Alpha is a tense, suspense-filled story. Admittedly, I was bit thrown by the present tense format. I'm not a huge fan of that. I prefer past tense narAlpha is a tense, suspense-filled story. Admittedly, I was bit thrown by the present tense format. I'm not a huge fan of that. I prefer past tense narrative. Otherwise, I have to say that Rucka has another success on his hands. I've been reading almost every graphic novel by his I can get my hands on, because he knows what he's doing. This is my first official prose book by him. He can write just as good without illustrations to tell the story.
I found myself feeling very sympathetic towards the sleeper agent. While he's not by any stretch a good man, I think that in another life, he could have been a better man. It's very hard to write a villain that is sympathetic, but Rucka did it well in this case. I really wish things had ended much differently for him, although he did make his choices (admittedly from a deck short of cards) in the end.
The idea of an action story set at an amusement park was well done. I have always had a distrust of, shall we say, people wearing character suits (something a bit disturbing about it, especially if they are animal characters), and now I won't look at them the same way again. I like how Rucka emphasized the frozen smiling face of the terrorists in their character suit. It's a metaphor for how a bland face can hide evil and latent menace, especially when one cannot see the eyes (the windows to the soul). The amusement park is almost a bit of a stand-in for Disneyland, but with its own mythology that plays out in a way that's decidedly creepy considering that the park is harboring blood-thirsty terrorists.
"Alpha" is more of a suspense book but it has plenty of action. I felt my stomach tense up in knots as the story progresses at a fast pace towards its climax. Jad is a likable protagonist despite having some flaws. I appreciate that while he's a skilled special forces operator who has earned his formidable reputation, he's not bulletproof or invulnerable.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a tightly written, well-plotted novel that straddles the fence between suspense and action. I'll definitely keep reading this series....more
This second volume steps up the intensity by a big leap. Velvet is back in the game, and she has her former employees on her tail, not to mention theThis second volume steps up the intensity by a big leap. Velvet is back in the game, and she has her former employees on her tail, not to mention the traitor who is trying to frame her. "The Secret Lives of Dead Men" delves deeper in Velvet Templeton's past, and her secret hurts. The reader learns that she has more than one reason to take her betrayal personal, and also we see how she embarks on the life of a spy at a young age. While Velvet can hold her own, the reader sees that she has vulnerabilities just like any other human being, despite her formidable skills.
This is fine storytelling with excellent art. I think this would be an awesome movie or limited tv series. Velvet is an excellent role for an older (fortyish actress), and she'd not only get to show some real dramatic acting, but also plenty of buttkicking.
This book has a heck of a cliffhanger that has me waiting with baited breath for the next installment.
This was a nice little gem. Reminds me a lot of Highlander in a good way, but has a different edge to it. I wish the action scenes were less repetitivThis was a nice little gem. Reminds me a lot of Highlander in a good way, but has a different edge to it. I wish the action scenes were less repetitive and more detail with the sword-fighting, but otherwise a good action/adventure novel.
Only Matthew Reilly would write a book about a zoo full of dragons. I will admit I am a huge fan of his books. I take each one as it is and I usuallyOnly Matthew Reilly would write a book about a zoo full of dragons. I will admit I am a huge fan of his books. I take each one as it is and I usually come out a happy camper. In this case, I have to give him a thumbs up. Let's face it, Reilly either works for you or he doesn't. He unashamedly writes escapist fiction that makes the reader feel as though they are immersed in a summer blockbuster movie. And he does it well.
I wasn't a big fan of the "Jurassic Park" book. I didn't finish it because it felt like the characters only existed to be dinosaur food. I don't care much for 'sacrificial lamb' characters. However, I find it interesting that this is Reilly's favorite book of all time. Even though I liked the movie version more than the book, I'd have to thank Crichton for inspiring one of my favorite authors in that way. So for me, I don't mind that the idea of a dragon zoo was inspired by "Jurassic Park." With all due respect, I'll take dragons over dinosaurs any day of the week.
