BOOK REVIEW: In The Heart of the Fire by Dean Koontz

49694471._SX318_SY475_Title: In The Heart of the Fire

Author: Dean Koontz

Book Length (Audiobook): 1 hour 31 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories, Horror, Crime, Suspense, Novella

Read Start Date: April 30, 2020

Read Finish Date: April 30, 2020

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: A bloodthirsty sheriff is terrorizing a small Texas town where justice has been buried with his victims. Until Nameless arrives—a vigilante whose past is a mystery and whose future is written in blood.

Anyone who crosses Sheriff Russell Soakes is dead, missing, or warned. One of them is a single mother trying to protect her children but bracing herself for the worst. Nameless fears the outcome. He’s seen it in his visions. Now it’s time to teach the depraved Soakes a lesson in fear. But in turning predators into prey, will Nameless unearth a few secrets of his own?

In the Heart of the Fire is the first book of the Nameless series.

My Review: I listened to this novella through Kindle Unlimited. I haven’t read Dean Koontz in a while, although he used to be one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager. As it was only 1.5 hours long, it was the perfect length for a long walk, which is why I picked it up to begin with — however, the length in general left something to be desired. There wasn’t enough time to really build any of the characters, and I felt that the story just happened too quickly.

Let’s see how the series progresses.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

40097951._SY475_Title: The Silent Patient

Author: Alex Michaelides

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 43 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Read Start Date: October 18, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 20, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

My Review: I am writing this review about a month after reading the book, so I admit my recollection is already a bit fuzzy. I remember reading this book quickly, because I wanted to find out what was going on — it was a real page turner (or the equivalent of that for audiobooks). The ending was like WTF just happened? I have to say I did not expect that at all! — it was a good twist and I really enjoyed the ending.

Jo’s Book Blog and The Bursting Book Shelf also have reviews of this book, which I think that you will find helpful, as I cannot really give such a detailed review this time.

The audiobook had a nice interview with the author, which I also listened to. The author mentions that the plot was based upon a Greek myth, Euripides play Alcestis. This particular tragedy is about a woman who returns from death, never to speak again. If you are interested in reading an interview with the author, you can find it at this link, here.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

34466922Title: Sleeping Beauties

Author: Stephen King and Owen King

Book Length: 718 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Thriller

Read Start Date: February 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: November 17, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

My Review: Stephen King is probably one of my favorite authors out there. However, I’m finding that I’m not so happy with his new stuff. The book starts with a woman murdering a couple of meth cookers in a pretty violent way. It become rather apparent that this woman is totally off her rocker, but at the same time she seems to know stuff, private stuff, about people that she really has no business in knowing.

Soon after her arrival, women who fall asleep start growing cocoons around them like butterflies (or moths) and do not awaken — but it is only the women. The men are unaffected.

I originally started to read this book because I really like virus books in general and The Stand by Stephen King remains to be one of my all time favorites, so it seemed like a winning combination. As you can see above, it took me much longer than usual to get through this book, and I guess that the book wasn’t really keep my attention as much as other Stephen King books do.

It took me NINE MONTHS in all to finish it, I can truly say that the plot just progresses really, really slowly. In the book, only a few days actually goes by. 718 pages to describe events that takes place in less than a week. You do the math. I was really expecting something more from Stephen King.

I also was not so thrilled with the whole men are evil and women are perfect, because let’s face it that’s not true. And to be honest, has anyone ever worked in an office full of women? Was that such a utopian society? If your experience was anything like mine, you will give a resounding HELL NO!

I read a few reviews on this book and I liked the one from Katie Marie the best. I’ve included a link to her blog post.

On a scale of must read to don’t bother, this book falls somewhere in the middle. However, given the length, I would caution against starting it if you don’t have a lot of time to get through it.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Fallen by David Baldacci

35959808._SX318_ (1)Title: The Fallen

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 56 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: October 10, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 14, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped.

Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.

Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.

Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time–when one mistake could cost him everything–Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…

My Past Review(s)The Fallen is the 4th book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

You can read my review of the 2nd book in the series, The Last Mile, here.

You can read my review of the 3rd book in the series, The Fix, here.

My Review: Like the first three books, I am giving the fourth book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. Each book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first books that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t the first ones in the series.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, stumbles upon this case when he is visiting the family of his friend and partner Alex Jamison. Although Amos is supposed to be on vacation (a fact that we hear a lot throughout the book), Amos being Amos, dives right in to solve the case — he of course makes some pretty obvious deductions along the way (e.g. even I know about blow flies, but the county coroner does not(?)).

Anyway, I do not feel that there is anything unique I can really saw about this book, except to echo my other reviews (which you can read by clicking on the links above). The following blog, Books and Strips, also shares my opinion, that basically the story line is fast paced, and that Amos is a know-it-all. This book was written to entertain, which it certainly does.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Fix by David Baldacci

31562247Title: The Fix

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 54 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: September 16, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 21, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself.

