Digital formats for books

writing_publishing2

Most large newspapers, journals, magazines, establishment reps all have the same view of e-publishing…a giant collective “ewww”. Like you would only do it if you weren’t any good and had no other choice. Of *course*, they sniff, you would go with whatever format your obviously large and more knowledgeable publisher would do for you. I have little time for that stupidity, so often when I see those large establishment-supporters writing, I ignore them. If I want to see what is appropriate for 1975 instead of 2016, sure, maybe I’ll read them. Right after I read the tags on my mattress.

So colour me surprised when the NYTimes feed lists “Picking a Digital Publishing Format” as a headline. Technically, no pun intended, it’s not a full NYTimes article, it’s only on the website, and a Q&A in the “personal tech” area at that, but hey, I’ll take a gander.

The question was pretty straightforward — the reader wanted to know what the “best” publishing method for digital books was in order to ensure they could reach beyond Apple devices.

The answer starts out with a simple recognition that the author should find a format that works best for their book, and I wish they spent more time on that part of the response. I have a 7 year old son, and we have had iBooks and paper books of Sandra Boynton’s kids books. Plus some iBooks of the Berenstain Bears. Some of them ROCKED as iBooks. Some of them were simple digital versions, like a regular ebook. Fine, but a missed opportunity for more interactivity. As much as I like Sandra’s books on paper, Jacob loved them on the iPad. He could swipe, they sang, they danced, it was a party and he was in control. “But Not the Hippopotamus” probably wouldn’t have worked as well digitally but the “Barnyard Dance” was perfect in that format. And honestly, that’s the test — is there any interactivity that is required? If so, iBooks is probably a great format. If it is flat file text, any format will likely do. If it is large graphs and charts, then probably something like a PDF on a tablet or computer screen more so than on a phone or e-reader device.

With that small limitation aside, I like the response overall though for two reasons. First and foremost, the answer has some really good links to other resources (Jane Friedman, iBooks support, PDF instructions, etc.). Secondly, it talks about the PDF doc and the ability to control a fixed layout. Most people think PDF is just so people can’t edit, which in and of itself is false these days, but the real reason is that it lets you “lock” the layout — people can swipe or move around, but not resize fonts or charts, etc. Things stay where you put them. On any device.

The only real failure I think is that the answer missed out on a possible assumption on my part — the person wants to likely sell the doc. As such, no reference whatsoever to Amazon’s own internal proprietary format (AZW), other than they have their own internal system (even though you can format for AZW too), and no reference to the ways in which most companies mainly use e-pub or mobi formats strikes me as far too simplistic an answer for something entitled “Digital formats for books”. Great answer for “docs”, not so much for books.

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Castle – Season 01 – 2009 (TVR00001)

OVERVIEW

Richard Castle is a successful best-selling author, twice married and twice divorced, living in a spacious Manhattan condo with the single actress mother (Martha) who raised him and a bright teenage daughter (Alexis). He has money, toys, and rotating women, but he’s bored. So bored in fact that he has killed off his best-selling character, Derrick Storm, a rogue prone to danger. Castle’s looking for something new.

Enter Kate Beckett, a strong forceful female homicide detective. The fact that she’s also hot is irrelevant to her, but not to Castle. A serial killer is committing murders and staging them to look like kills from Castle’s books, so Beckett needs to interview him. He’s all play, she’s all business. She doesn’t think that he’s likely involved, but she has to interview him anyway.

Castle is hooked. He convinces the mayor to “let” him work the case as a consultant/advisor, much to Beckett’s dismay, and the game is afoot. Castle helps solve the case, and the successful partnership continues so Castle can do research.

As the opening narration reveals, every writer has his muse, and Castle thinks he’s found his. He even bases a new character on her — Nikki Heat. A strong forceful female homicide detective who works with a roguish mystery writer to solve cases. With a small difference — in his books, the two are lovers, which Castle wants to replicate with Beckett. But like I said, she’s all business.

