All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

allyouneed

 

Admittedly the movie drew me to search out the book it was based on. I should have known better to think the Hollywood version was anything like its predecessor, but I was still pleased to read this book.

I won’t nitpick the differences between the movie and book. However, I will say that, despite the obvious differences that you pick up immediately, the book’s premise is pretty damn interesting. It’s been likened to a ‘scifi Groundhog Day’. One soldier spends months preparing for the day he unceremoniously dies. There is nothing glorious in his death, which ends 15 minutes after his battle starts, other than not wanting to go out with ammo left. A pitiful attempt to redeem himself, but doing so starts a repeated series of events that leads him to realize that, if he’s going to die, god damn it, he’s going to try and live before death comes for him.

There’s no running from death, which comes in the shape of starfish evolved with nanobites from far off worlds. An alien race needs a new home and it doesn’t have the time to double check if there is life on this little blue planet they’ve chosen. An 80 year round trip for an answer? No, we’ll just take your planet with some very pissed off starfish with excrement that inevitably terraforms our planet to suit them. No offense.

The main character decides to take a stand, and in doing so, discovers he is not only in his approximately 32 hour time loop. Enters The Full Metal Bitch.

The book manages to weave a little bit of romance without gutting the story, which stays incredibly true to high action, science fiction adventure. It’s a short novel with a science that takes, more than it gives, but keeps the story intact. I gave it 5 out of 5 because a good premise is easy to f8ck up, and Mr. Hiroshi Sakurazaka did not.

 

 

 

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Blade of the Samuari by @Susanspann

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Book Description:

 

Master ninja Hiro Hattori is trying to sleep when he has an unexpected visit from his friend Kazu, a fellow shinobi and member of the same ninja clan working undercover at the shogunate. Kazu says that Saburo, the Shogun’s cousin, has been stabbed to death within the walls of the Shogun’s palace with Kazu’s dagger, and that though he is innocent, he fears he will be blamed for the murder. He begs Hiro’s help in escaping the city. But before he can flee, Hiro and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, are summoned to the palace to aid in the investigation.

There they learn of a plot to assassinate the Shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda, a rival warlord, scheduled to arrive in Kyoto soon and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the Shogun. Kazu, trapped in the city, still will not admit where he was at the time of the murder, and this makes Hiro doubt his innocence. Other suspects include the maid who found the body, Saburo’s wife, and the stable master. Unfortunately, the Shogun demands the murder solved before Lord Oda arrives, and if the murderer can’t be brought to justice, Hiro and Father Mateo may have to die in his place.

Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers into 16th century Japan for a thrilling and unforgettable adventure.

 

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This is book 2 of the Samurai series by Susan Spann. Last year I happened upon Book 1 ‘Claws of the Cat‘ on netgalley and was genuinely entertained and amazed. As before, you are introduced to Hiro and Father Mateo, very much the Holmes and Watson of 16th century Japan. For every calculated step the shinobi takes, Father Mateo unknowingly stumbles with genuine curiosity and innocence at the very structured Japan culture of the samurai.

 

Father Mateo has been allowed to teach Christianity to one of the Shogun’s regions, and it would appear he steps blindly into the complicated class-based world, but he is often Hiro’s right-hand when it comes to asking the obvious questions that class dictates is improper to even think. Without Mateo, Hiro would not be able to navigate within his class limitations and have any type of success.

 

Along with the absolutely interesting dynamic between the foreigner and shinobi (masterless Samurai), Susan Spann brings back several characters from Book 1, namely Kazu, Hiro’s only friend and Samurai to the local Shogun. There is, inevitably, a body, clues to a bigger conspiracy, political intrigue, and another step into the world of the samurai. I thoroughly enjoyed Book 2, Blades of the Samurai for the mystery, as well as the glimpse into the feudal history of a powerful country. Hiro is called upon by the Shogun himself to solve the murder of one of his trusted men, and almost immediately, his life and Father Mateo’s, are put on the line. Culture dictates that dishonor is not only shared by the family, but the friends in the absence of any family ties. Kazu is accused of murder, caught up in his lies meant only to protect, and again both Hiro and Kazu’s ulterior motives to being in the region are threatened.

 

Fast paced, enjoyable dialogue, immensely interesting history, and a conspiracy worthy of the deception it causes. Definitely give Book 2 Blade of the Samurai 5 out of 5 stars. I wish it was only longer and cannot wait for Book 3!

 

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Take the Monkeys and Run (Barbara Marr murder mystery #1)

Karen Cantwell Twitter

 

 

takethemonkeys

 

Book 1 in the bestselling Barbara Marr Murder Mystery Series

Film lover Barbara Marr is a typical suburban mom living the typical suburban life in her sleepy little town of Rustic Woods, Virginia. Typical, that is until she sets out to find the missing link between a bizarre monkey sighting in her yard and the bone chilling middle-of-the-night fright fest at the strangely vacant house next door. When Barb talks her two friends into some seemingly innocent Charlie’s Angels-like sleuthing, they stumble upon way more than they bargained for and uncover a piece of neighborhood history that certain people would kill to keep on the cutting room floor.

