Toni

The way I see it

"A Rumored Fortune", by Joanna Davidson Politano

A Rumored Fortune - Joanna Davidson Politano
In this historical romance set during the Victorian era we find a destitute heiress and her greedy relatives competing in a fast-paced treasure hunt to find a vast fortune hidden somewhere on a vineyard estate in the south of England.

This is a cute story that is mainly told through Tressa Harlowe’s viewpoint. Although it has a religious undertone it provides a lot of intrigue within its pages to have kept me interested from the starting point. Anyways, who doesn’t love a treasure hunt which is paired with wonderful characters and plunges the members of a family into an exciting mystery, no doubt, you will inevitably end up with a pretty good story one that will have you flipping the pages to see the end result. Clean style, no inappropriate language nor profound spiritual truths emanating throughout, this book is elegantly penned for all to enjoy. Along the way, we learn some ins and outs about vineyards and passages in Scripture concerning vines. Not a bad mix.

I enjoyed many of the characters but my favourite is Donegan Vance, he is blunt, kind and loyal, a stark contrast from most other players in this story. Tressa is a soul in need of rescue and the author’s words highlights her growing despair. God is her only source of hope till she reached the moment of sudden insight…..awe…..and love is in the air……..These two individuals made the whole story a charm to read.

I received this ARC from the publisher via the First Reviewers Program 
 
 

 

"The Norma Conquest", by Warren Adler

The Norma Conquest - Warren Adler

Mr. Adler is at the top of my favourite authors list. His style is so diverse you never know what genre he will surprise us with next. In his huge varied library we find psychological and political thrillers, fantasy, romance, mysteries, comedy, family relationships, historical fiction, cozy and short story. Boy what a prolific author. I am happy to be one of his faithful fan and member of his reviewing team.

“The Norma Conquest” offers a brief view into the last hurrahs by a long time agitator and now a homeless activist in a battle to save a women’s shelter from being relocated. Norma is the underdog that will lead the fight against a tycoon and his partners till she gives her last breath. The story is both heartbreaking and joyous when Norma’s ill health brings her daughter Jenny back to her after years apart. Family bonds are stronger than we can imagine……

I love this story but it took time before I put things together 70 pages or so by then I slowly realized that I was being pulled into a captivating quest alongside Norma and Jenny to save the homeless women their home. This is a wonderful and extremely well written story that is played by well-drawn characters even the evil men are attractive. The rapprochement between mother and daughter is very touching, in the long run both reached the same vision and ideas but sadly it came too late…..A warning the narrative and dialogue are street jargon and we have a lot of the F words…..exactly what one would hear….well-done Mr. Adler this story was well worth passing time with.

"Ark of Blood", by J.F. Penn

Ark of Blood: An ARKANE Thriller Book 3 (Volume 3) - J F Penn

Also under the title “Exodus”

Book # 3, in the Arkane series

This novel may be the 3rd book in the Arkane series but it isn’t the 3rd I have enjoyed so far. I have read and reviewed most of them out of sync and I assure you that I never felt lost choosing one book over the other. Each has its own merits and its own interesting story to tell. “Ark of Blood” brings us mainly to Cairo, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

This fiction is a solid mix of fact and mythology with plenty of action and intrigue. The story centers on a search for the sacred Ark of the Covenant by competing sides who want to derail the fragile peace summit in Israel. Morgan Sierra, our heroine, will do anything to avoid this to happen.

Against the backdrop of the escalating violence in the Middle East, Ms. Penn’s richly writes a plot that is a well-researched escapade into the mystic world where Morgan will face Natasha, her nemesis, in a cat and mouse game as they pursue the Ark at any cost. The fast-moving action sequences are skillfully incorporated with Morgan’s inner battles with life and death. Ms. Penn skills lie on her ability to paint rich details and intricate observations to draw us in. This story shocks and has graphic ritual scenes of killings that will impress. 

Although this story is excellent it did not grab me as much as all the others I have read in the past. In this one, much time was dedicated on the rich narrative to the expense of the plot. Finding the Ark was too easy and the outcome so predictable….Good story but not my preferred.

