Blake Crouch followed up the intrigue of Book 1 with more intrigue in Book 2, avoiding the dreaded lull that plagues most Book 2s of trilogies. Now, cBlake Crouch followed up the intrigue of Book 1 with more intrigue in Book 2, avoiding the dreaded lull that plagues most Book 2s of trilogies. Now, closing things off in Book 3, he firmly continues the 5-star level of entertainment.
I'm not going to go into any plot specifics (I rarely do).
As I said in my review for Book 2, Crouch gets what makes an addictive read: short chapters, an efficient writing style, and short books! I think what's most worth mentioning is Crouch's writing style. His dialogue is realistic, and his action sequences? Wow. I must say that for the most part I hate reading action. Action needs to have an immediate presence. If the prose is drawn out and overly descriptive, I'm falling asleep. Blake Crouch's description of action is very terse, and this makes the action visible in your mind immediately as the sentences are processed. There are very few writers who can pull this off without the narrative seeming fragmented or gimmicky. The guy's a master.
For readability alone, I can't recommend this series highly enough. This is a lot of fun, the perfect vacation read, and it's still stuck in my head even though I'm well into another novel right now.
Definitely, definitely, definitely, reading more of this guy. ...more
The one thing I really hate about series is that they are such a time commitment, and almost invariably, there will be slumps from book to book. Not soThe one thing I really hate about series is that they are such a time commitment, and almost invariably, there will be slumps from book to book. Not so here. Wayward avoids the slump pitfall by taking the situation we now know from Book 1 and building on that for a tight continuation of the story as a whole.
Crouch continues to pace the novel expertly with terse sentences and realistic dialogue.
There's not a whole lot I can say without spoiling things, so again, as with Book 1, I am writing this review while already absorbed in Book 3. Again, the highest endorsement anyone can give to a series. These books are at most 300 pages, and the final one is considerably less than that.
This is what series should be: short books!!! Well done Mr. Crouch, you get it.
Now I only have one problem, and that really has nothing to do with the narrative or the novels themselves. I wasn't going to mention it at all, but hell, I have to say it.
(view spoiler)[ I hate guns. So whenever I read about a character arming himself and the author feels the need to tell me it's a Glock or a Desert Eagle or a Mossberg or a .357 Smith & Wesson, or a Bushmaster AR-fucking-15 as if I'm supposed to be a gun aficianado, it really gets my back up. Spare me the gun hard-ons. I hate guns and I hate what's happening in the States every other day because of their precious right to bear arms. It's whacked and I hate it. Screw your guns. (hide spoiler)]
Otherwise, I do like you, Blake :) Holding steady at five stars.... ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
With over a million ratings there's not much point in putting a whole lot of effort into this review. I'm not going to go into the merits of the book,With over a million ratings there's not much point in putting a whole lot of effort into this review. I'm not going to go into the merits of the book, but I will tell you this: I read the first two Harry Potter books about 13 years ago, just to see for myself if they lived up to the hype. I found them to be entertaining enough, and I was glad I read them. I was about 40, and impressed that something geared for kids had such wide appeal. This was before YA was a catch-phase. Anyways, I enjoyed them somewhat, and told myself that someday I would get back into the series.
Now, I'm 53 years old (it still makes me stop for a minute to realize how old I am). Recently more Potter reviews have crossed my radar, and these are driving home the fact that the series gets darker and more mature as it goes. So I veered off my official to-read list to read book 3.
The Prisoner of Azkaban, for pretty much the first half of the novel, still reads very much like a kid's novel. But, sure enough, the story did take on a rather darker feel towards the second half. I stayed home yesterday to fight a cold, and tore through the second half the book. This is a good story, and definitely better than the previous two books. It was good enough to keep me very interested in where the story goes from here, and how JK Rowling's writing progresses. ...more
Theft of Swords was a lot of fun. It's your typical fantasy fare, with interesting magic and two heroes you can't help but root for. Hadrian and RoyceTheft of Swords was a lot of fun. It's your typical fantasy fare, with interesting magic and two heroes you can't help but root for. Hadrian and Royce are two thieves for hire. Of course, the jobs they are hired into unwittingly throw them into world shattering political upheavals and they have to rely on their cunning and wit to slide out of them unscathed. I very much enjoyed the characters and the scope of the stories. I will say though, that it lacked some of the depth I look for in fiction. I won't hold this against the author, especially after reading the interview with him at the end of the novel. Sullivan fully admits that, even though he is capable, and does this in other works, he deliberately glossed over the prosy descriptions and character complexities. What he did here was create a story that his daughter can read and enjoy. He did this in spades. The story is simply told, easy to follow, and a lot of dialogue to move things along. When I had the opportunity, I was able to burn through it and have a lot of plot go into my head in just a couple of hours.
