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Join the book club and read our book of the month:  This months book is Chasing Graves.  Live stream discussion will be Saturday, March 20th at 9am MST!

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    • By Lasraik in Steve's Book Reviews 0
      Vicious is a fantasy and science fiction novel written by V.E. Schwab and was published in 2013.  It's the first book in the Villains series.
      A synopsis:
      What I Liked:
      Strong character development.  This isn't a good vs. evil kind of book.  At a point in the book one of the characters says "There are no good men in this game" and that sums up the characters.  I've heard other reviewers say they couldn't enjoy this book because none of the characters are "good".  That's true, but that's also what makes them interesting.  They may all be bad, but they all have their motivations and at one point or another they are all sympathetic.  You care about the characters and you understand their positions, because they have reasons to behave the way they do, whether you agree or not.  The classic good vs. evil stories are boring and uninspired.  The characters walk in this grey area, but it's closer to what people in these positions would do and that makes them relatable. The bond between the two main characters was intriguing, I was picking up some series "Interview with the Vampire" vibes. The writing is very... cinematic.  It jumps off the page and into your mind in bright colors. The story unravels at a decent pace and there aren't really any slow points.  It is a bit of a slow burn at times but never uninteresting. What I Didn't Like:
      The story has a nice pace, but there aren't that many major story moments that are memorable.  I could probably spend 2 or 3 minutes telling you what the book was about, there aren't many major events. One of the side characters has an ability that changes everything in story and you almost stop worrying about what will happen to everyone else. Conclusion and rating:
      I liked the characters and the positions they took were thought provoking.  Should people with these abilities even exist?  Who gets to decide?  The world they live in is enthralling and the characters are all strong with their own backstories.  The writing is bright and vivid.  I like anti-heroes and characters that aren't perfect, they live in the middle and struggle with being put in a category and that makes them relatable.  The abilities and how they are acquired was really neat.  The story unraveled at a nice pace, but I would have liked more major events to have taken place.  The climax makes sense but it was a little bit of a bummer, but the last line put a smile on my face.
      Rating: 3.5 near death experiences out of 5
    • By Lasraik in Steve's Book Reviews 0
      One Way is a novel written by Jeff Lane and was published in 2013.  The book is being adapted into a movie (more on that later).
      For full transparency: when we announced the book club, Jeff Lane contact me on Twitter and offered a free digital version of one of his books to anyone who joined the book club.  I bought myself and my wife paperback copies and a digital copy via Amazon.  A few other book club members received a free copy and a couple opted to purchase the book.  Mr. Lane gifted his full catalog to myself and my wife, which was very generous.  I'm looking forward to getting to those in the future.
      The best way I can describe this book with spoiling as little as possible: it's LOST, Quantum Leap, with slasher elements, Looper and a love story sprinkled in.  It's a mystery, science fiction, thriller book with a sprinkle of horror.
      What I Liked:
      The story jumps back and fourth between characters and flashes forward and backwards in time, but it's done very well.  The stories often overlap, so you see what each character experiences from different perspectives.  I cared about the characters. The way the author describes pain and hurt and depression, that feeling of loss - you really feel it.  The story kept me in suspense and gets off to a fast start. It doesn't let up until the very end. The villain was well done and for as crazy as he sounds (and is), you wonder if there's something else in play with him. There are a few heartfelt sequences that make you wonder what you would say in that position. Acts of violence are perpetrated, but not detailed.  In this case I liked that it kept that information to your own imagination, if it went too far describing the violence it wouldn't have fit the story. What I Didn't Like:
      During a couple of the action sequences I got a little lost and had to re-read the previous few sentences. I did find a couple of times when the incorrect word was used or missing punctuation.  I find a weird satisfaction finding stuff like that, so it wasn't a big deal for me. The characters have a moment or two where they make the classic survival movie mistakes, or they do things that seem out of place for them. Conclusion and Rating:
      I'm a relatively slow reader.  I take my time and go slowly to not miss anything.  I flew through this book, it's a page turner.  I didn't want to put it down.  It's full of character and story, but not too much that it gets weighed down.  With any story involving time travel, it can get a little confusing at times but I thought it was well done and thought provoking.  The story twists and turns and keeps you hanging onto the edge of your seat.  It's one of those "just one more chapter before I sleep" kind of books.  The characters are likeable and relatable, the villains are revolting.   The last line in the book is perfect for a black screen, start music and roll credits.  I hope we get more stories from this world.