EPISODES I LIKED

The season première of the short 10-episode season was the best of the bunch. It established Castle as the bored playboy looking for something with more meaning and Beckett as the uber-serious in need of some enjoyment in her often dark life. After that, prep school punks (E03), political intrigue with city council (E04), home invasions (E07), a link to an old eco-terrorism case (E08), and a child kidnapping (E09) are no match for Beckett and Castle, with Beckett grudgingly beginning to accept that Castle has something to offer besides annoying her.

S01E01 Flowers for Your Grave Castle wants new, and Beckett is certainly that

♥♥♥♥♥

01E03 Hedge Fund Homeboys There’s no honour among adolescent wanna-bes

♥♥♥♥

01E04 Hell Hath No Fury Politics? Hookers? Murder? Just another day in NYC

♥♥♥♥

S01E07 Home is Where the Heart Stops Jewelry thieves, violence, and ball gowns

♥♥♥♥

S01E08 Ghosts Eco-terrorism, ghost writers, and poker showdowns…I’m all in

♥♥♥♥

S01E09 Little Girl Lost Child kidnapping, an ex-bf, and a stuffed bunny

♥♥♥♥

EPISODES THAT WERE WATCHABLE

Episode 5 deals with a dead girl, found frozen but thawing, and while her story is interesting, the real contribution is you get to hear Beckett’s origin story (how her mother was killed in an alley, nobody caught for the crime). It should have been awesome, it should have been riveting. But except for a couple of decent scenes, the episode was rather ho-hum. The last episode of the season looks at a dead surgeon and the mob, but again, except for a final scene or two near the end dealing with Beckett’s mother’s murder, the episode is rather lackluster.

 S01E05 A Chill Goes Through Her Veins Every story has a beginning, even Beckett’s

♥♥♥♥♥

 S01E10  A Death in the Family Send one hitman after another…oh, about your mother

♥♥♥♥♥

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Both episodes 2 and 6 are mostly odd…a dead nanny with a weird motive that comes out of nowhere, and voodoo killings that have nothing to do with voodoo. Plus some overwhelming backstory with Castle’s ex-wife that is excruciating. They are definitely the weakest two of the season.

S01E02 Nanny McDead  Nanny dead, and no butler to blame

♥♥♥♥♥

S01E06 Always Buy Retail Voodoo rituals and whirlwind Meredith? Both blow into town

♥♥♥♥♥

THE BOTTOM LINE / TWEET

Beckett brings the serious, Castle makes it fun


MY RATING

♥♥♥♥ Enjoyable


DISCLOSURE

I received no compensation in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with anyone involved in the production, nor do I follow any of them on social media.

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TV series bloodbath

tv_general

ABC

Most show decisions are now made for renewals vs. cancellation, and ABC is done. Here’s my take:

  1. Shows cancelled that I won’t miss: The Family, Galavant, Agent Carter, The Muppets, Nashville, Wicked City, Of Kings and Prophets, Blood & Oil;
  2. Shows cancelled that I watched but won’t miss: Castle;
  3. Shows renewed that I don’t care about: American Crime, Dr. Ken, Last Man Standing, Once Upon a Time, Fresh Off the Boat, How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal, black-ish, The Middle, The Goldbergs, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family;
  4. Shows renewed that I might consider: The Catch, The Real O’Neals;
  5. Shows renewed that I am sort of happy are renewed: SHIELD, Quantico;

End result: 1 show out of 25 that I sort of care about (Quantico) and 1 more that I’ll watch as binge…not a network aimed at my viewing tastes 🙂

CBS

Here’s my take:

  1. Shows cancelled that I won’t miss: CSI: Cyber, Rush Hour, The Good Wife, Mike & Molly, Angel from Hell;
  2. Shows cancelled that I watched but won’t miss: Person of Interest;
  3. Shows renewed that I don’t care about: Code Black, The Odd Couple, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Life in Pieces; Madam Secretary, Hawaii Five-O, 2 Broke Girls, Mom, Criminal Minds;
  4. Shows renewed that I might consider: none;
  5. Shows renewed that I am happy or sort of happy are renewed: Supergirl, Elementary; Blue Bloods, NCIS: LA, NCIS: NO, NCIS, Scorpion, The Big Bang Theory;

End result: 8/23 that I watch. That could go to 9/24 or 8/24, depending on what happens with Limitless. Rumour is it was being shopped around to other networks and thus cancelled, but I never saw a final “call”. Either way, thank you CBS!