Copy of this book was provided by the author 

"At Once", by John W. Mefford

AT Once (An Alex Troutt Thriller, Book 3) - John W. Mefford
An Alex Trout Thriller book #3

This book is part of the Redemption Thriller series

Who doesn’t like a mystery that is full of sass and suspense, Mr. Mefford provides plenty of it with this one. Even if it is part of a series “At Once” can be read on its own, although I always prefer reading books in sequel. No worries if you pick it up at this point, the author does introduce his characters without overwhelming us with their past, so we can easily slip into the drama and not be totally lost. It has been awhile since I read book #2 and I had no trouble getting into the swing of things……

At center stage is FBI Agent Alex Troutt. In the opening pages Alex is called out to investigate murders in the Boston area: someone is detonating bombs killing priests and targeting individuals. But her job doesn’t stop there she is also asked by FBI assistant director to go undercover investigating one of their own who may have ties to known terrorist…. Alex is one of those kick-ass Agents…. No more spoilers from me…..

Snail pace may be too fast to describe how this mystery moves along but having said this I do think we are given a suspenseful story with plenty of twists and turns to derailed us. A mix of well-defined characters: some charismatic good people and some colourful evil ones play their roles with a good doze of entertainment. The setting of the old city of Boston and its very well-traveled shady neighborhoods couldn’t be better including the visit to a pawn shop that brings a spin on its own. We also have a touch a humour and some almost burlesque moments to make us smile….

This book is dialogue driven from cover to cover. In alternate chapters, the investigators as well as the perpetrators do a lot of bickering and exchanges. In the long run I got tired of this and at time I simply tuned out. One of my pet peeves here…..the unnecessary repetitive dialogue. The second pet peeves: Unrealistic action. 

Most reviewers enjoyed immensely this book. It may not have been one of my favourites but this series is too good not to keep up with it. 
 
 

 

"Zeb Carter", by Ty Patterson

Zeb Carter - Ty Patterson

Book #1, in the Zeb Carter series

This is a new series by Mr. Patterson that is quite promising. Although it may seem weird for those who are fans of the author’s main series to go back in time when Zeb Carter was a young man and not yet the head of his Warriors Enterprise, this spin off brings us deeper into Zeb’s character and straight into more suspense. Our protagonist in this return to the start is an ex- military who takes a secret rescue missing in Afghanistan and he does that single handed. Extracting three US soldiers from the hands of the Taliban alone is not an easy task. But this kind of challenge is what Zeb does best.

Reading how Zeb, the strategist, and how he goes about doing his task is a hectic read to say the least. This operative is not afraid to die and when he sets out to flush a Taliban warlord off the hills of a very hostile country there is not a minute of inaction. All hell breaks loose and there is a lot of violence as you can imagine. Fast-paced and tension laced ride we are in for from start to finish and the action never stops….who is going to be killed next….

This story may be your typical thriller where we have a mix of action, conspiracies, betrayals and lots of killing but how Mr. Patterson spins his tale is what set this story apart from all the others. “Zeb Carter” is definitely an edge-of-the seat read hard to put down. What a roller coaster ride Zeb gives us through the harsh terrains looking for the missing men while dodging the Taliban but the saga doesn’t end with the death of the insurgents there are those who conspired against him and knew of his covert mission to content with…..

Quite entertaining

"Zeb Carter", by Ty Patterson

Zeb Carter - Ty Patterson

Book #1, in the Zeb Carter series

This is a new series by Mr. Patterson that is quite promising. Although it may seem weird for those who are fans of the author’s main series to go back in time when Zeb Carter was a young man and not yet the head of his Warriors Enterprise, this spin off brings us deeper into Zeb’s character and straight into more suspense. Our protagonist in this return to the start is an ex- military who takes a secret rescue missing in Afghanistan and he does that single handed. Extracting three US soldiers from the hands of the Taliban alone is not an easy task. But this kind of challenge is what Zeb does best.

Reading how Zeb, the strategist, and how he goes about doing his task is a hectic read to say the least. This operative is not afraid to die and when he sets out to flush a Taliban warlord off the hills of a very hostile country there is not a minute of inaction. All hell breaks loose and there is a lot of violence as you can imagine. Fast-paced and tension laced ride we are in for from start to finish and the action never stops….who is going to be killed next….

This story may be your typical thriller where we have a mix of action, conspiracies, betrayals and lots of killing but how Mr. Patterson spins his tale is what set this story apart from all the others. “Zeb Carter” is definitely an edge-of-the seat read hard to put down. What a roller coaster ride Zeb gives us through the harsh terrains looking for the missing men while dodging the Taliban but the saga doesn’t end with the death of the insurgents there are those who conspired against him and knew of his covert mission to content with…..

Quite entertaining

"I Am Missing", by Ty Patterson

I Am Missing - Ty Patterson

Book #3, in the Gemini series

We are following twin sisters Meghan and Beth into one captivating tale full of twists and turns as they bring us deep into the jungle of Vietnam looking into the disappearance of a man who exists and yet doesn’t. Cole Pattern is the client and says he is missing and wants the twins to find him….

