Monthly Archives: May 2018

Warning Light

Zac Miller is on a flight from London to Singapore, sitting next to a lovely British woman, with whom he has a lovely conversation. The plane has engine trouble and makes an emergency landing in Iran, where there has been a devastating earthquake a few days prior. When Zac, who took some photographs of the mountains with his cell phone, gets up to use the restroom, he is escorted to an interrogation room. As he’s leaving the room, all goes black. He wakes up in a cell and is promptly
“interrogated” by the Iranians. This is a summary of the first 50 pages of Warning Light by David Ricciardi.

The book then becomes a question of whether Zac, an analyst, can (1) escape, (2) survive, and (3) get back to London so he can share the intel he gathered. This book is a roller coaster ride. Zac is like MacGuyver. He isn’t an agent. He had some training, but he doesn’t have the James Bond skills of Mitch Rapp or Pike Logan, or Courtland Gray. What Zac does have is determination. And a survival instinct. He is good at listening to his gut and acting on it.

I never thought that someone being trapped in the mountains without food or water or on a boat in really rough seas could be exciting, but Ricciardi has a gift for description and making suspense out of mother nature. This book is so well-written, in fact, that I read about 100 pages without realizing I’d read that much. I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t even check the page numbers as they flew by.

I hope that this is the beginning of a long career for David Ricciardi, because he is a true talent and I look forward to see what he does next.

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A House In The Sky

I’m not sure how many stars to give this book. I have some extremely mixed feelings about it. Maybe writing a review will help with that. Amanda Lindhout had a rough childhood. She grew up without much and in a home with an alcoholic step-father. She got the travel bug and decided to see the world. So she went everywhere. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa. She decided to become a journalist and went to Iraq and then Somalia. She convinced her ex-boyfriend, photographer, Nigel to go with her and then they were kidnapped and spent 460 days in captivity. While being held hostage, she was exposed to unimaginable pain and torture, including being raped repeatedly. She and Nigel even converted to Islam in an attempt to get better treatment.

This was a hard book to read. Not hard because it was poorly written or didn’t have a compelling story to tell. Hard because it was emotionally hard. I cannot fathom being subjected to the kinds of things that she was subjected to. And I suppose she’s a bigger person than I, because I do not think I could find one ounce of sympathy or compassion for those who tortured and raped me.

Other reviews complained of her naiveté about travelling to Somalia, Iraq, and other parts of the world in conflict. I think that was related to her age and sense of invincibility. Enough about the things I didn’t like.

I did like a lot about this book. I liked her descriptions of places and people and food and everyday items. She has a gift at drawing a picture in your mind of the places she has been, people she has met, even the foot she ate. I could picture each house she was held captive in. I could picture the big brown eyes of the woman who tried to help her when she attempted to escape. This book is full of rich, vivid descriptions of places I will likely never see. Most memoirs have a photograph section. This book did not need it because of the way Ms. Lindhout was able to describe everything. And she did it in a manner that was not flowery or boring.

While it is a tough story to read, I’m positive it was a worse story to experience. Ms. Lindhout tells the tale in away that expresses the horror without leaving you devastated. She leaves you with the same hope that she managed to carry even when her situation was entirely hopeless.

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Lead Your Tribe

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a job. Period. It’s not just for those who own or run companies. Piyush Patel has written a treasure chest of advice to do better in your job, or how you run your company, or how to deal with other people. His writing style is clear and concise. He provides plenty of personal stories and anecdotes to show how he applied the philosophy he discusses.

The thing I liked most about this book is that Mr. Patel actually did everything he discusses. He is not putting forth some hippie/granola formula for success that has never been tested. I could tell from the first chapter of this book that he truly cared about his employees and believes that you lead by example. If more corporate and business heads led their companies like he led his, there would be less turnover and more happy employees.

Having been an employee who has left jobs because of managers (not because of the job), I really appreciate the concepts he discusses. If I ever am in a position to lead a group of people, I will implement these tools. I am even going to implement some of these tools in the next class I teach, as I think they will also translate to the classroom.

