4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Fiction, Pump Up Your Book, RATING, Read in 2012, Review Book

2012.34 REVIEW – The Sons of Jude by Brandt Dodson

The Sons of Jude
by Brandt Dodson

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 314
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 19 – Dec. 24 2012
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 34
Format: Print
Source: Pump Up Your Book Promotions

The Sons of JudeBlurb: When Chicago detectives Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are assigned to investigate the murder of Trina Martinez it seems like an ordinary homicide. An unfortunate young girl in the wrong place at the wrong time has been brutally murdered. But their investigation is halted by a wall of silence, a wall formed by powerful interests that will render their inquiry a lost cause.

Then they enlist the support of reporter Christy Lee – and come under immediate fire. Polanski is arrested. Campello threatened. Christy is attacked.

It’s the case that every cop gets. The one that changes his life. The one where justice is elusive and the hunter becomes the hunted.


The-Sons-of-Jude-banner

Review: I took this book on vacation with me and I have to admit I was a little bummed that I chose my vacation as the time to read it – it was that good! I hated to put the book down once I started it.

This book starts off with a bang and never stops until the last page. As a reader I really felt for Frank’s character when we find out that he had just lost his partner and is almost immediately partnered up with another detective – and a “traitor” at that. But I think what I liked the most about the whole situation is that Frank really took the high road and worked things out with Andy. It was definitely a tough position for a cop to be put in, but it made me feel that Frank’s character really was a top-notch police officer. The job is obviously everything to him and it makes him come across as a highly likeable character. On the other side of it, Andy’s character is fleshed out nicely when Frank begins to open up. The reader learns that things aren’t necessarily as they seemed with Andy – and I liked that. So yeah, I really enjoyed the characters in this book as you can see.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the way that Chicago politics are depicted in this book. Good old Chicago crooks politicians 😉 I was quite intrigued by what was going on with the politician and the predicament that he found himself in … going along with certain things in order to make his political career stronger. I thought it made for a good secondary storyline and definitely set things up in for the next book.

I always enjoy finding a new series (yeah, like I need any more of those!) and this one was definitely a good start to what I hope is a very successful series. I personally found the characters to be very well-developed. I look forward to seeing what happens with Christy and Frank as well as Frank and Andy. I think that Mr. Dodson has done a fantastic job setting up the characters for some very interesting storylines in future books.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt that the writing was great, the storyline was interesting and the characters were enjoyable. I would honestly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller.

Highly recommended.


Brandt DodsonAbout the Author:

Brandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he would later choose as the setting for his Colton Parker Mystery series. Although he discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, it would be another twenty-one years before he would put pen to paper.“I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a writer. Our teacher had given each of us a photograph which we were to use as inspiration for a short story. The particular photo I was given was of several young men playing handball in New York City. I don’t remember all of the particulars of the story now, but I do remember the thrill that writing it gave me.”

Later, while in college, one of Brandt’s professors would echo that teacher’s comment.

“But life intervened and I found myself working at a variety of jobs. I worked in the toy department of a local department store and fried chicken for a local fast food outlet. Over the course of the next several years I finished my college degree and worked for the Indianapolis office of the FBI, and served for eight years as a Naval Officer in the United States Naval Reserve. I also obtained my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and after completion of my surgical residency, opened my own practice. But I never forgot my first love. I wanted to write.”

During his early years in practice, Brandt began reading the work of Dean Koontz.

“I discovered Dean’s book, The Bad Place, and was completely blown away by his craftsmanship. I read something like 13 or 14 of his back list over the following two weeks. It wasn’t long after that I began to write and submit in earnest.”

Still, it would be another twelve years before Brandt was able to secure the publishing contract he so desperately desired.

“I began by writing the type of fiction that I enjoyed; I wrote edgy crime thrillers that were laced with liberal amounts of suspense. Over the years, I’ve begun to write increasingly more complex work by using broader canvases and themes.

Since securing his first contract, Brandt has continued to pen the type of stories that inspired him to write when he was a boy, and that have entertained his legions of readers.

“I love to write, and as long as others love to read, I plan on being around for a long time to come.”

Brandt Dodson’s latest book is the crime thriller The Sons of Jude.

This tour also has a Kindle Fire HD Giveaway – if you are interested, please go HERE for the sign-up.


**This review is posted in conjunction with the Pump Up Your Book! blog tour. I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. I
received no monetary compensation.

Advertisements
5/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book

2012.33 REVIEW – Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

Low Pressure
by Sandra Brown

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 343
Rating: 5/5Low Pressure
Read: Dec. 13 – Dec. 18 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge
Yearly count: 33
Format: E-book
Source: NetGalley

Blurb: Bellamy Lyston was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed in a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy’s fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene along with her memory of what really happened during the day’s most devastating moments.

Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a sensational, bestselling novel based on Susan’s murder. Because the book was inspired by the tragic event that still pains her family, she published it under a pseudonym to protect them from unwanted publicity. But when an opportunistic reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers the book is based on fact, Bellamy’s identity is exposed along with the family scandal.

Moreover, Bellamy becomes the target of an unnamed assailant who either wants the truth about Susan’s murder to remain unknown or, even more threatening, is determined to get  vengeance for a man wrongfully accused and punished.

In order to identify her stalker, Bellamy must confront the ghosts of her past, including Dent Carter, Susan’s wayward and reckless boyfriend – and an original suspect in the murder case. Dent, with this and other stains on his past, is intent on clearing his name, and he needs Bellamy’s sealed memory to do it. But her safeguarded recollections – once unlocked – pose dangers that neither could foresee and puts both their lives in peril.

As Bellamy delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Susan’s slaying, she discovers disturbing elements of the crime which call into question the people she holds most dear. Haunted by partial memories, conflicted over her feelings for Dent, but determined to learn the truth, she won’t stop until she reveals Susan’s killer.

That is, unless Susan’s killer strikes her first…


Review: I loaded this book onto my Nook and started it on my airplane ride to Hawaii. I was immediately sucked in and I have to say that it was the perfect vacation book. I found it to be very fast paced and exciting. I could hardly stand to put it down because I kept wanting more and more of it!

I especially enjoyed how a tornado really played into the storyline. On Feb. 29, 2012, my hometown of Harrisburg, IL, was hit by an EF-4 tornado. Both of my grandparents and my parents were all in the path of this storm. And it was a killer storm too – I believe 7 people lost their lives. My family was lucky to walk away with their lives, but their homes and emotions were not as intact as their physical beings. Knowing what a storm like that can do to a person, I found it very intriguing how Bellamy’s fear of storms and her memory loss was tied to the tornado in the book.

Little by little, Bellamy’s memory came back to her. I quite enjoyed seeing how she pieced everything together – what was revealed to her by something very minute would bring back quite a chunk of her memory.

The who-dun-it part of the story, while intriguing, was not exactly surprising. About halfway through the book I began to suspect the person who did end up being the killer. Like I said, it wasn’t really all that big of a shocking twist, but it still came together quite well at the end.

This book would not be for the under 18 crowd. There was quite a bit of steamy encounters between Bellamy and Dent. Personally, it didn’t bother me, but it might not be for everyone.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I feel as if it’s another great book by Sandra Brown and one not to be missed! Highly recommended.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Cotton Malone, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, SERIES

2012.32 REVIEW – The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry

The Charlemagne Pursuit
by Steve Berry

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 576
Rating: 4/5
Read: Nov. 29 – Dec. 13, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge; Off the Shelf Challenge
Yearly count: 32
Format: Paper book
Source: Personal Copy

The Charlemagne PursuitBlurb: As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told that his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic. But what he now learns stuns him: His father’s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica.

Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are also determined to find out what became of their father, who died on the same submarine–and they know something Malone doesn’t: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne’s tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in “the language of heaven,” conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and his father’s ill-fated voyage are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters, he will finally confront the shocking truth of his father’s death and the distinct possibility of his own.


Review: I feel as if I’m failing my readers here, because unfortunately I did not take very good notes after finishing this book and have read two books since reading this one, so I apologize if my review isn’t as in-depth as it should be.

This is the fourth book in the Cotton Malone series. I think what I like the best about these books is the way that Mr. Berry seems to effortlessly weave history into his fiction without it begin dull. Add some gunfights and adventure to that history and you’ve got a roller coaster ride.

I will say that the only reason that I rated this book a 4 instead of a 5 was that it lagged a little bit here and there. I think part of the problem was that I enjoyed one of the storylines more than the other. And unfortunately I honestly preferred the secondary storyline – not the one that Cotton was really involved in. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a good book all around – because it definitely was. I think my problem with it was that I really didn’t care for what the Charlemagne Pursuit ended up being. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I also didn’t like that Henrik and Cassiopeia weren’t in this book at all – they’ve been pretty important characters in the previous books and this one left them out completely. However, we do get to see more of Stephanie’s character in this installment, so that was nice to see.

I definitely would start at the beginning of this series, because this book would not read so great as a stand-alone. However, I did enjoy that we finally got to know a little bit about the enigma that was Cotton’s father. I found that to be very interesting.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and this series. It was a fun read – but at 576 pages it’s not a very quick read.