If you're a story-first kind of reader and love adventure, this is for you. It's for me sometimes as well, and yeah: I enjoyed it a lot. I'm sure I'll come back to the series....more
For the past few months, I've been bingeing on the This is Horror Podcast. This is a great show out of the UK, and host Michael Wilson's enthusiasm foFor the past few months, I've been bingeing on the This is Horror Podcast. This is a great show out of the UK, and host Michael Wilson's enthusiasm for horror literature and movies, combined with his dry wit, makes it a great listen for my drives to and from work.
He's mentioned several authors that he's keen on, and the fact that Stephen King is an obvious favorite makes me take his recommendations to heart. One of these recommended authors is Adam Nevill (apparently the UK's answer to Mr. King), and the recommended book of his to start with was The Ritual.
Well, if this is his best, I'm a bit disappointed.
The Ritual's first 200 pages are fantastic. We have four old chums from University out on a hike in a Swedish National Park. Hutch, the de facto leader of the group, makes the unfortunate choice of a short cut through a vaguely mapped forest and they become hopelessly lost. And creepy things are discovered.
The fear and dread are palpable. In fact, towards the end of the novel, I had felt such a pall over my head that I couldn't wait to finish it and move on. I admit that this is a true talent for an author.
My problem is the second half of the book. The pacing ground to a halt, and there was a lot of rehashing of the same activities to the point that it was getting as circuitous as our heroes' futile wanderings in the woods. At this point, I was rushing towards the end because I was getting impatient with it. Ironically, with all the writing I had to rush through, there were still a few things that weren't explained fully enough. It's too bad, because like I said, those first 200 pages were five star material for sure. I'm loathe to give this three stars, because there are parts of this that show true talent and I don't want to deter anyone from him. So let's say 3.5 and show it as four. ...more
Every time Kazuo Ishiguro releases a novel there's always a buzz of excitement. I'd never read him, but did see the movie Remains of the Day, and thatEvery time Kazuo Ishiguro releases a novel there's always a buzz of excitement. I'd never read him, but did see the movie Remains of the Day, and that hardly inspired any interest to check out his novels. But Never Let Me Go has been popping up on my radar a lot these days, and from the unlikeliest of places. Like the This is Horror podcast. This is when I sat up and took notice. The reason Ishiguro generates so much buzz is that apparently each of his novels are so completely different from each other. So upon learning this, I put this one on my list and read it soon after...so nice for a change to read something standalone and not part of a series.
Never Let Me Go was a very fast read for me. Ishiguro is a master of pacing and efficient descriptiveness. I was only about 20% into it when I stumbled onto the news that Robert Marasco's Burnt Offerings had been re-published and was finally available for Kindle. This was huge news for me because I had been searching for this book for decades. So as you can imagine, I really wanted to burn through this one to get to something I was so excited for. And burn through it I did, for a while. Then I started to savour it.
I can't tell you anything about it. You've probably heard generalized blurbs, such as Ishiguro explores what love and friendship are, and what it means to be who we are. This is really all you need to know. Please don't read too many reviews about this book before reading it. I couldn't turn my eyes away fast enough when I accidentally hit a GoodReads friend's spoiler which ruined the book for me.
You only have one chance to read a novel for the first time. Don't let anyone blow it for you. This book is very special, and given what I knew through it, it was a 4-star read for me. I am certain that, had I not hit that spoiler, this would have easily been a 5-star ranking, so that is what I will make it. I have started Burnt Offerings, but I'm still thinking about this one...
Once again, my hand is forced. Pines had been in and out of my radar for a while, but now with it becoming a TV series, I am forced to read it as soonOnce again, my hand is forced. Pines had been in and out of my radar for a while, but now with it becoming a TV series, I am forced to read it as soon as I can to avoid stumbling on spoilers.
I appreciate the push.
This book had already hit a five star rating for me only 30% in. I don't think there is anyone who can't get intrigued with the man-wakes-up-with-no-idea-where-he-is scenario. Blake Crouch's terse prose takes us through Ethan Burke's awakening and wandering through the town of Wayward Pines trying to figure out just what the hell has happened to him. This is a rather cliched start to a plot, you have to admit, and there was a part of me waiting to see when the book was going to shoot itself in the foot and I'd be let down with a ho-hum reveal and the inevitable silly climax. Didn't happen. Crouch kept this story tight and captivating. I am happy to report this stayed steady at a five star level throughout to the last page. The highest compliment I can give a series (and I am getting so tired of everything being a series these days) is that I dove into book 2 as soon as I had finished this one. In fact, as I write this, I am already 29% into it and it is terrific. Nice that these books are only 300 pages, and very quick reads.
