Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Cheyene Response

The Cheyenne Response

by Dennis J. Oetting

http://www.amazon.com/The-Cheyenne-Response-ebook/dp/B004AYDC7A/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343281390&sr=1-1&keywords=the+cheyenne+response

Plot

When a doctor diagnoses Nick Silverforb with pancreatic cancer, he feels his life has no meaning. In order to make a difference in the world, he decides to sacrifice his life in order to kill terrorists. Soon after, though, the report comes in that the doctor had read the wrong report and Nick is fine.

The idea, however, of retribution never completely leaves his mind and when Nick’s fiance is killed in a New York City bombing, he creates The Cheyenne Response. Terminally ill people who have been affected by terrorists are encouraged to seek out Nick and his organization and, like Nick once wanted to do, make a difference by eliminating fanatical Muslim threats.

The premise is unique. I thought there could be some suspenseful moments with the various adventures and missions.

Characters

Nico ‘Nick’ Moshe Enzio Silverforb: 41, physically fit, Israeli by birth by parents of different nationalities. Military and Mossad experience. Combat experience. Attended KansasState. Has degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. MBA from university of Kansas. Not close to his divorced parents. Speaks several languages. Owns a consulting firm.

E.J. Holub Kennelley: Involved in advertising. Has lived in various countries due to a father in the military. Runner. Has a sister.

Nick is the main character, but Oetting brings in a plethora of other characters, specifically those seeking out The Cheyenne Response. There is plenty of information, maybe too much background information, on many characters. Too much detail, not enough adventure. Some of the actions of the characters aren’t believable. For instance, Nick and his prospective in-laws fly to New York after the bombing, make a few inquiries, then fly back home immediately upon finding nothing. I would think loved ones would stick around and demand information, determined not to leave until they are told something. Everybody sort of knows the girl is dead, but it is never confirmed and there is no mention of evidence afterward.

Dialogue

E.J. has the most distinctive voice but many characters sound the same. Conversations are not exciting with standard lines and cliches.

Writing

Oetting graduated with honors from the Patterson school of short chapters. Lol. One or two instances of unnecessary profanity. Several misspellings and punctuation errors. The main problem I had with this story was there was too much build up for no action. As I said above, the premise spurred anticipation for action and danger and intrigue. We see several cases of new characters introduced, lengthy backgrounds, their current predicament with a terminal illness, and their subsequent involvement with Nick. Plans are made for retribution and every single time, the bad guys die in the cleanest and smoothest operations I’ve read about. I wanted danger. I wanted threats and gunfire and maybe a failure. One particular scene involving a kidnapping. The rescue went off without a hitch. Never have any rescues happened without something going wrong. I wanted more suspense and tension. I wanted more detail on the execution of the missions and less about who the people were. Nick was only involved in the initial stages but never in the actual operations themselves. With his experience, he could have accompanied these people and been in on the danger.

My ranking:

Yellow Belt

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A Hidden Affair

By Pam Jenoff

http://pamjenoff.com/

Plot

Ex State Department intelligence officer Jordan Weiss is on the trail of a college boyfriend, Jared Short, who supposedly died ten years previous. She has discovered he has faked his death and close friends have lied and betrayed her. Tracking Jared to an address in Monaco, she first meets a mysterious woman named Nicole who has a connection to Jared. She promptly disappears. Next she meets Aaron Bruck, an Israeli with his own reasons for finding Nicole. Together, Jordan and Aaron travel Europe, following leads and becoming romantically involved. But what secrets will both uncover about Nicole and Jared and how will Jordan solve the problem of her attraction to Aaron as opposed to her still lingering feelings for Jared?

This the sequel to Almost Home. It is the continuation of the Jordan’s discovery of Jared’s faked death. In the afterward Jenoff says she originally did not intend for a sequel, but felt that the story needed to be completed. This is a romantic mystery with some thriller aspects.

Characters

Jordan Weiss: 32, never married, State Department Intelligence officer who resigns her post. Attended Cambridge. Rarely wears jewelry. Dark hair. Jewish. Drinks Scotch. Doesn’t like large expanses of open water.

Aaron ‘Ari’ Bruck: 33, introduces himself as a private investigator, dual citizen of U.S/Israel, square jaw, handsome, blue eyes, gray flecked brown hair, mother Israeli, father Polish. Both parents dead. Only child. Ex army. Wife and daughter killed by a bomb. He feels resentment toward Germany and Austria and even Poland for the atrocities in World War II.

