Thursday, March 30, 2017

Man Overboard

Title: Man Overboard
Author: J. A. Jance
Published: March 21st 2017 by Touchstone
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Ali Reynolds #12

I read these books solely for Leland Brooks, how dare J. A. Jance ship him off, I understand the reasoning behind why he left, but these books will be less entertaining without him there.

There is definitely a creepy factor to this book; the ability to develop Artificial Intelligence to the point that cyber stalking has no limits definitely has me worried. I do not know how much is real and how much is speculation, but J. A. Jance is riding a sharp edge here.

Roger McGeary was the only friend that Stuart Ramey, High Noon’s cyber genius, had at school. They were a united front when it came to the bullying that was directed at them. They lost contact after high school, so when Roger’s aunt Julia tracked town Stu to find out what had happened to her nephew he could not say no.

Children of a parent that has committed suicide are more likely to commit suicide themselves and psychiatrist Dr. Amelia Cannon has been studying this phenomenon for years. When her electronic files have been hacked, she decides that this is a good time to walk away from her practice and to care for her dying mother, unaware that the hacker, Owen Hansen and his alter ego, are using this information to cyber stalk her patients. Owen wants to see them die at their own hands and now it is up to Ali Reynolds and the team at High Noon Enterprises to stop him before there are any more deaths.

This high stakes game has Stuart going non-stop. The action is intense and the technical knowledge is heightened. Jance takes her readers into a backdoor of this technology that will leave you wondering how secure your smartphone is and who has access to your most personal information.

Though it appears that Jance is closing the Leyland door, she has giving you more insight into Stuart and Cami, two characters that are important, yet did not have their background stories fully told. A new character, or two, has been added so we will have to wait and see what they will have to offer. I just hope that the humor that was all Leyland Brooks can be brought out in other ways.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Awakening

Title: The Awakening
Author: Amanda Stevens
Expected Publication: March 28th 2017 by Mira
Format: eBook, Paperback, 416 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Graveyard Queen #6

That is one of the most intense endings that I have read in a very long time. After meandering through most of the book, the ending was a blur, which I had to read twice to make sure that I had grasped it all.

Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer, has taken on Woodbine in Charleston, South Carolina. A forgotten cemetery where the well-to-do bury their secrets --namely their mistresses and illegitimate children. A far corner has called out to Amelia, a corner that is sheltering a marker in the shape of an old-fashioned baby crib with an epitaph that reads Shush…Lest She Awaken. There is no name on the memorial that dates back fifty or so years, yet Amelia is drawn to it. Maybe it is the fact that she is a ghost seer, a death walker or just the plan fact that the dead reach out to her and want her to act as their detective. Amelia has a love hate relationship with her talent that she refers to as a curse, yet she cannot turn away when a child is involved.

As she returns to her work, the grave continues to calling out to her. Mercy - is that the child’s name or what she is asking for? Coincidently, as the ghost is calling out to her she is experiencing remembered moments and conversations. How or why are these disjointed memories related to the grave? What is she being told that she yet does not understand?

John Devlin is back. He and Amelia are no longer together. John has taken on the family business. A business with a shady side, but John is not doing this just for himself. He has others to protect and this is the best way to keep those that he loves safe. He is now engaged, or is it a business relationship, to Claire Bellefontaine, and with her comes her creepy older brother Rance Duvall. Dr. Rupert Shaw is still a mentor and friend to Amelia, yet he is hiding secrets. As Amelia discovers the truth, their relationship is at a crossroads. Whom was he really trying to protect?

The Conge, which was revealed in the previous book (as a reminder, the books need to be read in order even though there are small bits of rehashing in each one) is back in full occult force and out to rid the world of unnaturals like Amelia.

Dread is looming over Amelia. She cannot tell if it is something, or someone, coming for her or if something else is ending. Either way, she has to prepare. She has to be ready so her secrets are not revealed or the people that she cares the most for are not held accountable. As I said, you will muddle through the middle of this book, but the ending is not to be missed. There is a great deal going on and Amanda Stevens ties up quite a few of her characters. By the time that you get to the end, you just might find yourself wanting to read it again to see all the breadcrumbs that had been left for you.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Chalk Pit

Title: The Chalk Pit
Author: Elly Griffiths
Published: February 23rd 2017 by Quercus UK;
May 30th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt US
Format: ebook, Hardcover 384 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Ruth Galloway #9

I think that I am having my own version of a love affair with this series. A new book in the Ruth Galloway series forces me to put everything else aside and devote the day to nothing but reading. I love the people and the places that Elly Griffiths takes us to and there is just something about Ruth that makes you want to cheer her on even though her outside relationships tend to lead her only to troubles and heartache.

