The Second Opinion by Michael Palmer

Book Description:

Published: July 17, 2009

Format: Audio/Library Book

Dr. Thea Sperelakis, diagnosed as a teen with Asperger’s syndrome, has always been an outsider. She has a brilliant medical mind, and a remarkable recall of details, but her difficulty in dealing with hidden agendas and interpersonal conflicts have led her to leave the complex, money-driven dynamics of the hospital, and to embrace working with the poor, embattled  patients of Doctors Without Borders. Her father, Petros, is one of the most celebrated internal medicine specialists in the world, and the founder of the cutting-edge Sperelakis Center for Diagnostic Medicine at Boston’s sprawling, powerful Beaumont Clinic.

Thea’s rewarding life in Africa is turned upside-down when Petros is severely injured by a hit-and-run driver. He is in the Beaumont ICU, in a deep coma. No one thinks he will survive. Thea must return home. Two of Petros’ other children, both physicians, battle Thea and her eccentric brother, Dimitri, by demanding that treatment for their father be withheld.

As Thea uncovers the facts surroundingthe disaster, it seems more and more to be no accident. Petros, himself, is the only witness. Who would want him dead? The answers are trapped in his brain . . . until he looks at Thea and begins slowly to blink a terrifying message.

In The Second Opinion, Michael Palmer has created a cat-and-mouse game where one woman must confront a conspiracy of doctors to uncover an evil practice that touches every single person who ever has a medical test. With sympathetic characters and twists and betrayals that come from the most unlikely places, The Second Opinion will make you question…everything.

Review –

I love an intriguing medical mystery and this is a GOOD one. It’s all about medical fraud taking place in a big, fancy Boston hospital  and Dr. Petros Sperelakis  has found out and  was supposed to be killed by the hit and run driver but is now in a coma. When he comes out of the coma, his daughter, Dr. Thea Sperelakis, discovers that he has locked-in syndrome and is only able to communicate with his eyes. She finds out some interesting facts and gets into trouble but together with an hunky ex-cop turned security guard, who also becomes her love interest, solves the mystery and saves the day!

The Second Opinion is also interesting because It centers around a character with Asperger’s syndrome — a condition I knew next to nothing about. It is very interesting how the author uses his personal knowledge of the condition (one of his children has Asperger’s syndrome) to create a character you begin to understand on a different level than many others. It is not often a main character is different in this way, and it certainly adds an element of surprise to even ordinary conversations.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes  medical suspense thrillers and Tess Gerritson novels.

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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

Review –

Megan Miranda’s The Perfect Stranger is billed as being a sequel to her highly successful All the Missing Girls, although as far as I can tell, there are no common characters or plot threads, unless one counts the fact that one of the characters in The Perfect Stranger is a “missing girl”!  If you haven’t read the first one you will have no problem with this one, it’s a  standalone, and is a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing read that asks some interesting questions.  How well we can ever know another person?  How honest and accurate are our self-perceptions?  Just how far would you go for a friend who’d done a lot for you?

Megan Miranda does a terrific job in this book of creating and maintaining an atmosphere of menace and uncertainty.  She skillfully and slowly feeds the truth about Leah’s situation, hinting at what she’s running from and slowly fitting the pieces of the puzzle together – although it’s not until well into the story that we finally discover the nature of the terrifying events that set her on the path she’s now travelling.  And there’s also the fact that Leah is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, something the author plays with so cleverly that there are times the reader even questions the fact of Emmy’s existence, wondering if the police are right and she’s just a figment of Leah’s obviously active imagination.

On the negative side, however, there are times when there is perhaps just a little too much going on, there are a few plot-threads that are not suitably resolved, and a couple of large inconsistencies that really had me scratching my head – and not in a good way. The mystery is full of satisfying twists and turns, with a few suitably head-shaking moments of realization along the way, but the ending is somewhat of a let down.  Things end well for Leah and Kyle, but it’s all a little low-key, so while I was pleased that everything was nicely tied up, I’d expected something a little… well, MORE.

With all that said, however, I enjoyed The Perfect Stranger enough to recommend it to fans of adult angst filled  mysteries.  It caught my interest early and kept me listening to the end.

 

Owned ( Decadence After Dark #1) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

“I like you collared, baby. I like you naked, I like you mine.”

