The elements are all here for a great thriller -- an interesting, tension-filled plot extrapolated from fundamentally sound scientific and technologic...moreThe elements are all here for a great thriller -- an interesting, tension-filled plot extrapolated from fundamentally sound scientific and technological ideas, plenty of action, and characters with believable motivations. I especially liked the interplay between the two leads, myrmecologist Linda McKinney and a Master Sergeant code-named Odin, who come together from opposing ends of the spectrum in an attempt to stop the autonomous drone threat. The only aspect that was somewhat lacking was the characters themselves, as the supporting cast was somewhat two-dimensional, and even the leads were on the shallow side. But for a break-neck paced thriller, I suppose character depth is a necessary casualty.
Here is a good blurb on this book from Publisher's Weekly: "Perfectly blending nail-biting suspense with accessible science, bestseller Suarez establishes himself as a legitimate heir to Michael Crichton with this gripping present-day thriller." However, Suarez reminds me more of Neal Stephenson, which I consider an equally high complement.(less)
Any book that can explain to me why the Easter bunny exists, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is getting a five-star recommendation.
Seriously though, th...moreAny book that can explain to me why the Easter bunny exists, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is getting a five-star recommendation.
Seriously though, this book is fantastic -- a great example of how to do satire correctly.
I was in New Orleans with a 102 degree fever, the night before I was flying home, and I couldn't put it down. And I was laughing out loud to myself the whole time. But that may also have to do with that fever. I don't know.(less)
This was basically the perfect summer read. It's a ghost story without being a horror, a coming-of-age story without too much angst, a detective story...more
This was basically the perfect summer read. It's a ghost story without being a horror, a coming-of-age story without too much angst, a detective story without any overwrought analysis of the clues, and a Stephen King story without allusions to either the Dark Tower series or Randall Flag. It is substantial without being heavy -- in tone or in book weight (it's less than 300 pages).
Speaking of pages, this book is a bit of an oddity in that it was not released as an ebook, allegedly because King liked paperbacks growing up.
A minor complaint: I got sucked out of the story at one point when a reference is made to a character wearing a South Carolina Mudcats ball cap. In 1973, when this story is set, the Mudcats not only didn't play in South Carolina (they play in North Carolina), they didn't even exist yet.
A second minor complaint: While the book cover is awesome, and gives the book a perfect retro vibe, the image has little to do with the plot whatsoever. (view spoiler)[The wrong girl is on the cover, instead of Hollywood Girl Erin on the cover, the ghost in the blue dress definitely should be there. I mean, Erin isn't even in the park for either of the climactic scenes. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I had some reservations about reading this book because it looked like a Nicholas Sparks romance, but between the book's popularity, the movie adaptat...moreI had some reservations about reading this book because it looked like a Nicholas Sparks romance, but between the book's popularity, the movie adaptation, a glowing recommendation from a friend and a $5 Kindle book sale, I decided to give it a read. When there was a murder in the prologue, I knew I made a good decision.
The book is well written, and both the modern segments and flashbacks were engaging. I really began to feel for the older Jacob. I also loved getting a behind the scenes look at the circus culture of the 1930s. (less)
This is where the books started getting longer, but they never feel too long, or like they are dragging. Rather, when I finished this, I longed for mo...moreThis is where the books started getting longer, but they never feel too long, or like they are dragging. Rather, when I finished this, I longed for more.(less)
First, let me say that no review is going to do this justice for any mystery genre fan -- it is the ultimate locked room, killer-in-our-midst whodunit...moreFirst, let me say that no review is going to do this justice for any mystery genre fan -- it is the ultimate locked room, killer-in-our-midst whodunit. Despite spending very little time with each of the ten main characters, they are all multi-dimensional and realistic, and quickly distinguishable -- the doctor, the colonel, the judge, the ex-inspector, the mercenary, the young playboy, the governess, the religious woman, and the butler and his wife. It was a hell of a trick to pull off getting the reader to understand and appreciate all these characters without becoming too attached to any of them, as, inevitably, they all must die. And the final brilliant flourish was the epistolary epilogue -- a perfect and fitting conclusion to be the perfect crime.
