THE NIGHT AGENT by Matthew Quirk

January 17, 2019

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Peter Sutherland’s father was an agent with the FBI and Peter always looked up to him, wanting nothing less than to join that elite group when he was old enough. Unfortunately, his father’s reputation was destroyed when he was suspected of selling secrets to the Russians. The man’s place within the FBI was destroyed, his reputation tarnished and he eventually died with the shame of the disgrace hanging over him.

Peter still manages to enter the bureau but finds that the taint of his father’s alleged crime hangs heavily on him. It appears that he does not have a chance for any sort of a meaningful promotional opportunity when he is tapped to work in the White House situation room, manning a phone during the evening. His job consists of answering the phone if it ever rings, listening for a special code phrase and passing the call onto one of his two supervisors.

Bored to tears with the complete inactivity Peter still comes to work every night he is assigned to until one night at l:05 a.m the phone rings. A woman identifying herself as Rose, and completely rattled, indicates that her Aunt and Uncle have been killed and the murderer is still in the house. Peter reacts quickly, giving Rose instructions on getting away from the house, meanwhile setting up her rescue via the Secret Service and the D.C. police.

By involving himself with Rose’s predicament, Peter is thrown into a conspiracy that is years old and reaches to the very top of the U.S. government. To save his country Peter must begin by bending all rules and coming to the realization that anyone; even the U.S. president, could be a mole involved in destroying the government. Quirk shifts gears frequently and the reader will change opinions often. Even Rose, with whom Peter manages to begin a romance, is suspect due to her overly calm attitude and apparently more than professional reactions to events.

Character portrayal is well developed by the author, and the reader will get to know all the personnel, their thoughts, reactions and emotions to events being described. Peter is not superman; he can be hurt, could even be killed and wonders if his straying from policy will do more harm than good for him. I have had the good fortune to have read other Matthew Quirk novels in the past; all are engrossing, well done with plots and events built in that stand out and make sure that his books are sought after. I am certainly on line for his next outing and have no qualms about recommending the same to any reader looking for a great read.

1/19 Paul Lane

THE NIGHT AGENT by Matthew Quirk. William Morrow (January 15, 2019). ISBN 978-0062875464. 432p.

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WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

January 13, 2019

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From the publisher:

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?


Have you seen the movie “Love, Simon”? It’s streaming on Netflix and is based on the book, Simon and the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. So when a friend (thanks, Caitlin!) recommended this book and mentioned that, I was in. It’s a terrific movie and this book is terrific as well.

This is a young adult gay love story, but you certainly don’t have to be a young adult or gay to enjoy it. The characters are likable and real, and I loved the New York City setting. Ben is a native New Yorker, Arthur is visiting for the summer and you get to see the city from both their perspectives, which is really interesting. But it is the characters that drew me in and kept me turning the pages. The book is often funny, sometimes sad, but always charming. Highly recommended – I hope this is made into a movie as well.

1/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera. HarperTeen (October 9, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062795250.  448p.

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Virgin River Series by Robyn Carr (books 8-18)

January 12, 2019

So I’ve been neglectful of this site for the last week or so for a couple of reasons. First, I got a new job and I’ve been acclimating and learning a lot. But also because I’ve been reading this series. On Christmas Eve day, I started reading Virgin River and I got so caught up in it I haven’t read anything else. So 18 books later, I’m done. Well, there are a couple of novellas that I had to order through interlibrary loan from my library and then I’ll really be finished. Here is the series in order:

1. Virgin River
2. Shelter Mountain
3. Whispering Rock
4. A Virgin River Christmas
5. Second chance pass
6. Temptation ridge
7. Paradise valley
8. Forbidden Falls
9. Angel’s Peak
10. Moonlight road
11. Promise canyon
12. Wild man creek
13. Harvest moon
14. Bring me home for Christmas
15. Hidden summit
16. Redwood Bend
17. Sunrise Point
18. My kind of Christmas

Virgin River is the name of a small town set in the mountains of northern California (I think?) Somewhere in California, it’s a fictitious town and I’m geographically challenged in reality, never mind in fiction. Most of the men are retired military and big, strapping extraordinarily good looking men, and most of the women are strong, independent and drop dead gorgeous. These are romances,  people, and this goes with the territory. The characters overlap somewhat but the first book, Virgin River, starts with Jack & Mel Sheridan getting together and they are in all of the books thereafter.

Needless to say, I loved this series. The books are fast reading and the characters are really brought to life. Everyone has baggage, and most have to overcome difficulties, some more serious than others, but all got me emotionally invested.

There is a bit of explicit sex in every book, usually just a couple of scenes, all of which, I’m sorry to say, are very similar. Let’s just say you can tell the same author wrote all these sex scenes. The men are all determined to take care of their women’s pleasure first, a good attribute and one I recommend all men take to heart. But it is the emotional connections that really resonate.

I do recommend reading the books in order although once you get past the first two or three, it isn’t as important.

Here is a link to the series on Amazon; if you are going to buy any of these books, please do so through this link so I  can make a few cents!


