Flying to the Fire is a YA thriller with a unique plot. I have never read a story of this kind before and it was refreshing to read something so diffe...moreFlying to the Fire is a YA thriller with a unique plot. I have never read a story of this kind before and it was refreshing to read something so different. The concepts of a young boy who can see where people's spirits go after they die, and that birds are the spirits of the deceased going on to the next life, were fascinating and kept me turning the pages. Being hunted by a scientist who wants to use his abilities for his own goals brings in an edge of realism and a sort of science fiction twist to the story, rather than a spiritual approach. Another aspect of this story I appreciated is that the main character, Danny, is deaf, but the author treats this as just another trait of the character. The character is not disabled, and his deafness is not a focus of the story. It's just one thing about him, like the color of his hair. But at the same time, this added layers to the characters of Danny and his family, and adds to the novelty of the story.
Authentic characters and a heavy dose of suspense create an exciting, fun story. If you're looking for something new and different than the usual YA fare, this is sure to entertain.(less)
The Retribution is a suspenseful, gripping thriller. The serial killer Jacko Vance was one scary villain. His ruthlessness, his methodical approach to...moreThe Retribution is a suspenseful, gripping thriller. The serial killer Jacko Vance was one scary villain. His ruthlessness, his methodical approach to his vengeance, and how well he knew those he sought to take vengeance on came together to create a truly scary killer.
However, there were a lot of characters minor characters I found easily blended together. Or rather, they didn't distinguish themselves from each other much. They were generally one of the crime investigation team members. Occasionally, the author would try to hint who the killer was after by describing them or where he was, but I couldn't tell by the description who they were talking about. I'm not sure if this was because it took me a while to read (only because of time constraints and not because of the book) or because of a lack of connection with the characters.
The other thing that bothered me was the tendency of the author to head-hop. Sometimes it would only happen at the very end of the scene. Other times, the narration would slip into another character's head midway through, then return to the original character's point of view. Head-hopping never fails to be annoying and confusing.
With those two problems, this potential four-star story dropped down to a three-star. And yet, it left me wanting to know more about the main characters. And if the author can create such a suspenseful story and gripping villain, I'd read others in this series.(less)
Just a quick review here. The Kraken Project was full of fun and interesting characters. But I felt there was not enough time spent on any one charact...moreJust a quick review here. The Kraken Project was full of fun and interesting characters. But I felt there was not enough time spent on any one character to get really connected to them. I ended up feeling most connected to Jacob, whom we didn't meet til later. And at first it felt like another story. I knew it would connect eventually, or else why was it part of the story? But the supposed main character, Wyman Ford, didn't feel like a main character, even less central than Melissa Shepard.
Still, I enjoyed seeing how Dorothy behaved. I was curious how that would play out. It was interesting to see. All in all a fun story. And nice ending! Set up for the next one?(less)
Even if you've read everything you can put your hands on regarding novel structure, this book will teach you more on the subject. Excellent, well-writ...moreEven if you've read everything you can put your hands on regarding novel structure, this book will teach you more on the subject. Excellent, well-written, and very easy to absorb the info. Breaks down the parts of the novel into pieces, with great examples.
The Scenes section is terrific. I have only found a detailed review of scene writing in Dwight Swain's book. This is a great addition to that. I recommend this even if you think you've read everything out there.(less)
I read this so fast, immediately after the first two, I never stopped to write my thoughts. So this review will be brief.
(view spoiler)[The genetic a...moreI read this so fast, immediately after the first two, I never stopped to write my thoughts. So this review will be brief.
(view spoiler)[The genetic aspect was a surprise and felt far out there as first. It seemed to throw a curve into the story I did not see coming, one I wasn't sure fit with the story. But soon enough it became the story. And the story was as gripping and suspenseful and fast-paced as the first two in this series. And it was even tougher to take. So much loss in these people's lives, short lives too.
