The Washington Decree by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

The president has gone way too far. . . . These are practically dictatorial methods we’re talking about.

Sixteen years before Democratic Senator Bruce Jansen was elected president of the United States, a PR stunt brought together five very different people: fourteen-year-old Dorothy “Doggie” Rogers, small-town sheriff T. Perkins, single mother Rosalie Lee, well-known journalist John Bugatti, and the teenage son of one of Jansen’s employees, Wesley Barefoot. In spite of their differences, the five remain bonded by their shared experience and devotion to their candidate.

For Doggie, who worked the campaign trail with Wesley, Jansen’s election is a personal victory: a job in the White House, proof to her Republican father that she was right to support Jansen, and the rise of an intelligent, clear-headed leader with her same ideals. But the triumph is short-lived: Jansen’s pregnant wife is assassinated on election night, and the alleged mastermind behind the shooting is none other than Doggie’s own father.

When Jansen ascends to the White House, he is a changed man, determined to end gun violence by any means necessary. Rights are taken away as quickly as weapons. International travel becomes impossible. Checkpoints and roadblocks destroy infrastructure. The media is censored. Militias declare civil war on the government. The country is in chaos, and Jansen’s former friends each find themselves fighting a very different battle, for themselves, their rights, their country . . . and, in Doggie’s case, the life of her father, who just may be innocent.

Review –

“The creator of Denmark’s Department Q, that unforgettable squad of misfit detectives, jumps the pond in this ambitious, paranoid fantasy of how quickly things can go wrong in the hands of an American president who’s determined to take a strong stand against threats of violence.

Sixteen years after Virginia governor Bruce Jansen’s first wife, Caroll, was stabbed to death during a very public moment on a visit to China, his successful run for the presidency comes to the worst possible climax when his second wife, Mimi Todd Jansen, is gunned down, perhaps in his stead, on election night. Deeply shaken by the first death, Jansen is so traumatized by the second that observers wonder whether he’ll take the oath of office or resign in favor of Vice President-elect Michael K. Lerner. As it turns out, Jansen not only assumes, but transforms the office, using agencies and executive orders already in place to step up surveillance on his fellow citizens, unplug the internet, defang or shutter critical journalistic outlets, and ban first ammunition, then guns from private ownership. Members of paramilitary militias like Moonie Quale predictably go ballistic, but members of Jansen’s cabinet, many of them touched by personal violence against their loved ones, overwhelmingly support him. So far the scenario recalls that of It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis’ classic 1935 novel of homegrown American fascism. Adler-Olsen’s complication is his decision to focus not on a single American oppressed and powerfully radicalized by the new regime but by an oddly assorted group—journalist John Bugatti, presidential press secretary Wesley Barefoot, Sheriff T. Perkins, and staff attorney Dorothy “Doggie” Rogers, whose father is convicted of arranging Mimi Todd Jansen’s murder—who were all present on that fateful day in Beijing.

Despite a disturbing and all-too-plausible concept duly supported by an appendix listing real-life executive orders ripe for tyrannical misuse, this nightmare gradually turns into a standard-issue lots-of-good-guys-versus-even-more-bad-guys scenario populated by characters you’ll hardly miss when they’re killed, as so many of them are.” Kirkus Review 

I highly recommend this book, it’s scary to think this could happen in our not-so-distant future.

The Sisters by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Two sisters climbing the ranks of Dublin’s criminal justice system. A murder case that could change their lives forever. The Sisters is a gripping new thriller from one of the most exciting voices in crime fiction.

In this prequel to the international bestseller The Ruin, set 10 years prior, bright-eyed Carrie Ryan is at the very start of her career. When she has a hunch about an ongoing murder investigation, she knows it could be her only chance to prove herself and truly break into the “boy’s club” of Dublin’s police force.

