2012.27 REVIEW – Rules of Prey by John Sandford

Rules of Prey
by John Sandford

Copyright: 1989
Pages: 479
Rating: 5/5
Read: Oct. 18-Oct. 22, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly count: 27
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb: The killer was mad but brilliant.

He left notes with every woman he killed. Rules of murder: Never have a motive. Never follow a discernible pattern. Never carry a weapon after it has been used… So many rules to his sick, violent games of death.

But Lucas Davenport, the cop who’s out to get him, isn’t playing by the rules.


Review: Looking back, I realized that I have only read two books in this series – both of them more recent installments. And now that I have read the first book in the series all I can do is shake my head and wonder what is the matter with me? I loved this book. Like, love love loved. Seriously. Since having Garrett in May it’s been hard for me to get any kind of rhythm back into my reading. I’ve been reading what I’ve had to read by deadlines I’ve agreed to. But other than that, reading books off of my shelves has been a little hit or miss lately. But this book – this book definitely broke me out of that cycle! I simply couldn’t put it down. When Garrett would take his nap I would pick this book up (when I should have been doing laundry, dishes, work, etc.) and would be upset when he woke up again. Because I wanted to keep reading!

I just have to say that Lucas Davenport is a badass cop. He pretty much does what he wants when he wants to. Some of the things he did in this book, well they would be a little outside the normal boundaries. But I think that that’s what made this book feel so much more real to me. Davenport isn’t necessarily a play-by-the-rules kind of guy. He’s killed five (six?!) men in the line of duty – most cops never even pull their guns. And he didn’t have any remorse about doing what had to be done in order to catch the maddog – even if it was a little outside the lines of legal.

Now I will state that this book was originally released in 1989 – that means that things were a little dated. And seriously – who uses the word prophylactic? I had never even heard that term before! They’re condoms, people! And it wasn’t used just once – no, it was used throughout the entire book. So much so that it was a little overboard at times. Obviously there were no cell phones, no internet, no widespread computer use. (Can you imagine how hard police work must have been before the age of computers?!) It definitely ages the book, but I honestly didn’t even notice most of the time because the writing and storyline were that good.

Overall I want to hit myself upside the head for waiting so long to read this book. I have had it on my shelf since 2007 (and I know that because I actually remember buying it at the grocery story when I was first married). I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you have somehow missed this book, I highly recommend hunting down a copy and giving it a shot.

2012.25 REVIEW – Takedown by Brad Thor

Takedown
by Brad Thor

Copyright: 2006
Pages: 433
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 25-Oct. 3, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly count: 25
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb: July 4th weekend, New York City: As thousands of holiday travelers make their way out of Manhattan, a flawlessly executed terrorist attack plunges the city into a maelstrom of panic and death. Amidst the chaos, an elite team of foreign soldiers is systematically searching for one of their own, a man so powerful that the U.S. government refuses to admit he even exists and will do anything to keep him hidden. Now, with the world’s deadliest enemy upon America’s doorstep, counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath must fight his way through the burning city streets to take down an invisible terrorist mastermind with the means to unleash hell on a global scale.


Review: What a great installment in this series! I would definitely consider it the best one thus far. And the ending – wow, what a cliffhanger! I suppose it was surprising because Mr. Thor hadn’t done a cliffhanging ending in the previous four books of this series, so it was definitely unexpected. It for sure made me very eager to get to the next book (which I would have done immediately if I didn’t have review books that have to get read. )

Unlike the previous books, this one was set in the United States. I definitely preferred that simply because I could understand the setting a little bit better. These books are a little bit out of my comfort zone with the terrorist aspects to them, but I thoroughly enjoy them.

The writing in Mr. Thor’s books is alway exceptional; he definitely has a great editor because there never seem to be any grammatical errors (sometimes I feel like I’m the grammar police, but bad grammar is a big pet peeve of mine).

