4.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2013, X-Y-Z

2013.36 REVIEW – The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List
by Koethi Zan

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 303
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Aug.13-17, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 36
Format: Print
Source: Library

The Never ListBlurb: For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the Never List: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.

Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.

Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias – and the other survivors, who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, Sarah begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.

Review: When I first saw this book mentioned somewhere (darn it, why can I never remember to jot that down?!), I was immediately intrigued. You can imagine my delight when I saw that my library had two copies on order and that there were only two people on the waiting list!

When I began reading it, I was immediately hooked. I took to Sarah’s character right away. I couldn’t help but pity her and Jennifer after surviving that horrific car crash that claimed the life of Jennifer’s mother. You really couldn’t blame them for starting the “Never List.” They took every precaution … even going so far as to hiring a car service while they were in college so that they would never have to get into a cab with a strange driver. Unfortunately, one night they did indeed let their guard down. And that was the night they were abducted.

I must state that this book coming out so close to the time of those women in Ohio being rescued from that man’s house … just, wow. Just the parallels between the two stories, especially since Sarah and Jennifer were at Ohio State! Very strange, indeed.

I have to give big props to the author, though. This book could have been extremely gruesome based on the abduction and the characters’ time in that cellar. Somehow, Ms. Zan managed to keep the descriptions of their time in the cellar to a minimum, and when it was mentioned, it was done tastefully in my opinion. I know that sounds hard to believe, but it really is how I felt about it. And the language is actually rather clean, with just a few F-bombs scattered throughout. Nothing gratuitous, in my opinion.

I do have one slight issue with this book, though. Sarah’s character bothered me a little bit. First of all, I want to know how you can have someone so afraid of just going outside, manage to leave her apartment, fly across the country, drive at night and investigate something that has haunted her for years? It seemed very much at odds with everything I as a reader knew about Sarah. I mean, she wouldn’t even shake the hand of the FBI agent in charge of her case! How was she able to overcome all of that and go on that journey? It just didn’t really seem plausible that she would be able to cope with so much so quickly.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like it was a roller-coaster, thrill-a-minute ride from page one. I prefer to keep my comments here relatively clean, but I can’t help but tell you that when I finished this book, the first thing that came to my mind was “what a total mind-f*ck.” It’s the best psychological thriller I’ve read in some time.

Highly recommended.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, O, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011

2011.40 REVIEW – Closer than Blood by Gregg Olsen

Closer than Blood
by Gregg Olsen

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 412
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: July 31 – Aug. 4, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 40
Format: Print
Source: Purchased new

Blurb: The first victim was easy. No one ever suspected the victim had been murdered. The crime long buried, the dark passions guiding the killer’s hand are still alive. But the need for revenge cannot be denied. Only one person can stop the killing. Only one person can identify the killer. Only one person knows the face of death – is as close as the face in the mirror…

Review: Mr. Olsen never fails to impress me. I have read all of his fiction novels so far and have enjoyed every single one of them. The amount of evil he can come up with is amazing to me. Tori, one of the twins in this book … wow, what a character, is all I can say. The storyline was interesting and there was a very interesting twist that came out of left field for me! I simply can’t say enough good things about this book – for sure pick this one up!

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, J, RATING, Read in 2011

2011.30 REVIEW – Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson

Lost Souls 
by Lisa Jackson

Copyright: 2008, 2009
Pages: 488
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: June 15 – June 21, 2011
Challenge:  No Challenge
Yearly Count: 30
Format: Print

First Line: Where am I?

Blurb: Kristi Bentz wants to write true crime. All she needs is that one case that will take her to the top. She finds it when she enrolls at All Saints College after learning that four girls have disappeared in less than two years. All four girls were “lost souls” – troubled, vulnerable girls with no one to care about them, no one to come looking for them if they disappeared. The only personal that believes Kristi is her ex-lover, Jay McKnight, a professor on campus. The police think the girls are runaways, but Kristi senses there’s something that links them – something terrifying. As Kristi gets deeper into her investigation, she gets the feeling she’s being watched and followed – studied, even. Then the bodies start turning up, and Kristi realizes she is playing a game with a killer who has selected her for membership in a special club from which there will be no escaping death….

Review: Vampires, sex, murder … this book has it all. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it was a little on the long side for the story it was trying to tell, but honestly, that didn’t take away too much from the book itself. Having read Lisa Jackson’s books before, they are usually guaranteed to be a good thriller, but sometimes this one felt a little pushed in places. It’s hard to explain what I’m really trying to say. It was a good book, no doubt about it. But it didn’t feel entirely believable. I think that was my issue with it. Maybe that’s just me not buying into the whole commercialized vampirism and whatnot (now, if you want a good vampire story, check out Blood Oath). However, I suppose if the vampire element had been left out of this book, it would have felt like a gazillion other thriller books with very similar plots. Overall, I would recommend this book. But I think it’s a very forgettable read.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, SERIES, Women's Murder Club

2011.23 REVIEW – 10th Anniversary by James Patterson

10th Anniversary
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 395
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: May 13 – 15, 2011
Challenge:  TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 23
Format: Print

First Line: This was the day I was getting married.

