Very entertaining stuff. It's not brilliant or anything, but Butcher has done something creative and compelling by writing urban fantasy in the styleVery entertaining stuff. It's not brilliant or anything, but Butcher has done something creative and compelling by writing urban fantasy in the style of hardboiled detective fiction, complete with a world-weary investigator. This reminds me of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels in that the strength is the extraordinarily strong voice and snarky humor, while the plot itself is competent but very straightforward. ...more
Well. Somewhere in the space between Alistair MacLean's pulse-pounding adventure stories and Dashiell Hammet's hardboiled detective novels lies Lee ChWell. Somewhere in the space between Alistair MacLean's pulse-pounding adventure stories and Dashiell Hammet's hardboiled detective novels lies Lee Child's Reacher series. This book had an extraordinarily strong first half; the voice is stylized, but in the best possible way - blunt, impactful, precise, like a soft-nosed bullet hitting a wall. Things slow down and stretch into melodrama in the second half - when writing an eerie mystery about a man set up by unknown forces, try to stick with that mystery as long as possible, instead of expanding it into an economy-shaking, epic conspiracy theory/secret plot. Still, enjoyable. It's rare to find a voice so assured. ...more
Another one bites the dust! By that I mean, yet another mediocre YA novel I can add to my "read" pile. Running out of fantasy and crime novels has lefAnother one bites the dust! By that I mean, yet another mediocre YA novel I can add to my "read" pile. Running out of fantasy and crime novels has left me rather bereft, so I've read 4 or 5 YA in the past month..to my regret. Giving this three stars is generous, but it started out so well: a very strong voice in the form of first-person protagonist Mare Barrow, a snarky thief struggling to keep herself and her family afloat in a class-driven, oppressive society. Aveyard, like most YA authors, attempts snark, and unlike most, succeeds - Mare's occasional comebacks and insults are genuinely funny and witty. The plot is fast-paced, the world is reasonably inventive, and the first half is very strong. In the second half, however, a love triangle takes more space while the romance itself is really phoned in - an epic romance is conceived out of literally about five brief interactions, and then a MAJOR plot point is hung upon it. Followed by a secondary plot point that was both wildly predictable - I saw it coming the entire novel, because I know how young adult novels go - and also extraordinarily poorly conceived and unconvincing. Neither of Mare's suitors *quite* leap into reality; combine the two and you'd have one fully realized male character/romantic interest.
Undiscerning readers will definitely enjoy this; it's above average and the first half is downright good. Discerning will be, like me, disappointed by the lazy, rushed writing of the final quarter. ...more
FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers has been investigating a series of arsons when the latest strike hits a research facility at a U.S. naval base. WithFBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers has been investigating a series of arsons when the latest strike hits a research facility at a U.S. naval base. With his own criminology research being turned against him and one of the world's most deadly devices missing, Bowers is caught up in a race against time to stop an international assassin before it's too late.
I won't get into the plot; it's pretty much the above except with lots of symbolic rubbish thrown in to make this book feel weightier and more serious than the mediocre populist fiction that it is.
We've got all the tropes: the family member Patrick has a difficult relationship with (in this case his teenage stepdaughter), the criminal who doesn't brush away spiders that land and crawl on him in his warehouse (get it?? he's EEEEEVILL), the criminal mastermind who offers a lowlife the choice of walking through two doors (yes they are actual doors, I'm not messing with you guys) titled "Freedom" or "Pain" and the lowlife chooses "Pain" because he's TWISTED kids, the repetitive, pseudo-menacing references to a grand master plot without any coherent criminal activities being described...Oh and let's not forget the random migrant storyline, because what transforms a book into a "real" crime novel is some local, urban flavor so for Pinocchio to be a real boy you need to include a shoutout to the California setting.
It's all so terribly cliched and imitative of other, somewhat better crime novels of the past 50 years. I appreciate that Steven James was trying - but if psychological darkness and the sense of menace and adrenaline contingent upon wide-ranging, shadowy criminal plots aren't your strengths, for heaven's sake stick to a more traditional crime-followed-by-investigation plot, and keep it low concept. Many male crime writers don't seem to realize that you don't need to have the government and/or the fate of the world involved in every plot.
