15th Affair by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

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15th Affair by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (351 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Detective Lindsay Boxer has everything she could possibly want. Her marriage and baby daughter are perfect, and life in Homicide in the San Francisco Police Department is going well. But all that could change in an instant.

Lindsay is called to a crime scene at the Four Seasons Hotel. There is a dead man in one of the rooms, shot at close range. The man checked in under a false name with no ID on him, so the first puzzle will be finding out who he is.

In the room next door are a dead young man and woman, also shot. They are surrounded by high-tech surveillance equipment. Could they have been spying on the man now dead in the room next to them?

And in the utilities cupboard down the hall is the dead body of a house maid. The murders are all clearly linked and professionally executed. But what is the motive behind it all? Lindsay will need to risk everything she has to find out.

Lindsay Boxer thinks she’s finally figured it out. She’s settled into her competing roles of mother, wife, and detective, and has even figured out how to balance the three (mostly) and keep everyone, including her dog, Martha, happy. But is it all a well-constructed façade or does she really have it all? Everything she knows and believes about her life is about to be rattled when a woman linked to the CIA disappears.

From the first pages of 1st to Die, I’ve loved Lindsay Boxer. She’s plucky, she’s smart, and she’s tough as nails. But, when it’s needed, she can be loyal, loving, and the best friend you’ve ever had. This kind of contrast can be rare in a female detective. In 15th Affair, Lindsay is knocked off her game and is walking a thin line between sanity and absolute chaos. As much as I hated to see her so out of sorts, it was a different sort of Boxer to watch.

My one complaint is that with every novel, the mysteries seem to get more and more convoluted. Generally, I don’t have a huge issue following along and understanding everything that’s happening, even when there are two separate cases happening. This time, and it very well could have been me being distracted, I had a hard time keeping things straight, even though the two incidents weren’t similar at all.

I think I probably say this every time I review one of James Patterson’s books, but I adore his work. The Women’s Murder Club series has long been my favorite and this newest installment isn’t any different. Although I was shaken and a little upset by the way it ended, there was purpose and reason behind it. I’m hoping that in the next book we get more information so I can go back to loving a particular character. Even though I wound up feeling a little lost as far as the mysteries went, I still enjoyed this book and can’t wait for number sixteen to arrive.

Room by Emma Donoghue

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Room by Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: Full Length (321 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Strap in…it’s going to be an interesting and gut-wrenching ride.

Room isn’t a book I would’ve picked up normally. This story is told from the perspective of the child and that’s not generally my cuppa. That said, once I started the book I couldn’t stop. The situation Ma and Jack find themselves in isn’t anything anyone would want to be in. Ma – her name is never mentioned – is kidnapped at the age of 19 by Old Nick. While I had moments I wanted to know more about him and his motivations, mostly I just hated Old Nick. The author did a good job of making me ill from reading about him. Yeah, he’s bad.

I can’t imagine being a kidnapping victim or the things Ma and Jack had to go through to survive. To be locked in an 11×11 room… the very thought makes me shudder. I have to say I was emotionally invested in the story. I had to know what would happen to the characters, even Old Nick. I wasn’t disappointed. While it’s not a feel-good read, there were moments I simply couldn’t put the kindle down.

That said, there were trigger moments for me. Jack, although five years old and smart as a whip, is emotionally behind. How can he not be? He hasn’t ever experienced the outside world and has no idea how to interact with other people beyond Ma. One of the things she does to keep him close is she still nurses him. This was a trigger for me in that it put me off of the story. I get it. She nursed him to ensure he’d get the proper nourishment and to keep that bond. She had to be sure he’d grow up right. But the nursing made me uncomfortable. Then there was the incident with the tooth. Ma has bad teeth and some fall out. One in particular does and Jack nabs it. It’s his connection to Ma. What made me uncomfortable about Tooth – as he calls it – is something kids do. He sticks it in his mouth. He sucks on it, carries it around and puts it in his sock…then sticks it back in his mouth. The germ factor was more than I could handle. If you’re not wild about kids who stick things in their mouth or the older child nursing issue…then this might not be the book for you.

But honestly, while this wasn’t something I’d have picked on my own, I’m glad I read it. Anyone could be that girl who is kidnapped. She thinks she’s helping someone. Who hasn’t done that? It’s a plausible story. Interesting, intriguing and fascinating since the story is told from Jack’s point of view, Room might be just the book for your reading list.

NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp

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NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (392 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

When NYPD Red arrives at a crime scene, everyone takes notice. Known as the protectors of the rich, famous, and connected, NYPD Red is the elite task force called in only for New York City’s most high-profile crimes. And Detective Zach Jordan is the best of the best, a brilliant and relentless pursuer of justice. He puts professionalism above all, ignoring his feelings for his partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald, the woman who broke his heart when they first met in the academy.

But even with their top-notch training, Zach and Kylie aren’t prepared for what they see when they’re called to a crime scene in the heart of Central Park. They arrive to find a carousel spinning round and round, its painted horses grinning eerily in the early morning dark. There is only one rider: a brutally slaughtered woman, her body tied up and dressed in a Hazmat suit, on display for the world to see.

