Bites

Published: March 3, 2009
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option—even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break. (goodreads.com)

I was expecting far more smut going into ANGELS’ BLOOD, but it was lacking. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, and it was there, filthy talk and sexual tension abound. But I adjusted my expectations quickly enough and settled into the story nicely.

I got the main character, Elena, who’s a strong woman and knows how to hold her own, acting and dressing and just existing in a way that I kind of adore. She has a don’t-give-a-crap attitude without being a bitch about things and she dresses in a way that makes sense for what she does. None of this skin tight crap. Cargoes and t-shirts and she’s this practically Amazonian woman who refuses to trade her strength in order to hook a guy. Instead she just goes for guys who can handle her strength, however grudgingly she does it.

The story’s a little slow to develop and there isn’t a whole lot of world-building going on, especially for a first in a series. This just seems like a world where angels and vampires and other creatures are part of the world and that’s about it. Nothing else to explain? Don’t know. But it isn’t a complicated world; just one where there are supernatural creatures with angels as the top tier having broken up the world into territories. It gets into Elena’s family history a little bit, shows her on a hunt, interacting with her best friend. And then finally she gets brought in for the big job run by a big angel.

No surprise there’s sexual tension between her and her boss, but I’m okay with it. It’s good sexual tension and they seem like a solid fit for each other. None of this bad boy bullcrap and she doesn’t swoon for the bad boy under her own devices so she gets a pass there. And somehow Elena also maintains an air of naïveté despite the world she lives in. It makes her more endearing.

It’s obvious the way future books are being set up in this one, with the vampires, the land wars among the angels, the development of some of the angels, and I’m looking forward to seeing were the series goes, especially with where the book leaves Elena. I also totally adore her relationship with the director of the guild there, whose name escapes me at the moment. They’re incredibly protective of each other and they stand by each other through thick and thin. It’s really nice seeing positive female relationships like this in books where one isn’t a sycophant to the other or they’re just enemies for whatever superficial reasons.

Looking forward in the series, looks like I have a whole pile of books to read in this world and I look forward to it. While I wanted more sex in the book, Singh creates an excellent balance of tension, play, character development, and plot that has me hooked, for sure.

4

Published: August 1, 1997
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

On an overcast night in Washington D.C. a group of highly trained killers embark on a mission of shattering brutality. A shocked country awakens to the devastating news that three of their most powerful and unscrupulous politicians have been brutally murdered. In the political firestorm and media frenzy that follow, the assassins release their demands: either the country’s leaders set aside their petty, partisan politics and restore power to the people, or be held to deadly account. TERM LIMITS is a tour de force of authenticity and suspense, an utterly compelling vision in which the ultimate democratic ideal – a government of the people – is taken to a devastating extreme. (goodreads.com)

This was a freebie through BookShout and a few people whose opinions I trust really like Vince Flynn so I figured why not. TERM LIMITS is his first book and it’s not a Mitch Rapp book. If I’m not mistaken this is the title that Flynn self-published that basically rocketed him to author stardom.

Initially I was a little skeptical. It started out with the killings which is, of course, exciting and edge of your seat type of stuff. But that quickly flashed to budget conversations among the president and his people and it had me going uhhhh. But between the writing style (that was a little mediocre and over-telling at times, but largely engaging) and the shitbaggy characters I didn’t have a problem staying with it.

Luckily it didn’t take much more than that before the action really started and even more people started dying and I couldn’t stop flipping through the pages. I think what really did it for me, though, was how relevant the story is. Like eerily relevant. This is a twenty year old book. Yet considering what’s in office and the current political climate I couldn’t help but make the connections. Sometimes elements were so relevant they gave me goosebumps. I’d love to @ the president with my review, but considering the number of dead people and the blackmailing and everything that happened with the plot I don’t want to have the secret service knocking on my door because of some implied threat. Besides, it’s not like Trump reads anything other than tweets and the scrolling marquee on Fox anyway.

I did like how a lot of the intrigue and the tension wasn’t action-packed. Yes, there were a few deaths and toward the end there were certainly moments. But the majority of the book was focused on the dynamics of individuals, the mounting tension between people, and the secrets everyone was keeping from each other. Definitely a political thriller. And probably my first. The thrillers I read are usually more action-based, but the way Flynn writes certainly makes all of this intriguing.

As for his writing I did say it was mediocre at times. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s almost like Flynn has trouble trying to describe something or transition a character so he resorted to very basic writing, outlining in the most basic way what was going on. It would be like “this character moved over here. he picked up x. he walked back over to the other person.” Almost stilted, but just rather . . . stereo instructions. Not all the time. But when a moment got slow is when I noticed this. Granted I’d prefer this to flowery prose considering the source, but it’s description that the reader didn’t need. Lighting cigarettes and all of that.

Overall I liked TERM LIMITS. Definitely enough to dive into the actual Mitch Rapp series. There was a snippet from one of the post-humous titles at the end of this book and there are a couple of characters who were introduced here who have stayed on for the long haul. I’d like to see how they all grew up. Now I can add political thriller to my repertoire.

4

Published: November 19, 2014
Publisher: Self
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

In the spirit of Snoopy and Charlie Brown, or Calvin and Hobbes, please welcome Sophie and Doug.

