Rock Paper Tiger
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Rock Paper Tiger (Ellie McEnroe #1)

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  805 ratings  ·  173 reviews
American Iraq War veteran Ellie Cooper is down and out in Beijing when a chance encounter with a Uighura member of a Chinese Muslim minority at the home of her sort-of boyfriend Lao Zhang turns her life upside down. Lao Zhang disappears, and suddenly multiple security organizations are hounding her for information. They say the Uighur is a terrorist. Ellie doesn't know wha...more
Published June 7th 2011 by Audible, Inc. (first published January 1st 2010)
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Richard Burger
Rock Paper Tiger, an up-to-the-minute, kaleidoscopic romp through contemporary China with some side-stops in US-occupied Iraq, is the first novel of Lisa Brackman, who I know as a fellow blogger who focuses on China. Lisa has done the impossible: created a taut, breathless thriller that along the way takes the reader on a whirlwind tour through China, the big cities, the smaller cities, the places tourists go and the country's underbelly. She manages to weave into the narrative an endless stream...more
Dec 26, 2011 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Iraqi war vets, ex-pats in China
I had no idea what to expect from this book; I was just intrigued by the title and the cover and the synopsis. I was very pleasantly surprised to get a fast-moving, well-written tale with an ex-pat's view of contemporary China.

The first-person narrator, Ellie Cooper, is a young former US Army medic hanging out in China on a semi-expired visa, still shell-shocked by the destruction of her marriage and her ongoing issues with PTSD relating to some really bad things that happened in Iraq. She marri...more
C.J. Shane
Terrific book...the first I've read in a long time that kept me up late turning pages.
Brackmann has a lot to say about the perfidy of those in power everywhere who join forces and will stop at nothing to maintain power, about the nasty little deals that governments/corporations/the very rich make with each other, and how their deals affect the rest of us ordinary folk in all the countries of world. If that all sounds a bit too political, then let me put it another way. Brackmann has done a maste...more
The story is compelling. I had to finish it. The main character/heroin has depth but the depth is murky and stale. She is a tortured soul who is stagnant, confused, unmotivated. The story, it drags you through to the end kicking and screaming. About halfway through the book, I was praying for it to end. It is well written but the heroine is just along for the ride. She should have just stayed home. Her lack luster approach to life is translated to her lack luster approach to solving her dilemma....more
James Thane
Ellie Cooper is a veteran of the Iraq war who got more than she bargained for when she enlisted. Wounded both physically and emotionally, she finds herself in China, living from day-to-day on the fringes of an artistic community. Her best friend is an artist named Lao Zghang. Ellie, who is separated from her husband, sometimes sleeps with Lao, but they are not really lovers.

One day, Ellie goes to Lao's home, looking to hang out and perhaps watch him work. There she meets a mysterious Uighur who...more
Timothy Hallinan
An absolutely terrific first thriller about a female U.S. Army medic, damaged physically and emotionally in the Middle East, who finds herself in Beijing with her husband, whom she met in Iraq and who's on assignment. While still addicted to the Percocet she takes to dull the pain in her patched-together legs, she's putting her world together emotionally when her husband cheats on her. At the beginning of the book she's dodging his attempts to finalize the divorce and hanging out with a colony o...more
Jill  Lynn
Character, character, character!

Many of the reviews I've read have focused on the fast pace and fascinating tour of modern-day China Lisa Brackmann renders in Rock Paper Tiger but, for me, what made this debut novel so engrossing was its main character, Ellie McEnroe Cooper. Ellie is an Iraq war veteran physically and mentally wounded by her experiences in Iraq, which Brackmann blends wonderfully in flashbacks throughout the novel. Ellie and fellow comrade Trey Cooper's shared experience in Iraq...more
John Eich
Ahhh, the annoying favorite. Suddenly finding herself connected to (internationally) suspected terrorists, chased by both Chinese Secret Police and a menacing global security company (think Blackwater), the protagonist gets drunk at every occasion (why have a beer when you can have ten), adopts a core strategy of "what the f*%k...I'll figure it out tomorrow", mopes in a constant funk about her terrible ex-husband, and acts like a sulky teenager in the midst of wealthy Chinese in...more
Cara Lee
This was an excellent political thriller, with many more layers of meaning than I've usually found in this genre. The descriptions of China were vivid and evocative and took me back to my own experience of that fascinating country. The descriptions of a young female veteran's experience of the Iraq war were thought-provoking. The protagonist was unlike any I've yet seen, a breath of fresh air - or perhaps I should say polluted air, which is what made her interesting.

