I’m a sucker for a good story about con-men and women. There’s just nothing like pulling off a good caper, especially when it’s the less savory people...moreI’m a sucker for a good story about con-men and women. There’s just nothing like pulling off a good caper, especially when it’s the less savory people who get conned. Sidney Sheldon, one of the most popular writers for TV in the 1960’s and 70’s and who then turned to writing novels in the 1980’s, was adept at creating interesting characters and subjecting them to all sorts of thrilling conditions. By no means have I read all of his works but of those that I have, If Tomorrow Comes is one of my favorites. It’s a very nice novel about running cons and featured the character of Tracy Whitney, a girl who suffered immensely at the hands of fate and got into the con game largely for revenge. She was definitely a character worth rooting for, even as she became one of the most elite high-end thieves in the world.
And now, Tracy Whitney is back. I was very happy to win a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway so I could see what happened next to these characters. Author Tilly Bagshawe has penned several “sequels” to Sheldon’s novels as she has picked up his mantle and very accurately captured Sheldon’s voice. This novel picks up with Tracy living the happily-ever-after scenario that we had all hoped for her after the first book. Tracy and her husband, (and former partner in crime), Jeff Stevens are settling down as it were but it isn’t long before people from their past intrude and force them back to their old lives. Tracy and Jeff put the “artist” in con artist, and their reputation sometimes works against them, especially when they need to work with law enforcement as happens in this novel.
This is a nicely plotted novel and definitely kept me turning the pages. Once again I rooted for the main characters and hoped the plot twists wouldn’t leave them too battered and bruised. The author brings her A-game to this one and it shows. Tracy and Jeff don’t always make the best decisions and that leads them further into trouble. Sometimes it seemed like I was watching a movie-of-the-week from the 1980’s, but then again, that was Sidney Sheldon’s style. I appreciated that not all challenges were neatly wrapped up and the ending is very appropriate, even if somewhat bittersweet. I suppose there could be another novel with these characters but I think this tale is nicely complete.
Make sure to read the first book, If Tomorrow Comes, before beginning this one. Many plot points tie in directly to the first book and several shocking events won’t have much of an impact if you don’t.(less)
This is the second of three novels in Richard Wheeler’s series about frontier newspaper editor/publisher Sam Flint (after Flint's Gift). Each of the t...moreThis is the second of three novels in Richard Wheeler’s series about frontier newspaper editor/publisher Sam Flint (after Flint's Gift). Each of the three novels finds Sam setting up his press in a different frontier town and so this is largely a stand-alone novel. There are vague references to his previous fledgling newspapers but nothing that would require you to read the first book in order to appreciate this one.
The summer of 1870 finds Flint deciding to setup shop in a small New Mexico mining town called Oro Blanco. His first step is to scope out the town and he quickly meets the prominent citizens, including those who would cause him fits in the near future. The town marshal, a bully named Crawford and the man who really has the power there, Mason Weed represent all that is wrong with the human race: greed, racism, and abuse of power. These men and their friends have secrets.
Many readers often turn to westerns or frontier fiction when looking for a nice story where you can pretty much count on the good guys taking down the bad guys. This novel began comfortably along what I thought would be that path but the tale grew darker as I progressed. The worst part of human nature was winning the battle and events got worse and worse for Flint and his allies. And then just when I thought we had hit bottom, tragedy struck. Until that moment I hadn’t realized just how much I had come to care for the characters in this novel. That event led to fundamental changes in the characters and the novel became a much “deeper” story.
So my hat is off to Richard Wheeler for dealing with some basic ugly human nature issues and how one person can make a difference if he stands by his ideals through one set back after another. There is one more Flint novel to come and I look forward to reading it with great anticipation. (less)
This is the final book of the “Lost Fleet” series featuring Captain “Black Jack” Geary, and as such, it has a lot of wrapping up to do. The Lost Fleet...moreThis is the final book of the “Lost Fleet” series featuring Captain “Black Jack” Geary, and as such, it has a lot of wrapping up to do. The Lost Fleet has finally made it home, Captain Geary has left a trail of destroyed and/or embarrassed Syndicate war ships in his wake, and it is time to see what is next.
