Thursday, November 22, 2012

Meet Me At Emotional Baggage Claim by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

I have found that I cannot resist these books. I think it is because I can relate to their mother-daughter relationship and the goofy banter throughout the book. Plus they are a fun, quick read. I find myself tearing up in spots (I can't deny that PMS isn't involved) and then laughing out loud in others. Lisa Scottoline and her daughter say the things I think and feel but don't write down. I love that they can find humor in mundane life events. I appreciate that the witticism comes effortlessly and without anger. There are other writers who poke fun at everyday events but they come across angry in their banter. I don't get that from these authors...even when they are talking about ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends. I think I can learn something from that example. You can acknowledge your past and poke fun at it instead of be angry and vindictive. I cannot wait for the next book from these two women.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Skin by Max Allan Collins & Mickey Spillane

Private Investigator Mike Hammer may be getting older, but he hasn’t lost his step. So when he spots a brutally destroyed corpse on the side of the road in upstate New York, unrecognizable as human except for the disembodied hand lying next to it, there’s no question of him not taking the case. Especially when Melodie Anderson, the stunning young reporter determined to investigate, goes missing. But as Mike sifts through Melodie’s leads in a race to find her before it’s too late, he discovers a murder method more horrible than anything he’s ever come across… and one that neither he nor Melodie may be able to escape. (Summary provided by

This is a short story that has Mike Hammer in the middle of an investigation. He does a great job solving the case, as usual. Although I had some idea of how the book was going to end, it was great to read another Hammer story from the late Mickey Spillane. I’m glad that Max Allan Collins has come along to complete and finalize some of these great Mike Hammer stories.

I loved how Hammer deduces the clues before him. He knows how to look at everything around him and find out who the suspect is and apprehend him. I loved the suspense built up in the book even though it was a short story. The authors were able to write a suspenseful and well written story in just a few words. My only critique is that I would have loved to have a longer story because I love Hammer and his cases.

(Kindle Book; Provided by NetGalley; Read August 2012; Thank you to Penguin Group-USA for the opportunity to read and review this book.)

The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz

Nate Overbay is a down on his luck guy who is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after his best friend was killed in combat. He is ready to end his life after finding out he has been diagnosed with another ailment. He will be leaving his wife and daughter behind but he has pulled away from them over the years after his return from service. He is on the 11th story edge of the bank building when he hears gun shots inside the back. He peeks into the window nearest him and see six armed men taking over the bank. Before he knows it, he has entered the window and starts taking out the bank robbers. There is one man left and he leaves Nate with a warning that his life could be in danger. Nate is confronted by a Ukrainian mobster and told that he must retrieve the item they were robbing the bank for or his wife and daughter will be in danger. Nate now has to focus on keeping his family safe and not focus on his lack of will to live before it is too late.

Hurwitz did not disappoint with his latest book. It started out with an action scene and never let up. I found myself knowing that things could not be so easy for Nate but I had no idea how Hurwitz would add more suspenseful twists without the story getting too unbelievable but he succeeded. Of course some of the situations seem unfathomable to the common person but it was not so over done that I rolled my eyes at absurdity.

There were moments in this book that I was on the edge of my seat and then there would be a paragraph that would have me on the edge of tears. Hurwitz had me on an emotional roller coaster throughout the book. I was rooting for Nate to repair his relationships with his wife and daughter, work through is new health diagnosis, figure out how to deal with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and fight back against the group of Ukrainians coming after him.

I felt that the characters were well developed. There was enough detail to keep me informed and have a clear picture in my mind but there was not so much detail that I became bored while I was reading. I also liked that the intimate scenes were not too graphic. The interactions and responses from the characters seemed realistic to me and made me want to know even more about them when I finished the book.

Overall, this is another Hurwitz book that I would highly recommend. I find Hurwitz to be a refreshing author. He adds suspense but keeps things somewhat realistic throughout the book, so it keeps you hooked from the very start of the book. He is a creative author and I have not read any of his books that let me down. I look forward to more Hurwitz books in the future.

(Library Book; Read Sept 2012)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Risk Agent by Ridley Pearson

John Knox and Grace Chu are paired up in China to find Chu's relative that has been kidnapped and Knox's friend has been kidnapped as well. Chu is looking into the financial aspect of the kidnapping and Knox is the brawn. The pair of them have to sort through a tangle of information and keep themselves safe. And still rescue the two individuals that have been kidnapped.

This book started out a little slow for me but after about a third of the way through, I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters of Knox and Chu throughout the book. They seemed to compliment each other quite well. The suspense was developed nicely. I also like the format of the book with the dates and times listed as you read.

