Thursday, December 31, 2015

Secrets of a Side B**ch by Jessica Watkins ****

In a novel where f**k appears on almost every page, mostly in the literal sense, three women are interested on Omani. Secrets of a Side B**ch by Jessica Watkins tells these stories from the point of view of the eager women and the reluctant, well not that reluctant, Omani.

The three woman are Aeysha, Simone, and Eboni. Aeysha is Omani's true love. He stays with her to spite her lack of education and job, weight problems, and inability to conceive. Simone has it all, looks, job, money, car, everything except a man. She wants Omani, but underestimates Aeysha's competition. Eboni? Eboni wants Omani.

This book is well written and delivers what it promises ... except there was no resolution at the end, just a "too be continued."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Grim Crush by S L Bynum *****

Xia is a teenager and she has more than an ordinary share of teenage angst. Xia died when she was very young. She is a grim reaper. She meets soul when they leave their body and guides them to forward. If it wasn't for grim reapers, soul might wander aimless around the world.

Xia is not alive, spends much of her time in the company of death, dresses in black, and can not speak to or be seen by living people. Needless to say, she doesn't have any normal friends and is completely clueless about normal teenagers. She doesn't know about dating, proms, or love. In this way she is much like other teenagers, lost between being a child and an adult.

Grim Crush by S L Bynum is about Xia's first crush, her journey to navigate the challenges of young love. She does this with the help of her friends, both reapers and regular people, young and old, male and female. In her case, she has a few extra challenges, since Shilah is not another grim reaper, but a live boy. Not unreasonably, such relationships are forbidden.

In this YA novel Xia unravels to mysteries of young love and the reader discovers she is not that much different from other teenagers. A pleasant read.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Chemist's Shop by Richard Brumer *****

The Chemist's Shop by Richard Brumer is about the holocaust and morality. In 1970 Michael Ross, a holocaust survivor, meets Harry Sanders. Michael Ross (Miklos Rosen while a prisoner at Auschwitz) recognizes Harry Sanders to be the SS major Hans Stern who murdered his three little girls and raped his wife.

With a mixture of history and fantasy the author explores the morality of murder through the parallel lives of these two men. Using a device infamously known in Sci Fi circles ( as an info dump, the author injects great quantities of World War II history showing parallels between the Axis and Allied powers. Through the parallel combatants and these two parallel characters, the distinction between the typical good us versus evil Nazis is blurred.

While the book tends to blurs guilt and innocence, the guilty still tend to be shown with realism and historical detail in counterpoint to showing Michael Ross's life before the war as an ideal romance with his wife and the beautiful innocence of his three little daughters. I found this contrast to be heavy handed and distracting.

The narrative is in two parts: his plan for revenge on Hans Stern and his legal defense of his actions.

I found the topic of the holocaust incompatible in places with the idealistic and fantastic style of much of the book. The holocaust, as shown, defies neat conclusions, while the fairy-tale style seems to demand it. Regardless, the writing is excellent and it is a fast, interesting read.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Scientist by Jay Deb *****

Janco is a nuclear physicist with more allegiance to money than any particular country, culture, or creed. As a result, he has been incarcerated in Nevada for treason.

Max Doerr, the protagonist of this series, is a freelance spy who usually works for the CIA. Omar is Doerr's counterpart working for the other side.

Ariella is a Mossad assassin.

The game is set off when Ariella assassinates the head of the Iranian nuclear program and the CIA inadvertently releases Janco, the obvious replacement.

The CIA enlists Doerr to locate and recover Janco. The Iranians enlist Omar to locate and recruit Janco. As these things happen, Doerr and Omar have a long history and their own reasons to go after each other. While both Doerr and Omar are evenly matched as skilled fighters and planners, Janco is a deliberate scientist.

Janco is the perfect low-energy counterpoint to these two men of action. Everyone underestimates Janco. While he is generally passive, he occasionally analyzes his situation and finds a way to exploit his advantage and foil the plans of whoever is currently holding him captive.

The Scientist by Jay Deb is a well-plotted action adventure with a exciting mixture bureaucratic incompetence and tactical genius with Janus as the pawn and the prize in a chase throughout Europe. A fast-moving spy thriller.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Toymaker by Melissa Jenson *****

Ashima Nayar's childhood encouraged her to be curious and independent.
Ashima's parents had always made it a point to get the whole story, to understand why, and what.
 Her upbringing became important when the goblins and their beasts attacked her village. Her parents were shipped off to the mines and she went to a city which resembled a prison. When the mean kids through her doll Asha down the garbage chute, she dove in to rescue her. There she meet Ren.

This is the start of The Toymaker by Melissa Jenson and the beginning of Ashima's quest with Ren, the toymaker, and the golems he brings to life from bits of stuff in this post-apocalyptic world.

Ren and Ashima search for Ren's grandfather and Ashima's parents. Ashima perseveres against Ren's better judgement.
Are to. You have to. This is way, way, way too dangerous for someone your age. So turn around and go back, now.
In the course of this epic journey, they join a circus, discover a space ship, meet up with the resistance, and in a action packed climax, fight the battle of Goblin City.

The message of this exciting YA quest can be summed up...
Well... no. It's not a matter of life being hard, it's a matter off... a matter of life being tricky, I guess.