Category Archives: Iris Johansen

Book Review: “Hide Away” by Iris Johansen (Eve Duncan #20)

hideaway

Title:  Hide Away

Author:  Iris Johansen

Series:  Eve Duncan #20

Synopsis (from bn.com): 

DARK SECRETS

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan lies in a well-guarded hospital room in Carmel, California. But she and Joe Quinn have sworn to protect an innocent young girl, Cara Delaney, whose enemies are getting closer by the hour. Weighing her own health against Cara’s safety, Eve decides they must disappear—and so she turns to her daughter, Jane MacGuire, for an unexpected solution.

DESPERATE MEASURES

After years of resistance, Jane has finally succumbed to the inevitable: John MacDuff’s insistent plea to track down a treasure presumed buried in Scotland. The remote mountains should be a perfect hiding place for Eve and Cara, but they soon realize there is nowhere distant enough from the ruthless predators who are on their trail. Greed and power war with honor and justice in this thrill-ride from the incomparable Iris Johansen.

 

My thoughts:

Oh man, what can I say about this book.  Again a book in a series that I have loved in the past, but in my opinion is really slipping and changing in ways I at least am not enjoying.

This Eve Duncan series started with really intriguing storylines of Eve’s work as a forensic sculptor, focusing on her work and just really good mysteries.   Now that we have moved beyond the incessant Bonnie storyline, somehow the series has moved lately into not focusing on Eve’s work or cases at all but rather having Eve/Joe/Jane chasing around various places trying to save different people.  This storyline (which by the way takes place over 3 different books. . . hmmmmm) felt to me to be a bit disjointed and repetitive, didn’t make me want to turn the next page.

I am also personally not enjoying how the author is weaving in the seemingly odd supernatural aspects to some of her characters – such as the character who can change bloodflow in a human to the point of healing someone and saving someone’s life.  I know these supernatural characters and storylines are all the rage recently, but don’t interweave them in what is normally a great mystery and psychological thriller.

Overall, clearly this wasn’t my favorite book in the series which really disappoints me since this really was one of my favorite series.  Ugh, oh well . . .you win some and you lose some.

And remember,

Books Are life,

Heather

 

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Book Review: “Your Next Breath” by Iris Johansen (Catherine Ling #4)

yournextbreath

Title:  Your Next Breath

Author:  Iris Johansen

Series:  Catherine Ling (#4)

Synopsis (bn.com):  SHE CAN RUN FROM THE PAST.
Catherine Ling created a brand-new life for herself, far from her rough beginnings on the streets of Hong Kong. But someone has followed her trail…and is playing a deadly game with her, striking closer to her heart with each blow. First, there’s the death of the former prostitute who helped Catherine when she was still a child. Next, the CIA operative who had known her ever since she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen. And now Luke is in the killer’s sights.

CAN SHE HIDE FROM THE TRUTH?
Luke is Catherine’s only son. Kidnapped when he was only two years old, Catherine devoted nine years of her life to finding him-and she will not lose him again. Can Catherine, who has made countless enemies throughout her life, protect the ones she loves the most-including Eve Duncan, whose forensic skills were instrumental in freeing Luke-without putting her own life at risk? All she knows is that she will die trying…if the killer doesn’t get to her first.

 

My thoughts:  We met Catherine Ling in one of Johansen’s Eve Duncan books . . . and I immediately fell in love with her.  I loved her strength, her story, her life, her job .. . I just loved her character.  Now as we enter book 4 I must say that the Catherine Ling books and character are getting a bit formulaic and stale for me.  It feels a bit like the same story line over and over . . . Catherine Ling is haunted and hunted by a character from her past . . . that person and his goons come after her . . . her CIA friends save her  . . . and all is well with the world.   I just don’t feel like Catherine Ling is growing as a character at all.  I find her relationship with her son Luke and Hu Change increasingly odd over time and I just need to see some growth in these characters.

