A bit of a slow starter for me but once the action moved to the UP things became much more interesting. Sigler always has an interesting twist on his...moreA bit of a slow starter for me but once the action moved to the UP things became much more interesting. Sigler always has an interesting twist on his "monsters" and i had fun imagining shark/cow/crocodile type creatures. I'm looking forward to his next creature feature.(less)
Gin Blanco is an assassin for hire. The story opens with a strong scene in which Gin is about to kill a morally corrupt psychiatrist. After her missio...moreGin Blanco is an assassin for hire. The story opens with a strong scene in which Gin is about to kill a morally corrupt psychiatrist. After her mission is completed she returns to her handler and is then told she has another new assignment. She is reluctant to take on a new assignment so soon but the money is just too good so she agrees. However the assignment turns out to be a setup, her handler is killed and Gin is forced into working with one of the few honest detectives left on the police force, Donovan Caine. The city in which the characters reside is very noir, very seamy and one of the more enjoyable aspects of the story. I also found it interesting that even though Gin happens to be a very powerful stone elemental she prefers to not use her powers if at all possible. She, like many heroines in urban fantasy, also comes with a backstory of tragic past, in this case a dead family, as well as the cop she will clash with yet secretly lust after. The bulk of the story then revolves around who set her up, killed her handler and tried to kill Donovan Caine when he refuses to back off the murder of Gin’s targeted victim. So the story should move along at a fairly brisk pace and yet I felt bogged down at times as Gin explains things to the reader. In places the story also tends to become somewhat repetitive. To use a few examples Gin tells us A LOT about the burns on her palm. After a while I felt like metaphorically shaking her shoulders and saying “yes we get it, you were tortured as a child, the burns are symbolic, now get on with solving who killed your beloved mentor.” Gin kills quite a few people in this book and talks about how the blood soaks her dark t-shirt, she has blood all over her face etc. The author gives us this scene more than once. What I thought was if this woman is a professional assassin surely, by now, she could figure out how to not get quite so much blood all over herself. Gin also describes her desire for Donovan over and over with the word Mmm. “if the detective looked that good merely smiling how would he be after a night of slow sweaty sex? Mmm” Classic, rugged, sexy, Donovan Caine looked good enough to eat. Mmm” These were just two instances but there were plenty more and it became annoying after the third repetition. I also always have difficulty with these types of books when the heroine starts fantasizing about the hero at what are clearly inappropriate times. “I’m about to kill someone, hmmm I will think lustful thoughts about the cop who hates me”. I’ve just discovered who the killer may be, well this calls for sex in a closet.” My final peeve with the heroine is that she states that she has a code. She does not kill innocent people or pets. Most of the people she kills truly are despicable human beings but I had a hard time buying the “innocent” part of her statement when she agreed to kill an embezzling accountant, admittedly pervy accountant, but still... For me there is a difference between “I rape little girls” to I steal a lot of money from a powerful evil woman. I do think you can give an assassin a vulnerable intriguing side and the author almost makes it but not quite enough for me. I’m afraid that I’ll be giving the rest of the series a pass but others may find the romance and mystery enough to enjoy the book. (less)
After listening to a very strong opening for this novel I thought I was in for a treat and had high expectations for a thrilling, fast paced listen. S...moreAfter listening to a very strong opening for this novel I thought I was in for a treat and had high expectations for a thrilling, fast paced listen. Sadly I was disappointed. Sometimes listening to a book on tape makes the experience more enjoyable, sometimes less. While listening to this particular book on tape I suspect that I did notice more of the repetitiveness in some of the writing. For example Castillo frequently uses the word cop. ” As a cop she shouldn’t…” ”A cop shouldn’t drink …” etc. I had two thoughts, the first of which was that she didn’t need to use the word every single time she wanted to convey police behavior. So, instead of saying “for a cop, blah, blah, blah’ she could simply have