Category Archives: Books-A-Million
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
narrated by Danny Mastrogiorgio
6 CD’s approximately 7.5 hours
This is the 9th book in the Michael Bennett series. Some books were better than others a long the way but I always listen to a Michael Bennett Thriller at least once. I love the family, Father Shamus, Mary Catherine, ten kids with ten different personalities and if that wasn’t enough drama, there’s always a high pressure, deadly situation that only Detective Bennett can handle.
Bullseye doesn’t focus as much on family like in previous books. Some listeners will be disappointed, while others will be cheering this change of focus. I was a bit confused how the main plot was based on a couple’s plan to assassinate the newly inaugurated President at some point during the snowy month of November. (The U.S. Presidential election is held in November, however the President is inaugurated in January.) Everything said, I liked it. It’s a political/suspense/thriller with an enormous amount of gun knowledge. I learned a great deal about guns listening to Bullseye. (I made notes and looked ’em up.) Sniper tactics are described in such great detail the image of what was happening as the shooter laid down, exhaled deeply and took aim was as vivid as a painting on my wall.
Several family members want to borrow this book for these reason alone. If you’re a Bennett fan don’t miss this “episode.” If you’ve never read a single book in the series Bullseye might have you reserving the first ones at the Library. Finally, if you enjoy political thrillers give it a listen.
Danny Mastrogiorgio has perfected the narration for Michael Bennett Thrillers. I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing his voice I can’t imagine anyone else narrating for these characters. His pitch, tone, and character specific quirks add another element to the reading experience that is incredibly enjoyable.
MICHAEL BENNETT BOOKS
- ISBN-13: 9781478906179
- ISBN-10: 1478906170
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company
- Publish Date: May 2015
the main character still trying to distance himself from his fathers’ legacy as a crackpot, is giving safari tours
Zoo is a half-baked, science-fiction suspense-thriller, that with some comedy relief and backwards humor could’ve been a very good “spoof,” I really wanted to like this book, but the one dimensional characters were impossible to care about. The artificial pacing and choppy dialogue made it difficult to stay immersed in the story. I have been a James Patterson fan since the irst Alex Cross novel. Over the years there have been some books that weren’t as good as others, but in recent years there seems to be more bad than good. Only the name on the cover is familiar, – Gone is the masterful storytellers’ voice I had enjoyed so very much.This is especially true with Zoo. I understand this is a collaboration, that there will be a lot of Michael Ledwidge’s influence, however, in previous works I could at least recognize Patterson’s input. Zoo is not absolutely terrible, it’s ok. But with so many number one best sellers to his name, I expect more than okay.
Also available in Hardcover
What’s on RJ’s Wish List?
Wow, I’m sorry to say this is the first book I’ve read by Richard Montanari, but it certainly won’t be the last, I have already reserved Rosary Girls at my local library. Honestly, I really missed the boat with this author – but now that I have secured a quiet listening corner, I’m in for the long ride.
Although this is the eighth book in the series, it works as a standalone. There’s enough information about the characters to carry the reader through. And these are well drawn, three dimensional, and easily relateable. Philadelphia Homicide Detectives Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne are interesting, work well as a team, and have a palpable respect for one another. Byrne is more experienced, kind hearted and determined. While Balzano is opinionated and shrewd, with an equally warm heart. I particularly liked the absence of romantic entanglement.
Richard Montanari weaves multiple angles together into a disturbing tapestry of missing children, murdered children extravagantly posed on painted surfaces, and a convicted child killer weeks away from her final walk. Are they connected? Time is running out for Balzano and Byrne to find out. Throughout the reader discovers information only moments before the detectives. Montanari gives the reader credit and doesn’t spell everything out letter for letter. The Doll Maker is more about motives and concepts, than actual brutality and violence. The latter being the tools used to create his ‘art.’ The creepy tea dance invitations he leaves at each scene add yet another layer to an already colorful piece.
This is disturbing on so many levels – there were entire chapters that gave me goose-bumps (and I don’t frighten easy). Montanari has a gift – the ability to write realistically, believable stories that are the stuff nightmares are made of, but sadly could be the lead story on the news tonight. The Doll Maker is an outstanding book. Period. No matter what opinion you read, good or bad..if you enjoy suspense/thrillers – read this one for yourself.
*DO NOT form your opinion based on the prologue. Yes it is graphic, gruesome and extremely disturbing, but this does not fairly represent the rest of the story.
by David Baldacci
read by Ron McLarty with Orlagh Cassidy
11CD’s, Approx. 13.5 hours (unabridged)
*Also available in hardcover
David Baldacci (Website)
Hachette Audio (Website)
Best selling author David Baldacci has an innate ability to create interesting characters, there’s even something different about his bad guys… it isn’t that they are more evil or that his books contain more graphic violence – quite the opposite. Baldacci’s writing is classy. It is easy to identify with his characters, to feel for them, to be invested in what happens and Amos Decker is no exception. That said, this book is unlike any of Baldacci’s earlier works, it’s a breath of fresh air in an often stagnant genre.
