Scandalous (Sinners of Saint #3) by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published: September 21, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

They call him The Mute for a reason.
Hard, cold and calculated, he rarely speaks.
When he does, it’s with disdain.
When he does, his words aren’t meant for me.
When he does, my stomach flips and my world tilts on its axis.
He is thirty-three.
I am eighteen.
He’s a single dad and my father’s business partner.
I’m just a kid to him and his enemy’s daughter.
He’s emotionally unavailable.
And I am…feeling. Feeling things I shouldn’t feel for him.
Trent Rexroth is going to break my heart. The writing isn’t just on the wall, it’s inked on my soul.
And yet, I can’t stay away.
A scandal is the last thing my family needs. But a scandal is what we’re going to give them.
And oh, what beautiful chaos it will be.

Review –

“Scandalous is a guilty pleasure that once you start you can’t stop. You are pulled into a story that is complex, riveting, and so thought-provoking. This isn’t just a story between two individuals falling in love; it is about two individuals battling their own problems who come together in unfavorable circumstances and this chaos bred a beautiful relationship that broke all stereotypes and boundaries.

Trent Rexroth’s silent protectiveness, loyalty, and dedication towards his family and friends and business are admirable. But what isn’t known to many people is the disarray his family life has been and you can see he is trying his best to fix it and make it good for his daughter, Luna.

Edie Van Der Zee is the opposite of Trent. The daughter of Trent’s in-office rival, she is the forbidden fruit. Spontaneous, careless yet loving and loyal to the people that matter to her Edie turns Trent’s life upside down.

Secrets, lies, deceits, and manipulations are what Edie’s life is made of and when she unintentionally bumps into Trent, and what begins is a series of events that will leave you wanting more and more and more of this unconventional relationship.

You know how the saying goes by GBatiste: “Love doesn’t discriminate, only people do.”
This book is exactly it! It breaks all stereotypes and barriers; you don’t get cookie cutter individuals with just a fatal flaw, you get two individuals who are messed up because life made them so and they are trying to wade through those tides.

The age or the race do not matter because as someone once said “Love has no eyes, Love has no age, Love has no culture nor religion, Love has no disability, Love has no gender or race. It only takes two crazy individuals to make it happen.” newchicksblog.com

 

 

Split Second (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell #1) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2004

Format: Audio/Library Book

Stars: 4

Michelle Maxwell has just wrecked her promising career at the Secret Service. Against her instincts, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight for the briefest moment and the man whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air. Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. Eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service agent allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second. And the candidate he was protecting was gunned down before his eyes. Now Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge.

Drawn into a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, the two discredited agents uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making – and are a long way from over….

Review –

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

The author sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in big trouble with the Secret Service.  Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Although there are a lots of critics about the lack luster characters in this book and series, I’ve only read the first two and I find the books on point with traits of any crime thriller: drama, suspense, mystery and a bit of possible romance.

 

 

 

Redemption (Amos Decker #5) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: April 16, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars; 4

Detective Amos Decker discovers that a mistake he made as a rookie detective may have led to deadly consequences in the latest Memory Man thriller in David Baldacci’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Amos Decker and his FBI partner Alex Jamison are visiting his hometown of Burlington, Ohio, when he’s approached by an unfamiliar man. But he instantly recognizes the man’s name: Meryl Hawkins. He’s the first person Decker ever arrested for murder back when he was a young detective. Though a dozen years in prison have left Hawkins unrecognizably aged and terminally ill, one thing hasn’t changed: He maintains he never committed the murders. Could it be possible that Decker made a mistake all those years ago? As he starts digging into the old case, Decker finds a startling connection to a new crime that he may be able to prevent, if only he can put the pieces together quickly enough…

Review –

By now, readers, of this powerful series, know his story. Years back, the Hulk-sized Amos Decker suffered a bone-crushing helmet-to-helmet hit during his first play in the NFL, rendering him unable to forget anything, ever. Not only is every memory seared permanently into his brain—a medical condition known as hyperthymesia—for good, but the way Decker’s brain sees and processes colors has also been altered (synesthesia). 

