Tag: Ballantine

Guest Review: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Posted October 19, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Girl Before by J.P. DelaneyReviewer: Tina
The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma: Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane: After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney tells the tale of two women who are previous and current residents of a high-tech home which was designed by an obsessive yet charismatic architect who is fixated with the concept of perfection. The narrative unfolds through the women’s alternating accounts, which at times brought that Deja Vu sensation to me as I proceeded through the book. Before I actually caught on, I found myself thinking that my kindle had taken me back to a previous chapter that I had already read.

The house is by far the star of the show with it’s futuristic infrastructure. It is basically controlled through a computer program called “Housekeeper”, which regulates everything from the lights to the water temperature based on findings that are gathered via a wristband worn by the inhabitant. The house even monitors the overall physical and mental health of the user. The question being presented though, is the house governed by the dweller or is it the other way around?

The Girl Before is a first-rate read. Having previously devoured both Gone Girl and The Girl On the Train, I would definitely consider all three to be highly outstanding contributions. I will definitely be singing it’s praises to all my bookish acquaintances. The unique plot got my attention and kept me engrossed until the final page.

I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of the e-book in return for an honest review.

four-stars


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Review: Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann

Posted September 15, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Into the Storm by Suzanne BrockmannReviewer: Rowena
Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann
Series: Troubleshooters #10
Also in this series: All Through the Night, Over the Edge
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 15th 2006
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

In a remote, frozen corner of New Hampshire, a Navy SEAL team and the elite security experts of Troubleshooters Incorporated are going head-to-head as fierce but friendly rivals in a raid-and-rescue training exercise. Despite the frigid winter temperatures, tension smolders between SEAL Petty Officer Mark Jenkins and former cop turned Troubleshooter Lindsey Fontaine after an impulsive night of passion goes awry. And then suddenly Tracy Shapiro, the Troubleshooters' new receptionist, vanishes while playing the role of hostage during a mock rescue operation.

Teaming up with the FBI to launch a manhunt in the treacherous wilderness, Jenk and Lindsey must put aside their feelings as a record snowstorm approaches, dramatically reducing any hope of finding Tracy alive. The trail is colder than the biting New England climate until a lucky break leads to a horrifying discovery - a brutally murdered young woman wearing the jacket Tracy wore when she disappeared. Suddenly there is a chilling certainty that Tracy has fallen prey to a serial killer - one who knows the backwoods terrain and who doesn't play by the rules of engagement.

In a race against time, a raging blizzard, and a cunning opponent, Jenk and Lindsey are put to the ultimate test. Risking everything, they must finally come together in a desperate attempt to save Tracy - and each other.

Mark Jenkins and Lindsey Fontaine. I remember this book fondly but what’s weird is that I remember mostly that I loved the heck out of Izzy Zanella in this book. Ha! Poor Jenkins.

Anyway, SEAL Team Sixteen and the Troubleshooters Inc. folks are going head to head in a mock training exercise. Competition is fierce and both sides want to win but when their fake hostage Tracy Shapiro goes missing, their friendly competitive training operation gets thrown to the wayside because…shit gets real.

Jenkins and Lindsey are battling wits and feelings after an unexpected night together but Lindsey is adamant about shutting that shit down. She wants nothing to do with a relationship and what should have been a whole lot of sexual tension, was actually bogged down with too much shit that I wanted to beat out of Lindsey.

This wasn’t my favorite book in the Troubleshooters series but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. There’s a whole bunch of Troubleshooters goodness in the form of seeing everyone from the team (old and new) and I really liked seeing what everyone was up to.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I still felt like Jenks was jipped because it was Izzy that stole the story for me. Completely stole Jenk’s thunder. I was much more interested in what he was up to and even though I know who he ends up with, I still low key wanted him to hook up with Tracy.

Lindsey bickered her way through this story and at first, Jenk just kind took it with his tail between his legs and it drove me crazy because I wanted him to be more like Sam and Wildcard and freaking fight her back but I never felt like that was Jenk’s style, which is probably why he’s not one of my favorite Troubleshooters series. Lindsey got on my nerves a lot but in the end, I believed in her feelings for Jenk and I was glad that they got their shit together long enough to own up to their feelings for each other. Jenk came a long way in this book and I liked him a lot better in the end.

My favorite part of this book was seeing everyone again. The older characters meeting up with the new characters and all banding together to fight the bad guys. I want more of this. I miss these guys. Still, solid book for me.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Review: Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann

Posted May 20, 2014 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Genres: Romantic Suspense

Do or DieRowena’s review of Do or Die (Reluctant Heroes #1) by Suzanne Brockmann.

Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his own kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission… for reasons he will not–or cannot–reveal.

But saying no is not an option. Especially not to Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s bespectacled, beautiful, and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, she not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible-style operation, whether he likes it or not.

Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty.

Or die trying.

This is the first book in Suz Brockmann’s new Reluctant Heroes series. This book tells Ian Dunn’s story of true love and while it was good, I can’t say that I connected with anyone in this book as much as I have with pretty much everyone in Brockmann’s other Navy SEAL worlds.

The story is as follows: Ian Dunn is serving time in prison to protect his younger brother Aaron from the homophobic asshole that just so happens to be his partner Sheldon’s father. He had agreements in place to ensure the safety of his brother’s family and everything was going according to plan until the government needs his help to rescue a couple of kids who have been kidnapped by their dangerous foreign national father. Ian wants nothing to do with the mission because he cannot step foot out of prison or the deal he had with the bad people after his brother went away and his family is right back in danger.

Of course, none of that matters to the U.S. Government. They need his help and he’s going to give it to them whether he wants to or not.

Now, he’s out of prison, in danger and rushing to protect his brother from harm. He’s got a lawyer that he doesn’t want but would not kick out of his bed and a shit load of problems that he doesn’t quite know how to fix. When he meets up with his brother after many, many years of being away, his brother is pissed at him and is a total dick about so many things that I wanted to kick him in the nuts.

Phoebe Kruger’s first day at her new firm brings her to Ian Dunn’s doorstep and he is not happy about it. All she wants, is to do her job but it’s hard when your client doesn’t want you to be their lawyer. But she’s gone and done it now, she’s stepped into it and she’s got no other option but to see it through. She’s unofficially a part of Ian’s team and while she’s trying to make the best out of an awkward situation, she’s doing the best she can and it’s hard to do that when parts of Ian’s team doesn’t want her anywhere near their mission.

There’s a lot going on in this book. There’s the crap with Aaron and Sheldon and Sheldon’s piece of shit father. There’s the two kidnapped kids that need to be rescued and then there’s the relationship that Ian wasn’t looking for (and didn’t want) but can’t seem to shake. Lots of stuff to keep the story going and while I did enjoy the action that the story provided, I wasn’t a really big fan of anyone in this new series. Except maybe, Martell. And Yashi. And Deb. Oh and I adored Sheldon. Okay, I liked those four and I did end up liking Ian and Phoebe.

But Aaron and Francine? They got on my hot damn nerves. Aaron acted like a spoiled brat and straight up dickhead toward Ian for far longer than I thought was necessary and Francine? Ugh, I get that she went through some pretty horrific things in her life but I hated that it turned her into such an ugly person toward people that didn’t deserve her bitchiness. Aaron’s saving grace was Sheldon. I liked seeing the softer side of Aaron when he was with Sheldon. I also liked seeing him with the baby. As for Francine? There were some vulnerabilities shown with Martell that I was hoping we’d get more of but we didn’t so she still has a long way to winning my affection.

This book was kind of slow to start but once it picked up, it really picked up and I went on a roller coaster ride. Brockmann excels at writing fast paced stories that really come alive for the reader but what missed its mark with me with this story were the characters. They weren’t very likable at times and I didn’t connect with them as much as I was hoping I would. But even still, I’m curious to read the other books in this series and I’m wondering who’s book we’ll be getting next…and who Francine ends up with? Who would put up with all of the baggage that she brings to the table.

This book wasn’t as enjoyable as her Troubleshooters series but it’s still worth a try.

Grade: 3 out of 5

This book was provided by Random House. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann

Posted February 24, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Genres: Romantic Suspense

Do or DieJen’s review of Do or Die (Reluctant Heroes #1) by Suzanne Brockmann

Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his own kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission… for reasons he will not–or cannot–reveal.

But saying no is not an option. Especially not to Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s bespectacled, beautiful, and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, she not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible-style operation, whether he likes it or not.

Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty.

Or die trying.

Ian Dunn is a former Navy SEAL now serving time in prison. One day, two lawyers show up at the prison–Martell Griffin and Phoebe Kruger. Phoebe has been newly hired by the law firm that represents Ian and was unexpectedly given the job of coming to the meeting when her boss is incapacitated by a serious accident. She cannot understand why he would immediately reject the incredible deal Griffin offers–the US government will get Ian out of jail if he agrees to help rescue some kidnapped children believed to be held at the Kazbekistani Embassy. Despite Ian’s objections, he is released from jail and the plot begins.

