Category Archives: L
by Jim Lehrer
Read: July 19 – July 23, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 32
November 22, 1963. As Air Force One touches down in Dallas, ambitious young newspaper reporter Jack Gilmore races to get the scoop on preparations for President Kennedy’s motorcade. Will the bubble top on the presidential limousine be up or down? Down, according to veteran Secret Service agent Van Walters. The decision to leave the top down and expose JFK to fire from above will weigh on Van’s conscience for decades. But will it also change the course of history?
Five years after the assassination, Jack gets an anguished phone call from Van’s daughter Marti. Van Walters is ravaged by guilt, so convinced that his actions led to JFK’s death that he has lost the will to live. In a desperate bid to deliver her father from his demons, Marti enlists Jack’s help in a risky reenactment designed to prove once and for all what would have happened had the bubble top stayed in place on that grim November day.
For Jack, it’s a chance to break a once-in-a-lifetime story that could make his career. But for Van the stakes are even higher. The outcome of a ballistics test conducted on the grounds of a secluded estate in upstate New York might just save his life—or push him over the edge.
A page-turning historical novel with the beating heart of a thriller, Top Down could only have sprung from the fertile imagination of Jim Lehrer. Drawing on his own experience as an eyewitness to the events described, one of America’s most respected journalists has crafted an engrossing story out of the emotional aftershocks of a national tragedy.
Review: I received a e-galley of this book through NetGalley.
Here’s the deal, guys, I am a JFK junkie to the core. It’s nearly an obsession, really. So with 2013 being the 50th anniversary of the assassination, you can imagine that there are a ton of books coming out this year that have to do with JFK and the assassination – both fiction and non-fiction. Already this year, not including this book, I’ve read one fiction book (The Man from 2063) and I have another non-fiction book lined up through Edelweiss. I am in hog heaven! Okay but seriously, I guess I need to get to the actual review of this book.
This book definitely has a different feel from any other book I’ve read recently. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to describe. Part of me felt as if I was reading a memoir at times. I actually had to look up the info on it after reading the first chapter to see if I was reading fiction or non-fiction. But don’t let that scare you off, because the book reads quite easily. And it is fiction.
The cast of characters in this book, oh what a great bunch. First you have Jack, who is a reporter who actually reported on the Kennedy assassination from Dallas. In the beginning he describes a conversation he had with a Secret Service agent, Van, the day of the assassination regarding the bubble top on the presidential limo. Van made the call that the bubble top was to be removed (I must add that this is where I originally thought I was reading a memoir). That was the beginning of the end for Van. From there you meet his daughter, Marti, who is convinced her father is dying because of that one decision and how it affected him. All she wants from Jack is to help her prove to her father that his decision had nothing to do with Kennedy’s death – Oswald still would have taken that shot and Kennedy still would have died.
What this book really and truly is about is human emotions. Van is a broken man after the assassination. He blames himself for Kennedy’s death. But it doesn’t just end there. It turns his wife into an alcoholic and his daughter gets pushed away to boarding school. One little psychological break doesn’t just affect the person who has had the break … the whole family is impacted. Guilt is a very powerful emotion. And being through something as traumatic as a presidential assassination would do a number on any person.
Overall I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys anything JFK. Those who like historical fiction would probably enjoy this one as well. Past that, it might not appeal to just everyone. But overall definitely a book that I enjoyed to feed my JFK obsession.
by Robert K. Lewis
Read: March 25-29, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 16
Source: Author for TLC Book Tours
Blurb: Estranged from his wife and daughter, former undercover cop Mark Mallen has spent the last four years in a haze of heroin. When his best friend from the academy, Eric Russ, is murdered, all the evidence points to Mallen as the prime suspect.
Now Mallen’s former colleagues on the force are turning up the heat and Russ’s survivors are asking him to come up with some answers. But if he wants to serve justice to the real killer, Mallen knows he’ll have to get clean. Turning a life around is hard work for a junkie, especially when a gang of low-life thugs wants him dead. Bruised, battered, and written off by nearly everyone, can Mallen keep clean and catch a killer?