We met a slew of new characters in this installment that I hope will make some appearances in later books. Character development (another biggie for me) was done quite well and definitely left me wanting to learn more and more about these new characters!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

2012.24 REVIEW – Betrayal by Gregg Olsen ((Giveaway!))

Betrayal
by Gregg Olsen

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 267
Rating: 5/5
Read: Sept. 19-23, 2012
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge; Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 24
Format: Print
Source: Review copy for The Readiacs’ blog tour

Blurb: When foreign exchange student Olivia Grant is stabbed to death at a party, the accusations fly through Port Gamble faster than Twitter trending. Fingers point at frenemy Brianna and her dim-witted boyfriend, Drew. But loner and host-roommate Beth Lee may also have an ax to grind, which sends her best friends Hayley and Taylor Ryan down a twisted path to clear her name – only to discover a tangled web of shocking secrets about all of them.


Review: After reading Envy last year, I was eagerly anticipating the 2012 release of Betrayal! So I was more than thrilled when I got the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for this book :)

This particular installment in the Empty Coffin series felt a lot different from Envy did. This was more than just Hayley and Taylor’s story – there were other characters that had a big impact in the storyline. With the storyline revolving around a murder, the reader gets a lot of perspective from the local police department, including Chief Annie Garnett –  a character that I personally liked.

But that’s not to say that Hayley and Taylor weren’t the main characters, because they definitely were. I find it amazing what kind of trouble Hayley and Taylor can get themselves into. They sure got themselves into some precarious situations in this book. And it’s not because they’re stupid either – most of the time they knew better, but they are stubborn and determined young women.  also can’t help but wonder what else can happen in little Port Gamble, Washington. That town is full of some dandy people – not just the teenagers! Plus we got to learn a little more about the twins’ “secret.” What  we learn at the end of the book definitely makes me look forward to the next book in the Empty Coffin series – Guilty.

One thing that really resonates with me when I read this series is that Gregg Olsen really seems to get teenagers. There’s been a few times when I’ve read YA books and the author just doesn’t seem to understand teenagers and the way they thing/talk/act. Gregg Olsen does. And while I may not be a teenager anymore (and haven’t been for 8 years) and while I don’t necessarily understand the current generation of teenagers myself, I can still remember what it was like to be in high school. As I said, some authors don’t seem to be able to get the teenager feeling onto the pages, but Gregg Olsen does a great job with that in my opinion. And may I just say that I definitely had a Brianna in my graduating class ;)

There was “Truth in Fiction” section at the end of the book where Mr. Olsen discusses how a recent case in Italy (Amanda Knox) lended itself somewhat to this book. Personally, I only know the very bare bones of the Amanda Knox case, so I can’t say much about the similarities. But this seems to be a theme with the Empty Coffin series since Envy revolved around cyber-bullying and referenced the Megan Meier case out of Missouri. I know a lot of authors get their original inspiration for novels from actual headlines around our country. I actually like that Mr. Olsen includes a little information at the end of both books about what (I’m assuming here) prompted the original inspiration for the particular novel.

Overall I would highly recommend this book. I think that it will definitely appeal to a very wide audience – not just the YA crowd. While this book can stand as a standalone, I definitely recommend reading Envy first so you can understand the characters better.


—–> GIVEAWAY!! <—–

    

I am thrilled to announce that I am hosting a giveaway of my ARC of Betrayal AND a finished paperback copy of Envy!

US entrants, only.

As always, your information will never be shared and the form will be deleted upon the end of the giveaway.

Giveaway begins 9/25 and will end 10/2 at 5pm central time. Winner will be selected using random.org and will be announced here on the blog. (And the winner will also get a confirmation email)


Be sure to check out the other tour stops on the Betrayal blog tour:

Monday, September 24thThe Reading Date
Tuesday, September 25thTales of a Book Addict
Wednesday, September 26thReading Lark
Thursday, September 27th A Dream within a Dream
Friday, September 28thEvie Bookish

Monday, October 1stYA Between the Lines
Tuesday, October 2ndI Am a Reader, Not a Writer
Wednesday, October 3rdNerd Alien
Thursday, October 4thHopeless Bibliophile
Friday, October 5th – Book Hi (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t find this blog when I googled it – if you know this blog please let me know so I can add the link)

2012.23 REVIEW – The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O’Brien

The Lincoln Conspiracy
by Timothy L. O’Brien

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 296
Read: Sept. 10-18, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 23
Format: E-Book
Source: Review copy through NetGalley

Blurb: A nation shattered by its president’s murder
Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy
A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him

From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O’Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined?

