Excellent spy novel from Chistopher Reich. Its impossible to review it without giving away the whole plot. It seems a lot like a Helen MacInnes or Rob...moreExcellent spy novel from Chistopher Reich. Its impossible to review it without giving away the whole plot. It seems a lot like a Helen MacInnes or Robert Ludlum book in that an innocent naif with some fighting skills is thrust into a world of violence, intrigue and fear while investigating some mystery. In this case, the main character is a doctor who has some fighting skills. The action involves two rival intelligence agencies, swiss nationals, assasins, enriched uranium, nuclear bombs, drone and even evangelists all tied up in a cool plot. It all works really well.
If you are looking for the next great spy novel. This is it.
Hard boiled private eye adventure set in Chicago as cop turned PI investigates and old murder case and finds a convoluted tale where there are few fri...moreHard boiled private eye adventure set in Chicago as cop turned PI investigates and old murder case and finds a convoluted tale where there are few friends and many enemies. I liked the pacing and action and I thought the denoument was prety good. The dialogue also crackled.(less)
This is more of a cerebral Reacher novel than some of the past novels that have a much higher body count, and to me, the absence of action takes away...moreThis is more of a cerebral Reacher novel than some of the past novels that have a much higher body count, and to me, the absence of action takes away some of what I have come to expect from a Lee Child novel. Sure there are some fight sequences, but I never felt the main character was evenly remotely matched by the villains who opposed him.
Moreover, I cannot avoid another problem with the plot as to why Reacher actually get involved in this problem to begin with. Child makes a point of mentioning several times that Reacher has to solve this mystery because the people were not acting the way they should. Oddness but not necessarily compelling. In fact the story is just not as compelling.
The various mysteries may be interesting by the book didnt hook me in. Not to say I didnt read it in a day or so, but I wasnt as moved as I was say by Persuader or the Killing Floor. To me, the book was a little tired.(less)
JK Rowlings Harry Potter series resulted in a cataclysmic change in fantasy fiction for children. Forty years ago science fiction was marketed to chil...moreJK Rowlings Harry Potter series resulted in a cataclysmic change in fantasy fiction for children. Forty years ago science fiction was marketed to children and young adults. Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula LeGuin were available at the library, but fantasy was mostly missing. This is not to say fantasy novels were not available, but it was primarily limited to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was not until The Sword of Shannara was published in 1977 and became a huge bestseller that fantasy and epic fantasy at that became a huge wave in fiction for adults.
Rowlings proved that younger readers will read long epic novels with children characters and paved the way for big epic fantasy to be sold to kids. A lot of it is now available, and more is on the way. Rick Riordan is a huge bestseller with his series tied to godlings, but there are also traditional fantasy, albeit it with young kids as the main characters.
The Emerald Atlas is the first volume in a promising trilogy about the Books of Beginning, books of magic in which the great wizards of the world recorded magical spells. Stephens plans to write a novel about each of the Books of Beginning, and theoretically each will be about one of his main characters.
The three main characters, Kate the eldest girl, who turns out to be connected to the Atlas, Emma the youngest, the tough one and Michael, the scrawny middle child who knows all there is to know about dwarves are orphans. They have been abandoned by their Mother to save them from some great evil. Forced to live in a series of progressively worse orphanages, the children finally end being taken by rail to Cambridge Falls, where they are met by Abraham, the caretaker of the home of Dr. Pym. Abraham takes them to Pym's house, and on the way shows them a picture of the town from the past, when it was just a village.
While exploring Pym's house, they find a secret room in which is a strange green book, which seems to have only blank pages. Before anyone can stop him, Michael places Abraham's picture of the town in the past on one of those blank pages in the book, and all three children are magically transported back in time to that exact time and place.
The children soon find themselves prisoners with the other children of the town of an evil Countess and her monsterous Screechers, who has stolen the children and enslaved the men. She is using the men as miners to drill down below the town into a dwarf stronghold to find a legendary treasure.
Initally, Kate and Emma escape the Countesses clutches, but Michael is trapped back in the past, and its up to Kate and Emma to try to rescue him by returning to the past. Kate finds she has an affinity to the Atlas and can use it to go back in time, and so starts their adventures in the past as they battle the evil Countess, meet a fat unheroic dwarf king and his heroic brother, fight the Screechers, become allies with Gabriel, a noble warrior who befriends Emma and with her help survives some encounters with monsters. Later the youngsters free Dr. Pym, a wizard prisoner of the Countess, who helps them fight the Countess. There is a lot of action, and the book moves along at a good pace, although there are some lags, Stephens throws in enough cliffhangers at the end of chapters to keep up the pace.
Kate must learn to use her magical ties to the Atlas, but all three children learn about their abilities. There are scary villians, fights, puzzle solving and a lot of good fun in this adventure packed novel. Stephens decision to use of ability to learn about the future in the past and by doing so change the future as a way to solve some of the problems the characters face at the end of the book may be the only real weakness. One would have wished the children could figure out how to defeat all of the evil in the book, but it’s a minor gripe.
