books

Review: Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey

nothing short of dying

Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey, (Clyde Barr, #1), eARC from Netgalley, Scribner, August 2016, 320p.

5 out of 5 stars.

Nothing Short of Dying is the debut offering from Erik Storey, and it’s one of the best thriller novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The advance praise and blurb of Nothing Short of Dying make comparisons to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series in the way all lone wolf thrillers currently do – but Clyde Barr, the protagonist of Nothing Short of Dying, has launched a full scale assault on the tradition of the Reacher style novel and now the old man is bleeding out in the wilderness. Nothing Short of Dying novel is tense and full of action, while still evoking a beautiful wild setting.

The comparisons to Reacher aren’t that accurate, in my opinion. Personally, I think the atmosphere of Nothing Short of Dying is similar to that of a C.J. Box or Ace Atkins work – full of flawed characters who are just trying to get by in this world. Storey has Barr operating in a morally grey area that Box wouldn’t usually allow – letting Barr be a flawed and dangerous man walking a tight-line. Plus, his history isn’t as clean and palatable as the standard protagonist we usually see in thriller novels. He has no jurisdiction besides his sense of what is wrong and right, and that makes his character intriguing.

Storey is fearless with his characters – both in characterisation and how he handles them in the plot. In an attempt to avoid spoilers, I will say that something shocking happened half way through the novel, and at first I was shocked and angry, but when I put those feelings aside I saw the author had just plunged another knife into Clyde Barr, and upped the stakes even higher.

The plot races long quickly, if at times predictably, with multiple high tension battles and the odds always seem to be stacked against the good guys. The plot doesn’t focus so much on what the crimes are, or how the criminals came to be where they are now, just that there are bad guys to be brought to heel, and Barr is the man to provide the lesson and a can of whoop-ass.

With a setting that I won’t soon forget, Storey writes landscapes and places in an unrivaled fashion, transporting the reader to the mountains, rivers and forests – I was crawling with Barr through snow and mud, losing my mind in rivers with him, hoping that we were both going to make it to the other side.

Storey has a very sparse writing style – there’s no excess wordage in Nothing Short of Dying – he’s a gifted enough writer that when he does devote a paragraph or two to description, he does so with great effect and the imagery of place is extra evocative.

Without doubt, I will be checking out the next book in the Clyde Barr series, and as the character has such fabulous backstory and character traits, I’m excited to see where Erik Storey will be taking Barr next.

 

Review: The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Dover Thrift Kindle Edition, 1899, 195p.

4 stars

I had no idea what to expect going into The Awakening, I’d heard that it was a feminist novel and quite different for its time, but I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I would class this as a full blown novel, as it was quite short and seemed more like a novella in structure and tone, but that’s certainly not a detraction from this amazing book.

Chopin’s style is crisp and easy to understand – this is one of those novels that reads easily and without struggle. I read three quarters of this novel in ebook format, and listened to ten chapters in audiobook format. The audiobook seemed slower, while the ebook was much easier for me to follow. That’s most likely because I’m accustomed to reading as opposed to listening, but it was nice to be able to read while doing housework.

There was an amazing building of tension in The Awakening, after the first half I was constantly on tenterhooks waiting for the main character, Edna, to do what we were all waiting for her to do. Edna was sympathetically written and interesting, if at times seeming cold. Her descent into the ‘evils’ of lust and obsession is interesting and poignant. What I really loved is the way that this book is quite honest about emotions and the expectations of the time. While The Awakening is not erotic, it is honest about what is happening, and that this woman who was expected to be the perfectly proper woman was having these feelings that were not readily admitted to during these times. Edna is a brave character for Chopin to have written, and is wonderfully different from most of the other characters from the late 19th century (although Sybella from My Brilliant Career was also breaking stereotypes, but in a completely different way.)

I would have loved for The Awakening to have been a little longer, maybe for the affair to have developed more before the devastating ending occurred. Also, while talking about that ending – how heartbreaking! A more astute reader could have come to understand what the ending of the book would be half way through, but I was delightfully unawares and did not expect or suspect it! Which lead to me freaking out and yelling to the significant other what had just happened. Heartbreaking. Uh. Chopin – you brilliant writer, you completely trampled my emotions and now you’re returning them worse for wear. I’m not giving you back your deposit.

Review: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, Penguin Classics Edition, 1847, 251p.

4 out of 5 stars

So… this is a very belated and short review of Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. I read Agnes months ago, enjoyed it, but never got around to my review. Usually, I wouldn’t bother reviewing so late, but I am making an effort to review all my Classics Club books.

This is my favourite work from the Bronte sisters that I have read so far. Jane Eyre was enjoyable and interesting if long winded, while Wuthering Heights nearly drove me to suicide. I was a bit worried when approaching Aggie, but I dove in headfirst.

There’s something intriguing about Agnes’ character. I identified with her, and thought she was very well written. She is certainly a product of her time, and reading this book as a historical text is really interesting. I think that I will take the time in the future to reread this text and try and dig a little deeper into the social context that is so interesting.