Sometimes the darkest moments of our life give us the brightest chance at our redemption.
Page 55 of ARC
When I was originally pitched this book I thought it sounded like a pretty decent read. I had no idea just how enjoyable I would find it. I was very pleasantly surprised by this debut book by Robert K. Lewis. I honestly feel like this is such a wonderful start to what can be a great new series.
I have to begin this review by talking about a couple of the characters. My faithful readers know that I am a huge stickler for some good character development. To me the characters will make or break a book, especially a series. Mark Mallen is such an interesting character. If I had to choose one word to describe him I would select flawed. And boy oh boy, is he ever flawed. I mean, he’s an ex-cop, who used to work undercover in narcotics. And why is he an ex-cop? Oh, you know, because he got hooked on heroin during his undercover stint and got kicked off the force. Can you get any more flawed than that? I don’t think so. But there’s just something about him that works. I think it’s the fact that he wants to be better. As the reader, we really get to see the transformation that so many junkies never get to experience: the want to get clean. And it’s a tough road. He detoxes cold turkey while in the drunk tank in jail. That’s tough. There are many times throughout the book that you think that he’s going to relapse. Personally I found myself rooting so hard for Mallen to get out of certain situations still clean. I wanted him to stay clean. I wanted him to succeed. His character is just so real. In my opinion, he’s a great main character. It’s hard to blend flawed and likeable at the same time … but Mr. Lewis certainly does so almost effortlessly.
In my opinion another character who must be discussed is Gato. Some would call his character more periphery than some of the other characters. But there was just something about Gato that didn’t really feel right. First, Mallen meets him while he’s in the drunk tank detoxing. Obviously that’s not the best time to meet your new best friend. But for some reason, Gato offers him friendship. And Mallen takes him up on it when he’s clean and back on the outside. But for some reason, something rubbed me the wrong way about his character. He was almost too helpful. He never questioned Mallen. Even when most guys would walk away from Mallen and the crazy things he was asking of Gato, he stayed. He just seemed too eager to help Mallen. I might be making more out of it than there is to it, but like I said, something felt off …. I have a feeling that Gato is going to ask Mallen for help in the next book, and I think it’s going to be something big (bad?) that he’s going to be requesting. Just a feeling I have, though.
The storyline itself is interesting. It was fast paced and kept me guessing until the end. The killer was predictable, but I found it fun to work “the case” with Mallen. I liked seeing him brush off the rust of the past four years and get back into his groove with investigating. It was definitely fun. I also liked that the reader gets Mallen’s history. It was definitely necessary to include this information. To me it only made Mallen that much more enjoyable – it was very easy to see how he ended up where he did. I didn’t necessarily feel sorry for him, or think it was excusable, but it really put things into perspective.
Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough. And I’m excited that Mr. Lewis is busy at work on the next Mallen book
Connect with Robert K. Lewis:
**This review is posted in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours blog tour. I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation and the opinions expressed here are my own.
Monday, April 8th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, April 9th: Crime Fiction Lover
Wednesday, April 10th: Booksie’s Blog
Thursday, April 11th: Tales of a Book Addict
Wednesday, April 17th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Monday, April 22nd: Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, April 23rd: Must Read Faster
Wednesday, April 24th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, April 25th: she treads softly
Monday, April 29th: Crazy Shenanigans
Tuesday, April 30th: My Two Blessings
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Read: May 25 – May 27, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly Count: 13
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: A bomb set in one of New York’s busiest places is discovered before it explodes. But relief turns to terror when the police realize it is just a warning of greater devastation to come. The city calls on Detective Michael Bennett, pulling him away from a seaside vacation with his ten adopted children and their beloved nanny, Mary Catherine – leaving his entire family open to attack.