Carrie uncovers this make-or-break moment in a case file her sister Aifric, a newly qualified barrister, leaves on their kitchen counter: Robert Collins has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after a fight in a local pub, and all signs point towards a guilty verdict. But both sisters quickly begin to find evidence that complicates the story. All the while, Carrie is very aware that she’s crossed the line – if the detective sergeant running the investigation finds out she’s been messing around with his case, her career will be over before it has begun.

Review –

I listened to the Audible (freebie) Original, The Sisters. narrated by Aoife McMahon. It’s a quick listen, only a little over three hours, and very satisfying.

It is a prequel to The Ruin which I read August 19 of this year and reviewed on this blog on September 21st.

Two sisters, who live together, are at the beginning of their careers in Dublin. One sister, Aifric is a new barrister who is assigned a murder case and has no support from her bosses. The other sister, Carrie is trying to make detective in a sexist environment. Both sisters are confronted with impossibilities in their careers. Aifric talks to her sister about her case, and Carrie becomes inquisitive at the questionable evidence.

It’s a character driven short story, with each sister taking a chapter. It’s amazing that one can be totally involved so quickly. The performance by McMahon is perfect. I highly recommend it!

Although it is a prequel to The Ruin, you do not have to read it first before delving into this one.

Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

Book Description:

Published: October 23, 2012

Format: Audio

Based on the same sort of detailed, on-scene, high-energy reporting that powered Tom Wolfe’s previous bestselling novels, Back to Blood is another brilliant, spot-on, scrupulous, and often hilarious reckoning with our times.

As a police launch speeds across Miami’s Biscayne Bay – with officer Nestor Camacho on board – Tom Wolfe is off and running. Into the feverous landscape of the city, he introduces the Cuban mayor, the black police chief, a wanna-go-muckraking young journalist and his Yale-marinated editor; an Anglo sex-addiction psychiatrist and his Latina nurse by day, loin lock by night – until lately, the love of Nestor’s life; a refined, and oh-so-light-skinned young woman from Haiti and her Creole-spouting, black-gang-banger-stylin’ little brother; a billionaire porn addict, crack dealers in the ‘hoods, “de-skilled” conceptual artists at the Miami Art Basel Fair, “spectators” at the annual Biscayne Bay regatta looking only for that night’s orgy, yenta-heavy ex-New Yorkers at an “Active Adult” condo, and a nest of shady Russians.

Review –

“In Back to Blood, the octogenarian novelist has characters sporting the “double-stubble” of deliberate unshavenness; defriending one another on Facebook; wearing rasta-rap T-shirts that say UZ MUVVUZ; and filming a reality show called “Masters of Disaster,” on which ruined billionaires begin their public resurrection.

To this self-proclaimed devotee of Balzac, milieu has always been all: New York investment banking in the 1980s (“The Bonfire of the Vanities”); Atlanta real estate in the ’90s (“A Man in Full”); the hookup college campus of the early naughts (“I Am Charlotte Simmons”). Wolfe has now headed to Miami, not to retire but to watch the gaudy clash of that city’s different ethnic and financial populations. Nestor Camacho, an overbuilt, well-meaning Cuban-American cop, is his main character, the figure who gets tangled up in all the novel’s plotlines.

Nestor achieves instant local fame when he climbs the 70-foot mast of a schooner in Biscayne Bay to rescue, and arrest, a small, shadowy man seeking asylum from Castro’s regime. But the athletic bravery that makes him a hero on the pages of The Miami Herald turns Nestor into a pariah within his own Cuban-American enclave of Hialeah: “You arrest a guy 18 metros de libertad!” scolds his father.

The predicament is interesting, but Wolfe doesn’t fully develop its possibilities. Before long, he’s got Nestor arresting a “6-foot-5, 275-pound accused drug dealer who was in the process of choking a brother officer to death” — and then getting suspended from the force when a YouTube video of the incident, containing his partner’s nasty racial abuse of the suspect, puts Nestor in the middle of a power struggle between Miami’s black police chief and the city’s Cuban-­American mayor.

