A Secret Rage made for an uneasy listening experience, not just because of the graphic rape and its aftermath, but the misguided anti-racism and the s...moreA Secret Rage made for an uneasy listening experience, not just because of the graphic rape and its aftermath, but the misguided anti-racism and the shaky writing, had I been reading, may have resulted in a DNF.
Narrator Johanna Parker made Nickie's fear and horror so convincing I struggled to remain calm and continue listening. The rapes and the effect it has on its victims and the Southern community were well done, though you really can't definitively tell someone's skin colour from their voice despite Nickie and Barbara's assertion that you can, marking their rapist as white and not an N-word - that word used a couple of times.
Well, that's yet another of Charlaine Harris's protagonists to be unhappy and abused along with Sookie, Harper and Lily although this time she was an NYC model returning to the South and going back to college whereas the others tried to blend into the background whenever possible.
A Secret Rage doesn't possess all of the telltale qualities of a typical Harris novel, but as I understand it, this is one of the first books she'd ever written.(less)
An interesting premise similar to The Adjustment Bureau, but the execution's iffy, with a mean and bitter protagonist leading the way.
Devil's Bargain...moreAn interesting premise similar to The Adjustment Bureau, but the execution's iffy, with a mean and bitter protagonist leading the way.
Devil's Bargain isn't urban fantasy, not the way it's written. Nothing paranormal is introduced until the second half of the book. A little late in my opinion. And despite the genre classification on Goodreads, it's not romantic. Expectations and enjoyment while reading suffered as a result.
The paranormal lowdown: (view spoiler)[Two opposing psychics and a theory about what and who influences human events. There are two types of people: Chorus and Actors. Chorus are people going through the motions, and Actors are influencers with the power to change major events. A person can be either one at different times of their lives. However, Leads are permanent Actors; almost everything they do is important, radically impacting events. The two opposing psychics are master manipulators, puppeteers if you will, pulling strings to further their own agendas, sometimes clashing. (hide spoiler)] Jazz and Lucia are hired as Leads in this ultimate game of chess by the "good" side, working against the avaricious enemy.
Jazz and Lucia's partnership in their PI firm I liken to that of Rachel and Ivy, respectively. Lucia and Ivy are both moneyed, well-connected and elegant with mad skills executed with sophisticated grace, and act ever-so-slightly aloof. Jazz and Lucia are their opposite, struggling to get by on little money and hard-earned skills and knowledge, painfully blunt in their social interactions and a self-destructive need to save everyone. Unfortunately, where Jazz and Rachel differ is in Jazz's extremely unpleasant personality. She makes a terrible first impression on everyone she meets. Everyone. Perhaps this is down to her ex-police partner's recent incarceration, but her lack of friends is noticeable and very telling.
Ben McCarthy, the imprisoned partner convicted of murder, I seriously believed to be a figment of Jazz's imagination. Though Jazz thinks of him all too often, no credible character made reference to him for the first half of the book - Manny isn't mentally stable and I thought the tiny scene with Stewart could also be a hallucination. The possibility of a schizophrenic, and therefore unreliable, main character intrigued me. And then we meet him, about 60% in, at the prison hospital after being beaten. Several hints were made indicating he'd been raped but sadly, Jazz never picks up on it. A chance to address a sensitive, important and emotive issue missed.
Counselor James Borden, the lawyer who hired Jazz and Lucia, seemed to have an instant, unfathomable crush on Jazz, and her familiarity with him over several short meetings bred lust, though romance never enters into the equation. Borden put up with a lot of crap from the hostile Jazz, including physical manhandling. Most wouldn't have stuck around and got rid of their girlfriend in anticipation of something maybe happening with her, they'd have walked away or retaliated, physically or otherwise.
Traumatised, and now paranoid, super-geek Manny Glickman was the most interesting character, the only one with a past. He just so happens to be the only character I actually liked. I'm glad to hear he also appears in Working Stiff which is currently sitting on my bookshelves unread.
I've been encouraged to view this as a conspiracy thriller with paranormal elements but, honestly, I wasn't thrilled. Temptation to DNF saw me scan a few reviews to see if there was anything objectionable I could use as a reason to walk away other than "this is boring". No specific objective is available for the characters to pursue, only the red envelopes with their oddly benign instructions provide any real mystery; who issues them and why? During that time the audience is strung along with shoot 'em up action which isn't particularly compelling without a reason for the duo to be hunted down and killed, which come much later.
