3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Reckless Abandon by Stuart Woods

Reckless Abandon
by Stuart Woods

Reckless Abandon

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 342

Read: Nov. 18 –23, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: Stone Barrington is, once again, right at home in New York City. But this time he’s joined by the tenacious Holly Barker – the lady police chief of Orchid Beach, Florida. She’s come to Manhattan hot on the trail of a fugitive from her jurisdiction. And Stone is, well, glad to see her, right up until the moment when her presence creates a great danger to both of them – and to their surprise, she becomes the pursued instead of the pursuer…


Review: I say this every time – Stuart Woods Stone Barrington books are no literary feat by any means. They are simply good fun escapism. Nothing more than some brain candy for a few days. And that’s okay. Sometimes that’s exactly what a reader needs!

This particular installment (#10 in the series) introduced me to Mr. Woods’ other recurring character, Holly Barker. And I’m not entirely sure I liked her. She came off as Stone Barrington in a female body and I don’t know exactly how that translates in her own series. Ed Eagle, another of Mr. Woods’ characters also has a small role in this book so I was introduced to two new characters.

This book had Holly on the hunt for a particularly nasty fugitive. The FBI wants him in Witness Protection so he can testify in some cases for them while Holly wants him for something like 12 murders back in Florida. I think most of my issue with this book is that Stone is not stupid. Woman-crazy, sure. Stupid, no. So the mere fact that he went off with Holly (who was half-cracked over catching the fugitive) really didn’t translate well for me. I think I just didn’t care for Holly as a character. Or maybe I just didn’t like the character crossover – I know they do that sometimes with the TV shows I watch and I very rarely like those episodes.

Either way, not a terrible book, but not one of my favorites in this series either. On to the next one … there’s only 30 something books to go!

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4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017, Review Book, U-V-W

Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal

Murder Between the Lines
by Radha Vatsal

Murder Between the Lines

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 291

Read: May 10-14, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Publicist for review

 

 

Blurb: When Kitty Weeks’s latest assignment writing for the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page takes her to Westfield Hall, a well-regarded girls’ school in New York City, she expects to find an orderly establishment teaching French and dancing – standard fare for schoolgirls in 1915. But there’s much more going on at the school than initially meets the eye. Kitty especially takes note of the studies of Elspeth Bright, the daughter of a scientist heavily involved in naval technology, who has inherited her father’s interest and talent for scientific inquiry. s

Elspeth’s seemingly accidental death is a shock to the school community and to Kitty – and the more she finds out about Elspeth and her family, the more the intrepid reporter begins to believe that it may not have been an accident at all.


Review: This is the second book in the Kitty Weeks series. When I was pitched this one I was really excited because I had read and reviewed and loved the first book in A Front Page Affair last year.

Once again, it was fun to be back with Kitty and company. I found that there were some parts that were a little more complicated for my personal taste – the scientific parts revolving around batteries and the navy. Science is not my wheelhouse and I just didn’t care for that whole part of the storyline. While it was an important part of the story, it wasn’t enough to make me dislike the book in any way.

I liked how the characters were evolving throughout the book (like Kitty’s boss at the Ladies’ Page). I could really see the change start to occur that happened around that time in our history with the women’s suffrage movement. It’s still 1915/1916 in this book, so women are still a few years away from the vote, but Ms. Vatsal begins to include some of the issues women were facing at that time period.

I would definitely recommend this book. I think historical fiction fans and mystery lovers alike will both enjoy this book (and series). Ms. Vatsal’s books are fun and easy to read. I’ll eagerly be awaiting the third book next year!

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed above are my own.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017, U-V-W

Review: A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

A Certain Age
by Beatriz Williams

A Certain Age

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 352

Read: April 15-23, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Barnes & Noble Serial Reads

 

 

Blurb: As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.


Review: So did you know that Barnes & Noble offers something called Serial Reads on their Nook reading app? I sure didn’t. Basically they offer up a free e-book each month and release it in daily installments. I happened to get an email about it. Otherwise I never would have known this existed! So I was really glad to get this email because (1) this book had been on my radar since it was released last year and (2) who doesn’t like free books?!

