Posted in book reviews, books, Sarah M. Chen

CLEANING UP FINN

Cleaning Up FinnCleaning Up Finn by Sarah M. Chen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meet Finn Roose, manager of a Redondo Beach restaurant, master manipulator and womanizer. Finn sees life as one big party. Porter, his best friend, allows Finn to borrow his Ferrari and boat at times, which Finn passes off as his own. One night Finn meets Rhonda “Ronnie” Havemeyer at the restaurant and convinces her to go on a sunset sail on his boat the next night. After more than a few drinks on the boat and Finn’s failure to “get it up”, Ronnie gives up, dresses, and goes topside. Finn, being extremely drunk, is barely able to get the boat back into the slip at the marina. As they get off the boat, Ronnie realizes she has left her purse on the boat. Finn goes back to retrieve it & when he returns, he finds Ronnie passed out by the dock. Finn wants to get Ronnie back to her hotel and goes through her purse to see if he can locate a key or something to tell him where this is. As he is looking, a driver’s license falls out and he discovers she is underage. Being the general manager of one of the most successful restaurants, Finn cannot risk being associated with a minor. So Finn does what any normal person would do. He looks around to make sure no one is watching and leaves Ronnie lying face down on the grass. From here things just get worse as he finds out that Ronnie is now missing.

Finn’s sleazy, drinks too much, is a complete asshole, and only sees women as things to be conquered. But by the end of this story, I like Finn. As much as Finn would like to not care, he does his best to right things. From trying to figure out what happened to Ronnie to making it up to Porter for damaging his Ferrari and leaving his boat in complete disarray. For all his faults, there is a nugget of goodness in Finn. Until the next hot chick walks into the restaurant.

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, Christopher Golden

ARARAT

AraratArarat by Christopher Golden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The story opens with an earthquake in Turkey that reveals a hidden cave inside Mount Ararat. The cave turns out to be an ancient ship that has been long buried. When news of this find gets out, many believe the ship to be Noah’s Ark. A newly engaged couple, Adam Holzer & Meryam Karga, is notified by a friend of theirs, Feyiz, a local guide, about the find. They want to be the first ones inside to lay claim to the find before another team, headed by Armando Olivieri, does. Adam and Meryam are adventurers who write books and make videos “to help ordinary people overcome their fear of taking risks”. The couple is accompanied by guides, Hakan & Feyiz. To beat Olivieri’s team, they decide to take an alternate, more dangerous route up Mount Ararat. After a long, treacherous climb, they reach the entrance to the ship. Inside, they find a sarcophagus with a deformed corpse. A few weeks later, Adam and Meryam are joined by Father Cornelius Hughes, a linguist and historian, Ben Walker, a DARPA agent traveling under the guise as a researcher for the National Science Foundation, a representative from the UN, Kim Seong, and additional archaeologists and filmmakers to record their findings.

I really enjoyed this book. The idea that this ship could be Noah’s Ark was definitely something that fascinated me. It was nice that the author touched on some of the religious implications but didn’t dwell or hit you over the head with their religious viewpoint. I liked the characters and there was enough of a back story for each to be able to relate to them but not be tedious. I thought the story was cohesive and there were no loose ends with the character story lines. The author did a good job with the pacing of the book. It captured my interest from the first chapter when the cave/ship was revealed, to the hairy ascent made by Adam & Meryam’s team, and the finding of the corpse. As the team(s) continues to investigate the corpse and speculate as to its origins, people start to disappear. But are they leaving of their own accord or is something else responsible? To make matters worse, an enormous blizzard sets in. As the story progresses, tensions rise and the violence escalates. I found the story compelling, a page turner, and couldn’t wait to see how it ended! And I was not disappointed! Anyone looking for an adventure story with a bit of horror thrown, this is definitely the book to read.

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, Christina Henry

RED QUEEN (The Chronicles of Alice #2)

Red Queen (The Chronicles of Alice, #2)Red Queen by Christina Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, I want to thank First to Read for the advanced copy of this book.

I loved ALICE, the first book in this series & was really excited to be able to receive this copy before the pub date. Although this book starts off where ALICE ended, it definitely isn’t as dark and twisted as ALICE was. RED QUEEN, to me, is more about Alice coming to terms and accepting her feelings towards Hatcher, as well as embracing her powers as a Magician.

