Review for Flashback by Ian Hocking

Flashback

My Rating: 3.5/5

Author:  Ian Hocking
Title: Flashback (The Saskia Brandt Series Book Two)

Genre:  Technothriller

Background: “In 1947 a Santiago-bound plane crashes into the Andes minutes after confirming its landing time.
In 2003 a passenger plane nosedives into the Bavarian National Forest during a routine flight.
Although separated by more than 50 years, these tragedies are linked by seven letters:
S, T, E, N, D, E, C.
On board Flight DFU323 in 2003 is Saskia Brandt – a woman who holds the answers to the many puzzles of the two flights and who knows she must survive in order to prevent a catastrophic chain of events stretching well into the future.
But Saskia is not the only one to know this. She is being followed and her life is in danger – inside and outside of the plane.
Filled with twists and turns as it trips skilfully through time, Flashback is a gripping technothriller that reaches more than fifty years into our past – and one hundred years into our future – to solve the enigmas of the doomed Star Dust and Flight DFU323.
But is it enough to solve the enigma that is Saskia Brandt?”

Opinions:

Flashback is the second book in the Saskia Brandt series. I have read the first book, Déjà Vu—which you can see my review here—so I’m not sure how Flashback would be for someone who has not read the prior book. [I believe the reader should be able to read this book without reading the first one.] Flashback focused on two mysterious plane crashes (one true to history and the other fictionalized for the book.) It’s a technothriller mystery as the reader tries to piece together what happened during the crashes.

Characters:
Although Saskia is a focal point in much of the novel, her third person narrative is much less than the first book, mainly because she was on the plane that crashed. The third person narratives are mostly through Jem and Cory. Jem is a British girl who is trying to figure out Saskia and her successful gambling tactics. She is a complex character with a shady past and hardcore personality. Cory is another time traveler who is involved with both crashes. How? Well, I’ll let you read about that. He, too, has a complex personality and struggles with the burden of his mission.

Plot:
The plot jumps between 2003 and flashbacks to 1947. I struggled at points trying to keep everything in order (time-wise), especially at the beginning of the novel. For example, the first few chapters on Saskia and Jem go backwards in time. I would have preferred a regular timeline with less details building up to more (a character recalling something that was left out before) if information needed to be withheld. By the end of the book, everything makes sense in what has happened. The reader pieces together how and why the plane crashes took place and who (if any) survived.

The Bottom Line:
A few small things that the reader might have trouble with when reading this book: there are a few conversations completely in a different language with minimal translations, a few instances where the character is talking and thinking simultaneously, and the timeline of the plot (see above). Other than that, if you like techno-thriller with a mystery and some action, you should like this book. I do recommend reading Déjà Vu first. Despite being busy, I was able to read this book over the weekend. I think I liked Déjà Vu better than this book, but I’m still interested to see what happens to Saskia in the third book – The Amber Rooms.

 

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Review for Choice by Jean Booth

choice

My Rating: 3/5

Author:  Jean Booth
Title: Choice

Genre: Fantasy

Background: “It was chance, guided by the hands of a god that brought them together. Would their choice bind them, or be the cause of their destruction?
Natasha never believed that the fairy tales she read to her niece about supernatural beings were real. She read them to give her niece hope. She, herself, had all but given up on love, until the fateful day when she went scuba diving in the Bermuda Triangle and was thrust into a culture of people that’d change her life forever.
On a legendary island, she meets Raif, the shape shifting Warrior Chief of Atlantis, and her soul mate. Their attraction is instant, powerful and foretold by an oracle, centuries before Natasha was born. She struggles with the attraction, unwilling to believe in soul mates, and fraught with the desire to return to the surface where she can continue her monotonous life, free from the intense and confusing emotions she feels around Raif.
All his life, Raif’s searched for her. To have finally found her after so long, is a dream come true. Trouble is; this dream’s more of a nightmare that he can’t seem to find a way out of than the haven it’s supposed to be. His people have become complacent, and her arrival is the beginning of fulfilling an ancient prophesy; a prophesy that not too many are willing to see fulfilled, least of all, his king.
Together they’re faced with the most difficult choice of their lives: doom a hidden, mythical culture to eternal segregation, or sacrifice their love to reunite Atlantis with the rest of the world?”

Opinions:

Choice is an interesting fantasy novel. If you like eclectic paranormal/fantasy – type books, you should like this book.

Characters:
Choice was written in first person, through Natasha (Tasha). Tasha was an independent female who had an unsuccessful romantic life and didn’t like to show weaknesses. The character had qualities that I could relate to. Throughout the book, the reader learns more about her. For me, I cannot say that she was a multidimensional character, but she was not simply one-dimensional. [I guess you can say she was two-dimensional (maybe?) is there is such a thing in the literary world.] Raifuku (Raif), her soul mate, was another main character. He lived Atlantis and hence had a different culture and ability than Tasha. Obviously as soul mates, there was a strong attraction between these two characters. Raif had duties toward his people as well as Tasha, so the reader can see some of his personality better as he worked between the two.

