I am always happy to read a book by Mark Chisnell, so I was thrilled when he requested a read/review of Powder Burn.
I'm going to appoint Chisnell the...moreI am always happy to read a book by Mark Chisnell, so I was thrilled when he requested a read/review of Powder Burn.
I'm going to appoint Chisnell the Thriller King. When I pick up one of his books, I expect a taut, well-written, can't-put-it-down thriller with unexpected twists and turns and I'm never disappointed.
Powder Burn is another home run hit in the thriller category. It features Samantha (Sam) Blackett, and I'm happy to find this is only the first of a series featuring Sam. She's gutsy, broke, and willing to go on an adventure with a good-looking Brit and his companions, mostly so she doesn't have to go back to her mother and admit defeat. Aside from the part where she's hiking off into high altitudes of the Himalayans with strangers part, I can relate. :-) It turns out, everyone on this trip is keeping some secrets. Pete Halland (the handsome Brit) and his friends don't tell her they're on their way to find the legendary Powder Burn to document a snowboarder's dream ride down a flawless chute. What they don't tell Sam is that this ride will take them illegally into the mystical and mysterious country of Shibde. They're counting on Sam's writeup for National Geographic to catapult the film and its participants into fame and fortune. What Sam doesn't tell them is she's only had one article published, in a small regional magazine where her mother works, and has a snowball's chance in hell of getting a story accepted by National Geographic.
While they planned on having to quietly sneak across the border of Shibde to access the legendary Powder Burn, they didn't plan on meeting a revolutionary and his apparently magical sword. What follows is classic Chisnell, a tight buildup of tension as the roller coaster chugs its way to the top of the mountain, unexpected twists and turns, then a long, gut-wrenching drop to the finish. The epilogue is the revealing photo finish.
I don't know what this book's pricing is going to be, but whatever it is - it'll be worth it! Watch for it on April 3rd, then get ready for a great thrill of a read.
Updated (April 1, 2013): This book is now available at Amazon. For only $0.99, it's a steal.(less)
I had read and reviewedSea of Crises, which I loved, so I was anticipating another good read when the author asked me to read and reviewDefiant Heart....moreI had read and reviewed Sea of Crises, which I loved, so I was anticipating another good read when the author asked me to read and review Defiant Heart.
Don't pick up this book and expect one anything like Sea of Crises. The only thing the two have in common is the author. Which isn't a bad thing because that means you're going to get to read first-rate storytelling. Like Sea of Crises, this book is well written and well told.
I fell in love with Jonathan Meyer, Mary Dahlgren, Walt, Ben, and the small town in Indiana where most of this story takes place. My heart broke for Jon, whose entire family is killed in a car accident, leaving him to travel alone to his new home with his grandmother, whom he has never met. He is greeted by her instruction to call her ma'am - not Grandmother, and this sets the tone for their relationship. Jon finds his grandmother isn't the only one in town with a cold shoulder. Before long, he's ostracized at school and loses his job at Dahlgren Hardware, because he's Jewish. As his grandmother warms to him (like a glacier warming), she gives him an old bicycle to fix up and Jon assuages his loneliness by riding far and wide through the surrounding countryside. In this way, he meets Ben, who becomes like a father to him. But he continues to run crossways with the bullies at school, even while falling in love with Mary Dahlgren.
I could go on and on about the story, but you can read the book. I can tell you I couldn't put it down. I laughed, I cried and I sighed. I loved every minute of it, and it's not the genre I generally prefer to read. It's one of those books that present a conundrum: I couldn't stop reading, couldn't get enough of the story, even though I knew I'd feel the pang of loss when I did reach the end. And don't ask me which book I prefer, Defiant Heart or Sea of Crises - it's like asking if I like filet mignon better than homemade cinnamon rolls. They're both excellent, but can't be compared to each other.
I'll definitely be adding Marty Steere to my list of favorite authors to watch. I can highly recommend watching for this book's publication on April 15th so you can grab it and immerse yourself in the life of Jon and Mary for a few hours.(less)
I'm always happy to read and review one of Ed James' Scott Cullen mysteries. I confess the title of Ghost in the Machine kind of threw me for a loop a...moreI'm always happy to read and review one of Ed James' Scott Cullen mysteries. I confess the title of Ghost in the Machine kind of threw me for a loop and I wondered WTH I was getting in for. I almost turned him down. Once I started reading, the title no longer mattered and I was glad to be introduced to this series. I also confess that when Ed asked if I would review Fire in the Blood and sent it along to me, I dropped all the other books on my list in favor of reading this one first. Once I find an author I like, I will read everything they write and now Ed's on that list. Frankly, I was relieved to pick up a book I actually knew I'd like before I even started reading it.
