Mar 3, 2012

Double Book Review: Blood Orchids & Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula

Lately I have begun to feel like a kid with a comfortable but somewhat narrow taste in food. I’ve been living off of chicken nuggets, macaroni & cheese, and pizza and have been very happy doing so. Of late, however, my parents have put their foot down and started shoveling pasta, vegetables, and other such alien cuisine down my throat.

Much to my adolescent surprise, I’ve found myself enjoying it.

As such, I have found myself wandering out of my comfort zone of genres. I am typically a horror / techno-thriller reader. As long as authors keep churning out tales of monstrous beasts wrecking havoc upon their hapless victims, I am happy.

That being said, once more I find my literary musings wandering towards genres I normally do not give a second glance to, and once more I find myself coming away pleasantly surprised. Go figure...string beans actually taste pretty good.

Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

Before I talk about the book, first a little trivia about myself; once, many years ago, I applied to the FBI academy in Quantico, VA. What few might suspect is I actually made it pretty far along in the process. The only reason I’m not sporting a badge today is that I received a job offer in the private sector about a week before the government notified me that they had a spot open. Being that I had small kids at home, ultimately I decided to go with the position that was less likely to involve people shooting at me.

In retrospect this was probably a good thing. See, I don’t normally watch crime dramas or read crime thrillers for one main reason...I absolutely suck at figuring out the whodunit part. Hell, Scooby Doo mysteries confound me. Sherlock Holmes, I am not.

Thus, when Toby Neal suggested I might be interested in reading Blood Orchids, I was a tad hesitant. However, as I am a fan of her blog musings and greatly enjoyed her excellent guest post, I decided to take her up on her offer.

I’m glad I did.

Blood Orchids is Hawaii Five-O meets Silence of the Lambs. It’s fast paced, brutal, and sucks you right in from the very start...all the while immersing you into the rich culture of our fiftieth state.

In many ways, this latter part almost gave this story a bit of a sci-fi feel to it for me. I’ve never been to Hawaii, so this was like finding myself in a whole new world. Neal does an excellent job of bringing the surroundings in her book to life. Despite having never been there, through her writing I was able to easily picture the various scenes as they unfolded.

Her main protagonist, Lei Texeira, is a fascinating study in a flawed individual. She’s a person struggling to overcome her personal demons, yet determined to keep pushing on until justice is served no matter how beaten up (mentally and physically) she gets along the way. She is joined by a rich, multi-cultural, assortment of supporting characters that all serve to bring this story to life.

If I have any critique it’s that the stilted Pidgin English spoken by many of the characters took me a little while to get into. However, I’m fairly sure this is less an issue with the story and more of an indication to just how poorly traveled of an individual I am. I need to get out more!

Blood Orchids is a non-stop crime drama that will leave you guessing until the end (especially if you’re like me :), all set against the backdrop of paradise full of serpents. A 5 star read!

Click Here to Buy BLOOD ORCHIDS (and read my review) on Amazon

PSST! Word through the grapevine is that Blood Orchids is FREE the weekend of March 3rd. Don't tell...err, actually tell everyone you know!

Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula by Elise Stokes

Yes, I admit it; I read the Harry Potter books. I enjoyed them too. However, almost all the other YA novels I’ve tried since then have been lacking. Thus, I usually find myself with no particular interest in coming back to that genre.

That being said, my wife recently read Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula (Henceforth just Cassidy Jones to keep my fingers from cramping up). She absolutely loved the story and has been raving about it. What eventually caught my notice was her mentioning that at its heart this is a super hero tale. That intrigued me, being the Marvel Comics nerd that I am. Eventually I decided: what the heck?

Once again, I am glad I took a chance.

If one were to check Amazon, one would see nearly universal praise for Elise Stokes’ book. There’s a reason. There’s something here that will appeal to everyone. There’s action, teen angst, drama, romance, super-powered butt kicking action, etc etc. That Stokes is able to wrap this all up into a well told, exceptionally fun story, speaks volumes towards her skill as an author.

It also speaks well about her ability to write characters. At times I wanted to cheer for Cassidy, while at other moments I wanted to reach into the pages and smack her upside the head. She is a teenager after all...and let’s face facts, if you’re an old curmudgeon like me, there is no such thing as a teenager that doesn’t get annoyingly whiny at times. In short, Cassidy feels real and so do her reactions at finding herself a super-powerful mutant. Her friends and family feel real too. About the only person who doesn’t feel entirely real is the character of, Emery Philips. He’s a bit too smart, too skilled, etc etc to be authentic. Still, every X-man needs their Charles Xavier, and this is easily forgiven as at times he’s even more entertaining to read about than Cassidy herself.

There isn’t much else to add other than to say I immediately jumped into the sequel, Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, the second I was finished with the first one. We’ll save that review for another time, but here’s a was really good too.

5 Stars! Shy teenage girl plus super powers and a lot of mayhem = lots of fun.

Click Here to Buy CASSIDY JONES AND THE SECRET FORMULA (and read my review) on Amazon


Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

I've been wanting to read Cassidy Jones! :) What fun reviews ;)

Rick G said...

It's a lot of fun. The Scribe and the Hippie would probably enjoy it too.