Denise C. (dscrawford) - Reviews

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12.21: A Novel
12.21: A Novel
Author: Dustin Thomason
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 8/22/2012
Helpful Score: 1


4.0 out of 5 stars - Suspenseful and very entertaining...

Ever since I returned from touring Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, I have been searching for books about their culture, customs, habits, family life, etc. -- in other words -- any anthropological and archeological information about this group of people! This book dealt with a story about Mayans from deep in the rain forests of Guatemala.

A series of related events combine to create a very suspenseful medical thriller as well as an interesting theory about what happened to the Mayans. It is December, 2012, in California. The doomsayers on the streets are insisting that the world as we know it will end on 12-21-12 -- because that is the end of the Mayan calendar -- the Long Count. A man is taken to the Emergency Room of Presbyterian Hospital and is diagnosed with a rare prion disease -- seems he is just out of the jungles of Guatemala. His symptoms rapidly become fatal and the fear of a contagious epidemic brings Dr. Gabriel Stanton of the CDC to investigate the cause and hopefully to find some sort of cure.

A stolen codex is given illegally to Chel Manu, the curator of Maya antiquities for the Getty Museum in LA, California. Being Mayan herself, and from the general area where this treasure was found, Chel accepts the looted book knowing that she could lose her job and her reputation. The lure of discovering her own peoples' history -- to find out what had caused the demise of their civilization during the classic period -- between 800-900 AD -- years before the Spanish conquistadors had arrived, is too strong for her to resist. Once thriving cities abandoned and a way of life ended with no trace of what had caused this fall.

Stanton and Chel find that there is a connection between the codex and the two initial victims of the prion disease. Their goal is to find the source site of the book and some evidence of prions in an ancient tomb or temple that some feel is a mythical lost city of the Mayans. Both are soon disgraced when authorities discover her perfidy in accepting the looted codex and his unauthorized attempts to treat the devastating disease.

LA is under quarantine and there are suddenly thousands infected with the prion. Is there anything that will help those affected? How did the prion get into the Mayans all those years ago? Stanton and Chel call in anyone they know who can help them translate the codex, locate the lost city, and figure out the mystery once and for all -- can they do it before 12-21-12 or is this how the end is coming?

This was a very fast paced read with lots of interesting detail. I don't know how much of it is based on any factual evidence, but it's a great tale nevertheless and quite imaginative if not true! I enjoyed the "translation" of the codex as a glimpse into Mayan life during those ancient times including the symbolism, language, and customs surrounding their life and worship of king and gods. I think any reader who enjoys speculative fiction with a historical aspect -- AND a bit of medical mystery thrown in -- will enjoy this novel as I did.


The 7th Victim (Karen Vail, Bk 1)
The 7th Victim (Karen Vail, Bk 1)
Author: Alan Jacobson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 6/30/2010
Helpful Score: 1


3.0 out of 5 stars Cliche-ridden psycho killer thriller disappoints..., June 30, 2010


This review is from: The 7th Victim (Hardcover)
As other readers have remarked, this book was full of unbelievable co-incidences, tired plot devices, and tepid characters. Riddled with cliches, the novel is overlong and filled with redundant details and minutiae that most of us who read this genre are quite familiar with.

Karen Vail is the only female FBI profiler in the BAU and is working on a case that has been dubbed "Dead Eyes Killer" by the rest of those on the task force. Working with them, she is faced with trying to figure out why there is an increase in the killer's activities but ends up being implicated in the case. As the killing escalates, the task force is slowly but surely trying to find the killer and prevent further murders. The narrative moves forward slowly with lots of background about the nature and function of profiling as part of the investigatory activity of the FBI when faced with a serial killer.

The revelations during the investigation are peripheral as most of the story centers on all the different facets of Karen's life -- an abusive ex husband, a contentious divorce, a custody battle, a son in the hospital, a mother with Alzheimer's -- well is it any wonder that Karen is distracted?! Oh, and of course there's a romance in the midst of all this horror!

Now -- your guess -- does the killer come after Karen? I was disappointed when, yet again, the killer marked the female agent involved in the case. She is to be victim number seven.

As far as I can tell, if you are a fan of the psycho killer, thriller chiller suspense novel -- you've already basically read this one. Borrow, don't buy.


