Monday, June 30, 2014

Julie's Review: A Better World

 photo e9862982-d3ad-4c2d-a0d9-a4a36eb9bbaf_zps9519d9f4.png
Author: Marcus Sakey
Series: Brilliance Saga #2
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Pages: 390
Obtained: Amazon Vine
Genre:  Dystopian, Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Much love for this series that is out of my normal genres
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Summary: The brilliants changed everything. Since 1980, 1% of the world has been born with gifts we’d only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person’s most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional...and the rest of us. Now a terrorist network led by brilliants has crippled three cities. Supermarket shelves stand empty. 911 calls go unanswered. Fanatics are burning people alive. Nick Cooper has always fought to make the world better for his children. As both a brilliant and an advisor to the president of the United States, he’s against everything the terrorists represent. But as America slides toward a devastating civil war, Cooper is forced to play a game he dares not lose—because his opponents have their own vision of a better world. And to reach it, they’re willing to burn this one down.

Review: Some people are power hungry and will do anything to ensure that they way they see things comes to fruition. Unfortunately in A Better World, these people work in influential positions. We continue with the story presented in the first book Brilliance and a lot of the players are the same with some new ones. Nick Cooper is the hero of the series. He's a brilliant who used to work for DAR before it was dismantled. Out of work or on leave, he is approached by the new President of the United States to serve in an advisory category.

While this is just as action filled as the first one, it is not without a lot of thinking. I often paused to think about what was being said and what that said about humanity. What does is say about us that we are willing to go to war, to fight because people have extraordinary abilities and some don't? It says to me that we will find something to disagree with, something to not like about someone and focus on the differences, instead of the similarities.

Mr. Sakey has intricately woven a story that is plausible if not totally probable. The characters are relatable and you root for them. You want Nick to succeed. You want him to be the hero he is desperate to be. Not only to his kids but for the rest of the citizens of the U.S. You want him to figure out the pieces of the puzzle and to put it all together in time.

What I love about this series is that it could happen. It's not so futuristic that you don't believe it. It is also very scary. It is scary how far people are willing to go to show how right they are. How they are power hungry. How they can't see straight because of their own mission. It is worry-some.

If you haven't picked up Marcus Sakey's Brilliance Saga, then you are missing out. These books have something for everyone. Believe me, these are not my usual reads and I can't wait for the next one to come out.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Julie's Review: The Catch

Author: Taylor Stevens
Series: Michael Munroe #4
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Pages: 368
Obtained: Amazon Vine
Genre:  Thriller
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Not my favorite of the series but still a solid thriller.
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Summary: Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and information hunter, has a reputation for getting things done—often dangerous and not quite legal things. The adrenaline-fueled work has left her with blood on her hands and a soul stained with guilt. Having borne the burden of one death too many, Munroe has fled to Djibouti, Africa. There, where her only responsibility is greasing the wheels of commerce for a small maritime security company, she finds stillness—until her boss pressures her to join his team as an armed transit guard on a ship bound for Kenya. Days into the voyage, Munroe discovers the security contract is merely cover for a gunrunning operation of which she wants no part. The ship is invaded off the Somali coast and in a moment of impulse while fighting her way out, she drags the unconscious captain with her. But nothing about the hijacking is what it seems. The pirates were never after the ship; they’d come for the captain. In chasing him, they make their one mistake: targeting Munroe raises the killer’s instinct she’s tried so hard to bury. Wounded and on the run, Vanessa Michael Munroe will use the life of her catch as bait and bartering chip to manipulate every player with a stake in the ship’s outcome, and find a way to wash her conscience clean.

Review: I always highly anticipate the new Michael Munroe book, so when I found out I could get The Catch early, I jumped on the chance. While I enjoyed Michael's newest journey, it wasn't my favorite of the series. I understand why Michael left the U.S. and needed this respite to figure out what she wanted. I think I just don't like her as a lone wolf. I know she can take care of herself but we all need backup and people to trust.

On the other hand, maybe she needed this respite to understand what it is she wants and needs. Maybe she needed to see that it's OK to rely on other people and not just herself. She has survived the past 6 months by disguising herself as a man, which she does easily, and working with a small, maybe not so legit, security company. It's obvious that the owner, Leo, can't stand him but his wife, Amber, does find her useful.
So when the chance comes to be an armed guard aboard a ship to Kenya, she jumps on it. Little does she know that this decision will have her gunning for her life and those life of the innocent crew aboard the ship.