CW

The CW was a basket case this year as they renewed EVERYTHING. Sounds like CBS and Warner Bros couldn’t be bothered to argue. Here’s my take:

  1. Shows cancelled that I won’t miss: Containment;
  2. Shows cancelled that I watched but won’t miss: none;
  3. Shows renewed that I don’t care about: Reign, the Originals, Jane the Virgin, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, the 100, Crazy Ex-GF, iZombie;
  4. Shows renewed that I might consider: ;
  5. Shows renewed that I am happy are renewed: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, The Flash;

End result: 3/12 that I like, two of which are almost “must watch”…thanks CW for the superhero fix!

Fox

Here’s my take:

  1. Shows cancelled that I won’t miss: Bordertown, The Grinder, Grandfathered, Cooper Barrett, ;
  2. Shows cancelled that I watched but won’t miss: Second Chance, Minority Report;
  3. Shows renewed that I don’t care about: Family Guy, Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, Scream Queens, Empire, Bob’s Burgers, Last Man on Earth, Bones;
  4. Shows renewed that I might consider: Sleepy Hollow;
  5. Shows renewed that I am happy are renewed: Rosewood, Gotham, Lucifer ;

End result: Three out of 19 are being renewed that I like, but I like two of them a lot (Gotham, Lucifer), so thank you Fox. I think X-Files is basically “done”, but they were left out of formal announcements.

NBC

Here’s my take:

  1. Shows cancelled that I won’t miss: Game of Silence, Heartbeat, Mysteries of Laura, Telenovela, Crowded, Truth Be Told, You Me and the Apocalypse;
  2. Shows cancelled that I watched but won’t miss: Undateable, The Player, Heroes Reborn, ;
  3. Shows renewed that I don’t care about: Carmichael Show, Superstore, Chicago Med / P.D. / Fire, Law & Order: SVU;
  4. Shows renewed that I might consider: Shades of Blue;
  5. Shows renewed that I am happy are renewed: Grimm, Blacklist, Blindspot;

End result: Three out of 20 renewed that I like, one that I was watching but not surprised it was cancelled (Player).

Overall, nothing cancelled that I am particularly going to miss, and almost all the shows I really like were renewed.

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My show watching the past year…

tv_general

Let’s see how I did back at the start of the season in terms of new shows I would/might like:

  1. Full season subscriptions that panned out for me — Blindspot, DC Legends of Tomorrow, Limitless, Quantico and Supergirl;
  2. Full season subscriptions that the networks didn’t agree with — Minority Report, The Player;
  3. Full season subscriptions I switched to binge watch and the network dumped — Heroes Reborn, The X-Files;

So 5/9 survived, 4/9 had short seasons and are not coming back.

For the try one episode batch:

  1. Ones I grabbed on to: Rosewood;
  2. Ones I binge-watch: Into the Badlands;
  3. Ones that one EP was enough: Benders, Crazy Ex-GF, Grinder, Hand of God, The Muppets, Public Morals, and Wicked City, all of which I think the networks have cancelled for the future.

Score: 2/9 worth watching and both are renewed for season 2

For the shows that I took a pass on, namely the 18 below, two or three made it to renewal, but not for me. Still passing.

For returning shows, there was a culling! I watched 12 Monkeys and it is finally “back” for season 2; American Ninja Warrior and the new Team Ninja Warrior; Arrow; The Blacklist; Blue Bloods; Dark Matter; Elementary; Gotham; Grimm; Killjoys; and The Flash. Eleven shows, all renewed for next season.

Castle was one I watched, but almost out of habit than desire. It should have ended last season, and this season had a few good EPs that would have fit nicely in season 2 or 3, but for the current arc, they just didn’t work. Glad to see they have killed it for next year.

