Book 332: DARKNESS FIRST Review

Darkness First (A McCabe and Savage Thriller) by James Hayman
ISBN:  9780062301697 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00CGZXQDU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 1, 2013 
Publisher: Witness Impulse


The mutilated body of a young woman. The town doctor lying comatose in the road. A hundred and fifty tablets of Canadian OxyContin. This is the havoc that a merciless killer has wreaked on a sleepy Maine seaport.

As detectives Maggie Savage and Michael McCabe investigate, they realize the man they are after does not exist. Nobody knows his real name. Nobody has seen his face. But everybody fears his blade.

The only one who may know the murderer’s true identity is an eleven-year-old girl—who has vanished into thin air.

Taut, twisting, and starring two unforgettable heroes, Darkness First will thrill fans of John Sandford and C. J. Box.



Darkness First begins with a rather audacious theft of 40,000 Canadian branded OxyContin pills from a Canadian warehouse, an approximate street value of five million dollars. The two young thieves kill the security guard during the theft only to be killed in return by the theft’s mastermind. This is followed by a young woman visiting a rural physician in Maine only to abruptly leave when questioned by the physician and wind up being killed in a gruesome manner and the attempted murder of the physician that witnessed the murder. Unfortunately for the killer the physician is the best friend of Portland police detective Maggie Savage. She quickly leaves Portland to return to her hometown and join the investigation. As Maggie launches her portion of the investigation, the killer seems to be two steps behind killing off all loose-ends or witnesses to his identity until the only remaining witness is the eleven-year-old sister of the first murdered young woman. Maggie realizes that she can’t do her investigation alone and when her brother is implicated in the murders, she calls on her Portland PD partner Michael McCabe to help.

Darkness First is a fast-paced suspense thriller where the good guys have to try and keep a step or two ahead of the bad guy. Unfortunately the bad guy seems to know everything the good guys are doing. All of the key evidence seems to point to Maggie’s brother, Harlan, and even Maggie’s father seems to believe the worst. Maggie steps out on an extremely small limb in order to vouch for her brother and continue her investigation. Things heat up quickly, not only on the investigation, but between Maggie and McCabe. There are quite a number of twists and turns to the story that only add to the overall suspense. I rather enjoyed Darkness First and the Savage and McCabe duo. If you’re looking for a suspense-thriller that’s well-written, incorporates family drama with a bit of romance, and is a quick, entertaining read then grab Darkness First.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Book 320: THE EDGE OF NORMAL Review

The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton
ISBN:  9781250031044 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781250031051 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00C74R6AE (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 10, 2013 
Publisher: Minotaur Books

In many ways, Reeve LeClaire looks like a typical twenty-two year old girl. She’s finally landed her own apartment, she waitresses to pay the bills, and she wishes she wasn’t so nervous around new people. She thinks of herself as agile, not skittish. As serious, not grim. But Reeve is anything but normal.

Ten years ago, she was kidnapped and held captive. After a lucky escape, she’s spent the last six years trying to rebuild her life, a recovery thanks in large part to her indispensable therapist Dr. Ezra Lerner. But when he asks her to help another girl rescued from a similar situation, Reeve realizes she may not simply need to mentor this young victim—she may be the only one who can protect her from a cunning predator who is still out there, watching every move.

From the author of the #1 non-fiction bestseller Perfect Victim: The True Story of the Girl in the Box comes a novel that draws you into a chilling and engrossing world. With powerfully gripping characters and an ending that is a masterpiece of deception, Carla Norton’s The Edge of Normal is a stunning debut thriller. 



Reeve LeClaire has been forced to rebuild her life with a new hair color, new name, new location, and is attempting to live a “normal” life. Reeve was kidnapped when she was twelve and held captive for nearly four years by a sadistic pedophile rapist. She has physical, emotional and mental scars that she is still learning to overcome. She knows that she may look normal, but that appearances are often deceiving. She is easily frightened and often nervous in new situations and around new people. Six years after her abduction she is still in therapy. She’s recently been fired from her waitressing job, isn’t looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with her family (simply because she isn’t the “normal” child), and wonders where her life is going to lead. She abruptly decides to accept her therapist’s request to be available to a young kidnap and torture victim.

