New Orleans, United States Minor Outlying Islands | Member Since 2006
I think not!
But I get it. This is meant to be a cautionary, worst case scenario tale against doing nothing to prepare against an EMP event. If that was the goal, then I think it could have been better handled as a satire, (A Modest Proposal) because Forstchen’s portraiture of America and Americans didn’t ring true for me.
In under a week the protagonist, John, is publicly executing looters. In less than 20 days this small town representation of America has turned into a “show me your papers, please,” East Germany, and in less than two months the author has us devolving into cannibalism. Not unlikely events, to be sure, but on that timeframe when all the buildings are still habitable, roads passable (with the dead cars out of the way), potable water and fertile land? Bear in mind, there’s been no direct nuclear devastation, no pandemic, no major natural disaster – no zombies or aliens. Power is out, communications are down and transportation is limited.
In trying to paint this bleak picture of America, Forstchen neglects one of the ingredients that makes America, America: imagination. If we lost the use of our cars, and cell phones, and computers, and drugs we would be annoyed and frustrated – and scared, but we wouldn’t become helpless to the point of cannibalism in less than 60 days! Not our DIY, “think globally, buy locally,” live off the grid, alternative fuel, ride your bike to work day society!
Throughout the story, too many times I caught myself thinking things like, “wait a second! You mean to tell me that a small community outside of progressive Asheville doesn’t have a co-op run organic farm or a community garden? It has horses but no mounted police? No farriers? No yuppie urbanites with $3000 dollar bicycles to form a courier system or bicycle brigade? Really?”
This is a town made up of chain smoking college professors and ex-military, Cold War military. There appear to be no artisans, blacksmiths or gunsmiths... or carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. The youth at the local college are particularly useless and only good for training as militia. Where are the nerds – the engineers, the techno and auto geeks who would view the lack of electricity and functioning circuitry as a challenge? There are Civil War re-enactors, but no Native American folk-life demonstrators, or traditional life-ways practitioners? There are “survivalist-types,” but none with a stockpile of MREs? Really? And no one, except for the campus security guard, demonstrates any real individual leadership, not even our protagonist. He gets placed into leadership positions through circumstance.
In the best post-apocalyptic, dystopian future novels (think Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Atwood’s A Handmaiden’s Tale, Orwell’s 1984 or King’s The Stand) the “bad thing” happens before the story and the story is about how the indomitable human spirit overcomes. In the end, One Second After is a cautionary tale against homogeneity and the loss of imagination – killers of our human spirit, for without that, whether we face a super flu epidemic, an EMP strike or the zombie apocalypse, our society is lost.
Wow, where to start! This book is a study in how not to write a novel, and yet… and yet, these gals must know something I certainly don’t: they’re published, and this book, Cut and Run, is first in a series of six (!), so far. Or maybe soft-core porn just doesn’t need to be all that well written.
Trying to keep up with the point of view changes was like trying to watch the ball in a championship ping-pong match. It was hard to keep up with who was speaking, and therefore it was impossible to know whose story was being told. Confusing the reader with POV changes is a huge Writing 101 no-no. In Cut and Run the perspective changes so often, sometimes within the same paragraph, that the moment you, reader, start to identify with one character the perspective has switched and you’re on to the other making it difficult to care about either.
I would wager that a full third of this book is nothing but adverbs. Oh my god, nearly every action is done carefully, slowly, slightly, doubtfully, soothingly, flatly, softly, curtly, wordlessly, logically, dubiously… “She complained, obviously.” So many adverbs. They stifled the flow and undermined the storytelling. Another Writing 101 no-no, and the classic “show vs. tell” issue. Instead of telling us that “he watched him warily” the writers could have left out the adverbs, let the dialog and the action flow, and just showed us that the watching was wary.
And speaking of the dialog… the meant-to-be playful banter between the two main characters is forced and sometimes awkward and often clichéd. It’s intended to tell readers, “They hate each other. No, they really hate each other. Well, maybe it’s actually angsty teasing. No, it’s foreplay!” And the writers just beat you over the head with it throughout.
