3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Shoot Him If He Runs by Stuart Woods

Shoot Him If He Runs
by Stuart Woods

Shoot Him If He Runs

 

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 376

Read: April 9-13, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Teddy Fay, the rogue agent last seen escaping from an imploding building in Iron Orchid, has been considered dead for some time. But President Will Lee thinks Teddy may still be alive. In a top secret Oval Office meeting, Stone Barrington learns that he and his cohorts, Holly Barker and Dino Bacchetti, are being sent to the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Marks, courtesy of the CIA, to track down Teddy once and for all.

St. Marks is a vacationers’ paradise, but its luxurious beach clubs and secluded mountain villas are home to corrupt local politicians and more than a few American expats with murky personal histories. Stone and Holly soon discover that on St. Marks everyone is hiding something – and that Teddy Fay may be hiding in plain sight.


Review: This is the 14th book in the Stone Barrington series. These are total brain candy books for me and this one fit the bill perfectly for that.

I have not read Iron Orchid. I didn’t know how that would affect my enjoyment of this book. I can tell you that I had little to no trouble to following this story line. Sure, I didn’t know much background on Teddy Fay, but the way that this story was set up, you really didn’t need to.

I think this is the third time that Holly Barker has made her way into a Stone Barrington book. And now we’ve got Will Lee entering into the Stone Barrington series. I don’t know, I just don’t really care for character cross-overs in series books. I don’t care for it in TV shows either, so I think it’s just a personal preference of mine. Either way … the way this book ends, Teddy Fay may make another appearance in a future book.

Overall, this book was good. As usual it read quickly and easily. It kept my attention throughout. The plot line was interesting. A good solid installment in the Stone Barrington series. I’m definitely looking forward to #15!

 

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4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown

Wish You Were Here
by Rita Mae Brown

Wish You Were Here.jpg

 

Copyright: 1990

Pages: 320

Read: April 3 – April 8, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library (e-book)

 

Blurb: Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy–and her human companion, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen.  Small towns are like families:  Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets.  Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town-until its secrets explode into murder.  Crozet’s thirty-something post-mistress, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her.  When Crozet’s citizens start turning up murdered, Harry remembers that each received a card with a tombstone on the front and the message “Wish you were here” on the back.  Intent on protecting their human friend, Mrs. Murphy and Tucker begin to scent out clues.  Meanwhile, Harry is conducting her own investigation, unaware her pets are one step ahead of her.  If only Mrs. Murphy could alert her somehow, Harry could uncover the culprit before the murder occurs–and before Harry finds herself on the killer’s mailing list.


Review: I did something that I never ever do – I checked out a library e-book solely for the purpose of fulfilling a Goodreads challenge. I needed a book with a cat on the cover. I have over 500 physical books on my shelves at my house and if you can believe it, not a single one of those books has a cat on the cover. Who knew?! So off I went in search of something easily obtainable that sounded somewhat interesting that would fulfill this challenge requirement. I knew that I would likely be looking for a cozy mystery, but I was ready for something a little lighter than my usual reading. This book is the one I found. It sounded interesting enough and I could immediately download it to my iPad for reading. Win-win in my book.

What I was not prepared for was to love the book! Like, seriously! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I found myself sneaking in pages when I shouldn’t have been, ha! And considering how much I dislike reading e-books, I know this book was good.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but I really loved them all. They all had a quirk (or two) and I loved the small-town vibe that the book has. The overall mystery itself was interesting – and I didn’t have the murderer even on my radar as the killer. It wasn’t necessarily a shock, but I was convinced it was someone else. Wrong! I loved the little conversations between Mrs. Murphy, Tucker and the rest of the animals in this little town. It’s not something that I ever would have thought I would enjoy, but it really worked for this book. I will say that while this book is technically a cozy mystery, there is some pretty strong language throughout it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up on a complete whim and I’m really glad that I did! I hope I can continue on with this series sooner rather than later (I know, I know … I always say that). A good book that I’d definitely recommend.

4/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 307

Read: March 29 – April 3, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound – and by her wealthy Catholic father who, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a university professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom, about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood, between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.


Review: This is the April selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I picked this one up quite hesitatingly. First, it’s billed as young adult, which is not my normal reading. But add on top of that the setting of Nigeria and then religious aspect and it’s really outside of my comfort zone. Let’s just put it this way – I would have never picked up this book on my own. But I wanted to at least give it a shot.

