Killing Floor | Lee Child

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

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How was it?

My first experience of Jack Reacher was the Tom Cruise Jack Reacher: Never Go Back version back in 2016 and the trailers for the 2012 movie before that. So I was curious about the original book version.

It starts out very slow and methodical, just like how Jack Reacher seems to be. A quiet man who observes, analyzes and acts accordingly. We are taken along on his thought processes and see how he scrutinizes everything around him. It’s quite fascinating if it weren’t for how obvious the bad guys were. Maybe the trailer for that first Cruise Reacher movie spoiled this book for me and that opening scene from the trailer seems to be summing up this story.

Another striking thing about Reacher, he’s not willing or eager to help, at first. He intervenes when he has to and when it serves him. He might be a bit selfish but to me it came off as a guy who just minds his own business. However the reason why he gets involved into the case made sense, yet seemed a bit too coincidental. Too much time had been spent establishing that he didn’t want to get involved so it had to be something big enough for him to join the investigation.

Although there is a small chunk that I zombie read, I’m pretty sure there are some plot holes in this book, an obvious one for me was the big deal that was made of Reacher not carrying any ID but he somehow took a plane and I don’t remember him going to get his ID or nothing. The other thing that really doesn’t make much sense is how Finlay got his job because they needed an idiot for it but there’s someone involved in the scheme at play here that who should’ve known that he’s a competent investigator.

So there are major non-sensical things in this book but it still entertains. It never became a chore to read or boring for me, despite admitting zombie reading some of it. It is a bit cliché for sure but the investigation part of the story was good even thought I would have expected it to be more action driven.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Station Eleven | Emily St. John Mandel

Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

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How was it? For a book written in 2014 the first part rings very true to the early days of COVID. However I was glad that the pandemic this book is kind of about isn’t the sole focus. We’re not spending too much time on the descend, the collapse of civilization, but it basically goes from the bottom up.

The story has a nice pace to it. I loved the back and forth between the past and the present, telling us what happened to the world and how the people the story follows lived and are living. The clever way some these characters are connected was an odd delight. Whether they knew it or not they basically had one connection in common, Arthur Leander, an actor who died on the same night the Georgia Flu pandemic began. There’s nothing mystical about the way they’re connected – at least I didn’t see it that way – they just happened to have crossed paths with Leander at one point in their lives pre-pandemic.

At some point, the steady pace in which the author tell us about this “collapsed” world with none of the trapping of modern society, felt slow or maybe monotone. I wanted to get to the end and was tempted to skip ahead. It wasn’t really out of boredom but a crescendo toward the end would have been appreciated. Besides the connections between the characters and the marvelous way this post apocalyptic world is described, there’s not much going on. There’s no big mystery to be solved, or cure to be found, and the book doesn’t need that but there’s a sameness that creeps in that makes the book a little interesting the further you go along. It takes the book a tad too long, even though it’s quite still somewhat entertaining.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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The Lost Daughter | Elena Ferrante

From the author of The Days of AbandonmentThe Lost Daughter is Elena Ferrante’s most compelling and perceptive meditation on womanhood and motherhood yet. Leda, a middle-aged divorcée, is alone for the first time in years when her daughters leave home to live with their father. Her initial, unexpected sense of liberty turns to ferocious introspection following a seemingly trivial occurrence. Ferrante’s language is as finely tuned and intense as ever, and she treats her theme with a fierce, candid tenacity.

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How was it?

I went in blind and for some reason taught or was about a big tragedy, not the thought provoking book that it is.

The book is well written, it flows nicely, so it’s very easy to read but I didn’t connect with the book. I understood the story but it didn’t speak to me. That might be the case if you’re not a parent and/or a woman. I’m not trying to label this book but I don’t think that I’ve had enough of a similar life experience to fully connect with what’s discussed here.

The book feels like reading a private journal with the innermost thoughts of this woman – Leda – alone on vacation, reflecting on her past and newfound independence. It feels raw and maybe too honest considering that most of what is said might not endear her to some readers.