Blurb: Detective Lindsay Boxer’s long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a teenage girl is badly injured and left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminal – but the victim may be keeping secrets as well. At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life – a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of their two young children. Yuki’s career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct? Lindsay’s every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she’ll ever be able to start a family.

Review: This was a really good book. But my goodness, edit edit edit! There were grammatical errors in this book, which isn’t usually something I come across in a James Patterson book. I understand that these things happen, but if I can spot them it always makes me wonder if anyone even edits/reads these books anymore! Spell check doesn’t catch everything! Anyway, grammar issues aside, I felt like this was a good read. I enjoyed the two plot lines that were going on. I enjoyed more character development with Lindsay and Joe and Yuki’s new relationship as well as Cindy and Conklin’s relationship progression. It’s always like getting together with friends when I read this series. I really like this series, and although I prefer the Alex Cross series, this is another one of my favorite series that I would highly recommend.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Jane Rizzoli, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, SERIES

REVIEW: Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen

Ice Cold
by Tess Gerritsen

Copyright: 2010
Pages: 322
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Oct. 6-9, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Finish that Series Challenge
Yearly Count: 53

First Line: She was the chosen one.

Maura Isles goes to Wyoming for a medical conference. There she meets a man that she went to college with and she makes a split second decision to go skiing with him, his daughter and two of his friends. That uncharacteristic decision will put her life at risk. Getting lost a snowstorm, they end up in a place called Kingdom Come. And Kingdom Come is not somewhere they want to be, it’s an abandoned village with some strange clues left behind. Several days later Jane Rizzoli, back in Boston, receives word that Maura’s charred body has been found in a mountain revine after a terrible car accident. Jane is determined to find out exactly what happened to her friend, but the investigation that she becomes involved in out in Wyoming will prove quite interesting. There are some people who will do anything in order to keep the truth about the people who used to reside in Kingdom Come, but Jane just can’t let things go.

This is the most recent installment in the Rizzoli and Isles series and I have to say I really enjoyed it! I must say, though, that there were some spots in the book that were just unbelievable to me. And I’m very interested to see what the next book in this series will bring based on the ending of this book. I have really enjoyed catching up with this series, and I would highly recommend this series to anyone who loves a great read!

4.5/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, The Camel Club

REVIEW: The Collectors by David Baldacci

The Collectors
by David Baldacci

Copyright: 2006
Pages: 511
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Sept. 20-Oct. 5, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2010
Yearly Count: 52

First Line: Roger Seagraves walked out of the U.S. Capitol after an interesting meeting that, surprisngly, had had little to do with politics.

The assassination of the Speaker of the House of Representatives has rocked the nation. And the Camel Club has found a chillingly interesting connection between his death and the death of the director of the Library of Congress’s Rare Books and Special Collections Division. Oliver Stone, the Camel Club’s unofficial leader has found that someone is selling secrets to some of America’s worst enemies. When Annabelle Conroy, the greatest con artist of her generation breezes through town for the funeral of the Library of Congress’s director, her ex-husband, she intrigues Oliver Stone for many different reasons. But she will eventually join forces with the Camel Club in order to find out who is behind the murder. The Camel Club will need all the help they can get because the people that they are up against have no intentions of being caught or leaving any witnesses.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Camel Club when I read it a few months back, and this book, the second in the series, was just as good in my opinion. I have really taken to the characters involved in the Camel Club, and I also really enjoy David Baldacci’s writing. I don’t really have any bad things to say about this book, I’m interested in continuing this series to see if we learn more about who Oliver truly is (or was, I should say). I highly recommend this series to anyone.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, T

REVIEW: The Black Sun by James Twining

The Black Sun
by James Twining

Copyright: 2006
Pages: 416
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Sept. 12-19, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2010
Yearly Count: 48

First Line: Ash cash. That’s what medical students call it.

In Maryland a Nazi Enigma machine is stolen from the National Cryptologic Museum. In a London hospital, an Auschwitz survivor is murdered in his hospital bed, his arm severed and taken by his murderers. In Prague, a seemingly worthless painting is stolen from a synagogue. Three cities. Three crimes. Is there a connection? Former art thief Tom Kirk does not seem to think that there is a link between these three incidents, but when he begins to investigate he realizes that there is some sort of a connection, and he will be in a race against time to figure out the connection and connect all the dots in order to find a fabled hidden treasure.