As Alice & Hatcher finally emerge from the tunnel from the Old City, they find “a blackened waste stretching for miles”. Alice was expecting “open fields and tress, a verdant land” as described by Pipkin. So begins their journey into this new world with the end goal of finding Hatcher’s daughter, who was taken away to the East. Along the way, they encounter giants, a goblin, the Black King, the White Queen and discover the truth about the Red Queen.

In ALICE, there was more violence and “unsavory” characters but RED QUEEN is more about self-discovery. I liked RED QUEEN for different reasons. To some, the beginning may feel drawn out and tedious, but I didn’t mind so much. It gives the reader more background on where Alice came from and why she is the way she is.

I love this re-imagining of the Alice characters. Some have been recreated as humans with magical powers yet still obtain the characteristics (like the names) of the original Lewis Carroll characters. The relationship between the Black King, the White Queen and the Red Queen was unexpected, to me, but worked quite well & I loved these three characters.

While Alice’s journey to the White Queen’s castle has some obstacles, they didn’t seem as challenging as I might have expected. The ending was anticlimactic and I had hoped for more of a struggle between Alice & the White Queen. Despite this, I still enjoyed the story and I look forward to Alice’s next adventure.

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, M.J. Arlidge

EENY MEENY

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace, #1)Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was excited to receive this ARC from Penguin Random House’s First To Read program and I was definitely not disappointed. This is the first book in a new series starring, Detective Inspector Helen Grace, is faced with serial killer who seems to pick her victims at random who have nothing in common. The method the serial killer uses is one I haven’t read about before and is what interested me in the first place. There are two victims and they are placed somewhere remote with no escape route, no food or water and one gun between them. The choice: Whoever kills the other will be freed. From the beginning I was hooked. I found the story to be well paced and kept my interest. I found Helen’s character likeable and her flaws made her more real. The book was suspenseful and, admittedly, I did not guess who the killer was. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you pick this up! I am looking forward to the next book with Detective Inspector Helen Grace!

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, Robert Gregory Browne

NEGLIGENCE (Trial Junkies #2)

Trial Junkies 2: Negligence (A Trial Junkies Thriller)Trial Junkies 2: Negligence by Robert Gregory Browne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Negligence is the second book in Robert Gregory Browne’s Trial Junkies series.

The book starts off with this kid, Jamal, who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, who has been arrested for murdering a classmate, Kelly. Matt and Monica, members of the trial junkies and friends of Ethan “Hutch” Hutchinson, are sitting in on his arraignment. Matt has been recently laid of from his job at the Post as a reporter and is now trying his hand at online reporting for The Chicago Beat, a joint venture with Monica. After an altercation in the court room that sends Jamal to the hospital, Matt, Monica, & Hutch (who has arrived late to the courthouse), decide to see if they can get in to talk to Jamal. Matt uses Hutch’s previous famous actor status as a ploy to get into the hospital & is able to sneak in and talk to Jamal, after which he is convinced there is something more going on then a clear cut case of murder.

Matt starts investigating Jamal’s story of being set up and figuring out that somehow the police are involved. This leads him to the prestigious Eccelston Academy, which was argued as Chicago’s finest preparatory school, where he finds things aren’t exactly as they seem. After an attack on Matt leaves him the hospital, Hutch decides to continue Matt’s investigation. From here, the pace picks up and just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, you find out you’re wrong.

I, personally, really enjoyed this book a little more then the first TRIAL JUNKIES. I feel the characters had more substance and I liked how Robert gave another character, Matt, a larger role in the story. Hutch still is a prominent character in this book but I like the idea of giving each member of the trial junkies group a chance to shine, so to speak. Since Robert did introduce us to all the trial junkies, it’s nice to see their development instead of just being there for background. The pace of the book is just right to keep you wondering what’s going to happen next. I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to more trial junkie adventures.

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, Brett Battles, favorite authors

ASHES (Project Eden #4)

Ashes (Project Eden, #4)Ashes by Brett Battles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ASHES is the fourth installment of the Project Eden series. I am one of many fans of Brett Battles. I purchased this as soon as it was released, although I have been remiss in getting around to reading it (sorry Brett. I owe you yet once again). This was a mistake since I ended up reading it in one night (and after being up for 24 hours already).