 

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, E-Book, Nonfiction, O, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012

2012.31 REVIEW – Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot
by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 275
Rating: 5/5
Read: Nov. 24-Nov. 28, 2012
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge 2012
Yearly count: 31
Format: E-Book
Source: Personal Copy

Blurb:Killing Kennedy

A riveting historical narrative of the shocking events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the follow-up to mega-bestselling author Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln

More than a million readers have thrilled to Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln, the page-turning work of nonfiction about the shocking assassination that changed the course of American history. Now the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor recounts in gripping detail the brutal murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—and how a sequence of gunshots on a Dallas afternoon not only killed a beloved president but also sent the nation into the cataclysmic division of the Vietnam War and its culture-changing aftermath.

In January 1961, as the Cold War escalates, John F. Kennedy struggles to contain the growth of Communism while he learns the hardships, solitude, and temptations of what it means to be president of the United States. Along the way he acquires a number of formidable enemies, among them Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Alan Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  In addition, powerful elements of organized crime have begun to talk about targeting the president and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

In the midst of a 1963 campaign trip to Texas, Kennedy is gunned down by an erratic young drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes the scene, only to be caught and shot dead while in police custody.

The events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century are almost as shocking as the assassination itself. Killing Kennedy chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot, bringing history to life in ways that will profoundly move the reader.  This may well be the most talked about book of the year.


Review: I just got a new Nook with Glowlight (for my long-time readers, you already know that I have a Nook Color – I will explain in a later post as to why I decided to get a different Nook) for Christmas. I picked it up at my local Books-a-Million on Saturday. I immediately brought it home and (impatiently) waited for it to fully charge. Then I was off and running and Killing Kennedy was the first book sample I downloaded to my new device. I read through the sample and immediately hit the “Buy” button. The beginning of it really grabbed me and hooked me in.

I have to just state that I am a huge JFK nut. Being a history major in college, I even wrote a paper on his assassination for one of my classes. Actually, it was for History of Journalism, and I compared the media coverage of Kennedy’s assassination to that of Lincoln’s assassination. The similarities are astounding, really. But that’s a little off-topic for this review.

I realized that I hadn’t read a single non-fiction book all year, and what better way to ease myself into one than this book. I found it to be an extremely fast-paced and exciting read. It definitely does not feel like you’re reading non-fiction at all. It reads more like a fiction novel to be completely honest – but that is partially because just about everything revolving around JFK can seem like it can’t possibly be true.

But since many of the events recounted in this book are so fantastic and also so horrific, and because so many of the details are rather intimate, it’s important to remind the reader that Killing Kennedy is completely a work of nonfiction. It’s all true. (pg. 258)

This book leads you up to the assassination. It starts with Kennedy’s inauguration, but then it goes back and touches on his time on PT-109 (something that I’m not very familiar with). Then it goes through all the big events in his presidency (Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Civil Rights) until it hits the assassination. And you learn a little about Lee Harvey Oswald and what he’s doing during these same time periods. It’s a very well laid out book and presented perfectly for everyone, whether you be a JFK expert or just a casual reader.

Obviously this is a book where the ending is very well-known. But it didn’t stop me from wanting more and more. I absolutely did not want to put this book down. I seemed to be constantly reading (something that hasn’t happened to me in quite some time).

In the backseat of the Lincoln, Jackie Kennedy holds her husband’s head and quietly sobs. “He’s dead. They’ve killed him. Oh Jack, oh Jack. I love you.” (pg. 231)

I would definitely highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to get to the other book, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever – I already have the sample downloaded to my Nook 🙂

5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book, U-V-W

2012.30 REVIEW – The Intercept by Dick Wolf

The Intercept
by Dick Wolf

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 387
Rating: 5/5
Read: Nov. 16-Nov. 24, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 30
Format: Print
Source: Review copy

Blurb:

Days before the July Fourth holiday and the dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero, an incident aboard a commercial jet flying over the Atlantic Ocean reminds everyone that vigilance is not a task to be taken lightly. But for iconoclastic NYPD detective Jeremy Fisk, it may also be a signal that there is much more to this case than the easy answer of this being just the work of another lone terrorist.

Fisk—assigned to the department’s Intelligence Division, a well-funded anti terror unit modeled on the CIA—suspects that the event might also be a warning sign that another, potentially more extraordinary scheme has been set in motion. Fluent in Arabic and the ways of his opponents, Fisk is a rule breaker who follows his gut—even if it means defying those above him in the department’s food chain. So when a passenger from the same plane, a Saudi Arabian national, disappears into the crowds of Manhattan, it’s up to Fisk and his partner Krina Gersten to find him before the celebrations begin.

Watching each new lead fizzle, chasing shadows to dead ends, Fisk and Gersten quickly realize that their opponents are smarter and more agile than any they have ever faced. Extremely clever and seemingly invisible, they are able to exploit any security weak-ness and anticipate Fisk’s every move . . . and time is running out.


Review: I received this ARC for free after clicking on a link within a Shelf Awareness e-mail. I received no monetary compensation and the following review is my honest opinion of the book.

