This is by far one of the goofiest books I've ever read! I listened to the audiobook, and it had me laughing out loud in more places than I can count. Adam Baldwin was the narrator, and he did an exceptional job!
It's a story of an insurance agent who, hell-bent on providing the very best in customer service, travels the alternate Earth Universes, helping those who hold polices with his firm. You never know what situation he will encounter... aliens, zombies, Nazi dinosaurs... but you can rely on Tom Stranger to solve the problem and do it with the most impeccable taste.
The most interesting villain in this book? Why, a less-than-reputable insurance agent who believes the dreaded call center is the best practice in customer service, of course!
I don't want to give away too much of this book, because I don't want to spoil the fun for you. But, I promise, this is a parody like none you've ever read, with nods to several films, books, and celebrities. It's a fun romp and I highly recommend it as a nice pallet-cleanser from your TBR pile.
Just don't listen to it at night, in bed... you'll keep your spouse awake with all your giggling... oh, and unless you're a fan of spit-takes, don't drink while reading this book, either! :-)
This was a most curious book. I've never read anything quite like it before. The narrator is the book itself, and it's addressing you, the reader. This means, of course, that the entire book is written in second person... which is a very difficult thing to do. I've never known any other author to attempt this kind of writing experiment, and succeed.
I'm not quite sure Mr. Daniels succeeds, but he comes close. The story is an interesting love letter from the book to the reader, and I think the premise is a good one, just not quite as well done as I would have liked. The narrative was extremely redundant, and often, thoughts go unfinished. I think the author was trying to convey the missing element of engagement when a reader puts down a book and comes back to it later... which makes sense... but I think it could have been done with fewer redundancy and holes. I'm not sure of the origin of the author, but in several passages, it seemed as if English was not the writer's first language. The book seemed loosely edited. I'm not sure if that was intentional, but it did make the book a bit choppy to read.
I think, though, that it's a brave experiment; one that, honestly, I'm not ready to take on. And yet, I'm shelving this concept for later. Reading this book did give me some ideas about how I might craft a novel in second person. Perhaps some day. Certainly, Drake is noodling this around as a future project.
This wasn't an exceptional book, but it was an intriguing read; and as an author, an interesting approach to craft.
This was an interesting collection of short stories written by a host of superb authors, about women, dangerous ones. As with most short story collections I've read, some of the pieces stood out for me more than the others. In some cases, the women weren't the main focal character of the story, in others, she was. In each, though, the word "dangerous" was interpreted a little differently than our conventional definition taught in elementary school. This is a fairly large collection, and to review each story individually would be more than any reader would want, so I'll write about those that were memorable to me in one way or another.
Some Desperado by Joe Abercrombie - A Red Country Story
This was an interesting read. Western in its genre, and anything but typical, I was drawn in immediately. The story, written in first-person POV by the main character, a female outlaw in the wild west... was captivating by its gruff demeanor. So many westerns are written as rough, gruff pieces, and this was no different, except for the obvious. The outlaw was a woman. It was a different approach to an old storyline, and I enjoyed it.
Bombshells by Jim Butcher - A Harry Dresden Story
This was an interesting one. I'd heard of this author, and this series before, but haven't read any of the work. I found it to be a playful romp through a mixture of fantasy and a modern take on noir. In this piece, the main character, a women, narrates, and we come to understand her world and how she's maturing through it. And although she is quite formidable against those that oppose her, I found her to be an exceptional example of the differences "dangerous" can bring to our lives. This one had an intellect that one should be wary of, even if her countenance was demure and gentle. The occasional moments of snark were especially appreciated. I enjoyed the progression of the story, and the satisfying ending. This gave me an opportunity to sample Mr. Butcher's work and come to the decision that I should seek out more of it.
Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale
This was one of those stories where the main character wasn't the dangerous woman, and yet she figured prominently in the story. She was the prize to be won, even though those fighting for her knew she wasn't good for them. I was impressed with the way the author introduced us to the main character, a young boy, and his treatment of his growth throughout the story. The author provided a perspective about women through this boy's eyes that we normally don't see. This story included some language I think could have been left out - but I understand why the author included it. The word choices pinpointed exactly time, place, emotion, education, and attitude. It was warranted, but not an enjoyable component of the story for me.
I Know How To Pick 'Em by Lawrence Block
This was super creepy - not in a horror or paranormal way, but in an icky psychological way. The main character, a man with a sorted past, made me feel a little like I needed to reach for the Clorox wipes after reading this story. The dangerous women in this piece was one who appears "off stage", yet feeds into the story's progression and intention very strongly. The feature that stuck with me the most about this piece was the near ambivalence of the main character, after behaving so deplorably. He still found justification. He's one sick guy... if that was the author's intent, he succeeded. It's certainly worth the read, just because finding creepy, icky stories like this is so rare. The experience, for literature's sake, is worth the time.
