Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Shadow In The Flames by Michael G. Munz

★★★✩✩ 
Michael Flynn and Diomedes live on the outskirts of Northgate, a futuristic city rotting from its own violence and corruption. When their apartment is torched they decide to find the culprit themselves. Informants and dubious contacts help them navigate the city's underbelly but their actions quickly become entangled with the covert operations of a secret organization. This is the first book within The New Aeneid Cycle.

A Shadow In The Flames is a cyberpunk story with an interesting dystopian world. The story centers around an extensive investigation with perceptive characters whose deductive reasoning and observations are exhibited in detail. At times it was a bit too descriptive for my tastes but it enabled me to appreciate other elements of the story.

The characters were an interesting mix of different personalities. I liked reading there interactions with each other and the different relationships that formed. Michael Flynn's character was naive and impressionable which annoyed me a bit but it was interesting seeing how the other character's influenced him. Felix was my favorite character in the story. He added a comedic touch and had the best dialog. I found Diomedes the most interesting because he seemed like a product of the city's mercenary culture.

The world building stood out to me the most while reading. I liked the embedded references to Virgil's Aeneid. I also liked the different subcultures of the city that were highlighted. The cybernetic enhancements were interesting and I really liked how they were incorporated into the story.

My favorite chapters were probably the ones that showcased a discovery mining expedition on the moon. They had a nice bit of suspense and I was eager to learn their connection to the main story and characters.

The last few chapters were wonderfully unexpected. Though it ended on a cliffhanger, loose ends were tied up along with a good amount of character growth and continuing conflict that made me eager to continue reading the series.


[Disclaimer: I received a copy this book as part of the Zeus Is Dead launch celebration bonus offer.]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Washed Hands by Jonathan Charles Bruce

★★★★★ 
Washed Hands, Inc. is a business that mediates the break up process between couples. Monica Deimos specializes in handling cases where the separation has escalated to potential violence. A botched case forces her to intervene but when the client's spouse winds up dead with all the evidence incriminating Monica, it quickly becomes apparent that this is more than just another break up.      

Washed Hands is a thrilling murder mystery with a modern noir twist. Monica is reminiscent of the iconic hardboiled detective with a narrative that establishes a witty and engaging tone to a suspenseful, fast paced story.

I really enjoyed reading washed hands. I liked its ability to present an unusual concept and flesh it out enough to feel plausible. The business structure and its operations were interesting. I liked that it incorporated a broad perspective on relationships and the different types of domestic violence.

The characters were likable and I found them more endearing the more I got to know them. I especially liked Monica's character. She's a blunt and assertive heroine whose intellect and detective skills are continually tested throughout the story. While her logical and snarky commentary offsets the perilous position she finds herself in.

The story was well paced and I liked the complexity of the different dilemmas in play. It created an underlying sense of suspense that was consistently present throughout the story. The action scenes were well composed especially the fight scenes. The overall mystery was well crafted with surprising twists and escalating tension that made it an engaging story to read.

[Note: I received my initial copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have since personally purchased it.]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

★★★  
Thomas awakens upon a rising platform with no specific memories about his life other than his name. He emerges from the darkness into The Glade, the living quarters of a small community surrounded by an intricate maze. His arrival signals the beginning of drastic changes to the order they have come to rely upon. Now they must solve the maze and escape or die within it. This is the first book in The Maze Runner trilogy it is also preceded by a prequel.

The Maze Runner is a post apocalyptic, science fiction story within the young adult genre. The first part of the story deals with the main character adjusting to life in The Glade. The descriptions are visually vivid and the world building is interesting. I liked the secondary characters and enjoyed seeing the different relationships portrayed. I also liked how their culture, language and society framework were showcased.   

It took me a while to get into the story mainly because I didn't find the prominent amnesia issue all that interesting. Around the halfway point surfacing memories in other characters casts a different perspective on the main character. From that point onward I was thoroughly engaged. The second portion of the book is fast paced with increased action and suspense. It ends on a cliff hanger with unanswered questions that sets the foundation for the following books in the series. The Maze Runner is a fairly straightforward easy read with a mild tone that has some violence but avoids being excessively dark.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett

★★★★
Joe Stanton awakens convinced that his daughter is dead but he never had any children to begin with. As the grief and hysteria subsides it's replaced by an elusive voice along with visions of a fantastical realm. He attracts the attention of a rogue paramilitary group intent on unlocking the secrets of his subconscious mind with the latest biomedical technology. Each passing moment becomes deadlier as Joe tries to understand and grasp the enormity of the task thrust upon him.

Exodus 2022 is a science fiction thriller about an ecological apocalypse that's set into motion. I really liked the structure and format of the book. The story is fast paced with short chapters that enhance the suspense. Each chapter ends with a cliff hanger that demands the reader continue to read. Though there was a compulsion to devour the book, I found it made a great book to accompany me throughout the day because the chapters can be read within a short amount of time.  

I enjoyed reading Exodus 2022, it's a wonderful blend of mystery and suspense that tells a compelling full length story. It's visually descriptive with a focus on action that gives the story a cinematic feel. The story's setting especially the oceanic and wilderness landscapes are beautifully portrayed. I liked that specific details and relevant facts were used when describing weapons, equipment, strategies, and scientific concepts. 

I adored the story's imaginative interpretation of environmentalism and inclusion of orca whales. I liked that the story was able to interweave environmental ideas as well as biblical themes without being condescending or preachy. They were depicted in a way that allowed the story to forge its own identity. I loved that the story approached the apocalypse genre from a different angle especially in terms of the main character's motivation. The ending was unexpected and I really liked the ideas it presented.


[Note: I personally purchased an ebook version of this book but I also won a physical copy through a blog tour giveaway sponsored by the publisher, Booktrope.]