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Run – Patti Larsen

14 Nov

“Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them.”

What an adrenaline rush! From the opening words of Run it was a constant run for your life kinda situation. Patti holds nothing back. I mean, if I were Reid, I would have been curled up in the fetal position, sucking my thumb by page 4. And he did have those moments when he wanted to give up. But then he’d go on. There was a lot of this back and forth in Reid, and I thought that it was very realistic for the situation he was in.

I really liked the fact that I was as lost and confused as Reid was as to where he was and why he was there.  And there was some mystery surrounding the hunters, also. Who were they? Why were they hunting kids down? Why did they pick Reid? I really felt like I was there with Reid, trying to survive and figure out what the Hell was going on.

Run is definitely not for the faint of heart. There’s some pretty icky scenes throughout. Stomach turning scenes. Stop munching on chips while you’re reading them scenes. The combination of scary, suspense and gruesomeness had me only reading Run during the day.

If you’re a fan of YA books that make your heart pound with the unknown and leave you cringing at places (but in a wonderful Holy Shit kinda way) then Run‘s the book for you.

Review: Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs

7 Sep

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Release year: 2010
Genre:Adult, mystery, thriller, forensics
One sentence summary: A forensic “Who’s on first?”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review copy from publisher

John Lowery was declared dead in 1968—the victim of a Huey crash in Vietnam, his body buried long ago in North Carolina. Four decades later, Temperance Brennan is called to the scene of a drowning in Hemmingford, Quebec. The victim appears to have died while in the midst of a bizarre sexual practice. The corpse is later identified as John Lowery. But how could Lowery have died twice, and how did an American soldier end up in Canada?

Tempe sets off for the answer, exhuming Lowery’s grave in North Carolina and taking the remains to Hawaii for reanalysis—to the headquarters of JPAC, the U.S. military’s Joint POW/ MIA Accounting Command, which strives to recover Americans who have died in past conflicts. In Hawaii, Tempe is joined by her colleague and ex-lover Detective Andrew Ryan (how “ex” is he?) and by her daughter, who is recovering from her own tragic loss. Soon another set of remains is located, with Lowery’s dog tags tangled among them. Three bodies—all identified as Lowery.

And then Tempe is contacted by Hadley Perry, Honolulu’s flamboyant medical examiner, who needs help identifying the remains of an adolescent boy found offshore. Was he the victim of a shark attack? Or something much more sinister?

From Simon and Schuster website.

CHARACTERS: Dr. Temperance Brennan is one of my favorite literary characters. I love how she is super smart yet still has moments of vulnerability and uncertainty, especially when it comes to detective Andrew Ryan and her daughter Katy.  In Spider Bones we see Brennan attempt to once again gain some balance and peace with Ryan. I think it’s great that so many books into the series, we still get to see new aspects of Brennan’s personality. We also get to see more of Ryan and Katy, which gave a nice counter-balance to the case.

PLOT: Okay Kathy Reichs is one of my favorite writers, period. But….well, I found this one mucho confusing and very hard to follow at times. I think the plot was ingenious and as always she pulled things together in a way I didn’t see coming, but with all the different Spiders and various long case numbers, I often couldn’t keep the dead bodies straight. During certain scenes it really did feel like a game of forensic “who’s on first” with me trying to keep everything straight.

WRITING: As always, Reichs presents the scientific stuff in a way that is easy to explain but without making the reader feel like a twit. Although there were some things explained that felt kind of forced. A couple of times I had to wonder if Brennan would really have needed to explain things to Ryan or others she was working with.

WHO I WOULD RECOMMEND SPIDER BONES TO: Even with the confusion with all the dead guys and the somewhat forced scientific talk, I really enjoyed Spider Bones. I think besides fans of her other books, anyone interested in forensic mysteries will like it.

Browse inside Spider Bones.

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

13 Nov

Random House, 2009

In the latest installment of her Women of the Otherworld series, Kelley Armstrong returns to one of her most beloved characters, female werewolf Elena Michaels.

This time around Elena and her mate Clay are off to Alaska in pursuit offrostbitten a mutt (a werewolf without pack affiliation), while also checking in on two werewolves who left the pack but remained friends. There are also some suspicious deaths in the area that their pack leader, Jeremy, wants them to look into.

