3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, O, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, SERIES

2011.59 REVIEW – The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Translated by: Lisa Hartford

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 395
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Oct. 3– Oct. 8, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 59
Format: Print
Source: Library Copy

Blurb: The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s international bestselling Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl Mørck, who used to be a good homicide detective – one of Copenhagen’s best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren’t so lucky, and Carol, who didn’t draw his weapon, blames himself.

So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl’s been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigation division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases to keep him company, Carol has been put out to pasture. So he’s as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she’s dead. His colleagues snicker abou the time he’s wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.

Because she isn’t dead … yet.

Review: I’m honestly torn on how to rate this book. I’m not really sure where to begin, so I’ll just start from the beginning and work my way to the end (with as few spoilers as possible, of course).

This book alternates between the perspective of Merete Lynggaard, the politician who disappeared and everyone assumes is dead, and Carl Mørck, a detective who has survivor’s guilt after being involved in a shooting where his two colleagues weren’t as lucky as he was. I must say that when I first met Carl, I was not impressed. I wanted to shake him and say, “snap out of it!” But at the same time, I understood why he was feeling like he was … one of his colleagues lost his life and the other one is permanently paralyzed after a shooting in which Carl didn’t even pull his gun. But his attitude is not very likeable and I struggled with that throughout the entire book.

The next thing Carl knows he’s getting a promotion! That would definitely be the last thing anyone would expect, but they put him in the basement with Assad as his assistant. Now, let me just say that I loved Assad’s character. There was so much to him that was so surprising! He’s definitely a good match with Carl … it was really Assad’s interest that got Carl’s interest going in the Merete Lynggaard disappearance. And as Carl continues to dig deeper (while looking like he’s not doing anything) he realizes that there’s something not quite right about the case.

So now I’m to the point where I need to explain why I’m so torn on my opinion of this book. First of all, I didn’t like Carl’s character. Not one bit. He’s a jerk, plain and simple. He doesn’t care about his job anymore. He has a major beef with one of the detectives upstairs. He practically blackmailed his superiors because he knows how much money his new department has been allocated … and he knows that his department isn’t seeing all that money. He’s just not a nice guy.

But then there’s Assad. He’s a very likeable guy. He’s intriguing because we don’t really know anything about him. Carl doesn’t even believe him when he tells him he’s from Syria; Carl thinks he might be from Iraq. He’s definitely not who he says he is, that much is very clear. And he’s not doing what Carl thinks he’s doing when he sends him up to talk to Hardy, Carl’s paralyzed colleague. But then again, it’s really Assad who pushes Carl to work hard on this case. It’s Assad who gets him interested. It’s Assad who really comes up with some great ideas to work the case with.

So I guess the next logical question would be: will I read more in this series? I’m honestly torn. I’m not sure I could stand another book of Carl’s attitude. But at the same time, I would love to know more about Assad and who he really is. Overall, I put this book at a 3.5 rating, which is somewhere between good and really good. If I had liked Carl’s character just a little bit more, I could have given it a 4, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. I think I could recommend this book to other readers, but I don’t think it would be a good fit for everybody.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, Scot Harvath, SERIES, T

2011.58 REVIEW – State of the Union by Brad Thor

State of the Union
by Brad Thor

Copyright: 2004
Pages: 523
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 25– Oct. 2, 2011
Challenge: Take a Chance 3 Challenge
Yearly Count: 58
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy

Blurb: With the fragile peace between the world’s nations shattered, Harvath must unravel a brilliantly orchestrated, fiendishly timed conspiracy intent upon bringing the United States to its knees. Teamed with beautiful Russian Intelligence agent Alexandra Ivanova and a highly trained CIA paramilitary detachment, Harvath races from the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., to the streets of Berlin, the coast of Finland, and into the heart of Mother Russia herself before returning home for a final showdown with an enemy from America’s past more sinister and deadly than has even been seen before…

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book!! Having liked the previous book (Path of the Assassin), but not really enjoying the whole Middle Eastern theme involved, I was really excited to read about Cold War-era Russian spies. For me, that’s more up my alley than the what the previous book dealt with. This book was definitely action packed. Scot Harvath manages to find himself in all kinds of trouble, no matter where he goes, it seems! And his sense of loyalty to those closest to him is amazing, he definitely puts himself in harm’s way for his friend, mentor  and boss, Gary Lawlor. I am definitely enjoying this series. We didn’t get to see a lot of Meg in this installment, but hopefully in the next book we will get to learn more about her and Scot and where they go to.

