Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#28: The 20th Victim (James Patterson)

I’m happy to say that I have a review of my latest read sooner than I anticipated. The last third of the latest installment of the Women’s Murder Club flew and made for an enjoyable Sunday of reading.

Lindsey, Claire, Cindy, and Yuki are back at it. This time the central story is about a well-trained assassin taking out drug dealers around the country and using a video game to hide behind. Like Patterson’s other books in the series, this novel does not just tell one story. Yuki is charging a teen driver as an accessory to murder for the death of a cop; she knows the teen is innocent, but too afraid to identify the real gunman. Claire is fighting another kind of battle in the form of lung cancer. All the while, Lindsey’s husband, Joe, is reconnecting with a friend from his past that is convinced his father’s recent deadly cardiac event was not a naturally occurring event. Together, the men search for the truth about the man’s death and possible murder.

The 20th Victim was not an earth-shaking read. It was exactly what I have come to expect from the series — a fun read when I need to escape from the pressures of life and just want to have a little excitement with some of my literary friends. Now I’ll just have to wait for the release of the 21st book in the series in order to have my next visit.

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#25: Be Careful What You Wish For (Jeffrey Archer)

I didn’t finish the novel as quickly as I had hoped, but I completed another novel this week. I returned to the Clifton Chronicles and read the fourth novel in the saga, Be Careful What You Wish For. This volume is largely focused on Emma’s development and the trouble Don Pedro continues to bring into the lives of the Clifton and Barrington families.

Emma now finds herself as chairwoman of the family business as the company completes the building of its first luxury passenger ocean liner. Don Pedro is doing everything within his power to make the enterprise fail and force Barrington Shipping into bankruptcy. In typical Jeffrey Archer fashion, the novel ends with a massive cliffhanger that insists the reader return for the next installment to find out what happens to these beloved characters.

Be Careful What You Wish For is filled with love, tragedy, suspense, and humor. Perhaps I enjoyed this installment more than the previous book because I took a break from the saga and did some other reading. Honestly, I think this is a better book that returns Archer to the status of storyteller that he first held with his earlier releases. Either way, Be Careful What You Wish For was a welcome return to a thrilling story that held my attention and captured my imagination.

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#22: Rumor Has It (Elisabeth Grace)

I admit it. I’m a sucker for a love story. I guess it’s just another sign that I am my mother’s son. Typically, I find these stories couched in something that is more akin to literature than smut. I prefer for my love stories to feature all of the emotional complexity without the graphic details.

There’s another genre that tells the stories for a more mature audience. Romance novels are a booming business. They often push details to the boundaries without getting too explicit. I don’t venture into this genre very often at all. But sometimes, you just want to read a little smut. Rumor Has It was available as an e-book this week and was free. I quickly found myself connecting with the characters and their story. The book was quite enjoyable.

Mason is a misunderstood hip-hop artist who is spending a few days out of the public eye in a Virginia beach house. Through a comedy of errors and some confusion about how to get into the house, Mason meets Ellie and is fascinated by her. The two get to know each other — although Ellie doesn’t recognize Mason as a star — and begin to fall in love. Rumor Has It explores the challenges of dating for celebrities while asking what you would be willing to give up in the name of love. This is the first book in Elisabeth Grace’s Limelight series that continues to follow the adventures of Mason and Ellie.

No, it’s not high literature and definitely a departure from the norm for me. It should come with a warning that the book is intended for mature audiences. Still, it was a nice diversion from the stress of the world and very entertaining.

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#18: Best Kept Secret (Jeffrey Archer)

It has taken just over a month, but I finally finished the third volume of the Clifton Chronicles. Why such a long read? I experienced severe headaches this summer that made reading impossible. Once the headaches began to subside, the plotline based in on a local election simply could not hold my attention.

Best Kept Secret opened with the settlement of the Barrington estate after Elizabeth’s will was challenged. That was riveting! Much of the book was devoted to Giles’ jilted wife, Virginia, and the introduction of his political opponent, Major Fisher. While both Virginia and Fisher appear to be vital to the direction of the series as a whole, I found their introduction an unwelcome interruption into the narratives of the Clifton and Barrington families.

However, a new generation of Cliftons has been introduced as well — and that story line was much more exciting and interesting. Harry and Emma’s son, Sebastian, has become unknowingly involved with a Nazi sympathizer. Even though the Great War has ended, there are still enemies that must be dealt with. Harry’s adventures in Argentina in an effort to protect and warn Seb were highly entertaining and saved the merit of this third volume in the series.

Although I ultimately was pleased with the cliffhanger that came at the conclusion of the book and I am very anxious to learn who survived the car accident, I plan to take a respite from Archer’s series. I need to find a new spark for my reading life. No worries, I’ll return to the Clifton Chronicles later this year.