Bennett enlists the help of a former colleague, FBI Agent Beth Peters. His affection for Beth grows into attraction and then something stronger, and his relationship with Mary Catherine takes an unexpected turn. Another horrifying crime leads Bennett to a shocking discovery that exposes the killer’s pattern — and the earth-shattering enormity of his plan.
Review: I can always count on a James Patterson book for a great escape. For whatever reason, I always seem to fly through his books. And luckily, this one was no different. I had actually picked this book up last year and tried to read it but never got very far into it. So I decided to give it another shot and the pages just flew by.
I’m a sucker for Mr. Patterson’s books. I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t like him or his work. I have to admit that when you put out a gazillion books a year with your name on it, it is a little hard to make them feel authentic. And while a lot of people have issues with how he uses so many different co-authors, I don’t seem to mind at all. I just like the fun that usually comes with a Patterson book.
For me, while I like the Michael Bennett series, it’s not my favorite. However, there was something about this book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I like where Mike and Mary Catherine might be going. I like how the kids (yes, all 10 of them) each manage to have a small role in the book. And, as usual with Mr. Patterson’s books, it was a fun roller coaster ride of a story.
While these books will never win any great literary awards, I would definitely recommend this series, but definitely start with the first one (Step on a Crack).
by John Lescroart
Read: Jan. 16 – Jan. 29, 2012
Challenge: The Eclectic Reader 2012; Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly Count: 3
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: The Curtlees are a powerful force in San Francisco, unscrupulous billionaires who’ve lined every pocket in the Bay Area in pursuit of their own ascent. So when the family’s heir, Ro Curtlee, was convicted of the rape and murder of a servant girl in the family home, the fallout against those responsible was swift and uncompromising. The jury foreman was fired from his job and blacklisted. The lead prosecutor was pushed off a career fast track. And head homicide detective Abe Glitsky was reassigned to the police department’s payroll office.
Then Ro’s lawyers win him a retrial, and he’s released. Within twenty-four hours, a fire kills the original trial’s star witness, and her abused remains are discovered in the ashes. When a second fire claims another participant in the case, Abe is convinced that Ro is out for revenge. But with no hard evidence and an on-the-take media eager to vilify any challenger, Abe finds himself in the crosshairs, wondering how much more he can sacrifice in the name of justice.
Review: So my grandmother gave me this book a couple of weeks ago with a glowing recommendation to read it as soon as I possibly could. Since 99% of the time we always agree on books, I jumped right into this one. I want to make it perfectly clear that while it took me what felt like forever to read this book, it had absolutely nothing to do with the book itself. It’s the fact that I’m not reading as much or as fast as I once was. That being said, seriously: read this book.
We’re Not Leaving: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal
by Benjamin J. Luft, M.D.
Read: Sept. 3– Sept. 7, 2011
Challenge: What’s in a Name 4 Challenge
Yearly Count: 51
Source: Review Copy
Blurb: We’re Not Leaving is a compilation of powerful first-person narratives told from the vantage point of World Trade Center disaster workers – police officers, firefighters, construction workers, and other volunteers at the site. While the effects of 9/11 on these everyday heroes and heroines are indelible, and in some cases have been devastating, at the heart of their deeply personal stories – their harrowing escapes from the falling Towers, the egregious environment they worked in for months, the alarming health effects they continue to deal with – is their witness to their personal strength and renewal in the ten years since. These stories, shared by ordinary people who responded to disaster and devastation in extraordinary ways, remind us of America’s strength and inspire us to recognize and ultimately believe in our shared values of courage, duty, patriotism, self-sacrifice, and devotion, which guide us in dark times.
Review: I received this book courtesy of Rebecca with The Cadence Group. Wow.
I don’t know what else to say about this book. The events surrounding 9/11 are such a sensitive topic and with the 10th anniversary knocking on our door, I was immediately interested in getting this review opportunity. The emotions of the people who lent their stories to this book just pour out from the pages. As a reader, my heart broke numerous times just reading what people went through.
