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Review – Exposed – Laura Griffin

exposedExposed
Author: Laura Griffin
Series: #7 in the Tracers series

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
With the click of her camera, Maddie Callahan inadvertently added herself to the hit list of a criminal mastermind the FBI’s been investigating for months. Agent Brian Beckmann is determined to protect the sexy photographer, but she may be his only lead.

As a forensic photographer, Maddie is used to seeing violence up close, but she’s never before been a target. When a freelance photo shoot goes awry, she realizes she may have seen, and perhaps photographed, the kidnapping of a key witness in a federal probe. And although her camera was stolen, Maddie has something that could be even more valuable to investigators. With the help of her colleagues at the Tracers crime lab, Maddie uncovers DNA evidence that provides a desperately needed break in the case.

Although Brian is reluctant to involve Maddie, she’s determined to help with the investigation and the two set out to track a vicious criminal known as The Doctor, whose far-reaching violence has led to multiple deaths. But as the task force gets closer to catching the deadly Doctor, Maddie is in more danger than ever…

Review:
Going into this, I wasn’t so sure what I was going to think because unlike the previous books in the series, I didn’t really know these characters, they hadn’t really been mentioned before. Or rather, I think Brian had a cameo in a previous book, but he wasn’t that well characterized and I had never met Maddie. Thankfully, I ended up enjoying the book and finishing the series up to date. In fact, I read not only the complete Tracer series, but the 2 kinda linked series books that came first in the space of about a month and a half (but its not like I have any obsessive traits, right?) – lol.

I liked the idea of having a non hard science (for lack of a better word) main character. Since the vast majority of the other main characters have been someway involved in a science like DNA analysis, or forensic anthropology (which apparently I have issues spelling…). Plus the whole crime scene photography thing has always been of interest to me – I love seeing that part of crime dramas on TV – how various angles and shots can help with solving the crime. (yes, I’m a geek, what more can I say).

I think my main gripe was that I was more interested in the crime than the romance between Maddie and Brian. It wasn’t that their relationship wasn’t good, it just wasn’t as interesting…lol. But it wasn’t like it was bad (yes, I know I’m wavering…). I think if I knew more about both of them, that connection might have been there a bit more and made it more enjoyable. But I’ll be interested to see where the series goes in the future and if they make another appearance. Overall, I gave Exposed, 3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4 stars.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Merciless – Lori Armstrong

mercilessMerciless
Author: Lori Armstrong
Series: #3 in the Mercy Gunderson series

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:

Torn between her duties to the FBI and her need to keep her loved ones safe, former black-ops army sniper Mercy Gunderson must unleash the cold, dark, merciless killer inside her and become the predator . . . rather than the prey.

Newly minted agent Mercy Gunderson is back and ready for action— unfortunately, she’s stuck doing paperwork in an overheated government office building. But she gets more than she bargained for when she’s thrown into her first FBI murder case, working with the tribal police on the Eagle River Reservation, where the victim is the teenage niece of the recently elected tribal president. When another gruesome killing occurs during the early stages of the investigation, Mercy and fellow FBI agent Shay Turnbull are at odds about whether the crimes are connected.

Due to job confidentiality, Mercy can’t discuss her misgivings about the baffling cases with her boyfriend, Eagle River County sheriff Mason Dawson, and the couple’s home on the ranch descends into chaos when Dawson’s eleven-year-old son Lex is sent to live with them. While Mercy struggles to find a balance, hidden political agendas and old family vendettas turn ugly, masking motives and causing a rift among the tribal police, the tribal council, and the FBI. Soon, however, Mercy realizes that the deranged killer is still at large—and is playing a dangerous game with his sights set on Mercy as his next victim.

