Chris chose to read and review The Girl In The Black Pajamas by Chris Birdy.
The Girl in Black Pajamas is part crime thriller, part mystery, and wholly full-on adventure. It is effectively comprised of two related stories that race along their meandering paths.
The main character, holding the various strands of the story together, is Bogie, a hacker. He flies to his ‘agency’s’ headquarters in Boston to help solve the mystery of why one of their employees was shot and his IT system breached. Joining forces with a convicted felon and his team, Bogie attempts to understand what his enemy has planned before he and his friends become the next targets. Throw in a missing laptop, some suspicious cops, a hacker nemesis and a number of back stories, and the action doesn’t let up. Accompanying Bogie on his trip to Boston is his 4-year-old, genius daughter, Isabella. She aspires to learn the Five-Point-Palm-Exploding-Heart-Technique from Kill Bill 2, and keeps Bogie and his colleagues entertained with her witticisms and innocent view of the world. She inadvertently prevents the murder of her father on the flight, but will she be able to do it again?
Holding the fort at home in Florida is Bogie’s pregnant wife, Bailey, who is left to look after a troop of three: her and Bogie’s baby son, Bogie’s elder daughter, Amanda, and Bogie’s granddaughter. This is made harder by the fact that Amanda’s shopaholicism and inability to deal with her infant leads to her husband leaving her and her friends trying to entice her to make porn movies with them. But why is her husband being targeted by his ruthless police colleagues?
Overall, the book’s writing style took a while to get used to, with its frequent changes of point of view and quick jumps from one scene to the next. The action was constant and didn’t let up, jumping from fights between families to car chases to murder attempts between Boston and Florida.
I haven’t read The Girl in White Pajamas, and this may have hampered my ability to warm to the large cast and their complex back stories. But the characters, besides being plentiful, were certainly colourful and the one thing that this book could not be accused of being is boring.
Cathy chose to read and review Dance With The Enemy by Rob Sinclair
Dance With The Enemy introduces Carl Logan, a covert operative for a British/USA Joint Intelligence Agency, who is on medical leave and in recovery after a life changing ordeal. Before his recuperation is complete he’s called in by his boss, Charles McCabe, when US Attorney General Frank Modena is abducted. When Logan learns Youseff Selim, the brutal terrorist who left him for dead five months ago could be involved with the kidnapping, he recognises a chance for revenge as his brief is to rescue Modena. The question is, is Logan ready for this new assignment? Most of the agency members don’t think so, only Mackie, Logan’s boss, is in his corner. Logan himself isn’t totally sure he’s up to this job. His previous assignment has had a profound effect on him, he’s lost the ability to contain and ignore the emotions he was trained to hold in check for the most part of his adult life.
As Logan follows the trail which he hopes will lead to Modena and more importantly to Selim, he reluctantly teams up with FBI Agent Angela Grainger. Each is wary of the other and although they are working together, Logan is pursuing his own agenda. It seems he’s not the only one. The deeper Logan and Grainger delve and the more the case evolves and the less straightforward it becomes. The layers of deceit and lies need to be peeled back one by one to find the motives and the real mastermind behind the conspiracy.
The writing is extremely well done and very descriptive with easy, genuine dialogue and realistic scenarios. Carl Logan is an intriguing character, complex and although he is recovering from the physical and mental damage he sustained he has the odd lapse, which makes him more human and realistic. He prefers to work alone and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. He’s circumspect when it comes to his job but has an emotional sensitivity giving his personality a balanced quality. His back story is revealed little by little throughout the story. I like that, although he’s determined and strong-willed, he can be unsure of himself and sensitive at times.
The action scenes are exciting, tense and cleverly devised. A great cast of characters, Mackie especially and there’s good interaction between him and Logan. The pace is maintained from the beginning with a fast-moving story and the twist at the end is totally unexpected. A strong, dramatic and enjoyable debut novel.
I am absolutely thrill to be posting this review by Rosie’s Book Review Team member Susan Molloy. She blogs at www.susanmariemolloy.com
Susan chose to review “BioKill” by Stuart Handley.
Here is her review.
“BioKill” by Stuart Handley is novel bursting with intrigue, action, a terrorist cell, biological warfare, electrifying chases, lusty scenes, murder, mutilation, a cat fight, government subterfuge, escape, humor, and remarkable characters in an extraordinary plot.
While a terrorist cell conspires bioterrorism in the United States, Matt Lilburn, an American special agent with Homeland Security, finds himself on the case, along with the British Dr. Evangeline Crawston and a slew of memorable protagonists ranging from a tentative neighbor lady, to the virtually hilarious gang of the five Bloods, the bizarre chief of Homeland Security, the owners of an aviation business, and, of course, the terror cell inmates comprised of Bomani, Bashir, and Yusuf, just to name a very few of the rich cast of personalities.
The author is astute in his use of scene-changing within the novel. He cleverly and seamlessly moves his story, chapter to chapter, from Brooklyn, to England, and to places within the United States with such deft smoothness that the reader easily follows the action without questioning or backtracking to previous pages to re-read. Indeed, whereas one chapter may be taking place in Brooklyn and the next in London and later, on a pig farm in New England, Stuart Handley ties each scene so well to another it’s as if the entire novel is akin to a quilt of individual blocks with no visible seams at all.
