Once again I have my Goodreads friends to thank for an outstanding recommendation. The Tales of the Ketty Jay is a 4-book series with this volume, RetOnce again I have my Goodreads friends to thank for an outstanding recommendation. The Tales of the Ketty Jay is a 4-book series with this volume, Retribution Falls, being the first.
This is a flat-out fun fantasy adventure story in space. Comparisons to the Firefly television series are inevitable but please do not think you are getting a copy-cat product. True, the Ketty Jay is an airship complete with a sort of space cowboy leader and a motley crew of assorted misfits with interesting backgrounds. They engage in various business/trade ventures but do not limit themselves to completely honest work all the time. Pirates one day and legitimate tradesmen the next is the norm as is the resulting consequences. All of the crew members have secrets in their past and this first volume provides us with several flash back sequences for us to discover those secrets. But unlike Firefly, there is magic in this world and the nature of how that works and how the characters come to understand each other’s natures is a central theme.
I enjoyed the adventurous plot, following along from one dangerous scrape to another and I found the characters intriguing and worth rooting for. I am always a fan of well-done world building as we see here but I marvel at how the author avoids intrusive info dumps and simply provides as much of the world outside the characters as we need. We understand the vastness of it all and that numerous complex societies are out there but we get to stay focused on where the action is.
Greatly looking forward to the rest of the series. ...more
I first read this novel back in High School and was ill-prepared to appreciate its style. I had read science fiction, fantasy, and books like Doc SavaI first read this novel back in High School and was ill-prepared to appreciate its style. I had read science fiction, fantasy, and books like Doc Savage almost exclusively and I thought it was high time I branched out. In fact, I think this was the first book of the hard boiled crime/noir/PI genre I had ever read. It seemed dull to me at the time but as I grew older (and older) and sampled more and more of the genre and came to love it even, I knew that someday I would get back to Travis McGee and see what it was that I had missed all those years before.
Turned out I was correct. This time around I thoroughly enjoyed it and will now plan to read the rest of the entire series over the next several years. The fascinating thing about this book is not so much the plot (although it’s a good one), or the setting (also good), but rather the character of Travis McGee himself. I really enjoy his approach to life and his ability to thumb his nose at what “traditional” society expects, choosing to live how he wants. Accumulating money is not his end goal. He looks out for those that are getting bullied or become innocent victims of the powerful so we readers want to root for him.
The author’s prose is also great fun to read, something else that I under-appreciated in my youth. He could turn a phrase with the best of them and say so much with a single sentence. Yes, I look forward to my journey with Travis over the entire 21 novel set. Overall I give it 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 because of the sheer joy I experienced at proving my youthful opinion so very wrong. ...more
As a devoted fan of Michael Sullivan’s Riyria series I’ve been looking forward to diving into his new series ever since I first heard about it. My botAs a devoted fan of Michael Sullivan’s Riyria series I’ve been looking forward to diving into his new series ever since I first heard about it. My bottom line opinion may be a little confusing but it’s the best I can describe it: I got everything I expected and I also got everything I didn’t expect.
Those that have read the Riyria books know that Mr. Sullivan writes excellent fantasy novels, with great characters, settings, plots and all those things that make for a good read. The Riyria novels are extremely readable and keep the pages turning without thought to bedtimes or work schedules. They are down-to-earth and targeted at audiences of all ages as opposed to much of today’s “gritty” fantasy and above all, they are great fun to read.
The same can be said for this new series, at least as evidenced by this first book. But at the same time, it’s a lot different. The setting is in the same world as Riyria but thousands of years before those books take place. But whereas Riyria’s characters were limited to just a handful, this series has blown open the entire world. We are introduced to entire races with complex histories and motives and power structures. That may seem to indicate that it isn’t quite as “easy” to read and I suppose one could make that argument but the author’s prose works as always to keep us glued to the page. Some characters have powerful magic and some don’t…or perhaps they do? (More to come on that in follow-on books I feel sure). Intrigue abounds. There are dozens of characters and the ones that become the protagonists are vastly different from one another. It’s as if the author has been working on his world building for decades. The various races are completed by a lot of new words so the glossary at the end was very helpful.