One of the issues that I found myself struggling with was that there were so many characters that it was hard to keep up with how they were all associated with one another. By the end of the book I was a little lost but I still enjoyed it and it didn't detract from the book too much.

I enjoyed the inserts about the Chinese history and culture. I felt that Pearson included enough information about China but did not go too overboard and bore the reader. I also like that he would write a word in Chinese but give the English translation. It brought the book to life for me.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Pearson did not disappoint me. I loved the suspense, the characters, the twists and turns, and the setting. I would love to see Knox and Chu come into play in a future Ridley Pearson novel.

(This book was received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. ARC. Read August 2012.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman

This is a story of a cantankerous old man named Buck Schatz. An old acquaintance from the war wants to talk to him before he dies. This man informs Buck that the soldier who tortured him during the war is actually still alive and that he took some gold from that soldier in order to give him passage out of the country. Buck is furious. This acquaintance betrayed him and now wants him to find the rest of the gold. Buck is going to ignore this death bed plea until more people start approaching him about the gold. Before he knows it, Buck is drug into the treasure hunt and he has brought his grandson along with him. Bodies start turning up and Buck could be one of them if he doesn't tread carefully.

This was an interesting book. I loved the humor throughout the book and it started from the moment I read Buck's name the first time. The author did a wonderful job with the character Buck. Buck has smart responses to everyone around him, including his wife. I think Buck is the type of character that most people want to become in their old age...cantankerous, witty, no nonsense, and still up for a wild adventure.

After completing the book, I realized that I found the book entertaining but that I didn't hang on to the plot as much as I did the humor and the characters. The story was not bad but I think it was overshadowed by the personalities of the characters. I was anxious to find out how Buck was going to get everything ironed out but I was also anxious to know how Buck was doing after everything was over. I would recommend this books as a humorous book with a mystery twist. 

(Please note that this book was received through NetGalley. Thank you, St. Martin's Press, for the opportunity to read this book. Read on Kindle August 2012.)

Deep Down by Lee Child

This is a short story with Jack Reacher as the main character. This story is a typical Reacher story...just a lot shorter. If you are not a Lee Child/Jack Reacher fan, this book will probably seem pointless and a waste of time. For Child/Reacher fans, it is always fun to read another story that has Reacher solving a problem in his unique way. I do not mind the short stories but I definitely like the full length stories more because Child is able to develop the story to keep you on the edge of your seat. The short stories do not have the same suspense and impact that is in the full length books. This book is worth the read if you enjoy Reacher. I would not recommend it to anyone who is new to Jack Reacher.

Maze Runner by James Dashner

I had seen this book mentioned many times by my friends who love young adult books. I decided to pick it up and see what they were talking about.

Thomas finds himself in a box and being lifted up in the box. When the doors are opened, there is a large group of boys looking in on him. Thomas doesn't remember anything of his past and he has no idea what is going on in the place in which he was delivered. He starts trying to ask questions and no one has a straight answer for him. Things are strange in this new world and before he knows it, things get even stranger when the first girl is brought into their world. Things continue to spiral out of control once she arrives and all of them have to figure out how to survive.

I found the beginning of this book a little slow and annoying. Thomas is constantly asking what is going on and the answers are vague or not given at all. I found myself as frustrated as Thomas with the lack of answers and how he was being treated by the other boys.

As the story continues, I found myself less irritated. I became anxious about how they would get through and survive the Maze. After about half way through the book, I couldn't put it down. I was so impressed with how Thomas fought through all the questions and persevered.

I felt like this book was different from many of the other young adult books I have read lately. It felt like it wasn't a "copy" of an idea from someone else. There could be other books out like it but I have not encountered any of them to date. I thought that the author was inventive and left you wanting more at the end of the book. I look forward to picking up the next book. 

(Library Book read Aug 2012)

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Second Son by Lee Child

This is a short story that gives an insight into what Jack Reacher was like as a child (around 13 years old). His grandfather is dying and his family has been relocated so they cannot contact his next of kin, which is his daughter, Josephine.  Josephine is Reacher’s mother. After getting moved into their new home, Reacher and his brother, Joe, encounter the bully kid of the neighborhood. Before they know it, Reacher’s dad, Stan, and Joe are both in some trouble. Reacher’s mom has to leave to be with her dad and it is up to Reacher to put things back together for the family.

