Cindy M. Hogan
Here is the second installment of Hogan’s first series. Christy is back home in Montana, and back to her normal life, basically as a loser at her school. Although it’s depressing to be back on the bottom, she assumes that all the excitement from D.C. is over, and wants to move on from that. Then, unexpectedly, Alex shows up again in her life by surprising her at her school. She had promised herself she was done with him and would choose Rick, but can’t keep herself from him. She takes him out on a tour of her town, and that is when things take a turn for the worse.
Apparently the terrorists have tracked Christy down and come to settle the score. They come for Christy and Alex and take them hostage. Without giving away any exciting details, the manage to escape, but now it’s clear that Christy can’t return to her old life. She will have to enter the witness protection program and start a new life under a false identity. Although her life was difficult for her, she finds it hard to say good-bye and leave everything behind. With no other choice, she finds herself training for a life she never thought she would have, as a popular cheerleader at a new school across the country.
It is hard on her, and takes some time to get used to, but Christy falls into her new life and is happy. During her months of training before beginning her new life, Christy learns how to look for attackers and hide from them, even how to fight them off. In her new life, she is able to adapt to her newfound popularity, although everything is completely new to her. One thing that is especially hard for Christy is remaining true to her values and ideals while she seems to be the only one in her new life that has them. She is forbidden to go to her old church, as that is part of her old life, which she must leave behind. She faces an internal struggle often, just as she is facing very real external ones. However, she must always remain alert and on her toes, never knowing when or how danger will come.
The ending of the book is great, packed with action and excitement, with a clear opening into the third novel in the series. I really enjoyed reading it and one thing that I’m really impressed with is the lack of offensive language or content. This really is a book that someone of any age could read. I’m excited to finish the series and see what will happen to Christy and who she will become in the next step of her life. The title of the next book, Created, leads me to believe that Christy will face even more changes and that the danger and excitement she never expected will continue to follow her wherever she goes.
Cindy M. Hogan
I’ve been meaning to pick up Watched and read it for over a year now, so when I actually met Cindy Hogan, I finally decided to check it out. Just based on the book jacket, I was expecting a suspense about a young girl who witnesses a murder, and that’s exactly what I got. I thought that the adventure in the book started out pretty early, which is something that is important to me. Something exciting has to happen pretty early on to grab my attention, and within the first few pages of the novel, Christy has witnessed a murder that will change her life. She has gone to D.C. to try to reinvent herself and become a new person, but she had no idea how much the trip would change her.
Christy and her friends are in immediate danger after witnessing the murder, and decide they need to get a message to the FBI about what they saw. They come up with a plan and the FBI contacts Christy directly, telling her they will watch her and protect her, but she has to help them as well. Chisty does the best she can, but is a small town girl from Montana, and this is all very scary to her, if not a little bit exciting. On the trip, she also cathes the attention of the two most attractive guys there with her. On top of everything else, she has a love triangle to try to sort out, which is as new an experience to her as witnessing a murder.
Trying to divide her time between Alex and Rick, it’s confusing enough for her to try to figure out her feelings for them herself, as well as dealing with trying to just stay safe. She knows that she is being watched, by the FBI as well as the bad guys that are now after her. She doesn’t know who is a real friend and who she can trust. She never feels safe, and doesn’t know where she can turn. I thought Hogan did a great job with Christy’s interior dialogue as well as the dialogue present in the rest of the book. You could really feel the different struggles she was going through and it was easy to see how she was feeling.
There is quite a few spots of action in the novel, although, at times, I would have liked a little more detail in the fighting scenarios. The love triangle was an interesting ingredient in the book, and one that I think helped move the plot line along as well. You always seem to pick a side, and I couldn’t help rooting for one of the guys vying for Christy’s attention. Overall, I thought it was a really good read. The plot wasn’t the most intricate of anything I’ve ever read, but it was certainly enjoyable, and I think would be easily followed and liked, especially by the intended audience, which is young adult. I am excited to continue on with the series and read more of what happens next to Christy and see what trouble she gets herself into next. The next book in the series is Protected, followed by the third in the trillogy, Created. They are all published and available now.
