• Noah Boyd: Agent X

    Posted by J-9, 4 years ago

    Former FBI Agent Noah Boyd is back with the next installment of his Vail series. The first book to this series is The Bricklayer (I believe my review is still posted below in this group), and while I do not think it is completely necessary to read the first book as there is very little reference to it in Agent X, it does explain the interactions and relationship between Kate, Vail and the FBI. However, you should be able to ascertain most of it while reading Agent X. Agent X puts Vail to the test when the Russians are hell bent on protecting their infiltration of spies into the American Government.

    Vail arrives in Washington to take Kate to an embassy party, however, Kate thought she had made it clear before hand that they were not dating any more. Not that any of it matters now as Kate is called away for work. While Vail may not like working for the FBI he does like Kate, so he decides to tag along, but the case has Vail written all over it. Reluctant to help out once again because of the FBI management system Vail becomes coerced by the director to help, and the case intrigues Vail as well. A Russian embassy staffer code named Calculus is prepared to release the FBI the names of Russian spies/moles within the American government but if the FBI thought that is would be a simple matter of him turning over the names, they thought wrong. Calculus has been ushered back to Russia and has left a string of clues that need to be followed in order to discover the spies. But as each clue reveals itself and all agencies of government are affected as well as the Russian appearing to be one step ahead of them to eliminate their informants. Kate and Vail have no idea who they can trust and what dangerous situation the clues will lead them next.

    Boyd grads the readers attention right off that you do not want the book to let go, as it starts off with a bang and continues from there. This book has more mystery, problem solving and code cracking than the first one. There is probably a few less action scenes because of the slight shift in how the storyline plays out when compared to the first book, however, you do not really notice as the body count still seems the pile up. I like the idea about the Russia vs the United States. I mean who doesn't like an old enemy reappearing and reaffirming that everyone is still trying to spy and one up all the other countries.

    I appreciated that Boyd took time to develop Vail more as a character, than just sticking with this is how Vail works and why he works that way is a mystery. We get a picture of what Vail's life was like when he was growing up, and it was not completely a pretty picture, but it does help explain part of the reason for not getting along with authority figures and why he prefers a one man team when on the case. It helps put Vail in a more vulnerable role, that along with his own Ego getting the better of him and underestimating the people around him, teaches Vail a little bit of humility. We also get some incite to Vail's sculptures and what they represent to him and why does not let people see them. The one aspect that I found a bit trying was the finding of more information or spies or clues near the end seemed to be forced, this is intertwined with Vail's personality and having to dog everything to the end, it just seemed like enough already, wrap it up. I think this type became a Spy vs Spy battle that never seemed like it was going to end (did I just date myself there???).

    Kate does not experience as much growth as a character when compared to Vail, even after the suicide incident. While I enjoy the interaction between Vail and Kate, I found that Kate did not make as many strides as a character as Vail did. Kate is still the woman who is dedicated to her job no matter what. She seems determined to help Vail change and open up, but is unwilling to do it herself. I wish in this book the characters could have grown together.

    Boyd has found the right mix of mystery, suspense and action which has created a well rounded novel that I think will attracts people who do not normally read this type of genre, there is really something for everyone in this book (well maybe not the paranormal fans, but people need to read something out of their own comfort zone every once and awhile). Agent X is a solid squeal to The Bricklayer. With a fast past and mysterious story line and some action adventure in there too, I think anyone who is looking for a good read, had better start reading Boyd's Vail series, as the reader will be entertained throughout.

    Enjoy!!!

    You Can find this review and others on my website j9books.blogspot.com/

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    Xavier Leret: Heaven Sent

    Posted by J-9, 4 years ago

    In his debut and self published novel Xavier Leret, takes the reader to the dark place of child prostitution and the light that one girl encounters when she starts to interact with a proper 16 year old boy. However, her life may be too much for either of them to handle.

    Sixteen year old Carlo has been raised in a very religious family who thought that it was best to hide the realities of the world, but this does not mean that he does not see the differences from his privileged life compared to other. He is constantly seeking something different, away from the religious restraint that his parents have over him and when he sees Daisy, a child prostitute who has grown up in the hard life on the street and has never felt love from anyone. Carlo knows that he has found someone who will be a profound impact on his life.

    Heaven sent is not an easy book to read, it touches on topics that other authors may be afraid to touch, talk about or give a different view than the norm. I also did have a little bit of trouble getting into the book, though I think the book becomes better as the story unfolds and Leret found his stride as an author and storyteller. The Ending literally left me breathless.

    Leret excels within this book is his ability to take the reader on an emotional roller coaster where you do not know what is going to happen next. I think the emotions a reader will go through is how they personal few the situation, but I went from happy, sad, confused, disgusted ect. There really was too many emotions to state. I also enjoyed the dynamics that Leret show between the victim in the predator, he shows them in several different lights, actions and in some ways the acceptance of who these people are. It was very dynamic and dramatic. Leret does touch on the aspect of pedophilia and described it in a different way where at times you almost (and I stress almost, I don't think you could ever feel anything good towards them) feel sorry and pity for them but you can't forgive or understand something like that especially if they continue to take part in child prostitution (pedophilia no matter how it is described and used is still completely wrong).

    I had trouble connecting with the characters because of the decisions that they made and their though process as to why they took those actions was so contrary to mine, that the connection just wasn't there. I think the overall reason I had trouble connecting with the character was because of their age, both I believe are 16, and went through the thought process of a 16 year old (though even as a 16 year old, I do not think I would make the same decisions). Granted I did not grow up on the streets or in a religious family home, so my own life experiences (or lack of similar ones) could be what was hindering this connection.Others I think would be able to relate to these two characters as they are very well developed, especially Carlo, and his struggle to understand the world and love.

    I also had trouble reading Daisy's parts within the book, especially in the beginning. Leret keeps his writing authentic by having Daisy talk like someone would who grew up and is living on the streets and never went to school, but I found reading the abbreviated, slang, and misspelled words, trying at times (though I will give Leret major props for being authentic about this part of his book, if Daisy would have spoke perfect English and the storyline was the same, I would have put the book down for it not being realistic enough).

    This book grew on me the more I read. It took me a bit to get into the book and really the last bit had me needing to know what was going to happen and how the book was going to end. I am unsure if I would read another book that was similar to this in premise or storyline. I believe that Leret has a talent for writing, and I believe that the more Leret writes and prefects his craft the better his novels will be, and I think if the character were older, not teenagers, then I would read another book by him.

    I think people who enjoy a book with an emotional journey, and one of self discover of youth and love will like this book. If you find you are unable to connect with characters who are younger in age than you, then I think you would have a hard time enjoying this book and find it a struggle to get past the first half of the book. This book is NOT for Young Adults or for the faint of heart.

    Enjoy!!!!

    I was unable to find Leret's book on chapters website, however, you are able to purchase his book on amazon www.amazon.com/-/e/B004Q4DIIW

    Note: This book has aspects of child prostitution, and the situations do go into some detail, therefore, if you even had trouble just reading the words child prostitution this book is not for you.

    You can find this review and others on my book review blog j9books.blogspot.com/

> Read more posts from: April 2011 or June 2011

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