Ruth, a forensic anthropologist who loves a good intellectual puzzle, is called in when bones are discovered after an architect starts excavating for a new underground restaurant. The bones look old and possibly pot polished. Turns out that the bones are newer than she thought and with local rough sleepers going missing or being murdered, there are too many questions being asked and not enough answers.

With a shakeup at the station, DCI Harry Nelson is battling his own hell on earth with a new woman boss. Superintendent Jo Archer seems to be under the misguided belief that Nelson is ready to sit in an office and do paperwork instead of joining his investigative team. How can he do that when bones have been discovered at the restaurant site and there are well-used tunnels branching off? Tunnels that seem to be running all over town and one has recently caved in due to a sinkhole.

When it comes to investigating DCI Harry Nelson and his team are being pulled in many directions. What does Archer want them to do? Follow the tunnels, find the missing women who may have gone underground, figure out who is killing the men living on the street that seem to have too much information or find Clough’s partner that has just gone missing.

This book is nonstop from the beginning. Dealt a devastating blow, Ruth once again is questioning her relationship with her parents. She has tried to do the best that she can but raising a daughter on her own and having parents that have their own views has never been easy. It is on a narrow ledge that she walks and seeking comfort in Nelson has its own drawbacks. Little does she know that Harry was about to make her life easier only to discover that his own life just got more complicated.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Forever, Again

Title: Forever, Again
Author: Victoria Laurie
Published: December 13th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover, 360 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal

After a somewhat dull and plodding storyline that was reminiscent of books that I had read in the late 70’s - Victoria Laurie ventured down the reincarnation highway and took an odd turn at the end.

High school junior Lily and late 80’s Amber are see-sawing their stories. Lily Bennet has been having the same reoccurring nightmare since she was four years old. It is not until she has moved back to her father’s hometown, and through the help of hypnosis, that she reveals that she is the reincarnation of Amber Greeley. The same Amber Greeley that was rumored to have killed her boyfriend and then committing suicide thirty years before.

There are many ridiculous points to this book. How old is Lily’s mother and when did she finish medical school if she is only now doing her residency? I would love to know what program that Amber’s best friend went through that she should get an associate’s degree in architecture and then jump to a master’s and the of all things a PhD. Not to mention some silly FBI-in-training program for high schoolers that made Lily’s current boyfriend a prodigy when it comes to police investigation. To top it off, exactly how many teens in the 1980’s were able to run out and get life insurance on their own. Really, Ms. Laurie, a bit of research would have been helpful.

The only reason that I gave this book a chance was due to Ms. Laurie’s enjoyable prior attempt at young adult writing - ‘When’ - Disney Hyperion (January 13, 2015). ‘Forever again’, on the other hand, felt “fill in the blank” from the beginning, with nothing new or unique and at times repetitious with over the top teen angst.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Hopefuls

Title: The Hopefuls
Author: Jennifer Close
Published: July 19th 2016 by Knopf Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 310 pages
Genre: Fiction

Throughout this book, I was reminded of the television series “Seinfeld”, a show that was about nothing. This book, “The Hopefuls” is about nothing. It is a bland telling of twenty something’s wanting to make it in DC politics and losing sight of themselves and their marriage along the way.

Beginning somewhere in the 2000’s, when Obama is on the rise, narrator Beth chooses to leave her beloved New York for Washington, DC when her husband takes a new job. They develop a rather strange, and at times, incestuous relationship with Texans Jimmy and Ashleigh Dillon. Over the next four years, the couples are inseparable as both husbands, using each other when necessary, strive for their next high profile job.

Things come to a head when Jimmy is tapped to be the next Texas Railroad Commissioner (thankfully Ms. Close describes how this job has nothing to do with the actual railroad) and asks Matt to be his campaign manager.