Personally, I watched the events unfold on television from the safety of my midwestern high school through the eyes of a sixteen-year-old. At the time I don’t think I really understood what was going on, I didn’t really grasp the enormity of what I was seeing. And then again, I did. I knew this was serious. I had studied all about the different wars that America had fought through the years. But this was no war (at the time) … this was an attack on our soil against our people.
This book really opened my eyes to what everyone went through. You can only feel so much watching things on television. But hearing the words of some the people who lived through this, well that puts things in an entirely different perspective. That makes it more real to someone like me.
I think that the introduction does a good job at explaining what this book is all about. From page xvii:
The testimony in this book is different in that it speaks both from and to the soul. Through their deeply personal and unique perspectives, the stories of 9/11 responders in their own voices, help us understand the human impact of the World Trade Center disaster and encourage us all to heal.
Healing. That’s something that we all had to do together. As a country. And I don’t think we’ve healed entirely. I think that 9/11 is still a sore that is opened up at any given moment.
One of the things that struck me when I was reading this book was the amount of guilt that a lot of the responders felt. Countless people were running into the madness when so many people running away. And yet some people still feel guilt. Guilt because they couldn’t save everyone. I can’t understand what that feels like, obviously, having not been there.
I felt like what I did wasn’t enough and that it was a defeat and that so many people died. (Page 12)
The enormity of what happened on that fateful day in New York City was a lot for me to understand. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to visit New York City in 2008. I went to Ground Zero. I can’t tell you what it felt like to see that big gaping hole in the middle of the city. The emptiness of it spoke volumes. All around you skyscrapers are everywhere in New York City. That’s the norm. But there was just … nothing. And to know what used to be there and what happened, it’s just unbelievable. I was also able to go inside the museum. Wow. Definitely do that if you have the opportunity.
Everything with the World Trade Center, depends on where you were – people standing to the left of you might’ve been killed; people standing to the right of you could’ve survived. It was just all [in] the positioning. (Page 56)
That one sentence says all that can be said about who lived and who died in the Towers. It was all a matter of where you were and when you were there. There was no rhyme or reason to it.
“Where were you when….?” that will be the age-old question that will be asked countless times over the next decades. And just like those who were alive when JFK was assassinated, every single person will be able to tell you exactly where they were when they first heard. For me it was 1st period Algebra II class, junior year. That day will stay with me for the rest of my life. As it should. It’s part of our history now. We can only learn and grow from it.
The Chancellor Manuscript
by Robert Ludlum
Read: July 21 – July 24, 2011
Challenge: Take a Chance Challenge 3
Yearly Count: 37
Source: Bookmooch point
Blurb: DID J. EDGAR DIE A NATURAL DEATH? . . . OR WAS HE MURDERED? Inver Brass-a group of high-minded and high-placed intellectuals who see a monstrous threat to the country in Hoover’s unethical use of his scandal-ridden private files. They decide to do away with him-quietly, efficiently, with no hint of impropriety. Until best-selling thriller writer Peter Chancellor stumbles onto information that makes his precious books like harmless fairy tales. Now Chancellor and Inver Brass are on a deadly collision course, spiraling across the globe in an ever-widening arc of violence and terror. Hurtling toward a showdown that will rip Washington’s intelligence community apart-leaving only one damning document to survive . . .
Review: I chose this book solely for a challenge. Honestly, it’s not even a book that I had ever heard of. But when I was looking over my choices to fulfill this section of the challenge, this book immediately stood out for me based on the blurb. This was my first time reading a Robert Ludlum book, although I have 4 or 5 of his already on my shelves. But the description of this book immediately sucked me in. I like conspiracies. I don’t necessarily believe in them, but I enjoy them immensely in books, movies and television shows. That said, this book was right up my alley. I enjoyed it, but it’s not something that I will remember a year from now. The ending was long and drawn out in my opinion. It probably could have been wrapped up in about 10 pages and yet it dragged on for a good 30 or 40 pages. I felt as if Mr. Ludlum was a little long-winded in places that weren’t really necessary. Of course, this goes back to my preferences, it’s just not something that I like in books. However, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book. I actually did enjoy it quite a bit, it was a fun and interesting read. The beginning was a little slow, but the last two-thirds of the book flew by. I would definitely recommend this book and I will for sure be reading more Robert Ludlum in the future.