Harry Potter’s birthright might be the fact that serious writers are writing fantasy fiction for a younger audience. If they are all as good as this volume, our children will have many fantasy novels to enjoy in their youth. (less)
Definite page turner of corporate kidnapping at isolated resort and young hero with shady background coming to rescue. The plot is full of twists and...moreDefinite page turner of corporate kidnapping at isolated resort and young hero with shady background coming to rescue. The plot is full of twists and turns and the author knows his weapons technology. I thought the book lacked only a little more characterization.(less)
**spoiler alert** If you like to be emmershed in real life you will like Price's latest novel. The story is in the context of a police investigation o...more**spoiler alert** If you like to be emmershed in real life you will like Price's latest novel. The story is in the context of a police investigation of a murder in the Lower East Side of New York, but using that jumping off point, Price accurately presents a mixed bag of characters and nails their essences down pat. As in the Wire, where Price was a writer, the story does not flow straight ahead. It pauses, it digresses, it disolves into various character moments. It presents everyones side of the story. It spins a web from each characters reaction to the events jumping from one viewpoint to the next, but you never feel lost or striving to understand who is talking. Its alive and you are there. It captures the flaws in each character -- and everyone is flawed in some way. From the initial witnesses who falsely accuse the wrong man to Eric, the presumed murderer who is raked over the coals in an interrogation, and you feel sympathy for him, but then he is skimming at the nightclub and holds out on the cops, to the father of the victim who goes a little nuts and blames himself for how his son acted on the night of the murder examining how he raised the boy to the cop investigating the crime, who has the hots for the murder victim's stepmother and barely knows his own two wayward sons who are called Older One and Other One. The stepsister's guilt, the killer, his criminal accomplice, an ex lover of the victim, a waitress who screwed the victim on the night of the murder. Each person finds his way onto the stage of the novel and in small snippets, and utterly convincing dialogue, Price shows their lives -- warts and all.
I am not so concerned about geography or whether Price accurately depicts the exact neighborhood. This is fiction. But dialogue is why I read books. Its what I love, and if you love dialogue you will love this book.
I was captivated, enthralled, engrossed. I read it in 48 hours 455 pages on two work days. Gulped it down finished it and said now thats a book and a half.
Interesting science fiction speculative story with game play, mystery, cops and robbers and espionage all taking place in Scotland and Europe. The boo...moreInteresting science fiction speculative story with game play, mystery, cops and robbers and espionage all taking place in Scotland and Europe. The book starts out with a bang but about midway through I thought the author labored a little for about 20 pages as the story went in too many directions at once. Finally, I thought the ending was just not convincing, but all in all a fun read.
The confusing part of this book is where it fits within the other Flinx Pip universe. It is a poser. But Foster wrote it second.
This novel stands on...moreThe confusing part of this book is where it fits within the other Flinx Pip universe. It is a poser. But Foster wrote it second.
This novel stands on its own two legs, and is a very good story. Read it even if you are not a Flinx and Pip fan.
The Vom, an evil entity of immense power and ability traveled into a galaxy controlled by the Tar Aiym thousands of years before the events of the novel. The Vom is a carnivore on an immense scale. Its sustenance, however is not meat, but the actual force of sentient life. It attacks a planet, and systematically devours everything alive on the planet until its a desolate rock, then travels to the next planet. The Tar-Aiym, a warlike superior alien race figured out what the VOM was and forced it onto a single planet, which was gutted of life by the VOM.
The VOM however then had no matter to digest and was forced by a special Tar-Aiym merged with a machine entity and guardian ships to never leave, where the VOM was stuck.
Thousands of years go by, and the AAnn, a reptilian galactic rival of humanity comes across this derelict rock and finds the VOM. Only seeing it in its most limited state, certain scientists take it to a world controlled by humanity's government (the Commonwealth), a world called Repler, that is basically inimical to the desertlike AAnn because its mostly water. The AAnn, a race of supreme confidence, start to do experiments on the VOM, not realizing what they are dealing with.
The Machine-Tar Aiym finding the VOM leaving, awakes from hiatus follows the VOM back to Repler, where a small capsule containing the Tar-Aiym part of the merged entity is captured by space miners and brought to the home of one of the more wealthy men on the water world --Kingsley.
Meanwhile, a certain starship captain of a trading vessel named Hammurabi discovers a breakin in his warehouse where he just offloaded cargo. When he stops the breakin, in a scene that shows Foster wit about fighting scenes, he finds that there is a very toxic drug called Bloodhype, mixed in with his cargo, but being shipped by a particularly repulsive man named Dominick Rose. Bloodhype, besides an incredible addictive quality is also extremely toxic.
