The Wrong Dead Guy
The Wrong Dead Guy picks up where The Everything Box left off, as we join a thief named Coop in his work for a shadowy government office, using his immunity to magic and ability to plot insane heists in order to save the world. This time around, Coop must outwit an ancient Egyptian mummy who curses him, an undead agent with a vendetta against him, and his overly bureaucratic boss who seems to vacillate between supporting him and measuring his head for a spot on the trophy wall.
A terrific ensemble book with kickass sidekicks — including a scientist/cat/TV/robot — The Wrong Dead Guy offers a totally different vibe from Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, while still allowing him to indulge in hilariously snarky one-liners.
Unfortunately, the Egyptian curse (and, come to think of it, the medium’s magic as well) only came into play once or twice, which felt like a missed opportunity. Then again, with someone as characteristically unlucky by nature as Coop, maybe Kadrey just didn’t go far enough in raising the bar to make the curse noticeable amid all the other chaos.
Nonetheless, this book is great fun. Kadrey makes magic, humor, and crime mix effortlessly.
Last Call for Caviar ( vol.1)
Destruction, death and blood cultsoh my! Maya Jade has been stranded in the Riviera during what can only be accurately described as Armageddon. Author Melissa Roen creates a rather convincing alternate reality in Last Call for Caviar, one in which the world as we know it is quickly and definitively coming to an end. The earth seems to have entered a purge mode, spewing, shattering and shocking humanity right off of her face. Earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, extreme weather of all kinds are testing the limits of mankind and the results are catastrophic. War rages everywhere as bands fight against bands, governments fight against their citizens, and individuals fight for their lives. The landscape is chaotic.
Yet, in the midst of all this devastation, there are places where champagne still flows lavishly and caviar is consumed in abundance. Tucked away on the beautiful coast of the Côte dAzur, the wealthy hide from the treacherous minefields of the disintegrating world. It is in this glittery, gilded backdrop that Maya finds herselfcut off from the security of family, the safety of civilization, and the love she found in France. Having traveled to the region for school and making a life there because of connections, Maya fell in love with the Riviera. When sexy surgeon Julian steals her heart, Mayas destiny is sealed. After a fated lovers quarrel leads to their separation, and tragic world events lead to a splintering of society, Maya becomes desperate. Should she abandon her hopes of happiness with the love of her life and run tail for home in the US? Should she stick it out on the slim chance that Julian will return to her? Should she cultivate her resources to find another way to survive the end of the world? Is survival even possible? The questions keep mounting as more and more craziness ensues.
With each new episode of insanity, a greater truth is revealed to Maya, a truth that only she seems to understand or see.
Roen is convincing here. Her vision of the end is so well crafted and executed, as I read, the news humming in the background, it seemed not just feasible but utterly possible that Roen herself is a seer. There is nothing overly farfetched here, which makes the fantastical elements of Last Call for Caviar that much more intriguing; any of this could happen at any moment. And thats what made me keep turning the pages (and watching the skies).
A fairly long volume at 302 pages, the book was a swift read, sucking me in from the very beginning. There is little fat here, this is a trim and tone narrative. Maya Jade is a kick-ass heroine, dynamic and organic, nuanced and complex. At turns shrinking violet and fierce lioness, damsel in distress and irreverent daredevil. The plot allows for rich interactions that lend cinematic interest, with intense action, gut-wrenching drama, sensual and haunting sizzle, well-placed comedy, and the type of fantasy/sci-fi that makes you think Could this really happen?.
There really isnt much to complain about here. A word of caution: read the whole book from the Prologue; its incredibly important to understand the story and set you up for Volume 2 (which I started before even finishing volume 1). Small deductions for: cover art, I found myself wanting to turn the book over, but I have never been one for messy eaters; typos, Im sorry to say but there were a few that pulled me out of the story occasionally; and an incomplete and hard to use glossary of terms. These are the smallest of complaints. The meat here is worth the price and then some. I just might feast on this tasty meal again and again. I hate caviar, but I loved Last Call.
The Light Who Shines
During the 1600s, the first Vampire was created, bringing about extreme chaos and the beginning of the Red Ages.
