4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Dark Harbor by Stuart Woods

Dark Harbor
by Stuart Woods

Dark Harbor

 

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 374

Read: Sept. 4 – 6, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Grandmother

 

Blurb: Stone Barrington hasn’t heard from his cousin Dick Stone in years. Then an otherwise pleasant meal at Elaine’s is interrupted by the CIA with the news of Dick’s death – apparently by his own hand. It seems that Dick Stone, a quiet family man who doubled as a CIA agent, methodically executed his wife, daughter, and himself – or did he? Appointed executor of Dick’s will, Stone must settle the estate and – with the help of his ex-partner Dino and friend Holly Barker – piece together the elusive facts of his cousin’s life and death as a CIA operative. At every step, Stone knows he is being watched by Dick’s family – and one of them just may be the killer…


Review: This is the 12th book in the Stone Barrington series. They are no literary feats, but they’re usually a good, fun, and quick read. This installment is no exception to that. It had been a few months since I last visited with Stone, so it was nice to jump back in with the gang.

This particular book was enjoyable. I liked the storyline and there was a twist with Holly that really ramped up the suspense in this one! My one and only complaint is Stone’s womanizing – how can he go from practically proposing to Arrington to hopping in bed with Holly within 24 hours irritates me to no end.

Overall, a fun and fast read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it has definitely left me wanting to get to #13 sooner rather than later!

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Meme, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

September 18: Books On My Fall TBR

So the last time I participated in this was the week we did the spring TBR list …. of those 10 books, I read 3 and DNF’d 1. Oops?! Actually that’s a little bit better than I had anticipated 😀 So … once again, I’m going to make a list. If I read even one of these I’ll probably consider it a win, ha! I’m keeping 3 from my spring list on my fall list. Here we go:

The Swans of Fifth AvenueWhat HappenedDead LettersLittle Fires EverywhereThe Alice Network

One Perfect LieGhostedThe Book of EssieThe Underground RailroadThe Female Persuasion

 

Presidential Reading Challenge

Presidential Reading Challenge Sept 2018 Update

Ok … so I am now 9 months into my Presidential Reading Challenge and I thought it would be a good time to update you on how I am doing. I am still working on George Washington … yep, 9 months in and I’m still on President #1. Oops?! I knew this would not be a fast venture, but I expected to at least get through Washington & Adams this year.

So I have just started my 5th Washington book. I’m on book 4 of James Thomas Flexner’s 4-book series. The books are quite long and in some spots, quite dry. So it is definitely slow going. But slow and steady wins the race … right?

I technically have 2 more Washington books on my shelf. I have the Ron Chernow book and I also have recently acquired Henry Wiencek’s An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America. I’m a little on the fence about whether or not I really want to tackle the Chernow book to be completely honest. I hate to skip it, but at the same time I’m not really excited to take on nearly 1000 pages in one book. If it reads like these last few books have read, it will take me a year just to get through that one. So the verdict is still out on that one. The Wiencek book was an impulse purchase because I’ve been quite intrigued about Washington’s entire view on slavery and am eager to dig more into that aspect of his life.

I have also recently been thinking about adding on a book about each President’s wife after I finish with the President. I just ordered a Martha Washington biography, so I will probably incorporate that into this challenge as well.

I probably need to make a list of other things I’d like to explore in the future, because there have been numerous people mentioned in these biographies that I’ve read that I would like to learn more about at some point. I’ve also considered hitting the pause button, so to speak, to read a book or two about the early years of our government. There’s been so much not mentioned in these biographies of Washington that I feel like I should buff up on my history a little bit more. But again … that just adds more to my load. I’m making this wayyyyyyy too complicated!

So yeah … I’m still chugging along. And of course I want to make this so much harder than it really needs to be. I probably should have just kept it to one book per President … but nope, I had to go and purchase a 6 book series on Thomas Jefferson….

But I’m still having fun, so I suppose that’s the most important part!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: George Washington and the New Nation (1783-1793) by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington and the New Nation (1783-1793)
by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington and the New Nation

 

Copyright: 1969, 1970

Pages: 425

Read: July 13 – September 11, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Powells.com

 

 

Blurb: George Washington and the New Nation begins with Washington’s return to Mount Vernon, a victorious, but exhausted soldier eagerly seeking the pleasures of a quiet country life. Free of heavy responsibilities, his character expands in genial, often unexpected ways. All too soon, however, the idyll is broken. Washington is called to lead the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Popular confidence in him secures the ratification of the new government by the states. He is unanimously chosen our first President.

