2015.14 REVIEW – Innocent Damage by Robert K. Lewis

Innocent Damage
by Robert K. Lewis

Copyright: 2015
Pages: 293
Rating: 4/5
Read: April 14 – April 20, 2015
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 14
Format: Print
Source: Author for Review
Series: Mark Mallen #3

Innocent DamageBlurb: The three-year-old daughter of Mark Mallen’s old friend has been kidnapped. And when a child goes missing from San Francisco’s notorious Tenderloin District, there’s not much of a chance that she’s going to be found.

But that won’t stop Mallen.

When his first lead takes him to a murder scene with a stash of child porn, Mallen knows he’s on the right track. Now the only people who can shake him off the trail are two SFPD detectives who seem to be more involved in the case than their job requires. Knowing all too well that skid row has its own set of rules, Mallen must act alone to serve justice to those who would put innocent children at risk.

Review: I have read and reviewed the two previous Mark Mallen books, Untold Damage and Critical Damage here on my blog. Having enjoyed both of those books, I was really thrilled when Mr. Lewis contacted me again about reading the latest (and greatest) Mark Mallen book.

Mark Mallen is just one of those characters that really appeals to me. He’s so flawed, yet he’s trying his hardest. And he seems to find trouble no matter where he goes. His sense of loyalty is amazing, if I had troubles I would want a friend like Mallen on my side for sure.

This particular installment dealt with tracking down a kidnapped girl. But things kind of snowballed from there. Things are not as cut and dried as one would have thought. People are not who you think they are either. It definitely makes for some exciting reading! Gato is also back in this book still trying to find his sister. There’s an interesting storyline in a future book with that whole situation. I can only hope that Mr. Lewis gets to tell that story in another Mallen book.

Overall, another book that I really enjoyed reading and would highly recommend. And I hope to goodness there’s at least one more Mark Mallen book!! I’m not ready to say goodbye to him just yet…



2015.4 REVIEW – Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

Baltimore Blues
by Laura Lippman

Copyright: 1997
Pages: 290
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Jan. 21 – Jan. 25, 2015
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 4
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: Tess Monaghan #1

Baltimore BluesBlurb:  In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz’s death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer’s notoriety – and his taste for illicit midday trysts – makes the case front page news in every local paper except the Star, which crashed and burned before Abramowitz did. A former Star reporter who knows every inch of this town – from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill – now-unemployed journalist Tess Monaghan also knows the guy the cops like for the killing: cuckolded fiancé Darryl “Rock” Paxton. The time is ripe for a career move, so when rowing buddy Rock wants to hire her to do some unorthodox snooping to help clear his name, Tess agrees. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows. And Tess’s own name could end up on that ever-expanding list of Baltimore dead.

Review: I picked this one up off my shelf on a whim. It’s not like I needed another series to begin … but for some reason it caught my eye at the time.

I found this one to be an interesting read. I liked Tess’s character. She’s got humor, but at the same time, she’s pretty serious too. I think it will be interesting to watch her grow as a character in subsequent books.

This is a relatively short and quick novel, clocking in at only 290 pages. But I found myself struggling to read much more than a chapter or so at a time. It had nothing really to do with the book I don’t think, because it was an enjoyable enough read, it just didn’t seem to wrap me up completely like some books do.

So while I enjoyed it and will be looking forward to reading on in this series, it’s not necessarily a book that I will remember in a few days. I think I might ultimately end up preferring Ms. Lippman’s standalone novels to this series.

2014.43 REVIEW – I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers
by Barry Lyga

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 282
Rating: 2.5/5
Read: Sept. 7 – 14, 2014
Challenge: RIP IX
Yearly count: 43
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: Jasper Dent #1

I Hunt KillersBlurb: What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I first saw this book in a NetGalley email. I don’t read a ton of young adult, but something about this book really caught my attention. I requested it and was excited to see that I had been approved for it.

Overall, I am a little disappointed in this book. It started out pretty interesting. But then somewhere along the way I really started disliking Jazz’s character and it all kind of went downhill from there. I was just so tired of his attitude. I get that he’s a teenager and he’s angsty. I get that his circumstances suck. But I could hardly stand the “oh, I think I am a serial killer because my dad is one” attitude that he kept taking. Deep down I want to believe he’s a good kid. But he seems to think otherwise. And it was a contradiction that just didn’t work out for me.

I actually got to about 70% done and was seriously considering giving up on the book. But at that point you get so far in and you don’t really want to quit. So I persevered on and finished it. I didn’t gain or lose anything from reading this book, and I think that’s why I had such a problem with it. It wasn’t horrible, yet it wasn’t very good. It was just so-so. But the potential. Oh the potential was so there. The whole idea of what happens when you’re the kid of America’s most infamous serial killer … that really was interesting. But the execution just didn’t work for me. And that’s really disappointing to me.

Maybe I didn’t “get” this book because I’m not a huge YA reader. I don’t know. But it didn’t really work for me.