So what did I think of this book? Well….it helps to not miss the very first part…ha! I don’t know why but my app started me out on Chapter 1, but there’s actually a part that comes before that – and that is really important to the plot of the story. Oops! So here I was reading along and then BOOM! there’s this part that came from out of left field. When I exited and reloaded the app there were FOUR of these sections that I had completely missed! Um, ok? So I read those really quick and …. well the story started to make a lot more sense at that point. ::eyeroll::

So really I have to say that the book was very readable. Even though I had obviously missed a really big part of the entire book I was still able to pretty much put things together without it. I don’t know if that was a good thing or bad thing to be completely honest…There are some pretty big unanswered questions at the end of the book and this wasn’t billed as a series – I didn’t care for that. Either call it a series or wrap it all up like a standalone should be. Whatever…

So really, I did enjoy this book. I was actually really disappointed when I got to a certain point and had to wait until the next day for the next installment to release, haha! It was just a really good, enjoyable and completely readable book. I enjoyed it quite a bit and was glad to have found it available on Serial Reads (which I’m going to stalk like a hawk from now on, hehe!)

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: The Short Forever by Stuart Woods

The Short Forever
by Stuart Woods

The Short Forever

Copyright: 2002

Pages: 349

Read: April 1-4, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Hired by an odd client previously unknown to him, Stone arrives in London on a mission he thinks he understands, but doesn’t. Soon he finds himself not only out of his territory, but out of his depth as well. Stone is baffled by the behavior of both his quarry and his client, and his life is further complicated by two, possibly three, murders and the affectionate attentions of two former lovers. When the intelligence services of several countries become involved, he can only hang on for a wild ride and hope for a note-too-bumpy landing.


Review: The Stone Barrington series …. let’s be honest here … these are no literary feats in any way, shape or form. They’re fun and easy reads. Once you get past Stone’s outrageous behavior and lifestyle, they’re just plain fun. It’s definitely escapism at its finest.

This particular installment (the 8th in case any one cares to know) has Stone way out of his element. It didn’t feel like a normal Stone Barrington novel, either. He wasn’t necessarily hunting down a murderer. He was more trying to put together a very convoluted plot in my mind. I still am not quite sure as to what the purpose of the entire book was. But it was good fun anyway.

So while this one will probably not be very memorable as I continue on with the hundred other books in this series, it’s a quick and easy read that I enjoyed.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2016, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: L.A. Dead by Stuart Woods

L.A. Dead
by Stuart Woods

L.A. Dead

Copyright: 2000

Pages: 406

Read: Oct. 13 – Oct. 16, 2016

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 
Blurb: Trouble finds stone smack in the middle of a romantic Mediterranean holiday. His trip to Venice – with the fiery Mafia princess Dolce – is cut short by a frantic phone call from half a world away. A celebrity murder has Los Angeles in an uproar and mysteriously threatens a former flame, Arrington Calder. And once he arrives there, amid Hollywood’s sun and sin, he must plumb the depths of film society to find the killer – before a court trial rips away his last chance at a life he once desperately wanted…


Review: This is the 6th in the Stone Barrington series. And as usual, it was a quick, easy read. These are pretty mindless. Yet relatively interesting. Stuart Woods is quickly becoming another go-to author for me when I need something fast. I still can’t believe some of the trouble Stone finds himself in when it comes to women. It’s just like one big soap opera. But it’s also something that I look forward to finding out more as I continue on with this series.

So while these aren’t going to win any great literary awards, if you’re looking for something fun and quick to sate your appetite for a murder mystery, these will probably fit the bill. I’d for sure recommend this series and this book.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2016, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Worst Fears Realized by Stuart Woods

Worst Fears Realized
by Stuart Woods

Worst Fears Realized

Copyright: 1999

Pages: 402

Read: Sept. 5-8, 2016

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: Not a man to dwell on the past, Stone Barrington has no choice but to rattle old skeletons when the people closest to him start dying, and he has little to go on but the suspicion that the killer may be someone he once knew. The trip down memory lane isn’t all bad though, for it reunites Stone with his ex-partner, Dino Bacchetti – now head of detectives in the nineteenth precinct.

Trying to find a brilliant killer in a sea of old faces is difficult enough without Stone’s former love, Arrington, now Mrs. Vance Calder, resurfacing, too – especially when she sets off her own fireworks coming nose to nose with his latest flame, a Mafia princess as beautiful as she is dangerous.

