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text 2018-04-30 13:54
April Wrap-up
Russian Roulette: The Story of an Assassin - Anthony Horowitz
Scorpia Rising - Anthony Horowitz
Scorpia - Anthony Horowitz
Agent 21 - Chris Ryan
End Game - David Baldacci
Live Wire (Myron Bolitar, #10) - Harlan Coben
Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer
Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer
Lucifer, Vol. 8: The Wolf Beneath the Tree - Ryan Kelly,Ted Naifeh,Peter Gross,Mike Carey,P. Craig Russell
The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

14 books in a month.  All really good read of 4 to 4.5 stars read. 

 

I went to a charity second hand book sales. This charity has placed collection books near my office and asked readers to unload their books into the books. These books then be categorized by volunteers and hold in really big second hands book fair. 

 

For USD 1.5 dollars each, you could pick any book you want and brought them home. 

 

I went after work with a coworker. We got around a dozen each. A lot of them are of the Alex Rider series. I even picked up the same book twice, from different zone. My mistake is not a big deal as it is for charity. Plus I could gift this to my coworker who went with me. 

 

So... 

 

Got even more reading ahead of me. 

 

The Alex Rider series. 

 

I like it a lot. It is about a teenager, who was orphaned when young, and lost an uncle. It turned out his uncle was a spy working for MI6. So he got recruited, and used by the MI6. 

 

It is kind of interesting to see that most of the adults in the books are either the bad guys or dishonest adults with little concern for putting a teenager at risk.

 

The story is good enough. 

 

Scorpia - Anthony Horowitz  Scorpia - Anthony Horowitz  

 

The real bad guys starts with Scorpia. An international assassin group. Alex found out more about his father. He was told that he was once an assassin working for this group. And his loyalty to MI6 ended up with him being killed. 

 

Alex was briefly convinced that his father was betrayed by MI6.  One of the woman board member at Scorpia wants to turn Alex Rider to be on their team instead of the MI6. 

 

The plan work, for a short while. He was sent to an assassin assignment. To kill the leader of M16 Mrs Jones. 

 

The story is good and moving along nicely. There are some plot twists. The good thing about YA is that the bad guy usually tell you their evil plan instead of asking the readers to find a lot of clue on what's going on. 

 

The evil plan has to be spoiled and the teenager hero has to save the day. Not that much different with the adult versions. Just less bloody. 

 

A solid 4.5 stars read. 

 

Ark Angel - Anthony Horowitz  Ark Angel - Anthony Horowitz  

 

Alex was shot in the ending of the previous book. 

 

He was lucky that he was not killed. He was in a hospital.

 

The boy in his next room was there and some bad guys tried to kidnap him. Of course, Alex would try to save this boy. So he switch the room no with the boy and let the kidnappers mistook his identity and chase after him.

 

More danger ahead. 

 

The boy's father is thankful and invited Alex to take a trip with them.

 

Only to find out that the father was actually a bad guy.

 

More danger ahead. He tried to set a bomb in space and mayhem and destruction ensured. 

 

Only to have Alex soiled their plan.

 

Another 4 stars solid read. 

 

Snakehead - Anthony Horowitz  Snakehead - Anthony Horowitz  

 

Alex was in space in the end of the previous book.

 

He then fallen back on Earth and picked up by Australian intelligent agent. They tested his skills and kind of manipulated him to work for them.

 

The amount of cruelty involved is being belief. Seriously, how could adults deal with a teenager this way. Instead of wanting to protect him, they tried to use him.

 

This time, he met someone who knew his parents. 

 

He was supposed to go undercover. But his cover is brown and the bad guys already got his real identity.

 

Who rat him out? That's the more juicy part and side story. 

 

Another solid 4 stars read. 

 

Scorpia Rising - Anthony Horowitz  Scorpia Rising - Anthony Horowitz  

 

One of my favorite Alex Rider so far. A 4.5 to 5 stars read. 

 

There are new bad guys in Scorpia. In order to build up their reputation again, they are going to something big. 

 

As for Alex, he was supposed to be left out of any mission. Afterall, he is still a teenager. 

 

A terrorist threat has been made and the only clue is that it would target a school.  He seems to be a perfect guy for the part.

 

So again, there is a threat against Alex's life. This time, a sniper attack at his school. His friend got hurt in the process.

 

Alex has to leave school, and helped with MI6. Of course it is a trap. 

 

Before this book, Alex has suffered a lot. But he seems to be fine so far. 

 

Not this one. A big loss is coming. 

 

Solid 4.5 stars read. 

