The Premise Bestselling, critically acclaimed author John Rothstein has retired from public life. He keeps his current work unpublished and3.5 Stars
The Premise Bestselling, critically acclaimed author John Rothstein has retired from public life. He keeps his current work unpublished and tucked in a safe in his house, along with twenty-thousand dollars cash. Enter Morris Bellamy, a troubled young man who's Rothstein's biggest fan until Rothstein, in Bellamy's opinion, 'sells out.' Normal fans bitch on Facebook. However, this is the late '70s, so Bellamy does the next logical thing: murder the author, steal his work and cash, and bury both treasures until the heat dies down.
Then Bellamy does some other stuff and winds up in jail for a different crime. Because he's a jerk.
Fast forward a few decades and Bellamy is released, only to find some punk kid named Peter has discovered the treasure, spent the money to protect his troubled family, and -- the worst crime of all -- has read Rothstein's notebooks. Bellamy doesn't take too kindly this. Havoc ensues.
Thoughts, Opinions, and Sundry Items I would like to say that "Bill Hodges returns in thrilling new mystery" but, as you can see from the above premise description, in which Hodges plays no part, Hodges is really peripheral to this story...and I think it would actually be a stronger novel without the recurring characters. Bellamy and Peter were both so engaging that having Bill, Jerome (whom I love), and Holly interfere in the exchange between the two was almost an irritating distraction.
For example, the thread pulling these three characters into the situation was tenuous at best: Peter's sister's old best friend is Jerome's sister. So Peter's sister gets concerned enough about Peter's behavior to go, not to her parents, but to a former best pal that she doesn't hang out with that much...and trusts the people that said former best pal says to trust.
Yeah, not really feeling it. It read forced to me. Especially when you have an even better, built-in opportunity to ask Hodges for help: Peter's father was injured in the Mercedes murders. Hodges caught that killer. Peter's sister (maybe even Peter himself) could have gone to Hodges directly because of newspaper articles, proven track records, etc. without the weird convulsions of sister's-best-friend's-cousin's-roommate.
Totally dug the exchanges between Peter and Bellamy though. At first, I wasn't too sure about Peter -- but I think it might've been an unfair expectation on my part. Because of the 'Hodges Mystery' series label, I really kept expecting Hodges to show up and be the central hero. By the time I figured out that Peter was a kid who could hold his own, I was almost two-thirds in and, when Hodges does come into play in the story, I was ready for Peter to do all the butt-kicking and thinking against our villain Bellamy...so I was actually disappointed that Hodges kinda turns into a deus-ex-machina hero. Don't get me wrong -- Peter starts out strong and doesn't give up. I like that kid.
Bellamy is an interesting villain. The dude is messed up in the head. His NEED is palpable.
Also found the bits of myth-making in regards to Rothstein's fictional work very entertaining. Throughout Finders Keepers King intersperses bits of 'wisdom' from the Rothstein books. Including such gems as "Shit don't mean shit." Most of it sounds whack-a-doo...which is terrifying considering that, if you think about it, most of the quotable material or plot lines of any given work sounds whack-a-doo when taken out of context. We build whole societies on what we find quotable. ...more
Had I just picked this up having never read Chelsea Cain before, I think I might've rated this one higher. However, I really love Gretchen Lowell (welHad I just picked this up having never read Chelsea Cain before, I think I might've rated this one higher. However, I really love Gretchen Lowell (well, not love in her case...more love to hate) and Archie. The characters -- Kick and Bishop -- in this new series aren't quite as get-behind for me.
Some of that has to be that I felt like Cain was keeping her cards too close to her chest in order to have something else to write about in the next book. By the end (this may be a spoiler?) we still don't know anything about Bishop that's real -- who his wife is (does he really have one?), who he works for, etc.
And, speaking of Bishop, I didn't like his introduction either. Cain presents him as someone who 'gets it' in an almost prescient sense. So, if he's someone who understands Kick and her situation and he's behaving the way he is...well, he's a dickhead. And I don't know if I'll like him, in spite of the fact that I feel like I'm supposed to like him.
I don't know if any of that made sense.
Cain's strength here is the same as always: how the hell does she make these crazy situations seem plausible? Sexy female serial killers? Incredibly wealthy hunters of sexual predators?
I think it's because the characters (most of them, but Kick especially) behave the way a normal person would in those extraordinary conditions. Kick's bond with her dog, with the FBI agent who rescued her, and even with her kidnappers is wrenching to watch/read. Here I am, reading this kinda unbelievable situation, and I'm tearing up.