Reeve isn’t quite sure what kind of help she can provide to Tilly, but she quickly vows to help it whatever way she can. As the District Attorney’s office and police investigate Tilly’s return, it quickly becomes apparent to Reeve, that this case is highly political. She wants justice for Tilly but not if it means Tilly’s peace of mind is destroyed. As the investigation develops, Reeve may be an innocent bystander but she quickly becomes a fierce protector and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure the truth is revealed with no adverse consequences to Tilly. What follows is a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse between Reeve, the investigators and the real kidnapper. Will she be able to uncover the truth and find the other missing girls before it’s too late?

Ms. Norton has provided a suspense thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It was amazing to watch Reeve become this fearless crusader on behalf of her young friend, Tilly. Reeve is no longer this nervous and frightened young woman but almost an avenging angel. Reading about what Reeve, Tilly and the other young girls endured at the hands of their crazed kidnappers was heartbreaking. Although Reeve undergoes a massive change in her personality, I didn’t find that unbelievable. There are parts of The Edge of Normal that are dark and disturbing, but unfortunately we live in a world filled with the dark and disturbing. Ms. Norton doesn’t sugarcoat the atrocities these girls suffer but she doesn’t stuff it down the reader’s throat either by going into extreme detail. The Edge of Normal is more than a suspense thriller, it is also a coming-of-age story, as well as a good-overcomes-evil story. The subject may not be for everyone, but I found it to be presented in a respectful manner making for one great read.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 306: TRAPPED Review

Trapped (Private Justice #2) by Irene Hannon
ISBN:  9780800721244 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781441244529 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00CIUJX12 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 1, 2013 
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company


When librarian Laura Griffith’s sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James “Dev” Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl’s disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn’t just dangerous–it’s deadly. 

Chilling and at times terrifying, Trapped is the latest thrilling read from Irene Hannon, the queen of romantic suspense. Hannon outdoes herself with this fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.



Laura Griffith has only had custody of her half-sister, Darcy Weber, for a few months. Their mother and Darcy’s father are both deceased. The worst thing Darcy could imagine was to leave New York for Missouri, but she considers her older sister Laura a little too conservative and leaves. Laura knows that she’s going to need more than just prayer to track down Darcy and turns to the Phoenix private investigation firm. The investigator assigned to her case is James “Dev” Devlin, a former ATF agent. They are both concerned because a large snow storm is hitting their area, and Darcy may be without shelter.

Dev’s investigation quickly shows that Darcy may have been at the local bus station but it is closed due to the weather. Dev and Laura begin to search local shelters, hoping that someone may have seen Darcy. While Dev and Laura are bonding over the search for Darcy, Darcy is being held captive by a shelter worker that showed her some kindness and offered his home and shower facilities for the runaway teen. Both Darcy and Laura rethink their relationship during Darcy’s absence, and realize that they both have to be more considerate of each other. Darcy realizes that Laura’s faith isn’t such a bad thing and that her “rules” aren’t as far-fetched as she originally thought. Laura comes to realize that she really cares for her sister and is willing to compromise more on her rules in the future . . . if she ever finds Darcy and is able to bring her home. Will Dev and his partners be able to locate Darcy before it’s too late?

I found Trapped to be a quick inspirational, romantic suspense read. Laura and Darcy are siblings that have very little in common other than their mother. Laura is much older than Darcy and is rather staid and overly-conservative to Darcy’s mind. Darcy is an out-of-control teenager with authority issues to Laura’s mind. They learn that appearances can be deceiving. They also realize that they have both been a little too quick to judge one another and look forward to being able to start anew. The clean-romance angle between Laura and Dev adds just enough spice to the story to keep it interesting. There are quite a few twists and turns to Trapped and Ms. Hannon does an admirable job of keeping the reader in suspense until the very end. If you enjoy romantic suspense or inspirational reads then you’ll definitely want to add Trapped to your reading list.


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 248; THE RETURNED Review

The Returned by Jason Mott
ISBN:  9780778315339 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781459236639 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00ATMP806 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 27, 2013 
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA


Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time… Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.



Mr. Mott attempts to answer the age-old question “what if you could talk to the deceased one last time” in The Returned. However that one last time lasts quite a bit longer than anyone could ever imagine. 