The 9th Judgment (Women's Murder Club, Bk 9)
The 9th Judgment (Women's Murder Club, Bk 9)
Author: James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 303
Review Date: 7/23/2010
Helpful Score: 1


4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read in the Women's Murder Club series...., July 23, 2010

This review is from: The 9th Judgment (The Women's Murder Club) (Hardcover)
This is one of the better books in the Women's Murder Club series. It's fast-paced and has several different criminal actions going on that involve the members of the WMC.

In first person point of view, Sergeant Lindsay Boxer of the SFPD juggles simultaneous investigations involving the shooting death of the wife of a movie star, tracking a cat burglar who steals from the rich during dinner parties, and chasing a psycho dubbed the LIPSTICK KILLER who is running rampant in the garages of San Francisco shopping malls killing women and their children. The other members of the WMC, Yuki, Claire, and Cindy, are all involved, as usual, in various aspects of these cases. This particular book is more focused on Lindsay although the romance between Cindy and Lindsay's current partner Rich Conklin, also gets some page time.

Although not great literature, this was an absorbing and entertaining page turner; a quick read with Patterson's trademark short chapters, perfect for summer travel or for reading while lounging at the pool with a cold drink.


Above
Above
Author: Isla Morley
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 2/20/2014


"Freedom...Its other name is Choosing."

Abduction and Apocalypse - a story of "survival, resilience, and hope."

First off, this novel has little to no similarity to either ROOM or to THE LOVELY BONES. To compare them is to do all of the very different stories an injustice. Start with an open mind.

Blythe is just 16 years old when she is kidnapped and taken down below ground into an abandoned missile silo in Kansas by a disaster survivalist who has created an impenetrable bunker deep in the bowels of the earth. Dobbs Hordin met Blythe when he was working in the Eudora high school library and abducts her while she is walking home from a town celebration. He's completely convinced that armegedon is imminent and has made complex and complicated plans for survival and for propagating the species afterwards. The first part of the book deals with Blythe's life while imprisoned in the silo. Every day and each event that Blythe endures in the dark and stale compartments below the Kansas plain is one of self-sacrifice and infused with desperation for freedom and return to the family and life she knew before. Dobbs makes frequent missions outside of their compound and returns with supplies and news -- but he is not to be trusted so Blythe has no way to know what is really going on in the world above. Blythe struggles as she is first required to be Dobbs's mate and then to raise a child. She tries to stay alive and mentally intact through her memories but all she can think of is getting OUT.

That day of emancipation comes after 17 years in captivity and what she finds when she and Adam open the doors of the silo is not at all what she had prayed for, hoped for, or imagined it would be. The last parts of the book deal with Blythe and Adam as they come face to face with a changed world and try to reconcile all that happened and forge a new existence. To discover that to live might just take more than to survive the worst.

The book is set in current day but sometimes the character of Blythe didn't ring true when compared to teenagers I know -- she seemed much more old-fashioned -- which was sort of off putting. There are serious religious overtones at times in the writing, though the apocalypse isn't suggested to be a punishment, but definitely it is has heavy social commentary. Sometimes the internal dialog that Blythe has with herself seems a stream of consciousness blathering that occasionally went on too long and the reader indeed gets the message that this is not the world whose memories kept Blythe going and to which she wanted to return. Yes, there were deaths and changes. Many stereotypical characters that will be recognized by anyone who reads post-apocalyptic fiction -- the good guys and the bad guys.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I think it's one that all ages will devour -- it would make a great movie! Lots of good points for discussion in a book club and I'm definitely going to recommend it to young adult readers as well. I'd love to have a paper format to get one of the teens to review.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the ARC e-book to review.


The Accident
The Accident
Author: Linwood Barclay
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 9/11/2011


4.0 out of 5 stars How well do you really know those people in your circle of family and friends?

I have read all of Barclay's previous books so was looking forward to the latest one! This suspense novel had a fast pace with an interesting subject presented immediately in the prologue - the illegal sales of counterfeit merchandise and the seedy, dangerous underground -- and it kept me turning the pages well past bedtime.