Abandoning the playing field for police work, Decker’s condition is both a gift and a curse. While he’s able to remember endless important details pertaining to various investigations, he can never forget the murders of his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law—the images of their dead bodies forever, painfully, preserved in his memory. Now, though, Decker is working cold cases with an elite FBI unit, a job that takes him all across the country in search of justice for those who deserve it most. This time, after narrowly escaping death in Pennsylvania following the events of last year’s The Fallen, Decker is back in his hometown of Burlington, Ohio. 

After swearing to never go back, Decker, accompanied by his partner, Alex Jamison,  makes his return to Burlington in order to visit the grave of his daughter, Molly, on what would have been her fourteenth birthday. While mourning his loss in the cemetery, a man approaches and introduces himself as Meryl Hawkins. The name does more than just ring a bell for Decker, causing the big guy’s jaw to drop ever so slightly. Years back, Decker put him away for murder—the first murder investigation of his career as a cop, in fact. 

Though sentenced to life in prison with no parole, it turns out that Hawkins was recently released after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. From day one, he’s professed his innocence, and he’s sticking to it in his final hour. Moreover, he wants Amos to help him prove it once and for all. As it turns out, Decker’s former partner, Mary Lancaster, thinks there might be something to his claim. After all, why would a man on his deathbed go to such lengths to have his name cleared if he was, in fact, really guilty? 

Still not sold on the idea that Hawkins might really be telling the truth, a skeptic Decker agrees to give the case another look—only to realize that the clear-cut investigation might be a little too clear-cut. Then comes another twist, when Meryl Hawkins is found dead with a bullet hole in his head. Figuring that the only reason to kill a dying man is to keep him quiet, Decker finally realizes he may have gotten it all wrong years ago and sets out to right his wrong, no matter the cost . . . even if it means digging up a dangerous old secret that someone’s willing to kill in order to keep it buried in the past. 

Even just a few years back, Amos Decker was arguably Baldacci’s third-best protagionist, behind Will Robie and John Puller. Now, after several really strong books, you could make the case that he’s the author’s top hero, a dramatic turnaround for a character whose origin book, The Memory Man, wasn’t all that well received, but I loved it. As always, Baldacci’s writing is smooth, and his commitment to fleshing out his cast of characters continues to pay off in this one. The story is solid, with a couple of strong twists, and while some readers might see the ending coming, Baldacci still provides a fun, entertaining journey getting there. 

Fantastic read!

 

 

Of Blood and Bone (Chronicles of the One #2) by Nora Roberts

Book Description:

Published: December 4, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

hey look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.

Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.

In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.

Review –

In this sequel to the apocalyptic Year One, which released in 2017, the world settles into its new normal after The Doom, a sickness that killed off just about everyone and caused new powers to be realized. The girl who will be The One reaches her thirteenth birthday, makes the choice to train with her magical mentor, and steps into her many gifts, then must find allies to prepare for the war to come.

Survivors of The Doom have aligned themselves into different factions, with various priorities. Many have discovered magical abilities; many who don’t have them hunt those who do. Governments have failed, electricity is scarce, industrial production is practically nonexistent, so in order to survive, people must produce or scavenge food and goods.

Thirteen years later, New Hope is thriving, magicks and normals banding together for protection and community. Meanwhile, Fallon Swift, raised on a remote farm with her mother, stepfather, and three younger brothers, has learned the basics of survival but knows that when she turns thirteen, she’s expected to leave with the mysterious Mallick and train for two years, preparing to step into her role as The One, destined to save the world. When the time comes, she goes with him into a mystical forest populated with elves and faeries, where she studies spells, trains with swords, and spars with ghostly figures in order to build her strength and abilities.

On the way she finds allies of every variety, including three spirit animals who represent aspects of her powers and humanity that enhance her ability to lead. She also meets a shadowy figure in her dreams who becomes more real once she’s able to travel across spaces in a flash. She realizes he’s a son of New Hope and guesses that their destinies are tied closely together along with his twin sister’s. Change is coming, and it’s up to them to create a new, better world—or die trying.

The author continues her apocalyptic Chronicles of The One with a mesmerizing follow-up that is bold and breathtaking. Focusing mainly on Fallon’s rise, the plot offers details and vignettes that glimpse the horror and trauma of the past fifteen years and introduces the characters who presumably will frame the future.