Geary has built such a fine reputation over the course of bringing the Lost Fleet home and has built so much power that he could, if he so chooses, take over and become the political leader of the entire Alliance. But of course that is the furthest thing from what our humble hero wants. Seeking merely to be allowed to continue to serve in whatever capacity is desired, he is convinced to take the rank of Admiral of the Fleet (only temporarily if he can have his way), take the battle to the enemy Syndicate worlds, and obtain a lasting peace.
And, oh by the way, find a way to deal with those pesky aliens we keep hearing about and prevent them from annihilating us all.
That’s a tall order to fit into one last book but Jack Campbell manages to pull it off. This novel contains much of the same sort of plot devices as the previous novels of the series: marvelous space battles (very few authors seem to get this right), political machinations, and Geary’s ever-present personal relationship struggles.
I’ve really enjoyed reading these books, mostly because they are just so much fun. However, I do grow tired of how Geary is the perfect military officer. He always (always!) makes the right decision, bringing his ships out of impossible circumstances, out-thinking the enemy at every turn, saving as many lives as possible, and yet remaining as humble and as honorable as it is possible to be. His on-going and developing feelings for the Captain of his flagship is never allowed to proceed because of the dishonor that fraternization would bring to both parties. It’s as frustrating for us readers as it is for them.
Despite there being so much to accomplish in this one book, it doesn’t feel rushed at all. The ending is very satisfying and leads into a whole new series, “The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier” which carries on the story line. I will seek that out at the appropriate time but for now I am content to leave these characters where they stand. (less)
The 4th book of the Indiana Jones prequel series finds Indy slowly recovering from the loss of his wife in the Amazon, and finding himself at a crossr...moreThe 4th book of the Indiana Jones prequel series finds Indy slowly recovering from the loss of his wife in the Amazon, and finding himself at a crossroads. His days of teaching Celtic mythology in England appear to be in his past and it’s time to come home to Chicago. The plot of this novel revolves around a possibility that Noah’s Arc has been located and despite his disbelief, Indy is enticed into going on the hunt.
I enjoy these books for what they are and my rating certainly reflects that. I don’t expect groundbreaking literature but do want to read a novel that is similar in style to the films. Adventure, danger, romance are all present here and nicely done. I read this one on my recent vacation, not during the peaceful, relaxing part, but during the hectic airport and airplane time when I usually find it difficult to concentrate on a more serious book. This certainly did the trick and I’m happy to continue on Indy’s journey. (less)
Nice short story/novella setting up the Tucker Wayne series featuring Tucker, an ex-Army Ranger and his canine companion Kane. I would recommend you h...moreNice short story/novella setting up the Tucker Wayne series featuring Tucker, an ex-Army Ranger and his canine companion Kane. I would recommend you have The Kill Switch on hand because I can pretty much guarantee that if you like this short story you will want to dive right into the first full length novel about these two engaging characters.(less)
If you are an avid reader of fantasy fiction, then I highly recommend the first book of the Xanth series, A Spell for Chameleon. It is entirely worthy...moreIf you are an avid reader of fantasy fiction, then I highly recommend the first book of the Xanth series, A Spell for Chameleon. It is entirely worthy of its award of the 1977 British Fantasy Society Award (British August Derleth Fantasy Award) for the best novel of the year. The following 3-4 books in the series are also very engaging fantasy novels and I thoroughly enjoyed them as well. But then as the series continued the books began to sink into less than steller range, then merely OK and finally to what we now have as represented by this 23rd book in the series.
Xanth has long been about light fantasy and puns. The series seems to have deteriorated into one long excuse to include as many puns as possible, most having been suggested by readers, and it really gets annoying. The plot exists...somewhere, but the massively thick layer of puns does a great job of camouflaging it. (less)
To be honest, I was a little bit scared of this book. Some people love it and some people simply find it boring. I was worried I might fall into that...moreTo be honest, I was a little bit scared of this book. Some people love it and some people simply find it boring. I was worried I might fall into that second group because, after all, this is “literature”. A Pulitzer Prize winner no less. How could it not be boring?
While I will admit that I would not classify this as a “page turner”, I found it anything but boring. I actually took this book on vacation and read about 100 pages on it each day while overlooking sail boats in a bay and that peacefulness helped me really get into the story. I wonder if I would have had the same reaction had I been reading it between my normally hectic work and home life.