This book is due to be released 12/26/12.

PLEASE NOTE – This review WILL contain SPOILERS. Read on at your own risk.

Wowzers! This book is a fast-paced, thrill-ride of a read! I am very familiar with Dick Wolf’s name – I used to be a Law & Order junkie (the only reason I no longer am is because other good shows kept coming out during the same time slot, boo! Plus I’m an old school fan – I miss Lennie)

Anyway, that’s not to say that this book was perfect. It really isn’t. First of all, I sincerely hope that the final copy has a very good editor – there were a lot of typos in my ARC (more than in any other ARC I’ve ever read). Sorry, I’m a grammar fanatic.

But what really irritated me … SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER …. how in the heck can you kill off one of the main characters in the first book?! I mean, honestly. I never saw that one coming. And if this is supposed to be part of a series, why would you introduce such an important person only to have them gone by the end of the first book? It just seemed like an unnecessary move, in my opinion. And to be completely honest here, the story being told is really from Krina’s point of view – and yet, she’s killed off in the end? I don’t know – I think that it might have been a really bad character/series development move in my opinion. You just don’t do that in the first book if you intend to have a series, but maybe Mr. Wolf isn’t considering a very long series for Jeremy Fisk’s character. Who knows what the plans really are.

Personally, I think that this is a good book, but it definitely does have its flaws. But the storyline was relevant and interesting. The “bad guy” was a surprise to me. The build-up to the climax was well-done. Overall, it’s a good book and I would highly recommend it. However, I think that Mr. Wolf needs to realize that you can’t approach a book series in the same manner as you would a TV series. Once he conquers that, I think he will be a very impressive novelist. I look forward to reading the next Jeremy Fisk book.

Highly recommended.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, First Rule PR, K, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book

2012.29 REVIEW – Death by Bourbon by Abigail Keam

Death by Bourbon
by Abigail Keam

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 128
Read: Nov. 6-9, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge
Yearly count: 29
Format: E-Book
Source: Review copy from First Rule PR

 

Blurb: Life takes a dramatic turn for Josiah when she witnesses a death at an engagement party for guess who . . . Matt.  Matt?  Yes Matt.

Charming socialite Addison DeWitt falls into a fit after taking a sip of bourbon.  That would be upsetting enough but Josiah is sure it is murder. However, no one will believe her except for Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer.  The three of them conspire to bring the
murderer to justice.  It turns out that the suspect is always three steps ahead of them.

To make matters worse, Josiah’s daughter, Asa, decides to move to London, Franklin leaves town and Jake starts singing a different tune.  Josiah doubts her ability to meet the future alone.  Maybe it’s time to sell the Butterfly and move to Florida with the rest of the old folks.


Review: I don’t normally read cozy mysteries, I tend to prefer the grittier books. However, when I was pitched this book and did a little bit of research on it, I was intrigued and decided to get it a go. Part of me really wanted to read this book when I realized that Ms. Keam resided in Kentucky (I live in Paducah).

Going into this book, I knew it was in the middle of a series. Something that I’m not a huge fan of doing, but I was willing to take the risk on it. But I must forewarn you – I highly recommend reading the first books in this series before reading this book. In my opinion, it does not stand well by itself. You really need the background to have a full understanding of what is going on. It took me almost 20 pages in the beginning to really have a decent grasp on what was going on. Had this been a personal read, I would have stopped right then and there and read the books before it.

Some of the language used sounded a bit more traditional English than what us Americans are used to now. It doesn’t make it too confusing, but it did make me have to pay a little bit more attention to what was going on in the book.

Overall this was a quick and fun read. If you’re a cozy reader I would highly recommend this book. If you’re just dipping your feet into the cozies, I would definitely recommend starting from the beginning. But in general, this is a book that I would recommend to my readers.


 AUTHOR BIO:

Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.

Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.

Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

AUTHOR SITES:
  Website  
  Facebook                              

Praise for previous books by Ms. Keam:
Ms. Keam’s writing is more like lyrical prose, leaving the readers wanting to know more of Josiah’s life and clamoring for the next book. This can be read as a stand-alone book, but I highly recommend reading the first book – DEATH OF A HONEYBEE.
Bobbi’s Book Nook, July 30th, 2011
Abigail Keam writes with vision and understanding. Her tale is fresh and original … after all … what could beekeeping and murder have in common? Readers will have no trouble being drawn into this charming mystery. Keam leaves the reader yearning for more. DEATH BY DROWNING is an excellent second effort by Ms. Keam. Characters and action are well wrought, and the plot sizzles.
Midwest Book Review, Shelley Glodowski, Senior Reviewer, July 8th, 2011

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book, U-V-W

2012.28 REVIEW – Father Night by Eric Van Lustbader

Father Night
by Eric Van Lustbader

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 366
Rating: 4/5
Read: Oct. 23 – Nov. 5, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 278
Format: Print
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: A tidal wave of reform is sweeping across the Middle East. Many lurk in the shadows, eager to seize power – giants of a vast criminal underworld, fueled by revenge and vengeance. Their wars know no end. Their power knows no bounds.