In the face of growing faction and division, Washington helps mold our major governmental institutions and gives durable shape to the Presidency. He is accused of many failings. He is guilty of some. His personal life is strained by countless pressures. But at the end of four years, Washington has seemingly proved the viability of the republican form of government to a watching world of kings.

Even as Washington dreams of final retirement, however, the storm raised by the French Revolution threatens to overwhelm the United States. Now Jefferson and Hamilton – the two men who have, throughout our history, epitomized the polarities of American political thought – join in begging Washington to stay on. They warn that, if Washington relinquishes the Presidency, the country may well pull apart.


Review: This is the 3rd book in Mr. Flexner’s 4-book series on George Washington. Having enjoyed the first book and feeling somewhat lukewarm about the second book, I was looking forward to getting to this one. I was excited to learn more about how the country’s government was shaped and Mr. Washington’s first term as President. It also made me realize (AGAIN!) that my memory of the history of our country’s early years is really severely lacking. I keep reading and realizing that there’s so many other things that I need to brush up on … more reading I suppose 🙂

This particular book was again extremely well researched and it read quite easily. Even though these books were written in the 1960s and 1970s, they read as easily as any contemporary biography would. That definitely makes things a lot easier for me. My one and only complaint on this book was how the feud between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton basically took over the last 100 or so pages. I had to remind myself that yes, I was reading a biography on Washington … not Jefferson and/or Hamilton.

Overall, a really good book that I enjoyed. I’m definitely looking forward to the fourth and final book in this series. The final book covers Washington’s second term up to his death. It’s a chunkster for sure … but I’m eager to learn even more about Washington!

2.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, L, Michael Bennett, P, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Burn by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Burn
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Burn

 

Copyright: 2014

Pages: 385

Read: Aug 28 – 31, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Grandmother

 

Blurb: At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good.

Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. But when a charred body is found in that very same building, the detective is forced to take the demented caller seriously – and becomes drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.


Review: I can always rely on Mr. Patterson for a fun and easy read. It had been quite some time since I had visited with Michael Bennett and his family, so I was looking forward to jumping back in with the Bennett’s.

Overall, this was a good book. I really enjoyed Bennett’s new squad, they added some good new characters for the series. I seriously hope that he continues with that new squad and we get to see more of them in future books.

This particular installment had some interesting storylines, with the diamond heists as well as cannibalism. Very strange, but for whatever reason, it made for interesting reading.

My one and only complaint was the ending … or lack, thereof. It was frustrating the way it ended. I was looking for a few more answers and a nice little wrap up in the epilogue, but that never happened. It just ended. It almost felt as if something was left out. It was a little disappointing.

But overall, the book was enjoyable and definitely left me wanting more of the Bennett family and looking forward to reading on in this series.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, September 10, 2018

Mailbox Mondays

This week I received my Page 1 Books subscription, my bookcase.club subscription and my BOTM selection! Woo for book mail!

First is my Page 1 Books subscription:

The Darkest SecretTwelve years ago, Mila Jackson’s three-year-old half-sister Coco disappeared during their father’s fiftieth birthday party. Her identical twin Ruby was left behind as the only witness. The girls’ father, Sean, was wealthy and influential, as were the friends gathered at their seaside vacation home for the weekend’s debauchery. The case ignited a media frenzy and forever changed the lives of everyone involved.

Now, Sean Jackson is dead, and the people who were present that terrible night must gather once more for a funeral that will reveal that the secrets of the past can never stay hidden.

 


Then I received two from my bookcase.club subscription:

The Second Life of Nick MasonNick Mason has already spent five years inside a maximum security prison when he gets an offer that will grant his release twenty years early. He accepts – but the deal comes with a terrible price.

Now back on the streets, Nick has a new house, a new car, money to burn, and a beautiful roommate. He’s returned to society, but he’s still a prisoner. Whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, Nick must answer it and follow whatever order he is given. It’s the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind serving a double life term who runs an empire from his prison cell.

Forced to commit increasingly more dangerous crimes, hunted by the relentless detective who put him behind bars, and desperate to go straight and rebuild his life with his daughter and ex-wife, Nick will ultimately have to risk everything – his family, his sanity, and even his life – to finally break free.