A quiet suburban neighborhood is rocked first by the car accident death of a housewife and mother, Sheila Garber, whose inexplicable car crash while driving drunk results in the unraveling of the lives of several interconnected families. As her husband, Glen, and daughter, Kelly, try to come to terms with this tragedy, discoveries are made that make Glen wonder if indeed "the accident" was what it seemed. As the narrative goes on, suspense mounts as first one character and then another comes to light as involved in a ring of sorts that centers around the sale of various items and a stereotypical villain who wants "the money." The novel has several plot twists but a savvy reader will not be too surprised as events unfold and the climax is reached.

My main complaints, and the reasons I don't give this novel 5 stars: I felt that the death toll was unnecessary -- it didn't advance the plot, and it seemed overmuch. In addition, I've come to notice that the protagonist, in this book he's named Glen Garber, is one that Barclay duplicates in every single book -- a decent ordinary man, husband, father driven to extremes by events he didn't anticipate and now must avenge. This man is always a bit naive and ignorant about things going on under his own roof until the moment when he's spurred into action and then pretty much has to take matters into his own hands and figure out the truth even though he's facing some pretty unrealistic scenarios that cause the reader to suspend some disbelief.

Despite feeling sometimes that I keep reading the same Barclay novel over and over, I would recommend this for any of his fans and others who enjoy a suspense mystery with lots of layers and a well-constructed (though not completely unpredicted) conclusion.


The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 8/22/2012


3.5 out of 5 stars - The slowing...

What happens to the world when the days simply start to get longer and the earth no longer turns every 24 hours? What changes do we see in the lives and behavior of the human and animal kingdoms? And how will the flora and fauna be affected by the changing levels of light? In this "end of the world as we know it" novel, reactions are varied because the reason for the change and the questions about what is to come cannot be answered by anyone in the scientific community. Despite the point of view from the eyes and level of understanding of a middle school girl, the story is interesting and engaging.

Julie and her parents live in California on a quiet cul-de-sac in a nondescript suburb when news of the lengthening of days is announced on television one ordinary Saturday morning in October. After an initial panic and widespread disaster preparedness, families, communities and nations settle into a kind of watchful complacency. The US government orders the population to "clock time" but the rebels want to live using dark and light as their guide. Eventually those free timers become outcasts as the days inexorably lengthen and that's when the changes occur that affect daily life and all living things on the planet.

I really enjoyed the details about how the slowing affected principals of gravity, magnetic fields, weather and temperature, and health and welfare of the planet's inhabitants. The book was riddled, however, with melodramatic foreshadowing and portents of doom! Julia comes of age as more an observer rather than an active participant in the story. Her age progression from 11 to 23 at the end is sudden! I would guess this is suitable for older teens and might make a great young adult book club book. It does make one think about how to contact far flung family and friends should modern methods of communication not be available!

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes end of the world scenarios because this one is a little different using a novel concept of the cause of demise. How do Julie and her family fare? What happens to our planet, Earth? Read it and find out!


All Fall Down
All Fall Down
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 63
Review Date: 7/30/2014
Helpful Score: 1


3.0 out of 5 stars - "The brain disease of addiction..is rooted in self-centeredness."

Allison Weiss became a pill-popping addict in the typical slide; it started out as a way to take the edge off a very busy life as mother, wife, daughter, employee, friend -- but quickly spiraled downward into a void where she was spending thousands of dollars buying controlled substances off the internet, lying to everyone, and just teetering on the brink of committing a "pitiful act of incomprehensible destruction" that would put her whole world in jeopardy. After making all the usual excuses and denying her addiction, Allison ends up in rehab with all the other drug users and alcoholics. Determined and insistent that she doesn't really belong with that type of addict and denying the extent of her problem (after all, hers are "prescription drugs"), she resists the advice and support of the counselors who remind her that she's not so smart as she thinks and she hasn't been able to control her drug habit as "your best thinking got you here."

I found the topic of narcotic addiction interesting; the character of Allison, however, did not really push my empathy buttons and I rather disliked her. Lots of emphasis on the philosophy of the 12 step program of AA and description of a less than stellar rehab program. I felt more depressed than anything after reading this thinking about the fact that any addict, for the rest of their life, will have to resist the lure of their drug of choice each and every second. Choosing to stay sober and not use certainly would require intense effort and occupy a lot of time and energy.

This would make a good book club book and I think more geared to the female reader.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria for the e-book ARC to review.