The players in the novel are real and well-developed, and where necessary, the author gives them accents and vocal modulations. For example, Alessio enunciates his accent well: “I see you ‘ave brought a friend . . . I canna but try.” We can hear neighbor Bonny as she talks to the police: “I was gonna get back on the phone and tell you to . . . bust those A-rabs . . . I see you brought the whole dang station wid you!” We get indignant along with blonde Timothy the caterer/waiter as he “let out his own shriek” when he exclaims that he “’ordered lilac-colored napkins, lilac, not … blue.” Timothy owns and operates The Galloping Caterers, and I could not help to give Timothy a slight, albeit faux, British accent in my mind to go along with his hissy fit, because the name The Galloping Caterers reminds me of the late British gourmand Graham Kerr of The Galloping Gourmet. And when the “lucky” five Bloods found the red Nissan Maxima and attempted to drive it, the manual transmission threw them for a hilarious loop: “Yo man, I seen on the movies – this car had one of those things and you got to push something in with your foot to make it go . . .”
Yet, there was something so real and creepy when the members of the terrorist cell, Bomani, Bashir, and Yusuf spoke. “Yusuf and I go to a cattle auction” “ . . . when we have finished our work for Allah . . . we return to our home and assimilate ourselves back into Western society.” Their voices and personalities are real and wicked, and Stuart Handley captures this flawlessly. Bomani, in particular, has a distinct voice in using variances in verb usage and not uttering contractions.
I enjoy Stuart’s writing style. It is very vivid, descriptive and intelligent. He uses foul language sparsely, as in those moments when characters are so totally shocked or frustrated that a four-letter word slips out. Lusty scenes are tasteful and allow the reader to envision all the naughty little details within the imagination. Stuart’s background in livestock production and an inspector for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), et al gives authority to his novel.
There are a few instances within the novel where the author (who is from New Zealand) moves from American English to British English, such as “bonnet” for a car “hood,” “petrol tank” instead of “gas tank,” “mobile” for “cell phone,” “air-sock” for “wind sock,” “windscreen” for “windshield,” and a technical description of a helicopter’s speed measured in miles per hour, when airspeed is actually measured in knots. I caught the aviation-related points immediately, since I have a long background and career in the aviation field. It stuck out for me. Yet, I believe it all will not take away from the story for most readers.
Admittedly, this is the first novel in this genre that I have read. I was not disappointed at all. Moreover, I cannot say enough positive statements about “BioKill.” It produces non-stop action; it lays out a very real and plausible evil; it brings a little lightness to round out the reality; and it makes the reader think, laugh, and become more aware of contemporary events.
I highly recommend “BioKill” by Stuart Handley, and if I rated this novel on a five-star scale, I would give it six stars.
I have another book review for you from the lovely Louise today.
‘The Hunger Games’ – Suzanne Collins
The nation of Panem lies within the ruins of what we know as North America; Panem features a rich and glittering Capital surrounded by twelve poor, outlying districts. Each year, for 74 years and counting, the Capital forces each and every district to send one boy and one girl, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, to participate in the Hunger Games. These are a blood-curdling, brutal fight to the death, in which the ‘tributes’ are forced to kill their competitors to be the final one standing: the victor. And these are televised around the whole of Panem. For sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, survival is only natural: she has struggled keep her mother and little sister alive by secretly hunting and gathering in the woods beyond District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the 74th Hunger Games, she doesn’t think that she’ll ever see the dirty faces of Prim, her mother, or Gale again. If she is to survive, she needs to put all of her fears behind her and run. A battle of wit, strength and emotion face Katniss as she tries to decide: life or love?
Wow. After almost a year of ignoring the nation’s praise for The Hunger Games, I decided: enough is enough. So I bit the bullet and bought the book, and never before had I felt so stupid; stupid for putting off reading one of the best books I have ever laid my eyes on. From the very first page, I could sense the honesty, the wisdom, the courage of Katniss, who is admirably brave and loveably noble; and impulsive. The characters were all so different, yet special and memorable in their own ways, and I loved how close I was made to feel to some, yet how distanced I was from others; when we were guided away from or made to hate certain characters through sometimes too vivid descriptions, I knew that they were either going to be killed soon, or kill soon. I am pretty sure that I have fallen in love with the hopelessly smitten yet indescribably strong Peeta, which leads me on to something else that enticed me into the novel: the presence of love and romance within the story made it seem more realistic and almost innocent, adding a softer touch to an otherwise heavy and action-packed plot. There was incredible tension and suspense in the novel, so much so that I finished it within 48 hours; I couldn’t put it down. There is something about the bursts of excitement, and how horribly disturbed and twisted the whole idea is, that made me think that anything was possible within that arena.
Overall, if I could give this book 100 out of 5, I would. In my opinion it is one of the best books I have ever read, and will probably ever read, and I can’t stop thinking about it either; there is something truly unforgettable about this novel. Perfection.
For a copy of Hunger Games find it here on Amazon.
Saving Jackie K by L.D.C. Fitzgerald I recently hosted a book boost for this book during my AtoZ Challenge, so when I saw it as a free download on kindle I jumped at the chance to read a genre which challenges me.
This book was a difficult read for me because my English history education didn’t cover any of the Kennedy era of America. I recognised some of the names of the main players, but knew little about them. I got a bit bogged down with the science too, but once I’d got my head around the fact that the story involved true facts and characters with the fiction I let it flow over me and focused on the well written story line. There is lots of action as scientists travel back 50 years to change to past and thus the future. Sci-fi and fast paced action packed fans will probably love this.