I generally love Christopher Moore's books and I've never found one to date that I just didn't like. Dirty Job, though, is one that falls somewhere onI generally love Christopher Moore's books and I've never found one to date that I just didn't like. Dirty Job, though, is one that falls somewhere on the lower end of the spectrum of his work for me.
It's hard to put a finger on just what was missing in this on that was there in the others, but if I had to pin something down I'd say it was generally that things just didn't 'fit' like they should. Moore's books are humor, definitely, and this one has some great moments. But amid the humor, there's normally a thread of seriousness that keeps them from flying off totally into the ridiculous. A Dirty Job still had some of that, but there were places where the humor elements drowned out the underlying plot and characterization a little too much.
The book is still definitely worth a read if you're a fan of his work, but I just wasn't as blown away by this one as I have been by most of his others. I think things are too cluttered - there are too many things going on that really don't need to be there for the story to progress (squirrel people is the major one that comes to mind - at least in the unnecessarily complicated way they were handled) and that I think end up taking away instead of adding to. Another issue for me was the main characters ignoring answers that were literally right in their faces, when they otherwise seemed to pick up on things easily enough. It felt artificial and somewhat contrived considering I'd think most readers had it figured out within 1/3 of the book or less. With a little more streamlining and some cleaning up and throwing out of things that didn't seem to work, I feel it could've been a better book overall.
That said, there are still things I loved. Like his other works, the characters in this book live in a shared world with the characters from his other books. There are cameos from some familiar faces and larger parts played by others we've seen before, as well as recurring appearances by favorites like the Emperor of San Francisco. It gives a continuity to his books that you don't find very much and I also liked the way Moore tied up some loose ends in the end. The characters are engaging and sympathetic, the plot is interesting enough to hold your attention, and the humor is generally clever and quick witted.
Overall, it's an enjoyable enough read and definitely worth the time. Just don't expect it to live up to some of his more spectacularly well done stories....more
I've had this book, and several others in McGuire's group of fairy tale re-tellings, lying around for a while now. Finally I decided I might as well dI've had this book, and several others in McGuire's group of fairy tale re-tellings, lying around for a while now. Finally I decided I might as well dive in and give them a read, so I chose Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister first, since there have been several books by other authors that retold the tale of Cinderella that I liked quite a bit.
Unfortunately, at the end, I'm not able to add this one to that group. Though McGuire seems to have a way with a clever turn of phrase and some tendency toward florid writing, there's something missing. I should have liked at least some of the main characters, but really didn't. I should've cared about their fates, after following them through the many trials and tribulations laid out in the book, but in the end I really couldn't. I didn't feel any real connection to them - be it from lack of depth in characterization or lack of any real insight into what made most of them tick, it's something I can't quite put my finger on but was definitely there. Some almost made it there, but then failed at the last to really give me any reason to care very much what happened to them.
Characters don't always have to be likable to be sympathetic, but they do have to have something that makes us invest in them and either want them to come out in one piece or get their just desserts. There was quite enough going on in the lives of most of these characters, and in the plot itself, for that to happen, but somehow it didn't and the end result was simple apathy.
The concept and setting were very interesting and there was a lot of potential with the plot of this story. Sadly, most of that potential went unrealized and fell flat in the execution. I tend to agree with what another reviewer on this site said, in that McGuire seems to have wonderful, intriguing ideas, but isn't as good at putting them down on paper and getting it all to work as he is thinking them up.
In the epilogue, we get an interesting twist on something we thought we knew about the story, but ultimately it's not one that really affects very much. Mostly, what I'm sure is supposed to be a shocking plot twist just sort of made me go, "Huh. Well, ok." and then move on. There are too many inconsequential things emphasized for no apparent reason. Too many important points and events were glossed over and only given cursory attention. I think this book is a prime example that all the technically well-done writing in the world can't make a good book if there's no heart in it. And that is, ultimately, what I took away from this. It's a prettily made up body, but with nothing to pump life into it....more
Not the best horror/thriller I've ever read, but it definitely had it's good points. The characters are easy to care about and sympathize with. The chNot the best horror/thriller I've ever read, but it definitely had it's good points. The characters are easy to care about and sympathize with. The chilling moments are pretty definitely chilling and tension-filled, even if I was sometimes confused as to why things were happening as they did.