Review:
Its been nearly two years since there was an installment in Armstrong’s Mercy Gunderson series. I have been stalking her website since finishing up the previous book, hoping for some word – and it finally materialized. Although, I’ll have to admit, I wish that I had time to go back and read the previous book in the series, because I don’t remember anything about Mercy becoming an FBI agent, and yet, that is where the story opens upon her return to South Dakota following her training…but I digress

Merciless has the suspense that I have come to expect in Armstrong’s books, and was balanced just right with the romance. It was fun seeing Mercy and Dawson (because typing Mason just seems weird, since even she calls him Dawson) trying to figure out their lives and merge them together. It seemed real – it wasn’t perfect like stuff so often is portrayed – I felt like I was getting to know them on a higher level. The mystery was intriguing – I will have to admit that the who done it didn’t reveal itself to me until right before everything went down and looking back, I think that Armstrong did a good job of integrating clues without it being completely obvious. There was also a certain amount of angst, which I am personally, not a fan of and which is why ultimately, I ended up giving it 3.5 stars, but rounding up to 4.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Scorched – Laura Griffin

scorchedScorched
Author: Laura Griffin
Series: #6 in the Tracers series (although could be read partially as stand-alone)

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Kelsey Quinn set out to trace a murder victim. Now she may become one. The dead don’t speak, but Kelsey knows their secrets. As a forensic anthropologist at the Delphi Center crime lab, Kelsey makes it her mission to identify bodies using no more than shards of bone, and her find at a remote Philippines dig hints at a sinister story. When Kelsey’s search for answers puts her at the scene of her exfiancé’s murder, only one man can help her. The same man who broke her heart just months before, and who is also a prime suspect. Faced with an ultimatum— Kelsey or his job—Gage Brewer did the only thing a Navy SEAL could . . . but that doesn’t mean he stopped wanting Kelsey. Now Kelsey is running for her life and Gage is her last line of defense. As the threats escalate, Kelsey realizes this conspiracy goes deeper and higher than they could have guessed. With the clock ticking down on a madman’s plot, the slightest misstep will have unthinkable consequences. . . .

Review:
So I’m sitting here, trying to write my review of Scorched and explain how it fits into the series and struggling a bit. Not because I didn’t like it, but I didn’t love it as much as I have loved the last couple in the series. This addition to the Tracer’s series could pretty much function as a stand-alone, as long as you read Novella, Unstoppable (which is 2.5 in the series) – this is where you meet Kelsey and Gage in a short adventure. Scorched picks up about 2 years later (roughly) and things have changed for the both of them. I say that this would work well as a stand-alone because there are only minute mentions of the other characters who have appeared in the series, and only one of them plays more than a minor role (and even then, that character has been a backseat rider in the other books).

Anyways, back to the book – I liked the terrorism theme that was used in this one, since it was something that many of us in the U.S. have faced in the past – from 9/11 to the anthrax attacks to threats to the various Metro systems (New York etc). There is, for many people, a definite fear of something happening. The way that the story unfolded seemed mostly realistic and on-par with some of the attempts that have occurred in the past. What I like the most about the secondary characters is that they seem as real as the main ones – they are very well developed and you find yourself either rooting for, or hating them. One minor (very) gripe that I have is that al-Qaeda should be spelt al-Qaida – according to many unclassified documents – but that’s just me…and many people likely wouldn’t pick up on that, because the e is the common spelling in the media.

While I enjoyed it, I also can’t pin-point exactly why I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other books in the series (which I have read all in the past month). Maybe it was because Kelsey and Gage have that prior relationship, which is normally a storyline plot that drives me nuts – I like my heroes and heroines to be getting together originally in their book, so a novella, or a previous book where you know that they get together just drives me nuts. That being said, it wasn’t as bad as all that – I liked the pacing of the action and I think it survived much more on the suspense realm, than the romance realm, which was good. Overall, I gave it 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Don’t Cry for Me – Sharon Sala

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don't cry for meDon’t Cry For Me
Author: Sharon Sala
Series: #2 in the Rebel Ridge series

Narrator: Kathe Mazur
Run Time: 11hrs and 17 minutes
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises

Description:
Mariah Conrad has come home. Badly wounded on active duty in Afghanistan and finally released stateside, she has no family to call on and nowhere to go—until Quinn Walker arrives at her bedside. Quinn, …her brother-in-arms, ex-lover and now maybe her future.

Quinn brings Mariah to his log cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky to rest and recuperate, both physically and emotionally. While she’s incredibly grateful, Mariah is also confused and frustrated. She’s always stood on her own two feet, but now even that can literally be torture. She’s having flashbacks and blackouts, hearing helicopter noises in the night. She wants to push Quinn away—and hold him closer than ever.