Over two thousand years later, Bluebell Kildare, homicide inspector for the Supernatural Investigation Bureau, is faced with solving the murder of a boy found naked, tortured, and beaten near a bar. She is able to examine the emotions and feelings left over in the area, as well as of those near her through the use of her sixth sense; she is Gifted, and very good at her job. By closing her other senses off, she can focus in on the many emotions that permeate the area, so as to center her attention in on evidence and clues that others may miss.
Sadly, despite Blues passion for her job, and the other Daylight Vampires who ensure the safety of the people around them, not everyone during this time is so understanding of sharing the world with people who have come to be so different from themselves. Extremist groups, such as the Dilectus Deo, are constantly protesting the very existence of the Gifted humans among them and the Daylight Vampires that protect them from the dangerous Dark Vampires — beings who have fallen prey to their more base natures and given up their ability to roam in daylight after killing in bloodlust. It is a dangerous world, and it takes only the best and bravest to search after criminals who would do harm to others.
Fortunately, Blue is not only a talented investigator, but she also counts on the help of her boss, Jack Tanner or as she prefers to think of him, quite possibly the sexiest man alive. He exudes danger in a quiet, stealthy sort of way. I often think I should be frightened of him quite possibly because hes a very old and incredibly strong Vampire. But I cant seem to muster any fear, even when hes in an obvious rage. That only makes me question my sanity. Its a complicated and strained relationship but the clear and palpable tension between them only makes watching them work together all the more enjoyable.
In The Light Who Shines, Lilo Abernathy has created an amazing and fantastic world in which normal humans, Gifted humans, Daylight and Dark Vampires must coexist despite the magical dangers, intolerance, and greed that run rampant on a day-to-day basis. The mystery of the tortured boy is the driving force behind this intriguing novel. As clues are discovered, witnesses questioned, and tips followed from one place to another, it becomes progressively more disturbing to get closer to the person responsible for such a heinous crime. Yet, the more we learn about Blue and her commitment to fight for those who have been victimized by this bigoted society, the more we realize she is just the investigator needed to get to the bottom of these kinds of transgressions. She proves to be not only fully dedicated to her job despite any dangers that come her way including her own safety and surprisingly strong-willed for someone whos most prominent gift is the ability to sense emotions. Still, it is her imperfections and limitations that make her an even more likable character we can all relate to especially when it comes to her weakness for Jack.
As the story unfolds, it becomes increasingly evident that there is much more at stake than meets the eye. The torture and death of this young boy leads Blue down a path of unprecedented self-discovery and a much larger role she must play not only at the Supernatural Investigation Bureau, but the world. Furthermore, it brings her and Jack much closer than theyve ever been. The Light Who Shines is a fast-paced, extraordinary, and provocative tale of high stakes and deep losses that demands to be read!
Maya Rising (Last Call for Caviar, vol.2)
SPOILER ALERT: The following contains spoilers for Volume 1 Last Call for Caviar.
This sequel to Last Call for Caviar is equally delicious as the first installment. A warning for persnickety readers, this is not a standalone volume. It will make almost no sense if you havent read the first book. This isnt to say that author Melissa Roen doesnt weave the storylines together seamlesslyshe doesbut she doesnt fully set up volume 2 the way she does volume 1. I recommend reading the books in order to get the full effect. And do NOT miss the prologues. Start at the very beginning.
Having said that
Destruction, death and blood cultsoh my! Maya Jade is still stranded on the continent during what can only be accurately described as Armageddon. Having finally found her way out of the Riviera and back into the arms of sexy surgeon Julian, the future is anything but certain. What perils lurk on the interior of Europe? Will they reach their destination in the safety of Switzerland? Will the safety promised there be real? Again, there are more questions than answers. And the few answers there are lead Maya further into trouble and the deviant and devious schemes for power and control that broil beneath the surface of a splintered civilization.
Finally reunited with lover Julian, Maya believes she has escaped the dangers of her past until they appear right on her tail bumper ready to rear end her into oblivion. And we are there to watch her dangle on the edge. Maya Rising jumps right into the action, and it doesnt let up. The plot winds through the French countryside and down back into the Riviera, coming full circle. Maya is forced to face the demons that have hounded her steps throughout both volumes.
The earth trembles with a mystical power that haunts Maya. The mysteries of this force seem to hold her destiny in its grip and the blazing red eye of the Purifier scorches. Through the melee, Maya has to figure out if her love for Julian is as strong as shes always believed. Could her feelings for another powerful man jeopardize their fairytale ending? Could unfinished business render all of the questions moot? Always just one step away from the end, Maya Jade is on an unrelenting journey toward her truth and the fate of the world.