Writing a series allows an author to really develop characters and setting; if the job is done right, reading a book in a good series will be like curling up on your sofa with a bunch of old friends, ready for the next adventure. I like series and I really like this series.
When I read a murder mystery, a lot of the fun (for me) is to try and guess who the killer is before it's revealed and I give high points if I can't guess. This one had me as baffled throughout as the previous two - which is, of course, the whole point. It helps that the characters are familiar, because there's a lot going on. The author continues to add depth to Cullen while fleshing out the story with secondary and minor characters.
What better place to hide a body than in a whiskey barrel that nobody's going to open for years? Scott Cullen has a lot on his plate with this case, including his usual conflicts with Bain and pending changes in the police department. To further confuse things, two young men who could fit the description of the body disappeared at approximately the same time as the barrel was sealed. By the time the body is finally conclusively identified, Cullen's list of possible suspects is getting rather lengthy. Cullen's running a marathon to solve the case while taking flack from Bain. By the time I was 30% into the book, I could hardly put it down, and the ending had me biting my nails.
If you haven't read the other books in this series, you should - not because this book can't stand alone, but because you're missing out on a good read. Or - read this book and you'll go back and read the other two.(less)
I was asked by the author to review this book and received a free copy of the book in exchange.
I really had a difficult time deciding whether to rate...moreI was asked by the author to review this book and received a free copy of the book in exchange.
I really had a difficult time deciding whether to rate this book 2/5 or 3/5 and finally went with the lower rating because although the story line is promising, it ultimately falls flat. I had a difficult time reading it all the way to the finish.
My biggest problem with this book is the writing. It is not well written and the readability of the story is negatively impacted. The most prevalent problem is the confusing use of pronoun. Here's a good example:
"In one lightning fast move, Nick whipped his arm upwards at the exposed flesh. Broken glass ripped through his skin, slicing tendon and muscle on impact. The improvised blade cleanly severed his carotid artery."
I read that and wondered if Nick had killed himself. Well, of course he didn't! But that's how it reads. The confusing use of pronouns is commonplace throughout the entire book.
I also had a problem with the entire story line. I didn't find Vogel's motive for suppressing the historical foundation of his wealth believable, or the lengths he was willing to go to in order to keep it a secret. And if it was so important, why didn't Vogel, his group and/or his ancestors just hunt down the information themselves and get rid of it, instead of just killing anyone who showed any sign of stumbling on it? They certainly had the financial resources, and it would've been cleaner. I just wasn't buying the motive, which was the basis for the entire story.
The characters also felt one dimensional to me. I never really connected with any of them and by the time they end up in a shoot-out at Mount Vernon, I really didn't care much.
As a result of all the above, the story never reached the "thriller" level for me. I didn't stay up late, turning pages and fighting to stay awake because I couldn't wait to see what happened. I find it difficult to really immerse myself in a book when I'm constantly having to re-read sentences and paragraphs to make sense of the writing.
I really can't recommend this book. The writing makes it too difficult to read and it falls flat in almost every respect.(less)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Honestly, I couldn't finish it. I rate most books I can't finish as 1; I gave thi...moreI received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Honestly, I couldn't finish it. I rate most books I can't finish as 1; I gave this a 2 because I read 50% of it before giving up. I kept waiting for it to get better, and it didn't.
I found the story disjointed and the storytelling confusing. The story skims the surface, resulting in a shallow story that's difficult to get into, and shallow characters that are difficult to connect with. When the only character I found even somewhat interesting is killed and I didn't gasp in surprise, I knew I needed to just give up on this book. The numerous grammatical and spelling errors were an annoying additional distraction.
In my opinion, the racial stereotypes and sexist depiction of women only added to the shallow characterizations. I don't know if that's the author's idea of "tough talk," or if that's what the author thinks makes the book more male-oriented (do men really want to read this kind of thing?), but I didn't feel it added anything to the story or the characters. I'm not offended by it, mostly because I'm not easily offended, but I do feel it's a lazy path to take, and not necessarily the best one. I was amused that the author threw former Soviet Union tough guys into the mix with radical Muslims, since radical Muslims have replaced Soviet spies in thriller novels since 9-11. It wasn't enough to keep me reading, however.
I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
This story has an unlikely character in the darkness. It creeps, reaches out...moreI was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
This story has an unlikely character in the darkness. It creeps, reaches out, smirks and giggles as it tries to overcome Maggie and drag her back down into its depths. It becomes the lead character in the psychological warfare that has become Maggie Quinn's life.
