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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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Book Review – “What Doesn’t Kill You” by Iris Johansen (Catherine Ling series #2)

whatdoesntkillyou  Title:  What Doesn’t Kill You (Catherine Ling series #2)

Author:  Iris Johansen

ISBN:  9780312651299

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis (from bn.com):  

In this breathtaking thriller, number-one bestselling author Iris Johansen showcases one of her most fascinating characters—pitted against one of the most ruthless killers…

 Abandoned on the streets of Hong Kong, Catherine Ling was schooled in the art of survival by the mysterious Hu Chang, a master assassin and poisoner. Now recruited by the CIA, Catherine finds herself caught between worlds when her mentor develops a formula that is extremely fatal, virtually untraceable—and highly coveted. On the hunt for this prize are a rogue operative, a band of criminals, and a man so evil he kills without remorse. Catherine will do anything to protect those she loves: Hu Chang and her son Luke. But she will have to use every deadly weapon, every double cross, every lethal lesson she ever learned—to prove that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

My thoughts:

I absolutely flew through this book.  This is sort of a series within a series.  What I mean by that is that this is a spin-off series  of the Iris Johansen Eve Duncan series.  We were first introduced to the character of Catherine Ling in the book Chasing the Night (2010), where Eve was working to find Catherine’s missing son, Luke!  And now . . . she has her own series which is very awesome.  Let’s be real, Catherine is a serious bad ass which is why I love her character so much.  She is a strong, empowered, ruthless, no nonsense CIA agent who doesn’t take no for an answer!  Go Catherine!

This book was dramatic, very fast-paced and really held your attention no matter what.  This book really gave the reader the very important background information and development of the character of Catherine, from her life as an orphan on the rough streets of Hong Kong, to the development of her relationship with Hu Chang, to her role in the CIA.  I hope that this character development means that there will be many more books in this series.

I have read the entire Eve Duncan series and really do love the series, but I do have to admit that it is nice to get away from the whole Eve/Bonnie storyline that frankly went on too long.  Catherine is almost entirely opposite from the more mild-mannered Eve Duncan.  There are many crossover characters between the two series which creates a wonderful connection for the reader!

I strongly recommend this Catherine Ling series . . . go get your hands on Chasing the Night (2010), then read this one and you are all set!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – “Bonnie” by Iris Johansen (Eve Duncan Series) – SPOILER ALERT

   Title:  Bonnie (Eve Duncan Series)

Author:  Iris Johansen

ISBN:  9780312651220

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis (from BN.com):

The truth has eluded her for years…Now, is she ready to face it? The #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen has written an explosive conclusion to the trilogy that will finally lay to rest the questions that have haunted her fans for a decade

When Eve Duncan gave birth to her daughter, she experienced a love she never knew existed. Nothing would stand in the way of giving Bonnie a wonderful life—until the unthinkable happened and the seven-year-old vanished into thin air. Eve found herself in the throes of a nightmare from which there was no escape. But a new Eve emerged: a woman who would use her remarkable talent as a forensic sculptor to help others find closure in the face of tragedy. Now, with the help of her beloved Joe Quinn and CIA Agent Catherine Ling, Eve has come closer than ever to the truth. But the deeper she digs, the more she realizes that Bonnie’s father is a key player in solving this monstrous puzzle. And that Bonnie’s disappearance was not as random as everyone had always believed…

My thoughts:  Bonnie is the 3rd and final book of a trilogy that Iris Johansen put into her Eve Duncan series (Eve, Quinn, Bonnie).  If you are a follower of this series, you probably are like me in wanting desperately to find out what happened to Eve’s daughter Bonnie and where she is.  Well this book answers that question – FINALLY!  Unfortunately, for me at least, all the build up in this Bonnie storyline over the last 13 books sort of did a crash and burn for me in this book.  It wasn’t all that exciting, pulse-pounding, or interesting.  I can’t decide whether it was the writing in this trilogy or the shear fact that the author drew it out so long, but it wasn’t the closure I wanted in the storyline.  I guess a little part of me wishes that the story would have moved in the direction of Bonnie being found alive and Eve and her trying to rebuild a relationship!

This book fell a little flat and lost a bit of steam for me.  Given how much I really loved the beginning of the series, I was shocked that I found myself wanting to pick something else up to read.   In this trilogy particularly I found Eve Duncan to be a bit too whiny and needy for my taste.  In the beginning and middle of the series, when she was working on a case I always pictured her a strong, tough, professional woman and now she is whiny.  Time to bring the old Eve back and get her working on some cases again Iris!!

One very positive thing about this book is that it continues to have the new character Catherine Ling in it.  I am loving this character and am very happy to see that Johansen has started a series featuring Catherine!  First book in Catherine Ling series, “What Doesn’t Kill You” is out and I can’t wait to dig in.

I look forward to seeing where Johansen takes this series now that the Bonnie mystery is solved!  More cases, more facial reconstruction, and less whining I hope.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – “Quinn” by Iris Johansen (Eve Duncan Series)

  Title:  Quinn (Eve Duncan Series)

Author:  Iris Johansen

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis (from bn.com):

#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen explores the darkest corners of the human heart as forensic sculptor Eve Duncan closes in on the killer who stole her daughter so many years ago.