I always find it difficult to describe books like this. On the surface, it’s about two young men at the beginning of the golden age of comic books, just prior to WWII and their creation of caped heroes, most notably “The Escapist”. On a slightly deeper level, the entire novel is about escape. Joe Kavalier a young Jewish artist escapes from Prague prior to the Nazi occupation and makes his way to Brooklyn to team up with his cousin Sam Clay. Sam has his own life experiences from which to escape as well. The novel tackles some serious social issues including the prejudice against the Jews as well as against homosexuals in those years. The characters are profoundly alive through this book and are interwoven with many historical people such as Harry Houdini, Orson Welles, Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Stan Lee, and others. They were so real that I had to check to see if this was actually a biographical account.
When I finished reading the last page and closed this book, I knew I had just read a great book. I believe this is the third Pultizer Prize winning (fiction) book I have read (the other two being Lonesome Dove and The Road) and I have been very satisfied with each of them. Perhaps I need to get a clue and try a few more.
Interestingly, the actual comic book adventures of “The Escapist” are now available as well, first published in 2004, the origin story having been scripted by Michael Chabon, himself. I’ve added that to my library queue because knowing I have more related material to this book will mean it won’t ever be quite over… (less)
I'll assume anybody reading this review will want primarily to know if this second book of the series (not counting short prequels) lives up to the in...moreI'll assume anybody reading this review will want primarily to know if this second book of the series (not counting short prequels) lives up to the incredible vitality of the first (The Siren). Is it still fresh and new and intriguing or is it more or less a repeat of the first? Well, the answer is obvious if you look at the extremely high average star rating of all Amazon reviewers.
The answer is a resounding Yes! Not only does it live up to the first book's appeal it takes off from there. To be honest the first book left me with a little bit of distaste at the very end as it seemed our heroine, Nora, was not destined for a happy ending but rather a retreat into her past life. But with this one we get to see so much more about that life, especially about Soren who, as we get to finally know him and his history, becomes a real character and a sympathetic one at that. Along the way we have an excellent plot that builds tons of depth into some merely peripheral characters from the first novel. Put all together, these two books complement each other nicely and pull the reader along to the next in the series.
And, of course, the erotic scenes here are very well done; sensual, sexual, and passionate and never just thrown in but always serving the larger plot. I very much look forward to book number 3!(less)
Tiffany Reisz continues to amaze me. Really, if you haven’t experienced her work, you need to get started.
Once again, she returns to the world of Nora...moreTiffany Reisz continues to amaze me. Really, if you haven’t experienced her work, you need to get started.
Once again, she returns to the world of Nora, Soren, and Kingsley, but what we have this time is an origin story. Nora is telling her own backstory. Now we have had glimpses before of Nora’s early years (before Eleanor morphed into Nora) but this time we get the complete chronological story of Eleanor from the age of 15 up to age 20. We see her home life, her relationship with each of her parents, her attitudes toward life while in school, etc. But most importantly, and for the vast majority of this novel, we get to see her meeting and coming to know Soren. Her transformation is not complete by any means by the end of the novel but these are definitely her formative years.
I was impressed with Ms. Reisz’s writing ability from the moment I opened her first book, The Siren, and I’ve enjoyed her getting better and better ever since. She is truly at the top of her game now; unlike so many characters you find in today’s modern erotic fiction, these characters are absolutely real. We know them and we are emotionally invested in them. The character of Eleanor in particular is funny and sad, and we are inspired to learn more and more about her. Even when we know her inner most secrets and desires, there are yet more secrets to learn. It is rare to find a character that we care about so much as Eleanor. And since this is a flashback story, most readers will already know future Eleanor (Nora) and so her voyage of self-discovery is doubly rewarding.
I understand this is the first novel of a new quartet for these characters. Bring on number 2, 3, and 4!(less)
There are many excellent reviews here from readers who have a lot to which to compare this novel. Readers of erotica in general and BDSM in particular...moreThere are many excellent reviews here from readers who have a lot to which to compare this novel. Readers of erotica in general and BDSM in particular have all chimed in. So how does a non-erotica-experienced reader feel about this book?
