Thursday, October 16, 2014

Top Secret, by W.E.B. Griffin

My excuse is that I'm an optimist at heart.  Yes, the last book I read by this author was not very good.  And yes, I've leafed through other of his books at the library and unimpressed didn't bother with them.  But for some reason when I saw this on the library shelf I thought, this will be worth reading.

I was of course quite wrong.

The novel is set immediately after the end of World War II.  Admittedly I dislike historical fiction so that was a negative.  The positive was that the main character, Cronley, was young, inexperienced, less bright than he imagined, and naive.  So I thought we might see interesting character development as the boy grows to become a man, or some such.  Not so much.

The highlights:  don't think of these as spoilers (though they might be; if that is a concern just stop here), think of them as completely predictable.  Just run through your list of trite spy book scenarios:   Love interest dies tragically?  Check.   Brash young hero says inappropriate things to superiors yet doesn't learn?  Check.  Brash young hero makes terrible and repeated error in judgement, even as the reader says aloud, "oh no, don't do it!"  Check.  Brash young hero turns out to be wealthy?  Check.  Has ridiculously well connected and wealthy friends?  Check.  The US President has so little on his plate that he can spend time on this stuff?  Check.

Sigh.   On the plus side, I did finish the novel, so it held my interest -- at some level -- to the end.

I hope to do better than the main character of Mr. Giffin's novel and learn from my mistake: I won't read another of these novels.

Top Secret (A Clandestine Operations Novel)

The Heist, by Daniel Silva

In most respects, this the 14th novel in Mr. Silva's series featuring spy Gabriel Allon, was better  than the last.  But there was a negotiation at the end of this book that was so clumsily done as to really annoy me.  To avoid spoilers, I'll just say that it doesn't make sense to pay $6 for something you could easily get down to 50 cents.   That was not in line with the characters behavior at least as I've interpreted them over the prior 13 novels.  And the emotional call to do so, absent thoughtful discussion, also seemed out of kilter with my expectations for Mr. Silva's characters.

So would I recommend this novel?  Nah, not so much.  The hero is getting a bit long in the tooth, and I can confidently predict what will happen in his personal life and to the folks around him in the next novel in this series.  It is time for Mr. Silva to invent a new character to take the lead in his spy stories; until then there are other authors to read.

The Heist: A Novel (Gabriel Allon Book 14)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Magician's Land, by Lev Grossman

This is the third volume in Mr. Grossman's trilogy, and it is the best by far.

The Magician's Land: A Novel (The Magicians Book 3)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Angelbound, by Christina Bauer

This book is quite odd.  The hero is Myla Lewis, a high school senior in -- wait for it -- Purgatory.  She's a half-demon.  Has a tail.  And has a side job of fighting evil souls.

If you're not weirded-out just yet, then you might enjoy this novel.  I can't tell if it is youth fiction or even quasi-romance.  Then again, with a plot line like this one has, I can't tell much.  Still though, it was surprisingly enjoyable.


Wanted, by Nick Stephenson

When I picked this up I'd forgotten that I had read another of Mr. Stephenson's novels not too long ago - and really disliked it.  This one is a bit better.  Especially at the excellent Kindle price of free.  But just by a little bit.

Wanted: A Leopold Blake Thriller (A Private Investigator Series of Crime and Suspense Thrillers Book 1)

Toymaker, by Chuck Barrett

This novel was surprisingly entertaining.  It is the second in a series; I've not read the first and see no point in doing so now.  Hero Jake becomes a spy but isn't suited to the work; he's impulsive, emotional and difficult with a team.  He gets connected to an elderly genius who runs his own private spy network in between inventing cool gadgets (think James Bond's Q on steroids).   Excitement ensures.

The Toymaker (The Action-Packed Jake Pendleton Political Thriller series Book 2)

Wired, by Douglas Richards

This interesting novel features two heros, scientist Kira Miller and former soldier David Desh.  You don't have to go out on a limb to imagine that these two become an item by the end of the book.  But the rest of the plot is highly inventive and entertaining.  There are periods of long winded and boring philosophizing, but that is easy to skim over.


The Magician King, by Lev Grossman

This is the second volume in Mr. Grossman's trilogy.  As I noted after reading the first volume, the characters are flawed in a deeper way than the superficial good or bad guys of a children's book.  And thus, to me, far more interesting.

This novel is complete in its own, but does encourage one to read the next.  I'm already on the library waiting list for it.

The Magician King: A Novel (The Magicians Book 2)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Codex, by Lev Grossman

Our hero, Edward, a successful money manager in New York, is on a brief vacation prior to relocating to London for his firm.  He gets caught up in looking for an old manuscript.  Mayhem ensues, so very slowly that a snail could outpace it.   Confusing, boring, uninteresting; I finished it out of sheer stubbornness.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Act of War, by Brad Thor

As usual, Mr. Thor uses the novel as a platform for his political ideology.  But it is forgivable in this fast paced and quite interesting book.  It felt a bit rushed at the end, but overall, held up.

Act of War: A Thriller