First Line Friday

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a weekly book meme hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

It’s Friday! I have a lot to do this weekend and hoping to squeeze some reading in, but after finishing a big book, I feel more than motivated again. My reading slump has been lifted! Right on time too!

This week’s lines come from a paperback book I have in my mini book shelf next to my bed that I lovingly call and use as a nightstand. I have zero idea where this book came from because I have no recollection of buying it, but it’s been on my shelf forever and I keep meaning to read it…eventually.

This Week’s Lines:

” ‘You’re here, aren’t you, to tell us everything we do wrong?’
Prison Superintendent Shaukat Abbas posed his words as a question but the irritated tone of this voice made it clear they were an accusation. Abbas leaned back in a shabby office chair behind a worn, gunmetal-gray desk inside the drab, institutional walls of the warden’s office at the provincial prison and lit a Morven Gold cigarette. He did not offer one to the guest seated before him.”

Enjoyed that preview? This week’s book is…

Duplicity (Brooke Grant #1) by Newt Gingrich and Pete Earley

Blurb

The greatest nightmare for the free world today would be a master terrorist hiding somewhere, controlling and coordinating radical Islamic groups at the highest level around the globe.

In Duplicity, the newest thriller from former Speaker of the House and bestselling author Newt Gingrich, such an invisible hand overseeing havoc worldwide plays a major role. Gingrich has teamed with former Washington Post reporter and bestselling author Pete Earley to create a highly plausible mix of domestic and global action in this ripped-from-the-headlines thriller.

And of course, it’s set during an American presidential election.

When President Sally Allworth decides to reestablish America’s Mogadishu embassy in Somalia weeks before Election Day, her challenger says she is playing politics with American lives. That turns out to be true when the embassy is attacked and hostages are taken. Embassy station chief Gunter Conner and Marine captain Brooke Grant end up the unlikely survivors of this Benghazi-style attack. Suddenly, they are the only hope for saving their captured colleagues.

The firestorm of drama is compelling, set off by the intersection of Washington power and politics, a fragile third-world Islamic country, and Somali Americans here at home.

Only Newt Gingrich’s unique in-depth knowledge of the political realities of friend and foe could weave such a spellbinding tale of events and personalities, one that could actually happen . . . if America’s leaders aren’t wary of a world full of Duplicity.

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Currently Reading [07.05.2020]

I was ordering something from Amazon a few days ago and finally decided to try out this Amazon Prime thing that the site kept nagging me about. Lo and behold it comes with reading benefits, though different than the Kindle Unlimited that I also see all over the site.

I ended up with two new books on my Kindle (one of which included audio which I didn’t realize until I fired up my phone Kindle app). With the book mail that I received a few days ago, this month I have three TBR/Currently Reading books and I hope that I could complete at least one of them during today’s long car ride. Seeing as I easily get “see-sick” the audio book should come quite in handy!

The Family Journal

The Family Journal
Book Cover from Goodreads.

Book Name: The Family Journal
Series: [Standalone] Book N/A
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 296
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: 07.08.2020

I didn’t realize that this was a romance when I first picked it up. All I got from the summary was how fed up a newly divorced single mother is with her teenage kids and that she needed to move back to her childhood home where she can spend more quality time with her children, hoping to improve their behavior. Somewhere between “aww family bonding” and Lily (the mother) finding an old family journal, I managed to miss the line, “The house comes with Mack Cooper, high school teacher and handsome longtime renter.” It has been a long time since I’ve read a romance as it’s my least favorite genre [of all time]. However, so far, it’s not so bad so far. I’m hoping to enjoy the book as the blurb sounded interesting enough and it’s pretty short read.

An Invisible Client

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Book Name: An Invisible Client
Series: [Standalone] Book # N/A
Author: Victor Methos
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Comes with audio)
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 240
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Legal Thriller
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: 07.12.2020

I was scrolling through the Amazon “Read Now for Free” list that came with Amazon Prime (called Prime Reading) and came across this one before I even saw “The Family Journal.” It sounded interesting enough and I can’t recall ever having read any legal thrillers before (though I have watched legal dramas before namely “Suits”). Being even shorter than “The Family Journal,” I’m hoping this will be a fun and quick read. The biggest surprise, though, was that when I went to open the Kindle book, there was an audio option. I’ll be listening to this on the road during today’s car trip.

