Most of the rest were just ok. 21 short stories with themes of revenge or vengeance. I hesitate to read short stories. More often than not something doesn’t get developed enough - characters, motivations, plot. Some of my harsh ratings below are because of this. Those same authors would probably get a higher rating from me for their full length novels. But, it can be done. Two of the short stories were excellent - by Michael Connelly and Darrell James. The stories below are in the same order as in the book.
3 stars. THE 14th JUROR by Twist Phelan.
Two police detectives talk to a judge. The ending was too abrupt. I wanted to see specifically what would happen to the recipient of the revenge.
1 star. LOST AND FOUND by Zoe Sharp.
This was a weird combination of second and third person point of views. “You” are being attacked. “He” is doing the attacking. Throughout the story the author switches back and forth between what “You” are thinking and feeling and what “He” is thinking and doing. I was frustrated and confused. This was too subtle for me. I didn’t like the ending. I wanted to know what was going to happen to “He.”
2 stars. THE MOTHER by Alafair Burke.
The main story was pretty good - 3 stars. But the ending was unfinished - 1 star. It left me hanging. A bad guy was discovered, and I have no idea what will happen with him. One storyline is who will have custody of a two-year-old girl who had been raped.
1 star. BLIND JUSTICE by Jim Fusilli.
Angie and Turnip are two guys who interact with organized crime types. Relationships could not be fully shown because there were too many characters. Motivations and actions were vague. I didn’t know who did what or why. I didn’t know what the bad guy did that caused a need for revenge. The revenge was referred to, not shown. At the end one guy asks “Dead or alive?” The other guy says “What do you think?” This ending was too vague.
3 ½ stars. THE CONSUMERS by Dennis Lehane.
A broker sells bad investments causing people to lose money. He also beats his wife. The story was good until the end. A character got revenge, but I wasn’t clear about his motives. I wanted to understand him better.
3 stars. MOONSHINER’S LAMENT by Rick McMahan.
Too much was too vague. I didn’t see motives for Goat’s actions after he left the men in the woods. Then I vaguely knew what happened to the men in the woods. I needed to know more about the bad guy’s motivations and actions.
2 stars. RIVER SECRET by Anne Swardson.
A street musician sees a little girl with her mother. Too much subtlety. Not obvious enough.
3 stars. HOT SUGAR BLUES by Steve Liskow.
A lot of time was spent with things the bad guy musician did which was depressing. His victims were wimps because they were powerless or they didn’t choose their actions well. Someone gets revenge which was ok, but the overall story was depressing.
3 ½ stars. THE FINAL BALLAD by Brendan DuBois.
Good story. It’s about what happens after Beth’s daughter was beaten by the son of a senator.
2 stars. AFRICA ALWAYS NEEDS GUNS by Michael Niemann.
So, so. I couldn’t get into the characters. An investigator needs to examine cargo. The pilot won’t let him.
2 stars. THE UNREMARKABLE HEART by Karin Slaughter.
This didn’t feel like revenge or vengeance. The main character is dying and her main crime was trusting someone she shouldn’t have and saying some mean things to others. As a story it’s ok but it’s depressing about someone dying. There is a shocking surprise at the end.
2 stars. IT AIN’T RIGHT by Michelle Gagnon.
Too subtle. Don’t know what happened. Joe and his wife may have done something bad. I didn’t see any revenge or vengeance in this story. It’s possible my mind wandered and I missed it?
3 stars. SILENT JUSTICE by C.E. Lawrence.
A killer confesses to a priest. Ok story.
4 stars. EVEN A BLIND MAN by Darrell James.
Young girl is in trouble. Her grandfather travels across the country by bus to find her and help her. He pretends to be blind, but he is not. This was very good.
2 stars. THE GENERAL by Janice Law Trecker.
Not a pleasant story. Not enjoyable. The General did evil things when he was in power which are recalled. The ending has some revenge, but it was more sad than good.
4 ½ to 5 stars. A FINE MIST OF BLOOD by Michael Connelly.
Yay! I love Harry Bosch! This is another installment in that series. It was my favorite story in this book. Detective Bosch is investigating a murder. At first I was drawn in because I thought “how in the world is he going to catch this person?” Later there was suspense, and I was worried about Bosch. Then my favorite part was the person who got revenge - that was a surprise. I didn’t expect it. And, we had a complete ending. So to Michael Connelly, thank you, you write so well!
3 stars. LEVERAGE by Mike Cooper.
The subject matter was depressing. Much of the story is about employees of a company being terminated and losing their pensions. One of the employees wants to do something about it. It was ok, but I didn’t feel much. At least the ending was complete.
3 stars. THE HOTLINE by Dreda Say Mitchell.
Ruckshana wears a Muslim head scarf when working at the bank. Her boss lies to her and is behind her firing. It’s an ok story.
