Protected by Cindy Hogan book review

Protected book

Protected

Cindy M. Hogan

Suspense/Thriller

341 pages

 

 

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.

Watched by Cindy Hogan book review

Watched book

Watched

Cindy M. Hogan

Suspense/Thriller/Romance

332 pages

 

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.

 

Garden of Beasts book review

Garden of Beasts

Jeffery Deaver

Spy/Thriller

536 pages

I have had people suggest Jeffery Deaver to me before, but Garden of Beasts is the first one that I have read. I really enjoyed it. I thought that it was a well-written piece of fictional history that revolved around a unique hero in the story. This novel is set to take place in Berlin in 1936, a few years prior to the start of WWII. Hitler was working to rearm and build up Germany’s army secretly, so that he would be well prepared for another battle. The unlikely hero in this story is a previous war veteran who, through a series of difficult choices upon his return from war, ended up being a “button man,” or a hit man. Paul Shumann is picky with his hits though, and only kills men who he feel are evil and deserve it. The government secretly solicits his services to “touch off” a man who is integral to Hitler’s rearming Germany. In exchange, Paul will be paid handsomely as well as receive a clean criminal record.

Paul sets off for Berlin during the Olympics, using that as his cover. This book is filled with a lot of believable covert activities that lead Paul through his setting up to assassinate Reinhard Ernst. At the same time, it follows the path of a local police officer who is simultaneously and quite skillfully tracking Paul down. With the help of a friendly asset in Berlin, Paul gets ready to overcome the difficult odds and make the hit. Things continue to go wrong and get harder, but Paul is determined not to give up.

Of course, Paul meets a woman and has a romantic interest in Berlin, to make things even more complicated, and she doesn’t know why he’s really there. This book was full of surprises and it had some twists that I didn’t see coming. I really enjoyed it and I am excited to have found a new author whose books I believe will be able to keep me going for a while. Deaver reminded me, based on this book only so far, of Robert Ludlum and some of his better books. I am excited to continue on with more of his novels and see where else he will take me.

The Tristan Betrayal book review

The Tristan Betrayal

Robert Ludlum

Spy/Thriller

505 pages

 

I’ve always been a Robert Ludlum fan; his books were some of the first that rekindled my love for reading. I’ve read several of his novels, some amazing, and some I didn’t really like at all. For me, this one fell in between those two extremes. For the past several years, I’ve almost started this book several time, but never quite did, so this time, I finally set out to read it and get it off my “to-read” shelf.

 

It took a long time, over 150 pages, for me to really get grabbed by this book. The story just dragged on at the beginning without an adequate amount of excitement for me. The story predominantly takes place during 1940, and is about an intricate network of spies that is determined to bring down Hitler and the Nazis. It follows Stephen Metcalfe, an undercover USA agent through various parts of Europe that he is called to work in. At the beginning of the novel, he is based in Paris, but the operation there gets exposed and destroyed, and Metcalfe is sent to an extremely sensitive and important mission to Moscow.

 

Here he finds and rekindles his love with an old flame, and secretly they set in motion plans to overthrow the Third Reich. The plan they proceed with has the potential to decide the outcome of the war, and Hitler’s fate. It accounts for the decisions that Hitler made during WWII to attempt to invade Russia. Many of Ludlum’s novels seem to revolve around these times, or Nazis, as this one did. There were times of great action and suspense in the novel, but for me, more obvious were the times of almost complacency, were not much was happening.

 

One thing I disliked about his book was some of the language. Occasionally Ludlum will, in his novels, use a lot of foreign language, as he did in this one. I don’t mind it when the words are defined afterwords, but many of them were not in this one. I feel using foreign words can lend authenticity to a novel like this, but without a translation, sometimes I was left to guess, which may or may not have been accurate.

 

There was very little crude language in this book, and no details of sex, which I found surprising because the main character was known as a wandering playboy. All in all, it wasn’t the worst Ludlum that I have read, but not close to stealing top spot as my favorite either. It was an OK story, just one that I felt dragged on and could have been better if it had been more concise. I found that I was forcing myself to just push through it once I started it. If you are unfamiliar with Ludlum’s works, I could recommend other novels that I found much better.

Rules of Prey book review

Rules of Prey

John Sandford

Crime Thriller

353 Pages

 

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!