At the center of it all are two men who are inches away from holding the world in their hands: one is known as Dyadya Gourdjiev, and the other is known only as the Syrian.

Department of Defense special agent Jack McClure has followed a trail of shadows and lies right into the arms of Gourdjiev’s alluring, powerful granddaughter, Annika Dementieva. The lovers are in Moscow when news of Dyadya’s failing health draws a slew of vultures – circling, anxious to seize the empire of secrets he spent a lifetime building. Jack and Annika find themselves locked in battle to ensure his safety … but when it comes to Dyadya, nothing is as it seems.

Alli Carson, the child of a dead U.S. president, has become Jack’s surrogate daughter. While Jack is in Russia, Alli is targeted by a cyberstalker who knows more about her than anyone should. With no one to trust but her friend Vera Bard, Alli is determined to discover the truth, but her path forces her to come face-to-face with the nightmarish terror of her past.

As these two stories play out, Secretary of Defense Dennis Paull, with the help of detectives Nona Heroe and Alan Fraine, follows a trail of lies, corruption, and secret pacts that begins with Washington, D.C.’s head of detectives.

All paths collide at the feet of one man, an old legend adapting to an ever-changing landscape … a man history might have forsaken, but whose heinous evil is still very much alive: Father Night.


Review: I have to start by saying that this is the fourth book in the Jack McClure series. However, I need to let you know that it also stands well on its own. I had absolutely no trouble following the characters, because Mr. Van Lustbader does an excellent job of filling in the backstory (and doesn’t take a gazillion pages to do so, either).

I found this to be quite an enjoyable book. It was fast-paced and read quite easily. I would sit down with it and realize that I had read 50 pages before I knew it. (Hey – I’m a mom to a 5-month-old – I read in whatever spurts I can get!)

Character development is what really makes or breaks a book for me. And I enjoyed all the characters in this book. However, I really took to Alli’s character. There was just something about her that really drew me to her. She was likeable. She had “baggage” and yet she wasn’t bogged down by that baggage too badly. I felt for her in regards to what had happened in her past – and I think that that’s really what shaped her into such a great character.

I have never read a book by Eric Van Lustbader before – but this definitely won’t be my last time reading him. (Hey, he must be a good author if Robert Ludlum’s estate picked him to continue the Bourne books!). Reading this book really made me want to go back and read the first three books in this series so that I could really understand everything the way the author intended (but as I said above, not having read the earlier books in no ways hampers the reader’s ability to follow this book).

Overall – if you enjoy a thrilling, fast-paced adventure – I would highly recommend giving this book a shot.


* I received this book courtesy of Anne Staszalek, Marketing Associate for AuthorsOnTheWeb, in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation.

AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, PICT Book Tours, Read in 2012, Review Book

2012.26 REVIEW – The Prophet by Ethan Cross

The Prophet
by Ethan Cross

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 416
Read: Oct. 8-15, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge
Yearly count: 26
Format: Print
Source: Review copy for Partners in Crime Tours

Blurb: OLD ENEMIES…
Francis Ackerman Jr. is one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Having kept a low profile for the past year, he is ready to return to work – and he’s more brutal, cunning, and dangerous than ever.

NEW THREATS…
Scarred from their past battles, Special Agent Marcus Williams cannot shake Ackerman from his mind. But now Marcus must focus on catching the Anarchist, a new killer who drugs and kidnaps women before burning them alive.

HIDDEN TERRORS…
Marcus knows the Anarchist will strike again soon. And Ackerman is still free. But worse than this is a mysterious figure, unknown to the authorities, who controls the actions of the Anarchist and many like him. He is the Prophet – and his plans are more terrible than even his own disciples can imagine.

With attacks coming from every side, Marcus faces a race against time to save the lives of a group of innocent people chosen as sacrifices in the Prophet’s final dark ritual.


Review: I was beyond excited when I was able to sign up for this particular tour. The book immediately caught my attention – I knew that I had to read it!

And boy, oh boy, am I glad I got to read this one.

Let me just start by saying that this book is not for the faint of heart. It was absolutely gruesome in spots. And normally I love gruesome. But for some reason, it bothered me. And the more I think about it, the more I realized that this is somehow connected to me becoming a mommy. Either way, I pushed through it and was super glad that I did.

Obviously I didn’t have the back story that the first book (The Shepherd) would have provided, but that does not hinder this story at all. This book reads quite well as a standalone, but be forewarned – it will make you want to find a copy of the first book! I know it sure did me!!

