- Series: Accidental Spy Russia Adventure (Book 2)
- Paperback: 287 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2 edition (April 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1475089155
- ISBN-13: 978-1475089158
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,581,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gold Train: (Accidental Spy Russia Adventure) Paperback – April 24, 2012
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"A Race for Gold! Fast paced thrill ride filled with great characters you will love and villains you will hate. This is definitely one to read!" Kate's Reads
"On top of breakneck action, the ending blew my socks off. 100% an original book." Rachel's Book Reviews
"Brilliantly Written - A MUST Read. The story is fantastic - layers that go deeper and deeper... Superb, fast paced and well written." The Kindle Book Review
"Jade Snow is to journalism, what Jason Bourne is to action and espionage. Gold Train is an absolute must read." J.J. Collins, Author (London, UK)
From the Author
We live in crucial times, the times when anything old, outmoded and rotten is being destroyed and the shoots of the new start coming up everywhere, when anything that's not anchored or solidly built is swept away by the hurricane of change. However, I'm not given to fear mongering, unlike some others. My predictions and analysis, which I share for free, are for those who want to know, and for those who want to see - the truth exactly as it is. They are to help my fellow earthlings to orient themselves better in a sea of change and to prepare accordingly. Strange and quickly changing times are upon us, but as always, every cloud has its silver lining, if you know where to look.
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Showing 1-4 of 23 reviews
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To expand on the execution problems - a thorough editing may have taken care of most of the technical problems. There were misplaced commas running rampant through the book, forcing you to pause where you didn't need to and rush through clauses that you should have paused for. Some of these extraneous commas contributed to the very stilted and wooden dialogue that I found throughout.
In addition to the commas, there were some capitalization problems. I found words like "national security," "top secret" and "intel" were all randomly capitalized in the middle of sentences. At first, I thought it was an editing error, but it was done consistently enough that I wonder if it was a style choice. Either way, it was annoying.
There were some great homonym mix-ups in the Gold Train. My favorites were the main character walking down the "isle" of the store (looking for a tropical drink?) and when she "sowed" money into a secret lining of her jacket. (And when she took the money out, she "sowed" her jacket shut again with a needle and thread.)
The final technical bone I have to pick is the interweaving of past and present tense in the same paragraph and sometimes within the same sentence. Like the commas, this tripped me up a couple of times.
Beyond all the grammar issues, I was not a fan of the writing style. Yes, the book is easy to read, but almost too easy. I alluded to the stilted, wooden dialogue before, but really, the whole thing was stilted and wooden. The writing style really reminded me of the way that I wrote spy stories when I was 10. Back then, when I didn't know how to describe the technology behind something, I'd write about a "special piece of spy equipment." Needless to say, I cracked a nostalgic smile while reading about Jade purchasing a "special kind of tape" in the Gold Train.
Like I said above, ILOVE the bare bones idea of this plot; in the execution, however, the plot doesn't seem to develop organically. There are an awful lot of convenient occurrences that are inserted to move the plot jerkily along.
But I've saved my biggest beef for last, and that's our friend Jade Snow, the protagonist. I can't like this lady. If I thought her dialogue was wooden, her emotions are even more so. Her attachment to her husband and child are glossed over, so much so that I think those characters are just convenient plot props. Jade becomes more attached to her first source in Russia than she is to her husband. She also seems to trust people willy-nilly within in few moments of meeting them, and don't even get me started on her so-called "relationship" with Alexi. Unfortunately, it's hard to get into a book when you find the main character so unsympathetic.
Now, I may be way off base, as there seem to be a lot more 5-star reviews than 2-star reviews for this book, but I've never been compelled to write such a long review of a book, either. Most of the time, if I'm not into a book, I'll just cast it aside and not think about it again. With the Gold Train, I found myself compelled to plow forward to see just how many eyerolls I could get out of it. And it's definitely stuck with me (although not in the best way), so I guess it's a success from that standpoint.
The dialogue was stilted and jumpy at times and the apparently very Bourne-esque brilliant spy was alarmingly dumb sometimes. Oh, carry a package across national borders without looking at it, whilst wondering WHY it couldn't be fed-exed but STILL carrying it? Plot point or sheer stupidity. Took away from the character to me.
