The Underwhelming, the Better and the Good

There are times to be concerned, times to fret and even times to worry.  This happens to be one of those situations where none of those fit.  Nope, this is those rare occurrences when I am in an all out PANIC!  For some stupid reason I thought it was still the middle of September.  This is likely due to outright denial that October was closing fast and I was running out of valuable runway to prep for our annual haunted trail.  Fortunately, I knew there was ample warning before the end of the month because I had my nephew’s wedding on the 30th.  I would assuredly be reminded of that ahead of time and trigger myself that there was a blog quota to tend to.  Today I woke up, headed to the shower and got slammed by a bag full of bricks.  Holy Crap!  Today is my nephew’s birthday.  True to expectations… that triggered the blog quota thought and wham – I’m down two posts, last day of the  month and a day full of travel.  I can’t let me streak fall without a fight so here we are typing from the road.

Luckily I already had some topics in mind and just had to do some quick uploading of the images to the blog gallery.  How about we get to the first of the posts this morning.
Lee Childs and David Baldacci Books

Regular visitors here at Life Intrigued should be aware I try to get some reading in from time to time.  Typically, those escapes are intended as an avenue to learn something new.  Better myself in some manner.  As a result, most of my reading fodder is technical in nature or some life improvement or social observation technique.  All work and no play tends to stress the brain a bit.  From time to time I give the gray matter a break and just consume myself with pure entertainment.  Technical materials naturally take longer to consume as I pour over the details, re-read to insure I understand the theories and from time to time implore the Internet to validate assumptions and theories that define the baseline of the book.  Contrast that with entertainment books which required none of that making these reading sessions slightly longer than reading the menu and Denny’s.

Due to the brevity of the activity, I was able to blast through books from two of my favorite authors.  I have read or listened to every single book by Lee Child.  He is my go to author when I want to let go of the real world and experience the action packed world of espionage and take no prisoner attitude of a 6’5 250lb ex Army MP named Reacher.  I only mention the stats thanks to some idiot movie caster that thought Tom Cruise was a perfect choice to portray him on the big screen – congratulations on alienating the fan base – no, I did not nor have any desire to see either of the two movies based on Lee Child’s character.  Anyway, I finally got around to reading one of his latest offerings  Make Me (think he has another one out now).  Trying to keep my excitement in check, I broke open the book and delved back into my favorite character.  With each page turned that excitement started to decrease.  The book moved much slower than his previous works and the plot situation wasn’t really putting me in suspense.  Sure there were some action sequences, bad guys brutalized by overbearing force and a bit of mystery, but Lee has set the bar high with previous works – this launch was falling short.  I will not reveal the plot for those who still plan to read this effort.  I will tell you I was very disappointed in the end.  I had already figured out the twist well before the getting to the big reveal and, although I cannot remember the exact source, it felt like a rehash of a bad horror movie.  Sorry, Lee, I have to put this on the lower echelon of your efforts.  Chalk this one up as an underwhelmer.

Next off the line was a bit of a sequence error.  After Lee Childs, I’d have to go with David Baldacii’s works.  I have always liked his writing style.  As with Lee, I’ve read most of David’s collection.  My favorite being the Camel Club series.  Since then he has had multiple duo based series – some better entertaining than others, however, all worthy of a read.  I accidentally got my reading order messed up and read No Man’s Land first.  This caused a bit of a problem since this book kept referring back to the previous book No Escape,  There was also this little problem with fact that the last time I read one of David’s books, a certain character was doing life in prison and now .. well, let’s just say that is no longer the situation.  So already things were a bit strange.  Now, there was a positive sequence aspect in that the last book alluded to a situation with the main character’s mother.  That happened to be the main plot of this work – felt like I was picking right up from the other book.  Truth be told, the main character of David’s latest works seems like an intrusion on Lee.  Both David’s hero John Puller is almost an exact duplicate of Lee.  Both military backgrounds and take no crap attitudes with physical abilities to back that up.  Puller just happens to be still employed by the government where Reacher is a drifter.  As mentioned, this book focuses on the mysterious death of John’s mother.  Hopefully not a spoiler, but there are theories his military father may have been involved.  My intent is not to spoil the read for others and thus will refrain from going into that.  I will say, that this book.. like Reachers .. had a repeat plot feel to it.  This time I know where – the Universal Soldier series.  That is all I will say.  Giving a slight knock to the originality of the plot, I put this book in the Better category.  Definitely entertained me and yes, far better than Lee.

Okay, that leave one of the three books.  My brother Dan is a big Baldacci fan as well. When I told him about reading No Man’s Land he recommended I immediately red No Escape.  He thought it was one of his better works and more importantly – explained the whole get out of jail free issue.  My curiosity needed to be addressed.  Picked up the book – discounted at Barnes and Noble (score) and immediately sat down and started reading.  Think this is the first time in my life I have read three books in a row purely for entertainment purposes.  Better be careful with that or I’m going to turn soft and mushy like our congressmen as of late, but I digress.  Sure enough, the book’s primary plot line was the individual last left off looking at a long life looking through bars.  Unlike the other two books, this plot felt fresh and pretty much kept me guessing and in suspense about the entire book.  The intriguing thing was I actually became more focused on the secondary character over Puller’s role in this plot.  That may have been the reason I really enjoyed the book.  David’s primary character (Puller) was actually a background thread that tied all the sub-plots with the secondary characters.  Lots of action, lots of twists and as hoped, may of the questions I had with No Man’s Land.  This was clearly the best of the three reads and put this as a high recommendation.

I can already feel the outer layer of synapsis getting a little sluggish – clearly screaming for something more educational like a shredding of the latest climate report, but if you are in the mood for some mindless entertainment, I’d opt for Baldacci’s books over Lee’s latest.  Sad to say, but I think he fumbled this one.



2 thoughts on “The Underwhelming, the Better and the Good”

  1. Thanks for the reviews! I rarely read fiction, so I don’t think I’m going to read a series like this, but as you know I really like book reviews so this is great!

    September 30 was my birthday, too, which I’m sure is more important than some wedding… 🙂



  2. Oh yeah, it was your birthday too – if I remember correctly your special day was remembered at the reception complete with giant wait for it …. wait for it … 60th Birthday balloons and a serenade from everyone on the dance floor. Maybe I should do a whole post on that night. Hmm where did those pictures go…


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