Harold and Lucille Hargrave are currently in their seventies and live a peaceful (relatively) life in rural North Carolina. They’ve been married for more than fifty years and mourning the tragic death of their son for fifty years. Jacob was celebrating his eighth birthday when he died in a tragic drowning accident. He’s been buried and mourned for decades. His parents are moving on with their lives until they begin to hear of “the returned.” They wonder what their reaction would be if Jacob were to return. Their hypothetical question becomes reality when an agent for the International Bureau of the Returned knocks on their door accompanied by their son, Jacob — still the same age as when he died, eight. Soon others from their town are returned. As more and more people “return” the government isn’t quite sure what to do with them. Before long, the International Bureau of the Returned and the US Government commandeer the town of Arcadia and begin to turn it into a camp for the “returned.” Harold refuses to leave his son in the camp alone and he quickly becomes a prisoner of these new internment camps. Regrettably, there are those that aren’t happy with the “returned” and see them as demons or devils. These factions begin to picket for the rights of the living vs. the returned and their actions slowly take a violent turn. 

Mr. Mott presents a unique story and it’s presented in such a way that it is impossible to judge the living or returned negatively. People want to know where these returned came from? Why aren’t they returning to the place of their death (Jacob returned to China before being relocated back to the US)? And then there’s the big question, why have they returned? These questions are left to the reader to answer. The Returned isn’t a true science-fiction or paranormal story, but a fantastically told contemporary story that deals with a slightly science-fiction or paranormal element. The “returned” are alive. They eat, drink, sleep, and bleed. This story presents an interesting view on life, death and how far some are willing to go to be with and protect their loved ones. It also raises some intriguing questions about life after death. The “returned” literally and figuratively turn the world upside down for the living. 

I found The Returned to be an engrossing read that captivated my attention from the very first word to the last. I actually read The Returned and its three prequels (The First, The Sparrow, and The Choice) in one sitting (yes, they are that good!). I found the characters to be very realistic and all-too human with their quirks and idiosyncrasies (loved Harold and Lucille). Although the subject matter may seem to be a bit far-reaching, it made quite an impact on me. Consider I read these more than two months ago and I can still vividly recall the characters, settings and action. If you’re looking for a well-written story that presents something a little different then look no further. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Mott in the future.

FYI: The Returned has been optioned and is the inspiration for a new television series. The series “Resurrection” is scheduled to air beginning March 2014 on ABC here in the US.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 133: SWEET SALT AIR Review

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky
ISBN:  9781250007032 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781250020383 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009LRWJ48 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 18, 2013 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.



Charlotte Evans and Nicole Carlysle have been friends since childhood. Their best memories were spent with Nicole’s family in Quinnipeague, Maine. The last memory of the summer house was when Nicole married Julian. Unfortunately Charlotte doesn’t have good memories of that event and her secret has kept her away from her best friend for more than ten years. Now Charlotte is a renowned travel writer and her travel keeps her on the move, a true globetrotter  Nicole has a wonderful marriage and has made a success as a blogger promoting the merits of sourcing local foods and the farm-to-table movement. Now that Nicole is protecting a secret of her own, she craves the companionship of her best friend in what may be her final summer at Quinnipeague. Fortunately Charlotte agrees to spend the summer on Quinnipeague and help Nicole write a cookbook based on local cuisine. Can their friendship survive the revelation of their darkest secrets?

Sweet Salt Air is much more than a novel about the friendship between two women. It is a story about secrets, friendship, and family, as well as the lengths people will go to in order to protect those secrets and relationships. Charlotte has kept a secret from Nicole because she doesn’t want to cause problems between Nicole and Julian nor does she want to lose her best friend. Julian is forcing Nicole to keep a secret about his health and while she’s happy to be a support system for her husband, she doesn’t have anyone to lean on for support during his illness. Charlotte and Nicole are both fighting deadlines . . . the deadline for the cookbook draft and the unspoken deadline hanging over their heads relating to Julian’s health. If those issues weren’t enough to deal with, they both must deal with the inherent privacy issues surrounding the legends of one of the Quinnipeague’s own and the source for most of the local herbs. I enjoyed all of the characters and felt they were incredibly realistic, including the reclusive loner turned author and love interest for Charlotte. In addition, the setting of coastal Maine came to life and was ideal for the action. Ms. Delinsky has provided a great read that incorporates friendship, family drama, and romance into one nice package with Sweet Salt Air. If you’re looking for something delightful to read this summer, then I can recommend adding Sweet Salt Air to your reading list.


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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 125: FLAT WATER TUESDAY Review

Flat Water Tuesday by Ron Irwin
ISBN:  9781250030030 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781250030023 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009LRWH7W (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books


Rob Carrey, the son of a working-class cabinet maker, arrives at the Fenton School with a scholarship to row and a chip on his shoulder. Generations of austere Fenton men have led the rowing team, known as the God Four, to countless victories—but none are as important or renowned as the annual Tuesday-afternoon race against their rival, Warwick.