This book is a vastly more complex fantasy story than what we saw in Riyria and more epic in scope. They are both fun reads but in different ways. I am so glad that Michael Sullivan writes an entire series before publishing the first so we won’t have to wait eons for each of the next ones to come out in this five-book series. If this first volume is any indication, we have much to look forward to in subsequent books in the series! ...more
To put it mildly this was not my favorite John Grisham novel. I suppose it’s the bleak subject matter: death row, racism, alcoholism, the KKK, etc. CeTo put it mildly this was not my favorite John Grisham novel. I suppose it’s the bleak subject matter: death row, racism, alcoholism, the KKK, etc. Certainly not uplifting subjects but I’ve read novels before dealing with these sorts of topics and not come away with the same sick feeling in my gut.
The novel has several structural problems which lower it on my Grisham rankings. First of all it felt bloated. This is a novel in need of some significant trimming in the same way some of Stephen King’s novels do. Clearly the author, as well as the main characters, is 100% against the death penalty but beating me over the head with that doesn’t serve any purpose. There was also a plot thread that tried to deal with alcoholism that seemed out-of-place and didn’t really serve the overall story. The build-up of whether or not the young lawyer could successfully overturn the upcoming execution didn’t work well because to me at least, the ending was inevitable and telegraphed from near the beginning.
What the novel does do is hammer home the idea that lawyers will do anything necessary for their client including hiring expert witnesses to lie in order to aid their cases. The endless appeals for death row inmates are known to all but here it cements the notion that it is all a big waste of time, energy, and tax payer’s money and in fact leads only to tortuous impacts on the accused. The “will there or won’t there” be a stay of execution is shown to be pure torture and leaves our criminal protagonist with nothing but a desire to stop the insanity and just get it over with. I was left with a feeling of disgust with our legal system and little sympathy for the lawyers in the novel. One theme seems to be that it’s not only ethical, but absolutely necessary to commit “lesser” sins if it means correcting a “greater” sin (the death penalty) based merely on the opinion of the lawyer, not the law itself.
The second Jake Madson novel picks up a few months after the first book (A Man of Indeterminate Value) ended with Jake having to carve out a life baseThe second Jake Madson novel picks up a few months after the first book (A Man of Indeterminate Value) ended with Jake having to carve out a life based on the circumstances that he brought about in the first book. To do that he decides to become a private investigator. It isn’t long before he becomes his own first customer after finding a decapitated head in his trunk. It's a great hook to get the story started.
The plot unfolds in a similar fashion as the first book. It starts in the present with Jake arrested and accused of first degree murder and terrorism but the bulk of the novel is Jake telling the story of how he got to where he is now through a first person “deposition”.
The writing is very good but I think there is a fundamental flaw in the book. Jake even states it himself right near the beginning when he admits to the shooting as well as blowing up a federal building. Since I’ve read the first book I know Jake is most certainly the type to get himself in all kinds of trouble, and pretty much is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I also know he isn’t the sort of person who would kill an innocent in cold blood or conspire against the US Government as he is accused of here…so I already know the identity of the bad guy and I know when I meet him over and over again during the flashback story that his nice guy persona is all a sham. Other thriller novels have certainly executed this technique brilliantly but for some reason it kept jerking me out of the flow of the story.
One more to go in the trilogy (unless it turns out to be a longer series) and I will tackle that one soonish. ...more
Yet another example of “never judge a book by its cover”. I had never read a novel by Andrew Neiderman before but this one had been on my shelf for aYet another example of “never judge a book by its cover”. I had never read a novel by Andrew Neiderman before but this one had been on my shelf for a long time and I sort of picked it up in order to read it and move on. Much to my surprise this one didn’t fall into the expected bucket of “quick read horror novel” but rather turned out to be a fairly well-done psychological horror story (and subtle horror at that).
The premise is that the fountain of youth really was found all those years ago and now has been bottled and put into a facial cream product that is sold by word of mouth. That makes the user look younger and healthier after just a few uses…but they still have normal life spans. However there is also a pill form that is extremely addictive but does grant immortality. The story itself revolves around a young family who gets caught up in the sales game, the addiction, and the ultimate fight against the horrifying consequences of what some people are capable of when pursuing immortality.