stated the action i.e. “It’s never easy to watch this type of degradation, no matter how long I’ve done the job.”My second thought was, if she felt she had to denote profession, then why not use this little thing called a thesaurus and mix up word choice. She also tended to repeat descriptive dialog such as “she could see the intent in his eyes” within the same chapter. All of this was a minor annoyance though in compared to the angst ridden inner dialog the two main characters had in regards to their feelings for one another. At one point, Kate, our Chief of Police, has been badly hurt and knows that one of her fellow police officers has been hurt and/or killed. So instead of her first thought being to call dispatch, she fumbles around to locate her cell phone as she so desperately wants to call her lover. News flash lady – your first thought should be to call for help so you don’t bleed to death and then you will have the rest of your life to pine woefully over your lover. I also had difficulty in believing that Kate had been a professional or that she would ever have achieved the rank of chief after reading some of the grossly inappropriate she displayed. She was incapable of controlling herself after being baited by a suspect but assaults him even as she is telling us the reader that she should not be as attacking the suspect as it could jeopardize the case. She also could not believe that anyone would kill over a child porn/underage rape case. She has obviously never watched the average police show on TV as outstanding public pillars of the community not infrequently kill for this very reason. To give her credit though when we do finally find out who the killer is she did avoid the upstanding pillar part of the cliché. Finally she institutes a shaky sting operation hoping to draw out the killer by advertising that a mentally deficient Amish boy had seen the killer. This action makes perfect sense. She has insufficient man force to monitor the new family she has put into jeopardy for a prolonged period nor does she request outside assistance, from say the sheriff’s department. Finally, I was hoping for a little more tension between the Amish and the Englishers and more insight as to how one really would go about investing a murder in the Amish community. I will say that had I know that Ms. Castillo had written romance in the past my expectations would have been different for this novel. I wouldn’t have expected a police procedural and would perhaps been more forgiving of the dominance of the love relationship as this would be more expected in a romantic suspense novel. (less)
In the prologue to Thirteen bullets we are introduced to Special Deputy Jameson Arkeley . He and his then partner are staking out a diner as they susp...moreIn the prologue to Thirteen bullets we are introduced to Special Deputy Jameson Arkeley . He and his then partner are staking out a diner as they suspect a vampire is in or near the diner. Their suspicions are correct and, as they attempt to take out the vampire, Arkeley ’s partner and an entire Swat team are killed. Arkeley himself is kidnapped by the vampire and taken to the vampire’s lair. There Arkeley witnesses something peculiar. The vampire proceeds to regurgitate all the blood he has consumed on three withered bodies which Arkeley discovers to be very old vampires. Arkeley manages to kill the vampire and set the vampire’s lair alight. Fast forward to present day 20 years later. We meet our second main character Laura Caxton, a Pennsylvnaia State trooper, as Arkeley rolls up to a car abandoned at a sobriety checkpoint. Inside the trunk are the dead bodies of a man and two boys, along a fence line is a dismembered arm of the driver of the car. Arkeley knows immediately that he is dealing with a vampire and requests the assistance of Caxton. Caxton repeatedly states that she is “just highway patrol” but she slowly becomes interested in helping Arkeley track down the vampire. Eventually Caxton is introduced to Justinia Malvern, the forth unfed vampire that Arkeley had seen 20 years earlier in the vampire lair. The courts had determined that Justinia could not be killed and she now resides in an abandoned sanatorium. Arkeley suspects that Malvern has created several new vampires to assist in freeing her from the sanatorium. She basically confirms this and for the bulk of the novel Arkeley and Caxton track down the vampires Malvern has created. This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the portrayal of the vampires themselves. They are very much more in the Nosferatu style with bald heads, pointed ears and shark like teeth. By day they are basically puddles of organic matter confined to their coffins. They are not tortured romantic souls. One of the