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I’m always hesitant to post a negative review. I don’t want to come across as crass or rude, but there are times when I just can’t finish a book.  Sadly, I did not enjoy this book. Barbara Marr is very funny, but the first 1/4 of the book is a lot of unnecessary exposition and her quirky point of view that, personally, I think really detracted from the story. The main character is funny, but the additional characters, and her estranged husband/failing marriage, just made me want to skim, bypassing necessary kernels of information for the mystery itself. I’m all for insightful character POVs, but when she started discussing the tooth fairy, and reacting to her recently bailed husband, I just got annoyed. Yes, I get it, she’s a housewife turned sleuth, but I could not care less about the disillusioned life she had, if it really had no bearing on the mystery itself. If it did, I had sadly lost interest in that point and skimmed over why it was relevant.

Skimming to the ending, I wasn’t rewarded with anything worth reading, since I couldn’t even hold on long enough to get past the first dead body. 2 out of 5 stars for being uninteresting.

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A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries Book 1 by @E__Hunter

Elizabeth Hunter Twitter and Facebook
 
 

hiddenfire

 
 

Don’t let the cover fool you, although feel free to admire the scenery. One doesn’t normally associate ripped abs with books, but it would behoove you to ignore the connotations of bodice ripping in some old library you’re imagining right now, and at least read the prologue. I did and I’m pretty glad I gave this story a chance, despite the cover.

 

I’m not a huge romance fan. I am a woman, bordering on being a cougar…yes, and not happily, but I’d read a well written romance just as long as it doesn’t involve the ridiculously beautiful man sweeping the ridiculously average woman off her feet. Elizabeth Hunter piqued my interest with a strong introduction of a mysterious man speaking to a college girl in a library, asking for help on her computer. He elicits her immediate help just by merely touching her. Now, let’s read the blurb.

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No secret stays hidden forever.

 

   A phone call from an old friend sets mysterious book researcher Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery that has eluded him for centuries.  Little does he suspect a young librarian holds the key to an ancient secret, nor could he expect the danger Beatrice De Novo would attract.

 

   Now both will follow a twisted maze leading from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a passion that could destroy them both.

 

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I don’t think the description does this story justice. I would classify this as paranormal romance mystery. Giovanni Vecchio is the enigmatic and mysterious Italian historian that visits a local university library in Houston, Texas. He captures the attention of Beatrice De Novo, 23 year old library science major who works the night shift and oversees the special collections archive. Giovanni is tall, dark, and handsome (but aren’t they all) and Beatrice, B to her friends (but not Giovanni), finds him weirdly fascinating.

 

Slowly but surely they are both embroiled into a several centuries old mystery of a lost library, supernatural beings, and a romance that almost, but doesn’t quite come to full fruition, and for that, I was thankful. The attraction between Beatrice and Giovanni is restrained – he’s using her and ultimately she is using him, after discovering he’s not like your average Italian historian with dark hair, olive skin, green eyes, and an alluring electrical presence. Hunter keeps the focus on Beatrice and Gio, but introduces incredibly fun supporting characters. The charming butler Caspar, the hilariously devilish Carwyn, and the lovely Isadora, Beatrice’s grandmother. There is a healthy mix of romance, adventure, mystery, as well as a nasty villain, Lorenzo.

 

Hunter weaves an intricate tale, slowly revealing the true nature of Giovanni and dark world he lives in, and ultimately, drags Beatrice into. Far from a ‘bodice-ripper’ romance, it did, on occasion, remind me of Twilight, but I think in this day and age, no author who writes paranormal romance will ever avoid that comparison. I think Hunter does a tremendous job focusing on the plot of the story, not just the romance, and neither is kicked to the wayside for the sake of short-lived thrill. I thoroughly enjoyed the intelligent voice and snarky attitude of the dialogue between Gio and Beatrice, and Carwyn, the thousand year old welsh priest, accents this story, giving the reader much needed comic relief before the romance gets out of control.

 

Definitely give Elizabeth Hunter’s ‘A Hidden Fire’ a strong 4 out of 5 stars for capturing my interest and forcing me to stay up until past midnight to finish book 1 and immediately buy book 2. This is a series I will be happy to finish, and cannot wait to read more about Beatrice and Giovanni. Gold star, Elizabeth, and thank you. >..<

 

elizabethHunter

 
 
 
 

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Pop Travel by @taratylertalks

Tara Tyler – Facebook and Twitter
 

 

pop travel official cover

 

POP TRAVEL is the way to go! (at your own risk!)

In 2080, technology has gone too far for J. L. Cooper. He is happily hidden in his simple, secluded life as a private detective in a small town, far from any pop travel laser teleportation stations. Until he takes on a client who insists pop travel made his fiancé disappear.

When Cooper investigates, he finds evidence of pop travel’s deadly flaw, sparking a series of murders, attempts on his life, and threats to his brother. He’d like to pass off the evidence but knows he’s being watched and can’t trust anyone. And who would believe him?