Entertaining read as always. The story goes back and forth in time between the present and during the Vietnam War as the twins try to get to the bottom and find out what may have happened to their client. Fast-paced, full of action, betrayal and lies and two protagonists that can’t stay out of trouble what more can we ask. I am grateful the author always includes some background regarding his characters without overwhelming us with too many details so we can situate ourselves or pick up the series at this point. 

This adventure is thrilling and one hard to put aside. Once into it I just zipped through it in no time totally immersed not only with the twins’ saga but with the descriptions of Vietnam during the conflict. Tunnel rats at work and what they had to endure made for a fantastic read. Well-written thriller, populated with exciting and warm characters and an exciting plot.

Well done Mr. Patterson thank you for providing a copy of this book

"The Assassin", by Mark Dawson

The Assassin - Mark  Dawson

Book # 4, in the Isabella Rose series

This latest is one fascinating story where we are plunged into constant action and are overloaded with visual details. Mr. Dawson knows how to draw his readers into a plot filled with excitement and enticed them with charismatic players. Isabella and Maia are kick-ass characters that take center stage and entertain us from the opening page till we reach the slam-bang finale.

Both are assassins have been together for a year now it is time to put their dangerous plan to action……cunning, wit and everything comes out in this thrilling story. Although it is a fascinating one it quite stretches credibility but is fun to read. Mr. Dawson pushes his plot at a hectic pace through a world of unsavory characters and delivers a gripping page turner. 

This story is all action and very violent at times, definitely not for the faint-hearted. To match the mood we find a dialogue that can be quite colourful at times…. We have loads of supporting characters some recurring and some new players to treat us. But don’t worry if you pick up at this point this latest story stands well by itself. 

Mr. Dawson provides maximum excitement in all his series. I am a fan for many years now and have enjoyed all of his series. He is quite a storyteller.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Thomas & Mercer via NetGalleys

"Remember Tokyo", by Nick Wilkshire

Remember Tokyo - Nick Wilkshire
Book #3, in A Foreign Affairs Mystery

“A Foreign Affairs Mystery” is quite a different type of mystery; it gives us a very Canadian twist to immerse ourselves into and one charismatic main player, Charlie Hillier, to follow. I love to see how he manages to jump the multiple hurdles he has to face in order to do his diplomatic job.

After leaving Russia on his last posting as consular Charlie is sent to immerse himself in a truly foreign culture….Tokyo …watch out ….Charlie is not your ordinary consular.

After his misadventures both in Havana (book#1) and Moscow (book#2) Charlie wants to play low key but he is soon drawn into a case of a young man who winds up in a coma after a car accident….or maybe it wasn’t an accident after all?...Charlie is definitely a magnet for trouble and in “Remember Tokyo” he finds more than can be imagined. Along the way in this fast-paced mystery we have colourful details of life in the city: crowded metro system, food and the polite culture and custom…. including the corruption that is lurking at every corner.

This series is one of my favourite. Charlie may be a consular but he has great investigative skills and a strong and loveable personality. The protagonist not only faces ruthless criminals in his day to day job he also goes beyond all means helping expatriates in distress. Trying to shift truth from deceit and get to the bottom of what happened without causing an international incident is a feat in itself for Charlie…..but of course things rarely turns out the way he plans….what a thrill we have following him through another wonderful journey. And as in the previous novels, to help with his case is a beautiful woman to be smitten of and… to eventually leave behind once he is reassigned to another post….or recalled home…sometime in disgrace.

I agree with those saying this is a well-plotted travel-crime novel with great characterization and I love how diplomatic rules are not one he complies with rigidly….well-done.

I received this ARC from the publisher Dundurn Press via NetGalleys for my thoughts
 
 

"Black Diamond Death", by Cheryl Bradshaw

Black Diamond Death - Cheryl Bradshaw
Book #1, in the Sloane Monreo Mystery

This is a refreshing and original mystery that has a good balance between action and detective work. The theme of this novel surrounds the real estate business and most of the players are one way or the other involved in the business or are in law enforcement. The main character, Sloane Monroe, is a private investigator and we follow her through this simple but captivating case as she pokes her nose into other people’s business…

I was captivated by this easy and fast moving saga where Sloane is hired to find who may have wanted Charlotte Halliwell dead. The investigators deemed her death accidental, one of the many accidents seen on the slopes of a ski resort. But Charlotte’s sister says otherwise and wants Sloane to get to the bottom and find the killer.