vampires allows his psychopathic tendencies, suppressed in life, to surface and poses his victims in macabre vignettes. I also appreciated the portrayal of the vampire’s assistants who are dead victims brought back to life to serve the vampire. The half deads as they are known tend to be self-loathing rotting chunks of former humanity, cowardly but potentially lethal. I was also intrigued by the way that new vampires are made, not by being bitten, but by having the vampire insert him/herself in the minds of those individuals who are depressed and/or suicidal. I was also interested in the concept that younger vampires would take care of the elder, decrepit vampires. The book did fall apart somewhat for me with some of the mythology surrounding the elder vampires and in particular with Justinia Malvern. At one point Justinia’s brood slaughters an entire small village presumably to feed her, yet we now she is at an abandoned asylum with quite a few personnel. Wouldn’t it be more logical to simply slaughter those individuals and not draw so much attention? Presumably after Justinia fed she was going to remove herself or have herself removed anyway so the deaths of her jailers wouldn’t have made much difference. Also, I didn’t understand why the younger vampires regurgitate blood over the older vampires. Once again, wouldn’t it make more sense to take your live victim to the older vampire, slit the person’s jugular and then allow the vampire to be fed that way? I also found the actions of Caxton’s colleagues to be peculiar. Three officers are slain by the vampires so when Arkeley and Caxton need backup they simply remain in their large command center and refuse ot help. I cannot imagine any (fictional anyway) police officer not wanting to try and take down the prep that killed a fellow officer. The final puzzler for me was that we had assumed that Caxton had some sort of psychic radar that the vampires/half deads zeroed in on and that was why they were targeting her. However, we discover that one of the vampires was a tad kinky and simply wanted a matched set of lesbian vampires for his peculiar sexual gratification. So when Arkeley apologizes to Caxton for, in essence using her as bait, I was confused as to whether or not he knew the real reason she was being targeted. However, I am intrigued enough to read (less)
As an adult I had problems with the novel. I felt there were plot devices introduced just to carry the story forward but then those plot devices were...moreAs an adult I had problems with the novel. I felt there were plot devices introduced just to carry the story forward but then those plot devices were never carried through on. For example Puck and Finn’s older brother announces that he is leaving the island for the mainland. From earlier descriptions of the sibling’s relationship in the book they do seem to like one another yet neither of his siblings ask the immediate obvious question of as to why Gabe is going. While Gabe does give vague reasoning much later in the book it just seemed odd to me that no one would ask the initial question. I felt that there could have been some really lovely character development and growth here even though Gabe is a secondary character. We also discover that the house payments have not been paid for a year, another plot device to explain why Puck must ride in the races yet no explanation ever is given as to why this is so. Is it because Gabe drinks it all away? Is it because the siblings are paid so little they spent it all on food? I also wondered how there could be anyone left on the island as the races are such a bloody sport and so many of the islanders leave the island. I also wondered why the women would allow their sons to race knowing they had a good chance of dying.
However, what really bothered me and what kept pulling me out of the story was the inklings of a really interesting world and the frustration as a reader as to the rules of that world. It was as if the author had given me just a nibble on a wonderful flaky buttery scone and then pulled the scone away. I don’t think it would have taken much to sketch in a little more about the mythology the author had decided to make her own and she had the perfect tool to do so. Sean could have explained so much in a casual conversation with George Holly as to the workings of the water horses. I kept wondering why they came at that time of year, and if they loved the water so much why broach land at all? The water horses captured in previous years, were they released at all? Why would you keep flesh eating horses in the same barn as your other horses, and so on. I do know this wasn’t the author’s intent but it would have made the story so much better to have a little more of the picture filled in.
