Sunday, October 31, 2010

REVIEW: "Verdant Skies" by Steven Lyle Jordan

Space-- the final frontier. It's 2229, and humans have recklessly used up many of Earth's precious resources. They have been forced to think of other options to relieve the negative impacts of overcrowding and limited resources. Many people now live aboard four different space satellites. Each satellite has its own leader and population, tourism is alive and well, and life goes on.

The satellite Verdant is a sovereign nation, yet it is dependent on Earth for necessary resources and as an outlet for waste products. It's not Earth, but for most people it's a comfortable life. They have recreated some of the amenities of Earth, and daily life goes along much the same as it always has on Earth, with some minor adjustments. Verdant is a great place to visit, and a comfortable place to live. Until Yellowstone explodes.

Suddenly, the satellites are inundated with immigration requests from Earth. The satellites are already filled to capacity, but the humans on Earth are not willing to accept that fact, and will go to great lengths to get where they think they'll be safe. Suddenly the satellites become the most attractive options, and each has its share of tragedy as they struggle to remain sustainable amidst an attempted influx of people. The citizens of Verdant are unwittingly thrown into turmoil as Verdant becomes a pawn in the plans of several factions, including that of the US President. As the desperation of the residents of Earth grows, people are forced to make some very difficult decisions that test the relationships in their lives, as well as challenge their sense of right and wrong. These decisions may change the way humans think about Earth, space, and what is truly needed to sustain life.

Steven Lyle Jordan has written a page-turning adventure that, unfortunately, doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility.  His characters are pretty well-defined, and the science is thought-provoking. (For readers who are interested in the basis of the science included in the book, there is a nice explanation at the end of the book.) It was a difficult book to put down. As I read, I found myself thinking about how easily this truly could be our reality in 2229, or even sooner. I think that connection to what is going on in our world right now is what makes this book so fascinating. It's the kind of science fiction that could truly become our reality down the road. The people are recognizable, even if the situation seems a few years out. Although the storyline seems to lead you to an inevitable ending, you realize that even amongst the despair, hope is born. The story points to the resourcefulness of mankind, and the strength and integrity that is needed for humanity to move forward in difficult times.

Some characters are referred to by their last names in the narration, while most are referred to by their first names. The inconsistency seemed a bit unusual to me, but not a problem. Perhaps it helps denote those characters with which we form stronger attachments in the story; the characters we connect with most are called by first names. At one point, however, during a scene between the President and his girlfriend, she calls him by his first name, as does all the corresponding narration. This is the only place in the book where the narration uses his first name. I had to really think about who was in that scene, as I had long since forgotten his whole name since he was always referred to by his last name. It was a very minor inconsistency that didn't detract from the story, overall, but left me momentarily confused.

This is a great read. The story is captivating, and you find yourself thinking "what if?" What if satellites are the frontier of the future? What if Yellowstone erupts and forces humans to look into other options? What if desperate times result in equally desperate measures? As I turned the last page, I was left to wonder what happens next, for the Earth, and for Verdant. I think the riveting storyline and the fascinating physics push this story into a 5 star read. Strongly recommended.

5 /5 stars

Sunday, October 24, 2010

REVIEW: "Digger's Bones" by Paul Mansfield Keefe

What if something you took for granted wasn't really true? 
A phone call from an old friend throws Angie into a whirlwind of terror and discovery. A secret has been uncovered, a secret that will threaten one of the core beliefs of Christianity. Angie, an ordinary woman with a few significant regrets in her bag, is the only person who will be able to put the pieces together to find the truth. While doing this, she must looked to all her strength and knowledge to follow the clues while evading the powerful men who are determined to squelch this secret forever. Angie may be smart and resourceful, but she is just one woman, and these men will stop at nothing- even death- to stop her.

Paul Mansfield Keefe has written a thrilling book that takes you on a ride worthy of the big screen. Angie is a very likable and interesting character, and you find yourself rooting for her again and again. There are several unexpected twists and turns, and you're barely given time to catch your breath before Angie is off and running again. I wanted to keep reading to discover what happened next. Some of the secrets uncovered were surprising, and the last few pages of the book are satisfying to the reader who has followed the story the whole way through.

