**spoiler alert** In case you were like me and thought it wasn't about vampires - it is.
But, thankfully, the vampire part stays mostly in the backgro**spoiler alert** In case you were like me and thought it wasn't about vampires - it is.
But, thankfully, the vampire part stays mostly in the background. What really matters is the legacy of Vlad Dracula, and finding out what happened to his body and where he is today.
The thing I liked most about this novel was that it took a quite different approach to a vampire story. Although perhaps a bit too "Da Vinci Code," it did show people fighting the evil of Dracula not just with weapons, but with scholarship. Every new discovery and development gives a thrill, and thankfully the author didn't keep us in the dark too often. The revelations come fast and keep the reader satiated.
One big flaw here is the story structure. For one thing, the novel is mostly divided into two sections, the girl's story and her father, Paul's story. This means that there comes a time in the book when we leave the girl mostly behind and focus on Paul's quest. Also, the book follows a document the contains stories, which contain letters, which sometimes contain other stories. It can be a bit too much to follow sometimes.
The characters are mostly good. Paul isn't written too well, but he does narrate most of the book. It's hard to characterize yourself. Helen, on other hand, is a very well-written character. Some may not find it believable that she and Paul fall in love, but at least these are characters you WANT to fall in love.
Overall, I found the book entertaining and even informative. It's not high literature, but it does keep you guessing and wondering and trying to put the pieces together yourself. ...more
This was my first experience with Neil Gaiman, and his writing hooked me from the very first chapter.
This is the kind of book you savor, relishing eveThis was my first experience with Neil Gaiman, and his writing hooked me from the very first chapter.
This is the kind of book you savor, relishing every vivid sentence. The characters are colorful and complex. The twists and turns in the plot will have you wanting more, and wanting to read the book again to pick up on clues that pay off later.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to further experiences with Neil Gaiman....more
A decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subjectA decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subject matter would seem quite interesting, I thought the author approached it in a bit of a dry manner at times. For example, making a list of names of famous gangster in the Lower East Side without telling us anything about these people is useless for the reader. Perhaps it serves as documentation, but the reader of the book will likely not need nor remember such a list of names.
In my opinion, when writing a book for the general public, as this book seems to be aimed at, even the academic author must keep in mind that a reader is best served by compelling stories and storytelling. Some parts of this book accomplished that goal, while others did not. Also, I felt some chapters were a bit short compared to the wealth of possibilities each subject could offer. I suppose that is the downside of a general overview.
To be honest, I found the afterword much more compelling than the preceding chapters. The author discusses what it was like to live in the squalor of 1970s and 80s Lower East Side Manhattan. I'd love to hear more about that....more
Excellent blend of horror and crime solving that gets you hooked from the very first page.
The main characters are believable, although perhaps definedExcellent blend of horror and crime solving that gets you hooked from the very first page.
The main characters are believable, although perhaps defined too much through their relationship to each other, and the supporting characters are colorful. The story itself is truly terrifying, and you feel the weight of the struggle to come for our protagonists. The writing is suspenseful and keeps you reading even though you don't want to know what awaits.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone wanting a good horror story....more
**spoiler alert** Although I've owned this book for a long time, and probably read it when I was younger, a recent re-read led to disappointment.
Tom C**spoiler alert** Although I've owned this book for a long time, and probably read it when I was younger, a recent re-read led to disappointment.
Tom Clancy is a very famous writer of political thrillers, but I found a good deal of problems with his writing here. First, with the exception of the action-packed opening chapter, Clancy takes a while to get the story moving forward. There are long periods of time when our hero, Jack Ryan, is recovering in a hospital. As Ryan is stuck in his room, the reader is stuck right along with him, wishing the narrative would get going.
Another entire chapter involves a plane ride from London to D.C. Nothing is accomplished in this chapter besides getting our characters from the U.K. to the U.S. and establishing that Ryan has a fear of flying. This plot development doesn't come up much in future chapters and does not factor into the book's concluding action. If the main showdown of the book took place on a plane, I could understand this earlier chapter and its place in the story, but instead it just introduces a character quirk that could have easily been mentioned in a few paragraphs.
Another flaw with Clancy's writing is the glut of technical jargon. Ok, perhaps it adds to the realism of the story, but it also makes the reader get bored and want to skip ahead to dialogue that makes sense and moves the story forward. Most legal thrillers don't go into detail about the technical paperwork most lawyers deal with, so I don't see why this book needs to detail each and every CIA and military procedure. It just makes Clancy look like a show-off and doesn't give the reader anything to relate to.
As for the characters, they aren't as believable as one would like. Ryan has a great job, and the beginnings of another great job in the works. He has the perfect house, the perfect child and the perfect wife, who is now pregnant with their second. His entire life just seems a bit too perfect.
The plot itself is mostly fine. We're dealing with Irish terrorists who have a murky operation and murky goals. Some of the details of terrorism here are awfully dated, with a big deal being made of "there has NEVER been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil." Maybe in 1987, but a reader in 2013 knows better. There's nothing to do about that, but it just makes the book seem quaint.
One good thing I can say is that there are several good tense action scenes. As long as the terrorists are still out there, the reader anticipates what their next move will be. We know they won't just let go of their issue with Jack Ryan. That gives the reader a sense of urgency, which helps make it easier to relate to Ryan.
Overall this is a decent thriller, with some tense moments and action scenes, but the rest of the plot can get boring and confusing. ...more
The Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardlThe Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardly imagine how it manages to stay upright.
Although this book is the story of the Flatiron, even more is it the story of the people who envisioned it, built it, and managed it. It's really the story of one Harry Black, the President of the Fuller Company, which constructed the Flatiron.
Many people probably know that the Flatiron was once officially known as the Fuller building, but I, for one, didn't know a thing about the Fuller Company until now. Fuller, which later came under Harry Black's U.S. Realty trust, built not only the Flatiron, but many other iconic New York buildings. The Times building in Times Square, which kind of looks like an inverse Flatiron? Built by Fuller. Macy's in Herald Square? Also built by Fuller. As well as the Plaza Hotel near Central Park.
This book had so many stories about New York City and its turn of the century Real Estate industry, most of which I've never heard. This is a great book for learning about how the New York of most people's dreams was built by a few powerful companies. It's full of colorful characters, infidelity, union troubles, and much more. And, of course, you learn about the genesis of the Flatiron and what it means to New Yorkers....more