Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: "Sparrow 59" by Devon Ashley

"Sparrow 59" by Devon Ashley was a terrific book and since it finished on a cliffhanger of sorts, I'm looking forward to the sequel. Lucky for you, you can buy it right now as the publication date passed just a month ago. It's got great ratings, all in the fours and fives and I'll be adding my own 5 of 5 rating to that spectacular success. Let me tell you about this really fun book.

"The Bourne Identity meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith" has been used to describe this thriller and I'd have to heartily agree. What more would you want? Spies, cool tech stuff, amazing CIA training, chases across the world, great banter between characters and possibly a tragic love story all rolled into one! Yep, it's a rip roaring thrill ride that's perfect for a boring and cold February evening.

Samantha and Drew have been partners since they were recruited by the CIA out of Langley. Now, they are doing  undercover work is as a married couple who are part of "SPARROW", a specialty CIA team of operatives investigating and recovering stolen medical research. After a successful op everyone involved in SPARROW is dead except Sam and Drew. Sam was found unconscious at the scene and Drew is missing.

The CIA think Drew is involved in the massacre so they are watching Sam, the other member of team 5-9. When a beacon that only Sam can see is activated, indicating that Drew is alive and needs her help, she must decide to become a fugitive herself or leave Drew out in the cold to fend for himself. So starts a gripping, suspense-filled mystery/thriller that you'll have trouble putting down.

I loved this book. It is a rare thing to find a writer that both writes good characters who feel and have flaws and also be able to inject good, fast paced scenarios that keeps the reader engaged and not bored. I found myself really enjoying getting to know Sam, the main character in this, the first book in the series "The Sleeper's Coalition". I liked how human she was and how well the author fleshed out her personality. "Sparrow 59" was an easy read and so well worth the lost sleep I suffered as I read well into the night to finish this thriller. I warn you, all answers will NOT found at the end of this book but your curiosity will be so piqued that you'll be sending pleading emails to Ms. Ashley to write the next book quickly. This is a five out of five for me because it was such fun to read with no effort needed to enjoy it.

Best,

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: "Crash & Burn" by Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner's latest mystery-thriller is "Crash & Burn" and it will be coming out February 3rd, 2015. This stand alone book starts with a car accident on a dark, wet, remote road. We meet Nicky Frank as she bravely extricates herself from her demolished car, her only thought is to find her little girl Vero. She claws herself up the muddy ravine, desperate for help. The police and ambulance are called and Sergeant Wyatt Foster starts the arduous task of searching the scene for the missing child. Where could a traumatized little girl go in the middle of the night, surrounded by forest?

"Crash & Burn" centers around Nicky Frank, her husband Thomas and their little girl Vero. Except according to Thomas, the couple doesn't have children. Thomas claims Vero doesn't exist and his wife is a very confused and ill woman. Sergeant Foster's job is to figure out what the heck is going on. Did Nicky try to kill herself in her car the evening of the accident? Did her husband have anything to do with it? Why is Nicky Frank so damaged and what causes her to think she has a missing child? It's a whole juggernaut of a mystery for the Sergeant and the deeper he digs, the more concerned he becomes.

Lisa Gardner's latest offering is a good read but, in my opinion, not up to her usual five star success. Many readers have loved this book and I'm on the fence as to what kind of rating to give it. Yes, it was a good, convoluted thriller with true mysterious circumstances woven expertly into each page. My only problem is that it takes so many tiny moments to give out the details to allow the reader to figure out what happened to Nicky Frank. I found myself wishing the book had had a more thorough editing to limit the repetitive scenarios. Nicky talks about "Vero" over and over again, ad nauseam. I got sick of hearing about Vero.

