Book Review: The Broker by John Grisham

Summary (from Goodreads)

In his final hours in the Oval Office the outgoing President grants a controversial last-minute pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years hidden away in a federal prison. What no one knows is that the President issues the pardon only after receiving enormous pressure from the CIA. It seems that Backman, in his power broker heyday, may have obtained secrets that would compromise the world’s most sophisticated satellite surveillance system.

Backman is quietly smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plan, given a new name, a new identity, and a new home in Italy. Eventually, after he has settled into his new life, the CIA will leak his whereabouts to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese and the Saudis. Then the CIA will do what it does best: sit back and watch. The question is not whether Backman will survive – there’s no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is: who will kill him?

Favourite Quote

“I’ve been locked in a small cell about the size of this apartment for six years.  You can’t expect me to stay here.  There’s a vibrant city out there.  Let’s go explore it.”

Review

This was a gripping read; I could not put this book down.  The characters were interesting and the storyline hooked me from the first page.  Although Joel Backman was not a particularly nice man, you can’t help but feel sorry for him.  To have so many people want to kill you…well, the danger he was in was palpable.  And, as the story unfolded, I found myself rooting for him, the person he was long forgotten for the man he had become.

I liked how Joel Backman’s transformation into Marco Lazzeri was depicted in the book.  Another clever turn was including Marco’s language lessons in the narrative so not only does he have to be immersed in the language and culture of his new home, but the reader is too.  And, it’s been years since I have spoken Italian, so this served as a bit of a test to see how much I could remember before checking it over with the translations that immediately followed.

The book is well researched and the settings, especially the main attractions of the towns Marco is confined to, are described in detail.  It was an easy read, one I could easily get lost in.

All-in-all, a thoroughly entertaining thriller that I struggled to put down.

Rating

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Book Review: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the first book in the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton.

Summary (from back of book)

High-flying public relations supremo Agatha Raisin has decided to take early retirement.  She’s off to make anew life in a picture-perfect Cotswold village.  To make friends, she enters the local quiche-making competition – and to make quite sure of first prize she secretly pays a visit to a London deli.

Alas, the competition judge succumbs after tasting her perfect quiche, and Agatha is revealed as a cheat and potential poisoner.  definitely not the best start.  So Agatha must turn amateur sleuth – she’s absolutely got to track down the real killer!

Favourite Quote

Prettiness did not necessarily invite pretty people.

*

A faint idea was stirring somewhere in her brain that Agatha Raisin was not a very lovable person.

Review

Having read and really enjoyed the Hamish Macbeth series from the same author, I wondered whether this series could live up to the other one in my eyes.  I needn’t have feared – it turns out I love Agatha Raisin just as much as Hamish Macbeth.  Although some of her thoughts and actions are questionable, it wasn’t hard to warm to her.

As a character she is extremely well-written because she is flawed and can be mean but you like her any way.  At first she doesn’t come across as likeable, but the further you read and the more you get to know her, the more likeable she becomes.  The other characters are just as entertaining, my other favourites being Bill Wong and James Lacey.

The setting is wonderful, the pace of the story quick, the humour good, and the story engaging.  All-in-all, a charming, quick read.

This is one of my favourite reads of the year and I am glad that I finally discovered Agatha Raisin for myself.  Having read the first book in the series, I very quickly found myself devouring books two and three!  I was hooked from the first page, and can’t wait to read more.

If you enjoy cosy mysteries that make you laugh, I recommend you have a read of this series, and this first book is a great place to start.

Rating

Short Story Review: The Text by Claire Douglas

Summary (from Goodreads)

A single text changed her life. Did it end his?

Emily Latimer is furious. Her boss Andrew is being so unreasonable, as always. She fires off a text to her boyfriend, only in her haste she sends it to her whole office group.

In it she says Andrew’s being difficult about letting her have time off work. That she is angry. That she hopes he dies. The next day her face burns in the office. No one believes her when she says it was a typo, she meant to say does. She hopes he does.