As an aside, I wish that this was originally titled And Then There Were None. I think it is a stronger title than either Ten Little Indians or Ten Little Niggers, and without being derogatory. But I do wonder how much editing had to go into the book when the title was changed -- surely the poem and the dining room figurines weren't originally soldiers when the book had "Indians" or "Niggers" in its title. I also wonder why Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is left untouched while other works such as this are edited. But any controversy over the title is really beside the point, as there are no racist overtones in the book, other than the killer's liking of the (originally) racist poem.(less)
There is nothing I can write here that will put into words how influential J.R.R. Tolkien was to literature -- specifically the fantasy genre. But I c...moreThere is nothing I can write here that will put into words how influential J.R.R. Tolkien was to literature -- specifically the fantasy genre. But I can say, without a doubt, that his writing influenced me, both by sparking my imagination and by making me interested in reading.
While kids today have the Harry Potter series, specifically written for young adults, to easy themselves into the world of reading, I had Lewis's Narnia books and Tolkien's Middle Earth books. And I am grateful for them.(less)
An epic conclusion to a tale that started so simply (it reminded me a lot of the Golden Compass in that respect).
* Spoilers below *
That being said, th...moreAn epic conclusion to a tale that started so simply (it reminded me a lot of the Golden Compass in that respect).
* Spoilers below *
That being said, the book was not perfect -- it dragged for a while in the middle (basically from the point at which Ron left Harry and Hermione to the point he returned to them), and Rowling leaves out exactly what Potter goes on to become, which annoyed the shit out of me.
On the other hand, I was pleasantly shocked with how many characters, main and secondary, died. In the earlier books, not many characters died, but Rowling couldn't finish the series, and the "war" off without anyone dying. I wasn't sure she had it in her to do the story justice, as it started as a children's series. Fortunately, she did.(less)
I decided to read this after seeing this Goodreads interview with the author. I do not regret the decision. I read the entire novel over a weekend.
The...moreI decided to read this after seeing this Goodreads interview with the author. I do not regret the decision. I read the entire novel over a weekend.
The story is fairly straightforward, told from the first person point-of-view of Ghostman, while he is working a job to settle an old debt. Simultaneously, there are flashbacks to the bank heist that put him in that debt in the first place. The mystery of Ghostman -- including his real name, which the reader never learns -- is the truly compelling aspect of the story, more so than the mystery of the missing money, although neither are more exciting than the heist flashback.
I also loved Ghostman's habit of translating classic literature, which at first seemed like a random hobby thrown in to flesh out the character a bit, but made so much sense as I learned about why he aspired and trained to be an invisible imposter.
My biggest "complaint" is that both the main story and the flashbacks were so interesting that the switches between story lines became moments of frustration. This likely contributed to my reading the book so quickly.
I desperately hope there is a sequel to this book, as I loved reading about jugmarkers, wheelmen, boxmen, grifters, buttonmen, ghostmen and their glorified lives of crime. I'd also like to delve deeper into the mysterious Ghostman and, maybe, just maybe, meet his elusive mentor Angela.(less)
Wow. This was a brilliant story that -- while wasting no words -- gave more depth and layers to its plot and characters than some books ten times long...moreWow. This was a brilliant story that -- while wasting no words -- gave more depth and layers to its plot and characters than some books ten times longer. It is an exceptional take on mental illness as a super power, with a flawed, yet likable hero/narrator. I hope to see more of Stephen Leeds, a.k.a. Legion, in the future.
I highly recommend this, and it is only 88 pages or two-hours on audiobook. Speaking of which, audiobook narrator Oliver Wyman did a fabulous job of bringing this story, and the many aspects of the main character, to life.(less)
Batman: Hush was simply phenomenal. The story is deep and satisfying and the artwork jumps off the page.
It features the usual cast of Batman villains...moreBatman: Hush was simply phenomenal. The story is deep and satisfying and the artwork jumps off the page.
It features the usual cast of Batman villains -- Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, The Joker and Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Raz Ah Guhl, The Riddler, and Clayface -- and introduces a new villain, Hush. It also delves into an edgy romance between Batman and Catwoman.
