Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lie With Me

Lie With Me by Stephanie Tyler
Forced together by fate, bound together by desire…

Framed for a double murder, Delta Force operative Cameron Moore is given a new lease on life by the CIA—provided he pays them back by doing their black ops dirty work. But now Cam is ready to renegotiate the deal, and he thinks he’s found the perfect bargaining chip: Skylar Slavin, bestselling author of espionage thrillers and the daughter of the CIA man who saved Cam from a prison sentence.

Skylar has been living in anonymity, never suspecting that someone so dangerous—and so desirable—would plunge her into a world as treacherous as one of her spy novels. But how can Cam go through with his plan to kidnap Skylar when just the sight of her sets off an explosive attraction he’s never experienced before? And when Skylar falls prey to an even more perilous threat, this special ops soldier must call upon all his combat skills to protect the one person who can help him win his freedom—and the only woman he’s ever loved.
--Lie With Me by Stephanie Tyler, Copyright ©2010 by Stephanie Tyler, published by Dell, an imprint of Random House, Inc

My Review
Lie With Me is an elaborately constructed, multi-layered story that hits the ground running and never lets up until the very end. (I hate to use such obvious clichés, but I couldn’t think of any other way to say it.) After eleven long years, Cameron Moore is finally free from his obligation to CIA handler, Gabriel Creighton. At least, that’s what he thought, until he finds himself being followed by a stealth helicopter. Climbing aboard, he finds his handler’s usual messenger, but what’s unusual is the handgun the man is holding. Wanting only to be free of Creighton’s hold, he kills the messenger… literally…and heads for the home of his friend, Dylan Scott.

With Dylan’s help, Cam devises a scheme to finally rid himself of Gabriel Creighton. The man has a daughter, Skylar Slavin. The public knows nothing about their relationship, a necessary step to keep Skylar safe, but now Cam knows, and he’s determined to use her to get Creighton off his back forever. What he didn’t count on was the immediate attraction he would feel for her.

Skylar feels it too, and when the power goes out, they give in to the inevitable force pulling them together. Believing Cam was sent by her father to protect her, she puts her trust in him. And when a group of kidnappers arrive to grab Skylar, they’re forced to go on the run.

To add to the already complicated situation, Cam finds out—through Dylan—that it’s believed Creighton was kidnapped by Dead Man’s Hand, a terrorist group based in Morocco, and they want to use Skylar—in rather unpleasant ways—to get information out of him. Cam must rely on his training and his cunning to free Creighton from DMH and to keep Skylar safe and alive.

I give this story THREE AND A HALF STARS.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Killing Floor

Killing Floor by Lee Child
A Jack Reacher novel, Book #1

Welcome to Margrave, Georgia--but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both. There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend, who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long-dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother Joe, whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personally against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive. Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust--a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed--he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of- towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage, or at least direct it in more positive ways. Kirkus Reviews, copied from
--Killing Floor by Lee Child, Copyright ©1997 by Lee Child, published by Jove Books, reprinted April 2006

My Review
Gee, I don’t know what more I can add to the above! But let’s see what I can do.

Jack Reacher is a man disconnected from society. After thirteen years in the Army—and an entire childhood as an always-traveling Army brat—he’s been “riffed” from the only life he’d ever known. Now he’s finding peace in drifting through the country, stopping whenever the whim strikes and picking back up again whenever he feels like. On his way from Tampa northward, he makes an impulsive stop at Margrave, Georgia. It’s an impulse he regrets when, halfway through breakfast at a diner, he’s arrested for murder.

Jack makes it clear that once his alibi is verified and the charges are dropped, he’s leaving Margrave. Gone. History. You won’t see him except for the dust trail he’ll leave behind. He’ll walk to Atlanta if he has to, whatever it takes to get away from this weird little Southern town. Until he finds out the man he’s accused of murdering is his brother Joe. Now Jack’s staying, and with the help of Margrave’s Harvard-educated-formerly-of-Boston detective and the attractive cop who happily lets him into her bed, he’s going to find out exactly what Joe was doing in Margrave and why it got him killed.