There are supporting characters as always, but these two are the main focus of the story. They are well rounded characters with lots of background information. Not altogether opposites, but different personalities which help them to be attracted to each other. For an intelligence officer, Jordan doesn’t seem too intelligence. She seems unsure of herself and her actions. Perhaps because she’s trying to sort out herself and her emotions but she’s had a decade of missions and I expected her not to come across as so vulnerable.

Dialogue

Aaron’s is a bit more cultured. Conversations tend to be straightforward, to the point, and do not wander. This is a not a ‘talkative’ story.

Writing

First person, present tense from Jordan’s POV. Because this is a sequel to Almost Home, there is a lot of narrative and back story in the first few chapters reviewing what happened in the previous book. I felt a as if I was playing catch up and missing vital pieces of information since I had not read the first book. Quick action scenes, but the story doesn’t have the excitement I expected. Nothing unique in sentence narrative. Surface descriptions. I wasn’t fully drawn into the story.

My ranking:

Purple Belt

Shadows Gray

By Melyssa Williams

http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Gray-ebook/dp/B007NC8DN4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340527378&sr=1-1&keywords=Shadows+Gray

Plot

They are The Lost. People who frequently wake up in different time periods in different countries. Many have banded together in small ‘family’ groups so they can travel together. They live as best they can with the skills they have and try to adapt to each new place and time, never knowing when they’ll move on.

Sonnet Gray, one of the Lost, along with her father and friends has been living in present dayAmericafor a long time. She gets by singing and working at a coffeehouse while others either cook, practice medicine, or doing odd jobs. Gray has never forgotten her sister, Rose, who they left as a baby in a long ago century. She thinks she sees Rose often, but is always mistaken. However, one night, after completing a song, she opens her eyes and swears Rose is sitting in the coffeehouse. From that moment on, the search turns even more desperate but seems like a devilish game of hide and seek. She receives assistance from an enigmatic photographer, but all too soon, present dayAmericabecomes Dickensian London. The search, and the discoveries, however, aren’t over…

What intrigued me even before I started reading this was the time travel aspect. I think searching for someone missing is a natural additional mystery to the plot. The premise is a good one. It’s presented as a YA story, but I think it could resonate fairly well with adults.

Characters

Sonnet Gray: 18, light ice blue eyes, dark hair, tall, deep voice, time traveler as one of the Lost, parents were born in different time periods, mother committed suicide and afterwards father became an alcoholic, sister was left in the 18th Century when the rest of the family ‘moved on’, sings to make a living, speaks five languages, plays guitar

Prunella ‘Prue’ O’Broin Boulander: part of Gray’s Lost family group, elderly, tall, long braided salt and pepper colored hair, mocha colored skin, good cook, has been married four times

IsraelRhode: part of Gray’s Lost family group, black

Emme: Lost, manicured toes, loves trashy romances, Gray’s friend, strawberry red hair, brown eyes, petite, British, a few years older than Gray, prostitute. Her family unit consists of her mother and ‘brother’ Joe. Her dad ran off after Joe was born.

I like the characters. Prue and Emme are especially well described. The father is a little blah but only because not much happens with him since he’s a drunk most of the book. I won’t ruin the story, but there are character surprises near the end that gave me a little shock.

Dialogue

Good voices, again, I think Prue and Emme are the most distinct.

Writing

Present tense. First person from Gray’s POV. The formatter of the pdf file put two spaces (or more) between sentences. I had a few problems. Unless the Lost have a way of remembering details from when they were children, I don’t understand how Sonnet could mentally age her sister almost fifteen years to be able to recognize her as a late teenager. People’s features change as they grow. I can understand it if Rose continues to keep the features of her mother. Most of the story happens in present dayAmericaand as I mentioned at the beginning, I was interested in the time travel part. I hoped for more. I never learned what city they lived in during their present day stay. I did enjoy the modern day references. The action was minor and I wanted more nail biting scenes, especially when Gray was trapped in the abandoned house. The tension picks up near the end after they’ve woken up in 1887Londonbut I was disappointed in the climax. I suppose it leaves room for a sequel if desired, I just would have liked a more concrete conclusion. I debated with myself for awhile, but had to go with my first instinct of:

Purple Belt

Flying To Pieces

 By Dean Ing

http://www.amazon.com/Flying-Pieces-Dean-Ing/dp/0812548418/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324033966&sr=1-1

Plot

A group of senior ex pilots meet nearly annually for a few days of partying and storytelling. At the current bash dying member Elmo Benteen, tells of seeing a cache of Japanese airplanes in mint condition on a Pacific island. Wade Lovett, his grandson, three other members of the group, and Benteen’s daughter set off to obtain the planes. On the island of Fundabora, they run into a corrupt leader, a backward society, and a few other surprises.