While I enjoyed the story, I did get lost a couple of times in the details of putting together this rescue effort. I have no doubt that the pirating that happens off the coast of Somalia is financed illegally for profit, but I got lost in the maze of the underworld.

While I would love to see another book in the series, I am totally OK with the ending of this novel. It gives me hope that Michael might finally be able to have some peace.

If you haven't read any of the Michael Munroe series, I highly recommend them.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Julie's Review: The Rosie Project

Author: Graeme Simsion
Series: Don Pittman #1
Publication Date:October 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
#of Hours: 7 hours, 32 minutes
Narrator: Dan O'Grady
Obtained: purchased via Audible
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Sweet journey about a man with Asperger's learning to be social
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Summary: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a "wonderful" husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical - most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent - and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie - and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper. The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Review: The Rosie Project is a sweet story about a man who in the search for a wife, finds an unexpected candidate and journey. It is about unexpected outcomes for someone who needs to have order in his life. Don Tillman is an interesting narrator for his journey because he's afflicted with Asperger's. It is fascinating how Don goes about changing his life without really making an effort until the very end because he understands what it means to change.

The Rosie Project is a group effort, with a cast of characters that is both heartwarming and funny. I adored Rosie. I loved her personality, her ability to understand Don and to appreciate him for who he was. He definitely had his quirks but no more or less than us without Asperger's. Rosie held her own with him and by doing that allowed him to see who he wanted to be. It allowed him to get out of his pigeon hole and experience life. While the story begins as a project to find a wife, morphs into the Father/Rosie project, it really becomes the Don metamorphosis.

If you are looking for a heartwarming, funny and lovely story for your summer vacation, then look no further than The Rosie Project. I listened to it and Dan O'Grady was a fantastic narrator.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Jenn's Review: City of Lost Souls

Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #5
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's
Pages: 535
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  YA Paranormal
Rating: 5
Bottom Line: Maddeningly, frustratingly good...
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Blurb:  The New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments continues—and so do the thrills and danger for Jace, Clary, and Simon.

What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

Review:  There was no way I could leave things the way they ended in City of Fallen Angels.  I knew that would be the case before I started it.  This was hard to read; not because it was bad but because things have to get worse before they can get better, and oh, do they get worse!

For the two people out there (okay, maybe there's three) who don't like this series, the reason is usually Jace ~ his arrogance and narcissism.  But Jace isn't that guy; it's all a cover for his vulnerability ~or it was until now. Now it is hard to be around this Jace.  Actually, it's excruciating.  It is harder still to see Clary throw caution to the wind and run after him.  It is totally reckless and could have gone horribly awry.  The scenes between them are agonizing, because they are written so well and they are so very wrong.  It's brutal.

It was disheartening to see Alec loose sight of things.  He has always been the stable one, but love has turned him upside down.  I couldn't help thinking that if he talked things through with Isabelle, or even just said things aloud to himself, he'd hear what he was saying...  As devastating as it is to see Jace and Clary spinning out of control, at least I expected that.  This is worse.  I expected the plummet off the cliff, but this was loosing the tether.

The one bright spot is that Isabelle is finally starting to find her way.  I was unsure that there was anything that could crack that exterior.  It was nice to see some vulnerability from her, romantically.

The novel has more closure than I expected, on many levels.  So while I didn't read this immediately because I thought I wouldn't have been able to handle the wait for the last book, I found that I probably could have survived the wait.  Don't get me wrong the final chapter was chillingly foreboding.  But now that I have the opportunity to forge ahead, I'm not sure that I'm ready for it to be over.  There is a big battle coming and I know that not everyone can survive it... but I also know that I can't leave things where they are either... so City of Heavenly Fire, here I come...


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Julie's Review: That Night

Author: Chevy Stevens
Series: None
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 384
Obtained: Publisher
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: An outstanding mystery from the first line
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Review: That Night is a powerful novel of freedom, forgiveness and moving forward. It is also about an extreme case of bullying. It is about the troubled teen who perhaps isn't all that troubled but looks like it compared to her sister. It's about the unconditional love that really does survive a worse case scenario.

