Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Scandalous' by Victoria Christopher Murray

There are certain genres that I just don’t read.  Romance, non-fiction, poetry (UGH!), and Christian fiction.  Victoria Christopher Murray falls in the last category… although she might have issueS with the “Christian fiction” label.  That’s what I call it.  My books have to have a certain “ump” to them.  They either have to have lots of graphic violence and/or graphic sex and/or graphic drama and/or characters that need Jesus more than Satan.  (Ad yes, I DO know that I just said “graphic drama”)  I know it’s prejudiced but Christian fiction just doesn’t have that “ump”, and it’s probably not supposed to.  So because it doesn’t I usually just skip it.  So what in the world made me choose this book?  
  1. Ummm… look at the cover (just kidding).
  2. No I’m not kidding.
  3. A pretty little birdie in D.C. told me it was good and I trust her judgement.
  4. I’m willing to at least try other genres.
So did I enjoy this book?  Without intending to offend the Christian fiction readers that might be reading this review, “HELL YES”!!  Victoria can write and she can write well.  Extremely well.  Even though this book didn’t have the graphic details that I look for it did have the other thing I look for; a very GOOD story.  Actually let me back up and say that while this book didn’t have the graphic details of the things I’m used to, it does have that in here.  

Jasmine is a mess.  She’s a woman who enjoys sex (a LOT of it) and she is also very comfortable with holding others to a different standard than she holds herself.  Conveniently delusional is a pretty good description.  Buuuuuut she’s about to get married and all that is about to change.  Right?  Not hardly.  Matter of fact, a good argument could be made that she’s even more scandalous now than before she was engaged.  She’s engaged to Kenny, but meets a dude named Roman.  She absolutely loves Kenny and her only attachment to Roman is that he can make her va-jay-jay sing like Mariah Carey.  Kenny can’t.  

But Jasmine has other demons and it seems that she is almost forcing herself to marry Kenny.  Don’t get me wrong, Kenny is a good man but he’s not the right man for Jasmine.  I felt bad for him because he has no idea that he’s about to commit to something that he can’t control.  Or even contain.  Jasmine gets caught up and the repercussions are serious.  So serious that I was absolutely shocked to read about one incident.  I love authors that write “to the point of no return” and Victoria has a scene in here that made my jaw drop.  I sincerely didn’t expect that.  Nor did I expect the ending.  

This isn’t fair.  Now I have to put Victoria’s other books in my reading que because I have to see if Jasmine is still a nut.  (She is.) This eBook is a prequel and it looks like the husband in this one isn’t the same one in others.  Not a spoiler, because like I just said, this is a prequel.  I had a blast reading this book and I almost feel bad waiting this long to read a book by Victoria Christopher Murray.  I say ‘almost’ because I hate waiting for books in a series.  Now I can just fly through the “Jasmine Chronicles” without having to pretend that I’m Job and having patience while waiting for the next book!  

 Great job Victoria. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Everything Fades Away' by Zane

It’s almost not fair.  You got these other cats out here trying their best to be the “next” big erotic writer.  Zane comes along, drops an eBook, and puts that in check real quick!  This is a short story.  This is an erotic story.  This is a short, erotic story.  If you had any doubts that Zane could still rock her erotica roots with everything else she’s doing… stop.

This story opens with our main character in pure sexual bliss.  Yeah, Amanda has more tongue on her than a salt lick and Gideon is probably the luckiest man in America.  Actually I take that back, I just remembered that hotel scene… Gideon IS the luckiest man in America.  These two are like teenagers that have just discovered sex, and Zane gives us a very voyeuristic view of their extremely sexual trysts.

Yep, even though it’s a short story Zane reminds us that she is still the erotic queen.  As if there was ever any doubt.

Friday, November 23, 2012

'Blood Gospel' by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

I don’t read every James Rollins book, but the ones I have read have been very good.  This one continues that trend.  The previous book I’ve read by James have included an ancient species of man hidden in ice, earth ending secrets hidden in the deep ocean, and DNA secrets hidden in animals, this story is freaking (almost unbelievable).  I say almost because well… almost.  I’m nowhere near being the ideal Christian.  Hell, I’m nowhere near being even a decent Christian (hence me using the word “hell” and Christian in the same sentence).  I do believe in the Bible, God, Jesus, thirty minute church services, hot preacher’s daughters, and all that jazz.  