But first Rob must complete months of preparation driven by their captain, Connor Payne’s vicious competitive nature. As the race nears, the stakes rise, tempers and lusts are fueled, and no one can prevent the horrible tragedy that befalls one of them.

Fifteen years later, Rob returns home from a film shoot in Africa to end a heartbreaking relationship with his girlfriend, Carolyn. But when a phone call from one of the God Four compels him to attend the reunion at Fenton, no part of Rob’s past remains sequestered for long and nothing about his future is certain.

As much about the sport of rowing as it is a novel of finding oneself, not once, but again in mid-life; Ron Irwin’s Flat Water Tuesday is a testament to the pride and passion of youth, and an ode to the journey of forgiveness.

A stunning novel of boarding school, family secrets, deep and passionate love, and the brutal pain of sports training.



The reader is introduced to Rob Carrey as an adult, living in Africa, and working as a documentary filmmaker. It’s been fifteen years since he attended the Fenton School in Connecticut and his time spent there is best forgotten. Rob has buried his memories of the Fenton School until he receives a letter from a former schoolmate and crew teammate. The story then jumps to the teenage Rob and his introduction to the Fenton School.

Rob had received a scholarship to row at the prestigious Fenton School. If he does well on the crew team referred to as the God Four, then he’ll be able to write his ticket to any of the Ivy League schools with crew teams, especially Harvard. Regrettably, Rob is very quick-tempered and has only one thought . . . to row in a one-man scull not with a four-man team. If that isn’t bad enough, he begins his career at Fenton by getting into a physical fight with the crew captain, Conner Payne. That fight begins a yearlong intensive competition that may well be the destruction of Rob.

Mr. Irwin slowly reveals the intricacies of training and working as a crew team member. Many of the details I didn’t quite understand because of the terminology, but I was able to grasp the basics. If training to be an elite athlete isn’t enough pressure for the teenagers on the “God Four” crew, they also have the pressure of having to win one race above any other against Warwick, Fenton’s bitter rivals. That one race will set the rest of their lives with regards to college acceptances, school pride and family honor.

The story of Rob’s career as a student at Fenton provides a lot of background to help us understand his current career path and relationship failure. Rob returns to the US to bring new film footage for editing, but also to end his five year, long-distance relationship with Carolyn. 

The back and forth between past and present was a little startling at first, but I then realized the gradual revelation of Rob’s past helped to understand the revelations of Rob’s present. That one pivotal year at Fenton had an amazingly long-term impact on not only Rob but his fellow crew mates. Rob’s interaction with others at Fenton is either a bit brash or standoffish and that continued through to the present. It was interesting to watch Rob’s gradual self-discovery as a thirty-something year old and realization that he’s been running away since he left Fenton. I enjoyed reading about the teenage Rob and his friends as much as I did about the adult Rob. There’s a lot going on in Flat Water Tuesday, but it ultimately comes down to forgiveness of others and ourselves and acceptance of things past. If you enjoy reading contemporary fiction with a lot of sports talk and a hint of romance, then you’ll definitely want to read Flat Water Tuesday.

Listen to Chapter One of Flat Water Tuesday

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 124: THE FIRST LIE Review

The First Lie by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN:  9781466839403 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00BCFXDBK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


An e-original short story that sets the stage for bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s upcoming novel Necessary Lies (September 2013).

The First Lie gives readers an early glimpse into the life of thirteen-year-old Ivy Hart. It’s 1958 in rural North Carolina, where Ivy lives with her grandmother and sister on a tobacco farm. As tenant farmers, Ivy and her family don’t have much freedom, though she and her best friend, Henry, often sneak away in search of adventure…and their truest selves. But life on the farm takes a turn when Ivy’s teenage sister gives birth—all the while maintaining her silence about the baby’s father. Soon Ivy finds herself navigating the space between adolescence and adulthood as she tries to unravel a dark web of family secrets and make sense of her ever-evolving life in the segregated South. 