Hush made it very clear to me that Jeph Loeb is my favorite Batman author. This graphic novel is a must read for any Batman fan.(less)
This book is an engaging, globe-trotting techno-thriller adventure with some of my now all-time favorite characters -- Billionaire game-designer Richa...moreThis book is an engaging, globe-trotting techno-thriller adventure with some of my now all-time favorite characters -- Billionaire game-designer Richard "Dodge" Forthrast, Hungarian hacker Csongor, former Spetsnaz agent Sokolov, MI6 operative Olivia Halifax-Lin, Massachussets-born CIA agent Seamus Costello, and all-time great antagonist Welsh-African jihadist Abdallah Jones.
There aren't too many books I've read in the 1,000 page range -- The Lord of the Rings, The Stand, The Wise Man's Fear, and a few others -- but there aren't any, with the notable exception of this book, where I wanted the story to be longer. After 1,044 pages, I still wanted to read more about these characters. I know, I can't believe I'm writing that, either.
There are 13 "episodes" that author John Scalzi has broken this book down into, and they are being released weekly for the next few months. Instead of...moreThere are 13 "episodes" that author John Scalzi has broken this book down into, and they are being released weekly for the next few months. Instead of writing thirteen separate reviews, I will review each self-contained episode here, which will, eventually, be a review of this entire work.
Well this is certainly off to a hell of a start. Not only does Scalzi give the requisite background information on the "Old Man's War" universe without being boring or summarizing his previous books, he also tells a very compelling story about a ragtag group of low-level diplomats who are forced into a dangerous, last-minute replacement mission of dire importance to the Colonial Defense Forces.
'Walk the Plank'
After finishing the first story, I wasn't sure what to expect with the second. Possibly a continuation of B-Team's story? A shift to other characters from that story? Something from the Earth's point-of-view? What I definitely did not expect -- an as-of-yet unrelated tale of disaster at a "wildcat" colony -- is exactly what I got, and in the form of a one-act play, nonetheless (this was done as a transcription of a tape recording). It was a bold shift that has me excited to see where exactly the rest of this experiment is going.
'We Only Need the Heads'
We're back to the main cast of characters from the B-Team, and the momentum from the first episode carries right through this one, and neatly ties in the disaster at the "wildcat" colony. I love how this is shaping up so far, I wish I didn't have to wait week-to-week to read on.
'A Voice in the Wilderness'
This episode shifts back to Earth, giving us the perspective of a media personality who has a radio talk show. I love these different vignettes are both self contained and satisfying but are also adding to the plot and tension of the overall narrative.
'Tales from the Clarke'
The overall story arc is beginning to become clear, and at the same time, each individual episode remains interesting in its own right. Having a plot element in this episode revolve around the play of Chicago Cubs back on Earth was genius.
'The Back Channel'
This episode brings us the interesting point-of-view of General Gau, the leader of the Conclave, and the political and diplomatic webs being woven in his court. Not the most action packed or exciting episode, but it gave interesting insights into the antagonists, and can also be read as an allegory on human racism.
'The Dog King'
The episodes featuring Colonial Forces technical consultant Harry Wilson and deputy ambassador Hart Schmidt, such as this one, are quickly becoming the highlights of this serial for me. Wilson is like an intergalactic MacGyver, and to really muddle analogies, Schmidt is his Watson.
'The Sound of Rebellion'
This episode shifts to another CDF soldier, Lieutenant Lee, who has been abducted by a rebel faction on the CDF-controlled planet Zhong Guo, in an attempt to interrogate her. Her character was pretty bad-ass and I hope she is revisited later.
Back to Harry Wilson and the diplomats on the Clarke -- and this time for a closed spaceship whodunit. Another great quick read. The sheer variety of stories in this episodic adventure is astounding, and without having any that fall flat is even more impressive.
'This Must Be the Place'
And Scalzi has done it again. Just when I thought there was no other places this episodic novel could go, he starts channeling Raymond Carver. In a space opera. Well played, sir.
'A Problem of Proportion'
Back aboard a spaceship in this episode, which reads like an episode of Star Trek -- a really good, particularly touching episode where you see what a big heart the protagonist -- in this case, Harry Wilson -- has.
'The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads'
This is the penultimate episode in this serial novel, and I am already lamenting its impending ending. Sigh. Also, I'm having trouble figuring out how it will wrap in only one more story. On an unrelated note, Scalzi worked the following line into this episode's dialogue: "I have no idea, Jim... I'm a doctor, not a private investigator." Homage paid.
