One of Doyle's short stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon, I grabbed it because there are more than a few references from this story (and others) in tOne of Doyle's short stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon, I grabbed it because there are more than a few references from this story (and others) in the latest season of the BBC series Sherlock. It was a very enjoyable read and there are quite a few names and references that made it into the television episode (The Six Thatchers). It is less of a whodunit and more of a whytheydidit which is a nice twist. It doesn't provide a plot with clues that you the reader could solve it with but is interesting because of the inner workings of Sherlock's sleuthing and how HE figured it out. A short read and worth your time....more
I wish I could say I loved the conclusion to this amazing YA trilogy but for my money, this third novel was the least impressive of the three. I utterI wish I could say I loved the conclusion to this amazing YA trilogy but for my money, this third novel was the least impressive of the three. I utterly loved Red Rising, the opening book....so much so that I've read it at least twice in print and listened to the audio version a couple of times too (okay so I was a bit smitten with our main character, Darrow). The first book was intent on world building and Pierce Brown just went far above and beyond expectations....I was IN that world, which is a rare occurrence for me. He continued that world building but added some great story-line in the second novel. So by the time we reach this conclusion, Morning Star, the world is already built. Brown chooses to just let it all fly in terms of story line. Sadly, he's throwing so much out there that he missed the mark entirely with this novel. Too many characters, he loses Darrow in the myriad of secondary story lines, and also loses many of the secondary characters in the muck and mire. We loved those characters. They are what kept us coming back. I've only read this book one time and I suppose I owe Brown at least another read through now that my irritation has died down (Morning Star was released early 2016). If my opinion changes, I'll edit this review. Recommendation? The first two are do-not-miss novels. They are labeled YA (why???) but that is a mis-characterization. These books are adult books in every sense. Even if you don't like sci-fi, they transcend the narrow genre. And because you'll love the first two, you won't be able to resist this conclusion. Just don't expect a satisfying end to it all....more
The audio version narrated by George Guidall was my second reading of this utterly fantastic novel which kicked off not only a great series by JohnsonThe audio version narrated by George Guidall was my second reading of this utterly fantastic novel which kicked off not only a great series by Johnson but also what I hear is a pretty good television rendition. Whether you read it or listen to it, it's a fantastic book. While a book that features a good mystery will nearly always sell well, a book that has unique and strongly-written characters makes for a best-selling series. And that is why these books are so popular. Walt Longmire, erstwhile sheriff of Absaroka County in the far outposts of Wyoming, is a strong character (with an even stronger sense of humor....something you need if you're the sheriff of a sparsely populated part of the country). An equally strong supporting cast of characters makes every book in the series delightful. But don't categorize these books as "cozy mysteries." There are some pretty disturbing issues that are woven in here with not-so-easily answered moral questions. You get to think and laugh in turns throughout these books. Not a western other than they take place in present day Wyoming, but with strong flavors of the west. Read them. You won't be disappointed. I promise....more
This debut effort by Jane Harper has been lauded as nearly perfect. And critics are nearly correct. The novel is as close to perfect as one can get inThis debut effort by Jane Harper has been lauded as nearly perfect. And critics are nearly correct. The novel is as close to perfect as one can get in terms of plotting, character, and setting. Truly, it is a wonder to read (and I DO recommend you read it!). So why 4 stars instead of 5? I'll get to that in a moment.
The story is set in a small rural town in Australia (wonderfully described....feels like you are there), Federal Agent Falk returns from his job in Melbourne to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend, now dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing his wife and young child (leaving their infant alive, though). Small towns usually contain small minds and judgement has been passed. It's not comfortable. So it's with considerable trepidation that Falk agrees to a request from the deceased's parents to look a little closer into the deaths. This present-day mystery is cleverly woven with the last questionable death that occurred in the community decades earlier, one that Falk was suspected of contributing to.