This is a delightful story. Very well told. Interesting premise. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but as I moved through the story, the plot unfolded and was very enjoyable.

Characters

Wade Lovett: 60’s, used airplane buyer/seller, flew in southeast Asia in the sixties. Lives inKansas. Ex wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. His cat recently died.

Childress ‘Chip’ Mason: Wade’s grandson. 17, surfer, concert pianist. Blond, blue eyes.  Father dead. Possesses a very determined attitude.

Coop Gunther: Alaskan. Runs a snowmobile shop. Lost part of his leg after his place iced over and he spent a month in the Alaskan wilderness.

Vic “Hemmingway’ Myles: Korean flyer. Smokes a corncob pipe and wears an old Stetson. Writes for adventure magazines. Wears glasses and has a beard.

Crispin Reventlo: Brit who grew up inBurma. As a teenager, he was a prisoner of war.

Melanie Benteen: 40’s, black hair, island features, born onBora Bora.

Very distinctive characters each with his or her personal quirks and traits. The main six play well off of each other and even though there are disagreements they work well as a team. Supporting characters only added to the fun. I wasn’t comfortable with some of the characters’ use of profanity, especially Chip’s. I thought Wade would have chided Chip on his language.

Dialogue

Each character had his/her own voice. Conversations tended to be humor laced. I like the fact nobody stood out in a domineering role. Everyone made contributions and added to the plans and schemes.

Writing

Excellent writing with very good phrasing. Much of the action was reserved for the climactic end. Frequent profanity. I didn’t see the need to have a subplot that often hinted at Chip’s being a homosexual. Fears were allayed at the end but this part of the story might have been handled differently. Still, a delightful story.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

Soft Target

By Stephen Hunter

http://www.stephenhunter.net/

Plot

Ray Cruz, former Marine sniper, is shopping with his girlfriend at the premier shopping center:America, the mall, a building designed, to somewhat resemble the shape of theUnited States. The date is the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. The mid-afternoon trek is suddenly thrown into chaos as terrorists congregate from every ground floor hall, shooting and herding hostages. Thus begins a standoff between Islamist jihadists, the Minnesota State Police commander, and Ray Cruz. With the assistance of people inside and outside the mall, Ray fights his way toward the one man behind the siege and gets the surprise of his life.

The plot is a familiar one with typical surprises. Hunter unfolds it pretty well with the expected mistakes and heroics.

Characters

Rayes Fidencio Cruz: 42, ex Marine sniper, parents dead but biological dad still alive. Half Filipino

Molly Chan: Ray’s girlfriend. Department of Energy attorney. From the Vietnamese Hmong people.

Douglas Obobo: Black,Minnesotacommandant of State Police. Colonel. Harvard and Harvard law graduate. Former positions include:Bostonhomicide, Assistant Commishioner at theBaltimorepolice department, Chief of Omaha police department. Good speaker. Intelligent. Endears confidence, but his positions were ‘earned’ through no direct action from himself. Others did the job but he took credit.

These are three of a large cast of characters. This is a character driven book. Yes, there is action, yes, there is story, but you have to finish the book and reflect back upon it to realize what Hunter has done. He has given each character an overblown, stereotypical personality. Each character contributes in his or her way to the outcome. You have the ratings seeking news reporter; the gung-ho SWAT team leader; the protective mother; the fanatical Islamist, and so many more. Even the main bad guy is interesting because the person is based in reality. You could readily imagine somebody such as this person existing being this intelligent and yet so heinous. A+ on the characters.

Dialogue

Nothing exciting. Wonderful characters saying typical things. Spouting standard lines. You know what to expect with each character.

Writing

Lengthy sentences when it comes to action with a lot going on in paragraph long tirades of words. Some profanity. Deaths are described with exaggeration with ‘showy’ phrases. Long chapters with a lot happening. The chapters are headed by time frames. As mentioned this is a character driven story and a pair of supposed innocents surprised me near the end. I had to laugh out loud because they were what this story needed to be complete. I had originally thought to give this a ranking of blue, but reflecting back on the wonderful characters I had to upgrade it by one.

My ranking:

Brown Belt