In his international conspiracy thriller Death and Dark Money—the fourth book of the Sabel Security series— Seeley James shows how loopholes in CitizeIn his international conspiracy thriller Death and Dark Money—the fourth book of the Sabel Security series— Seeley James shows how loopholes in Citizens United open the door for foreign corporations and nations to influence American policy. Pia Sabel, ex-Olympic soccer player, now runs her adoptive father’s international security company. The company receives a contract from an influential firm of lobbyists that includes a mysterious twenty million dollar payment for seemingly nothing. When Pia wants to know where the money comes and what it’s buying, she becomes a target. One thread of the plot traces this money to its source.
Caroline Cashion, a professor of French at Georgetown University, discovers that she's adopted and has a bullet in her neck. The bullet has been thereCaroline Cashion, a professor of French at Georgetown University, discovers that she's adopted and has a bullet in her neck. The bullet has been there since she was three years old and her birth parents were shot and killed. I struggled with the premise. This woman is in her 30s and none of her doctors ever noticed the bullet lodged against her spine until it began causing symptoms? And her adoptive parents never told her anything about her origins? I was willing to give the improbability a pass because the first-person narration hooked me from the start.
Caroline flies to Atlanta to find out who her parents were and what happened to them. She learns that they were killed in their home and that the bullet passed through her mother before entering her. Removing it from an infant would have been too dangerous. The killers were never found.
While she's busy talking with reporters and the detective who worked the case, her doctor shows up at her hotel. He's flown all the way from Washington because he's smitten with her. They strike up a romance. Later she finds out he's married, making the subplot even more irrelevant than it already was. I have nothing against romantic subplots if they somehow advance the story. This one is mostly filler. It shows an aspect of Caroline's character, that's about all.
A reporter in Atlanta also tries to seduce Caroline, but he's not as attractive as the doctor. He writes a story about her, though, and soon after her return to Washington, someone breaks into her apartment with the clear intention of doing her harm. Events escalate from there.
Caroline's later actions surprised me since they seem to contradict her character. Readers are supposed to believe that the revelations about her past have changed her profoundly, but there's nothing about her life beforehand that makes her behavior believable. Not to mention the unlikelihood of someone intelligent and mature traveling around the country shortly after dangerous surgery.
The story is well told, but the credibility issues and pointless romance put a drag on its momentum....more
This YA novel centers on Farris Burnett, a teenage hacker whose father is a Marine Corps officer. The story begins as he assumes command of Cherry PoiThis YA novel centers on Farris Burnett, a teenage hacker whose father is a Marine Corps officer. The story begins as he assumes command of Cherry Point air base and she enrolls in a new high school. When someone hacks the base computers and begins wreaking havoc, Farris sets out to find the culprit.
Farris has a strong voice, and the secondary characters are complex and interesting. Overall the writing is good, but the book could have used better editing. The author uses principal in a context that calls for principle, and there are a few confusing sentences.
The main problem with the novel is the plot structure. The hacking problem begins almost halfway into the story. Everything up to that point involves Farris's life—her dead mom, her somewhat distant relationship with her father, the unfair ostracism she faced at her last high school, the challenge of making friends at the new one, the dilemma of liking two guys who hate each other. The characters introduced in the first half do play important roles in the hacking plot, but the author could have told readers what they needed to know in half the space.
The upshot is that Playing With Fire is more teen high school drama than it is thriller. This might not be a problem for the novel's teen audience, but the book description led me to expect more suspense and less romance....more
In The Locksmith’s Secret, Tahlia Newland has woven several narratives into a complex story about the joys and pitfalls of love and the enduring powerIn The Locksmith’s Secret, Tahlia Newland has woven several narratives into a complex story about the joys and pitfalls of love and the enduring power of the imagination. Writer Prunella Smith, whom readers may remember from Newland’s last book, Worlds Within Worlds, has found love with Jamie Claypole, an English transplant to Australia. The two are happy together, but Ella knows little about Jamie’s past. The gaps in her knowledge become apparent when Jamie is summoned home after his brother’s sudden death. All at once he becomes secretive about his family and where they live and how long he intends to stay with them. The other narratives reiterate in various ways the problem Ella faces: whether to pursue Jamie and uncover his secrets or to reclaim the solitude she lost when he came to live with her. Memories of unhappy past experience with a lover who abandoned her overshadow Ella’s hope for happiness with Jamie. Ella had been a ballerina with a promising career until a back injury forced her to give up ballet. Her lover, who was also her onstage partner, promptly discarded her once they could no longer dance together. A Buddhist, Ella mediates regularly, and during meditation she’s transported into the world of Daniela, an Italian nun. - See more at: http://www.ancientchildren.com/the-lo......more
I enjoyed this thriller for its well-paced plot, vivid description, and believable characters.
The action starts right away. Since part of the story haI enjoyed this thriller for its well-paced plot, vivid description, and believable characters.
The action starts right away. Since part of the story has happened before the book begins, the beginning could have been confusing, but the author weaves enough background into the narrative so you understand what's going on. The plot twists are unexpected. Characters are sometimes not what they seem to be.