I also gave up on Big Bang Theory, SHIELD, NCIS x 3, Person of Interest, Scorpion and Sleepy Hollow in the sense that I moved them to binge watch status only. I just don’t care enough to stay “current” on them. PoI is in its last season but I’m fine with all of them ending.

Continuum and Lost Girl are short season and I let both of their final seasons go to binge-watch status. I like them, I’d rather watch them in a batch though. I’ve let Orphan Black go there too, as well as Suits, but I might pick those back up over the summer.

However, I gave up completely on Undateable, and to be honest, I can’t believe it wasn’t yanked early in the year. Maybe they were going for syndication numbers or something, don’t know, but it was deadly to watch.

Overall, nothing major is leaving that I mind, and looking forward to a few new shows next year.

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PolyWogg’s HR Guide

hr_general

I have been working on my “HR Guide” forever, or at least it seems like it. I have always had a Powerpoint version of it that I use for guest presentations, informal mentoring, etc., but it is only recently that I actually set it up to be on this website. Call that version say version 0.1 to 0.4, with 0.4 available now for download in PDF format.

Awhile ago, I started working on a full prose version. I did a bunch of sections, ran into some IT problems on my website, got away from the writing of it, and really to be honest, it wasn’t entirely gelling for me. Partly because I found myself writing something and then thinking, “Well, what about THAT issue, how can they know what to do HERE if they don’t understand THAT”. So I would start to explain it, and then the digression would overwhelm that section. I produced about a third of what I had hoped to write and then stopped. Call that version 0.5.

Finally, I started writing with a proper long intro section. I expect a lot of people will skip it, but it addresses a bunch of stuff you need to know before you even GET to being in a competition. Things like why you want to work in government, where to find out about available jobs, understanding what the different types of jobs even DO, and to be honest, even what various departments actually do. I’m a lifer in government, and a public administration geek, but I often forget that not everyone knows the basic differences between a line Ministry, a central agency, or a special operating agency, or what the difference is between policy analysis and program delivery, or all the variations of each of those. Not in great detail, just the broad strokes.

And if you don’t know which jobs and departments would be of interest, isn’t it a bit premature to tell you how to apply?

That’s included in the set of posts that show up on the site now, and I’m calling it version 0.6. My intent of course is to eventually edit it and put it a full downloadable book form, but for now, it’s just on the blog. And, yes, it’s a work in progress with an ever-changing self-imposed (or self-ignored) deadline.

Which means if you want the near-full version, you want to download version 0.4 (the powerpoint version). If you want the latest and greatest but incomplete version, parts of it is available now as posts as version 0.6. The earlier versions of that, in different order, are available as archived version 0.5 posts.

The links are all available below…

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Chapter Version 0.6 Version 0.5 Version 0.4
01. Introduction Post Archive In PDF – Pg 2
02. Understanding yourself Post

Archive Pt 1

Archive Pt 2

 
03. Understanding different types of jobs in government Post

Archive Pt 1

Archive Pt 2

 
04. Understanding the HR process in government Post Archive  
05. Understanding how to succeed in competitions: Overview Post    
06. Finding jobs

Post

Archive  
07. Applications   Archive In PDF – Pg 5-11
08. Written exams     In PDF – Pg 13-17
09. Interviews     In PDF – Pg 19-33
10. References     In PDF – Pg 35
11. Language tests      
12. Special tests      
13. Pools and best fit      
14. Informal consultations and appeals      
15. Managing your career once you’re hired      
16. Conclusion     In PDF – Pg 37

Annex: Special topics


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Hot Wheels by William Arden and Robert Arthur (BR00085)

bookreview_whole

PLOT OR PREMISE

The Three Investigators series that I loved as a kid was transformed some years ago into this new Crimebusters series that I could never find in stores. The stories are aimed at young adults, but I was expecting the stories to have relatively the same type stories that I fell in love with as a kid. Wrong. Instead, they have updated their ages from 14 to 17, updated their lifestyles from chores and bicycles to part-time jobs and cars. And thrown in lots of women to entice their hormonally-charged bodies. In short, the characters have grown up but not necessarily in keeping with the personalities they had originally. In this story, the 3Is are helping their cousin who has been charged with grand theft auto.