In late spring of 1865, as America mourns the death of its leader, Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden makes a startling discovery. Strapped to the body of a dead man at the B&O Railroad station are two diaries, two documents that together reveal the true depth of the Lincoln conspiracy. Securing the diaries will put Temple’s life in jeopardy-and will endanger the fragile peace of a nation still torn by war.

Temple’s quest to bring the conspirators to justice takes him on a perilous journey through the gaslit streets of the Civil War-era capital, into bawdy houses and back alleys where ruthless enemies await him in every shadowed corner. Aided by an underground network of friends-and by his wife, Fiona, a nurse who possesses a formidable arsenal of medicinal potions-Temple must stay one step ahead of Lafayette Baker, head of the Union Army’s spy service. Along the way, he’ll run from or rely on Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s fearsome secretary of war; the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; the photographer Alexander Gardner; and many others.

Bristling with twists and building to a climax that will leave readers gasping,The Lincoln Conspiracy offers a riveting new account of what truly motivated the assassination of one of America’s most beloved presidents-and who participated in the plot to derail the train of liberty that Lincoln set in motion.


Review: I originally saw this book on LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program a couple of months back. I was immediately intrigued – pretty much anything with the name “Lincoln” will get my attention. I was incredibly sad when I didn’t snag a copy. I checked to see if my local library had a copy on order – they didn’t. Then I decided to see if maybe it was available on NetGalley (a service that I rarely use because I really do not like reading e-books). I was encouraged when I found that it was listed – and was even more thrilled when I got accepted for a copy! I got my Nook Color out, dusted it off, charged it up (because I honestly don’t think I had turned it on in over a year) and loaded the book onto it. Then I let it sit. For weeks. Finally I realized that if I wanted this review to get done around the release date, I would have to get on it.

My feelings on this book overall are mixed. I need to start out by saying that, for me, this book started out extremely slow. Like to the point where if it hadn’t been a review copy, I probably never would have finished it just because the beginning was that tough to get through. But I carried on … and I can honestly say that I am very glad that I stuck with it. It was about 75-100 pages in when it started to really get interesting.

While reading this book it didn’t really feel that much like a historical novel. Obviously it was, seeing as how it was set in 1865, but there was something about the language that didn’t make it seem historical. The context was there, but the language was not, I suppose it the best way for me to describe it. Personally, I liked that. I tend to shy away from anything that has flowery descriptions of things or that has wording that is harder for me to understand because of the differences in the wording we use today versus what was used in the past. This book didn’t have that feel to it (which might have some historical fiction fans upset). I’m not 100% sure, but I think part of the reason why I get that vibe from this book is simply because it was written by a man. All the historical fiction that I have read (and trust me, my experience with the genre is limited) has been authored by women. Either way, it doesn’t really matter because I enjoyed the book.

I liked the characters. Temple and Fiona are a good couple, they definitely compliment each other perfectly. Poor Temple, he was always ruining his boots – much to the chagrin of Fiona!! I liked Augustus as well. Having a black man play such an important role in a white couple’s life during the 1860s was quite interesting. They truly considered him a friend and I liked that, particularly since it was set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. I don’t think that made much sense, it’s really hard to find the wording for my feelings on this.

The “mystery” of this book was interesting. It obviously revolves around the diaries that are mentioned in the blurb above. It was neat seeing the cipher be broken bit by bit throughout the book. And there sure were a lot of people in D.C. that wanted those diaries covered up! It definitely made for some exciting moments. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have had more information on what was in Mrs. Lincoln’s diary than what the reader sees.