But the end was still a shock. I couldn't believe the author killed off the main character. As an author, that is Brave. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Picks up right where the last left off. Continues the relentless pace, gets a bit more brutal. Still, the characters intrigue me and engross me enough...morePicks up right where the last left off. Continues the relentless pace, gets a bit more brutal. Still, the characters intrigue me and engross me enough that I can't put it down.
(view spoiler)[I got a few questions in this book answered I had been wanting in the first. The world they live in now makes more sense. What had been nagging me was that it didn't seem like a complete world, a self-sustainable world. It seemed there was an endless yet mysterious supply of "new" stuff, simple stuff, like new paper towels. They had functioning things like watches. Who made the watches? Where were the paper towels made? For that matter, where did all the weapons come from, the computers, etc. There were no factories, no plants. They did provide their own food, but the rest was a mystery. I'm still not sure the rest is supplied by the outside, but now I know there is an outside.
I started getting inklings that this was all an experiment early on, when they started talking more about the fence, and about secrets, what was out there. But that their memories were wiped, that they were the hope for the rest of them? That the Divergents especially were the ones to save them? Did not see that coming. Or that ending. No doubt people will be suspicious of Tris, knowing that her mother was the one in the video, even though everyone's memory has been wiped. There's a bit of irrationality and suspicion built into everyone's reactions, it seems.
Can't help comparing this series to Hunger Games. Which means comparing Tris to Katniss. The main difference I feel as I read is that Katniss was more mature, so it didn't really feel like I was reading a YA book. The characters here are a bit less mature, despite what they're going through. So it feels a bit young for me.
And yet, Tris's reactions feel very genuine. The ambivalence, inability to make the "right" choice, lingering on what she shouldn't or can't afford to think about. Sounds like an adolescent to me. (hide spoiler)]
I've enjoyed this story, curious as it is, and will definitely read the final installment. Don't know if it'll live up to the promise of the cliffhanger, but it'll be worth finding out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This didn't grab me quite as quickly as I was told it would. At first, I was just curious. A few more pages in, and I was curious and intrigued. The m...moreThis didn't grab me quite as quickly as I was told it would. At first, I was just curious. A few more pages in, and I was curious and intrigued. The main character, Tris Prior, is strong, the writing is solid. Only occasionally did the dialogue feel off. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Fast-paced, suspenseful, and largely unpredictable.
(view spoiler)[But I do have questions and some misgivings. Once Beatrice chose Dauntless and saw how it was in initiation - we do dangerous things and people die - I would have thought she'd question her decision more. I wasn't clear on why she wanted to be in the Dauntless faction. Because she wanted excitement? Because she thought she was brave? Because it looked fun? Dauntless is described as the faction for people who protect everybody else. That would mean soldiers and policemen and firemen. I didn't see any firemen or even policemen. They seemed more like adrenalin junkies. There was some similarity in the initiation process to some sort of boot camp, so it had some militaristic aspects. It was like they were being trained to be soldiers. I wonder how long their plan with Erudite had been in motion.
My main problem is with the story world. The whole dividing up society into five factions according to personalities felt a bit contrived. I waited to see something that showed how these factions evolved out of the society naturally - because that's how societies change, out of necessity, out of evolution. But I didn't get any answer to that.
I was intrigued as I saw hints of larger things going on, like that the fences are locked from the outside and the guards outside. Tris wasn't sure of their purpose and neither was I. But I also had questions that weren't being asked. Like where are the Dauntless people older than 25 or so? Do they just die? There aren't any children either. It's a rather unrealistic place. And why do they live underground? Did they always feel the need to stay hidden? And who does the laundry? Tris was surprised to find someone acting as a nurse, because the Dauntless have limited options for jobs. So who does all the other normal jobs that need to be done in the real world? These details weaken the coherency of the story world for me. (hide spoiler)]
Despite my misgivings with its world foundation, the story is exciting and intriguing. And a killer ending. I'm interested to see how things continue with Insurgent. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Rating: 3.5 stars I didn't know this author when I got this book. I might have gotten it as a free download, I'm not sure. I was pleasantly surprised -...moreRating: 3.5 stars I didn't know this author when I got this book. I might have gotten it as a free download, I'm not sure. I was pleasantly surprised -- I tend not to have high expectations for free books. But the characters, the story, and the writing are strong. And not your ordinary fantasy story. If you enjoy fantasy, but are looking for a change, a change of setting, characters, situations, and motivations, you'll enjoy this.