With all the excitement that builds up in the first half of the story, the last 60 pages or so involve some very confusing jumps. It seems as though the author wanted to finish the story, and compacted what may have been meant for more pages into fewer. There was one scene with Reilly (spelled Riley at one point) and Angie that seemed to repeat itself a few pages later in a different location, almost as if it had never happened in the first place. There was nothing in between to show a passage of time, so you are left with a generalized feeling of déjà vu. Several sections that ended with cliffhangers turn out to be letdowns as the next page shows the characters doing something completely different, leaving you confused as to what happened. I found myself turning back to reread passages on several occasions to see if I had missed something.  

As is the case with several of the independent books I've reviewed, this book could use a thorough editing. The words "your" and "you're" are used interchangeably in many places throughout the book, and too many plurals incorrectly contain apostrophes. A sentence such as "German's love to concatenate words into larger words, until they are all but impossible to read" was first misinterpreted by me to be a sentence fragment, until I realized that the plural "Germans" was meant. Additionally, there are some homophone errors; I was surprised to learn-more than once in this story- that Jesus Christ was a "profit" and not a "prophet." There were also several typos; I was confused when I read that Angie's "mode" had lifted until I realized it was her "mood" that had lifted. The previous example with the Germans not counted, the book is also riddled with sentence fragments that are actually dependent clauses. Reading a few of these would not detract from the story to any great extent, but there were so many it really threw off the rhythm of the book. Determining what the noun or the verb should be in these clauses disrupted the pace of the story as you were considering the probable intended meaning. Changing the previous period to a comma, and using a lowercase letter at the start of the clause would have easily taken care of most of these errors.

A fun and exciting read, this book has the potential to be really good. The storyline is gripping, and some editing and revising would bring it to the next level.

3 /5 stars

Update 10/26/10: The author commented in another location that he has "corrected most of [the errors]" pointed out in this review. He also indicated that "some of the sentence fragments are intentional and part of a modern style of writing thrillers; quick little jabs of words to create the feeling of action and/or tension."

I welcome authors posting updates such as this on any of my reviews. I think it's important to allow authors to have a voice to indicate things they have changed or altered, or stand behind what they have created, even if I don't agree. With regards to part of this comment, I applaud the author for making some grammar changes to the book in such short order.  I actually really like the style of "quick little jabs," and I think he could accomplish that with his words by making his sentence fragments shorter. Most of them are long enough that, to me, they look like dependent clauses (containing every part of the sentence except the noun or verb) instead of "quick little jabs."

If you've read this book and would like to add a comment, please do!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

REVIEW: "The Cutting Edge" by Darcia Helle

"I fantasize about my scissors slipping and slicing into her jugular vein."

Anyone who’s ever been in a job that involved personal service will relate to some of Skye Summers’ thoughts about her hairdressing clients. While annoying clients are in her chair, Skye finds herself fantasizing about killing them in the most grotesque ways. From the teenage boy who wants to use a knife on her to the woman who shows up at the crack of dawn and accuses Skye of being late, she's got quite the rude set of clients and she knows she'd be happier if she could just kill them off, one by one. Skye's obsession with her gruesome killing fantasies grows by the day, until even she is no longer disturbed by them. Meanwhile, there really is a serial killer out there, a control freak on a mission to teach women they really don't hold all the control. As he picks up speed, Skye finds herself alternately fascinated and disgusted by this serial killer, never knowing that their lives are soon to cross and neither will ever be the same again. 
In "The Cutting Edge," Darcia Helle has created some of the most absurd and aggravating hairdressing clients you can imagine. The care she takes with some of the details makes the characters richer and easier to picture, and some of them are laugh-out-loud funny with their ridiculous antics. The author uses the serial killer, "The Mass Avenger," as a live-action backdrop to mirror some of Skye's own thoughts until the time comes for the two stories to meet. It's an intriguing and unique concept, with a neat little twist at the end. 

"The Cutting Edge" is a quick read, and initially had a fun, quirky sense to it. As I read further, however, I began feeling like the story was going nowhere. The descriptions of the characters began feeling more like journal entries, designed to share all the wacky characters the author had created, and less like a vehicle to move the plot along to the climax. I felt like we meandered along for a time in the middle before the story really picked up again at the end. Adding to the journal feel of the book, the story is written in the first person, present tense, with occasional third person interludes from the serial killer's perspective. With the feeling I was reading someone else's journal entries, I found it difficult to fully engage in the story. 
There are a few characters slips in the book; characters being introduced for a second time when really it’s been three times, the wrong character’s name at a pivotal time in the book, and there are some typos in the book. Alone, none of these are truly notable, but there were enough to make me think a bit of editing is in order. 
Although very predictable (it was immediately obvious to me who the killer was, although I think the author attempted to lead us off track by giving us several options), it was definitely a fun read, and an enjoyable way to spend some time. I can see where this book wants to be, and I think a little more finishing will help move this story from a fun, quirky read to a bonafide thriller with a dark, comedic edge. 