On a positive note, I did like that this book included quite a bit of action from characters we know from Johansen’s Eve Duncan series such as Eve, Joe, and Jane . . . it seemed to add a little bit more excitement to the series (but again, for the love of God please let Bonnie and all things having to do with Bonnie go, no more!!!)

Another thing that needs to be let go in the Johansen series is the . . . and I don’t even know how to characterize this . . . supernatural characters with odd powers . . . it’s just not my thing and I fail to see what it does for the book.

Of course, being a hardcore reader who doesn’t like to give up on my authors I will go back in for more from Johansen.

Overall, just an ok book for me . . . a bit slow and formulaic.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review: “Live to See Tomorrow” by Iris Johansen (Catherine Ling #3)

livetoseetomorrow

Title:  Live to See Tomorrow

Author:  Iris Johansen

Series:  Catherine Ling #3

Synopsis (from bn.com):  Catherine Ling is one of the CIA’s most prized operatives. Raised on the unforgiving streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen, already having accumulated more insight and secrets than the most seasoned professionals in her world. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang. When Luke was kidnapped at the age of two, it nearly broke her. Now, nine years later, her son has astonishingly been returned to her and Catherine vows never to fail him again. But when her job pulls her away from home, she relies on the brilliant and deadly Hu Chang to safeguard Luke in her absence. Now Erin Sullivan, an American journalist with mysterious ties to Hu Chang, has been kidnapped in Tibet. If Catherine doesn’t agree to spearhead the CIA rescue mission, she knows that Hu Chang himself will go, a possibility she can’t risk. But she will be facing a monster whose crimes stretch back forty years, always eluding the CIA. And the job grows even more complicated when Catherine meets Richard Cameron, a supposed ally who’s clearly not telling all he knows. Their attraction is immediate, but Catherine isn’t at all sure that he can be trusted. If she’s going to rescue this journalist with a story worth killing for, she’ll need to keep Cameron very close. From the treacherous landscape of the Himalayas to the twisting back alleys of San Francisco, the clock is ticking for Catherine and those she loves most. At every turn she faces a ruthless enemy who is determined to keep the truth buried, even if it means that none of them live to see tomorrow, in this novel from bestseller Iris Johansen.

My thoughts:  This book was a mixed bag for me.  Yes – I love this newer Catherine Ling series which is spin off from Iris Johansen’s highly successful Eve Duncan series.

I truly love the character of Catherine Ling who is a bad ass CIA operative, basically a strong, empowered, no nonsense, take no prisoners character who is in a word – AWESOME!

That being said no – I didn’t love this particular book in the series.  It fell a bit flat for me in its action and particularly when the author insisted on bringing in an odd supernatural component where Catherine could hear and feel when one of the other main characters was communicating with her despite him not actually being there with her.  Ugh  . . . why do authors feel the undying need to add this supernatural stuff to their books.

The overall storyline and action felt a bit repetitive to me as well . . . a theme I’m starting to notice in many of Johansen’s books.

Thank goodness I decided to read this on my iPad at the gym while working out . . . even a so so read is tolerable when you are trying to forget the pain and annoyance of the treadmill!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review: “Silencing Eve” by Iris Johansen (Eve Duncan #18)

silencingeve

Title:  Silencing Eve

Author:  Iris Johansen

Series:  Eve Duncan #18

Synopsis (from bn.com): 

This is the finale that fans have been waiting for.  In Taking Even, the game began.  In Hunting Eve, the chase was on.  Now, in Silencing Eve, the prey is cornered.  Will Eve Duncan survive?  Will those she loves take the fall with her? And will the secrets of Eve’s past ultimately become her undoing?  In Silencing Eve, all the questions will be answered in a shocking, you never saw it coming conclusion.

Iris Johansen’s 2012 trilogy, Eve, Quinn, Bonnie was a phenomenal success, reaching number one on bestseller lists nationwide.  Now, with this newest trilogy, the stakes are even higher because it’s a question of capture and escape, hunter and prey, life and death.