As if this weren’t enough woe, Wolfe also draws Nestor into an art-fraud investigation being conducted by John Smith, the Herald reporter who wrote up his Biscayne Bay heroics. Miami has just named a huge new museum for a Russian plutocrat, Sergei Korolyov, and it now seems that the modern paintings he’s donated are forgeries. This art plot gives Wolfe an opportunity to stage some boisterously venal scenes, but a lot of its action might be happening in any big American city, not just the Miami he’s otherwise so busy particularizing. Moreover, even with its contemporary dollop of Russian dressing, this portion of the novel feels a little tired: Wolfe has been banging the drum against modern art since “The Painted Word” appeared in 1975, back in his nonfiction days. He has admitted that an art-world story line had to be excised from a draft of the already overstuffed “Man in Full,” and the one here in “Back to Blood” might have been cut loose too.

Magdalena Otero, Nestor’s estranged girlfriend, also has more than enough on her plate, even before Wolfe mixes her up with Sergei Korolyov. Eager to transcend the blinkered world of Hialeah, she’s already gotten involved with her boss, Dr. Norman Lewis, a psychiatrist who puts wealthy clients seeking relief from porn addiction in thrall to himself instead. Magdalena’s position as Norman’s girlfriend and nurse forces her to wade into “the pustular oozing of complete freedom” and allows Wolfe to concoct some incidents as squalid as anything in the old Miami-set series “Nip/Tuck.”

But what remains most interesting about Magdalena is her hunger for assimilation and distinction — the great never-ending American status drama. Wolfe shows her listening to a roommate’s urging that she put on a sluttier outfit for a big evening with Norman: “Look, Magdalena, what do you want to look like, some cubana wannabe americanawearing a proper dress from the tag sale at the discount mall?” Wolfe’s title and theme may posit how “the bloodlines that course through our very bodies” are reasserting themselves and driving us toward an ever more volatile identity politics; but this new book really shows how much juice and complication remain in the great national drive to fit in and then rise. The greatest snob in the novel is a mixed-race, Haitian-born professor of French at Everglades Global University who is furious that he’s being made to teach Creole. Professor Lantier overspends to furnish his Art Deco house; invests all his hopes in his light-skinned daughter; and is revolted by his son’s desire to sound and look like one of his black classmates: “What a mess the two of them were!. . . jeans pulled down so low on their hips you couldn’t help but see their loud boxer shorts . . . obviously the lower and louder, the better. The pants of both boys ended in puddles of denim on the floor.”

The pacing of Back to Blood can be peculiarly slow: its individual sentences are as overstuffed with effects as one of Nestor’s muscle shirts, but the story unfolds with a lot of leisure and recap. Even so, Wolfe remains as skillful as ever in texturing the novel’s terrain, from the “prairie of concrete” formed by Hialeah’s front yards to a tired retirement complex up in Broward County where “the little iron balconettes and the aluminum frames for the sliding doors looked as if they were about to fall off and die in a pile.” Nestor’s grandmother wears exactly the right pair of white jeans, while the sunglasses he sports are “what every cool Cuban cop in Miami wore . . . $29.95 at CVS . . . gold bar, baby!”

Wolfe was one of the New Journalism’s pioneer appropriators of fiction’s “close-third-person” voice, which mimics a character’s patterns of thought and speech to a point where the technique often feels more like the first person. Wolfe’s vocal blendings are typically artful, though sometimes the reader will balk at a clumsy amalgamation. I doubt Nestor would know the word “aubergine” — or think of a woman’s “loamy loins.” NewYorkTimes

This was a joy to listen to because of the fantastic narration of Lou Diamond Phillips. His sound effects and accents were her the top but not a bad way!

The Switch by Joseph Finder

Book Description:

Published: June 13, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Michael Tanner is heading home from a business trip when he accidentally picks up the wrong laptop from security. What he doesn’t know is that the owner is US Senator Susan Robbins, and her laptop contains top secret files that should never have been on there in the first place.

