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Reviews Written by
C. S. MCBRIDE "\\Cindy McBride\\" RSS Feed (Lake Forest, CA United States)

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Saving Tara Goodwin (Mystery Book 1)
Saving Tara Goodwin (Mystery Book 1)
Price: $2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't capture my imagination..., June 28, 2016
I don't know why I continue to read books by British authors, especially if they are new to me. The dialogue always feels stilted, and there are always slang words or phrases with which I'm unfamiliar (I'm still not 100% sure what "secondments" means, and what the heck is a Bergen? Some special, bullet-proof suitcase??), and which ultimately detracts from my reading enjoyment.

Initially, I liked and was drawn to the lead character of Andrew Christian, plus a couple of supporting characters (such as Ted). Then, before I even saw it coming, I was thrown off a cliff and into a muddy swamp of very mediocre writing. Some key female characters were described as tough-as-nails and top-of-the-food-chain, but didn't act accordingly. Case in point: Supposedly the head of a highly covert operation, known as "Cardinal", meets with Andrew at a remote, guarded location to discuss a job she's foisting on him. At the beginning of the meeting -- with just the two of them there -- she allows him to call her "Angela". She starts the conversation true to form, but fairly quickly succumbs to Andrew's charms and/or brusque, straightforward remarks and loses her composure, becoming at turns coy, stammering or unsure of herself. I took it as quite an insult to women, frankly, and I'm not typically overly-sensitive to perceived slights to the female intellect. This, however, really rubbed me the wrong way. And Andrew's character appears to have this same effect on virtually all the women with whom he interacts.

So... what we have here is a book marinated overnight in undiluted testosterone, and the result was very hard to swallow (pun not intended). Perhaps the "rough and tumble" Brit males will find this to their liking, but I very quickly lost interest and wasn't even able to finish the book. Sorry, Mr. Harrington, but this was the first -- and will very likely be the last -- book of yours I'll read.

*** This book was provided to me by the publisher and/or the author as an ARC in return for an honest review. ***


Friendly Fire (A Jonathan Grave Thriller)
Friendly Fire (A Jonathan Grave Thriller)
Offered by Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Price: $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good characters..., June 28, 2016
The more I read what Mr. Gilstrap writes -- especially if it's in his Jonathan Grave series -- the more impressed I become. It's difficult to come up with superlatives that haven't already been used excessively to describe his books. The characters, whether Jonathan himself or others of the supporting cast, are just so well-drawn that it's impossible not to think of them as friends. I know without a doubt that were I ever in a nasty situation, it's Jonathan and his crew I'd want to have my back!

The action, of course, is always hurtling around at the speed of light, but in this particular installment, I also felt special compassion for those characters needing revenge, rescue and redemption... all things that the "tough on the outside but tender on the inside" Grave just can't resist throwing his heart into, with the help of a few guns, flash-bang grenades and Roxie (an especially clever drone and the newest member of the group), of course. The villains, too, are some exceedingly nasty pieces of work who are involved -- among other things -- with the selling of child sex slaves and the abductions for ransom of the kids of some high-profile politicians. By the time Jonathan's team begins dishing out their signature brand of justice, you're in lock-step right along with them, shooting all the way.

Sometimes, in books of this nature, authors can have a difficult time coming up with team camaraderie that hits all the right notes: not too much humor or inappropriately light banter; not too much condescension slathered on the reader by explaining every single term and acronym; not too much Rambo-esque testosterone running amok. Gilstrap could give lessons in this area; the interactions between Jonathan, his team, and his unofficial "boss" Irene are absolutely flawless, and the tactical strategies they employ make logical sense. No rolling of the eyes while reading John's books!

This is a very highly-recommended installment in the Jonathan Grave series, with top marks in very nearly every regard. Now, sadly, I must wait another year before meeting up with this remarkable cast of characters again. It's the only part I hate.

*** This book was provided to me by the publisher and/or the author as an ARC in exchange for my honest review. ***


All the Missing Girls: A Novel
All the Missing Girls: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh..., June 28, 2016
I was anxious to get this book after reading the interesting synopsis. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I found the author's decision to "work backwards" from Day 15 back to Day 1 awkward; personally I prefer the "Day 1 to Day 15" sequence of events. IMHO, keeping the tension and intrigue clipping along at a good pace -- beginning at the timeframe during which the plot began -- does a much better job of creating empathy with the characters. Because I didn't enjoy the layout, it was difficult to remember the characters' names and to follow the thread the author was laying out. Frankly, at the end of the book, I still wasn't sure who did what to whom... and I didn't much care.

*** This book was provided to me by the publisher and / or the author as an ARC in return for my honest review. ***


Sticks and Stones (An Alvin, Alabama Novel)
Sticks and Stones (An Alvin, Alabama Novel)
Offered by Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Price: $9.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best..., June 28, 2016
Would love to have given this book 4 or 5 stars -- if for no other reason than that I lust for another NetGalley "Top Reviewer" pen medal indicating my review is being used in the pre-publication raves -- but can't in all good conscience do so.