 

My thoughts:  No one that has read my reviews of the first two books in this trilogy, namely Taking Eve and Hunting Eve, will be at all shocked by my review of this last book in the trilogy!

I feel like I have run a marathon getting through this latest Trilogy by Iris Johansen – and not in a good way, not in a way of feeling accomplished.  More in a way of feeling exhausted, dragged down, and finally, finally reaching the finish line!

I apparently am extremely stubborn when it comes to my reading and particularly when reading series . . . I really have to finish unless it is truly awful.

I must conclude that this Eve Duncan trilogy was an epic fail for me.  This last book, Silencing Eve, truly dragged and really felt confused and forced at times.   And the incessant Eve Duncan worship including Joe Quinn’s and Jane’s repeated love for her is just plain overkill.  Move on!

And the ending was extremely mediocre to me . . . I waited three books to catch the “bad guys” if you will and in a non-dramatic fashion in a paragraph it was done.  WHAT?!?!

All in all, this trilogy would have made for one very good book . . . but stretching this rather mediocre plot over the course of some 1000 pages over 3 books was just too much!

Again, I am hopeful that this author will bring back the Eve Duncan books of the past where the focus is clearly on her work as a forensic sculptor and not so egocentrically on her!    Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, but since I have read this entire series and still like the premise of it, I am sure I will be back for #19!!!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review: “Hunting Eve” by Iris Johansen (Eve Duncan #17)

huntingeve  Title:  Hunting Eve

Author:  Iris Johansen

Series:  Eve Duncan #17  (Part of the trilogy: Taking Eve, Hunting Eve, Silencing Eve)

Synopsis (from bn.com):  The stakes are raised even higher in Hunting Eve as Eve battles the man who is holding her prisoner. Secrets about why Eve has been targeted come into the light, bringing Eve even closer to danger. With its cliffhanger ending, Hunting Eve sets up perfectly for the finale, Silencing Eve.

My thoughts:  This is the second book in the latest trilogy by Iris Johansen consisting of Taking Eve, Hunting Eve, and Silencing  Eve.  Not much has changed from my original thoughts about this overall series from when I reviewed Taking Eve – please follow the link to see my thoughts!

I am a huge sucker for a series however, and of course I will make it through the entire trilogy, because frankly, I have to see what ultimately happens to Eve.   In fairness to this author, this series, and this trilogy, I will say that the overall pace of this book felt a bit more exciting than Taking Eve.  As the title suggests, the entire book revolves around the hunt and search for the missing Eve who has been taken by a ruthless killer.

The very end of this book would have been a rather amazing cliffhanger if it was not part of a trilogy.   As soon as you pick up book three or simply by the fact that there is a book three indicates that the end is well . . . not the end.   Now had this cliffhanger ending come as part of one of her stand alone books, its effect would have been much greater as the reader would have had to wait for about a year to see what happens!  Darn that trilogy 😦

Can you tell I am not a fan of this trilogy concept that this author is putting out there.  That being said, I have already picked up book 3 and am eager to see how this all wraps up.  Again, I do think that taking out much of the repetitive storyline, some of the fluff, and combining these three books into one would have made for quite an amazing book.

On to book 3 . . . stay tuned . . .

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review: “Taking Eve” (Eve Duncan #16)

takingeve

 

Title:  Taking Eve

Author:  Iris Johansen

Series:  Eve Duncan Series #16

Synopsis  (from bn.com):

As a forensic sculptor, Eve Duncan’s mission is to bring closure to the families whose loved ones have vanished. She knows their anguish—her own beloved daughter, Bonnie, was taken from her when Bonnie was just seven years old. It is only recently that this mystery was resolved and Eve could begin her journey to peace. Now Jim Doane wants the same kind of answers that Eve always longed for. His twenty-five-year-old son may or may not be dead, and he has only burned skull fragments as possible evidence. But he cannot go to the police for answers without exposing his dark past, so instead he chooses a bold step to find the truth—one that takes Eve down a twisted path of madness and evil and into the darkest heart of her own history. Doane needs Eve’s skills and he’ll do anything to get them…even if it means taking Eve.