The relationship between the main character and his decidedly odd love interest was a little fast, but ultimately believable enough. There were clever plot twists and an enjoyable writing style that kept the flaws from ultimately mattering too much and made the whole thing a good, entertaining read overall and a nice diversion....more
I did not think I was going to like this book. After reading the Joe Pitt series, I was interested in what Sleepless was going to be all about and I'dI did not think I was going to like this book. After reading the Joe Pitt series, I was interested in what Sleepless was going to be all about and I'd heard good things. The first couple of chapters, though, left me with a vague confusion and also a vague dislike for the main character, the unbendingly good cop trying to keep being good in a system that is obviously failing in the wake of what amounts to the coming of the apocalypse.
All that, however, cleared up a couple more chapters in and I was totally sucked in to the dystopian world that was slowly being revealed, bit by horrifying bit. As with the Pitt series, I really didn't much like most of the characters, but I still ended up caring about them and sympathizing with them none the less, which to me is quite a feat for most any writer. You get why the main character, LAPD cop Parker Haas, is determined to stick to his own morality codes and views of the world, even when the world is literally collapsing around him and you know he's doomed to failure. And you feel bad for him, even when you think he's just being stupid and pig-headed and needs a smack upside the head.
There's also a good deal of science-y type plot things going on here and Huston seems to have mostly done his homework on that. Not that it's perfect, since it's a fictional scenario, but it makes it much more believable, having a detail base in things that actually exist. And, like the Pitt series, it's unapologetically gritty and pulls no punches when bad things happen, and bad things tend to happen a lot here. But, considering the setting, it wouldn't make sense if they didn't.
Now that I'm done, I almost want to go back and read it over again, just to pick up on the details I know I missed on the crazy ride to the end....more
I stumbled on this series by total accident. One chapter in and I was hooked. I'm not sure I can even tell you exactly why, but I was.
This is one of tI stumbled on this series by total accident. One chapter in and I was hooked. I'm not sure I can even tell you exactly why, but I was.
This is one of those series that I think most people will either really like, or really loathe, without a whole lot in between. The plot, and the world in general, is complicated and sometimes hard to follow. The characters aren't always, or even often, likable, including the main character, and there are twists, turns, and mounds of frustration around every corner. Still, the whole thing works and you care about what happens anyway, even when you want to throw the book at the wall and then rip it in half.
It's a very dark world, very much noir, and populated with vampires, zombies, and other assorted things generally categorized as supernatural. Huston manages to make them believable without changing the 'normal' world all that much to accommodate them and does, in fact, manage to make the weirdness natural, too. Nothing's going to sparkle here and no one's a 'vegetarian'. It's gritty and political and rolling around in all the muck that goes along with living day to day even if you weren't a vampire. Good times, in other words.
Everything isn't perfect, of course. Some situations and occurrences seem to repeat a bit much and the main character could actually be a little more savvy than he actually comes across now and then. The overall plot, however, is amazing. More amazing than this first book in the series actually lets on and if you are a fan of vampires, noir, and a writer who can seed plot twists from the start and pull them off at the end without telegraphing his every move long before the final resolution, this is for you....more
Though I generally like this series, (especially for the YA Vampire genre, which seems to be popping up like mushrooms these days), this book didn't gThough I generally like this series, (especially for the YA Vampire genre, which seems to be popping up like mushrooms these days), this book didn't grab me like the ones before it.
I still like most of the characters, but Zoey's getting a bit too out there with her amazing specialness. Especially when it comes to her romantic relationships. Granted she's the central character, but she shouldn't be responsible for the entire history of everything ever, or the convenient answer to every single problem. And every single straight male character shouldn't be falling all over her at every turn, after six books that's getting old.
The overall plot still has my interest, though, and this left things open to get considerably more interesting in the next installment. There are still questions to be answered and I'm hoping the awkwardness in this particular installment was just due to transition and things smooth out a bit again in the next book....more
Normally I'm a huge Dean Koontz fan, but this book, while generally well written in the technical sense, sort of lost me plot-wise. It's not that theNormally I'm a huge Dean Koontz fan, but this book, while generally well written in the technical sense, sort of lost me plot-wise. It's not that the makings of a good plot aren't there, it's more that they seem to get lost in some sort of odd effort to force the reader to decode possibly non-existent 'sub-text' and not very subtly beat us about the head with the perils of making selfish choices and the inability to take life as it comes instead of trying to bend it to our will.
