Preston & Child don't miss a beat. As a huge fan of the Pendergast series, I wasn't sure about trying the Gideon Crew series, but couldn't resist. The writing for this book is almost as good as it is for the Pendergast series, which is to say very well written. The plot is full of suspense and all the twists and turns you'd expect from a Preston & Child novel.
The way the Book of Kells and Homer's Odyssey are woven into the novel are nothing less than artful and I continue to be amazed by the ingenuity of the characters who solve problems so complex, they seem impossible at first.
The plot follows social engineer and thief, Gideon Crew, through not one job, but two connected jobs and includes yachts, art museums, exotic islands and natives, treasure hunters, storms at sea, and a good many brushes with death. I thought the characters were well fleshed out with a good combination of strengths, talents, secrets, and faults.
My only complaint with this novel is that the narrator is a poor match for it. The narrator wasn't bad, but I thought he didn't understand the main character at all and his reading of the novel was just that, a sort of flat reading. Switch to a new narrator for the next book in the series and all will be well (just like in the Pendergast series when the switch from Scott Brick to Rene Auberjonois was made it was a match made in Heaven!) Before you buy, listen to the sample to be sure you can tolerate the narrator.
This was my first Kat Richardson book, which I thought I'd give a try after reading some reviews. Although the story is complete, without holes in the plot, I found both the plot and the main character to be rather unmemorable. There were a handful of supporting characters however, who have a greater presence in this book than the main character (MC).
In the novel the MC is a private detective who has a life threatening accident that causes her to die before the ER docs bring her back to life. As she's recovering, she realizes she "sees" and senses more than what was there before. The novel traces her discovery of this new sight, how to deal with it, and the cases she's working on, which relate somewhat to her new ability.
There is a lot of description in this novel about the MC's sight into the supernatural world that surrounds her. Much of this description focuses on mist, clouds, figures, forms, and other abstractions. I found it to be repetitive and unclear and I thought it should be edited out. My overall feeling about the book is "meh". Wouldn't recommend it, but wouldn't dissuade someone from reading it either.
All I can say is "WOW!" I have listened to this book three times now and plan to listen again. This short book gives you so much bang for your buck, it's like having the Cliff's Notes - all the condensed answers at your fingertips without the fluff. The main premise of the book is quite simple: most people spend 80% of their time working on trivial tasks in life/work/relationships/etc, but if we learn how to shift how we spend that 80% of our time to the 20% of tasks that produce the greatest results, then we can best manage our time and reach our goals in life. By always starting the day with the tasks that are the hardest or those that we are most likely to put off, we can make fast, daily progress towards what's most important to us in life.
The book is narrated by its author, who does a terrific job with the narration, the pacing, and the expression. My only critique of the book is that sometimes I noticed a background sound of hearing the pages turn.
Each chapter of the book is a new tool to help you take charge of your time, reach your goals, and design the life you want consciously. I found that I had to stop the book after nearly every chapter to do an exercise. However, I actually wanted to do the exercises, which for me, is one of the main things that sets this book apart from others on the topic. Each chapter is easy to understand, presents research where applicable to support the advice and exercises, and is interesting.
Most telling perhaps is the fact that as I type this, I have in front of me four pages of exercises that I keep taped to the wall above my desk so I can continually evaluate my own personal goals and how I'm managing my time to achieve them. In the short time since I first read this book, I feel that I have transformed my life. I can now easily identify the times when I'm focused on low-value tasks and have the tools to switch to working on the tasks that will best reward me. The tools Brian Tracy gives in this book are practical and easy to use. I feel like a much happier, successful, and effective person in all areas of my life now that I'm following Tracy's advice. Highly recommend for anyone who wants to be more successful at work, home, or family life, and who feels like there's never enough time in a day. Tracy shows you how to better manage your time and he's vetted all of the exercises himself.
I really enjoyed how well-written this story was, which was pleasantly unexpected. This turned out to be a romance novel with graphic descriptions of all the emotional and physical activity between the lead characters, Gabriel Emerson, a Dante specialist professor, and Julia Mitchell, his grad seminar student. Naturally, she's one of those virginal, statuesque, model-like beauties with naivete and grace beyond her years and he's the older, more experienced, perfectly muscled, charming, sex machine with a past, but other than this (rather large) cliche, the characters do have depth.
As the story progresses, you realize they aren't just meeting each other for the first time, but have shared a rather significant past. As their story unfolds, it mirrors the journey through Hell in Dante's inferno, which is neatly tied into the novel in just the right amount. Don't worry if you haven't read Dante, these parts are woven through with enough explanation to give more weight to the scenes but you won't be at a loss. In fact, the story is so well-written that I learned from the author's website that many of his readers were inspired to go back and read Dante!
This novel is the first in a series of three. At the time of this writing, the second novel is available but the third is in the works without a release date.
I enjoyed this novel as a "beach" read, but for me the story of Gabriel and Julia is over. There were no cliff hanger endings here, just all the loose ends of their personal journey tied up neatly. If you enjoy most of the sexy vampire and other supernatural literature out there, I have no doubt you would also enjoy this novel. Or, if you enjoy romance novels and the whole concept of the prince sweeping the damsel in distress off her feet, this is for you. There is a bit of a modern twist with this one, where they have to save each other metaphorically speaking, but it's the same old love story all in all.
The narrator has a great voice for these characters, and lends more life to this novel than if I'd read it myself. Three cheers for John Morgan!
Both during and after reading this book I kept thinking "Wow!" The writing is honest, simple, and heartfelt. The main character, although suffering from a terminal illness, is refreshingly witty and sarcastic and quietly, yet boldly so honest about her life and unique perspective on the world. I found her to be realistic - the type of character you believe you know and who lives on with you long after the last page is read.