Amos Decker suffered a crushing helmet to helmet blow ending his pro football career the first time he suited up. How his brain receives and interprets information was forever changed. He was diagnosed with rare cognitive phenomenons known as syynethesia and hyperthymesia. He can’t forget anything. Which for the first two decades of his career in law enforcement was a gift.
Then came that horrific night, when Detective Decker, returning home from a stakeout walked into a nightmare from which he has yet to awaken. His family had been murdered – his beautiful wife Cassie shot in the head, 9 year old daughter, Molly strangled and his brother-in-law’s throat had been slashed. Why? Who had done this? Despite their best efforts the case remained unsolved. His life spun out of control…he lost his home, his job, and nearly his mind.
That was 15 months ago. Now working here and there as a private investigator, Decker is trying to find his way out the darkness when his former partner, Mary Lancaster tells him a man named Sebastian Leopold has confessed to killing his family. While trying to talk to this confessed killer, there’s a school shooting as his alma mater, Mansfield High. From this point forward everything speeds toward the resolution.
I have always loved David Baldacci’s writing style – he takes risks…thinks outside the box. And Memory Man is definitely outside the box, I had never heard of these cognitive conditions and after much reading on the subject, I still don’t understand it. But that’s ok. This was an interesting read that sparked my imagination and while it did seem to go flat in few chapters, for the most part everything was tied together and resolved by the last page. I can’t say exactly what made this novel fall short for me, except that it just didn’t have the “fire” I have come to expect when reading a Baldacci book.
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Solitude Creek is the fourth book in the Kathryn Dance series and not my favorite. The idea of a killer that sets the stage for people to cause their own death is thought provoking…. Would it be every man for himself, a literal dog eat dog type mentality? Sadly, time and again it plays out just that way. When local roadhouse patrons try to escape what they think is a fire, only to find the exits blocked, several are killed and numerous others injured, as fear and panic replaced rationale and human decency. All to the delight and amusement of “event murderer,” Antioch March.
California Criminal Investigations Detective Kathryn Dance has been placed on Civil Division Duty, unable to carry a weapon or work criminal cases. Forced to the sideline as the gang related drug smuggling case she was heading moves forward without her. However, she is able to stay in the loop on that case and consult with local authorities on the Solitude Creek stampede. And her usually mild mannered, well behaved kids (a son and daughter), pick now to start acting different…causing Mom a few more worries. Oh, she also has two men vying for her time and affection.
It felt to me like Deaver just tossed things on the wall and hoped something would stick. Compared to the Lincoln Rhyme series, Kathryn Dance doesn’t measure up. True they are very different characters, and that is great, but where Rhyme is a well rounded character, Dance feels like a bunch of strings that never form anything. With the first book, Bone Collector, I cared about the participants and what transpired in both their professional, as well as, their personal lives. Again, there’s a disconnect between me and Dance. Solitude Creek could have been a really good book, but not with Kathryn Dance in the lead. Having the audio version made it a lot better, because the narrator did an exceptional job keeping me in the moment, whereas left on my own with the hard copy I would have had a difficult time finishing it.
**Antioch March is an “event murderer”, meaning he causes the event, but the choices people make cause their deaths.
Visit Jeffery Deaver’s Website
Visit Hachette Audio’s Website
A tragedy occurs at a small concert venue on the Monterey Peninsula. Cries of “fire” are raised and, panicked, people run for the doors, only to find them blocked. A half dozen people die and others are seriously injured. But it’s the panic and the stampede that killed; there was no fire.
Kathryn Dance–a brilliant California Bureau of Investigation agent and body language expert–discovers that the stampede was caused intentionally and that the perpetrator, a man obsessed with turning people’s own fears and greed into weapons, has more attacks planned. She and her team must race against the clock to find where he will strike next before more innocents die.
- ISBN-13: 9781478903598
- ISBN-10: 1478903597
For more information, visit http://www.bobbyandmandee.com.