Even with Decker’s extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, the killing is baffling. Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter – a family man with a successful consulting business – and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

Enter Harper Brown. An agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, she orders Decker to back off the case. The murder is part of an open DIA investigation, one so classified that Decker and his team aren’t cleared for it.

But they learn that the DIA believes solving the murder is now a matter of urgent national security. Critical information may have been leaked to a hostile government – or, worse, an international terrorist group – and an attack may be imminent.

Decker’s never been one to follow the rules, especially with the stakes so high. Forced into an uneasy alliance with Agent Brown, Decker remains laser focused on only one goal: solving the case before it’s too late.

My Past Review(s): The Fix is the 3rd book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

You can read my review of the 2nd book in the series, The Last Mile, here.

My Review: Like the first and second book, I am giving the third book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. Each book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first and second book that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t read Memory Man or The Last Mile.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, stumbles upon this case when he witnesses the shooting death of Anne Berkshire.

My biggest critique about this series (which holds true for this book) is that everyone around Decker idolizes him as a super cool and smart magical unicorn. His colleagues and friends follow him around waiting for him to make some seriously obvious deduction about the case (because they are too stupid(?)) and Decker’s rude social habits are somehow adorable because its Decker. Like when your little puppy pees on the rug, but you are like, but look at that cute puppy face, how can I stay mad at you?

That being said, the plot was engaging (although drawn out) and I was totally surprised by the plot twist at the end. I was never bored while reading this book. Another solid airport / beach read.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Mile by David Baldacci

26245853Title: The Last Mile

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 49 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: September 9, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 14, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution–for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier–when he’s granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.

Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars’s case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men’s families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.

The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars–guilty or not–a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now?

But when a member of Decker’s team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger–and more sinister–than just one convicted criminal’s life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed.

My Past Review(s): The Last Mile is the 2nd book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

My Review: Like the first book, I am giving the second book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. The plot was a bit better in this book, but still somewhat unbelievable. The second book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first book that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t read Memory Man.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, has been hired by the FBI due to his role in solving the case in the previous book. Alex Jameson, former journalist and Decker’s unlikely partner, has been hired as well. Their job is to solve cold case files, and their first pick is the case involving Melvin Mars, who has been in prison for 20 years on what seems now to be bogus charges. Or are they? There are a lot of twists and turns before getting to the final conclusion.

Like Decker, Melvin Mars was a football star who, had he not gone to prison, could have been one of the best football players of his time. Overall, I find the character to be bit unbelievable as well. How is he so…normal? The guy spent 20 years in prison. Wouldn’t that have changed his personality as least a little bit?

Anyway, while this book won’t be winning any awards, I think that it is an entertaining way to pass the time, if you have time to kill.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Memory Man by David Baldacci

23153154Title: Memory Man

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 13 hours 17 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: August 30, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 7, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.

His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.

But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review: I am giving this book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. I haven’t read really anything by Baldacci before, but as an author he reminds me somewhat of James Patterson, except that Baldacci’s books are about twice as long.

Amos Decker as a main character is interesting — he is overweight (about 350 lbs) and has Synesthesia and Hyperthymesia, which basically gives him perfect memory and picture perfect recall. Amos uses his perfect recall to help him solve the cases — because I guess it makes him so much smarter than everyone else in life ever (that is purely sarcastic by the way). Baldacci tries to portray Amos Decker as a modern day Sherlock Holmes, but fails because Sherlock Holmes is much more likeable. Basically, the only thing that Decker seems to have going for him is his picture perfect memory — otherwise it seems like he would be a terrible detective.

The female protagonist, Alex Jamison, is a journalist who at first did not like Decker, but by the end of the book becomes his unlikely partner.

The plot kept me interested enough to keep reading, but I wouldn’t say it was enthralling or anything. The ending (and the motive for the crime) was a bit of a head scratcher — seemed really far fetched and a bit unrealistic.

The audiobook production was not so great, and this book is probably better as an actual book the audiobook. I found it really distracting that they had a female reader who only read the dialogue of the female characters (and children) in the story and a male reader for everything else (including narrative about the female characters).

This book would be good to read on the beach or in an airplane.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

35887251Title: Pieces of Her

Author: Karin Slaughter

Book Length (Audiobook): 16 hours 25 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: July 13, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 19, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

My Review: So I gave the book 4 stars because I really did like the overall story, but it wasn’t all good. So the book started off good, a shoot out at the diner, Laura saving the day, but then it started to go a little off track. Why was everyone so worried that Laura had committed “murder”? I don’t get it. They live in Georgia for crying out loud. Does anyone really think that a person would be arrested for murder when that person killed an armed gunman who had just shot up a diner? I think not.

