Read this after seeing the movie, and found it an interesting alternate take on the same basic events. Jarring to see the same characters as in the moRead this after seeing the movie, and found it an interesting alternate take on the same basic events. Jarring to see the same characters as in the movie but in their "traditional" Marvel costumes rather than the cooler ones in the film, (I'm looking at you, Thor and Captain America).
I really enjoyed all the other characters which I frankly had not realized inhabited the same universe - Fantastic Four, X-Men, et al. ...more
FINALLY - the long-awaited war with the Whisperers. Negan continues to surprise; Rick continues to whine and be less-than-helpful; cannot understand wFINALLY - the long-awaited war with the Whisperers. Negan continues to surprise; Rick continues to whine and be less-than-helpful; cannot understand why everyone looks up to him as their leader. Andrew Lincoln does a much better job with him in the TV show......more
Maybe this is how we'll realistically act after a zombie apocalypse, but too many people in this story (and in particular, this volume) act like idiotMaybe this is how we'll realistically act after a zombie apocalypse, but too many people in this story (and in particular, this volume) act like idiots. Rick acts like an idiot towards Brandon, which makes Brandon act like an idiot. Alpha, leader of the Whisperers, acts like a total - and totally out of character - idiot on the last two pages, which should at least set up some interesting pieces in Vol. 27. And even if whatever Eugene's getting involved with turns out to end well (and when does anything ever end well in The Walking Dead?), he's going about it in a pretty idiotic fashion.
Saving the story once again is the character of Negan, by far the most charismatic and outright fun character remaining. Absolutely no doubt it was stupid of Rick to keep him alive - but lucky for us all that he did!
Not a lot of action here, but sets up for (I hope) an interesting Vol. 27, which I believe is already available....more
Four stars for the book itself, but an extra one just because, you know, damn.
Fraser wrote his first Flashman book way back in 1969...and continued wrFour stars for the book itself, but an extra one just because, you know, damn.
Fraser wrote his first Flashman book way back in 1969...and continued writing them for the next 35 years, publishing the last one - the twelfth one, this one - in 2005. And I'll be darned if this last one isn't as good and fresh as the first one, and reads like it could have been written yesterday. To put that in perspective, Ian Fleming only wrote James Bond for 13 years, from 1953-1966. The nearest comparison (that I can think of anyway) is Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series, (aka Master and Commander), which lacks anything near the variety or education that Fraser offers us through Flashy's global adventures.
My last Fraser was the mid-series Flashman's Lady, which was good but a little all over the place compared to March. The first quarter of that book was a long slog about cricket, with the rest split awkwardly between adventures in Borneo and Madagascar. Still, I really enjoyed it, thanks to my existing interest in Singapore/Borneo and my non-existent knowledge of anything Madagascan (?), and so the I found that latter section - in particular the historically accurate and completely Flash-worthy character of Queen Ranavalona - absolutely fascinating.
But March tells a more consistent story, i.e., England's "invasion" of Abyssinia (i.e., Ethiopia) in 1868. Having just read Alan Moorehead's excellent Blue Nile, I was interested to read the Flashmanized version of that bizarre episode, and March did not disappoint, (even if the book depended heavily on Moorehead for background and footnotes - and the footnotes are always highlights of any Flashman story). Interestingly - and I think wisely - Fraser does not send Flashman off with the main British invasion force, but has Colonel Napier (another fascinating figure little known to most Americans) assign him a secondary solo mission to help woo the anti-Emporer Galla tribes into supporting the British by blocking Emperor Theodore's sole escape route. This fact is touched on only lightly by Moorehouse, but Fraser cleverly saw this as the key to launching Flashy on his own parallel adventure while keeping him close enough to the main action to allow for a thorough and as-always historically accurate telling of the entire campaign.
To all my friends who enjoy historical fiction that is heavy in fact but light in tone - if you haven't read at least one Flashman story, you must do so immediately. Fraser covers so much ground - the Light Brigade, the Khyber Pass, the Taiping Rebellion, the Civil War, the Great Game - that there's bound to be at least one title in the series close to your hearts. Could not recommend more highly!...more
As with No Way Out, the last "Secret Agent" book I read, this one starts out interesting - Cold War Albania vs. Cold War Macau - but then the author rAs with No Way Out, the last "Secret Agent" book I read, this one starts out interesting - Cold War Albania vs. Cold War Macau - but then the author really does nothing to set the location other than throw in a few street names gleaned from a map of Tirana. In fact, after the initial scene, the story doesn't actually get to Albania until 2/3s of the way through. The plot hinges on the often-used but never realistic device of the good spy bearing an uncanny resemblance to the dead bad guy, (the only overused plot trick worse than this is Mission Impossible's use of masks).
Obviously, you can't expect these TV tie-in books to be of the same quality as, say, Alistair MacLean's The Secret Ways, (similar time/setting). But they could have made a little more of an effort. Oh well.
