Will Robie is a sanctioned assassin for the US government. Needless to say, if he screws up he's officially on his own. He gets an odd assignment amidWill Robie is a sanctioned assassin for the US government. Needless to say, if he screws up he's officially on his own. He gets an odd assignment amidst the cartel bosses and terrorists that are his usual hits. He's assigned to take out a woman who works for the Department of Defense. The official story is, she's got terrorist ties. He walks into her apartment and realizes something isn't right. He freezes and re-evaluates as her child wakes up and starts to panic, just in time for a second sniper to kill both him and his mom. Robie goes underground to find out what's going on. He climbs on a bus and watches a teen girl board as well. Shortly behind her is a man who looks like a professional. Robie watches as the man prepares to kill the girl, ready to act if he needs to. It turns out, she's capable of taking care of herself but now she's on the run with Robie.
I wanted something pretty exciting and fun to listen to and I have to say this did fit the bill. It took me by surprise when the sound effects started though. I can't recall having sound effects in many other audio books and I'm not sure if I like them. Mostly they just yank me out of the story as I look around, wondering where the gunshots are coming from. (I live kind of in the country in the South. It's not unusual for neighbors to indulge in some target practice.) I liked David McLarty's narration quite a bit. He has a gruff kind of voice that I thought suited the story perfectly. I also liked that Orlagh Cassidy read the female dialog but I occasionally felt too much like she was actually reading to me. I know, it's an audiobook and she is reading to me but I don't want it to sound that way. Mostly I enjoyed her narration too though.
While the book itself was exciting and I never did figure out exactly what was going on until the end, I saw too much of it coming from way too far away. There were a couple of times where I caught myself thinking, "Heaven help us if this is the best and brightest our country has to offer" and rolling my eyes. I might not have put all the pieces together but I did at least know what the pieces were. I'm pretty sure the whole thing was supposed to be a big surprise.
I don't know that I'll be running out to read or listen to more books by this author but if the mood strikes for another thriller-ish read, I'd give him another try, either in print or audio....more
Rachel Sorenson has just escaped an abusive marriage, but she's still not free of her ex-husband. Frank comes along every few nights, talks his way paRachel Sorenson has just escaped an abusive marriage, but she's still not free of her ex-husband. Frank comes along every few nights, talks his way past the security guard at her apartment building, and goes upstairs to beat on her door and demand that she take him back. Police say they just don't have the manpower to guard her around the clock, so she's dealing with this largely on her own.
Little does she know that someone is watching her.
Harry Landon is a photographer obsessed with Beauty. Not subjective beauty in its many forms, but perfect, unblemished, divine Beauty. He thinks he's found his goddess in Rachel. He watches her through his telescope at all hours of the day and night. He takes pictures of her. He knows that the goddess resides within Rachel, and when he cuts her, Beauty will burst forth in a blaze of light.
This is one of Charles de Lint's pseudonym books--the books he wrote openly as Samuel Key as a signal that this book is darker than his normal fare. I didn't care for From a Whisper to a Scream, so I've never been too interested in picking this one up. I finally gave in and read it in my attempt to read the Newford books in order.
I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. This was a straight-up thriller that was rocketing along and ratcheting up the tension. It seems a little unlikely that one woman would have two stalkers at the same time, but once you let go of that, this was a genuine page-turner. Frank is a textbook study of the abusive husband. Harry is terrifying in his convoluted, violent logic. Events just keep snowballing until the tension is almost unbearable.
Oh, and then.
It fell apart for me.
I almost threw my book across the room, I was so frustrated. I don't want to say anything about why, but it almost ruined the book for me. It had everything to do with some choices that were made, but it also had a little bit of what I like to call the Speed effect.
Have you ever seen that Keanu Reeves movie, Speed? You know how it should have ended at least 30 minutes before it actually did? That's what I'm talking about. If de Lint had just cut it a little shorter, this would have been a perfectly respectable thriller. But he didn't. And between the frustrating choices I mentioned above, and the cheat of an ending, I had to knock this back a full star.
Harry's meditations on Beauty got a little repetitive as well. I reasoned it away, thinking that the guy is obviously psychotic, so it makes sense that his thoughts would follow those well-worn paths, but it did get a little boring to read.
I like that de Lint chose to mention that Frank has a medical condition that causes him to act the way he does, but he never gave it a name. There's enough of a stigma attached to psychiatric disorders without authors inadvertently making it worse by seeming to imply that everyone with a particular mental illness is also a wife-beater.