3 stars. BLOOD AND SUNSHINE by Adam Meyer.
It was ok but odd. I was frustrated that the author didn’t say what happened to the baby. I’m still troubled by that. Eddie is a college student working at a day care center/camp for kids during the summer. Dillon is a five-year-old who is sneaky and evil. This is a dark story. The good guy gets revenge but did something evil to get it. It left me with an unsettled feeling.
3 stars. IN PERSONA CHRISTY by Orest Stelmach.
Maria and her son Manuel flee Mexico and live with a priest in a Connecticut parish. Her husband was killed by bad guys. Several years earlier Father Nathan lost his right arm and right leg and wears prosthetics. The ending was pretty good about someone saving the day and getting some revenge.
3 stars. THE HOLLYWOOD I REMEMBER by Lee Child.
The main character is a killer for hire. He kills prostitutes who threaten to talk/blackmail their clients. Someone wants revenge and to see him in jail. The revenge he gets is unexpected. This was ok at best.
Genre: mystery suspense.
This is a police procedural. We accompany Ellie (a homicide detective) as she investigates murders by a serial killer. Michael Connolly does the same thing with his character Harry Bosch. But with Bosch I am intrigued and fascinated. I did not feel that way with this book. It was dry, almost plodding. Both authors use twists and surprises, but for some reason Connolly does it better. I don’t know how to explain why.
If you look at the plot and what happens in outline form, it sounds good.
Toward the end I was disappointed with Ellie’s mistakes/stupidity which caused bad things to happen. She is sneaking up on someone but doesn’t turn her cell phone off so it rings and gives her away. She knows who the killer is and goes there alone. She enters a dangerous room and doesn’t check behind the door.
I was also disappointed with the ending. If two cops and another told the truth about why they did something or their investigation process, the killer might go free. So they agreed to lie to make sure the killer would not get off. I did not understand that. I wish the author spelled that out better. I thought what they did seemed legit. It wasn’t like planting evidence.
There are no sex scenes other than briefly mentioning a couple had sex while spending the night together.
This is book #1 in the Ellie Hatcher series. So far there are five in the series.
Christopher Lane was good. But I was not pleased with his voice for Ellie. It was odd, maybe too rushed.
Genre: crime mystery.
The story plods along. It was hard to stay interested. The characters were the weakest part. They were not interesting. No chemistry. No intrique. A plot was developed, and the bad guys got it in the end. But I didn’t care. I just wanted the book to end. The bad guy killed and hurt so many people. Those were the depressing thoughts left with me at the end. I would have liked some happier feelings.
The romantic relationship between Dawson and Amelia was not well developed. I didn’t feel any chemistry. There were two intense kissing scenes and three sex scenes. The sex scenes were vaguely described and short.
Stephen Lang should not read romance novels. He does not read with sensuality or sexuality. Tom Stechshulte was fabulous when he read a guy’s lines in another book, I was melting. If Tom were reading this book he would have put very different feelings in both the hero and heroine voices. But Lang was stilted and wooden. The hero should have feelings of desire and treasuring her. Lang’s voice had none of that. It was not sexy. Also, I did not like any of his voices for women. Throughout the book the heroine’s dialogue sounded wimpy, weak and wan. A different feeling by the narrator could have made her more interesting. Instead she was blah. Harriet’s voice was weird and cartoonish. The narrator grew up in Queens, NY. He still has some of that accent for example, he says ar rent (for aren’t) were rent (for weren’t) and sometimes: har or huh (for her).
Sandra Brown is hit or miss with me. My favorite books of hers are Mean Streak, Envy, and Mirror Image.
Genre: mystery suspense with romance.
It was hard each time I had to make myself stop.
If you’re looking for a good romantic suspense, this is one.
She’s back! For awhile, the author was getting away from romantic suspense. Some of her stuff was good until the endings – too brief – not happy – not romantic. This one is good!
I think the author has two types of fans. Romance lovers should like this. Her mystery fans may not. Mystery fans complain about suspending disbelief, unrealistic actions, and stereotyped characters. That didn’t bother me. The best thing about this is the RELATIONSHIP mystery, intrigue, intensity, and interaction.
Telling why I liked the book will give away something important. So I put it in my review of this book on Goodreads and Amazon, coded as a Spoiler.
There were some things a bit contrived, but I was willing to accept them. One had to do with the author not showing motivation for a character’s actions. Another was the heroine doing something stupid, going off alone with an uncharged phone and no weapon. But the rest was so engaging that I felt five stars anyway.
There were five sex scenes. Two of them maybe a page long, the others shorter.
Jonathan Davis was very good. He’s not a favorite but good enough. I was pleased with his voices for women.
Genre: romantic suspense.