2014.32 REVIEW – The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three
by Sarah Lotz

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 395
Rating: 2/5
Read: July 5-July 15, 2014
Challenge: What’s in a Name
Yearly count: 32
Format:  E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: N/A

The ThreeBlurb: Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioral problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behavior becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…

Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I originally saw this book mentioned in a Shelf Awareness email. It sounded really good and I was excited when I got the notification saying that I had been approved for a copy on NetGalley. Then I do like I seem to do with every single e-book I get … I let it sit. And sit. And sit some more. I decided it was time to clear this book off my review list and loaded it up onto my Nook and took off with it.

Now that I’ve finished this book, I’m just confused. First of all this book is billed as “horror.” To me there’s not a lick of horror in this book. I can’t even bring myself to call it creepy in any way, shape or form. I think horror fans are going to be sorely disappointed by this book.

The premise behind the book sounds really interesting. But the execution was just lacking in my opinion. I was okay with the book within a book format, but then it took a really strange turn at the end that I didn’t understand. The ending was so ambiguous and I did not like that at all.

Obviously the book wasn’t horrendous, because I finished it. But it just didn’t work for me.

2014.22 REVIEW – Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis

Critical Damage
by Robert K. Lewis

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 303
Rating: 4/5
Read: May 11 – May 15, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 22
Format:  Print
Source: Author for review
Series: Mark Mallen #2

Critical DamageBlurb
: When ex-cop and recovering junkie Mark Mallen is asked to track down two very different girls who have gone missing, he doesn’t think twice about putting himself in harm’s way to find them. Bloodied and bruised, Mallen shakes down the pimps and hustlers who could crack the cases wide open, leaving no stone unturned in San Francisco’s criminal underground.

But something isn’t right. Somebody’s trying to scare Mallen off, and it’s no ordinary street thug. With heat coming at him from all angles, Mallen’s search for the truth leads him to men who will stop at nothing to make sure their twisted desires never see the light of day.

Review: I received a copy of this book for free from the author for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I read and reviewed the first Mark Mallen book, Untold Damage last year as part of a TLC Book Tour. So I was really excited to be contacted by Mr. Lewis himself about reading and reviewing the second Mallen book. I was definitely on board!

I took a gander through my review from Untold Damage, just to try to refresh my memory a little bit before I sat down to write this review out. I can tell you that I loved this book just as much as I loved the first one!

In this particular installment, the prediction I had in last year’s review came true, Gato most definitely asked Mallen for a big favor. His sister had gone missing and he came to Mallen for help. In the end, though, they both had to help each other to get out of the mess they found themselves in.

I still really like Mark Mallen. There’s just something about his character. And I’m pleased to say that (so far) he’s staying clean! I want him to stay clean so badly. If not for him, then most definitely for his daughter, Anna. I think I warmed up to Gato more in this installment than I did in the previous book. Yes, he did end up asking for a big favor from Mallen that definitely got them involved in more than they could have ever imagined, but his intent was pure … he just wanted to find his sister. I think Mallen and Gato would definitely be the kind of guys you would want as friends, they will do anything to help their friends out.

The action in this book was non-stop from just about page 1. I read the first 80 pages in one setting and was bummed that I had to put it aside for other obligations. I kept trying to figure out how on earth Mallen and Gato could get themselves in such trouble in such a short period of time! The writing was very good, but the language is not for the faint of heart (if that bothers you in a book). If you like gritty, non-stop action, with a flawed main character that you want to succeed more than anything, then this book is most definitely for you!

I really can’t say enough about this book. I loved it. Really loved it. And I love Mark Mallen’s character. And after perusing Mr. Lewis’s blog, I discovered that there will be a 3rd Mallen book! Yay!

Overall, a book that I highly recommend. If you haven’t met Mark Mallen yet, do yourself a favor and read Untold Damage. [You could read this book first, but I think you need to have the background information the first book has to really understand who Mark Mallen is.] If you have met Mallen, then don’t hesitate to pick this one up – I really, really, really liked it … and dare I say … I think this book is even better than the first!

On a side note, I want to include a link to Mr. Lewis’s blog post that shows a little more detail into his personal writing process. I have always wondered how authors can possibly sit down and put it all on paper. I definitely have a great respect for authors in what they do. But this particular blog post, found here, definitely shows his process, which I personally found to be really neat.

2013.32 REVIEW – Top Down by Jim Lehrer

Top Down 
by Jim Lehrer

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 246
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: July 19 – July 23, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 32
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley

Top DownBlurb: In a riveting novel rooted in one of American history’s great “what ifs,” Jim Lehrer tells the story of two men haunted by the events leading up to John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

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.

2013.16 REVIEW – Untold Damage by Robert K. Lewis

Untold Damage
by Robert K. Lewis

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 289
Read: March 25-29, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 16
Format: Print
Source: Author for TLC Book Tours

Untold DamageBlurb: 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:

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.

tlc logoPlease be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

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