Structurally, I find this novel frustrating. Meeting Ben earlier, having Jazz's investigation into his conviction take centre stage to focus the story, revealing the truth about the red envelopes sooner, and softening Jazz's attitude, would've proved a more engaging read. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In this installment we discover the consequences of the unsupervised actions of the autopilot versions of Paul and Dallas in Bermuda before their bodies/psyches were reintegrated, making for hilarious reading. I can say 'hilarious' since it turned out all right in the end. Dallas and Paul are so sweet together. The former worrying over his subconscious greed, the latter trying to figure out if they'd hooked up, and them both obsessing over each other.
You know, I had to up the star rating on the last one to 5 stars because it was so awesome. I find it so hard to discern "I love it, I love it!" and "I love it!", a frequent problem I have with books by JCP.
"Riveting stuff, Mulder and Scully. Please, continue your good work," Skinner said.
Yes, I'm continuing with The X-Files comparison. I'm determined to...more"Riveting stuff, Mulder and Scully. Please, continue your good work," Skinner said.
Yes, I'm continuing with The X-Files comparison. I'm determined to wring every last drop out of it.
JCP, I love you. You're one excellent writer. This episode just about knocked my socks off. And that's without any sex scenes...yet. ;)
Hitherto, we've had only theories based on assumption about the ins and outs of how the turbulence-induced split realities/bodies/personalities work. Now we have actual science experiments! I love science. Except when it means testing on animals. Yet JCP skirts this by using cockroaches. No one likes cockroaches. The relief I felt at Marlin and Dallas's refusal to act on Kaye's mouse suggestion, was palpable as I silently hailed, "Thank god," at my ceiling.
Marlin's Animal Experiment #1
Roach in the cockpit (in a margarine tub) was duplicated when he rode the turbulence, just like Kaye and Me. I flattened post-turbulence roach and left his carcass in the container. After the return turbulence, his counterpart was not flattened, but he was legs up.
So, dead in the unnatural plane = dead in the normal one.
Marlin's Animal Experiment #3
I removed the left rear leg of Roach 3 inside the turbulence. Not only was he still alive when we embarked on the return flight, but when we came back through the turbulence, HIS LEG WAS STILL INTACT.
So, injured in the unnatural plane = healed in the normal one. Strange, very strange.
Conclusion 'Was the Autopilot body the "real" body, and his post-turbulence existence some mental construct?' We're straying into The Matrix territory here. Die in the Matrix, die in the real world. Hmm.
The Matrix, a mental construct.
Besides having the mechanics to chew on, we also have the four main characters and their relationships with one another to contend with.
Marlin: "If you walked into a crowd and lobbed three water balloons at random," Marlin had once said, "you couldn't nail three people more different than you, me and Kaye." [...] Marlin: "You seem to think everyone's well-being is your personal responsibility. Kaye is reliable, your're nurturing, and I'm bold -practically fearless" Dallas: "And so modest, too." Marlin: "Think about it: we're archetypes. The Leader [Captain Kaye], the Keeper [Flight Attendant Dallas], and the Guide [First Officer Marlin]."
At first, like Paul, I thought Marlin had been playing too many video games and read too much epic fantasy, but then Marlin writes the following:
'So from now on, the two of us [Kaye & Marlin] rode the turbulence together, while Dallas stays whole and does his best to wrangle the Autopilots. It's the only way. These are the roles we've been waiting to play all our lives. Maybe they're even roles we've played in previous lives. Kaye the Leader, Dallas the Keeper, and me the Guide. Maybe we slogged though the fields at Normandy together. Or stormed the Alamo. Or lopped heads in the Crusades. ~An excerpt from Marlin's notebook
And it all makes an odd kind of sense. When Marlin as the Guide suicides out, Paul replaces him. He happens to have the exact qualities that would make him the perfect Guide. He's rigidly OCD and by the book about everything. Science and rational thought will give him answers, not conjecture. And so he tries to reason his way to understanding. So perhaps Marlin's at-first-glance crazy ramblings have weight.
In the end, Paul decides he's going to sign-up for all future flight 511 shifts, however as he decides this he gets a glimpse of his self-absorbed, id-centric Autopilot as his two selves reintegrate.
