An Odd Couple Friendship and a Terrorist Plot

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In Metropolis, the gleaming city of tomorrow, the dream of the great American city has been achieved. But all that is about to change, unless a neurotic, rule-following bureaucrat and an irreverent, freewheeling artificial intelligence can save the city from a mysterious terrorist plot that threatens its very existence. Henry Thompson has dedicated his life to improving America’s infrastructure as a proud employee of the United States Municipal Survey. So when the agency comes under attack, he dutifully accepts his unexpected mission to visit Metropolis looking for answers. But his plans to investigate quietly, quickly, and carefully are interrupted by his new partner: a day-drinking know-it-all named OWEN, who also turns out to be the projected embodiment of the agency’s supercomputer. Soon, Henry and OWEN are fighting to save not only their own lives and those of the city’s millions of inhabitants, but also the soul of Metropolis. The Municipalists is a thrilling, funny, and touching adventure story, a tour-de-force of imagination that trenchantly explores our relationships to the cities around us and the technologies guiding us into the future. (From Goodreads)

I didn’t imagine I would like this novel much but in fact, I did. It’s a rather quick read but the adventure is quite the ride!

Henry starts off as an average, run of the mill model employee. He pretty much blends in the background and plays by the rules. Sounds uninteresting doesn’t it? He’s got a thing for trains and his past isn’t shining bright considering what happened to his parents. He’s a wallflower with a sad past and he just immerses himself into his work.

Then comes OWEN. 

He changes Henry – a lot. Their friendship is laughable at first and off to a rocky start. (like most when you have an odd couple/opposites in a team) OWEN has wit and a rather unconventional way of solving things whereas Henry likes to stick with the rules. Yet it’s because of OWEN that Henry’s character develops and changes. They end up being a likable pair and they start growing on you despite the rather awkward start. OWEN does provide the comic relief in the story though, he’s a supercomputer you would not mind hanging out with.

The plot is straight to the point and there’s not much in the way of twists and turns. There are a few revelations here and there but it’s mainly about Henry and his view on the world and how it changes. That’s really the main point of the novel. There’s some action scenes and some intrigue but nothing over the top. There are going to be parts that pack a punch but it’s effective as you really do connect with both Henry and OWEN.

It’s a quick read and an enjoyable one, I say read it for character development and watching the friendship between Henry and OWEN- and enjoy it.

I give it a 7.5 out of 10. 

 

Great Plot, but not so great translation

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgAfter his father, a Song patriot, was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Ghengis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned. With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive. (From Goodreads)

Despite what you read on the covers (e.g. “It’s like Lord of the Rings”) ignore all of that. It’s nothing like it. There is no epic adventure to fight evil (at least not yet – this is the first book in the series). So before you get all disappointed in what the outside quotes say, completely disregard them. 

Translation will always be an issue with these kinds of books. It’s hard to keep it true and coherent. Sometimes you get a good one that is completely comprehensible and makes the reading a journey well worth it. Then you get one like A Hero Born and it’s not the greatest translation. The writing style is dry and hard to get into. Sometimes it gets too descriptive, but other times it’s not descriptive enough. It can be a little long winded at times and it drags – I’m not too sure if that’s because of the run on writing style or the plot itself. Either way by the last third of the book it was getting to be tiresome.

Speaking of the plot, it was good! There’s plenty of action, a bit of intrigue here and there. If you don’t mind something akin to Chinese historical fiction movies with classic martial arts fighting then perhaps this is for you. There are small elements of political intrigue which keeps the story interesting, however keep in mind there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but luckily there is a cast of characters in the beginning of the novel so that should not be a problem. This isn’t a book to put down and turn back to later, this needs to be consistently read you will easily lose your place. 

There’s also several plot arcs that happen throughout the novel so it’s best to keep track of them carefully. They are all intertwined at some point. It’s a great plot and if it wasn’t for the horrible writing/translation.

I don’t know if I could recommend this one to anyone. I would under normal circumstances but the writing just do the plot justice. It’s too bad, it would have been such a great series.

I give it 5 out of 10.

 

Thank you William Morrow for the review copy!

Not Your Average Nanny…

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When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind. Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew. Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother… (From Goodreads)

This one was off to a slow start but it was worth sticking through it. As the story progressed it got more interesting and intriguing. With a really good ending it was well worth the read.

The story alternates between several different points of view. At first, it may seem haphazard and all over the place. At certain times it’s a little confusing and as mentioned earlier, it’s slow to start. The time jumps back and forth also add a bit to the confusion but once you get the characters straightened it makes a whole lot of sense (and adds a lot of the mystery that is scattered throughout the novel)

None of the characters are likable although Virginia starts to grow on you as you learn more about her and what she went through. It’s surprising at first because she comes across as high brow, snobby and doesn’t really treat Jo like she should. As the story goes on however, you figure out why and what was behind her behavior. All the pieces start falling into place and it makes for a real good plot.

As mentioned before, the plot jumps back and forth and may be hard to follow. Eventually everything starts making sense and turns out to be a well written thriller. The ball gets rolling as the story progresses. I have to admit, however , the role of the police in this book wasn’t much of an impact and it looked like they were just there to tie loose ends and to be a filler. Oh well, I suppose the police can’t do everything right?

Well worth the read if you stick with the slow start. Absolutely loved the fitting ending!

I give it an 8 out of 10. 

Thank you Harper Collins for the ARC!

Love the World Building, but the slow pace in this one….

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Every Winter, the human population hibernates.During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity. Well, not quite . Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses. You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact born of the sleeping mind. When the dreams start to kill people, it’s unsettling. When you get the dreams too, it’s weird. When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity. But teasing truth from the Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping and stamp collecting; ensure you aren’t eaten by Nightwalkers, whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food; and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk. But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you’ll be fine. (From Goodreads)

I enjoyed the concept of this one and the world building. It was interesting and definitely something different. 

