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review 2017-07-19 23:01
Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans.
Zero Day - David Baldacci

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher, MacMillan, for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

David Baldacci is one of these authors whose names a reader (and even a non-reader) cannot escape. His books are widely distributed and he always seems to have a volume or two in the bestsellers list (no, not the Amazon one on a little-known genre, but the real thing). Despite all that (or perhaps because of it, as sometimes some names seem so familiar that I feel as if I had already read/watched or whatever it is they do, them before) I had never read any of his books. I saw that coinciding with a book launch, NetGalley was offering a copy of the first book in the John Puller series, and I decided perhaps it was time I read him. (I don’t have any specific opinions on best sellers as such and I don’t necessarily avoid them as a matter of principle but I do prefer to discover them early on, so I can make my own mind up).

The story, narrated in the third person, mostly follows John Puller, a military investigator that is all you probably would wish for in such a character. He has complex family relations (including a genius brother imprisoned for life for treason), he has seen his share of combat and has the medals and the scars to prove them, he is as skilled at fighting as he is at investigating, and although usually he works as part of a team, he can be a one-man-band when required (as is the case here).  There are some moments (like the first chapter) when we follow other characters, but this is for a very good reason, and we, by and far, experience the events from Puller’s perspective. Of course, that does not mean we know everything he knows, because the book hides information at times and that means there are some surprises (the number of surprises might depend on how close your attention and on how many books of the genre you have read).  The story is a combination of a spy story with highly skilled military investigator/hero in charge, and a more standard police procedural, with big secrets, conspiracies, and environmental issues thrown in for good measure. There are hints of a possible romance, but nobody is up to the task, and the time frame is very tight for such developments.

The investigation is very detailed, and we get to know quite a few of the characters in the small West Virginian town of Drake, a coal mining place that has become almost a ghost town due to the environmental and economic consequences of the exploitation and depletion of its resources by the sole industry in the area. Baldacci shares as much loving detail on the way the coal industry works (or at least some far-from-exemplary companies), as he does on everything else: the way the military works, the different roles of the investigating and security agencies and how they interact, the equipment used, the weaponry… This might be too much for some readers, but I am sure it will make others very happy. I did enjoy more the discussions of the environmental issues and the socio-economic effects of the coal-extracting industry than the details about the equipment, but there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers of mystery, and also spy novels, entertained.

My favourite character is Sam Cole, the female police officer in charge of the investigation. She has problems of her own and also a difficult relationship with her family, and seems the perfect match for Puller. I would probably have preferred the novel to be about her, but that is not the genre or the focus of it. In many ways, her character is the one that makes us see Puller as something more than a perfect fighting and investigating machine, all professional, and efficient. Yes, he has a cat, some sort of relationships with his father, and an interesting dynamic with his brother, but she is the only person who is not a relative he seems to relate to at a level beyond the casual, and it is not only because it is helpful to his mission.  

I agree with comments that the novel is formulaic in many ways (Puller survives several attempts on his life, has to subvert orders and get inventive to save the day and manages to pull an incredible feat at the end), although as I haven’t read other Baldacci’s books, I cannot comment on how much better or worse Puller is compared to some of his other heroes (Reacher is mentioned often in the reviews, sometimes agreeing he’s as good, others denying it). I imagine once you have such a following as an author, you know what your public wants and expects, so it is perhaps disingenuous to accuse him of writing to a formula. It is not a genre I read often, and I prefer something more distinctive, less heroic, and with a bit of humour.

The book is well paced, the writing supports the story rather than calling attention to itself (as I said, some readers might find there is too much detail, but I doubt his fans will, and after reading the acknowledgements, it is clear that he is well-informed and has had access to first-hand information not many would have), and if you like lone heroes with a conscience, John Puller makes a pretty decent one. Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans. I am not sure I’d say I’ve become one of them, but I might try another one of his stories at some point.

 

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text 2017-07-07 04:29
Conspiracy in Death - J.D. Robb

It's nice to know that even after having read the book multiple times, I still don't remember who the ultimate killer is, just that there's the conspiracy. Also, a good writer still gives me the feels even after a re-read or two, know what's coming in the story. No, I'm not crying, I've just got some sentiment in my eye. 