Happily surprised is my answer. I won't rehash the plot here but suffice it to say that I expected numerous hot sex scenes and I got them, of course. But where I expected that to be the main focus with the plot little more than a contrived setup to the next such scene, that was not the case at all. This is not porn in verbal form. Rather this novel is an engaging story with well-developed characters that I really came to care about, and certainly was interested to see what they would do next. True, there is definitely dark erotica here, most especially dealing with why BDSM is the only answer for some individuals. There is love, and lust, bondage, submission, etc. etc. Presumably you would be picking this one up to read if that sort of thing did not interest you. And, speaking as a novice of such things, this book is an excellent starting point because one of the two main characters is a novice himself and thus is educated in most of the basics and nuances of the craft.
The novel goes far beyond mere sexual play and delves deep into the dark edges of it all. So it's not for the faint of heart or for those readers who want everything tied up in a nice little bow with all the characters living happily ever after. Some do and some don't...but there are sequels and much yet to explore.
Highly recommended for the appropriate audience.(less)
While technically this is the 8th novel in the Area 51 series, the actual series ended with book number 7 and this one serves more to fill in some of...moreWhile technically this is the 8th novel in the Area 51 series, the actual series ended with book number 7 and this one serves more to fill in some of the background of the overall story arc. It also works hard to provide the history of vampires on our planet and how many of the legends surrounding them (including Dracula) got started.
None of the major characters of the first seven books are included here although several are mentioned in passing and several of the major events of the main series are also referred to. I don't thing that a reader would particularly enjoy reading this one though if they haven't read the first seven books because it does assume a reader will know about Area 51, the mother ships, bouncers, and especially the two alien factions from the other novels.
I did enjoy the historical tour through the ages and witnessing the vampire evolution presented in this novel. However, the story elements didn't grab me all that much. Most of the book was filled with descriptive passages and very little dialogue. There is one more novel in this "series" and I will certainly read that as well, but I think readers can be well satisfied if they never get around to the last two books.(less)
Post-apocalyptic fiction novels seem to be a dime a dozen these days so it is greatly satisfying to discover one that is truly written well. Kathy Min...morePost-apocalyptic fiction novels seem to be a dime a dozen these days so it is greatly satisfying to discover one that is truly written well. Kathy Miner has crafted a first novel in what will likely be a trilogy, or perhaps a longer series, that is fundamentally about survival after a super plague wipes out 99% of the world’s population in just a few weeks. A “lucky” few seem to be immune and a few more are able to recover after their bodies are ravaged by the disease. This first novel is about those survivors in Colorado (mostly Colorado Springs and nearby areas) and their desperate attempts to forge some sort of direction for themselves in the aftermath.
I’ve read similar novels before, my two favorites being Stephen King’s The Stand and Robert McCammon’s Swan Song. Both of those books are humongous doorstopper novels, and set the gold standard for this type of post-apocalyptic fiction. I have yet to read another novel in this vein that captures the horror of what it must be like to live in such a world; to struggle with the grief of lost family and friends while at the same time make the tough decisions on how to carry on.
"What Survives of Us" could not be more appropriately titled. Ms. Miner’s research is evident as she unfolds this new world. Everything from her description of medicinal herbs, to firearms, to the human psyche seems extremely authentic. Her plot is well thought out and keeps the pages turning briskly. And for a first time author, the pacing of this novel is spot on. I only wish the second book was ready now because the various story lines are just getting started.
What really drives the plot, as in all really good novels, is the characters. The reader has to feel them, to know them, and above all, to care about what happens to them. This is where this novel truly excels. This is a realistic portrayal of what a post-apocalyptic situation might well be like, with humanity’s remnants rapidly forming into groups just to survive. Some want power and will make their own rules to get it. Others want nothing more than to help others and start to rebuild and avoid the mistakes of the past. Almost all want to know if their family has survived. Beware, this book is brutally realistic in many places and will tug at your heartstrings often. Chapters are broken down into point-of-view character perspectives. Naomi is a housewife, Jack is a youth minister, Grace is a 17 year old high school student, and Naomi’s daughter Piper is a college student. All face near insurmountable challenges and are forced to dig deep within themselves to find strengths they didn’t know they had. And that’s not all. For it seems the plague has caused other changes to those who are left, changes that may be the manifestation of the next wave of human evolution. Survivors are discovering latent sixth sense abilities that affect everybody in profound ways.
