Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Operation Grizzly Camp

Book: Operation Grizzly Camp
Series: Poppy McVie #3
Author: Kimberli a. Blinschantel

For animals, there's nothing she won't do.

Deep in the wilds of Alaska, wealthy poachers kill bears for entertainment, an age-old bloodsport for the biggest, rarest trophies. Special Agent Poppy McVie and her partner, Dalton, go undercover to take them down. But to play the part, Poppy will actually have to hunt. Sure, she can handle a weapon, but use it on an animal? Not only that, this time around, she’s posing as Dalton’s sister. Can they hide the passion that’s been building between them?

When Poppy and Dalton find themselves fighting for survival against the most vicious predator on Earth, Poppy faces the ultimate decision: kill or be killed.-Goodreads

Review: The best of the series! Poppy McVie is passionate about animals and her job. After a successful mission in Norway, Poppy and Agent Dalton are sent to Alaska to help take down a bear poaching operation. Traveling as brother and sister, Poppy will be required to hunt for sport as part of her cover-will she be able to handle it? Before long, that becomes the least of her worries as she and Dalton are fighting for their lives. 

I really enjoyed this one. Poppy has grown on me throughout the series and I enjoyed the organic development of Poppy's relationship with Dalton. Like the previous books, the reader learns a lot about illegal bear poaching. The plot was fast paced and the most interesting of all the books so far. 

Overall-best of the series, a fun read. 

Grade: 4/5

Operation Orca Rescue

Book: Operation Orca Rescue
Series: Poppy McVie #2
Author: Kimberli A. Bindschatel

A notorious wildlife criminal has been spotted in Norwegian waters, there to illegally capture a live killer whale for the mega-aquarium industry. Before you can say Ishmael, Special Agent Poppy McVie’s on the case.

Armed with attitude, Poppy and her new partner, Special Agent Dalton, set out on the high seas. Trouble is, in the foreign waters of a whaling nation, there’s risk of political entanglements, but Poppy’s got no patience for diplomacy when a killer whale’s being sold into slavery, sentenced to live in a bath tub for the rest of his life.

She takes a chance, spinning her own fish story to get on board the illegal whaling vessel. No matter the danger, Poppy’s determined to hook the one man who’s never been caught.-Goodreads

Review: Operation Orca Rescue is the 2nd book in the Poppy McVie series. Although I didn't love the first book, I'm glad I gave this one a try, it was a huge improvement. Poppy and Dalton immediately leave Costa Rica for a new case, involving killer whales. I enjoyed the relationship development between Poppy and Dalton. There is no "insta-love", they are getting to know and respect each other as agents, while learning about each other in process. The case was very interesting and once again, Bindschatel does a great job educating the reader about whaling. Poppy was just as passionate about whaling as she was about the exotic animals in Costa Rica, but she showed some maturity and growth in this installment. 

Overall-good read. 

Grade: 3/5

Operation Tropical Affair

Book: Operation Tropical Affair
Series: Poppy McVie #1
Author: Kimberly A. Bindshatel

A black market kingpin. A Costa Rican scandal. Her undercover mission can't hide from love…

Poppy McVie wants nothing more than to protect animals. Armed with a shiny new U.S. Wildlife Service badge, she’s plucked from training and sent undercover to Costa Rica to play the wife of seasoned Agent Dalton who wants her to look pretty and keep her mouth shut.

Doing some investigating of her own, Poppy connects with a group of animal rights activists and she’s soon hot on the trail of the kingpin. With the help of her new van-surfing friends and a one-armed monkey, Poppy plunges into the sordid underworld of black market wildlife trade, facing venomous snakes and deadly rapids. She’ll risk her badge—and her life—to exact her own kind of justice. But when Agent Dalton learns what she’s been up to, the sparks fly between them and the real trouble begins.-Goodreads

Review: Poppy McVie is passionate about protecting animals. Described as a 24-year old Pippy Longstocking, she is a new agent for US Wildlife Service in Michigan when she's suddenly sent to Costa Rica for an undercover assignment. The good? Bindshatel is clearly passionate about animals and I was very interested in learning about the black market of wildlife trade. I found Poppy and Dalton's interactions funny at times. The not so good? Poppy was not even remotely believable as an undercover agent and her personality was grating most of the time. Her inability to follow rules, protocols and repeated poor decision making, yet being a know-it-all the entire time...very frustrating to read. Even though she solved the crime, in no universe do I see her being retained for undercover work. 

Overall-not my favorite book, but very informative about the animal trade. 

Grade: 2/5

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Alice Network

Book: The Alice Network
Author: Kate Quinn

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth ...no matter where it leads.-Goodreads

Review:  Mesmerized, heartbroken, encouraged..I had so many emotions reading this historical fiction novel. Told in alternating timelines, we follow Charlie in 1947, an American in Europe trying to track down her best friend/cousin who disappeared during the war. In 1915, we follow Eve, a stuttering tri-lingual young woman recruited to be a spy in German occupied France. I usually prefer one timeline over the other in books like this, but I was equally immersed in each story. I loved Charlie's tenacity and optimism in finding her cousin, while I was on the edge of my seat with Eve.I think this is the firstk WWI book I've read and it was a very interesting perspective. Reading the afterward, it was fascinating to realize many of the characters were based on real people. 

