Sunday, July 22, 2012

Minis: Strike Zone by Kate Angell, The Breach by Patrick Lee

Hey... July has been one hot month so far! I've been pretty much staying away from the blogosphere and twitter, trying to concentrate on family, friends and outdoor activities. Yes, I've 'checked out' a bit, although not altogether, but I've been reading.

Actually, I began rearranging the print books in my TBR in a new book shelf and now that they are "visible," they are looking readable again! I actually read (and finished) three books from my TBR pile earlier this month, the first one Open Season by Linda Howard, I reviewed for the TBR Challenge this month, here are the other two:

Strike Zone (Richmond Rogues #3) by Kate Angell has been in my TBR for a long time and I purchased it based on Nath's recommendation.

Strike Zone is a contemporary romance with baseball players (pitchers) as the male protagonists and baseball as the background, which I love. Two couples, Brek and Taylor and Sloan and Eve, find their happy ever after.

Brek and Taylor's is the main romance with a second chance at love trope. Taylor left Brek at the altar a few years back when her parents died in a tragic accident. She went on to live her life as a thrill seeker, and now that Brek is engaged to be married she comes back to apologize for her behavior, but of course there are unresolved feelings between the two. This storyline would have been great, except that Brek and Taylor didn't spend too much time together and although there is a happy ever after in the end, the reader never gets to experience how they really work out their differences. Everything just... kind of happens, and that includes the end of Brek's engagement.

Sloan is a young pitcher, and pretty much a superficial hunk with lots of groupies. He has his pick of women and enjoys choosing his one-night stands. He goes after Taylor first, but as he and Taylor's sister Eve get thrown together often, ends off liking her instead. Their romance is cute and I like the way Eve puts Sloan in his place, and Sloan makes Eve feel daring. But, frankly I wish their story had been longer or better developed.

Both romances in Striking Zone have likable characters, the baseball atmosphere is delightful, unfortunately although a cute, nice read, by making both romances central to the story neither is really developed enough to make this a memorable read. Grade C

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I also read The Breach by Patrick Lee, a book that was recommended to me by amazon (because of my browsing history). I purchased it and it has been in my TBR where I just let it linger...

The Breach is a suspense action/thriller with sci-fi flavor. I know those look like a lot of categories, but believe me, this book fits them all. Travis Chase is an ex-cop/ex-con trying to make some decisions about his life while hiking in Alaska. He finds a crashed airplane full of dead bodies and one strange note giving instructions to retrieve an artifact taken by the killers. Travis ends up saving  Paige Campbell's life and retrieving the artifact, but he's about to enter a world that will change the course of his life. A world that contains the Breach and "artifacts" that can change the world as we know it. Paige is tough. She's a combination scientist, super soldier with a spine of steel, with a few vulnerable spots that show at the most unexpected of times throughout the story.

Travis and Paige team up to save the world in this action packed story full of twists and turns, scientific as well as some science fiction details. The pacing is so quick that there's no putting the book down once you begin reading it, and the story feels shorter than it actually is (384 pages), as Travis and Paige run all over the world trying to figure out how to beat the villain of the piece, a super-intelligent, cold as ice villain. There's suspense, a mystery to unravel, cool gadgets, and gun fights with some horrific violent scenes included.

I think of The Breach as one of those fun action/thriller suspense reads (with some sci-fi flavor to spice things up) that are great to pick up in the summer because they're so full of action and such quick reads that it becomes tough to put them down. That's a big positive, but in reality this was not a great read for me. Why? It has a great beginning with a wonderful premise but there are holes in the storyline, the secondary characters are never more than two dimensional, and while I found Paige's characterization stereotypical, Travis left me cold. I questioned his decision-making abilities from the beginning and that's not a good thing. Example: why did he wait until Paige's father was dead before taking action? That was my first WTF moment -- I had a few more along the way.
Grade C+

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So far I've enjoyed contemporary romances by Kate Angell, but they have not been big winners for me. That doesn't mean that I won't read more. I like the atmosphere that she creates and the likable characters usually make her books enjoyable while I'm reading the books. If I want a quick contemporary romance fix, I'll keep Angell in mind. :)

And will I read the other two books in the Travis Chase trilogy by Patrick Lee? I already had the second book in my TBR (yes, I bought books 1 and 2), so I will be reading Ghost Country, and that means I will probably finish the trilogy. I hope the other two books are quick, action packed thrillers like the first one. :)


2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you gave Strike Zone a go, Hils :) I know what you mean and that's been a complaint I've had of Ms Angell's books. I wish she would focus on one couple, on one romance... I feel her books would be so much better if she did. Hopefully, one day :)

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    1. Nath, I agree! I think if Ms. Angell focused on one couple her romances would be outstanding! I love the atmosphere she creates, the characters are great, and well... if she focused I think the development of the romances would just really pop, you know? But Strike Zone had baseball, so it was definitely enjoyable for me. :) I will probably get another one of the books in this series just to enjoy it as a sports romance.

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