Clearly Reilly is aware that this book would be compared to Jurassic Park and he understood that fact. I think I can get into this book because while I am a fantasist, I love the idea of real, live dragons. However, Reilly takes the fantasy version of dragons and gives it a very real, very gritty spin. I like that Reilly put so much thought into bring dragons into a millennial setting in a believable way. Many of the reasons it's a bad idea to have a dinosaur park are evident in why it was a bad idea to have a dragon zoo, but maybe even worse. Dragons don't mix well with humanity. Especially Reilly's dragons. The creators of the zoo believe that have concocted a fool-proof plan with their zoo that will supplant China over the United States as the arbiter of cultural consciousness. However, they neglected to consider that while dragons are animals, they are fiercely intelligent, and are the ultimate of predators. Frankly, I think people who believe all animals are stupid aren't paying enough attention to the natural world and clearly do not have pets. Humans like to think of themselves as the ultimate of predators, but in nature, when the odds are evened, we aren't. Even a microbe can wipe the floor with humans, case in point.
Reilly is in his high action, high gore mode, and I know I'd be covering my eyes if this was a movie. Reading the book had many wince-worthy moments, but also the awe of majestic dragons. While I didn't want the dragons to be eating people, I felt wowed by the fact that they were real and they did a lot of what dragons do. Like our intrepid heroine, CJ, I felt like the whole thing had BAD IDEA!! Written on it in huge block letters. Even with the ingenious plan the zoo creators had to keep the dragons in the zoo, I had a feeling that they dragons would find a way around it, yet their strategizing gave me a huge feeling of awe.
I think books should stand for themselves and authors shouldn't have to defend themselves for what they've written outside of the book. But at the same time, I find it very interesting to see what the thought process behind their writing is. I enjoyed reading Mr. Reilly's Q&A at the end of the book and I can see that he put a lot of hard work into writing this book. His goal is to make a book that is easy to read and enjoyable, and that's evident. At times, when I wondered why he phrased things a certain way, it made sense when I read the Q&A and saw that this was why he did it.
I loved CJ as the lead character. She is a buttkicking character and what makes it cool is that she is a woman. She proved very clearly that an action lead doesn't have to be male to own a story or to save the day. But anyone who has ever seen "Aliens" or "Alias" knows what I'm talking about. I like that CJ was the type who observed and assimilated information and acted on that information in a logical way instead of losing her cool. But at the same time, she's not just an academic. She knows how to go into action and it saves her life and others around her many times in this book. Her backstory really informs who she is a person and makes it clear that she's in the right place at the right time.
I liked the other characters, especially Hamish (CJ's brother) and Greg. But the scene-stealer is Lucky. I was a bit jealous of CJ, except for the flying parts. Not for me, that. Oh, I just adored Lucky!
I think Reilly brought it big time with this book. I'd give it 4.5 stars because I had a couple of quibbles. I won't go deep into those because they are spoilers, but I wish the ending was slightly different. I see why Reilly ended things the way he did, but part of me was still sad about that.
This volume doesn't feel as cohesive as previous volumes (and I'm not merely speaking of the variety of stories). The Jonah Hex narrative doesn't seemThis volume doesn't feel as cohesive as previous volumes (and I'm not merely speaking of the variety of stories). The Jonah Hex narrative doesn't seem to go as well together, although I do appreciate getting Hex's backstory. I can see why he's so grumpy. However, I still liked this a lot. Tons of rip-roaring action, and it has a nice Gothic twist as a certain Mr. Hyde arrives in Gotham to wreak havoc. There's even a nice shoutout to Jane Eyre that made this fan smile. I have a feeling the writer had a lot of fun with these stories, although they are really quite dark, moreso than previous volumes, in my opinion. As usual, I really enjoy the artwork in this series. It's interesting how the male faces tend towards rugged to sometimes ugly, but the females look like dolls. Not an insult. I like the way the artist draws women. They look very pretty, even Tallulah Black, with all her facial scars and eyepatch. (since my interest is drawing/painting women, that stands out for me). The historical fiction story about the Native American freedom fighter, Tomahawk made me sad. One of the darker moments of American history (along with slavery and centuries of institutionalized racism against black Americans), and one that we need to be reminded of, although it's never pleasant to consider the systematic extermination of the Native peoples. Tomahawk is an angry man, and I can see why he's angry. While it was well-written, its inclusion doesn't fit the rest of the book very well at all.
