Category Archives: Kensington

Review: Desperate by Daniel Palmer

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington House Pub Ltd (April 29, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0758293437
  • Source: Kaye Publicity

Gage Dekker lost his first wife and young son in a car accident for which he blames himself. He and his second wife, Anna, were married in less than a year and are now struggling to have their own child. Anna, like Gage, understands grief, having lost her own son.  After a failed miscarriage that devastates them both, they begin the long process of adoption. Anna doesn’t want to go the traditional route of going through an agency so instead the couple begin the arduous task of creating a web site in an attempt to find a prospective mother.

It is by coincidence that the meet Lily. Alone and homeless, Lily states she saw their web site and is more than willing to give them her baby in exchange for financial support.  It seems like a perfect opportunity and Gage and Anna finally have something positive and hopeful to look forward to.

Soon after Lily moves into the other half of their split-level home, Gage begins to suspect something shady about Lily. He attempts to relay his feelings to Anna, but she’s already formed a bond with Lily and any accusations are quickly shunned. The already strained relationship they have is further tested and Gage begins to feel like he has lost control of every aspect of his life.  Forced to do the unthinkable in order to safe his family and career, Gage can’t even begin to contemplate what is yet to come.

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Palmer’s books for some time. I devour them as soon as I can get my hands on them.  One of the key themes in his novels are individuals who are pushed to their limit and must fight the unthinkable to maintain control of their lives. They involve everyday, run of the mill kind of individuals, forced to do extraordinary things in order to save everything that is dear to them. I’m not sure what this says about me that I enjoy this sort of thing (Palmer actually writes about this here). All that said,Desperate is a truly outstanding novel that really forces the reader to contemplate what they would do in Gage’s position. It is a novel that lives up to its title, for Gage is quite desperate to keep a handle on his life, despite the odds and risks. While there were times I wanted to knock some sense into him, Gage was a truly genuine and believable character still suffering from the loss of his first wife and child. Due to this, he may have been a big ignorant in what was happening around him, only discovering the truth once it is too late. 

Without giving away too much, I must touch on the ending. Wow. Just when I thought I knew the path Palmer was planning to take, in comes a completely different path out of left field. I was stunned, actually rereading pages to make certain I got it right. I then went to the beginning of the novel and reread several chapters and finally, the light bulb above my head illuminated and it all came together so perfectly.  I had to stop and clap at Palmer because that twist was absolutely brilliant. I was already a huge fan of the novel up to that point, but that move gave me a completely different level of appreciation for Palmer’s talent.

Bottom line: Desperate is a must-read for fans of intense, action filled thrillers. Fans of Star Trek in particular will geek out at a few scenes (like I did!). Highly recommended!

Other books by Daniel Palmer:

Stolen
Helpless
Delirious

Review: Stolen by Daniel Palmer

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington House Pub Ltd; First Edition edition (April 30, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0758246668
  • Source: Publisher/Author

John and Ruby are leading a happy life. John’s online gaming business is growing, allowing Ruby to go back to school to become an acupuncturist.  John is still recovering from a devastating climbing accident in which he was forced to choose between his life and the life of another. Unfortunately, he’ll have to face this decision again and far too soon…

John notices a strange mark on Ruby’s foot and insists she go to the doctor. The news she receives is unexpected and life-altering. Her condition is treatable, but the generic brand of the drug she must have is unavailable. She’s forced to opt for the name-brand drug, one that is not covered by her insurance. The cost is astronomical, but John won’t let that prevent Ruby from getting the treatment required.  Despite maxing out their credit cards and borrowing from friends and family, they still don’t have enough money to fund Ruby’s full treatment. John does the unthinkable; he steals the identity of one of his online gaming customers and files a false claim for her treatment. They move to a new apartment, live under the other person’s name, whatever it takes.

Their plan is running smoothly, Ruby’s condition is improving. Then one day they receive a phone call from the man whose identity they have stolen. He won’t report the fraud one one condition: John and Ruby must take part in a “game” he’s contrived. The point of the game is for John and Ruby to commit real crimes to show they are, in fact, real criminals. The crimes start with armed robbery, then arson. Each time they don’t follow the rules of the game to the specifics demanded, someone is killed. John and Ruby soon learn the individual inflicting this torturous plan on them is not the man whose identity was stolen. Their situation is far worse than they suspected for their life is in the hands of a psychopathic serial killer. They can’t go to the police, the only thing they can do is to follow through with the game to the end. In playing the game, they must figure out a way to outwit this monster before they become his next victims.