I enjoyed watching Rachel get more confident and comfortable in her own skin. I always feel like de Lint does a great job portraying his female characters and Rachel is generally not an exception. Generally. She might not be my favorite, but she feels real and I understand where she's coming from.
I liked the way that de Lint worked so many women's issues into a book that really is a good thriller. Not only is there the abuse and the stalking, but there's the way that society views Rachel, as a victim who probably brought this on herself. Several characters talk about feminine beauty and the impossible ideal we are asked to live up to everyday, and the devastating consequences on our bodies and self-confidence. There are discussions about how women just have to be more careful in their day-to-day lives. A stroll home in the dark for a man can be a heart-pounding exercise in survival for a woman. There are even some career issues worked in, with some women being treated differently by their male bosses based on their looks. None of this took away from the action of the story, but it enriched it in a way that is reminiscent of de Lint's overall body of work. There's the story, and there's what you take away from the story. They both add to each other.
I don't regret reading this, I just wish that I could have read a version with an alternate ending. If you think you can overlook that, go ahead and give it a try. It really is a good book....more
In the interest of avoiding spoilers for the second book, I'll just say that this picks up immediately after that awful cliffhanger of an ending in TIn the interest of avoiding spoilers for the second book, I'll just say that this picks up immediately after that awful cliffhanger of an ending in The Girl Who Played with Fire.
So much has been said that I don't feel like I have a whole lot more to contribute. I (mostly) raced through the book, frantic to find out how big this conspiracy was, how far they would go, whether or not they would finally get caught, and how it would all go down.
Salander wasn't quite as large a figure in this one, for obvious reasons if you've been reading the trilogy, so I missed her. She was still the same old inscrutable, fascinating Salander in the parts she was in. She's growing though. I wish Larsson had been able to write more books about her so we could see how she ultimately turns out.
Three things bothered me. One was the setup of Salander's initial location. Vague enough? That would never happen here in the US. Not where I work anyway. Can you say armed guards (at the least) and different floors? So I'm left wondering if Larsson took an easy way out to steer the book where he wanted it to go or if Sweden is that different. Surely not.
At the very beginning, there's a whole lot of telling and not much showing. We're told what Blomqvist and the police got up to in the few hours immediately after the end of the second book. Why not just write that part as actual scenes happening in real time? It probably wouldn't have taken up much more space and there was certainly enough happening to have kept my attention.
I have had a problem with the amount of detail Larsson includes throughout the entire series. This last(?) installment is no different. I do not care about the history and structure of the Swedish version of the CIA. Tell me there's a group operating outside the rules and I'll fill in the blanks. I don't need pages and pages of details. Neither do I care what each character chooses to wear on a given day.
That said, I was happy with the way things ultimately turned out. I was cheering out loud in Gianinni's big scene and in Lisbeth's final confrontation. I was worried that things would not wrap up well since Larsson died and had huge plans for a series, but things are tied up very neatly in the end.
I'll give a nod here again to Reg Keeland's excellent translation.
If you've read the rest of the series, you know you're going to read this one. I think you'll love it....more
Alex Van Helsing has heard it thousands of times before. Yes, his last name is really Van Helsing. No, not like that Van Helsing. No, he doesn't killAlex Van Helsing has heard it thousands of times before. Yes, his last name is really Van Helsing. No, not like that Van Helsing. No, he doesn't kill monsters. To paraphrase his father, that kind of thing doesn't happen. Except when it does.
What a fun, action-packed story! It begins with Alex running toward a scream in the woods and ends on a very brooding scene that feels like a pause. Which isn't to say that this book feels incomplete; for the first in the series, it stands very well on its own. I know more is coming, I have one or two questions, but I'm happy with the way things ended.
Alex is the most fully fleshed-out character and I liked him. He's had some trouble in the past and he's still having trouble in the present but he's doing his best. His whole world has just shifted but he's dealing with it.
The other characters were fun, but they weren't developed all that well. I am curious about Minhi, Mr. Sangster, and Sid. I hope I'll learn more about them in other books.
As an older reader, I appreciated the way the classics like Dracula and the background story to Frankenstein were worked in. For younger readers who might not have been exposed to these books yet, the necessary references were explained well and the unnecessary ones were just bonuses for those in the know. There wasn't really anything new added to the vampire myth, but it was still fun. Kids who haven't read quite so much will probably love this. There were some gadgets that I even thought were very cool, and I'm not into gadgets!