This mystery kept me guessing till the end where the truth was uncovered. This story is not taxing. The language is simple yet well done and to the point. I enjoyed passing time reading how Sloane did her investigating. Nothing is what it seemed and with the twists that kept derailing her at every turn, determined Sloane kept going. She is one feisty P.I. that will get her man or woman….. and along the way will give us hours of entertainment. 

Ms. Bradshaw spins a good story with good characterization. Enjoy.
 
 

 

"A Cold dark Place", by Toni Anderson

A Cold Dark Place (Cold Justice) (Volume 1) Paperback - April 1, 2014 - Toni Anderson
Book #1, in the Cold Justice series

This is a mix of suspense with a strong romantic undertone. My first experience reading this author was quite enjoyable although I am not too keen on being overloaded with sex scenes, in “A Cold Dark Place” we do find quite a bit. 

One of the main players is FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney who is searching for a serial killer and happens to stumble on evidence of a vigilante at work and Alex Parker, a security consultant, who plays the part of an assassin hired to eliminate serial killers and pedophiles. The two meet and risk everything when they fall in love……awe….

Although this is mostly a suspense driving story, the sizzling romance just spices the enjoyment. Time your reading well and this dark and intriguing plot will have you turning pages to see what comes next. The entire story is dark and edgy and is written to emotionally engage us. As it progresses at a steady tempo, we have some twists and turns along the way to keep us on our toes. This mystery flows well and the style is not taxing. Good characterization: Mallory and Alex are perfect for each other….awe….

A very entertaining story…….
 
 

 

"Blood Reckoning", by Glenn Trust

Blood Reckoning (The Hunters #4) - Glenn Trust

Book#4, in The Hunters series

This 4th edition has an interesting plot, populated with vivid characters and a story that is nicely written to give us all thrills needed to keep us on our toes and flipping pages. The author does a good job with the descriptions of the locale and has created enough suspense in his story for us to stay involved in the nail biting action once it started.

This is not your classic mystery it is more a psychological thriller where two sides are constantly butting heads. The story skips back and forth between the main players: George Mackey, the law enforcer and Roy Budroe , the sadistic megalomaniac. Budroe wants control of the criminal activities including the sheriff position and he especially wants retaliation against George, for being forced to flee the country. With one thing in mind, Mackey will stays on Budroe’s tail ….till he eliminates him…….and the cat and mouse game is on….

Now that the war against the law has started in Pickham County, evil and crime culminate in a clash of good versus evil and tension is felt throughout the pages. As the story moves along at a slow but steady pace, Mackey along the way faces his personal demons but by the end only one will be left standing……. I will leave the rest of this drama for you to discover and enjoy.

Although it may have been some time since I read the previous book I never felt I had missed too much. The author doesn’t linger on the pass, he just says enough to situate us, no more. I always suggest reading series in sequence, no fear installment #4 can be read on its own if you decide to pick the Hunter series here. 

"The Rain Watcher", by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Rain Watcher: A Novel - Tatiana de Rosnay

Set in Paris during a stunning natural disaster “The Rain Watcher is a drama that slowly unfolds the Malegarde’s family secrets. Paul and Lauren Malegarde are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and Paul 70th birthday with their two adult children but unfortunately the reunion doesn’t go as planned. The streets of Paris are waterlogged and the Seine is still rising at a rapid pace amongst the chaos sickness is at the family door…..

The atmosphere in Paris is dark: electricity is out, it is cold: no one has heat and everything is wet: water is still rising and flooding basements: one catastrophe after the other is at everyone’s door. While everything is going haywire in the city of lights, Linden, the Malegarde youngest son analyses and critics his relationships with each member of his family in a very moving tone. His narration is the heart of this story.

This is a story of love and redemption where everyone has withheld something. Secrets… sounds intriguing but what a letdown, as it moves along in an snail pace, the story soon goes in random directions and becomes repetitive. There are a lot of dots to connect but don’t try to do so, you will be questioning yourself wondering if you missed a point... Most of the book is about the flood but I failed to match this with the family saga. Was this story about the hardship of the flood or the family reunion gone badly?

Finally, this family with a dysfunctional background slowly reveals their secrets: memories trigger a deluge of emotions in its members….and bonds finally tightens but is it too late…..

More thoughts:

Although the writing is fluid and all the descriptions of Paris in the rain are wonderful, unfortunately, despite Ms. De Rosnay great writing skills and beautiful descriptions, I never really got into this book; I found it long and devoid of suspense. The story is bland, the characters without consistency, I was bored and had trouble finishing the book.... in short, a colorless novel, odorless and tasteless….Not Ms. De Rosnay best….