Ellie McEnroe wasn't especia...more
Sia McKye

~Lisa Brackmann

· Hardcover: 368 pages
· Publisher: Soho Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 2010)
· Language: English

Iraq vet Ellie McEnroe is down and out in China, trying to lose herself in the alien worlds of performance artists and online gamers. When a chance encounter with a Uighur fugitive drops her down a rabbit hole of conspiracies, Ellie must decide whom to trust among the artists, dealers, collectors and operatives claiming to be on her side – in particular, a myster...more
I stumbled onto to Rock Paper Tiger after it was named one of the Top 10 Fiction Books So Far (for 2010) and coupled with (at the time) a nearly perfect 5-star average rating, plus having an interest in China since visiting Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, this thriller seemed right up my alley.

I will admit I like to blend into the crowd and can be influenced by the opinion of others, but during and after this one, I was kind of wondering if we had all read the same book. I will say it was very re...more
Holly West
I'm not sure what I can say to do this novel justice, except to say Ellie Cooper is my kind of girl. Smart, brave, irreverent and funny, yet somehow, directionless and definitely, all too human. She's an American expat in China, previously wounded in the Iraq war, now abandoned by her husband who leaves her for a Chinese woman. When her friend/lover Lao Zhang, an artist, disappears under somewhat mysterious circumstances, Ellie finds herself in trouble with both the American and the Chinese gove...more
This is a fine book which brings today's China to life. Ellie, the main character, is an expatriate living in China. Her relationship with her husband has gone south, but she's made a bunch of new friends who have a wide diversity of backgrounds. Her normal life gets turned upside down and the chase is on, as a mysterious set of men in suits pursue her for reasons she doesn't really fathom. She leaves Beijing and we get glimpses of other cities and what it's like to travel between them low-rent...more
Judi Fennell
Fabulous! But then, given all the hoopla surrounding this book, that shouldn't come as a surprise. :)

Disclaimer - I am mentioned in the acknowledgments, but the only reason that affects my rating of this book is because I knew it was great when I was reading parts of it for Lisa.
Ellie is a veteran of the Iraq war, suffering from PTSD and a leg injury sustained during her tour of duty. She's living in China after her husband, whom she met while in Iraq, dumped her for another woman. She is living day by day, doing what she can to survive, making new friends, and trying to sort out the mess her life has become. She becomes close to a Chinese artist, Lao Zhang, and though their relationship isn't well defined, she considers him her closet friend. One night, feeling lonely...more
Ellie Cooper wasn't supposed to see those things. Not all those years ago when she was a military medic in Iraq. Not today in her sometime-lover's apartment in Beijing. They were accidents, but now something she saw has Ellie on the run for her life, pursued by a plethora of shadowy, alphabet-soup-initialed agencies.

In this action-packed suspense thriller, war veteran Ellie Cooper has been stumbling through life--literally and figuratively--since her tour of duty in Iraq left her with a damaged...more
Ramsey Hootman
This book was awesome on so many levels. Let me just list what I loved:

Ellie - the protagonist is just... wow. Yeah. I guess a lot of other readers disliked her quite strongly, but for me she totally resonated. I've always gravitated towards books with men as the protagonists, because women protagonists always seemed either too emotional or were just men with boobs. Ellie is not me - we have totally different beliefs, different education levels, different life experiences - but she THINKS like m...more
Robin Spano
I fell in love with Rock Paper Tiger on impact. I was expecting an entertaining read, and instead I found literary excellence.

It's the story of Ellie - a 26-year-old ex-military medic living in Beijing. Crazy things start happening to her that can only be answered inside an online game.

Things I love:

The way the book took me to China - to the hip and modern side of Beijing. The story is peppered with social commentary that accents the story with depth and humor simultaneously (go figure). I've sp...more
If I could sum up this book's plot in one sentence... that would be great.

"Describe what your book is about in one sentence" is one of those daft creative writing exercises teachers love to assign. They can be pretty tedious, but the one-sentence-summary CAN serve as a useful reality check to make sure that the book you are writing is about something. It certainly would have served author Lisa Brackmann well in her first outing.

Brackmann's writing shows promise: her depictions of modern China i...more
Brian Davis
The settings are good: the streets of Beijing, low-life apartments and artiste squatter warehouses, the hard-sleeper trains, the Net cafes filled with smoke and noise and young men living on-line. The sandbox of Iraq and Saddam's old compounds. The Misty Mountain Tea Garden and the Arbors of Serenity virtual environments.