The Bay at Midnight
The Bay at Midnight
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 3/20/2011


4.0 out of 5 stars Secrets and lies..., March 20, 2011

A beautiful young girl. A tragedy on a moonlit night. In 1962, Isabelle Bauer drowned in Bay Head Shores. Her death, ruled a homicide, remained an unsolved mystery despite the fact that a local man was found guilty and spent the rest of his life in prison for the murder. Isabelle's mother and sisters don't talk about her or what happened on that hot August night. Until the day that Julie Bauer, who was 12 years old during that fateful summer, receives a visitor bearing a letter that may or may not shed light on the case.

This is a novel about what happens when secrets are kept and passions are denied. It's about what happens when love is confusing and mistakes are made. The events of that particular night and others during the summer leading up to it are examined from three different points of view. Maria (mother to Isabelle, Julie and Lucy) tells her story, each of the daughters relates what part she played in the unfolding drama, and Julie's daughter, Shannon is meanwhile creating problems of her own that lead the women to finally deal with 40 years of anger, silence, suspicion, guilt, and shame.

The reason I like the novels that Diane Chamberlain writes is because she writes believable characters. This suspense story, set in two different time periods -- 1962 and present day - is a wonderful mystery featuring three generations of women. Those women, a grandmother, two middle-aged daughters, and a teen granddaughter, are so real that they seem to be people that you know who have feelings that you have or that you've had in the past. The interactions and the relationship that they have, the type of personalities and the deep attachment they display, will definitely touch the hearts of readers as the narrative unfolds.

Highly recommend to all fans of romantic suspense novels and to those who enjoy a good family story with a multi-generational cast of interesting women.


Beauty Queens
Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 5/18/2011
Helpful Score: 3


3.0 out of 5 stars Just a little too much..., May 18, 2011

I eagerly anticipated this book after having read Going Bovine with my teen book club. Because I read that novel, I realized that Libba Bray could present some crazy scenarios and over-the-top characters. She certainly does it again with this maybe too clever satire on beauty queens, beauty pageants, and all the implements and "talents" a girl needs in order to become a Miss Teen Dream.

A plane carrying the 50 contestants for a beauty pageant crashes on a deserted island. The surviving girls must figure out how to feed and shelter themselves until they are rescued. Because they are competitive, a few girls vie for the leadership role; the winner of that vote decides that while they are busy trying to stay alive that they will also keep practicing for the pageant that each desperately wants to win.

MEANWHILE, on the other side of the island is a secret compound hidden inside a volcano. Some bad men are planning some shenanigans with a greedy dictator. AND, in other evolving events, a ship of pirates lands on the same island. Guess what -- they are all young men who are stars of a reality show. Sounds crazy, right? Well the story does get somewhat ridiculous at this point and I sort of lost my taste for the continual subtle and not so subtle attempts at humor though at times I did laugh out loud at a particularly funny or sarcastic bit of prose. The real problem I had with the book, however, was that the author chose to put in TOO MUCH of everything. The graphic descriptions of sexual encounters, drug use, gays, lesbians and transgender love affairs, etc. might be way too much for the young adult age group that would be drawn to this book. I would suggest that interested parents read this first before giving it to or buying it for a younger teen. I'm also not sure that all younger readers would "get" the inside jokes.

I enjoyed the book, but after awhile it just got to be tiresome and instead of the early entertaining biting sarcasm, satire, and wit, it was ultimately predictable and a bit of a let-down.


Before the Fall
Before the Fall
Author: Noah Hawley
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 46
Review Date: 2/29/2016


4.0 out of 5 stars -- "Life is a series of decisions and reactions. It is the things you do and the things that are done to you. And then it's over."

It's been awhile since I opened a book and read until I finished it. Over the couple of hours I spent with this novel, I experienced quite a few emotions and thoroughly enjoyed the writing style of the author and the characters he created in this sadly too familiar story that could be current headline news.

A private jet crashes into the ocean just minutes out of Martha's Vineyard. The passengers include a wealthy family of 4 the Batemans, a couple who were friends of theirs, the Kiplings, a bodyguard to Mr. Batemen, a washed up artist posed for a comeback, Scott Burroughs, and the plane's crew of 3. There are only two survivors -- 4 year old JJ Bateman and Scott Burroughs. What brought down this plane?