The story concept is interesting. I haven't read a story like this before. It made it unpredictable, which kept the suspense high.
(view spoiler)[The mystery was fascinating as it evolved and developed. The twist with Sarmin seeing through another's eyes was unexpected -- it seems he gave himself the pattern and changed things. Many unanswered questions kept me reading. Very well done.
As the story continued to complicate, I got a little confused about who was on whose side, but that's probably because I read in bits -- reading too many books at once will cause that -- and sometimes I lost the thread. I became uncertain of Tuvaini's allegiance, but I think I was supposed to be. At first it seemed he was on the prince's side, then expressed loyalty to the emperor. Then he was after the emperor's mother and the emperor's throne himself. I was always on Mesema's side myself. I love her character. Strong, even when she's afraid, she did the best she could.
And Eyul is a great character. Killing the two assassins while blind, with help from a voice, which he couldn't identify or place, impressive. He's an honorable assassin, and I love that gray area for the character.
Then people started dying! I thought Sarmin was dead for a moment, which was upsetting, as I had hopes for him coming out on top at the end. But Eyul killed Amalya because she had the pattern! Grr, I hate when the good characters die. Eyul's doing his assassin's job as always, killing her because it's the law. I thought he'd changed, though.
Sarmin's control over the pattern was exciting but also frustrating. I wanted him to do more, and I couldn't see what he intended to do. (hide spoiler)] In the end, things began to make sense as people's loyalties became clear, and things came together quickly. I will definitely be reading the sequel.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A third of the way through and I knew how the whole story would go. It opens with what's now a familiar scenario: someone loves someone who loves anot...moreA third of the way through and I knew how the whole story would go. It opens with what's now a familiar scenario: someone loves someone who loves another, who loves another. Then with a bit of magic they're all mixed up. Of course, they'll all end up with different people in the end and live happily ever after. Too much effort for something so predictable. Yeah, it's Shakespeare, so it was new then. T'ain't new now. Can't go on. Two stars, cuz, yeah, it's Shakespeare. (less)
Read years ago, only recently realized it wasn't in any of my shelves. A must-read, perhaps I'll be rereading soon, now that's it's come to my attenti...moreRead years ago, only recently realized it wasn't in any of my shelves. A must-read, perhaps I'll be rereading soon, now that's it's come to my attention again.(less)
I have read other Fairstein books, and one or two with the Alexandra Cooper character. But this one was so focused on the relationship between Alexand...moreI have read other Fairstein books, and one or two with the Alexandra Cooper character. But this one was so focused on the relationship between Alexandra and her French lover, Luc, who came off as an ass, to be honest, I felt like I was reading a romance rather than a mystery or thriller. Cooper was constantly contemplating her relationship, while at the same time putting up with Luc brushing aside her opinion and concerns, belittling her career, and giving her the cold shoulder when she dared to obey her boss's call to return to New York. Some romance. It's too bad, because the story this lame romance was obscuring was actually interesting. I kept pushing myself to listen for a few more chapters because I wanted to know what happened. But the characters irritated me too much. And so did the reader. Yes, I listened to the audiobook. The narrator is one I've heard before and I do not like her style of reading. I hadn't checked the narrator before getting this book, though. She reads so slow, with a couple of seconds between sentences sometimes, it actually kills any momentum a scene might build for suspense or tension. It doesn't sound like much, but when you hear a pause that long you think at least there will be a switch in speaker, and possibly the end of a scene, or some time passing. But no, the same person's talking, with the same thought, in fact. The narrator was just taking another long (and loud) breath (yes, you can hear her breathe, and it's annoying. Sure, you need to breathe, but other narrators clearly manage to do it silently.). It may seem that the bad narration turned me off the book, but I found enough reasons to stop reading aside from that. The bad narrator was simply the last straw. (less)
The Hunt for Xanadu is a gripping, fast-paced story, right from the opening scene. The characters are refreshing and don't act predictable. The main c...moreThe Hunt for Xanadu is a gripping, fast-paced story, right from the opening scene. The characters are refreshing and don't act predictable. The main character, Kelsey Porter, is a fascinating mix of skilled hero and vulnerable young woman. Events throw her together with Detective Desmond Gisborne, but because they share a common goal does not mean these two are happy to work together. The elements of Buddhism woven with fantasy created a unique story set in modern day that stayed with me after I put it down for the night. Multiple story threads came together in a wonderful web that took the characters around the globe and by the end had me breathless. Just don't plan on stopping in the middle of the last chapter! It's a doozy!
Can't wait for the sequel to see what Kelsey's up to next!(less)
Fast paced, never let you go from the first scene. Liked the relationship between Julie and Will. Baldacci's style of crisp, stripped down language le...moreFast paced, never let you go from the first scene. Liked the relationship between Julie and Will. Baldacci's style of crisp, stripped down language lends itself to an action-packed story. (less)
A nice interlude b/w Clean and Sharp. Getting more of a sense of the main character, a little more of his past. The interaction between him and Cherab...moreA nice interlude b/w Clean and Sharp. Getting more of a sense of the main character, a little more of his past. The interaction between him and Cherabino are as tense as ever and continue where they left off in Clean. I'm liking this character more and more. It's his struggle to do what's right, no matter what it costs him. And it often costs him a lot. Makes you hope he'll catch a break someday. Maybe on Sharp. We'll see. Going straight on to Sharp!(less)
Enjoyed Sharp as much or more than Clean. Poor Adam suffered even more in Sharp - he just cannot catch a break. Things turned from bad to worse to wor...moreEnjoyed Sharp as much or more than Clean. Poor Adam suffered even more in Sharp - he just cannot catch a break. Things turned from bad to worse to worse and worse. And then they got worse! By halfway through the story, his ability to stay clean, his dignity, his freedom, his job, his livelihood, even his life - everything was on the line.
No one seems to notice how hard Adam tries. No matter what happens, he's at fault.
The stakes continued to rise with every chapter! No one trusted him, no one but Swartz. If he lost him, he'd lose everything... (view spoiler)[Adam kept losing ground, with more and more at stake, more clues to follow up, more of the mystery to uncover, with fewer answers, until he literally had a gun to his head. Cherabino was forced to use their link to get to him. Maybe now she'll start to see the good things about the link? She really needs to cut him a break! (hide spoiler)]
And when all was settled, the author dropped something else on us, just enough that I've got to come back for more! Hope it's not to long till the next book!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I enjoyed getting back to Harper Blaine, though this seemed to start out a bit slower than previous stories. It felt like Richardson was explaining a...moreI enjoyed getting back to Harper Blaine, though this seemed to start out a bit slower than previous stories. It felt like Richardson was explaining a lot, but this simply could be that I've read all the previous books, and there's information a new reader would need. Still wish it was spread out a bit more. Harper is a bit more connected to the case she becomes invovled in, in that she becomes part of the case. Not quite a victim, but she suffers a bit more than usual. Well, she does tend to suffer in various ways for her clients, so perhaps this is usual. But she's more scared than usual, it seems. Like she has less control, more at stake. And she's more aware of that fear, and other emotions, than in previous stories. Like she's learned not to shut out the whole world. But I have a new character to hate: James Purlis. Ugh. Keep away from Quinton and Harper! He seems just the right balance of calculating, cold, resentful, and knowledgable to cause them a great deal of trouble. And it looks like he'll be causing plenty more in the future. A wonderful mix of ghosts and government spooks, the next story is already set up and promises to be quite the doozy. Lots of trouble headed Harper and Quinton's way. Perhaps this one was a quieter, more moderately paced story because the next will not be? A ghost story through and through, with all the creepiness you'd expect, just a little calmer pace than I'd come to expect from Richardson. (less)
Really a 4.5 star rating. An interesting and exciting addition to the Pendergast series, though different in some ways. A lot of character time was gi...moreReally a 4.5 star rating. An interesting and exciting addition to the Pendergast series, though different in some ways. A lot of character time was given to Corrie Swanson, especially in the beginning, so that I started to feel like it was her story and not Pendergast's. I like the character Corrie, but I'm reading for Pendergast, so I was a bit disappointed in how much I didn't get of him.