WHAT I LIKED

Jupe, Bob and Pete juggle the case, their jobs, and their social life to stay on top of things. In the old series, most of the time the characters were all together, or were working on different parts at the same time. In the new update, lots of other things interfere in their lives (a little more realistic, but less enjoyable). Yet Jupiter Jones is still the leader who relies on his brains more than his brawn.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The biggest fault is that the authors have added an action element to the series. Kind of like some of the false notes that appear in other series, the characters in this series have increased their physical fitness with karate and judo. So, eventually, there is a fight scene complete with big thugs and guns.

THE BOTTOM LINE / TWEET

Same series, somewhat similar concept, different characters.


MY RATING

Original: October 10, 1999
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Legend: 1/5 Finished  2/5 Not bad  3/5 Good  4/5 Enjoyable  5/5 Excellent


DISCLOSURE

I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the authors, nor do I follow them on social media.

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PUBLICATION

  • Year of Release: 1989
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN/ASIN: 978-0394999593
  • Series: Three Investigators (#44) / Crime Busters (#01)
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Intro Approach Review # Title Author Year Series Rating

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Pathways by Jeri Taylor (BR00084)

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PLOT OR PREMISE

The Voyager crew are separated from the ship and captured by an alien race. The crew are placed in a prison camp full of various races. While awaiting rescue by Captain Janeway, the members tell stories from their pasts to each other at night to help pass the time.

WHAT I LIKED

Chakotay’s tale is of his rejection of his tribe’s ways and embracing the Starfleet ideals, and then joining the Maquis to chase the Cardassians. Harry Kim’s focuses on his privileged upbringing, discovering Starfleet hikers, meeting Boothbie, and his rough adjustment at the Academy. Kes’ tale is a bit odd, seems off from her character on the show, but covers her short life before meeting Neelix (told through some sort of psychic link with her essence that has already left Voyager) including pushing the Elders to reveal the history of the Caretaker and her decision to explore the surface. Tuvok’s backstory includes his double career with Starfleet, namely first joining Starfleet as a young man, and then leaving Starfleet, returning home to raise a family, having a spiritual quest in the desert, and deciding to rejoin Starfleet, reviewing Janeway’s first mission as part of his duties, and then being posted to her ship only to butt heads repeatedly with her over her impulsive nature.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

I wasn’t totally comfortable with B’Elanna’s story about never being part of the life of either Klingons or humans, her decision to leave Starfleet Academy and work on a freighter, and meeting Chakotay and Paris in the Maquis. It seems at odds with her very Klingon personality at the start of Voyager, as if she didn’t have much experience with humans. Yet the backstory talks about even her first serious boyfriend having been human. Paris’ story doesn’t reveal much, it’s mostly rehash of excerpts from other episodes — his relationship with his Admiral father, joining Starfleet and starting a ski team, an chance to be the pilot for the Enterprise, an accident with his flight team (similar to the character he played on TNG episode with Wesley Crusher), his joining the Maquis, his imprisonment for firing on a Starfleet ship to protect the Maquis, and finally joining Voyager. Neelix’s story probably had the most potential as being different and unique, i.e. growing up on a quiet planet on the edge of war and the loss of his family and trading partners, and then meeting Voyager’s crew, but the story went nowhere.

THE BOTTOM LINE / TWEET

Decent views of the various backstories.


MY RATING

Original: October 10, 1999
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Legend: 1/5 Finished  2/5 Not bad  3/5 Good  4/5 Enjoyable  5/5 Excellent


DISCLOSURE

I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow her on social media.

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PUBLICATION

  • Year of Release: 1998
  • Publisher: Topeka Bindery
  • ISBN/ASIN: 978-0613290012
  • Series: Star Trek, ST:VOY (#2)
Internet Links
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Book Review Index
Intro Approach Review # Title Author Year Series Rating

 


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Night Passage by Robert B. Parker (BR00083)

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PLOT OR PREMISE

This is the first one in the Jesse Stone series. Jesse is a washed-up homicide detective from L.A. who climbed into a bottle and lost his wife to a L.A. player. But a small town in Massachusetts called Paradise recruits him as their new police chief…and Jesse jumps at it to save his own life.

