Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Review -- Shadow Ritual by Eric Giancometti and Jacques Ravenne

Shadow RitualShadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to the Author Eric Giancometti and Jacques Ravenne, Publisher Le French Book and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Copy of the book for review purposes. I in no way make any profit from my reviews and all the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and genuine.

I quote this from the publisher "When this book was first released in France, it sold 250,000 copies and was translated into 17 languages. Now it is finally in English. The nine-book series has gone on to sell 2 million copies worldwide."

Now that's a boast and an inherent confidence in the book. This looks intriguing enough to request an ARC from NetGalley for reading...

Having sold a quarter million copies in 17 languages, the English edition of this book is here. I did some searching on GoodReads and discovered that this is the 2nd book in a series of 9 books, but the first released in English.

The book opens in 1945 Berlin, Germany. Hitler's Nazis are about to be overwhelmed by invading Russians. Officers from SS are pulled out for a special mission by the Thule the organization dedicated to the Aryan race within the German Reich, to E&E and then become sleeper agents, waiting for further instructions. Hitler and Nazi Germany is about to be vanquished, but the mind that fuelled the growth of this Reich is being preserved and mutated in a new form for greater purposes.

This is first book that I have read in the series and I am intrigued by the concept. The author weaves together various estoric and cult groups like Knight Templars, Freemasons and the Thule-Gellescahft into a very fast paced and speedy story that races through France. The repartee between the two lead characters Detective Marcas and Special Agent Zewinski is good, they contrast and balance each other effectively and the chemistry between them gives me hope for the upcoming books in the series.

A great debut and very fast paced thriller. A breezy read.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Review -- Imperfect Strangers by David Staniforth

Imperfect StrangersImperfect Strangers by David M. Staniforth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emotions -  they can be so very understood and misunderstood in the same go.

Imperfect Strangers - The title is apt. When does a person change from Stranger to somebody you know? How do you know that the person you think you know is the same all the time? Do you ever know a person completely? So many questions that David Staniforth made me ask myself while reading his debut novel.

The story of Keith is heartbreaking. What strikes you most in the book once you really get started is the bleakness of Keith's surroundings. Keith wants to be normal desperately, but does not know how. He tries hard, he really does, but years of being bullied has left him so socially awkward that he just does not know how to be in company of people.

Imperfect Strangers is the story of emotions. You can live through envy, greed, jealousy, anger, love, hatred with the characters in the book. There is literally a plethora of emotions running riot in the book. Staniforth does not talk or write about heros or do gooders, he writes about people, regular everyday people with their own hopes and aspirations about what their life should be. You can see the need in Keith, the hope for a good life and love in Sally.

It is an explosive debut from a great author. I know of David Staniforth from our common GoodReads group. Our interactions have always been funny, Imperfect Strangers came to me highly recommended from the other members of the group. Reading through the book has been a amazing experience, it takes you through a gamut of emotions. Once I finished the book, it was as if I had undergone a roller coaster ride of emotions. It was a emotional journey. Keith has some serious psychological problems, his childhood chaffing under a brutal parent has left some deep, very deep scars on him which he has been struggling to overcome all his life. Sally is a breath of fresh air in his life. He wants to give her a life she aspires to but him by her side.

Slowly she becomes his all consuming obsession, he wants to give her the perfect life. Even when his actions start becoming creepy you can feel his emotions, his almost desperate desire for Sally and his need to put his past to rest. Staniforth with his portrayal of Keith manages to keep you feeling sorry for him all through the book. Even when the book ends you feel sorry for Keith at the end.

Sally I have mixed thoughts about how I feel for her. While I liked her trying to bring Keith out of his shell and seeing him for more than the bumbling loser, I did not like the way she behaved with him around her peers or that she did it for him out of pity.  She was always out there giving mixed signals about what she wanted from Keith.

I would recommend this book if you are looking for something very emotional and thrilling, it is a roller coaster experience of emotions and a must read in your library. My only peeve is there are some supporting characters whom I would have liked to see more of like Keith's elderly neighbor, Steve and Sally's niece who was the only person who could connect to Keith unconditionally.