My thoughts:   I have read the entire Eve Duncan series from beginning to this . . . and I really want to say I loved this book, but I just can’t.  It is very seldom that I have so many thoughts and comments about a book and a series and it is certainly seldom if ever that I have to lay out a bullet point list about my feelings about a book, but here it goes.

1.  Bonnie needs to go.  Anyone who has read any part of the Eve Duncan series knows that a huge focus of much of the series was Eve finding out what happened to her murdered daughter Bonnie.  Frankly, for me the longer the series went on, the more this Bonnie theme and storyline just got old and somewhat annoying.  I was pleased to see that the Bonnie issue was solved during the last trilogy (Bonnnie, Mike, Eve), and I foolishly thought it would be put away.  I guess I was wrong.  Bonnie still finds her way into this trilogy.  Now granted, it is to a much lesser degree, however Bonnie still comes to Eve in her “dreams” I guess.  Please just let Bonnie rest in peace and let’s move on.

2.  Why the somewhat paranormal?  I understand that books revolving around the paranormal and characters with special “powers” are all the rage, but I don’t really understand why this author has to jump on this bandwagon in this series.  The Eve Duncan books never really had a touch of paranormal and now there are certain characters helping in the case that have what I can only describe as “special” powers if you will.  Margaret, the woman who can somehow communicate with animals, the “animal whisperer”.  Seth Caleb, the man who can control people’s blood up and to the point of killing them.  Really?  Come on.  And it only gets worse in the second book in the trilogy.  It’s not as if the author fully commits to incorporating these more paranormal characters and experiences in her book, but feels more like she has to somehow have of this in the book since it is all the rage.  Just let it go!

3.  Why a trilogy?  I hate to have to jump on the bandwagon and say this, especially since I have absolutely loved this series from the beginning, but it is starting to feel like the author is writing these trilogies simply to sell more books.  I currently am about 1/2 way through Hunting Eve, the 2nd book in the series, and really the storyline is dragging.  I really feel as if the author could have aptly told this story in one book rather than dragging it out into three.   Basically, I felt like the plot of Taking Eve can be summed up briefly as Eve disappears, Joe Quinn and Jane miss her deeply and go into a panic trying to find her, and they start the process to look for her.  Yes, there is some backstory, but that is not compelling at all.

4.  Go back to what made Eve Duncan great.  I am really hoping that the author returns this series to what made it great, namely Eve and her facial reconstructions.  Each earlier book focused on one case that Eve was working on in terms of a reconstruction.  The case was compelling, intriguing, and interesting and the story wrapped up nicely.  These last two sets of trilogies really feels like the author has strayed away from what made this series great.  The series no longer focuses on Eve’s work and the interesting cases she gets into, but rather this endless search for personal answers.

Yes, I of course am going to finish this trilogy, but I have to say I am increasingly disappointed with this series.

I am so hopeful that the following books return to what I loved about this series or I am afraid (and I NEVER say this about characters I love) perhaps it is time to put Eve Duncan to bed!!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review – “Sleep No More” by Iris Johansen (Eve Duncan Series #12)

sleepnomore  Title:  Sleep No More (Eve Duncan Series #12)

Author:  Iris Johansen

Synopsis:

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan knows what it’s like to be haunted by the past.  For years after her daughter Bonnie was stolen from her, she fought for closure.  But now as she’s striving to begin anew, she can’t shake the feeling that something terrible is about to happen—or maybe already has.  When her mother, Sandra, asks for help in finding a missing friend named Beth Avery, Eve is sure that she’s hiding something.  It’s odd that Sandra would get involved at all, and the fact that she adamantly refuses to go to the police for help reinforces Eve’s suspicions that something is very wrong.

Eve learns that Beth has been locked away in a mental hospital for years, which makes it even harder to understand how she could have disappeared. As Sandra reluctantly reveals small pieces of the truth about Beth’s identity, Eve is shocked to discover that their lives are strangely entwined, and Beth’s disappearance now puts them all in grave danger.