'Earth Below, Sky Above'
A fitting, exciting double-length segment to wrap up this episodic novel. My only complaint would have been that it left some loose ends, but alas, Scalzi announced today on his blog that "The Human Division has been renewed for a second season." I am already looking forward to the as-of-yet unwritten sequel.(less)
I have heard some complaints about this being the "Harry whines too much" book but frankly, I like teen-angst Harry. And don't forget, this is the yea...moreI have heard some complaints about this being the "Harry whines too much" book but frankly, I like teen-angst Harry. And don't forget, this is the year that Harry creates the D.A., which is possibly the coolest thing ever to happen in a Harry Potter book. Plus, this is also the book where Fred and George Weasley go rogue, which may be the second coolest thing to happen in the series (so far).(less)
So why does it work so well? It's well written, extremely fast paced, and the characters are believable in their actions, even though their circumstances are extraordinary. Also, it doesn't hurt that this particular to-the-death competition is so compelling (I would be very interested in playing a video game version of the Hunger Games).(less)
I enjoyed this as much as the first Mickey Haller book, The Lincoln Lawyer, as evidenced by the fact that I read it in a single day. My perception of...moreI enjoyed this as much as the first Mickey Haller book, The Lincoln Lawyer, as evidenced by the fact that I read it in a single day. My perception of the book was not colored by any pre-conceived notions of about Harry Bosch, as I have never read any of Michael Connelly's novels that star the detective, so that may explain my liking this book more than someone else that had different expectations for a book with Bosch in it.(less)
The premise here is simple -- super powers are real, but the catch is that everyone that has them is evil, which means unmitigated disaster for humani...moreThe premise here is simple -- super powers are real, but the catch is that everyone that has them is evil, which means unmitigated disaster for humanity. The only people fighting back are the Reckoners, and young would-be-hero David wants to join them to help kill Steelheart, the epic that killed his father.
This book was obviously inspired by comic book stories -- and succeeds by inverting traditional comic book stories -- and while reading it, I could clearly see the action I was reading, so in a way it transcended a written book into a minds-eye comic, with its vivid action, breakneck pace, and superhuman elements.
As with some previous YA books -- I'm looking at you The Hunger Games -- I don't understand how something so violent can be marketed specifically for young adults, just so long as there is no cursing and/or sex. The protagonist's father is brutally murdered in the prologue, for chrissakes. But meanwhile, this book goes through the trouble of borrowing a silly normal word, "sparks!", and repurposes it as a curse word. Sanderson should have substituted that for the f-bomb, described a gratuitous boob or two, and called it an adult speculative fiction masterpiece.
Anyway, the sequel, Firefight, is now the unreleased book I am most looking forward to coming out, which is depressing, as it won't be released until Fall 2014.(less)
Sometimes less is more. Such is the case with this novella, which advances Atticus's story more than the previous novel, Tricked, did, while at the sa...moreSometimes less is more. Such is the case with this novella, which advances Atticus's story more than the previous novel, Tricked, did, while at the same time maintaining the tone of the overarching series, as well as its mythology, excitement and humor. Has me very excited to read the next novel in the series, Trapped.(less)
I have read Walter Mosley before, but only knew him as the author of the Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill mystery series. I had no idea he also wrote sp...moreI have read Walter Mosley before, but only knew him as the author of the Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill mystery series. I had no idea he also wrote speculative fiction. My ignorance was an oversight.
This short story features Mosley's strong voice and excellent writing, and adds an imaginative story about a patchwork man with the memories, abilities and seemingly, souls, of many others inside of him. This plot device is similar to Brandon Sanderson'sLegion and the Cowboy Ninja Viking graphic novel, but the style is all its own.
This story seems to be the prelude of a larger narrative, which I can only hope is the case, as my appetite has been whet for more Jack Strong adventures, and more answers to Strong's mysterious past.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.(less)
This is my favorite fantasy series of all time. I have read the Belgariad so many times, the characters Eddings created in it feel like old friends. A...moreThis is my favorite fantasy series of all time. I have read the Belgariad so many times, the characters Eddings created in it feel like old friends. And reading it never gets old.