These vampires are not the seductive, tormented vampires that we've seen so much of lately. These guys are baddies through and through. There was nothing too graphic, but it is what it is, so parents of younger children might want to check it out first. I imagine all teens would be fine with it.
I had a lot of fun reading this one and I'll be looking forward to the next in the series. This is one of those hard-to-find books that would be good for teen boys, but the tougher girls will like it too....more
This book was so complicated, I don't even know where to start with a synopsis. David Marion is an ex-con who receives advance notice of a hit on hisThis book was so complicated, I don't even know where to start with a synopsis. David Marion is an ex-con who receives advance notice of a hit on his life. He escapes and learns that a mega-corporation, UCAI, was behind it. At the same time, Dr. Helen Freyl, who has a complicated past with David, learns that UCAI is trying to get their hands on a patent she holds on some honeybee venom and they'll stop at nothing to get their hands on it.
Let me say first of all that I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.
Now, this was really more like 2.5 stars for me, but I can't bring myself to round up.
This is a sequel to Bleedout, which I haven't read, but there was a pretty good explanation of what had happened previously, so I don't think I necessarily needed to read these in order.
Helen was my biggest problem. I could not bring myself to like her at all. She was a spoiled rich girl who treated the whole thing like a game until she realized that her own life might be at stake. I can't remember how many others had died at that point, but it was enough for me to think that this was an amazingly self-absorbed woman. She had to be at least firmly into her twenties to have her doctorate, but she tended to act more like a teenager. "Oh, let me smoke in this guy's car just to see if he'll say anything." "Oh, let me order the crazy-expensive caviar at this restaurant just to see if he'll say anything." She just liked to push her boundaries and see what she could get away with. She was a tiger while she was pushing away at someone, but the moment that someone pushed back, she was a thoughtless mess of need. I guess there's no turn-on like a guy with a spine, is there? I kept reading, thinking that she was just too stupid to live. She's picking a fight with someone over her hurt feelings as he's trying to save her life, clueless that he's even doing so. Self-absorbed and stupid. Not a winning combination for me.
The book took a long time to get going. There was too much background information. About half the book felt like set up, then by the time the action really got started, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Maybe that was on purpose, but it just felt like there should be more suspense in a thriller. Once I did reach that halfway point, I enjoyed things much more and would give the second half three stars. Unfortunately, that is where I got a little confused though. I was correct about part of what was going on, but it went a step further and I didn't quite follow. That could just be me.
I know this is an ARC and I should make allowances, but there were a few incorrect things that jumped out at me that I really hope get fixed by the final printing. First of all, the Smoky Mountains are in Tennessee, not West Virginia as one of the chapter headings states. There were more incorrect things in that chapter that I'm going to put down to David being a city boy. One other little thing that jumped out was the name SmithKleinGlaxo. That's all tangled up. It's GlaxoSmithKline. I would've missed that one if my uncle didn't work there. Things like that make me wonder about the research that went into the rest of the book.
A reader who isn't as dependent on likable characters as I am will probably enjoy this more than I did. There is a good story of industrial espionage and little guys vs. big corporations in here. It just didn't quite live up to the potential that I saw inside....more
A giant dome suddenly appears over the town of Chester's Mill, Maine one beautiful October day, and the townspeople are left to their own devices.
ThatA giant dome suddenly appears over the town of Chester's Mill, Maine one beautiful October day, and the townspeople are left to their own devices.
That's a lame synopsis, but I don't want to give anything more away.
What would you do if you were cut off from the rest of the world? Perhaps more importantly--what would your neighbors do? Would everyone pitch in together to get through the crisis the best way they could? Would everything dissolve into complete anarchy?
What would you do?
As I read this, I kept mentally comparing it to Lord of the Flies, which I hated. I hated almost everything I had to read for class though, so I don't know what that says. Anyway, as I recall, in Lord of the Flies, the boys run wild and only bad things happen and I'm supposed to buy that that's the way people in general would act if all authority and rules disappeared. I can't buy it. I just can't. Call me a deluded optimist if you want. Oh, I'll give you that some people will get up to nasty things. But there will always be people who do the best they can, for themselves and their neighbors.
And that's what Stephen King got right here.
Sure, it is what it is and a lot of terrible things happen. But there is also a core group of good people. I loved them and I loved King for creating them. There was Barbie (a man), who might have been a little too good to be believable, but I still liked him. There was Julia, who never backed down. There was Piper, struggling with her faith, but still trying to minister to people's emotional needs. There was Andrea. I respected the hell out of that woman. And then there was Rusty. Rusty somehow became my husband in my head. I could see Luis just shining right through the guy, so of course I loved him too.
