June 24, 2013

Review: Exposed by Laura Griffin

Product Description:
With the click of her camera, Maddie Callahan inadvertently added herself to the hit list of a criminal mastermind the FBI’s been investigating for months. Agent Brian Beckmann is determined to protect the sexy photographer, but she may be his only lead.

As a forensic photographer, Maddie is used to seeing violence up close, but she’s never before been a target. When a freelance photo shoot goes awry, she realizes she may have seen, and perhaps photographed, the kidnapping of a key witness in a federal probe. And although her camera was stolen, Maddie has something that could be even more valuable to investigators. With the help of her colleagues at the Tracers crime lab, Maddie uncovers DNA evidence that provides a desperately needed break in the case.

Although Brian is reluctant to involve Maddie, she’s determined to help with the investigation and the two set out to track a vicious criminal known as The Doctor, whose far-reaching violence has led to multiple deaths. But as the task force gets closer to catching the deadly Doctor, Maddie is in more danger than ever.

My Thoughts:
My favorite part of reading Laura's books is how realistic they are. The investigating and crime solving always makes me think that Laura has got to be some sort of forensic investigator herself. The plot line of Exposed was something I could see playing out on my favorite TV crime show.

Another aspect I look forward to is how characters from other books in the Tracers series make cameo appearances through The Delphi Center where Maddie works.  In my opinion each book in the series is a stand alone so when I recognize characters from the other books I get a thrill thinking I know something that stand alone readers don't which adds a bit of fun to my read.

My Recommendation
I recommend Exposed and truly the whole Tracers series to anyone who loves a good romantic suspense read with believable characters and story lines. 

May 26, 2013

Review: Status Quo by Mark Rosendorf

College student Alexander Copeland worked as an assistant for astronomer Gordon Maxwell. Alex was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to join a small civilian crew and travel to outer space to investigate a mysterious wormhole presumed to have been created by an alien species. But the top-secret government division sponsoring Dr. Maxwell’s research abruptly canceled the expedition and closed down the entire project.

Seven years later, twenty-five-year-old Alex, working as a New York inner-city junior high school science teacher, is contacted by the same arrogant government project director who tells him the original space expedition has been revived. Alex is offered a seat on an advanced space shuttle christened Status Quo, set to go through the wormhole. But Alex is immediately suspicious. After seven years, why is the project suddenly on again?

Alex’s new shipmates only add to his anxiety. Sara Maxwell, gifted daughter of the late Dr. Maxwell, has spent the last seven years in a mental institution. The ship’s pilot is a teenage boy whose only flight experience is on a simulator. The pilot’s mother, also chosen as a crewmember, is supposedly psychic. The ship’s doctor is a novice who wants nothing to do with the mission. A troubled teenage girl on the brink of suicide is also accepted as part of the crew. There’s even a convicted murderer and a cat aboard. Absolutely no one chosen for this mission has any sort of astronaut training or experience. And worst of all, the project director’s agenda appears to be making sure that the ship and all aboard never return to Earth.

It’s a conspiracy that leaves these lost souls stranded in a strange galaxy with a damaged ship surrounded by threats both human and alien. Even if this group worked together and managed to survive, could they – would they – return to the uncaring world that sent them to space to die? With the alternative looking exceedingly grim, the journey of Status Quo seems doomed. Or is it?

My Thoughts:
Status Quo was quite a bit different from what I've previously read by Mark Rosendorf. Where The Rasner Effect series was full of action and adventure, Status Quo is more of a thought provoking book. But don't get me wrong, there is plenty of adventure. Most of it just happens to be through a wormhole in space.

Really and truly the storyline was way out there and super cheesy but it was pretty fun. In my opinion Status Quo is more of a YA book because of that.  What I really enjoyed is that I could clearly picture my 15 year old niece as Gilda (without the terrible home life) so I was quickly pulled into the story. 

The ending was very unexpected and I thought it really worked. It was a typical happy ending with a twist I never saw coming. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend Status Quo for both YA readers or anyone who loves sci-fi and intriguing adventures in space.  

March 3, 2013

The Office of Mercy: A Novel by Ariel Djanikian

Weaving philosophy and science together into a riveting, dystopian story of love and adventure, The Office of Mercy illuminates an all-too-real future imagined by a phenomenal new voice in fiction.

Twenty-four-year-old Natasha Wiley lives in America-Five—a high-tech, underground, utopian settlement where hunger and money do not exist, everyone has a job, and all basic needs are met. But when her mentor and colleague, Jeffrey, selects her to join a special team to venture Outside for the first time, Natasha’s allegiances to home, society, and above all to Jeffrey are tested. She is forced to make a choice that may put the people she loves most in grave danger and change the world as she knows it.

