BOOK REVIEW: The Fallen by David Baldacci

35959808._SX318_ (1)Title: The Fallen

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 56 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: October 10, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 14, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped.

Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.

Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.

Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time–when one mistake could cost him everything–Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…

My Past Review(s)The Fallen is the 4th book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

You can read my review of the 2nd book in the series, The Last Mile, here.

You can read my review of the 3rd book in the series, The Fix, here.

My Review: Like the first three books, I am giving the fourth book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. Each book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first books that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t the first ones in the series.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, stumbles upon this case when he is visiting the family of his friend and partner Alex Jamison. Although Amos is supposed to be on vacation (a fact that we hear a lot throughout the book), Amos being Amos, dives right in to solve the case — he of course makes some pretty obvious deductions along the way (e.g. even I know about blow flies, but the county coroner does not(?)).

Anyway, I do not feel that there is anything unique I can really saw about this book, except to echo my other reviews (which you can read by clicking on the links above). The following blog, Books and Strips, also shares my opinion, that basically the story line is fast paced, and that Amos is a know-it-all. This book was written to entertain, which it certainly does.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

248596Title: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Author: Ray Bradbury

Book Length (Audiobook): 9 hours 8 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Classics, Science Fiction

Read Start Date: September 28, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 10, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

This is the second book in the Green Town series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of Dandelion Wine here.

My Review: I had a really hard time getting into this book. I’m not sure whether it was the monotone voice of the audiobook narrator, or the slowness of the book itself, or maybe even the lengthy prose to describe simple things that seems to be a Bradbury special (or maybe even the combination of the three), but I found myself constantly drifting off onto other thoughts. I had to rewind the audiobook at least five times — often times I would find that I had drifted over for more than 15 minutes (sometime even a whole car ride). Maybe it would have been better to read it as a book or ebook.

I had originally wanted to give this book a 3, but once I started writing this review, I realized I had to give it a 2. Although I eventually got into the story (after reading approximately half the book), I was less than ambivalent about it. I think that this had in large part to do with the format of the book I was reading. The story definitely seemed interesting. An evil and sinister carnival rolls into small town America just in time for Halloween? What’s not to like at first blush?

Notwithstanding the intriguing plot, if I was a reader prone to giving up on books, then I would have given up on this one for sure. It is just too dense for audiobook reading, and my library did not have it available in any other format.

I think that the story had potential to be great (if I was just able to pay attention), so I won’t not recommend it — but I do not recommend the audiobook version.

If you’d like to get more of a balanced opinion, I did read some other blog reviews about the book (below) which had a more positive outtake.

The Door Without a Key

Shannon Fox

For the Love of Science.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle

10838718Title: Many Waters

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length: 332 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 31, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 23, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Some things have to be believed to be seen.

Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraordinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment.

Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.

The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home–they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won’t be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he’s about to start building a boat in the desert.

This is the fourth book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

See my review of A Wind in the Door: Time Quintet Book 2 here.

See my review of A Swiftly Tilting Planet: Time Quintet Book 3 here.

My Review: The events of this book seem to take place somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd book. Unlike the other 3 books, this book was heavy in the Christian overtones. I would say that this book was nothing but a Christian overtone, as basically it is the story of Noah, before, and up to the time that he built, the ark. I wasn’t too thrilled about this book. Meg and Charles Wallace are not really part of this book, and only the twins Sandy and Dennys (my least favorite characters) are part of the story.

The overall story is rather dry — nothing really happens, and it is rather boring. I think that this is why it took me almost 2 months to read. I didn’t dislike it though, which is why I am giving it 3 stars instead of 2. Since I doubt this story will impact the remaining books in the series, this one can probably be skipped without much ado.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

50033Title: Dandelion Wine

Author: Ray Bradbury

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 30 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Classics, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Read Start Date: September 22, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 28, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The summer of ’28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma’s belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.

My Review: I did not love this book, although it was certainly unique. Unlike other books, this book isn’t so much about people, but rather a town — Green Town, a small town in rural Illinois. There is not a main human character, but the book describes the town through individual stories of the people that live there.

Since there wasn’t really a main character, I didn’t feel any connection whatsoever to the characters, nor did I really care when stuff happened to them. And the pace of the book was super slow, and the sound of the narrators voice reading the audiobook was so monotone, that my mind would often drift away to other thoughts. I had to even rewind the story several times because when I came back from the mind drift, I didn’t understand what was happening anymore.

