Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

REVIEW: Mr. Monster by Dan Wells

Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
Publishing information: Kindle; 290 pages
Publisher: Tor; 28 September 2010
ISBN 10: 0765327902
ISBN 13: 978-0765327901
Series: Book 2 of the John Cleaver series
Copy: Out of Pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopsis: "I killed a demon. I don’t know if it was really, technically a demon, but I do know that he was some kind of monster, with fangs and claws and the whole bit, and he killed a lot of people. So I killed him. I think it was the right thing to do. At least the killing stopped.

Well, it stopped for a while.

In I Am Not a Serial Killer, John Wayne Cleaver saved his town from a murderer even more appalling than the serial killers he obsessively studies. But it turns out even demons have friends, and the disappearance of one has brought another to Clayton County. Soon there are new victims for John to work on at the mortuary and a new mystery to solve. But John has tasted death, and the dark nature he used as a weapon---the terrifying persona he calls "Mr. Monster"---might now be using him.

No one in Clayton is safe unless John can vanquish two nightmarish adversaries: the unknown demon he must hunt and the inner demon he can never escape.

In this sequel to his brilliant debut, Dan Wells ups the ante with a thriller that is just as gripping and even more intense. He apologizes in advance for the nightmares."

The follow up to I Am Not a Serial Killer takes right up where the first book left off. When John Cleaver takes the cell phone from the last serial killer and calls one of his friends, the killing in his small town begins again. Only this time, John has some personal demons that he must also avoid bringing to the surface. Mr. Monster, his violent personality is fighting for control of John.

In the first novel in the series, we learned that we are not alone and that there are other "creatures" living amongst us. Now, John is being hunted by the previous novels killer. John now has two battles, his personal battle and the battle that has come to find him as the creature is looking for its friend that has disappeared.

Without giving too much away, Mr. Monster is an amazing sequel. The mystery that made the first novel so impressive is still there and Wells does a great job of making the characters and situation still feel very fresh. With a lot of sequels the momentum slows down, but that is not the case with Mr. Monster. the thrills and chills are still there and just add to the richness that is the series. Highly Recommended.

Plot 8/10
Characters 9.5/10
Style 9/10

Overall 9.5/10

Book Trailer: Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

In many occasions, I've expressed my indifference to book trailers. They've never worked for me. Well... Almost...

Here is an exception: HarperCollins just posted the book trailer of Bernard Cornwell's Death of Kings and I really like it.

Title: Death of Kings
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date: 29 Sep 2011
ISBN-10: 0007331800
ISBN-13: 978-0007331802

The master of historical fiction presents the iconic story of King Alfred and the making of a nation.

As the ninth century wanes, England appears about to be plunged into chaos once more. For the Viking-raised but Saxon-born warrior, Uhtred, whose life seems to shadow the making of England, this presents him with difficult choices.

King Alfred is dying and his passing threatens the island of Britain to renewed warfare. Alfred wants his son, Edward, to succeed him but there are other Saxon claimants to the throne as well as ambitious pagan Vikings to the north.

Uhtred‘s loyalty – and his vows – were to Alfred, not to his son, and despite his long years of service to Alfred, he is still not committed to the Saxon cause. His own desire is to reclaim his long lost lands and castle to the north. But the challenge to him, as the king’s warrior, is that he knows that he will either be the means of making Alfred’s dream of a united and Christian England come to pass or be responsible for condemning it to oblivion.

This novel is a dramatic story of the power of tribal commitment and the terrible difficulties of divided loyalties.

This is the making of England magnificently brought to life by the master of historical fiction.

Monday, May 21, 2012

REVIEW: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Publishing information: Kindle; 320 pages
Publisher: Tor 1 April 2010
ISBN 10: 0765322471
ISBN 13: 978-0765362360
Series: Book 1 in the John Cleaver series
Copy: Out of Pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopsis: "John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat---and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could."

Thanks to Seak over at Only the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy. Dan Well's John Cleaver series came to my attention and I hope that thanks to this review that he will hit more people's radar because the series is very good and with each new book in the series, it still feels fresh while adding new dimensions to the character and the overall story.