A World I Never Made
by James LePore
Copyright: 2008. 2009
Read: April 1– 5, 2011
Challenge: Criminal Plots Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 17
First Line: Dad, I don’t owe you or anybody an explanation, but I think you’ll appreciate the irony of a suicide note coming from a person who has abhorred tradition all of her life.
Blurb: Pat Nolan, an American man, is summoned to Paris to claim the body of his estranged daughter Megan, who has committed suicide. The body, however, is not Megan’s and it becomes instantly clear to Pat that Megan staged this, that she is in serious trouble, and that she is calling to him for help. This sends Pat on an odyssey that stretches across France and into the Czech Republic and that makes him the target of both the French police and a band of international terrorists. Joining Pat on his search is Catherine Laurence, a beautiful but tormented Paris detective who sees in Pad something she never thought she’d find – genuine passion and desperate need. As they look for Megan, they come closer to each other’s souls and discover love when both had long given up on it. Juxtaposed against this story is Megan’s story. A freelance journalist, Megan is in Morocco to do research when she meets Abdel Lahani, a Saudi businessman. They begin a torrid affair, a game Megan has played often and well in her adult life. But what she discovers about Lahani puts her in the center of a different kind of game, one with rules she can barely comprehend. Because of her relationship with Lahani, Megan has made some considerable enemies. And she has put the lives of many – may even millions – at risk.
Review: I received this book as part of the Pump Up Your Book blog tour. This was definitely a thrill ride of a book from the first page. The storyline was a little more complex than I really prefer in my books and alternating storylines aren’t my favorites either, but overall I still enjoyed it. The characters were very well-developed. I don’t read a lot of political thrillers overall, but I really enjoyed this one. Mr. LePore is a very talented author, he definitely has a way with descriptions. To be completely honest, the plot felt a little bit rushed, but I think that was because he was trying to have such a complex story in a short 262 pages. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thrilling roller coaster ride of a book! Having just previously read and reviewed Blood of My Brother, I can only hope that Mr. LePore has a long and prosperous writing career.
by John Lescroart
Read: April 4– 8, 2011
Challenge: TBR Dare
Yearly Count: 18
First Line: At 2:15 on a Wednesday afternoon in late September, Dismas Hardy sat on the customer side of the bar at the Little Shamrock and worked the corners of his dart flights with a very fine emery board.
Blurb: Down-and-out lawyer Rusty Ingraham left behind a murdered woman and a houseboat splattered with blood. All the evidence said Ingraham was in San Francisco Bay. Dead. But a friend of Ingraham’s, former cop and prosecutor Dismas Hardy, isn’t so sure. And Hardy has to find out, because a stone-cold killer, now paroled, once threatened to kill Ingraham and Dismas Hardy both. Now, to save his own skin, Dismas must face down liars and killers on both sides of the law. From mob foot soldiers to brokenhearted lovers to renegade cops, a dozen lives are tied to the fate of Rusty Ingraham – and the payback has only just begun…
Review: Whoever edited this book should be fired. Immediately. I can’t even begin to tell you how many different grammatical errors I spotted in this book. And I also had trouble with the amount of different characters that were presented in this book. I found myself not remembering who was who. However, that didn’t change my overall opinion of the book itself. I read the first book in this series, Dead Irish, almost three years ago. So it was really like starting the series all over again since I didn’t remember much from the first book. But that was okay, I still enjoyed this book. It actually stands well on its own. The mystery aspect of it was interesting, but it was not a really big surprise. I liked this book, but I think I now realize why after reading my review from the first book as to why I’m just now picking this book up, it wasn’t specatular, just good.