I love stories about unusual relationships, and this is one of the best.
But it needs a pdf file for pictures. Pictures are in the physical book, but the audiobook buyers lose out. There are some pictures on the website lawrenceanthony dot co dot za
As to the story, this is truth stranger than fiction. It’s wonderful to watch a man talk to angry wild elephants. Emotions are communicated both ways. It shows there are other senses than those we normally think about or accept.
The story is what it’s like to run a game preserve in southern Africa. There are problems with employees, poachers, and working with local tribal leaders. And of course problems with the animals. The animals are Lawrence’s family -- his children. There is always some new thing he needs to attend to. But the story is mostly about Lawrence and the elephants. It’s a true story. And it’s fabulous.
Too many true stories are depressing with bad things happening to animals. But this is not. The main animal and human characters do not die. There are some animal deaths, but the ending feels good.
The audiobook narrator Simon Vance did an excellent job.
Bad recording equipment picked up narrator’s breaths. Needs a pdf file for pictures.
I learned a lot but it was long. At times it dragged. A different author could have been more selective. I feel like Goodwin’s goal was to provide as much information as possible, so a historian would be pleased to find a diary entry that he had not read before. I stayed with it because it was good for me. I’m glad I read it, but it was not as compelling or engaging as I hoped.
At times the subject matter was depressing. So many deaths in that war. I admired the morality of northerners willing to support the war against slavery. I was surprised and admired how Lincoln got enemies and those with conflicts to work together. He always took blame so others would not look bad.
I was surprised at how cowardly some northern generals were. Lincoln could not find good generals. The ones he had were afraid to attack and afraid to chase. Most of the fighting was when the South attacked. In one case McClellan was ordered to move his troops to help another general. McClellan wouldn’t do it. At the same time Grant was out west fiercely fighting and winning. Lincoln was so happy to finally have a general who would fight, so he put Grant in charge of the whole thing. I was impressed with Lee’s brilliant military leadership in the south.
Also memorable was Lincoln’s desire to forgive. One of his cabinet members Chase campaigned against Lincoln for reelection and said negative things about Lincoln. After Chase lost, Lincoln gave another assignment to Chase because Chase was the best man for the country. Lincoln wanted to help the South recover after the war. He did not want to punish the South. Booth was so stupid to kill Lincoln. He was angry at freeing the slaves. But he killed the one man who would have forgiven and helped the South the most.
The awe of the Gettysburg Address. Reading it now in the middle of this book is so different from when I read it in high school. I have more understanding of what was going on, and it made the Address more powerful.
There needs to be a PDF file for audiobook buyers for pictures and illustrations that were in the physical book.
Suzanne Toren is a good reader for this book. But the recording equipment picked up her BREATHS. Her breathing was sooo distracting and sooo annoying. Recording people: Please solve this problem! I don’t hear other narrators breathing.
But it’s still fun.
I will always read the new Jack Reacher book. I like being in this world. He had about three or four beat em up scenes. Those were fun. But the story was not very good. There was a lot of going-nowhere-talk. My mind wandered at times. The author used the following phrase a lot. I smile when I hear it because it’s typical Reacher. “I said nothing.” “He said nothing.”
Most of the Reacher books have been 3rd person narratives, so I was not happy with this done in 1st person.
This is book 19 in the Jack Reacher series. I gave 4 or more stars to the first seven books except for Running Blind.
The narrator Dick Hill was very good.
Genre: mystery suspense.
but I was not taken. It dragged.
Maybe it was just a hard-to-work-with-plot and uninteresting characters. Everyone keeps secrets from Lucas - good guys and bad guys. Even Nadia his partner does not tell him things. It was a slow process of puzzle solving. The ending was lackluster. It was not wrapped up well, but I didn’t care much. I was glad it was over.
A group of Russian families has been in the U.S. for decades. They consider themselves spies for Russia even though they rarely have contact with Russia and don’t do much. They kill a Russian. Nadia arrives from Russia to investigate and works with Lucas.
I don’t like the way the author writes women. He makes them weak, incompetent, or not smart in order to make Lucas look good. I don’t require strong smart heroines in everything I read. It’s ok to have weak characters in either sex. But make the main female character quirky, unusual, or something. So far in the three books I’ve read, I come out with an empty feeling about women. They are cardboard.
Here’s an example. Nadia and a guy are in a room. Killer enters and shoots the guy then runs out. Lucas is nearby, hears gunshots, and sees the killer running. Lucas goes to Nadia and sees the guy shot. Lucas calls 911 giving information, tells Nadia to stay with the guy, and then runs off to chase the killer. Lucas is a good runner and gets close to the killer. Why didn’t Nadia do anything? She could have called 911. But no, Lucas has to delay his chase to make the phone call while Nadia stands there and watches. Why couldn’t Nadia chase the killer? Nadia is a Russian agent, not a shrinking violet fragile female. She’s cardboard.