3 /5 stars

Sunday, October 17, 2010

REVIEW: "Sleight Malice" by Vicki Tyley

A fire destroys a neighbor's house and Desley is anxious to find out what happened to the residents of the house- her best friend and her friend's husband. When it turns out that the only casualty of the fire is an unidentified man, the search for the missing couple is on. Desley's determination to unravel the mystery of what happened to her best friend takes her on a suspenseful journey to the truth; a truth that just may change her forever.

Vicki Tyley gives us another great read. Suspenseful and intriguing, this book is hard to put down, and each small twist and turn keeps you engaged right through to the end. Each new secret that is uncovered leads you to make new guesses as you try to discover the truth right along with Desley. With well-developed characters and interesting connections tying them together, there is never a dull moment. You are pulled further into the story with every new discovery, and it's hard to put the book down before you find out what truly happened.

Having read the author's first book, "Thin Blood," I was very pleased to find the writing style in her second book more fluid and engaging than her first. The actual writing shows growth and maturity, and proves the author is one to watch. There were several places, however, where I was confused by a seeming jump between chapters. One chapter would end in a bit of a cliffhanger, and the next would start the next day, or hours later in a different location, without any of the intensity of the previous chapter's ending. Those jumps were a bit confusing, and somewhat of a letdown after the ending of the chapter before. It added a bit of an awkward break in an otherwise exciting, flowing storyline.

Overall, a great story that is well worth the read. I will continue to look to Vicki Tyley for stories that hold my attention and make me want to read more!

4.5/5 stars

Thursday, October 14, 2010

REVIEW: "Secondary Targets" by Sandra Edwards

What if everything you held true and dear turned out to be a farce? What if you were forced to face up to the biggest regret of your life? Would you be able to leave your past behind in order to enter your future?

When a visit to her father's grave turns up the gravestone of a stranger, Grace is involuntarily thrown into the middle of a military cover-up that goes further than she could ever imagine. With surprises at every turn, this story contains mystery, suspense, and even a little romance. As Grace struggles to find answers to the questions that plague her, she finds herself reunited with a few close friends from her past. Together, they go on a journey that takes them across the country and back again, delving into their shared past and trying to change the future.

Sandra Edwards has created an engaging, suspenseful thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end. You'll want to read straight through to find out what happened to the General, and what this means for Grace and her friends. The characters, and their relationships with one another, are entertaining, and the secrets between them just may surprise you. Overall, I really enjoyed this story, and the way it ends is very satisfying; just enough closure, with just enough left open for us to think about.

Although I really liked this story, there were a few things that impeded my enjoyment a bit. In my epub version, the font changed sizes in several sections. I only noticed this change about three or four times and it is a minor complaint, but it was a bit confusing, nevertheless. With regards to the writing, I felt some of the descriptions were extraneous and detracted from, rather than added to, the story. At times, it almost felt like the same sentence was written two different ways, when one way would have been more effective. Less is sometimes more. These minor issues, along with a few grammar errors, were not distracting enough to keep me from enjoying the story, but they did catch my attention.

Overall, a very fun read that is as entertaining as it is thrilling. I'm looking forward to exploring more of Sandra Edwards' books!

4/ 5 stars

Added 10/26/10: The author is attempting to change the font size discrepancy I noted, but can't see what I see, and neither can several of her acquaintances. I (still) see it on my Sony PRS-505 and also on my Sony "Reader Library" software. This is the only book in which I've noticed such size disparity, but perhaps it is a glitch that only affects my book. In any case, your mileage may vary with that point, but it's quite commendable that the author is working to correct this minor issue. Attention to detail is what makes a good author "great," in my opinion!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

REVIEW: "Powerless: The Shadowing" by Jason Letts

Have you ever felt different from others? What would you be willing to do to prove yourself? Where would you draw the line?

Mira has been through a lot. Within the past year, she has discovered that there's a whole world out there she has never experienced and she's also found out some startling things about herself and her family. She has had to work harder and smarter than everyone else just to keep up, and her recent victory against her peers has finally earned her some respect and helped establish a place for her in the world.