The Eye of the World

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Book Cover from Goodreads
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Most of the Mass Market Books I’ve seen had the [left] cover, but mine came having the Kindle edition [light blue above] cover art instead

Book Name: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time Book # 1
Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: TOR Books
Book Type: Physical > Paperback > Mass Market
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 814
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Fantasy > Epic Fantasy, Fantasy > High Fantasy
Start Date: 07.04.2020
End Date: Currently Reading

I spent the better part of the last week deciding on what book I should get more as my first book mail [in a long time]. I was on a book mail self-ban because I couldn’t stand having to move all those books when we move houses…but…I really really missed having book mail…

The decision was between “The Thousand Names,” “The Way of Kings,” or “The Eye of The World.” I spent 90% of the time flipping between the two series latter series and ended up with “The Eye of the World.” I heard so much about this book, have passed it in bookstores several times, and have yet to actually pick it up. The deciding factor to try it out came after I finished writing my Tacticians Inspired TBR post a little while back and now…it’s arrived. It’s here. In my hands. It’s so cute…like a little blue brick :’) Out of the three, I’m most excited to dig into this one.

Mad River [Book Review]

Content warning: Rape, implied sexual content, death, violence and graphic content

Book Name: Mad River
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 6
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Obtained: Amazon
Pages: 418
Genre: Fiction > Mystery > Crime, Thriller
Start Date: 06.03.2020, Restarted reading on 06.26.2020
End Date: 06.28.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

Link to Book’s Goodreads Page: >HERE<

Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what’s-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going?

It’s not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinder murder scene that the clues begin to come together. As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, it’s a growing army of cops who join Virgil in trying to run them down. But even Virgil doesn’t realize what’s about to happen next.

Thoughts and Review:

Virgil isn’t even a few hours out of vacation and Davenport is already calling in about a bad one; two deaths, a man and his wife, along with two more on Friday night over in Bigham for a total of 4 deaths and he needs to get over there and investigate them immediately. A few hours later, mostly sober from his night out at the bar, discussing musicians, he finally heads out.

Another thrilling book, though not much of a mystery this time around. Sandford has a signature of sorts to reveal the bad guys to us readers early on via their own POV chapters. Sometimes we, the readers, already know who the criminal is (though the cops do not) but this time, Virgil is able to quickly confirm the murderer’s identities and instead of a “who’s the bad guy” it’s a mad chase. In this book, Virgil and the local sheriff spend their time trying to track down the trio rather than spend a good chunk guessing who might be behind all of this.

In Mad River, we have ourselves a fictional Bonnie and Clyde (and another character) going on a killing spree through the Minnesota countryside. It starts off with a single murder, a bank robbery gone wrong. The killing of Agatha was a little strange as Agatha had been hit and was already down on the ground and the trio couldn’t be identified as they had their flashlights pointed at the two women’s faces. Thus, Agatha’s death seemed pretty unnecessary, but as the story expands, we get to see a larger role involved in her murder. On their way to their getaway car, they gun down another victim, Emmett Williams and steals his car (seeing as their own junk car didn’t ignite). It had started off as a burglary but ended up in two deaths resulting in the trio going on the run.

Virgil arrives to investigate the 4 deaths, starting with the husband and wife, Mr. Welsh and Mrs. Welsh, and eventually moving to Agatha and Emmett. In a small town where everyone knows everyone the fingers quickly point to the Jimmy and Becky; infamous troublemakers back in high school. Everybody in town knew Becky for her good looks, Jimmy for being the biggest bully in school, and both for not being the brightest kids around, while who Tom was was a mystery to most folks.

With no solid reason or evidence to convict the three, Virgil turns to try and find them as leads…but nobody can find them. Not much blind guessing is needed, however as everywhere they stop to steal money or supplies leaves behind a new body. With every body comes one or two missing vehicles, each of which is broadcasted to the world, hoping someone would spot them and report them in. When one of the trio calls Virgil and confessing themselves to be the one of the three responsible for all the shootings, they finally have solid confirmation that the three kids are behind the killings and it turns into a chase and duck hunt to get to the Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh, and Tom McCall before they get to someone else. As the search drags on, more and more people are killed as the three search for food, money, weapons, and whatever tools they can get on hand to aid their escape. It’s after a bank robbery gone wrong, where an officer is shot and killed, that the three realize how deeply in trouble they are and how bleak their future now looks. Now wanted fugitives, their chances at escaping alive becomes slimmer and slimmer.

