Bites

Published: August 1, 1997
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

On an overcast night in Washington D.C. a group of highly trained killers embark on a mission of shattering brutality. A shocked country awakens to the devastating news that three of their most powerful and unscrupulous politicians have been brutally murdered. In the political firestorm and media frenzy that follow, the assassins release their demands: either the country’s leaders set aside their petty, partisan politics and restore power to the people, or be held to deadly account. TERM LIMITS is a tour de force of authenticity and suspense, an utterly compelling vision in which the ultimate democratic ideal – a government of the people – is taken to a devastating extreme. (goodreads.com)

This was a freebie through BookShout and a few people whose opinions I trust really like Vince Flynn so I figured why not. TERM LIMITS is his first book and it’s not a Mitch Rapp book. If I’m not mistaken this is the title that Flynn self-published that basically rocketed him to author stardom.

Initially I was a little skeptical. It started out with the killings which is, of course, exciting and edge of your seat type of stuff. But that quickly flashed to budget conversations among the president and his people and it had me going uhhhh. But between the writing style (that was a little mediocre and over-telling at times, but largely engaging) and the shitbaggy characters I didn’t have a problem staying with it.

Luckily it didn’t take much more than that before the action really started and even more people started dying and I couldn’t stop flipping through the pages. I think what really did it for me, though, was how relevant the story is. Like eerily relevant. This is a twenty year old book. Yet considering what’s in office and the current political climate I couldn’t help but make the connections. Sometimes elements were so relevant they gave me goosebumps. I’d love to @ the president with my review, but considering the number of dead people and the blackmailing and everything that happened with the plot I don’t want to have the secret service knocking on my door because of some implied threat. Besides, it’s not like Trump reads anything other than tweets and the scrolling marquee on Fox anyway.

I did like how a lot of the intrigue and the tension wasn’t action-packed. Yes, there were a few deaths and toward the end there were certainly moments. But the majority of the book was focused on the dynamics of individuals, the mounting tension between people, and the secrets everyone was keeping from each other. Definitely a political thriller. And probably my first. The thrillers I read are usually more action-based, but the way Flynn writes certainly makes all of this intriguing.

As for his writing I did say it was mediocre at times. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s almost like Flynn has trouble trying to describe something or transition a character so he resorted to very basic writing, outlining in the most basic way what was going on. It would be like “this character moved over here. he picked up x. he walked back over to the other person.” Almost stilted, but just rather . . . stereo instructions. Not all the time. But when a moment got slow is when I noticed this. Granted I’d prefer this to flowery prose considering the source, but it’s description that the reader didn’t need. Lighting cigarettes and all of that.

Overall I liked TERM LIMITS. Definitely enough to dive into the actual Mitch Rapp series. There was a snippet from one of the post-humous titles at the end of this book and there are a couple of characters who were introduced here who have stayed on for the long haul. I’d like to see how they all grew up. Now I can add political thriller to my repertoire.

4

Published: November 19, 2014
Publisher: Self
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

In the spirit of Snoopy and Charlie Brown, or Calvin and Hobbes, please welcome Sophie and Doug.

Dog Eat Doug is the cartooning creation of Brian Anderson that follows the daily exploits of Sophie, a cheese-loving chocolate Lab with a nose for the nuances of sarcasm and irony, and baby Doug, a healthy, happy newborn with no concept of jealousy and a limitless curiosity.

Together, this dynamic duo adjusts to sharing the spotlight, the toys, and the affections of Mom and Dad, while exploring nature and its majesty, the couch and its cushions, and the cookie jar and its contents. (goodreads.com)

What a cute collection of comics. I found IT CAME FROM THE DIAPER PAIL through either a Kobo email or BookBub and I think it was free. I’m all for comics so I scooped it up and ended up reading it on a train traveling from Philadelphia to New York City.

I love the way they’re drawn and the adorable hijinks the characters get into. Sophie is a cross between Garfield and Hobbes, leaning more toward Hobbes on the lovable side, but still with a hint of Garfield cynicism. Doug doesn’t say a whole lot, but he and Sophie have their own language and communicate just fine.

There isn’t a story here; just a collection of comic strips a la Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield (can you tell what I used to read as a kid/still read???). If you’re looking for cute, quirky, fun, and greatly drawn, IT CAME FROM THE DIAPER PAIL will give you an hour or two of entertainment. For sure.

4

Published: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

After his deployment in Afghanistan, Dan Caddy began swapping great drill sergeant stories by e-mail with other combat veterans—an exchange with friends that would grow into the dedicated Facebook page, “Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said.” But what began as a comedic outlet has evolved into a robust online community and support network that conducts fundraisers for and donates to military charities, has helped veterans struggling with PTSD and other issues, and on numerous occasions, literally saved lives.