But Mira's journey is only beginning. In the second book in the "Powerless" series, Mira finds herself in situations that force her to see herself in a different light, just as readers will see her in a different light. The Mira we knew in book one is evolving into someone we might not recognize, and this evolution will irrevocably change her.

In this darker and more intense installment, we follow the graduates into their "shadowing" experience. They are each to work with his or her own mentor to further develop their special talents and train for their imminent entrance into the mysterious war. Most of the shadows have had mentors picked out for them already, but Mira needs to find someone. She finds the perfect mentor (she thinks) in Flip Widget, the author of the books that have been Mira's lifeline. When Flip reluctantly agrees to take Mira on as a shadow, she embarks upon an grueling, and sometimes confusing, training that takes her places she never expected. The experience gives her powerful tools even as it destroys some of the truths she holds dear. Is she strong enough to survive? Or is she truly "powerless?"

One of my favorite things about this book is the opportunity we are given to explore each of the main characters in much more depth. The first book told the story mainly from Mira's point of view, and we experienced her classmates through her eyes. In this book, we get to experience them a little more closely, from their own unique perspectives. Not only does this character development make them more interesting to us, it also gives us a broader perspective of Mira's world and what she is up against in her journey to establish herself and become whole.

Just as before, the author leaves us hanging a bit at the end, just enough to make us shout "When is the next one coming out?" This is definitely a series to watch!

4.5 /5 stars

Saturday, October 09, 2010

REVIEW: "The Point of Origin" by Duke and Nancy Kell

"The answers to most of our questions have always been there, but our failure to connect the dots could mean the destruction of the human race."

In this thrilling ride reminiscent of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," we are taken on a journey of epic proportions to find the truth of our existence here on Earth; a truth that speaks to our past and future, and a truth that may not be easy or safe for anyone to uncover. This fictional novel is founded in the Hopi prophecy, shared with the world during the Hopi address to the United Nations in 1992. With its basis in actual events, this story is both fascinating and eye-opening; just the kind of story I love to read! I could really see this book turned into an exciting movie and, more importantly, I could see this book opening people up to the idea of truth in the Hopi prophecy.

With all the potential this book has, I would like to see it go through a serious editing process. Although I wanted to be completely engaged in this story, it was difficult to look past the mechanics of the writing style. There are numerous examples of word substitutions (e.g., "idol threat" instead of "idle threat"), incorrect use of plurals (e.g., "friend's" when the plural "friends" was intended), misuse of past tense (e.g., "Brian lied down" instead of "Brian lay down"), missing hyphens in compound adjectives (e.g., "up to date card locks" should be "up-to-date card locks" or "card locks that were up to date"), and incomplete sentences made from what should have been dependent clauses (e.g., "Appearing and disappearing like a well oiled machine" has no subject, and well-oiled is a compound adjective).

Most distracting to me, however, was the inappropriate use of commas (or lack thereof). Commas were sometimes missing, most notably when someone was addressed in conversation. For example, when the President says: "Save this country boy's" I'm assuming he was telling the boys (plural, not possessive) to save the country, so it should read: "Save this country, boys." There were also commas inappropriately placed in ways that broke up the cadence of the sentence, perhaps changing the intended meaning, and rendering the sentence incorrect. Such an example is: "Everyone that was left, started running towards Oraibi, or their car, whichever was closer." The commas after left and Oraibi break up the main sentence inappropriately and the idea that everyone was running towards "their car" makes me think there was one car for the whole lot of them. Additionally, I believe the "what" should be "who" as it refers to people instead of things.  I generally look past the occasional typo or grammatical error (I am certainly not a professional proofreader), but there were enough of these errors, on almost every page, to distract me from fully engaging and enjoying the great storyline.

At first, I was also distracted by the very short chapters (some are only a paragraph long). This is a style preference, and I did get used to the varying chapter length as the story went on. I was, however, thinking that having longer chapters in the beginning and progressively shortening to match the increased pace of the impending climax may better match the pacing of the book. There was a general abruptness to some of the chapters that could have been avoided with additional context. Additionally, because of the long paragraphs and the failure to begin a new paragraph when a new person speaks, I sometimes found it really difficult to tell who was doing the speaking. This led to some general confusion for me during some of the action scenes.

A thorough editing and some additional revising to polish the writing would add variety and a little more "voice," and could turn this fantastic storyline into a bestseller. I would give the storyline 5 stars and the writing 2 stars (mostly because of the errors), which averages out to 3.5 stars. All in all, a fun and adventurous read with great potential!