Here is another classic Harlan Coben novel that I enjoyed reading. It follows news reporter Wendy Tynes who is famous for bringing down sexual predators. She has always found satisfaction in her job and felt that she was doing the right thing. However, how would it feel to suddenly have doubts about one of the predators that you exposed? That is what Wendy begins to experience during this novel, and she decides to backtrack through her own investigation to make sure that she is right about the alleged pedophile Dan Mercer that she has exposed.
There are intertwining stories in this novel as the police are working simultaneously as Wendy is searching for her own answers. It gets even more complicated when the phone of a young girl who has gone missing is found in Dan Mercer’s hotel room. The evidence is stacking up against Dan, but Wendy still isn’t sure about the results of her initial investigation. She seeks out Dan’s friends for help and discovers that there seems to be some connections between his scandal and other roommates that Dan had while in school. Wendy will come to realize that her instincts may not always be as accurate as she thought as she delves into her own investigation to uncover new discoveries.
One thing I really like about Coben’s books is that there are familiar characters spread throughout them. Some of my favorite Coben books are the books in the series that feature Myron Bolitar. Characters from those novels have passing roles in this one that make it more fun if you are familiar with his work. This was another one that wasn’t my favorite from Coben, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. There aren’t a whole lot of authors whose books I will just buy without worrying about reading the back or something, but Coben is one of those authors who I feel has earned that. He is an amazing writer and even a decent book from him is better than a great book from other authors. As with his other novels, this one is full of twists and suspense, and was exciting to read through.
Although this book is about a reporter who tracks down pedophiles, there wasn’t anything overly graphic or descriptive; nothing I think most people would find offensive. It is a good book and you are into this genre or especially a fan of Harlan Coben, I would suggest picking it up.
The Face of Fear
This is one of Koontz’s older books, first published in 1977. It is about a man with a clairvoyant ability to see visions. Harris had a head injury, and since then has been blessed with, or cursed with, the ability to see sometimes very disturbing visions. He can see murders, sometimes as they are taking place, and can gain impressions about the killer. He doesn’t like his gift, and often finds himself watching the life drain out of a person as they are victims under their killer’s hands. Harris has been consulted by police on different occasions to help them solve crimes of murders. In this story, the police are seeking his help to identify a killer terrorizing New York known as “The Butcher.” However, as the Butcher starts to fear that Harris is getting too close to discovering him, he becomes the killer’s next target.
Harris is working late in his office at night, when he has a vision, for the first time, of himself being shot. He becomes worried, which fear intensifies further when he realizes that his phone lines have been cut and the elevators in his building aren’t working. Together with his girlfriend, Harris must find a way to escape the building that they are trapped in with a serial murderer. Unfortunately, they are on the 40th floor with no escape. Harris used to be an expert climber, but since a terrible fall and injury, has been too scared to climb again. However, with the killer closing in on them, Harris decides that the only escape may be to go straight down the building during a howling blizzard.
Koontz often has some sort of phenomenal quality within his books, in this case, Harris’ clairvoyant visions. They often make interesting reads because you never know what might happen. This isn’t my favorite Koontz book that I’ve read, but it was interesting to read. There was a lot of factual information about climbing, which I’m sure is now somewhat outdated, but not being all that interested in climbing myself, that part dragged on a bit for me. However, there was definitely tension and suspense while Harris and his girlfriend were devising ways to stay one step ahead of the brutal killer. Again, this isn’t a book that I would recommend for younger readers. There are some sexual themes as well as descriptive murders. Overall, I would say it is an OK book, but not the best Dean Koontz has put out by any means. If you are a Koontz fan, I think you will like it. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I think there are other, better ones out there that you could start with.
Rules of Prey
I have so many books I want to read that I don’t often reread any. However, I didn’t want to exclude this series of books from my review, or start at the end of it for those who are unfamiliar with the work of John Sandford. Rules of Prey was first published in 1989, and Sandford is still writing books in the same series today. It was interesting to go back and read the start of it all, after having recently read the latest ones as well. This series is awesome. If you are into cop/crime thriller books and you haven’t ever read Sandford, then you are missing out. However, a word of forewarning: his books are always filled with strong language, and often with sexual themes and descriptive violence, as they are usually about serial killers. So, if those things are offensive to you, stay away from the Prey series. I would definitely not recommend these books for younger readers.
