I'm not a fan of Quitely's art, but the story is good. Xorn -- before the revelation in later books -- and his special class students are nicely chara...moreI'm not a fan of Quitely's art, but the story is good. Xorn -- before the revelation in later books -- and his special class students are nicely characterized, the exchanges between them sounding real and natural.
The resolution felt somewhat too easy for me, although I liked how the feelings between Sophie Cuckoo and Quire played a significant part in ending the riot.(less)
In this story, darker than your usual -- well, most -- Spidey stuff, Kraven the Hunter hunts the only game that has managed to defeat him so far: Spid...moreIn this story, darker than your usual -- well, most -- Spidey stuff, Kraven the Hunter hunts the only game that has managed to defeat him so far: Spider-Man.
(view spoiler)[He goes through his rituals, seemingly kills Spidey with little effort, has him buried, and then dons his black suit to hurt a lot of super-powerless bad guys. All in the span of 14 days. Also in the picture: Vermin, one of Captain America's foes, defeated on one occasion by the combined might of Cap and Spidey.
Kraven subdues Vermin, having made it clear that it took both Cap and Spidey to do just that, and puts the Man-Rat in a cage. All in preparation of our Wall Crawler, well, crawling out of his grave. Turns out Kraven merely doped him because, hey, you can't have Spider-Man so unceremoniously killed, can you?
Spidey seeks Kraven and after some prolonged, intense psychological dialog, has to fight Vermin instead. The Man-Rat gets away rather easily and Kraven makes sure Spidey understands that he, Kraven the Hunter, has not only defeated the Amazing Spider-Man, but also done what the Web Slinger can't. And with that, his last hunt is done.
Spidey runs after Vermin. Kraven shoots himself. Spidey captures Vermin. Peter Parker reunites with his newlywed Mary Jane. And that's just about it, really. (hide spoiler)]
Unlike most fans, I don't like this story. I had to fight hard to suspend my disbelief throughout. (view spoiler)[There is just no way anybody defeats Spider-Man that easily, let alone a man with no real superpower, regardless of how many rituals he performs or how much spider sauce he drinks. No way he can capture Vermin just like that, if this is really someone who took both Captain America and Spider-Man a whole book to defeat. No sense in the Hunter killing himself after what has done. (hide spoiler)]
The panels are greatly drawn. The internal dialog gets tiring fast. I enjoyed reading the introduction bit -- the whole 2 pages of it, all text -- more than the story itself.
I'm all for a dark-toned Spidey, but not like this.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ridiculous plots with cool graphics. Well, if anything, this led me to Wiki characters no one otherwise cares -- or knows -- about. Good thing this is...moreRidiculous plots with cool graphics. Well, if anything, this led me to Wiki characters no one otherwise cares -- or knows -- about. Good thing this isn't canon.(less)
To me, Jeffrey Archer's strength is his mastery of storytelling. As plots go, his range from ordinary, to not bad, to "is he seriously trying to pull...moreTo me, Jeffrey Archer's strength is his mastery of storytelling. As plots go, his range from ordinary, to not bad, to "is he seriously trying to pull this off?!" From a collection of Archer's short stories, I expect a little of everything, and And Thereby Hangs a Tale is no exception.
1. "Stuck on You" He wants to propose to her. She and the diamond she fancies are out of his league. Together, they come up with a daring attempt at obtaining it anyway. I must admit that I saw the ending and the trick employed as soon as the man starts executing the plan. I pretended I had not and found the story quite enjoyable. (3 stars of 5)
2. "The Queen's Birthday Telegram" The Queen of England apparently writes to every centenarian for his or her 100th birthday -- something nice to learn about. This man receives his and can't wait to see his wife does so in 3 years' time. Only she does not. Or so he has thought. When I reached the story's conclusion, "huh?!" was my reaction. I even Googled the story up just to understand the ending. Come on, it can't be just "that"?! But "just that" is what it is. (2 of 5)
3. "High Heels" An eager employee investigates a seemingly accidental fire -- his first case. He picks up a clue from his wife, who loves and knows a lot about shoes. Not a bad plot. Just like Archer, who makes a cameo in the story, I questioned the man's method of experiment. Surely there's another way to make better use of those shoes? (4 of 5)
4. "Blind Date" A visually challenged man tries not to give away this fact for as long as possible, while finding out information about a nice-sounding lady at the next table. The plot is Archer, all right, and that's not a compliment. Still, a sweet story and it made me smile. (3 of 5)
5. "Where There's a Will" A nurse looks after an old, rich man with a terminal illness, her eyes all the while on his wealth. She manipulates the old man's will cleverly. But when his time comes, how does the will hold up against his family's threat of court? I could not turn the last few pages fast enough to see how it would end. I was satisfied. Lesson learned: when it comes to will manipulation, it pays to dial down the greed just slightly. (4 of 5)
6. "Double-Cross" A robber goes to jail without telling anyone where he kept the stolen diamonds. A detective makes a deal with an inmate to get the information. I kept waiting for anything special to happen, but reached the last page with no real enthusiasm. If anything, the ending left me with some bad taste. (3 of 5)
7. "'I Will Survive'" A story about an antique shop owner's close encounter with Gloria Gaynor. Or is it? The ending was quite obvious to me. Then again, I may probably have had too much Archer over the years. (3 of 5)
8. "A Good Eye" One of those stories in which someone has an exceptional talent -- or eyes, in this case -- and just can't do any wrong with his decisions. The objects this time are paintings. Well, quite a number of them, but only one survives the story. An OK story. I found myself interested more in the background laid out early and how each painting came about. (3 of 5).