The ending of the book …. oh, how do I explain this without giving too much away. Let me start with this – the ending frustrated me! I guess I wanted more closure than I felt like I got. We never know who Maestro really is. I have a pretty good guess just by the clues that are given about him, but I have no concrete evidence as to if my suspicion is correct. And that irritated me! However, having said that, I suppose it adds to the suspense of the overall story.

Overall I would highly recommend this book. I’m glad that I persevered through that slow beginning and finished the book. It might technically be a historical fiction book, but I really think it will appeal to the thriller/suspense crowd as well.

 

2012.22 REVIEW – DiSemblance by Shanae Branham

 

 

DiSemblance
by Shanae Branham

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 369
Read: Sept. 4-8, 2012
Challenge: The Eclectic Reader 2012, Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 22
Format: Print
Source: Review copy provided by author

Blurb: As a computer prodigy, Jason has spent his life with limited social contact due to his father’s secretive work on a hologram machine that can create digital immortality. When his father is murdered and framed as the Comfort Killer, Jason is targeted as the killer’s new fall guy. Having spent much of his youth living in the virtual world his father created, he must now go on the run if he is going to save himself, his brother, and the beautiful girl next door.


Review: I was contacted directly by the author to review this book.

My faithful readers know that I don’t read a lot of young adult books. But when I was pitched this book, something about it really caught my attention.

I finished this book this morning. And I’ve been sitting on it trying to figure out how to best review it. Let me start with this: nothing is as it seems in this book. There were times where I couldn’t even tell what was real life and what was happening in the machine.

There is truly so much that could be said about this book, but I want to be careful and not give too much away, because I think that it would be very easy to say too much about this particular book.

Generally, I  have a pretty low tolerance to unbelievable things. This pretty well explains why I usually dislike anything paranormal or science fiction. But for some reason this book didn’t bother me. And it should have; seriously, a hologram machine? Whatever the reason, it worked for me.

The characters were well developed. I especially liked how Bruce and Angela were at odds throughout the entire book. I personally felt as if that made things feel so much more believable. Jason and Isaac seemed to be your typical teenage brothers. And while the story really belonged to Jason, I felt as if Bruce was a truly great supporting character. His part in the story was integral to the whole book. I felt like he was really the hero in this book. Definitely an A+ for this book in terms of character development.  (I guess I should mention that character development is HUGE for me).

My one complaint is that there were a few minor typos. I’m just such a stickler for perfect grammar. But I’ve determined that just about every single book on the market has typos. It makes me have flashbacks to senior year in high school when I was feature editor of our school newspaper and I had to edit so many mistakes out of every article that crossed my desk! But in reality, I only noticed two typos, not bad in a 300+ page book.

So what does all this rambling have to do with my thoughts on this book? I liked it. A lot, actually. I found it fast paced and engrossing. I would start reading and realize that I had flown through 50 pages before I realized it. I’m definitely glad that Ms. Branham stumbled across my blog and sent me her pitch, I would never have found this book otherwise. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good read. It’s not just for the young adult crowd or the science fiction crowd. It’s definitely a book that will appeal to a wide variety of readers and I highly recommend it.

 

2012.21 REVIEW – Fireproof by Alex Kava

 

Fireproof
by Alex Kava

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 307
Rating: 5/5
Read: Aug. 13-21, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly Count: 21
Format: Print
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer

Blurb: When an abandoned warehouse in Washington, D.C., bursts into flames on a cold winter night, the first investigators on the scene instantly spot similarities to a string of recent fires in the area. There is one difference, however: This one has a human casualty. The local team insists the murder is an isolated incident, concluding that the culprit must be a bored young man suffering from an uncontrollable impulse to act out anger and sexual aggression. But when Special Agent Maggie O’Dell is called in, everything she sees indicates that this is the work if a far more dangerous and calculating criminal.

Jeffery Cole, a reporter looking for his big break, is also at the scene of the crime and decides to make Maggie part of his news piece, putting the spotlight on her and digging up aspects of her past she would rather forget. Maggie’s half brother, Patrick, is back in D.C. too, working for a private fire-fighting company, and he is frequently called in as these fires continue to light up around the city.