Toni is a 17 year old girl who likes to party a little, sneak out at night to see her "bad" boyfriend and fights with her mom. So basically she's a typical teenage girl only compared to her goody-goody sister, Nicole, she looks like a complete screw up. Toni is also bullied at school by a group of girls who used to be her friends. The bullying starts off slowly and is the sort of thing that Toni could ignore. Unfortunately, this group of teenage girls are evil but are popular and so nice to the parents, they couldn't possibly be doing the things that Toni says they are doing to her. The only one truly in her corner is Ryan, her "bad-boy" boyfriend.

That Night is a complex, multi-layered novel. Ms. Stevens is brilliant at hooking you and keeping you hooked. She slowly unwinds the mystery of what happened 15 years ago on "that night". We also learn about Toni's prison experience and her path to try to acclimate back to society after 15 years away. What broke my heart the most was her relationship with her mother. Their relationship was contentious when Toni lived it at home and it only got worse once Nicole was murdered. She wouldn't even give Toni the benefit of the doubt. She had already convicted her in her heart and mind.

As I read the novel, my emotions were all over the place. I was mad, I was sad and I was hopeful. I was also cautious. I wasn't sure if I should believe Toni or not, not matter how badly I wanted to.  I think that goes to the great ability of Ms. Stevens to tell a fantastic story. In the end, I believed Toni and wanted her to get justice. Even with justice, she will never get her sister back or the freedom of those lost 15 years. She will also never get her relationship repaired with her mother.

If you are looking for a fantastic mystery that also makes you stop to think, then That Night is for you. I've read 2 other of Ms. Stevens novels and this one is her best so far.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Jenn's Review: City of Fallen Angels

Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #4
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's
Pages: 424
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  YA Paranormal
Rating: 4
Bottom Line: The beginning of the end?
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 Blurb:  The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

Review: I have been saving the last two books of The Mortal Instruments until the final book came out.  Now that it has, I realize that I'm in no hurry to finish this series.   I liked where things left off at the end of City of Glass, and though I knew things couldn't stay that way I wasn't ready to destroy the little bit of stability that was established.

In City of Fallen Angels, things start unraveling pretty quickly as everyone gets consumed in their own issues.  At least as the reader we can glimpse what is going on with everyone.  This novel is mostly plot exposition, but it doesn't feel that way because there is so much character development.  Seeds of distrust, discontent, and dysfunction have been sown.  It's hard to watch everything fall apart for characters you have grown to love.  I kept hoping things would magically right themselves.  The one uplifting part was the emergence of the Infernal Devices threads. 

The end is a twist I didn't anticipate, though I probably should have given the fact that I knew where the story was headed.  However I was so wrapped up in all the personal stories that I missed the boat completely. A reprieve comes, albeit a short one, before the devastating cliffhanger.  It was impossible to put down City of Fallen Angels without immediately jumping into City of Lost Souls, as I knew it would be.  

If you've never read Cassandra Clare's Shadow Hunters, you really should.  It's one of my favorite series of all times.  It's epic.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Julie's Review: Phantom Instinct

Author: Meg Gardiner
Series: None
Publication Date: June 26, 2014
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Not my favorite heroine but still an well executed, fast-paced novel
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Summary: When shots ring out in a crowded L.A. club, bartender Harper Flynn watches helplessly as her boyfriend, Drew, is gunned down in the cross fire. Then somebody throws a Molotov cocktail, and the club is quickly engulfed in flames. L.A. Sheriff Deputy Aiden Garrison sees a gunman in a hoodie and gas mask taking aim at Harper, but before he can help her a wall collapses, bringing the building down and badly injuring him. A year later, Harper is trying to rebuild her life. She has quit her job and gone back to college. Meanwhile, the investigation into the shoot-out has been closed. The two gunmen were killed when the building collapsed. Certain that a third gunman escaped and is targeting the survivors, Harper enlists the help of Aiden Garrison, the only person willing to listen. But the traumatic brain injury he suffered has cut his career short and left him with Fregoli syndrome, a rare type of face blindness that causes the delusion that random people are actually a single person changing disguises. As Harper and Aiden delve into the case, Harper realizes that her presence during the attack was no coincidence—and that her only ally is unstable, mistrustful of her, and seeing the same enemy everywhere he looks.

Review: I'm not usually ambivalent about my heroines and especially the ones that Meg Gardiner writes, but with Harper Flynn, I'm still on the fence. It's not that she's unlikable, it's just that I'm not so sure I trust her. I don't know why, but with this one Ms. Gardiner has planted a seed of distrust between Harper and I, even if it was completely unintentional.

