February 25, 2017

Review: The Ulterior Motive by Jack Coleston



Product Description:
The fate of the United States hangs in the balance and only a select few can prevent the impending disaster. Stanley Carmichael is an intelligent and hard-working member of the Central Intelligence Agency. Yet, he never expected to be named Deputy Director of the CIA so soon in his career. Nonetheless, he finds himself stepping into shoes that feel impossible to fill. 

Anna Carmichael is a legend. She’s one of the fiercest ex-members of the Special Activities Division, where she saw more than enough blood and war for a lifetime. Now, she’s still CIA, but stuck behind a desk and bored. Luckily for her, it seems her fieldwork isn’t done yet. For as soon as Anna’s partnered with rookie FBI Special Agent Blayze Phillips, she realizes his investigation is a lot more dangerous than it seems—especially when it turns its attention to the mysterious Caliph al-Maqasid. 

They know that the Caliph spent the last few years successfully uniting fractured terrorist groups in the Middle East. Now he's formed the most well-funded, strategically efficient operation that’s on its way to becoming a true global caliphate. But who is the Caliph, really? Why doesn’t anyone know anything about this infinitely clever, charismatic, and terrifying man? And what, exactly, is he plotting next? 

The Carmichaels will have to work together to find out, because the Caliph is about to strike at the heart of America.

My Thoughts: 
This is definitely a "ripped from the headlines" read. It was so realistic that I got chills in some parts of the story because I swear I've seen news stories that were very similar. It makes the book that much more compelling. I only hope that someone who can pass for a real life Anna Carmichael is out there protecting is. 

The opening pages of the book begin with what actually plays out towards the ending which was a great way to keep me in suspense the entire time I was reading. I kept thinking "Who was it that Stanley saw?" and I never guessed correctly. 

The only reason I didn't rate this one a full five stars was because a few of the scenes and some of the dialogue didn't seem to flow as well as a most of the book. Otherwise this was an awesome, fast-paced thriller and the best part is that this is just the first book in a series. I can't wait for more. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend this one for anyone who loves political thrillers with real life scenarios. 


January 1, 2017

Books I've Read in 2017

Books
January

  1. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn
February
  1. The Ex by Alafair Burke
  2. The Ulterior Motive by Jack Coleston

Audiobooks
January

  1. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
  2. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
  3. Witch Is When It All Began by Adele Abbott
  4. The Circle by Dave Eggers
  5. Witch is When Life Got Complicated by Adele Abbott
  6. Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  7. Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson
February
  1. First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
  2. Big Little Liars by Liane Moriarty 
  3. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  4. Witch is When Everything Went Crazy by Adele Abbott
  5. Undead and Unforgiven by MaryJanice Davidson

Grand Total: 15


Here's what I read in previous years:
    2016
    2015
    2014
    2013
    2012
    2011
    2010
    2009
    2008

August 20, 2016

Review: Outside the Lines by Sheila Lowe




Product Description: 
What should have been a routine afternoon on the witness stand for Forensic Handwriting Expert Claudia Rose turns into a shocking assault that leaves her bruised and bloodied. Following on the heels of a series of other traumatic events, the attack sends Claudia to the brink of a breakdown. 

Her fiancĂ©, L.A.P.D. Homicide Detective Joel Jovanic, learns of the attack while leading a homicide investigation into a mailbox bomb. An innocent housekeeper in the tony Venice neighborhood is dead and the homeowner is the CEO of a major pesticide-producing corporation that has been targeted in the past. When a notebook found in a geocache near the crime scene leads to the protest group People for Safe Food, Jovanic needs Claudia to identify the handwriting of a suspected eco-terrorist. 

Though she may have recovered physically from the assault, weeks later Claudia’s fears continue to plague her. Desperate to get away, she accepts an invitation to lecture in the UK, but her trip turns into a nightmare when she runs afoul of both the FBI and New Scotland Yard. Jovanic’s homicide case has followed her to London where she finds herself unexpectedly allied with the chief suspect. 


My Thoughts:
Outside the Lines is the 6th book in the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries but it definitely stands alone. There are references to incidents in the earlier books but nothing that makes a difference in this story line.  