So I'm gonna pick up the next book when it comes out...just so I can see those cards Cain is holding so close. ...more
Okay, I'm not rating this one because I didn't really finish it and I don't think I'm gonna.
While there are a lot of parallels between this and WorldOkay, I'm not rating this one because I didn't really finish it and I don't think I'm gonna.
While there are a lot of parallels between this and World War Z - unfortunately I found that Robopocalypse rather emphasized some of the issues I had with WWZ and didn't have a lot of the positive elements of WWZ.
Issues: 1. It was too easy for me to put down. The characters change every, single chapter. While this happens in WWZ, the documentary style of WWZ was very consistant and added continuity. In Robopocalypse, the various robotic recordings weren't consistant. One's an audio. One's a security camera. And the narration doesn't reflect the content. This bothered me.
2. While robots kills with impunity and are a definite threat, I wasn't clear on what consituted an actual robot vs what was a machine. There are Jetson-style housekeepers, robotic dolls, and then - when everything goes down - the cars are taking over in the street? I just couldn't follow what was supposed to be scary. If you unplug a food processor, then it's rendered useless, but these battery-operated thingy-bobbers are okay for an undetermined amount of time? (This kind of stuff might very well be answered later in the book, but I didn't love the story enough to continue to find out...and I think that kind of thing might need to be clearer from the get-go.)
3. I couldn't quite get a gauge on the world. WWZ is pretty much set in a time like ours, with our technology. Robopocalypse starts in the future, then flashes back to a time that's still in the future (albeit not very far into the future) and I wasn't sure what the technology was.
I might give it a try again after the movie comes out - maybe having a visual will help me. But, for now, it will remain where it is on my shelf. ...more
What fun this was! I was really pleasantly surprised - I was looking for a 'quickie' read (which generally means a book to pass the time until I findWhat fun this was! I was really pleasantly surprised - I was looking for a 'quickie' read (which generally means a book to pass the time until I find a 'real' book I wanna read) and I couldn't put it down. Finished it super-fast. This book magically has everything: a funny, intelligent heroine; a scruffy hero; intrigue with weird contraptions and political conniving; and some sex and violence. What more could a reader possibly want?!
Miss Tarabotti is a charmingly Italian heroine. Her sense of propriety in the midst of werewolves eating the faces off of people (okay, it never gets quite that bad) is worth a smile or two from the most stalwart of readers. That same sense of propriety also allows the sexier scenes to not take themselves too seriously, so you're not bogged down by rigid/tumescent/turgid members...which I'm kinda grateful for.
I enjoyed the steampunk elements - 'glassicals' and weird blood-sucking machines that make vampires look like a dustbuster compared to a Hoover.
The side characters are also charming. Loved Lord Akeldama, the 'rove' vampire, Miss Hisselpenny (what a FANTASTIC name), and Professor Lyall - the Beta of the werewolf pack. And those three characters are also used to great effect in establishing the hierarchies of Carriger's supernatural London. Probably the make-it-or-break-it moment in fantasies is the world establishment. In this book, the rules are very nicely defined, easy to grasp quickly, and - perhaps most important - are interesting.
And let's not forget that the cover is kickass.
My only beef with this novel: The POV jumps from head to head really quickly. Luckily, Carriger does it so gracefully that it's almost seamless. But just fair warning that sometimes you've gotta read a sentence or so over in order to understand whose thoughts you're hearing. ...more
Looking at the page count of this, the previous novel Game of Thrones, and the novels that follow I tried to think of a way to review this that wouldnLooking at the page count of this, the previous novel Game of Thrones, and the novels that follow I tried to think of a way to review this that wouldn't take equally as long. There are a ton and a half of characters and each has their own unique arch so I wasn't sure how to keep them organized.
First, a quick summation: The previous king of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert Baratheon, has died. The heir apparent, Joffery, isn't his biological son and his two brothers Stannis (Robert's older younger brother) and Renly (Robert's younger younger brother) have both claimed the throne for themselves. That's three kings so far. Then we add in Robb, who has been claimed King in the North because the northmen are unimpressed with any of the other three choices. That makes four. Then we have Daenarys Targaryan, the heir of the royal family that was ousted by King Robert. That's five. And there are various other lords who get it into their heads that they should be in charge. All of these people (with the exception of Daenarys) go to war. Hence the kings clashing in the title.
Even though that sounds very basic, I'm not trying to be cute. There is so much intrigue and infighting and incest that if you lose track of the clashing premise...you're gonna be lost.
Review of Characters: Davos: Kings starts by introducing a series of new characters that were not in Game of Thrones. This was frustrating for me because, even though I read the first one and immediately followed with this sequel, I didn't want to sink into new people right off the bat. So perhaps my irritation spilled over to these new characters who I hope all die. (I know, that's mean...but they're pretentious.)
