City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Overview

When Grace Ozmian, the beautiful and reckless daughter of a wealthy tech billionaire, first goes missing, the NYPD assumes she has simply sped off on another wild adventure. Until the young woman’s body is discovered in an abandoned warehouse in Queens, the head nowhere to be found.

Lieutenant CDS Vincent D’Agosta quickly takes the lead. He knows his investigation will attract fierce scrutiny, so D’Agosta is delighted when FBI Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast shows up at the crime scene assigned to the case. “I feel rather like Brer Rabbit being thrown into the briar patch,” Pendergast tells D’Agosta, “because I have found you here, in charge. Just like when we first met, back at the Museum of Natural History.”

But neither Pendergast nor D’Agosta are prepared for what lies ahead. A diabolical presence is haunting the greater metropolitan area, and Grace Ozmian was only the first of many victims to be murdered . . . and decapitated. Worse still, there’s something unique to the city itself that has attracted the evil eye of the killer.

As mass hysteria sets in, Pendergast and D’Agosta find themselves in the crosshairs of an opponent who has threatened the very lifeblood of the city. It’ll take all of Pendergast’s skill to unmask this most dangerous foe-let alone survive to tell the tale.

Review

There is a serial decapitator…yes you heard me correctly…decapitator terrorizing NYC. But don’t worry! Agent Pendergast is on the case.

Grace Ozmian is the first one murdered. She is the daughter of an extremely wealthy businessman. Then slowly there are a few more murdered, all well to do. Then a reporter makes a HUGE assumption. This sets off a panic among the rich in NYC.

These two authors have been together a long time and have this writing thing down to a fine art! The characters in this book are so real and you can feel their emotions radiating off to them through the words. Then…..there is the intensity of this story…who did it? Why? And I never guessed! I should have guessed. I am sure there were plenty of clues. I did love the surprise!

I have said this before and I will say it again…I LOVE AGENT PENDERGAST! I love his intelligence, peculiarities and his audacity.

If you need a fast paced, non stop thriller, this is it.

I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.

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Busted by Michele I. Khoury

Overview

Impacted by the recession, twenty-four-year-old artist Gina McKenna is down to her last few dollars and days away from living in her car when a successful businessman buys a painting and commissions another. As their relationship evolves, she’s seduced by his charm and mesmerized by his luxurious lifestyle until she discovers he’s a drug kingpin. As her world turns upside down, she struggles to survive vicious brutality.

Miguel Lopez is a cocaine supplier with a weightlifter’s physique and “the rules do not apply to me” attitude. Maniacal and ruthless, he has no qualms about killing anyone who interferes with his distribution network, including Gina.

Dedicated to eradicating illegal drugs, DEA Special Agent Bobby Garcia spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars working undercover to buy his way up a dealer chain to identify the moneyman. When his fourteen-year-old daughter overdoses on cocaine, he traces the blow to Lopez. As Bobby’s mission becomes personal, he makes emotional decisions, which negatively impact civilians and his job. Unable to let go, he risks his career to orchestrate the biggest drug sting in Southern California. What happens isn’t what he expected.

When a deputy district attorney meets Gina at a party, he is smitten. As his attraction grows, so does Gina’s involvement with the DEA’s case, of which he is the designated prosecutor. Mindful of his professional ethics, he tries to stifle his feelings.

Sex and violence permeate the twists and turns of this cautionary tale about choosing one’s friends well.

Review

Gina is a struggling author, just trying to keep from living in her car. She sets up in the park to sell her paintings (this is illegal, by the way). She spots two men in a scuffle. Needless to say!!!!! These two men change her life….and not necessarily for the better.

I started out enjoying Gina. She has a good, kind heart. Then she makes some stupid decisions. I understand why…she needs the money or she is going to be kicked out of her apartment. Gina lives in beautiful Laguna Beach, CA. Lots of rich and powerful people live here, including drug dealers! Her contact with this side of Laguna Beach lands her in some serious trouble.

This tale covers just about everything. It is suspenseful with a small side of romance. There are several places where the characters state the obvious and the story is predictable. But it moves at a rapid pace and keeps you entertained till the very end.

I received this novel from the author for a honest review.

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I Was Told to Come Alone My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet

Overview

“I was told to come alone. I was not to carry any identification, and would have to leave my cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at my hotel. . . .”

For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing – Muslim and Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other.

In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner “Jihadi John,” and then in France, Belgium, and her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization.

Mekhennet’s background has given her unique access to some of the world’s most wanted men, who generally refuse to speak to Western journalists. She is not afraid to face personal danger to reach out to individuals in the inner circles of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and their affiliates; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination.

Souad Mekhennet is an ideal guide to introduce us to the human beings behind the ominous headlines, as she shares her transformative journey with us. Hers is a story you will not soon forget.

Review

This starts with Souad’s unusual childhood and how it impacted her thoughts and her determination. Her background is a unique blend of Muslim with western influences. This brings out her convictions and her courage which runs throughout this book. I will say the first part was a little slow for me. I kept wondering when I was going to get to the jihad section. But this is a vital area of her story. This background into Souad’s way of thinking is so important as the book moves along.

This memoir takes you all over the globe. The differences in customs and cultures are fascinating. And! I have to say I am impressed with Souad Mekhennet! She is a tough journalist. She has been in some tough, scary situations but, she keeps pounding away to find out the truth. Really, I don’t think much frightens this woman. And I know nothing stops her!

However, the tone of this narrative is a little stiff or rather more matter of fact. I would have loved to have known more of her feelings during many situations.

I learned so much about many areas of the Middle East. I just thought I knew about these places. Souad takes you to so many countries and teaches you so much in this memoir. I do admire her courage and her tenacity.