Dog Eat Doug is the cartooning creation of Brian Anderson that follows the daily exploits of Sophie, a cheese-loving chocolate Lab with a nose for the nuances of sarcasm and irony, and baby Doug, a healthy, happy newborn with no concept of jealousy and a limitless curiosity.

Together, this dynamic duo adjusts to sharing the spotlight, the toys, and the affections of Mom and Dad, while exploring nature and its majesty, the couch and its cushions, and the cookie jar and its contents. (goodreads.com)

What a cute collection of comics. I found IT CAME FROM THE DIAPER PAIL through either a Kobo email or BookBub and I think it was free. I’m all for comics so I scooped it up and ended up reading it on a train traveling from Philadelphia to New York City.

I love the way they’re drawn and the adorable hijinks the characters get into. Sophie is a cross between Garfield and Hobbes, leaning more toward Hobbes on the lovable side, but still with a hint of Garfield cynicism. Doug doesn’t say a whole lot, but he and Sophie have their own language and communicate just fine.

There isn’t a story here; just a collection of comic strips a la Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield (can you tell what I used to read as a kid/still read???). If you’re looking for cute, quirky, fun, and greatly drawn, IT CAME FROM THE DIAPER PAIL will give you an hour or two of entertainment. For sure.

4

Published: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

After his deployment in Afghanistan, Dan Caddy began swapping great drill sergeant stories by e-mail with other combat veterans—an exchange with friends that would grow into the dedicated Facebook page, “Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said.” But what began as a comedic outlet has evolved into a robust online community and support network that conducts fundraisers for and donates to military charities, has helped veterans struggling with PTSD and other issues, and on numerous occasions, literally saved lives.

Now, Caddy shares more great DS stories—most never before seen—in this humorous collection. Often profane, sometimes profound, yet always entertaining, these rants from real life soldiers are interspersed with lively sidebars, Top 10 lists, stories from fans, one-liners, and more. (goodreads.com)

There really isn’t much to this book except drill sergeant stories, which are hilarious. But there isn’t much to critique. I’ve never been in the military, but I’ve had people around me grace me with a number of hilarious-in-hindsight stories about basic training (among other things) that certainly fall in line with what’s in this book. It’s a super fast read; I read it in about an hour on a train from Philadelphia to New York. And I was laughing my ass off doing it. Don’t know if people were giving me weird looks or not and I don’t really care. A lot of this is absolutely hilarious and I couldn’t hold it in.

This is a good stocking stuffer little book that, unless you’re a corpse or just entirely without a sense of humor you’re going to find AWESOME SH*T MY DRILL SERGEANT SAID funny.

4.5

Published: July 7, 2015
Publisher: NAL
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn… (goodreads.com)

INK AND BONE is a fun, exciting book if you’re not familiar with Alexandria’s, or Egypt’s, history and don’t think about the world-building too much. Otherwise it’s an alternative history where A LOT has been set aside and not even touched or expounded upon for the sake of telling a story. So I’m torn on this one.

On the one hand I did enjoy the story. I thought the development of Caine’s library as this outwardly sentient being being run by corrupted men from behind the curtain was interesting and unique and wholly refreshing in a market of broken dystopias or supernatural worlds. It offers something different, where literacy and knowledge have gone to an extreme so much so that’s it’s reversed back over itself and knowledge is, once again, fully controlled for the sake of “protecting” the population.

I enjoyed the characters, each and every one of them, especially Jess’s teacher there, whose name escapes me at the moment. All were incredibly lifelike and jumped off the page and held their own. While some were less appealing than others, they all brought their own special brand of life to the table that was hard to ignore, especially as the story progressed and everyone was thrown into battle and forced to protect each other.

The world itself is incredibly intriguing if considered on its own, mutually exclusive to anything even remotely historically accurate. If you view it from within a bubble and don’t associate it to anything, it’s spectacular and imaginative and compelling.

However, taking the story into historical context it completely falls apart. There’s no why or how answered at all. In fact everything is pretty much brushed aside except for the concept of “the library at Alexandria never burns.” The implications of that are massive yet the world we get is vaguely Victorian. It’s set in the future, but our current technological path never happened and everything’s a bit more steampunky with elements of magic if we’re talking about the people who run the library. And then there’s some random war between Wales and England that felt really contrived and set entirely for the sake of creating a hardship for the characters. Not sure what was going on there.

To call INK AND BONE alternate history is kind of a misnomer. It assumes that historical context is even considered. It’s not. Literally it’s just the concept of “the library at Alexandria never burns.” It ignores literally everything else and aside from a couple of poignant known historical inserts like Gutenberg, it skips ahead a couple thousand years to give us the current story.

I liken this book to the Red Dawn remake. If you take it on its own, not related to anything else, it’s a good movie. But the second you relate it to its predecessor it just goes up in smoke. INK AND BONE does the same thing. Taken as its own self-contained story in a world that’s entirely made up except for the library at Alexandria and it’s a good book. But the second you actually try to relate it to its real thing it turns to sand and blows away. Look, I liked the book enough that I want to read the next one. But this is not alternate history. There was not nearly enough care taken to make this an alternate history. It’s a futuristic steampunk dystopia with an ancient library at its core. The name merely makes it relatable. It could have been named something entirely fictitious and it still would have worked. And I wouldn’t have bugged out about the world nearly as much, if at all.

3