Ellie Stevens has lusted over Kayne Roberts since he first walked into the import/export company she works for a little over a year ago. As Expo’s most important client, Ellie has always kept a safe distance from the man with the majestic blue eyes – until temptation finally gets the better of her. Impulsively, Ellie invites Kayne to one of Expo’s infamous company parties her flamboyant boss is notorious for throwing. Unbeknownst to Ellie, the god in the Armani suit isn’t just the suave entrepreneur he portrays himself to be. Underneath the professional exterior is a man with a secret life, dark desires, and nefarious contacts.

In a hidden corner of a trendy New York City lounge, the spark kindling between the two of them ignites. Unable to resist the sinful attraction, Ellie agrees to leave with Kayne, believing she is finally bedding the man of her dreams. Little does she know when she walks out the door, she’s about to be OWNED.

***Content Warning***

Owned is a dark erotic romance. Please pay close attention to the use of the words dark, erotic, and romance. It has intense sexual situations, a Master/slave relationship, mild abuse, and some violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Review –

I read the Kindle version of this book in 2015 and I found it on Audible in their Romance Package so I decided to read (listen) to it a second time.

 What I really liked about this book compared to a lot of BDSM focused books is that Ellie’s had a thing for Kayne for awhile. You usually see it where the heroine is a little more reluctant to get into a relationship with the enigmatic businessman, but I felt Ellie was a little more of the kind of person  who knows what she likes, even if she’s a little too afraid to go get it at first. There’s reasons, and they make sense, but I just liked that she liked him!

And Kayne… he’s got more than enough secrets for the both of them. He’s holding back in a way, too. While Ellie is keeping a safe distance from Kayne for business reasons, he’s keeping his secrets for his own personal reasons. The contrast was a really interesting mix that I enjoyed. There’s a lot of reasons for them to not be together, but I still wanted them to come together.

And, oh boy, when they threw caution to the wind and went for it, it was smoldering! The sex scenes are intense. I loved the Master/slave aspect, too. It’s not something you really see in a lot of books, at least not to this level. I liked that this kind of shed light on a different side to BDSM than the usual, and while some parts left me feeling a little worried, I enjoyed reading it a lot.

As long as you know what you’re getting into, this is a great book. It’s got those mysteries and forbidden attractions that I can’t seem to get enough of, the steaming hot sex scenes that I want in almost all of my books, and watching the story and relationship unfold between Ellie and Kayne was really exciting. They’re a cute couple, despite being more than a little kinky, ha,I loved them!

Listening to the book was sooo much hotter than reading it. The narrators, Muffy Newtown and San Crowley, do a fantastic job and make it blistering hot!!!!

Please heed the above warning because there could be many triggers in this book/series.

The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin

Book Description:

Published: May 19, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

The truth hurts…

Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret—one Erin has kept for over a decade—and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies.

Erin wants nothing to do with Roisin. She has a new life in London and no intention of going back home. Yet when her father is mysteriously and critically injured, Erin has no choice but to return and face Roisin—and her past. Erin knows if the secret of what she gave up got out, the consequences could be devastating.

When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out…?

Review –

This is the story of Erin, partly written in first person and told over a dual timeline. Sixteen year old Erin is in love, pregnant and being told what is best for her by adults. They all make sense but she doesn’t want to hear it.

Present day, ten years later, Erin is living in London working at a beauty salon when she receives a blast from the past phone call from her old school friend, Roisin, in Ireland. The call is disturbing and unsettling for Erin and within hours she receives another urgent call from her sister, Fiona, informing her that their father is in intensive care with a serious head injury. From here Erin is forced back to Ireland to be with her family and knows she will also have to face the dreaded Roisin who she knows she will bump into in the small village they live in.

Sue Fortin writes beautifully and competently with unease and tense moments at each chapter ending. Her characters are realistic and visual with enough description to make them authentic without becoming mundane or boring. There is just the right amount of teasing romance to add to the suspense but without distracting from the gripping storyline. The text is rich and written with depth and meaning, and several times I thought I’d guessed what was coming, sometimes I did guess correctly but it didn’t spoil the outcome at all because there was twist and revelation, one on top of another. I found the book totally compelling and couldn’t put it down.

I would highly recommend it for anyone who likes psychological suspense.

My first five-star book of the year!

Agatha Raisin and The Dead Ringer (Agatha Raisin Mystery #29) by M.C. Beaton

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2018

Format: Audio/Overdrive

The team of bells at St. Ethelred church is the pride and glory of the idyllic Cotswolds village of Thirk Magna, together with the most dedicated bell ringers in the whole of England: the twins Mavis and Millicent Dupin.