Plot:
The beginning of the book didn’t strike me as well as the second half of the book. There seemed to be more of a point (destination) after Tasha ended up in Atlantis. Because of the book’s description, the reader kind of knew what happens at the beginning so it seemed to take longer getting to the real plot of the story. Afterwards, I felt that I got more into it. The ending (to me) seemed very abrupt, although not completely surprising that the last scene took place. I just expected there to be a more settled ending for the story before the story picks up again in the sequel. Also, the beginning of the book seemed to have more repetitions of descriptions than the later half.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, it was a fast, easy read. I won’t put any spoilers but you can expect to see a variety of unusual “characters” and fantasy genres in this book –more than what I was expecting.


Review for Ember by Jessica Sorensen

Ember

My Rating:  3.5/5

Author:  Jessica Sorensen

Title:  Ember: Death Collectors (Volume 1)

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Themes:  
Facing death/Finding Self/Good vs Evil

Background:
Amazon Description: “What if you knew when someone was going to die?

For seventeen-year-old Ember, life is death. With a simple touch, she knows when someone will die. It’s her curse and the reason she secludes herself from the world. The only person who knows her secret is her best friend Raven.

Then she meets Asher Morgan. He’s gorgeous, mysterious, and is the only person Ember can’t sense death from. So when he pushes into her life, she doesn’t mind.

But when unexplained deaths start to haunt her town, Ember starts questioning why she can’t sense Asher’s death and what he may be hiding.”

This was an interesting young adult paranormal book. As the book is described above, it centers on a girl, Ember, and her abilities/experiences with death.

Opinions:

Characters:
The book is written in first person, so the reader follows Ember throughout the whole book. Ember has had a tough life and fears being around people (because if they touch she can see how they die). She is a poet and essentially obsessed with death (with her ability/curse). She is also a fighter, which is a necessary characteristic when death is constantly around you. Mysterious characters also enter the picture: where touching someone does not show Ember a death scene, those that feel like they are losing their sanity, and two new guys who take an interest in Ember.

Plot:
The overall plot is a little gritty for a young adult book, but pretty clean in the writing. (I only noticed one F-word.) There is mention of drug abuse and death scenes. The book contains some twist and turns as the reader learns more about the grim reaper/angel of death and the whole good versus evil. The plot, for me, didn’t give me too many unique surprises (those that haven’t read many books within this genre might disagree). However, I was able to finish this book in a quick read (about 2 days), and it kept my interest. One small glitch that I don’t personally care for (not that it took away from the value of the story) was that fact that the book was written in the present tense, which is just a little weird for me. I’m use to reading books in the past tense.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, it was good a book. The epilogue feeds the reader information to make sure that they want to read the next book in the series, but the book itself nicely ties up a lot of loose ends that pertain to this part of the story (in other words, no weird cliffhangers in the middle of a climax.) If you like to read about good versus evil, angels, and even death, I think you will like this book. I wouldn’t mind reading the next installment.

Review of Gravity by Abigail Boyd

gravity

My Rating:  4/5

Author:  Abigail Boyd
Title:  
Gravity (Gravity Series #1)

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Themes:  
Facing fears/discovery

Background:
Amazon Description: “One night in the town of Hell, Ariel’s best friend goes missing. Those around her believe Jenna ran away, but when Ariel is tormented by nightmares and paranormal activity, she realizes Jenna’s disappearance was part of a bigger mystery. Ariel’s obsession with haunted houses and horror movies makes her the perfect detective.

But to complicate matters, a handsome newcomer named Henry Rhodes plagues her with unwanted attention. Though he doesn’t believe in the supernatural events, she enlists his help and that of quirky nerd Theo. What is making the lights at school flicker? And why did Ariel dream of the old abandoned Dexter orphanage? When Ariel finally discovers the truth, it’s much worse than she ever feared.”

I actually really liked this book. I’ll try to keep this spoiler-free, so excuse some vagueness.

Opinions:

Characters:
This story is written in first person; hence the main character is Ariel. Ariel is a character that in another author’s hands could be really annoying, but Boyd did a wonder job with her. Ariel is going through a rough time in this book, and her character – although strong – felt realistic to me. She wasn’t perfect and showed weaknesses. These are the characteristics that could make or break a character. In my opinion, it was done well. Another character that I liked was Theo. She was a fun, supporting character to the novel.