Close Your EyesA mother and her teenage daughter are found murdered in a remote farmhouse, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other posed like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her prince. Joe O’Laughlin is drawn into the investigation when a former student, trading on Joe’s reputation and calling himself “the Mindhunter,” jeopardizes the police inquiry by leaking details to the media and stirring up public anger.

Joe discovers a link between the farmhouse murders and a series of vicious attacks in which the victims are choked unconscious and brutally scarred. Now he must stop a ruthless and brash criminal who has apparently graduated to murder.

Much to Joe’s surprise, he is ably assisted by his eldest daughter, a keen and courageous observer in her own right. Together they must track and catch a hunter who seems to anticipate every move they make.


And finally, from BOTM I selected:

Cross Her HeartLisa lives a very quiet life. A single mother nearing forty, she values her privacy and devotes herself to raising her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ava. Wary of men, Lisa doesn’t speak of her past or Ava’s absent father. Her best friend and coworker, Marilyn, wishes she would open up more and maybe finally go on a date – especially with the sexy new client who’s obviously keen – but maybe Marilyn shouldn’t be handing out dating advice given her own problems.

Ava, meanwhile, is getting tired of her overprotective mother. She wants to live like a normal teenager – chill with friends, go to swim practice, study for exams, have a boyfriend. Her mom would freak if she knew that Ava’s already got someone special, someone exciting and mysterious, who makes her feel sophisticated – and wanted.

Lisa has spent a long time looking over her shoulder, but lately she’s been especially uneasy. Just when she starts to let her guard down, small things from the past begin to intrude upon her carefully constructed life, feeding her anxiety. As her world begins to unravel, Lisa knows that the only way she can protect herself and her daughter is to face her fears. Yet courage won’t be enough. She’ll need help from the only person she can trust – Marilyn. Between them they have to save Ava, and to do that, they have to be honest with each other. Truly honest. Marilyn did promise she’d do anything to help.

But a long time ago, Lisa made a promise too. Then she broke her word. And that betrayal hasn’t been forgotten – or forgiven. Now someone is going to make her pay for her sin. A captivating and hair-raising psychological thriller, Cross Her Heart is a masterful tale of obsession, intrigue, and suspense that will leave you reeling.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Stephanie Plum

Review: Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

Ten Big Ones
by Janet Evanovich

Ten Big Ones

 

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 319

Read: Aug 22 – 27, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Goodwill

 

Blurb: Swing off the Jersey Turnpike and you’ll be in bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s neighborhood. You’ll know it because all hell will be breaking loose. Not that she looks for trouble – it just seems to follow her. In Ten Big Ones it explodes at a deli, and when Stephanie pegs a robber as a member of a vicious Trenton gang, they peg her as dead. Vice cop Joe Morelli fears she’s in way too deep – even with the help of crime-solving, cross-dressing bus driver Sally Sweet, and Stephanie’s friend Lula riding shotgun as backup. With a notorious killer on her tail, Stephanie figures the best hideout is Ranger’s secret lair…


Review: It had been about a year since the last time I had read a Stephanie Plum novel. I read quite a few of them in a relatively short time period and as a result, kind of burned out on them. So I knew I needed to take a break before I picked another one up. I’m glad that I made that decision, because I ended up really loving this book!

I cannot tell you how funny this particular installment is. I mean it was a laugh a minute!  Sure there are some roll-your-eyes moments (like when Stephanie has another car blown up…) but for the most part this one was just a really fun romp! And then there was the addition of Sally Sweet – what a hoot he is! And Ranger … the mystery of that man just oozes off the page…

Overall I’m really glad that I read this one; I really enjoyed it and it has definitely renewed my interest in this series!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake
by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake

 

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 286

Read: Aug 14 – 26, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Kindle Unlimited/Audible

 

Blurb: Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.


Review: I have seen this book around for a bit and had been interested in it, but never had a chance to pick it up or anything. Then I signed up for Kindle Unlimited & Audible on Prime Day … and realized that I could read this one for free. I decided to read it on Audible because I had a Goodreads challenge that required me to read an audiobook. I knew this was an awesome opportunity to read a book I have had my eye on and knock out that audiobook at the same time. Not going to lie … I’ve never had good luck with audiobooks, but I was looking forward to giving it a shot again. Thankfully, I found it easier this time around.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed Gwen’s voice and her story. I was not overall thrilled with the narrator, but the story was able to sweep me in enough to look past the narration. I was questioning every single person that Gwen came into contact with … they were all suspicious at one point or another. It was a really interesting storyline. My main complaint was that the book did end with somewhat of a cliffhanger. I really dislike that in books, but it was still a good book overall.