Let’s just call this for what it is: it’s a buddy cop romance thinly disguised as a mystery. There are a lot of needless descriptions of hotel rooms, what the men wore, and pointless actions that have nothing to do with the story, and all these descriptions are just long lead-ins to the sex scenes. The characters don’t actually spend much time trying to solve the murder mystery that is supposed to be at the heart of the story. As for the mystery, if that is what brought you to this book, I would recommend selecting something else. The mystery, a serial killer in New York, isn’t even mysterious enough to keep the attention of the two main characters.
While the budding romance was tender and the sex scenes were kinda hot, I wasn't sufficiently moved by the characters or the story in this book to continue with the series.
Allerde’s narration wasn’t awful – when doing male voices – but his falsettos were pretty bad.
In many ways Uninvited Guests is a comedy of manners, particularly British in its wit and depreciating sense of humor.
The Torrington household is preparing to celebrate the 20th birthday of their eldest daughter, Emerald. At the same time, Charlotte, Em’s mother, is anxious about the state of Sterne, and whether or not she and her children will be able to stay in the house much longer. Her husband, Edward, leaves on the day of the party to negotiate a home loan in town. That’s the set up. And it’s all very dramatic comedy with some upstairs-downstairs conventions and budding romances among the young people, but things change when there’s word of an accident “on the branch line,” and Charlotte’s past, quite literally, comes knocking on the door!
The Uninvited Guests is quiet and funny and creepy all at once, and I found it to be an enjoyable listen. I have only two criticisms: first, while Kate Reading did a fabulous job for the most part, her interpretations of some of the character affectations seemed a bit off to me. Also, like some other reviewers, I felt the pony situation, though it started off being funny, went on longer than it needed.
Still, if you’re in the mood for turn of the century wit and a bit of the supernatural you could do worse than The Uninvited Guests.
I came across a review of this book at another website and it summed up my feelings perfectly, so I’m going to quote a bit of it here:
“I’m at a loss to aptly describe the effect of Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. It’s an eerily detached novel, with characters that range from emotionless to desperate, governed by tradition, superstition and even the supernatural. It’s an unsettling book. A quiet book. A surreal book. I’m not sure how I feel about it.”
I don’t know how I feel about the book either.
Hemmersmoor is a small, isolated village with a dark history. Your House Is on Fire tells the story of five friends who grew up in the village and return as middle-aged men and women to attend a funeral. The story is told from the various perspectives of the five. There is murder, rape, incest, bigotry and petty cruelty throughout, and not one of these characters is the least bit likable or sympathetic. Not one. For that reason alone the book was hard to get through.
The story is also beautifully written. Craftily written. Hemmersmor villagers are layered in secrets, and as the children grow up and tell their stories these secrets are revealed, peeled away like layers of an onion to slowly and quietly expose the dark heart of this poisoned community.
I usually like my audiobooks to be 10 hours or more, but this time I was thankful that this was a short one. It left a sour taste in my mind and I had to immediately watch a cheesy comedy after it was over. I didn’t want these characters in my head for too long. They are fictional. The horror is how ordinary and real they are.
I’m reading the negative reviews wondering how anyone could not have enjoyed this book, and I see a theme here. It seems that those who didn’t like the book were looking for a straightforward, linear genre novel. That’s not what this is, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you should do as one reviewer suggested and go for the latest Lee Child or Robert Crais.
Night Film is a psychological drama with “mystery” and “thriller” elements. There is a mystery and there are thrills (I found myself gasping out loud at some of the events), but from start to end this story is no simple mystery. It is as intricate and fine as a well-crafted puzzle box. And consider that of the two contrasting characters one is a reporter who’s job is to find the truth, the other is a film director who’s job is to create fiction, and you can imagine the labyrinthine rabbit hole the director leads the reporter down. It’s dark and deceptive. Our rational hero must question everything he sees and experiences – was that real or was that the Primrose Path he’s expected to follow? And even the object he seeks, The Truth, must also be questioned.
One reviewer said that at the end of the book she wanted to start it all over again armed with a new perspective. I felt the same way! And I imagine that like a good puzzle box this story doesn’t have one way in but many, and those entry points can only be found after subsequent readings.
I love these long, chewy novels you can really sink your teeth into. Let Jake Weber’s narration wrap around you like a warm blanket and snuggle in for an amazing ride.