Second Arabesque, Very Slowly by Nancy Kress
This was an interesting dystopian story whose characters spoke loudly to me. The hierarchy of the women and men in this society was fascinating, even a bit reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, yet from a different perspective. Again, the term 'dangerous' isn't what we'd expect. The danger here was actually strength. And that's what I loved most about it... the women in this piece were dangerous because of their strength, not because of their ability to hurt, or destroy; but rather, because of their ability to insight change and undermine all that was acceptable. In that respect, it was an uplifting tale. I enjoyed it very much.
I listened to the audiobook version of this collection, and the narrators who read were exceptional, each one. However, the voices that I thought were best suited for the pieces they read were Scott Brick, who read Wrestling Jesus, which I enjoyed for the narrator's ability to convey different characters, including their specific difference in ages; Jake Webber, who read I Know How To Pick 'Em because his dry and almost abrasive delivery was perfect for the piece; and my favorite, Janis Ian who read Second Arabesque, Very Slowly because I felt that she added an extra dimension of accuracy to the characters. After hearing her read, I felt these people were real, not just paragraphs on a page.
Interestingly enough, the one piece that was most difficult for me to get through was The Princess and The Queen by George R.R. Martin. I felt that the narrator did a fine job reading, however, for me, the material was overwhelmingly long, tedious, and lacked the punch I would expect from a short story or novella. So many details; far too many, for my tastes. But, I know many millions of readers enjoy his work, and I accept that I am in the minority. I can deal with that.
Overall, I found this to be a wonderful collection of shorts, and an excellent companion to a long road trip.
The psychological thriller is my favorite genre to read. Packed with creepy surprises and unexpected turns, these stories are some of my favorites. Alice Feeney's "I Know Who You Are" is one that delivers on all counts. This book is filled with twists and turns that are easy to navigate, but rarely take you where you expect to go. And, her ending is a complete surprise... right down to the last sentence from the main character. Nothing is as it seems in this creepy tale.
I enjoy Feeney's ability to meld the past with the present in her writing. She gives you backstory not by simple plot exposition, as so many other authors do; instead, she allows the characters to tell and show their own backstory by living through their histories in real time. In other works, this jumping from past to present and back to past can sometimes be confusing, almost like two different stories happening simultaneously. But Feeney has the distinct ability to run both timelines in parallel, which keeps you engaged in both times, and with all the characters in the today and the before. It's fantastic skill.
This is another of those rare instances where I was treated with "Wow!" on the last page, and then ten full minutes of silence while I digested the experience. I read this in audio book, and I must say, the narrator's tone, acumen with the pregnant pause, and slight voice changes made the work more enjoyable. I highly recommend this book, if you like endings that grab your attention.
This is the second installment of this series... a story about Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein,, Beatrice Rappaccini, and Lucinda Van Helsing. All are the daughters of their scientist fathers who have questionable moral values when it comes to genetic manipulation. Together, the women make up The Athena Club, and are dedicated to helping save other women facing a similar fate to escape the controlling scientists in their lives, all members of the Alchemical Society.
This book, similar to the first, takes the women on tenuous adventures across Europe, where they encounter strange circumstances and even stranger people. They are faced with mystery and danger at nearly every turn, and must face it all alone through their own special skills, wit, and snark.
As with the first book, Catherine Moreau is the chronicler of their adventures, and frequently records the other women's comments within the text, as they all sit down to read the manuscript together in a sort of critique and editorial session before publication. I find Goss' technique here quite entertaining. It's almost like you have a secret window not only into the adventure, but also into the mind of a fictional author, and by extension, into the mind of Goss, herself. It really is quite delightful.
I would call this book a cozy mystery for those who enjoy the horror genre... it's a new approach to the topic matter that will keep your attention well to the last pages.
Again, I read the audio book version, and found the narrator to be equally skilled the second time around. It's certainly worth your time.
Okay folks, I know I'm seriously late coming to this party... but I'm glad I made it! The well on this one runs deep!
I was pleasantly surprised by this book that has been receiving so much hype. In my experience, books that have a "clan" following don't always meet with the expectations set before them. I'm pleased that this was not the case with "Bird Box".
The author does a superb job of weaving in and out of the story, past to present, and back again. By the end of the story, I felt as if I really knew these characters and could feel their pain, frustration, fear, and tenacity. By the last page, they were real to me... as real as the creature... which I'll get to in a minute.
Malerman does an excellent job with what I call "sensorial" writing. Every little part of how we engage in experience was utilized well on these pages. Every sense... sight, and the lack of it; sound, especially sound; and touch were all heightened because due to his spectacular use of vocabulary, and in some places, the lack of it, as in his decision regarding naming the children. The tears of the characters could be felt on my cheeks, the trembling heartbeat could be felt in my chest. This was a thriller that scared me in new ways. The ending held a punch I wasn't expecting, and it resonated deep within my chest cavity when I finally was able to visualize the future for them all.
My only frustration with this book, and I'm sure it is shared by many readers... and I'm absolutely certain our frustration makes the author quite pleased... the creatures. I needed more, wanted more, expected more, especially at the end. The fact that these details were hidden from us was tantalizing and exasperating all at once. And it made for GREAT storytelling!
