TOO MUCH "TRAVEL WRITING" IN THIS BOOK -- 2 of 5 starsAs I begin to write each review, the first thing that comes to mind is whether or not I couldn't wait to get back to the book I'm reading each time I put it down. I wish I could get this feeling more than I do but I'm satisfied with the possible dozen or so times each year this situation will occur. Did it occur with Travel Writing? Sad to say it didn't. I'm so in the minority here, however, based on all of these other reviews. Not only did I not look forward to picking it up again but I actually couldn't wait to finish it and move on to all the other good books I have waiting here for me to read. That's right....John Irving's book just came out!!!
I know an argument can be made about why I just didn't stop reading it and move on to something else. I'd like to be able to do this but, once I start a book, I always finish it. This is why you'll see many reviewers with only four and five star reviews in their repetoire....they put down the books they don't like and, consequently, don't review them. It's also why many books here are actually rated higher than they should be because the ratings don't take into account all of the people who read a few chapters and decide that the book wasn't for them.
So why didn't I like it? I'm a very black and white person; very cut and dry. It either "is" or it "isn't". When an author writes a story that is perhaps true and perhaps not true, yet parts are definitely true while other parts are definitely not, he/she loses me. I don't like to play guessing games when I'm reading. I don't mind this when I'm reading a mystery/thriller and I know from the first page what I signed up for. That's fine with me. But this story within a story, whether it's real or not, just does not fly with me. The bottom line is that I don't like to be confused when I'm reading. Challenge me...yes!!! Confuse me...no!!!
Every other reviewer has already told the story about Peter Ferry, teacher/travel writer, who witnesses a car crash and begins to tell the story to his writing class. From that point on, the reader is not sure if it ever actually happened or if only part of it happened. It reminded me of Toni Morrison's books where you never really know what happens and, according to her, if you have to ask, she won't tell you anyway. Since the author is also a travel writer (as is the narrator), the book is flooded with little paragraphs and chapters of travel snippets that bored me to death and had nothing to do with the story. As a matter of fact, they messed up the fluidity of the story as far as I was concerned. I know others might feel I'm being a bit too critical but I tell it like it is....or at least how I feel it is. Now if that's "real" or "not real", that's for you to decide.
REPERCUSSION IN ECHO PARK -- 5 of 5 stars In my quest to get all caught up with the Harry Bosch series, I just finished book #12, Echo Park. I'm trying to get caught up so I can read the latest, Nine Dragons, which just came out this month. There's only one book standing between me and the dragons and that's The Overlook, which I hope to read shortly. With Echo Park now under my belt, this puts the grand total of Michael Connelly books read by me at 18. This means that I've read more books by this author than any other author. Guess it's safe to say he's one of my favorites.
This is the second book that finds Harry working in LA's Open Unsolved Unit trying to close those "cold cases"...some of which have haunted him for years. This is really the perfect job for Harry Bosch as he considers himself a true detective...."one who takes it all inside and cares." In his world, "everybody counts or nobody counts." Whether the victim is a prostitute or a millionaire, they are all the same to Harry. This philosophy most likely dates back to Harry's own mother who was murdered while he was a young boy and her means of support was none other than prostitution. Harry would probably be a dream patient on a psychiatrist's couch, especially since he was able to make something out of his life after a very poor beginning. Connelly describes LA as a "sunny place with shady characters" and this statement really sets the tone for this book.
The Echo Park case is one Harry has been trying to close for many years. The victim, Marie Gesto, has never been found and Harry is presented with a deal whereby he will be led to her burial ground if only he will fall into play with the LA politico. Fans of Harry will know that he is not easily led down someone's else's path and, in this case, he will fight tooth and nail to stand his ground. Harry's partner, Kiz Rider, will be right by his side as he interrogates the so-called killer and the two of him will go on the field trip together, with the killer, to find Marie's body. This field trip is not your usual junior high trip to the zoo. It's a trip into the dark side from which some never return.