This series never fails to appeal to the western action lover in me!...more
Slade Wilson is a jerk. Let's be honest. He has put his desire to be the best warrior before everything. He will take on just about any mission just sSlade Wilson is a jerk. Let's be honest. He has put his desire to be the best warrior before everything. He will take on just about any mission just so he can achieve the recognition and accolades of completing the mission. It's not about the money.
I found him hard to like. That makes it's difficult to root for a character when he's so insufferable. I appreciate how incredibly kickbutt the man is, but his colossal ego and the enormous chip on his shoulder ruins things for me.
This is a very violent comic. Lots of blood and decapitated heads flying. I think the body count is easily in the hundreds.
At the root of it, this is a story about the consequences of dysfunctional families on a person's psyche. Because Slade's father was abusive and pretty much a rat, he became obsessed with being the biggest and strongest, and this nature destroyed his relationship with his own son, Grant.
This wasn't a bad graphic novel, for the subject matter. It has action from beginning to end. I just don't like Deathstroke. His motivations are shallow and the fact that he places no value on human life about his own ego are a real turnoff for me.
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and Synopsis
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and her people killed in war. With her father ailing from a long-term degenerative condition, she has assumed command of his lands in his stead. She refuses the Margrave's offer of marriage, knowing that it will mean war, because she realizes giving into him is the wrong decision to make for herself and her people. On a trip through a nearby forest to notify her vassals of her need for men to protect Luntberg Castle and its villagers, she is robbed by the fearsome, dreaded, red-armor-wearing Robber Knight, who dares to take her money, property and her beloved horse, although he spares her life and doesn't harm a hair on her head. Lady Ayla vows to see him caught and hanged.
When Ayla and her steward find a sole-surviving, wounded man in a field of bloody, mutilated bodies, they bring him back to the castle. His name is Reuben, and he claims to be a merchant, but he is really the same Red Knight. If he reveals his identity, he will be hanged as a thief. And he is too weak to flee for his life from his wounds and a subsequent fever and infection. As he is nursed back to health by the beautiful Lady Ayla, his cynicism and overpowering self-interest gives way to love. Can Ayla keep her people safe from a deadly siege, and avoid falling for a man below her station who she believes is not telling her the whole truth about his identity?
The Robber Knight is an entertaining trip back in time to the medieval era. The narrative voice is lively, with subtle humor and vivid characterizations. Reuben is the perfect rogue character, a man who hasn't decided if he wants to take the trouble to be a better man again, until Lady Ayla shows him he is capable of it. Ayla is sweet and determined, a woman of her times. Beneath her ladylike exterior, she has the heart of a lion and a backbone of steel. The secondary characters, such as the old vassal but still capable knight and fighter, Sir Isenbard, are well-developed.
Mr. Thier clearly has a background in medieval history, and a talent for writing a story that is enlightening about the period, but in a very entertaining, readable fashion. The depiction of medieval castle warfare is lifelike and realistic without being overly graphic. The reader learns the ins and outs of protecting a castle against invaders alongside Lady Ayla, and her people, most of whom have lived in a time of peace and whose war skills are limited to non-existent. I cheered along with them as they survived numerous assaults due to the advice of the injured Reuben.
Readers who enjoy romance stories will appreciate the slow build of attraction and feelings between Ayla and Reuben. The author makes the most of their every moment together to show romantic tension and growing love between the characters.
The Robber Knight is a story that will appeal to readers who have interest in the medieval period. It's an edifying read, flows and keeps the reader's interest with engaging characters and a well-paced narrative. This reader recommends it, despite the fact that the cliffhanger ending pricks at one of the biggest pet peeves of mine.
I started this on Playaway and I had to turn it off because of the disturbing scene at the beginning. I got the print copy and I'm so glad I picked thI started this on Playaway and I had to turn it off because of the disturbing scene at the beginning. I got the print copy and I'm so glad I picked this up again, because this book rocked!
