Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: The Lost Testament by James Becker

Title: The Lost Testament
Series: Chris Bronson
Author: James Becker
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: November 7, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 0857500910
ISBN-13: 9780857500915

For thousands of years we guarded it. But now it has been found. This could be the end - for us; for our organisation; for the world. You must destroy it, and those who have taken it.

An ancient object is discovered in a Cairo souk. Hours later, the market trader who sold it is tortured to death. As the bodies begin to pile up, a request for help is sent to British Museum historian Angela Lewis.

Angela travels to Spain with her ex-husband, undercover police officer Chris Bronson. There they discover the key to the greatest secret in the history of Christianity.

Their only problem is deciphering it before they are brutally murdered like those before them...

My rating:

It took me three days to get to page 135. And not because I'm a slow reader. Everything else seemed to be slow, though.

The blurb (and the beginning) promised something akin to a Dan Brown novel (I know, I'm mentioning the guy a lot lately), but unfortunately it didn't deliver. At least not until the point I stopped reading. A book like this is supposed to suck you in and spit you out at the very end, not offer you tea and hope you'll stick around.
I don't like tea that much.

When, on the fourth day, I opened the book again, I just sighed when reading the first paragraph, closed it, and placed it in my to-give-away box. But I'll just probably give it away to the library. I know they won't resent me.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: Hidden Order by Brad Thor

Title: Hidden Order
Series: Scot Harvath
Author: Brad Thor
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 1476717109
ISBN-13: 9781476717104

The most secretive organization in America operates without any accountability to the American people. Hiding in the shadows, pretending to be part of the United States government, its power is beyond measure. Control of this organization has just been lost and the future of the nation thrust into peril.

When the five candidates being considered to head this mysterious agency suddenly go missing—and soon turn up as murder victims—covert counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath is summoned to Washington and set loose on the most dangerous chase ever to play out on American soil. With the United States on the verge of collapse, Harvath must untangle a web of conspiracies going back to the 1700s and head off the greatest threat America has ever seen.

My rating:

Well, this most certainly would've gotten a higher rating if I haven't read Forsyth's The Kill List first. After reading that one, the pacing in Mr. Thor's novel was a lot slower, some information and although I appreciated the suspense plot (though somewhat similar at the beginning to The Kill List's rescue operation in Somalia), everything else seemed rather redundant. Also, the information the hero (and the reader) needed in order for the plot to progress—the historical background—was presented in a rather academic and boring fashion. I love history, but I just wasn't interested all that much.

And the second beef I have with this story was the fact it reminded me too much of Brown's Angels and Demons. There were multiple missing important people, a race against time, the main plot taking place in just one city...

When while you're reading everything else is running through your head but the story, the protagonists, or guesses as to who might the villain be, that's not a very good sign.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Review: The Earl's Defiant Wallflower by Erica Ridley

Title:The Earl's Defiant Wallflower
Series: The Dukes of War
Author: Erica Ridley
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: December 1, 2014
Publisher: Intrepid Reads

Oliver York returns from war to find his father dead, his finances in arrears, and himself the new Earl of Carlisle. If he doesn't marry an heiress—and fast!—he and his tenants are going to be pitching tents down by the Thames. He definitely shouldn't be trading kisses with a penniless matter how captivating she is!

Miss Grace Halton is in England just long enough to satisfy the terms of her dowry. But a marriage of convenience isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. Back in America, her ailing mother needs medicine only Grace’s dowry can afford. Which means the dashing earl she can't get out of her mind is the one man she can't let into her heart.

My rating:

***ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley***

I could not have chosen a better book to venture back into the realm of historical romance. It had it all—good, tight plot, flowing narration, humor, drama, romance, a little angst, a wonderful hero that wasn't an ass, a great heroine that wasn't an idiot, the baddie in the form of the heroine's grandparents (the hero should be made a saint for his patience with the grandmother), a clandestine pregnancy, a vegetable of a friend that decided to wake up from his near catatonic state at the most inopportune moment...

I loved it and I can't wait to read more. I already have the "prequel" on my Kindle, and am impatiently waiting for Xavier and Jane's story.

Ms Ridley offered (me) a breath of fresh air on the genre with the story and H/h that veered just enough off the template to keep things fresh, yet not so far to make it all appear foreign. Loved it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review: The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

Title: The Kill List
Author: Frederick Forsyth

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Signet
ISBN: 0451467639
ISBN-13: 9780451467638

In northern Virginia, a secret agency named TOSA (Technical Operations Support Activity) has one mission: to track, find, and kill those so dangerous to the United States that they are on a short, very close-held document known as the Kill List.

Now a new name has been added: a terrorist of frightening effectiveness called the Preacher, who radicalizes young Muslims living abroad to carry out assassinations. Unfortunately for him, one of his targets is a retired Marine general, whose son is TOSA’s top tracker of men.

The Preacher has made it personal—and now the hunt is on….

My rating:

This is a prime example of how a thriller should be written. The reader has to be hooked from the first paragraph and keep turning and turning the pages to see what would happen next, how it would end.

I was hooked from the first paragraph, and I would've kept turning the pages, but I had to take a break somewhere in the middle for work related reasons. What a bummer work is, don't you think?

Mr. Forsyth takes the reader on a globetrotting experience from the US to Afganistan and Pakistan, then back to the UK and over the mediterranean into Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, and Somalia. Also, everybody who is anybody in the espionage, terrorism, and anti-terrorism made an appearance - CIA, TOSA, ISI, SIS, Mossad, al-Qaeda, Somali pirates...And the hero was a Marine, born on November 10 (which also happens to be my birth date).

This was a fast-paced, page-turning, edge-of-your-seat action (toward the end) thriller with a mysterious hero (I loved it, how the author kept calling him Tracker throughout the book) in search of a radical terrorist whose "webinars" kept turning moderate Muslims into full-blown Jihadists...And when the Preacher "made it personal", I knew the fun (if I can even use that word) has just started.
The ending was predictable (no beating around the bush, there was just one way it was going to end), but I loved the unpredictability of how we got to the ending.

What I loved most of all was the narrative style. It was a very journalistic type of narration. Short sentenced, loads of information, a very "objective" author's voice, an omniscient point of view...Yet the story never dragged, it never got boring, no matter who we were seeing in a particular scene or where we were, the pages kept on turning, the story kept on flowing.

This was an amazing piece of fiction that merits its spot on my favorites shelf.