It’s a nightmare. But it gets worse – Andrew doesn’t turn up for work. And then the police come knocking. Because Andrew Burton has been murdered . .

Favourite Quote

It’s warm and cosy in here with Radio One playing quietly in the background and the rain drumming on the roof and bonnet like an amateur pianist plonking out a tune.

Review

This was a quick, engaging read. I think I got through it in about half an hour, but for the whole of that time I found it gripping.  Although short, there are plenty of twists to keep you reading.

The characters quickly came to life as soon as I started reading.  I really felt for Emily.  Two small slip ups – a typo in a text and sending the text to the wrong people – and everything unravels for her.

It lost as star because I thought it ended a little abruptly, making the closing pages feel rushed.  However, I thought it was a good read with a believable story line. I will definitely be reading more from this author.

I downloaded The Text for free from iBooks.

Rating

Bookish Reflections – November 2017

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

Quite an up and down month, thanks to my priority being NaNoWriMo in November (which I completed in 24 days – my best effort ever!).  I did manage to post three reviews, two of which were reviews that I needed to catch up on.  However, having read three books this month means that my catch-up list is still much longer than I would like.  My focus then in December is to post all the reviews that need publishing, concentrate my book picks on festive-themed reads for Festive Reads Fortnight and to hit my Goodreads Challenge Goal.  It doesn’t sound like much, does it…

Books I’ve reviewed

Favourite read of the month

  • Death at a Drop-In by Elizabeth Spann Craig

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • The Broker by John Grisham

Books I’ve downloaded

  • The Text by Claire Douglas
  • Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morray
  • Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • Death at a Drop-In by Elizabeth Spann Craig
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

November’s “Read and Review” Goals

  • Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C.Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip by Arthur Conan Doyle (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Poison Study by Maria V Snyder (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardner by M.C. Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Blood of Angels by Michael Marshall (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The New Catacomb by Arthur Conan Doyle (read, awaiting reviewing)

What I’m reading and reviewing in December

  • Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C.Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardner by M.C. Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Poison Study by Maria V Snyder (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The New Catacomb by Arthur Conan Doyle (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The Text by Claire Douglas (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The Broker by John Grisham (read, awaiting reviewing)

Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal is 57.  I’ve read 44.  77% complete.  Currently 8 books behind schedule.

Other reads (books not on Goodreads)*: 2

Total books read so far this year: 46


* “Other reads” means books that are not listed on Goodreads, but ones that are still of novel / novella length.  I’m not counting anthologies, single (very) short stories, magazines / ezines, but I will count short story or poetry collections if they are not too short.  Short stories that are listed on Goodreads are being counted as part of the reading challenge total.

Book Review: Blood of Angels by Michael Marshall


Blood of Angels
is the third book in the Straw Men trilogy by Michael Marshall

Summary (from back of book)

Notorious serial killer the Upright Man has escaped from a supermax prison.  The FBI have no idea how it happened, or where to start looking.  Ex-CIA agent Ward Hopkins suspects the Straw Men, a shadowy conspiracy of killers with a macabre agenda.

But apart from Ward’s girlfriend Nina, a discredited federal agent, the only person who believes the Straw Men even exist is John Zandt, a homicide detective obsessed with tracking down his daughter’s killers – and who is now wanted for murder himself.

The terrifying thing is that Ward’s right – his brother was broken out for a reason.  The Straw Men are planning something big.

And now only Ward, Nina and Zandt stand between them and a spectacular act of carnage…

Favourite Quote

It had been like being held in a giant’s warm hand for a spell.  We could feel that hand lowering, preparing to put us back down.

Review

First off, I didn’t realise this was the third book in this storyline until I had already started reading. Having already enjoyed what I had read, I decided to continue on instead of going back to start at the beginning of the trilogy.  This clearly shows that Blood of Angels works well enough (rather than perfectly well) as a standalone read.  However, had I not already started the third book, I would have preferred to start at the beginning.