9. "Members Only" A man seemingly destined for golf greatness makes it his dream to be a member of his idol's former club. Having waited for several years, he has to wait even longer when Britain goes to war with the Germans. When the war ends, the club has lost its records of past membership applications. Not my personal favorite, even if well executed. (3 of 5)
10. "The Undiplomatic Diplomat" Having retired from the Foreign Office without living up to expectations, Percy discovers an old, yet valid law governing territorial claims. He sets off on a personal mission to add a new island to Her Majesty's Empire. I'm not sure how I felt about this story. On the one hand, I enjoyed the main character's journey in executing his plan to glory. On the other hand, it was another "huh?!" ending. In fact, I'm still on Google, trying to find a better explanation of the ending. (3 of 5)
11. "The Luck of the Irish" A young Irish lad migrates to Majorca to venture into property business. From then on, it is an up-and-down journey of life, which, but for the luck of the Irish, may not end well for him. It is important to note that this is based on a true story. Even Archer felt compelled to comment on the extraordinary way things unfolded, lest the readers thought he made this all up in his true Archer fashion. I found the story enjoyable. (4 of 5)
12. "Politically Correct" A banker suspects one of his neighbors is a terrorist and tells Scotland Yard about it. Once again, I saw the ending just a few pages into the story. I guess it's time to retire this type of plots, temporarily at least. The dramatic events towards the end did not help, either. (3 of 5)
13. "Better the Devil You Know" The chairman of a successful bank find himself dying and making a deal with the "lower authority". He is to swap bodies with his receptionist, a young man whose name he does not even care to know. This time, I did not mind the plot, because -- let's face it -- there's only one way this type of stories would end. It was how Archer told the story that made it interesting. (4 of 5)
14. "No Room at the Inn" A young man backpacks to a small village in Italy, where he finds no room at the inn and has to share a bed with a perfect female specimen that is the receptionist. It's a very straightforward story with no twists. Unless you consider one at the very end, which, frankly, to me, is not. I guess the other way to look at it is, Jeffrey Archer is such an expert at making a story out of nothing and still keeping it interesting. (3 of 5)
15. "Caste-Off" A young, successful Indian man falls for a woman who, despite her family's wealth, belongs to a caste unacceptable to his maharaja father. The man finds himself having to choose between the woman he loves and his family. Straight from a Bollywood script, true story as it is, this may well be the longest of the lot. A simple romance, not my cup of tea. (2 of 5)
Overall, I give the book 3, maybe 3.5, stars out of 5. As expected, Archer delivers enough of his mastery to weave intriguing stories out of the most ordinary of plots. If the trend of him retelling true stories continues, I just hope he meets people with a lot more interesting stories.(less)
Probably the and definitely among the best crime novels I have ever read. I sort of followed Harry Bosch stori...moreIt's actually 4.5 stars; it's that good.
Probably the and definitely among the best crime novels I have ever read. I sort of followed Harry Bosch stories until I ran out of them and decided to check out this non-Bosch title.
Terry McCaleb is the main character, an ex-FBI agent with a career made in solving serial killer cases. [Only after I finished the book did I realize I had come across McCaleb not once, but twice, in two of Bosch' cases.] I like how he left the Bureau because of his heart failing him -- while dramatic enough, it's a change from our usual lover-died, killer-got-away, boss-too-dumb sorts. After a seemingly successful heart transplant, a pretty lady comes to him -- ex-agent and all -- for help in her sister's murder. The hook is: Terry now has the sister's heart.
We know the ex-agent will take the case, of course, despite his best efforts to stay away. What follows is a good, believable plot of tracking the killer. Gears shift several times as more clues lead McCaleb, operating with neither his badge nor gun, to different directions. Connelly does this better than most writers, keeping serendipity to a minimum and limiting technical terms to what are necessary.
