Nite Fire: Flash Point, by C. L. Schneider

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4 stars

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Flash Point was an intriguing novel to say the least. If you’re a lover of dragons and half-breeds, this is right up your alley. Dahlia Nite, our heroine, fled her world because of one mistake. Now she must protect her new home from the threat of powerful creatures—and from a plot deeper than she can imagine, of course.


This entire novel is very well-written. The author paid close attention to detail and the story really came to life in the mind of the reader. So much attention was paid to the worldbuilding. I loved the setting, and I loved how the author separated the two worlds.


It took me a little while to warm up to Dahlia. At first I thought it was because she was so good at everything—I’m not going to say she didn’t make mistakes; she did, even though it didn’t always feel like that. I spent some time thinking about why it bothered me so much and I realized that it was the first-person tone that was used. For me, personally, there are two types of tones when it comes to telling a story through first-person perspective: self-absorbed and casual (I’m currently working on an adequate way to explain what I mean by this, I promise). I think without meaning to, Dahlia took on that self-absorbed tone which succeeded in turning me off of her character at the beginning. As the story progressed, though, Dahlia really grew on me and the tonality was something I was able to successfully overlook.


If that happened to be my biggest complaint of the novel, I’d call that a win. I liked the story, the story progression, and the other characters. I was genuinely afraid that a notorious love triangle was going to come along and complicate character relationships. In this novel at least, that fear was assuaged. The author set up Dahlia’s backstory nicely and it fit in well with the plot. By the end of it, I was really happy that the author chose a female protagonist. I just don’t see the story being the same without her.


For all personal hang-ups, this turned out to be a worthwhile read. It piqued my interest in the rest of Dahlia’s adventures, and I can only hope that the final climax is as epic as the novel appears to be building towards. Well done.


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The Rain (The Government Rain Mysteries), by L. A. Frederick

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For me, this one started weird and took some time to adjust to the writing style. Given the genre, some level of ambiguity is expected. Enough of it builds tension and creates the desire for the reader to continue on. The opening of this felt too ambiguous.


Once beyond that, however, and into the main story, the curtain raised.


Deadly experiments by the government (who else?) to study a very special group of people bring a very unlikely cast together to uncover the truth of the rain before it’s too late.


Rain is told through alternating point of views, both good and bad. It felt more like a rounded story, being able to see Doctor Zhirkov’s side of the ordeal; it made him feel more like a character and less of a plot device. We got to see him face off against Evaline the reporter and Reinhardt the vigilante firsthand. It allowed for the reader to gather information without lots of monologuing or following the same character from start to finish. Perspective switches were smooth as well. They gave adequate indication of the person, setting, and time, much in the way Stephen King separates his chapters.


All of the characters were connected, a detail the author paid close attention to. Details didn’t really feel muddled between them. The reasons behind their individual story lines were emotional and provided good character motivation.


There’s editing needed. There are some elements of backstory (like how Evaline began her research project into this mysterious underbelly) that were either left out, or not explained very well. Remember when I said there was a lot of ambiguity? Things do clear up the farther into the story the reader gets, but there’s still some small, fine details like that for continuity’s sake that were missing.


This was still a very interesting novel. Quite a bit of imagination and creativity went into not just the experiments, but the mutations as well. Reading a sequel would definitely not be out of the equation for me.


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Assassin: The Killing Grounds, by Simon Corn

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Becoming an assassin on the Killing Grounds isn’t easy. It’s merciless. Not just the training. Everything is a competition to be the best. Alara’s come to train with the best. Except–oops. The best goes missing.


The author did a wonderful job with the presentation of the Assassin’s Guild. In many ways, it felt different than traditional portrayal. While many stories tend to put emphasis on the importance of the Guild, lots of them fail to elevate that fact. Not so much this Guild. It serves many important purposes. They range from a setting, to a character itself.


There’s a few different story lines present. They’re unique to the characters, even though they’re intertwined. All of them are necessary to the plot and serve to push it forward. Alara, I’m very pleased to announce, managed to be female lead without an actual love story. She was fairly well-written, too. The fact that powerful women had positions of power, without being one extreme stereotype or another was awesome.


Action scenes weren’t bad. They weren’t wordy and flowy. Nor were they super-technical and dry. A nice medium existed between the two. Character motions and actions did get a little repetitive on occasion. I liked the way the character development played out, for the most part. There were times I felt things were a little too on the easy side for Alara. The ending certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I liked the twists, but one of them came out of left field. A little foreshadowing would have helped the build-up and make the resolution a little cleaner.


Killing Grounds did a lot right in terms of story, development, and characters. There’s some polishing needed regarding the more technical aspects. Paragraphs felt clumped together weird and too long in certain areas. A lot of information came with those paragraphs, so breaking them up would make things easier to read. Sentences, especially towards the end, felt much the same as the paragraphs. The closer it got to the end, the more rushed things felt. There’s a lot happening at once, and some of it feels like chaos.


Sequels and follow-ups for the characters are in the works. I’m kind of excited for that. Even the supporting characters were interesting enough that I want to read their personal stories. Whether or not they follow the main plot of Killing Grounds remains to be seen. This has serious potential to be an excellent series.


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