The Office of Mercy is speculative fiction at its best with a deeply imagined, lush world, high-stakes adventure, and romance that will thrill fans of Suzanne Collins, Margaret Atwood, Justin Cronin, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

My Thoughts: 
From the opening pages I was very disappointed with The Office of Mercy. Okay, scratch that. The prologue was great and showed lots of promise but Chapter 1 brought that to a screeching halt. The book was off and running with absolutely no backstory and it took me quite a few chapters to finally understand what their world was like and what what going on. 

Natasha lives in America Five, an underground compound settled by the Alphas. While working for the Office of Mercy Natasha gets an opportunity to go on a mission outside the compound. When she does her eyes are opened to a whole new world and she begins to re-think everything she has learned. It really just seems too forced and the turn of Natasha and Jeffrey's relationship is completely awkward. 

Incidents would arise and I would think, "This sounds interesting. Let's see what becomes of it." and pfft... the plot line fizzled. Overall it was just too predictable and I really couldn't connect with any of the characters.

My Recommendation: 
I really don't feel like I can recommend this one to adult readers but if you love YA dystopian novels (even though this book isn't billed as YA) this might be an enjoyable read for you.

January 19, 2013

Review: Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

A family secret is revealed during an ill-fated--yet hilarious--trip to Disney World. Sixteen-year-old Hannah Sampson knows her family is not what you would call normal. Her father compulsively buys dented cans and has a particular fondness for cans without labels, which are extremely discounted because their contents are a mystery. Her mother takes countless pictures of her family and then glues them down into the pages of her scrapbooks, but does not allow anyone to look at them. Ryan, Hannah's mischievous fourteen-year-old brother, is headed straight for the remedial track at the local community college, if he’s lucky. Ben, her eight-year-old brother, is a walking sound effects machine, who prefers to communicate with noises rather than words. While Hannah is focused on escaping her working-class Connecticut suburb, she also finds herself being tugged back home as she worries about her brother Ben. Hannah’s parents inflict one last family vacation on the Sampson children, a trip that goes comically wrong almost from the get-go. Hannah is forced to confront her family's past in Disney World, of all places, when an emotional argument prompts her parents to disclose a secret they have been keeping from the children for sixteen years. Ultimately, she must decide whether to leave her hometown and not look back, or to focus on helping her family.

My Thoughts:

Dented Cans was a quick and easy read but I wanted more to happen. The blurb refers to a big family secret that gets revealed during a miserable vacation to Disney World but that doesn't happen until the end of the book. The rest of the story just kind of breezed by with nothing to engage me. I think just about everyone I know can claim a dysfunctional family but the Sampsons really do have family drama and I think more could have been done earlier in the book to show why Hannah can't wait to get out of her small town.

Also there were little hints of more drama that never got fleshed out. I was left wondering about why her parents were so secretive about where they met. Why was Aunt Lydia staring at Ben so sadly. What really happened to cousin Eddie and where is he now? Why doesn't her Mom let anyone see the scrapbooks? Was something really wrong with Ben or are the sounds his way of coping? Overall this was a pretty good read but I feel it could have been so much more. 

My Recommendation:

I recommend this one for anyone who loves dysfunctional family drama. 

January 16, 2013

Review: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.

Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.

My Thoughts:
I really wanted to love The Aviator's Wife but sadly the book fell very short of my expectations. Historical fiction has just recently become a genre that I've fallen in love with and when its fiction including a well known historical figure I thought I would enjoy this read. There was not one single thing about Anne that captured my attention. I kept waiting for more and more to happen but the whole story was  flat lined. Nothing about her courtship, subsequent life with Lindbergh or raising her children was interesting to me. Even when her first born son was kidnapped I felt no connection with Anne or any of the characters.

The one interesting thread in the book is just a few lines of spark hinted at when the book is set in Hawaii in 1974 but even that could have been expanded on. I was more interested in the Wikipedia version of that incident than Ms. Benjamin's.

My Recommendation:
It's hard for me to say who might like this one. Reader's who gave this a 5 start rating love that the book gave Anne a voice instead of just being an Ambassador's daughter or a great aviator's wife so maybe this is a must read if you enjoy reading about striving to make your own mark in life.

January 7, 2013

Review: Sinkhole by Deborah Jackson

Kat Delaney is a world class caver and microbiologist. While investigating one of the deepest caves on Earth, she becomes trapped, along with her team of fellow cavers and scientists. Far below the ruins of a Mayan city, they struggle to escape this mysterious cave, reportedly cursed and haunted by the Lords of Death. Kat’s husband, Mark, a doctor and pioneer of nanotechnology with a deep-rooted fear of caves, must try to rescue her. He enlists the help of a Mayan guide, who turns out to have revolutionary ambitions.