The narrative shifts in point of view as the backstory of the characters is revealed as well as all that was currently going on in each life. It's a story of how the very wealthy live. It's about the power of the media in this age of 24-hour all access news. It's about perception and honesty and the difficulty one can have in figuring out what is important and how terribly fleeting life is.

I don't want to say more -- I'd recommend it! February was a month of "plane crash" books for me!

Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the e-book ARC to review.


Bleed for Me (Joe O'Loughlin, Bk 4)
Bleed for Me (Joe O'Loughlin, Bk 4)
Author: Michael Robotham
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/28/2014


4.0 out of 5 stars -- "The problem with secrets and lies is that you can never tell which is which until you dig them up and sniff. Some things are buried for safe-keeping; some are buried to hide the stench; and some are buried because they're toxic and take a long time to disappear."

This 4th book in the Joe O'Loughlin series is another exhilarating thriller where multiple story lines converge into a complex and absorbing search for truth involving a young girl who happens to be the best friend of Joe's oldest daughter. In addition, there is intrigue and danger connected with a local trial of a trio of men accused of firebombing asylum seekers in a racially connected homicide. The setting is mostly London and the viewpoint definitely British.

Once again, Joe and ex cop Vincent Ruiz, are doing a little of their own investigation on the side. Gifted with some incredible psychological insight, Joe watches, observes, listens, and figures out that things are not as they first appear to police. Joe, fighting his Parkinson's Disease as it so limits what he is physically able to do, continues to provide social commentary and cautionary advice in soliloquy that is part self-reflection and part lecture.

In the meanwhile, Joe takes care of his two daughters as best he can since he's now living separately from his estranged wife, Jillianne. If ever a character I couldn't stand -- it's her, and I'm SO HAPPY they're apart and hope they never get back together. I barely like Joe, but she gets on my nerves!

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and am on to #5 -- yes, they're that good.


The Bodies Left Behind
The Bodies Left Behind
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 114
Review Date: 4/21/2011
Helpful Score: 1


3.0 out of 5 stars So-so stand alone..., April 21, 2011

I have read all of Jeffery Deaver's previous books but this stand alone cat-and-mouse tale doesn't hold up to the high octane suspense thriller that I'm used to reading when I open one of his novels.

Deputy Brynn McKenzie is dispatched to Lake Mondac to investigate an aborted 911 call from a cell phone that appears to have originated from a secluded lake house there. When she arrives and enters the house, she discovers the bodies of a man and woman who have been murdered. The killers are, however, still on the scene and when Brynn finds another potential victim unharmed at the residence they band together and run out from the house to evade the two killers. Although the plot advances at a rapid pace, and even as the events unfold and the reader is swept up into the tense chase, the narrative requires the reader to suspend disbelief as Brynn McKenzie and a friend of the murdered couple escape into the dark Wisconsin woods on a dark, cold night in April. Pursued by two ruthless hit men, they rush blindly toward any avenue of safety only to be thwarted by the men time and again. Dirtied and injured, they encounter others out in those dark woods that night. Are they friend or foe? The whole "in the woods" portion of the book goes on and on and on. In addition, there is another subplot involving union shenanigans and other red herrings that don't necessarily add to the story but only confuse the reader.

The loose ends are all tied up neatly at the end, as expected. While not Deaver's best, I'm sure his fans will want to read this one but I suggest they borrow rather than buy. I enjoyed the experience of reading the Large Print version of the book as it is much easier on the eyes.


The Book of Strange New Things: A Novel
The Book of Strange New Things: A Novel
Author: Michel Faber
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 9/22/2014


3.5 stars out of 5 -- "The world changes too fast. You take your eyes off something that's always been there, and the next minute it's just a memory."

"Hope always comes back, pushing up through the ashes, growing from seeds that are invisible and invincible."

This novel was definitely NOT anything like Faber's book, The Crimson Petal and the White set in Victorian London. Instead, the reader is transported to a brave new world far away from Earth where a mysterious mega corporation known as USIC has set up a colony of scientists to make the planet liveable. The new world is named Oasis in a contest and Peter Leigh is sent there as a missionary to cater to the needs of the native inhabitants -- to bring them the word of Jesus and his Book of Strange New Things -- The King James Bible. Peter is no ordinary pastor -- once a drug addict and alcoholic, the reformed preacher is eager to begin his work spreading the good news to the Oasans (as he calls them). Surprisingly, many of these natives are already converted and hungry for the Word. Unfortunately, Peter's wife, Bea, has had to stay behind on Earth putting a severe strain on their marriage as billions of miles separate them and they can only communicate by messages sent through a device called the Shoot.

