Archive for the ‘ Adult ’ Category

Book Review: Hunter by Chris Allen

Hunter Review at Quintessentially Bookish

Release Date: December 1st 2012
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Momentum
Series: Intrepid (#2)
Pages: 383


From the book jacket:

His orders are simple: ‘The safety catch is off. Return that girl to her family and drag those bastards back to justice. Dead or alive. It makes no difference to me.’

Alex Morgan – policeman, soldier and spy for Intrepid, the black ops division of Interpol – is on the hunt for Serbian war criminals. But these guys were never going to let it be that simple. An assassination attempt is made on the presiding judge of the international tribunal. Days later, the judge’s daughter, the famous and beautiful classical pianist Charlotte Rose, vanishes in mysterious circumstances.

The girl is not just a pretty face and the daughter of a judge, however. She’s also the goddaughter of Intrepid’s veteran commander, General Davenport. It’s up to Morgan and the Intrepid team to track the kidnappers and the missing woman before the very fabric of international justice is picked apart at its fraying edges.

Part James Bond and part Jason Bourne, Alex Morgan must walk the line between doing the right thing and getting the job done. And this time he’s got permission to make it personal.


Alex Morgan is the type of agent that is called on to complete missions that the regular force can’t.  Serbian war criminals turned gangster have started targeting the families of judges in an attempt to avoid prosecution.  Morgan must track down and stop the Serbians, in order to save the judge’s daughter and ensure the criminals are brought to justice.

Overall Thoughts:

I didn’t love this book, though I couldn’t really tell you exactly why.  There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it; it just ended up not being my kind of book.  I like a good thriller as much as the next person, but for some reason this one just couldn’t hold my interest.  However, those who consider action thrillers a favorite genre will probably like this book.  There are some great features to it.  It has some interesting characters, the plot is complicated, and there is plenty of action.


The character of Alex Morgan is where Allen’s military knowledge really shines.  Morgan is tough and unafraid to kill if needed, but he isn’t just a gun toting cowboy of a character.   Unlike many other characters in this genre, he’s an intelligent strategist who completes his mission within the parameters of the law and the organization he works for.


Using the Serbian conflict and the resulting fallout as the setting for this book was a good choice.  It provided the story with a sense of realism and an already tense and brutal backdrop.  The story jumps from location to location, however, which contributes to an intricate plot and fast pace.

Writing Style:

Allen’s writing is very tight and precise, but still descriptive.  His actions scenes are particularly well-written; the reader is able to really see what is happening.  One of the more interesting stylistic choices is the sheer number and varying length of his chapters.  There are 100 chapters in this book that bounce from character to character and sequence to sequence.  The quick and ever-changing nature of these chapters helps amp up the tense action.


The level of detail provided by Allen’s military past and his knowledge is what really makes this book.

Favorite Line:

Her history could be traced for millennia and, for those who elected to pay no heed to the centuries of bloodshed or even the discovery of the Neanderthal remains at Pair-non-Pair, it was a history written exclusively in commerce, culture, and the arts.

Read This If You Like:

National Security by Marc Cameron

Hidden Order: A Thriller by Brad Thor

The Innocent by David Baldacci


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions here are my own.

Find Chris Allen online: Goodreads // Amazon // Website

Book Review: Dark Pool by Helen Hanson

Dark Pool Review at Quintessentially Bookish

Release Date: November 3rd 2011
Publisher: Domino INK
Pages: 317

The Lost One

From the book jacket:

~ Forty Billion Reasons to Kill

By this time in her life, Maggie Fender expected to be on her way to law school. Instead she’s far from any degree, waiting tables to support her teenage half-brother and their ailing father. With early onset Alzheimer’s, her father’s lucid moments are few and unpredictable.

Her brother’s legal defense for felony hacking charges strained their finances to a snap. In spite of the conviction, he claims he was framed. But now that he’s on parole, he also claims their father is sending them messages.