Forensic Handwriting Expert Claudia Rose can easily analyze a person by their handwriting. She sees what people work hard to hide. With this skill she's become a valuable part of her fiancĂ© Joel's success as a homicide detective. 

In this case, an incident that starts out as a harmless scare tactic by a group of people protesting a pesticide corporation, turns deadly when someone is accidentally killed. Now the leader of the group is on the run and asking Claudia for help. As the lead suspect he's being chased down by Joel who warns Claudia away from him but she can't help getting involved. Now tension strains Claudia and Joel's relationship as she works on figuring a way to make things work for everyone.

My Recommendation:
I really love how Sheila builds the story. Different scenarios have you thinking you can guess at what's coming next but as you read on you realize you were wrong. Through the twists, the suspense builds up to the gratifying end. I highly recommend this book, and series, to anyone who loves a good mystery with a surprise ending.    

June 23, 2016

Review: Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

Product Description:
Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the "time-travel professor," and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, INDIANA BELLE follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

My Thoughts:
Indiana Belle is book three in the American Journey Series but also stands alone if you haven't read the previous two books. The American Journey Series is also the second time travel series by the author whose previous Northwest Passage series was also about time travel.

In Indiana Belle I felt that the circumstances leading to how Cameron was able to time travel were a little far-fetched. He kind of bullied the professor into sending him back in time because of a photograph and I feel that the professor didn't handle the situation well.

Once I got past that, the story comes alive and I could clearly imagine what life was like back in 1925. That is what I love most about all of Heldt's works. I can always vividly imagine life back in the day.

I also felt a bit of suspense throughout the book because from the beginning the professor warns about messing with history. In this instance changes would actually threaten the professor's own existence.  As a result I felt a growing sense of unease because clearly Cameron was changing history and I was kept in suspense until the very end. There was also a quick peek at the future which makes me hope a future time travel book is coming soon.

Overall this was another great time travel book from an author I've come to look forward reading.

My Recommendation: 
I recommend this for anyone who loves time travel romance.


February 29, 2016

Review: The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton


Product Description:
In need of a good adventure, Delaney Nichols takes the leap and moves to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine. She doesn't know much about what she's gotten herself into, other than that the work sounds exciting, and that her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime. Edwin has promised that she'll be working with "a desk that has seen the likes of kings and queens, paupers and princes," and Delaney can't wait to get started.
When she arrives, she meets her new Scottish family; also working at the Cracked Spine are Rosie, perpetually wrapped in scarves, and who always has tiny dog Hector in tow; Hamlet, a nineteen-year-old thespian with a colored past and bright future; and Edwin, who is just as enigmatic and mysterious as Delaney expected. An unexpected bonus is Tom the bartender from across the street, with his piercing eyes, and a rolling brogue -- and it doesn't hurt that he looks awfully good in a kilt.
But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact -- a previously undiscovered First Folio of Shakespeare's plays -- goes missing, and Edwin's sister is murdered, seemingly in connection to the missing folio. Delaney decides to do some sleuthing of her own, to find out just what the real story is behind the priceless folio, and how it's connected to the tragic death, all without getting harmed herself.

My Thoughts:
From the cover, I was expecting a typical cozy mystery with an amateur sleuth chasing down the clues and eventually solving the crime. What I got was an amateur sleuth finding pretty much only one clue, asking a few questions and miraculously solving the crime. Nothing really flowed right. 

I don't buy the motivation behind Delaney leaving the US for Scotland, the club Edwin is a part of seems like it should be a bigger part of the story but doesn't amount to much, Rosie witnessing an accident and then ending up flirting with the victim doesn't tie into anything, Delaney hearing voices from the books around her is an interesting side plot but nothing is made of it and I could go on and on but it's all more of the same. 

I was hoping for a whole lot more from the book but at the end of it all I enjoyed the characters so much, I just might read the next book in the series. If it wasn't for side characters like Elias, Tom and even little Hector I wouldn't bother. I hope the storyline flows much better in the next book of the series. If the subplot isn't going to be fully flushed out, I hope Shelton leaves it out so it doesn't distract from what is enjoyable in the storyline. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend this to anyone who likes cozy mysteries with more emphasis on good characters rather than a believable plot.