As with all of Connelly's books, I thought this one was well thought out. Connelly has a way of allowing the reader to enter Harry's mind and come up with some of the clues at the same time as he does. I did pick up one or two a little earlier than Harry did but I'm sure Connelly wanted it that way. I have to say that I have enjoyed reading these last few books in the Harry Bosch series back to back. When I finish these, I might just do this with one of the other series of which I find myself in the middle.
So now it's on to The Overlook. Just wait for me "Dragons".....I'm almost there.
TIME TO WAVE GOODBYE TO THE CAPPADORO'S -- 3 of 5 stars Back in the late 90's, I was just getting back into reading when, lo and behold, Oprah started her book club. For as much as the reader elite got pleasure in putting down an Oprah pick, I, on the other hand, couldn't wait for each new one to be announced. I was right there, at the beginning with her, when she touted Deep End of the Ocean as the first book to be read by the "club". I read it and loved it and was consequently introduced to Jacqueline Mitchard as a "new to me" author. I can probably count on one hand the books that have brought me to tears and Deep End was one of them.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I realized that her newest book was a sequel to that Oprah pick. I don't think there's anyone, who has read that book, who has not wondered, in their literary mind of course, whatever happened to the Cappadora family. Now was my chance to see what occurred in the years following their discovery that their kidnapped son Ben was still alive and well....and living just a few blocks from them. If you haven't read Deep End of the Ocean, I highly recommend reading it before beginning to delve into No Time To Say Goodbye.....if you must!!!
In a way, I almost wish I hadn't read Deep End because then I wouldn't have wasted my time reading this sequel. So I guess that pretty much spells out what I thought of this book. I always seem to be a sucker for all these five star Amazon reviews and I don't know when I'm going to learn my lesson and check to see just how many of them are written by first time reviewers....reviewers who have only written one review on this site. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that these are friends of the author obviously trying to boost the rating of the book.
So where did this book fall short for me? I think I'd have to start with the writing which is so disjointed that half the time I had to reread sentences and paragraphs just to find out where the characters were and how they got there. There is so much misplaced punctuation that it actually made it hard to read at times. The writing is so deplorable that I even found it hard to believe that the same author wrote both books. But I figured I'd overlook that and just try to enjoy the book. But my question is....how can you enjoy a book when you're basically disliking every character? Did I dislike them this much the first time around? I don't think so but I definitely didn't like anything about them in this go-round.
So many other reviewers have already given synopses of this story about the older brother Vincent trying to make something of his life by getting into the movie business. He's certainly talented but, unfortunately, his recent documentary will bring back some bad memories of a time in the Cappadora's lives where everyone was walking around in a daze. This was because their youngest son Ben had been kidnapped, while Vincent was supposed to be keeping an eye on him. So his has been a life filled with guilt. The only one who seems not to have minded those years is Ben himself, who still considers his kidnapper's husband to be his real father. I just found this part of the book so appalling, as Ben calls his real parents by their first names, Beth and Pat, while he calls this other man Dad. And, as if that isn't bad enough, he's so nasty to them and flaunts this relationship in their faces all the time.
As the story progresses, the family will once again face a potential tragedy that will bring out the worst in all of them. The only redeeming character in this entire book is the son Vincent, who I also felt an attachment to in the first book.
Prior to reading this, I had been on such a great run with mostly five star reads. This one ruined my streak. If you've already read Deep End of the Ocean, stop there and don't go any further. Just cherish those memories of a really good book and don't have them marred by a really not so good book.
CALL ME "MERCILESS" -- 4 of 5 stars I'm no stranger to this author having gotten on the John Gilstrap bandwagon in the late nineties when he came out with Nathan's Run. I was on an AOL book board at the time and many of the posters there were talking about this book and how good it was. Gilstrap, himself, also showed up and began posting and I just thought the other posters were being nice to him because he was, in fact, a published author. I also figured he had an ulterior motive in posting there and just wanted to sell his book. But, then I read Nathan's Run and it actually blew me away.....it was that good. His sophomore novel, At All Costs, was every bit as good as his first as was the next one, Even Steven. But with Even Steven and the follow up, Scott Free, I began to notice some inconsistencies in the book....things that just didn't pan out or just plain didn't make sense. Things that a good editor would have noticed. They were still good books, excellent even, but they could have been great books. It's been six years since Gilstrap has had anything published and I had almost forgotten about him until I saw No Mercy on Amazon's "New Releases" list. But, curiously enough, no longer was this Gilstrap book first coming out in hardcover...this one was going straight to paperback. This doesn't usually bode well for me as I detest reading paperbacks and, if I hadn't already had a history with this author, I definitely would have passed.