I received this book from the publisher for a honest review.

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The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

Overview

An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.

Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.

Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.

This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship.

Review

Mary Pickford was a force of nature. She was smart, hardworking and knew when to play her cards right. She and Frances were great friends and each had a long and prosperous career, basically because of each other. Mary helped Frances get her start. Frances was an excellent screen writer which kept Mary in the movies, even when the flickers became the talkies.

I researched Mary and Frances both. These ladies helped change the movie business. I had never heard of Frances and knew very little about Mary. So this novel taught me so much. I loved reading about the “flickers” and about old Hollywood. Also, these two women over came so many obstacles in a man driven world. They were forces of nature!

Wow! I enjoyed this novel! I am on a roll for 2018. I did fluctuate between a 5 and a 4 star rating. Basically because this is a long read, longer than it should be. But the 5 star won out. The setting and the characters were just too good!

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Five super great books I am looking forward to reading in 2018!

2018 is shaping up to be a great year in publishing. There are tons of books I cannot wait to read. I NEED TO RETIRE!

Here is a short list of a few books which have caught my eye for 2018.

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

I read the first in this series last year and LOVED IT! Slightly South of Simple. So full of charm and wit! So of course the next in the series is a MUST for me!

Ain’t She A Peach by Molly Harper

I had never read Molly Harper till last year when I read Sweet Tea and Sympathy . I cannot wait to see what these characters have in store for me next…who can resist McCready Funeral Home and Bait Shop!

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Oh my goodness!! All the Missing Girls was so freaking good! So of course I can’t wait for this EDGE OF YOUR SEAT READ!

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

The website said this cover is not final but isn’t it wonderful. I LOVE MARY ALICE MONROE. She is one of my all time Southern Authors. Her characters and the way she weaves environmental issues into her novels are so creative. I will have to patient till I find out what happens after Beach House for Rent

And last but not least

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

I seem to have a theme of southern running through this post. I can’t help it! This southern girl loves great southern fiction and if you have not read Susan Crandall…you are missing out. The Flying Circus was a five star read for me. And this cover…..oh my!

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The Immortalist by Chloe Benjamin

Overview

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

Review

Four siblings visit a fortune teller. Each were told the date of their death. This impacts them in ways no one can imagine.

This book is divided into 4 sections. One for each of the Gold children. The first section starts with Simon. I can’t imagine a better starting point. Simon escapes his family and travels to the west coast with his sister Klara. Simon and Klara learn more about themselves than they planned on. Simon stops at nothing. This is not necessarily a good thing.

Klara makes a name for herself. She follows her dream to become a magician. This eventually leads her to Las Vegas. Has she hit the big time? Is she happy?

Daniel becomes a doctor. He recently hits a snag in his career. This takes him down the path to find the fortune teller. Did the dates she give them change the way they all approached their lives?

Then there is Varya. She becomes a scientist. She researches responses in monkeys to determine life span. Is she going to control her date of death? Or what does she plan on achieving?

These four characters all have flaws. Simon is the most heart wrenching story. Klara is a character I most related too. Her tenacity, witt, and determination are not to be messed with. Daniel is a little bit of a conundrum. He is intelligent. Too intelligent to do what he does. Last is Varya. She is almost too smart for her own good.

All four of these young people’s lives have been changed based on one visit to this medium. This is like four spirits intertwined about one past day. The characters and their stories are riveting, heartbreaking, momentous and so on…..

Well! I started the new year off with a super good read! The Immortalists is not to be missed. Mesmerizing, captivating….I could keep going but you get the picture.

I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.

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Liars Candle by August Thomas

Overview

Reminiscent of the work of John le Carre and Olen Steinhauser, this brilliant debut novel features a young State Department intern on the run in Turkey, trying to outwit and outmaneuver everyone from the Turkish president to Islamic extremists to the CIA.

Penny Kessler, a young intern at the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, wakes up in a hospital on the morning of July 5 to find herself at the center of an international crisis. The day before, the Embassy had been the target of a devastating terrorist attack that killed hundreds of Penny’s friends and colleagues. Not only has a photograph of Penny emerging from the rubble become the defining image of the event (#TheGirlwiththeFlag), but for reasons she doesn’t understand, her bosses believe she’s a crucial witness.

Suddenly, everyone is desperately interested in what Penny knows. But what does she know? And who can she trust? As she struggles to piece together her memories of the event, she discovers that Zach Robson, the young diplomat she’s been attracted to all summer, went missing during the attack. Now his boss at the CIA, Christina Ekdahl, wants people to believe that Zach was a traitor. Only one person knows he’s innocent: Penny. And Christina will do anything to silence her.

Racing to keep from being killed and to uncover the truth, Penny reluctantly partners with Connor Beauregard, a rookie CIA officer on his first overseas assignment. But the two won’t survive unless they can trust each other and keep their wits about them. From the first page to the last this is a white-knuckle ride.

Review

Set in the unique place of Turkey, this book starts with a bang. A bomb explodes at the U.S. embassy party, killing hundreds of people. One of the survivors is a young intern, Penny. Penny wakes up in the hospital after the bombing with very few memories of the event. The photograph of her emerging from the rubble sends her on the ride of her life. What does she know?

The setting of the embassy in Turkey is really what first interested me about this story. This unusual place, customs and people added so much to the saga. But, the character development in the tale is really weak. I had no connection whatsoever to any of them. Christina, the boss of the CIA, is the worst. To me…and this is my opinion, she is not the force she should be.

The intrigue and the location is what kept me reading. It is a wild ride and action packed. With many plot twists and conspiracies you never know what spin will be next.

This novel is not due for release until April. Forgive the early review. Plus, I usually do not say much about the price of an ebook…but $12.99 for this one….I would wait for a sale.

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