Blood of My Brother
by James LePore
Read: March 1 – 4, 2011
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011
Yearly Count: 11
First Line: In July of 1967, Jay Cassio, who would be turning five in September, started a prekindergarten program at St. Lucy’s School on Sheffield Street in Newark, New Jersey’s oldest, largest, and about to be most turbulent city.
Blurb: When Jay Cassio’s best friend is murdered in a job clearly done by professionals, the walls that he has built to protect himself from the world of others begin to shatter. Dan Del Colliano had been his confidante and protector since the men were children on the savage streets of Newark, New Jersey. When Dan supports and revives Jay after Jay’s parents die in a plane crash, their bond deepens to something beyond brotherhood, beyond blood. Now Jay, a successful lawyer, must find out why Dan died and find a way to seek justice for his murder. Isabel Perez has lived a life both tainted and charmed since she was a teenager in Mexico. She holds a powerful sway over men and has even more powerful alliances with people no one should ever try to cross. She desperately wants her freedom from the chains these people have placed on her. When Jay catapults into her world, their connection is electric, their alliance is lethal, and their future is anything but certain.
Review: I received this book to review for the Pump Up Your Book blog tour. This book was very well written, there were some great themes throughout, but especially what effects your choices have in the long run. There is no sugar-coating the ruthlessness of people. I found it very interesting to see how Jay’s childhood shaped the man that he became – as well as the lifelong friendship he was to have with Dan. Isabel’s character really showed adversity over anything is truly possible. This entire book showed just how important friendship and loyalty to those friends can really be. To be completely honest, I found Jay’s character to be slightly overzealous at times. That’s not to say that I disliked his character, I just sometimes felt as if he was two steps over the line. I also would have really preferred more background into what happened with Jay’s parents and how Danny came to his “rescue” after their deaths. In the blurb on the back of the book it is mentioned, so I felt as if it was a very important aspect of Jay’s life, but there was no real elaboration into the matter like I anticipated. It was mentioned and discussed, but not to the depth that I had looked forward to. Perhaps more information there would have explained more insight into why Jay was so overzealous in the hunt for the truth behind Danny’s murder. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book – it’s not one that I would have picked up at the bookstore, but I am definitely glad I was given the opportunity to read it. There were flashbacks to Jay’s childhood as well as Isabel’s childhood, and to be honest I sometimes got some of the characters mixed up, but that didn’t take away from my final opinion of this book – it’s just a writing style that sometimes doesn’t work for me completely. I would highly recommend this book.
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Read: Dec. 4-6, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 63
First Line: The stocky man with the salt-and-pepper hair felt light-headed as he crossed beneath the marble arch into Washington Square Park.
The son of one of New York’s wealthiest families is snatched off the street and held hostage. But this kidnapper isn’t demanding money. Instead, he quizzes his prisoner on the price others pay for his life of luxury … and wrong answers are fatal. Detective Michael Bennett heads the investigation. With ten kids of his own, he can’t understand what could lead someone to target anyone’s children. When another student from a powerful family disappears, the FBI sends in its top abduction specialist: Agent Emily Parker. Bennett’s job and love life suddenly get even more complicated. Before Bennett has a chance to protest the FBI’s intrusion on his case, the killer mastermind changes his routine. His plan leads up to the most devastating demonstration yet – one that could bring cataclysmic ruin to every inch of New York City.
This is the third in the Michael Bennett series, and it is the most current one until the fourth is due to release in 2011. Personally, I felt like this was the best book in the series so far. I had been a little unsure about Bennett’s character (partly because he simply isn’t Alex Cross, my all-time favorite series character), but in this book I really started to like him. I enjoyed the storyline of the book, the villain was original. There’s starting to be a little bit of romance in Bennett’s life for the first time since his wife’s death in the first book. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend this series to anyone.