And Senator Robbins is not the only one who wants the laptop back… Suddenly, Tanner is a hunted man. On the run, terrified for the safety of his family – he is in desperate need of a plan – but who can he trust?

Review –

“Boston coffee executive Michael Tanner’s life is in jeopardy after he takes home the wrong laptop from the airport—one belonging to an Illinois senator containing highly classified files.

The illegally uploaded files contain information about a scary government surveillance program. Fearful that the documents will be made public, torpedoing her presidential hopes, Sen. Susan Robbins assigns her overeager chief of staff, Will Abbott, to retrieve the computer. When all else fails, he resorts to hiring private operatives. Tanner discovers how desperate his situation is when a newspaper writer to whom he has shown the secret files is killed, in what is staged as a suicide. On the run, running low on cash and places to hide, Tanner is targeted not only by Abbott’s hires, but also by thugs working for the National Security Agency, which deactivates all his online accounts. “Privacy?” utters one character. “Get over it. No such thing anymore.” Seemingly ripped from recent headlines, Finder’s latest is one of his most fiendishly plotted and eerily relevant thrillers. It involves careless security breaches by government officials, Russian spies, Edward Snowden parallels, and even an exchange of secrets in a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility like the one recently utilized by Devin Nunes, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Finder isn’t one to waste time considering the moral implications of such quickly forgotten acts as Tanner mowing down a pursuer with his car. And he fudges plot details: wouldn’t the bad guys surveil Tanner’s wife and let her lead them to him? But the book whizzes by so quickly and suspensefully, why dwell on such imperfections?

A master of what might be called the “man in over his head” thriller, Finder delivers a tense, uncannily relevant tale about government secrets falling into the wrong hands.” Kirkus Review 

Excellent read!

 

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel

Book Description:

Published: April 26, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

Review –

This book has been on my TBR list ever since it was released but I just never seemed  to find the right frame of mind to read it or listen to it. But Friday afternoon I decided to listen to it and once I started I found it almost impossible to stop.

I’ve always been a fan of Sci-Fi, not the fantasy type but the alien monsters type, so this book hit my mark right away.

The author had a way with describing to the reader exactly how the pieces of the “Giant” looked and felt. I could see it plainly in my mind’s eye and I loved the use of interviews and journals to see into the minds of the characters.

There is a lot of covert actions and hide and seek with the “Giant” and it was fun to wonder what would happen next. At one point the “Giant” ALMOST walked across the border into North Korea (oh yes, it can walk) and started another World War. The author has an amazing imagination.

I was very surprised when one of the main characters was killed off but I figured she/he  had fulfilled their  part of the plot but at the end there is a GIANT cliffhanger and low and behold the character is back missing four years of her life.

Overdrive didn’t offer the second book, Waking Gods, in audio-so I used one of my Audible credits to buy it and will part it as soon as I post this to my blog.   Can’t wait.

Five stars!!!!

 

The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski

Book Description:

Published: March 29, 2016

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Review –

Format:
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Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

I love how the author, Marie Rutkoski, starts off the final book exactly where the second one ended. No wasted time rehashing the past happenings. It’s like READY, SET GO!

As with the  other two books in the trilogy, I had the audio version and the narrator, Justine Eyre, does a magnificent job with the voices of all the characters and makes it a very pleasant listening event.

Besides the descriptions of the battles of  war, the author, gave us more in depth development of several secondary characters which made the book richer and gave us a better insight into their actions.

I am fiercely in love with all things Kestrel and Arin. Their relationship struggle in the novel was so real. Finally a YA book where it’s not the fantasy world keeping them apart, but actual real relationship bumps that plagues us all: break down of communication, acknowledgements of individual changes and growth, trust issues, accepting faults along with strengths, understanding personal struggles, guilt of hurting the one you love the most, forgiveness, and above all, mutual respect.