ASHES starts the aftermath of the release of the KV-27a virus by Project Eden. As with the other books in this series, I found this to be another fast paced, paged turner. I never seem to be able to read fast enough to find out what happens. There were a few more story lines within ASHES then previous books since these stories follow the paths of some of the survivors, as well as some who were not so lucky. I did appreciate the fact that Brett chose to put some of those stories in since it helps explains how the human race (or at least a portion of it) survives this deadly outbreak, that it is not limited to adults or children or a particular race. I didn’t feel that any of these story lines were incomplete (well, except we won’t know what happened until book five comes out) and they did have their place in the story. The one thing I was a little disappointed in was that the characters Sanjay & Kusum played a very small role this time. I only say this because they had, in my opinion, a larger role in PALE HORSE. I hope to hear more about them in the next installment.

I am definitely looking forward to book five.

View all my reviews

Posted in Blake Crouch, book reviews, books

EERIE

EerieEerie by Blake Crouch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was really thrilled to get this book. I am a huge Blake Crouch fan and I was looking forward to this first collaboration with his brother, Jordan Crouch. They certainly didn’t disappoint me. I started reading this book late one night and couldn’t put it down.

From the first chapter, I was captured by the story that started unfolding. At first, it seems like a conventional thriller. A car accident. A brother and sister left orphans. A promise to a sister from her brother to “always take care” of her. Jump to the present, 31 years after the accident. The brother, Grant, is now a detective with the local police department and locates his estranged sister, Paige, by happenstance through a police investigation lead he follows up on. Grant discovers she is now a high priced prostitute for wealthy business men. Grant arranges to meet her posing as a new client. Paige is taken completely by surprise as she opens her front door to find her brother standing on the threshold. She attempts to close the door and shut him out without success. And this is where the conventional part of this thriller ends, as Grant discovers there is something unnatural going on in Paige’s bedroom. Something is under her bed…

Do you remember the stories you heard as a child about the monster under your bed? Or the Boogeyman? Well, this story did an outstanding job in transporting me back to that childhood. I was truly unnerved and I admit maybe just a little bit afraid to look under my bed. The progression of this story drew me in page after page with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to reach the end to see what monster lay in wait under Paige’s bed.

I really did enjoy this book. A lot. Not a typical horror/thriller/gory type story. But I found it creepy and, well, eerie. That was until I got to the end. The end wasn’t bad. But it was definitely not what I was expecting and I was a tad bit disappointed. I won’t say anymore then that so I don’t spoil it for anyone.

Overall, I feel this book is definitely worth reading. The ending will appeal to some and for others, like me, it may not. If you haven’t read any of Blake Crouch’s books, you really should. He is a fabulous writer and story teller.

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, Robert Gregory Browne

TRIAL JUNKIES

Trial JunkiesTrial Junkies by Robert Gregory Browne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What draws a person to pick up a particular book? Is it an eye catching or intriguing cover? Is it a famous author’s name that everyone knows? Or is it the opening line or chapter of a book? An unusual cover will usually cause me to stop & pick a book up or perhaps the brief synopsis of the story might cause me to stop & ponder if it’s something I want to read. But truth be told, the first few lines of a book will “make it or break it” for me. If I can’t be hooked from the beginning, I know I usually won’t make it past the first couple of chapters.

I can honestly say when I read the first couple paragraphs of TRIAL JUNKIES, my interest was piqued.

“They found her body in Dearborn Park. She had been left to die in a vacant lot on Clark Street, lying in a pool of her own blood, multiple stab wounds to her chest and abdomen, her face slashed, her throat slit ear to ear.”

How could you not be just a little bit curious after that opening paragraph?

The main character, Hutch, is a washed up actor who discovers his college girlfriend has been murdered. He returns home to Chicago after a 10 year absence for her funeral & reunites with his old college friends. While there, the police finally arrest a suspect, who just happens to be one of Hutch’s friends. And this is where things get interesting. As facts are introduced & evidence revealed, it looks like it’s a slam dunk for the prosecution. Or is it?

I read this book in two days, although I would have finished it in one day if I had had the time. I was totally captured by the story & just had to see what happened. Mr. Browne has woven just enough mystery & intrigue to tease you into saying “Just one more page. Just one more chapter.”. And then there was the ending. An ending that I certainly did NOT see coming.