I read my fair share of new, first time indie authors, and have often been disappointed by an unmistakable sense of amateur writing. Even when plots are well thought out, the rest of the story suffers from one shortcoming or another. Often it’s the characters that just aren’t worth reading about. Kathy Miner is the real deal and able to bring the whole package. It is rare that a novel will bring me to tears but this one did. I will be following Kathy Miner’s career with great interest.
I was excited when I first heard that John Grisham had returned to the characters and setting of his first published novel, A Time to Kill, which was...moreI was excited when I first heard that John Grisham had returned to the characters and setting of his first published novel, A Time to Kill, which was published way back in 1989. I had mistakenly assumed that this second novel would occur in our present day and we readers would experience lawyer Jake Brigance’s life in 2013 or thereabouts. But no. While "Sycamore Row" is still set in Ford County Mississippi, in the fictional town of Clanton, it takes place only three years after the events of that first novel. Jake Brigance is still a relatively young lawyer and living off the fine reputation he achieved during the trial in that first novel, at least from the perspective of most people. He is, however, also the subject of disdain by the KKK in the area so is the subject of domestic terrorism by those who felt he betrayed his own white race three years ago.
Good paying legal cases are few and far between in that part of the country and Jake is having difficulty making ends meet. So when a nice juicy case comes his way, he relishes the opportunity to sink his teeth into it.
The case itself begins when Jake receives a letter from Seth Hubbard containing a new holographic will that renounces a will he filed the year before. In this new will, written just a day prior to his own suicide (he was dying of lung cancer), Mr. Hubbard stipulates that his children will receive nothing, five percent will be given to his church, and another five percent will be left to his brother. The remaining ninety percent is to be given to his black housekeeper Lettie Lang. Oh my. Even more intriguing is that Seth Hubbard’s estate is upward of $20 million.
So of course the argument brought by his children is that ol’ Seth was unduly influenced in some way by Ms. Lang and the new will should be nullified.
This novel is a by-the-book courtroom drama. Few authors do that as well as John Grisham. I found Jake Brigance as engaging a character as the first time around (I just read the first book this year so it is pretty fresh in my mind). Besides the legal case at the center of the novel, Jake also has to manage the ever-present racial prejudices that seem to interlace everything and everybody in the story, an unfortunately realistic portrayal in that regard. There is drama aplenty here and enough legal proceedings to satisfy even those who need to know every detail of the court process. For my taste it was a bit too much. While I enjoy a nice legal battle, I don’t like to get bogged down in so much detail that it begins to read like a real-life court fight, which tend to run towards the dry side. And there was a little too much repetition of basic facts. We are told several times about how the challenge to the will would play out as Jake describes it to several individuals at different times. And I lost track of the number of times that Jake had to tell people that he was the lawyer representing the will, not representing Lettie Lang, even though their interests were aligned.
Most of this novel was a 5-star read for me and I particularly enjoyed the diverse cast of characters brought to life in these pages. But I knocked it down one notch because of the unnecessary details that were inserted throughout. I still recommend it, particularly for those who like a good courtroom drama and I’m hopeful to see Jake Brigance again in the future. (less)
I'm nearing the end of the original Oz series by L. Frank Baum now and I was glad to see that he returned to a a story from the very first book in ord...moreI'm nearing the end of the original Oz series by L. Frank Baum now and I was glad to see that he returned to a a story from the very first book in order to fill in a missing piece of the puzzle. We know from way back at the beginning that Nick Chopper, aka the Tin Woodman, was to marry his munchkin girlfriend before being turned from a "meat" body into his nice shiny tin body. But whatever happened to that girl?
This novel covers the adventurous journey to determine her fate. As usual, we follow a group of key characters from the Land of Oz as they make the journey and this time it is the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and a new character named Woot the Wanderer. Along the way we get treated to a repeat appearance from Polychrome and some cameos by Dorothy and Toto as well. This is basically a series of adventure vignettes, almost like short stories strung together to tell the larger tale.