While Bea sends messages of calamity in England and disasters around the world, Peter finds himself in his element tending to his new flock. Overcome with his success, he neglects Bea and their relationship starts to unravel. Caring less about the world he left behind, Peter becomes even more involved with his community of believers and stays with them in their settlement. The creatures are not human in any way, their language is almost unpronounceable, but they attempt to speak English, though without the ability to say some of the consonants *s and *t, for example. Although Peter still interacts peripherally with the others at the USIC base, he finds his heart and soul with the natives and works beside them getting to know them better.

I'm not quite sure what to say about my reaction to this book. I have read other glowing reviews calling this a masterpiece. I'm not feeling it. On one hand, it was interesting, on the other, I can see that if you are not a Christian, you will get very tired of the religious theme that is pervasive throughout the book. Peter often quotes long passages and delivers sermons to the Oasans and, when he writes her -- admonishes his wife to pray and trust in God though her life is falling apart. The concept of new world building is scientifically interesting, but the main story here is Peter bringing Jesus to the natives who want more of this Book of Strange New Things -- in fact, dedicate themselves to its study even as Peter tries to explain concepts of the passages in words they can understand since they don't have knowledge of sheep, flock, gender, and so on. I found myself totally irritated with Peter's self-absorption and selfishness as God-sent missionary and totally empathetic to poor Bea.

And, if this bothers you, be warned -- there's a cliffhanger a the end. Knowing how Faber ended Crimson Petal should give you an idea. Would make a great book club book for discussion and I'd love to hear more about what ohers think of its literary merit.

Thanks to Amazon.com Vine program and Netgalley for the ARC to review.


The Breach (Travis Chase, Bk 1)
The Breach (Travis Chase, Bk 1)
Author: Patrick Lee
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 125
Review Date: 11/30/2010
Helpful Score: 4


4.0 out of 5 stars What is The Breach and who can you trust?, November 30, 2010
By
Denise Crawford "DC" (Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE) (TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
This review is from: The Breach (Mass Market Paperback)
Lucky me! I have the second book in the series, Ghost Country, waiting for me right after turning the last page of this very interesting sci-fi type thriller. This first novel, The Breach, ends with a lot of unanswered questions and a cliffhanger that will make fans rush to find out out what happens next.

The story begins with a lone man trying to find answers in the Alaskan wilderness. Travis Chase has just recently been released from prison after serving time for a crime that we never quite get the details of but that will probably be significant later. He discovers a crash site of a 747 -- everyone on board is dead. There are cryptic messages and a strange series of instructions about a sphere that was taken from the plane. This sets in motion a very fast paced and suspenseful adventure that involves alien technology and lots of blood and guts. Travis rescues one of the two hostages taken from the plane and the two of them embark upon a mission to stop and prevent an apocalypse beyond his imagination.

The futuristic sci-fi and the technical information provide the reader with lots of interesting things to imagine and the narrative moves quickly as Travis and his rescued hostage Paige try to second guess and outwit the entity that is trying to control all the events that transpire. The problem is that The Whisper knows and can predict everything...from years in advance.

This is a quick read that you'll devour if you like futuristic "end of the world" science fiction adventures!


Breaking the Silence
Breaking the Silence
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 58
Review Date: 1/29/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Solid but predictable mystery..., January 28, 2010



After reading a few of Diana Chamberlain's more recent novels, including my favorite, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, I could tell immediately when I started this one that I was reading one of her earlier books That's not to say that this novel isn't good, it is -- but it is a fairly predictable story and the revelations at the end come as no surprise to any mystery reader. There are multiple things going on in the book but it all comes together to wrap up the various pieces. It's a story of family relationships including great love and loss and getting answers.

I enjoyed the book well enough -- it's fast paced and the narrative draws the reader in with the topic -- torture and experimentation on patients at psychiatric facilities circa 1950s. It's hard to believe that many of those "treatments" were allowed and even encouraged!