My first and biggest negative impression was that I found Detective Leah Fowler to be a rather dull pencil in a small box. Supposedly, she carries on the legacy of her father, celebrated Detective Joe Fowler, who apparently spent around 18 months hunting down a particularly nasty serial killer (nicknamed "The Stickman") and shot to death a man named Harry Stork for the crimes. Now, 15 years later, Joe has died and Leah has taken his place at the Alvin, Alabama PD. By all accounts, she's sharp as a tack, but with a hot just-beneath-the-surface temper. I didn't see anything but the temper. Killings with Stork's signature methodology have started again, much to everyone's surprise. Such begins Leah's attempt to fill her father's shoes by solving this new (?) murder case. Almost from the beginning, Leah's office mate Chris Jackson -- a mere cop to her Detective -- makes some VERY elementary suggestions on actions with which Leah might like to kick off her investigation (like Stork's juvenile records, if any, and interviewing any current inmates at various penal institutions who are known "talkers" to gather any jailhouse rumors) that Leah apparently never thought of herself, as she continually thanks Chris for his "great suggestions". ???? This is a smart, savvy Detective with more than a decade of experience?? And it didn't dawn on her to do even those two basic things? Hell, I thought of them before she did. And... she had to confirm with Chris that AFIS was the Government fingerprint database. Seriously? You're asking me to believe that an allegedly bright Detective with years under her belt would even have to ASK that question?? Nor did it occur to her that, since Harry Stork had an identical twin, Tommy, perhaps the two of them had been in on the killings together. And again, nor did it occur to her that the father of the boys, Noah Stork, might just be a person of interest. As this point, I was so far ahead of her from a strategic investigative perspective that she just appeared to be a spoiled, none-too-bright, whiney little kid with a bad attitude and a frightfully over-inflated ego. Super Cop? 'Fraid not. If the truth be told, I honestly began to think that her 13-yr-old son Abe was considerably smarter than she was, as he begins playing with a past Christmas gift of a kid's "Understanding Forensics" kit and embarks on his own investigating adventure. Eventually, Leah decides to whine about her problems on the case with her new lover, Detective Dan Truitt, who works out of the Birmingham PD... who just happens to be sitting there with nothing to do, and who immediately suggests that he'll take 4 of his 9 weeks of accrued but unused vacation time and drive to Alvin, stay at Leah's house, and help her with the case. He's on her doorstep within 48 hours. If any of you other readers out there have ever read a crime novel before (or even if you just have some common sense), you know that's not likely to happen... especially with a top Detective in a large city like Birmingham. Sigh.

As if all of the above is not enough to swallow, the author irritatingly attempts to emulate the soft, slow, and quite charming Southern cadence... which he just ends up making sound ignorant rather than authentic colloquial Southern. "Ain't" is used often, instead of "aren't", "shouldn'ta went" instead of "shouldn't have gone", etc., etc., etc. I've lived in the South before; they don't generally sound so outrageously ill-educated. (Strangely enough, however, Chris -- who is black -- speaks perfectly-enunciated English and uses proper grammar. I'm not implying that it's strange because Chris is black; to the contrary, I'm saying it's strange because it sounded to me like HE should have been the Detective and LEAH should have been the desk jockey.) Leah simply sounds like she grew up in a rum-runner's shack somewhere deep in the hills. It was just all too much to take together, and I felt Hiebert's attempt to capture "southern" really ended up more of an insult to the people of Alabama than anything else.

Bottom line? Poor character development, VERY predictable action (and I use the term "action" lightly), illogical actions / reactions by virtually everyone except perhaps Abe, and completely boring in almost every aspect. All in all, one of the most poorly-written books I've read in a long time.

*** This book was provided to me by the publisher and/or the author as an ARC in return for my honest review. ***


Collecting the Dead: A Novel
Collecting the Dead: A Novel
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very engaging characters and plot..., June 28, 2016
I really enjoyed this book, in large part because of it's very unique portrayal of the lead character Magnus Craig, otherwise known as "Steps", and his FBI buddy / partner, Jimmy Donovan. What makes Steps so very unusual is a secret gift he holds close to the vest, known only by Jimmy, FBI Director Robert Carlson, and Steps' father. That gift is a heavy burden to carry; it is based on the premise that every human being's aura has a unique color and texture, leaving trails that only Steps can see. His nickname for this phenomena is "shine", and it's the main reason why he's often called upon to track missing or murdered persons, and to nail down the perpetrator(s) of those crimes. Because Jimmy is the only one in a group of investigators who knows of Steps' talent, Steps must "pretend" to be reading and interpreting visible clues to keep his ability secret.

The story centers on a particularly nasty villain named Leonardo, whose killings all share the same gruesome portrait and point to the same elusive killer. As the body count rises, Steps and Jimmy must ante up to stay on the trail. To add a little salt to the wound, someone close to the investigations is leaking information to the Press, who are more than delighted to follow every move of law enforcement as they search for bodies. This action all moves the story forward at a fast clip, and you'll find yourself guessing at clues along with Steps and Jimmy, et al.