3/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, K, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011

2011.54 REVIEW: The Blue Edge of Midnight by Jonathon King

The Blue Edge of Midnight
by Jonathon King

Copyright: 2002
Pages: 265
Rating: 3/5
Read: Sept. 11– Sept. 13, 2011
Challenge: Take a Chance Challenge 3
Yearly Count: 54
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy

Blurb: On a night that will haunt him forever, ex-cop Max Freeman killed a twelve-year-old child in self-defense in a Philadelphia shootout. Since then he has lived a solitary existence on the edge of the Florida Everglades, where he answers to no one save the demons tormenting his conscience. But when he finds the corpse of a child along a shadowy riverbank, he’s pulled back into the twisted maze of law and order – as a murder suspect. Now Freeman has no choice but to hunt down a killer who has committed the unthinkable – even if it takes him to the darkest places of the soul…

Review: I only picked up this book to fulfill a challenge requirement. While it would not be my favorite book, it wasn’t a bad book. There was just something about the book itself that bothered me. I don’t know if it was the (what I call) flowery dialogue. By this I mean that there were long, drawn-out descriptions in places where it (in my opinion) was unnecessary. But then again, I am not a fan of a lot of words, as I’ve said before here on my blog, I’m a “just the facts, ma’am” type of girl. Or if it was just the fact that I didn’t really get the main character, Max. He was a strange guy, there were a lot of unknowns about him and he just was … strange. That’s the only way I could describe it. Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever read any more in this series, I just didn’t get the book. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it definitely wasn’t great. In the words of Simon Cowell, it was utterly “forgettable.”

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, L, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, Review Book

2011.51 REVIEW – We’re Not Leaving by Benjamin J. Luft, M.D.

We’re Not Leaving: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal
by Benjamin J. Luft, M.D.

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 300
Rating: 5/5
Read: Sept. 3– Sept. 7, 2011
Challenge: What’s in a Name 4 Challenge
Yearly Count: 51
Format: Print
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: We’re Not Leaving is a compilation of powerful first-person narratives told from the vantage point of World Trade Center disaster workers – police officers, firefighters, construction workers, and other volunteers at the site. While the effects of 9/11 on these everyday heroes and heroines are indelible, and in some cases have been devastating, at the heart of their deeply personal stories – their harrowing escapes from the falling Towers, the egregious environment they worked in for months, the alarming health effects they continue to deal with – is their witness to their personal strength and renewal in the ten years since. These stories, shared by ordinary people who responded to disaster and devastation in extraordinary ways, remind us of America’s strength and inspire us to recognize and ultimately believe in our shared values of courage, duty, patriotism, self-sacrifice, and devotion, which guide us in dark times.

Review: I received this book courtesy of Rebecca with The Cadence Group. Wow.

I don’t know what else to say about this book. The events surrounding 9/11 are such a sensitive topic and with the 10th anniversary knocking on our door, I was immediately interested in getting this review opportunity. The emotions of the people who lent their stories to this book just pour out from the pages. As a reader, my heart broke numerous times just reading what people went through.

Personally, I watched the events unfold on television from the safety of my midwestern high school through the eyes of a sixteen-year-old. At the time I don’t think I really understood what was going on, I didn’t really grasp the enormity of what I was seeing. And then again, I did. I knew this was serious. I had studied all about the different wars that America had fought through the years. But this was no war (at the time) … this was an attack on our soil against our people.

This book really opened my eyes to what everyone went through. You can only feel so much watching things on television. But hearing the words of some the people who lived through this, well that puts things in an entirely different perspective. That makes it more real to someone like me.

I think that the introduction does a good job at explaining what this book is all about. From page xvii:

The testimony in this book is different in that it speaks both from and to the soul. Through their deeply personal and unique perspectives, the stories of 9/11 responders in their own voices, help us understand the human impact of the World Trade Center disaster and encourage us all to heal.

Healing. That’s something that we all had to do together. As a country. And I don’t think we’ve healed entirely. I think that 9/11 is still a sore that is opened up at any given moment.

One of the things that struck me when I was reading this book was the amount of guilt that a lot of the responders felt. Countless people were running into the madness when so many people running away. And yet some people still feel guilt. Guilt because they couldn’t save everyone. I can’t understand what that feels like, obviously, having not been there.