I Am Not a Serial Killer is an impressive book and even better series. The character of John Wayne Cleaver is interesting and much different from what we usually encounter in fiction today. He is troubled and he knows it. Thanks to a few guidelines and rules he is keeping his "tendencies" at bay. His unusual hobby of reading and studying serial killers in order to avoid becoming one is fascinating. He does his best to be like everyone else even though he desires to set himself apart and do what naturally would make him feel complete.

When people start dying in his one horse town, he ptts his knowledge of serial killers to work in order to solve just who is doing the terrible deeds all the while keeping his own natural instincts buried deep down, lest the come out and take him somewhere he will never return from. Aside from wrestling with John's own demons, I Am Not a Serial Killer tells a very compelling murder mystery. All of the characters are fleshed out very well and we have a really amazing story here. Why this book, and for that matter, the series is not read by more lovers of speculative fiction I have no idea, but this is one book that was hard to put down. I don't want to tell you the ending, but I will say there is a twist that was very unexpected and takes the series into uncharted territory and it was a welcome turn of events. If you read I Am Not a Serial Killer be prepared to stay up late into the night to finish it and to run back to the bookstore and grab the rest of the series. I Am Not a Serial Killer is the diamond in the rough. Highly recommended

Plot 9/10
Characters 8.5/10
Style 9/10

Overall 9.5/10

Monday, May 14, 2012

REVIEW: Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Publishing Information: Kindle; 292 pages
Publisher: Ridan Publishing; 6 July 2011
ISBN 10: 0312536631
ISBN 13: 978-0312536633
Copy: Out of Pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopsis: "The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand--despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties and do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But "home" may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries...."

The Forever War has been on my must read list for quite some time. It one of those timeless classics that any science fiction reader should take the time to read. While not exactly a epic science fiction book, it does deal with some "hard science." For instance, the character doesn't age much with the aid of faster than light travel. As Mandella moves from conflict to conflict he rarely ages while the people he is fighting for back home age at a normal rate. I actually enjoyed this concept in the story and it did a great job of showing how segregated soldiers are from civilians. Their lives are different and just a small change such as this causes problems in a soldiers personal life.

Then there is Mandella himself. He is an ordinary man, certainly lucky, but an average Joe thrust into a situation greater than himself and he comes out both better and worse for his adventures. However, since this book was written after Haldeman's own experiences in the Vietnam war there is a much more negative look at war and its impact on those who fight in the trenches.

Forever War is a classic of that there is no denying. However, it is not the end all, be all that the book is usually touted as being. It is definitely worth checking out and forming your own opinion on, but if you are looking for the ultimate military sci-fi, you may have to dig deeper than this title. Recommended.

Plot 7.5/10
Characters 7/10
Style 7.5/10

Overall 7/10

Monday, May 7, 2012

REVIEW: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
Publishing Information: Kindle
Publisher: Tor; 1 May 2007
ISBN 10: 0765354063
ISBN 13: 9780765354068
Series: Book #2 of Old Man's War
Copy: Out of Pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopisis:"The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF's toughest operations. They're young, they're fast and strong, and they're totally without normal human qualms.

The universe is a dangerous place for humanity--and it's about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF's biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF must find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers -- a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin's DNA, Jared's brain should be able to access Boutin's electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given to the Ghost Brigades.

At first, Jared is a perfect soldier, but as Boutin's memories slowly surface, Jared begins to intuit the reason's for Boutin's betrayal. As Jared desperately hunts for his "father," he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: The alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity's mere military defeat…"

It has been a while since I have read Old Man's War. But I do remember it quite well and when it came time to find an incomplete series I have read it went to the top of the list. As we return to the universe Scalzi has created we are quickly drawn into an evil plot where one of the top scientists has apparently betrayed humanity. With the technology of the time allowing the CDF to clone the scientist and with luck uncover just why he did it and what plans he has for leaving.

A few characters return to the story but overall this has the feel of a completely different book. The fact that you have a background does help as there are very few info-dumps and Scalzi is allowed to tell a story and get down to business. It is quite a good rtory too. Just enough action and intrigue for anyone who is a fan of the original novel.

At the heart of the story is a story of personal growth. Because Jared is a clone of the scientist that betrayed the CDF he has repressed memories and as the story progresses they begin to surface and tell the other side of the story. It is a rather inventive way to tell the story.

Overall, a great second foray into the Old Man series. Recommended.

Plot 8/10
Characters 7/10
Style 8/10

Overall 7.5/10