In another note, however, I must say that the sudden muteness experienced by the child, Emma, in the book was never fully explained and then mysteriously disappeared. I'm assuming it was some sort of traumatic guilt-like reaction.

All in all, this is an easy read, an early work by an author who has since become more accomplished!


Bride of New France: A Novel
Bride of New France: A Novel
Author: Suzanne Desrochers
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/22/2012


3.5 out of 5 stars - Historical fiction set first in France and then in Canada during the reign of King Louis XIV.

Laure is but a young girl when she is snatched off the street by the archers and taken to the Enfant-Jesus dormitory to get religion and to be trained by the nuns. She is taken as a servant by a kindly old woman when she is 10 but is returned to the Sainte Claire dormitory after her mistress dies. She learns sewing and lace-making skills but is not content with her life and her days. She writes a letter of complaint to the King, never knowing that it will spark a chain of events that take her from one sort of prison to another.

The King wants to populate his new world known as French Canada in the years of 1663-1673 when he sent about 800 women to Canada from France to become the wives of fur traders and soldiers who were already settled there. Conditions were harsh there, and the life that Laure finds is even worse than she had imagined when she left behind her pitiful existence in the infirmary and hospital known as The Salpetriere.

I enjoy historical fiction and I had not read anything about the women known as the filles du roi sent away from France. These women were usually poor or orphaned young women who were supposedly happy to leave their lives of poverty to sail across the Atlantic and be taken up as wives to work the land in the cold, hard forests of Canadian outposts. THe savages and religious orders fought hard for control of trade and conversions.

I recommend it to anyone interested in this unique perspective of one woman's journey and life in that primitive new world.


Broadchurch
Broadchurch
Author: Erin Kelly, Chris Chibnall
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 8/16/2014


4.0 out of 5 stars -- I had no idea when I began reading this book that there was a BBC television series that I could watch! So, I had no preconceptions other than the basic plot premise and the fact that the novel is in the police procedural category and set in a small British West Bay town on the coast. The landscape of Dorset provides the cliffs, beach and sea that are extremely important aspects of the drama played out there when the body of 11 year old Danny Latimer is found one morning in summer season. The town in the book is known as Broadchurch.

DS Ellie Miller is recently returned to work from a family holiday when she is rudely denied an expected promotion and passed over for Detective Inspector by another whose reputation precedes him -- DI Alec Hardy. In a matter of moments, still reeling after that disappointment, she is thrust into a murder investigation when the call comes to the police station about Danny's body. Ellie is shaken because Danny is her son's best friend and the son of her own girlfriend, Beth. The Latimers and Millers were a tight group and the town is close knit. Without any immediate suspects or clues, Ellie can't believe that anyone she knows could have committed this murder. The extremely well plotted investigation proceeds from there and involves many of the townspeople whose secrets and lies are unearthed slowly but surely. Red herrings are dangled as first one and then another comes under the scrutiny of DI Hardy and DS Miller. An unlikely partnership between personality and style on the opposite spectrum, Hardy and Miller are at odds with each other and with those whom they interrogate as they search for answers.

The characters are complex and well drawn; the narrative shifts in point of view revealing tantalizing snippets and details as the plot thickens. I thought every one was guilty -- and they were -- of something. Who knew the neighbors as well as they thought they did?

I can see where this would be a great show and I plan to get the DVDs and watch it as soon as possible. I really enjoyed the novel and the ending was perfect given the somber tone of the book. I'd like to read other books by this author. I will definitely be recommending this novelization to any who enjoy British crime novels.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press (Minotaur Books) for the e-book ARC to review.


Brutal Youth: A Novel
Brutal Youth: A Novel
Author: Anthony Breznican
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 5/16/2014
Helpful Score: 1


"Catholic school - as vicious as Roman Rule." (Death Cab for Cutie)

I really liked this book though it was very disturbing and dark. As a teacher, librarian and nurse at a Catholic high school, I have heard that phrase a million times since the song with those lyrics came out ~2005. There seems to be no end to the inventive ways that students find to torment each other. Though this book was set in the 1990s, many of the behaviors and problems described exist in school settings today. Students in high school are faced with academic pressure, shifting loyalties, betrayal, bullying, and other issues that so make these NOT the best days of their lives. The students in BRUTAL YOUTH come from different backgrounds and home situations that make their ability to succeed more difficult as kids compete with each other to stand out and be different while still wanting to belong to at least one group or clique. The blind eye or ignorance of what was really happening at St. Michael the Archangel was sort of unbelievable but definitely adults don't always get the real picture because students don't often confide the complete truth. A critical conversation or intervention by an observant teacher, mentor, coach or staff might have helped immensely -- I thought most of those employees should have been fired!