This novel starts out by introducing us to the hero of the Prey series, Lucas Davenport, who is a detective in Minnesota. Lucas is investigating a series of murders by a man who refers to himself as the maddog. In this book, we get to look inside the maddog’s head and understand how he sees himself and the things that he is doing. I think this was one of the first books I read where I got to really see the psyche of the killer and how they justify their actions. The maddog is hunting down the “chosen ones” and slaughtering them brutally. He has the police department stumped so it is up to Davenport to anticipate his moves and catch him before he kills half the women in St. Paul.
Sandford uses the knowledge he acquired during years of being a crime journalist to give unique perspectives within the police department as well as aspects of the media that most of us would never think about. Davenport does what he can to control the media and help bring out the desired outcome while he is hunting this killer. Davenport is so fun to read about because he will do whatever it takes to catch the killers he is tracking. His methods aren’t always purely ethical, but he doesn’t let anything stand in his way. If I were a criminal, I would be terrified of a man like Davenport trying to bring me to justice.
Things really start to heat up as the maddog focuses on a reporter for the news as his next target. The police watch and covertly guard her, but he wants his next prize. As he plans his attack, will Davenport be able to beat him at his own game?
If you are looking for an awesome series to begin in this genre, look no further than Sandford. He has enough books to keep you going for a while, and I have enjoyed them all. I recently finished the 20th book in this series, and I think his writing has improved greatly over the years. So, if you give this one a shot and like it, you’ll love all of his other ones in the Prey series as well. He also has other books that branch off from these ones as well. Sandford is a skilled writer with a lot of books and a lot of experience. Again, if things like violence, language, and sometimes sexual themes are offensive to you, don’t read these. If not, crack one open and check it out!
Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors ever. However, he has a note at the beginning of this book for new readers. “Okay, if this is the first book of mine you’re going to try, stop now. Return it. Grab another. It’s okay. I’ll wait.” When I first saw this, I found it odd, but upon completion of the book, I understood it and agreed with it. This was his second published novel, and he admits that it is flawed, but that he still loves it. That being said, it is not my favorite of his novels, but it was not a bad book by any means. I think that if you are unfamiliar with his work, it might be better to take his advice and read some other works of his first.
Anyway, in this book, much like many of his other books, sports play a big role. One of the main characters, Michael Silverman, is a basketball star, and he is married to a TV journalist, Sara Lowell. This novel is widely about finding a cure for AIDS, and Coben does well to raise several issues in the novel that I had never before thought about. He points out that there are those who view finding a cure to AIDS as a secondary problem to other, supposedly bigger medical issues. There is only a certain amount of funding that medical causes receive from the government, and in this novel, there are those who want to see those funds taken away and used in other areas, such as cancer research, etc. Coben points out that there are people who are opposed to a cure because it is seen as only a disease prevalent to homosexuals and drug users, and no one should care about people like that. He raises issues in this book that I found interesting to read about; I never thought people would have had less interest in finding a cure for a deadly disease based on these issues alone.
Michael and Sara happen to be very close friends with Dr. Riker, who has dedicated his life to finding a cure for AIDS. He confides in the couple that he believes he has found a treatment for the disease; unfortunately, someone wants that cure stopped bad enough to kill the patients that have been cured thereby to destroy the evidence. Riker finds himself in danger and trying to carry on his work while those most important to the work are dying around him.
Like all Harlan Coben novels, this book is filled with deceit and twists that all come together perfectly at the end. The writing is clear and consistent, and only confusing in that it is hard to imagine how it will all end. It is hard to imagine who is pulling what strings, and you might just find yourself surprised at the end to discover who was on what side. There are many dangerous players in this game, and Coben is a master of keeping the reader in suspense throughout the whole novel.
Again, I will say that this is not my favorite of Coben’s books, but I did still enjoy reading it. I think that it would be beneficial to take his advice and read some other works of his first, and then come back to this one later. If, however, you have read others of his, pick it up! Or if you are interested in medical topics and controversial issues, I think you would find this book appealing. It talks about some things in the novel that wouldn’t be appropriate for younger readers, and a lot of the medical information might go over a younger reader’s head, but it is an interesting read for adults. If you do read this and like it, I would highly recommend any other Harlan Coben’s other books, as I think he is a fantastic author and you won’t be disappointed.