This is the second in the series of police procedurals by L.J. Sellers. She has based these books around Eugene, Oregon, with gruff, good-hearted Detective Jackson as her protagonist. Sellers has a gift for creating a compelling narrative that swiftly moves the reader through the plot without a lot of fluff. The story plays out just as a good police investigation. There are red herrings, blind alleys, and department politics to contend with. The book reads like an episode of Law and Order, complete with a few moral lessons along the way. Such as...
SEMI-SPOILER ALERT: In "The Sex Club," we learned to keep a sharp eye on our children, and to avoid extremist religious viewpoints with an unbending moral code. Here, in "Secrets to Die For," we continue the theme of broken parent/child relationships with children withholding things about themselves from their parents. In both these first two novels, the fanatical parents wind up bringing great harm to their children through their misbegotten actions. Karma is tough in Sellers' universe!
The narrator, Damon Abdallah, is purely perfunctory in his delivery. He is annoyingly monotone during most of the narration. We only hear vocal variety during the moments of dialogue. His Detective Jackson is a morose bore, though I found him more tolerable this time - perhaps simply because I was used to Mr. Abdallah from "The Sex Club." But even he couldn't sink the book for me.
I do enjoy a good urban fantasy, so I was looking forward to this audiobook series. Unfortunately, Khristine Hvam kills it for me. There are a variety of reasons. First, she has much too much of a nasal "head voice" for the protagonist, detracting from the toughness of the character. Secondly, her southern accent went in and out and varied in regional dialect from southeastern to western drawl. The thing that got me most irked was her lack of understanding in terms of speaking her lines. So many times she misreads the emphasis needed in a sentence, destroying the meaning or intention of the line.
I own the next two books on kindle as well as audible, so I'll probably end up just reading them if this same narrator is used.
Those fans of John Carpenter's The Thing will recognize the motifs Lovecraft uses in his description of an antarctic expedition that discovers the remnants of something they never expected. The entire story is delivered as a first person narrative almost entirely devoid of dialogue from the perspective of one of the expedition's leaders, William Dyer. It reminded me of my reading of Time Machine and War of the Worlds, for both the style of the narrative with its abundant description as well as the incredible imagination of the author. It's easy to lose oneself in the dense prose - not since Poe have eerie terrors been offered with such stilted romantic language. I admire the mind at work here, the creative genius, but the utter devotion to this style leaves a cold impression.
I can see readers getting bogged down in At the Mountains of Madness, which is why Edward Herrmann's wonderful reading is so special. His contribution lifts this story and makes it even better.
I really enjoyed the Hitchcockian beginning to this one - and I'd say that vertiginous spell was carried for roughly 2/3 of the story. Not bad. But at some point, Coben had to show us the hand he held, and, well... it was a bit anticlimactic. Still, a nice read. Scott Brick narrates in his smooth-as-brandy voice, and Coben's prose did nothing to spoil the proceedings. Hugh Jackman will star in the film. He's not 6'4, as is the novel's protagonist, but carries a female fan base that more than makes up for it. They're going to need a fantastically charming actress to play the girl.
When I was listening to Paul Bowles' exquisite The Sheltering Sky, I jotted down a phrase here in my notes to include in my review: the ambiguities of human behavior.
When we create art, we (meaning we members of the human species) are almost always guilty of placing the art in a digestible context. Perhaps guilt is the wrong word to use, because it indicates a transgression - perhaps this context is wholly necessary in that art must be able to be internalized in some fashion or it fails in communicating anything at all. With writing, this translates into the creation of a pleasing and familiar story arc with discernible beginning, middle, and end. Many readers find great comfort in this familiarity - in fact, they demand it in their novels. Book series are an indication of this phenomenon. In book series, we are allowed to reenter a familiar set of literary preconditions and live among characters we've grown accustomed to. These same readers often despise books that upset the standard story arc. Books are not a place to be challenged, set off balance, or placed adrift in a morally ambiguous universe. Novels are enjoyed by these readers because they clarify moral situations, not muddy them! Readers of this sort will undoubtedly hate The Sheltering Sky and its ambiguities of human behavior. For the rest of the reading world, this novel offers a profound and moving experience. My son asked me this evening which book that I had read this past month had I enjoyed best? I told him this one, and in fact, I have plans to carry on with Bowles and listen to Let It Come Down beginning tonight.