THE BURGLAR by Thomas Perry

January 9, 2019

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Ellie Stowell, the main character in Perry’s novel, is a young, very bright, pretty girl who has a way of making her living in a most unorthodox manner. She breaks into the homes of the rich and helps herself to money or salable items. She is really a very considerate woman. If someone leaves the water on she will turn it off, or if something else needs an adjustment to prevent damage to the house she will do something to rectify the situation. She has evolved a collection of the proper equipment to do her job, has a usable knowledge of art and other possibly salable items and has made her work into a profession.

The story begins with Ellie breaking into a house and coming across three dead bodies, killed by single shots to the head and laid out on a bed. She discovers a motion picture camera still running which the assassin did not discover. Ellie takes the camera with her and finds that she can alter the film to not show her entering the room. Her problems begin at this point when she finds out that the killer or killers have somehow discovered her presence and begin hunting her in order to eliminate the one witness that can probably point them out to the police.

It is obvious that Perry has done quite a bit of research on methods used by professional thieves and incorporates these into the novel. “The Burglar” is a fun read and Ellie comes across as a cute young lady that enjoys herself, making a living out of the activities described. Looking at the action and the logical ending it did occur to me that sequels to the book incorporating Ellie Stowell would be an easy thing to envision. I would certainly recommend looking for them in addition to reading the present book.

1/19 Paul Lane

THE BURGLAR by Thomas Perry. Mysterious Press (January 8, 2019)).  ISBN 978-0802129000. 304p.

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AN ANONYMOUS GIRL by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

January 8, 2019

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The authors’ first book together, “The Wife Between Us,” was a psychological thriller detailing one man married to a woman with the man having an affair with another girl. The book was an engrossing story with turns and twists that kept the reader changing opinions about results and at the same time simply glued to the novel.

The current book definitely follows suit with a plot that keeps the reader guessing and glued. The interactions are between a psychiatrist and a young woman.

Jessica Farris is recently arrived in New York City and like many is having trouble making a living. We meet her as she goes from customer to customer applying makeup to prepare that woman for an evening out; a show, a wedding or other event. During a visit to a customer she learns that a psychiatrist has invited the woman to take part in a study on ethics and morality with generous compensation offered. When Jessica hears her customer declining to take part in the study she decides that she will take her place in order to earn the money.

The psychiatrist , Dr. Shields, sets up a sequence and Jessica finds the questions posed are very personal. She decides to answer them truthfully since the tester has promised answers to be completely confidential. She is invited back for followups with the result that Dr. Shields, who is a very sophisticated and highly educated woman, invites Jessica to continue the testing via personal visits as directed. We follow Jessica’s thoughts as she enters into the requirements posed by the doctor and begins earning more money for this work.
Where is all this going, especially when one of the other participants in the study was found murdered. What is the upshot of the story and where does Jessica as well as Dr. Shields fit into it.

Another winner for the authors and another reason to continue seeking their books as they come out.

1/19 Paul Lane

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. St. Martin’s Press (January 8, 2019).  ISBN 978-1250133731. 384p.

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INVISIBLE by Andrew Grant

January 7, 2019

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Paul McGrath came from a well to do family with his father wanting him to enter the family business. Paul rebelled against the idea desiring to make things happen on his own. He consequently joined the army where he made it to the top of his military intelligence team.

After many years he felt that he had to return home to make things right with his father with whom he had become estranged. He returned and found that his father had passed away, but not until there was a fight with the partner his father had taken into his business since Paul did not want in. The fight had resulted in a court battle in which Paul’s father had seemingly come out ahead until a critical piece of evidence went missing.

The case was postponed indefinitely pending finding the missing evidence and that is the prelude to our interesting story. The police suggest to Paul that he take a job in the courthouse and look for the evidence. They insist that it could not have been stolen due to the very tight procedures in place protecting property used in litigation and must be someplace in the court facilities.

Paul does get a job at the court house and immediately gets pulled into becoming Robin Hood through helping other people with their own problems with court findings. In all probability Mr Grant has created an individual that can be used in other novels and has requisite skills to take on a myriad of work.

The novel is well done, describing Paul and the other people that take part in the story allowing the reader to get to know them and their place in the tale. If Grant is setting up Paul McGrath as a future principal character, the novels featuring him will be welcome and awaited.

1/19 Paul Lane

INVISIBLE by Andrew Grant. Ballantine Books (January 8, 2019). ISBN 978-0525619598. 320p.


THE ONE YOU FIGHT FOR by Roni Loren

January 3, 2019

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The Ones Who Got Away, Book 3

From the publisher:

How hard would you fight for the one you love?

Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault.

Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life’s work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan…

Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother’s horrific actions. After losing everything―his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity―he’s changed his name, his look, and he’s finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?

When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy…
How do you find your happy ending?

The Ones Who Got Away Series:
The Ones Who Got Away (Book 1)
The One You Can’t Forget (Book 2)
The One You Fight For (Book 3)

“Another stunning and moving addition to her series about survivors of the shooting… Truly exceptional.” – Booklist

“Loren’s gripping third look into the lives of survivors of a mass shooting will leave readers breathless… A must-read for fans of contemporary romance.” – Publishers Weekly

“Loren continues her breathtaking The Ones Who Got Away series…deftly and elegantly explores guilt and forgiveness as Taryn learns to truly open her heart to Shaw and his love. Extraordinary. ” – Kirkus


I am loving this series and as you can see by the blurbs above, I’m not alone. Loren takes a really difficult subject, a school shooting at a high school, and follows three (so far) of the surviving girls and in this case, the brother of the shooter as well.