The main focus is on a smuggler-turned-pirate named Davos. He's got an interesting backstory that I won't ruin for you here...but his present is pretty boring throughout the book and he is my biggest issue with this particular novel. Mostly, Davos seems to be the POV character whose duty is to watch the other characters do interesting things. He himself doesn't do much at all. He watches the new witch/priestess Melisandre manipulate Stannis, who is the most legitimate claimant to the throne. Davos is there for most of the things that Melisandre does...and I really wish that those scenes were in her POV because she was a busier, creepier character and that way, as a reader, I could get her motivation.
Arya: After the prologue, we go to Arya. And this character arc is awesome. She is faced with a lot of live or die confrontations. Since she seems to represent the scrappy orphan character, the ways that she chooses to live makes the reader concerned for her, and the reader also wants to be her personal cheering section. (Or I did, anyway.) She is carted away by Yoren, a member of the Night's Watch, who dresses her as a boy to protect her on the long road north.
The road home is a long one.
Sansa: I imagine that a lot of readers are annoyed by this character, but I am less so. She provides the pivotal POV for the royal house - King Joffrey's court - and she also adds a bit of whimsy that, while certainly grating, is a part of the real world. Not everyone is a warrior and there are multiple ways to survive. And that is what Sansa is doing: surviving a very bad situation. She's trying to do it gracefully and comes off stupid.
The appeal that Sansa has for me is her potential for growth. She's got a lot to learn and she's learning the manipulations slowly, but I sure hope she learns the tricks. I'll be very interested to see the wolf come out of her when she realizes the people around her are full of BS and the only person she should rely on is herself. It'll be a good moment. (And - as Martin is inclined to kill POV characters - if this doesn't happen...don't let me know.)
Tyrion: I have one word for him: clever. By far my fave, so I'll keep this brief or I'll start gushing. Reading Tyrion's chapters is always a tightrope -- who is he going to manipulate? Who is going to manipulate him? Is he a puppet or a puppet master? In this novel, Tyrion takes over. His maneuvers drive a lot of the story. Perhaps not directly, but his decisions send reverberations throughout the book.
Bran: Like Sansa, I think that when this character comes into his own it'll be awesome to behold. (I haven't read any of the other three books, but I'm verrry excited to see when he flies one of the dragons.) Martin handles Bran's chapters very well. These feel the most childlike to me. You get the right information, but Bran doesn't process it the way adults do. So the reader gets the info, but Bran is free to misinterperet or not quite grasp the direness of some things. It makes it more heartbreaking when the betrayals happen.
Jon: This character is in the midst of coming into his own and it is fun to watch. I think what makes me happy about Jon is that he doesn't seem to make the dumb mistakes everyone else does. Everything he does reads textbook Hero. He's not slutty or manipulative. He's innocent, sure, but he's growing up quick.
Catelyn: Of ALL the characters, I find her the most frustrating. Like Davos she seems to bounce to the section that needs narrating, which results in a bipolar feel. This is true in the first book too: Bran falls, she has to stay by Bran's side until he wakes up, only to leave the comatose child when an 'important message' needs to be delivered. She kidnaps Tyrion, she loses Tyrion. In this book the psycho back and fort continues. Send this message, go back, do this, leave that but take it with you. Go to Renly, go to your father. "I have to be there for my son!" but we don't see Robb at all in this book. She gives me whiplash. And she's capable of such cruelty too.
Theon: He's a jerk. And a slut. The sections where his is POV makes my skin crawl. Martin did a good job on him. He's just the right amount of needy and cocky. I just don't like spending time with characters like that.
Daenarys: She's fascinating. Naive and lucky not to be dead, but fascinating. She seems to parallel Jon Snow's development. Both are young, both are coming into their own and figuring out how the world works. (And through figuring out how the world works now, they'll figure out how the world should work.)
I received this book as an ARC and I got halfway through it before my son took it away from me. (I'd mentioned I was reading a book he might be intereI received this book as an ARC and I got halfway through it before my son took it away from me. (I'd mentioned I was reading a book he might be interested in and he stole it right out from under my nose.)
The reason I mention this is because there were a couple moments in which I, as an adult reader, had some trouble accepting certain aspects, like CIA agents dropping in on parents and feeding them a random story about how Linc - their son - was a punk who needed boot camp...and then go on to recruit their son into a super-spy lifestyle. Kinda defies logic.
I am an adult. And nowhere was this made more clear to me than when my 10-year-old son snatched the book away and proceeded to read it cover-to-cover in the space of a day.