While there was a lot going on in Frostbitten, Armstrong once again hits a literary home run, giving her readers what they want and expect: excellent storytelling, character growth, elements of the supernatural and a touch of romance.

The plots were tightly woven and as usual the characters were not only believable, but our understanding of their past, especially Elana’s, deepened, allowing the reader to get a better grasp on who she is.

Some new characters were introduced and while they may have been minor characters, I have a feeling that we will be seeing a few of them again in future books.

I have yet to read anything by Armstrong that I haven’t loved, and Frostbitten wasn’t an exception.

Browse inside Frostbitten.

Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup

12 Sep

Published by HarperCollins Canada, 2009
Reviewed by Colleen McKie

When Vicky Rai, corrupt son of the even more corrupt Home Minister of Uttar Pradesh is acquitted of the murder of bartender Ruby Gill, he decides to throw a huge party celebrating his victory. The celebration six_suspects doesn’t go as Vicky planned when he is shot dead. The police have six suspects, each caught with a gun at the party. As they await the ballistics report, the police question each of the suspects, in an effort to find out who killed Vicky Rai.

This was the most unique murder mystery that I have read in a long time. In fact, while Vicky Rai’s murder is at the core of the central plot I’d almost be tempted to categorize Six Suspects as more of a character study. It is definitely a character driven story.

The majority of the novel is spent introducing the reader to the six suspects. We get to see each of the suspects’ background stories, individual motives and the evidence against them. Swarup used various writing styles to help make each of the six suspects’ voices clear. Some of the characters are written in first person while others are written in third person. Still other characters have their stories written as phone conversations (which was a bit confusing by times) and diary entries.

The conclusion of the murder mystery had a wonderful twist to it that I totally didn’t see coming. Yet it tidied up the novel neatly and realistically.  Whether you’re looking for an intelligent murder mystery or a unique study in character, Six Suspects is a super choice.

Browse inside Six Suspects.

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

11 Sep

Published by HarperCollins Canada, 2009
Reviewed by Colleen McKie

I love vampire stories. Way before Twilight ever hit its stride I was reading about nasty, blood sucking vampires.  You know, the kind without a conscience, only concerned with drinking blood and nothing else.  Sure, I was a huge Buffy and Angel fan, but at least those shows had the odd bad guy vampire. In today’s vampire market, most of the vampire are brooding, sexy guys that are merely “misunderstood”.

Well, thankfully Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan decided to put some of the nastiness back into the vampire genre, moving as far away from the romantic notion of vampirism as possible.

When a plane lands safely at JFK airport, only to go completely dark the_strainand silent, a biological attack is feared, and the CDC is called in. Dr. Eph Goodweather takes charge of the situation and as the head of the Canary project – a fast response team that only investigates sensitive biological threats – it was assumed that he would not only be up for the job, but that he could successfully contain whatever had happened on the Boeing 777.  But no one was prepared for what was about to happen as a plague – vampirism – spread its way throughout New York.

As soon as I realized that this was a book about a plague that spreads vampirism, I knew I would be hooked. And I was. From the opening scene the tension is high, and remains so. I rarely ever deem a book scary, but this one had me shivering in a few spots and wanting to actually warn people in the book about what was happening.

The story was an amazing meld of horror, medical drama, action and urban fantasy. At the base of any great disaster book is a team of unlikely heroes, and The Strain has that in Dr. Eph Goodweather, his colleague and sometimes love interest, Nora Martinez, Abraham Setrakian (perhaps the oldest vampire hunter ever written) and Vasiliy Vet, an exterminator.

And if you are looking for a bad guy, The Strain offers up The Master, one of the ancient vampires who is up to a whole lot of not good.

For me, the most interesting and inventive aspect of the story was how vampirism was portrayed as a disease and how the authors had scientific explanations behind some of the most common vampire lore, such as vampires adverse reaction to sunlight and the fact that they appear to have no reflection.

But for you die hard fans looking for more traditional vampire lore, there is plenty of that, too, and we get some of the back story to the Master through Abraham Setrakian’s story. And towards the end of the book we get a taste of some of the more ancient vampires.

The Strain is the first in The Strain Trilogy, with the second book, The Fall being released in 2010 and the final book, The Night Eternal out in 2011.

I loved this book and this story so much, I’m not sure how I will manage to wait a year for the second book but one thing is for sure: I will be at the book store bright and early on the release date.

Browse inside The Strain.

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