The characters are well-developed. Had I known more of the back story, I probably would have understood Marcus a little bit better, but as I said before, it’s not a necessity to understanding this book.

And let me just tell you – the ending – wowzers! Talk about a cliffhanger ending that makes me eagerly anticipate the next book in this series! I’m a sucker for cliffhangers, and this one was very exciting in my opinion.

The writing was sharp, characters were well-developed and interesting, the storyline was interesting. This was definitely a fast-paced, keep you up until 3am type of book.

I cannot say enough good things about this book; I am just beyond thrilled that I was able to read this book and have found a new author to put on my must-read list.

Highly recommended.


 AUTHOR BIO:
 When a fireman or a policeman would visit his school, most of his classmates’ heads would swim with aspirations of growing up and catching bad guys or saving someone from a blazing inferno. When these moments came for Ethan Cross, however, his dreams weren’t to someday be a cop or put out fires; he just wanted to write about it. His dream of telling stories on a grand scale came to fruition with the release of his first novel, the international bestseller, THE SHEPHERD.Ethan Cross is the pen name of a thriller author living and writing in Illinois with his wife, two daughters, and two Shih Tzus. In addition to The Shepherd and The Prophet, he has published two novellas––The Cage and Callsign: Knight (with Jeremy Robinson).
AUTHOR SITES:
  Website  
  FaceBook                                
  Twitter  

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Francis Ackerman Jr. stared out the window of the dark copper and white bungalow on Macarthur Boulevard. Across the street, a green sign with yellow letters read Mosswood Playground – Oakland Recreation Department. Children laughed and played while mothers and fathers pushed swings and sat on benches reading paperback novels or fiddling with cell phones. He had never experienced such things as a child. The only games his father ever played were the kind that scarred the body and soul. He had never been nurtured; he had never been loved. But he had come to accept that. He had found purpose and meaning born from the pain and chaos that had consumed his life.

He watched the sun reflect off all the smiling faces and imagined how different the scene would be if the sun suddenly burned out and fell from the heavens. The cleansing cold of an everlasting winter would sweep across the land, cleansing it, purifying it. He pictured the faces forever etched in torment, their screams silent, and their eyes like two crystal balls reflecting what lay beyond death.

He let out a long sigh. It would be beautiful. He wondered if normal people ever thought of such things. He wondered if they ever found beauty in death.

Ackerman turned back to the three people bound to chairs in the room behind him. The first two were men—plain-clothes cops that had been watching the house. The older officer had a pencil-thin mustache and thinning brown hair while his younger counterpart’s head was topped with a greasy mop of dark black. The younger man’s bushy eyebrows matched his hair, and a hooked nose sat above thin pink lips and a recessed chin. The first man struck Ackerman to be like any other cop he had met, honest and hard-working. But there was something about the younger man he didn’t like, something in his eyes. He suppressed the urge to smack the condescending little snarl from the younger cop’s ferret-like face.

But instead of hitting him, Ackerman just smiled at the cop. He needed a demonstration to get the information he needed, and the ferret would be perfect. His eyes held the ferret’s gaze a moment longer, and then he winked and turned to the last of his three captives.

Rosemary Phillips wore a faded Oakland Raiders sweatshirt. She had salt and pepper hair, and ancient pock marks marred her smooth dark chocolate complexion. Her eyes burned with a self-assurance and inner strength that Ackerman respected.

Unfortunately, he needed to find her grandson, and if necessary, he would kill all three of them to accomplish his goal.

He reached up to her mouth and pulled down the gag. She didn’t scream. “Hello, Rosemary. I apologize that I didn’t properly introduce myself earlier when I tied you up, but my name is Francis Ackerman Jr. Have you ever heard of me?”

Rosemary met his gaze. “I’ve seen you on television. You’re the serial killer whose father experimented on him as a child, trying to prove that he could create a monster. I guess he succeeded. But I’m not afraid of you.”

Ackerman smiled. “That’s wonderful. It means that I can skip the introductions and get straight to the point. Do you know why I asked these two gentleman to join us?”

Rosemary’s head swiveled toward the two officers. Her gaze lingered on the ferret. Ackerman saw disgust in her eyes. Apparently, she didn’t like him either. That would make things even more interesting once he started to torture the young cop.

“I’ve seen these two around,” she said. “I’ve already told the cops that my grandson ain’t no damn fool. He wouldn’t just show up here, and I haven’t heard from him since this mess started. But they wouldn’t listen. Apparently they think it’s a good idea to stake out an old lady’s house instead of being out there on the streets doing what the people of this city pay them to do. Typical government at work.”

Ackerman smiled. “I know exactly what you mean. I’ve never had much respect for authority. But you see, I’m looking for your grandson as well. I, however, don’t have the time or patience to sit around here on the off chance that he might show up. I prefer the direct approach, and so I’m going to ask you to level with me. Where can I find your grandson?”