This is definitely a short story but it is worth the read. You realize that Reacher’s behaviors have been engrained in him from a very young age. He can be hard headed but shows intelligence that amazes you. He is able to deduce what is going on more accurately than the adults around him. It is clear from reading this short story that Reacher was a fighter early on in life and that he knew he would have to prove himself everywhere he lived. Reacher learned how to use people as pawns and manipulate them through the experiences he encountered growing up. It is also clear that his mother and father trusted him and knew that he would protect his family at all costs.

This story is nothing fancy or unique to Lee Child. His writing style is the same as it is throughout the Reacher series. It just gives the reader a snapshot of what Reacher was like as a teen and how even at a young age, we was being molded into the man he becomes throughout the series.

Finished Reading on July 1, 2012
Format: short story eBook on Kindle (purchased)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stranger In The Room by Amanda Kyle Williams

Stranger In the Room is Amanda Kyle Williams’s second book featuring Keye Street. The book starts out with Keye’s niece, Miki, facing an intruder in her home. Miki immediately calls Keye for help and Keye is leery after all of Miki’s past issues. While Keye is trying to figure out what is going on at Miki’s house, she gets hired to find a bail jumper. Miki joins her on the hunt and chaos and hilarity quickly ensue. Keye is also tasked with finding out why a family discovered dry cement and chicken feed in the urn that was supposed to contain a loved one’s ashes. Keye takes her computer guru, Neil, with her up to north Georgia to find out what is going on with the crematory that provided the remains. While they are gone, Miki finds herself in more trouble and Keye and Rauser (Keye’s boyfriend and Atlanta Police Department Lieutenant) start trying to figure out who is stalking Miki. Meanwhile, Rauser has his hands full with the murder of a young boy. Together Keye and Rauser work to put all the pieces together and get a murderer off the street.

I have to say that Amanda Kyle Williams did not disappoint with this Keye Street novel. I found myself laughing out loud in spots, which broke up some of the tension in a way that did not detract from the feel of the book. The banter between Keye and Neil is entertaining and builds the characters well. You really get a feel for who Keye and Neil are in their everyday lives. I found myself wishing I knew them as friends because they are funny, courageous, adventurous, and intelligent.

The author did a great job with her descriptions. When she was describing a setting, she would give you detail so that you could develop a picture in your mind but there was not so much detail that you tuned out. She gave you just enough but allowed the reader to have some imagination involved in the mental picture. She also described southern food in an enthusiastic and effective manner. The author also included creative analogies throughout the book. I found myself making notes of some of the analogies to share with friends and family.

What was interesting with this book was that there were two main stories and one minor story encompassed in the one book. The author effectively navigated the stories without confusing the reader. You clearly know the separate stories and do not get muddled together.  One of the stories seemed to evolve from a local story that occurred in Georgia over ten years ago, which could distract some readers; however, I felt that the author was able to take the basis of that story and develop it to where it was a new and fascinating look into what that case would have been like for investigators.

In Amanda Kyle Williams’s first book (“The Stranger You Seek”), you were given clues throughout the story to figure out who was the perpetrator and it was clear that it was a character you had been introduced to throughout the book. In this book, the reader is learning along with the characters and you get an in depth look into how a profiler develops the profile of a criminal. Although this was different from the first book, this style is just as effective for the reader and takes you on an adventure that you do not want to stop.

Overall, this book lived up to and superseded what I had hoped and expected to experience when I read it. Many times sequels can fall short of the original book but that is not the case in the Keye Street novels. The second book may have been structured slightly different from the first book but it was just as effective in keeping me hooked from the first few pages. I hope that Amanda Kyle Williams continues to write more of these books because I will continue to read them until she is finished writing about Keye Street’s adventures.

Read: June 2012

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Keye Street is an recovering alcoholic that has been released from the FBI and has started her own PI firm. She is best friends with Aaron Rauser who is a detective for Atlanta PD. Rauser contacts Keye about a serial killer that has sent a letter about the latest kill. Rauser wants Keye to help with the profile but Keye is nervous about helping. The last time she worked on a case like this, she used alcohol to help her through. Now she has to work the case sober. As the bodies and letters continue to turn up, Keye and Rauser are the chase of their lives and their lives are also at stake along the way.

I loved the writing style of Amanda Kyle Williams. She wrote with a wit and sarcasm that made me want to laugh even though I was on the edge of my seat with suspense. In the first couple of chapters I had my idea of who was responsible for the murders but by the last few chapters I was proven completely wrong and shocked at who was the real killer. I was impressed that Williams put in clues throughout the book and once you completed it, it all made sense. I love being challenged by the "who done it" in a book and this one sure challenged me.