There is a LOT going on in this book! First, there is a mystery around Dunn’s past. What exactly was his “job,” and why was he really in prison? Then, for reasons not immediately apparent, Ian’s release from prison puts his brother and his brother’s family in jeopardy, so the first task when Ian gets out is to rescue them, which ends up getting Phoebe irrevocably involved. Finally, Ian, Phoebe, Martell Griffin, Ian’s rescued family, and a couple of FBI agents all have to devise a mission to save the kids with little-to-no backing from the US government and at the risk of creating a major international incident. Oh, and did I mention that the mob is also after them? Whew!

Ian and Phoebe are a great couple. Their relationship does move a bit fast, but no more so than most other romantic suspense stories. Ian is a pretty textbook alpha male hero. While his motivations are always selfless, he is used to controlling everyone and everything around him, which he starts to realize has hurt his relationships with those he loves, especially his brother Aaron. Of course, Ian thinks he can easily manipulate Phoebe, too, but she turns out to be smarter and stronger than he anticipates. While there are a few moments near the beginning of the book where Phoebe does things that put her in danger, those come across as genuine moments of inexperience rather than outright stupidity. In fact, Phoebe is exceptionally perceptive and clever. She doesn’t imagine herself to be invincible, but she also isn’t afraid to participate in some dangerous and tricky situations. The two of them felt like a real team by the end. I loved seeing the way she understood Ian in a way no one else did, and her candor and intelligence got beneath Ian’s defenses. We all know how hard those alpha males fall when they meet their match, right?

There are so many things I like about this book. The complex cons and interpersonal relationships remind me a little of that TV show Leverage (anybody see that one?), where a team works together to run elaborate, dangerous missions for good reasons. The cast of characters in Do or Die is fairly large, but they’re not window dressing. I feel like you really get to know and like most of them. The book does switch around between a few different characters’ perspectives, not just Ian and Phoebe. If that kind of thing bothers you, you might want to steer clear, but I felt like it was well done and allowed the reader to keep track of the many sub-plots. My favorite sub-story was definitely between Aaron and his spouse. They have an incredibly touching, sweet love story that’s slowly revealed through flashbacks and current interactions. It was a really moving, graceful portrayal of an established couple facing some challenges.

I thought Brockmann mostly held all the story threads together, no small feat given how much was going on in this book, but perhaps it was inevitable that there would be some things that never quite made sense. For instance, if Ian’s case was so sensitive, it’s not clear exactly how Phoebe could end up with it, despite the turmoil at the law firm. Plus, I wasn’t convinced she could simply return to her former life. Would her employer be understanding? Would she be safe? The fact that the US government has FBI agents working with Ian also seemed weird, since they are so adamant that the US not be implicated in the mission. I also didn’t quite understand how things are resolved so easily at the end with the mob, especially since the danger had been there for so long.

Still these are minor complaints that only arose when I looked for them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and as this is the first book in a series (Reluctant Heroes), I’ll definitely be anxiously awaiting the next story!

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine Books/Random House. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen

Posted February 18, 2014 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

17262149Tina’s review of The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen

I am a huge fan of Sarah Addison Allen. When I read the synopsis for The Wishing Thread and it stated that it would appeal to fans of hers, I knew I had to read this book.

The Wishing Thread, by Lisa Van Allen, is magical story about the Van Ripper Family. The matriarch, Aunt Mariah, has recently died, and her three nieces have been reunited at her funeral after being estranged for some time. They discover that their Aunt has left her yarn shop, The Stitchery, to all of them, and now they must decide what they want to do with it.

The Van Ripper women are well known in Tarrytown and the surrounding area of Sleepy Hollow NY for fulfilling the hopes, wishes and dreams of the locals by knitting magic into their handcrafted creations. But, there is a catch to the magic they create – for the magic to work, the requester must sacrifice something in return.

This story is highly reminiscent of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. The similarities between the three books are many, although where Garden Spells revolves around food, The Wishing Thread centers on knitting. But magic is magic afterall, and this story does have it’s share.

I did think that the setting was very fitting for the book. I enjoyed the author’s descriptive writing style, and although I am not much into any type of hobby that involves knitting or crocheting, I still found the story to be entertaining. Although some reviewers have found the comparison to be unsatisfactory, I believe that fans of Sarah Allen and Alice Hoffman will find The Wishing Thread to be an equally enjoyable read.

I received this ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I rate this book a 4 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine Books.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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