While, done correctly, the primary character - a dot.com millionaire with a sudden and devastating heart problem - could be an interesting and entertaining driving force as he does the thing most human beings would would do in that situation: panicking and seeking a 'quick and easy fix', despite all his attempts to keep his head about him. Sadly, Koontz has managed to complicate things too much with both him and his writer girlfriend, who are generally too annoying, and often too cutely cryptic, to be really likable or sympathetic and with a general lack of the cohesiveness and common sense I've come to expect from even his most intricate storytelling. There are too many things left unexplained, but alluded to in such a vague way that it's hard to make any real guess as to what the primary driving motives are in a lot of cases, and there is way too much sitting around and waiting for something to really happen. Then, when it finally does, it all sort of collapses in on itself under the weight of it's own unwieldy plot devices.
In the end, it almost comes across as preachy in some ways and too much a vehicle to tout the authors own personal views and values and not enough the clever, supernatural type thriller I normally expect from Koontz. ...more
A small town suddenly finds itself encased in an impenetrable force field of unknown origin and cut off from physical contact from the rest of the worA small town suddenly finds itself encased in an impenetrable force field of unknown origin and cut off from physical contact from the rest of the world. If you're wondering how that works, think Lord of the Flies meets The Stand, set in Maine in the most nowhere, hick town you can imagine. It's definitely a wild ride.
The book does have it's flaws. The dome itself, and the reason for it, are largely a plot device to set up the situation and the resolution there is equally less than satisfying when it's all over. It left me with a bit of a 'Soooo...that's it?' feeling when it came to an end. Ditto the fate of the main protagonist here, the little town's power hungry Second Selectman. I'd have liked a little more thought put into those than 'all right, I'm done with the story now, let's get rid of this guy and turn this thing off'. Like the appearance of the dome itself kicking things off, the resolution was more of a cursory nod to tying it all up so the story could officially end than the true, hard-won resolution of the plot.
The real story here is the town itself and it's inhabitants - most notably an ex-military man turned wander nicknamed Barbie, the editor of the local paper, the corrupt town Board of Selectmen and the minor recurring characters that worked together like wheels in a cog to build what feels like a normal community that slowly but surely slips down a slope into anarchy and insanity. It's about what happens to people when the only law they have, and the only people to answer to, are themselves. Admittedly, this is something King does very well and it's worth overlooking the flaws in how it's all brought about to sink into the stories and the lives and the fates of the people in this little town as the world looks on through a cloudy fishbowl.
The characters and events seem very real, very plausible, and very compelling as things get rolling. Almost everyone who's ever lived in a small town, or even a not so small one, can identify, or identify with, most of the character archetypes presented, from the best to the worst. They're easy to like or dislike, easy to sympathize with and connect to, sometimes even when you'd rather not. King has a knack for making even many of the villains of the piece in some way sympathetic, or almost so, and giving the good guys the flaws that sometimes make them not so good or perfect, but still definitely human. All in all, I was glad I spent the time reading this one, which is something I haven't been able to say about one of King's books in a while. ...more
I've always been a fan of Mary Higgins Clark and this is one of her earlier books that I've meant to get around to reading but somehow never have untiI've always been a fan of Mary Higgins Clark and this is one of her earlier books that I've meant to get around to reading but somehow never have until now. Though her writing isn't as polished in this one as it is in her later books, she still does a very nice job of weaving a plot and pulling you in.
She's also one of the few authors who can weave a mystery that I can't usually unravel by halfway through the story, and though this plot had some minor holes at the end and is more simplistic than some of her others, Where Are The Children is no exception. A nice, quick read, too, for when you just want an engaging distraction....more
I'm a real fan of true life crime accounts, and this one looked interesting, so I picked it up for a quick read. Unfortunately, John Glatt is no AnneI'm a real fan of true life crime accounts, and this one looked interesting, so I picked it up for a quick read. Unfortunately, John Glatt is no Anne Rule and it read sort of dry and detached, despite the drama and sensationalisim of this Austrian man who apparently kept his daughter prisoner in his basement for 24 years as a sex slave, raising a second family with her literally under the feet of his 'regular' family.
It's an interesting look into what human beings are capable of enduring and surviving, and also of what they're capable of accepting, ignoring, and/or justifying. There are some intriguing parallels drawn to the Nazi's treatment of concentration camp victims, especially since the perpetrator of all this grew up during the era when the Nazi's controlled Austria. There are also quite a few references to The Sound of Music, which just struck me as odd in a lot of ways.
There are a lot of things that the book, despite going over and over some things long after you're ready to move on, skims over or leaves out, and I think it could've been a better account if that weren't the case. Especially when it came to some of the reactions of the neighbors, family, medical professionals and others close to the family.
Too much of it seems odd or off, considering the situation, though some of it could likely be put down to cultural differences or issues with translation. I hope, anyway. And some of it is just downright unbelievable and sounds like PR propaganda, which it might well be since it seems like one of the first things the victim and her children did when they were finally free were hire a team of lawyers and publicists. Which struck me as odd in and of itself.