Once again, Palmer has created another page-turning techno-thriller. Despite the crime the main characters have committed, Palmer creates in them truly sympathetic characters. Who wouldn’t risk everything to save the one loved? Additionally, Palmer throws in several red herrings, leaving the reader pondering just who is responsible for this vicious game.

While some aspects of this novel are a tad far-fetching and unbelievable, the reader that can suspend disbelief will instantly become immersed in a truly heart-pounding, terrifying thriller. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy of STOLEN to give away. To enter, please fill out the form below. The winner will be contacted by email on Friday, May 10.

 

Review: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (February 28, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0758246854
  • Source: Author

Maddie Kern is a young violinist living in Los Angeles in 1941. She and her brother, TJ, have been on their own since their mother died. Their father, unresponsive due to the depression he suffers after the loss of his wife, is living in a rehabilitation center, a shell of the man he used to be. Therefore, TJ feels the need to not only serve the role of her brother, but as her parent as well. He’s quite strict, desperate to cushion Maddie from the world around her.

Unbeknownst to TJ, Maddie has fallen in love with his best friend, Lane Moritomo, the son of Japanese immigrants. They’ve kept their relationship a secret from her brother and Lane’s family, but when Lane hears his parents have arranged a bride for him, he and Maddie decide to elope, certain that nothing can stop them from being together. Interracial marriage is not legal in California, so they must trek to neighboring Washington state to wed. The following day, however, the world changes. Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, and Maddie’s new husband becomes the sworn enemy to those around her. The couple, on several occasions, witnesses the hate for all those of Japanese descent. It doesn’t matter that Lane is an American citizen. He has the face of the enemy.

Lane’s father is arrested and his family is moved to a war relocation camp. Lane begs Maddie to divorce, even going so far as to present her with the papers. Maddie has a chance to go off and study music at Julliard, but gives it all up to follow Lane, not willing to put an end to their relationship and join him at the relocation camp. Maddie works hard to gain the acceptance of Lane’s family, and Lane sacrifices his own safety to prove his allegiance to America. McMorris creates quite an epic story of two families, both desperately trying to survive a world ravaged by war.

Being in an interracial relationship myself, I instantly felt sympathy for the plight Maddie and Lane were forced to endure. While my husband and I are lucky enough to live in a society in which a relationship like this is more accepted than it was in the past, we still on occasion experience hostility about our relationship from others. I have to admit I wasn’t nearly as educated about what happened to those individuals of Japanese descent after Pearl Harbor; I was completely ignorant to the abuse they endured.

McMorris’ prose is absolutely breathtaking, gliding over the pages like a musical score. Music, itself, plays a key role in this story as well. Following is a quote referencing Maddie and her gift of music:

“She suddenly looked at her violin as more than an instrument. With a body and a neck, a rib and a waist, the wooden form represented the person who guided it to sing. To keep her loved ones alive, Maddie would tell their stories-and her own-with the voice inside and the strings in her hand.”

The themes that are prevalent in this powerful story include love and commitment, prejudice, and acceptance. Despite the overwhelming difficulties these two families are forced to endure, hope always prevails. McMorris gives readers an emotional powerful,  exhilarating tale of how love touches two families, separated in space and in spirit by war. It is remarkable to see how war affects people similarly, despite their differing backgrounds.

The characters McMorris creates are so rich; it is not often that you come across a book in which the characters are so well developed. Each character’s story becomes it’s own storyline, beautifully crafted to come together at the end.

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves is a novel that will appeal to various types of readers, including history buffs, romance fans, and more. It is a book that I devoured, a book that I will cherish. Highly recommended.

Following is a little background on the story:

The premise of this novel began with a true account of two brothers during WWII, one who had fought for Japan and the other for America. While researching the subject, Kristina happened across a brief mention of roughly two hundred non-Japanese spouses who voluntarily lived in an internment camp. She was stunned and fascinated by the discovery, and immediately knew it was a story she needed to tell.

As the daughter of a Japanese immigrant father and Caucasian American mother, Kristina grew up living between these two cultures. Through Bridge of Scarlet Leaves she hopes to share with readers a unique perspective of an intriguing, and often tragic, portion of our country’s history, while also honoring a diverse range of quiet heroes.