This novel is a fast paced whirlwind of adventure, hurdling towards an odd conclusion that will keep you guessing until the very end. Roen is cruel in her conclusion. I implore her to reconsider, and serve us at least one more serving of Caviar.
Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall
Barras world is dying. Slowly, ring by ring, the loft grows darker, less vibrant. With clues left in her fathers research notes, Barra and her friends, Tory and Plicks, must find a proof to show the elders. To save their world, they must Fall and go farther into the darkness than anyone before them.
Sunborn Rising by Aaron Safronoff is a young adult novel set in the imaginative world of Cerulean. Safronoff has built a rich and vibrant world, full of layers. Each of the main characters is unique and complex.
Barra, Tory, and Plicks are typical teenagers still on the threshold of childish behavior, but wanting to be taken seriously in their thoughts and endeavors. As with most coming of age sagas, this leads to trouble. The story really picks up about a third of the way through when the trio makes the discovery that leads to said trouble.
The accompanying drawings are beautifully detailed and allow the reader to see the world of Cerulean through the eyes of its creator. They are reminiscent of the movie Avatar in the vividness and color palette.
Although the descriptiveness of the writing will be sure to appeal to the YA crowd, the author uses a bit of a higher level of vocabulary, so older readers shouldnt feel like they are reading a childrens book. Dont be surprised if you have to look up the definitions of a couple of words.
My one complaint regarding the story is the elders journey to find the wayward trio. It seemed glossed over and summarized in an effort of expediency to move the story forward.
Even though Sunborn Rising is the first part of a two-part series, it doesnt end in a huge cliffhanger. While it sets up for the second half of the battle, it provides a satisfying close to the first chapter. That isnt to say you wont be left wanting to know what happens next, but you also wont feel like you were left with no answers to the saga that took place.
Dreamtime: The Gil-Garem
Dreamtime: The Gil-Garems story involves Edmund Mortani, a soldier who fought for the Sorisentine Dominion during the Garemoth Wars. In those wars, he lost his wife, Eurydice, on a mission. He continues to be haunted by dreams and visions of her 10 years after the war ends. When robot attacks begin again, Edmund suspects the Gil-Garem have come back to life, even though they appeared to be eradicated a decade earlier.
From the start, it is clear that Dreamtime: The Gil-Garem was once a screenplay. Character actions are written in the present tense, and several errors in grammar, spelling, and formatting show that a good spell-checker and the Chicago Manual of Style were not contributing resources to this sci-fi epic. Upon finishing the book, I found out the author had created a hybrid tense system for writing around his screenplay format. While it was a good effort, subverting English grammar didnt completely iron out the difference in experience between screenplay and novel, and, ultimately, the author would have done better to start from scratch and use proper storytelling conventions.
Its difficult for a reader to grow attached to a character without even knowing what they look like. If this book were to be made into a movie, viewers would have the luxury of seeing what Edmund looked like, as portrayed by an actor, along with the other characters and the scenery. For the first several chapters, I felt blind, like I was feeling my way along the narrative with indistinguishable human beings and nondescript robots doing things. While it might have slowed the pacing, I would have enjoyed the book more for its ability to paint a clear picture of the action in my mind.
The atmosphere of the book reminded me of a Star Trek fan fiction, intriguing in its development and ideas, but amateurish in its execution. However, a major strong point the book has going for it is its action sequences. Edmund and his crew go on missions to determine what the robots are and where theyre coming from, and the fight scenes are described in richer detail than many of the other elements of the book. Clearly depicted scenery, deeply developed characters, and a coherent adventure plot are the cornerstones of a good sci-fi novel.
I will gladly enjoy a several-hundred-page space opera because I know from its in-depth world and character building, as well as the narratives ability to paint clear pictures and develop tension and conflict that its good science fiction. In addition, good science fiction addresses deeper themes: the search for utopia, the human condition, the hubris of man, or leadership under duress. While some broader ideas were touched upon, such as Edmunds sense of loss and the relationship between artificial and organic intelligence, the themes werent completely clear.
Dreamtime: The Gil-Garem was a good start; the shell of a more developed story, but it is sure to leave readers wanting more.