I received this ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalleys for my thoughts

"Look for Me Under the Rainbow", by Bernard Jan

Look for Me Under the Rainbow - Bernard Jan

This is a very touching novella about a pup seal name Danny who spends his days playing with his brother and learning life skills from his mother. It also brings out those with big heart and a desire to save animals: the environmentalists. Helen is a young activist and a crew member of the Rainbow Warriors and will lead the way in the last part of this very emotional journey.

This powerful story invokes all sorts of emotions and focuses on the many dangers Danny faces from birth on. The narration and dialogue are elegant and poetic, the presentation extremely graphic although not gruesome in anyways, definitely no need for pictures. No doubt, the author took a lot of care with this story to drive his points across. 

Of course to shock us…..this story brings out some of the dangers Danny will encounter, such as: facing humans during the annual seal hunt, being covered in oil spills during the migratory season north, fighting for his life caught in derelict fishnets left behind by trawlers. The author does not mention the sea of plastic that also roam our oceans. Here come Helen, the saviour, she does her best to safe the young colony from the hunters and Danny from drowning but there is so much to do and little time to do it. 

In the last chapters, Mr. Jan does his pitch on activism and has a strong voice about his believes although he abstains from being too preachy….. This is well written story for all ages. 

I received a copy for review from the author these are my honest thoughts

"The Shadow Woman", by Ake Edwardson

The Shadow Woman - Åke Edwardson

Book # 2, in Inspector Erik Winter series and book #5 in the English version

The order in which this series is translated in English is quite bizarre but don’t let this concern you this is a decent police procedural, intricately constructed and stuffed with details of crime investigations (way too much in my books). Most of all, this mystery stands on its own, no worries if you start here.

In a prose that is bleak, Mr. Edwardson takes as its backdrop the Biker War in Sweden in the mid-1990 however he only mentions this in the opening pages. As the tradition imposes the story opens with the discovery of a woman’s body and the following pages are taken up with Winter and his colleagues investigation into her identity and solving the murder. Their efforts are slow, excruciating slow, minutia details, pages after pages of boring discussions, interrogations, etc.…. As the story plods along there are talks about illegal immigrants, relations between Swedes and Danes and some personal anecdotes. We need persistence to be rewarded. Mr. Edwardson does come through in his own time but far too late for my enjoyment. With its stilted dialogue, choppy narrative, plot twists that are hard to follow and a story without charismatic characters, I would describe “The Shadow Woman” as a lackluster installment to this series and by far not my preferred.

Having said this, I will nevertheless see what “Sail of Stone” has in store for me….one day…

"The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye", by David Lagercrantz

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye - George Goulding, David Lagercrantz
Book # 5, in the Millennium series

In this second contribution in the Millennium series by Mr. Lagercrantz we will find Lisbeth Salanger on a quest into her origins and a lot of talk of stolen babies. 

The novel starts with our heroine serving a sentence in a maximum-security women’s prison where she will butt heads with the dagger wielding Benito and manages to put her hacking skills to good use. While the narrative moves on, Mr. Lagercrants succeeds in diving further into Lisbeth’s heartbreaking backstory and fleshing out her father-daughter relationship with her former guardian Holger Palmgren, those passages are very moving.

This very complex story brings topics that are timely: first, we have a lot of disinformation in which lies are used to create chaos. Second, it centers on the Islamic radicalization and how women are treated. Third, it focuses on racism and those attracted to racial biology. All those plot lines eventually connect as the action unfolds. Many political and philosophical issues are brought to the forefront. There is a lot going on, it is easy to lose track of everything.

What we will read in a few words:

Is a mashup plot of evil bureaucracy separating twins at birth for long-term studies. We will have a heroine avenging a Muslim girl and finally a drama surrounding the separation and reunion of musically gifted male twins. 

Further thoughts:

I liked the story but I was rather disappointed with the lack of time the plot spends with Blomkvist and Salanger. They really took backseat roles here and I dearly missed how they interact, none of it in this latest. The story also failed to give good twists and you can see things coming way before they arrive, very little tension is felt. The pacing is hard to follow, with a leisurely tone the scenes swiftly shift back and forth to a year and a half earlier and back to the present; the alternating timeline is confusing and frustrating. I am sure, this novel is the tipping point in which Mr. Lagercrantz will be giving his own spin in the future…..time will tell.