A once-brilliant detective in Chicago's Area One, Maggie succumbed to the darkness after the death of her only child and only the chase to find a serial killer motivates her to resist its advances.
This is a noir thriller with great depth of character. There's broken Maggie, struggling to come back to life and finally put a face on the killer that haunts her dreams. There's her father, who showed his loyalty to The Outfit by taking a fall that landed him in prison for life, where his loyalty is rewarded with influence. There's Rayney, who understands Maggie like nobody else and knows he needs to be strong if she's going to come back from the pit of darkness. There's Nick Dublowski, newly made detective, who has a lot to learn and finds his best mentor in the broken Maggie. There's a killer, playing games with Maggie and her already screwed up head, but Maggie gives as good as she gets as she pulls away from the darkness to strike back.
I was on the edge of my seat. I was totally confused and I loved it. Was Maggie right about the killer? Who would win the war? Could Maggie hold herself together and push back the darkness long enough to solve it? I even gasped in surprise a couple of times.
By the time I finished, I felt washed in Maggie's darkness. There's no real redemption in this story, but that's okay; nobody is looking for redemption. I felt I knew Maggie as much as anybody could know her, and I felt her pain.
Sink into the darkness with Maggie. It's an uncomfortable place to be, but I couldn't put it down.(less)
The author sent me a free copy of this book and requested a review.
This book starts out strong and never lets up. Jubal Dark, sheriff of Francine Coun...moreThe author sent me a free copy of this book and requested a review.
This book starts out strong and never lets up. Jubal Dark, sheriff of Francine County, Texas, is one of the best characters I've read in some time, and Carl Alvin Spence, an escaped convict, and Buck Nevin, a Texas Ranger, are first-rate counterparts. Added to the great characters is the compelling landscape, as the chase for Spence takes the reader through the back roads of rural Texas. As I read the book, I felt like I was in familiar country with people I knew. I'd love to see more Jubal Dark stories.
Jubal Dark is a compelling but simple man. He misses his wife, Annabelle, who has been dead for four years. For two years, he has been haunted by his failure to find the killer of a local woman, Carol Railsback. He's getting old and fat. He's up for re-election and his nemesis, Buck Nevin, has convinced a Houston homicide detective to run against him. Jubal wants to keep his job as sheriff, but maybe there's something inside him that believes he doesn't deserve it because he hasn't found Carol Railback's killer. And then Spence inserts himself into the mix. Sheriff Dark was the man who originally brought Spence to justice, and four years later, escaped from prison, Spence is out for revenge before he heads off to Mexico. With his two accomplices, Spence breaks into Dark's house - and finds only his dog. And you know what happens in Texas when you kill a man's dog. Killing the dog is only the beginning of the bloody trail left behind by this trio. Spence and his fellow escapees move on, stopping at the home of a local man, his wife and two children, then killing them all before moving on. Spence makes sure the killing happens in Sheriff Dark's county, just in case Dark doesn't already know what Spence thinks of him.
Jubal Dark now has a burning passion for justice and he intends to get his man, in spite of Buck Nevin, jurisdictional issues, or his re-election against a candidate who says he's too fat, too old, and too old-fashioned to stay in office. Jubal doesn't have time to campaign; as far as he's concerned, catching Spence is his campaign. And if he can solve the case of Carol Railsback, he can retire satisfied that he did his job. This is a fantastic story, and the author tells it well. Go grab this book and join Jubal Dark as he tears up Texas!(less)
I was asked by the author to read/review this title and was provided a free Kindle copy.
This book is too painfully awful to read and I didn't finish i...moreI was asked by the author to read/review this title and was provided a free Kindle copy.
This book is too painfully awful to read and I didn't finish it. When I say it's over-punctuated, I mean it's REALLY over-punctuated. The misplaced commas make it difficult to follow the story. It's as if the author isn't quite sure how to use commas, so he just inserts them randomly. The dialogue is stilted and comes off like a couple of bad actors - for whom English is a second language - sitting and reading a badly written script. The dialogue of Alex Hollick's phone call to a suicide hotline was so painful, I was almost hoping he'd kill himself and end the torture. Unfortunately, since that was only 3% into the book, I knew it wasn't likely to happen unless the bloodbath ritual was one that raised Hollick from the dead.
The book starts with long and detailed descriptions of each character involved in the first scene. It was a complete character rundown: here's what this guy looks like and where he comes from. There was no effort to weave the character description and background into the story. That's when I first started checking to see if I'd read enough to say I'd given it a good effort.
I didn't make it through even 10% of this mess. I realize this is the author's first book; he needs a really REALLY good editor and a brutally honest beta reader group. This book should never have been published in its present state. Don't waste your money.(less)
I was asked by the author to review this book and received a free copy in exchange.