Books like The Sheltering Sky - books so keenly observant of human frailty - are truly rare. And in being unafraid to show ourselves our frailties, it offers us rare and beautiful truths. It surprises me in some respect that this novel is not more highly valued, though I do see it ranked among best books of the 20th century. Bowles reveals himself a master observer. The character he creates with Kit Moresby is one of the most outstanding and complex I've read in the past couple of years.
Jennifer Connelly does an excellent job - just short of outstanding. While her ability with accents is wonderful, it's in the general narration where she can sometimes let down the prose. It just felt a bit uninspired at times.
The Troop is an excellent horror story that will probably surprise you wit the direction it takes in the story. Certainly, one knows what sort of story one is in for when the author leads things off with a quotation from Lord of the Flies. But just wait and see what terrors await them on this weekend camping trip!
The writing is excellent - in fact, the description is so horribly visceral, you may have to take a break from time to time from the gore. The narrator was absolutely fantastic - sounded exactly like John Malkovich - who better to narrate this twisted tale?
Here's a scary story for you. Not one with fictional creatures or supernatural occurrences, but instead, a novel that details all the quiet miseries and disappointments we work-a-day stiffs endure throughout the course of a lifetime. It is not an escape, but a story that forces you to confront the choices you have made in your own life. The writing is done with great care and intelligence, so that the reader gets the sense that WIlliams truly knows this academic world and its inhabitants.
Stoner is so unsettling in its description of family and work life that I think we could cure the earth's overpopulation problem if this book became mandatory reading in the eighth grade.
We always hope that a series of books becomes better over time, but unfortunately, in a lot of cases, that doesn't hold true. I'm happy to say that Richelle Mead has been able accomplish this with her Vampire Academy series. Books 1 and 2 were entertaining, but Shadow Kiss bests them both. In this story, our heroine Rose has matured, becoming stronger and wiser, setting aside the silly behavior that used to make me cringe. There are plot twists and confrontations here that will leave YA readers weeping into their pillows. It sets up for a fantastic fourth installment. I also think this is narrator's Khristine Hvam's best performance so far. She minimized the little squeeky girl voice she tends to use during lighter moments, and voiced Dmitri in a solid and straight forward manner.
A very interesting and satisfying story of interwoven moral dilemmas. I thought that the narrator, Caroline Lee, did a perfect job. I admired so many of the small vocal moments in the way she chose to utter the lines.
I love this series. I feel like Molles keeps deepening the characters as they continue to advance into this unknown and hostile world. Christian Rummel continues his blood-and-guts assortment of voices - he does guys really well, but the girls come off a bit one note.
If you've not read these first two detective novels in the new series by J.K. Rowling, you are really missing out. I think there is something about being the #1 author of all time that makes it a bit hard to be valued in a sane manner - way too many expectations and assumptions to hurdle! But despite all that, I must say that I love the way this author writes! She has a style that perfectly balances a literate prose with suspense. Her characterization and dialogue are absolutely superb, and I think, slightly underrated. It's easy for those things to be overshadowed in a fantasy series, as the reader marvels at the intricacies of the illusionary world of magic and wizardry. But think about it again now that we've moved into different work- there are few authors I've read in the last decade who create richer characters whom the reader simply adores. And I've read enough crap by now to know that that is not something that occurs easily. It takes extraordinary skill and instinct.
Robert Glenister is absolutely fantastic. I'm astounded at the array of voices he is able to muster, but more so at the perfect interpretation he selects for Rowling's dialogue. It's so special to hear a gifted reader bring his many gifts to bear on writing of this quality.
Report Inappropriate Content