But will she get the chance? Those helicopters are more than just post-traumatic stress; they’re real—and dangerous. Bad things are happening on the mountain. Suddenly there’s a battle to be fought on the home front, and no guarantee of survival.

Review:
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin on this review…while Kathe Mazur is normally a narrator that I really enjoy, even her performance couldn’t improve on the mess that was this book. This is going to be a spoilerific, rant-tastic review – so you have been warned in advance.

If this had been the first book that I listened to for my audie experience, I might have been wondering what crack the judges were smoking because it was bad. There were just so many things with the plot that irked the ever-loving bejeebers out of me – from the what could have easily been a mis-identification of Conrad (I honestly thought that it was going to be a case of mistaken identity), to the overbearingness that is Quinn Walker (how dare he make decisions about taking her out of the hospital without even talking to her and how dare the hospital even let that happen – I mean seriously, WTF!!!). To the use of PTSD – I know that it is real and valid, but how it was handled here just pissed me off – both of them are isolated, getting no help and the author doesn’t even touch on the work that stuff like the Wounded Warrior Project does to help veterans…to her being able to shoot a bear that is charging at 75 yards (ok, so maybe she could have, but it just didn’t mesh)…and all of this happened in the first 5 chapters…I didn’t think that it could go downhill from there, but it did…we even got to the TSTL heroine who decided even though she is recovering from a major injury to go searching for her partner/boyfriend in an area that she doesn’t know, going up against drug dealers…it was like she wanted to be killed (but of course, it all worked out)…

But on to the narration – like I said in my first sentence – even Kathe Mazur’s narration which I typically enjoy wasn’t enough to overcome the other issues that I had with this book. I was too distracted by yelling at them as they did one dumb/idiotic thing after another, to truely be able to enjoy it. Which is kind of fustrating. I don’t know if I have had a book that drove me this nuts while listening to it in a long time…but from what I can remember (as I tried to block parts of it out of memory), I liked her range of voices – especially Mariah and Quinn – you could tell that they were the most well-developed obviously. I also think, while I am not from Kentucky, that she did a good job of trying to capture the regional dialect (but then, I don’t really know what it is supposed to sound like, so maybe I am completely off base). Since I have enjoyed narrations by her in the past, I will be seeking out more by her, but I don’t foresee myself reading/listening to anything by the author again (I gave her 2 tries as is my rule – books 1 and 2 in this series and neither of them worked for me). Overall, I gave the story 1 star and the narration 3 stars, which gives it an average of 2.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Witness – Nora Roberts

Audies2013_Banner
the witness
The Witness
Author: Nora Roberts

Narrator: Julia Whelan
Run Time: 16 hours and 18 minutes
Producer: Brilliance Audio

Description:
Daughter of a cold, controlling mother and an anonymous donor, studious, obedient Elizabeth Fitch finally let loose one night, drinking too much at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive.

Twelve years later, the woman now known as Abigail Lowery lives alone on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance security systems programmer, her own protection is supplemented by a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. Unfortunately, that seems to be the quickest way to get attention in a tiny southern town.

The mystery of Abigail Lowery and her sharp mind, secretive nature, and unromantic viewpoints intrigues local police chief Brooks Gleason, on both a personal and professional level. And while he suspects that Abigail needs protection from something, Gleason is accustomed to two-bit troublemakers, not the powerful and dangerous men who are about to have him in their sights.

And Abigail Lowery, who has built a life based on security and self-control, is at risk of losing both.

Review:
From the first paragraph in the audiobook which started with the line:
Elizabeth Fitch’s short-lived teenaged rebellion began with L’Oreal Pure Black, a pair of scissors and a fake ID. It ended in blood – I was intrigued – it was probably one of the more intriguing opening sentences in a book that I have read/listened to in a while. That being said, the book jacket copy (taken from the audiobook) pretty much dispels any mystery behind what was going to happen – which was kind of disappointing. I liked the story and all, don’t get me wrong, it is probably one of the better Nora Roberts books that I have read in the last few years – but there were no surprises…even the ending was kind of ehhh…I wanted more bang and all I got was fizzle – while this was marketed as a romantic suspense, the suspense angle was kind of lacking – I found myself listening as it got closer and closer to the end and wondering if there was going to be any kind of confrontation and how it was all going to play out (but don’t worry, I won’t tell…). That being said, it was still better than a good majority of romance books that have been released recently (or maybe that is because it has been a while since I have read any of her stuff – who knows…).

