Archive for January, 2013

a game of thronesThe men of the Night Watch guard the giant wall of ice that keeps the kingdom below safe from wildling raiders, outlaws, and scarier things.  They have learnt of the return of the Others, unseen for thousands of years.  The Others are dead men come to life, who can’t be killed by sword or dagger.

The Starks of Winterfell are one of the northern-most families of the kingdom and Lord Eddard Stark is the Warden of the North.  He’s summoned by King Robert, a close friend, to become The Hand Of The King, the second in charge of the throne.  Ned reluctantly travels to King’s Landing to take up the office of the Hand, taking his daughters, Sansa and Arya, to experience life at court.  His sons – Robb, Brandon, and Rickon – remain at Winterfell with their mother, Lady Catelyn.  Jon Snow, Ned’s bastard son, travels to the Wall to join the men of the Night Watch.

Daenerys is the daughter of the mad king who was overthrown when Robert came to power.  Raised in exile along with her brother, they’ve spent years trying to find the support to raise an army to reclaim the throne.  Her brother trades Dany in marriage to a Dothraki khal to get a 50 000 strong army of Dothraki warriors.  Dany gets three petrified dragon’s eggs.

These are the three interconnected storylines that form TGOT.  They are woven together very neatly, with each chapter being told from the perspective of a different character.  I thought Ned was an idiot for warning Cersei he was going to tell – how could he think she’d meekly slink away.  Sansa was a drip, thinking life was like a romantic tale.  By the end she showed some strength, even if it wasn’t sticking a knife in Joffrey’s ribs.  Other characters, like Joffrey and Cersei, need a discreet execution and some others, like Lysa Arryn, need a good smack.  There was a lot of violence, especially toward women, and young girls being considered as adults sexually, which was disturbing.

The book is 790  pages, and very little of that is spent on battles or scenery, or even a resolution to the plot. Instead it’s densely packed with the thoughts, feelings, schemes, and observations of the characters, and you’re unlikely to avoid getting very emotionally entangled to at least one of them. The combination of this with the brutal setting makes you genuinely cheer whenever a sympathetic character finally accomplishes something positive, or groan with dread when another character makes a tragic mistake.  It’s a big book to hold in paperback form and you may find it easier in an e book version.

The tv series was very faithful to the book (and had Sean Bean) and I look forward to the next season (sadly Sean-less).

HarperVoyager

Supplied for Broderick Wells

Reviewed by Jan

In Pineiro’s Sins Of The Flesh Liliana Carrera assists her brother in rescuing Caterina Shaw from Wardwell Laboratories (fringe scientists who perform truly abhorrent experiments on humans). Six months later, where this story picks up, Liliana is working in a newly set up facility to work on finding a cure for Wardwell’s patients. When the FBI brings in Jesse Bradford he is suffering from an extremely rare – not to mention wholly disturbing – bone disease that was responsible for abruptly ending his football career. Liliana is tasked with finding a way to reverse the damage.

This is one very violent read that is not meant for the squeamish or faint of heart. Poor Bradford! The hero seemed to spend a good chunk of the novel being beaten, drugged, blackmailed, threatened and tasered. In fact, when Carrera first meets Bradford, his so-called guardians (are they or aren’t they FBI agents?) have just beaten, tasered and drugged him (not necessarily in that order) so his behaviour is somewhat erratic and violent. Not a great start to any relationship, really, not by any stretch of the imagination. Add to that the fact that the hero can be a bit of a tool at times (explained, I guess, by the fact that he’s trying to keep his secret to protect those he loves) and I’m surprised Liliana finds anything likeable about him at all. But she does which is just as well for the storyline.

This is like Fringe (the tv series) only with romance and fans of Lora Leighs Breeds series will enjoy Pineiro’s Sins books. Me? I’m too squeamish to read further than this one. What people will do in the name of science is grotesque and even the romance angle doesn’t entice me.