After reading the book, I sat down to watch the film on Netflix. I must say, I'm very happy that I waited until after I read the book, and didn't fall into the film's advertising ploy. It's been my experience that most books are far better than their film counterparts, and this one is no exception. I understand why they had to present it in the way that they did, but the dramatic lack of details that the book so richly delivered, left me irritated. The cast did a fabulous job bringing Malerman's work to screen, but I think that the time constraints of the film industry made it impossible for the depth of this story to truly be told. So, if you haven't already seen the film, don't... at least not until you read the book first. You'll be happy you waited.
I've heard rumors of a sequel... I hope that Malerman chooses to write a prequel, instead. There's so much about the creatures that I'd like to know, along with the backstory of how it all began. I think there's a super-creepy origin story waiting to be told here, and I hope he brings it to us. A sequel would be nice, too... the story waiting to be told of what comes next would, I'm sure, be just as tantalizing. But personally, I'm more interested in the history of it all right now. :-)
Thank you, Mr. Malerman. I look forward to discovering the rest of your work.
This was an interesting and quick read. I was drawn to the book because the back matter told of a story about a writer's retreat in Wales. Books about books, libraries, or the writing process in general are a tremendous magnet for me, and this is one was irresistible.
A mystery/thriller set in a spooky small town with a history of myths, legends, and missing children, this was an intriguing adventure that spanned just over two years, with connections to decades before. The characters were interesting and engaging, and the story was multi-layered. There were a couple points during the reading that I thought I had a firm grasp on what was happening. Then another layer showed itself, and I was again on the quest to figure out how it all fit together. The author created a delightful literary puzzle.
The landscape of the book is varied and visual. I easily felt as if I was a part of the story, deep inside the community. There were several points in the book where there was a concentration on sound - a sense that many writers often omit - and it was handled beautifully. I heard the leaves rustle, the ghost sing, the crack of getting hit on the head. The sensorial writing in this story is abundant and a wonderful surprise. The rich combination of place, time, and character made this a delightfully spooky read.
The only negative comment I have about this book is that it's more a spooky whodunit story, and less a story about writers... but that, I'm sure, is a criticism only I would report. Call it a personal peccadillo.
I listened to the audiobook version, and was extremely pleased with the narrator, and his ability to separate the characters without any distracting over-the-top voice changes. The book was difficult to put down.
I've been selecting psychological thrillers a lot lately, and this one didn't disappoint. This was an interesting read. A story of a young woman recalling the horrific events that led up to the deaths of her entire family when she was just eight years old juxtaposed with some films of the horror genre added for comparison. It's spine-tingling and extremely visual. Written from the point of view of the main character, it was easy to drop myself into the events and imagine that I was the storyteller. The family's characters and most of the supporting characters were well designed, and the twist ending caught me completely off-guard. It was a quick read, and difficult to put down.
The only criticism I have is that although the author did a spectacular job crafting a creepy story with strong characters both easy to like and dislike, two were missing some depth. The first was the character of the writer/journalist. I would have liked to know more about who she is and how she came to take on this project. She seems to be in the story simply to allow the main character to narrate her story and not much else. More depth to this character would have made the twisty ending even more difficult to see coming.
The second character that seemed either unnecessary or underdeveloped was that of the blogger. Her story seemed a rich part of this creepy tapestry, only then to be left in the dust and incomplete. I think there could have been more development here, too, again adding more "slight of hand" distraction away from the ending.
I enjoyed this book, one that I actually listened to as an audiobook. The narrator for the project was easy to listen to and added just enough variation to her voice to allow us to experience all of the characters individually. There is absolutely no concern about this one putting you to sleep on long drives - it accomplished the exact opposite effect!
This was a spectacularly captivating book. I read this collection not having been tremendously familiar with the details of the Norse Legends. I knew the basics you get in school and from comic books… Thor and his hammer, and Loki’s penchant for causing trouble… but I didn’t know the history and the depth of the stories.
A consummate raconteur, Gaiman expertly walks you through each myth, adding intensity and vision. The vibrancy of his storytelling is exceptional. Most noteworthy is that he tells these stories with a chronology that gives you a greater understanding of the relationships between the gods and the other characters, including humans. This awareness of a time-sphere ties everything together, lending a tension to the tales and a weighty significance to the ending.
If you’ve ever been curious about the elusive details found in these myths, Gaiman delightfully leads you on a grand adventure not to be missed.
If you're looking for a story that draws you in and makes you think... and then go back to re-read just so you can try to predict where things might go next... this just might be the book for you! "Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. I found this to be a captivating novel. I truly enjoyed each strangely peculiar twist and turn. It's a little creepy, and little not... and a LOT to make you wonder, "hmmm, could this really happen/have happened? I got some wonderful ideas about "what if" scenarios, and was so captivated by the characters and what might happen next, that I've purchased the next book in the series and will read it next! This is a wonderfully creative concept, and I'm looking forward to getting deeper into the story
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