This is the second in the Tom Kirk series. I enjoyed this book, but I think the first book was much better. I was a history major in college, so naturally I will always enjoy any book with a historical slant to it. This one had some slow spots and some fast spots, but overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010

REVIEW: 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

31 Bond Street
by Ellen Horan

Copyright: 2010
Pages: 349
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Sept. 5-11, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010
Yearly Count: 47

First Line: For a boy who watched boats, his room was the perfect perch.

It was the crime of the century! Dr. Harvey Burdell was murdered in his own home in 1857 New York, with no witnesses and no clues as to the killer’s identity. Dr. Burdell was rumored to be a shady businessman, so one would think that there would be a lot of suspects to investigate. But the coroner quickly concludes that Emma Cunningham murdered the doctor. Cunningham, the housemistress, claims to have been married to Dr. Burdell. But the coroner and the district attorney, Abraham Oakey Hall, quickly dismiss the idea of marriage, claiming the marriage certificate is a fake. They conclude that Mrs. Cunningham, a wealthy widow who has spent most of her money, as well as her daughter’s dowry, was simply looking for a wealthy man to trick into marriage and then she killed him so that she would have all of his money for herself. But Cunningham swears she is innocent, she did not and could not have killed Dr. Burdell. Only one person in the entire city believes her: defense attorney Henry Clinton. Clinton takes on the case, having to give up his lucrative law practice with another highly respected defense attorney in order to defend Mrs. Cunningham. It will take Clinton everything he has in order to prove Cunningham innocent.

This is a richly detailed historical fiction set in 1857 New York City. It was a wonderful book. It was a great blend of historical fiction and crime fiction. The author opens the book with the murder and then takes the reader back and forth, alternating between the backstory of how Mrs. Cunningham and Dr. Burdell came to know each other and the present of how the murder case against Mrs. Cunningham progresses. Dr. Burdell was definitely involved in some shady business transactions, and poor Mrs. Cunningham seems to have been caught up in his lies and placed in an unfriendly light by some corrupt politicians. Her defense attorney, Henry Clinton, was an enjoyable character, and his wife Elisabeth was a wonderful addition to this book. I found it truly amazing that Mr. Clinton was able to do all that he could for Mrs. Cunningham, when so many other people were against her, he never backed down. He was convinced that she was innocent, and it was all he could do to prove that to everyone. I normally do not read historical fiction, I enjoy it but sometimes I have trouble following it. But this book was such a wonderful read. It really took my favorite genre, crime fiction, and blended so well with the historical aspect (history was my major in college :)) to produce a very enjoyable read that I think almost everyone would enjoy.

I discovered this book through the reviews at two wonderful blogs, I will share their reviews:

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010

REVIEW: The Next Killing by Rebecca Drake

The Next Killing
by Rebecca Drake

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 416
Rating: 4./5
Read: July 21-25, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2010
Yearly Count: 36

First Line: The shed was dark.

St. Ursula’s Preparatory Academy is an elite institution that young girls have come to for years. There have been so many good memories, so much learning, and now so much death. When the first body is found, an accident is assumed. But the students know that something else is going on. When other girls turn up dead, it become increasingly obvious that there is a serial killer at work in the halls of St. Ursula. No sins will go unpunished at this school.

The description of this book immediately caught my eye, this is pretty much a perfect book for me. And for the most part, I enjoyed it. But I did have an issue with the ending, I wasn’t really too fond of it. It was okay, but that’s about it. I also had a feeling that the killer was revealed a little too early. It would have been a little bit better had it come in the last few pages, rather than with 100 pages to go. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to other people to read.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, O, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010

REVIEW: Final Breath by Kevin O’Brien

Final Breath
by Kevin O’Brien

Copyright: 2008
Pages: 436
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Jan. 27 – Feb. 3, 2010
Challenge:  2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2010; Thriller & Suspense 2010
Yearly Count: 5

First Line: “I swear to God, I’m going to killer her,” he whispered. 

The deaths appear to be random. There seems to be no connection whatsoever. But one woman is slowly realizing that there is indeed a connection – and it’s her. Television reporter Sydney Jordan begins receiving strange souvenirs. She has no idea what these souvenirs really mean, but she eventually begins to realize that people that she has previously interviewed for her television show are ending up dead – most of them are made to look like accidents. But she knows that something else is going on with these deaths. After leaving Chicago abruptly with her son for Seattle, she feels that it will be a new start, but these strange occurrences just keep happening. Someone is watching her and her son, someone who knows her quite well, someone who has placed Sydney as a pawn in a very deadly game. When Sydney finally puts all of the clues together, will it be too late?

I have read a few other Kevin O’Brien novels in the past and have always loved the intense thrills that he manages to write. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s just one of those authors who can give me goosebumps. This one had a few slow places, but overall I thought it was a really good book! I had no idea as to who Sydney’s stalker was until it was revealed in the last few pages, and it was definitely a surprise. There were clues placed throughout the novel, but like Sydney, I missed most of them. My one gripe was that there were a few grammatical errors (my biggest pet peeve). I highly recommend this one.