The novel surprised me in how well it grabbed me into this family’s life and forced me to watch their slide toward evil and ultimate climb back out. It reminded me a lot of Bentley Little’s novels where he really gets the reader invested in a family’s life before slowly bringing on the horror elements. I will need to look for more of this author’s work…and try to ignore the cover art. ...more
I doubt there is much that I can add to the universe of reviews for this particular novel. I finally got to it after planning to crack it open on seveI doubt there is much that I can add to the universe of reviews for this particular novel. I finally got to it after planning to crack it open on several previous occasions and then getting over-run by “must-read” books that came my way.
It’s a novel that resists traditional genre classification. In large part it is a mystery, and even a “locked-room” mystery of sorts with an island accessible only by one bridge substituting for the room in this case. But is it a missing person cold case or is it a murder investigation? It could also be called a thriller and there are certainly many thrilling scenes between its covers. We can also add “financial thriller” and “journalism thriller” to the nomenclature for those that enjoy sub-classifying. What I do know is that I enjoyed it immensely and plan to read both sequels of the original trilogy as soon as I can work them into the schedule. Lots of characters in here could be confusing but thankfully my copy of the book included a handy Vanger family tree which made it easy to keep track of who’s who. I will also add that the character of Lisbeth Salander (the titular character) is one of the most original and intriguing fictional characters I’ve encountered in a long time. ...more
Jack Madson is in a tough bind. A corporate raider trapped in a hateful marriage with a retired mob-influenced federal judge for a father-in-law and fJack Madson is in a tough bind. A corporate raider trapped in a hateful marriage with a retired mob-influenced federal judge for a father-in-law and facing huge debts that his wife has racked up…a desperate man in seek of a desperate solution. He devises a fool-proof plan to fake his own death and start over in another country. Of course no such plan is ever really fool proof and Jack finds himself digging himself in deeper and deeper.
This novel is the first in a trilogy and a nice discovery for yours truly. Most of the story is told from Jack’s first person POV as he writes a confession of sorts, detailing all that has come before. The writing style captured my attention from the first paragraph and despite a tendency to occasionally run off track in a stream-of-consciousness commentary on the evil at the root of man’s nature and the plague that is today’s corrupt corporations, my attention never wavered. Jack himself is not a good person. He lives life with a short term focus, over indulges in drugs and alcohol, and is very good at his job of vulture capitalism (taking over cash-strapped smaller companies with good products, laying off a third or more of the employees so as to increase cash flow in the short term, and then selling them again before anybody is the wiser). He has also committed various crimes and commits several more during the course of the novel, even serious ones. Despite his nature though, I still found myself rooting for him to turn it all around.
The ending seemed a little forced, as if the author had written himself into a corner. Jack’s situation had become so dire with less than 10 pages to go and yet…well, I won’t spoil it. But the mere fact that there are two more novels featuring this character tells you something.
I’m glad I “discovered” this author for he certainly has a way with putting words on paper. Looking forward to book 2, The Kafka Society. ...more
This is the fourth book in the “Vampire Earth” series, a series name that is unfortunate because it leads to expectations of Dracula, Buffy, Twilight,This is the fourth book in the “Vampire Earth” series, a series name that is unfortunate because it leads to expectations of Dracula, Buffy, Twilight, or some other sort of more traditional definition of the term “vampire.” This series is, more or less, a post-apocalyptic series, taking place after an alien invasion and focuses on the efforts of a resistance force who struggle to fight back against the invaders.
Book 4 picks up just after the disastrous events of the previous book Tale of the Thunderbolt. David Valentine and what remains of his followers must try to survive undercover in a new environment with a severely depleted Southern Command. Valentine is an exceptionally interesting character in that he is humble in his leadership, does all the right things, but still gets screwed by circumstances beyond his control. His heroism is on full display here as he chooses to follow near impossible orders and finds himself in a situation not unlike The Alamo.
The author does his usual fine job of keeping his pacing lean and mean. We get to experience focused battles intermixed with character growth and interaction as they face the next nightmare scenario. But in between he doesn’t mind letting a couple of weeks go by with no day-to-day filler. The result is a nicely compact story that moves along at a nice pace, and yet also keeps raising the stakes.
I won’t wait long before picking up book 5. ...more