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy a story that pretty much takes those beliefs and puts a twist on them that will offend every staunch bible thumper from Texas to Alabama.  Even though you probably know the hidden-in-plain-sight secret of this book, I won’t tell… juuuust in case you don’t.  Let’s see how hard it is to tell you about this book without telling you about this book.

What I can tell you is to expect a ton of action, a ton of blood, a ton of secrets, and a ton of history coupled with his-story.  Rollins… actually I keep saying Rollins when I should be saying James Rollins AND Rebecca Cantrell, heavily use Biblical history as the basis for this story.  They take the familiar stories of Lazarus, Jesus, the Gospels, Judas, silver, St. Peter, and a host of others and put a very unique, very different, yet very plausible spin on it.  Do I believe it?  No.  Did I enjoy it?  Hell yes!  (dammit, there’s that hell again). 
Jesus, before he ascended into heaven, apparently wanted to pen a bestseller.  So with that in mind he wrote a gospel in his own blood.  (Yeah, publishers were stingy back then too.)  Needless to say, this book is a source of great power and being such, drives people to extremely cruel measures.  There are a number of pieces to the puzzle of what exactly the “blood gospel” encompasses, and even though this book is almost 500 pages, it flies. 

If you’re in the market for a book that encompasses Biblical history with a healthy dose of imagination and that other hidden-in-plain-sight secret, then this is your baby.  The subject matter will cause some (typical/useless/anticipated/expected) controversy but who cares?  To those that read this review I would love to chat with you once you find/found out the hidden-in-plain-secret.  If indeed you think there really was one. :-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'The Last Man' by Vince Flynn

Albert Einstein said the definition of 'insanity' is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".  You'd think that with the body count and stealth reputation Mitch has garnered his years of service that people would learn.  They don't.  Idiots.  In 'TheLast Man' there is some pretty rampant corruption going on in Afghanistan (big surprise there) and one of our most important intelligence brains has been kidnapped. This man holds more secrets than Bill Clinton's belly button and he must be found at ALL costs.

Enter Mitch stage left.

Unfortunately even Mitch isn't above becoming a target and thus enters the first of three huge surprises.  And I'm not being my usual superfluous soul either. You will be floored when you find out who is sent to assassinate Mitch and the second huge shocker comes very soon after that.  I've been a fan of Flynn's since I cracked open one of his books years back, and one of the many things I've enjoyed is how he writes his books right "to the edge".  But even I was surprised at how far he went with #3.  

OK enough with the "you won't believe this" moments of this book, on with the story.  As I've stated earlier the peaceful and serene country of Afghanistan is being run by some corrupt individuals.  I know, I know, hard to believe.  But the guys who think they are in charge have no idea they are being played by someone much larger.
And smarter.  Mitch is sent over to sort through the bull and comes face to face with some politically correct paper pushers.  While reading about Mitch blowing apart the head of some terrorist is a thrill, hearing him decimate someone at a conference room table is a very close second.  He lays the pimp hand down and it's stirring each and every time.

In this story we hear a bit more of the infighting between the leaders of Afghanistan and how politics is pretty much the same worldwide. It's a bit more bloody over there though as the opposing party tends to use bullets instead of ballots. Hanging people instead of hanging chads. "Red" and "blue" over there means something totally different. Vince throws in a story within a story and we get a great view of just how murderous and deadly it is over there. On that note let me mention that there are a few scenes of torture that are pretty raw. They're so raw in fact that even when they're only alluded to, it's tough because your brain is going to make you remember.  

'The Last Man' is everything you would expect from Mitch. Our chiseled warrior is getting a bit older but the only proof you have of that is his driver’s license. His enemies, foreign and domestic, would do well to remember that.  They won't. But even a 75% Mitch is better than most of us at 99.9%.  Let me go back and quickly touch on something I just said: "his enemies, foreign and domestic."  I make no apologies that I really do hope and wish that we have someone like Mitch Rapp alive and well working for us. The events in these books are based on reality and I feel so much better (even if it is an illusion) that there is someone out there willing to kill anyone who is a threat to us. ANY. ONE. Foreign or domestic. Terror is terror. Evil is evil. War is hell, but it's nice to know that someone is willing to stand toe to toe with the devil and say " not on my watch, not. on. my. watch". 

Major props to Mr. Flynn for doing what he does best while dealing with serious medical problems.  Major props to Mitch for letting this reader escape, yet again, into a world where the good guys win.  At least for a little while.  Maybe.