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#13: The 19th Christmas (James Patterson)

To end the week, I finished the next installment in the Women’s Murder Club, The 19th Christmas. (The 20th book in the series was just published in March, 2020.) Lindsey Boxer is back with her entire crew for another baffling mystery, although I did miss the interactions with Claire Washburn, the medical examiner who was “away” for the holidays working in San Diego.

This time, the women find themselves dealing with the mysterious Loman, a criminal mastermind of repute who is plotting a major heist in San Francisco on Christmas Day. The only problem is that there are so many leads on where the hit is actually taking place that the police force doesn’t know where to direct their efforts. With the rising body count during the investigation, it is clear that Loman must be found — and soon!

Cindy, the newspaper reporter, has discovered an illegal immigrant who has spent nearly two years in lockup awaiting trial for murder. All signs point to the fact that an innocent man was pinned with the crime by gang members who actually did the deed. Combine the false accusation with a flaky defense lawyer who took the family’s money and ran and you immediately see a hopeless case. Can Cindy convince Yuki and the DA’s office to revisit the case while maintaining her credibility and professionalism?

A visitor from Joe’s past makes an appearance as The 19th Christmas comes to a close. It sets the stage for future challenges for Joe and Lindsey. I’m sure Patterson will use this new development as fodder for another running plot line that will continue throughout the series.

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#11:Only Time Will Tell (Jeffrey Archer)

I was first introduced to Jeffrey Archer and his Clifton Chronicles series way back in 2013. That’s when I first read Only Time Will Tell as an audio book. One of the exciting things about keeping this blog of all the books that I read for my own pleasure is that I can always return to previous reviews to see what I thought of a book from my past. I remembered enjoying the audio book and knew that I hoped to read the entire series, but so many things always seemed to get in the way.

As 2019 was coming to an end, I began to look for something to gift myself for the Christmas holidays. As luck would have it, I found the complete Clifton Chronicles in paperback edition bundled as a set. I had found my gift! Once they arrived, I decided not to tear the set open right away since I wanted to have plenty of uninterrupted time to make my way through the saga of Harry Clifton and his family. I planned to work my way through the books this summer.

Plans changed for everyone in so many ways when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US. Suddenly, I found myself spending more time at home with lots of time to read. I finished the novel I was reading at the moment and then tore open the wrapping of the Archer series and began on the first page. That was six days ago and I finished the novel this afternoon. Truthfully, I finished last night….but made myself wait for the last few chapters until this afternoon. I knew I just needed to get some sleep.

Only Time Will Tell completely lived up to my expectations. It is the story of Harry Clifton, a young English boy who is being raised by his single mother. There is a question about his paternity that propels the plot of this entire novel. Was the man who died in a freak boating accident his biological father or is Harry the bastard son of the wealthy man who is the father of his best friend?

Harry escapes his humble home and the limited possibilities of living in that community by pursuing an education. The only way that he is able to fund his education is by scholarships that are awarded to him because of his musical abilities. (Hmmm…..I wonder why that resonates with me so much!) While at school, Harry meets his friends Giles and Deakins who will remain close companions throughout the years of his schooling. During his earliest training, Harry also meets the mysterious Old Jack who takes a profound interest in the lad and consistently acts in the boy’s best interest without seeking any credit for the child’s successes.

Historically, the novel covers the years just after the end of World War I through the earliest fighting of World War II. In the novel’s closing scenes, the reader learns that Britain has declared war on Germany because of the Nazi invasion of Poland. The act of war that follows on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean forever changes the course of young Harry’s life. While readers may not find the concluding section of the novel as fulfilling as most of what has preceded it, Archer does manage to leave the audience with a tremendous cliffhanger that will make certain that the reader returns for book 2 of the series!

As I reflect upon Only Time Will Tell, I notice a similarity in style between it and John Jakes’ The Bastard that opens the author’s Kent Family Chronicles. (For reasons that I still cannot comprehend, John Jakes’ novel was assigned to me as a 7th grader as part of an independent history assignment. Inappropriate teaching? Yeah, I was not emotionally ready to handle the material that was presented there. But I do want to go back and read that series of the American experience as well someday.) Archer’s novel focuses on the war experience from the British perspective. I’m anxious to see if Harry will remain an American now that he has found his way to New York Harbor or if he will return to Britain as he longs to do at the end of Only Time Will Tell. I suppose I’ll just have to crack open the next volume to find out what new adventures await in the Clifton saga.