Review: Helpless by Daniel Palmer

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (January 31, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 075824665X
  • Source: Author

Former Navy Seal Tom Hawkins doesn’t have the best of relationships with his teenage daughter, Jill. Frankly, he has no relationship with her, thanks to his ex-wife. When she dies, apparently an accident while jogging, Tom is forced to attempt to make amends with Jill. Jill has grown up listening to her mother’s lies about Tom and, traumatized by her mother’s death, isn’t in the mood to trust him right now.  They attempt to allow life to get back to normal, as normal as it can be at least.

Soon their attempts at normalcy are put on hold; the town’s police sergeant insinuates that Tom is a suspect in his ex-wife’s death. As if things can’t get worse, an anonymous Tumblr posts accuses Tom of having sex with one of the girls on the soccer team he coaches. Jill is also on this team and these accusations essentially put a halt on any attempts  of progress in the relationship with her father.  Tom willingly gives up his work computer to the police, simply wanting to rid his name of any accusations of guilt. When he’s arrested, not only for the accused relationship with his player but also several other pretty heinous crimes, Tom realizes all of these false accusations, these attempts to imprison him, to ruin his life, are all due to his actions over a decade ago.  A secret he’s kept hidden for so many years, the reason his wife left him. Someone is willing to ruin his life to protect this truth he’s buried for all this time.

Without a doubt, Helpless is one of the most terrifying books I have read in some time. In this book, Palmer unveils a world of sexting and cyber crimes that is all too realistic, of how easy it is for an individual to infiltrate your computer system,  to ruin your life. It’s all too incredibly chilling. The storyline is truly unique and incredibly realistic, adding to the terror and chills that flooded my body as I read this book. This is yet another book that has fueled quite a lengthy conversation with my pre-teen son about what is appropriate to share online.

Additionally, the identity of the “culprit” truly keeps you guessing up until the last several pages.  Several times, I thought I had it all figured out and each time I was completely floored when my guess was disproved.  Another key to the success of this book are the father and daughter characters of Tom and Jill. You become invested in their lives, want the to survive and have a healthy parent-child relationship again.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a dynamic thriller with genuine characters, Helpless is the book for you. If you haven’t read Palmer’s previous book, Delirious, I encourage you to do that as well. Highly recommended.

 

Review: Delirious by Daniel Palmer

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher:Kensington; 1 edition (February 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0758246641
  • Source:  Author
  • Charlie Giles seems to have it all.  The new digital-entertainment system for automobiles he invented is bought out by a large company.  He ousted his business partner for using company money to support his gambling addiction, so now Charlie has control over everything.  So it seems…

    One day another associate from the company reveals to Charlie that he’s about to be thrown under the bus by another employee.  Charlie’s invention, InVision, is going to be ridiculed in front of all of the company’s “big-wigs.” So Charlie devises a plan to make an (uninvited) appearance at this meeting & show up the man attempting to destroy him.  Ultimately, however, Charlie is the one that is shown up. There was no plan to destroy the reputation of his product and even worse, the employee who spoke with him doesn’t exist.

    For obvious reason’s Charlie’s alarmed. Not only because he destroyed his reputation but because he’s apparently talking to people who don’t exist, a key symptom of the disease that his brother Joe and their deadbeat father both have: schizophrenia.

    When Charlie’s coworkers become the victims of vicious murders, Charlie is the prime suspect.  Strange things begin to happen, such as incriminating notes appearing,  apparently written by Charlie himself.  Charlie, and those around him, believe he’s mentally insane and he’s forced to do whatever he can to prove his own innocence.

    Delirious is by far one of the best thrillers I’ve read in some time.  The plot is well-constructed. The action is fast-paced and exciting. The ending? Well, let’s just say I uttered a few expletives when I got to the end because I was completely & totally blown away. The reader doesn’t know who to believe, Charlie or the medical experts who surround him.  Stunned cannot begin to explain how I felt after turning the last few pages.

    The secondary characters really add to the storyline as well.  Charlie is aided by the most unlikely of characters, repairing a relationship that was long-ago destroyed.

    I think the highest compliment I can pay this book is that it kept my attention, despite only having six hours of sleep over two days.  I read it on the plane-ride home from my trip from hell.  I’m certain the other passengers assumed the expletives I was shouting were due to my frustrations with the airlines.  If only they knew!

    Daniel Palmer is the son of medical-thriller author Michael Palmer.  It’s clear that in this case, talent runs in the family!  Highly, highly recommended!