All in all, the most intriguing part for me was reading the first hand confession of the man responsible for the whole mess. It was an interesting look into the thought processes of someone who was pretty obviously sociopathic and who'd gotten away with a massive string of crimes (and not because he was just that brilliant) from the time he was a teen until he was well into his 60s/70s. Not an edge of your seat kind of read, but worth it if you're like true crime and the people involved in it....more
What sounded like a promising story sort of degenerated into 'how many bad things can happen to the main character in one single book' by about the thWhat sounded like a promising story sort of degenerated into 'how many bad things can happen to the main character in one single book' by about the third or fourth chapter.
Lisa Jackson definitely has the earmarks of a good writer, but the massive tragedy that was the life of this poor cop in her book ended up detracting from the character and the story far more than adding to it. The setup of his wife cheating on him, then him leaving her, getting back together and her cheating on him again, with his half-brother, would've been ok. I could've gone with that. I could've even gone with her dying in a car crash immediately after he told her to get lost. That was all setup for the plot.
But, then, the subsequent issues of people somehow blaming him (for reasons I still can't fathom) for it all, despite the car crash being ruled an accident and his wife obviously being the cause of the marriage failing twice, his accidental shooting of a twelve year old because the kid was holding a water pistol he thought was real and losing his job (of course) because of that, his move to another town, remarrying, getting a new job, then being smashed by a lightning struck tree in the middle of a thunderstorm and nearly paralyzed (the randomnesss, it burns), being steered toward forced retirement by his current captain despite a recovery that was nothing short of miraculous, and also somehow screwing up his second marriage in the process of all this despite the fact that his wife is awesome and supportive and adores him and he thinks she's just the greatest thing ever, is all a bit much. Especially when it all happens before the book gets past chapter 4 or so and I was still waiting for more to happen with the plot.
It's hard to recover from that sort of distraction and the author's constant insistence that no one really likes this guy, even when it makes no sense that they wouldn't, and it didn't help that the plot and clues given to what was going on were a bit predictable. Generally, it's an ok read, but it really dragged in parts and the characterization of the main character especially could've used some refining. Too much of his motivation and things that happened to him didn't make sense and seemed contrived simply to prove how wonderful he is at overcoming all adversity to get to the bottom of things, despite the world, his friends and family, and all of nature in general being against him. It got to be a bit much.
All in all, the book wasn't horrible, just not anything outstanding and could've been much better with some logic and judicious editing....more
Overall, it's a good story. There's a lot of charm and some nice twists on what I tend to think of as common fairy-tale elements. Some of the bobbingOverall, it's a good story. There's a lot of charm and some nice twists on what I tend to think of as common fairy-tale elements. Some of the bobbing and weaving over the main character's true heritage gets a little confusing, and a tad tedious, here and there. I think the author is trying too hard to point out the mystery of it all, when a subtler hand would've worked better for me. It's YA fiction, though, so I can't fault it too much for that.
One of my favorite things, though, was making the 'villainess' of the story not exactly a villain at all. More of a misguided girl with very, very little willpower and too much self-centeredness. In the end, she's just another victim of her own character flaws. It's not often I've run across that in YA fiction, and it's nice to see and well written.
It's also nice to see the reappearance of some Ella Enchanted characters, as well as the mention of Ella herself, here and there as things progress. The ending is predictable, but you don't really expect it to be anything else, and things are tied up nicely when it's all said and done with no real loose ends or major inconsistencies to complain about. All in all, a very enjoyable read....more
More generally readable than anything I've tried from the Anita Blake series, but still a little too...centered around everyone having sex for me. I tMore generally readable than anything I've tried from the Anita Blake series, but still a little too...centered around everyone having sex for me. I think there might actually be an interesting plot in there, but it gets lost in the quest for getting it on. Still, it wasn't a bad read. I've got the 7th one around here somewhere that I'll get to reading eventually....more
It's a shame there weren't more than three books in this series. I stumbled on them by accident and took an immediate liking to them. The character ofIt's a shame there weren't more than three books in this series. I stumbled on them by accident and took an immediate liking to them. The character of Valerian is especially a favorite. How can you not love a vain, melodramatic, pompus and extravagant centuries old vampire?
The story is well told, the characters well fleshed out, and fun to read and get to know. The plot is somewhat predictable, but that doesn't make it any less fun to read and this is a series I find myself pulling out once every couple of years to read again, just for the fun of it....more