Warning: If you hate Nazis, you will either love this book, or you will find your hatred for Nazis inflamed to even higher levels. The Nazis (and all their modern counterparts) seriously suck (which is putting it lightly) and inspired many violent thoughts in my head as I was reading. I think that this book might be therapeutic in that way. Having studied WWII and been sickened by the horrible acts perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews (and everyone else they deemed unfit), I have stored up a fair amount of enmity against them. At least in fiction, you can see the Nazis get theirs. And I hope that we can learn from history and not let anything like this happen ever again.
In other ways, this was a great read. Lincoln Miller, while he is from a kickbutt elite Navy SEALs background, he still feels like an everyman hero. He assumes accountability to save the world, because he is in the right place at the right time. I loved to see him think through the very desperate circumstances he faced in this book. Imagine not being able to breathe in open air? Really scary. I love a resourceful lead character, and Miller's way of thinking through situations was always credible. Miller has a strong moral compass. While he's not a believer in God, he definitely knows the difference between right and wrong, and has a sense of justice that causes him to fight the good fight and to take a hard line against bullies and murderers. He doesn't kill wantonly, but he's not going to hesitate if killing is necessary.
I liked the secondary characters, although I never did trust one of them. Arwen is awesome. I hope to see more of her. I want to see Lincoln make good on his promise to her. I loved Cowboy! He has a novella out that I will definitely be buying for my Kindle. Also liked Elizabeth a lot. She's a good action heroine, realistic and admirable. Her smarts play a crucial role in this story.
Including the Nazis, there are some aspects of this novel that are very disturbing. I found the far-reaching enormity of the conspiracy quite harrowing, although not surprising, considering how prevalent (and entrenched) racism and prejudice is in this world (and most definitely in the United States). Part of me wondered how people could willingly get in bed with the Nazis, but if your ideology is similar, I guess what they believe is just a more extreme expression of your own beliefs (terrible to consider).
The action was off the charts. I did like how Robinson is realistic in how he describes Miller's reactions to the continual stresses on his body, and how he takes measures to keep himself going when rest isn't an option. For those who like Antarctica as a setting, look no further (although they aren't there very long). There is a big body count, but it's not gratuitous, and I didn't feel sorry for the Nazi/racist bad guys at all.
I decided I was being nitpicky in not giving this five stars. It really is a fiver for me. I wouldn't change anything about the writing. It's easy to read and I liked Robinson's way of explaining things without getting too technical, and also how he keeps the action going. He has a great imagination. Some readers may find the portrayal of the Nazis as being stereotypically evil, but that wasn't a big problem for me. To me, they are the essence of evil. If a reader wants a book with more shades of gray, this probably isn't a book for them.
I'm glad that this book was chosen for the Action/Adventure Aficionados group read, because it was a very fun, exciting read. I talked to this book almost the whole way through, and I didn't want to put it down until I finished the last paragraph. Highly recommended.
While I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn'tWhile I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't disappoint. It's high caliber action that brings to mind movies like The Dirty Dozen, but twenty plus years sooner. I don't know a lot about WWI, to be honest, but what Nassise writes seems credible. I like that he takes what is known about WWI fighting and integrates some steampunkish and supernatural elements. I think that he builds on the ever-present sense of horror that war inherently has, and that's a firm foundation for a supernatural suspense novel. I can't verify this, but the Germans seemed kind of Nazish already, especially in the blatant defiance of human rights and experimentation on humans. That part was rather disturbing.
I felt the suspense element was a huge appeal of this book. I literally didn't know what would happen and I even had to put it down a few times to get a break. Although I wanted to keep reading. I find zombies really disturbing, and the fact that the Germans are using gas to turn people into zombies is pretty darn awful. I wanted the heroes to open up a can of whip@$$ all over them.