…or “Jurassic Park,” or “Brave New World”…
I’m sure there are plenty of readers who give this book 5 stars because the ideas in the story energized them, and plenty who give it 1 star because they were horrified. I’m giving it 3 stars because I was neither energized nor horrified. The writing was just “meh,” also known as classic Dan Brown – his characters spend a lot of time “recalling when…” or “remembering the first time…” You can almost hear the dream sequence music cue in, and then we’re in for a long, explanatory bit of prose that acts like speed bumps to the plot. He awkwardly hides exposition within dialog and too often follows with a sometimes interesting history lesson on art, on Florence, on Dante Alighieri… but this is supposed to be a race to stop a madman from releasing a deadly plague! Right? I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say our characters have the time for a lesson or two. His show vs. tell skills could do with more exercise. That is, we know his Hero finds the female protagonist attractive because he says she’s “quite attractive.” We know she’s supposed to be very smart because our Hero finds information saying she’s very smart, though, throughout the story, Brown doesn’t have her behave like a very smart person -- she’s clever but not always intelligent. All in all, this is a tepid tale with some awkward contrivances, a strange twist and a flaccid ending, but if you’re interested in the transhumanist movement, Italian Renaissance and art, or Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy, then there is plenty in Inferno for you to enjoy.
Without giving too much away, here’s one point Brown doesn’t make in his arguments: Brown’s “mad doctor” character argues that after the black plague Europe enjoyed a renaissance reflected in the art, music and literature of the time, and makes the leap that the one-to-one correlation is related to the decrease in the population. Professor Langdon, our Hero, as an Art History professor, should have made the counter argument that the Renaissance didn’t simply come about because of a decrease in the population, but as a direct result of and an antidote to the suffering during the plague times. In other words, humanity doesn’t need to be mollycoddled by some guy who thinks he knows better than everyone else. Population wise, we’ve made our bed, so to speak, and there may be great suffering in the future, but think of the art and leaps of science we’ll make on the other side of it. Humans are at their best when given a challenge. Brown’s “mad doctor” wants to take that away without even considering that his Brave New World could usher in a malaise of thought and imagination, and accomplish the opposite of his goal by halting our evolution.
The writing is a lot better in this story than the first two, but there is still an awful lot of explaining and not much storytelling.
Shattered Hourglass continues to be the military man’s expression of survival in the zombie apocalypse, loaded with military jargon and acronyms, names of weapons and details that are meaningless to people who are not military or weapons experts. These particular details did nothing to enhance the story and washed over me as white noise. He could have stuck with saying “rifle” or "grenade launcher" instead of naming each weapon and hiding the details of what they do in meaningless dialogue between characters and it wouldn't have hurt the story.
And I say "man’s expression” very deliberately. Bourne's female voices are somewhat unrealistic. Each woman, and especially the little girl, sounds like he learned “woman speak” by watching daytime television. by contrast though, I thought Jay Snyder did a wonderful job capturing the varying tones of each woman, though the language and the dialog he had to work with was sub par.
Bourne also could have done without the pro-gun proselytizing. The action in the story contradicts his offhand pro-gun remarks that he's sprinkled throughout. In one moment he will state how one community fell because they didn't have guns and another survived because they did, but in the next action sequence he will describe in detail how problematic guns are (gunfire noise attracts zombies), how unreliable they are (bullets run out, shots to the head don't always work), and how if the victim had a weapon other than a gun he would've fared better (ice ax to the head always works). His little pronouncements are superfluous as his pro-gun stance is pretty apparent in the way he names each gun and describes its value.
Still, there is a lot of action and the zombies are nasty, and with this series Bourne has placed himself high in the pantheon of zombie dreamweavers.
The best thing about this book was that it was read by Jay Snyder. He is a great talent and I don't think I would’ve made it through the series if I were reading these on my own. Snyder's narration makes all the difference. I've read other books he's narrated and I'm convinced he could read the phone book and make it sound interesting!
Yeah, as a fan of Rollins' Sigma Force stories, as well as most of the stand alones, I was expecting a rip-roaring tale from "Blood Gospel." I don't know, either this was the driest vampire tale I've ever read or it was the driest vampire tale Baskous ever read, but this one tried to put me to sleep. Though, out of my respect and enjoyment of past Rollins tales I did make it through all 12+ hours!