There are a lot of characters in this story and a number of story threads which are cleverly woven together.  The beginning did feel a little slow, but the pace did pick up.  The author does a good job of trying to include all the pertinent information from the first and second book in the narrative.

The conspiracy theory aspect of the storyline wasn’t overplayed.  Instead the thriller aspect of the story was the main focus point, and this involved quite a bit of action.  The characters were detailed and engaging, as was the plot itself.  At certain points in the book I couldn’t help but wonder how the separate storylines were going to come together, but when they do, it’s cleverly written.

I would happily read more from this author as I found this book quite gripping once I got into the story…

Rating

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Death at a Drop-In by Elizabeth Spann Craig

Death at A Drop-In is the fifth book in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Cosette Whitlow is a society matron…if tiny Bradley, North Carolina, has one. She kindly volunteers for all the town’s charities, but isn’t nearly as kind to her own family, neighbors, and friends. In fact, Cosette is emphatically disliked by much of the town—including octogenarian Myrtle Clover. And Myrtle knows that dislike in Bradley can quickly turn deadly.

No one seems surprised when Cosette’s body is discovered during a party she’s hosting—she was struck on the head with a croquet mallet. Wanting to restore order to the small town, Myrtle resolves to track down the killer—before the killer strikes again.

Favourite Quotes

Two knitting related quotes – I couldn’t chose between them 🙂

*

“Knitting makes me feel old.  It made me feel old when I was twenty and doing it.”

*

“Well, I like to snoop more than I like to knit, that’s for sure.”

*

Review

I wanted something light and fun and easy to dip in and out of while participating in NaNoWriMo (and yay! I finished the challenge on the 24th November!  Woohoo!), and this fit the bill perfectly.  I love Myrtle.  She’s great and has a wonderful attitude to life.  And, just like Miss Marple, people assume her to be old and doddering rather than sharp and alert – more fool them!

As the for other characters around her – Miles, Red, Erma, Wanda – they are also entertaining.  The story line is easy to follow and allows you to easily immerse yourself in what’s going on.  This quick read is well-paced and there is enough humour to put a smile on the face of the reader.

Although this book is number five in the series it reads just as well as a stand alone novel (the only other Myrtle Clover Mystery I have read is A Body in the Backyard which is the fourth book in the series).

This character / series / author has been one of my great bookish finds of 2017, and I’m looking forward to reading more. If you enjoy cosy mysteries, I recommend you take at look the Myrtle Clover Mysteries.  They’re just so much fun.

Rating

Bookish Reflections – October 2017

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

October was very much a month for reading but not that great for reviewing, as I fell behind drastically once more.  My priority this month is to catch up with the reviews that are waiting.  I don’t expect to get much reading done because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo.

Books I’ve reviewed

Favourite read of the month

The Devil’s Priest by Kate Ellis

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • The Little House by Philippa Gregory
  • The Riddle of Sands by Erskine Childers
  • The Mask of Troy by David Gibbins

Books I’ve downloaded

  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

October “Read and Review” Goals

  • The Devil’s Priest by Kate Ellis (read, almost finished reviewing)
  • The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C.Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip by Arthur Conan Doyle (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Poison Study by Maria V Snyder (reading)

What I’m reading and reviewing in November

  • Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C.Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip by Arthur Conan Doyle (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Poison Study by Maria V Snyder (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardner by M.C. Beaton (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • Blood of Angels by Michael Marshall (read, awaiting reviewing)
  • The New Catacomb by Arthur Conan Doyle (read, awaiting reviewing)

Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal is 57.  I’ve read 42.  74% complete.  Currently 6 books behind schedule.

Other reads (books not on Goodreads)*: 2

Total books read so far this year: 44


* “Other reads” means books that are not listed on Goodreads, but ones that are still of novel / novella length.  I’m not counting anthologies, single (very) short stories, magazines / ezines, but I will count short story or poetry collections if they are not too short.  Short stories that are listed on Goodreads are being counted as part of the reading challenge total.