As the acts of arson become more brazen and bodies keep turning up, Maggie’s professional and personal worlds begin to collide dangerously. She starts to fear for Patrick’s safety as he is sent into the flames set by this madman again and again, and Jeffery is becoming a very unwelcome distraction. Meanwhile, the arsonist-murderer may be much closer than Maggie imagines.


Review: I received this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

This is the 10th book in the Maggie O’Dell series. After being a little disappointed in the previous two installments, I was a little unsure about this book. I still wanted to read it, but I went into it not knowing if it would live up to the expectations I so badly wanted out of it.

Luckily this book was as good as I wanted it to be. Maggie is back and better than ever, in my opinion.

The  identity of the arsonist is not really all that shocking, and easily detected quite early. But that didn’t really bother me. I was a lot more interested in seeing a possible love interest for Patrick and the possibility of a serial killer. I am assuming that this will be the direction that the next book goes in.

But what I really appreciated about this book was that Maggie was back front and center. My complaint about the two previous books was that Maggie felt more like a supporting character rather than the main character. That was not the case in this book. And that was definitely a much needed move for this series.

While this book is the 10th in the series, I felt as if it had enough background to stand somewhat on its own. However, I think it would most definitely make you want to read the previous books.

Overall, I’m glad I got the opportunity to read this book and I would highly recommend it to others.

2012.20 REVIEW – Blowback by Brad Thor

Blowback
by Brad Thor

Copyright: 2005
Pages: 568
Rating: 4/5
Read: July 30 – Aug. 11, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly Count: 20
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb: Scott Harvath’s counterterrorism career has just crashed and burned – thanks in part to a ruthless senator with her sights set on the White House. But when the war on terror takes a chilling turn, the president has no choice but to secretly bring Harvath back inside. Deep beneath an Alpine glacier, an ancient weapon designed to decimate the Roman Empire has been unearthed – and a shadowy organization intends to use it for America’s downfall. Racing across Europe, Harvath must secure the ultimate instrument of destruction before it brings the United States and the rest of the world to its knees.


Review: This is the fourth in the Scot Harvath series. I read the first three last year and then took a big break. These books are not easy reading. But I have enjoyed all four books in this series.

I’m still trying to figure out what to say about this book. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But as I stated above, Mr. Thor’s books are not easy to read. They definitely take a lot more concentration to get through. So with everything going on in my life, I am pleasantly surprised that I was able to get through this book as quickly as I did. I say this because I actually tried to read this book earlier this year and actually had to set it aside because I simply didn’t have the concentration for it (pregnancy brain at it’s finest!) However, I am very glad that I decided to pick this book back up when I did. Because I found it to be a very exciting read.

I sometimes struggle with books that have terrorist aspects. There’s no particular reason for this, other than it’s outside my comfort zone. But in this book, it didn’t phase me at all. There were a few times throughout the book that I struggled to understand what was going on, but that was always when they were discussing the weapon that is at the heart of the plot.

As I stated earlier, this is the fourth book in the series. While I always prefer to read books in order, I do not think that it would be a requirement for this book. I felt as if it could have read as a stand-alone just as well.

I like Scot’s character. Mr. Thor has managed to make him quite appealing in my opinion. First he’s married to his job. But he’s also not a womanizer. And it was in this particular installment that the reader really gets to see that Scot may be regretting not being settled down. I am definitely anxious to see where Scot’s romantic life takes him in subsequent books. There’s just something about his character that fits perfectly in my opinion. It’s hard for me to put into words what I feel about this.

Another thing that I like about these books is that Mr. Thor always seems to have a very strong female secondary character. This complements Scot quite well. And it also fits my tastes perfectly. I hate the whole damsel in distress thing, so I enjoy seeing Scot interact with women who are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves.

Overall, while these books may not be for everyone, I enjoy them quite a lot and would definitely recommend them.