“Like I told them, I have no idea.”

He walked over to a tall, mahogany hutch resting against the wall. It was old and well-built. Family pictures lined its surface and shelves. He picked up a picture of a smiling young black man with his arm around Rosemary. A blue and gold birthday cake sat in front of them. “Rosemary, I’ve done my homework, and I’ve learned that your grandson thinks the world of you. You were his anchor in the storm. Maybe the one good thing in his life. The one person who loved him. You know where he’s hiding, and you are going to share that information with me. One way or another.”

“Why do you even care? What’s he to you?”

“He’s nothing to me. I could care less about your grandson. But someone that I do care about is looking for him, and I try to be useful where I can. And like you said, sometimes bureaucracy and red tape are just too damn slow. We’re going to speed along the process.”

Rosemary shook her head and tugged on the ropes. “I don’t know where he is, and if I did, I’d never tell a monster like you.”

His father’s words tumbled through his mind.

You’re a monster…Kill her and the pain will stop…No one will ever love you…

“Oh, my dear, words hurt. But you’re right. I am a monster.”

Ackerman grabbed a duffle bag from the floor and tossed it onto a small end table. As he unzipped the bag and rifled through the contents, he said, “Are you familiar with the Spanish Inquisition? I’ve been reading a lot about it lately. It’s a fascinating period of history. The Inquisition was basically a tribunal established by Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in order to maintain Catholic orthodoxy within their kingdoms, especially among the new converts from Judaism and Islam. But that’s not what fascinates me. What fascinates me are the unspeakable acts of barbarism and torture that were carried out in the name of God upon those deemed to be heretics. We think that we live in a brutal age, but our memories are very short-sighted. Any true student of history can tell you that this is the age of enlightenment compared to other periods throughout time. The things the inquisitors did to wrench confessions from their victims was nothing less than extraordinary. Those inquisitors displayed fabulous imagination.”

Ackerman brought a strange device up out of the duffle bag. “This is an antique. It’s previous owner claimed that it’s an exact replica of one used during the Inquisition. You’ve got to love Ebay.”

He held up the device—built from two large, spiked blocks of wood connected by two threaded metal rods an inch in diameter each—for their inspection. “This was referred to as the Knee Splitter. Although it was used on more than just knees. When the inquisitor would turn these screws, the two blocks would push closer together and the spikes would first pierce the flesh of the victim. Then the inquisitor would continue to twist the screws tighter and tighter until they received the answers they wanted or until the affected appendage was rendered useless.”

Rosemary spit at him. As she spoke, her words were strong and confident. He detected a slight hint of a Georgian accent and suspected that it was from her youth and only presented itself when she was especially flustered. “You’re going to kill us anyway. No matter what I do. I can’t save these men anymore than I can save myself. The only thing that I can control is the way that I go out. And I won’t grovel and beg to the likes of you. I won’t give you the satisfaction.”

He nodded. “I respect that. So many people blame the world or society or others for the way that they are. But we’re all victims of circumstance to a certain extent. We like to think that we’re in control of our own destinies, but the truth is that much of our lives are dictated by forces far beyond our control and comprehension. We all have our strings pulled by someone or something. It’s unavoidable. The only place that we have any real control is right here.” He tapped the tip of his fifteen-inch survival knife against his right temple. “Within our minds. Most people don’t understand that, but you do. I didn’t come here to kill you, Rosemary. It will give me no pleasure to remove you from the world. But my strings get pulled just like everyone else’s. In this case, circumstances dictate that I hurt you and these men in order to achieve my goal. I’m good at what I do, my dear. I’ve been schooled in pain and suffering my entire life. Time will only allow me to share a small portion of my expertise with you, but I can tell you that it will be enough. You will tell me. That’s beyond your control. The only aspect of this situation that you can influence is the duration of the suffering you must endure. So I’ll ask again, where is your grandson?”

Her lips trembled, but she didn’t speak.

The smell of cinnamon permeated the air but was unable to mask a feral aroma of sweat and fear. Ackerman had missed that smell. He had missed the fear, the power. But he needed to keep himself contained. He couldn’t lose control. This was about information, not about satisfying his own hunger.

“Time to begin. As they say, I’m going to put the screws to this officer. Makes you wonder if this device is responsible for such a saying, doesn’t it?”

~~*~~

After several moments of enjoyment with his new toy, Ackerman looked at Rosemary, but she had diverted her gaze. He twisted the handles again, and the officer’s thrashing increased.

“Okay, I’ll tell you!” she said. “He’s in Spokane, Washington. They’re set up in an abandoned metal working shop of some kind. Some crooked realtor set it up for them. I’ve tried to get him to turn himself in. I even consider calling the police myself, but I know that he and his friends won’t allow themselves to be captured alive. He’s the only family I have left.” Tears ran down her cheeks.