Desperate, Eve enlists a secret weapon to pick up Beth’s trail:  rogue profiler, Kendra Michaels. With an uncanny ability to detect clues and solve puzzles, Kendra begins to uncover the bizarre circumstances of Beth’s escape from what should have been the safety of her hospital room. Beth is on the run, and as her mind clears—detoxing from the drugs that have held her prisoner—she begins to see the threads of a twisted plot within the powerful Avery family, threatening to destroy Beth and anyone else who might jeopardize the high-stakes game that is already in play.

My thoughts:  Welcome to the 12th installment of Iris Johansen’s Eve Duncan series which chronicles the life and work of Eve, a forensic sculptor.  Overall, I really enjoy this series and really enjoyed this book.  My only huge complaint with this book is the author’s clear lack of research about what a music therapist is which I will go more into below.

This book was definitely a fast read for me.  As someone who has read this entire series including the Bonnie, Eve, Joe trilogy in between, I am very happy that we have finally solved the Bonnie issue and that the author is moving on.  I felt the series was just getting bogged down by the the “who killed Bonnie?” storyline and was losing its excitement.  Bonnie was certainly still mentioned and a part of this book, but certainly not to the level as past books.  I was glad that the author started introducing some new charachters in this book as well including Beth Avery, Eve’s half-sister who was unknown until this book.  I see this storyline developing in future books.  This book also introduces us to Kendra Michaels, a music therapist, who has special sensory abilities since being cured of her 20 year blindness.  I did not know that Kendra was actually introduced in another book, Close to You, I believe.  Had I known this I definitely would have read this first to get to know her better.  I see the author breaking off to another series starring Kendra in the future as well as she did with the character of Catherine Ling.   These new characters are exciting to me and am looking forward to how they are incorporated into future books in the series.

Now that we have taken care of the Bonnie situation, I am wishing that the Eve Duncan books would go a bit more back to focusing on her forensic sculpting cases.  I know this is why I fell in love with this series reading about how she did a reconstruction and the case that developed from this missing person.  The series seems to have drifted away from this which is disappointing.

Now, all that being said, I have to comment on my huge frustration with the author’s clear lack of research on music therapy and music therapists.  Yes, I myself actually am a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) who works with patients in a hospital setting, so I know what I am talking about.  Yes, this makes me a bit more in tune with this issue, but I think authors have a responsiblity to research and characterize people correctly.  Music therapists and music therapy as a field is already highly misunderstood in the world, so mischaracterizations in popular media is not helpful.  So here goes my education and advocacy for all who care.  The author fell right into some common misconceptions about music therapy throughout the book.  It seems that this charachter Kendra, a music therapist, has all sorts of education in psychology, etc. (PhDs), but no formal education in music therapy specifically.  Yes indeed to be a music therapist you must actuallly study and get a degree in Music Therapy, not simply related fields.  A very small point, I  know, but it bugs me.  Also the author committed a carnal sin in the music therapy world by having one of her characters refer to Kendra as a “musical therapist”.  This phrase drives us MUSIC therapists crazy, it is music therapy, not musical therapy.  This book doesn’t really talk much about Kendra’s clinical work, which is fine, but also which brings up the question for me, why did she even make this character a music therapist?  It seems out of place since her work in this area is not at all important to the book.  Was it because music therapy has been more in the media lately with Gabby Giffords, etc?  Does she know a music therapist in real life?  Did she want to jump on the band wagon on other popular authors having characters in their books who were music therapists, i.e., Jodi Picoult in “Sing You Home”, who by the way did a FANTASTIC job of realistically portraying a music therapist?  I don’t know the answer, but if you aren’t going to do the research, don’t put it into your book.  Ok, I’m off of my Music Therapy education and advocacy soap box . . . for now 🙂

Overall, a strong offering in the Eve Duncan series.  Can’t wait for the next ones to come out in 2013!

Happy reading,

And remember,

Books are Life,

Heather

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