I cannot wait to see where Mr. Browne takes us in the next installment of TRIAL JUNKIES. If you haven’t read any of Mr. Browne’s books, you should try this one. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t!

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, Brett Battles, favorite authors

THE DESTROYED (Jonathan Quinn #5)

The Destroyed (Jonathan Quinn, #5)The Destroyed by Brett Battles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As an immense Brett Battles fan (and shameless advocate), I am always looking forward to Brett’s next book. Whether it’s the next Quinn installment or something new to try, I can always rely on a good read from Brett. The Destroyed is no different.

In the fifth installment, we find an entirely different Jonathan Quinn. Not the cleaner extraordinaire that we’re used to but a man who has taken a sabbatical from his job as a cleaner, attempting to re-discover himself in Thailand after his last job; after his mother & sister are put in danger. After he realizes that the steps he took to protect his family and keep his true profession a secret were not enough. At the same time, we discover that Nate is no longer an apprentice, but a full-fledged cleaner, having taken over for Quinn while he is in Thailand. But that is not the crux of the story…

In the opening chapter, it’s discovered that someone who Quinn “cleaned” has somehow come back to life, raising several questions about a job that was supposed to have been ordinary. Quinn is forced from the peaceful routine he has found back into his profession. With aid from Nate, Orlando, and a new character (who I really love), Quinn is forced to rectify a problem that should not have resurfaced.

I enjoyed this book immensely and the plot was easy to follow, even though it switches back and forth between the present and the past. Sometimes that transition throughout a book can be confusing. It was also pleasant to see Nate’s character go from apprentice to cleaner.

If you have read the previous Quinn books, this one will not disappoint you. It’s filled with the same action & drama as the other Quinn books, but I think Brett’s writing has matured and you can see that in this story. If you haven’t read any of the previous Quinn books, well, you should, even if you read them after this one.

View all my reviews

Posted in book reviews, books, Brett Battles, favorite authors

NO RETURN

No ReturnNo Return by Brett Battles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In between writing shorts stories & the next book in his Quinn series, Brett Battles has found time to write, yet, another standalone novel, NO RETURN. NO RETURN is a thriller with a mystery wrapped up in it. As a prodigious fan of Brett’s, I always look forward to his books & what new stories he has to offer.

This story takes place in Brett’s hometown of Ridgecrest, CA. Our main character, Wes Stewart, who also happens to be from Ridgecrest, returns after 15+ years while part of a filming crew who is shooting an episode for a TV series. While filming a segment near China Lake, they are witness to a Navy F-18 plane crash, which they are also able to catch on film. Wes races to the scene of the crash hoping to render help. He finds the pilot unconscious but alive. Wes successfully revives the pilot but finds that the pilot’s harness is stuck. Wes runs back to his vehicle to get a knife & returns to the cockpit. But not before there is an explosion engulfing both pilot & cockpit. The Navy soon arrives to investigate & asks them for the film so they can review the footage of the crash. The next day, the local paper recognizes Wes as a hero, though he does not feel that he is. Wes discovers the photo of the deceased pilot in the newspaper’s article is not the man he attempted to save. A mystery Wes can’t let go. The events that unfold after that fateful day entwine Wes & his crew in a mystery involving the Navy, a possible cover up, and a reunion with an old friend, Lars, who now works for the Navy. And finally, a secret that Wes had thought he had left buried behind many years ago resurfaces. Why is the Navy trying so hard to convince Wes that he is confused about the pilot’s photograph? Is Lars a part of this cover up? Can Wes uncover the truth about the true identity of the pilot?

Brett has managed to create a tale of suspense and mystery with his usual flair for excitement. The characters are interesting & likeable, the situation plausible, and the suspense builds to a crescendo to an ending that surprised me. Even though the story starts out with a bang (the plane crash) its pace is slightly relaxed for the first couple chapters until Wes starts uncovering facts that just don’t make sense.

I appreciated Brett taking a journey back home and sharing his memories, although altered for the story, with me, the reader.

I finished this book in two sittings (I would have finished in a day if I’d had the time) and enjoyed every minute of it!! I absolutely LOVE Brett’s Quinn series (can’t wait for #5 to come out in a couple of months!!!!) but I also really enjoy reading something that involves a different story line & characters I haven’t met before. I can always depend on Brett to give me a page turner that will keep me up all night!!
View all my reviews