Our protagonists, Kestrel and Arin, experience a lot of growth as previous choices finally reach shocking, climatic consequences, many of which I was unsure how they’d move past. I definitely didn’t expect the changes Kestrel underwent; she is both the same and vastly different, exploring physical and mental strength of female characters.

THE WINNER’S TRILOGY is one of my favorites. I love the way the whole series comes  together as a whole and this last installment is fantastic and I’m really satisfied with how everything came about.

I HIGHLY recommend this series.

Five stars *****

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Divided We Fall (Divided We Fall Book 1) by Trent Reedy

Book Description:

Published: January 28, 2014

Danny Wright never thought he’d be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enlisted in the National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the Idaho governor’s orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd-control mission … but then Danny’s gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd, and by the time the smoke clears, twelve people are dead.

The president wants the soldiers arrested. The governor swears to protect them. And as tensions build on both sides, the conflict slowly escalates toward the unthinkable: a second American civil war.

With political questions that are popular in American culture yet rare in YA fiction, and a provocative plot that could far too easily become real, DIVIDED WE FALL is Trent Reedy’s very timely YA debut.

Review –

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started listening to this book but the further into it I got the more i was hooked.  The narration was done by several people and that made the story really come alive.

The premise of Divided We Fall is frightening because it could all to well happen in our life time. I’m not one to spout political views but all you have to do is listen to the news and the talking heads to see that what’s happening in our country today would have been unthinkable even ten years ago.  Never say Never!

The main character, Danny Wright, is 17 and has enlisted with the Idaho National Guard, partly because his father died in the war. He has completed summer training, and until he graduates, his commitment will be minimal. Then the governor of Idaho gets into a squabble about sovereign rights with the president.

Danny’s unit is called up to help contain  a riot in Boise; when a rock hits him, he accidentally shoots a protester.  As each side’s position hardens, Danny is caught in the middle, wanted by the feds, and protected by the state. As the situation spirals out of control, Danny’s choices become narrow and inevitable.  Danny tries to keep life normal with football, rodeo, his best friends and his devoted girlfriend.
At one point the Idaho border is closed and no one can enter. You leave but you can’t come back. Food and all things needed to sustain life in Idaho have been shut off and Danny’s mother is stuck in Washington state for a month, until he decided he has to go get her, All of his friends accompany him and they make it out of Idaho easily but coming back they were shot at by Washington troops and helicopter and Danny’s mother is killed.The ending comes shortly after that and was a complete surprise until I found out that there is a follow-up book that I will be listening to very soon. I rated this book five stars *****.
The author  does a very good job of presenting all sides’ opinions, especially through the tweets and news reports that end chapters. This has the dual advantage of giving readers an action-filled story that will also make them think. The ending came as a complete surprise until I found out that there is a follow-up book that I will be listening to very soon.
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The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2) by Nancy Farmer

Product Description

Published: September 3, 2013

Matt has always been nothing but a clone—grown from a strip of old El Patron’s skin. Now, at age fourteen, he finds himself suddenly thrust into the position of ruling over his own country. The Land of Opium is the largest territory of the Dope Confederacy, which ranges on the map like an intestine from the ruins of San Diego to the ruins of Matamoros. But while Opium thrives, the rest of the world has been devastated by ecological disaster—and hidden in Opium is the cure.

And that isn’t all that awaits within the depths of Opium. Matt is haunted by the ubiquitous army of eejits, zombielike workers harnessed to the old El Patron’s sinister system of drug growing—people stripped of the very qualities that once made them human.

Matt wants to use his newfound power to help, to stop the suffering, but he can’t even find a way to smuggle his childhood love, Maria, across the border and into Opium. Instead, his every move hits a roadblock, some from the enemies that surround him…and some from a voice within himself. For who is Matt really, but the clone of an evil, murderous dictator?

Review –

I didn’t enjoy this book near as much as the first one, The House of the Scorpion, because it seemed the author was in a hurry to tie up the loose ends and the end was sort of anticlimactic. BUT, after all that, I still consider it  worth reading.

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