I am giving it a 3 instead of a 2 because there were some chapters that I did like, so it wasn’t all terrible. I’ve read some reviews of people who really love this book. So, I don’t know. Maybe I just missed something.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Fat Vampire 2 by Johnny B. Truant

16132952Title: Fat Vampire 2: Tastes Like Chicken

Author: Johnny B. Truant

Book Length (Audiobook): 4 hours 14 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal

Read Start Date: September 14, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 15, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: It’s been six months since fast-food-addicted Reginald Baskin was turned into a vampire too fat to live peacefully amongst the glamorous undead — six months in which Reginald and his two-thousand-year-old maker Maurice have learned that power doesn’t equal popularity. Sure, Maurice is now calling the shots, but the Council is up to new and dirty tricks, threatening to once again upset the balance…

But when the Vampire Nation faces genocidal violence at the hands of an unstoppable force and the very future of vampire kind is threatened, Reginald, Maurice, and Nikki must find their allies elsewhere… buried deep underground in a foreign land.

My Past Review(s)Fat Vampire 2 is the 2nd book in the Fat Vampire series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Fat Vampire, here.

My Review: I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars because I didn’t love this book, but it was entertaining. There are a ton of mixed reviews about this book — it seems one either thinks its funny and amazing or one doesn’t like it at all. I find that I fall somewhere in the middle. I finished this book about 9 days ago, and I can honestly say I am drawing a blank on most of the book. This could be a symptom of the cold I was coming down with, or maybe the plot just isn’t so memorable.

I remember it has something to do with angels and incubuses trying to take over the vampires? Reginald is still the worst vampire ever, but trying to hone his mental abilities. Nikki (a vampire wannabe) is in training, and Maurice is delegating his vampire council duties to avoid being assassinated.

Then they take some trip to Europe or something? I don’t really recall why. I don’t remember the ending at all, but apparently there was a twist!

Apparently there are 6 books total in this series, but I haven’t decided whether to read on or not.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Fat Vampire by Johnny B. Truant

16067851Title: Fat Vampire

Author: Johnny B. Truant

Book Length (Audiobook): 3 hours 58 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal

Read Start Date: September 7, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 9, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the author of “Unicorn Western” comes a story of fangs and fast food…

When overweight treadmill salesman Reginald Baskin finally meets a co-worker who doesn’t make fun of him, it’s just his own bad luck that tech guy Maurice turns out to be a thousand-year-old vampire.

And when Maurice turns Reginald to save his life, it’s just Reginald’s own further bad luck that he wakes up to discover he’s become the slowest, weakest, most out-of-shape vampire ever born, doomed to “heal” to his corpulent self for all of eternity.

As Reginald struggles with the downsides of being a fat vampire — too slow to catch people to feed on, mocked by those he tries to glamour, assaulted by his intended prey and left for undead — he discovers in himself rare powers that few vampires have… and just in time too, because the Vampire Council might just want his head for being an inferior representative of their race.

Fat Vampire is the story of an unlikely hero who, after having an imperfect eternity shoved into his grease-stained hands, must learn to turn the afterlife’s lemons into tasty lemon danishes.

My Review: This is the first book that I have read by Johnny B. Truant (is his name supposed to be punny or is this is real name?) Anyway, this book is exactly what it sounds like — a fat guy becomes a vampire. This book was funny I guess, but I never laughed out loud of anything. Not even a little chuckle.

Essentially the plot goes like this: Reginald is a fat treadmill salesman (que the irony please). He befriends a goth kid (Maurice) at work (who of course works the nightshift) only to find out that this kid is actually a 1,000 year old vampire. While bowling one night, some of Maurice’s vamp friends take a bit out of Reginald, and he will die if Maurice doesn’t turn him, so he does. Now Reginald is doomed to be fat and unfit FOR EVER. However, since his physical skills are nill, he gets mad intelligent skills, which is rare for vampire these days because they all train before being turned — its like all Stepford wives up in vampire world. BUT, Maurice did a bad thing because Reginald’s turning was not sanctioned by the Vampire Council. Uh oh.

While the plot was different than most vampire books you read, I wouldn’t exactly call it life shattering or anything. Since the book was so short and a lot of stuff happened, there wasn’t really any time for character building and I wasn’t really invested in the characters, and didn’t really care about them so much.

Having said that, I wouldn’t not recommend the book — just don’t go into it with high expectations.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Fix by David Baldacci

31562247Title: The Fix

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 54 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: September 16, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 21, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself.

Even with Decker’s extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, the killing is baffling. Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter – a family man with a successful consulting business – and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

Enter Harper Brown. An agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, she orders Decker to back off the case. The murder is part of an open DIA investigation, one so classified that Decker and his team aren’t cleared for it.

But they learn that the DIA believes solving the murder is now a matter of urgent national security. Critical information may have been leaked to a hostile government – or, worse, an international terrorist group – and an attack may be imminent.

Decker’s never been one to follow the rules, especially with the stakes so high. Forced into an uneasy alliance with Agent Brown, Decker remains laser focused on only one goal: solving the case before it’s too late.

My Past Review(s): The Fix is the 3rd book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

You can read my review of the 2nd book in the series, The Last Mile, here.

My Review: Like the first and second book, I am giving the third book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. Each book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first and second book that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t read Memory Man or The Last Mile.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, stumbles upon this case when he witnesses the shooting death of Anne Berkshire.