Phantom Instinct is about running away from your past only to have it catch up with you in the worst way. It is about seeing the enemy when the enemy isn't there and dealing with the fallout of your actions. Harper and Aiden are thrown together when a year after the attack at the club she's looking for answers and Aiden, a former LA Sheriff Deputy, is the only one who shares her vision of a third attacker. The only problem is that Aiden has seizures that makes him see the phantom shooter in random people. You just know that in the thick of it, this will come back to somehow bite Harper and Aiden in the butt.

As the layers are peeled back, we find out that there is much more to Harper than meets the eye. Although, I found it more intriguing that there was more to her than just a bartender in the wrong place at the wrong time. Aiden isn't all that he seems either.

What I thoroughly enjoyed about Phantom Instinct was the twists. One made me go "ah-ha" and the other one made me go "Oh Sh&t!" I always love it when an author can still surprise me and Ms. Gardiner hasn't lost that touch. I enjoyed the high-octane of the final few chapters for they definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and wondering what the outcome was going to be.

With this one, Ms. Gardiner has definitely left the door wide open for a sequel. I'll be interested to see if she revisits Harper and Aiden sooner rather than later.

While Phantom Instinct isn't my favorite Meg Gardiner, she still shines as one of my "go-to" thriller/mystery writers.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Julie's Review: Keep Quiet

Author: Lisa Scottoline
Series: None
Publication Date: April 4, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Left me wanting a different outcome
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Summary: Jake Whitmore is enjoying a rare bonding moment with his sixteen-year-old son, Kurt, when disaster strikes. They get in a terrible car accident that threatens to derail not only Kurts chances at college, but his entire future. Jake makes a split-second decision that saves his son from formal punishment, but plunges them both into a world of guilt, lies, and secrecy. Just when Jake thinks he has everything under control, a malevolent outsider comes forward with the power to expose Jakes secret and taunts him to the breaking point. Lisa Scottoline's Keep Quiet is the powerful and gut-wrenching tale of the unraveling—and the ultimate redemption of a family.

Review I've read Ms. Scottoline for a very long time and this is the first time I have set one of her books down and felt disappointed. I was hoping for a totally different outcome than the one give. I was hoping for it to be more of a moral lesson and a moral questioning. Did it make me think what I would do in the exact situation, yes of course. As with many of these morality situations, you never know until you are truly in that situation.

What also didn't help is that I didn't like any of the characters. I felt that Jake was too earnest in his need to gain his son's affection. Should he have let Ryan drive? Maybe not but who could have thought that the outcome of that decision would be what happened. As for Pam, dear lord was she a helicopter mom. She wanted to be Ryan's best friend and his mom. She had his whole schedule memorized and circled over him daily. I was surprised she wanted Jake invovled in his life at all.

I kept waiting for something more to happen. Things happened but not at a pace I would expect with this kind of book. The resolution made me mad. I thought, "that's it". What's the moral of the story? What are the consequences? For me, they seemed too light. Once the situation was resolved, their lives went seemingly back to normal. Did they change? Yes, they did but not like they could have if it had been written another way.

All that being said, it did keep me guessing what the twist was going to be and Ms. Scottoline does a great job of showing the emotions of the situation. You knew it was going to come to a head but you didn't know when or how.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Julie's Review: Catching Air

Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Series: None
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Washington Press Books
Pages: 352
Obtained: Author
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A lovely story about how life doesn't always turn out like you plan
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Summary: A chance to run a B&B in snowy, remote Vermont—it’s an offer Kira Danner can’t resist after six soul-crushing years of working as a lawyer in Florida. As Kira and her husband, Peter, step into a brand new life, she quells her fears about living with the B&B’s co-owners: Peter’s sexy, irresponsible brother Rand, and Rand’s wife, Alyssa…who is essentially a stranger. For her part, Alyssa sees taking over the B&B as the latest in a string of adventures. Plus, a quiet place might help her recover from the news that she can’t bear children. But the idyllic town proves to be anything but serene: Within weeks, the sisters-in-law are scrambling to prepare for their first big booking—a winter wedding—and soon a shy, mysterious woman comes to work for them. Dawn Zukoski is hiding something; that much is clear. But what the sisters-in-law don't realize is that Dawn is also hiding from someone. Relatable and dynamic, Catching Air delves deeply into the vital relationships that give shape to women’s lives.  

