One of my favorite books of all time.
Dandelion Wine draws you in with all your senses—the smell of cut grass and the sound of the lawnmower, the heat of an August day, the pattern of green leaves against blue sky, the feel of running barefoot and the comfort of new sneakers, the dark earthy aroma of a ravine, the taste of Grandmother’s abundant meals, and on and on… Add the excitement of learning you’re alive and the sadness of the loss of friends and relatives, plus so much more to wrap your mind and feelings around. Bradbury’s elegant prose makes me feel young and alive.
I pulled this book off a back shelf recently to re-read for the fourth or fifth time—the first time I read it as a teen sixty-something years ago. It’s one of very few books I like to re-read. It’s filled with life and death, inquiry and imagination, the delights and sorrows of youth. But what sticks with me over the years is the JOY of being alive.
Mosley is a descriptive writer—settings, characters, actions—all are vividly detailed. You can see them in your mind’s eye. His characters are never one-dimensional. He digs deep and finds good and bad in heroes and villains alike. He describes LA of 1969 so well that you feel as if you’re living there.
In this story, Easy Rawlins is almost accidentally drawn into uncovering a complex plot of theft and murder when he sets out to find a missing girl for a PTSD veteran. Even after the young vet is murdered, Rawlins can’t let it go. He wants to finish the job, and if he doesn’t untangle the mystery, he could end up dead like his client.
The only thing that kept the novel from being five stars for me was too many characters to follow, even though each one felt distinctive.
The book is not really a novel.
I’m a huge fan of Kim Stanley Robinson, but I almost quit reading a third of the way through. To me it felt like a mind dump of facts, ideas, speculations, possibilities, etc., with a thin plot woven in between. Maybe the author was trying to get all his thoughts about how to deal with global warming down in one place. It was filled with vignettes about the environment, economy, banking, politics, history, terrorism, immigration refugees, and more. But a chapter from the point-of-view of a carbon atom? Come on!
Something that bothers me as an editor is the switching back and forth in style of writing. An example: the use (or lack thereof) of quotation marks in conversation. It takes me a while to tune into a story where the author chooses not to use quotes. It hit me over the head when KSR threw in some chapters where he used them in a book that was mostly written without. One chapter even switched in the middle.
Needless to say, since I finished the book, KSR captured my attention. I learned a lot and was intrigued by his ideas (real or imagined) about how to deal with the world’s environmental, social, and economic problems.
Even though this book is the ninth in a series, it’s my
first book by the author. It reads well as a stand-alone. From some of the
reviews I read, I might get tired of the characters if I read all nine.
I found Slaughter’s unique style of writing fascinating. She
covered the exact same events in the same timeframe in separate chapters from
different characters’ points of view. Although interesting, it probably could
have been done without repeating all the details and action multiple times. The
book is looonng!
Good writing, good plotting, interesting characters (both
good and evil), lots of themes, lots of action, but very dark, needs some fact-checking,
and her political POV is sometimes overbearing.
A character-driven psychological thriller, this novel grabs
your attention and keeps it to the end.
Three children meet a monster in the woods—a huge, mean man
with a huge, mean dog. Rain fights off man and dog, runs, and hides in the
roots of a tree. Physically injured and traumatized, she stays hidden for hours,
unable to move, call out, or go for help. Her two friends, Hank and Tess are
dragged away by the monster. Hank is brutalized but survives. Tess doesn’t make
The story follows Rain and Hank as adults. Rain is a
journalist who has quit her job to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, and Hank
is a psychologist who treats traumatized children. Both lead fairly normal
lives but carry scars from their childhood abduction and loss of their friend.
Rain has a loving husband and a beautiful daughter that she adores. Hank is a
kind and gentle doctor helping his patients. But Rain carries heavy guilt about
not going for help to save her friends, and Hank has a second personality, cruel
and vindictive. Both Hank and Rain become involved in the investigation of an
apparent vigilante serial killer whose first victim may have been their
abductor. Enough of the plot. Any more would be a spoiler.
Unger’s character development makes this book outstanding.
She covers the two main characters in depth, good and bad. Unlike many books I’ve
read recently, their personalities, although warped, are believable and held my
interest from beginning to end.
(spoiler alert) I think Reacher is getting older and meaner,
less tolerant of the bad guys. He’s still unbelievably observant, sharp,
calculating, and very, very lucky. This book reads like a violent video game,
with a lot more mayhem than previous Reacher novels. And the girl who
accompanies him through the story is very tolerant of his murderous ways. I
found it difficult to believe he and a few friends could take out two whole crime
All that said, I still enjoyed this addition to the series. I
like Lee Child’s clipped style of writing and strange sense of humor.
