Fast Track to Glory, Tomasz Chrusciel

Fast Track to Glory, Tomasz Chrusciel

Fast Track to Glory

Nina Monte is pre-eminent in her field of religious history, so an urgent request to consult with government representatives about a historically significant find discovered at the bottom of Lake Garda is nothing out of the ordinary. However, the oddities about this particular consultation begin to mount swiftly from the odd to the deadly, and Nina finds herself fleeing Italy with a twenty-year old boy under her care, trying to stay one step ahead of an obsessed millionaire willing to do whatever it takes for a chance to live forever…

Fast Track to Glory is a fast-paced thriller that takes the reader on an enthralling journey from Southern Europe to India, woven with local colour and spiced with skillfully-evoked desperation as the pursuit circles closer. Nina Monte is a very relatable protagonist, and her side-kick is a young Italian man, exactly the type that most people have spent time trying to either dodge or discourage at some point, and their unlikely alliance adds a well-written lighter thread to the story. Tomasz Chrusciel’s writing displays a depth of knowledge of the areas he locates his stories in that gives the settings a magic all their own, and the historical background provides a solidly believable basis for the book. This was a very readable story, definitely something worth picking up for any thriller readers out there.

The Furies’ Bog, Deborah Jackson

The Furies’ Bog, Deborah Jackson

The Furies’ Bog

An African biologist studying polar bears, a geologist, and an archeology graduate student exhume a group of bog bodies from a peat bog in the far North of Canada, and inadvertently unearth the keys to a 70,000 year old mystery – a mystery with threads reaching into the heart of current events to entangle not one planet, but two. Whether or not Felicity, Baruti, and Felicity’s arch-rival in the archaeology department, Frank, will be able to pull all those threads together without ending up in a bog themselves is an entirely different question.

The Furies’ Bog is a complex, twisty science-fiction thriller, encompassing a staggering scope of history and enough science to give the story a solid foundation. Deborah Jackson’s characters show the same level of detail and depth as the storyline, their past histories and interactions strengthening the plot at every turn, and despite the number of different viewpoints used to tell the story, the author handles it well enough that the pieces weave neatly together into a compelling whole. If I had to voice any criticism, I’d say that in places, pages of densely scientific text made me start skimming, but overall I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sci-fi or thrillers – it’s a well-written, excellently paced read.

Triad, Guy Estes

Triad, Guy Estes

Triad: Sisters of the Storm Book 1

Fantasy is one of my favourite genres, and so Triad sounded like a great read, offering magic, prophecies, dwarves, dragons, and epic battles. Unfortunately, although the basic story had a sound plot, the writing repeatedly got in the way of the story. The frequent drops into the omniscient point of view and pages of description made it very hard for me to stay in the story, and the latter forcibly pulled the pacing down pretty much throughout.

I also wasn’t able to form much of a connection with the characters. Some of that may have been due to the point of view swaps between third and omniscient, but by and large, the protagonist, Aleena, spent so much time explaining her reasoning for what she did in minute detail to herself that my inner editor was screaming for a red pencil long before I got to the action she was contemplating. Beyond this, the characters were at root very simple archetypes, without much depth or complexity to really make them real for me as the reader.

Overall, I had to push myself to finish this book. I really hate having to say that, but between the slow pacing, the number of homonyms in the text, and not being able to even focus my attention on a favourite character, this read was a struggle for me.

Triad cover

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Strange Luck, Amie Irene Winters

Strange Luck, Amie Irene Winters

Strange Luck

Strange Luck was a book that started out strongly, set in the Darling family’s shop, Strange Luck, specializing in the strange and the occult – with that kind of backdrop, almost anything could be possible.  The first few chapters, while clearly targeted at the young adult audience, offered suspense, a brush of danger with very odd stranger trying to claim a relic from the shop, and characters that were familiar but relatable.

However, as the story progressed, it felt as if the reading level dropped. Some of this was due to the Dr. Seuss-like rhyming elements that were introduced, making me feel more as if I were reading a children’s fairy tale than a young adult fantasy, but the characters introduced later in the book also read as if less effort had been put into their development, leaving them with less depth and credibility than those introduced in the early chapters, and more in line with the fairy tale reading level.

While the author offered some interesting thoughts around memory and consciousness towards the end of the novel, by that point it seemed rather incongruous in the setting, and didn’t engage me the way it might have otherwise. While the drop in reading level may have been a deliberate attempt to reflect the situation the characters found themselves in, I personally found that it negatively impacted the read, leaving me with the sensation that the strong start of the book had petered out by the end.

Reviewed for Knockin’ Books.

Paths of the Shadow, Hannah Ross

Paths of the Shadow, Hannah Ross

Paths of the Shadow: Quest of the Messenger 1

When Dr. Nicholas Swift meets the daughter of his high school sweetheart at a reunion he’d planned to avoid, he didn’t expect that she would end up working for him, or that their collaboration would find him visiting the Stone Circle with a tabloid journalist. He certainly didn’t expect to end up travelling the Stormglass gates to a different world to take his place at the centre of a key event that would define their civilisation. Cataclysmic events have a tendency to change people, and Dr. Swift isn’t the only one to find that sometimes, you have to face losing your life to understand what’s most important to you…

Paths of the Shadow is one of those books that rewards a little patience. While the first few pages come across as incredibly mundane, as Dr. Swift is prodded into attending a pointless social event, the book quickly gathers steam and colour, weaving together a complex set of characters and story arcs that focus on love, loss, and change. Author Hannah Ross uses a unique, archaic style of writing well-suited to the main setting of the story, and her characters are for the most part well-rounded and plausible. Once the story gets fully underway, the plot is well-paced and well-written, and is most definitely worth the read for fans of epic fantasy.