This is a gripping story that combines several elements. It's not j...moreI was asked by the author to review this book and received a free copy in exchange.
This is a gripping story that combines several elements. It's not just a murder mystery. In fact, the who/why/where surrounding the burned body of a little girl takes a second seat to the death sentence and the legal maneuvering to try and save George Calhoun.
The execution of George Calhoun, convicted of murdering his daughter, will take place in 6 weeks. Dani Trumball, an attorney at the Help Innocent Prisoners Project (HIPP) believes he's innocent and she has to race against the clock to find a way to prove it before all his chances are gone. George's conviction rests on the discovery of the burned body of a little girl, believed to be the Calhoun's daughter, who has disappeared, and his wife's insistence that George killed their daughter. George insists the remains are not those of his daughter, but he refuses to say what actually happened to her.
This race against time is an obstacle course; or rather, a minefield. For one thing, the case is 17 years old. Even without red tape and people who don't have the same sense of urgency as the HIPP team, it's difficult to investigate a case that old. People have died or moved away, memories aren't as sharp as they used to be. I had a difficult time putting it down.
My only criticism is the amount of time spent on things the reader doesn't really need to know and that didn't move the story forward. There's a fair number of words spent of travel and food details I felt were unnecessary. I think the story would have moved faster without them, but overall it didn't detract that much from my enjoyment. I was still eager to find out how the story ended and I just blew over those parts.
This book will keep you reading and make you think. It's a great deal for the price.(less)
I read this book at the request of the author and received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I have previously read and reviewed Ol...moreI read this book at the request of the author and received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I have previously read and reviewed Olives, the first book in this series.
Beirut is a thriller that centers around the Middle East. Michel Freij, a powerful Lebanese billionaire is running for the office of president, with his central platform being the claim that he will unify the many factions in Lebanon. He and British intelligence agent Gerald Lynch are set on a collision course in Olives, and the conflict continues as Lynch and a community of European intelligence agents seek to keep Cold War nuclear warheads from ending up in Freij's hands. Freij, however, is a skilled adversary and he takes the intelligence community on a twisting, turning chase as he executes one slight of hand after another in order to obtain his prize.
There are a couple things I really liked about this book. I enjoyed Olives immensely, so I was happy to see Beirut picks up almost immediately where Olives ended. I also like that this book delves deeper into the character of Gerald Lynch. The best part is the author has done an amazing job of weaving together all the pieces to keep the reader guessing - and the location of the nuclear warheads and what Freij plans on doing with them isn't the only question. Every time I thought I had at least part of the plot figured out, another faction slid in under the radar, surprising me (and Lynch as well, on occasion).
I was fully engaged in this story from start to explosive finish and only wish I had more hours to sit and read - I would've finished it in a one day if I'd had the time to spare. This one goes on my recommended list, along with the recommendation that you watch for the next book in the series. (less)
I was asked by the author to read/review this book and received a copy of the book in exchange.
This is a well-written book and the characterization, e...moreI was asked by the author to read/review this book and received a copy of the book in exchange.
This is a well-written book and the characterization, especially Ray, is compelling. From the minute Jude St. Onge encounters Ray, I was fascinated by Ray, his actions and his motivations. He's like an archangel gone off course, bringing mercy, redemption and fiery justice all at once.
This book is not for the faint of heart, however. It's raw, and at times very violent. The story wouldn't ring true otherwise; the author solemnly shows the reader that people like Swallow exist and they do things most of us don't even want to think about.
The story is well paced and moves at a fairly good clip through the events, giving the reader the opportunity to take a good look at the window into the lives of the characters and the events as they unfold. It wasn't a can't-put-it-down read for me, but I also wanted to keep reading, and I was surprised when I realized I was almost done.
I have to say something about this cover. It's the only thing about the book that's really ugly; try not to judge the book by it. Maybe the author means for it to be ugly, because it's kind of an ugly story he's telling. Overlook it - the writing is better than the amateurish cover.
I finished the book hoping that Ray actually will be able to take Edward fishing in the summer. If you really like a raw, edgy story that's character driven, then I can absolutely recommend this book.(less)
I was given a free e-book in exchange for an honest review.
I gave up on this book almost one-third of the way through. It's badly written and predicta...moreI was given a free e-book in exchange for an honest review.
I gave up on this book almost one-third of the way through. It's badly written and predictable.