But anyway, okay, so because Laura “murdered” the guy, Laura forces Andrea to move out, but before she can do that a guy breaks in and ties up Laura and starts torturing her. Andrea kills him with a frying pan to the head, which is again, “murder” WTF????? No it is not!! It is self defense of a 3rd person! So okay, ugh, Andrea has to leave town (instead of calling the police like normal people), which sparks the whole series of events. Like who is Laura chick, and why is this trying to kill her? Why can’t they call the police when some guy breaks in? Etc.

After these beginning scenes, the book starts shifting between 1986 and 2018. In 1986 we see the “pieces” of Laura, which essentially tells the backstory of the what/why  of the event transpiring in 2018. This part I found okay, except for a few things. Slaughter seems to repeat herself a lot. How many times did we need to hear that certain people cannot abide things? 5 times. I counted. What I cannot abide is repeating phrases! How many times did we need to hear that Laura was a “yo-yo”? Too many. I also found it irritating that the female characters were either portrayed as meak victims or crazy bitches.

Anyway, if you can get past the writing style issues mentioned above, then the story is actually a pretty good one. It had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next. It is fast paced, and I found myself getting into it, even though I had to roll my eyes several times, as mentioned above. I can’t really say anymore without giving the story away, so you will just have to read it and judge for yourself!

 

 

MOVIE REVIEW: The 3rd Eye

410955-the-3rd-eye-0-230-0-345-cropTitle: The Third Eye

Year: 2017

Genre: Horror, Thriller

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Watch Time: 107 minutes

Platform: Netflix

Date Watched: June 24, 2019

Recognized Actors: This was an Indonesian movie, so I did not recognize any actors.

Brief Summary of Plot from LetterboxdBELIEVING IS SEEING. When her little sister claims she sees the dead, Alia consults a psychic, who opens her own eyes to the vengeful ghosts haunting their childhood home.

My Review: After the first 15 minutes: The movie starts in the year 2005 and within the first few minutes the little girl already sees the first ghost. It is also a bit strange because the actress playing the sister (Alia) seems to be the same age as the parents. The story then jumps to 2017, where we learn that the parents were only 30 in 2005, which means I guess that they had the oldest daughter at 15. Maybe this is normal, but it was honestly my first observation of the movie. After the death of their parents, the sisters return to their childhood home (they had moved since the ghostly events).

Overall impressions: The movie had really bad computer graphics. Why were the ghosts always bloody? Does this automatically mean that they are “scary”? Because it didn’t feel that way. I wasn’t scared. The blood did not seem to have any relation to the way that they died and just seemed like a cheap trick.

This movie was just as hokey as the Evil Dead, but wasn’t as good. I’ve seen a lot of Asian horror movies, and this definitely was not the best; however, I watched it on the plane back to the States from Austria, and it was at least entertaining (since I was laughing at the really horrible CG). I gave it 3 stars because I didn’t dislike the movie per se, I just didn’t think it was great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOVIE REVIEW: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

389637-extremely-wicked-shockingly-evil-and-vile-0-230-0-345-cropTitle: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Year: 2019

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Crime

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Watch Time: 1 hours 50 minutes

Platform: Netflix

Date Watched: May 4, 2019

Recognized Actors: Zac Efron plays the infamous Ted Bundy. Efron’s performance in this movie is fantastic and I was very impressed. I have only ever seen Efron play the dumb jock, or other unserious roles. In this movie Efron breaks from his former characters and really shows that he has true potential as a versatile actor.

Brief Summary of Plot from LetterboxdTHE STORY BEHIND AMERICA’S MOST NOTORIOUS SERIAL KILLER. A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy, from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, who refused to believe the truth about him for years. A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy.

My Review: My impression after the first 15 minutes of the movie: All around really good start to the movie! The scenes where Kloepfer meets and falls in love with Bundy were so well done that I forgot for just a moment that Bundy was one of the most prolific serial killers in recent times. The interplay of the scenes where Bundy is acting as a family man and the news reports of his heinous crimes is artfully done and spine chilling. At the end of the 15 minutes, the story begins to dive into the beginning of Bundy’s downfall; arrested for the kidnapping of a woman in Utah, Bundy arrives back in Seattle spinning a tall tale that he is being set up; and Kloepfer buys it…for the moment.

I am giving this movie 5 stars because it was just so well done. I watch a lot of true crime shows / movies, and this one is on par with Monster, the movie about America’s first female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos  (played by Charlize Theron). The thing that I like about this movie, is that it really portrayed Bundy in the way most people thought of him at the time. I could feel myself feeling sorry for him at some points…and then I remembered what he did. I really have to congratulate Zac Efron on a really good job. I have seen Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix, and I think Efron portrayed Bundy down to the letter.

If you like true crime, and want to never trust a stranger again, you must watch this movie.