3.5 /5 stars

Friday, October 08, 2010

REVIEW: "The Summoning Fire" by David Michael

We've all heard the phrase "Hell on Earth," but did you know it's an actual place, and it's located in Missouri? David Michael has created a fantastical world in which Hell has recently exploded upwards to create Hell on Earth, a place where Hellish creatures mix with a very human population. It also does a booming tourist trade as the residents of the Suburbs flock over to experience this exotic location. They can meet with demons, the undead, and even the Old Man himself, but they can only hope to make it back home to tell their friends.

When I first started this book, I wasn't really into it. I do enjoy horror, but I realize I like thriller horror much more than straight horror. Some of the scenes were grotesque and made me cringe, and others were just horrible and made me very uncomfortable. I didn't feel the immediate draw I usually do towards stories I enjoy. It took me several chapters to get into the story, but once I did, I was hooked.

We start off in a pivotal scene, and it makes us wonder "how did we get to this point?" Subsequent chapters vary between what happened before that scene to what happens after. To help us, the chapters all had headings that included either "Before the Fire" or "After the Fire." I quickly caught on and found I really enjoyed the jumping back and forth. I find that plot device to sometimes be a hindrance to a story, if for no other reason than it makes the reader work harder. In this story, however, it fits. It's like you're given the filling of the sandwich, and you gradually build up what's surrounding that filling on both sides. It added a lot to the story to have this unfolding of key pieces of information as you're putting together the plot in your head. It was a device well-suited to this story, and it was used perfectly.

Overall, I think this is a really well put-together book. The writing flows nicely, in spite of the presence of several incomplete sentences. Somehow, it works with the characters and the plot. The chapters give us the information we need at just the right times, and the characters are memorable. I think I really got into the story once the Summoned was introduced. It was quite intriguing, to "feel" the thoughts of this "being" and get to experience the story from this different perspective. Although I wasn't as fond of some of the scenes described and I didn't find myself really connected to any one character, I was still engaged in, and enjoyed, this story. I think I'd really enjoy this author's works in other genres as well.

4 /5 stars

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Always an avid reader, I have had this trilogy on reserve from the library for what seems like *forever!* Finally, the first two came in. And I put them aside, in favor of some of the books I was reading for review.

Knowing they are due back in short order and knowing it's extremely unlikely I'll be able to renew them, I had to fit them into my reading schedule. Well, calling it a schedule is a misnomer. It's more like this: if I'm not doing something else, I'm reading. Since I wasn't interested in having to wait through another 200 people to read the stories, I dug into them Monday night after I finished my latest review (ZombieStop Parade).

Wow. I read the first book pretty much in two nights. Yes, I have a full-time job (where I am not allowed to be reading for pleasure) and three young kids, not to mention a husband and some friends. In others words, I do already have a full life. I don't have a ton of free time. But these books were worth spending almost every waking minute on them.

I knew the basic premise ahead of time- it's about a girl who is forced to compete in the "Hunger Games," a "game" in which children from various vicinities are chosen to fight to the death. The goal is to be the last one standing and win the Games. It's like the ultimate Olympics. The rewards are great, but the risks are tremendous. It sounded grotesque and very much like "The Running Man," a movie grown from a book by Richard Bachman, aka Stephen King. In Bachman's book, it seemed an intriguing way to get rid of criminals. But to do this to children? Preposterous! But this trilogy... talk about difficult to put down! If I were reviewing this (which I'm not really doing), it would most certainly rate 5 stars.

It's so exciting to me to find books that are difficult to put down, books you wish could go on forever (or at least another 100 pages). In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm eyeing the second book, "Catching Fire," sitting next to me on the couch, and counting the minutes until I can get back to it. Have you read a book lately that was difficult to put down? Tell us all about it!

I've just read the final book in the series, "Mockingjay." Wow. I really enjoyed this final installment. I was sad to see some of the losses incurred, but I did like the ending, overall. I started this book on Saturday night, after a full day of soccer games and award banquets, and I spent considerable time this afternoon (Sunday) finishing it. This series is highly recommended. An amazing read!