As a commentary on religion at the time, Agnes Grey is really telling. It’s so different from how we regard religion in common times, and as an atheist, seeing how religion is disseminated into all aspects of life is interesting and slightly scary. The romantic interest is deeply entwined in the church and that is strange because I don’t think you see that in mainstream modern novels.

I enjoyed Agnes Grey, but I wasn’t blown away by it. I will be looking for other works by Anne Bronte, because I enjoyed her writing style.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

TTT

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases in the Second Half of 2016. I’ve included releases from July, August and early September. I’ll probably do another list similar to this in late August/early September when more release dates are available. One of my favourites, Geoffrey McGeachin’s Charlie Berlin series, will be due for a new book soon, but so far I haven’t heard anything about it.

 

Sean Black’s The Edge of Alone – July 10. The 7th in a great series about Ryan Lock, who works in private security but always seems to find himself in deep trouble. Already pre-ordered.

Scott McEwen’s Ghost Sniper – July 12. A favourite series of mine, and one of the few American military fiction authors who I don’t want to give a lesson on tolerance to. His characters are real, but so so tough. Will buy on kindle.

Ace Atkins’s The Innocents – July 12. I’m hoping that this one can recapture the awesomeness that was the early releases of this series. Has one of the most memorable sidekicks ever written in Boom. Netgalley copy.

Alex Kava’s Reckless Creed – July 26. Cute series about a man (called Creed) who trains service dogs. They are still thrilling, but I will admit to reading mostly because of the dogs.

Stephen Leather’s Dark Forces – July 28. SPIDER SHEPHERD! The best UK thriller series, in my humble opinion. My favourite series, and I always pre-order this one. (and often end up with a hardback and kindle copy.)

Jack Coughlin’s Long Shot – August 16. Excellent series about a sniper – was the first American military fiction author that I ever enjoyed. The last book made some questionable choices regarding characters and who would be featured in this book, but I’m waiting to see how this one turns out. Will order from library.

Erik Storey’s Nothing Short of Dying – August 16. I’ve already read this one! AND IT WAS SO GOOD. Expect more fapping, more hyping and lots of 5 star reviews for Nothing Short of Dying. Best thriller debut of 2016, hands down. Netgalley copy.

Chris Ryan’s Bad Soldier – August 25. The Fourth book in the Danny Black series. Each one is just as good as the previous release – all have been four star reads for me. Black is a believable character who you can’t help but root for. Will order from library.

David McCaleb’s Recall – August 30. I’ve never read McCaleb’s work before (he might be a debutant for all I know), but I saw Recall on netgalley and immediately wanted to request it. I’m trying to get ahead of my reviewing queue before I request any more, but this is high up my list of anticipated new releases. Netgalley/kindle copy.

William Kent Krueger’s Manitou Canyon – September 6. Kreuger writes atmospheric thrillers, of which I have read three or four, but I am so behind on the Cork O’Conner series I know I should just pick up the next book in the series and read my way up to these new releases.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons I Love Readathons

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the lovely peeps at The Broke and The Bookish. Every week the challenge is to list 10 things/books of a certain theme/question. 

So – if you have been hanging around Ranty Runt of a Reader for any period of time, you might have observed that I LOVE readathons. Here’s my list of 9 things I love about readathons, and one thing I dislike about them.

  1. I read all the things. During a week long readathon, I usually finish between 4-6 books. That’s the same number of books I would normally read in a month on average. In a 24 hour readathon I might knock off a book and a half.
  2. Readathons force me to read different genres. I read lots of thriller novels – I’d say 75% of my reading would fall in the thriller genre. But if you read six thriller novels back to back, things can get repetitive, boring and slumpy. Normally, I would include a classic and something sci-fi or fantasy themed in my TBR. If I read a romance – chances are it was during a readathon.
  3. They usually are flexible with book choice. I don’t read YA or romance – and many book blogging events revolve around those two genres. Readathons generally don’t force you to read a certain genre/book, so I feel I can participate equally with those who DO read those genres.
  4. I get excited to read. During a readathon, I need to strategically prioritize reading over other things, like hobbies, TV and work. I’m excited to add to my page count, to finish a book, to review a book. During a readathon, I’m more excited about everything.
  5. I meet new bookish people. Readathons usually have a sign-up link, and part of my preparation for a readathon is to check out other people’s blogs and friend them if I find them interesting. It’s also great to meet people who blog about different authors/genres.
  6. They provide a hook to my blog. Sometimes, I don’t post as regularly as I would wish. I program the dates of readathons into my phone (especially the bigger events) and even when I’m not feeling like blogging, a readathon will at least get me to crack open a book. Also, most likely lead me to reading other peoples blogs, and then I provide my own with some love. They are events that hook me back into blogging.
  7. They provide different content. Sometimes blogging can start to feel stale. When I first started, all I did was reviews, and that became old quick. Readathons provide something else to write about, but doesn’t require much research or preparation. Challenges within readathons are GREAT for this.
  8. Readathons continue blogging traditions/memories. Some of the more established readathons have become institutions within the blogging community. Events like Bout of Books have been running for so long that it seems like my calendar is divided into the three parts of the year between ‘thons. Also, Dewey’s 24hr readathon keeps the memory of a passed blogger. This is all important for our community.
  9. I get students to read in class. When I am teaching, and a readathon happens to be at the same time, I tell ALL my students about the readathon. Then when it’s time for silent reading I inform students that it’s my readathon time and then we see how much we can read.