I felt like what I did wasn’t enough and that it was a defeat and that so many people died. (Page 12)

The enormity of what happened on that fateful day in New York City was a lot for me to understand. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to visit New York City in 2008. I went to Ground Zero. I can’t tell you what it felt like to see that big gaping hole in the middle of the city. The emptiness of it spoke volumes. All around you skyscrapers are everywhere in New York City. That’s the norm. But there was just … nothing. And to know what used to be there and what happened, it’s just unbelievable. I was also able to go inside the museum. Wow. Definitely do that if you have the opportunity.

Everything with the World Trade Center, depends on where you were – people standing to the left of you might’ve been killed; people standing to the right of you could’ve survived. It was just all [in] the positioning. (Page 56)

That one sentence says all that can be said about who lived and who died in the Towers. It was all a matter of where you were and when you were there. There was no rhyme or reason to it.

“Where were you when….?” that will be the age-old question that will be asked countless times over the next decades. And just like those who were alive when JFK was assassinated, every single person will be able to tell you exactly where they were when they first heard. For me it was 1st period Algebra II class, junior year. That day will stay with me for the rest of my life. As it should. It’s part of our history now. We can only learn and grow from it.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Harry Potter, Harry Potter, R, RATING, Read in 2011, Read-a-Long, READING CHALLENGES 2011, SERIES

2011.48 REVIEW – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling

Copyright: 1998
Pages: 341
Rating: 5/5
Read: Aug 22 – Aug. 27, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 48
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy

Blurb: The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike. And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart; a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom; and the unwanted attention of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone – or something – starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects … Harry Potter himself!

Review: When can you go wrong with Harry Potter? And how can you critique these books? If anyone can answer those two questions, please let me know! Personally, I think this installment is better than the first one. But I think that I feel that way simply because the first one tends to read a little childish (my opinion only). We get to see inside Dumbledore in this book more than in the first one, and anyone who’s read this series, knows just how important Dumbledore is to Harry. Although I am re-reading this series, the books feel brand spanking new to me. Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since I’ve read the earlier books. Either way, it’s definitely got me read to move on to the third book!!

I just want to share a quick passage that made me laugh out loud. From page 341:

“Your aunt and uncle will be proud, though, won’t they?” said Hermoine as they got off the train and joined the crowd thronging toward the enchanted barrier. “When they hear what you did this year?”

“Proud?” said Harry. “Are you crazy? All those times I could’ve died, and I didn’t manage it? They’ll be furious…”

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

2011.45 REVIEW – Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Still Missing
by Chevy Stevens

Copyright: 2010
Pages: 340
Rating: 5/5
Read: Aug 12 – Aug. 15, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 45
Format: Print
Source: Library Book

Blurb: On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old Realtor, had three goals: Sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive in a remote mountain cabin – which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist – is a second narrative recounting the nightmare that follows her escape: her struggle to piece her shattered life back together, the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor, and the disturbing sense that things are far from over. The truth doesn’t always set you free.

Review: WOW! This book really sucks you in from the first page. I should first say that this book is very graphic and not for the faint of heart. I’m not easily offended or upset. I read the first 50 pages quickly on the first night I picked the book up. A couple of days went by as I tried to finish another book I needed to get wrapped up and reviewed and then I picked this one back up last night. I flew through it. I stayed up way past my bedtime to read as much as I could before having to finally give it up when my eyes just wouldn’t stay open any longer. I finished it up today. And let me tell you, it’s such a chilling and thrilling read. The twists and turns are unbelievable. The descriptions of Annie’s time in captivity feel unbelievably real. Personally I liked that the book was told in her psychiatric sessions solely from her viewpoint, there was no interruptions by the psychiatrist whatsoever. That made the book feel so much more raw. I just want to kick myself for waiting so long to pick this book up!

Here’s a few reviews that made me pick this book up:

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, K, Maggie O'Dell, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, SERIES

2011.41 REVIEW – Hotwire by Alex Kava

by Alex Kava

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 288
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Aug 5 – Aug. 7, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 41
Format: Print
Source: Library Book

Blurb: On a crisp fall evening in western Nebraska, what started as a group of kids filming their drug-induced party ends in an explosive light show, leaving the victims apparently electrocuted, with odd scorch marks being the only evidence. While Maggie tries to make sense of what is real and what is hallucination, she realizes that the surviving teens are being targeted and systematically eliminated. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, Army Colonel Benjamin Platt is at the scene of a deadly outbreak, desperate to identify the pathogen that has infected children at a Washington, D.C., elementary school. Despite the miles that separate them, the two cases collide as Maggie and Platt uncover secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the remote Midwest landscape.