I found myself putting post-it notes on pages that had paragraphs or sentences that really stood out to me. Williams describes what life is like for Keye when she has to basically start over. It described what I have been through in the perfect words. There were many moments that Williams described a scene/event/person so perfectly that I wanted to mark the page to be able to go back to it in the future. There are not many books that are that memorable to me.

Williams is definitely an author that I will keep my eye out for and continue to look for her future books.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg

The description of the book does not disappoint. I loved that the author kept the chapters short so the book was fast paced. It added to the tension and suspense throughout the story. There were many characters to keep track of in this story but the way the author structured the story allowed the reader to keep up and not forget a character. The author started the book with a chapter dedicated to the different characters in the book. Throughout the book each chapter seemed to come from a point of view of an individual character. It was fascinating to see what was happening to each character as the story progressed.

As the story progressed, the tension mounted. I found myself rooting for Kevin Brace and hoping that Nancy Parish could find a way to prove he did not commit the murder. I also found myself as frustrated as Parish when she could not get Brace to talk to her. I could really put myself in the shoes of all the characters because of the way the author wrote the book.

The only negative I found with this book was all the references to hockey. I am a hockey fan but it did not seem necessary to the story and at times it was a distraction.

For the first time, I enjoyed an ending like Mr. Rotenberg wrote. I do not want to give away the ending but I really enjoyed the way he ended this book.

Three book reviews in one post: The First Cut, The Dirty Secrets Club, The Thief Taker

I was having a bad day and picked up Dianne Emley's book at the grocery store. I was glad that I did pick it up. It took a bit at the beginning to get into the book but once I got started I couldn't put it down. I was happy to find a new author that entertained me as much as some of the bigger more established authors. Plus Dianne Emley is very approachable to her fans and will return email. I found her book to be great and her to be a great person!

I was not sure how this book was going to be when I first started it. As I continued to read, it sucked me in and I could not put the book down! I was entertained by all the twists and turns throughout the book and I look forward to reading more of Meg Gardiner's books.

I picked this book up at the bookstore because it was on sale and I wanted to read something different. I definitely got a good book for my money. This is not the time period I typically read but I enjoyed the entire book. I found myself full of emotions as I finished the book. I have passed the book on to my mother-in-law because I know it is a book she will thoroughly enjoy!

The Fall by David Fulmer

I really enjoyed this book. David Fulmer wrote a little differently than he has in the past and I think he did it successfully. I loved the fact that the main character is not a detective, police officer, investigator, etc. It made the main character easier to relate to and put yourself into his shoes. I love some of the twists at the end of the book. Even though you have an idea who the bad guys are, Fulmer was still able to put some twist in the end that make you surprised. I loved Fulmer's character development in this book and the conflicts between a couple of the characters. I could definitely relate to the town, the people, and the conflicts. Definitely worth reading!

A Darker Place by Laurie R. King

I had only read one other Laurie R. King book before I read this book. I was honestly a little disappointed in this book. I did not feel the tension I expected to feel as I read the book. I like the subject matter: cults. I did not feel like the main character was in jeopardy of her life. I got the feeling that the main character was in control of the situation the entire time. I think that I might have felt more tension if there was more emphasis on how hard it was for the main character to get out of the cult. I never felt like her life was in danger in the cult and that she could get out any time she wanted leave. Towards the end of the book, it picked up and I started enjoying the story more. This definitely doesn't prevent me from reading other Laurie R. King books. I am still a fan!

Cold Wind by C.J. Box

I have not read all the C.J. Box books but I have enjoyed all the books I have read by him. This one is no exception. I was not sure Box could top his second book in this series (it starts with an exploding cow) but he has topped it with this book!

The dynamic between all the characters is well written. Some of the characters were so well written that they were truly terrifying.
You could feel the tension between Joe Picket and his mother-in-law. If you have not read the previous books, it can be hard to understand the tension between Joe Picket and his friend Nate, but that does not detract from the story. You can still enjoy the book without reading all the previous books in the series.

I enjoyed reading through the twists and turns that Joe Picket goest through in order to find the truth about his father-in-law's death. I found myself tense as the story was unfolding and I could not put the book down.

The Haunted E-Book by J.L. Bryan

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Initially I thought it sounded a little predictable but I was interested in how the author would develop the story.

At the beginning I found myself a little lost in which story I was reading but after a few chapters, I got the hang of it. I did take time to stop on occasion and straighten out the order of each of the sub-stories in the book.

Although I was confused a few times, I thought this was an interesting way to present this book. It allowed the suspense level to stay elevated throughout the story.