Long story short … it was good, but difficult reading. I struggled with the abuse described. I couldn’t believe the kind of household Kambili and Jaja were living in – they never even smiled/laughed, that just flabbergasted me. And I really struggled with the religion angle to the story. I’m not much on organized religion to begin with, but I just cannot accept a man who treated his family that way hiding under the guise of religion. Just. No. I also have trouble classifying this is young adult literature. To me it’s an adult book with teenage characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed the middle section of this book, it was definitely the strongest point. The beginning was slightly slow and the ending felt rushed. I would have liked to have seen the ending be fleshed out just a little bit more, but at the same time I can appreciate the fact that the book didn’t have unnecessary padding. I struggled with some of the Nigerian words scattered within this book. In some spots I couldn’t even decipher what the word even was. I understand why they were included in the text, but I didn’t feel like they helped me as a reader at all. I also had an issue with the relationship between the priest and Kambili. She was a fifteen-year-old girl, he was a grown man (and a priest!) … I can understand her “crush” on him, but I didn’t like how it was quite obviously reciprocated by him.

I’m not sure what else to really say about this one. I can definitely see where it makes a great book club selection – I am definitely looking forward to the forum discussions. I can’t say that I loved it, but I can really appreciate the story for what it was. I’m glad I read it, it got me out of my comfort zone and I’m learning that my reading interests go a lot farther than I had would have ever expected.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Women's Murder Club

Review: 15th Affair by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

15th Affair
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

15th Affair

 

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 351

Read: March 25 – 28, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased at Goodwill

 
Blurb: Lindsay Boxer has a beautiful baby daughter and a husband she loves unconditionally. Always focused on her career as a San Francisco police detective, she never wondered what domestic bliss might feel lie, but she’s never been happier. She can’t imagine that a brutal murder at a downtown luxury hotel and the disappearance of a gorgeous blonde woman from the scene would have anything to do with her own life and marriage – yet Lindsay can’t ignore disturbing clues that hit very close to home.

When an explosive tragedy plunges San Francisco into chaos, Lindsay is pressed to investigate a criminal plot that stretches around the globe, and she again finds herself following signs that lead to her own front door. Fighting powerful enemies trying to protect their operatives and conceal the truth at all costs, Lindsay turns to the Women’s Murder Club for help as she desperately searches for the elusive and deadly blonde … before she loses her husband for good.


Review: This is the 15th book in the Women’s Murder Club series. Overall I’ve enjoyed these books, so I was looking forward to jumping back in with Lindsay and her crew. To be completely honest, I picked this one up because I wanted a quick and easy read near the end of March that I could finish before the start of April. I can always count on Mr. Patterson for a fast-paced thriller that I can fly through.

This particular installment … I don’t know. Like, I enjoyed it, but I also really struggled with it. As a mother of two young children and a woman who works outside the house, I can’t imagine working the kind of hours that Lindsay does. And then she didn’t have Joe in this particular installment to help her out and a lot was falling on her next-door nanny. And I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the twist that happens between her and Joe. It definitely puts a big question mark onto her relationship with him and the book leaves a big hole in regards to that as well (darn cliffhangers!).

I think it all boils down to the fact that I really miss the earlier books in this series – when the Women’s Murder Club was an actual thing. With those ladies banding together and solving the cases. That just doesn’t happen anymore in these later books. And I get that characters (like people in real life) do grow and go different ways in life, but I also feel like this particular series was really founded on that and now that that particular part of the series is gone it’s leaving something missing.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, SERIES

Review: Simple Genius by David Baldacci

Simple Genius
by David Baldacci

Simple Genius

 

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 530

Read: March 18 – 25, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Grandmother

 

Blurb: Near Washington, D.C., there are two clandestine institutions: the world’s most unusual laboratory and a secret CIA training camp. Drawn to these sites by a murder, ex-Secret Service agent Sean King encounters a dark world of mathematicians, codes, and spies. His search for answers soon leads him to more shocking violence – and an autistic girl with an extraordinary genius. Now, only by working with his embattled partner, Michelle Maxwell, can he catch a killer … and solve a stunning mystery that threatens the entire nation.