The novel also serves to flesh out some of the back story of Oz itself and how it came to be. Oz was not always a fairyland you see. This novel was originally published during World War I and it reversed a downward trend in sales of Oz books at the time. I can see why. I enjoyed it quite a lot more than the last 5 or 6 and I suppose during a time of such bad news all the time, the reading audience was glad to have such an outlet as a new Oz book to enjoy. If you're tired of the daily news cycle today, perhaps a healthy dose of Oz would be got for you to...(less)
This 14th book in the Repairman Jack series hurtles the action along at a breakneck pace towards its inevitable conclusion coming in the next book, Th...moreThis 14th book in the Repairman Jack series hurtles the action along at a breakneck pace towards its inevitable conclusion coming in the next book, The Dark at the End. As high as my hopes and expectations for this novel were, F. Paul Wilson has managed to meet and even exceed them. He has created a monumental series and this penultimate novel cements them in my all-time favorite series, all genres included.
This is not a stand-alone novel. If you have not read the preceding novels in the series, especially the last 3 or 4, then you will be completely lost trying to read this one. This is by design and the author warns us of that in his forward to this volume. The story has grown beyond what can be contained in a single book so we are now reading the final chapters in a much larger story.
I won’t go into any kind of plot summary. I don’t think I could at this point in less than 5,000 words or so. Suffice it to say that the battle for the future of Earth is about to be decided, a fact unknown to all but a handful of people. The rest of the world continues on oblivious to the coming “end of everything as we know it”. Jack’s role in this battle has been a defensive one up to this point, a fact that annoys to no end the fix-it mentality that is Jack. He and his close friends simply do not have enough information and understanding to do anything but react to rapidly changing circumstances. But this novel is so very important in the overall story arc because that all changes by the end.
But even while the huge conceptual battle between the Otherness and the Ally plays out, Jack still acts in his Repairman role of helping other people out of tough circumstances when others can’t. This down-to-the-ground immediacy of what Jack is all about is what really makes these novels great. Jack is the guy we all wish we could be. Off the grid, saavy, a physical threat though not a superhero, Jack can fix situations like few others. But as good as Jack is, he is still humble and his unconditional love for his girlfriend and her young daughter really tugs at the heartstrings.
The final words of the entire book filled me with an awesome energy and serves as a brilliant lead-in to the next and last novel in the series. (less)
Have you ever had a book on your shelf for a very long time, always thinking you would get to it someday but not really rushing it because you didn’t...moreHave you ever had a book on your shelf for a very long time, always thinking you would get to it someday but not really rushing it because you didn’t think you would like it all that much? And then when you finally did read it, you were happily surprised? Such was the case for me when I finally got around to reading this first in a series of urban fantasy novels.
My experience was similar to when I watched the first few episodes of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I mean, what kind of name is Buffy for a slayer? But it was a great show and launched my everlasting need to follow all things Joss Whedon.
And here, what kind of name is ‘Kitty’ for a werewolf?
Kitty Norville becomes a nation-wide syndicated talk radio personality after she reveals the existence of werewolves, vampires and other supernatural folk. The twist is that she is, in fact, a werewolf herself, and “comes out” to her listening public, launching a host of threats and retaliatory activity against her while at the same time bringing her lots of adoring fans. The story is told in first person accept for the few times when she morphs into her wolf form and Kitty refers to ‘the wolf’ or ‘she’. Over the course of the novel, Kitty’s outlook changes quite a bit as she grows into her role. It affects her relationships with everybody around her but most especially with her pack. There is a mystery plot as well wherein Kitty consults with the local police on what appears to be a serial killer case that may, in fact, be werewolf killings.
There is some interesting social commentary sprinkled throughout the novel as well. Many questions are raised regarding the way their society should treat paranormals. There are even religious conservatives who claim it is a disease that needs to be treated, much like what sometimes happens with gays in our society. Fortunately, the author does not beat us over the head with these comments but does allow it to help drive the plot.
I enjoyed this one and will continue to read the series. However, I will not let the next one languish on my shelf for years in the mistaken belief that it is a teen paranormal romance novel. (less)
Dr. No is the 6th of the James Bond books in published order but the fact that it is the first of the Bond films, leads me to believe that this book i...moreDr. No is the 6th of the James Bond books in published order but the fact that it is the first of the Bond films, leads me to believe that this book is the first Bond novel that many readers will have read. That’s too bad because to my mind, Bond changes as a character as we move through the books. The previous novel in this series, From Russia With Love, ends on a cliff hanger with Bond’s life not only in peril but evidently over. Bond historians will know that Fleming had seriously considered the idea of killing off his character in that book and audiences of the day weren’t sure if he had indeed, done just that.