 

Russian Roulette: The Story of an Assassin - Anthony Horowitz  Russian Roulette: The Story of an Assassin - Anthony Horowitz  

 

A side story. The story is not about Alex but his opponent Yassen. 

 

Yassen background is horrible. He also lost his parents when he was young. He was not treated with kindness and he got involved with Scorpia much too young. 

 

A twist of events made him stayed with Scorpia. He got to know Alex's father, who tried to talk him out of being an assassin.

 

The story is good and give a bit more background of another character other than Alex.

 

Another solid 4 stars read. 

 

 

End Game - David Baldacci  End Game - David Baldacci  

 

The latest installment of Will Robie and Jessica Reel story. 

 

The Blue Man is missing. So Robie is tasked to find him. Reel joined in but was giving Robe the cold shoulder, 

 

Never Robie or Reel is good at taking about their emotion.

 

Robe is under stress. He failed his previous mission and was afraid that his PTSD would affect his performance. 

 

Blue Man went for a fishing trip and lost contact. Robie and Reel arrived at the location only to find hostile skinheads dominating the place.

 

A lot of running around and action. 

 

Also met the old flame of Blue Man.

 

Finally when the bad guys got sorted. Emotion things got sorted too. 

 

But how to deal with this is another story. 

 

A real estate plan to turn an old missile site into luxurious bunker for the rich. 

 

Some interesting plot twists later, and some interesting action at the end. 

Solid 4.5 read. 

 

Live Wire (Myron Bolitar, #10) - Harlan Coben  Live Wire (Myron Bolitar, #10) - Harlan Coben  

 

Myron is a sport agent. But he also got involved into trouble because he seems to be getting himself into trouble while trying to help others.

 

Harlan Coben is a brilliant writer, especially in developing the relation between Myron and Win.

 

Suzze is the former tennis queen. He asked Myron to help find her husband Lex.

 

While trying to find Lex, he run into his sister in law. His brother has lost contacted with Myron. 

 

So now he wants to find his brother. 

 

Quite a bit of running around. The bad guy was at the house of a rock star, keep making solid music with Lex while being hidden.

 

All is not well when Myron take a closer look under the surface. 

 

He called for help. Win stepped in.

 

Win was correctly pointed out the while Myron intention maybe good. He was the one who get into the trouble, while Win has to step in to do what he has to do to save him,

 

Win is a good friend. With a friend like Win, one could do a lot of things that one wouldn't dare on one own. 

 

Solid 4.5 read. 

 

Chris Ryan Extreme: Hard Target: Faster, Grittier, Darker, Deadlier - Chris Ryan  Chris Ryan Extreme: Hard Target: Faster, Grittier, Darker, Deadlier - Chris Ryan  

 

Bloody and action base. Read like a B action movie with a lot of loud sounds of explosions and shootings. 

 

Joe Gardner was ex-military. He lost his arm to an IED. He got a call from an ex-military John Bald saying he was in trouble.

 

Gardner got to Bald only to find that the urgency for a job. A money making illegal one. 

 

He wants out. But got interrupted by some other bad guys who found Bald's location.

 

Now he is offered by MI6 to find Bald, to protect him so that they could get to the even bigger fish.


A lot of persons shot at him. And he fired back.

 

The story left with a clip hanger. 

 

Not a lot of characters developments yet. That's why the movement seems a bit jumpy, with changing from one location to another. The plot seems a bit too complex to get notice by the intelligent agency. And the idea to have Gardner get into trouble and get something done. 

 

Not bad. Not great. But not bad. Solid 4 stars read. 

 

Agent 21 - Chris Ryan  Agent 21 - Chris Ryan  

 

Hard to believe this is from the same writer Chris Ryan. Spy story children version.

 

As I have just finished reading some Alex Rider stories. It is hard not to compare the two.  By comparison, the action is more real, but the characters not as adorable. 

 

Zachary is a teenager who parents were killed in a mass poisoning. 

 

He then recruited to be a spy. They faked his death and give him new identity. 

 

The problem is, he was supposed to be thirteen. There seems to be a lot of manipulation on the part of the adults. 

 

Thirteen can do a lot. But what motivated him to be a spy. Again, there are some secondary supporting characters. But none have developed deep relationship with Zachary yet. 

 

The action part is good. The character part is a bit underdeveloped. 

 

Still a solid 4 stars read. It read like a young Bourne. 

 

Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer  Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer  Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer  Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer  

 

First two books of a trilogy. 

 

Annihilation is a psycho sci-fi mystery. 

