It's not often that I say this, but I believe this book falls firmly into the "written by a man for men" category. While I appreciated it for being a...moreIt's not often that I say this, but I believe this book falls firmly into the "written by a man for men" category. While I appreciated it for being a quick, light read that had nothing to do with the types of books I usually read (can I actually claim to have a usual type?), the humor, though accessible, would clearly be greater appreciated by a man, probably a middle-aged one, like the character in the novel.
The title, Plugged, is a play on both the hair plugs troubling the main character with the slang term for being shot (both of which are pretty major plot points as you might imagine). Irish-transplant, ex-army, middle-aged Daniel McEvoy is a bouncer at a low-end club (gambling and girls) in nowhere New Jersey. Life ain't great, but it's not bad either, and Dan is mostly trying to keep his head down and get from one day to the next without a PTSD flashback, an altercation with his sleazy boss, or a run-in with his crazy upstairs neighbor. If he occasionally gets to hook up with one of the hostesses at the club, Connie, all the better.
Yet in his capacity as bouncer for Slotz, Dan can't really avoid trouble, especially when one of the customers licks Connie's ass. Literally. Takes a big ol' slurp. Gross. After throwing the guy out of the club, Dan's life goes from humdrum to hell-in-a-handbasket when Connie gets plugged, his apartment gets ransacked, his best friend/slash/hair transplant hook-up goes missing, his upstairs neighbor suddenly decides Dan's the reincarnation of her long-gone-lover, and Dan has no choice but to help solve several who-dunnit's in order to stop the (rough-and-tumble, heart-as-cold-as-ice, yet strangely attractive) policewoman from looking at him as the culprit. Hilarity in the form of a possible ghost living in Dan's brain, Irish Mike (the mick crime boss who's never been to Ireland), a freezer, a suburban drug ring, a half-naked police officer, a dog with sore testicles, a locker of firearms, and a wild poker game ensues.
The writing in this review is somewhat reminiscent of the writing in the book - "some moments are fat with menace," Dan thinks: an example of the protagonist-acknowledge clunky metaphors and tongue-in-cheek references that abound. I personally appreciate humor that's a little more sly, a little more cheeky, and a little less reliant on the reader sympathizing with the character because they see in him a reflection of themselves. That said, it was an enjoyable read, and not too heavy despite the subject matter. Ultimately, though, this being the second Eoin Colfer novel for adults that I've read, I much prefer his writing for the Middle Grade set in the Artemis Fowl series.(less)
What I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's ear...moreWhat I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's early works, like the great High Fidelity.
Duncan, a music buff in England obsessed with the work of American song-writer Tucker Crowe, discovers Tucker's latest work, an album of stripped-down recordings called Juliet, Naked. Unfortunately, his girlfriend, Annie, doesn't love it so much. This brings into sharp relief that Duncan and Annie may or may not love each other as much as they thought they did.
In a lovely plot twist, it is Annie, not Duncan, who gets in touch with Tucker. Tucker has been hiding away in America, ignoring his cult-rock-star fandom, in order to take care of his equally gifted young son. In typical Nick Hornby-style, Tucker is exceedingly aware of his faults as a human, a husband, a father, and a musician, but still has a spark of greatness about him. Annie is just discovering what it means to have her own life and her own opinions, and as all great love stories go, these two people begin to find out it isn't too late for them - in life or in love or in music - after all.
There's something voyeuristic about reading the way Nick Hornby writes about middle-aged (or approaching middle-aged) male emotions. It's so brutally honest about hopes and fears, regrets and failures, triumphs and hopes. Though there are sad moments, overall the story is one of inspiration in many forms.(less)
Two things first: I hate this cover. Despite that, I really enjoyed the story.
I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and there's something about the...moreTwo things first: I hate this cover. Despite that, I really enjoyed the story.
I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and there's something about the woman on this cover that really turns me off. To the point where, despite having waited patiently for this book to become available on my library queue, when it came in, it took the book actually being due for me to stop ignoring it in the pile on my floor and actually read the damn thing, and once I did that, I read it in one day. So, there you go. Just one more example of why you should really never judge a book by it's (quite awful) cover.
If you have not been introduced to the Parasol Protectorate series yet, it is a delightful mix of Queen Victoria-era London and it's surrounding countryside, with occasional forays into other parts of Europe; the supernatural, paranormal, and preternatural worlds; steampunkery in terms of machinery and accessories, though the clothing is more typically Victorian; and lots and lots of tea drinking.
I've been a bit wishy-washy on whether I was fully in support of this series or not. There's always something that I don't really like in these books, making me feel vaguely irritated while reading them, and yet they suck me in with the quality of writing and the unexpected plot elements and the most ridiculous situations the characters get themselves into and the descriptions of Victorian life. Dammit.
Luckily, book 4 was much better, in my estimation, than book 3 (I don't like marital tension, and there was a lot less of that in this book), though it was a close call because I almost stopped reading after the first 3 pages. That's how disappointing I found the first plot point. BUT, as the book went on, it was woven in, in such a delicate and thoughtful way, that soon I was on board and interested to see where things would go next.
Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, is eight months pregnant. Despite feeling the size of a fully-inflated dirigible, she tries not to let that slow her down as she investigates a new plot to kill the queen. Delving into the history of the last assassination attempt on the queen means diving into the history of how and why her husband Conall came to London from Scotland, a circumstance that no one is happy to remember as it involves betrayal and poison and a mad werewolf Alpha. After some sleuthing and deducing, Alexia realizes she's actually on the trail of two mysteries, just in time to alert the queen who's actually in danger (and it's not the queen you first think it is), save Genevieve's son, relocate a hive, relocate the werewolves, and give birth to the most beautiful and astonishing little creature ("creature" because I don't want to ruin the surprise). The whole cast of characters is present including a surprise visit from Alexia's sister, Felicity, who may or may not have joined the women's suffrage movement; Ivy and her hats who get sent off to Scotland for reconnaissance (there's a true friend!); Genevieve and her tinkering (octopuses come back into play); Lord Akeldama and his dandy drones; and of course, the Woolsey werewolves.
I enjoyed this book the most since the first novel, and am very much looking forward to book #5 in the Parasol Protectorate series, Timeless, out in March 2012. I warn you, though, I think I will continue not to like the covers.(less)