This installment feels a bit like a rest between the trauma of The Doom and the war to come except for an explosive end battle; however, meeting the next generation and watching the heroine grow into her powers and leadership is enthralling. 

I thought the first book would be hard to top but Nora Roberts has done it and I now look forward to reading/listening to the final chapter of The One saga and have no doubt that it will too will hit the mark.

 

 

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 27, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Catastrophic spring flooding, blistering attacks in the media, and a mysterious disappearance greet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he returns to the Surete du Quebec in the latest novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny.

It’s Gamache’s first day back as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with his previous second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Flood waters are rising across the province. In the middle of the turmoil a father approaches Gamache, pleading for help in finding his daughter.

As crisis piles upon crisis, Gamache tries to hold off the encroaching chaos, and realizes the search for Vivienne Godin should be abandoned. But with a daughter of his own, he finds himself developing a profound, and perhaps unwise, empathy for her distraught father.

Increasingly hounded by the question, how would you feel…, he resumes the search.

As the rivers rise, and the social media onslaught against Gamache becomes crueler, a body is discovered. And in the tumult, mistakes are made.

In the next novel in this “constantly surprising series that deepens and darkens as it evolves” (New York Times Book Review), Gamache must face a horrific possibility, and a burning question.

What would you do if your child’s killer walked free?

Review –

She has done it again. With a vengeance. Take the same backwater in Québec, the same core of main characters, and write fifteen crime stories with that. You will probably end up with predictable plots. But Louise Penny doesn’t. Not ever. A Better Man is here to prove it. Once more.

The  author is a mystery in herself. Once again, she managed to deliver a unique book, with an original plot. And red herrings. And many twists and layers. Layers that keep getting more involved. If her last book dealt with drugs in the city, this one focuses on domestic violence. And violence through social media.

Fans of Three Pines have a new chance to enjoy Penny’s great art at describing characters, the depth of human emotions, as well as landscape:

  The sky was grey and stretch and threatened rain. Or sleet. Ice pellets or snow. The dirt road was covered in slush and mud. There were patches of snow on the sodden grass. Villagers out walking their dogs were clumping around in rubber boots and wrapped in layers of clothing, hoping to keep April away from their skin and out of their bones.

     and   

     Woodsmoke drifted from the old fieldstone, brick, clapboard homes. A signal to some higher power. Send help. Send heat. Send a real spring and not this crapfest of slush and freezing, teasing days. Days of snow and warmth.

Armand Gamache does not hurry. He takes time to look, feel, and think. The writing style itself, with many short sentences and pauses, beautifully conveys the same atmosphere.

And yet, when the time is ripe, the book also contains nerve-wracking suspenseful scenes, where events rush too quickly at the protagonists, with the violence of the Bella Bella river threatening to engulf the nearby villages.

Lovers of this series will also enjoy how the author integrated elements of previous books. And of course, we meet the same characters. Including the poet Ruth. And her duck Rosa—featured with short refrains, another nice little touch that helps keep all the threads together.

Reading another book by Louise Penny is like spending some annual time with good old friends. And age and experience have the potential to make them better. The only bitterness to it, is that we’ll have to wait next year to meet them again. Write faster, please !!!

Five Stars!

 

 

 

 

Fatal Burn (Northwest #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: March, 2006

Format: Audio/Audible

Three years ago, Shannon Flannery was accused of murdering her wife-beater husband Ryan Carlyle, who was found burnt beyond recognition after a forest fire. At the time, many people believed that Ryan was the Stealth Torcher, a serial arsonist who lit many fires in the area, and suspected that Shannon had gotten back at her husband by beating fire with fire. The suspicions about Ryan’s ‘occupation’ seemed confirmed when the fires stopped following his death. However, although Shannon was acquitted for the murder, she still faced much public speculation over the case, especially from those who believed that she had gotten away with murder.
Now, believing that the worst is finally behind her, Shannon is attempting to get on with life. She has just bought a new property, where she hopes to expand her search-dog training facility.
But then strange things start to happen that make her question her safety, as well as the safety of those that she loves. Fragments of her past come back to haunt her, and mysterious fires begin to crop up, leading Shannon to suspect that somebody is out to get her. Then Travis Settler, an ex-Special Forces agent, arrives on the scene. His teenage daughter Dani has been kidnapped, and he believes that Shannon’s dark past has something to do with her abduction.
With the body count slowly rising, Shannon and Travis have to learn to trust one another, and uncover the dark secrets of the fire-loving serial killer before he seeks his ultimate revenge.