This book does something crucial for me-it puts employees first. Over money. Over product. Over customers. There is no way Mr. Patel could have built a company that sold for $45 million dollars if these tools did not work.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation for my review. The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. Another reason I loved this book, it was inscribed to me personally – another indicator that Mr. Patel walks the walk.

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Gunmetal Grey

The Gray Man is back with the CIA after years of the CIA trying to kill him. He is tasked with getting his hands on a Chinese defector. But the mission is screwed up from the minute the plane touches down in Hong Kong.

As I read this book, I kept thinking, “This can’t get any worse.” And it kept getting worse. Court Gentry is trying to double-cross the Chinese and save his former mentor, Don Fitzroy. He is also up against the Russians. And his own handler at the CIA has not told him the entire story. Hamstrung and often finding himself without weapons or allies, Court tries to keep Don and the defector alive.

Can I just say that I love the Gray Man? These books are amazing. Full of action and so well-written. I started this series with Back Blast and then back-tracked and read them in order. Each book gets better. I cannot wait for Agent in Place. If you are a fan of Brad Thor or Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum, you will love these books.

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Hellbent

I didn’t think the first two could be topped. I was wrong. So very wrong. Gregg Hurwitz is writing a series that is, I think, the best I have ever read. Evan Smoak is a complicated hero.

When Evan’s phone rings and he finds the only father he every knew, Jack Johns on the line, he knows there is trouble. He finds out that Jack jumped out of a helicopter – without a parachute and died. Evan knows immediately who’s behind the death – his nemesis, Van Sciver. Jack leaves Evan a clue to a package. Evan finds out the package is actually a teenage girl and he must keep her alive as Van Sciver tries to kill her. During all of this action, his Nowhere Man line rings and Evan feels bound to help the caller.

I love these books. Gregg Hurwitz has written a compelling hero. Evan is a killing machine. Jack tried to keep Evan’s humanity and that is where a lot of the conflict occurs. And I love that. Evan doesn’t know how to normally interact with other people and how to have a “normal” life. He is a loner – in the best sense of the word. At one point, he takes the girl to Target and I think that part of the book was the best way to understand how out of his depth Evan is in normal life. I also think it was my favorite scene in the book.

If you have no read the Orphan X series, I highly recommend it. All three books are so very good. Full of action, but also full of humanity. I can’t say enough good things about Gregg Hurwitz and Evan Smoak. Check them out.

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Light It Up

Peter Ash is in Denver, doing a favor for his friend, Henry, whose daughter owns Heavy Metal Protection – a company that protects legal pot production in Colorado. Henry’s daughter, Elle, owns the company. Elle’s husband and another employee were ambushed while taking a large amount of cash to an undisclosed location and they disappeared. Peter’s truck, with three others in it, is ambushed. Peter is the only survivor. He decides that he’s going to find out who did it and why, and avenge his friend’s death. His friends, Lewis and June, come to Colorado to help him and chaos ensues. Peter is affected by PTSD, which he calls “white static.” He is unable to be indoors for long periods of time without having a panic attack that presents as static in his head. Peter is trying to fight the static and learn to be indoors. He is simple, yet complicated.

Light It Up was my introduction to Peter Ash, and I’m so glad I met him. This book is timely. It deals with issues like the legalization of Marijuana while it’s still illegal federally and the problems that causes, i.e. banking. Nick Petrie has written a really good book. I highly recommend it.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot, lest I ruin the book. But I really liked this book. It’s well-written and tightly plotted. In fact, I liked this book so much, I picked up The Drifter, the first Peter Ash and ordered the second one, Burning Bright. He is my new favorite hero. I plan on reading every book in the series.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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Love And Other Words

Macy Sorenson’s mom dies when she is 11. She and her father buy a house in northern California and use it for a vacation home. Their first day at the house, Macy meets Elliot. Elliot is her age and loves to read, which she does as well. They form a close friendship. They eventually start dating, but their relationship is derailed by a mistake and a misunderstanding.

Fast forward 11 years. Macy, a doctor, runs into Elliot at a coffee shop in San Francisco. Despite being engaged, Macy ends up wondering if she and Elliot can rekindle their relationship. Macy realizes that Elliot is her “one”.