As you may have seen from my status updates, I did NOT guess the culprit until revelation was imminent in the story. And that is a very good thing (who likes a mystery where you've known whodunit for hundreds of pages before it's revealed?). Just about everything about this novel was a very good thing. Which brings us back to my 4 stars rather than 5. I deducted one star simply because in 3 or 4 months, I probably won't remember the plot or characters. Some books - even if they aren't technically perfect - just have soul. They resonate with you. You remember them years after you turned the last page and still grab them for re-reads. The Dry just wasn't one of those books.
I still recommend it (highly) because of the enjoyable experience of the actual read. And you might experience more "soul" in it than I did....more
**spoiler alert** This short audio-novella by sci-fi legend John Scalzi was irresistible when I saw it over at Audible. Alas, the story felt like it h**spoiler alert** This short audio-novella by sci-fi legend John Scalzi was irresistible when I saw it over at Audible. Alas, the story felt like it had too many glaring holes in it for me to truly enjoy. But I must say this: if I could give the narration itself it's own rating, Zachary Quinto would get 5+ stars for his fabulous performance. I could listen to his voice for hours! This is a short novella (2 hrs 19 min) with a dystopian future-like premise in which a mystery takes place. Essentially, the reader has a mystery (missing person) to solve that occurs in a dystopian future. Clear as mud? I'm hesitant to tell too much about the story or my issues with it for fear of giving too much away, so I'll label the following as a SPOILER:
Story premise: in the future something weird (never exactly explained but that's good for the reader to come up with their own explanations) has happened and people who are intentionally murdered mysteriously disappear into thin air and re-appear in their homes right as rain. This leads to the new "profession" of the professional dispatcher....a person trained and licensed to finish off someone who will clearly die from their injuries. By killing them off, a dispatcher is murdering them and - most of the time - sending them back to appear in their homes just as they were a few hours earlier before whatever life-threatening injuries nearly killed them. The dispatcher is a government employee and not paid very well. So when our narrator's colleague dispatcher goes missing, he teams up with a local detective to investigate whether some illegal "side jobs" dispatching may have led to his disappearance. Got it? Okay....I would have given this whole story 5 stars except: why on earth is a dispatcher's "skill" needed at all? Anyone can murder anyone else and the same mysterious appear-unhurt-in-your-own-home thing applies. Why pay a dispatcher money when you can just kill someone yourself. I don't see the legal trouble. You can't prosecute for murder when the victim is alive and well with nary a scratch on them. Sigh. If I could have wrapped my mind around this one single flaw I would have loved it. As it was, this flaw dominated my thinking throughout and merely made the whole thing a bit annoying. Except for Quinto's narration. I'd listen to that forever. ...more
The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden has been called the very best YA series ever written by an Australian writer. Not having read any other YA by AustThe Tomorrow Series by John Marsden has been called the very best YA series ever written by an Australian writer. Not having read any other YA by Australian authors, I'll bow to those more knowledgeable than I. First published in 1993, the story is presented in first person with a teen narrator named Ellie. The premise is thus: Ellie and a group of her friends plan a fun camping trip into the bush for a few days. While they are away, Australia is invaded by a foreign force (it's never precisely clear who....just a few vague references to some SE Asian country are our only clues). Ellie and her friends are forced to grow up very quickly in order to avoid being captured by the invaders and they must figure out what it is, exactly, they are going to do. It's quite compelling in many ways but not without flaws.
To begin with, I didn't much care for how the first person narration was laid out: Ellie is supposedly writing this account down for posterity. I suppose that might be okay if it weren't a tad unbelievable that this girl - hiding in the bush with her friends - actually hand wrote our nearly 300 page, small-font, printed version in a mere week. We're supposed to suspend belief here, I suppose, but it seems an egregious choice given that the rest of the book is written with enough skill that suspending belief isn't even necessary.