But that being said, the purpose of this review is more on the audiobook side than the book side because it was nominated (and well-deserved) IMHO for an Audie in the Romance category. At first I was skeptical, but when the nominees were announced – I think it will be interesting to ultimately see who comes out on top. I do know, that after listening to Julia Whelan’s narration, that is isn’t going to be the last time that I do. I loved her narration of Amy in Gone Girl (one of my top listens from 2012) and her narration of The Witness was easily on par with Gone Girl, with the added fact, that I could see more of her range of voices and narration, rather than listening from only one character’s perspective. There were so many nuances that she picked up on – the multiple languages that there were phrases in (including, but not limited to, French, Italian, Farsi, Spanish and Russian – although I think there might have been a couple more mentioned as well). The wide range of people, from the 2 main characters of Liz/Abigail and Brooks – through the various parents, townsfolk, Russian mafia etc…And yet each voice sounded unique and unduplicated -which I appreciated.

If the other books that were nominees are such a high standard, I am going to have a hard time picking which one i think should win. Overall, I would give the narration 5 stars, but the story itself only 3 – but I am going to round it up to 4 stars.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Hard Evidence – Pamela Clare

hard evidenceHard Evidence
Author: Pamela Clare
Series: #2 in the I-team

Narrator: Kaleo Griffith
Run Time: 11 hours and 38 minutes
Producer: Tantor Media

Description:
After the murder of a teenage girl, a mysterious man in a black leather jacket was seen lurking near the crime scene. Investigative reporter Tessa Novak has him in her sights as the culprit…

That man was Julian Darcangelo, an undercover FBI agent working with the Denver police. He’s closing in on the trail of a human trafficker and killer. Tessa’s accusations could blow his cover, and he wants her off the investigation.

But just as Tessa has made Julian a target of interest, she is now a target of the killer. And as they are forced to trust each other, their physical attraction escalates as intensely as the threat from a ruthless murderer who wants to see both of them dead…

Review:
This review is likely going to be more of a rant, than a review, so if you enjoyed the series, I would say stay-clear, because I wasn’t happy at all. In fact, if I had been reading and not listening to the audiobook, the book would have gone flying across the room on multiple occasions and if I wasn’t buddy reading this with a friend (who disliked it as much as I did), I probably would have DNF’d it (but since she had already finished it, I couldn’t leave her hanging). This is one of those books where I look at my friends reviews and wonder, what the heck am I missing? In fact, on Goodreads, out of all of my friends that have read/reviewed the book (about 30 of them), it has over a 4 out of 5 average…so I guess it hit the spot for some people.

But oh my god…Tessa to me, was the epitome of TSTL (too stupid to live) – I lost track of the number of times that she put herself in an idioticly dumb situation and had to be “rescued” by Julian. Honestly, by about 3/4 of the way through, I was kind of hoping that he would just leave her to get out of her own mess (even though, we know that will never happen) – because it was obvious that she wasn’t going to learn. For a supposed top-notch investigative reporter, she made some really dumb moves. I mean, I get the part about needing to get the story and sometimes lives having to be sacrificing, but there is a point, especially when you are told about the danger that you are in, when (I would hope), any sane person would step back and evaluate the situation and figure out the greater good – get yourself killed now and not have the story, because well, you’ll be dead, or actually listen to the guys that know what they are doing, get the story and maybe survive…I mean argh!!!

And then there is Julian Darcangelo – which can I say, his name totally threw me for a loop because it just didn’t sound smooth (I think that is the word I am looking for), the Darc part just sounded forced…I actually liked it when he was referred to by his street name of Dark Angel – it sounded smoother (yes, weird I know). But he is supposed to be the quintessential bad boy, the federal agent working undercover…but if he was that good of an undercover agent, then why the heck did the bad guys know who he was…through like the entire book. I’m sorry, but the whole purpose of being undercover is so that you aren’t known…not having the head honcho of the organization you are pursuing know who you are, so that he can play you like a violin and man, did he ever…