Caught on a thrill ride of a case that tests him as non has ever done before, Stone races to find a twisted madman with a taste for blood vengeance, with only a prayer to find him before Stone’s worst fears are realized.


Review:  This is the 5th book in the Stone Barrington series (only a million more to go, ha!) and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I found it to be fast paced, exciting and enjoyable. It was interesting to see Stone work the case, always seemingly behind the eight ball, so to speak. It was a really good book.

My one and only complaint with Stone’s character has always been his womanizing. And I will say, it was toned down a little bit in this installment. But it still bothers me that we’re 5 books into this series and he’s slept with more women than I can count. But that’s just a personal pet peeve…

So yeah, overall, a good installment in a series that I am enjoying so far. I look forward to reading this next one.

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2016, Review Book, U-V-W

Review: A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

A Front Page Affair
by Radha Vatsal

 

A Front Page AffairCopyright: 2016

Pages: 312

Read: July 8-11, 2016

Rating: 4/5

Source: Publicist for review

 

 

Blurb: Intelligent, well-traveled, and well-bred, Capability “Kitty” Weeks never expected to find herself reporting on fashion trends and society gossip, but every aspiring journalist has to start somewhere, and Kitty finds her “in” to the world of newspapers on the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page. Meanwhile, news headlines buzz about a shooting at J.P. Morgan’s mansion and the sinking of the Lusitania. It seems that Kitty will never have a chance to get the scoop on a big story – until a man is murdered at a high society picnic on her beat.

Determined to prove herself as a journalist and break away from the Ladies’ Page once and for all, Kitty digs deeper into the circumstances behind the murder. She soon finds herself plunged into the midst of a wartime conspiracy that threatens to derail the United States’s attempt to remain neutral – and to disrupt the privileged life she has always known.


Review: I was immediately intrigued by the description of this book when it was first pitched to me. I’m not taking on a whole lot of review books, so a book has to really stick out for me to accept it for review consideration. But there was something about this book that really sucked me in and made me want to read it. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I figured reading about a character in New York City in 1915 wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I took it on my train ride to Chicago, knowing that I would have 5+ hours each way to enjoy some good quality reading time. I’m definitely glad that I took this book because I read the first half of it on the way up and the second half on the way back home. This book was such a fun, enjoyable, easy read that it was just perfect for what I needed at the moment.

I liked Kitty’s character. She was interesting and fresh. I am excited to see that this is the first in a planned series (you know I love series books!) because I cannot wait to see what Kitty finds herself in going forward with women’s suffrage right around the corner for her. Kitty’s character definitely breaks the mold of the average woman in the early 1900s and I think that’s what really drew me to her. The author has really set up a great background for some really interesting books going forward with a character like Kitty.

The writing of this book was extremely good. It was very upfront and not bogged down with a lot of what I call flowery descriptions. It made it a lot more easier for me to read than a typical historical fiction.  It was packed with just enough historical background that the scene was easily imagined. I also enjoyed the fact that this was a very believable book. Kitty ran into numerous roadblocks but she persevered in each and every one of those. I especially enjoyed one moment when one of the newspaper’s higher-ups questioned Kitty as to how she gained entrance to somewhere she had no business being and she simply responded that she got in because she asked. It was such an easy, simple response, and yet it really made me realize how much women were ignored for the most part during those times.

Overall, I really think this is a great book. It’s definitely a great start to a new series that has left me eagerly anticipating the next book in this series. I can’t say enough good things about this book … just read it for yourself!

*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

 

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2016, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Swimming to Catalina by Stuart Woods

Swimming to Catalina
by Stuart Woods

Swimming to Catalina

Copyright: 1998

Pages: 391

Read: May 24 – 27, 2016

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: Stone Barrington thought he’d heard the last of former girlfriend Arrington after she’d left him to marry Vance Calder, Hollywood’s hottest star. The last thing Stone expected was a desperate call from Calder. Arrington has vanished, and her new fiancé wants Stone to come to L.A. and find her.

In a town where the sharks drive Bentleys and no one can be trusted, Stone soon discovers he’s drowning in a sea of empty clues that take him from Bel Air to Malibu to Rodeo Drive. Running out of time and leads, he needs to keep his head above water and find Arrington fast, or end up swimming with the fishes himself.