Maggie’s tired of the struggle, but she’s everybody’s legal guardian. Slowing down will lead to disaster. She can hustle. Or face financial ruin.

This isn’t the life she envisioned.

In the news, disgraced hedge fund manager Patty O’Mara awaits trial for bilking investors out of forty billion dollars. The legendary dark pool wizard offered phenomenal profits until the SEC examined his books. Then they discovered O’Mara didn’t make any legitimate trades on the market.

O’Mara ran his hedge fund the way Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff ran theirs. It was all a fraud.

One wealthy investor rallies the troop of irate victims by hiring a noted private investigator to find the missing pot of gold. A Russian mobster, out thirty million in cash, prefers to search for the money alone and without witnesses. Their competing efforts sift the same set of facts.

So why are they interested in Maggie Fender’s incoherent father?

While SEC officials try to rebuild credibility for allowing the financial scandal to rage unchecked, the private investigator and the Russian mobster vie to answer a solitary question:

What happened to all that money?


I really can’t write anything that would explain it better than the synopsis above.

Overall Thoughts:

It’s been a very long time since I’ve read a crime thriller and I really enjoyed this one.  The plot was complicated, but very well put together.  When it wrapped, there were no loose ends.  It was full of action, but the plotting and characters were also well-written.  I especially enjoyed that the mystery was so personal to the characters.  This wasn’t simply an FBI agent or detective solving a crime.  This was a story of characters for whom solving this mystery was vital to their lives and it really upped the stakes.


There are so many different characters and alternating viewpoints in this story that it’s hard to really focus on one.  Maggie is the primary focus of the story, but there are many intertwining narratives.  Hanson did an excellent job of jumping from viewpoint to viewpoint while still maintaining each one’s separate characterization.  They each have their own story and their own voice.  It brings more of a depth to the mystery, especially since it is so involved.


I didn’t find the setting to be a particularly large part of the story.  There were some nice descriptions of the beach, but the book could have easily taken place in any number of settings and still made sense.  I suppose the only real advantage to setting it in San Francisco bay area was the proximity to Silicon Valley.

Writing Style:

The one issue I really noticed with the writing was a fair number of typos.  There were times when things were spelled incorrectly (including one character’s name) or an extra word was added to or missing from a sentence.  It could have benefited from a look over by a good copy editor.  Aside from that, I found the style to really fit the subject matter.  It was straight-forward and quick to read.   The dialogue (often a pet peeve of mine) was really well done and sounded natural.


Computer hacking was a big part of this mystery and it was done in such a neat way.

I also loved the mentions of the Fender’s beagles, since I am a beagle owner myself.

Favorite Line:

My time is my time and now it’s closing.

Read This If You Like:

The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver

The Rope by Nevada Barr

Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions here are my own.

Find Helen Hanson online: Goodreads // Amazon // Website

Book Review: Flash by Sean C. Sousa

Release Date: October 1st 2012
Publisher: Epical Media
Series: The Forever Saga (#1)
Pages: 385


From the book jacket:

Long ago, the first reign of Grigori Geist nearly destroyed the Earth.

Returned from exile, Geist is secretly rebuilding his kingdom beneath Antarctica, assembling his robotic Vaucan race to war against mankind. Only one obstacle remains: the war hero known as Brian Renney.

Yet Brian is losing a battle against his fears. Scars of heart and mind linger from his days in Vietnam, fueling his failures as husband and father. This embitters his youngest son, Jason – a star athlete torn between pursuing the love of his life, and meeting the demands of a father who is far from the storied army captain he once was.

And all the while, Geist is coming for them.

In this dark hour, Brian and Jason encounter a war to end all others… and an unexpected ally who, once meant for evil, shall forever be a force for good


There are times when a book blurb really adequately outlines the plot of the novel.  This is one of them.  There is very little I could add here that wouldn’t give away too much of the story.