Then as I was complaining got a friend about what I felt was wrong with the story she reminded me who the intended audience is, i.e. not adults, and to try to read the story as if I were still a teen. Lo and behold when I let go of some of my questions I then really began to enjoy the story. I liked the very subtle romantic relationship and loved the climatic race scene as well as some of the other aspects of the book, e.g. the funeral, the rituals around the race etc. Being a former mad teen lover of horses I also enjoyed the scenes with Sean with Cor and Puck with Dove. So I’d definitely recommend this to a young adult but perhaps not to my hard core fantasy readers (less)
What a gut wrencher ...but so, so good. We, the reader, know from the beginning what the final outcome of the story will be but even so, as the monste...moreWhat a gut wrencher ...but so, so good. We, the reader, know from the beginning what the final outcome of the story will be but even so, as the monster says, "Stories are wild creatures". My emotions were certainly ridden over hill and dale and at the end I felt like an emotionally drained husk. I listened to this as a book on tape and there were times I had to stop listening in order to avoid being in a wreck. Patrick Ness certainly gets to the heart of the hidden things, things we'd rather not admit to ourselves. Jason Issacs reading of the book was also spot on though I don't know he didn't break down during the narration. This book is for everyone not just young adults. (less)
Gendarme is the story of the forced relocation of the Armenians from Turkey to Syria but as told to us by a 92 year old Turkish Gendarme who has emigr...moreGendarme is the story of the forced relocation of the Armenians from Turkey to Syria but as told to us by a 92 year old Turkish Gendarme who has emigrated to America. Emmet Conn (Ahmet Khan) was badly wounded during World War I which caused him to lose most of his memories before the injury and now, at 92, has a small brain tumor. As he undergoes treatment for his tumor he begins to have dreams wherein he is participating in the relocation of the Armenians. Some of what he remembers is so awful that he initially thinks he may be dreaming the dreams of another. However as his treatments for his tumor continue and he is subjected to small humiliations of his own he begins to realize that he is indeed the man in the dreams and that he has participated in rape, mutilation and murder. The author does not paint Emmet as a one dimensional evil character. Instead we are introduced to the younger Emmet/Ahmet slowly while at the same time learning what his life as Emmet has become. Like most elderly people his children have no time for him, his grandson now wishes to have nothing to do with him and his rights as an individual are curtailed as he, for his own good, is placed in the state mental hospital. The older Emmet certainly has regrets about some of the decisions he has mad ein his life especially in regards to his daughter Violet. So when we first meet him on the journey to Syria it is hard to reconcile that person with the person we know now. It is difficult to read what happens to the refugees as they make their way out of Turkey and Emmet is certainly an active participator in the atrocities. However, he eventually falls in love with one of the young refugees and as the journey takes its toll he begins to change. The young refugee Araxie is in and of herself and very interesting person and I can see how her dignity and composure could have influenced a young man who had begun to question why he was doing what he was doing. I did find initially, the book was a little slow but after I got into the story I found myself wanting to dive back into the story even though I knew some of what I was going to read would not be pleasant. I found the use of both present and past scenes to be very effective and certainly helped in making Emmet to be a well rounded complex character. I did know a very little bit about the Armenian genocide having worked with both an Armenian co-worker and having date a Turk. What was fascinating to me was the denial of my Turkish boyfriend that this happened and yet his grandparents must have known of the relocations. Reading this story gave me some of the political rationale for why this happened. It has also instilled in me the desire to read other works on the subject. (less)
I'll state up front that i didn't always follow everything going on - even with the help of a gamer spouse, I found the concepts of virtual and real e...moreI'll state up front that i didn't always follow everything going on - even with the help of a gamer spouse, I found the concepts of virtual and real economies confusing. What I can say is that the near future L.A. Huston gives us is so vivid I could absolutely believe that, indeed, this is the way the world will end. Unlike most visions of the apocalypse, individuals in this society do not valiantly fight their circumstances. Ten percent of the population is dying from a prion disease that causes chronic sleeplessness. Most simply try to continue on in some semblance of normalcy. Commerce continues, movies are produced, art galleries still have shows as the world slowly collapses in upon itself. With this world as background Huston then gives us Parker T Haas, a police officer who still believes absolutely in justice and his dying wife as well as the sociopathic Jaspar, a mercenary paid to retrieve property Haas has in his possession. I found Haas to be one of the most interesting characters I've read about in quite some time. I very much got a vibe of a Chandleresque character had he written a dystopian, pulp noir novel. The dual narrations was excellent as well.(less)
I loved two things about this book. I loved Steinbeck's descriptions of Americans who always want to be somewhere than the here that they are in . We...moreI loved two things about this book. I loved Steinbeck's descriptions of Americans who always want to be somewhere than the here that they are in . We are a people desirous of always wanting to see something new and I think that this is true. I also loved his descriptions of places that I know and how little has changed - take for instance Monterey and his saying that the canneries are gone and the antique stores have arrived (he wrote Travels in 1960 i believe) I also enjoyed his interactions with the various individuals he meets on the road. (less)