It is not always an easy read – I was deeply affected by the Parkland school shooting that was just a few miles from my home. But Loren handles the difficult subject matter with great sensitivity and care.

An excellent addition to the series. There is a fourth book planned.

01/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ONE YOU FIGHT FOR by Roni Loren. Sourcebooks Casablanca (January 1, 2019).  ISBN 978-1492651468.  384p.

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THE WOMAN IN THE BLUE CLOAK by Deon Meyer

January 2, 2019

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A short book, a novella written by the South African author Deon Meyer and featuring detectives Benny Griessel with his partner Vaughn Cupido.

The two are described replete with their usual back and forth kidding and the setting in Capetown. The plot involves the murder of a woman, originally an American, currently living in London and visiting South Africa for the first time. She has been found dead, her body naked and draped across a rock.

Benny and Vaughn are assigned the case and involve the up to date scientific methods utilized by modern police departments to work it. A pleasant side bar to the detective work is Benny’s financial problems in buying an engagement ring for his live in girl friend. We get to the end of the novel with a solution which utilizes Mr Meyer’s knowledge of the art world.

The story is entertaining, easy enough to read in a few pleasant hours, but far from Deon Meyer’s normal novels featuring Benny and Vaughn. The author has already introduced his audience to his main characters so that there is no surprise in their investigations. But there is nothing in the telling of the story that makes it anything but a pleasant way to spend a few spare hours. Those readers familiar with the detectives should certainly continue to seek out future books involving them, and the entertaining style invite back new readers not enthralled with them.

1/19 Paul Lane

THE WOMAN IN THE BLUE CLOAK by Deon Meyer. Hodder & Stoughton (October 4, 2018).  ISBN 978-1529309263. 160p.


Virgin River Series by Robyn Carr

December 30, 2018

I started reading this series on Christmas Eve and I’m up to book 7 and going strong. I’ve read some of Carr’s books in the Grace Valley series, which are related, (rather like Macomber’s series) but then I read that Netflix is turning this into a TV series so I wanted to read them first.

I am really enjoying these books and looking forward to the Netflix series.

“Welcome to Virgin River, a rugged outpost deep in California’s redwood forests built by men of honor for the women they love. Pull up a chair at Jack’s Bar, catch up on the local gossip, order Preacher’s meatloaf and relax. These people will do anything to help one another, strangers welcome—and you won’t be a stranger for long.”

A Note from Robyn on Virgin River and Netflix

Here’s the series order: https://www.goodreads.com/series/41475-virgin-river

Some of the cast has been announced

 


LOVE IN CATALINA COVE by Brenda Jackson

December 29, 2018

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Catalina Cove Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

In her brand-new series, Brenda Jackson welcomes you to Catalina Cove, where even the biggest heartbreaks can be healed…

In the wake of a devastating teen pregnancy that left her childless and heartbroken, Vashti Alcindor left Catalina Cove, Louisiana, with no plans to return. Now, over a decade later, Vashti reluctantly finds herself back in her hometown after inheriting her aunt’s B and B. Her homecoming gets off to a rocky start when the new sheriff, Sawyer Grisham, pulls her over for speeding, and things go downhill from there.

The B and B, a place she’d always found refuge in when it seemed like the whole world was against her, has fallen into disrepair. When a surprising benefactor encourages Vashti to reopen the B and B, Vashti embraces a fresh start, and soon old hurts begin to fade as she makes new memories with the town—and its handsome sheriff…

But some pasts are too big to escape, and when a bombshell of a secret changes everything she thought was true, Vashti is left reeling. With Sawyer and his teenage daughter determined to see her through the storm, though, she’s learning family isn’t always a matter of blood—sometimes it’s a matter of heart.


Am I finally getting the hang of reading a series in order? Maybe?

Getting a traffic ticket is the meet-cute here. The sparks fly between them and as much as they try and fight it, ultimately they can’t.

A charming small seaside town makes for a lovely setting. I just wish some old aunt would leave me her bed & breakfast but that is not my lot in life. It works in many Hallmark movies and romance novels though, and it certainly works here. I liked the Creole heroine but I wish there was a bit more reference to the culture, maybe that will come in further books in the series.

I really cared about these characters and I wanted them to get together. I loved the relationship Sawyer had with his daughter and that Vashti had with her as well. There are some really good twists in the story – one I saw coming but the other was quite the shocker.

I didn’t care as much for the sex scenes, I don’t think they were especially well done or believable. Writing about sex is not easy and in this case, I would have preferred a lot less of it (which is really not like me!)

Despite that, it was a very good read and I will definitely be looking for the next book in this series.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LOVE IN CATALINA COVE by Brenda Jackson. HQN; Original edition (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-1335005649. 480p.

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