And then there was Big Jim Rennie and his son, Junior. I loathed Big Jim within about 3/4 of a page of meeting him. It was obvious I was going to dislike him right from the start, but I was impressed with how quickly King got such a strong reaction out of me.
It got knocked down a star mostly because I thought a merciless editor could have cut quite a bit off the 1027 page count. Some sections, like the immediate aftermath of the Dome plopping down, just got a little too long. It all added to the suspense, but I still wanted to tell King, "Enough! I got it. Let's move on already." Most die hard fans will disagree with me, but there it is.
This is such a little thing that I hesitate to even mention it, but here it is. I wish that Twitch, the ambulance guy, had been a paramedic rather than a nurse. My husband is a medic, and let me tell you, they are under-appreciated and underpaid, at least where we live. Every little bit of publicity has got to help, so I wish that King had helped them out a little. There's a whole gigantic soapbox I could get on, but I'll leave it at that.
Mostly though, this was just a great book that started off with a bang and didn't really let up. I thought it would take me forever to read this beast, but I got through it in about four days. Don't let the size intimidate you. If you're interested, pick it up and buckle up for the ride....more
Shutter Island is off the coast of Massachusetts, housing an asylum for the criminally insane. As a nasty summer storm brews up, U.S. Marshals Teddy DShutter Island is off the coast of Massachusetts, housing an asylum for the criminally insane. As a nasty summer storm brews up, U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule cross over to the island to search for an escaped inmate. But Teddy knows that things are not as they seem on Shutter Island.
Ho-lee crap. It's been a while since a book has messed with my head this much. Just as I thought I knew what was going on, a new revelation would come along and knock all my theories out from under me. It all ultimately made sense and brought me deeper into this world, and I have to say that I loved it. I didn't really know what was going on until the very last few pages, and I find that even after I finished it, I'm sitting here thinking, "Well, maybe it still really wasn't what it seemed..." You'll see. I bet almost everyone is surprised by this ending.
The twists and turns were the big draw of this book for me, but I loved Lehane's style. This is the first book I've read of his, but it won't be my last. Shutter Island is set in 1954, and I love the way these marshals speak to each other and so quickly establish common ground through The War. Their speech, their mannerisms, it all fit together to make them feel like real people.
If I say anymore, I'll give something away, so I'll leave it at that. I highly, highly recommend this if you like your thrillers gritty and unpredictable....more
FBI Special Agent Pendergast is assisting Lt. D'Agosta in the investigation of a murder that has hit them both close to home. Their friend, Bill SmithFBI Special Agent Pendergast is assisting Lt. D'Agosta in the investigation of a murder that has hit them both close to home. Their friend, Bill Smithback, has been murdered in his home on the night of his first anniversary. The perp has been positively id'd by Smithback's wife, Nora Kelly, and several others in the building as neighbor Colin Fearing. The problem? Colin died about two weeks earlier. Twists and turns lead through animal rights groups, allegations of voodoo, squatters on public land, and rumors of zombiis.
I have to admit that I always see problems with Preston and Child novels and yet I can't ever seem to put them down. I don't even particularly like any of their characters, but the convoluted plot lines keep me so intrigued that I just keep turning pages.
Parts of this were just silly. Let me see how I can phrase this...The way the bad guy is stopped actually made me laugh, it was that silly. I hope that's vague enough. Pendergast is pretty much superhuman. In the two books of his I've read, he knows about voodoo, he can perform the Japanese tea ceremony, he's mastered some sort of transcendental Buddhist meditation technique, and I'm pretty sure he's a master of at least one martial art form. I don't know much about any of these things, but I do think I know enough to know that each one of these would take years and years and years to master. And he's mastered them all, plus more? C'mon.
I would have liked a little more resolution at the end. The crashing climax is big, complicated, and messy, but only the main point is addressed. There were all kinds of issues raised that had absolutely no resolution.
I am surprised that these books haven't been made into movies. They're just exactly the kind of thing that would rake in beaucoup bucks at the box office, and they already even play like movies in my head. The authors must not want it to happen. I feel sure that offers have to have been made.
For a quick, mindless page-turner, this is a lot of fun. It would be perfect in between weightier books. There is a bit of an order though, so you might want to pick up Relic, the first Pendergast novel, first. I've read them all out of order though, and I think I've missed out on a little, but not much....more