Archive for the ‘4 star’ Category
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A Cup Full of Midnight : A Jared McKean Mystery
By: Jaden Terrell
Hardcover, 288 pages Published August 15th 2012 by The Permanent Press
Overall 4 out of 5 stars
This is is second book in the Jared McKean Mystery series. I have not read the first book, yet, but as soon as I get a chance to, I will. A Cup Full of Midnight is a murder mystery. McKean is a private investigator and former homicide detective whose nephew has become a suspect the the murder of a former lover. McKean gets involved to clear his nephew’s name but uncovers a lot more trouble than simply clearing his nephew’s name.
Creativity 4 out of 5 stars
This is a classic murder mystery in format and the story itself is classic murder mystery so the for stars do not come from the creativity in plot. The four stars come from one of the two outstanding things about this novel, style. Jaden Terrell’s writing style is awesome, I loved it. There is a certain style to the writing that i cannot quite explain. Jaden Terrell does a little more telling than showing than I do, but it really works. Terrell leaves much of the scene to the imagination of the reader, which I prefer because it makes everyone see the book from a slightly different perspective, but Terrell throws in these little nuances of the scene that you would probably not even notice in a movie, but add a poetic style to the writing.
Characters 5 out of 5 stars
These characters jump from the pages and this is really where Jaden Terrell shines. Almost all of the characters have the appropriate amount of page space, have their own uniqueness that you can relate to and really make the story. The best thing about this book is the main character, Jared McKean, who is one of the best protagonist that I have ever read about. These types of books generally have extremely tough, manly men, that you wouldn’t really like in real life, overly smart detective minds that make preposterous conclusions with psychic like abilities, or females that have and implausible ability to defeat multiple foes that are way stronger than her, but not McKean. Jared McKean is human, his vulnerability, compassion, and realism shine through to create a main character that you can empathize with, root for, and thoroughly enjoy. This is everything that character development should be. When other authors read my criticisms about their characters, this is how it should be.
Spelling and Grammar 4 out of 5 stars
I did not find anything glaring about the editing at all. The knock comes from the occasional repeating of certain things. For instance, the first time Jaden wrote about a character counting down with his fingers by saying that he ticked them off on his fingers, which was a nice way of visualizing the movement of pulling the top of a finger down, like people do to count something off, but the third or fourth time I heard it, the uniqueness was lost and it became annoying.
Execution 4 out of 5 stars
Jaden Terrell executed A Cup Full of Midnight very well. For about three fourths of the way through, I thought I knew how it would end, but I was wrong, which was nice. The best part about the execution was that while McKean has a police background and still has connections in the department, Jaden Terrell has some familiarity, but is no expert and chose to not get into the procedural elements of how police interact or run investigations, like I do in Eliot because it is my expertise. Terrell chose instead to focus on character driven elements of the plot and did it exceptionally well.
Without question I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys mysteries or character driven stories. Outstanding job by Jaden Terrell and please remember that recommendation does not come very often from me.
Michael A. Wood Jr.
The Critical Critic
Damage Control: A Jonathan Grave Thriller
By: John Gilstrap
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Kensington Publishing Corp.
Overall: 4 out of 5 Stars
Maybe I’m too critical, haha, I am the Critical Critic, but when I see a mass market paperback, I frown. That’s what I did when I received Damage Control in a Goodreads giveaway. I have promised myself that I would conduct a thorough, unbiased, review of every book that an author sends me, so I cracked open Damage Control. I loved it! This is an entertaining thriller in John Gilstrap’s Jonathan Grave series, of which I have not read any of the others, but I am certainly ready to, now. Jonathan Grave has spend a life being the hunter, but now he is the hunted. His back against the wall, he must fight to survive, while still protecting his valuable cargo, a young teen, Tristan.
Creativity: 2 stars
Sorry, but it is not that I am knocking Gilstrap here, it is just not creative, not in the surprising or revolutionary sense. As stated under the Execution section, I believe Gilstrap could take any old idea and pull it off well.
Characters: 4 stars
There are many characters in Damage Control that play roles in helping or harming the three targets, Graves, Boxers, and Wagner there was no connection with them, but there didn’t need to be. Graves, Boxers, and Wagner were very well written. I felt the personalities of all three of them, their actions were always consistent with their stated personalities. In other words, show and tell, blended seamlessly, a true compliment for a writer.
Spelling and Grammar: 5 stars
I always look for grammar and spelling errors, none were noticed.