As the village gets ready for the Bishop’s visit, the twins get overly-excited at the prospect of ringing the special peal of bells created for the occasion and start bullying the other bell ringers, forcing them to rehearse and rehearse . . . so much so that Joseph Kennell, a retired lawyer, yells at the sisters that he ‘felt like killing them’!

When the twins’ home is broken into one night and Millicent is found dead, struck from a hammer blow, suspicion falls onto the lawyer.

Will Agatha unmask the real killer and clear Joseph’s name?

Review –

Being  a regular reader of this series I wasn’t confused over who was who, as a first time reader to the series might be, but then this isn’t a series you read for the intellectual challenge of working out whodunnit before it’s actually revealed. You read it for the black humor, the fun of wondering what drinking, smoking, man-chasing, glamorous Agatha will do next. There are so many bodies that you stop feeling the horror of violent death: you know that as soon as you look away the corpses will get up and walk away. It’s a fun read, although, not one of my favorites and I think that was because of the voice of the narrator, I miss Penelope Keith because she did a perfect Agatha Raisin!

 

 

 

Defiant Queen (Mount Trilogy #2) by Meghan March

Book Description:

Published: November 14, 2017

Format: E-Book/OverDrive

I’m his entertainment. His toy. Payment on a debt.
I tell myself I hate him, but every time he walks into the room, my body betrays me. How can I want him and fear him in the same moment?
They told me he’d mess with my head. Make it go to war with my body.
But I didn’t realize it would be complete anarchy.
I should’ve known better. When Mount’s involved, there are no rules.
I will not surrender. I will not show weakness. I’ll stand my ground and make it out of this bargain with my heart and soul intact.
But he has other plans . . .

Review –

Mount, as we learned in the first book, is a ruthless criminal, but as this story unfolds we find out so much more about this man.  He’s had a shitty childhood, lived in foster homes where he’s had to protect others, as well as defend himself.  He’s learned early on how to survive in a city that has the ability to swallow you whole.

We see Mount start to soften when it comes to Kiera, his queen.  Which isn’t necessarily a good thing in his world.   He has a reputation to uphold, he needs folks to continue to fear him.  So what is it with this mouthy woman and her attitude that has him buckling to his knees?  

Kiera keeps coming to Lachlan willingly.  There’s something about this man she can’t seem to say no to.  Not only is she drawn to him sexually, she’s starting to really like him.  Mount urges her to continue to be the be the best she can possibly be at running her whiskey distillery.  He really adores her and treats her well even though he commands her submission in the bedroom, and holy hell she has no problem at all with his orders when it comes to the sexy times.  But, once they calm down after all the mind-blowing, star seeing big fat orgasms, she’s back to her mouthy, defiant self.

I love The Mount series.  Lachlan is a hero you so badly want to hate,  but you just can’t help fall in love with this filthy talking, controlling asshole.  And don’t we all love a heroine who knows how to bring such man to his knees???

Now on to the end of the series, Sinful Empire.

 

Year One (Chronicles of The One #1) by Nora Roberts

Book Description:

Published: December 5, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed–and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river–or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Review –

When I started listening to this book, I knew immediately that I was going to love it, and therefore would have to not rush the experience. By that I mean, I don’t “binge-listen” hour after hour, but take it slow and make it last. I even set it aside for a week here and there to make it last longer.

This is unlike anything that Nora Roberts has ever written and she hit it out of the ball park!

“When the world as they know it ends, the survivors of a mysterious plague are faced with a new world in which both dark and light magic are rising.

“When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he’d killed himself. And billions of others.” So begins the latest novel from publishing juggernaut Roberts, and the rest of the book is just as gripping. When a virus takes out nearly 80 percent of the Earth’s human population, the survivors must figure out how to live in their new world, which includes the appearance of a varied set of magical abilities in a large part of the surviving population. Both the magick and un-magick people have violent factions which are trying to vanquish internal and external enemies, and good people from both groups have to band together in order to stay safe and establish a new order that honors life and decency. In one such community, witches Lana and Max are having a child, and from the moment of conception, it’s obvious that the child will be magical. As her pregnancy advances, Lana begins to suspect that even in the context of the new magical paradigm, her child has a special destiny, an impression that becomes clearer when she realizes she and her unborn child are being hunted. Finding sanctuary on a remote farm, Lana ushers the child into the world, and soon both foes and allies begin to arrive at her doorstep, deepening Lana’s belief that her daughter is meant for something great and dangerous. Roberts’ new direction is electric and ground-breaking. In some ways, it’s a synthesis of her past work: she’s often written about magical elements, family—both biological and emotional—and community. In this series launch, she’s created a believable apocalypse that is obviously leading to a grand showdown between good and evil, but the story and the characters—there are many, and she’s made some choices that are going to stun her die-hard romance fans—navigate timely issues of tolerance and bigotry; fear of the Other; violence on behalf of perceived “purity” and misdirected religious zeal; and how good people combat evil.