We meet Ivy Hart as she’s riding her bike back from a late-night meeting with her friend, Henry Gardiner (playing with a Ouija board in the local church). Thirteen-year-old Ivy lives in a tenant farm house with her fifteen-year-old sister, Mary Ella, and her grandmother Nonnie in Grace County, North Carolina. Ivy and Mary Ella’s mother has been institutionalized for more than ten years at a mental facility, Dix Hospital. Mary Ella is the prettier of the two sisters, and is pregnant. When Mary Ella goes into early labor, Nonnie makes Ivy call the social worker and arrangements are made for Mary Ella to be taken to the closest hospital. She delivers her baby, a boy she names William, and then has surgery to “remove her appendix.” Ivy knows that there is something strange going on with her sister and between her grandmother and Mrs. Werkman, the social worker. Will Ivy be tainted with her sister’s pregnancy out-of-wedlock? Will she figure out the truth about Mary Ella’s surgery? I can’t wait to read more about Ivy and Mary Ella in Necessary Lies, coming out this September. 


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 123: THE KILL ROOM Review

The Kill Room (Lincoln Rhyme #10) by Jeffery Deaver
ISBN:  9781455517060 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781455517077 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00A4H1UW6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing


Robert Moreno, an American citizen living in South America, is shot in the Bahamas by a sniper. The killing was commissioned by the U.S. government, who received a tip-off that Moreno was planning a terrorist attack on a U.S. oil company headquarters. But this intelligence was fatally incorrect: anti-American Moreno ordered a protest at the oil company, not an attack.

Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are drafted in to investigate. While Sachs traces Moreno’s steps in New York, Rhyme travels to the scene of the crime in Nassau, where he finds himself on a dangerous path trailed by the sniper himself. As details of the case start to emerge, the pair discover that not all is what it seemed. Can they achieve justice and escape with their lives intact?



He’s back! Lincoln Rhyme is back and is hard at work with his coterie of crime-busters: Amelia Sachs – police officer, fellow criminalist and love interest; Lon Sellito – police detective and friend; Mel Cooper – forensic scientist extra ordinaire; police officer and budding criminalist, Ron Pulaski (fondly referred to as the “Rookie”); and, Thom Reston, Lincoln’s health aide and general assistant. This time Lincoln and friends are asked to work a little outside the system to help determine if an innocent American was killed due to faulty intelligence. The culprit is the U.S. Government, or more specifically the National Intelligence Operations Service or NIOS. The initial problem: how do you catch a killer that hasn’t killed on US soil and seems to have left little, if any, evidence? An even bigger problem arises when it appears that NIOS seems to become aware of the investigation and is willing to do anything to make it disappear.

The Kill Room is an amazing thriller read that provides a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, surrounded by an enigma. Lincoln and friends must try to determine why Moreno was targeted, who the actual shooter was, and who leaked the information to the district attorney’s office in the first place. The investigation seems to go nowhere fast as there is little physical evidence and the crime scene is more than a thousand miles away. Fortunately, Lincoln doesn’t allow this to stop him from going forward. With the help of the NYPD computer crimes department, tips from a friendly FBI agent, and a trip to the Bahamas and help from a friendly Bahamian police detective, the investigation takes off with a bang. It literally becomes a game of cat-and-mouse as Lincoln and friends attempt to uncover the truth and aide in obtaining justice for a presumably innocent man, while staying one step ahead of NIOS and its operatives. Mr. Deaver provides amazing characters and plausible action that pulled me in from the first page to the last. Each book in this series seems to provide details and better insight into both Lincoln Rhymes and Amelia Sachs, as if a new piece of their personality puzzle is being revealed. The reader is kept guessing until the very end if the bad guys are really the bad guys or not. 

The Kill Room provides a fascinating look into the shades of grey that obviously accompany any intelligence gathering operations. Details can always be interpreted in a myriad of ways, and sometimes those interpretations may lead to an incorrect conclusion. If you enjoy thrillers with a hint of government conspiracy and terrorism, then you definitely want to read The Kill Room.


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Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 122: THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY Review

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

ISBN:  9781476730943 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781476730936 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009R44MQ8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 (paperback)
Publisher: Atria Books


I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.


Nastya Kashnikov is seventeen years old and has recently relocated from her hometown to a town two hours away to live with her aunt. Her goal is to complete her senior year of high school in relative anonymity. All we initially learn about Nastya is the she is mute and has an extremely daring style of dress, described as Goth meets Frederick of Hollywood. Her goal is not to make friends but to be left in relative anonymity (difficult with her in-your-face style of dress). We learn that Nastya is compelled to run until she’s exhausted and bakes complicated desserts from scratch. We also learn that Nastya has an affinity for names, collecting them and discovering their meaning. 