      I've heard a few people cringe a little when this book is described as a love story, but it's not that kind of love story.  It's a love story that makes you question what you would give up, what you would sacrifice for someone you love.  How far are you willing to go to prevent something terrible from happening to someone you love?
      Rating: 4 "chrono-deteachments" out of 5
      The movie adaptation is almost finished, and while the date is still in question there is hope it will be finished and we will get to see this story come to life.
      If you're reading this you may already be aware, but Mr. Lane is offering a free digital version of 'One Way' to our book club members for our February read along.  If you're interested in getting a copy please PM me your email address.
    • By Lasraik in Steve's Book Reviews 0
      Priest of Bones is a fantasy (grimdark) book written by Peter McClean and was published in 2018.  It's the first book in the War for the Rose Thorn series.  There are plans to adapt the series for television.
      A warning that this book contains violence and abuse of children, so if that's something you're sensitive to you may want to steer clear of this one.
      I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this, it was the first time dipping my toes in grim dark fantasy.  I was expecting something really dark and depressing, but that's not at all what I found.  There are elements in this book that are disturbing and dark, but all of it has purpose.  Even the really difficult events serve the story and characters.  The book is from the perspective of Thomas Piety and his experience coming home after a difficult war campaign.  They find that the life they had prior to going off to war isn't what they remember.  The world has gone on while they were away.
      What I liked:
      I'm a huge fan of gangster movies.  Movies like 'Goodfellas', 'The Godfather' and so on.  This book is basically a grim dark gangster story.  Loved the politics, the attempts to outmaneuver your enemies... not showing weakness.  Or showing weakness to lure them in.  The characters are mostly scumbags, murderers and thugs.  But as the story goes along, you start to get attached to them.  You understand why they do what they do, even if you find it appalling.  Anti heroes are popular these days, and this reminded me of television shows like 'Breaking Bad' and 'Mad Men'.  The more you discover about these characters, the more you care about what happens to them, and hope they are able to defeat their equally or even more revolting enemies.  I'm not sure if I want to have a drink with these characters or run away from them, they float in the gray area of right and wrong.  Are they a product of their world, doing what they have to do to survive, or are they just bad people? The dialogue almost reminded me of a Guy Ritchie movie.  The back and fourth between characters was extremely entertaining and hilarious.  I found myself laughing out loud more times than I would like to admit.  The world and the people in it are defined, but not overwhelming.  You aren't inundated with information.  You know enough to get through the story and to understand the main players.  The longer the story goes the more of the world becomes clear, but it's a good pace.  One of the reasons I'm not a huge fantasy fan is because it can be overwhelming when too much of the world is dropped on your lap in the first few pages.  And those types of books are great, but it's nice to have the world develop naturally. Speaking of pace, the book flows really well.  The chapters are mostly short and very readable.  If you're anything like me you like to stop reading between chapters, so there are plenty of opportunities to put the book down - if you can.  
      What I didn't like:
      A lot of the story references the war, but we don't hear a ton about it.  Knowing more about the war and battles in it could have added to the story.  There may be those answers planned for more books in the series, but I would love to read a prequel. I would have liked the environments to be a little more detailed, not a huge gripe but I found myself wanting more.  
      Conclusion and Rating:
      This was a very enjoyable book.  I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series.  I liked it when I put the book down, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it.  It gave me a lot to think about:  the effects of PTSD, what it does to people and how it can change you - mold you into something you never thought you would be.  What used to be appalling suddenly becomes the norm.  When they went off to war, they left their homes and families behind.  While they were off fighting their worlds moved on without them.  They come home to find they don't recognize what used to be their lives, and most if not all of what they had before is gone.  That must be a horrible feeling, going off to fight for your homes and come back to find it's all gone and you have to start over, fight for what used to be yours.
      Rating: 4 dead rats nailed to the door out of 5
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