But this novel begins with references to Bond having gone through a lengthy rehabilitation in hospital recovering from tetrodotoxin poisoning and other physical ailments inflicted by SMERSH agent Rosa Klebb in the previous book. M decides to put Bond onto a “soft” case to get him back into the game so he sends him to Jamaica to look into the details of a missing operative and his missing secretary. Of course the mission is not so soft after all as Bond soon realizes he is on the trail of a self-described maniac in the form of Dr. No, a Chinese operator of a guano mine on the Caribbean island of Crab Key.
Yes, once again I must caution today’s readers to grin and bear the outdated attitudes of Mr. Bond (or Mr. Fleming) when it comes to women, sex, and most especially race. All I can see is that if you insist on judging them by today’s standards, then you will not enjoy this or any of the original Bond novels.
Dr. No, himself is another intriguing Bond villain, perhaps the best since Hugo Drax in Moonraker, and his lengthy discussion with Bond about the nature of power is philosophically interesting. But it is the character of Honeychile “Honey” Rider that steals the show for me. Honey is my favorite character in all six Bond novels I have read to date. She just seems so genuine; innocent and yet vibrant at the same time.
I always enjoy plunging into this world that Gail Carriger has built, combining steampunk, supernatural characters, and a nicely complex society invol...moreI always enjoy plunging into this world that Gail Carriger has built, combining steampunk, supernatural characters, and a nicely complex society involving vampires and werewolves sharing (or trying to share) the same landscape. The exploits of Alexia Tarabotti, a lady of considerable assets including her large Scottish werewolf husband, a battle-parasol, and love for treacle tarts is truly unique on the shelves of fantasy fiction.
This series is progressingly nicely and the plot not only remains interesting but is growing more so as we get closer to the final book. Of course the true delight that the author brings to these books is her writing. Seldom does one find such witty phrasing and word choice where so much is conveyed so accurately while remaining succinct.
This third and final novel in the Tyrants and Kings trilogy continues the saga of the major characters of the first two books in fine fashion. I say “...moreThis third and final novel in the Tyrants and Kings trilogy continues the saga of the major characters of the first two books in fine fashion. I say “continues” the saga because the conclusion of the novel does not feel , at least to me, to be the final volume of the series. I don’t doubt that it is over but just as I found throughout this trilogy, this is not a black and white universe. The characters are not all good or all bad but very very gray. Similarly, the overall story covered by this trilogy is not neatly divided into three parts. Rather one gets the clear impression that we are seeing a critical bit of a vast history of this world. Important events must have occurred and important people must have lived both before and after this trilogy. That’s important and adds to my excitement in “discovering” this new author for myself.
This particular novel changes protagonists, leaving Richius (The Jackal) in a supporting role at best. As I mentioned before characters are gray so some that were “bad guys” in previous novels are now changing and trying for good outcomes, and vice versa. It’s an explosive turn of events and, fortunately, the author is up to the challenge. After all, it can’t be easy changing the reader’s mindset on the characteristics and motivations of people who they’ve spent 1400 pages learning to loathe.
Once again I feel the need to mention that I don’t consider these books to be “military fantasy”. There are battles and wars in them (some nice navy battle sequences) but very little time is spent on war strategy and even less on battle descriptions. Far more prevalent is the political machinations of the powerful. In fact in this volume, the preparation of the coalition and the views of those that oppose what is happening is where the plot is focused and when the final battles come in the last 20-30 pages, it’s almost anti-climactic. I will also reiterate that these novels are not magic-heavy. I love cool magic systems like Brandon Sanderson creates but unless it's unique, I prefer the magic to remain obscure and mostly unexplained. I don't want to feel like I'm rolling 20-sided dice to determine the outcome of the fireball spell.