As the new and somewhat strange girl at school she quickly garners the attention of the big-man-on-campus, Drew Leighton. Drew is a huge flirt and initially his only goal is to try and “score,” but he quickly comes to like what little he knows about Nastya and uses her as a shield of sorts. Drew’s best friend, Josh Bennett has suffered from a number of tragedies during his short life. His mother and sister were killed in a car accident when he was eight years old. He quickly learned that he could literally get away with anything including beating other kids up. The other kids quickly learned to give him a space and to leave him alone, everyone except Drew. Josh’s father dies just a few years after his mother and sister’s deaths, followed by his grandmother and now his grandfather. At seventeen Josh is an emancipated minor and a gifted woodworker-carpenter.

Josh and Nastya become friends as a result of a wood shop class. This friendship evolves into more and eventually Nastya’s elective mutism ends with her speaking first to Josh and then to Drew. Even though she is willing to speak to them, she never reveals the trauma she’s suffered or why she’s separated from her family. Both Josh and Nastya have had tragic lives. Josh slowly reveals his tragedies to Nastya, but she’s never quite willing to reveal hers. Is it possible for two young people to save themselves while being there for one another?

The Sea of Tranquility is a hauntingly beautiful and dramatic story about life, families, love, hope and second chances. Ms. Millay has crafted an amazing story that deals with emotional and physical trauma. The characters are flawed and portrayed in a candid and realistic manner. I found The Sea of Tranquility to be a rather fast-paced read and one that pulled me in emotionally from the beginning to the end. I felt the despair and hope along with the characters as Nastya’s past is slowly revealed. The build-up to the ending left me feeling slightly unsettled but I realized it probably couldn’t have ended any other way. The Sea of Tranquility has been classified as Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction and even Romance. It doesn’t really matter what it is classified as, it is quite simply a compelling read. If you enjoy contemporary fiction filled with family drama, self-discovery, and romance, then this is one book you don’t want to miss reading.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 70: I’LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS Review

I’ll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde
ISBN: 9780385342674 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780345535764 (ebook)
ASIN: B008WOUMV8 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Bantam
Publication date: February 26, 2013


Nora and Annie have been best friends since kindergarten. Nora, a shy English teacher at a quaint New England boarding school, longs to have a baby. Annie, an outspoken stay-at-home mother of two, longs for one day of peace and quiet (not to mention more money and some free time). Despite their very different lives, nothing can come between them—until Cynthia Cypress arrives on campus.

 

Cynthia has it all: brains, beauty, impeccable style, and a gorgeous husband (who happens to be Nora’s ex). When Cynthia eagerly befriends Nora, Annie’s oldest friendship is tested. Now, each woman must wrestle the green-eyed demon of envy and, in the process, confront imperfect, mixed-up family histories they don’t want to repeat. Amid the hilarious and harried straits of friendship, marriage, and parenthood, the women may discover that the greenest grass is right beneath their feet.


I’ll Take What She Has offers a fun, and often irreverent tongue-in-cheek look at friendship between women and women’s issues. Nora is an accomplished teacher but she often finds herself lacking, especially when it comes to having a child. Her biological clock isn’t ticking it’s resounding like the bass-line in a heavy metal song. Annie is a devoted mother and loves her partner, but often looks at other women without children and feels she’s being left behind. Both Nora and Annie find it difficult to not be jealous of Cynthia, a new teacher on the school’s campus. Cynthia has traveled the world, appears to have a sixth-sense about what is and isn’t fashionable, has a beautiful singing voice, grows her own herbs to make her own teas, and has managed to marry the most eligible man on campus. If that wasn’t bad enough Cynthia has also managed to commandeer the apartment that was promised to Annie and talk her husband into having a child (which is heartbreaking to Nora because when she was dating him he said he didn’t want children . . . ever, thus the reason for their breakup).

I found I’ll Take What She Has to be a relatively fast-paced read and I rather enjoyed the humorous dialogue and situations. However, there was just something about this story that didn’t connect with me and I can’t really say what it was. Ms. Wilde has provided characters that are well developed and likeable (even the dreaded Cynthia). The action and back-story are well presented and believable. Yet even with all of this by the time I was halfway through the story I simply lost interest and had to force myself to read to the end. My lack of interest could have been due to external factors or presumably a reader’s slump, but I found it quite easy to get involved with other books immediately after reading this one so I can’t say for sure. Although I didn’t connect with I’ll Take What She Has, if you enjoy light-hearted, humorous contemporary fiction, then this may be just the story for you.  

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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