I will say that I had this book in the e-book version and I believe that I would not have enjoyed the suspense of the book if it had been the paperback version. There is something about reading an e-book about a haunted e-book.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Black Swan by Chris Knopf

When I found out I was going to receive this book, I borrowed the first book from the library. I could not get into it so I put it down and picked up this book. I felt like this book was much more entertaining.

The book started out with action immediately. Sam and his girlfriend, Amanda, are caught in a storm while sailing. They get stranded on an island and encounter some questionable characters. Soon bodies start turning up and no one is able to get on or off the island due to the storms. Sam takes it upon himself to find out what is happening on this island.

I found the book entertaining and suspenseful. At times the descriptions became a little too technical but I did not feel it detracted from the overall feel of the book. I am sure some of those descriptions were beneficial to someone who knows more about boats but to people, like myself, who do not know much about boats it was too much to truly comprehend.

The character development was well written. Although I had not read the previous books, I did not find it made it hard to read this book. Knopf did a good job giving background on the characters so new readers would understand them but not so much detail that previous readers would be bored.

After reading this book, I am interested in picking up the first book again. I look forward to reading more Chris Knopf books in the future.

The Last Key by Rob Steiner

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I enjoyed Steiner's descriptions of the characters and the terrain. I found myself going through a gamut of emotions while reading this book. Although some of the emotions were not pleasant, it made me want to continue reading to see what happened next. I have recommended this book to some friends who love these types of stories and I know they will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed it. I hope Steiner decides to write more in the future.

Reunion by Jeff Bennington

This book is about a group of students who survive a school shooting and what their lives are like 20 years later. I knew the subject matter could be sensitive to some people but I found that the author did a great job of giving it respect but also changing it enough so it was a good fiction story.

I enjoyed how the author developed each of the characters and adequately described how different people would be affected by PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Each character faces challenges with coping after experiencing the trauma of the school shooting and they have to decide if going to the school reunion will be beneficial to them. It seems to me that this would be a very realistic challenge for those who have survived a school shooting.

Without including spoilers, I have to add that I loved the twists that were presented in this story. I also found the spiritual undertone was not the central focus of this story but a great secondary story line. The author did a wonderful job of including the spiritual ideas without turning off the reader.

I was recommended this book and I will definitely recommend it to other readers. I hope Bennington continues to write.

Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo

I was given this book by my mother-in-law and she told me it was a great read that you could finish in a couple of hours. She was right.

This book made me smile. This story gave me hope for how wonderful Heaven will be when I get there. I knew it would be a magical place but "seeing" it through the eyes of a child made it more real. I felt that the father did a wonderful job presenting the son's descriptions of what he saw in Heaven. It seemed to be presented in an honest and clear way.

I am glad that the family decided to let the world know what their son experienced. I know it touched my life and I hope that it touches many more lives.

I have already recommended this book to other family members.

You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz

I really enjoyed this book. I have never read a Gregg Hurwitz book but I am so grateful that I have been introduced to his writing.

This book hooks you from the very start. Mike Wingate is left abandoned as a child and cannot remember anything about his father except that he had blood on his sleeve. He spends his childhood waiting for his dad to come back for him. He befriends another young boy and the two are constantly in trouble. Mike decides to change his life around but Shep continues a life of crime.

Years later, Mike has a family and his own business when things start going bad for him. He has to call his old friend Shep to help him sort through all the things that are going wrong and to help protect his family.

Hurwitz has written a fantastic psychological thriller. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. I was never sure how Mike was going to get through all the difficulties in his life.

Hurwitz did a great job of building on Mike's past. As I read, I was reminded of things that happened to Mike in his childhood. Herwitz gave the reader Mike's childhood history through flashback chapters. I like that he broke up the current time and the flashbacks by chapters. It allows the reader to keep the past and present straight.

I will definitely read more Hurwitz books.

Connected by Kathryn Gayle

This book caught my attention right from the start. I liked how the author developed the characters. The descriptions of the emotions the characters were experiencing was perfect for me. I thought the the story line was well developed and kept me reading late into the night. It was hard to put my Kindle away because I wanted to know how the story would be resolved. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Cleveland Creep by Les Roberts

I have never read a Les Roberts book until I received this one through Early Reviewers. I was worried that I would not be able to follow along in the story since I did not know anything about the main character, Milan Jacovich. I was pleased that as I read through the book, the author gave descriptions about the character, his life, and his past. Although I did not know all the references to past experiences that Jacovich had, I could still understand the idea of what he had been through in the past.

I enjoyed the writing style and the character development throughout the book. Once I got started with the book, I didn't want to stop reading it. I love books like this one that keep me guessing and I do not know the outcome early in the book. I will definitely look into reading the earlier Milan Jacovich books.