Hmpf…I think I like Kirkus’s review better than mine…

This is Lee Child’s first “Jack Reacher” novel, originally published in 1997. It is an intricately woven story, with threads and tendrils dangling here and there and only someone with the skill and training of a master weaver (or an Army trained killer and investigator) can tie them all together. Jack Reacher is that man, and if you like well-thought-out well-planned thrillers, you’ll enjoy this book.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

My plan this year is to listen to all of the books in the Jack Reacher series except One Shot which I read last year. Reacher is a great character and I hope to enjoy him more and more as the year progresses.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ruthless Game

Ruthless Games by Christine Feehan

GhostWalker Kane Cannon is pure male—animalistic, sexual, protective, instinctive—and his past missions have prepared him for anything. But his newest assignment, to rescue hostages in Mexico, plunges him into a hot zone he never anticipated: the hiding place of Rose Patterson—a fugitive, an ex-lover, a fellow GhostWalker pregnant with his child.

Rose is in flight from the insidious experiments that still haunt her dreams, and from the madman who’d do anything to take her child. Of all the GhostWalkers enlisted to hunt her down, Kane is the only one she can trust. But as their passion reignites, the stakes are raised. Because Kane is now a wanted man as well. And together they’re about to face the most difficult challenge of all: staying together and staying alive.
--Ruthless Game by Christine Feehan, Copyright ©2011 by Christine Feehan, published by Jove Books

My Review
Rose Patterson is pregnant and on the run. The small Mexican town seems to offer exactly what she’s looking for, anonymity with the “protection” of a local drug lord. But when members of the cartel kidnap an innocent mother and daughter, she has to do something. Unfortunately, the people she contacted for help sent in the GhostWalkers and one of them is Kane Cannon, the father of her unborn child.

When Kane discovers Rose is their contact, he’s determined to rescue her along with the hostages. But Rose refuses to get on the rescue chopper without him, and together, they go on the run into the desert. She has a hiding place and there Rose and Kane bring their child into the world.

The peace they find with each other and their son is short-lived, however. They’re under surveillance—though not by the cartel, but by their shared nemesis, Dr. Peter Whitney—and they must find a way to get past their observers and onto their rescue chopper without getting caught.

They make it safely to San Francisco, but their safety is only an illusion. The cartel has placed a million dollar price tag on her head and Dr. Whitney will do anything to get Rose—and more importantly, baby Sebastian—back under his control. But with a traitor within their midst, can Kane and the GhostWalkers keep Rose and Sebastian safe, weed out the traitor, defeat Whitney and end the cartel’s threat?

I give this story THREE AND A HALF STARS.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blood Ties

Blood Ties by Kay Hooper

A series of grisly murders has left a trail of blood across three states, bringing the Special Crimes Unit to a small Tennessee town. There, two more brutal killings lure Noah Bishop and the SCU into what may be the ultimate trap, and lead Special Agent Hollis Templeton into a dangerous attraction—and a serial murder investigation that turns very, very personal. In her time with the SCU, Hollis has shown an uncanny ability to survive even the deadliest attacks. But what she can’t know is that this killer intends to destroy the team from within. As the body count climbs, and Bishop and his agents race to uncover the true identity of their enemy, not even their special senses can warn them just how bloody, and how terrifyingly close, the truth will be.
--Blood Ties by Kay Hooper, Copyright ©2010 by Kay Hooper, published by Bantam Books

My Review

Blood Ties picks up a few months after Blood Sins in the town of Serenade, TN. The Reverend Adam Deacon Samuel may be dead, but his reach goes far beyond the grave. He was a prophet after all, and a madman with a mission. He knew his death was imminent and, like all good madmen, made the appropriate arrangements.

The SCU team, headed by Miranda Bishop, is sent to the town of Serenade to investigate an unusual murder. While there, they stumble across another body, and almost become victims themselves when a sniper starts shooting at them. After researching the two victims, they discover they’re both linked to past SCU cases. The SCU has an enemy, and it seems that enemy is drawing all the agents together in one spot, determined to destroy the unit once and for all.

But who is the enemy? And why is he so determined to bring down the SCU and Noah Bishop in particular? And just how far will he go to achieve his goal?