As a former Navy SEAL turned cop, Joe Quinn has seen the face of evil and knows just how deadly it can be. When he first met Eve Duncan, he never expected to fall in love with a woman whose life would be defined by her dual desires to bring home her missing daughter and discover the truth behind her disappearance—no matter how devastating. With the help of CIA agent Catherine Ling, they make a shocking discovery that sheds new light on young Bonnie’s abduction and puts Quinn squarely in the crosshairs of danger. Eve’s first love, John Gallo, a soldier supposedly killed in the line of duty, is very much alive—and very much a threat.

Emotionally charged, with one shock after another, Quinn reveals the electricity of Joe and Eve’s first connection, and how they fell in love in the midst of haunting tragedy. As their search takes them deeper and deeper into a web of murder and madness, Joe and Eve must confront their most primal fears . . . and test their resolve to uncover the ultimate bone-chilling truth.

My thoughts:  This is the second book in a trilogy that falls within the Eve Duncan series (Eve, Quinn, Bonnie).  I thought this book was FANTASTIC!  I have read the entire Eve Duncan series and love it.  This book begins in the past, taking a look at how Joe Quinn and Eve met over the tragic disappearance of Eve’s daughter Bonnie, and then jumps to present day and picks up the hunt for Bonnie’s “killer” right where it left off in “Eve”.  As with all the books in this series, I thought it was fast pasted and exciting.  All I can say about the end of this book is – WOW!  I got to the last page and literally was like “Are you kidding me, there are no more pages left, there has to more pages left!  It can’t end like this.”  Needless to say, I can’t wait to get to the library to dig in to Bonnie to see what happens. Thank goodness it’s Saturday tomorrow!

As much as I love this series, I will say that I am hoping and praying that the whole Bonnie thing (who killed her? is she dead? where is she?) comes to a conclusion in the next book.  I feel like Iris Johansen has really dragged the Bonnie storyline out too long.  In the first books in the series, the Bonnie storyline was present but took a backseat to the cases Eve was working on – which were very interesting.  Over time, the books began to shift focus almost exclusively on the Bonnie storyline and I found myself thinking enough is enough already.  Let’s resolve this storyline!  As the story kept going on and on, the character of Eve seemed to become more whiny and needy, which is not how she was portrayed at the beginning.  Iris – please resolve this!!!!

An interesting twist to the last few book in this series including Chasing the Night (2010) and this Eve, Quinn, Bonnie trilogy, is the addition of the character of Catherine Ling.  It looks as if Iris Johansen is starting an entirely different series around Catherine Ling character which proves to be interesting and exciting.  Catherine Ling was abandoned in Hong Kong at age 4, recruited by the CIA in her teens, and now works as a CIA operative.  I like her character and can’t wait to read the newest in Catherine’s series “What Doesn’t Kill You ” (2012).

All in all, a great, fast-paced read!  Definitely one for the beach or for a long plane ride!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – Eve by Iris Johansen

Title: Eve
Author: Iris Johansen
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN:  9780312651206

Synopsis (from bn.com): 
Eve Duncan’s mission in life is to bring closure to the families who have experienced the agony of a missing child. As a forensic sculptor, she is able to piece together bones, create a face, and bring an identity to a child who would have otherwise gone unidentified. Eve is brilliant, driven, and tormented—because her own daughter, Bonnie, was taken from her years ago. But now, with the help of a CIA agent, Eve has uncovered some startling new evidence: A man with a connection to Bonnie that had been all but buried. His name is John Gallo. He’s from Eve’s own past. His whereabouts are unknown. And he might just be the missing piece to the puzzle that has haunted Eve for years…

My thoughts:  This is the first book in a new trilogy taking a closer look at the each of the main characters in Iris Johansen’s Eve Duncan series – Eve, Quinn, and Bonnie! 

I have read the entire Eve Duncan series and have been a huge fan for years.  I loved this book!  I loved how it was laid out, spending the first half of the book taking us back into Eve’s very early years, her time with John Gallo (father of her beloved daughter Eve), and the birth of her daughter. The second half then took the reader on an exciting ride to hunt down Bonnie’s kidnapper/murderer.  Did John Gallo kill Bonnie as CIA agent Catherine Ling suggests?  What is John Gallo’s real story? 

I thought it was really intriquing getting a glimpse into Eve’s past and how she got where she is today.  It really puts some perspective on all of the other books in the series. 

The cliffhanger ending of course has me digging right into “Quinn” to see what happens!!!

I do sincerely hope that the mystery of who kidnapped/murdered Bonnie is finally wrapped up after this trilogy however.  As much as I love the Eve Duncan Books, I do feel that the Bonnie story line is getting a bit old and a bit dragged out after a decade of this series.  Please Iris Johansen, give us faithful readers a final answer to this puzzle and give Eve and Quinn some peace.  It’s enough already.

My rating:  : ) : ) : ) : ) : )  Loved it!  

And remember,
Books Are Life,
Heather  

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