I was eager to read about Letty, a 12-year-old Lucas meets in book #14 (the previous book). She shoots a rifle and traps muskrats. I hoped she would have a bigger role in this book, but she had no role. The only thing said was Lucas was her guardian.
I was impatient with Nadia’s dialogue. She asked too many word meanings which dragged the dialogue. Examples: “The others were tarnished and even had some, I don’t know the English, green coloring on the brass.” “How do you say...” “What’s this ‘upside’?”
Richard Ferrone was good for general narration and men, but not women. He made them sound weird.
Genre: mystery suspense thriller.
Letty could have been better. Last half was good entertainment.
I read book #1 in the series and did not like the womanizing element of Lucas. In this book #14 he’s married, so that should be less. But his female characters come across as cardboard. Part of it is women desiring men, but I don’t see men having intense desire for women. The men are magnets and don’t do anything to earn the attraction. It’s male wishful thinking. It’s a subtle undercurrent. I accept the author’s choice to not have smart, strong, competent women in his character mix. But at least give me something sassy, quirky, or unusual about some women.
The opening murder scene had me glued to the page. Then it was slow creating the back story about everyone. But the last half was top notch. Very engaging. But, when it was over I was confused. I did not know who did what or how in the kidnappings. Who told Sorrell about Deon and Jane? What happened to Joe Kelly?
I was disappointed with Letty but only because of my expectations. She is 11. Lucas meets her in this book and she supposedly continues as a character in future books. But I read the next book (#15) and she had no role in that. Letty traps muskrats for money and carries a rifle. I was hoping she’d have an unusual attitude or ability. But her dialogue and behavior were like a regular person - kind of flat.
I was happy that justice was done and the bad guys “got it” in the end.
I really liked the following. Someone was wondering who was more likely to commit a crime. “Deon was this ocean of want. He wanted money and he wanted dope and he wanted cars and he wanted clothes and he wanted to go to Vegas and LA and he wanted season tickets for basketball. Lauren didn’t seem to want anything. He didn’t seem to care about anything or even do anything other than sleep with Katina.”
Richard Ferrone was good in a lot of ways, but I did not like some of his female voices – especially Letty. I also did not like some of his interpretations. For example “What does that mean? She growled.” He read this as a whine not a growl.
Genre: mystery suspense thriller.
My mind wandered.
Part of the problem was the audiobook narrator Ralph Cosham. He read in a monotone voice.
The first half dragged, but things got interesting in the last third. Ruth likes to collect suffering, to create suffering, and to be around suffering. That intrigued me. I wanted more with her. The author wrote “people who have been hurt a lot either pass it on and become abusers or develop great kindness.” I liked that idea. I wish the author did more with that.
Agent Nichol was a new assistant to Gamache. She was incompetent and lied. Because of her incompetence the wrong will was read and the wrong people took possession of the deceased’s house. They messed with evidence. I was angry at Nichol. I wanted more pain and punishment to her than what she got. But I was equally disturbed with police procedure. An outside investigator is called in to investigate a suspicious death. He allows a suspect to take possession of the deceased’s home? And he does not search the home for evidence because the suspect doesn’t want him to? And he accepts that? That is INSPECTOR STUPIDITY. I don’t want to read that.
I wanted to see the killer’s words and reactions after he was caught. But that was not shown, which means I did not get to feel good about justice for the bad guy. I needed to know more about him – more character development.
Below average for the audiobook narrator’s accent.
The narrator used an English accent that bothered me. The phrase “look what I got” sounded like “loo wha I gah.” A little of that would be ok, but not the whole book. I enjoy books using the elegant upper class British accent, but not what was used here. On the other hand, the narrator was good with emotional interpretations and general narration.
The best part of the story was the character development. I enjoyed the interactions among the person in charge, the nurses, and the patients.
The story is told in 1st person by Kitty. I would have preferred 3rd person. Kitty pretends to be a nurse to get the job. I did not like her enough. I was not intrigued with her enough. When she pondered something, I didn’t care about her feelings and perceptions. For example “I spent a long moment breathing in the clean night air and watching the few trees winking in the moonlight. How long had this day been, a year? two?” That’s a nice sentence, but it’s almost like I didn’t want to hear her talk.
As to the story and events, the first 2/3 was kind of slow. The last 1/3 was better. The events and actions were not different or special enough. At the end I felt the author threw in some sex and romance that felt out of place. There was not enough prior relationship development.
There were two ghosts. One was bad. The resolution of the bad ghost was unfinished. I saw no logic for what happened with the other ghost. I was unsatisfied.
Genre: paranormal mystery with suspense.
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