Charlie is your lovable loser who doesn’t have much going for him but has this perfect opportunity to do better. Other characters make the story colorful and engaging (The Toccata/Aurora arc is amusing and fun to read). Each character has their own quirks and personality traits which makes the book develop a personality of its own. 

The concept of people going into hibernation, and the viral dreams is interesting and makes the world unique and unbelievable but also fun to read. The world building itself in the novel is also interesting. I took a liking to the Villains and their stamp collecting, although they play a small part in the novel, think of them as elegant pirates with a penchant for stamps. 

So although the characters and the setting is interesting, the plot itself falls flat and is very slow. There’s sporadic moments to carry the book along, but overall the book in its entirety is slow paced. It did feel a bit of a chore to read for the most part which is unfortunate as there the setting and the characters proved to be promising but the plot could have been better.

This was my first Jasper Fforde book, so I’m willing to give the other books a chance as I’m sure they’re better this one. It’s not that I didn’t like reading it, but it was the slow pace of the plot that nearly compromised my attention and rather affected my reading and enjoyment of the book. 

I give it a 6 out of 10. 

The Not So Interesting Patient…

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Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word. Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….  (From Goodreads)

I don’t quite understand what the whole hype is with this book. 

It did go off to a good start and kept me interested in the story, but then it started taking a rather bland and dry turn. It started focusing on Theo’s obsession with Alicia and although it builds up to what happens to be a really good twist at the end, I didn’t think it was a great read.

Theo is just so unlikable and boring. There was nothing about him that really made the story stand out, he started getting annoying afterwards and as mentioned before, it wasn’t until literally the last few pages where the story blows up. 

Yet as the plot progressed, you’re left wondering with what was going to happen next and it’s slowly drawn out and wasn’t grabbing my interest at all. The pace was slow, the plot was rather flat and coupled with an uninteresting main character definitely left the story lacking. 

There seems to be a lot of positive reviews on this, but it’s just not for me. There’s much better suspense novels out there that held my interest more than this one. 

I give it a 5 out of 10. 

Avoid Rest Stops from now on…

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On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers. Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate. Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her? There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one? Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape. But who can she trust? (From Goodreads)

Oh Lordy! Where do I start with this one!

Let’s say first of all, I could not put this one down. It was very fast paced and you wanted to keep reading until the end. You were on constant pins and needles throughout the novel and it was a job well done. 

You cheered for Darby. She was no nonsense, and kept fighting on even when it felt like there was nowhere to turn to and things started turning really ugly. Yes she obviously did some very stupid mistakes along the way and this may infuriate some readers. However I liked her grit and her determination to keep that child alive. 

The twists in this book is enough to put you on the edge of your seat. It keeps you interested and makes you want to keep reading to see what might be coming up next. I have to admit, the ending seemed a bit outrageous and it got to the point where it was a little over the top in dramatics. However, I’ll forgive for this time as I enjoyed reading this book.

The villains were well created, albeit cruel and horrible. Lars and Ashley do make a rather interesting duo and the little twist involving some bystanders at the rest stop was a nice addition to the plot. I did not care too much for the animal cruelty though, but I suppose it’s to be expected with someone of Ashley’s cruelty and manner. The little subplot involving his uncle was also interesting and adds another dimension to the book (albeit a small one). 

Definitely take the time to read this! It’s a quick fast paced read and you feel the tension and suspense throughout the book. If you can ignore the over the top craziness towards the finale, you’ll find an enjoyable read from start to finish.

I give it an 8 out of 10. 

Nat is Scary as Hell but I’d love her planning skills one day…

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On their first date back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke bonded over drinks, dinner and whether they could get away with murder. Now married, they’ll put the latter to the test when an unchecked danger in their community places their son in jeopardy. Working as a criminal defense attorney, Nat refuses to rely on the broken legal system to keep her family safe. She knows that if you want justice…you have to get it yourself. Shocked to discover Nat’s taken matters into her own hands, Will has no choice but to dirty his, also. His family is in way too deep to back down now. He’s just not sure he recognizes the woman he married. Nat’s always been fiercely protective, but never this ruthless or calculating. With the police poking holes in their airtight plan, what will be the first to fall apart: their scandalous secret—or their marriage? (From Goodreads)

**Spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned**

This was an intensely insane book. It was filled with such tension and apprehension that you’re filled with pins and needles all throughout the book. You knew it was inevitable and everything was going to be crumbling down with Nat’s plan but the question was how and when. 

You have to admit, despite everything Nat’s plan was just so well thought out all for one thing – relying on a drug dealer. Of all kinds of people, she relies on one that could (and did) ultimately turned tail and pretty much ruined the entire plan. That was the biggest flaw of the entire thing and you have to wonder if she didn’t rely on him, would the whole thing have worked out?

You have to admire her smarts for pulling this off. Her character is excellent and she’s fiercely protective of her family as a unit (understandably so) it’s almost scary to underestimate her as Will seems to have done (and is still doing.) And it’s so hard to like Will in fact he’s so unlikable you don’t understand why Nat just picks up her things and leaves. Aside from also nearly ruining Nat’s plan he’s pretty much a spineless nitwit and doesn’t contribute much to anything. Nat should have kicked him to the curb a long time ago (or when she found out about his stupidities)

The plot itself was so well done it was hard to stop reading. It pretty much grabs you from cover to cover. It’s seamless with no interruptions, it can get frustrating because of some of their actions, but it’s such a good read. The ending, although everything did come to a close, makes you want to be extra careful of Nat.

I enjoyed reading this one and it’s definitely recommended. 

I give it an 8 out of 10.