The second issue I had is more due to my advanced age than any fault of the author. It is only natural, I suppose, that even teenagers escaping an invading army still have an awful lot to say about crushes and flirting with the opposite sex. Ah, to be a teen again! So while this is a large aspect of the storyline and one likely to appeal to the target audience, I found myself wanting to skim over those parts.
Aside from those small quibbles, the book was certainly an attention-grabber. I can see why it sold so well. Not sure if I'll continue (I believe there are 8 books in the series), but I will be saving the book for my kids as they approach their teen years. Who knows....they might love it. ...more
This is one of those odd books that I stumbled upon over at Audible and because it had good reviews and a sale price I went ahead and grabbed it evenThis is one of those odd books that I stumbled upon over at Audible and because it had good reviews and a sale price I went ahead and grabbed it even though I'm the first to admit that sci-fi isn't my normal go-to genre. And it ended up totally surprising me. I started with the audio (Ray Porter is the narrator and without his amazing voice/inflections I probably wouldn't have gotten sucked into the story so quickly) but later picked up the Kindle version so I could keep reading even when, for a myriad of reasons, audio wasn't practical.
Story premise: we've all heard of cryogenics (think: Walt Disney). Our protagonist Bob is your everyday engineer/software developer who has just made a pretty penny selling his upstart tech company to one of the big boys. He decides to whimsically throw away some of that extra cash by signing up with a cryogenics company. Turns out to be a smart move because....well, you can figure this out. When Bob wakes up, things have changed. Boy howdy, have they changed.
This is allegedly book 1 of a planned trilogy. WORTH THE READ!!! Especially good in audio and audible has it on sale now for $1.99. That's a steal!...more
I think my star ratings for these books have steadily decreased by one each for book I've read in the series. This third book was mediocre at best andI think my star ratings for these books have steadily decreased by one each for book I've read in the series. This third book was mediocre at best and barely held my interest mostly due to the crime itself (meh....gory for the sake of gory and then didn't provide any kind of interesting motivation for the perpetrator ) and my disinterest in the the second main protagonist introduced in the last book, Will Trent's new partner Faith. Add to that a near-disappearance of the most fascinating and complex character Angie Polaski and I was just bored.
Best part of the whole book? The laugh I got when reading the following (keeping in mind the book was published in 2009):
'Will couldn't read the title, but he recognized Donald Trump's picture on the jacket and assumed it was a get-rich-quick scheme. Obviously, Jake Berman hadn't taken the man's advice. Though, considering Berman had lost his job and declared bankruptcy, maybe he had."
I'll likely try a couple more books in the series before giving up, but only because Will Trent is a good main protagonist. If we have a return of either interesting characters or interesting crimes, I'll be good....more
Fractured is the second installment of Slaughter's Will Trent series. Just as in the opening book of the series, Fractured features a well-plotted thrFractured is the second installment of Slaughter's Will Trent series. Just as in the opening book of the series, Fractured features a well-plotted thriller in which a horrific crime against women is featured. (Slaughter seems to specialize in very graphic sexual violence against women....you've been warned). Quite a bit of time seems to have passed between the first book and this next and Slaughter is sketchy with the details. Angie Polaski, Trent's childhood friend who is just as damaged by her formative years spent in the foster care system as Trent himself is, barely makes a cameo appearance in this novel, leaving all sorts of unanswered questions about their relationship. Aside from that annoyance, Fractured introduces us to Faith Miller, the policewoman who becomes Trent's official partner and adds some dimension to the storyline. The strongest supporting character comes in the form of Amanda, Trent and Miller's high-powered boss who no one (including both the characters and the reader) can figure out whether to love or hate. While I'm leaning towards the former, I also find myself hoping Amanda isn't relegated to some fictional wasteland without explanation like Angie seems to have been. Time will tell....more
I figured if I was going to delve into Karin Slaughter's books, might as well start at the beginning. Triptych is the first in her now-famous Will TreI figured if I was going to delve into Karin Slaughter's books, might as well start at the beginning. Triptych is the first in her now-famous Will Trent series which features a likeable, if flawed, Special Agent in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Trent is dyslectic to the point of being illiterate, psychologically damaged from an abusive childhood spent in various foster homes, and seriously messed up in his personal life. But he is apparently a pretty good cop. Triptych is an interesting novel because it is more about Angie Polaski, a policewoman who works in the vice department (read: prostitution) and who is a childhood friend of Trent's, both having been damaged by the foster care system as children. We learn a lot about Angie and Trent as they both become involved in seemingly unrelated cases that are very much related. Crooked cops, lying lawyers, false convictions and imprisonment, and one very sick case of revenge all converge in this book.