Review: I was a little hesitant about this book since I was a little bit disappointed in the last book (Damaged). That being said I’m a little on the fence on this one overall. First of all, I should start out by saying that I really do enjoy this series, I like Maggie’s character. I especially like that we’re starting to see the possibility of some romance in her life. But this book and the previous book haven’t been as great as the other previous books were. There seems to be less profiling for Maggie (and that’s what her job description is!) and I honestly loved that aspect of the series. There were two storylines in this book that were supposed to be connected … but seriously, the connection required quite a bit of imagination if you ask me. The way that the two storylines were connected would not have been the way I would have connected them. But again, this is just my opinion. As I stated in my review for Damaged, the ending to this book felt a little rushed as well. Once again I felt the story being built up and up only to be wrapped up in 10 pages. I don’t know. Like I said, I’m a little on the fence. I enjoyed it, but if I was just picking this book up without having read the others first, it probably wouldn’t be a series I would continue with.

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, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Jack Daniels, K, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, SERIES

2011.39 REVIEW – Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

Whiskey Sour
by J.A. Konrath

Copyright: 2004
Pages: 276
Rating: 4/5
Read: July 28 – July 30, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 39
Format: Print
Source: Purchased online from Powell’s in 2010

Blurb: Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels is an insomniac Chicago cop with a train wreck of a personal life and a stalker bent on adding her to his murder list. Join Jack, her binge-eating partner, a sleazy PI, and two very stupid FBI agents on a wild hunt for the Gingerbread Man – a killer who makes Hannibal Lecter look like Huck Finn.

Review: I purchased this book online in 2010 from Powell’s. I went on this binge where I was gathering up some new series’ to start. I hate to admit that I let this one sit on my shelf for as long as I did. And honestly, I only read it when I did was because it is part of a large trade I have going with a fellow member of the Yahoo group MysteryBookSwap. That being said, I found this book to be hilarious. I’m already looking for the second in the series, Bloody Mary. I don’t think that there’s any other character quite like Jack Daniels in any book I’ve ever read. She’s believable, humorous, serious and likeable all at the same time. The storyline was really enjoyable, the bad guy was interesting, the supporting characters are good. I’m definitely glad that I read this book and I’m really looking forward to reading more in this serious. I would highly recommend this book.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, Review Book, U-V-W

2011.38 REVIEW – Lonely Deceptions by D.R. Willis

Lonely Deceptions
by D.R. Willis

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 193
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: July 25 – July 27, 2011
Challenge: Criminal Plots Reading Challenge; TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 38
Format: Print
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: After Nick accidentally overhears a conversation between Lou Evans – his boss and owner of Lou-Paul Machine Shop – and a mysterious person, he unwittingly becomes a pawn in a game of international proportions. When Lou gruffly asks him to take possession of prototype blueprints, Nick has no idea that the blueprints contain a dark secret – a secret with the potential to kill. Combined with unwanted attention from a local police officer as well as a skeletal, dangerous former FBI agent, Nick’s normal life is suddenly not that at all, and no one can guarantee his safety – not even the beautiful FBI agent who has been assigned to the case. Lou may not be who he says he is, and, unfortunately for Nick, his downfall may be that he is the best machinist around and the only one Lou can count on to help him carry out a perilous mission.

Review: I received this copy to review courtesy of Hannah at BohlsenPR. Overall I thought the book was good, but there were some weird spots for me. First, I felt as if the beginning was slow and confusing. It took nearly 60 pages before I started to understand what was going on. And then at the end, when the big secret was revealed, I wasn’t all that impressed. I suppose I was expecting it to be a bigger conspiracy by the way it was played up throughout the entire book, either that or I missed something. That being said, the middle of the book was really good. I felt that this had the best writing, the best storyline and the best character development. This book read as if it could be the first in a planned series. I’m not sure what the plans are for this author, but I feel as if a second book in this series could definitely answer some questions that I had. My curiosity would lead me to want to read another book with Nick Davis as the main character. But like I said, I’m not sure that there is a plan for a series, the ending just left it open for the possibility. Overall, I would recommend this book as it was an enjoyable read.