Where once the lines were drawn, and now with Beth and Matt living in the Dillon’s basement, hostilities begin and egos are getting in the way. There is too much alcohol, marriages are in trouble, and people are not getting the attention or atta-boys that they need. Life in the political spotlight is not what Beth had envisioned and it is tearing everyone apart.

The funny thing, politics was never what Beth wanted. She had always envisioned a quiet life with a family and becoming an author. By the end of the book, you can see Matt gathering a second wind. He moved to this new neighborhood with an alter motive, unfortunately, Beth noticed this just a little too late.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Bed of Scorpions

Title: A Bed of Scorpions
Author: Judith Flanders
Published: March 1st 2016 by Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 310 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Sam Clair #2

Maybe it was me, but for most of the book, I kept confusing some of the characters. There are a great many and after a while, who was married to whom and who was a partner of whom just started to blend. Granted, that was not the main crux of the book, but I did find myself having to go back a couple of times to remind myself.

Book two in the Sam Clair series has Sam meeting her former lover Aidan Merriam for lunch; they do not see each other often so this is both a surprise and a welcomed get-together. Instead of the usually friendly Aidan, she sees a man that is deeply distraught by the suicide of his partner at the Merriam-Compton gallery.

Turns out that this is no casual lunch, Aidan has an ulterior motive and once again, to the chagrin of her current boyfriend, Jake Field, Sam is drawn into the investigation of what on the surface looks like a suicide but in reality the layers go much deeper and with repercussions that could turn the art world on its ear and land Sam in the hospital if not on the coroners slab.

I am enjoying this series and in particular the relationship between Sam and her mother. There is the dynamic of love, frustration and deep respect that just bounces off the pages. I do hope that Judith Flanders continues with both of these women and that there will be many more encounters between them.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Likely Story

Title: A Likely Story
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Published: November 3rd 2015 by Berkley
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Library Lover's Mystery #6

Said, said, said – I swear the author must have used this word three hundred times. Honestly, readers can figure out who is speaking when it is a short conversation between two people.

Lindsey Norris, director of the Brian Creek library, volunteers to take books to one of the Thumb Islands inhabited by reclusive brothers Steward and Peter Rosen. Jumping on the water taxi captained by her ex-boyfriend Sully, the two set off on an uneventful adventure until they reach the dock and Steward is not there to greet them.

The brothers are an odd sort, and with prior knowledge, Sully knows that the Rosen’s booby-trapped their property to keep trespassers away. Dodging the foils, they discover Peter murdered and Stewart missing. They do not believe that Stewart could be responsible, but who else would have access to this hoarders haven full of stuff that Stewart gathers from his nightly forays into town.

Apparently, the Rosen’s come from an interesting past and someone is trying to right the wrongs of fifty years ago and lay claim to their inheritance. The story is straightforward and the clues are there all along, but the reader trudges on constantly being reminded who is speaking and by the end, you can easily check off this sixth book in the Library Lover’s series.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost (Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural)

Title: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost (Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural)
Author: Lucy Banks
Expected Publicatin: March 7th 2017 by Amberjack Publishing
Format: eBook, Paperback, 284 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural #1

I cannot figure out which genre that this book belongs in. I am sure that it should be paranormal young adult, but there are a couple of parts, that come across more grown-up. Nothing that a teen should not be reading, but a bit out of place from the usual.

On his mother’s dying bed, 22-year-old pale pudgy academic Kester Lanner is directed to find his father. A father that Kester never knew about - actually, never even questioned since it had always been his mother and himself. Turns out that mom was keeping quite a few secrets and when he tracks down Dr. Rubio and his Agency of the Supernatural in Exeter, Kester’s world is literally shaken, or whatever it is called when a ghost will not let him go.

Spirit hunting is not a job that a nervous scholar would seek out, but as it turns out, his mother had her own talents and apparently, that gift did not fall far from the tree. With the help of his father and his merry band of psychics, Kester is in for quite the battle with a mysterious lady in green that is trying to sink her claws into him and any woman that is nearby.

I am still not fully sold on this series, I see interesting potential, but a clearer line needs to be drawn when it comes to the genre. I do hope that Lucy Banks continues to include folklore and legend, not to mention humor, in the next books in this series, since it was interesting to see a new take on one of my favorite ghost stories of the past.