If anything could have improved this was more dialogue and interaction with the members of Burke's team. I cared about all these guys, but I think I would have liked to know more about them. I realize that this book occurs over a short period of time, but this would have enhanced my reading experience. The main villain Richthofen was a "real you know what". He's the kind of villain you want to see get his butt handed to him. But he's a credible villain in that he's not easily defeated. He's enough to give you nightmares, actually. I don't think I'll have any, I hope. But just in case, I tried not to read this before I went to sleep. This book is so much scary as unnerving in that I can put myself in the soldiers' shoes and imagine that sense of constant fear that dealt with in the trenches. If being blown up or shot or gassed to death isn't enough. That's a chance they will be turned into zombies or see their fellow soldiers come back to try to eat them to death! Yeah, that's pretty disturbing.
Overall, this was a very good book. Great action moments. I liked the lead characters, especially Burke. The villain is nasty enough to make him a worthy antagonist. The supernatural/steampunk parts are excellent. They tie into the WWI setting very well. I think with more development of the secondary characters, this book would have been even more effective as a read. I will definitely continue this series, but when I'm in the mood for a creepy zombie novel with good action.
Jack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeJack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeks. But he’s pulled out of training early, and drafted into an ultra-secret, elite SEAL team, one that has an unusual team number. This team fights threats against the free world that are supernatural in origin. And Jack is specially equipped to be a member. For the dark scars of his youth mark him with a special ability to sense evil.
I liked the idea of this book, a military special ops story with a supernatural twist. Ochse’s attention to detail as far as military ops lends credibility to the writing. I really appreciated the look at how a SEAL team operates and the whole involved procedure of keeping the world safe, top secret-style, with the ancillary support of various defense agency personnel. His focus seems to be more on this than the supernatural component, but he grafts together the two aspects of the story fairly well. Still this book seemed thin to me. Like it was serviceable, but merely scratching the surface of possibilities. Yes, I think that was the big issue I had with this book. It lacked depth.
I wanted more character exploration. While I felt I did get to know Jack fairly well, I didn’t get more than a surface portrayal of most of the others. I realize that the story occurs in a short period of time, but I had this feeling that the characters merely existed to move the story, or to get killed off. That saddened me. The death of a team member and the ritual associated with his passing, had more time spent on it than seeing that team member as a living, breathing human. Of course, death is an everyday experience for these men. They know they could die on any mission they undertake. But I needed to know them better, because knowing someone is part of the process of caring for them, that they live and die for a purpose. Otherwise, our mental health defenses build a wall between us and the suffering of others in the world, because to cry for every person who dies will destroy you. We just don’t have that capacity. But if you know someone, even a little, it breaks your heart to know they have died. To introduce a character only to kill them without much effort to infuse depth makes a mockery of that. I really dislike the tendency towards presenting characters as sacrificial lambs in a story. Just enough to introduce a character and then they get killed off. I felt this was a shortcoming of this novel.
The action is well done. The pace was intense and appropriate. I got the real sense that I was going on ops with these guys. In this case, all in relation to the supernatural threats in this book. If even possible, that brings a higher level of threat to the situation. There’s only so much a gun can do against an undead, immortal threat, or one from a world of strangeness that doesn’t follow the rules that govern this physical one.
The supernatural storyline was intriguing and definitely horrific. Ochse does build the sense of wrongness and weirdness that would disturb an average person. I like a weird supernatural story like nobody’s business, but I had some moments where I was thinking, “That’s just wrong!” Imagine being a SEAL, trained to eliminate lethal threats all around the world, but previously naïve to the supernatural darkness in this world. You have to keep moving and do your job, and you don’t have time for “WTFs”. So yes, that part was very well done. The particular threat they faced in this book felt novel and very intimidating, and the author ties it into things going on in the world arena. While the climax was too abrupt for my tastes, it definitely had impact, and as I said, I enjoyed the action moments.
With this book, I had that feeling that everything was scratching the surface when I wanted things to get deeper. With an intriguing storyline like this, I get excited to see what journey the author will take me on. Overall, this was a book that kept me reading. It was a pretty good book. A nice mélange of spec ops action and supernatural weirdness. I think the author could have given me more as far as characterization, which is the biggest shortcoming of this novel. However, I would keep reading this if it becomes a series.