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#24: 15th Affair (James Patterson)

I’m almost finished with this series….I’m almost finished with this series……That seemed to be my mantra as I read 15th Affair. This time, Lindsey and her friends find themselves facing a Chinese spy ring, an exploding aircraft, and missing corpses. Just another typical day in the lives of the Women’s Murder Club. To make matters worse, Lindsey’s husband, Joe, has left without a trace. Is Joe dead? Or has he run away with another woman?

The best thing I can say about this novel is that there are only 16 of these novels currently in print, so I have finally caught up. It has been a fun series, but I am definitely ready to get away from these plot lines for a while. I had picked up a novel from another series to read as my next novel, but I just can’t seem to get involved with the story. I think it’s time to read something with a little more substance that will grab my attention for a little while.

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#22: 14th Deadly Sin (James Patterson)

I am getting closer and closer to being current with the Women’s Murder Club series and I am looking forward to settling into a slower pace of reading these Patterson novels. Having said that, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed 14th Deadly Sin. In this installment, Lindsey and the SFPD are plagued by a string of robberies and murders that are being committed by a band of masked bandits wearing police windbreakers. Who can be trusted if police officers are now committing crimes against the citizens of San Francisco?

Yuki leaves the District Attorney’s Office in order to work for a not-for-profit firm that defends the poor who are being treated unjustly. Her first case pits her against her former boss as she sues the city in a wrongful death suit. A young African-American boy was arrested when he was found fleeing the scene of a massacre in a drug factory. Although circumstantial evidence pointed to his guilt, during the sixteen hour interrogation, the youth maintained his innocence and provided viable alibis. When promised his freedom if he would only confess to the crime, this intellectually-challenged boy confessed — and then found himself locked in a jail cell awaiting his trial. The trial never came — the boy was murdered while in custody. Yuki’s case hinges on the wrongful arrest and interrogation. Could this case possibly be connected to the Windbreaker Bandits?

Joe finds himself without a job, so he begins to unofficially investigate a string of stabbings that have occurred for the past 5 years on Claire’s birthday. As he pieces together what seems to be a connection, Joe quickly finds himself moving deeper into a realm of darkness and danger.

As you can see, 14th Deadly Sin keeps the reader turning pages in order to stay on top of the interwoven story line. The novel ends with a threat to Lindsey and her family that should influence the plot line of the 15th novel in the series.

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#18: Unlucky 13 (James Patterson)

The Women’s Murder Club continues to excite in the 13th novel of the series. Lindsey and Conklin are searching for the criminal that is using “belly bombs” to terrorize San Francisco by hiding delayed-reaction bomb capsules into the ground beef used by a popular burger chain. Cindy is hot on the trail of a lead that will result in the headline story that will define her career — if she doesn’t get killed first! Yuki and Brady are enjoying an Alaskan cruise for their honeymoon until the ship is attacked by pirates. Yuki is one of the first “volunteers” to be executed if the cruise line doesn’t come up with the demanded ransom.

Unlucky 13 is another page-turner in Patterson’s series, but this novel doesn’t feel as though it is using the same formula employed in many of the earlier books….and it is a welcome change. Our quartet of women are finding more adventure away from the Hall of SFPD and the authors continue to develop each lady’s personal story. I’m very happy to say that I am once again fully enjoying the Women’s Murder Club novels and looking forward to continuing the adventure.

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Update: Titles 13 & 14

This summer has not seen regular blogging from me on any avenue. Now that I’m finally getting over nasty sinus infections and regaining strength in my hand, I’m hoping to get back to normal and return to blogging and reading.  Here’s what I’ve read most recently.

#13: Chasing Fireflies (Charles Martin). A young boy is found next to a rural railroad track while the car he was traveling in burns in flames, the casuality of an apparent suicide. The child has suffered horrible trauma, marked by the lashes on his back and the evident malnourishment he has withstood. Is it any wonder that the child does not speak either? The only question is if he is incapable of talking or simply choosing not to. Chasing Fireflies is a beautifully written story about the healing power of love, our search for identity and belonging, and a fresh look at what it takes to make up a “family” in our modern world. This is definitely a story to read when your faith in humanity needs to be restored.

#14: 11th Hour (James Patterson). It was time to return to the stories of the Women’s Murder Club series. In this installment, drug dealers are being taken out systematically throughout the city. It seems as though their killer has personal knowledge of them and their movements. When the SFPD realizes that the murder weapon is a missing gun from the evidence room, the force must face a frightening reality — one of their own uniformed brothers has gone rogue! Every member of the vice squad as well as homicide that had access to the evidence room is a suspect. Lindsey is putting more on the line than just her own life, too….she must think about the child she is carrying while trying to repair the strain that her new marriage to Joe is already facing. Patterson returns to true form with this intriguing and engrossing story. My hope for the upcoming stories in the series is finally being restored.

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