Overall Thoughts:

This book is a slow starter; it took me a few chapters to really get into it.  Once I started to get into the story, though, I enjoyed it.  For most of the story,  I did find the chapters about Brian, his past, and his family more interesting than the chapters about the Vaucans, but when the two stories began to intertwine, I became just as wrapped up in the plight of Regnum Aeturnam and the Vaucans.  The first few chapters jumped around between a hard sci-fi plot and the story of a family slowly falling apart, with little in the way of connecting the two.  I felt like I was reading two different books.  Having read other reviews of the book, however, I knew to be patient.  That’s, perhaps, my biggest complaint with this book.  Had I not been warned that the book was slow to start, I might have given up and missed out on the great story that comes later on.   It’s a bit jarring when the stories collide, but after that everything picks up.  All the seemingly unimportant or unrelated details from earlier in the book have their place and form a rich, intricate plot.


There are so many characters in this book, that it would be hard to devote the appropriate discussion for each of them.  Instead, I’ll focus on Jason and Brian Renney, since they are ultimately the two protagonists.

Brian is a great character.  I really appreciated the fact that the hero of the book was a 60 year old war veteran with PTSD and failing health.  In the beginning, there was nothing about this man that would in any way suggest he would be the savior of the world.  He’s a complicated man who fears that he has failed himself, his family, and – in the flashbacks to the Vietnam war – his country.  There are parts of his story that really break my heart, but that makes his redemption all the better.

I did not hold as favorable a view of Jason at the beginning.  He came off as a spoiled, arrogant child who was upset he wasn’t getting everything he wanted.   He does grow up quite a bit throughout the story, though, and I’m interested to see where he’ll go in the rest of the series.  The relationship between him and Brian is a great representation of a father-son relationship that has gone wrong.  Their pain, resentment, and love are so very believable.  Even though they are apart for much of the book, Jason’s story is as much about how he relates to his father and his world as anything else.


This book takes place in two very different settings – America, primarily Michigan, and the world of Regnum Aeturnam, existing beneath Antarctica.  These are two wildly different locations and are the part of the novel that actually benefit from the bouncing juxtaposition of the first few chapters.   The almost alien feeling of Regnum Aeturnam compared to the normalcy of the Renneys’ home and Jason’s school make it seem all the more ominous.

Writing Style:

Sousa is a very descriptive writer.  It was so easy to picture each setting, each piece of action.  His descriptions of both the Renney home in Michigan and Regnum Aeturnum are equally compelling.  Where Sousa really shines, though, are the sections with Brian’s Vietnam flashbacks. You could feel the heat, hear the bullets, and see everything that Brian was seeing.  I felt myself tensing up because I was so into the action.

Where Sousa’s writing is lacking, however, is in the dialogue.  Each sentence a character spoke was well-constructed, grammatically correct, and often very proper.  While this style of speaking would have been appropriate for the robotic characters, it felt unnatural for the humans.  People often don’t speak in complete sentences or monologues that sound like prepared speeches.  This is a minor complaint that many readers probably wouldn’t notice, but I would have appreciated some dialogue that sounded more like actual people speaking to each other.


This book was surprisingly religious, but in a pleasant way.  It enhanced the story, rather than becoming overly “preachy.”

Favorite Line:

Technology always has the capacity to do good.  It’s the people that misuse it and make it worse than it is.

Read This If You Like:

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

He, She, and It by Marge Piercy

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson


 Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review.  I did not receive any compensation for this review.  All opinions here are my own.

Find Sean C. Sousa online:  Goodreads  //  Website  //  Facebook

Favorite Retellings

I just finished reading Meg Cabot’s Abandon series, which is great meta-retelling of the Persephone myth.  I love a good retelling or re-imagining of a familiar story, especially when the author puts a creative new twist on here.  Here are some of my favorites (including two that are re-imaginings of an actual person’s life).
Devilish by Maureen Johnson
Retelling of: Faust

The only thing that makes St. Teresa’s Preparatory School for Girls bearable for Jane is her best friend Ally. But when Ally changes into a whole different person literally overnight the fall of their senior year, Jane’s suddenly alone—and very confused.