Ackerman reached down and twisted the pressure from the officer’s legs. The man’s head fell back against the chair. “Thank you. I believe you, and I appreciate your situation. Your grandson has been a bad boy. But he’s your flesh and blood, and you still love him.”

He walked over to the table and pulled up another chair in front of Rosemary. As he sat, he pulled out a small notepad. It was spiral-bound from the top with a blood red cover. “Since you’ve been so forthcoming with me and out of respect, I’ll give you a genuine chance to save your lives.” He flipped up the notepad’s cover, retrieved a small pen from within the spiral, and started to write. As the pen traveled over the page, he said, “I’m going to let you pick the outcome of our little game. On this first sheet, I’ve written ‘ferret’ to represent our first officer.” He tore off the page, wadded it up, and placed it between his legs. “On the second, we’ll write ‘Jackie Gleason’ to represent the next officer. Then Rosemary. Then all live. And all die.”

He stirred up the wadded pieces of paper and placed them on the floor in front of her. “I think the game is self-explanatory, but to make sure that there’s no confusion, you pick the piece of paper, and I kill whoever’s name is on it. But you do have a twenty percent chance that you all live. And just to be clear, if you refuse to pick or take too long, I’ll be happy to kill all three of you. So please don’t try to fight fate. The only thing you have control over here is which piece of paper you choose. Have no illusions that you have other options. It will only serve in making the situation even less manageable for you. Pick one.”

Rosemary’s eyes were full of hate. They burrowed into him. Her gaze didn’t waver. A doctor named Kendrick from the Cedar Mill Psychiatric Hospital had once told Ackerman that he had damage to a group of interconnected brain structures, known as the paralimbic system, that were involved in processing emotion, goal seeking, motivation, and self-control. The doctor had studied his brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging technology and had also found damage to an area known as the amygdala that generated emotions such as fear. Monkeys in the wild with damage to the amygdala had been known to walk right up to people or even predators. The doctor had said this explained why Ackerman didn’t feel fear in the way that other people did. He wondered if Rosemary had a similar impairment or if her strength originated from somewhere else entirely.

She looked down at the sheets of paper then back into his eyes. “Third one. The one right in the center.”

He reached down and uncrumpled the small piece of paper. He smiled. “It’s your lucky day. You all get to live. I’m sorry that you had to endure this due to the actions of someone else. But as I said, we’re all victims of circumstance.”

Then he stood, retrieved his things, and exited onto Macarthur Boulevard.

~~*~~

Ackerman tossed his duffle bag into the trunk of a light-blue Ford Focus. He wished he could travel in more style, but the ability to blend outweighed his own sense of flare. He pulled open the driver’s door, slipped inside, and dropped some jewelry and the wallets and purse of his former captives on the seat next to him. He hated to lower himself to common thievery, but everything cost money. And his skill set didn’t exactly look good on a resume. Besides, he didn’t have time for such things.

He retrieved a disposable cell phone from the glove box and activated the device. As he dialed and pressed send, he looked down at the small slip of paper that Rosemary had chosen. The words All Die stared back at him.

After a few rings, the call connected, and the voice on the other end said, “What do you want?”

Ackerman smiled. “Hello, Marcus. Please forgive me, for I have sinned. But I do it all for you.”


Praise for The Prophet
“The best book of its kind since Thomas Harris retired Hannibal Lecter, a cat-mouse-game extraordinaire that will leave your knuckles white and your stomach churning.” – Jon Land, Bestselling Author of Strong Vengeance
“Cross pushes the boundaries in this sinisterly clever showdown between one shadowy vigilante justice group and three twisted serial killers. The surprises are fast and furious and will leave you breathless to read more.” – Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Catch Me and Love You More
“THE PROPHET confirms, confidently and vociferously, that Ethan Cross is one of the best damn writers in the genre.” – Anthony J. Franze, Bestselling Author of THE LAST JUSTICE
“Solid, memorable storytelling that moves rapid-fire through a complex and gripping plot.” Ethan Cross is one of the sharpest emerging writers on the thriller fiction scene today.”
– Steven James, national bestselling author of Opening Moves and The Pawn
“THE PROPHET is a terrifying, twist-laden tempest of a thriller that builds to a climax even more ferocious and chilling than the blizzard in which it’s set. With a flawed-yet-likable cast of protagonists pitted against some of the most terrifying and believable villains in recent memory, Ethan Cross’s latest is a definite must-read.” – Jeremy Burns, Author of THE DESERET BLUEPRINT and FROM THE ASHES

This review is posted in conjunction with the Partners in Crime Book Tours. I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Lucas Davenport, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, S, SERIES

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.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Scot Harvath, SERIES, T

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.