Execution: 5 stars
I am going to admit some arrogance and prejudice here. When I am about to read something based off of the military or police, my experience in the Marine Corps and Baltimore Police Department causes me to brace myself for tons of B.S. about tactics, weapons, the way we speak, and so forth. I looked on the back cover and saw the picture of John Gilstrap, honestly, I presumed, here we go again, what could this guy know about tactics and weapons? Once again, I was put in my place. John Gilstrap thanks some SEAL members and other military members for teaching him a bit. Whether they were excellent trainers or Gilstrap is an excellent learner, I cannot say, but I did not find myself complaining a single time about the military and police issues. A job well done, indeed.
When I write, I painstaking focus on ensuring that there is not a single flaw in my time lines and that everything makes complete sense. Due to my OCD, I constantly looks for flaws in this with other writers. While there were some minor issues that I noticed in Damage Control, nothing detracted from the story and the real praise for Gilstrap is that I am sure there are more. The praise comes in the fact that I was so into the story, it was so fact paced, and there was so much going on that I lost my desire to scrutinize the details.
I think that anyone that enjoys reading, would have to enjoy Damage Control, regardless of their preferred genre. The story has a bit of everything, while predominately a thriller, there are some love interest, comedy, and mystery, in order to appeal to everyone. This is the first novel that I am giving 4 stars to and the first that I can recommend to everyone. I am reserving my 5 stars for a true classic, if it ever comes along.
Michael A. Wood Jr.
“The Critical Critic”
REVIEW! Learning from the Octopus: How secrets from nature can help us fight terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and diseasePosted: August 5, 2012 in 4 star, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction
Overall: 4 out of 5 Stars
First and foremost, this book should be required reading and studying for every single military and law enforcement member in the U.S. and our allies, we do not want our adversaries adapting these lessons.
In Learning From the Octopus, Rafe Sagarin makes some extremely compelling arguments for the lessons found all over nature that can enhance public safety in a multitude of fashions. I make this evaluation from a point of experience, as I have been a police supervisor in Baltimore, and a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. From the inappropriate allocation of resources of the TSA to the mismanagement that is rooted in law enforcement, Rafe Sagarin finds examples of successful implementation of more efficient and better management that has already been proven to work, in nature.
I don’t think that the subject matter of better management is anything revolutionary, scholars and successful businesses have been showing law enforcement the better ways to manage for a long time now. What Rafe Sagarin does that is special is bring it down to simple examples that can be understood by all education and experience levels. From the patrol officer just out of the academy to the federal czars, there are simple lessons that can make citizens safer and utilize their money more efficiently.
Creativity: 5 stars
I have spent a great deal of effort in my personal writings to try and find a way to break through the wall of comfort that is found in law enforcement. I sincerely hope that this new angle of speaking to those working to protect us can help open their eyes to the mismanagement that is everywhere. Law Enforcement especially is extremely afraid of change, which is why they keep doing the same things over and over, with the same pathetic results. Rafe Sagarin does an excellent job of presenting a creative new way to encourage a change for the better.
Spelling and Grammar: 3 stars
Rafe Sagarin is not an author, he is a marine ecologist, so given that, he did a very good job at presenting his case. I did not discover any obvious errors, but the writing is educational in nature and thus, does not flow like a book. There are sections that repeat and sections that can speak over the head of the target audience, but he does the best that he can.
Execution: 4 stars
Overall, I am in awe of the work that Rafe Sagarin has put together her. This execution gets knocked down to four stars because of the occasional speaking over our heads and the biggest flaw in the whole book, a glaring hypocrisy. Granted Rafe Sagarin is a marine ecologist, has a love and respect for the environment, and by nature of his profession has been force-fed liberal agendas, but if he is going to speak to us in public safety about thinking on a new level and appreciating history, he must do the same, else his lessons fall on deaf ears.
Rafe Sagarin makes some humorous and intelligent insights into how religious beliefs are a key factor in many of the poor decisions that humans make or beliefs that they hold dear, even when all evidence points to the contrary. While I agree with him, I cannot overlook that his religion of global warming has blocked some of his own thinking.
Here is an example on pages that sit next to each other:
Page 150: “And we ignore over 100 years of collected scientific wisdom while we watch human-induced climate change alter our entire planet.”
Page 151: “If we convert our years as humans on Earth to words in a book, analyzing security only in the context of the past few thousand years of human history is like trying to understand all of War and Peace by reading only the last word.”
Page 151 is where Rafe Sagarin speaks to us, page 150 is where I can’t help but dismiss him. Mr. Sagarin, if the past thousand years of human history is the last word of War and Peace, then looking at the last 100 years of weather patterns is like reading the last word in the entire library of congress.
Michael A. Wood Jr.
“The Critical Critic”