And, sadly, to go on - this woman shows promise, she shows pluck but she actually says at one point that basically without a man in it, her life will never have happiness again. Luckily that works out for her, she seems to have an abundance of them.
A really excellent outline with some great fictionalization of history that suffers badly, either from the writing or the lack of editing. Almost every single piece of dialogue in the book needs to be re-written to sound natural, and about half of the heavy hitting this is a CLUE moments as well. The telegraphed from a mile away ending was just sad, and not only because it was sad, but also because it was telegraphed.
Hope some of this truthful input actually helps the author to improve, because she could be great.
From the very first chapter, Lada weaves vivid descriptions of Russia and Russian culture into a story filled with thrilling suspense. The novel follows the prequel Stepford, U.S.A. and the novella Green Desert, which introduce readers the colorful character of Jade Snow, an international journalist turned stay-at-home mom who's dedicated to her family but longs to return to the field as a reporter.
In Gold Train, Jade embarks on the adventure of her life traveling to Russia to investigate the Gold Train's disappearance. The assignment leads her into a tangled web of intrigue in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and New York City that involves the Russian authorities, a pro-monarchist organization with Chechen ties, and the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency formerly known as the KGB. The story is filled with page-turning action that hurtles Jade toward an explosive climax that sheds light on the mystery of the Czar's missing gold. Buffeted by events often out of her control, Jade uses her intellect and journalistic instinct to navigate her way heroically through life-threatening events.
Jade is a character who, in some ways, represents "everywoman" to whom readers can relate. She has some amazing talents, including a sixth sense that defies logic, and a charming, engaging personality. At the same time, she exhibits some flaws that make her all too human. From her strong bond with friends to her struggle against temptation, Jade is someone many of us see in ourselves. At the same time, she has some unforgettable traits -- from her flaming red hair to her deep knowledge of Russian culture -- that put her in the annals of fiction literature's great heroines. I'm looking forward to reading more about Jade in the upcoming Dragon Gate and many sequels to come.
As someone with a keen interest in international affairs, I was happy to read the author's unique portrayal of Russia, and in particular, Russian intelligence. So many western novels since the days of the Soviet Union have painted Mother Russia and the "Russians" as a nemesis, a stereotype that has continued, albeit muted, since the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. Her account is a refreshing look at Russia today and a rare positive portrayal of the Russian authorities. While the truth may be different than her depiction, I give her high marks for originality. For Western audiences, it's a new take on an old storyline usually reserved for Russia's former Cold War foes. Her deep appreciation of Russian culture is apparent in her writing and translates well to readers. Lada does an excellent job navigating a subject that can be easily politicized -- Russian politics - in a disarming way. Those with an eye for fashion will enjoy the exquisite descriptions of the trappings of European royalty.
I give Gold Train 5 stars overall. The novel includes all the elements of a novice spy-thriller masterpiece, from smart writing to a crisp plot that moves along with action and ties up loose ends, great plot twists, memorable characters, good dialogue, and fabulous descriptions. That said, it doesn't achieve the threshold of greatness reserved for classic spy thrillers written by John LeCarré, Frederick Forsyth, and others. Perhaps, in time and another book, Jade will rise to the level of a Kay Scarpetta or Kinsey Millhone. I would have liked to see more development of secondary characters such as Jade's husband Paul and Svetlana, a woman in Moscow who draws Jade into the Gold Train mystery. At times I questioned Jade's judgment and found myself mumbling that I would not have made the same choices she did. I remembered, however, that she made her choices in character - she is Jade and I am not. I enjoyed the symbolism of the book, including the allusions to her fate, although the mildly paranormal aspect of the story diminished the realism of the book. A simple cat and dog whisperer would have sufficed over telepathy. I found no grammatical errors in the second edition of the book mentioned by earlier reviewers.
All in all, Gold Train is an excellent read. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an entertaining thriller featuring a memorable character by someone who's an up-and-coming novelist. Read the book, and then follow with the other Jade Snow adventures before her next story comes out in 2012. You'll be thrilled you got to know Jade.
Disclaimer: Lada is a colleague and a friend. I am honored to have been invited to join the Gold Train Blog Tour and hope that my review of the book is an honest look at her work.