All the while, Virgil digs deeper into Agatha’s death and starts to suspect more to behind her death than just a robbery gone wrong. Towards the middle, the book splits off between chasing Beck and Jimmy and Virgil investigating the circumstances behind Agatha’s murder with both cases being a thrill to follow.

The deaths in this book are pretty gritty, especially the ending scene (what horrifying imagery). Shaking away their first murder, they start to get used to all the killing. Raising a gun at another person becomes almost easy. They were already wanted by everyone everywhere, what was one more body for a pack of pills right? They aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, as noted multiple times throughout the book. They make dumb decisions and leave trails of easy evidence behind them. These were aimless kids with unfortunate backgrounds growing up to be young adults who dreamed big but didn’t have the necessary tools to push them in the right direction. Instead, they make one bad decision after another only to fall deeper and deeper into the crime. Of course, it’s no excuse for what they did.

He remembered a bumper sticker he’d seen in St. Paul that said: “Remember: Half the People Are Below Average.” That, he thought, was probably the key to Jimmy Sharp and Becky Welsh. They were below average, and God had made them that way. There was no way that they were ever going to be anything but that; they could watch all the above-average people they wanted, on television, driving around in big cars and making enormous amounts of money out of nothing . . . or just working at the post office, or going to trade school to be plumbers or carpenters. They’d never be able to do that. They were condemned from birth to a life of hard times and trouble. If people were to tell the truth about Becky, her only route to a condition even resembling prosperity would be to sell herself for sex. That was all she had. The problem with that, morality aside, was that she probably wasn’t bright enough to make the most of selling herself. As for Jimmy—Jimmy had no chance at all. Abused as a child, neglected in school, he probably couldn’t drive a nail. Or generate the ambition to do it.


– Sandford, John. Mad River (A Virgil Flowers Novel, Book 6) (pp. 352-353). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
[[On Virgil Flowers pondering about God, life, and unfair circumstances that might have been one of the causes on why Becky and Jimmy turned out to be the way they are.]]

Virgil, being the son of a Presbyterian minister, has a moral code far stronger than Sheriff Duke (who I started to hate more and more, and who I honestly loathed by the end) and, though he had a few other reasons for doing so, he did his very best to try and bring Becky, Jimmy, and Tom in alive. He’s constantly pondering about God, often thinking about him before he drifts off to sleep at night. Throughout this book, he thinks a lot about God and why people like Jimmy and Becky exist/turn out the way they are now, why they kill people at random, and why people are killed at random. He ponders about if God is a universal computer who is subject to bugs and glitches. He wonders about how, no matter how hard they try, Becky and Jimmy simply weren’t meant to be anything more than below average.

“What part could they have in God’s plan? Were they simply put here to kill people at random, because, for some people, people needed to be killed at random?”

– Sandford, John. Mad River (A Virgil Flowers Novel, Book 6) (p. 352). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It took me about 3 days to gobble up this book…like I do with all of John’s books. A fantastic thriller where you get to see Virgil chasing the slippery trio only to find their victims instead (as it turns out there are plenty of places to hide in the vast Minnesota countryside). The cops are getting frustrated, Virgil is getting frustrated and very desperate to reach them before the others, civilians are worried and locking up, guarding doors with their guns, the media is in a piranha frenzy (when are they not), and the Governor and BCA staff are getting frustrated and are starting to take heat for not putting an end to this in a timely matter.

It was a great read and I can’t wait to grab book 7. So far, Virgil and Sandford has yet to disappoint me. I loved reading this and easily finished the book. This time though, the ending left a bit of bitterness in my mouth that I can’t fully describe. I felt both unsatisfied and very satisfied at the same time. Happy but also very upset (for how both cases ended). ​It’s the wallowing sad and empty feeling that stems from knowing that, because of the circumstances (and a certain a**hat) this was the best ending you could have possibly gotten.