Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bookreview: Seawitch


Author: Alistair MacLean
Genre: thriller, action/adventure
Published: 2014
Personal rating: 2.5/5
Yearly count: 15

Seawitch is the story and name of a new type of oil drilling platforms, large, sophisticated and mobile. It’s set in the latter half of the 1970s, after the 1973 oil crisis. The Seawitch is owned by billionaire Lord Worth, who plans to greatly undercut the established oil companies. This, not surprisingly, makes him a lot of powerful enemies who will do anything to stop him. Thrown in some Cold War and anti-US countries looking to make trouble as well, and you have a right mess. But when the two daughters of Lord Worth are kidnapped, the two private detectives who are in friends with them get involved.

Now, that sounds like a thrilling story, full of action. And in a way it is. There’s action and explosions and tension…well, maybe not that last one. The story is told in a third person omniscient voice and that narrative voice sounds, quite frankly, bored. The story style is more summarizing, hand waving, ‘oh, this happened’ than anything else. Not even the most tense moments managed to actually come across as exciting. It all fell very flat. This was not helped by the fact that the characters seemed very much like caricatures. There was no depth to any of them.

The story had a lot of promise, the premise was great, the events in the book would make a good story, but the way it was told makes it rather boring. All in all, this book disappointed me. It was a fairly fast read, but hardly the thrilling thriller I expected.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Short Story Review: Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo


Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: humor, action/adventure
Published: 2013
Personal rating: 4/5
Short story count: 1

A short Percy Jackson story that can be read entirely independent from the Percy Jackson series, although it’s canonically set after book 5 if I got it right. It’s a part of the Other Worlds anthology. It’s funny and has a good dose of action. I liked it a lot.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bookreview: Badge of Honor


Author: Robert J. Thomas
Genre: western
Published: 2013
Personal rating: 3/5
Yearly count: 13

Badge of Honor is the tenth book in the Jess Williams series. Although it stands mostly alone, you do miss some things as events and relationships are referenced without background. Other than that, it’s a typical western – lots of threats and shooting, not much substance to the plot. The characters are all overdrawn, becoming caricatures. The writing is okay, but not very inspiring. But despite all this it’s a very entertaining read.

The plot gets a tiny bit better when Clay Finch is introduced about half-way through, but it never does rise above the obvious. Almost every Western cliché is in this book and that’s what makes it so entertaining. And yes, the clichés include a gunfight at high noon! But the book doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is – a cliché Western written to entertain lovers of Westerns.

I would like to offer a word of warning. The bodies drop pretty rapidly and there’s a lot of violence in this book. There are no real graphic descriptions that linger on the violence, but the descriptions are very matter-of-fact. Sexual violence isn’t shown, but it is mentioned several times.

All in all, this was a nice, quick and easy read. It was nothing special, but very entertaining and the type of thing you think about when someone says Western.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bookreview: Booked To Die


Author: John Dunning
Genre: mystery, detective
Published: 1992
Personal rating: 5/5
Yearly count: 12

I loved, loved, loved Booked to Die. It’s grittier than I normally read, but there was enough lighter moments (most of them centering around books) that I didn’t have a problem with this book at all. Cliff Janeway is a character that gained my sympathies pretty fast, despite maybe not always been the quintessential good guy in his behavior. I loved the minor plot woven through the book and thought it was masterfully done how it eventually connected to the main plot. The mystery itself was intriguing and well done. Nothing I can say against the book.

Now, against the blurb on the back of the book – that’s another ballgame. It contains a major spoiler for an event that doesn’t happen until page 162. I kept waiting for it to happen and I do think it would’ve been better not to know it was coming. My advice: don’t read the blurb of this book! But if you do (or already did), don’t worry too much. The book is still excellent. Highly recommended. I definitely have a new series on my list of books to read.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

DNF: No Place for a Lady


Author: Maggie Brendan
Genre: historical, romance
Published: 2009
Personal rating: 2,5/5
DNF count: 3

No Place for a Lady is set in 1892. Crystal Clark moves from the South to Colorado, where her aunt owns a cattle ranch. It’s supposed to be just a visit, but when tragedy strikes she must try to save the ranch. All the while, she battles against the very different environment and the opinions of some those around her that a cattle ranch is no place for a lady.

It sounds like a good book, an interesting historical romance with an interesting setting. However, 87 pages in everything is still so very bland. There’s no real spark between the two main characters and I feel no real connection to the book. It’s not a bad book by any definition of the word, but there’s nothing there holding my attention either. In the end, I can only conclude this is not a book for me. Maybe someone else will enjoy it more than I did.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DNF: De valse meesters (The False Masters)


Author: Javier Gonzalez
Genre: mystery, historical, thriller
Published: 2006
Personal rating: 2/5
DNF count: 2

De Valse Meesters is a book that combines a contemporary storyline with a historical storyline. The historical storyline is set in around World War Two and deals with the Spanish Civil War, Nazis and a painting. The contemporary storyline involves a man who goes to look for his great-aunt’s fiancé’s body, who died in World War Two and the director of a museum who discovers a family secret.

Right from the start I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the book. It sounded great from the blurb, but once I started reading it I quickly discovered that the flashbacks depicting the historical storyline are the best bits. But the modern day parts come off as...tacky, I think is the best word, and the modern part of the story takes up the majority of the book. The two main characters in the modern parts just don't grab me, they come off as superficial and whiny. There's a bit of a mystery as the main plot, but that's (after almost 100 pages) still not really taking off. Bit disappointing really. I really wish this was just a straight-up historical novel, without the modern (supposedly) thriller plotline, because that would have been a book worth reading. This book, not so much.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DNF: The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen


Author: Norah Wilson
Genre: mystery, detective
Published: 2011
Personal rating: 2/5
DNF count: 1

For all of its quirky title would have you think, the book is actually not all that humorous. Dix Dodd is a private detective that is trying to make it in a man’s world. When she gets accused of murder by a cop who’s got a personal beef with her just because the man she’d been tailing gets murdered. Well, not just because of that, also because she made a stupid (rookie) mistake that could’ve prevented a lot of her trouble.

Now, the mystery part isn’t that bad, the whole reason I made it a quarter into the book. However, the story is written in the first person and I can honestly say after six chapters that I hate Dix with a passion. I don’t find her likeable at all, despite that her situation – not being taken seriously by the men she used to work with, needing cash, and falsely accused of murder – should make me sympathize with her. Is it because she tries to be too hard to be one of the guys? Maybe, I don’t know. Either way, I greatly disliked her and that makes reading a story written from her first person point of view very difficult. Added to that is the fact that I found many of the characters in the books came dangerously close to being caricatures and it took any enjoyment I took from the plot away. So I decided that this book is not for me.