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Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery

Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery Book 1 by [Bryan, Robert L.]

Mystery readers who love New York: this book is for you. Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery introduces 25-year-old Finn, a fifth-generation police officer from a family that reveres the NYPD. When an unlucky accident ends his NYPD career, Finn becomes the next best thing: a Private Eye. Finn’s new career is off to a rocky start, complete with threadbare office and octogenarian assistant. Luckily, Finn quickly moves beyond the so-called “cavalcade of crazies” and stumbles into his first serious case. Follow Finn as he searches for a missing person who NYPD claims is not missing at all.

In Missing, Robert L. Bryan explores duty, loyalty, and friendship. He also plumbs the depths of vice that simmer in the city: corruption, greed, and crime. Bryan hits his storytelling stride as the details of the case unfurl. The plot moves quickly with confounding clues, hints of danger, and a parade of compelling characters.

Bryan has a knack for provocative characters. Finn’s apparent lack of self-determination can be frustrating—he seemingly rode a conveyer belt from booties to NYPD blues—but he develops into a likable main character. Early client stories, like the time Finn tailed a cat, are charming but lose something in bullet point format. The reader groans when Finn’s most pressing professional dilemma involves a desk chair and cheers when he finally lands a case.

Still, Finn is inscrutable. Other characters respond to him with generosity and affection when he shows none. I think the women in Finn’s world would benefit from added nuance; they are often one-dimensional. Finn’s father is a bright spot: unwavering in his support and helpful when Finn needs it most. We should all be so lucky.

Fans of the boroughs will enjoy devoted descriptions of Queen’s minutiae. Every intersection is noted, every landmark observed. Do I see a Finn Delaney walking tour of Queens in my future? Yes, please.

The book doubles back at times with Finn uncovering clues already revealed; in one notable situation, Finn hits upon the lynchpin of the case twice in seven pages. The book is lightly sprinkled with errors in grammar and punctuation. Despite these minor distractions, Missing is a satisfying mystery and a good read.

Pages: 197 | ASIN: B07L9DBXDN

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A Game of Life

A Game of Life by [Musewald, Anna]

After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.

Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.

The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.

I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.

One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.

This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.

Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP

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Across The Realm: Life Always Finds A Way

More than six centuries in the future, the northern and southern hemispheres have divided. Between them rages a bitter feud that has lasted for centuries and left them in a constant state of war. Both believe their technology superior, but one of them is very wrong.

Southern Askari Naledi and northen  Commander Gregory Douglas encounter one another, and their fates entwine, leaving confused feelings and split loyalties. A tale of war, bravery, love, trust and betrayal comes together to bring about more violence between the hemispheres than ever before. As both sides play a game attempting to learn more about the other, they do a very dangerous dance.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it blew away all my expectations. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, and though this one sounded interesting, I still had my reservations. My reservations were not well founded, and the book was an absolute pleasure to read. The story Ms. Mitton has weaved together is an intense, can’t-put-it-down ride through an advanced civilization 600 years in the future.

The writing was excellent, something I really treasure in a book. It can make all the difference between an okay book and a great book, and this one was definitely a great book. There was a balanced mixture of well written, easy to follow prose, accented with the terminologies that qualify the book as science fiction. In the first few pages, I felt a little overwhelmed with the unexplained terms, but once I got into the meat of the book, all the confusion was cleared up.

The characters were very well developed, each one having their own personalities and quirks.  Because of the unfamiliar names, it was a bit difficult to keep up with who was “mated” with who in the southern hemisphere, but I didn’t find that to be terribly distracting. There were also a lot of characters, but I didn’t feel as though that was a drawback, as it can be in some books.

There were themes of homosexuality in the book as well, which I commend the author for. I thought the potentially touchy subject was approached confidently and handled deftly. Also, boldly written in was stereotypes many people in today’s world still continue to believe in, particularly in regards to race and ethnicity.  I felt the book had social commentary on racist views that still exist in some people, immersed in a page turning science fiction novel set in the distant future.

From what I can discern, this is Isbobel Mitton’s first novel, and it showcases her talent wonderfully. The story was compelling, in places heart pumping, and always beautifully written. This book is the first in a series, and the second book is in publication as well. I’m certainly going to be buying it and reading it immediately, I must know what happens next!

I cannot recommend Across The Realm highly enough, for both lovers of science fiction and people who do not typically read it.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B017FGWR2A

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A Believable Source of Magic

Alex Vick Author Interview

Alex Vick Author Interview

Stealing Magic follows three characters as their worlds collide and they must help each other. Earth’s trees carry all the magic that the residents of Androva are trying to harvest. Where did the idea of harvesting magic from trees come from and how did that help you write the rest of the story?

Great question! The idea of magic-taking, or harvesting magic, came first, and then I needed to find a believable source of that magic. I live in the South of England, at the end of a street that’s completely ordinary, apart from the ancient woodland next to it. ‘Ancient woodland’ in the UK means that the trees have been around since at least 1600. It’s easy to imagine there could be something magical about trees that old.

It helped to balance the rest of the story. Although Earth didn’t have any magicians, it did have a lot of powerful magic. If anything were to happen to that supply of magic, it could (and eventually does) cause enormous problems for everyone.

Shannon is from Earth and learns of her magical abilities when Jax and Darius go to Earth to harvest magic. What were some aspects of these character that you felt had to be different and some aspects that you felt had to be the same?

I loved writing all three characters, but especially Shannon. She’s just an ordinary teenager, until she touches some of the magic that Jax is harvesting. She has no idea what she’s capable of. I needed Shannon, Jax and Darius to have quite distinct personalities, not just to keep the story moving forwards, but to give them each the chance of learning something different from their adventure.

However, I wanted them to be friends, and to trust each other. Making them close in age, having them be honest with each other, and also able to have fun together, was important for that.

Some of the key themes in this book are loyalty, family bonds, trust and letting go of the past. Do you feel that these were important ideals to write about or did they happen organically as you were writing?

The loyalty and trust, and the bonds of family and friendship, were important right from the start. All the excitement of discovering magic could seem pretty meaningless otherwise. And of course, the characters can only overcome their challenges if they work together. Everyone has a part to play.

The idea of letting go of the past happened more organically. It became obvious as I was writing that the adults in the story allowed the past to shape their current decisions in a way that the teenagers didn’t. I ended up exploring what was good and bad about that.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will that book be published?

I am about to start writing the fifth book in the series. The fourth book, Controlling Magic, will be published at the end of December 2016. Shannon’s friend Penny is now a main character alongside the other three underage magicians, and this time they’re up against an enemy who can turn their magical ability into a disadvantage. Each of the four books has a self-contained story, as I can’t quite bring myself to write a cliff-hanger!

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva #1)What would you do? Would you open your eyes, if you were the one that heard them? Two magic-takers from another world, arguing about whether they can collect what they came for before you wake up. It sounds like a crazy dream, or a practical joke. But what if the air around you started to vibrate with an invisible force field? What if, all at once, it felt terrifying yet familiar too?

You would have no way of knowing that your life would change forever. That this discovery would set you on a path no-one from our world has taken for centuries. Towards a deadly enemy, and a fight that you will almost certainly lose. All you know is that your heart is beating so fast you’re worried they will hear it, and your brain is starting to buzz as the force field reaches it. Would you open your eyes?

Join Jax and Shannon as they live through the most exciting and terrifying ten days of their lives (so far). This is the first book in the Legacy of Androva series.

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Rude Boy USA

3 StarsAuthor Victoria Bolton pays homage to the 1960s gangs of New York with her book Rude Boy USA. It’s the classic story of an underdog gang trying to take the seat of power in a world of murder, corruption, sex and drugs. The story follows the four members of Chimera; a gang led by the driven but big-hearted Bernie. John is his second in command; African American, good looking and unhappily married. Ben, the Italian American ex-veteran struggling with a drug addiction, is the little brother wanting desperately to be taken seriously. And Jerome, the well-adjusted African American with intelligence and a dream, is the son Bernie never has to worry about. Together they make up the misfit family of Chimera, flawed in their own ways and equally determined to make something of their lives.

These characters have numerous dimensions that create a clear picture with their narratives, but in contrast, the two female characters Bolton introduces, feel somewhat two-dimensional. On one side you have Edina who is a white, manipulative woman, both offensive and single-minded with her bigotry. And on the other side is Celia; a beautiful African American woman who is the angel to Edina’s devil, extremely attractive, with a heart of gold. Moreover, Celia’s motivations in the story stem from a desire to better educate herself, but are quickly reduced to a will they/won’t they love saga that overshadows her previous occupation. Though not an uncommon occurrence, the story would have only been meatier had the female characters received the same attention to detail as their male counterparts.

Character development aside, the story touches well upon racial tensions that would have been rife at the time. However, some situations err on the side of stereotype rather than exploring any deeper issues, but where it can, the story embraces some of the realities of the time and the author is able to keep the reader interested.

Nevertheless, this is indeed a crime thriller with a topic that has obviously been well researched by Bolton. She takes you deep into the heart of New York City and provides a picture of a community that the reader can see very clearly. Ultimately this feels like a story about loyalty and belonging to something. With an underlying romantic story threaded throughout, Rude Boy USA has something for everyone, with enough twists and turns to keep die hard thriller fans engaged and want to immediately pick up the next book in the series.

Pages: 283 | ISBN: B019E76CMY

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