Kat must keep her unravelling team together when they discover that something as threatening as the Lords of Death lurks within the cave. Mark must choose between trusting a guide who is patently untrustworthy, or leaving Kat to die. Will they escape? Will science be the solution? Or will it simply affirm their sentence as the Lords of Death win once again?

My Thoughts:
Sinkhole is a book that I can easily see turned into a movie. It has action, suspense, drama and real characters. Each one of the characters in the story had their own reasons for putting themselves in danger by exploring the caves. Their backstories are written with enough detail that you become engaged with them, even the "bad guys", but not so much as to go over-the-top.

The plot is very well done but I do have to say that the reason Mark goes after Kat is just a little to far fetched. That is the only reason why I didn't give the book 5 stars. It seems to me that Mark could have found someone to search for Kat if he would have kept looking but he took it upon himself to search for her even though he is deathly afraid of caves. It just seems to me that with his money and resources it would have been easy to send a search team in.

Overall I enjoyed Sinkhole as much as Ice Tomb (read my review) and look forward to reading more by Jackson.

I recommend this one for anyone who loves suspense thrillers with a sprinkling of sci-fi.

January 3, 2013

Books I've read in 2013

My grand total for 2012 was 113 books which is up from 58 books in 2011. This includes standard books, ebooks and audio books. This year I'm going to track my audio books separately and when I review a book I'll also link it here.


  1. Sink Hole by Deborah Jackson
  2. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
  3. Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

  1. Nightingale by Jennifer Estep

  1. The Office of Mercy: A Novel by Ariel Djanikian
  2. 'Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy by Leslie Langtry
  3. The Show by John A. Heldt

  1. Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
  2. Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles

  1. Status Quo by Mark Rosendorf
  2. Exposed by Laura Griffin
  3. The Tudor Plot by Steve Berry

  1. World War Z by Max Brooks
  2. Real Vampires Know Hips Happen by Gerry Bartlett
  1. Snipped in the Bud by Kate Collins
  2. Huge: A Novel by James W. Fuerst
  1. The Catastrophic History of You And Me by Jess Rothenberg
  2. Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
  3. The Accidental Human by Dakota Cassidy
  1. Monster by A. Lee Martinez
  2. Must Love Black by Kelly McClymer
  1. American Savior by Roland Merullo
  2. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  3. Good Money Gone by Richard Kilborn and Mario Acevedo
  1. The Secret Life of Copernicus H. Stringfellow by Lorin Barber
  2. Murder at the Academy Awards by Joan Rivers and Jerrilyn Farmer
  3. Saucer by Stephen Coonts
  1. Spirits of Christmas by Nicky Wells
  2. Extinction Point by Paul Antony Jones
  3. A Job From Hell by Jayde Scott
  4. Kiss of Venom by Jennifer Estep
  5. Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep
  6. Spider by Jennifer Estep

  1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  2. The Admiral's Mark by Steve Berry
  3. Red by Ted Dekker

  1. Opal Fire by Barbra Annino
  2. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
  3. White by Ted Dekker
  4. Man in the Dark by Paul Auster

  1. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  2. Reached by Allie Condie
  3. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  4. Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb
  5. Stay Close by Harlan Coben

  1. Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
  2. Private Berlin by James Patterson
  3. Six Years by Harlan Coben
  4. D.C. Dead by Stuart Woods
  1. Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep
  2. Unnatural Acts by Stuart Woods
  3. Severe Clear by Stuart Woods
  4. The Hit by David Baldacci
  5. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
  1. Collateral Damage by Stuart Woods
  2. Inferno by Dan Brown
  3. If Not for the Dawn by Dane St. John
  1. Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie
  2. My Life as A White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
  3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  4. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  5. Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland
  6. Horns by Joe Hill
  1. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  2. Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep
  3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  4. White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland
  5. Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
  1. The Kings Deception by Steve Berry
  2. The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
  3. The Balkan Escape by Steve Berry
  4. The Devil's Gold by Steve Berry
  1. The Bat by Jo Nesbo
  2. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  3. Daemon by Daniel Suarez
  1. Freedom (TM) by Daniel Suarez
  2. Brethren by John Grisham
  3. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
  1. Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich
  2. Private by James Patterson
  3. W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
  4. Thankless in Death by J. D. Robb
  5. The Forgotten by David Baldacci
  6. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Grand Total for 2013 - 84

Here's what I read in previous years: