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Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Review from my 2005 book journals:

In summer 1954, two U.S. marshals, protagonist Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, not far from Boston, to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from the prison/hospital for the criminally insane that dominates the island. The marshals’ digging gets them nowhere fast as they learn of Rachel’s apparently miraculous escape past locked doors and myriad guards, and as they encounter roadblocks and lies strewn across their path-most notably by the hospital’s chief physician, the enigmatic J. Cawley-and pick up hints of illegal brain surgery performed at the hospital. Then, as a major hurricane bears down on the island, inciting a riot among the insane and cutting off all access to the mainland, they begin to fear for their lives. All of the characters-particularly Teddy, haunted by the tragic death of his wife-are wonderful creations, but no more wonderful than the spot-on dialogue with which Lehane brings them to life and the marvelous prose that enriches the narrative. There are mysteries within mysteries in this novel, some as obvious as the numerical codes that the missing patient leaves behind and which Teddy, a code breaker in WWII, must solve; some as deep as the most profound fears of the human heart.

◊        ◊        ◊         ◊          ◊        ◊         ◊

I had found this book through Swaptree and when it arrived I looked at the cover with a picture of a prison on an island on it and thought. “What was I thinking?”  How did this book get on my wish list?  Then I remembered, Dennis Lehane wrote Mystic River, which I loved (the book anyway, the movie I hated).  So why not a book on a prison?

This book turned out to be a two day read that I could hardly put down.  US  Marshall Teddy Daniels is a strong character who had a mission on the island to find a missing prisoner who has done the impossible and escaped somewhere on the island.  Yet Teddy’s motives are not all one sided.  Lehane keeps this book flowing forward with twists and turns and when it is all done -

You sit back and can’t believe that you didn’t see that coming, yet knowing that Lehanes’ clues are so well woven into  the story itself that how could you have known?

An absolute delight to read.  This book which came out in 2004 and I am looking forward to the movie, although I do not remember the book being as scary as the movie sounds.

I highly recommend this read.


Have you read the book or seen the movie?  Are you planning to?


Night Gardener by George Pelecanos

When the body of a local teenager is found in a community garden, detective Gus Ramone relives Night Gardenerintense memories of a twenty-year old case. Back when he was a rookie, Ramone and his partner “Doc” Holiday assisted legendary detective T.C. Cook in the investigation of a series of murders involving young victims. The killer, dubbed the “Night Gardener”, was never caught.

The fierce sense of anger, regret, and purpose that once burned among these three men comes rushing back as they race to vanquish the monster who has stalked their dreams. For Cook, now retired, it means solving one of the few cases that eluded him. For Holiday, whose career as a cop was derailed, it’s one last chance to redeem himself. For Ramone, catching the killer means not only doing his job but knowing that his own teenage son, who is a friend of the dead boy, won’t be the next victim.

This was my first Pelecanos book and I really found that he knows how to create characters.  Not only were the characters vivid, life like people who you could picture living in your neighborhood, but Pelecanos created great backgrounds for them as well – so you didn’t just know them as they were today – but how they used to be as well as their families.  As each important character unfolded, I felt I really had a clear picture of who they were, well, as clean as you can have in a murder mystery….  (just when you think you know someone…)

The story line revolves around a 20 year old murder case and the three cops who were involved.  This book brings the three back to together on a current murder case that seems to have the same feel as the one from all those years ago that never was solved.  While the story line was great – I found it took a long time for the three police to get together.  Almost two thirds of the way through the book.

I enjoyed Gus Ramone’s character and family.  As a central character he made the book for me.  I enjoyed his scenes with his family and his dealings with his children and the troubles at school.

The ending – without giving anything away.  Is well done and I applaud Pelecanos for this writing.  I was pleased to find that the book ended with a great closing that sometimes, often times, is missed in many good reads.

A great book for the fans of crime and action stories.

*Note – strong language in some parts of the book

Don’t forget there is a giveway offer for 5 copies of this book!  Contest is listed here:  Giveaway for The Night Gardener.  This giveaway ends the 30th of June so sign up today!  :)

Audio Book Giveaway: The Swimsuit by James Patterson

Thanks to Hachette Audio Books, I am able to offer 3 of this audio book for giveaway!

Syd, a breathtakingly beautiful supermodel on a photo shoot in Hawaii, disappears. Fearing the worst, her parents travel to Hawaii to investigate for themselves, never expecting the horror that awaits them.

Here is what you can do to receive  chances to win this audio book:

1.  Post here with your favorite James Patterson  book title.  If you haven’t read Patterson, share your favorite mystery/suspense author.  (Be sure you leave me a way to connect with you in the event you are one of the winners!)

2.  For a second chance to win, please post this contest to your blog and post a link to it for me to see.

3.  For a third chance to win, Follow me on Twitter!

Contest will run through July 13th.  The winners are chosen by using random.com.  I will post the 5 winners here as well as email you for your mailing information.  The books will come from the publisher.  Please US entries only and no po boxes.

Visit James Patterson’s website at www.jamespatterson.com

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

I had a couple books that I had read a while ago that have recently become movies so I thought it would be fun to blogangels on them as I had read these books before I even knew what blogging was.  One of these books is My Sisters Keeper (see review below this post)…. the other, Angels and Demons.

I like to call my book club the Bookies – ahead of their time.  In 2005 we read this book and chose it as our best book we read that year.  Now in 2009, it is a movie.  Apparently we werent the only ones that thought it was pretty darn good.

Prior to my blogging debut, I wrote all the books I read into a three rng binder and kept reviews there.  No kidding.  I have wrote everything I have read and my thoughts (reviews) long before I ever knew that I would one day be doing it publically.  I have everything I have read since 2002.

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is shocked to find proof that the legendary secret society, the Illuminati–dedicated since the time of Galileo to promoting the interests of science and condemning the blind faith of Catholicism–is alive, well, and murderously active. Brilliant physicist Leonardo Vetra has been murdered, his eyes plucked out, and the society’s ancient symbol branded upon his chest. His final discovery, antimatter, the most powerful and dangerous energy source known to man, has disappeared–only to be hidden somewhere beneath Vatican City on the eve of the election of a new pope. Langdon and Vittoria, Vetra’s daughter and colleague, embark on a frantic hunt through the streets, churches, and catacombs of Rome, following a 400-year-old trail to the lair of the Illuminati, to prevent the incineration of civilization.

Here are my original thoughts on this book:

January 22, 2005:  Once again I have experienced a great read by Dan Brown.  My first experience was last summer when I read The Davinchi Code which was a fantastic read.  Now reading Angels and Demons for our book club, I see similarities in his writing style.  Robert Langdon (same main character in both books), is called tot eh scene of a crime at the Vatican.  I really enjoy reading about the Vatican = what a beautiful and mysterious place.  Breda, in our book club has visited there and had pictures at the review.  BREATH TAKING!

I actually finished reading this book on the plane to Costa Rica on our family vacation.  I gave it to a person who I met onthe plane, a fellow reader and I have to share good reads!

(Update 6/23/2009)  Looking at my old review I see I left out my favorite part of the book, and that was the library.  I remember reading about the library of rare important books, air pressurized, temperature control and guarded in a locked glass room….  I thought if I could only have 10 minutes in that room to breathe in those books….  (much the same feeling I had when I watched the movie National Treasure with Nicholas Cage and they were in the rare library room…bookies awards

As for the movie, I found it a slight disappointment as I had with Davinchi Code as well.  Not really important to the book perspective, but I have to mention that Tom Hanks was not what I pictured of our character Robert Langdon.  Granted, he looked better in Angels and Demons.  I think what disappointed me the most is the fact of how easy it all comes together in the movie version.  In the book you go through a long interesting process of clues and codes… wrong turns and deep plot… in the movie its like they turn a corner and it is just magically there.

The book, then and now rated a great fiction read.  I would recommend not judging this book by the movie.  Read the book.

Freebie Friday: Jordan’s Crossing by Randall Arthur

jordans crossingThis is my first Friday giveaway.  I have a new extra copy of this book Jordan’s Crossing, and as I start this post… I keep thinking…. pick a different book, pick a different book.  Why?  Randall Arthur’s writing was one I had discovered several years ago.  He has three books out – I read all three one after another and have missed him ever since.  Randall has an amazing way of taking a great christian fiction mystery, roping you in and not letting go to the very end.  Well written and a great message – he is an author that keeps it extrememly real. I was a bit afraid that if anything happened to my treasured copy… what would I do without a spare???  (Is that a bookaholic comment or what?)

Jordan’s Crossing:

When pastor Jordan Rau accepted a position with a European missions agency, his decision was based on money, not on an opportunity to serve God. However, shortly after his family’s arrival in Germany, Jordan’s priorities dramatically change – his young son, Chase, has been murdered. Abandoning his faith in God, Jordan becomes obsessed with finding Chase’s killers and delivering justice. He sets out on a course of action that will destroy not only the murderers, but his own family as well – and only a miracle can stop him.

This contest will run from today until next Friday afternoon, June 26.  Here is how to enter:

1.  Leave a comment here for one entry

2.  Follow me on Twitter for 2 bonus entries (link is on the right side bar) I am new to the Twitter family and need some pals).

3.  Earn a bonus entry when you comment by sharing the title of the best book you have read so far in 2009 and why.

Remember, please US entries only.  No PO boxes.  I will email the winner next Friday and you will have through Monday to get back to me with your mailing address.  I will post the winners here.

Even if you have never read christian fiction before I highly recommend the genre.  There are a lot of great books out there!

Thanks and good luck to all… let the games begin!

WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!  USING RANDOM.ORG THE WINNING NUMBER BELINGED TO…..  (DRUM ROLL…)

SHARON WALLING!!!!!!!

Congratulations Sharon!!!!   I am emailing you now… please respond within 48 hours with your address so I may ship you this book!  :)

Book Giveaway! Leave a comment to register for The Night Gardener

night gardener

WINNERS OF THIS GIVEAWAY!!!

Using Random.org…. the winners of the 5 books are:

  • Susanne

  • Amy

You have been emailed and I have asked that you email back your address by Monday July 6.  Thanks and congratulations to our lucky winners!


The Night Gardener by George Palecanos:  Pelecanos (Drama City) delivers a dignified, character-driven epic that succeeds as both literary novel and page-turner. In 1985, the body of a 14-year-old girl turns up in a Washington, D.C., park, the latest in a series of murders by a killer the media dub “The Night Gardener.” T.C. Cook, the aging detective on the case, works with a quiet, almost monomaniacal, focus. Also involved are two young uniformed cops, Gus Ramone, who’s diligent, conscientious and unimpressed by heroics, and Dan “Doc” Holiday, an adrenaline junkie who’s decidedly less straight.

Fast forward 20 years. Detective Ramone, now married with kids of his own, investigates the murder of one of his teenage son’s friends. The homicide closely resembles the earlier unsolved Night Gardener murders. Holiday, now an alcoholic chauffeur and bodyguard, follows the case on his own and tracks down Cook, long retired but still obsessed with the original murders. While the three work together toward a suspenseful ending, Pelecanos emphasizes the fallacy of “solving” a murder and explores the ripple effects of violent crime on society.

Five copies of this book are being offered in this contest thanks to Valerie Russi and Hachette House Book Group.

**To sign up to win:

1.  Leave a comment  for one chance to win

2.  For a second chance to win, make a comment on another of my book reviews.

3.  For a third entry, follow we on Twitter (Twitter link to the right)

Winners will be announced June 30th.  You will have 48 hours from the time I email you to respond with your address.  Those who do not respond will have another name drawn instead.  Winners must be in the USA and Hachette Book Group can not mail to po boxes.

Good luck everyone!  This is an incredible read you don’t want to miss out on!


Audio Giveaway! Cementary Dance by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Thanks to Anna and Hachette Book Group, I am able to offer three copies of this audio book, Cemetery Dance.


cemetary dancePendergast-the world’s most enigmatic FBI Special Agent-returns to New York Cityto investigate a murderous cult. William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museumof Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment onManhattan’s Upper West Side. Eyewitnesses claim, and the security camera confirms, that the assailant was their strange, sinister neighbor-a man who, by all reports, was already dead and buried weeks earlier. While Captain Laura Hayward leads the official investigation, Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta undertake their own private-and decidedly unorthodox-quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and vodou which no outsiders have ever survived.

To enter this contest you need to:

1 entry to win: leave a comment here on this blog with your name and email to be reached at.

2 entries to win: tell me who your favorite author is and why

3 entries to win: post a link to this contest (on your own blog, facebook, twitter…) and tell me where you have linked

4 entries : if you post a comment on another of my reviews

Winners will be emailed on June 15th.  You will 48 hours to respond with address for the book to be sent to.  If you have not responded in that time, another winner will be drawn.  USA addresses only.  Thank you and good luck!


We have our winners!!!!  Congratulations to Sandy (Mrs. Mommy), Jason, and Wendy Wallach!  I have sent you all emails to send me your addresses so the books can be shipped to you!  ;)

Audio Book Giveaways!!! The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

Thanks to Anna with Hatchette Book Group – I have 3 copies of The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly (audio book) to give away.

  • scarecrowForced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career.
    He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow’s so-called confession is bogus. The kid might actually be innocent.
    Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar–and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack’s.

    “Narrator Peter Giles delivers the crisp and compelling copy with a deadpan tone and a pace that advances like Patton through Italy. Scenes involving the stalking of McEvoy and Walling raise hairs at the back of the listener’s neck. Great characters and a satisfying ending cement Connelly’s place as one of the best crime novelists working today.”- AudioFile (Starred Review)

To enter this contest you need to:

1 entry to win: leave a comment here on this blog with your name and email to be reached at.

2 entries to win: tell me who your favorite author is and why

3 entries to win: post a link to this contest (on your own blog, facebook, twitter…) and tell me where you have linked

4 entries if you post a comment on another of my reviews

Winners will be emailed on June 15th.  You will 48 hours to respond with address for the book to be sent to.  If you have not responded in that time, another winner will be drawn.  USA addresses only.  Thank you and good luck!


Announcing our winners!  Congratulations to BevE, Stephanie, and Brenda!!!  Please email your shipping information so your audio books can be sent your way!

  • The Link
  • The Link
  • By Colin Tudge
  • For more than a century, scientists have raced to unravel the human family tree and have grappled with its complications. Now, with an astonishing new discovery, everything we thought we knew about primate origins could change. Lying inside a high-security vault, deep within the heart of one of the world’s leading natural history museums, is the scientific find of a lifetime – a perfectly fossilized early primate, older than the previously most famous primate fossil, Lucy, by forty-four million years.A secret until now, the fossil – “Ida” to the researchers who have painstakingly verified her provenance – is the most complete primate fossil ever found. Forty-seven million years old, Ida rewrites what we’ve assumed about the earliest primate origins. Her completeness is unparalleled – so much of what we understand about evolution comes from partial fossils and even single bones, but Ida’s fossilization offers much more than that, from a haunting “skin shadow” to her stomach contents. And, remarkably, knowledge of her discovery and existence almost never saw the light of day.With exclusive access to the first scientists to study her, the award-winning science writer Colin Tudge tells the history of Ida and her place in the world. A magnificent, cutting-edge scientific detective story followed her discovery, and The Link offers a wide-ranging investigation into Ida and our earliest origins. At the same time, it opens a stunningly evocative window into our past and changes what we know about primate evolution and, ultimately, our own.AVAILABLE IN AUDIO AS A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ONLY
  • The Vixen Diaries
  • The Vixen Diaries
  • By Karrine Steffans
  • This titillating expose, read by the author who has seen it all, chronicles the personal and professional adventures of this tabloid-laden socialite, dispelling some rumors, while confirming others. Diaries unveils the heavily shrouded Hollywood backrooms and its coveted secrets. Offering her ardent fans answers to burning questions and presenting lessons learned, this audiobook will surely not disappoint.Karrine Steffans continues to dish out juicy gossip and the much sought after details of her star studded lifestyle and the celebrity men that helped her get where she needed to be.Karrine draws you in to get an up-close and personal look at the Hollywood life of fast money, drugs, and sex; all the things that make for a great movie. She discusses her interactions with people after the release of Confessions of a Video Vixen and how she copes with it all.

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

hold-tightMike held his son’s hand and told him to “hold tight,” and he could feel the little hand dig into his but the crush got bigger and the little hand slipped from his and Mike felt that horrible panic, as if a wave hit them at the beach and it was washing his baby out with the tide.

The separation lasted only a few seconds, ten at the most, but Mike would never forget the spike in his blood and the terror of those brief few moments.

Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d become the type of overprotective parents who spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his classmate Spencer Hill – the latest in a string of issues at school – they can’t help but worry. They install a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer, and within days they are jolted by a message from an unknown correspondent addressed to their son: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”

Meanwhile, browsing through an online memorial for Spencer put together by his classmates, Betsy Hill is struck by a photo that appears to have been taken on the night of her son’s death…and he wasn’t alone. She thinks it is Adam Baye standing just outside the camera’s range; but when Adam goes missing, it soon becomes clear that something deep and sinister has infected their community. For Tia and Mike Baye, the question they must answer is this: When it comes to your kids, is it possible to know too much?

I don’t really know why I ever even let a Harlan Coben book reach my book shelf before I have read it.  They are always that good.  I think this book, Hold Tight was a breath of fresh air – a suspenseful read that I could dive into and not fully make it out until the book was complete.

It is true that I loved my last read, The book Thief, as well.  That book was more on the read slowly and let the beauty of the words sink in style.  This book rolls over you like a freight train and you love the page turning effect it has on you.

So today – a day that I stayed in bed due to I dont even know what – flu I guess…. I slept, and I read.  Its a little sad that it takes a day like this now where I am inmobilized to actually find time to read!  Yet, as I stared out the window at what looked to be a pretty nice day and thought about all I could be doing – I have to say the book made the day a lot better.

Harlan is a fun, realistic writer that I find to be a lot like Dean Koontz except that Dean can go what I call “Dark Dean” at times and I find a few of his books to out there where I dont get that from Harlan.

Anyway – another fabulous read – well developed characters and while there is a lot of different things going on in the book at once, I found it flowed well and I did not get lost in the plot…. errr…. plots.  A 5 in my book.  Literally ;)

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