Review: This is the third book in the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series. It had been many, many years since I had read the first two books and I had been nervous to pick back up with this series simply because of that issue. But I decided it was now or never for me to pick it up.

And I’m really glad that I did pick this one up. It may have been a 530 page book, but I found myself reading 40 or 50 pages each and every time I picked it up. It sucked me in immediately and I really enjoyed it. I had very little trouble picking right back up with Sean and Michelle. The only thing I can criticize is that as a person not at all strong in math and/or science, I struggled to understand some of the quantum physic information involved in this book. I know that Mr. Baldacci did what he could with that content, but it was still a little over my head at times. Luckily not enough to really have an impact on my overall feelings on this book, though.

This book has definitely made me look forward into reading the others in the series … and hopefully sooner rather than later! A very good, strong installment. Recommended.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Non-Fiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2019, S

Review: John Adams Vol. 1 (1735-1784) by Page Smith

John Adams Vol. 1 (1735-1784)
by Page Smith

John Adams (Smith)

 

Copyright: 1962

Pages: 599

Read: Feb. 21 – March 20, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: abebooks.com

 

Review: This book is the first in a two-book series by Page Smith. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit. Volume 1 covers Adams’ life from his birth to the point when Abigail joins him in Europe during his overseas diplomatic years.

While this book was originally published in the 1960s, I had no issue whatsoever with the writing style. I found it to be quite easy to read and very informative. In fact, it was almost mesmerizing in some points – Mr. Smith certainly had a way with words.

One thing that I did greatly appreciate as a reader is that I felt like the author kept things relatively balanced. Sure, you can definitely tell that he is definitely a John Adams fan, but I didn’t feel like he bent over backwards to place him on an unnecessary pedestal.

After having read the David McCullough book I greatly appreciated this book in that it could expand on things that Mr. McCullough only merely touched upon. For a more casual reader this book would likely give you more information than you could ever want, but as a follow-up, I found it to be quite enjoyable.

As stated, this is only a review of the first volume of the two-volume set. I am getting ready to start on Volume 2 and I look forward to learning more about the second half of John Adams’ life – that of his Vice Presidency, Presidency and retirement years.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley


The Hunting PartyAbout The Hunting Party

• Hardcover: 336 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (February 12, 2019)

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?


Review:

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

I eagerly snatched up the opportunity to read and review this book when I was originally pitched it. It sounded creepy, thrilling … and that cover! So I was really excited to finally get to dive into this one.

I will say … it is not very likely that you will like any of the characters in this book. They’ve all got secrets. Some of them are just plain mean. It’s pretty obvious early on (at least it was to me) which “friend” would be the one found dead, but it was a lot more difficult to figure out which one was the murderer. Almost every character has a “voice” in this one – chapters where you see their point of view. The secrets are slowly revealed and each one is even more shocking than the last it seems. Again – these are not likable characters! At all! But this book really captivated me. I was so wrapped up in this one and I couldn’t wait to figure out what had really happened! And then that ending … I definitely didn’t see it coming! It really added for an interesting twist at the very end.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a really good thriller that kept me guessing until the end. Highly recommended!!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Lucy Foley AP

About Lucy Foley

LUCY FOLEY is a former editor at Hodder Fiction and has been both a literary agent and a bookseller. An avid painter, she now writes full time and lives in London, England.

Follow Lucy on Twitter and Facebook.

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5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, S, TLC Book Tours

Review: Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew HimAbout Before She Knew Him

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (March 5, 2019)

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .


Review:

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

I have never read a book by Peter Swanson before, although I do have a copy of The Kind Worth Killing on my shelf. So I was excited to get the opportunity to read and review this book!

I am a firm believer that the less you know about this book going in – the better off you will be. It’s full of twists and turns, some you see coming … and some you don’t! There’s one particular twist that it was just like “WHOA! Stop the presses on that one…” I totally didn’t see it coming and it made the book even creepier than it was before.

I really, really enjoyed this one. I found it to be very fast-paced and thrilling. The characters were all well-developed and somewhat unreliable at times. That plot … it may seem like it’s a bit far-reaching (because, you know, most people don’t really think they live next door to a murderer), but Mr. Swanson definitely makes it work in this book.

