is well-paced and left me on the edge of my seat. It became a heart-pounding ordeal to follow along Scottie’s mishaps. Will he escape this time? Where does he go from there? Things in the story get intricate the deeper into it the reader gets. Both sides were well thought-out in their pursuits. They complimented nicely. The author presents both the IRA and Scottie as people you could run into anywhere. It makes them both sympathetic. There are brief moments of doubt when it comes to what side you’re cheering for. The ending, and what leads up to it, is something between James Bond and Scooby-Doo. The composition is masterful, and so is the execution.

 

Characterization, for the most part, was spot on. For the most part, they had their own tone and voice. There’s two characters later that I had a hard time telling apart. They had similar personalities. Given their proximity, it took a bit more effort to follow along. Still, their interactions flowed well, as did the dialogue.

 

I did have to brush up on my British slang. There are plenty of context clues to make the reading easier. I still found myself looking up more precise definitions to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I never felt like I was being jolted out of the story. If anything, it enhanced the experience. And, I learned a few new things. I love it when novels managed to teach me something new.

 

This was quite the thriller to read. Everything from writing style to character development was excellent. The level of detail and intricacy that went into the intrigue aided the tone. If you’re craving a different, heart-pounding adventure, Michael E. Wills has you covered.

 

Buy it here!