I enjoyed this one. I’m not sure I will be an audio lover, but it’s not a terrible way to read. But I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on with Gwen’s story and seeing what happens after that cliffhanger!

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, September 3, 2018

Mailbox Mondays

This past weekend we sent the kiddos to the grandparents and headed over to Evansville to my favorite used book store, The Book Broker. I took some books for trade and came home with 9 new-to-me books! Here’s the new goodies I picked up:

WarriorsFive years ago a brilliant American scientist, well known in high-tech military circles, suddenly disappeared without a trace off the streets of Washington, D.C.

Now a professor at Cambridge University is murdered, a victim of bizarre, ancient Chinese torture methods. Counterspy Alex Hawke teams with former Scotland Yard chief inspector Ambrose Congreve to find the killer, but they soon discover that this death is merely the opening gambit in a tense and lethal game of geopolitical brinkmanship.

In the United States, the president is behaving erratically and some begin to question his fitness for leadership as hostile exchanges and new technologies ramp up tensions between China, North Korea, and the United States – threatening western military superiority.

With the situation edging closer and closer to the abyss, Hawke must face down a superb Chinese assassin and pull off his most daring mission yet: infiltrate enemy territory and neutralize their advantage … or risk the outbreak of World War III.


The BreathtakerA mammoth twister tears through the sleepy town of Promise, Oklahoma, and leaves behind three mutilated bodies in a ravaged farmhouse. Police Chief Charlie Grover believes the victims were impaled by flying debris … until gruesome evidence comes to light, proving that they were brutally murdered. How could the killer predict exactly when and where a tornado would strike and use it to cover his tracks?

With the aid of a tornado-chasing scientist, Charlie delves into a high-tech, high-risk search for a cunning criminal – one who may be stalking Charlie and his own daughter. For this is a predator unlike any other: one who conspires with the ferocious power of nature to commit and conceal unspeakable crimes.


The Rome Affair
Rachel Blakely’s charmed life is significantly tarnished after her husband Nick’s infidelity, but she wants to give her marriage a second chance. Then a business trip to sun-drenched Rome with her best girlfriend Kit leads to a night of passion with a stranger – a one-night stand meant to signify the end of a painful chapter in her life.

Rachel returns home determined to put the past behind her, and at first life seems golden again. Nick is more loving than ever, and following his promotion to senior partner in a prestigious plastic surgery practice, the couple is welcomed into Chicago’s high society, where beautiful people live beautiful lives. But there is a dark side … one that sends Rachel’s life spiraling into a nightmare.

It’s clear that everyone is guilty of something. But whose secrets will lead to murder?


Be a Good GirlAs the head of an elite FBI unit, Special Agent Paul Harrison seems to have everything figured out, but beneath the surface, an internal war is raging. When he returns to his rural hometown for the first time in a few years, he’s faced with the memories that led to his losing the love of his life.

Fifteen years ago, Abigail Winthrop’s best friend, and Paul’s girlfriend, was murdered by the infamous serial killer Dr. X. Now an investigative journalist, she’s determined to find the truth. But when Abigail discovers evidence that clears Dr. X, she realizes the real killer is still out there and is striking again when local young girls begin disappearing.

Turning to Paul for help, Abigail joins forces with him. As an undeniable attraction develops between them, they must heal deep wounds from their past – and find a relentless psychopath who could extinguish their hopes for a future together.


The Lonely Girls ClubAt an exclusive California prep school, four young girls form a bond that will endure over two decades – a bond built on secrets, scandal and murder … a bond about to be broken…

Mattie, a federal judge … Breeze, a wealthy entrepreneur … and Jane, the first lady of the United States, have all enjoyed a meteoric rise to success since their days at the Rowe Academy for Girls. But now the truth behind the suicide of their friend Ivy and the murder of their headmistress twenty years ago is no longer safely hidden.