Review: An idyllic setting of a Vermont B&B, two seemingly happy couples but what's underneath? What about when you throw a mysterious stranger? What will happen? Are Alyssa and Rand really that happy? Are they ready to give up their carefree lifestyle to start a family? Can Kira and Peter meet in the middle when it comes to a major decision?  Will Dawn's past quickly catch up to her? How will it affect all 5 of them?

Catching Air is a quick and enjoyable read. All the characters move the story along in their own way, they are each a piece to the puzzle that Ms. Pekkanen is putting together. While I might not have liked all them as much as previous novels, I did find them redeemable. Perhaps the one I liked the most was Kira. I liked her the way she was orderly and organized. She wasn't without her flaws: judgemental, righteous, a bit OCD but we all have them. She did end up confronting her fears and what was holding her back in moving her relationship forward with Peter. I liked that she decided to do that, even if the timing wasn't ideal.

As for Alyssa and Rand, well there's always going to be trouble when you aren't on the same page of a marriage. Sometimes you can get over it and sometimes you can't. Rand was selfish but so was Alyssa in her own way as well. She moved forward with a life changing event because it was important to her. You can't go from being carefree and dropping everything to travel, to immediately wanting to put down roots.

Then, there is the mysterious Dawn. Except she's not that mysterious to us readers, but she is to the rest of the B&B gang. She's skittish, for good reason and she's naive. Dawn's also a little lost and doesn't have much self-esteem. I liked how she did come into her own while helping out at the B&B. She really did become Kira's right hand in the kitchen, especially when everyone else was so useless.

The relationship that I liked seeing flourish the most was the one between Kira and Alyssa. They barely knew each other and immediately found common ground with running the B&B. It seemed to be a passion for both of them once they were in it.

While some of the stories were were wrapped up nicely, they all left you wondering if they would be ok in the end and I'm ok with that. Life isn't always able to be wrapped up with a big bow, it's messy.

For those of you who are Sarah Pekkanen fans, then you won't want to miss this new novel. If you've never read her before, then Catching Air is a good place to start. Although I highly recommend Skipping a Beat, if you had to choose.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jenn's Review: Storm Front

Author: Richard Castle
Series: Derrick Storm #1
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Voice
Pages: 314
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Crime
Rating: 3.75
Bottom Line: Light spy read
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Blurb: There's a storm front coming!

Four years after he was presumed dead, Derrick Storm--the man who made Richard Castle a perennial bestseller--is back in this rip-roaring, full-length thriller.

From Tokyo, to London, to Johannesburg, high-level bankers are being gruesomely tortured and murdered. The killer, caught in a fleeting glimpse on a surveillance camera, has been described as a psychopath with an eye patch. And that means Gregor Volkov, Derrick Storm's old nemesis, has returned. Desperate to figure out who Volkov is working for and why, the CIA calls on the one man who can match Volkov's strength and cunning--Derrick Storm.

With the help of a beautiful and mysterious foreign agent--with whom Storm is becoming romantically and professionally entangled--he discovers that Volkov's treachery has embroiled a wealthy hedge-fund manager and a U.S. senator. In a heated race against time, Storm chases Volkov's shadow from Paris, to the lair of a computer genius in Iowa, to the streets of Manhattan, then through a bullet-riddled car chase on the New Jersey Turnpike. In the process, Storm uncovers a plot that could destroy the global economy--unleashing untold chaos--which only he can stop.

Review:  In the world of Castle, we know that his Derrick Storm books made him famous, but the ABC franchise up to this point has only visited it in graphic novels and short stories.  Storm Front is the first full length novel.

With the Nikki Heat novels there are stories within stories as "Richard Castle" draws on his experiences with Beckett, giving the plots a familiarity and odd sense of deja vu.  For Derrick Storm there isn't anything else to draw from... so with the exception of a few ruggedly handsome references and a brief run-in with the 12th Precinct's Heat and Rook, it stands on it's own. I was in no hurry to solve the mystery, but even so I had no idea where it was going. The twist wasn't huge but it was completely perspective altering.

While I don't think this will win any awards, I do think it is a fun addition to the Castle transmedia collection. It also makes for a great summer read.