Review: This is the 4th in the Stone Barrington series. I’m not entirely sure why I keep coming back to these books, but I do. You see, Stone’s character irritates me. It seems to me he does nothing but jump into bed with every woman who crosses his path (two in this book alone…). I just don’t like that trait. I will say, though, that this particular installment didn’t have nearly as much sex as the previous book, Dead in the Water. This book dialed it back a notch and left me wanting to actually continue on with this series.

I personally felt like the storyline of this book was especially good. I found it much more interesting than the first three books. It was a fast paced book that I read in a few days’ time. I think what keeps drawing me to this series is really that they’re just fun, fast reads.

Overall, not a bad book and I look forward to continuing on with this series after this one.

3/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, U-V-W

2014.30 REVIEW – The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White

The Qualities of Wood
by Mary Vensel White

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 312
Rating: 3/5
Read: June 19-25, 2014
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 30
Format:  Print
Source: Publicist for Review
Series: N/A

The Qualities of WoodBlurb: When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can’t forget the girl, can’t ignore the strange behavior of her neighbors, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart.

The Qualities of Wood is a novel about secrets. Family secrets. Community secrets. And secrets between lovers, past and present. And all of these secrets have their price.


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

When I was first pitched this book, it sounded really great. I was definitely excited about getting the chance to read and review it.

However, I was ultimately let down by this book. Maybe I had too high of hopes for it, I don’t know. But it didn’t end up being the book that I had hoped for. To bill this book as a “mystery” is not entirely correct in my opinion. Because there wasn’t much mystery at all in it. And I think that’s what I was disappointed in. When the blurb talks about a dead girl and secrets, I automatically think: mystery. But this book does not fit that bill.

The ending was extremely rushed. You had 300 pages of build-up to finally figure out what was really going on. Three hundred pages. And twelve pages of Vivian, Lonnie, and Nowell running around in the woods behind the house. I just expected more. I wanted more answers. I wanted Vivian to step up her game and really question Nowell with the revelations he made. I wanted more than I got.

Now, I will say this about the book, the writing was impeccable. It flowed so beautifully in places. The characters were all interesting in their own way. I keep coming back to the idea that maybe things were left the way they were to open the door for another meeting of Vivian and Nowell. I could definitely see them still in Grandma Gardiner’s house raising a few children. There could be plenty of material still there to explore with some of the holes in this book.

So there is definitely good points to this book and I would ultimately recommend it to other readers. However, if mystery/thrillers are your main thing, I don’t think it will necessarily work for you. But if you like literary fiction, this one will probably be a home run for you.

Overall, a good book, but not what I was hoping for.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

2014.29 REVIEW – Dirt by Stuart Woods

Dirt
by Stuart Woods

Copyright: 1996
Pages: 417
Rating: 3/5
Read: June 16-18, 2014
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 29
Format:  Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: Stone Barrington #2

DirtBlurb: Feared and loathed for her poison pen and ice-queen persona, gossip columnist Amanda Dart has made her share of enemies. Then the tables are turned. An anonymous gossipmonger is faxing Amanda’s personal and private peccadilloes to anyone who can read. Desperate to save her reputation, she enlists the help of New York lawyer and private investigator Stone Barrington to learn the identity of the faxer. And everyone in the world of tabloid journalism becomes a suspect.

But the faxes don’t stop. In fact, they get worse. And Stone winds up with more leads than one man can handle, until Amanda takes matters dangerously into her own hands and turns the world of gossip on its head. As the circle of suspects shrinks, Stone discovers that even the most respected members of the social scene will stop at nothing – even homicide – to clear their sullied names, in this mesmerizing tale of betrayal, murder, and tabloid terror.


Review: This was the second book that I took with me on vacation. I didn’t know if I would get to it, but I was able to start it the morning we left and I read nearly all of it that day while on my flights home. 

As with the first book in this series, New York Dead, which I read just a little bit ago, this book was so readable. The pages just flew by.

However, it wasn’t perfect. I had a little bit of an issue with just how easily and quickly Stone jumped into bed with multiple women throughout the entire book. Most of it was completely unnecessary in my personal opinion.

I’ll definitely be continuing on with this series. So far I’m finding these books to be extremely easy reads and fun. I hope the series continues on this trend.