I won't spoil the ending for you, but the revelation on the final page will smack you in the face and take your breath away. All in all, reading this book is an excellent way to spend an evening or two. Highly recommended!

*** I received this book from the publisher and/or the author as an ARC in return for my honest review. ***


The Satanic Scriptures
The Satanic Scriptures
Price: $15.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Just curious…, June 25, 2016
I admittedly know very little about the church of Satan, but I'm very curious to learn members' thoughts on issues global in scope, e.g., ISIL.


Berkley Street (Berkley Street Series Book 1)
Berkley Street (Berkley Street Series Book 1)
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! Stephen King, move over for your successor…, June 20, 2016
Wow... I've been a fan of horror books and movies for decades. I was a die-hard King fan until his ego started taking over; his books became more "philosophical" and his tales lost much of the exquisite elements of terror in his earlier works. I searched high and low for a worthy successor (believe me, I've read them all) but was never able to find one. Until now. Though not yet equivalent to King's best, I have no doubt this author will reach -- and possibly exceed -- that lofty pinnacle of excellence in the not-too-distant future. Well done!


Ink and Bone
Ink and Bone
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Another home run..., June 18, 2016
This review is from: Ink and Bone (Kindle Edition)
Everyone knows Lisa Unger is a gifted writer. Everyone knows she seems able to pump one electric page-turner after another, seemingly effortlessly. Has she done it yet again with "Ink and Bone"? You bet she has!

Imagine a picturesque, postcard-perfect little town of just under 10,000 folk, nestled in the lush hills of upstate New York and enough away from the mad hustle of NYC to almost be considered "country". Genteel country, to be sure, but still country. Most of its residents have lived there for generations. Though everyone whisperingly admits that there is... well... something just a tad strange about The Hollows. There's an undefinable but undeniable source of energy that lightly touches all the residents, but a "lucky" few appear to be especially gifted, and are mostly -- though not unanimously -- revered by the multi-generational families who've chosen to make The Hollows their home. One group of women, in particular, is a semi-matriarchal tree with oldest mentor Agatha guiding Grandma Eloise, who in turn, tries to guide Wild Child Granddaughter Finley... who definitely doesn't WANT her "gift". Seems that what Finley wants, in the end, is not of paramount importance.

The book's premise is based on the mysterious periodic abductions and disappearances of numerous young local girls. The parents are frantic, of course, and one particular Police Detective, Jones Cooper, has grudgingly learned to respect the input of Finley's grandmother Eloise on more than one case, with astonishingly solid results.

But this latest couple of abductions -- and the supernatural contacts Finley herself is being plagued by -- will simply not be ignored. Ghost appearances abound, both of the recently-deceased as well as back many years to others who've been unable to rest, for one reason or another. All are looking for Finley to right the wrongs against them... though she's having difficulty figuring out exactly what it is they need to move on. From this point forward, it's very much a race to see who will win in the end: the vortex of evil energy emanating from an ancient and dangerous old shut-down mine system, or the reluctant heroine Finley, who finally seems to begin to grow into the powers she's unable to shed.

Yes, the storyline is somewhat simplistic, and yes, it's been "done before"; however, Ms. Unger has managed to make her characters unique and their voices true, which puts it a cut above the rest. I felt relaxed and satisfied when I finished the book, and you can't ask for a whole lot more than that.

*** This book was provided to me by the publisher and/or by the author as an ARC in exchange for my honest review. ***

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The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr. Petiot
The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr. Petiot
Price: $7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars This was a mildly interesting book about a little-known Parisian ..., June 18, 2016
This was a mildly interesting book about a little-known Parisian serial killer, Dr. Petiot. I thought the author could have made his main character much more interesting by fleshing out in more detail his activities, as well as his upbringing. All in all, it dragged a bit for me.

*** This book was provided to my by the publisher and / or the author as an ARC in exchange for my honest review. ***


Con Job: How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering, and Racial Division
Con Job: How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering, and Racial Division
Price: $16.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! This intelligent, articulate black woman tells it straight..., June 8, 2016
This is a scathing denouncement of not only the Democrat party, but also the disintegration of the black family and their resulting mindset of victimization. Suddenly, nearly all black crimes -- both violent and non-violent -- are the fault of "white racists" and the lack of "good schools" and jobs. Personal responsibility is not a phrase with which they identify. Amazing book that EVERY BLACK person should read before voting this November. Vote for the candidate who can create jobs, as he's done for decades… Ms. Wright's book should be mandatory reading in our schools, beginning in Junior High. The succinct, straightforward way in which she presents her arguments -- backed by extensive references -- are persuasive and logical. Black parents should read this book, as well; if they teach these truths to their children from an early age, I believe their neighborhoods would soon become peaceful again, and their children will have the opportunity to reach whatever goals they set for themselves. In the end, it all comes down to taking back control of your life from those who would keep you down by excusing the rampant violent behavior and the lack of moral values. It's all up to them.


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