Review –

This novel takes readers into the often-unexplored world of arsonists, and the emotions that they feel when lighting or witnessing a fire. While many people, myself included, cannot fathom the reasons that some people may have for lighting fires that do nothing but cause destruction and chaos, this novel allows readers to view just how some people respond to flames, and makes readers aware of the power that many arsonists experience when dealing with this deadly element.
I am in no way suggesting that all arsonists are murderers, as many do not think of the consequences of their actions. I am simply saying that this novel is a good study of the way that firebugs may react to flame.

The author keeps readers guessing, as she continually introduces new plot twists and scenarios. Travis Settler’s relationship with Shannon adds a bit of romantic spark to the story, and Dani Settler’s determination to survive at the hands of her kidnapper is inspiring, especially considering her age.

This book will keep you guessing and the suspense will burn up the pages (excuse the pun) if reading and heat your ear if listening.

Five stars!

The Toll (Arc of the Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman

Book Description:

Published: November 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

Review –

“The sins of the founding scythes now reap terrible rewards in this trilogy conclusion.

The Thunderhead—a benevolent, nigh-omniscient, nanite-controlling artificial intelligence—still runs the world but speaks only to Greyson Tolliver. Now deified as the Toll, prophet of the Tonists, Greyson attempts to advise a populace abruptly cut off from the Thunderhead’s gentle guidance. For the scythes—allegedly compassionate and objective executioners whose irreversible gleanings control the post-mortal population—the Thunderhead’s been silent for centuries, but recent scythedom unrest now tests the Thunderhead’s noninterference. Untouchable and unhinged, Scythe Goddard, self-appointed Overblade, encourages unrestricted and prejudiced gleanings. Formerly formidable opponents Scythe Anastasia (Citra Terranova) and scythe-killer Scythe Lucifer (Rowan Damisch) are now fugitives, saved from the sea but pursued by Goddard’s allies. Even in a post-national, post-racial world, Capt. Jerico’s meteorologically influenced gender fluidity surprises some, but as Goddard’s bigotry indicates, discrimination plagues even the post-mortals. Shusterman (Dry, 2018, etc.) wryly unravels organized religion and delivers a scathing takedown of political demagogues. Yet the whirlwind of narrators, sly humor, and action scenes never obscures the series’ central question: If most death is impermanent, and age can be reset, what’s the meaning of life?

Long but strong, a furiously paced finale that reaches for the stars. (Science fiction. 14-adult)” Kirkus Reviews

I was very disappointed with the final install of the Arc of the Scythe series. It was unexpected and leaves room for future stories if the author wants to expand, which I hope he does not.

Deep Freeze (Northwest #1) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: October 29, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

HER BIGGEST FAN…
When she wakes up, she’s very cold. Colder than she’s ever been in her life. She can’t move or speak. And then she sees him. The one who took her. And before she dies, she wishes she could scream…

IS ABOUT TO BECOME …
Former movie star Jenna Hughes left Hollywood for an isolated farm in Oregon to get away from fame. But someone has followed her – an obsessed fan whose letters are personal and deeply disturbing.
And while Jenna’s already shaken up by what she’s seen on paper, she’d be terrified if she knew what Sheriff Shane Carter is investigating. It’s a shocking case that started with the discovery of a dead woman in the woods. Now two more women are missing, one of whom bears a striking resemblance to Jenna…

HER WORST NIGHTMARE …
As a winter storm bears down on the pacific northwest, a merciless killer’s grisly work has only just begun. And Jenna is Getting Closer to meeting her biggest fan.. one who wants nothing more than to see her dead..

Review –

The story was well thought-out and the characters well-developed. I could not guess the killer until the author revealed him to me!

The beginning was slow, but eventually started to pick up. I actually appreciated the slow start, though, because it gave me a chance to get to know the characters, relationships, and setting. Plus, it made the escalation at the end all that more terrifying.

The killer’s point of view was fantastic because it was both believable and disturbing. I kept wondering, “how can a person actually think like this?”