Paul stared at the drink, then raised it and gave it a sniff. Orange juice-and champagne. Mostly champagne. "What the-?" Captain Kaye said, "You'll want to dump that in the toilet before we touch down." "I'm so sorry. I can't believe-I'd never-oh, man." "I know." Completely unfazed. "That's how it goes when Dallas doesn't stay behind to keep us in line. I'll probably throw up once we land." She sighed. "That's probably for the best."
If you're wondering, Kaye's Autopilot is a glutton. She races to the restaurants credit card at the ready, stuffs herself with good food and drink until she's full-to-bursting. She's put on a few pounds as a result.
The complex plot, level of depth, and character development, is pretty amazing when you realise how these three episodes in total contain only 25,900 words, that of less than half a short full-length novel. This takes real talent. Also, I heart the covers, and I know JCP made them herself.
New episodes can't come soon enough! They just keep getting better.
In this second episode, we have alternating POVs between Dallas's (Mulder) first turbulence encounter on the way to Bermuda in the past and Paul's (Scully) present experience. By Price structuring it this way we get to know Dallas better, and we also see a few glimpses of what Marlin was like before he committed suicide at the very beginning of Into the Bermuda Triangle.
(view spoiler)[It turns out what's happening is the reverse of what I expected. (This is a good thing!) It's the flight crew and not the passengers who are tampered with. There's a Freudian split of their personalities into two different bodies: the wild id and ego on the normal plane of existence and the calm voice of reason of the superego on this unnerving, deserted plane.
Buffy fans, think of "The Replacement" episode when Xander was split in two: the strong confident one and the weak screw-up. Similar thing here.
Trivia: There really are two Xanders. Real life twins!
Anyway, we get to witness both versions. The crazy ids are wreckless with no inhibitions, they do anything they want while their other halves are forced to sit around, worry and wait until it's time for the return flight out, to be reintegrated when they hit the turbulence again. (hide spoiler)]
I must say, I'm intrigued by this unpredictable tale. 3.5 stars.
Onto the next episode, Red-Eye Dawn.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed...moreCue The X-Files theme tune.
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed Mulder to be just another nutty alien-enthusiast. That is, until Scully witnessed strange events for herself and her whole world view changes.
"The truth is out there."
The above reflects this first "episode" of Turbulence. First Officer Paul Conin is cast in the role of Scully, the newbie sceptic. Dallas, a flight attendant, is Mulder to Paul's Scully. And like Mulder & Scully, I fully expect these two to get it on. ;)
The first scene, detailing the suicide of the previous First Officer, is a bit confusing but I expect it will all slot into place later on. I look forward to learning more about what happens at the end. (view spoiler)[I wonder why the passengers are "taken" (if that's the correct term) and not the crew. And where do they go? (hide spoiler)]
Guess what I'm reading next? :D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Charismatic and funny characters with a mixed race, part Japanese protagonist, made this an engaging and joyful read. I loved the show-stoppingly beau...moreCharismatic and funny characters with a mixed race, part Japanese protagonist, made this an engaging and joyful read. I loved the show-stoppingly beautiful Angela's lazy, sleepaholic and anti-social character. Kami's self-respect, self-awareness, common sense and individuality were appreciated. Brennan was obviously determined to set her heroine apart from the clueless, unhealthy role models from other books.
The love triangle didn't bother me until the end because it was weighted in Jared's favour so there wasn't much angst. Jared's apparent but unexplained dislike of touching Kami was distinctly unusual, because what teenage boy doesn't want to touch a girl (or another boy)? This led to a distancing of the two characters which was a bit angsty.
I'm not happy with the way things ended (although it was a healthy decision Kami made) because it's not just a normal cliffhanger, it completely opened the door to unoriginal love triangle angst characteristic of many other YA novels. This does Unspoken a disservice because the rest of the book was highly enjoyable.
The mystery is a little thin on the ground but as the focus was on establishing the personalities of the characters I didn't mind so much since the culprit(s) wasn't obvious and events weren't predictable.
The mention of a political science class confused me since we don't study that in the UK (or at least that's not what we call it) and Unspoken is set here. I'm also aware there were some Britishisms others may not understand though I don't think it's prohibitive to enjoyment.
