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review 2018-07-17 02:35
An American Killing ★☆☆☆☆
An American Killing - Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Ugh. It started off so well. The characters seemed interesting and the writing was okay and I was curious to know more about the powerful politician found dead in an apparently accidental case of autoerotic asphyxiation, but maybe was murdered instead. Then it all went to heck on page 18, when the first person narrator suddenly began swinging between present tense and past tense, the story became clogged with celebrity name-dropping, and it became painfully obvious that the author was drawing so heavily on the Ann Rule/Ted Bundy story that it completely kicked me out of the story. I did power through to page 50, but there’s no way I could bring myself to finish the book.

 

DNF on page 50. Hardcover, purchased years ago on a whim from a clearance table at a big box bookstore that has long since gone out of business.

 

Previous Updates:

7/15/18 – 15/368 pg

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text 2018-07-15 15:09
An American Killing - 15/368 pg
An American Killing - Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

A serious writer like me gains notoriety when her books are made into successful movies with A-list stars, the same way nonserious writers gain notoriety. 

 

This book is off to a good start, in spite of the setting. I don't usually care for national politics/intrigue kinds of stories, but I think that's just going to be the stage for a murder mystery thriller. The main character is sort of fun, an unlikeable cynic for whom every human interaction is a self-centered negotiation. 

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review 2018-06-29 12:34
The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
The Killing Woods - Lucy Christopher
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

My feelings are pretty mixed on this book. I have had a copy of this book in my review pile for a very long time so I am thrilled to be able to scratch it from my to be read list but I do wish it had worked a little better for me. I felt like this book was really slow at times and I found it rather easy to set aside. There were parts of the book that I did enjoy but I had quite a few issues with it as well.

I did think that the book started out really strong. Emily's dad brings home a girl that Emily knows from school, Ashlee. Ashlee is dead and Emily's father can't remember what happened so he is charged with the crime. Emily knows her dad and does not think that he is capable of the crime that he has been accused of committing since he has always been a very gentle man.

Damon was Ashlee's boyfriend. He was with her in the woods on the night that she died but he doesn't remember what happened either. Damon, Ashlee, and their friends had been doing drugs that night and Damon's memories from the night don't explain everything that happened. He has a lot of questions about the night and wants to remember how things happened.

I found this book to be pretty predictable. I thought it was pretty obvious from the beginning that someone else was responsible for what had happened to Ashlee. There were long sections of the book where I felt like nothing was really happening and they were no closer to finding out what had happened to Ashlee than they were at the start of the book.

I also found this book to be somewhat confusing. There is a lot of talk regarding the game that Ashlee, Damon, and their friends were playing on the night in question. I tried to understand this game but I was just as confused about the game at the end of the book as I was at the beginning. This game was talked about so many times during the book but I can't figure out what the goal was or how it could be any fun to play. Another confusing thing that happened in the book is that Damon is in a position to give a punishment to Emily at school despite the fact that they are roughly the same age which didn't make any sense to me.

I did like both of the narrators. Fiona Hardingham and Shaun Grindell both did a great job with this book. I thought that they both brought a lot of emotion to the story and made things a lot more exciting at times. I thought that their voices fit the characters of Emily and Damon really well and were very pleasant to listen to. I think that I probably liked this book a bit more because I decided to listen to the audiobook and I would not hesitate to listen to either narrator again in the future.

This wasn't really a book for me but I do think that others might enjoy the story a lot more than I did. I would suggest giving it a try if you think that it sounds like something you might enjoy.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Scholastic - Chicken House via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from the library via Hoopla.

Initial Thoughts
This one falls somewhere between 2 and 3 stars for me. I may round up after I have a little more time to process. It started out fine but there seemed to be long periods of time where nothing really happened. Somewhat predictable ending. I thought that the narration of the audiobook was well done.