And number 10. I always find out about readathons too late. I constantly find wrap-up posts/videos or update posts from during the readathon. I know there’s a couple blogs out there that try to keep track of these things, but so far no list I’ve found has been that comprehensive and kept up to date. Am I missing a resource here?

Are you hosting a readathon? Let me know. Do you love them as much as I do? Do you hate them (are you even human?)? Why?

 

#20booksofsummer (in winter) Challenge

20 books of summer

The 20 Books of Summer challenge is being hosted by Cathy over at 746 Books. Check out her blog, and join in if you so wish! I’m a little late to this party, but I’ve been undecided about what books I’m going to commit to. As always, these choices might get changed as I go, but I’m going to try and stick to this list as much as possible.

I’ve selected 10 books from my Classics Club list – in an attempt at making a serious dent in that challenge too. It means that quite a few of my books won’t be ‘easy’ reading, but I find I read more classics in winter anyway.

I’ve also made sure 10 of the books are by female authors (and I almost had 9, plus Evelyn Waugh! Oooops.) I’m trying to balance out the male/female issue I have, but then it just pained me to notice my Classics Club list is a sausage fest.

Anyway, onto the list.

# Title Author Pages Y.O.P M/F
1 Deathlist Chris Ryan 309 2016 M
2 The Innocents Ace Atkins 384 2016 M
3 This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen Tadeusz Borowski 278 2015 M
4 White Fang Jack London 155 1906 M
5 Blackout Chris Ryan 432 2006 M
6 A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess 141 1962 M
7 Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne 630 1759 M
8 State of Emergency Andy McNab 350 2015 M
9 Fire Point Sean Black 424 2014 M
10 The Edge of Alone Sean Black 269 2016 M
11 Iron Lake William Kent Krueger 330 1998 M
12 Brave New World Aldous Huxley 268 1931 M
13 The House of Mirth Edith Wharton 416 1905 F
14 Dark Forces Stephen Leather 432 2016 M
15 Ghost Sniper Scott McEwen 416 2016 M
16 The Awakening Kate Chopin 195 1899 F
17 The Fighting Season Bram Connolly 336 2016 M
18 Journey to the Center of the Earth Jules Verne 240 1864 M
19 Bad Soldier Chris Ryan 375 2016 M
20 The Pigeon Patrick Suskind 77 1988 M

It is in no particular order, and includes 8 books off my shelves that I haven’t gotten to yet (hello Read My Books challenge), and a couple new releases I’m looking forward to during winter. Also included Tristram Shandy, my Classics Club spin, and Middlemarch for the Eliot-Along (which you should all join, btw. Details here.)

Extra brownie points will be awarded if I can manage to review them all.

Anyone else participating? Did you theme/restrict your lists like I did? Anyone else freaking out about all the guys hanging out on their Classics TBR lists?

Ranty Roundup – May

I took a bit of a reading and blogging break in March and April – a delicious combination of school, work, family commitments and my body falling apart meant reading took a backseat. However, May provided me with the opportunity to crack some spines (my own and some books) and get some reading in.

I participated – albeit on twitter – in Bout of Books 16, and that worked out well with the amount of commitments I have right now. I much prefer participating on my blog, so I hope next Bout of Books I will have the opportunity to actually fit in some blogging and challenges too.

51zj2wRqm0L._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_My favourite book I read this month was First Response by Stephen Leather. It was fresh, different and had an excellent main character. I will be posting a full review on Thursday, and will go into some of the things that I loved about this book. It’s a bit different for Stephen Leather, but it works well.

Plans for June include trying to get some review and recently published novels read and reviewed – there’s at least four novels published in the past few months that I’ve procrastinated on. I am going to attempt to be more consistent with blogging – aim for a post a week, minimum.

My other goal for June is to read at least one classic. I’ve been neglecting my Classics Club list, and I really need to get back to it and put some effort in. I’ve been sitting on a copy of Dracula for the last three months and I haven’t even opened it yet.


Books read in May – 5
Promise – Tony Cavanaugh
Some Unholy War – Terrence Strong
First Response – Stephen Leather
Off the Grid – C.J. Box
The Sandpit – Stephen Leather


Book Reviews in May – 1

Promise by Tony Cavanaugh 


Challenge Progress

Read My Books Challenge
First Response by Stephen Leather
3 in 2016

Classic a Month/Classics Club Challenge
Did not read a classic in May.

Series a Month
Did not participate in the Series a Month Challenge in May.


June TBR

I’m going to aim to read 6-8 books in June. I also have the second half of Chris Ryan’s Deathlist waiting for me.

Dracula – Bram Stoker
No Safe Place – Matt Hilton
State of Emergency – Andy McNab
Fire Point – Sean Black
Nothing Short of Dying – Erik Storey
The Wrecking Crew – Taylor Zajonc
The Twisted Knot – JM Peace