I haven't had much luck with Christian suspense fiction. As soon as I branched outward from Dee Henderson I was disappointed again and again. Steven James is just the latest; his series The Patrick Bowers Files includes eight books, all with over four star ratings, and most with over 4.2 stars, which for Goodreads is extremely high. Of course, I tend to discount all ratings after the third book in any given series, because at that point only the author's devotees are reading; anyone who was mildly dissatisfied with the first two books had already stopped. Later books in series tend to cater solely to readers whose tastes align perfectly with the author.
In some cases, the fanbase is discerning enough that, even as they religiously read the entire series, ratings do reflect actual quality - i.e. Dee Henderson's The Negotiator, True Honor, and Danger in the Shadows are among her highest-rated books on Goodreads among the dozens she's written and pop up more frequently on fan-voted lists, and deservedly, because they're her best. However even her weakest efforts, e.g. The Rescuer, the final book in the O'Malley series, got 4.3 stars (I gave it 3, for the record).
All that to say, Christian suspense readers seem to have tastes that align exactly with the larger populace; 30% of what they love is genuinely stellar, 40% is perfectly competent but mediocre writing, and 30% is barely intelligible rubbish.
This novel made me miss Tom Clancy, whom I haven't read since I was a teenager. That man knew his stuff. ...more
I felt slightly nauseous after finishing this. This is the finale of a bestselling young adult series from Jenny Han, and the thought of thousands ofI felt slightly nauseous after finishing this. This is the finale of a bestselling young adult series from Jenny Han, and the thought of thousands of impressionable teenage girls gulping this up makes me see RED. It's romantically bankrupt, a novel that's downright destructive in how it portrays romantic relationships, what girls should look for, and what constitutes healthy behaviour or interactions. It flies wildly in the face of every bit of hard-won knowledge we've gained about what makes marriages and relationships work and last, and as such, it's INFURIATING.
Because it is a book about marriage. It ends with one.
It also tells us to be with the boy who makes your heart flutter, even if he has blown hot and cold with you your entire life, even if after dating you for a very brief span he dumps you, even if every single one of your friends and family are united in saying how badly he's treated you. Marry HIM because you feel a gravitational pull and fascination with him and you just can't quite get over it.
Oh, and break up with the funny, kind guy (his brother) whom you genuinely fell deeply in love with, dated for two years, and agreed to marry, the boy you work seamlessly with as a team, laugh with, and enjoy doing everything from ordering food to running errands to apartment-hunting with, and have a giant amount of tenderness and affection for. yeah, forget HIM. What terrible life-partner material. AWFUL.
Never read this. I'd gladly ban it from the hands of all and sundry teen girls because with its compelling prose it will tell them the opposite of reality re: romantic relationships. ...more
This book. Is so good. A cross between Rainbow Rowell and Meg Cabot. Gah. The gimmicky title/premise about the letters initially turned me off, but itThis book. Is so good. A cross between Rainbow Rowell and Meg Cabot. Gah. The gimmicky title/premise about the letters initially turned me off, but it's so warm and real and the characters, especially the male leads which are always the hardest to do, leap off the page. Banter and loveliness and family. ...more
A good read for fans of Dee Henderson: good plotting, character-writing, some decent banter. I was very slightly disappointed by the romance but thenA good read for fans of Dee Henderson: good plotting, character-writing, some decent banter. I was very slightly disappointed by the romance but then I'm often disappointed by romances where the leads already know/knew each other as I prefer the spark of discovery. It was good enough for the romantic thriller genre that I"ll be checking out more of Irene Hannon. ...more
Loved it. Kleypas' Bow Street Runners trilogy is by far my favorite and among the strongest written of her works. Charismatic leads who leap off the pLoved it. Kleypas' Bow Street Runners trilogy is by far my favorite and among the strongest written of her works. Charismatic leads who leap off the page, a detailed romance story and fast pacing with an edge of danger. The world of Bow Street Runners and the crime they deal with is much more interesting than the usual ballrooms-and-gossip society scene of most romance novels set in the 18th century. ...more
How utterly, utterly lovely. Both characters are so sympathetic and strongly sketched, and for ONCE Kleypas doesn't base the attraction and romance onHow utterly, utterly lovely. Both characters are so sympathetic and strongly sketched, and for ONCE Kleypas doesn't base the attraction and romance on constant sex scenes but instead on actual conversations, banter, and shared interests. Easily a favorite Kleypas/chic lit novel. ...more