I'm not abashed to say it: this is just a wonderful little book. It you'd be abashed, get over yourself: anybody who doesn't like teddy bears and the i...moreI'm not abashed to say it: this is just a wonderful little book. It you'd be abashed, get over yourself: anybody who doesn't like teddy bears and the idea of them coming alive and heading into adventure with some picked-on kids shouldn't even be reading this.
The initial appeal to me was the similarity between this "Tribe" and little furries in my "Tree Tops", the little tribe living in a big box store camouflaged as plush animals in the toy department, and coming out at night to play, forging their human alliance through children… all struck chords with me. But that's just where this one starts off: it takes off into a chase through supernatural obstacles and human oppression worthy of Harry Potter or any other juvenile adventurer. I could easily see this as a hit film: with the explanations stripped out and the sight gags pumped up, it could be right up there with "Ice Age" or "Madagascar or "Narnia".
Sometimes the writing struck me as kind of "too naïve", but it's a kids' book and that must be a difficult line for writers to tread these days. And it doesn't matter much because the story moves very quickly and always has some new turn to keep your attention. Those turns get increasingly wild as it progresses. In addition to the little critters who look like teddy bears, we find ourselves regarding multi-dimensional devices badly wielded by an eccentric inventor, new age auras and vibes, witches, native American legends, hints of Asian sagas, a story-teller whose books become reality, an evil spawn who could scare Voldemoort, giants and historic convergences that brought all these folks together in the first place. Once it gets started, a lot of paranormal starts piling up in a hurry. But that shouldn't be a problem in this age of books, and anyway the very premise of little beings that look like mini-versions of Bigfoot (but don't insult them with that comparison) is more "para" than normal anyway.
Add cops, bosses, school principles, and evil mercenaries and you have a merry chase with kids, adults, and teddy bears saving each other and pushing the plot. The last chapters build to wild combat and horrendously escalated stakes, creating a climax that comes off like battling in super hero comics. But there is always a quick return to the basic loyalties and bonds of the human children and their true-blue allies of the Teddy Bear tribe. The rough stuff is never too far away from a warm humor.
Tons of furry fun here for kids little enough to be read to, older kids looking for something to replace Harry Potter, or grown-ups who don't mind a little healthy regression.
Oh, and another thing about the ending: like many such books, it makes it obvious that the end is not the end, just "Part One" of an ongoing series where unspeakable evil will once again move it's talons towards the most innocent and courageous warriors ever, a tribe of living teddy bears. (less)
Normally the words "FBI agent" and "serial killer" turn me off on a book immediately. Those lambs have already been silenced. But I was persuaded to t...moreNormally the words "FBI agent" and "serial killer" turn me off on a book immediately. Those lambs have already been silenced. But I was persuaded to take a look at this and got sucked right in.
OK, right off the top: this is a first novel self-published by an "indie author". So if you have prejudices about that, read this book and lose them. Take a look at the cover. Does it look amateur or sloppy? That's in keeping.
Charles Cornell is as good as the writers who have this kind of book in the storefronts, better than a lot of them. He takes you in hand and guides you through a story holds your interest and opens up some new kind of fun reading for mystery/thriller fans. And he doesn't try to rush you. One thing I really liked about Tiger Paw was the way he opens chapters far adjourned from the main plot and characters. The book starts out with a vivid description of a flashmob conflagration fanning out from "Occupy" demonstrations. Nothing to do with the main plot, but an irritant to the main characters and a very subtle thematic background, perhaps. We are suddenly dumped in the lap of a quiet, fussy Indian professor who keeps rattling on about peripheral subjects until you want to grab him and scream "Just tell him what's going on!" But it's adorable, and not cutting straight to the chase is what novels are about. As it turns out later, the old Hindu prof not only provides the first clue to tie in worldwide skullduggery and mayhem, he's a major player in attempting to defeat it.
Some might say there are clichés here. The "Tiger Paw" itself sounds like a Wildcat Willy play, but there's not thing ordinary about the way Cornell draws us in closer to the sinister subcontinental blood cult. And there is a computer hacking element. But is that "cliché" these days? Or just obligatory? Nobody thought the Dragon Tattoo chick was a cliché. Cornell takes us into Indian mythology, stock trading, finance, and several other areas with just enough authority to keep us around.