Jackson executed third person point of view in a way where it almost felt like first person. I enjoyed reading different character’s thoughts and digging through their mind so that I could better understand the characters.

There is a sex scene, which I don’t think I’ve seen in a Lisa Jackson book. While it wasn’t necessary to the plot, it was nicely done and added to the tension between the two leads.

You can not go wrong with a book by Lisa Jackson, so if you’ve never read anything by her, please give one a try. You will not be disappointed !

 

Born to Die (To Die #3) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2011

Format: Audio: Audio/Audible

Appearances. . .

A sad, strange coincidence. . .that’s Dr. Kacey Lambert’s initial response to the deaths of two women who bear an uncanny resemblance to herself. It’s not like there was any real connection between Kacey and the B-movie actress or the elementary school teacher. But Detective Selena Alvarez suspects otherwise.

Can Be. . .

One of the bodies contained traces of poison at the time of death. Selena and her partner, Detective Regan Pescoli, can find no motive for murder. But Kacey has started to notice ties between the dead women’s lives and her own–all close in age, born within miles of each other. And all have links to Trace O’Halleran, the man Kacey just started dating.

Deadly. . .

The deeper Kacey digs, the more reason she has to fear. More look-alikes are dying, and the killer is getting bolder and more brutal. And Kacey knows it’s only a matter of time before hers is the next name on a list of those who were born to die. . .

Review –

This is the third installment of Lisa Jackson’s series, To Die, and again features feature Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli,of  the two Grizzly Falls, Montana police department. This time they look into the suspicious fall of schoolteacher, Jocelyn Wallis, onto a rocky ledge. Jocelyn, who later dies in the hospital of her injuries, turns out to bear an uncanny resemblance to Hollywood actress Shelly Bonaventure, whose recent death from a pill overdose was officially ruled a suicide, though the police suspect foul play. When Kacey Lambert, a doctor who coincidentally resembles Jocelyn and Shelly, reports that her home has been bugged, Alvarez and Pescoli step up their investigation before Kacey becomes the next victim. Jackson skillfully interweaves the suspense surrounding the look-alike women with the romance that develops between Kacey and local rancher Trace O’Halleran.  There are skilled characterizations, in particular the strong female leads, and a well-crafted plot to make any lover of a good crime fiction/mystery take note.

Excellent read.

A Boy Called Christmas(Christmas #1) by Matt Haig

Book Description:

Published: November 16, 2015

Format: Audio

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

Review –

Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”, because he was born on Christmas Day,—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him.

But his mother has died, and his father, Joel is an impoverished woodcutter. Desperate for money, Joel joins a group of men on a quest to prove the existence of elves, leaving Nikolas with his ill-tempered aunt, Carlotta. Nikolas runs away to find his father, but trudging months through the woods, he faces starvation, freezing, and hopelessness. Then he comes across a reindeer with an arrow stuck in his leg. Nikolas helps him and names him Blitzen, and they continue their journey to the elf village together. Unfortunately, once located, the elves do not offer a warm welcome but instead lock Nikolas in the tower. It’s there that Nikolas discovers, with the help of a drimwick, or hope spell, that he’s become more than just the simple boy he used to be. 

In many ways it’s a coming of age story for Nikolas who has had a hard life and learns who he truly is and what the value of family and love really mean. It’s a story of unlikely friendships between a poor boy, a mouse, a reindeer named Blitzen and a village of downtrodden elves who are struggling to find their Christmas Spirit. But perhaps most importantly it’s a story about the unexpected and impossibility of life and the true meaning of Christmas and the Christmas Spirit. It’s heart warming and a fantastic read.

One feature I particularly loved about this book was the cameos made by well known Christmas figures (i.e. the reindeer etc) and the way we get little glimpses at how today’s much loved traditions came to be what they are. For example, How Father Christmas’ name came to be, where the idea for presents delivered by Santa came from and where the suit itself came from. This feature of the book actually made me take a step back and reevaluate everything I took for granted about Christmas and question it’s origins and it’s made this Christmas in turn all that much more special.

This book came into my possession over two years ago and I don’t know why I let it sit on the shelf for so long. I had the audio and narrator did a fantastic job, but I hear that the book has excellent illustrations and that it would make a great read-aloud.