He came back to me and told me he loved it. I asked him what he loved about it. His answers: action, adventure, twists and turns! He liked the surprises. (Who is really the bad guy? Etc.)I wanted to ask him - what about the chickens (read the book)? Do you really believe that CIA agents would show up at a house and recruit a kid? In short, I wanted to ask him all of the adult questions that an adult reader demands of a book.
I sat back down with the book - now that I was allowed to have it. I contemplated it. I started it again and tried to imagine myself as a ten-year-old boy. Then I saw it: this book has everything kids like:
1. A smart, funny main character. Linc reminds me very much of Ash on Pokemon. (Bear with me.) Ash has left his family in search of adventure and training. He's off exploring the world on his own terms and he has a good heart. Linc leaves his family - to help them. He doesn't want his folks to suffer. The choices he makes are based on his internal compass.
2. The classic "You are chosen for something important." Every kid - I don't care who they are, where they come from or whatever - wants to be special. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Harry in Harry Potter wants to be loved and accepted. Kids live vicariously through heroes like this. Linc has been chosen to beat bad guys and right wrongs. That's fun stuff.
3. Hero's journey! I mean, come on, Luke had to leave Tatooine - Dorothy had to leave Oz - Frodo had to leave the Shire. Linc has to leave the U.S. for Paris...and kids can actually aspire to go there.
4. Twins/lookalikes. Sweet Valley High and all the spinoffs went for years. Parent Trap. Nuf said.
So, it turns out - despite my hesitant start - I really enjoyed this book. Kinda harkens me back to afternoons of cartoons. Over-the-top, just-for-fun fun.
P.S. Every year my son's school allows Halloween costumes...if the costume is of a character in a book. My kiddo has chosen to go as Linc. I've told him he's not allowed on field trips for that day. ...more
So far, I think this is one of my favorites in Defoe's Pirates! series. Who would've thought that the Pirate Captain's true competition was the egotisSo far, I think this is one of my favorites in Defoe's Pirates! series. Who would've thought that the Pirate Captain's true competition was the egotistical, not-as-short-as-you-think European dictator?
I wish I had more to add, other than "Really enjoyed it!" But that's pretty much how it goes down. I liked it. The story perked up an otherwise dull afternoon, and made me want to see the movie. My only really wish is for Defoe to hurry up and write more adventures, because I finished this one* and immediately started hunting around for the next one.
After The Night Season I was a little worried that we'd veered too far away from the evil incarnate that is Gretchen Lowell. But Cain brought it backAfter The Night Season I was a little worried that we'd veered too far away from the evil incarnate that is Gretchen Lowell. But Cain brought it back around beautifully and all the angst and personal interplay between Archie, Susan, and Gretchen is present and accounted for. And, again, I'm floored by how well the idea of a female serial killer works in these stories.
"Some professor wanted to look into the experience that time slows in life or death situations and he tied some graduate students to Bungee cords and pushed them off a ledge, and studied the results. His conclusion? In normal circumstances our brain culls details. In tense situations our mind stops culling – it notices everything – because you don’t know what detail is going to save your life. This is what creates the experience of time slowing—lots of details. The next time you’re writing a tension filled scene – maybe there’s a serial killer in it, maybe your character is asking someone out to prom – remember to stop culling. Notice everything. The acne on her forehead. The buttons on her shirt."
And that's how Cain pulls off making a believable woman serial killer. In the scenes where Gretchen Lowell makes an appearance, time seems to slow down. Archie - who is generally the POV character - sees every crease and pore in her face. He picks up the subtle nuances in her gestures and translates them for the reader. The details - and, in turn, Gretchen's darker motivations - come into stark relief. The result? The reader is totally invested in whether or not Gretchen has a razor blade or hypodermic needle hidden in her hand. Or is it just a hairbrush?
Cain takes the time to make Gretchen scary. And serial killers need to be scary. So, if you want to be scared - go read this book right now. ...more
"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
I think the first book review of the year should set the tone for the rest of the year. And what better way to start the year 2013 than reading and reviewing the book that has everything? In fact, it has so much of everything that I used every single one of my shelves to label it. I'm pretty sure that I'm still short a couple subjects.
Sure, I could've been reading Anna Karenina and learning about Imperial Russia with the rest of my book group instead of learning about the present American stuff I already know. But since my reading goal this year is 100 books - which is like reading everything - I should start my odyssey with the book that has everything. Everything American, that is. Anna Karenina just has affairs and trains and Keira Knightly and other stuff.
Tolstoy's book doesn't have anything that Colbert's book doesn't have.