My biggest critique about this series (which holds true for this book) is that everyone around Decker idolizes him as a super cool and smart magical unicorn. His colleagues and friends follow him around waiting for him to make some seriously obvious deduction about the case (because they are too stupid(?)) and Decker’s rude social habits are somehow adorable because its Decker. Like when your little puppy pees on the rug, but you are like, but look at that cute puppy face, how can I stay mad at you?

That being said, the plot was engaging (although drawn out) and I was totally surprised by the plot twist at the end. I was never bored while reading this book. Another solid airport / beach read.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Mile by David Baldacci

26245853Title: The Last Mile

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 49 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: September 9, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 14, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution–for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier–when he’s granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.

Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars’s case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men’s families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.

The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars–guilty or not–a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now?

But when a member of Decker’s team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger–and more sinister–than just one convicted criminal’s life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed.

My Past Review(s): The Last Mile is the 2nd book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

My Review: Like the first book, I am giving the second book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. The plot was a bit better in this book, but still somewhat unbelievable. The second book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first book that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t read Memory Man.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, has been hired by the FBI due to his role in solving the case in the previous book. Alex Jameson, former journalist and Decker’s unlikely partner, has been hired as well. Their job is to solve cold case files, and their first pick is the case involving Melvin Mars, who has been in prison for 20 years on what seems now to be bogus charges. Or are they? There are a lot of twists and turns before getting to the final conclusion.

Like Decker, Melvin Mars was a football star who, had he not gone to prison, could have been one of the best football players of his time. Overall, I find the character to be bit unbelievable as well. How is he so…normal? The guy spent 20 years in prison. Wouldn’t that have changed his personality as least a little bit?

Anyway, while this book won’t be winning any awards, I think that it is an entertaining way to pass the time, if you have time to kill.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Memory Man by David Baldacci

23153154Title: Memory Man

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 13 hours 17 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: August 30, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 7, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.

His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.

But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review: I am giving this book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. I haven’t read really anything by Baldacci before, but as an author he reminds me somewhat of James Patterson, except that Baldacci’s books are about twice as long.

Amos Decker as a main character is interesting — he is overweight (about 350 lbs) and has Synesthesia and Hyperthymesia, which basically gives him perfect memory and picture perfect recall. Amos uses his perfect recall to help him solve the cases — because I guess it makes him so much smarter than everyone else in life ever (that is purely sarcastic by the way). Baldacci tries to portray Amos Decker as a modern day Sherlock Holmes, but fails because Sherlock Holmes is much more likeable. Basically, the only thing that Decker seems to have going for him is his picture perfect memory — otherwise it seems like he would be a terrible detective.

The female protagonist, Alex Jamison, is a journalist who at first did not like Decker, but by the end of the book becomes his unlikely partner.

The plot kept me interested enough to keep reading, but I wouldn’t say it was enthralling or anything. The ending (and the motive for the crime) was a bit of a head scratcher — seemed really far fetched and a bit unrealistic.

The audiobook production was not so great, and this book is probably better as an actual book the audiobook. I found it really distracting that they had a female reader who only read the dialogue of the female characters (and children) in the story and a male reader for everything else (including narrative about the female characters).

This book would be good to read on the beach or in an airplane.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Death Cure by James Dashner

7864437.jpgTitle: The Death Cure

Author: James Dashner

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 55 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Read Start Date: August 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 30, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: It’s the end of the line. WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. Will anyone survive What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say. The truth will be terrifying. Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all. The time for lies is over.

Past Reviews:

You can find my review of the first book, The Maze Runner, here.

You can find my review of the second book, The Scorch Trials, here.

The Death Cure is the third and final book of the series.

My Review: This book was terrible. I mean, really. For so many reasons. The synopsis of this book makes it sound like some thrilling adventure — in reality it was so boring. For example, the main characters seriously spent pages looking for a hotel, finding a hotel, and then going to sleep in a hotel. Snore. And, how is there such a thing as a hotel in the first place? The whole Earth has been more or less wiped out by a virus, but don’t worry guys, the Hilton is still operating!

The characters also went into a Cafe. Again, seriously? Where do they get coffee from? It sure doesn’t grow in Denver (where the Cafe was). This did not make any sense. Also, the characters spend time looking for a taxi — need I say more?

Lastly, this book was utterly pointless. So Thomas survived the trials, good for him. And for what, oh yeah, I forget the variables and the patterns to build a “blueprint” for a cure. Ugh. Not how vaccines are developed. Besides this, nothing happens in this book. Basically, the characters just going around in Denver and the author describes how the virus is affecting people. Okay, that’s interesting I guess, but not for the FINAL book of a TRILOGY! This book is supposed to wrap things up, not introduce new concepts. It really seemed like the author had no concept on where to go with this book and so just did more world building — but again, not appropriate for a final book.

I was super disappointed in this book and it really made me question why I even wasted my time reading the whole series.