It is a fine line between preparing a child and scaring them…You don’t want to frighten your child and cause them to withdraw. Nor can you ignore the very real threats that exist. Robert Kahn wrote this book within the parameters of that ideal zone. Bobby & Mandee, Too Safe for Strangers is an excellent tool for anyone that cares for children. Unfortunately books like this have become a necessary part of parenting and are included in school curriculum’s nationwide. The book stresses “bad” adults do Not ask children for help, they would ask another adult. (Example – finding a lost pet) “Bad strangers” may offer candy or money to entice a child away from a safe area. Never get into a car with a stranger, no matter what they say. Saying “NO” to adults, yelling at or running from an adult is the opposite of “the respect your elders” lessons most parents instill in their children from a very young age. Which makes all this very confusing for little minds. Too Safe eliminates some of that confusion. We should change ‘how’ we teach kids to interact with adults. If we start telling our children to be respectful to our adult friends and simply polite to a stranger, they can see the difference and will imitate the behavior. Too Safe also includes a test at the end of the book. This should be used to further the discussion, allowing your child to explain their answer in their own words. Thus giving parents an insight into how they are receiving the information and lets you know if they do not understand something.
It is imperative that children understand “bad strangers” can be men or women, young or old. Because there’s no way to identify the kind of strangers children must avoid, rules have to be consistent. The wording and simple illustrations used in “Too Safe”deliver this message in ways kids can understand. Their image of a “bad person” is the boogie-man type…scary, dirty, with fangs, only comes out at night, etc. This books helps them to reimagine a “bad person” realistically. Odds are your child will never encounter one of these “bad strangers,” but if they do, at least they are prepared.
It is very sad that our society has become such a dangerous place for children. But the statistics don’t lie, and we, as parents cannot afford to lie to ourselves. Parents will do anything to protect their children..this little book can help you do that. This isn’t the kind of book you read one time and forget. This is something that needs to be reinforced on a regular basis, especially with younger children. By role playing the scenes in this book and going over the questions in the back, children become more and more comfortable with appropriate responses. And that’s all a loving parent can do.
Bullies have been around since the beginning of time…well, I can’t speak for that far back, but I know for sure back to the 70’s, because I was bullied. Back then everyone said “ignore them and they will pick on someone else,” or “tough up,” everyone gets picked on. The general rule of thought was “bullies are just part of growing up…and it just makes you stronger.” No one took it seriously! Thank goodness times are changing. But we have a long way to go and Too Smart for Bullies is a step in the right direction. The book opens the door to a difficult subject, and gives parents a tool to help children deal with bullies. Once again Bobby & Mandee team up in various scenarios demonstrating appropriate responses if your child is confronted by a bully. Parents are encouraged to role and reverse role play the scenes, followed by the questions and trusted adult list included at the end of the book. Too Smart is a good tool to have in your arsenal against bullies. Speaking from experience, dealing with bullies is no easy task, books like this wouldn’t have stopped the bullies, I would’ve known what to do.
I read these books with my 3.5 year old granddaughter several times before donating both to her preschool class . We role played and reverse role played the scenarios in the book. The questions in the back helped us make up our own skits and reassured me that she was understanding the information. We practice what we learned when we go out..if someone says “oh you’re a pretty lil girl,” she squeezes my hand tight and simply says “thank you.” When we run into friends we stop and talk with them, shake hands, give hugs, etc. At first she was uncomfortable not talking to strangers who speak to us first…but the more we do it, it’s become habit for her now. (Which is wonderful!)
4 stars – I recommend this Too Smart/Too Safe to the “Trusted Adults” children are told repeatedly in these books to confide in if they find themselves in a bad situation. (parents, grandparents, guardians, babysitters, teachers, librarians, emergency workers, etc.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Kahn has a Master’s Degree in Education. It was during Kahn’s tenure as a sixth grade teacher that he became concerned about the safety issues that involve children and decided to become a Deputy Sheriff to help educate and protect our youth from harm. He started a Stranger Danger program in local schools and community service organizations. Local law enforcement credits this program in foiling over 40 attempted abductions by strangers. To-date, Robert has given over 20,000 presentations covering 15 different topics on children’s safety issues.
Kahn’s mission is to keep all kids safe, but he can’t be everywhere at the same time. So, with the insight and knowledge gained from his experiences, Kahn began to write a series of children’s safety books. His first book, Bobby and Mandee’s Too Safe for Strangers, is based on his program. His other safety books help children learn how to deal with today’s problems.
All of his books are told in the voice of his own children, Bobby and Mandee! Kahn’s daughter Mandee is the main character although Bobby plays a very important role in the books. As a high-functioning autistic, “If he can understand the books, anybody can!” Kahn stresses the books simplicity so that anyone can benefit from them. Using simple language, the books introduce the concepts and then provide tips on how to deal with them.
The main age when something happens to a child is second grade through young adult. As kids start doing more things alone, it is imperative that they know how to help themselves to stay safe. The goal of the Bobby and Mandee Safety Series is to provide parents, educators and other trusted adults with essential information to share with our precious children to keep them safe in today’s world.