WHAT I LIKED

Things are not as they appear in Paradise because the town leader has started his own little militia designed to fight back when the eventual downfall of America occurs. The previous chief of police has been sent packing and the town council wants someone they can control. Unfortunately, Jesse isn’t it. The focus of this first story is on Jesse getting sober, finding out what really happened to the last chief, finding out what is going on in Paradise with the town leader, and when he has time, figuring out what’s going on in his personal life. A refreshing change from the Spenser series because there is no Hawk and there is no Susan to back him up, there’s just him.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Vinnie and Joe from the Spenser series show up, but are more for comic relief than anything. Stone’s ex-wife and new girlfriend are more co-dependant than helpful.

THE BOTTOM LINE / TWEET

Decent start to a new Parker series.


MY RATING

Original: October 10, 1999
bookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_blank

Legend: 1/5 Finished  2/5 Not bad  3/5 Good  4/5 Enjoyable  5/5 Excellent


DISCLOSURE

I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I was not personal friends with the author, nor did I follow him on social media.

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PUBLICATION

  • Year of Release: 1997
  • Publisher: GP Putnam and Sons
  • ISBN/ASIN: 978-0399143045
  • Series: Stone (#1)
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Catch Me: Kill Me by William H. Hallahan (BR00082)

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PLOT OR PREMISE

Set in the 1970s, and a Russian poet has sought asylum in the U.S. Days before he qualifies for citizenship, he is kidnapped from Grand Central Station. Why was he taken? How can they help him? Where is he?

WHAT I LIKED

The story diverges on two tracks — a black-bag CIA operative comes in from the cold just enough to maintain full deniability while he looks for the man and an FBI manager keeps poking and prodding trying to find out why. Neither one knows the other exists, and the two stories remain fully compartmentalized.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The opening is extremely descriptive, almost one-step removed from the action, and it takes awhile until you are fully engaged in the two tracks.

THE BOTTOM LINE / TWEET

I see why it won awards.


MY RATING

bookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_blank

Legend: 1/5 Finished  2/5 Not bad  3/5 Good  4/5 Enjoyable  5/5 Excellent


DISCLOSURE

I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.

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PUBLICATION

  • Year of Release: 1977
  • Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill Company
  • ISBN/ASIN: 0-672-52311-6
  • Series: Stand-alone
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The Face-Changers by Thomas Perry (BR00081)

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PLOT OR PREMISE

Jane Whitefield is back, and she is trying to live up to her promise to her husband not to help any more fugitives to disappear. But then her husband brings her a Richard-Kimble-like friend who has been framed for the murder of his research assistant, but he can’t even blame a one-armed man. Her husband asks her to help because the friend is his old mentor.

WHAT I LIKED

The story expands outward pretty fast, as Jane discovers that other people have been using her identity and reputation to “help” people for profit, in some cases where the people didn’t need any help but were scared into thinking they did. Basically to create the demand for the service they can provide. So Jane has to figure that part out too, or she’ll never be able to save anyone else again, let alone her husband’s friend. Added to the mix is an FBI agent who wants to know what is going on, and knows Jane has the answers — and he’s willing to arrest her to find out. Aiding a fugitive is just the first charge of many he has in mind. Plus, just for fun, her husband is being hit on by one of the bad guys.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

It’s a little hard to follow at times as she criss-crosses the U.S. again, and some of the sub-stories are a little over-developed.

THE BOTTOM LINE / TWEET

Solid novel.


MY RATING

Original: October 10, 1999
bookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_wholebookreview_blank

Legend: 1/5 Finished  2/5 Not bad  3/5 Good  4/5 Enjoyable  5/5 Excellent


DISCLOSURE

I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.

signature_01

PUBLICATION

  • Year of Release: 1998
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN/ASIN: 978-0679453031
  • Series: Whitefield (#4)
Internet Links
Amazon.ca Amazon.com Chapters Kobo Barnes & Noble
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Book Review Index
Intro Approach Review # Title Author Year Series Rating

 


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