The story is a well-known one: somewhat desperate and decidedly ambitious young man puts away his moral compass and sells his soul to the devil(s); in this case, a trio of rich white men looking to get richer while letting the young man take the fall. I was looking for some twist that would indicate this wasn't the same tired and predictable story that's already been told numerous times. I kept waiting for the thrill ride referenced by other reviewers. When a character referred to as a red head [sic] early in the story was later described as having long brown hair, I started to lose patience with the sloppy storytelling and the absolutely awful grammar and punctuation.
Don't waste your money on this book. This story has been told many times and by better writers.(less)
I was asked by the author to review this book and received a free copy of the book in exchange.
When I agreed to review this book, I kind of wondered w...moreI was asked by the author to review this book and received a free copy of the book in exchange.
When I agreed to review this book, I kind of wondered where the author was going with it. Would it be a sequel? A prequel? Would it have some of the same characters as The Mine ? Interestingly, none of the above. Although the theme is similar, this is a completely different story than The Mine.
It's similar in that the main character, Michelle "Shelly" Preston is thrown back in time. It's different in that this time, the character encounters the younger version of herself. She gets to view her life through the lens of an experienced adult who actually lived it - and wishes things could have been different.
It raises the question of whether we would change our lives if we could. Can Shelly influence her younger self and point her in a different direction - and should she?
I enjoyed the book. It's well written and well paced, and with an ending that really surprised me. (No spoilers!)(less)
I quit after slogging through 20% of the book. Aside from the grammatical errors, I couldn't stand Deacon Bishop. The author is apparently shooting fo...moreI quit after slogging through 20% of the book. Aside from the grammatical errors, I couldn't stand Deacon Bishop. The author is apparently shooting for old-time gumshoe, but it comes off as a parody, and a bad one at that. (less)
I received a free copy of this book and a request for a review.
I had a really difficult time deciding how to rate this book because this is not the ty...moreI received a free copy of this book and a request for a review.
I had a really difficult time deciding how to rate this book because this is not the type of book I would normally read and I didn't want that to negatively impact the rating. It's well written. The story is well told.
That said, this is the weirdest story I've read in a very long time. I don't really care much for weird stories. And yet... I realized that while I was trying to figure out whether or not I'd finish the book, and whether I'd review it or send the author an e-mail and say I wasn't going to review it because it's not my cup of tea, I couldn't put it down. On the other hand, I skimmed over a lot of it. Just because I want to find out what happens doesn't mean I want to spend time reading the details of the weirdness.
If you want a Hunter S. Thompson-esque romp through the apocalypse, you'll probably love this story. If you just like weirdness, you'll love this story. Just don't take lightly every reviewer's use of the term "weird" when referring to this story!(less)
I previously read and reviewed the first book in the Scott Cullen series, Ghost in the Machine, and happily...moreI was given a copy of this book for review.
I previously read and reviewed the first book in the Scott Cullen series, Ghost in the Machine, and happily fell back into DC Cullen's world at Lothian and Borders.
This time, DC Cullen is called to investigate the disappearance and subsequent murder of a 13-year-old girl. At the same time, he's dealing with the emotional fallout of his partner being killed and the part he feels he played in his death, a new relationship, all while navigating the minefield created by his boss with the local police force.
Ed James does an excellent job of crafting a story, keeping the reader guessing right up to the end. In this story, the reader gets deeper insight into DC Cullen. He's not flashy, he doesn't blow the bad guys into oblivion, but he exudes a quiet strength while dealing with his very human inner conflicts. As the story twists and turns, DC Cullen doggedly pursues the truth while facing down DI Bain's propensity for finding a culprit around whom he can fit the evidence (sometimes with a great deal of creativity).
I felt the one major flaw in the story is it doesn't really go into why people who are educated, hold professional jobs and are quite well-to-do would so completely buy into the cult created by Father Mulgrew. That said, the religious aspect of this story adds depth and interest, as well as the opportunity for more red herrings and twists in the story. It's a flaw that can be overlooked and didn't lessen my enjoyment of the read.
I definitely recommend this series if you like police procedurals. At $3.99 for the Kindle version, this book is a steal.(less)
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
This is a pleasant story about four women who met the first day in kindergarten and nearly 60...moreI received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
This is a pleasant story about four women who met the first day in kindergarten and nearly 60 years later still meet once a week to play mah jongg and catch up their lives. It's about how things change and how things stay the same and how you're never too old to "come of age."
This is a well-written, light read with interesting characters. Readers will probably recognize at least one person they know in the personalities of these women and the people in their lives.
I like that it's written about "women of a certain age," which isn't often seen in chick lit. I especially relate because I'm getting to "that age!"
I don't often read chick lit but I enjoyed this book and think most women, especially those of us past middle age, will also like it.(less)