The mystery unraveled slowly at first, then became two mysteries that slowly merged into one. It definitely finished better than it started. More suspenseful, more exciting -- and an ending not for the faint of heart!
The Sherlock Holmes angle was fascinating. At first, it seemed an odd direction for Pendergast to take. And the Holmes story in the middle of the Pendergast story was interesting -- but at the same time, it was in the middle of the story. It did kind of bring the Pendergast story to a halt, killing the momentum and suspense. By the time I'd finished the Holmes story, I'd forgotten what was going on in Roaring Forks. So I'm not sure how successful that was as a device.
There were some great Pendergast moments here, like his entrance to the town. The Pendergast we see here is not the same as we've seen. He went through the harrowing events of the last three books, and had spent time "recovering." So far, that seemed to mean ignoring everyone and drinking heavily. But it seems Corrie's situation may have pulled him out of his funk. We'll have to see what he does for his next trick.(less)
A beautiful addition to the Robicheaux series. The Montana setting was as much a part of the story as the characters, who were as alive as ever. The e...moreA beautiful addition to the Robicheaux series. The Montana setting was as much a part of the story as the characters, who were as alive as ever. The evolution of the characters Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell is heart warming and heartbreaking at the same time. They're acutely aware of their age, and are more often looking back on their life, wondering if they've accomplished enough, if it was all worth it, if they're worthy of what they've gained. Clete in particular goes through a struggle with his accomplishments and deeds, and comes out the other side bruised and battered, but still Clete.
It's unfortunate that I read this story so quickly that I did not take more notes on the aspects of the story I most enjoyed. So I can't give this story the review it deserves. I'm sure I will reread it in the future and be able to add to my review, but I will have to leave it as a must-read for any James Lee Burke or Dave Robicheaux fan, and for anyone interested in a mystery/thriller/crime story that is more thoughtful, has more developed and complicated characters, and is beautifully written. James Lee Burke has managed to outdo himself again. (less)
Not a bad resource for writers. There are things to be learned here. The exercises look helpful, though I have to admit I didn't do them. But that was...moreNot a bad resource for writers. There are things to be learned here. The exercises look helpful, though I have to admit I didn't do them. But that was mainly due to being busy myself. Helpful advice, though nothing earth-shattering. The writing itself is average; the conversational style, instead of drawing me in, actually threw me off for some reason. I would say not a waste of time, but not mandatory. (less)
I only read the short story "Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher. This one is such a tease! It gives us what we've (okay, I've) been waiting for - almost. Then...moreI only read the short story "Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher. This one is such a tease! It gives us what we've (okay, I've) been waiting for - almost. Then takes it away completely. :-p(less)
Backup is a fun and fascinating look at Harry Dresden's world from Thomas's point of view. I only wish it were longer! I would love to read more tales...moreBackup is a fun and fascinating look at Harry Dresden's world from Thomas's point of view. I only wish it were longer! I would love to read more tales from Harry's older brother. It was interesting to see how he viewed his vampire side and how he saw Harry. Loved his conversation with Bob. Great novelette!(less)