Was it the reader, or was it the writing? It's hard to say. Perhaps a bit of both. The story has the classic 50's sci-fi movie set up with the ballsy, brash Hero, the intellectual and repressed Heroine and a Quest, but it's missing the fun! The interplay between the Hero and the Heroine is limited to exposition as dialog and action sequences. We learn about their growing mutual attraction through inner dialog. And then there are the vampire priests - zzzz
Guilty vampires are interesting if their guilt drives them to action (Blood Oath). Pious guilty vampires, turns out, are a lot less interesting.
Baskous' narration, with its white-noise pitch and cadence, didn't help. He wasn't feelin' it, or maybe there just wasn't much to feel.
But this is a great story that truly cannot be summed up in a simplistic formula; however, readers might recognize elements of all of the above flavored with Mievillesque surrealism.
There are differences: it’s Jane Bond not James, and her Bourne-like memory loss is due less to amnesia and more so because she’s become someone else -- or someone else has become her (it makes sense in the story), and there are people with X Men-like abilities, but there are also vampires, and other, uh, entities.
Readers familiar with Mr. Mieville’s work will recognize and perhaps feel comfortable with the wave of weirdness when it hits. Unfamiliar readers might exclaim “what the frak?!” and feel that the book has gone off the rails or jumped the shark because the story does get a little… out there.
There’s also plenty of human drama, enough to care very much about our heroine Myfanwy, enough to feel eager for the next book. Mr. O’Malley has done a fine job with his first book, and I can’t wait to read more about Myfanwy and the mysterious Cheque organization. Oh, and good job with the trailer for the book. It's very funny.
If you’re trying to diet and having a hard time of it, reading this book will help – it will kill any desire you have to eat anything, for hours. And personally, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat vegetable soup again!
Other reviewers have said it, but it bears repeating – this book is gross, and should probably come with a warning: not for those with sensitive stomachs or sensibilities.
Keene is an artist with words, and in this book he paints the most vivid, horrible images for your mind to conjure. You can sense the gleeful pleasure he must have had describing the inhabitants of the house and the horrors they inflict on the victims trapped within.
However, too much of the storytelling is sacrificed for the gore, and the six main characters – the young people that get trapped and set the ball rolling – serve in the role that all young people have served in slasher films since the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But I wish there had been more story because I wanted to learn more about the inhabitants; they are far more disturbing and interesting than the average slasher film boogyman.
Still, this story is a study in description. For wannabe writers - like myself - pay attention to not only how Keene describes (word choice), but what he chooses to describe, and think about what it is about his descriptions that makes you grimace and the bile rise in your gut. Besides, focusing on the story academically does make it easier to, um, choke down.
The narrator, Jeff Pringle, didn’t do a bad job, but he was not the best choice for this book. His “tell me a story, grandpa” voice and inflections clashed with the events, characters and language of the story.
This was my first Steve Berry novel and I enjoyed it! I enjoyed it despite Scott Brick, (Brick has ruined more audio books for me than any other reader) and I almost didn’t get it because of him, but the premise was intriguing enough – I mean, who ever really thinks about Columbus? I didn’t, but I love this type of historical fiction because it inspires me to think about the past in new and interesting ways… and the next time I see a Columbus biography in the bookstore I just might pick it up and flip through it!
The writing and storytelling here is more solid than anything from Dan Brown, but the two main characters, Tom and his daughter Alle, are a bit melodramatic – we meet Tom just as he is about to commit suicide over an apparent mistake he made some years earlier. He is interrupted by a man with a video showing his daughter being held captive by a couple of guys with rude hands who threaten to do worse to her if Tom doesn’t agree to have his father exhumed, and with him, the bad guys hope, a secret of history and religion that links Columbus and ancient Judaism to the New World! This sets Tom and Alle on a world tour adventure to discover the ultimate secret before the bad guys. The catch? Alle Does Not like or trust her father, and Tom needs to get over himself and man-up if he’s going to win this one.
Berry packs a lot into this book – the father/daughter conflict, secret sects, a Jamaican crime lord, historical flashbacks and “fun facts” about Columbus, Judaism and Jamaica – but he keeps things moving briskly enough that not even Brick’s quavering voice and clipped cadence can slow things down.
I think I'm a new Berry fan.
Report Inappropriate Content