All in all this is a great epic fantasy trilogy, well written, and certainly worth considering as additional fantasy material beyond today’s fantasy gods: Martin, Sanderson, Rothfuss, Abernathy, Weeks, Lawrence, etc. (less)
Sadly, I’ve read these books out of order. Normally I hate to do that because I like to see the main character change/grow from book to book (hopefull...moreSadly, I’ve read these books out of order. Normally I hate to do that because I like to see the main character change/grow from book to book (hopefully) and perhaps experience a larger story arc that traverses multiple books. Unless, of course, it is simply one of those series that is meant to be a collection of stand-alone novels. Nevertheless, due to the passing of Michael Palmer, there will likely only ever be 3 novels in this Dr. Lou Welcome series and after enjoying the last two, I felt compelled to read this first one.
The novel serves well to introduce us to Lou Welcome, part-time ER doc and part-time counselor to doctors (such as himself) that have proven all too human and become involved with substance abuse. He is an interesting character and very similar in many respects to the author himself so it is no surprise that the author chose to continue Dr. Welcome’s story in subsequent novels.
The plot surrounds the mystery of why several people have suddenly “gone crazy” and taken actions entirely inappropriate to their nature. The trail takes us to the highest halls of the US government, the agricultural industry, and some rather scary scientific issues. This is a nice thriller and the author’s obvious expertise in medicine lends an air of believability. The political aspects, however, I found to be rather sophomoric, and geared more toward a thriller novel than reality. For example, there are times when the first lady of the United States is easily able to get away from her security and make clandestine meetings with others. And only two secret service agents assigned to her?
Overall, this is a nice read. If you have not been introduced to Michael Palmer before and are interested in medical/political thrillers, this would be a good place to start. (less)
I’ll start by saying I have read all 26 previous novels in this series. The first three were solid mystery novels taking place in “the City” (...moreOh dear…
I’ll start by saying I have read all 26 previous novels in this series. The first three were solid mystery novels taking place in “the City” (probably Detroit or Chicago) with a crime reporter (Jim “Qwill” Qwilleran) acting as the sleuth. They were OK but not spectacular. Then 18 years passed before the next book of the series was published. Qwill had now inherited a ton of money and was able to move to Pickaxe in the northern part of the state of Michigan. That provided a pretty cool mystery location: small town filled with quirky characters and an amateur sleuth with time to kill because he didn’t have to work for an income. There were some very nice mystery novels in there.
But then, gradually, the series morphed once again. Less and less focus on solving murders and more and more focus on small town happenings and the interactions of Qwill with his friends (and his two Siamese cats). The stories were still mostly interesting, even if the mysteries weren’t, and it was fun to wonder how I would live my life if unencumbered by the need to earn a living.
And then the series morphed one more time. Speculation is rampant that the author (well into her 90’s by that point) may have died or been unable to continue writing and the novels became mere shadows of themselves. The last 5 or 6 books have been horribly written.
I would have stopped reading them by now except for that small bit of nostalgia for Qwill and the townies. My mom loved these books and so I continue to read one each September to honor her.
Which brings me to this book. I have to say this is the worst one yet. There is a mystery or two here (sort of) but nothing is solved and the book ends with mere speculation by Qwill, wondering if we’ll ever know what actually happened.
So don’t read this thinking it’s a mystery novel.
Also, don’t read this novel if you’re looking for quality writing. It’s as if the book was whipped out by at least four different authors (and I use that term loosely) who never compared notes. Several times Qwill relates new information to us, the reader, except that it isn’t new. He had just told us that factoid two chapters previously. The folksy repertoire with Qwill's myriad of friends has gotten out of control. Everybody Qwill encounters is always happy and loving life in Pickaxe. Efficiency is certainly not their watchword though. When one townie calls up with some hot news, they can’t just relate it over the phone. They constantly use that as an excuse to come by for a visit and a shot of Squunkwater with Qwill. Maybe that’s just the way life is when you’re a super-rich person and the people you know treat you like royalty, but the constant stalling of anything actually happening in the plot is tiring. Thankfully this is a very fast read due to less than 300 paperback pages of fairly large print and wide margins, so the pain doesn’t last long enough to require a tranquilizer.
So I would grant 1 star for the writing but will award an extra star for the nostalgia factor and the fact that a large part of the plot, such as it is, revolves around the opening of the new bookstore in town. That subject will usually keep me reading no matter how poorly it is written. (less)