A full 5 stars.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Review - New China by Barry Sierer

New ChinaNew China by Barry Sierer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

China is in the middle of political transition. The once in a decade changeover of power is taking place in Beijing and in the middle of a turbulent transition of power in China, it implodes. The compromise candidate put in place by the powerful business group faction of the Politburo decides to crack down on the protest happening in HongKong over the rising disparity between the rich and poor in China. A Chinese General with his own interpretation of right and wrong and what the country needs cracks down in the protest and does so brutally. In scenes reminiscent of the Tienanmen Square massacre people are butchered in broad daylight and every attempt to muzzle the media is made. But a tape of the massacre survives and thus begins a series of power plays and activities by various groups struggling to control China. 

[Spoiler Alert]
In a follow up  bloody coup the entire top level leadership of the Politburo is exterminated with extreme prejudice and suddenly the situation takes a turn for the worse and makes it a free for all. With various international powers having various vested stakes in China it is a race suddenly it is a free for all for the different groups to have their own pliable group having the power in China. Britain has its own ambitions in wanting to bring an transition into China, the President of America is being blackmailed to get into the escalating conflict because of the vested business interests. The situation is tenuous and feels like a power keg. [End Spoiler Alert] 

Who will benefit if China implodes? The complex Geo political constraints of the Asian sub continent make it difficult to predict. The Chinese have always marched to their own beat and have been insolent at times to the point of snubbing their noses at their neighbors or the Western Countries. What makes the plot even more plausible is the lack of transparency in China. Everything is controlled by the government or the party. The Media, the internet, the television..  you name it and they control it. Also China's human rights record is known. Enough said on that. China is irreplaceable in the current world economy and it wields its financial muscle without any prejudice. But the stability and the peace will be maintained as long as people don't dig deep. The moment you do so, it is a difficult game altogether and not a pretty sight.

Sierer deals with the complex equations and various players in the game very efficiently. The action is good and the complexities are very real and possible. New China is a look at the worst case scenario, it may not necessarily happen, but if it does, the implication are terrifying is not downright horrifying.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review - Follow The Leader by Mel Sherratt

Follow The LeaderFollow The Leader by Mel Sherratt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would like to thank NetGalley, the publication house and the author for making this copy available to me for a free unbiased review.

My first Mel Sherratt book courtesy NetGalley. She came highly recommended from my goodread group "A Good Thriller" so I was excited and anxious to read the book. It was worth the praise, every bit of it.

Follow the Leader is thought provoking, the suspense, the intrigue is good, but what resonated the most with me as a reader were the emotions. Emotions of the killer even as he killed and you wanted him stopped it made you think "Isn't he justified?". Emotions of a sister who shares the guilt and blame for the rape and brutal assault of her sister. Who wants her sister by her side even if it is a half existance. She would rather take that than not have her sister with her at all.

Most importantly Follow the Leader through the eyes of the killer shows us that actions have consequences. The antagonist is bullied as a child, mercilessly even by his peers and his home conditions are even more deplorable. These things by itself may not mean much, but taken together they paint a very dark picture about the conditions in which the antogonist grows up. These events, incidents leave a mark on him and make him into the killer that he becomes when he wants revenge from his old nemesis.

By giving a look into the pysche of the killer and his reasons for his killing spree, Sherratt generates empathy for the antagonist. The rationale behind the killings is apparent, even though the crimes are heinous can anybody blame the antagonist for going on it especially when the victims made his life hell on earth everyday. The actions may be childish but the outcome was a huge scar on an already scarred soul.

A dark read, but all too chillingly real. This could be a story in progress currently at any part of the world today. This could be the future of some person tomorrow and that precisely is what makes the book so soul tearingly haunting. If the antagonist carries a chip on his shoulder from his woebegone childhood, then DS Allie Shelton is hounded by nightmares of her guilt in what she believes is her part in the rape and assault of her sister almost 17 years ago. When the serial killing takes a turn with a rape and assault of a teen, Shelton rightly believes that it is a message to her from her sisters assailant.

The book is a work of art and I am now a worshipper at the altar of Mel Sherratt. A must read.