Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Action Packed Special Forces Type Yarn

Mike Garin and his team have completed a successful mission in Pakistan to recover a nuclear device. This team is so special hardly anyone knows about it’s existence. Therefore, it’s surprising to have eight of the team members killed upon reentering the United States.

Garin, team leader, is the only one left alive. He goes underground and succeeds in wiping out the assassins, but now he’s the prime suspect in the murders. He’s been set up and now pursued by both the Iranians and the US government.

This book is primarily a chase scene with plenty of violence thrown in. The plot is standard for this type of thriller. Garin is trying to save the US from a complex plot that could destroy the country. The author does a good job of bringing in the current international situation, but it’s primarily background for the action.

If you like action heroes, Garin is almost too good. Some of the fight scenes are the stuff super heroes engage in. However, it you like a story with plenty of violence this is a good one. The scenes are well written and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The other characters are pretty much stereotypes. Olivia is the beautiful, brilliant aide who figures things out faster than her boss and has a strong positive reaction to Garin. This is the first book in what will become a series, so if you like it, you’ll see these character in action again.

I received this book from Penguin for this review.   

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Mother’s Nightmare

Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are at the end of a long, satisfying day at the zoo. It’s closing time. As they reluctantly head to the entrance, Joan hears pops. She ignores them at first then the grim truth hits her. Men with guns are in the park, and they’re hunting people as well as the animals.

The nightmare begins. They’re trapped in a maze. Joan desperately wants to protect Lincoln and get them both to safety, but the terror mounts.

The story takes place over a few hours, but it’s packed with suspense. In some respects it’s a typical chase scene, but the author does a good job of making the reader feel Joan’s terror. It will keep you on the edge of your seat.

In addition to Joan’s point of view. We get inside the head of one of the shooters. I thought this was a brilliant device. His strange thoughts and memories play out against Joan’s terror and her drive to protect Lincoln.

If you enjoy thrillers this is a good one, but it’s more than that. It explores the maternal protective instinct as well as the fight or flight response to being trapped. I recommend it as a fast moving plot that will make you think.

I received this book from Penguin Random House for this review.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Getting Your Heart’s Desire Can Create Problems

Fifth grader, Lena Daniels, and her friends are super fans of singer, Mallory Winston. When Mallory sponsors a contest to find a girl to make a movie with her, Lena jumps at the chance and surprisingly wins. This is an opportunity of a lifetime, but what Lena wants is to meet Mallory. Now she’s committed to the movie, and her whole summer will be spent in California.

Lena has exceptionally committed parents, so the whole family, Lena’s three sisters and the dog, Austin, take off for California. Lena gets her wish to meet and work with Mallory, but making movie isn’t all fun. There are plenty of things that make her life difficult.

Middle grade girls will love this book. The characters are realistic, the plot is a dream for many tweens, and the book is filled with delightful black and white pictures to illustrate the text. The story is aimed at a Christian audience. Lena talks to God in her journal and asks for his help in the hard things in her life.

For me, one of the best parts of the book was seeing how committed Lena’s parents are. Busy parents often don’t have or take the time to help their children realize their dreams. However, in this book, the whole family gets behind Lena and helps her make a success of her experience.

I highly recommend this book for tween girls, but parents can enjoy it also.

I received this book from Handlebar Marketing for this review.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Dark Side of the American Revolution

War is hell, and the American Revolution was no exception. Although textbooks laud the orations about liberty and the equality of man, the revolution was as bloody as any other war. The fierce partisanship of Patriots and Loyalists created a volatile situation where each side committed violent acts against the other. Neighbors were caught on each side and ended fighting each other, as in the Civil War. The British were equally brutal in their treatment of the colonists.

This is an eye-opening book if you’re unfamiliar with the darker side of the Revolution. The author does an excellent job of choosing incidents to illustrate how each side mistreated the other. The book is largely stories featuring colonists, slaves, and the British. Each incident illustrates how the opposing sides injured individuals.

The book in addition to being scholarly is easy to read for a general audience. The use of stories involving individuals makes the book feel more personal. The narrative is easy to follow and the well drawn maps allow the reader to follow the action and pinpoint the activity to areas in the US today. I found that helpful.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you’re not a historian, it’s good to discover what the founding of the country was like. This book is a realistic corrective to the rosy picture of pure colonists and violent Brits.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Murdered Cleaning Ladies Haunt Ellie Haskell

Ellie Haskell is wrapped up in spring cleaning when her faithful cleaning lady, Roxie Malloy, leaves to go to London to care for her grandchild. Ellie is devastated, but the Chitterton Fells Charwomen’s Association (CFCWA) comes to the rescue. Mrs. Large arrives and promptly breaks a mirror precious to Jonah, the Haskell’s beloved gardener, but does a good job of cleaning.

Ellie next sees Mrs. Large at a neighbor’s house. She’s fallen from a step ladder and is quite dead. Her demise is followed by the death of other members of the CFCWA, but is it murder or a series of tragic accidents?

Although I have enjoyed Ellie Haskell mysteries, I found this one disappointing. The book starts slowly. The murder happens about a quarter of the way through, and the murderer is absurdly easy to guess. I couldn’t get interested in the adult characters, but Ellie’s twins were a delight. They saved the book for me.

If you’re an Ellie Haskell fan, you may enjoy this book, but I can’t recommend it as a standalone cozy mystery.

I received this book from Alibi for this review.  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Daring Rescue in Haiti

Lt. Robert McAllister, a US Marine, is serving as an aide to Colonel George Barbour in WWI. He admires his much decorated colonel, but wants to get into the action himself. He’s also in love with Carolyn, the colonel’s daughter. After a week together in Paris, McAllister sees some action, and a year later is sent to Haiti to put down a peasant uprising. Teddy Roosevelt uses his big stick philosophy to interfere in unstable countries in the Caribbean to protect the Panama Canal.

In love with McAllister, Carolyn follows him to Haiti, but instead of a romantic adventure with her lieutenant, she’s captured by the gorillas. McAllister rushes to save her, but the adventure turns out to be more difficult than he imagined.

I enjoyed the historical detail in this book, but it’s not one of Becker’s best. I liked A Covenant with Death much better.

This short book is long on historical detail and relatively short on character development. If you’re interested in this period, the book is worth reading, but if you’re looking for a love story, you may be disappointed.

I received this book from Open Road Media for this review.  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Illusions, Mystery, and Romance

Houdini spent much of his later career debunking illusionists and spiritualists. He was particularly hard on mediums who he felt used illusions to convince people they could talk to the dead. Horace Stapleton was one of the spiritualists ruined by Houdini. Now he’s trying to restart his career by bringing a man back from the dead.

Wren Lockhart, Houdini’s apprentice, is there on the frigid New Year’s Eve when Stapleton tries to bring back a man dead twenty years. When the man rises from the grave and then drops dead, things go horribly wrong and Stapleton is charged with murder. Not only is Wren in the audience, but so is the FBI. Agent Elliot Matthews notices Wren and recruits her to help solve the mystery.

The book is set in the years after WWI when there was an intense interest in spiritualism. Conan Doyle, who was a friend of Houdini’s, believed that a medium had helped him talk to his dead son. This book explores spiritualism and the illusions that Houdini successfully debunked. I enjoyed this background.

The story is beautifully written and gives a good picture of vaudeville and the illusionists. I was hoping for a stronger plot focused on the mysterious death of Stapleton’s accomplice. However, the story is primarily about Wren and Matthews getting to know and trust each other as they seek to solve the mystery. If you enjoy character driven novels, this is well done.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers for this review.