This was the last of the old John Drake Secret Agent novels, (only four of them). Unfortunately, I've still got a good 30 Man/Girl From U.N.C.L.E., Avengers, I Spy, Mission Impossible and others to get through someday. They're fun to read in a nostalgic, back-to-the-60s, back-to-my-early-teen-years way, but I really need to spend more time reading much better, much more recent stuff......more
No idea how I ended up reading things so out of sequence. Read The Giver to the boys when they were younger; then for some reason read Son a couple ofNo idea how I ended up reading things so out of sequence. Read The Giver to the boys when they were younger; then for some reason read Son a couple of years ago and didn't like it all that much, so decided to leave Lowry alone for a while.
But then last month, I listened to Messenger merely because I enjoy David Morse as an audiobook narrator. Much better than Son, and then in looking up the series on Wiki I learned that I really should have read Gathering Blue first...
So have finally come the long way around, and listened to Blue, which I really liked. It explains much of Messenger and makes that story more poignant, (although unfortunately, reading Messenger first also spoiled most of Blue's major surprises.
Blue is a true stand-along story from The Giver, even though they take place in the same world. Messenger then does a fairly neat job of linking the first two books; and so now that I at least have these three stories straight in my head, I'm going to read Son again, to see if I like it more now that I understand the overall story - and, I believe, some of Son's recurring characters - better than first time around.
Understanding this may be rather confusing, so is really more a "note to self" than an actual review. However, if you do like The Giver and want to explore this series some more, I strongly recommend you read them in the proper order.
One minor gripe: I am now listening to Son on CD, which means I will end up listening to the entire series as audiobooks. What's annoying is that each one has a different narrator - one great, two good, and one meh. Why oh why can't publishers use the same narrator for an entire series, to provide the same continuity of voice as the author did in his writing? ...more
More a novella than a novel, and with a plot that would fit in a short story and still have room left over. But Lowry's writing always sparkles, and eMore a novella than a novel, and with a plot that would fit in a short story and still have room left over. But Lowry's writing always sparkles, and even though this was written in 2006, its slim plot is VERY timely in light of the recent U.S. election. It takes place in The Village, where the character of Jonas from The Giver is apparently now The Leader many years after his arrival. The Village had always welcomed people who had escaped from other areas, but now they want to close their borders and build a wall to keep any new arrival out - sound familiar?
Picked this up mainly because it was narrated by David Morse, who did such an excellent job with The Andromeda Strain. His narration here is good, but not as impressive as with Andromeda, mainly (I think) because the characters don't have the distinctive voices they did in Crichton's book. But still a very good audiobook selection....more
Really good book, greatly enhanced by the solid ring of authenticity throughout. Henshaw is no ex-insurance agent like Tom Clancy; he's a genuine CIAReally good book, greatly enhanced by the solid ring of authenticity throughout. Henshaw is no ex-insurance agent like Tom Clancy; he's a genuine CIA analyst who not only knows his own business but also has a solid understanding of the ops/tradecraft side of the house, (the only false notes being an unnecessary back alley fight in Beijing that would be a career-ender for any real case officer; and a final action scene that, while very well written, I'm pretty sure would have let to full scale war). And always nice to see these sort of international thrillers set in Asia rather than Europe (so '60s) or the Middle East (so '90s - 10s). If you take this story (published in 2012, but probably written at least 1-2 years early) and move it from the Taiwan Straits to the South China Sea, it would be even relevant to one of the world's top hotspots today.
HOWEVER: PLEASE READ THE BOOK - DO NOT LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION! I started on the audiobook, but it was so bad on so many levels that I had to stop after two CDs and switch to the book. For ANY readers: narrator Rob Patterson makes no effort to distinguish between any of the many characters - a cardinal sin for any narrator - and his overall phrasing is awkward and off-putting. For readers of spy novels: the narrator consistently and annoyingly spells out many of the acronyms that are commonly pronounced as words - SIGINT, STU, NIACT, SPO. And most grating of all, for any speakers of even basic Chinese: Patterson has NO idea how to pronounce Chinese - he mangles the most common Chinese names and places, and slaughters entire sentences of jumbled nonsense; just unlistenable. And so I didn't. (Meanwhile, the book actually does a fine job with almost all of the Chinese, having just a few misspellings - "Shoudou" instead of "Shoudu," etc - and [a personal pet peeve] improperly split words, like "Yuem-ing" instead of "Yue-ming".)...more
Scalzi is definitely channeling 1960's Robert Heinlein in his first book, which is both a good and bad thing if you know your Heinlein - bug-eyed alieScalzi is definitely channeling 1960's Robert Heinlein in his first book, which is both a good and bad thing if you know your Heinlein - bug-eyed alien space war plot; cringe-worthy, free-love hippy sex; and pretty much non-existent character development, (imagine the hero as a cross between Johnny Rico and Lazarus Long). And be forewarned - the first third of the book is just something to plow through until the actual plot kicks in.
The book suffers from a few too many debut novel coincidences - what are the odds that our narrator and his two remaining friends from his basic training days (who were then assigned to a different ship) are the only survivors of a battle involving nearly 100,000 human casualties? That said, this is a fun read, and I enjoyed seeing the early thought process of the guy who went on to write the very funny Redshirts in 2012, (see review here - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). So kind of like looking at a very early Picasso - or probably more like early Frank Frazetta....more