Grand Central Publishing

Supplied by Hachette

Reviewed by Tosca

A mercenary, Mick, is hired by a company to hunt down the person who committed the horrific murder of one of their scientists. The killer is Caterina, a woman who tore the scientist to pieces barehanded. It turns out the company was carrying out an experimental treatment to repair optic nerves damaged by her terminal brain cancer. They also used patients as guinea pigs to try out genetic manipulations. After capturing Cat, Mick starts to doubt she carried out the murders and is baffled by her super strength and ability to change her skin colour to blend with surroundings. He enlists the help of his doctor sister to treat Cat while he finds out why the company wants her dead.

There is a little too much testosterone floating about, with Mick and another psycho mercenary hunting Cat and trading barbs. While the story was slow to start with, I became very interested in the scientific what-ifs the author explored. What if scientists genetically altered people to have super strength and multitude of talents, such as the chameleon ability to blend into the background? What if they created superior soldiers or thieves that were for sale to the highest bidder? What if a good technology is perverted for profit? And she used scientific advances, such as green fluorescent proteins being crossed with cats, creating cats that glow in the dark. Scary.

Grand Central Publishing

Supplied by Hachette

Reviewed by Jan

 

Matilda is in the middle of a custody battle being fought by her parents.  The background of both parents is explored and set out; along with how they met and a view of their marriage and split.  The story is told by a friend of the family court judge who presided over the custody battle.  Dying, he asks his friend to right the wrong done in the case, but leaves no clue as to what the wrong is.  Interwoven into the story is the drama in his own life with his son’s marriage breakup and loss of his grandchildren.

The characters were very strong and become real.  I didn’t like Softy much; she came across as a snob and a helicopter mother.  The story gives a glimpse in the family court system and how there are always three sides to a story; his side, her side, and the truth.  I also really liked the way the background drama fits in with the main story so naturally.  It’s not a happy book to read but compelling.

Bantam

Supplied by Auckland Libraries

Reviewed by Jan

This is a story of Fat and her two children, as well as the effects of her actions on her family.  After an unexplained tragedy she loses custody of her young son.  After spending time in hospital she is lost the mental health system and becomes pregnant again.  As the baby will be removed from her care at birth, her sister agrees to adopt it.  The story is told by the recounting of her father, and later her sister.

This is not a happy book, the subject matter is not light and fluffy, there is no happy ending.  Yet the story grips you, the characters are real, and you get absorbed in it.  I definitely recommend reading this, the author gives glimpses into system designed to protect people and highlight the different actions of people.

Bantam

Supplied by Auckland Libraries

Reviewed by Jan

Gabriel has finally gotten his way; he and Sam are no longer partners. He’s set a tail to follow her though, as she’s guarding a man who seems to be a product of the military experiments uncovered in Book 2. More is uncovered about the former military and people who are connected to it are dying horrible deaths. Sam is getting more memories of her past back, and learning more about her abilities. She’s also learning more about Sethanon, the criminal mastermind who’s killing Spook Squad agents, and his connection to her.

This has more of the action, crime, conspiracies and sexual tension that Keri Arthur writes so well. I grew increasingly annoyed at the hero’s ‘traumatic past’ and am thankful he’s not described anywhere as ‘dark and brooding’. The heroine has no time for his brooding though, and goes off to do her own thing. Yes!

Piatkus

Supplied for Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

 

This time Sam is tracking a killer who is focusing on people connected to a military project, a project that seems to have knowledge of her background. People with answers to questions of her past are showing up and either dying or refusing to talk. Added to that is the appearance of an ‘imaginary friend’ she only sees when asleep and the emergence of her psychic talents. Plus the attempts on her life are on-going while the tall, dark, and handsome guy is ignoring her.

This was another fun read with more action, adventure and the government conspiracy getting bigger and scarier as more of it is exposed. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series so I can find out what happens next!

Piatkus

Supplied for Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan