Monday, August 31, 2015

Disposable AssetDisposable Asset by John Altman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disposable Asset is a difficult book for me to review. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for review. It had so many of the things I love in a book. There was a ton of action, a smart protagonist, who reads as extremely flawed, and real and a decent story line. Disposable Asset is the story of a teenage girl that is homeless and taken from the streets and trained as a government asset. This in itself is problematic because she is, in essence, a child. It is bad enough that she is homeless and felt she had no other options but to live on the streets after having such a wonderful background. Terrible circumstances combined to see her living the life of a homeless teenager. This is a life that is dangerous for adults so having a teenager living through it alone is very hard to digest and consider that this actually is happening in real life. But, this gritty part of the book is one of the things that make the story stand out.

Cassie is sent out on what appears to be her first assignment that is successful but, the assignment itself appears to have been extremely controversial. Cassie was betrayed and as she realizes it she is chased by multiple dangerous groups across Russia. This part of the story depicts how skilled she is and how great her instincts are as an asset. Despite her age she is highly aware of how her opponents might think and can respond quickly. She also has the ability to plan quickly and use everyday items to her advantage. This makes the book very exciting and has you cheering for Cassie at the same time you start to dislike her character for what she does to survive. It reads as almost barbaric but, the huge question the reader has to ask themselves is what were her other options given what capture would mean to her, barbaric torture and even possibly death. So, the reader is put into this conundrum of not knowing how to feel about Cassie, especially as she uses innocent people, some more innocent than others, to try and survive. It has to be instinct but part of what makes the reader challenged in their feelings for Cassie is being in tune with her thoughts. But, her trainer took her from the streets because he expected her to be tough and the reader does not truly know if what Cassie is told about her father is the truth. But, one thing we know is that Cassie is a perfect example of being a product of her environment and how circumstances can change a person. The reader is privy to her memories of when she had her parents in her life and the drastic shift in which she has become is something the reader gets to witness. The story definitely is all shadows with no light ever shown, but, I will have to follow, despite all of the darkness I have to see what happens to Cassie.


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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Next Stop: LoveNext Stop: Love by Miranda J. Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Next Stop: Love was a good read. I received a copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Next Stop had a wonderful beginning. It was full of barbs and bites between Sophia and Luca on the train ride into Berlin. It created a wonderful start to this book. The give and take between them was funny at times. After they arrived in Berline the reader meets Lisa, Sophia's great friend. She was entertaining and a complex character though we do not know much about where she comes from and who she is, we get a good feel for the type of person she is based upon their conversations. Sophia seems to be a person that draws people to her and also due to her relationship with her mother she is unaware of her own qualities. She becomes friends with Aileen, a co-worker and seems to blend in well at her new job, and to her surprise, with her new boss, the man from the train. Sophia has a lot of work to do to overcome her relationship with her mother which was so negative she had to make a break from it like a thief in the night. Luca is also a wonderfully drawn character that has issues with his father that appear to be a bit like those of Sophia and her mother. Unfortunately for everyone, Luca's father is still actively involved in Marc's entertainment, the company they own and the one that now employs Sophia.

The story was full of fun nights out with the girls, great interactions between the people that work for Marcs Entertainment and tying up of loose ends, even if they were only in the mind of the people involved. The only issue I had with Next Stop: Love was that it took place in Berlin and there was nothing in the story that gave me the feeling that the characters were in Berlin. Nothing that described the setting. It would have been great to get more of that feel from the book, especially with the author being from Berlin. But, the story hit its mark with being a modern romance with a bit of action, it was translated well and I will definitely look for more from this author.

Monday, August 3, 2015

They Call Me Alexandra GastoneThey Call Me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. Maclagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is a story filled with more twists and turns that keep the reader seriously engaged. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for review. I love espionage stories and this story fits nicely into that label. It has something for all readers, a bit of romance, a bit of action and a lot of intrigue and mystery. Milena is a girl whose father abandoned her to a group called Perun in the country called Olissa where they live in what looks like it is in the Middle East based upon the descriptions. It is a city that has been torn apart by war and continuously being invaded by the countries that surround it because it is not strong enough to protect itself on its own. The U.S. stepped in many years ago and have been there supporting and helping to protect them for 10 years. Perun is a group of underground freedom fighters that wants to oust the current ruler and oust the U.S. who they believe has overstayed its welcome.

Perun has created what amounts to a sleeper cell of children raised to infiltrate the highest levels of the U.S. government through family members of individuals that are powerful in the government. Milena is assigned to become Alexandra Gastone, whose immediate family died in a car accident but, she has a living grandfather that is powerful in the CIA which is where they hope she will grow to be placed when she goes to assume Alexandra's life at the age of 12. Milena goes through major reconstructive surgery and intense training to become ready for her assignment. She assumes Alexandra's place and literally becomes Alexandra to the point that when she is called to active service and the plan is changed from her to infiltrate the CIA and pass on secrets that will help Perun to overthrow Olissa's government to something drastic will Milena do her duty or has she lived as Alexandra so long that this is the life she chooses? There is a serious surprise at the end that really threw me and finding out where this goes next is going to be excellent!

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