 

Four women scientists were sent into a strange alienated zone to find out what's going on. 

 

It seems to be a organic invasion but all the equipments failed after entering the zone. Previous expeditions were unsuccessful. 

 

What's at play is human psychology. The mistrust is there and the betray also. 

 

They were lost in the zone. And all of them were put into hypnotic suggestions in trying to control them.

 

There were strange writings on the wall. Instead of ink, it is some kind of moss that found the writings.  

 

Strange.  The setting of mood is really good. 

 

Solid 4.5 read. 

 

The second book was about how they survived and being interrogated by government agents. 

 

Again. Who is the liar? What do they all wants? 

 

Control is head of the project and interviewing the biologist. 

 

Everyone is lying. Is it drug or some kind of alien parasite that make people this way? 

 

Very weird. Like sci-fi on an acid trip. 

 

Solid  4 stars read. 

 

 Private: No. 1 Suspect: (Private 4) - James Patterson  Private: No. 1 Suspect: (Private 4) - James Patterson  

 

I have not read any James Patterson before. I bought two of his books and this is the first one. 

 

Seems okay at first. A detective agent head is in trouble. His girlfriend is murdered, found naked on his bed.

 

Look like a frame job.

 

He called his people. And his people is willing to lie for him if he killed someone.

 

The chapters are short and story moved along nicely. 

 

4 stars read. Not enough to motivate me to read the whole series. But good enough to spend time with in a lazy afternoon. 

 

The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly  The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly  

 

A really good read. Very enjoyable. 

 

Jack is a journalist and he was being downsided. 

 

Rachel is a FBI agent. 

 

They teamed up before in the last book Poet.

 

Now Jack is out of a job, he wanted to write book and his investigation into the trunk murder is going to lead him to it.

 

He called Rachel. Jack was in danger and Rachel came to his rescue. 

 

The killer is on to Jack and wanted to eliminate him before he go any further.

 

Another frame job.

 

The killer tried to isolate Jack to frame him for murder by putting a dead body in his house.  Fortunately, Rachel was there.  And it spoiled the killer's plan for Jack. 

 

 

The clever killer has a good plan and able to get away with killing for a long time. 

 

Rachel first made the connection that Jack was being isolated for the kill. Jack made further connection that he lead back to the data center that the law firm and the newsroom has in common.

 

All good and well.

 

Now the killer know Jack is coming closer to the truth.  More violence ensured. 

 

Jack was really brave but not really a good fighter. The action sense is good when Jack has to go into a knife fight with a wine opener. 

 

Good stuff. 

 

 

Nice and smooth. 5 stars read. 

 

Lucifer, Vol. 8: The Wolf Beneath the Tree - Ryan Kelly,Ted Naifeh,Peter Gross,Mike Carey,P. Craig Russell  Lucifer, Vol. 8: The Wolf Beneath the Tree - Ryan Kelly,Ted Naifeh,Peter Gross,Mike Carey,P. Craig Russell  

 

The only graphic novel read this month. Lucifer is a character created by Neil Gaiman and continued by Ryan Kelly, Ted Naifeh, Peter Gross, Mike Crey and P. Craig Russell. 

 

It is pretty good. Lucifer has his core value of seeking freedom. 

 

Michel teamed up with Lucifer to stop the Wolf from poisoning the tree of life.

 

Pretty nice graphic. Meant for adults. It is hard to explain. Just read it. 

 

Very enjoyable 4.5 stars read. 

 

Summary 

 

A fast read month. A lot of stories and it formed an imaginary space in my mind. Like meeting new characters that one has already familiar with. All the books are good pick. Very happy with the finds. 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-30 13:37
Jack and Rachel team-up again to catch killer
The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

Jack was being downsided. 

 

He got a pink slip. A 12 days notice before clearing his desk.  He also needed to train his replacement Angela Cook, a very green journalist. 

 

A woman was found in car trunk, dead and naked. Jack reported it and was harassed by a caller who claimed the guy was innocent. 

 

Fingerprint found in the car pointed to a person who admitted that he has stolen the car, but didn't kill the woman. 

 

 

When he got into the investigation, he got his credit card cancelled, his bank account cleared out. And his email to his editor and Angela got lost. 

 

He didn't know why so he called the person he trust, Rachel Welling, the FBI that he worked before in catching the Poet. 

 

Rachel was not that enthusiastic at first, but after he told her what bad luck he had in the last 24 hours, Rachel knew he was being isolated and someone is seriously wrong.

 

So she used an excuse for an interview at Ely to fly over to Jack to find out more.