I originally thought this was a YA novel but I can see that it is not as I don't feel that most high school students would read between the lines for the insight that is there in the stories of the teens at SMTA school. The lack of resolution and the missing happy endings is difficult to accept because the reader, given the benefit of knowing the real inner workings of each character's mind, has definite thoughts and feelings as to how things should end. Consequences. Punishment? The level of abuse meted out to students under the watchful eyes of equally disturbed adults was horrific. I will be thinking about this book for a long time and I hope it keeps me mindful of the myriad ways in which I personally can be empathetic and helpful to the kids I interact with each day. Observant and open. Watchful and ready to step in to prevent the bullying or the "jokes" made at another's expense. Are students more vulnerable now given the impact of social media? I think everyone is potentially a target and that learning to handle it is one of the main learning experiences of the high school years, but no student should be left unprotected by the adults given the charge to keep them safe from mental and physical harm. The adults described in the book were horrible stereotypes of all the myths about Catholic school, but demonstrate how toxic an environment can be if allowed to go unchecked. I don't care what people say, any kind of "hazing" by upper classmen is inappropriate in a school community. Adults can and should model behavior that encourages students to be kind to one another and they should be vigilant to weed out and help break the cycle of "do unto others" when that means being cruel.

I'm sure I will be thinking about this novel for a long time and would love to discuss it with others. It was disturbing but pertinent. I'd recommend it.
4.5 stars Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book copy to review.


Buried Secrets (Nick Heller Series)
Buried Secrets (Nick Heller Series)
Author: Joseph Finder
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 6/27/2011
Helpful Score: 1


4.0 out of 5 stars - How deep are your secrets buried?
This book contains all the ingredients necessary for a novel to earn the right to be called a true suspense thriller: enigmatic clever hero, young damsel in distress, horribly evil bad guys, ruthless, manipulative powerful men who like to get what they want, and lots of action.

Nick Heller is called to the home of billionaire financier Marshall Marcus, an old friend of the family who had employed Nick's mom, when his 17 year old daughter Alexa doesn't come home one night. Suspecting that she has been kidnapped for ransom, Nick sets his private investigation in motion using his own employees and calling in favors from all sorts of friends from his former experiences in the military and beyond. Who has taken Alexa? Where is she being held, and what will it take to bring her home alive? Although Nick moves at breakneck speed using all his resources, he's also suspicious that Marcus is keeping secrets from him that might prevent this from being a successful rescue. Will he be able to solve the mystery and uncover the buried secrets in time?

This is the second book in the Nick Heller series (the first one -- I did not read it -- was Vanished (Nick Heller 1)) and it stands well alone. To say that this was hard to put down is an understatement. The short chapters and change in point of view keep the narrative moving forward at a very rapid pace. I really enjoyed this novel and hope there's a third one in the works. Recommend for a great summer read -- but only if you have nothing else to do until you turn the last page!


The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan, Bk 1)
The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan, Bk 1)
Author: Jane Casey
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 9/20/2011


4.0 out of 5 stars - Solid investigative police procedural

The Burning Man is the name given by the press to the killer who has attacked and beat four women to death before setting them on fire in various places in the city of London. Maeve Kerrigan, a detective constable and one of the few women on the team, is called to the scene of a fifth victim. As she begins to delve into the crime and interview friends and relatives, some questions about this particular murdered woman, Rebecca Haworth -- make Maeve wonder if Rebecca is really the victim of a copycat killer instead.

The narrative is told in the alternating voices of Louise, Rebecca's best friend, and Detective Kerrigan. Although the ending is somewhat predictable, the story is good and the characters are well developed. It's not a typical fast paced suspense thriller but more a well plotted and deliberate by the book report of the investigation into the crimes. I understand this is the debut of a new series and I will most likely look for the next one when it comes out.


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