Turns out, Ally has sold her soul in exchange for popularity—to a devil masquerading as a sophomore at St. Teresa’s! Now it’s up to Jane to put it all on the line to save her friend from this ponytail-wearing, cupcakenibbling demon . . . without losing her own soul in the process.





The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Retelling of: Alice in Wonderland

When Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, must flee through the Pool of Tears to escape the murderous aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may eventually battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.




The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler
Retelling of: The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Zita is not an ordinary servant girl–she’s the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita’s father banished her to the servants’ quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

Then, after Zita’s twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends–Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier–Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot–and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.




The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Retelling of: The Island of Dr. Moreau

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.



The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Retelling of: Hamlet

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.

Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.



Ophelia by David Wroblewski
Retelling of: Hamlet

He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.

In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia’s happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . . with one very dangerous secret.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Retelling of: The Biblical story of Dinah

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah’s voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women’s society.




Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Retelling of: The life of Jesus

The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years — except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more — except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala — and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.



My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare’s Tale by Grace Tiffany
Retelling of: The life of Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith

William Shakespeare was father to three children: Susanna, his oldest, and twins Judith and Hamnet. This is Judith’s tale… In this wonderfully inventive novel, Grace Tiffany weaves fact with fiction to bring Judith Shakespeare to vibrant life. After a family tragedy, Judith discovers a copy of her father’s new play, which seems to make light of her grief. Furious, she follows him to London, intent on sabotaging the performance–but instead, she discovers that she and her father have more in common than she imagined… Through Judith’s eyes, we glimpse the world of her famous playwright father–his work, his family, and his inspiration–in a richly atmospheric tale from a bright new literary star.




Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Retelling of: The life of Alice Liddell Hargreaves

Part love story, part literary mystery, Melanie Benjamin’s spellbinding historical novel leads readers on an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole, to tell the story of a woman whose own life became the stuff of legend. Her name is Alice Liddell Hargreaves, but to the world she’ll always be known simply as “Alice,” the girl who followed the White Rabbit into a wonderland of Mad Hatters, Queens of Hearts, and Cheshire Cats. Now, nearing her eighty-first birthday, she looks back on a life of intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. First as a young woman, then as a wife, mother, and widow, she’ll experience adventures the likes of which not even her fictional counterpart could have imagined. Yet from glittering balls and royal romances to a world plunged into war, she’ll always be the same determined, undaunted Alice who, at ten years old, urged a shy, stuttering Oxford professor to write down one of his fanciful stories, thus changing her life forever.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine where bloggers can highlight upcoming books they’re excited to read.  My choice for this week is:


The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani


1930s America, southern high society: Part love story, part coming-of-age novel, this is the moving, raw and exquisitely vivid story of an uncommon girl navigating a treacherous road to womanhood.

Thea Atwell is fifteen years old in 1930, when, following a scandal for which she has been held responsible, she is ‘exiled’ from her wealthy and isolated Florida family to a debutante boarding school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. As Thea grapples with the truth about her role in the tragic events of 1929, she finds herself enmeshed in the world of the Yonahlossee Riding Camp, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty and equestrienne prowess; where young women are indoctrinated in the importance of ‘female education’ yet expected to be married by twenty-one; a world so rarified as to be rendered immune (at least on the surface) to the Depression looming at the periphery, all overseen by a young headmaster who has paid a high price for abandoning his own privileged roots…

Expected publication: June 6th 2013 by Tinder Press

Why I’m Waiting

This book contains so many elements I love: the south, boarding school, a tragic scandal, Depression-era narrative.    I’ve also seen it compared to Tigers in Red Weather, which I absolutely loved.   I’m trying to get back into reading more adult fiction and this seems like a great addition.