 

With his luck, he did run into the killer. The killer was just about the take action, before he was being deterred by Rachel. 

 

Quickly, they put together the clue that lead to another case. Another case in common with the current one. Another car trunk murder. 

 

In both cases, an alternative suspect was offered up and no one has made the linkage until now.

 

Jack made a discovery on how his email being hacked and bank account manipulated. 

 

Angela was the one who has done the initial search for trunk murder and she has fallen into a IP trap. This trap has alerted the killer of their discovery. 

 

Tracking this site that trap Angela and Jack. Rachel is able to track back to a data center. 

 

It is a very clever setup. 

 

They are seeking help from the data center. When they found another clue that lead to think it might be someone who linked to these murders might be working in the Data Center.

 

At the first half of the book, the killer was having the upper hand and doing the killing and chasing. 

 

In the middle, when more discovery happened, the killer was set on the run and made desperate move. 

 

The killer is clever. And there might be more than one. 

 

The cat and mouse game is really good. The development between Jack and Rachel is good too.

 

It run really smoothly, and it is a really good read. Unputdownable read. 

 

That's why I gave it 5 stars. 

 

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text 2018-04-30 02:23
Reading progress update: I've read 430 out of 655 pages.
The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

The story picked up speed. Now that Jack and Rachel teamed up again. 

 

Rachel was forced out of her job because she used an excuse of an interview to recrue Jack. 

 

Now she is out. Jack invited her to continue the investigation. Jack is not going to stop writing about this case. He was pissed that he was forced out of the byline because he became the target of the serial killer. That he was ordered to be interviewed by his fellow journalists instead of writing the story himself. 

 

He had made the connection. Now he know where the killer is from, or at least his work location. 

 

He is going after the killer to prove he is right. 

 

The killer knew they knew too. 

 

This is one seriously calculated killer. Red herring works when no one knows it is the red herring. 

 

They visited the data center in the pretends on working for a law firm. Which is a half truth. Jack was paid one dollar to work for the law firm to bypass the procedure for interviewing a person in jail. Jack has presented the findings to the lawyer earlier and think it would get him out of jail. It did. 

 

Jack, with the authorized letter get himself a visit to the data center where the killer is. And the tour lead to a finding. A recently fired employee Fred Stone. 

 

Fred Stone is the red herring. 

 

After seeing the delivery of Fred Stone's property to his house. Rachel called it in. She is convinced that Jack's instinct in connecting the data center with the killings.  The FBI got involved. 

 

Rachel has bargineed her job back. FBI wants the findings to be an agent's work instead of soon-out-of-a-job journalist. FBI wants the credit. 

 

Plus they want Jack to hold the story, for at least 24 hours. With the bad relationship the bureau has with Jack, the only way to convince him to comply is Rachel.

 

So, the FBI got 36 hours. 

 

Jack starts writing the story. It is juicy and frontpage stuff.

 

The killer knew the FBI is on to him. 

 

More action coming as the killer is closing in to Jack and Rachel. 

 

A 100 more pages to go, This is good. And I wonder why Connelly didn't continue this series. 

 

I hope he didn't killed off the main characters. I would find out soon enough. 

 

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text 2018-04-29 04:02
Reading progress update: I've read 186 out of 655 pages.
The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

Jack is now rethinking a murder case with a woman found in trunk. It might be linking to another case.

 

And there might be more. It means a serial killer is on the loose.

 

But....

 

Without Jack knowing, Angela Cook, his replacement has do some search on Trunk Murder and got contact with the killer.

 

Now the killer is after Jack.

 

His credit cards got cancelled by being reported stolen. His online account got no money as someone has used his e-banking account to donate all his money to charity. 

 

His email account also got hacked and the email he sent deleted from his editor account. 

 

This is getting interesting.  The book didn't start as capturing as the previous one the Poet. The murder is not the center of the piece, Jack is. And not a lot of interaction is happening between Jack and the killer yet. 

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text 2018-04-27 03:19
Reading progress update: I've read 76 out of 655 pages.
The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

Start reading this as the other book is a bit too heavy to carry around on a rainy day. 

 

Jack is really out of luck. He was a very good journalist when it comes to murder and complex story.

 

But the paper industry is going through a painful period of adjustment. Content that used to be paid by advertising are now free.

 

it is hard to think of how good newspaper is going to survive.

 

So he got the pink slip. He got cut. He has been downsized. Poor Jack.

 

Now he is going after his last story and finished this within 12 days. 

 

His replacement is a green young woman who write blog. 

 

 

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