Tag Archives: suspense

Book Review: Rise of Chaos by Griffin Smith

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More 3.5 stars, this season starts out in what appears to be a typical story line for a zombie novel but quickly turns into a unique story of survival.

If I could sum this season up in one word it would be “exciting”. It’s action packed from beginning to end and has all the elements that make a zombie story so much fun. The protagonists are going from one disaster to the next with barely any down time which made this book a breeze to get through.

The unique storyline, pitting world powers against each other, made for an entertaining and well thought out novel. The introduction of “super” zombies was a great addition.

What would have made this story even better for me would have been more character development. I didn’t have any feelings one way or the other for any of the group characters. Their interactions seemed forced and they often said things that seemed off base, especially the main female character. She wasn’t relatable at all. However, the military interaction and dialog was dead on. I actually liked those parts a lot more than I thought I would.

If you’re a zombie fan, this is one worth adding to your TBR list.

I want to thank Griffin Smith for providing me a copy of this book for review – I’m looking forward to what you have in store next!

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Book Review: The Specimen by Martha Lea

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From Goodreads:
The year is 1866. Edward Scales is a businessman, a butterfly collector, a respectable man. He is the man Gwen Carrick fell in love with seven years before. Now he is dead and Gwen is on trial for his murder.

From country house drawing rooms to the rainforests of Brazil, The Specimen explores the price one independent young woman might pay for wanting an unorthodox life.

Set in a Victorian world battling between the forces of spiritualism and Darwinism, polite society and the call of clandestine love, Gwen and Edward’s tale is a gripping melodrama, a romance and a murder mystery that will compel readers to its final thrilling page.

A sweeping drama with a Victorian backdrop, The Specimen is a book worth examining.

The Specimen has so many interesting characters. Gwen and Effie, two sister who are the complete opposite of one another become the bane of each others existence. Mr. Scales, the womanizing doctor, betrays his wife with various affairs that help to weave a web of deceit. All three are tangled together into a drama that ultimately leads to murder.

The chapters alternate between the present year, 1866, which finds Gwen on trial for the murder of Mr. Scales, and the past, the years leading up to the murder itself.

Gwen and Effie have inherited their father’s estate in Cornwall. Being polar opposites, their relationship is anything but smooth. Gwen seizes the opportunity for escape when she falls in love with Edward Scales and is invited along to Brazil as an assistant helping Edward collect and catalog specimens.

Gwen soon finds that the man she fell in love with during those fleeting moments of lust repulses her in the light of day. She endures the journey, through all sorts of conditions, only to find that she has been betrayed beyond anything she could ever have imagined.

There are many twists and turns in this murder mystery. The author allows the reader to come to some their own conclusions and doesn’t feel the need to bog us down with details but allows our imagination to fill in some of the plot. I really liked this style of writing. Some pieces of the puzzle were given out of order, which at first made me feel like I must have missed something. But, smartly, the answer becomes known later in the story.

Martha Lea has created such a wonderful Victorian setting for this book, making a unique reading experience. The changes in locale made the story interesting and reflected what was transpiring among the characters. I was surprised to find a little humor and had to laugh at some of the quips made by some of the minor characters.

If you enjoy unconventional murder mystery that makes you think outside the box like The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax or Mistress of the Art of Death, you’ll enjoy this book.

This book was provided for review by Netgally.

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Book Review: Gone Missing by Linda Castillo

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From Goodreads:
Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.

A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for the presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.

Kate and state agent, John Tomasetti, delve into the lives of the missing teen and discover links to cold cases that may go back years. But will Kate piece together all the parts of this sinister puzzle in time to save the missing teen and the Amish community from a devastating fate? Or will she find herself locked in a fight to the death with a merciless killer?

This is another great installment to Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series. As with the other books in the series, this was really hard to put down.

Kate is an ex-amish Ohio police chief who’s had to solve quite a few Amish related murder mysteries since taking her post in the small community of Painter’s Mill. Make no mistake, these aren’t the sentimental Amish books reserved for the Christian lit genre. The murder’s are brutal, the mysteries and character’s more complex and the action doesn’t stop.