Monday, October 04, 2010

REVIEW: "ZombieStop Parade" by ZombieStopperUno

If you're looking for a book about the undead, "eat-your-brains" type of zombies, you'll need to keep looking. This book is all about the call to stop being a zombie, and to start thinking for yourself. Written in journal format by the unnamed narrator, "ZombieStop Parade," by ZombieStopperUno, is the story of two young men, and the evolution of their website, "ZombieStop." This website was created based on ideas developed early in their friendship, with the goal of helping other young people break free from the zombie-like thinking that characterizes the mentality of the general population. It's an awakening of sorts, for anyone who cares to listen.

There are several layers to this story. On the surface, we have the meat of the story, which involves looking with a more critical eye at the corporations and detaching from the zombie mentality that just accepts and never questions. This is also the story of a pair of friends, the evolution of their partnership, and the inequity of power between them. Then there is the "witch hunt," led by the FBI, to find the truth behind the face of this website. The FBI believes the truth to be much more violent and destructive than the partnership claims.  Underneath all that, and of far more interest to me personally, is the narrator's journey to discover for himself what he believes, and at the same time, figure out exactly what he doesn't believe. Following his journal entries seems to highlight his struggle to break away from his own "zombie-like" mentality towards his best friend as he learns to become his own man.

Corky, the brains behind this operation, guides the direction and mission of the ZombieStop website, pulling his best friend, the narrator, along for the ride. The narrator offers little bits of advice here and there, but his influence is weak, and he mostly follows his trusted friend's lead. Along the way, the narrator finds himself becoming seduced by the media and some of the mythology ZombieStop fights against, including the fame that comes with being the face of ZombieStop. Even as he questions his own place in the partnership, his relationship with his critical girlfriend, and how he wants to portray himself to the FBI agent assigned to monitor the actions of ZombieStop, he is finding himself. With clever nicknames assigned to the various antagonists (can you recognize any?), and flashes of eloquent insight from the narrator, the journey through this book is a fun and enlightening one.

At the end, you find yourself wondering about the next step. What is the next step for Corky? The next step for the narrator? Most of all, you may just find yourself wondering what will be the next step.... for you. No longer blinded to the ever-present mythology, you just may find yourself thinking a little differently about your world.

4 /5 stars

Sunday, October 03, 2010

REVIEW: "Executive Lunch" by Maria E. Schneider

Sedona thinks it's just another boring day at Strandfrost, as she goes about her normal activities. And it is a boring day....until she accidentally stumbles upon a mugging happening right there in the hallway! A six-inch switchblade, a shady director, some seedy characters sprinkled in, and suddenly Sedona is unwittingly thrown into the role of "bait" so management can solve a crime of embezzlement going on right under its nose.

"Executive Lunch" by Maria E. Schneider is a combination of a few of my favorite genres; it's chick lit with a little "cozy" thrown in. The main character, Sedona, is someone you can't help but like. She's reminiscent of some of our favorite hapless female heroines; accidental sleuths (with an edge) who somehow stumble right into the thick of things. She's joined by Huntington (whose motives initially seem unclear), Turbo (always there when you need him...well, except when you *really* need him), Marilyn (a bigger part of this than even she knows), and the rest of the interesting characters that make up this cast.

Although I liked the overall plot and I was eager to read to the ending, I have to admit to being confused by some of the transitions. I had to reread some action scenes to get a grasp on who was doing what, and  several times I was surprised to see a character start speaking when I had no clue that character was even in the vicinity. Upon looking back, I'd sometimes see that the character was introduced by not being introduced- in the excitement of the moment, Sedona recognized that body/face/shape/walk, and then we'd find out in the next chapter who it was because he or she would start speaking. I am all for tension building to end a chapter and I think it's a great technique to build suspense, but it seemed that a great deal of the moments in the story were introduced this way. After a quick-moving beginning, the story slowed down and sagged a bit in the middle, and I began to wonder if we were still heading in the direction I thought we were heading. It seemed to meander a bit before it picked up again, drawing me in once again.

Overall, I would recommend this story. It's a quick, fun read, and the characters are nicely developed, which makes them interesting. You look forward to seeing what they'll do next, and who they'll do it with. You want to follow them into their next adventure, which, luckily for us, is already available in the next story in the series, Executive Retention.

3.5 /5 stars

(This was a post published several reviews back-- through an accidental error on my part, it was inadvertently deleted and republished tonight. New book review coming soon!)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

PHOTOS: Going green!

There is so much green here, it's hard not to be intrigued by the shades and shapes of all the green around...
There are all sorts of leaves....

And kalo (taro)....

And random green all over!