Another detour that turns out to be a main thoroughfare is Wall Street. But not from the 1% view, or pit players, or Occupiers: from day trader chat rooms. There are several strings of posts from cyber bulls and bears that ring true and funny. Maybe not quite as cool as William Gibson's in "Pattern Recognition" who is?
There are some gloss-overs in the plot, but I don't thing that's too abnormal. Most of the thriller movies I see have similar places where I want to jump up and say, "Wait, all the has to do is..." Can they really arrest somebody for insider trading when they are gloating about having all his internet posts, which show that he got the information off the open internet? I doubt FBI firings go much this one. But so what? It didn't hurt my enjoying the book.
And it's not a mystery. So nobody can go, "Wait, no fair, the killer wasn't one of the people sitting around the library". It's a thriller, and the killer is a cipher throughout. The only time I felt a little hustled along was at the end, when all the pieces started falling into place. But not as loudly and clankily as Harlan Coben, where everybody is somebody's grandpa, to name one. I'd say about typically.
You'll notice I haven't mentioned the plot. Deliberately, because I don't want to mess with something that is kind of fun watching unroll through it's little detours and quirks.
And I'm not calling this some amazing breakthrough in modern literature, or even in suspense novels.
What I'm saying is that it's fun read and if you like FBI/serial killer/international baddie plot intrigue books this is right down the barrel of what you want. I enjoyed it better than T. Jefferson Parker's latest. You won't be disappointed following Agent Forrester around tracking down the Tiger Paw.(less)
This tale of a girl suffering through a Mormon stepfather and, subtextually, a birth father who is almost as traumati...moreA memoir that reads like a novel.
This tale of a girl suffering through a Mormon stepfather and, subtextually, a birth father who is almost as traumatic, doesn't read like the raft of memoirs we're being inundated with. If you didn't know it was a recounting, you could easily take if for first-person novel told in a very low-key but effective "naive voice".
Ingrid Ricks' story is certainly the stuff of YA, coming-of-age, bad 'rents novels. It even has amazing novelistic plot embellishments. Not enough that she and her sisters are being dominated and traumatized by the foul, domineering troll who has married their mother, and that escaping that oppression for the summer takes Ingrid banging around the country with her salesman father. No, we also find out her mother was active in the Resistance in Austria, and a Nazi camp survivor. Then her father, just to keep things moving, gets kidnapped by an escaped criminal. Ingrid did not have a normal childhood, but it makes great reading and seems to done her right in the long run.
If it were fiction, one supposes it would build to a climax, and probably heap worse molestation on the ugly head of her wicked stepfather. But the story does just fine without that. It's an engaging read about interesting, exasperating people, and told in a sunny, genuine, unaffected voice.(less)
I really loved this. Kali/Neena is my kind of gal. She's not just daring and resourceful and tough, though, she's also very tender and endearing. And th...moreI really loved this. Kali/Neena is my kind of gal. She's not just daring and resourceful and tough, though, she's also very tender and endearing. And the story is one of those that you are always eager to get back to, because you really want to see it working out.
It's far from a perfect book. Ms. Huffman has some grammar quirks and falls into a lot of cliches. The plot, which races along very nicely until the "third act" kind of ravels at that point. Lots of sitting around talking and lovey-dovey, lots of uncanny co-incidences drawing in big name people and ignoring logical consequences. And some early questions like how do you just start running and run out of a Louisiana prison and who got buried they thought was her, never get dealt with. But not as bad as Harlen Coben, where it turns out everybody is everybody else's love child or serial incest freak.
And she avoids some traps other writers might fall into. For instance, Neena is a reservation girl. But she wisely doesn't wallow around in Native American rez-lit homilies: she sticks to her story. She either never heard, or was wise enough to ignore, the "Show Don't Tell" thing. She just tells the story,and it works just fine. Like it does if you have a good style and good story. She avoids painting grim pictures of Neena's life before escaping from prison. A few words, Neena's reaction, and your own imagination fill it in just fine. Havin a rapist's child in prison then having to give it up doesn't really need a lot of schmaltz slapped on it to make it hurt.
But don't let anything I say about the writing take the shine off this book. Any writing glitches are outweighed by her very live, natural, unstudied style. You believe Neena telling her own story, even when it gets so complicated you want to tear your hair and buy that poor girl a drink.
Ms. Huffman is obviously a writer who has no urge to put on literary airs or be anything else than somebody telling stories about young women coping with bad ugly trouble. And she does a bang-up job.