In addition, the Commonwealth, which is controlled mostly by humans and an insectoid race called the Thranx have also discovered that there is an outbreak of Bloodhype and have traced its source to Repler as well. Bloodhype The United Church, a religious organization of immense power in the Commonwealth has dispatched two agents Kitten Kai Sung, a young beautiful woman and Porsupah, a seal like Tolian, to Repler where they meet with the local Thranx Agent in Charge, who tasks them with trying to track down its origins.
The two agents pretending to be rich playboys are captured by Rose's men just about the time that Hammurabi has visited Rose to get him to stop the drug trade. Rose threatens to have Russell Kingsley torture Kai-Sung unless Hammurabi gives him the bloodhype and Harrumabi agrees, but the Bloodhype is in orbit.
Subsequently, Flinx, who is working for Rose as a sanitation engineer helps Hammurabi and the agents escape again displaying that the young youth is much more than he seems. The quarter end up with Kingsley, who has the Tar-Aiym. The Tar-Aiym awakes and warns them all that the VOM is on the planet and must be destroyed.
While Flinx, who we know has special powers from the first novel, stays with the Tar AIym to "help", the agents and Hammurabi go to find the VOM to confirm its existence. They do not believe that the Tar Aiym is telling the truth.
They are captured and find themselves prisoners of the AAnn, along with Rose, who is also there. After a brief fight between Kai-Sung and Russell Kingsley, the VOM breaks out of its prison and starts fighting the Tar-Aiym Machine. Flinx of course helps.
The novel displays all of my favorite Foster themes. The characters are fun, the universe that we find ourselves in is well drawn. Further, some of the characters appear again in subsequent Foster novels. Also puzzle that must be solved is unique and the solution when it comes is cool. Finally, the very ending again illustrates again that Flinx is much more than he seems.
Quentin Coldwater is a disaffected youth who hates his life when he visits a professor with two friends to have a special exam to get into a school, b...moreQuentin Coldwater is a disaffected youth who hates his life when he visits a professor with two friends to have a special exam to get into a school, but the man there is dead. A paramedic at the scene gives him an envelope which contains a sixth book in a series of novels by an author named Plover about a fantastical world called Fillory, modeled in some ways after Narnia, and while following a piece of paper from the envelope that has blown away in the wind, Quentin bumps into Eliot a student at a magical school called Brakebill, who takes Quentin inside where he takes and exam to see if he is qualified to attend. The exam is one of the best parts of the novel.
After his acceptance into the school, the novel tracks his five years at school where he takes various courses, meets other young magicians who are studying magic and eventually meets Alice, a girl he falls in love with. Alice, is a super magician who found her own way to Brakebill even though her brother mysteriously died there. She loves Quentin. Eliot, Janet, Josh, and ALice are physical magicians, who have the power over physical aspects of the world. Quentin, cannot find his discipline but is assigned to the Physical Kids anyway.
During one particular class with Professor March, Quentin inadvertently disrupts a spell by March which opens a spell portal and a monster that the teachers later call the Beast enters the classroom. The Beast plays an important part in the novel, but we are not shown what until the end.
After graduation, Penny, one of the other young Magician's actually finds a button that can only be a means to travel to the world of Fillory. What had seemed to be some fantastical story land in the background of the story was actually a real place. The Physical Kids, Penny and Richard, a previous graduate travel to Fillory using the button. There Quentin, Alice, the Physical Kids and Penny ultimately confront the Beast, who turns out to be a character from the Plover books.
Although I liked the novel, I never loved it, and it seems to end at a place with a new beginning in the offering. Although billed as a coming of age novel, I thought Quentin never really succeeds in meeting his destiny and take charge. He is never the crucial player but maybe the story does pivot on him. The ultimate denouement is kind of cruel and painful so I am not sure if the author is trying to say that in order for Quentin to grow up he has to lose something.
Grossman, however, does show a creative flair in his magical system.
Burkes mystery takes place at the same time as Katrina and he does describe horrible events that went on there in the context of his book so we see pe...moreBurkes mystery takes place at the same time as Katrina and he does describe horrible events that went on there in the context of his book so we see people fighting over scarce resources and bodies floating in the waters and rescuers saving people etc and I have no real beef with his limited description of the catastrophe as it is part of the setting of the book, but its his mystery that I find faulty. I really think the book is overlong and the plot convoluted, unconvincing and generally full of unsympathetic people.
Basically three looters who are past rapists and a brother of one loot the home of a crook find diamonds but in the course of their leaving get shot by someone from a neighboring house. The innocent boy is killed and one of the rapists is paralyzed. The robbed crook tries to find the looters while a diabolical psyopath seeks to recover the diamonds. Robicheaux investigates the shooting of the innocent boy and gets ensnared in the search by the crooks and the psychopath to find the diamonds and the looters. Naturally the psycho goes after Robicheaux's daughter. The story takes way too long to get anywhere and (part of that is because Burke is trying to show that justice and all services grounded to a halt when New Orleans was destroyed but there are too many loose ends and the denouement takes too long to get there.
Burke's description of the destruction of New Orleans is convincing, but he needed a better plot.(less)