The Current is a
strange story written in a strange style, and it leaves unanswered questions at
the end. It’s closer to real life where everything doesn’t get neatly tied up. There
is mystery here, but not your typical “whodunit” mystery, maybe a literary
I enjoyed the story, but it took a little while to
understand the flow. At times Johnston writes stream
of consciousness, sometimes he uses second person POV, head-hopping from
one character to another, and he skips back and forth between timelines. But he
digs deep into the psyches of his characters—love, hate, grief, curiosity, need-to-know,
vengeance—and tells all that is going on around them—sights, smells, heat and
cold, sounds, skin sensations.
I enjoyed the book but only gave it four stars. It grabbed
my attention, my heart, and my mind. But the author could have made it a little
easier to follow without losing the grip of the story.
I have not read any of the previous books in this series, which
may be a disadvantage in reading Kingdom
of the Blind, but it reads well as a stand-alone.
The cozy comfort of the small town of Three Pines stands in
stark contrast to the back streets of Montreal. Some of the gatherings of Gamache’s
family or friends in the village, discussing the murder or just babbling about
life, at times seemed confusing or unnecessary, possibly due to my
unfamiliarity with the characters. But these gatherings were comfortable,
friendly, and humorous. The story is filled with family connections (both
relational and families of friends or coworkers), some full of love and
understanding and some underlined with distrust.
One unusual thing about Penny’s writing is her use of
omniscient point of view. You might even call it “head-hopping.” She often jumps
POV from one character to another and back. I found it distracting at times,
but overall, she did a reasonable job of making it feel seamless.
The setting in Canadian winter made me feel the chill and
the crunch of the snow underfoot. The plot was interesting. Occasionally I was
ahead of the story and guessed what would happen, other times I was surprised.
I may go back in time and read other novels in Ms. Penny’s Gamache
Red Moon is combination of speculative
fiction, near-future, environmental, political, hard and soft science fiction, moon
colonization, and a little space opera thrown in. Even though it’s called Red Moon, much of the story takes place
in China. All the main characters but one are Chinese.
The amount of knowledge and research required for this book
is mind-boggling—China’s history, geography, present day culture, technology,
and politics; moon geology; quantum mechanics; artificial intelligence; space
travel; cryptocurrency; global economics;
moon exploration; and more.
Robinson paints images of the moon and China in such detail
that you feel you are there, from earthrise on the moon to crowds of millions
of protestors in Beijing. He also depicts various contrasting possibilities for
communities on the moon.
He extends the unrest in today’s world into a political and
economic crisis in China and the United States (and the world) of the near
future, with a hopeful outcome.
The characters are varied, interesting, and believable. Fred
Frederickson, an American delivering a quantum phone to the moon, is accused of
murdering his client. Chan Qi, the daughter of China’s Minister of Finance and
a leader in the opposition to the current government, is hiding on the moon and
is pregnant. Poet and celebrity travel reporter Ta Shu helps Fred and Qi evade
their pursuers. There is even an AI who matures throughout the book. Even the
less major characters are interesting.
The story kept me involved from beginning to end.
A few days ago I watched a video of Stephen King interviewing Lee Child. Two of my favorite authors talking about writing—I loved it. In the interview, Lee Child talked about his lack of plotting. He said he asks a question at the beginning of the book and answers it by the end.
A friend had dropped off a copy of Child’s The Midnight Line and it was at the bottom of my “to read” pile next to my bed. I moved it to the top of the pile and quickly consumed it. I found that not only is there an unanswered question at the beginning, but there are more questions cropping up throughout the book. Each question needs to be answered, not necessarily in the order they appear in the story. The original question is answered long before the end of the book, but there are so many more that need answers, which kept me reading to the end.
In The Midnight Line Reacher finds a woman’s West Point class ring in a pawn shop in Wisconsin. His curiosity about why someone would pawn a ring that is so difficult to earn leads him to track her down and find out why. Reacher smells trouble and in his usual vigilante style sets out to solve the mystery and save the damsel in distress. His trek takes him through South Dakota into a sparsely populated corner of Wyoming.
I read some reviews on Amazon and found a number who were not happy with this book. (Many more gave it high ratings.) The low raters all seemed to think it didn’t have enough action and violence. To me, there is much more to a Reacher novel than violence, and this one had plenty of action even though he wasn’t killing a lot of people.
I find Child’s unique writing style fascinating. I’m not sure I can describe it. Rhythmic, quick, and precise are words that come to mind. This book has an underlying theme about the current opiate addiction crisis and the government’s poor treatment of veterans. He gives in-depth pictures of characters and lets us follow Reacher’s calculation and planning. We even get a look at the possible thoughts and behaviors of addicts. Child took me on a journey through the back-country of Southern Wyoming.
The book has all of my three H’s—head, heart, and humor. I feel he’s an excellent writer and storyteller. He doesn’t follow the rules, but that makes the reading more interesting. You never know what to expect.