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review 2017-06-26 22:26
The Mech Who Loved Me (The Blue Blood Conspiracy Book 2) - Bec McMaster

The next installment of Bec McMaster's London Steampunk series brings together a Mech who hates Blue Bloods and a Blue Blood who doesn't like drinking blood and is the most innocent and sweet woman Kincaid has ever met. I loved their chemistry and their adventure as they seek out the Sons of Gilead and a mysterious poison that can kill Blue Bloods. Along the way, Kincaid comes to re-evaluate his beliefs and Ava learns to trust a man that in a lot of ways is her complete opposite. Their passion, their love affair, their adventure, and the road they take in getting to know and love each other was both sweet and enticing. He brings out the naughty side of the virgin Ava and she brings out the softer and more compassionate side in Kincaid. Perfect match. The culmination at the end with the conflicts and plot were great; it kept you turning the page to see if they were going to survive to love another day or walk away from each other at the end of the case.  The story was great. I love it.

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review 2017-06-15 10:41
Thoughts: The Countess Conspiracy
The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan

The Countess Conspiracy
by Courtney Milan

Book 3 of Brothers Sinister

 

 

Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one.  When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories.  He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way.  But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his.  They’re hers.

So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership... even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.



I have to honestly admit that even though this third book was very enjoyable, there were a few things that kept it a little lower on my personal book ranking scale compared to the previous two books.  Frankly, Sebastian and Violet were great together, and I loved how well they molded to each other.  And while both of their individual conflicts were meaningfully parallel, the events and set up felt deliberately created to make this couple a "No one understands me better than you" type of romance.  I'm not sure how to feel about it outside of a little 'meh,' truth be told.

If I had to pinpoint one disappointment, it would be that Violet and Sebastian seemed like a much more amusing, interesting couple as side characters in the first book.  But the ending of the second book gave me a bad feeling about them, so I wasn't really as looking forward to this couple as I would have been.

Then I started into The Countess Conspiracy and ended up with conflicted feelings.  Once again, Violet and Sebastian are a great couple.  But I can't help but feel like the rest of the characters were purposefully placed in a bad light just to showcase how special these two were, to each other, to all of their friends, to the world in general...  I mean, this book made me a little upset that I had gotten irritated with Robert for a short scene wherein he acts like a complete, inconsiderate, and insensitive jerk--this makes me sad because I love Robert!

Of course, compared to all the jerk-holes featured in this book--Violet's sister, Lily; Sebastian's brother, Benedict; Miss High Pitched woman with her uninformed judgments--Robert's and Oliver's little moment of being insensitive jerk-holes were quickly forgotten, in light of, they quickly repented and were very apologetic.  It still didn't make me happy though.

As individuals, Violet and Sebastian were good people with very unique, promising characteristics, with lots of potential for growth.  They weren't what I'd been expecting, to be honest.  And as intimate friends, they were wonderful together.  I loved how they fought and made up, read each other's minds at will, and understood each other without having to ask.

Once again, this was definitely a "made for each other" type of romance... and while those things are sweet, they were also a bit too deliberate in the telling.

And so, romance-wise, I'd have to say that while Sebastian played the dream, ideal man to perfection, Violet's own behaviors and actions were a little frustrating.  These two made better intimate, soul-mate-like friends than lovers.  Even knowing all the reasons behind the way Violet responds to other people, I still found the way she treats Sebastian a bit hard to agree with, especially after he'd always been nothing but sweet to her, never asking anything in return for just being able to be around her.

Anyway, The Countess Conspiracy is not necessarily my favorite of the Brothers Sinister series, even though it was enjoyable and easy to breeze through.  Meanwhile, there were still a lot of things that happen that I'm happy with, despite those few quibbles I mentioned.

So, conflicting feelings, yes.  But overall, enjoyable and no regrets about continuing this series.  If anything, the short moments that Oliver's youngest sister, Free, was present made me look forward to the last book even more!


***

Booklikes-opoly


Roll #17:
Book is set during Victoria's reign.

Page Count: 318
Cash Award: +$3.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $76.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/06/thoughts-countess-conspiracy.html
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review 2017-06-08 06:13
A Conspiracy of Kings
A Conspiracy of Kings - Megan Whalen Turner

I legit thought the whole book was the events of the first third of the book. I have no idea how I managed to forget so much of this story. But that was great for the reread because it was like reading it for the first time.

 

The ending does make me mad that Thick as Thieves is a standalone story. I've been waiting seven years, I need some closure after this ending.

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