The characters diverse: slouching skate-punk artists, sophisticate art dealers, US Army security contractors, medics, Congressional aides, Chinese students, street savants, com...more
Apr 07, 2011 Ms.pegasus rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: action fans, readers interested in stories set in China
Shelves: thriller, china, fiction
Ellie (Chinese name, Yili) describes the dilapidated squalor of her environs in Haidian Qu, and the reader is instantly drawn in. How did she, an American woman, get here? More hints are dropped – her leg hurts so badly that she alleviates the pain with a dwindling supply of percocet. She has some interesting friends, including a serious artist named Lao Zhang, a painter and performance artist in the “Mati Village” district, an artist colony on the norther outskirts of Beijing. Her roommate, Chu...more
Jane Hammons
I was fascinated from beginning to end by this book about a young American Iraq war veteran living in China. Ellie/Yili is married to Trey (who is divorcing her), who she met at "Camp Falafel" in Iraq. As she struggles to live with the "crime" they both committed in Iraq, she becomes involved with the world of visual and performance artists in China, primarily Beijing. The way Brackmann intertwines the war in Iraq, dissident Chinese artists, gaming, lost souls, and global politics is masterful,...more
Ruth Ann
I'm not big on mysteries but this one caught and held me. The settings were interesting--the working-class end of Beijing and the lesser cities of China. The main character is a female vet of the current Iraq war who came out with a pile of emotional disabilities plus a bum leg--not the sort that gets much attention. It's an interesting look into the controls used in modern China to keep a lid on too much "togetherness" (a contradiction in a Communist society?) and the downsides of the art and o...more
Has the gritty detailed feel an author can only get from having been there, in this case to China.
Jennie Pratt
This story had so many things that should have completely drawn me in and made me love it. Video games, check. Gritty, flawed protagonist, check. New country and culture to explore, check. No over the top romance, check. Mystery-thriller-conspiracy, check. All these things, and I didn't love it. That makes me sad.

Through the entire story I felt like our emotionally and physically scarred heroine would be more than she was. It was like reading an action sequence of events but it had no depth. A t...more
Others might say this is a fantastic first novel (or whatever number it is), that it's a great plot with interesting characters, etc etc etc.

But if it wasn't on my iPod, which is the only consistent reading apparatus I have, I'd have thrown the book across the room. As it is, I'm a bit surprised I finished it. I wasn't interested enough in the occurences, the characters, anything to justify reading all 300-some pages. The only reason I went ahead with it, actually, was because I only realized ho...more
Ben Campbell
If I told you how much I loved reading Lisa Brackmann's words+sentences+paragraphs+chapters, overall serendipitous extraneous story, I'd have to commit murder. But that would go against my ethics. So, I'll just have to draw a little blood from my fingertips furiously typing my new manuscript REGGIE ROCKETSHIP AND HIS BOOM BOOM POW GALAXY OF SECRETS.

Rock Paper Tiger, first person narrative, present tense fascination, refreshed my energy knowing Brackmann created such a creative, urban, realistic...more
Rock Paper Tiger is a bit of a mashup between a thriller, a story of a young woman finding herself while abroad, and a commentary on modern China. In it, a former Army medic named Ellie, still haunted by her experiences in Iraq, is adrift in Beijing, distanced from the soon-to-be-ex-husband who brought her there. She's sort of involved with a Chinese artist whose works might be somewhat political, who happens to know a man who's a member of China's Muslim minority. Suddenly, the artist goes unde...more
I found Rock, Paper, Tiger by Lisa Brackman to be a very emotionally touching book. It was complex--about a young woman, who served as a medic in Iraq, was badly injured, suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, married a fellow soldier only to have him cheat on her later, after both had left the armed forces and had relocated to work in China. In China on her own after the break up she becomes involved in political intrigue there and is followed by both U.S. and Chinese covert operatives...more
Not your typical YA. With protagonist Ellie Cooper at the helm, ROCK PAPER TIGER is fast-paced and frightening story set in China. Cooper is an Iraq War Vet with a foul mouth whose husband has left her and whose artist lover has recently disappeared. A chance meeting with an Uighur--a Chinese muslim minority--leads Cooper on a chase around China, from Beijing to Treasure Chicken Village, with various US and Chinese agencies at her heels. A warning for the faint of heart: there are some disturbin...more
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Lisa Brackmann has worked as an executive at a major motion picture studio, an issues researcher in a presidential campaign, and the singer/songwriter/bassist in an LA rock band. She still takes pride in her karaoke-ready repertoire of bad pop hits and an embarrassing number of show tunes. A Southern California native, she lives in Venice CA, and has lived and traveled extensively in China.

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