This seems to be happening a lot lately. Another favorite author of mine, Colin Harrison, has a new book out, Risk, and it's also a paperback and not a hardcover. Is it just becoming too expensive for these publishers to commit to a hardcover copy. I guess woe is me because I don't think I can put myself through another paperback read for this year. And believe me, I'm not trying to sound elitist, I just don't like the size or feel of a paperback.
This must also be the year to start a "series" because two other authors I follow (Joseph Finder and Christopher Reich) have also penned the first book in their new series this year. Surprisingly enough, this is the route Gilstrap has now chosen as he introduces us to Jonathan Grave, ex-military...sometimes Rambo, and now heading up his own "security solutions" company. That description could run the gamut of the many things people are willing to pay for but, in this book, the security solution involves trying to find a college student who has been kidnapped. Here's a little tidbit of information for all of you. Gilstrap has one son and usually each of his books prominently features a child in danger and always a boy. As his writing career began with Nathan's Run, the boy in that book was twelve. As Gilstrap's own son has gotten older, so have the boys in each of his books. I just find this kind of stuff interesting.
No Mercy has an intricate plot beginning with the kidnapping of Thomas Hughes and taking us into the inner sanctum of a company that manufactures many different items for defense, one of which is a secret "germ juice". In the background is an activist group, The Green Brigade, who wants to get their hands on some of the things this company is producing. They're the kind of people who think they can save the planet through violence and they dish out some of the most awful torture you can imagine. But there's only one person who might be able to stop them and that's our main character, Johnathan, with his sidekick Boxers and his assistant Venice Alexander. Our Jonathan Graves is unbelievably "connected" and it's nothing for him to call the director of the FBI, Irene Rivers, and tell her what he needs. I particularly loved this main character, better known to some as "Scorpian". From chapter to chapter, I was on the edge of my seat and this has been the case with every Gilstrap book I've ever read.
But here's where the real "No Mercy" will come into play and that's in the end of this review. I love it when an author acknowledges and thanks his editor but it really irks me when he should be firing them. I found no less than thirteen errors in the book and that's only the ones I wrote down. There were a few more before I even started to keep count. I understand how editors are overworked and underpaid but where does the burden fall in putting out a book that is typographically and grammatically correct? If I was an author and my name was going on the front of a book, I'd make darn sure everything inside was correct. And then there were the usual Gilstrap inconsistencies that I mentioned above which a good editor would have noticed. I don't want to give anything away but I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out how the chip/video made it's way to Grave's office and exactly who made the call to hire and pay him since he surely doesn't come cheap.
And lastly, and this is my real pet peeve, why do authors have their friends write reviews to boost the rating of the book? Of the ten reviews here as I'm typing this, half are by people who have only written one Amazon review. What does that tell you? When my son was growing up and playing sports, he would be with other kids all the time who bragged about everything they did. My husband told him that "if you're good, you don't have to tell anyone because they already know it." Well, guess what Gilstrap? You are good and you don't need any bogus reviews to let readers know how good you are because they already know. And if they don't know it now, I hope my review will encourage everyone to read your entire repertoire of books.
is a five star story you've written. However, thanks to some very poor editing, I can only rate it 4 stars. I'm hoping that you will heed this criticism and be more on top of the next book that comes out in this series. And see if you can convince your publisher to go back to hardcover editions.
In any event, I look forward to the next episode of Jonathan Grave and Company....a company of people who sometimes find themselves outside of the law but not necessarily on the wrong side of it.