A fast-paced, mesmerizing, and thought-provoking novel that will no doubt add to Roberts’ legions of fans.”

KIRKUS Reviews

Five stars!!!

grab a warm cup of Theraflu, snuggle up with a copy of Year One and pray you’re one of the lucky survivors.

 

Ron Charles of the Washington Post

Shadow Over the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #2) by Joy Ellis

BookDescription:

Published: June 30, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

WHO CAN NIKKI TRUST WITH TWO BRUTAL KILLERS LOOSE ON THE FENS?

Someone terrible from DS Joseph Easter’s past is back . . .

DI Nikki Galena’s friend and neighbour meets a tragic end but there’s more to his death than meets the eye . . .

A man is found executed on a piece of wasteland in Greenborough town. The cold-blooded murder triggers terrible memories for DS Joseph Easter. Just when things seemed to be going well for DS Easter, he realises that the nightmare is coming back, threatening his career, his sanity, and maybe his life.

In a breath-taking conclusion even DI Galena begins to doubt him as he faces a race against time to save someone very close to him.

Set in the Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you’ve ever seen.

Review –

Joseph has decided to join the team and stay as DCI Nikki Galena’s sergeant and he is just getting over his injury from the first book. Now things are going horribly wrong for him as someone very bad from his past is back or is he? His competence is being questioned as nobody else has really seen the guy, but now people are being killed.

Nikki has come to trust Joseph and so she believes him when he says that it was Billy,(Joesph’s evil friend from the past) but that is not the only case they have her friend and neighbor Martin, looked to have committed suicide but she just can’t believe he would do that so she refuses to call it that and investigates.

Shadows Over the Fens was a very enjoyable and  interesting listen as things were not really looking good for Joseph, but yet you just know he can’t be doing anything bad. I thought I might know a bit how it was going to turn out and I was right on a few things but it still was a bit surprising. I am really enjoying getting to know DCI Nikki and DS Joseph! (still hoping something develops between these two)

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen

Book Description:

Published: September 30, 2014

Format: Audio

She had the perfect life.
She had the perfect cover.
She was the perfect witness.
Until they found her.

When Teresa Casali was young she discovered she had a strange gift: the ability to read people’s memories. But the gift seemed more like a curse as her mob boss father used her to gain the upper hand in his world of corruption and violence. Exposed by her own family to the darkest impulses of mankind, Teresa is alone and unprotected. She realizes that if she is to survive, she has to run.

Out of nowhere, or so she believes, a man by the name of Andre Mandak appears. He kills her pursuers—but that’s not nearly enough for Teresa to trust him. It is his promise to get her into Witness Protection, along with his mind-blowing ability to help her control her gift before it consumes her, that convinces Teresa Casali to become Allie Girard. Living a normal life with a new family, she shuts the door to the past …although Mandak is clear: when the time is right, he too will benefit from her powers.

For years Allie flourishes …until the day her cover is blown and the truth comes tumbling out. Once again she is on the run, with her own life and those of her loved ones at stake. But this time she will not be a pawn. This time she will use her finely honed gift to end the threat that began with her family’s betrayal. From perfect target to perfect witness, Allie Girard is ready to take on the past even if it kills her.

Review –

The author creates an intriguing world that revolves around a psychic underground and is peppered with some really diabolical bad guys. Readers may feel engaged by the story, though a few plot points seem slightly contrived, and the sexual tension between Mandak and Allie begins when she’s sixteen, which makes sense contextually but feels slightly unwholesome.

Parts of the book seemed repetitious  and that got on my nerves. Also, I never became invested in the characters and I was glad when the book came to an end. Just not my cup of tea.

 

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic. Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody. But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

Review

This book will appeal to some, including fans of Lost or Stephen King’s novels, but it’s certainly not for everyone (including me).  It’s  incredibly dark and violent, with graphic scenes involving cannibalism and murder, among other things. Coming in somewhere between a horror story and a supernatural thriller, Afterlife, is a dark, gory, and twisted novel that, while trying to deliver a more profound message, ends up falling short of its goal.

I can not believe the movie rights were snapped up and Ron Howard is involved, BUT I still will not be buying a ticket!

Two stars.