In Phantom Instinct the thrill ride starts on page 1 with mass murder that seems random, but quickly becomes personal for Harper Flynn. With her hopes pinned on a man who sees a threat where there is none, who can’t decipher between friend or foe, the ride is treacherous indeed for Harper and the people she loves most. This latest thriller by Ms. Gardiner offers true heroes—normal people who work daily to overcome their imperfections—and a team of heartless, highly intelligent, ruthless, and focused villains.
Harper and Aiden are each broken, working to heal and move forward. Harper overcame a selfish and drug-addicted mother and years in juvenile detention to make something of her life. Aiden demonstrates early on that he is willing to sacrifice all in the service others. This willingness left him damaged in ways that he could never have anticipated. They are supported by characters whose heroism becomes evident as the story unfolds: one who is willing to give her life for a girl she doesn’t know, and another who finds his courage when our heroine needs it most.
Ms. Gardiner’s tale starts at the top of a steep hill, then continues to build speed and momentum until, like a roller coaster, you know there’s a big drop coming–something truly scary and stomach twisting–but you can’t wait to get there. The end provides a twist so unexpected that I didn’t believe what I was reading (and re-read it just to be sure).
Phantom Instinct is an exciting, fast-paced read. Based on its breakneck pace and mind-bending plot twists, I’d recommend Whiplash red zinfandel to accompany it.
Enjoy, and happy reading!
Since February’s review of books 1-4 of the Dresden Files, I’ve continued to burn through them, having difficulty putting them down. This is due in part to my Kindle, a magical and dangerous device, which immediately upon reaching the end of one book provides a popup offer to download the next book in the series. I tell myself I’ll just download it–I do have other books to read–but inevitably I start reading and find myself sucked into Harry Dresden’s increasingly dangerous world yet again.
As I’d hoped, he’s continued to grow both in maturity and in his magical abilities, which have yet to be fully explored (looking forward to that in books 10-14). While he hasn’t totally overcome his overblown sense of chivalry, he’s toned it down thanks to being surrounded by strong female characters, especially Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, but also Anastasia Luccio, captain of the wardens of the White Council, and Lara Raith of the White Court Vampires.
Wizard Dresden’s dry wit remains, providing humor in the most unexpected places. He admittedly can’t keep his mouth shut, especially in dangerous situations. As the cast of characters grows—some human, others not-so-much—so does the family he’s creating, which inevitably raises the stakes on his antics and involvement. These well-constructed characters are easy to love and only serve to add to the reasons I’m compelled to continue reading. Even with the higher stakes, Dresden is unable to stop himself from intervening to protect the weak and the innocent, the vulnerable and non-magical. You can still find him on Twitter @HarriedWizard and also at Jim Butcher.com.
Due to the nature of Harry’s adventures, a Storybook Mountain wine would complement them well. I would recommend a Red Zinfandel. If you have a preference for white wines, their Viognier is also an excellent choice. You can order them at http://www.storybookwines.com/
Cold Cold Heart grips you from the first sentence of the prologue, pulling you into the mind and unrelenting heart of its heroine, Dana Nolan. Although parts of Tami Hoag’s thriller about the sole surviving victim of a sadistic serial killer are hard to read due to their graphic and violent nature, it is even harder to put down.
The details and insight Ms. Hoag offers into the realities of a brain injury add an interesting element to this crime thriller. Also, as the child of a veteran, I especially appreciated her treatment of PTSD and the adjustments and harsh realities many of our veterans face when they return home.
You can’t help but pull for Dana, wanting her not only to survive, but to reclaim herself and what the killer took from her in the process. Somewhere along the way the plot becomes a bit predictable, and I saw the ending coming long before I reached it. Regardless, Ms. Hoag has created a sympathetic and interesting character in Dana, and her dual story of recovery and survival makes for an exciting read. Like a good roller coaster, even though I saw the end coming, I still enjoyed the ride.
This read requires something that will provide warmth and comfort. With that in mind, I’d recommend Dry Creek Vineyard’s Heritage Vines red zinfandel. Enjoy, and happy reading.