The man imprisoned for the murder has been exonerated, and a true-crime reporter is relentlessly pursuing a loose thread in the decades-old cover-up, one that threatens to unravel the women’s pact of silence. But none of them anticipates the twisted depths of the secrets about to be exposed – or how the truth is poised to shatter all their lives…


The Anniversary

Three women. One serial killer’s legacy.

The writer who profited from his infamy. The lawyer who defended him to the death. The guilt-ridden girlfriend who never faced the truth.

All three women believe they are safe from serial killer Steven Gage: his violence, his ravings, his final threats. But now, on the fifth anniversary of his execution, each will find a chilling message – and discover she was dead wrong.


You Will Pay

It starts as a prank. Among the teen counselors at Camp Horseshoe, tensions and hormones are running high. It’ll be fun to scare Monica O’Neal a little – or a lot. What could go wrong? Everything.

Twenty years later, Detective Lucas Dalton is investigating the discovery of human remains at what used to be Camp Horseshoe. Lucas worked there that infamous summer when two girls went missing, rumored to have been kidnapped – or worse. Now seven former female counselors are coming back to the small Oregon town. Each one knows something about that night. Each promised not to tell.

Among them is Bernadette Warden, the woman Lucas has never forgotten. As they reunite, a new horror unfolds. First comes a simple, terrifying message: YOU WILL PAY. Then, the murders begin – as a web of lust, greed, and betrayal is untangled to reveal a killer waiting to take the perfect revenge…


Pretty Baby
Heidi Woods has always been a charitable woman. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. Nevertheless, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home, despite her family’s objections. As clues into Willow’s past begins to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into an unrelenting web of lies and a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

 


In Big Trouble

First as a reporter and then as a P.I., Tess Monaghan has learned how to survive and thrive on the streets of Baltimore. But a new case will force her to confront her own past, and a man she loved and lost. It starts when she gets a newspaper photograph of her old boyfriend with a tantalizing shard of headline attached: IN BIG TROUBLE. The answers lie far from Baltimore, deep in a world of good-time music, old-fashioned ambition, and rich people’s games. For Tess must find out what happened to a man she thought she knew, to a woman who may have changed him forever, and to the victims of a killer who dances to a different – and deadly – drummer.

Monthly Wrap Up

August 2018 Wrap Up

August was an amazing reading month for me! I was able to read 8 books … EIGHT! I can’t tell you the last time I read 8 books in one month, but it’s for sure been awhile. Of course it didn’t hurt that the books I read this month were all pretty well fast-paced thrillers that I enjoyed. Here’s what I read last month (all but the last three book covers will take you to my reviews… look for the other reviews in the coming weeks):

The Seven Husbands of Evenlyn HugoThe Last Time I LiedAn American MarriagePromised LandThe SixesStillhouse LakeTen Big Ones.jpgBurn

I don’t think I can even choose one favorite for the month … it’s probably a tie between The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and The Last Time I Lied. They were completely different books, but they both held my interest and intrigued me the entire time. I was slightly disappointed by An American Marriage, it wasn’t a bad book just not what I was expecting or hoping it would be.

Here’s a quick round-up of what was posted here on the blog in August:

August was a good month for us. Garrett started back to school, 1st grade! I’m still a little bit in denial about that. He’s got a wonderful teacher and he’s already doing great! But it’s kind of scary … they have tests and nightly homework! I don’t remember having that kind of stuff in 1st grade!

Katelyn starts preschool next week. My baby is growing up! 😥

We had a quick trip out to Vegas at the beginning of August. We had tickets to see Shania Twain and goodness did she put on an amazing show! Loved every single minute of it! Definitely worth the 48-hour whirlwind trip! We also played Top Golf while we were out there …crazy expensive, but a lot of fun!

I spent entirely too much money and purchased LADY GAGA tickets in Vegas next year! 😀 She’s got a residency out there and I’m stoked to have tickets for it! They were crazy expensive, but I don’t care … I’m so excited!

That’s about it for what happened this month … I’ve got my first 5K next week and I am so NOT at all ready… eek! It’s going to be ugly, lol. I did go to a running seminar and got some good motivation there. I’m never going to have a 10 minute mile or be an Olympic athlete … I just want to keep myself in shape and have some time to myself a few times a week. If it takes me an hour to “run” that 5K, who cares? It’s better than if I was sitting on my couch that night instead….

Well, I think that’s about all I have for today … be on the lookout for a few new reviews coming from last month’s reads.

Happy reading!!