Then there was the two of them together – oh gag me now – the guy gets shot in the back six times, trying to save her from a drive-by, but oh don’t worry because he is wearing kevlar, and then they go and get down and dirty not 30 minutes later…now, I have never been shot with real bullets (thankfully), but having been hit many times with paintballs/air-soft at close range, which have not even close to the same impact, that shit hurts – I couldn’t imagine doing anything after that, much less having sex…oh yeah, and then when he tries to “rescue” her, he gets himself captured – brilliant move there, Mr Federal Agent…it just kept getting worse and worse…

Close to the only saving grace, and I won’t even call it that, was Kaleo Griffith’s narration of the audiobook. He had a decently smooth narration style – although I wasn’t a fan of his southern belle accent which is what Tessa supposedly had…it just felt fake – I would have preferred if he had just read her part without over-emphasizing the accent. While I don’t speak spanish, the parts in that, sounded authentic (or as much as they can be to an untrained ear). But even his narration couldn’t make up for the mess that was the book in general…I would probably give the narration of the book 3/5 stars – it was decent – wasn’t the best I have ever listened to, but wasn’t the worst by far…

I have to wonder if it was because this series was so hyped up that I was so disappointed and maybe if I had read them when they first came out they would have been better – and i might not have been so much of a jaded reader…Overall 1.5 stars (and that is being generous)…I’m conflicted if I will continue the series or not – the first one was ok, definitely not as bad as this one, but it didn’t blow my socks off either…

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Breaking the Rules – Suzanne Brockmann

Most of the time by the time a series book gets to the sixteenth installment it is starting to get a bit weird.  While I was glad that Breaking the Rules didn’t really run into that issue, I am also glad that the author decided to end it on a high note and not let the series go down the drain like other authors seem to have done.

As with all of SB’s previous books in the series, Breaking the Rules uses the multiple story-line approach – specifically, Izzy and Eden’s struggle with the future of their marriage; Dan Gillman (who was a royal ass in previous books) and his woo-ing of Jenny Lyn Lamae (yes, I totally agree with the fact that this would be a great stripper name…) and then the random storyline of Nisha, a girl who is the victim of human trafficking (I have noticed that this seemed to be an common theme over the last few years, and this is the third book I have read in the last three months that used it – the other 2 being Vanish by Tess Gerritsen and The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham).

One of my main complaints about the book and I might have noted this on previous ones, is that they have become much more politically minded, almost to the stage of lecturing on GLBT rights which gets to be a bit tedious.  I can understand where the author is coming from, but at the same time, there is a fine line between presenting a point of view that fits a character, demonizing others who don’t share the same point of view, and lecturing your readership…it might have been more apparent to me in this one because I was listening to the audiobook – but it is something that irked me.

This is the only book in the series that I have listened to in audiobook and I felt that the narrators (Patrick Lawlor and Renee Raudman) did a good job of voicing the wide variety of characters.  However, at times, Patrick would voice a female perspective and Renee a male, so that was a little bit off putting…rather than doing a switching back and forth by part – an actual identification of male/female characters might have worked better I think.

A very good ending to a long-running series (I think I started reading this when I was in college nearly over a decade ago), and I’m glad to see various loose-ends tied up.  I do hope in the future, if she decides to go back and visit SEaL Team Sixteen that we get to see Jay Lopez’s story, because he is really the only other person I would love to see get their HEA.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Review: Prey

Prey
Prey by Linda Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Review
I would probably give this more like 3.5 than 3, but not quite to the level of a 4. I don’t know if i’ve ever read a strict RomSus from Linda Howard, I’d read some of her traditional romances though. I was surprised how much I ended up enjoying this book. I could tell that she had def. done research into the way certain things happened in the book with the bear kill etc, but it wasn’t so much that it over-powered the story/ caused a data-dump for the reader. My one comment would be that Angie kinda prove me nuts with her woe is me, I don’t like sex, its never been good for me, my boobs are too small routine…it was repeated many times through-out the book.

Narration Review
Abby Craden’s narration def. drove me nuts at first, but as the book progressed it got better. Her rendition of female voices was good, but her male ones not so much. I think this is def. a book that would have benefited from 2 narrators, a male and a female. I’m not sure if i’ll seek her out as a narrator in again in the future, it will have to depend on the book.

View all my reviews

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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