The victim, a woman of vast wealth and even greater connections, is the fourth in a string of shocking murders that have hit the city. As the public pressure mounts, and political and personal secrets of the highest order hang in the balance, Zach and Kylie must find out what’s really behind the murderer’s rampage. But Kylie has been acting strange recently–and Zach knows whatever she’s hiding could threaten the biggest case of their careers.

NYPD Red 2 is the next outstanding novel in James Patterson’s newest series, a thriller that careens through New York City and deep into the psyche of a depraved killer you’ve never seen before.

Meet the Hazmat Killer. A vigilante murder sweeping through New York City and disposing of those wealthy and connected folks he believes have gotten away with too much for too long. Enter Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald, NYPD Red’s best. But will the city’s finest be good enough to stop this crazed murderer in the next twenty-four hours? Only time will tell.

Next to Lindsay Boxer, I have to say that Zach Jordan is my favorite James Patterson character to date. He’s not perfect, but man does he ever try to be. Case in point: despite his lingering crush on his old Academy friend and current partner, Kylie MacDonald, he manages to squash his feelings and work well with the woman who broke his heart. I’m not sure I could do that in his position, so he gets major props from me. Besides, he’s managing to get over her, slowly but surely, and I like where he’s directing his attentions.

In my last review, I might have mentioned how I didn’t much care for Kylie MacDonald. I understand that being a female in the NYPD would be hard. Being a female in the coveted, elite world of NYPD Red would be even more difficult. That said, she takes a lot of risks and disobeys a ton of orders, which bugged me a lot in the first novel. She has a lot of personal drama going on in this sequel, and I think it helps to tone her down somewhat. She’s still brash and over the top, but not to the point of making me want to shake the book until she falls out. If she keeps improving like this, I might wind up liking her before too long.

Despite my personal feelings about Kylie, she and Zach really do make an amazing team of detectives. He uses his brains while she uses her instincts and connections and it works really well for them. It’s easy to see why they’re both part of this elite group of NYPD detectives, catering to the finest citizens of New York City.

The NYPD Red series is quickly becoming one of my very favorite series, not just by James Patterson, but in all of the mystery genre. Action packed from beginning to end, the authors have a real knack for tossing in twists and unexpected turns at a moment’s notice. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I realize I’m wrong and wondering what I missed. A great book for anyone who loves a good, intense read.

NYPD Red by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

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NYPD Red by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (512 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

NYPD Red is a special task force charged with protecting the interests of Manhattan’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens. When a world-famous movie producer is poisoned on the first day of a Manhattan film festival called Hollywood on the Hudson, they are the first ones called. Then an actor is killed on the set of a film. And a Molotov cocktail explodes at a movie premiere.

Detective First Grade Zach Jordan and his new partner–and ex-girlfriend–Detective Kylie MacDonald are assigned to the case. The killer has every murder, every escape, planned down to the last detail–and he’s scripted an explosive finale that will bring New York and Hollywood to its knees. With larger-than-life action, relentless speed, and white-knuckle twists, NYPD RED is a mega-blockbuster from “The Man Who Can’t Miss.” (TIME)

Zach Jordan, member of the elite NYPD Red, a team of special officers who cater to New York’s richest and most elite members of society, is waiting on his new partner to arrive. When he discovers that it’s the one person he never stopped loving, he realizes that his work is really cut out for him. Unfortunately, he’s not getting much time to dwell on the fact that he’s now partnered with his ex-girlfriend because someone is picking off celebrities one by one. Will his new partner be up to the task or will she fall just short of her goal?

Detective Zach Jordan is the kind of detective I’ve come to love. Handsome but not arrogant, good at his job, but never one to brag. He’s the perfect type of cop to deal with pampered celebrities and trust fund kids. But he’s more than that, too. He’s a genuinely good guy who only wants to do his job and find a good woman to keep him company. Zach’s internal struggle with partnering with his ex-girlfriend and one true love is endearing and a bit saddening, simply because he’s the kind of boy you bring home to mama. That he even goes out of his way to be nice to his partner Kylie’s husband only solidifies his good guy status.

Kylie MacDonald is used to being the best at everything. First in her class at the academy, eager and ready to dive right in, she wastes no time getting into the thick of it. You’d think that would make her a good cop, but in my opinion, it really didn’t. It made her reckless and a bit annoying, honestly. She comes off as a bit too perfect and when she starts going against regulation to save someone, there are zero repercussions. I had a difficult time trying to figure out what Zach might have seen in her.

Despite my issues with Kylie, I still really loved this book. I’ve long been a fan of James Patterson’s work. From the very first novel, I was hooked by his writing style and the way he was able to write from a female perspective so well. In addition to Zach, whom I loved, the precinct’s psychologist is a wonderful, charming woman, and I hope we get to know more about her in NYPD Red 2. As added bonuses for me, James Patterson’s novels are well-written, intriguing mysteries that are always a fast, enjoyable read. I’d highly recommend them to anyone who loves a thrilling ride.

Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

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Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (416 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

The Women’s Murder Club is stalked by a killer with nothing to lose.

San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer is loving her life as a new mother. With an attentive husband, a job she loves, plus best friends who can talk about anything from sex to murder, things couldn’t be better.

Then the FBI sends Lindsay a photo of a killer from her past, and her happy world is shattered. The picture captures a beautiful woman at a stoplight. But all Lindsay sees is the psychopath behind those seductive eyes: Mackie Morales, the most deranged and dangerous mind the Women’s Murder Club has ever encountered.

In this pulse-racing, emotionally charged novel by James Patterson, the Women’s Murder Club must find a killer–before she finds them first.

After all the chaos surrounding her daughter’s birth, and subsequent illness, things in the Boxer-Mollinari household are finally settling down. That’s what she’s hoping for anyway, until a killer from her past resurfaces – Mackie Morales. If that were the only issue Lindsay was dealing with, she might be okay, but with two of her best friends in scary, improbable situations, she finds herself being torn in seven different directions at once. Who will she help first and how will it all turn out?

Lindsay Boxer has been my favorite character from the beginning of this series. I’ve loved her drive, her determination, and her ability to keep moving forward when everything else around her is falling apart. To see her finally get her man (and not have him die on her) and find happiness has been a relief to me. As awesome as her dog, Martha, is, a girl needs something more sometimes. And Joe is that something.

As far as the rest of the Women’s Murder Club goes, I’ve also always adored Claire’s character. The motherly, always enthusiastic medical examiner is there whenever you need a bit of levity – or motherly advice – thrown into a situation. That said, it’s taken me awhile to get used to Yuki. Even now, she has her moments when she makes me a bit crazy, but what she goes through in this book makes her a little less needy and more tolerable. Cindy, on the other hand, continues to grate on my nerves. She’s reckless, she’s selfish, and she’s seemingly consumed with a desire to get her man back, after she threw him away to begin with. I keep hoping she’ll grow up and become an adult, but it hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve been a long-time reader of this series and anxiously await each new installment in the Women’s Murder Club series. I will admit, I was a bit wary when approaching this newest novel simply because the last couple haven’t really been up to caliber of the earlier ones. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Unlucky 13. James Patterson’s knack for creating intense, intricate storylines is back full force. Even though one of the three plot lines was a bit more exaggerated than I expected, I still think it worked out well and really kept the level of intensity high throughout. Unlucky 13 was an enjoyable, fast read that kept me on the edge of my seat – and rather unwilling to eat another fast food hamburger ever.

First Love by James Patterson and Emily Raymond

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First Love by James Patterson and Emily Raymond
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, YA
Length: Full Length (340 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

An extraordinary portrait of true love that will move anyone who has a first love story of their own. Axi Moore is a “good girl”: She studies hard, stays out of the spotlight, and doesn’t tell anyone how all she really wants is to run away from it all. The only person she can tell is her best friend, Robinson–who she also happens to be madly in love with.

When Axi spontaneously invites Robinson to come with her on an impulsive cross-country road trip, she breaks the rules for the first time in her life. But the adventure quickly turns from carefree to out of control after the teens find themselves on the run from the police. And when Robinson suddenly collapses, Axi has to face the truth that this trip might be his last.

A remarkably moving tale very personal to James Patterson’s own past, FIRST LOVE is testament to the power of first love–and how it can change the rest of your life.

Good girl Axi Moore is about to shock the world – and herself – by doing the unthinkable. Abandoning her father, her perfect grades, and everything else she’s ever held dear, she’s about to propose an adventure to her best friend – and one true love – Robinson. What starts out as a fun getaway from life and obligations soon turns to something much darker. Will love be enough to see Axi through?

Axi Moore and I are an awful lot alike. Good students, good kids, and living life on the straight and narrow. What Axi possesses that I’ve always lacked was an adventurous streak. I found it curious that such a self-proclaimed good girl would drop everything, risking her father’s displeasure as well as her GPA, just to take a spontaneous trip across the country. Love or not, it seemed odd to me. However, as the story unravels, you begin to understand more and more of Axi’s motivation behind what she’s doing. It becomes less of a shock and more of a last-ditch effort to prove herself to Robinson. Axi is one heck of a woman for a teenager.

Robinson is every teenager’s dream as well as every father’s nightmare. High school dropout and car thief supreme, Robinson is charming, witty, and unequivocally devoted to Axi Moore. The story of how two very different kids became such good friends nearly broke my heart. However, it gives you hope when you realize that after all they’ve been through, they are still completely devoted to one another, their friendship, and possibly more. By the end of the novel, Robinson has moved from simply a juvenile delinquent to a very passionate, surprising young man.

Knowing that First Love has root in James Patterson’s own past only makes the story more gripping, more poignant in the end. First Love will run you through all the emotions you own – I found myself laughing one minute, worrying for Axi and Robinson the next, and crying more often than I want to admit to. In spite of all the tears I shed, I found myself uplifted and thankful for having read this novel. One of the best things I’ve read in a long time without a doubt.