Plot:
The plot kept me interested. I had time to read, so it only took me 2 days to read the entire book. There were twist and turns in the story. Even though I would classify this as a paranormal book, it was written in a way that it didn’t take over the whole book. I was not swallowed up by the weird happenings that centered on Ariel. It kept me guessing who was making those weird noises, was someone a killer, and what ever happened to so-and-so. The ending tied up most loose ends, but obviously not all of them so the reader (if he/she liked the book) would want to continue to the next book in the series. One thing that I wish the plot included at the end were little more hints to McPherson.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, it was well-written book, especially for the young adult genre (which can be touch and go for someone outside that age.) When I get the chance, I wouldn’t mind continuing the series and seeing what happens to Ariel.

 

Review for Déjà Vu by Ian Hocking

deja vu

My Rating: 4/5

Author: Ian Hocking
Title:
Déjà Vu

Genre: Technothriller
Themes:
Control of self and future/past

Background:
“It is 2023. Scientist David Proctor is running for his life. On his trail is Saskia Brandt, a detective with the European FIB. She has questions. Questions about a bomb that exploded back in 2003. But someone is hunting her too. The clues are in the shattered memories of her previous life.

Déjà Vu takes the reader on a startling journey through a possible future, though digital minds, and through the consequences of the choices we make. It is the debut novel by Ian Hocking.”

This is a fast-pace action book set in the near future of 2023 (with some flashbacks to 2003). It puts me in mind of something like the movie Salt – but without the assassination plotline.

Opinions:

Characters: The book is written in third person and mostly follows Saskia Brandt. Saskia is a strong character and one that I liked. Her life is basically turned upside as she is sent on an assignment to hunt down David. David Proctor, the other character the book follows, is on the run. Both characters have good dimensions in the story. The reader learns about the characters in more depth as the story progresses, including flaws and motives.

Plot: The plot is fast-paced with high-technology for the future. There are twists and turns, and it would be interesting to see what I missed upon rereading it. The story and ending is very detailed in linking everything together. The book ends nicely and leaves the reader wanting to find out what will happen. Without giving any spoilers away, I was shocked by the first chapter. I remember thinking in chapter two, “Okay, so it’s going to be that type of story” (meaning lots of action, mystery, suspense, and a few surprises.) Although the reader may guess the direction of where the story might go, he/she is not really sure of the details and reasons until he/she gets there.

The Bottom Line: Flaws for the novel? Well, considering 2023 is only ten years away, I think the technology was a little too advanced to be realistic, but hey, this is a science fiction novel, right? Also, sometimes the explanations with the technology could be confusing with all the letters/abbreviations/numbers involved. However, it was not very distracting, and I did not dwell too hard on it.

Overall, I liked this book. I saw this book on Amazon for free, and I then won Flashback (2nd book) and The Amber Rooms (3rd book). I’m glad I started it and can’t wait to see what happens in the next one!

 

Book Review for Unlikely by Frances Pauli

Unlikely

My Rating: 4 / 5

Author: Frances Pauli
Title: Unlikely: A Kingdoms Gone Story (Volume 1)
Kindle Version

Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Themes: Power/Control

Background:  Satine knows more than anyone that gangs are bad news. As a Granter, she uses her magic to help people escape them.  So far, her sole reward has been a life on the run, dodging from pocket to pocket and only landing in the ordinary world long enough to put her special skills to use.  When the goodmother arrives in Westwood, however, a magic-hungry gang is just one step behind her, and their leader wants more than just the town.  He wants Satina, and he’ll do anything, use anyone, to get to her.  Though Satina finds an unlikely ally in Marten, the imp Skinner who manages to help more people than he hurts, it will take all the power they can summon to keep Westwood’s secrets from falling into the wrong hands, to keep one wide-eyed girl from following the wrong man, and to keep Satina herself from falling in love with the only person in the world who knows how much of a fraud she really is.

Opinions:

Characters:
The story was written in third person following Satina, a Granter. Therefore, the reader followed her throughout the whole story. Satina was a great character.  She was strong but not unrealistically so.  She was caring and wanted to do what was best for those around her.  Marten and Hadja were also interesting characters with mystery and a deeper past that the reader was left wondering about the finer details (perhaps in the next book?).  The villain in the story, Zane, was fairly one dimensional in that he was bad—magic/power hungry and that’s about it.

Plot:
The plot grew more adventurous as the story progressed and led to a good climax.  There were a few twists within the story that left the reader wondering, “What will they do now?” The ending left leeway for the next book but settled the current troubles.  One thing that I would have liked to have seen was a little more explanation of the terms for this particular fantasy (such as Granter, Shades, etc.)  I got a rough idea but did not completely understand it, especially at the beginning of the story.  Also a little more background on the Final War would have been great (however, the reader was at the mercy of Satina’s limited knowledge of these things.)

The bottom line:
Overall, I enjoyed the book and finished it within two days.  The story kept me interested, and it flowed throughout the whole book. If you like fantasy novels and adventure, then you might want to give this book a try.