Monday, December 12, 2011

100 Book Challenge Weeks 4 & 5

Book Review #7: Sabbathman
Author: Graham Hurley
Genre: Police investigation

This book attracted my attention because of the tagline on the dust cover: greedy politicians who get a come-uppance. With the apparent illusion of our current politicians that the money they’re wasting is theirs, I liked the idea of them getting payback. Not that I think we should shoot them, but maybe they should be rotated a little more often, you know?

Anyway, this turned out to be written a few decades ago, when Ireland was still in a bloody war and shortly after the Falklands War. There was some really interesting input on war and its effect on people, quite deep, but for the most part the action was all about a policeman from Special Branch, and the police/MI5 showdown in the shuffle of politics.

The story is very well written and I enjoyed it immensely. The author has a knack for suspense, and there were sections were I almost wanted to skip forward to find out what happened to a character or sequence.

I guessed the bad guy really early in the book, then second-guessed myself, then went back to tagging him as the bad guy, then he wasn’t… Yup, a skillfully written conundrum with lots of red herrings.

The ending, unfortunately, did not really work for me. Maybe it would for others, but I felt it was not neat and realistic. I was unhappy with those who got killed, and unhappy with the final verdict. It just didn’t feel right to me, it felt more like the required “happy ending” you get in movies. However, Himself has commented that I shouldn’t bust the author’s chops over something minor when I actually enjoyed the book.

So it’s over to you. Read it, and leave me a comment on your opinion of the ending?

Author: Stephanie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy

It was in the news yesterday that the cast of the Twilight movies was in China doing hand and foot prints for their adoring fans. So I thought I ought to get back to the series.

Book 2 begins with Bella’s 18th birthday, one she dreads and wishes away because she is now aging and Edward, the undead, is forever 17. (I loved the line in the movie where Emmett asks Edward what’s it like to date an older woman!) Edward confesses to Bella that he cannot live, figuratively of course, without her and, should anything ever happen to her, he has worked out a plan for bringing an end to his existence. Vampires cannot just commit suicide, you see, they’re sort of indestructible as well as being super fast and gorgeous and all the other stuff they share with Superman and Chuck Norris.

This morbid beginning sets the tone for this book, which is all about Bella’s blue funk when an accident leads Edward to decide that Bella would be safer without him around to constantly bring her into danger, so he breaks up with her and goes abroad, leaving an empty spot to be filled with the other hero in our love triangle.

Bella, being Bella, mopes and is childishly inconsolable. However, her life takes a turn for the better when she meets up with Jacob, the grandson of her father’s good friend, the local chief of an ancient tribe.

Jacob is the shining ray of delight in this book, exuberant, content, a great kid and fun to be around. Fortunately this rubs off on Bella a bit, but she still manages to make me grit my teeth and want to shake some sense into her.

In order to be a love triangle and not just a tale of loves lost and found, Edward is reintroduced to the story in the usual convoluted manner of this author’s devising, which does, however, set you up nicely for the rest of the series. This must be the “explaining” book in the set.

Did I enjoy it? Sure. If you promise not to look for plausible (you are, after all, reading a book about the undead) or reasonably mature action, you will too. J

Book Review #9: Cut and Run
Author: Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux
Genre: Crime/Detective/Police

Ty Grady is a scruffy, seasoned FBI agent who gets a new partner. As is usual with police novels (when will they have one that is different?) he is seriously pissed at getting a partner at all, and even more so when he meets him and discovers he’s a Suit. Nattily dressed in coat and tie, Zane Garrett is equally horrified with his assigned “wreck of a partner” (quoted from the novel), and these two spit nails and fire with the requisite fervor these stories persistently provide.

Apart from the ubiquitous unhappy pairing, this crime mystery has a good plot. A serial killer with no apparent MO is littering the streets of New York with creatively presented corpses. The bosses suspect it’s an inside job, inside the Feds that is, and Grady and Garrett have unique skills that may assist them in bringing an end to these artistic offerings. Unfortunately, if the bosses are right, the killer knows their MO, and can dance around them in the light while they fumble around in the darkness.

With nothing to go on, no links between the murders, and no idea who in the Bureau can be trusted, it is only these rare skills that keep the two Agents alive and on the case.

I get the feeling that these authors are new to writing and will tend to polish up as they progress with the series. Yes, there is a series, but each book is a stand alone, so can be enjoyed individually. There were some sections that were somewhat amateurish in delivery, where I felt I was reading a draft more than an edited version. Yet they held my interest and I happily devoured the book, gobbling my way to the ending.

Er... well, there were a couple of sections that sort of made me choke and cough. While I have no issues with homosexuality per se, graphic writing of homosexual sex made my strict Anglican upbringing wing its way back into my adult consciousness with puritan distress. Oddly enough, watching a TV series with homosexual soft porn did not have the same effect, perhaps my imagination is raunchier? Hmm…

Yup, unfortunately, Special Agents Grady and Garrett turn out to be gay. And I say unfortunately because they are described as my personal version of love gods, and I despair when anything that gorgeous cannot be had by me, personally. I mean, come on, you’ve just wiped out my fantasy life! I adore big men with big muscles, wide chests, slim hips and … oh… weak at the knees here… they’re gay? No! The fates cannot be so unkind. Would I feel more comfortable with them being gay if they were, say, 5’8” and average looking? Hell yeah! Let’s be honest here, would you feel quite as happy if your favorite dreamboat, Brad Pitt or George Clooney, for example, were gay? See? And my imagination can make these characters as real to me as Hugh Jackman, my private hunk-of-deliciousness, in any role he plays on the silver screen.

However, the man-on-man action aside, I enjoyed this book and will definitely read another in the series. I may end up skimming past the sexy bits, though. A girl has to be able to dream a bit, right?

P.S. This is WAY cheaper in the Kindle version, if you have one.

Author: Stephanie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy

Edward and Bella are now accepted as a couple and she has received a promise of her “conversion” to the vampire state. However, in return for Edward being the one to convert her, he insists that they marry first, and this sticks in her craw. Seriously uncomfortable with an early marriage due to her mother’s bad luck in that department, Bella cannot reconcile herself to the same fate. Edward is equally stubborn in his position and the two are saved from an impossible argument by Bella once again being center stage in a life and death drama.

The vampire who desired her for dinner in Book One had a mate, who now desires her for revenge. This mate, Victoria, is determined to make Edward feel her desolation and creates an army of newborn vampires to wipe out Edward’s coven and help her kill Bella, so that Edward feels her pain.

Book Three is devoted to the development of this revenge, the development of Jacob into a fully-fledged wolf, and the development of the characters of and relationship between the vampires and the wolves. An awful lot of development in this one novel!

In order to defend themselves from the army of newborns, the wolves and the vampires forge an alliance, and a plan to protect Bella. It all comes together in a battle for survival between eons old enemies and the one vampire who wants Bella at any cost!

This book was longer than the previous two, far more cohesive, and extremely seductive. It draws you in and holds you enthralled for all three hundred and some-odd pages. The interplay and wit between Jacob and Edward is biting and brilliant, and your allegiances will swing between the two sides so that you are as much at war within as Bella. Excellent writing!

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