On the other hand, it truly was a difficult mystery to figure out and that's what makes for a good read. If you've loved Gardner's books in the past, try this one, I'm probably wrong that it's only a three and a half star offering. On the other hand, if you've never read a Lisa Gardner book, start with some of her previous books because this one isn't as stand out as it could be. I've reviewed several of hers, including "Touch & Go" and "Catch Me" so feel free to try them along with this one which deserves a try too.
Best,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gonna Be Some Changes 'Round Here

Hiya. Not sure anyone out there noticed that my blog had a lot of missing stuff in it's sidebar for a while. If you didn't notice that, all you have to do to see the problem is scroll through some of my older blog posts (like 2012-13) to see that there are missing photos and icons everywhere. Oh ya, and did you notice my missing blog buttons (APR, Blogging 101 & Featured Artist just to name a few)? Even my signature disappeared on all my previous posts! Yep, there have been some unfortunate changes that I did NOT have anything to do with. *Sigh*. 

An upload program I used to use was purchased by Evernote but the original program owners promised to leave the servers with everyone's uploads alone forever. Um... they lied. Sometime in the last week all images that I had uploaded from the original SKITCH have disappeared. I'm assuming this also happened for millions of other previous customers. There's nothing I can do about it but it has forced me to do a little soul searching about how I want to proceed. 


I want this blog to be about my art and what I'm painting/drawing and also what I'm reading at the moment. I have therefore decided to close down the Artist's Play Room. Since I don't have the time anymore to devote to APR, I've decided to stop posting it. I genuinely thank all who came over and participated and shared their art every week.

I have new blog buttons. Since I lost the old ones and and a bunch of other stuff, I decided to change the look a little in my sidebar. Feel free to join me on Goodreads, that's my newest button (the eggplant one with the "g"). I love how colorful they are, perfect for an artist who loves color like me. You know I'm all over anything that comes in turquoise, fuchsia and green, right? ;o)  Here they are:


I hope to get new art up soon but my household has been a little unlucky, starting this new year out with "The Grunge" as we call it. Thankfully we've all avoided the terrible flu that's affecting so many people but whatever illness that's out there that causes you to feel awful has descended upon us for the last few weeks. I'm hoping to shake it off soon and get on with a great 2015. Hey, new blog, new outlook, right?

Talk to you all soon, K? GREAT!

P.S. To anyone who knows how to easily add a paintbrush under my signature, I'd love to hear from you. That's what my sig used to be but now I forget how I did that. Old age sucks. ;o)
Best,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Book Review: "The Mussorgsky Riddle" by Dr. Darin Kennedy

"The Mussorgsky Riddle" is by Darin Kennedy and this is his debut mystery novel. It was a very unusual, intricate mystery centered around a thirteen year old autistic boy who needs rescuing. Mira Tejedor, a psychic who senses other's emotions and uses her abilities to find things is the only one who can help Anthony Faircloth in his time of need.

Something traumatic has happened to Anthony in the last month and his way of dealing with it is to retreat into his own mind. Mira is summoned by Anthony's mother after the doctors tests and the boy's psychologist can find no answers to what has caused his near catatonic state. Mira enters the child's fractured psyche hoping to help sort out his tormented mind.

At the same time, there is also a missing high school girl who Anthony's older brother used to date. Mira is pulled into the investigation and endeavors to help the police find out what happened in the girl's disappearance. As the book progresses, Mira suspects that Anthony's condition is somehow connected to the missing girl and to save Anthony she must solve a case that is ripping a city apart.

The book started out strongly with many details that kept the reader interested and willing to suspend their disbelief in psychic phenomenon  Unfortunately as the book progresses, there are so many riddles, twists and turns that the reader gets tired. I found myself muttering at my Kindle for the author to "just get on with it already!". It really was an interesting read though so I'm hesitant to give it only three stars. If I could I'd hedge my bets and give it an extra half star for sure but one cannot do that with the scoring used for books.

I will certainly keep Darin Kennedy on my radar as he is a good writer. I just think with this, his first mystery, he put a little too many details about musical scores and mythical creatures in the book. In the end I just wanted to get some information that was concrete to help me figure out what the heck happened to Anthony and the missing girl.  It's not a bad read and in the end I was sorely tempted to give it four stars as the ending is as good as the beginning. I just wish the second half of the book had been a little shorter, with the clues coming a little less "few and far between".

Best,





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