Anna Karenina has extramarital affairs: America Again has illicit relations between politicians and food.
Anna Karenina has people who hate their jobs: America Again has resume how-tos.
Anna Karenina has 2-D: America Again has 3-D.
Anna Karenina has Siberia: America Again has North Dakota.
Anna Karenina was translated into English: America Again was written in American.
It's probably this last one where Tolstoy has managed to one-up Colbert. America Again has no, count them: none, award winning translators. We're just expected to understand paragraphs like: "But the Real Question is: are America's best days behind us? Of course they are, and always have been. We have the greatest history in the history of History. But never forget, our best days are also ahead of us, and always will be. Because America also has the Greatest Future in the history of the Future. It's our Present that's the problem...and always is be."
I mean, Colbert began two sentences in that paragraph with But. And fragments. You just don't do that. A good translator would've saved him some face-saving. ...more
3.75 stars...I know that I'm ranking it lower than just about everyone on earth but I'm not *quite* there for a four star ranking.
Like everyone else3.75 stars...I know that I'm ranking it lower than just about everyone on earth but I'm not *quite* there for a four star ranking.
Like everyone else on earth: 1. I found it funny. LOL kinda funny. Sometimes ROFLMAO funny. Since the stated goal of both Pratchett and Gaiman was to make his co-writer laugh, I think they did their job with bells on. Because if the reader laughing is any indication of how they made each other laugh, I am certainly living proof that they accomplished what they set out to do.
2. I agree that epic battles between good and evil make for damn good plots. There's plenty of action here to keep you turning pages.
And where I'm running into a .25 star-short-of-a-full-4 star mark... 1. The characters. (I know! What?) They're well drawn, they're fun. First off, there are a ton of them. (It's always a risky sign when you have to put your Dramatis Personae before the book opens.)
And second, for me, they didn't go anywhere. The angel, Aziraphale, and the demon, Crowley, were by far the best drawn of the cast. But others, who felt as if they would play central and driving parts - particularly Newt and Anathema - fell waaaay short. Not to spoil anything *SPOILER ALERT* but they don't do anything.*END SPOILER ALERT*
2. This is related to the characters, but is not direct. I was slightly irritated by the device of switching the POV to a side character who observes (often wittily, often humorously) the main characters doing something the reader knows is important to the plot. Yes, it's funny. But after a while - especially during climatic scenes - I just thought "Get to it, already."
3. Finally, and again this is about a humorous device, there were footnotes.*
I'd like to reiterate that I enjoyed the story, and that I did certainly laugh. More than once I was reminded of P.G. Wodehouse (if that gentleman ever wrote fantasy, I'm pretty sure he would have written something very similar to this). If you have a chance, you should definitely read this book. As the writers emphasize in their intro: "Believe us: We have signed a delightfully large number of paperbacks that have been dropped in the bath, gone a worrying brown color, got repaired with sticky tape and string, and, in one case, consisted entirely of loose pages in a plastic bag." It is a well-loved story, and I can totally see why.
So this book was pretty awesome. I read it quick and dirty -- and not just because the library was demanding it back for the hordes of other readers tSo this book was pretty awesome. I read it quick and dirty -- and not just because the library was demanding it back for the hordes of other readers trying to get to it. This one is a lot of fun.
First and foremost, I must say that these characters are some of the best drawn characters I've read in a long time. Each one of them has a fantasy "surface" and then Abercrombie throws a wrench in your prejudices.
You've got Logen Ninefingers -- the Bloody Nine. And he's pretty much what you expect when you read "fantasy barbarian." He's a thug. He's killed lots of people. Then you start to feel the weight of his past battles. You start to feel his scars. The opening scene of the novel is a fight scene. Pretty typical, yes? Immediately after, you learn that Logen's whole family has been killed. He's alone. The paragraph that breaks the Death of the Family news to the reader was heartbreaking (Logen already knew it).
Then there's another layer added: Logen can speak to spirits.
After that, as a reader you learn to expect the unexpected.
But the best character award goes to Glokta. The tortured torturer. That's all I'll say on that. He's awesome. And evil. And not evil. And good. But not good.
Really, my only issue with this book is that it's a first book. So there's a lot of introduction and intrigue...and I'm not 100% convinced the intrigue is going anywhere. Maybe it is. But nothing was tied up at all in this. You read and read and read. You love it love it love it. Annnnnnd the journey starts. The End.
Which is kinda funny, since the first chapter is call The End.
For me, I would've been happier with the story if some thread, somewhere had been tied off. As it is I was left with a wide open set of possibilities that can only be answered by the next book...
...which I'm going to go hunt down right now. ...more