Even though this story revolves around kids who have various forms of cancer, it is not depressing. There was never a point where I wanted to stop reading. Quite the opposite, it is a story of the hope than can be found in the darkest places of our lives, of the life we have left to live no matter our state of health. It is hauntingly beautiful. At its core is an honesty so bare, it will have you laughing and crying as I did.
The narrator, Kate Rudd, did an excellent job with this one.
I highly recommend this book for YA and adult readers alike. The author spent 11 years writing this one, so he says in an interview, and the result is a gem of a novel that truly shines.
I am of the mind that there is an unspoken contract between a writer and a reader that the first chapter sets up. I expect the first chapter to set the tone, conflict, and motivation for the hero. In this novel the hero does NOT achieve a single goal set out for him by choice. He's a failure who falls flat on his face and even though the introductory chapters had me hooked, not only does the story not deliver what is promised, but by the end of the book I despised the main character for his weakness and inability to change.
The author never offers explanation for the very reason why I read this book in the first place - to find out what happened to the MC and his two friends who disappeared one summer night in the woods when they were twelve. As if these were not disappointing enough (having an MC who does not change after more than 20 hours of reading and never discovering the truth about one of the central mysteries of the novel), the central murder mystery of the novel is also a disappointment! The murder case drags on and on in seemingly real time, not fast-paced murder mystery novel time, and lacks a single interesting or unseen twist or turn in the plot. I wanted to like this book, but the bottom line is that the author does not deliver. Where are the red herrings? Why have pages and pages of description that never pan out to hold significance? Why set us up to like the MC only to make him out to be the most bland and cowardly character in the book? Why have an MC who does nothing to change his situation? SPOILER ALERT: The hero of this book does not get the girl, does not solve the mystery of his childhood, does not unlock his repressed childhood memories, does not get the promotion, and does not change his life for the better. Spare yourself the disappointment.
The narrator for this book, Steven Crossley, was fine and did a great job. I would certainly consider other books narrated by him.
I'm a big fan of Preston & Child and this latest book in the Agent Pendergast series does not disappoint. All my favorite characters appear in this one and the plot advances their story lines so you gain deeper understanding into their backgrounds and motives.
I didn't like how the last book ended on such a dire note for his former assistant, Corrie Swanson, who was trapped sneaking into the Nazi headquarters all alone and wondered why it took so long to get back to that scene in this book but it did steer back there so that was one of three threads for Two Graves. Pendergast's mysterious wife, Helen, and her background are finally revisited in this book so we learn her true past and her trilogy (Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance) is finally closed with this book.
In this novel, a fresh serial killer is on the loose in NYC and the murders seem to be directed at Agent Pendergast. Tracking the murderer brings him deep into S. America where a Nazi refuge has been established to conduct human experiments in secret. (Second thread)
There are two big surprises in this book that will ensure many more plot twists in the future books of this page-turning series.
We learn more about the enigmatic Constance Greene in this one and part of her story arc is resolved through the third story thread which involves her smitten psychiatrist, Dr. Felder.
If you're already a Pendergast fan, this one won't disappoint. If you're new to the series, I recommend starting earlier on (perhaps at Fever Dream) as this one is the end of the Helen Trilogy. I already can't wait for the next one. Aloysius Pendergast is one of the few main characters that I never tire of.
Rene Auberjonois is the BEST narrator for the Pendergast series. Scott Brick did his best on the earlier books in this series, but nothing compares to Rene Auberjonois who nails Pendergast's charm, intelligence, aloofness, and Southern style.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well-written this was. The characters were well-developed and consistent, the plot was tight, and the voice, although not strong or distinct, was clear. I could even buy into the crazy vampire names like Wrath and Torment. The book was a little heavy on the sex scenes for my tastes, but seemed appropriate for the characters. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy vampire literature and men with a hardcore, primitive nature.
The narrator did a great job but the cover of the book was confusing for me. The main vampire character is supposed to have longer black hair and the lead female is also supposed to have thick, dark, wavy hair and be a real beauty.
I just may pick up the next book in the series...
This story was fascinating. It wove a mystery that spanned across three families and three generations. The novel was exceptionally well-written so that even the smallest details mentioned in the beginning prove to be there for a reason in the end.
The novel brings up many moral dilemmas, which would make for a great discussion for a book club. And there's a lovely twist at the end, which I did not anticipate. I will definitely be listening to this again in the future. Highly recommend!
The narrator did an excellent job and seemed very natural to me.
First of all let me say that after reading the synopsis of this book, I didn't think I'd like it. It sounded too fantastical to me to be adult fiction, but the reviews were so good I snatched it up. I'm so glad I did!
The author weaves a magical tale that feels like 80% nonfiction, 20% fairy tale. Her description of life in Alaska is as beautifully written as anything by Barbara Kingsolver. Much of this book is tightly written prose of literary quality. The childless couple in the book are broken until a beautiful, shy, and wild too-good-to-be-true daughter lets them adopt her, sort of. As the child grows, so do their relationships with each other and they learn more about her past and how she came to be an orphan. Woven into this is the ongoing question, is the child real or imaginary? Did the couple create the child from snow or is she an orphan from real parents who died? Like a Buddhist koan, only you can answer this question in the end. Would foster great book club discussions!
The narration for the book was superb. I highly recommend this one and plan to read it again sometime this winter.
NOTE: If you liked any of the following books/authors, I think you will enjoy this one:
Barbara Kingsolver (anything, but esp. The Poisonwood Bible)
The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton
L.M. Montgomery (anything)
Pat Conroy (anything)
The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
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