Pretty short review, especially for the first finished book of the new year, but I can’t say any more without saying a lot more, and if I said a lot more, I might as well tell you the entire story. And where’s the fun in that?

In my review of the previous story, Blood Ties, I mentioned that it was not a stand-alone read, that you needed the previous “Blood” book to understand that one. Well, you need both of those to understand this one. It’s an excellent series with very intricate, delicate connections that must be read to be understood. There are a lot of details and you really do have to pay attention (the previously mentioned flowchart wouldn’t hurt), but in the end, it’s all worth it.

And if you think long and hard about the title of this story, you’ll realize “the truth underneath it all.” I did, and I knew the answer to the biggest secret long before anyone else in the story did, except maybe Bishop himself.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Year Later...

...and where am I?

When I started this journey of keeping count of and reviewing all the books I read in one year, I didn’t think beyond that. Counting and reviewing everything I read in one year. I was surprised to discover it became something more.

I’m not going to sit here now and tell you my life has been changed by this endeavor, because it hasn’t. Oh, my life has changed in this year. I was unemployed in January, began studying for my new career in February, went through my new career training in March, spent April looking for a job and started my new job in my new career in May. I spent the first month in my new job as an orientee and started “soloing” in June. July, August and September went by in a blur and in October I began planning for my November NaNoWriMo project. In November, I wrote my 50,000 word novel (50,632 words to be precise) all while working full time and continuing my reading (thank you, please, hold your applause). And finally, this December, I slowed down a bit. I didn’t stop reading, but I did take a little break from the writing, took a quick trip to Connecticut to visit family and got ready for the holidays.

So now here we are at the end of the year and what have I accomplished, at least where this blog is concerned? In 2010, I read 79 books—I was hoping to make 80, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Some statistics:

New-to-me authors: 22
Physical books: 35
Audio books: 40
e-Books: 4
New books (not re-reads): 48
Re-reads: 41

Number of Books Read By Author:
Jayne Castle – 11
Kay Hooper – 11
Nora Roberts – 11 (Only 11? Seemed like much more…)
Christine Feehan – 6
Jerry Jenkins – 3
Jayne Ann Krentz – 3
Maggie Shayne – 3
Camy Tang – 3
Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon – 2
Elizabeth Lowell – 2
Ridley Pearson – 2
Michael Robotham – 2
Phaedra Weldon – 2
Sandi Ault – 1
Richard Belzer with Michael Black – 1
Claudia Carroll – 1
Lee Child – 1
Joshua Corin – 1
Catherine Coulter – 1
Ted Dekker – 1
Darlene Gardner – 1
Kristin Hannah – 1
Robert Harris – 1
Megan Hart – 1
Tanya Huff – 1
Marshall Karp – 1
P.D. Martin – 1
Liz Maverick – 1
Amanda Quick – 1
Ray Rhamey – 1
Stuart Woods – 1

Although my reviews include four additional books, I actually read them in 2009 and transferred the reviews from my other blog, so I didn’t count them in any of these statistics, but here they are:

T.L. Hines – 1, Physical book
Laurie Channer – 1, e-Book
Rick Maydak – 1, Physical book
Shaun Jeffrey – 1, Physical book

And my final statistic, number of books started and never finished – 5.

So what do these statistics mean? I think they mean what most statistics mean…which is, not much, but I was bored and felt like counting 

What are my plans for 2011? Well, I’m not going to stop reading, and I enjoyed writing these reviews, so this blog will continue as Another Year in Reviews. I will do this with three goals in mind…resolutions, if you will:

1 – Read more books (I’m aiming for 100)
2 – Read more new books and fewer re-reads
3 – Read more new-to-me authors

I think #3 is what I enjoyed most about last year. Some new-to-me authors weren’t worth the time (those five unfinished books), but I read a number of new-to-me authors that I really liked—Marshall Karp, Joshua Corin, Lee Child, Maggie Shayne, Phaedra Weldon and Ridley Pearson top that list (in no particular order).

I’m still looking for recommendations, so if you have an author you particularly like and think I might as well, please let me know about them.

All right 2011, let’s see what you’ve got!