To me, it is the pinnacle of contemporary epic fantasy. It is not only interesting characters and exciting adventure that made this so great, it was the believable interaction between the characters and the moments of humor sprinkled throughout the story.(less)
While I really enjoyed the first book in this series, The Ranger (review), Atkins really seems to hit his stride in the second book in the series. The...moreWhile I really enjoyed the first book in this series, The Ranger (review), Atkins really seems to hit his stride in the second book in the series. The cast of Tibbehah County characters returns -- new sheriff Quinn Colson, deputy Lillie Virgil, one-armed army vet Boom, Quinn's troubled sister Caddy and her son Jason, and sleazier than ever Johnny Stagg. Add to that illegal baby sellers, Mexican gunrunners, a redheaded vixen ATF agent, and a childhood friend of Quinn's headed down the wrong path, and you have a recipe for a compelling read. Highly recommended.(less)
I had been meaning to read this for a while, and am glad I finally got around to it. I have a bunch of unrelated thoughts, which I'll just list below...moreI had been meaning to read this for a while, and am glad I finally got around to it. I have a bunch of unrelated thoughts, which I'll just list below in no particular order of importance.
- I'm sure I am not the first to note this, but Starship Troopers is nothing like the '90s movie that shares its name -- not in plot, tone, or any other respect, other than a few of the main characters' names being left unchanged. The book is far, far superior.
- This book was very far ahead of its time, in terms of sci-fi ideas, with the M.I.'s mechanized suits and the ships' Cherenkov drives (FTL/hyperspeed/warp drives); gender roles, as women were starship pilots in the Terran Navy; and racial diversity, with the cast being extremely multi-racial for 1959 when it was written.
- I was almost turned off from reading Starship Troopers when I heard it called "military propaganda," but found the arguments for the military to be fairly balanced. While the slant is obviously pro-military -- the main character did choose to join up, after all -- the military is never glorified. There are scenes of corporal punishment, arguments and frustrations with military decision makers, a number of violent and unnecessary deaths, and grizzled veterans with numerous missing limbs. Their cause is never made out to be righteous, either. The entire military system is also set up as volunteer-only, with no penalties for dropping out at any time, separating it from the dark days of Vietnam-era America.
- This quote from Rico's History and Moral Philosophy teacher, written over 50 years ago, sums up more or less everything that is wrong with our society now:
There is an old song which asserts 'the best things in life are free.' Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted... and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.
All in all, this is not only a classic, prototypical sci-fi novel, it is also an interesting look at military organization and the philosophy of social responsibility and duty. A must-read for fans of those genres. (less)
I have been pretty jaded with fantasy books as of late (David Gemmell being the exception, but he is hardly new), but this book has again made me a be...moreI have been pretty jaded with fantasy books as of late (David Gemmell being the exception, but he is hardly new), but this book has again made me a believer in what has always been my favorite genre. I had honestly thought I already read everything worth reading in the genre (and a whole bunch of stuff that wasn't), but this new book by a brand new author has fortunately proved me wrong.
Patrick Rothfuss's voice is fresh and his story-within-a-story style is a welcome change from the normal linear fantasy story-line. The best comparison I can make is that his writing style reminded me of Robin Hobb'sFarseer Trilogy and the coming of age aspects of the plot reminded me of Orson Scott Card'sEnder's Game.
I only wish the entire trilogy was already out, but at least I now have something to look forward to coming out, now that the Harry Potter books are all out.
One warning: Rothfuss is not a minimalist. This book is almost 700 pages. It was a great 700 pages, but I know some people will find that too long regardless.(less)
On the cover of the copy I have, it says it Watchmen is one of the "100 Best Novels" of all time, according to Time Magazine. Seeing that genuinely su...moreOn the cover of the copy I have, it says it Watchmen is one of the "100 Best Novels" of all time, according to Time Magazine. Seeing that genuinely surprised me, considering I thought I was about to read a rather large comic book.
See, I loved comics as a kid, and hearing good things about this, I thought it would just be a fun summer read. What I didn't account for is the difference between the comics of my childhood and the graphic novels that are currently being made for adults.
This is not a simple comic storyline following linear, patriotic heroes and archetypal villains. This is an engrossing, complex look at an alternate future with realistic, believable characters.