Kate is one of my all time favorite book characters. She’s strong, smart and doesn’t try to be something she’s not. Once she’s on the case, there’s no stopping her (sleeping, eating, living be damned) until she solved the mystery and the killer has been found. Her relationship with John Tomasetti is a big draw to this series as well. Both flawed with wounds from the past still fresh, they find solace in each other to get though past and present situations.

In this book, Amish teens are going missing creating a widespread puzzle to solve. As always, Kate has to face her own fears to save others and it makes for a nonstop action packed story. There’s no lull, no rest for Kate and John and no rest for the reader because you won’t be able to put it down. This one offer’s a surprise ending too! Icing on the cake!

You don’t have to read these in order either. Each makes a great stand alone story. I actually read #2 first than #1 before returning to #3.

If you’re a murder mystery and suspense fan and like authors such as Tami Hoag, I urge you to give this one a try. You won’t regret it!

On a side note, I tried to watch the made for TV movie modeled after book 1, but quickly lost interest. It just didn’t do the book justice.

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Short Stories/Short Reviews:The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner and The B-Team by John Scalzi

Both of these short titles were offered free for members by Audible.com. I love when they offer these freebies. It’s a great way to try a new author or a genre you don’t normally read without having to commit $$ or a large chunk of time.

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The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner

From Goodreads:
In her seventh month of pregnancy, D.D. should be taking it easy. Instead, she accepts a small consulting role on the set of a serial killer film shooting in Boston. D.D. figures she’ll be useful to someone for at least one night, serving as a police expert and making a little extra money in the bargain.

It seems like a simple task—until the previous film consultant, a former Boston cop, is found beaten to death. Suddenly D.D.’s date with Hollywood gets serious. Extremely pregnant, on the trail of a killer, and surrounded by a hundred and four murder suspects in the middle of a graveyard, D.D. must quickly unravel a tangled web of lies. As another cast member is attacked, D.D. realizes that like it or not, her priorities have changed—and her last desperate hope is that she can catch a killer before she and her unborn baby face mortal danger.

This was my first Lisa Gardner story and I really loved D.D. She’s funny, independent and says what she thinks. This is number 5.5 in this series but I had no problem keeping up with this mini murder mystery. I love that the author could get enough of D.D.’s past across to make the story make sense without having to go into elaborate details that would have dragged the story down. It did what it was supposed to do; get you to read the series. It’s inspired me to add this series to my TBR list.

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The B-Team by John Scalzi

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From Goodreads:
The opening episode of The Human Division, John Scalzi’s new thirteen-episode novel in the world of his bestselling Old Man’s War. Beginning on January 15, 2013, a new episode of The Human Division will appear in e-book form every Tuesday. Colonial Union Ambassador Ode Abumwe and her team are used to life on the lower end of the diplomatic ladder. But when a high-profile diplomat goes missing, Abumwe and her team are last minute replacements on a mission critical to the Colonial Unions future. As the team works to pull off their task, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson discovers theres more to the story of the missing diplomats than anyone expected…a secret that could spell war for humanity.

I was a little apprehensive about this title since it’s outside my normal reading comfort zone. It’s sci-fi in its truest sense. There are lots of characters to keep up with and lots of action going on. It was very well written and the attention to detail that went into creating this outer space mission is amazing. Highly entertaining with a mix of Star Wars like characters, Space Odyssey like missions and unique and exciting story line.

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City of Thieves by David Benioff

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A moving tale of two boys who are brought together by circumstance and end up bound by so much more, City of Thieves is a journey well worth taking.