Overall, a really great book that left me practically breathless! It was a race to the finish to see how it would all end up for Hen.

Highly, highly, highly recommended 🙂


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Peter Swanson AP Photo by Jim Ferguson.jpg
Photo by Jim Ferguson

 

 

About Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson is the author of three novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; and his most recent, Her Every Fear. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science FictionThe Atlantic MonthlyMeasureThe GuardianThe Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife.

Find out more about Peter on his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stephanie Plum

Review: Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich

Eleven on Top
by Janet Evanovich

Eleven on Top

 

Copyright: 2005

Pages: 321

Read: Feb. 10 – 20, 2019

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Goodwill

 

Blurb: Stephanie Plum is thinking her career as a fugitive apprehension agent has run its course. She’s been shot at, spat at, cussed at, fire-bombed, and attacked by dogs. Stephanie thinks it’s time for a change. So she quits. She wants something safe and normal. But the kind of trouble she had at the bail bonds office can’t compare to the kind of trouble she finds herself facing now…

Stephanie is stalked by a maniac returned from the grave for the sole purpose of putting her into a burial plot of her own. He’s killed before, and he’ll kill again if given the chance. Caught between staying far away from the bounty hunter business and staying alive, Stephanie re-examines her life and the possibility that being a bounty hunter is the solution rather than the problem. After disturbingly brief careers at the button factory, Kan Klean Dry Cleaners, and Cluck-in-a-Bucket, Stephanie takes an office position in security, working for Ranger, the sexiest, baddest bounty hunter and businessman on two continents. Tempers and temperatures rise as competition s up between the two men in her life – her on-again, off-again boyfriend, tough Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and Ranger. Can Stephanie Plum take the heat? Can you? Ranger.


Review: Stephanie Plum just can’t keep herself out of trouble. It’s rather ridiculous when a reader thinks back about how many times her car is blown up over the course of the first 11 books. Yet for some reason, it still works each and every time.

This particular installment saw Stephanie quit bounty hunting. I kind of liked the change in career. I secretly hope that she continuous on with Ranger’s company – I think it adds a new and interesting  dynamic to the series and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.

Overall I found this particular installment to be strong, interesting and fun. It definitely makes me look forward to the 12th book!

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, M, Non-Fiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams
by David McCullough

John Adams

Copyright: 2001

Pages: 651

Read: Jan. 4 – Feb. 19, 2019

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Goodwill

 

Blurb: In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as “out of his senses”; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history.

This is history on a grand scale—a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.


Review: After having read seven books on George Washington, I was ready to continue on to John Adams (although I am still kicking myself for not buckling down and reading the Ron Chernow book…ugh!). I chose this one to begin with since I figured it would be the easiest to read and a good jumping off place for me.

First I need to state that I knew very little about John Adams other than the fact that he was instrumental to the creation and execution of the Declaration of Independence, was our first Vice President, and our second President. Other than that I knew next to nothing. I mean, I didn’t even realize he was a one-term president! Oops? So I was eager to dive right in.

I have to say that I was really struggling with my decision to start with this book until I got about 200 pages in. I just found it really difficult to get into at first. I think it was the style of writing that really threw me for a loop. This is not your typical biography. At all. And on one hand I can really appreciate that, and as the book moves forward, I enjoyed the way the writing style handled everything. But at the beginning I had issues with it. I wanted more of a “John Adams was born on…” introduction. I guess more linear in timeline than what was introduced here. But I kept going and in the end I was pleasantly surprised.

I also struggled with the fact that Mr. McCullough made it appear to me that Mr. Adams could do no wrong. Everything seemed to be spun in a very positive light. As a student of history (literally, my bachelor’s degree is in history), I had issue with that. Not everything can be all sunshine and rainbows. There has to be some criticism at some point. Unfortunately, I did not see any criticism whatsoever in this book. That’s not to say that I wanted Mr. McCullough to rip Adams a new one – but I think it would have felt a little more realistic had some of the not-so-popular things about Adams been brought into a different light.

Overall this was a very good and well-researched book. If you can get past the informal writing style (or if that’s what you want in a biography), then this book will be quite enjoyable to you. I however wanted a little more analysis than this particular book provided. I can definitely see how and why it won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for Biography/Autobiography. And it definitely earned a high rating from me. I just wanted a bit more out of it than I got.