It’s an interesting book that I might have to circle back to when I’ve lived a little more.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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November readings | Adventures on Land and Sea

Title: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre(s): Epic, High Fantasy, Adventure
Page count: 814 pages
Published: 15 November 1990

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Fable
Series: Fable #1
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre(s): YA, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy
Page count: 357 pages
Published: 1 September 2020

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Fable | Adrienne Young

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

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How was it? Well it took me a little over a year to finish this book. I know that sounds bad but some books are like that, they take me months to finish them. I read half of it in one sitting and was enveloped in the world building but just has everything was set up – because that the first half is mostly that – I stopped reading.

As much as I ended up liking this book, it has some aspects that are eye roll worthy, bringing the quality down. I paused right in the middle of an action sequence, which is odd for me, but the book was getting to a point where I felt that most of the world building was done. The setting of this book is one of the best thing about it. I loved learning about it, the different places, what made up the crew of a ship, the trade guild or the idea of Gem Sages, the author does a great job at laying all that out. It’s not too complicated and it feels real.

However, when the focus was shifting more to other characters and tried to move the plot forward, the story lost its shine a bit. The problem is part of the plot is vague and the other is predictable; as for the other characters – mainly the crew of the Marygold – the further you got from West, the less you knew about them. I can barely remember their names and am not sure how many of them there were. Also as charming as these characters were, they’re not believable as the crew of a ship. Their young age might make them seem like underdogs compared to the other ships but given how these other crews are described it’s a wonder that they’re still alive and retained their ship.

There’s also some romance in this book, thank goodness it’s doesn’t take much space but it’s USELESS. It seemed liked an obligatory added on thing, as if it can only be a YA novel if someone catches feelings. I don’t mind romance, in fact I read a lot of it but it was unnecessary here.

Besides the world building, the other aspect of the book that I liked is Fable. She’s driven, brave and a great character to follow. I may not have liked all of her choices but I enjoyed going on this adventure with her.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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The Eye of the World | Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

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How was it?

I don’t know how this book got on my list but the upcoming Amazon Prime Video adaptation hastened my reading it. I’ve never read the Lord of ring or the Shannara Chronicles but I’ve respectively seen the movies and TV show. The Eye of the World very much falls into the same category as these stories, it’s an epic high fantasy with a dark twist to it.

The story’s influence is quite clear – it’s Tolkien – but I didn’t see Eye of the World as a rip-off. It’s more in the same vein with similar plot points and more women involved. The story does takes a while to get going but once it does it’s interesting. However the déjà-vu, cliché aspects of the plot often make it seem slow, because you’ve got a clear idea of where the story’s going – at the very least when it’s regarding the hero.

I also kind of got fed up with pretending we didn’t know who from the Two Rivers crew was the “chosen one.” So by the end when we’re supposed to be surprised by the reveal I rolled my eyes a bit.

Oddly enough, I enjoyed more some of what happened to the others in the group, in particular who turned out to be a Wolfbrother. But even with them it was easy to figure out who was going to be a problem (i.e. The who took the jeweled dagger).

Overall the story is interesting if a bit cliché. If you read a lot of fantasy, or summarize the main plot points, you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s also and overly detailed but it has enough charm to overlook some of that.

The only made me curious to see how the screen adaptation turns out. The trailers look good and the casting seems on point.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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October readings | Dragons, Mysteries and Dead Things

Title: Dead Until Dark
Series: Sookie Stackhouse book 1
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Page count: 292 pages
Published: 1 May 2001

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Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre(s): Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Fiction
Page count: 360 pages
Published: 30 May 2017

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Title: Origin
Series: Scales’N’Spells 1
Author: A.J. Sherwood, Jocelynn Drake
Genre(s): Contemporary, Fantasy
Page count: 392 pages
Published: 1 October 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Silk & Steel
Series: Silk & Steel #1
Author: Ariana Nash, Pippa DaCosta
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, MM
Page count: 380 pages
Published: 18 January 2019

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