From Goodreads:
As wise and funny as it is thrilling and original – the story of two young men on an impossible adventure. A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won’t talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds. Lev Beniov considers himself built for deprivation. He’s small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt to find the impossible. A search that takes them through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and the devastated surrounding countryside creates an unlikely bond between this earnest, lust-filled teenager and an endearing lothario with the gifts of a conman. Set within the monumental events of history, City of Thieves is an intimate coming-of-age tale with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

This was such a moving story. Lev and Kolya are opposites in so many ways. Lev is the serious one, the poet’s son. A good heart, a sense of right and wrong, he’s a gentle soul at heart. Kolya, the ladies man, the sweet talker, is the negotiator. He’s the boy soldier with the big talk but a soft heart. Circumstance brings them together for a quest that sends them on an adventure like no other. The two work in tandem, each playing off the other and before they realize it, they become friends capable of loving each other like brothers.

Their adventures lead them to the brink of what will be their defining moments, the moments they find out what they are truly capable of and they are transformed into men right before our eyes. It’s such a compelling story. It felt like I was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee listening to Lev tell the story in his grandfatherly voice. After reading it, I can tell you with certainty that: I have never known real cold. I have never known real hunger or fear or loneliness. I really only have a semblance of what it would be like. A book like this puts all those things into perspective.

One of the things I loved was the humor that shined through the darkness of this harrowing story. It endeared Kolya to me and leant authenticity to the story. Even in the worst of predicaments, humans are still human. We need laughter to help quell our fears.

I’ve passed this one along to my teenage sons. I’m hoping it will leave as positive an impression on them as it has left with me. This one is going on my list of all time favorites.

If you enjoy historical fiction, WWII history, life changing adventures or love the inspiration that stories of friendship can give, you will LOVE this book.

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Siege of Leningrad – Wikipedia


All Hail the Return of Robert Langdon

Titans and other giants are imprisoned in Hell...

Today, Dan Brown announced his long-awaited new novel, Inferno, which will be published on May 14th. If you recall, back in May, I posted a link to an article which mentioned that Mr. Brown was hard at work on the then unnamed book.

Inferno will center around Dante’s Inferno and will again feature one of my most beloved characters of all time, Robert Langdon.

You can read the official press release on Dan Brown’s website. It’s also available for preorder on Amazon.com or iBooks.

Let the count down begin!


Coming to a TV Near You: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

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Sworn to Silence, the starter for a great book series written by Linda Castillo, has been adapted as a Lifetime movie, An Amish Murder, and airs this Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 9 pm.

Neve Campbell plays the strong shunned Amish woman turned cop, Kate Burkholder.

This is a very well written murder mystery series. Living near an Amish community, books relating to the Amish have always interested me. However, most are so syrupy, if that’s the right word, and many are geared more toward Christian fiction. What I like about this series is that it shows the other side. The grittier side, the murdering side. Without holding back things like language, sex and the content of the murder scenes, this series tells a much more interesting story for fiction lovers.

I’m not usually a made-for-tv movie girl, but I may give this one a try just because I love the series so much.

You can visit Lifetime’s site for more info, to read the first chapter of the book for free and to enter a contest to win a copy of the book.

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A Year of Reading Recap – 2012

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What would the New Year be without a look back at the old one? Here’s a recap of my year of reading 2012.

I’ve had the opportunity to read so many wonderful books this year. I surpassed my reading goal of 75 and reached an all time high of 117. 1Q84 was the longest book I read, 945 pages. I think that made the all-time high also. I gave mostly 3 and 4 stars with only 14 making the 5 star distinction, which makes me think I’m a bit too picky and hard to please. I had two books that were so terrible I couldn’t finish them and I’m still cursing about wasting my time on them.

I read more memoirs this year than ever. People are truly interesting and in some cases their stories are stranger than fiction. I cried more this year than ever too. Some of the stories were just so heartbreaking. I’m pretty sure I blubbered through more of The Art of Racing in the Rain than I’m willing to fess up to. Dogs dying in books seemed to be a common theme this year. I seriously cannot take anymore of that!

I had a zombie run and it was a great one. Zombies are the new vampires. Super cool! If I were giving an award for best cover it would go to My Life as a White Trash Zombie. As Steven Martin said in Father of the Bride, “Bitchin!” That cover earns the Bitchin award. (if there were such a thing) Patrick Ness is my favorite author of 2012. Reading his book has inspired both my children and me.