I'll most likely wait for reviews for the sequel from those I trust before I decide to invest in something I could quite easily hate.(less)
Unfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century litera...moreUnfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century literature but without the flair and beauty of the prominent writers of the time who could effortlessly produce graceful descriptions of a haunting nature, Victorian gothic-style. Edgar Allan Poe, for example. The dialogue, also, had an oddly formal quality to it that most modern English speakers don't use anymore. This made the book seem unnecessarily long-winded like an incessantly chatty person who goes on and on about nothing in particular.
Very little happened in the first half, it was painfully boring and repetitive (her father's damn rules), and the second was almost as bad. The scenes down in the well and it's tunnels were the most fascinating sections in the book but they only constitute perhaps 50 pages in total. Within those pages we get a glimpse at Amelia and Devlin's psyches as they explored those ancient and neglected passageways, trying to find a way out, hoping they wouldn't stumble upon the murderer in the dark shadows where he would have the upper hand.
Amelia is hollow. Devoid of meaningful experiences. Virginal. Naive. She's an eternal good girl with a lifeless but practical life, a perfectionist. Almost robotic. Constrained by her father's rules and her own fear that she'll attract the attention of a ghost which could attach itself to her and psychically drain her energy, she's never thought to break them even once to see what would happen. Until now, sort of. Passively. She doesn't actively break them, she just lets things naturally progress instead of stepping back as she was told to by her father. This makes her both an uninteresting and irksome heroine who's only appearance of growth is the emergence of curiosity as she turns amateur detective. What is there to like about that?
Devlin, the homicide detective, is almost the opposite. He has spirit (dulled somewhat by his guilt and grief over the loss of his wife and child, whose ghosts are sucking the life out of him), and from what others have said; he once was a very passionate man. But still, we don't really get to know him past his strong sense of honor, justice and nobility.
The romance aspect isn't one I cared for. Stevens appears to snap her fingers, forcing their chemistry, their kiss. The tug of war: Devlin's unconscious succubus-like siphoning of Amelia's strength when they're physically close, her father's warnings telling her to walk away, together with Devlin's reluctance to let his dead wife and daughter go so he can move on plus the ever-presence of their ghosts, against their mutual attraction, was tiresome and in no way was that war resolved here.
Pushed into the background was the mystery. Everything was concentrated on the deaths and burials but not the hunt for the killer. Also, too many other things were going on, too many unrevealed secrets and answers to questions Amelia's never been brave enough to ask her parents about. Ones that aren't unveiled in this book. My mind didn't try to solve the mystery of the murderer, I think, because I didn't care.
I didn't care. I wasn't invested in the outcome, the characters or the writing. I wasn't enchanted by the imagery or chilled by the ghosts. I felt the book was unfocused and aimless, unproductive. It needed tightening up, to be whipped into shape for a faster pace and a clearer message would've made Amelia's first journey out into the real world far more enjoyable.(less)
What a crummy sequel. I wish I'd never read it in order to keep the favorable memory of Hunting Lila alive. Losing (my will to live) Lila is the compl...moreWhat a crummy sequel. I wish I'd never read it in order to keep the favorable memory of Hunting Lila alive. Losing (my will to live) Lila is the complete opposite of the debut: slow, angst-ridden, typical YA drivel revolving around misunderstandings between love interests. Unfortunately the book was so focused on this that it didn't have enough page-time devoted to its plot so we never get to meet Lila's mother, the person they were so intent on rescuing, along with Jack, Lila's brother. We also don't get to witness Jack finding out an important truth, or the villain of the piece get his comeuppence as he escapes to live, breathe and plot another day. Talk about loose ends. Totally unsatisfying.
Speaking of unsatisfying, sex shouldn't have been an issue and yet Alex spouts, "I'm just trying to protect your honour." Lame excuse, buddy. They'd known each other for years, she's almost 18, there's a time when they're in one of the most beautiful places on earth and either of them could die at any minute. It was legal in Mexico, the perfect moment was there for the taking and Alex blew it. Why mention sex at all if you're going to give Alex a lame excuse to abstain? Lila's obsession with Alex's resolve got old real fast. It's not often I think sex between YA characters is a good idea (mostly because they're usually incompatible strangers) but it was very appropriate and expected here. Alex wasn't a psycho stalker and Lila wasn't a girl about to be taken advantage of. It was all remarkably healthy.
I wish there'd been more attention on other characters like Amber, Demos and Thomas, even Lila's dad. More character history or perhaps their POVs would've been most welcome. Thankfully Lila is a duology so I don't need to agonise about whether to read the next one.(less)