Obviously this book is best read spoiler-free, so try to avoid any reviews that reveal anything of the plotline. ...more
This was pretty good. It was more of an obligatory read rather than something that was part of my official to-read list. But it came in the collectionThis was pretty good. It was more of an obligatory read rather than something that was part of my official to-read list. But it came in the collection that included The Underdwelling, and not much of a time commitment, so I blew through it.
Tim Curran can paint a description like few can. In his hands, just the sound of something slithering can wriggle into your brain and keep you in a state of creep. His descriptions is his strengths and this is what made Dead Sea so amazing. This story was quite good, and a nice filler read. ...more
I very rarely accept friend requests from authors. Most of them are looking to expand their visibility, and I don't begrudge them that: it is their liI very rarely accept friend requests from authors. Most of them are looking to expand their visibility, and I don't begrudge them that: it is their livelihood after all. I'm just not interested in being used like that.
However, when I checked out Jonathan Janz's profile, he was not only an author, but an active Goodreads reader and reviewer of books. And we had the same tastes, and he did not offer free material for 'honest review'.
So I never felt obligated to read him. I hate being obligated to read anything.
Then a few weeks ago I was listening to Brian Keene's horror podcast and he mentioned Jonathan Janz's Dust Devils as one of his top 10 favourite reads in 2014. Well, the name sounded familiar and lo and behold, hey, this guy friended me on Goodreads last year! So I checked him out a little closer and discovered that Keene had also raved about his first, The Sorrows. So that did it, I slapped it on my to-read list.
Now the obvious dilemma: What if I don't like it? I have to maintain my integrity as a reviewer (I was THE Bill of Bill's Brutally Honest Book Reviews website, don't you know), and he seems like a really good guy. So I threw the dilemma to the wind and started reading it. And, oh shit...this really wasn't working for me. This revelation happened on a Friday night, and with my favourite reading morning a mere eight hours away, I decided at 30% that I was no longer interested in it, and I would start Saturday morning with something new. I'd just delete the book and not review it at all. The morning came and, undecided on what to read next, thought I'd read just a couple of more pages to give it one last chance.
And got severely hooked.
Janz had a couple of story arcs going at this point, and each were intense and very very absorbing. I could hardly put it down. This, to my delight (and relief), was destined for a five star rating.
So what happened to the five star rating? Well, (view spoiler)[ Janz had me in his grip until he crashed the helicopter onto the island, which struck me as the literary equivalent of throwing everything into the pot and turning up the heat to max. Once this happened, all of the brooding suspense and unease vanished. The story devolved into an Action movie, lots of gunfire, ANOTHER helicopter, just so no one is left out, and some unrealistic feats of heroism despite near fatal wounds. Incidentally, earlier in the novel Eddie dove into the ocean and his lungs filled with water. Not only did he not drown, but it seemed to be something he shrugged off easily. I'm a stickler for things like this, so this really bugged me and was one of the reasons I was going to drop it. Anyhow, the whole action filled climaxing will work for a lot of people, but I much preferred the tone of the 30-75% of the novel. (hide spoiler)]
I was going to give this three stars overall. But he was so stellar for a good chunk of the novel, I think he deserves better than that. So four it is, and I will likely read him again. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Man, I really love Mo Hayder for Birdman and The Treatment. Since then, it's been a bit of a struggle to continue the relationship. It was almost overMan, I really love Mo Hayder for Birdman and The Treatment. Since then, it's been a bit of a struggle to continue the relationship. It was almost over for me with Ritual. She had introduced a new character, Flea, who I couldn't give a toss over because I had resented her taking the storyline away from Cafferty's personal story. Then Poppet came out to wide appeal.
So I'm two books behind Poppet and remembering the first two books, and...well I can't ignore what we had and I should really give her another chance because maybe she's back in my wheelhouse. So there it was, and I read Skin. To much delight! It turns out that my resentment towards Flea has evaporated and I was able to enjoy her character and a very strongly told story that had me ripping through the pages.
Yes! Now comes Gone. Mo's hitting her stride here big time. For a good 70% of the way she's got me hooked with a creepy story about child abduction. I was into 5-star quality at this point, but as you can see, this got shaved off. Gone is just too long. (view spoiler)[ I know Flea being trapped in the tunnel is key to the story but my brain was glazing over with the description of it, and the barge, and the seemingly never ending process of being trapped. There's nothing wrong with a lengthy predicament if it's presented in an engaging manner, but I was more than ready for it to end after a couple of chapters. Also, once the abductor is known, the story's resolution is drawn out way too long. I'm resentful of spending an entire evening plowing through it to get to the predictable conclusion just so I could be done with it. (hide spoiler)] And I'm still tired of the Walking Man. Let's move on from him, okay?
Poppet will be next... ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more