Historical fiction is still my favorite genre. Mixing fiction in with a history lesson makes learning fun even at my age.

Out of the 117 books I’ve read this year, here’s my top 10 favorites:

1. Wilderness: A Novel by Lance Weller
2. Chaos Walking: A Trilogy by Patrick Ness
3. The Wild Girl by Jim Fergus
4. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
5. Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo
6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
7. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
9. The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court by by Michelle Moran
10. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

My goals for 2013 are much the same. I’m upping my reading goal to 100. I think I can manage it without feeling too pressured. I’m going to do my best not to purchase books this year. I have probably 75 on my bookshelf waiting to be read and they deserve my love and attention. “Try” is the main word here.

I’m going to give a State Challenge a go and will be book blogging my way through the US. I hope you’ll join me along the way! Every book is an adventure and it’s so much more fun when you’re along!

I wish each of you a New Year filled with joy, happiness and many, many great books!

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!


Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

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Rip-roaring 20’s style is what stands out in this lengthy novel by Libba Bray.

From Goodreads:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

Not having much luck with my first Libba Bray book, Beauty Queens, I decided to give this popular author another try with her newest novel. Set in the 20’s, Bray has obviously done her homework. She succeeds in creating a world that feels like it’s surrounding you as you read. The visual descriptions and catchy slang make the 20’s come to life.

Her main characters are strong and likable. Evie is so much fun and her youthful exuberance is infectious. All the introduced characters are truly mesmerizing.

Having said that, there are a few things that kept me from loving this book. My main gripe is that the book is too long and too slow. Many things seem to be repeated. A little editing could have gone a long way to making this book something special. To much time is spent on introduction and characters rehashing their inner feelings over and over. It’s just too much. I actually stopped reading it for a while and read a few other books before starting it up again. It felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere which leads to boredom. Cut this down 100-200 pages and it would have been much more enjoyable.

There are too many loose ends making some of the introduced characters seem out-of-place and had me wondering what their purpose is. I know this is a series but I need something to tie these characters to the story in a meaningful way. Hopefully the next installment will shed some light and fit these puzzle piece characters together.

Overall, if you have the time to devote and can overlook repetition, this book is sure to charm you with nostalgia alone.

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Book Review: Best Served Cold: The Unofficial Companion to Revenge by Erin Balser

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If you’re a fan of ABC’s hit show Revenge, you’re going to love this smoking hot guide.

From Goodreads:
A must-have for fans of the hit ABC drama Revenge, this guide delves into the fast-paced world of the character-driven series and sheds light on complicated plot twists and unanswered questions. Loyal viewers will love this intelligent and insightful companion to the show, which includes an analysis of main character Emily Thorne’s master plan. The book explores themes and characters from the series as well as its soap opera, literary, and real-world inspirations.

I LOVE Revenge. It’s one of the few shows that I can truly say I have watched from the beginning and never missed an episode of. At work, this is what we talk about come Monday mornings. It’s sparks conversation and contemplation and gives us camaraderie of sorts. The show is fun, addictive and let’s you take satisfaction in getting revenge without having to do the dirty deed yourself.

This guide provides an in-depth behind the scenes look at the cast, characters and episodes of this hot show. Having watched every episode with what can only be described as complete rapture, there were many things I missed which this guide brought to light. I feel like going back and watching the episodes again just to catch some of the little details I missed.

It gives insight to all facets of the show including how it the idea came about, cast decisions, filming and production and gives you opportunities to extend the enjoyment of revenge though books. Why does Victoria wear those tight dresses? How did Emily’s cold stare come about? Is the Grayson mansion for real? How does the show mirror The Count of Monte Cristo?

If you’re a seasoned Revenge watcher like me, this guide will extend your knowledge of the show. If you have yet to watch the show and plan on catching up on Season 1 (it’s available on Netflix, Amazon and iTunes) get this companion guide to follow along with each episode. It will add to your viewing pleasure!

Revenge on iTunes.

Revenge on Amazon.

Revenge on Netfix.

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This book was provided for review by the publisher.


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