This book is the story of second chances and first love. I really, really liked this book. I read it in two days and absorbed every word. Some people might think it cheesy and predictable, but I thought it was lovely.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation for my review. The views expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

Preface – since I wrote this review, the Golden State Killer has been arrested. I honestly didn’t think it would happen that quickly, but it did and DNA was what broke the case.

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark is a really good, really sad book. It is sad because Michelle McNamara died before it was completed. Not only did she not see her book published, but we lost a really good writer. I flew through this book because it was interesting, but more because it was so well written. Michelle McNamara does a really wonderful job of showing and not telling.

The book is also sad because we do not know who the Golden State Killer is. I was amazed reading this book, that the killer was so prolific over such a great distance. I have lived in Central California since I was 4 and until this book came out, I never knew about the killer that was active through most of my early childhood. According to the book, he never raped or killed in Fresno, but he was active in communities not far from here.

McNamara does an excellent job of setting the scene and reminding us that the Golden State Killer was active in a time before surveillance video, cell phones, smart phones, and DNA. I hope that one day the killer is identified, but I am not sure that will happen. The fact that the killer is not identified and/or caught doesn’t detract from the power of this book. It doesn’t make the book less readable. I think it makes it more so.

This book is a testament to those who work so hard – in law enforcement and outside it – to solve crimes that have remained unsolved. Ms. McNamara does an amazing job of showing how much hard work and dogged research goes into solving cases so old. And shows why many of them are not.

If you like true crime and good writing, I highly recommend this book.

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100 Books To Read Day 5

Today is fictional crime. I said before, I am a mystery junkie. I read several series religiously and am always looking for new authors. So here is my fictional crime list.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Duh. It’s only the book that made me go to law school. If you haven’t read it, crawl out from under your rock and do it.
  2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The murder of the Clutter family was real. All of the characters were real. Truman Capote made up everything else. He invented a new genre of literature. (If you ask me, which I’m sure you’re not, I think Harper Lee actually wrote this book.) It’s a must-read.
  3. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Formerly titled “Ten Little Indians”). The ultimate locked-room mystery. Ten people on an island. They are slowly being killed. One of the survivors is the killer. You don’t get a better plot than that.
  4. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Nick and Nora Charles (and Asta) to the rescue! I love Nick and Nora and the snappy dialogue and the alcohol. Oh and the murder to solve. I love Nick and Nora so much my dogs are named after them.
  5. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Sam Spade. I love this book. Hammett had a knack for dialogue.
  6. Stranger On A Train by Patricia Highsmith. Let me start by saying, I honestly though this was a Hitchcock move. I had no idea there was a book. Two stranger meet on a train. They each agree to do the other’s murder. Perfect alibis for each. Will anyone figure it out?
  7. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Phillip Marlowe. Chandler wrote LA like almost no one else did or ever would. The golden age of detective fiction.
  8. The Trial by Franz Kafka. Imprisoned for something. But they won’t tell him what. Held without counsel. Held without rights. It almost sounds like nonfiction anymore.

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Our Little Secret

Angela moves with her parents to a small town- Cove, Vermont – where she starts high school and meets HP. He’s her neighbor. They become best friends. After graduation, they become more, but then Angela leaves for Oxford, where her father has called in favors and gained her admission. HP visits and meets, Saskia, an Australian, who steads HP out from under Angela. Angela is devastated and uses her mother, and her British friend, Freddy, to win HP back.

That is the basic plot of Our Little Secret. You learn this information from Angela, an unreliable narrator. She is being interrogated by a police detective investigating Saskia’s disappearance, as she reveals the story.

This book was okay. There were some things about it that I liked. There was more things about it that I disliked. Some of the characters are not developed. For instance, HP’s best friend, Ezra, kind of disappears from the story. He shows up again, drunk, but there is little to no explanation as to why he has taken the path he has. I kind of liked Ezra and was disappointed that he kind of vanished from the story like that.

Thriller-wise, I have read better ones. I have also read worse one. This book was okay.

I won this book and the opinions expressed herein are mined and mine alone. I received no compensation in exchange for this review.

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