The only way he can save his brother is to fool his observers while looking for a way to expose the problem. He decides to go to the source and confront the Creator of pop travel. On his way, Cooper meets Southern siren, Geri Harper (an undercover FBI agent) who tags along despite his protests. When they reach the Creator, he has plans of his own and leads them on a wild detour.

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When I sat down to start this book, I was immediately intrigued with the very idea of instant travel in a world of increasingly busy people. Tara Tyler starts off extremely strong, establishing the wonder of ‘pop travel’ as well as the fear that it might be killing random travelers.  Something as revolutionary as the automobile, was actually a death trap. The world the author creates is incredible and tickles my scifi funny bone with excitement and glee, even with the introduction of the main character, J.L. Cooper, ex lawyer and alcoholic, older brother to the enigmatic congressman/future president.

Cooper is a recovering alcoholic lawyer turned private eye (aren’t they all, tho?) who fell into a tailspin of self destruction after inadvertently sending his beautiful wife to her death. A ‘pop travel’ virgin, Cooper instinctively does not trust the instant travel, and after sending his wife on a fatal plane crash, falls head first into a bottle of scotch. Years later, he is a rehabilitated, stronger man, thanks in part to his younger, if not better, brother. Tyler creates a flawed human being you cannot help but like. Cooper’s good name, as a lawyer who tried to sue the corporation that had begun to monopolize the travel industry, puts an accountant in touch with Coop to help solve the mystery of his fiancee’s death, whom you meet in the introduction of the book.  Cooper is reluctant, but as he begins to look into the accountant’s case, bodies start hitting the floor, and this is where I checked out, sadly.

Tyler begins introducing a multitude of characters, all of which are, at best, annoying. Geri Harper (undercover FBI agent pursuing Cooper and what he discovers) pretty much derails what could have been an amazing science fiction mystery. I guess the author wanted to include some sort of romance aspect, but it rails against the personality that Tyler has set up for Cooper. He’s a driven investigator with the life of his congressman baby brother on his hands, yet is immediately distracted by a southern drawl in capri pants. Really? Just like that? I was beyond disappointed.

Skimming through the rest of the story, you’re introduced to the ‘bad guys’ – an ice queen villain who thinks nothing of saving her own skin, and her ridiculously over reacting accomplices. Then there’s the ‘Creator’ of pop travel and too many characters I just did not care enough to read about.

I read the ending, with of course Geri and Cooper ending up together (no idea why she didn’t do her job, and didn’t care to read about it). This story had such potential to stand out with an exceptional plot and believable main character, that even with such a strong beginning, still falls short of anything worthy of more than 3/5 stars.

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Murder on Cue by Jane Detinger

murderoncue

Struggling actress Jocelyn “Josh” O’Roarke just got a real offer. Well, something resembling a real offer. Her old friend Austin Frost has written a play for Broadway and cast the glamorous Harriet Weldon as the lead. Not wishing to leave his old friend Josh behind, he has invited her to be Harriet’s understudy. The role of understudy is a difficult one—and it becomes even more so when Harriet turns up dead and the police name Josh their prime suspect.

With the NYPD breathing down her neck, Josh must find the people responsible while ensuring that the show will go on.

Murder on Cue is the first book of the Jocelyn O’Roarke mystery series, which also includes First Hit of the Season and Death Mask.

 

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A 1992 publication by Jane Detinger which will hopefully be released into ebook as well as reprint, is resurrected as a very well written and obnoxiously snooty acting troupe involved in a murder most foul.  I have always wanted to say that – ‘murder most foul!’ but really, what else could murder be? Foul, cold…beachy?

 

The first quarter of the book introduces your cast of characters, including: Jocelyn O’Roarke, Josh for short, our heroine and prime suspect. As the much more talented understudy of the victim Harriet Weldon, you are treated to an unfamiliar world, at least to me, of theater actors and the cut-throat lives of off-Broadway productions. Josh’s friend Austin writes an incredible screenplay and Josh, along with her fellow actors, director, and screenplay writer get thrust into a murder mystery.  Enter Detective Sergeant Phillip Gerrard, the Mickey Spillane police officer, with his dark black hair and Icelandic stare, is quite possibly Josh’s only ally in searching for murderer.

 

Admittedly the rather haughty and highfalutin theater attitude slowed the first 1/4 of the book, almost making me want to put it down, but I’m glad I stayed with it, especially when the bodies started hitting the floor. This is definitely a more refined and intelligent author’s voice that really influenced the way I thought and wrote while reading this book. I felt like a straight up snob and wrote that way, too. I loved it. Takes a little getting used to, what with the plethora of pop culture tripe that has inundated literature today (see…I’m all snotty!), but it is very refreshing and reminded me constantly of Hecule Poirot.

 

It is a little frustrating to see Josh employ her best Jessica Fletcher and refuse to tell the enigmatic Gerrard very important clues, but ‘Murder on Cue’ does end with a believable conclusion. The burgeoning romance between Gerrard and Josh is just enough to keep you giggling with interest, but the romance is never over done, and the end result of their association is quite lovely, making me want to read more about them in the next installment, should the series ever make it to ebook.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms Detinger’s mystery and give it a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars. I anxiously await her catalog to be released digitally!

 

 

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