The description of places is deftly done without slowing down the story. And the story covers a lot of ground, from an isolated island to Washington DC, from the Azores to a town in Romania. The description of the action is riveting. It pulls you through the story pretty much nonstop. And it's credible. (The scene where Pia is water boarded is so credible it's scary.) The heroes have skills, but they don't perform superhuman feats. And they can be wounded like actual human beings.
None of the characters are the kind of ciphers you sometimes find in thrillers. I won't forget Pia, Jacob, or Tania anytime soon. And I definitely want to read more about them....more
The epistolary novel (a novel written in the form of journals or letters) has a long history going back to the 17th Century. It's uncommon these days,The epistolary novel (a novel written in the form of journals or letters) has a long history going back to the 17th Century. It's uncommon these days, but Brian Sfinas has adopted it to write an imaginative and sometimes brilliant work of science fiction.
The Darkest of Suns Will Rise consists of a series of official reports and the journals and letters of principal characters. From these Sfinas constructs a terrifying and only too credible world of the future in which much of humanity lives and dies on space stations without ever setting foot on Earth. With its population at a sustainable level, the planet's ecosystem is healthy once more. Macaws have been genetically modified to be as intelligent as humans. Nano robots clean up messes, from smudged walls to demolished space ships, by deconstructing them at the molecular level. They heal injuries and disease, doubling the human lifespan. Super-intelligent and benign aliens known as the Pronogsticate monitor the governance of human beings.
Sound like paradise?
Not exactly. Human nature hasn't changed.
A secretive group called the Orphanage range through space, plotting the overthrow of the Prognosticate and the rule of reason. The Orphans are the few remaining believers in God. The military commander Aiden DeCaro is their chief enemy. He detests their destructiveness, irrationality, and rebellion, but he harbors the same traits in himself and works to conceal them from the probing of the Prognosticate.
Aiden also keeps Clarissa, his lover, hidden in his cabin on board the ship he commands. Their relationship is sadomasocistic in the extreme. He kills a man who accidentally sees Clarissa and feels little remorse for doing so. The love affair between Aiden and Clarissa forms the emotional core of the story. His political struggles and fight against the Orphanage unfold around it.
Despite the brilliant conception and fully imagined world, the writing occasionally falls short. In a novel like this, errors in grammar or usage can be a way of creating a distinct narrative voice, but not when they contradict the character's intellect and education, as happens two or three times with Aiden.
In the middle of the story, Aiden spends time on Earth writing in his journal. He ruminates at length about economic and political conditions in the early 21st Century. Although many of the author's observations are astute, they seem extrinsic to the story and slow it further at a point where it's already dragging.
Finally, there is little or no foreshadowing of the abrupt ending. I anticipated it a few pages ahead because I saw nowhere else for the story to go.
Overall, the novel's many strengths outweigh its few weaknesses. The Darkest of Suns Will Rise is a haunting novel, remarkable for its complex characters and intelligent vision of the future.
The Elements of Active Prose is a concise guide for writers of fiction. The author offers concrete and practical tips for making one's prose style morThe Elements of Active Prose is a concise guide for writers of fiction. The author offers concrete and practical tips for making one's prose style more effective and includes advices on how to work with editors and make productive use of criticism. Beginning writers need the information in this book, and more experienced writers will find valuable pointers about craftsmanship and the benefits of a positive attitude....more
A coming-of-age novel set in America in the late 70s, Sandra Hutchison's The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire centers on the relationship between David,A coming-of-age novel set in America in the late 70s, Sandra Hutchison's The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire centers on the relationship between David, a physics professor in his 30s, and Molly, the teenage girl who used to babysit his daughter. Molly doesn't babysit for David anymore because his wife and daughter recently perished in a plane crash. He is too overwhelmed by grief to take care of himself, so his estranged sister hires Molly to keep house for him.
Molly has problems of her own. Her parents are divorced. Her father loves her but now has another wife and children, a family where she has a marginal place. She mostly lives with her mother, a notorious and uninhibited artist who commemorates Molly's first period by constructing the figure of a girl with tampons and, of course, exhibiting it publicly. Molly's schoolmates call her Tampon Girl.
The physics professor doesn't seduce or become obsessed with the teenager, nor does she have a girlish crush on him. While David struggles with grief and survivor’s guilt and Molly negotiates the minefield of adolescence in the 70s, they develop a friendship that's hard to categorize but easy for people in their small town to misinterpret and condemn.
Sandra Hutchison writes beautifully transparent and unpretentious prose. She creates complex characters and a vivid sense of place. Most of all, she tells a compelling story full of sorrow and humor with a benign detachment that leaves room for readers to draw their own conclusions. In other words, she's a first-rate writer.
Some readers might be offended by Hutchison's frank depiction of sexual situations and nonjudgmental treatment of behavior that is usually condemned. They may dislike the somewhat open ending. But if you don't read fiction to find emotional security and have your beliefs validated, if you're just looking for an excellent book, I strongly recommend The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire. ...more
I like the story and the main character. She seems shallow at first but gains some depths as the plot progresses. Some of the clothes and hair descripI like the story and the main character. She seems shallow at first but gains some depths as the plot progresses. Some of the clothes and hair descriptions were too long and detailed, and the exposition fest three quarters of the way through slows things down just when they ought to be accelerating. Still, there are some nice twists at the end....more