 

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review 2018-05-26 17:27
Great expectation but does not deliver!
The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson

A chance meeting at an airport between Ted  and Lily allows Ted's darkest secrets to be revealed and a murder pact is set up the recipient of the violence being Ted's wife Miranda. Sounds good? Well it was for one chapter and naturally many will find similarities between the book Strangers on a train by Patricia Highsmith and the equally brilliant movie noir adoption by Alfred Hitchcock. But be warned this is no classic in the making rather it is a story of nonsense that is best suited as a " trashy" read on a far flung beach where little can be expected and  nothing received in return............zzzzzzzzzz

 

The four main characters; Ted, Miranda, Lily, and Brad spend the entire book trying to outflank and kill each other..and that is the essence and intelligence of this very quick soon to be forgotten piece of fiction. Even the inclusion of an unexpected ending did little to raise The Kind Worth Killing above a one star! So the golden rule is never believe all the hype that accompanies a book before, during and after its release as in this case the result is nothing short of dire......

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review 2018-05-16 03:14
Controversy as camouflage for a bad book
Killing Time (Star Trek, No 24) - Della Van Hise

Della Van Hise's novel has ranked among the more controversial Star Trek novels that have been published. It's a controversy that others have written about at considerable length (and which offers an interesting case study of the development of franchise fandom), but it's one that has the effect of overshadowing everything else about the novel, which was among the first published in Pocket Books's long-running series.

 

The premise itself is an interesting mix of familiar elements. The Enterprise is patrolling the Neutral Zone because the Romulans are getting frisky. Sure enough, the Romulans have a plan to destroy the Federation by erasing it from existence through the magic of time travel. Suddenly the ship isn't the USS Enterprise but the "VSS ShiKahr," with Spock now in command and Kirk a lowly (and troubled) ensign.

 

The premise by far is the most interesting part of the book. What Van Hise does with it that I like a lot is she 1) posits a change that isn't successful (no Romulan ability to romp unopposed through the Alpha Quadrant), and 2) has a Romulan leader who, because she inherits the project, decides to use the alteration to pursue different goals than the ones intended. I can't think of a time-travel novel that I have read that adopts such an intriguing plot shift. I also like the idea of a Vulcan-dominated "Alliance" in place of the Federation which opens up some amazing possibilities for world-building, even within the limits of a single book.

 

Yet as much as I liked those elements, my ability to enjoy the novel was tempered by its severe flaws. The first is with how Van Hise introduces the awareness of the change in history to her characters, which involves dreams of their previous lives and increasing psychosis throughout the known galaxy. That's also an interesting twist on the normal Star Trek time travel tale, only it's not canon. If this was a natural effect of altering the timeline, then why has there been no evidence of it in previous efforts (which are referenced in the book)? And how is it that, if over a century of history has changed, it's only cropping up now? These aren't insoluble problems — this is science fiction, after all! — but Van Hise makes no effort to even acknowledge these flaws, much less address them.

It's also disappointing to see how undeveloped the changes are. Decades of history have been altered, yet apart from Kirk's radical demotion, nothing else has changed about the transformed Enterprise. Though the Vulcans run the alliance and Spock captains the ship, Scotty remains the chief engineer, Sulu is the helmsman, Uhura occupies her familiar place at the com panel, and even Doctor McCoy is in charge of Sickbay. It's as though the Romulans warped time just to demote Kirk, which then proves largely irrelevant to the "Praetor's" plot.

Yet the biggest problem with this book is with her characterization of both Kirk and Spock. These are not the characters fans have come to know, and this is even ignoring the whole "K/S" controversy. Kirk starts out the novel confessing he has the "willies." Spock is constantly wrestling with his emotions and having (small but noticeable) emotional reactions to people and events. It's almost a deliberate defiance of their portrayal in the series and in other works, in Kirk's case to the point of making him almost unrecognizable. Again this would be excusable if it were woven into the plot, yet Van Hise prefers to present them as though they were the characters we remember from the series, rather than the funhouse versions in her novel.

 

In the end, the experience of reading Van Hise's novel is one of disappointment. Promising elements that promise something a cut above the traditional Star Trek plot are undermined by a limited exploitation of the premise and poor characterization. In that respect the whole "K/S" controversy was a boon to Van Hise, because it obscured the fact that, even without it, hers simply isn't a good Star Trek novel.

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