In the end, everything is wrapped up nicely, true to McCaleb's belief of leaving no loose ends. The last few scenes could have been given more room to develop; as it is, the final confrontation and conclusion are a tad too convenient for me. And I think the computer monitors, even back in 1998, should be more eco-friendly than showing screen savers for hours.
No other quibbles, though. Everything else works just fine: the pace, the systematic way McCaleb goes about his investigation, the little subplots, even the number of pages. A highly recommended book.(less)
Deaver seems to have gotten better with technical terms and the teenage character says "like" a lot less, so that's good. I'm not that crazy about the...moreDeaver seems to have gotten better with technical terms and the teenage character says "like" a lot less, so that's good. I'm not that crazy about the protagonist's extreme love for board games. Deaver does this a lot with his protagonists, tying every thought and action with whatever interest they have, and while it's nice to learn about things you wouldn't otherwise know, it tends to render the characters one-dimensional.
As writers are prone to, Deaver exaggerates the I.T. stuff quite a bit, with a character that can seemingly perform extensive researches within hours, at times minutes, with super accurate results. He also equips his protagonist with an almost supernatural set of skills to predict the unpredictable. To make things fair, he provides the main bad guy with matching skills -- except when the guy's time comes, which makes the event somewhat anticlimactic.
Why 4 out of 5 stars, then? Because I admittedly had a hard time putting the book down. Sure, things could be less Hollywood-like here and there, but to me, it ultimately comes to how satisfied I feel when I finish the last page. And Edge does a better job than most books.(less)
A long read, Dead or Alive is. I don't know if it's the "with" authorship or Clancy having changed -- lost his edge, if you will -- since '90s, but I...moreA long read, Dead or Alive is. I don't know if it's the "with" authorship or Clancy having changed -- lost his edge, if you will -- since '90s, but I find myself longing for the days of Patriot Games and The Cardinal of the Kremlin.
The actions are still good, the I.T. stuff believable (which is better than most books), and all-star setup having me excited. The authors are very in-your-face now with their right leaning. Either you're right or you're incompetent. The good guys even deem torture necessary, which is painful to read.
I see other reviews have covered pretty much what I would like to say, many better than I would ever, so I'll just add one item that bugs: being an Indonesian, I find the Indonesian names unnatural. Perhaps someone gave the authors these names in written forms and they made typo errors copying the names (Agong, Purnoma). Some of the names are of the Indonesian Chinese (Pranata, Salim) or Christian (Pasaribu) flavor, making it unlikely for Muslims to adopt them, even as pseudonyms. Makes you wonder how good a job the authors did with other non-Western names.
All things considered, still a nice read. Especially when you're recovering from an operation and have not much else to do. So, 3/5.(less)
An okay book, if lacking some of Deaver's qualities in the other books. Too many twists and turns, as if the author had a bet with a friend or somethi...moreAn okay book, if lacking some of Deaver's qualities in the other books. Too many twists and turns, as if the author had a bet with a friend or something.
It starts a little slow and picks up the pace about two third in. A local deputy sheriff larger than the small town he lives in, Bill Corde picks up a co-ed murder case and soon finds himself entangled in politics and personal issues. With a daughter plowing through learning difficulties, a son battling inner demons, and a wife struggling to stay faithful, Corde uncovers a web of affairs in a university that desperately wants to remain afloat. More deaths follow and it's almost inevitable that the killer ultimately sets his sights on the main character's own family.
The book has its Deaver moments, especially towards the end when you can't turn the pages fast enough. The challenges of raising a child with learning disabilities feel real and you can sense the frustration in both parents and child alike.
(view spoiler)[ Bill Corde's professional and personal lives entwine so much it makes you think of a soap opera where everyone has to play an important part somehow. In the end, it doesn't matter because the perpetrator turns out to be no one we have seen before in the book.
Which, as Deaver himself said in his Twisted introduction, in a novel -- a 500-pager nonetheless -- is almost cheating. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I love Deaver, though I find him prone to glossing over stuff to go for effects.
Crosses is all right. I saw the "twists" well in advance -- perhaps be...moreI love Deaver, though I find him prone to glossing over stuff to go for effects.
Crosses is all right. I saw the "twists" well in advance -- perhaps because I've read many of Deaver's books -- but it was still an enjoyable read. The blog connection intrigued me in the beginning, but I guess this is really not a novel for those who spend many hours online. The made-up virtual conversations are clunky and the l33tspeak feels forced. Then you have the many pages of blogging and gaming for dummies, which may be necessary, of course, but I feel could've been written better.
Nonetheless, it's a nice thriller. I found myself turning pages in a hurry, especially towards the end. Just read it with an open mind, pretend you don't really know about blogs, and you'll enjoy the ride.(less)