Karin Slaughter is of course known for her graphic, graphic, GRAPHIC violence. Specifically, sexual violence perpetuated against women. I consider myself pretty immune to this kind of thing (I'm an afficianado of Scandinavian thriller writers, after all, and no one is darker than those folks), but must admit that it is disturbing to read. There have been moments when I didn't want to continue simply out of principle (it this kind of violence gratuitous? Probably)....but the darned storyline had me coming back for more. Your mileage may vary. The stories are well plotted and characters well written. But you have to be able to get past such vicious sexual violence against women. It's disturbing at best and at worst intolerable (I know many readers who just can't read that kind of stuff). If in doubt about where you fall on the issue, I'd recommend to error on the side of caution and skip these....there are just too many well-written thrillers out there to choose from. ...more
Absolutely fantastic narration elevates this thriller into a good solid 4.5 star listen. The story itself is perhaps your standard thriller fare (deceAbsolutely fantastic narration elevates this thriller into a good solid 4.5 star listen. The story itself is perhaps your standard thriller fare (decently written but nothing to shout from the rooftops about), but it's worth the listen if you like audiobooks. Really well done....more
I had somewhat lost interest in Weir's writing a few years back, but found myself pleasantly surprised by this new biography of Margaret Douglas....aI had somewhat lost interest in Weir's writing a few years back, but found myself pleasantly surprised by this new biography of Margaret Douglas....a cousin to the Tudors who was remarkably powerful and a big player in the succession of both the English and Scottish thrones. Her name is frequently glossed over in favor of "larger" figures of the time such as Queen Mary I and her successor the first Elizabeth, but during Henry VIII's reign Margaret (his niece) was largely considered a possible successor to the throne when young Mary and Elizabeth's legitimacy were being questioned.
For the most part, Weir keeps the pace lively here (always a bonus in biographies that can get laden down with too much detail when an author tries to squeeze in every last bit of research they came across). A few parts in the middle get bogged, but she ends up picking up steam again. Drawing upon correspondence, financial records, court records, etc, Weir manages to piece together the circumstances of a beautiful and favored young woman who becomes a major player on the political scene. The mother of Lord Darnley (future doomed spouse of Mary, Queen of Scots), Douglas had to play both sides of the Scots/English diplomacy which were more often than not at odds during this time period.
All in all, I'd recommend the book especially if you are familiar with the Tudors....you'll recognize many of the historical figures involved and likely enjoy seeing them as peripheral players in this woman's life....more
Maisie just hasn't held my attention these past few books. I keep hoping my original love for this character will return in force if I just keep readiMaisie just hasn't held my attention these past few books. I keep hoping my original love for this character will return in force if I just keep reading, but Journey to Munich didn't do it for me. It's the 12th in the long running series and I haven't decided if her story has just run it's course or if it's my own reading tastes that have changed (they really haven't so I suspect the former is the culprit). While I'm generally very happy to see characters evolve over the course of a series, I just am not crazy about the person Maisie turned into. Add to that the sad events that have taken away so many of the supporting characters I loved and you just end up with a hollow mystery instead of the stories I used to feel invested in. I'll try the next in the series just to give Maisie a fair shake (after all, she and I have a long history together and I'm trying not to be hasty in kicking her to the curb), but it would take a dramatic change to interest me again. ...more