Overall-I loved this book. One of my favorite reads of the year. 

Grade: 5/5

The Trapped Girl

Book: The Trapped Girl
Series: Tracy Crosswhite #4
Author: Robert Dugoni

When a woman’s body is discovered submerged in a crab pot in the chilly waters of Puget Sound, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself with a tough case to untangle. Before they can identify the killer, Tracy and her colleagues on the Seattle PD’s Violent Crimes Section must figure out who the victim is. Her autopsy, however, reveals she may have gone to great lengths to conceal her identity. So who was she running from?

After evidence surfaces that their Jane Doe may be a woman who suspiciously disappeared months earlier, Tracy is once again haunted by the memory of her sister’s unsolved murder. Dredging up details from the woman’s past leads to conflicting clues that only seem to muddy the investigation. As Tracy begins to uncover a twisted tale of brutal betrayal and desperate greed, she’ll find herself risking everything to confront a killer who won’t go down without a deadly fight. -Goodreads

Review: When a woman is found dead in a crab pot, Tracy and partner are on the case. This is the 4th book in the series and the best one to-date. Told in alternating narratives, we follow Tracy investigating the case as well as a young woman who finds herself desperate in an emotionally abusive marriage. How does she fit into the story? While I figured out part of the mystery, this was well crafted and kept me up late turning the pages. I've come to love Tracy's dry personality and no-nonsense approach to investigating. 

Overall-great thriller. 

Grade: 4.5/5

In the Clearing

Book: In the Clearing
Series: Tracy Crosswhite #3
Author: Robert Dugoni

Detective Tracy Crosswhite has a skill, and a soft spot, for tackling unsolved crimes. Having lost her own sister to murder at a young age, Tracy has dedicated her career to bringing justice and closure to the families and friends of victims of crime.

So when Jenny, a former police academy classmate and protégé, asks Tracy to help solve a cold case that involves the suspicious suicide of a Native American high school girl forty years earlier, Tracy agrees. Following up on evidence Jenny’s detective father collected when he was the investigating deputy, Tracy probes one small town’s memory and finds dark, well-concealed secrets hidden within the community’s fabric. Can Tracy uphold the promise she’s made to the dead girl’s family and deliver the truth of what happened to their daughter? Or will she become the next victim?-Goodreads

Review: Another great read in the Tracy Crosswhite series! In this installment, Tracy is investigating a high school girl's supposed suicide from 40 years earlier. This was a fast paced thriller and I really enjoyed it. 

Grade: 4/5

Her Final Breath

Book: Her Final Breath
Series: Tracy Crosswhite #2
Author: Robert Dugoni

Homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite has returned to the police force after the sensational retrial of her sister’s killer. Still scarred from that ordeal, Tracy is pulled into an investigation that threatens to end her career, if not her life.

A serial killer known as the Cowboy is killing young women in cheap motels in North Seattle. Even after a stalker leaves a menacing message for Crosswhite, suggesting the killer or a copycat could be targeting her personally, she is charged with bringing the murderer to justice. With clues scarce and more victims dying, Tracy realizes the key to solving the murders may lie in a decade-old homicide investigation that others, including her captain, Johnny Nolasco, would prefer to keep buried. With the Cowboy on the hunt, can Tracy find the evidence to stop him, or will she become his next victim?-Goodreads

Review:  After bringing her sister's killer to justice, Tracy returns back to Seattle to finish the murder case she was working on prior to her sister's remains being found. More bodies are piling up and this appears to be a serial killer. Tracy must work the case with her team while navigating a difficult relationship with her captain, Nolasco, who may have a connection to the case. 

I enjoyed the police politics and the relationship with the investigative reporter causing havoc. Tracy's dry personality is even growing on me! My only challenge with this book was the case itself. I wasn't pulled into it like the previous book and the 'who done it' was a little obvious. 

Overall-I still liked this one. 

Grade: 3/5

My Sister's Grave

Book: My Sister's Grave
Series: Tracy Crosswhite #1
Author: Robert Dugoni

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House — a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder — is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past — and open the door to deadly danger.-Goodreads

Review: After competing in the Washington state shooting championship, sisters Tracy and Sarah part ways for the night. Sarah is never seen again. Even though a local man is convicted of Sarah's murder (without a body), Tracy knows the evidence doesn't match. When Sarah's remains are found 20 years later, Tracy inserts herself into the investigation and is determined to find the truth. 

I've been on a thriller kick this year and was excited to find this series on Kindle Unlimited. While Tracy is devoid of personality, I loved the Washington state setting, the police details and the actual case. I didn't expect the ending, which was a welcome surprise. Very enjoyable. 

Grade: 4/5