Now, Caddy shares more great DS stories—most never before seen—in this humorous collection. Often profane, sometimes profound, yet always entertaining, these rants from real life soldiers are interspersed with lively sidebars, Top 10 lists, stories from fans, one-liners, and more. (goodreads.com)

There really isn’t much to this book except drill sergeant stories, which are hilarious. But there isn’t much to critique. I’ve never been in the military, but I’ve had people around me grace me with a number of hilarious-in-hindsight stories about basic training (among other things) that certainly fall in line with what’s in this book. It’s a super fast read; I read it in about an hour on a train from Philadelphia to New York. And I was laughing my ass off doing it. Don’t know if people were giving me weird looks or not and I don’t really care. A lot of this is absolutely hilarious and I couldn’t hold it in.

This is a good stocking stuffer little book that, unless you’re a corpse or just entirely without a sense of humor you’re going to find AWESOME SH*T MY DRILL SERGEANT SAID funny.

4.5

Published: January 17, 2012
Publisher: It Books (HarperCollins)
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Lying is like 95% of what I do. But believe me: in this book, I’ll let you know exactly how to become a master spy just like me. Obviously, you won’t be as good at it as I am, but that’s because you’re you, and I’m Sterling Archer.

I know, I know, it sucks not being me.

But don’t beat yourself up about it, because I’m going to show you all the good stuff—what to wear; what to drink; how to seduce women (and, when necessary, men); how to beat up men (and, when necessary, women); how to tell the difference between call girls and hookers (hint: when they’re dead, they’re just hookers) and everything about weapons, secret devices, lying ex-girlfriends, and turtlenecks. In a word? How to Archer. (goodreads.com)

I laughed my face off reading HOW TO ARCHER. I could hear H Jon Benjamin’s voice the entire time I was reading and the style was just spot on. If you’re going into this thinking it’s going to be anything other than Archer masturbating to the sound of his own voice (or his own typing), then you don’t know the character. You will not get any fantastic insight into who Sterling Archer is (you don’t need insight; none exists). You’re not going to get any backstory (he actually gives plenty and it involves a lot of hookers and booze). You’re barely going to get a cohesive book (you can thank his editrix for the little you do get).

HOW TO ARCHER is exactly what you would expect when you put Archer and reading together. In fact I’m surprised there were complete sentences in here (although Archer does know how to talk and even under the heaviest of alcoholic influences can talk without slurring). The book is Archer made of words. I don’t know what else to say or how else to describe it. If you like the show you’ll like the book. It’s spot on and it’s like watching the show but, you know. Reading.

5

Pub Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . . (goodreads.com)

It took me a little bit to get into A FACE LIKE GLASS. The writing style is very whimsical and a bit wordy, but Hardinge created a great world that’s vivid and full of life even if the plot was a little slow-moving at times. Neverfell was a frustrating yet endearing character that seemed to be pushed along in the story more than she was an active participant in it. She really didn’t come into her own until the last quarter of the book, but the ending was so incredibly sweet and fantastic I pretty much forgave it everything with which I took issue.

The writing does take a little getting used to and it does get a little boggy at times, but it’s NICE writing. I didn’t necessarily mind that it took longer to get from point A to point B because the writing was nice to look at. Every once in a while it got in its own way, but that was an exception to the rule, where the story focused more on being quirky and whimsical than telling the story itself.

The world Hardinge created is fantastic. These are basically mole people with castes within their little mole universe that ends with what is effectively a peasants’ revolt. The people who live in Caverna are nutrient-deficient, are smaller than they should be, sallow-skinned, and weaker. But there’s one family circumventing all of that and thanks to Neverfell the lid is literally blown off of that secret. It’s a vivid, multifaceted world that’s just as realistic as any in our world (the overworld). Hardinge has created a universe under the earth, even making Caverna itself a character actively plotting against the welfare of the people who inhabit her. It’s almost sinister despite its whimsical air.

I do wish Neverfell were a more active participant in her story. She’s shunted from one plot to another as a naive, over-trusting character and her personality does occasionally grate. She’s very wide-eyed and impulsive, basically with the actions of a much younger child in the body of someone who should know better, but who should basically be feral because of the way she was raised. But she’s endearing nonetheless (if she wasn’t I would have just been fully annoyed with her) and by the end of the book I was rooting for her to succeed and really take charge of what she was after. Finally she did.

A FACE LIKE GLASS is overall a cute story with a sinister edge to it. It’s a whimsical fairy tale with a heart of blackness. A lot of the more dastardly stuff happens off-page, but the author doesn’t skirt by it. It’s there and plays a part in the story, even if not a main part. I do think there’s something for everyone here, but you ultimately need some patience for it because it is a little slow to get going. But at least the words are nice.

4

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.