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review 2016-07-08 03:36
Yellowstone Standoff
Yellowstone Standoff - Scott Graham

Finished this one tonight and then went and met Scott at his reading at one our local bookstores. He's a super nice guy, in case you were wondering. 


Yellowstone Standoff finds Chuck Bender and his family in Yellowstone National Park where tensions are high due to a fatal grizzly bear attack on two researchers. What's more, the wolves of Yellowstone are also acting oddly, and it's up to Chuck and a team of young scientists to figure out what exactly is going on. And that's not even including the murder. 


This is easily the best book in the series. The story was compelling, the mystery was cohesive, and I really liked the characters. There are some incredibly suspenseful parts, the kind where you don't want to put the book down during, which is always good for a mystery. You also learn a lot about Yellowstone, especially aspects of it's wildlife. Everyone knows about Yellowstone's geysers and hot springs, but Graham takes the unique focus of looking at the animals. If you like wolves and grizzlies, you'll probably enjoy the parts of the book focusing on their behaviors. 


One thing I really liked about this book is how much more the main characters and their relationships were developed, especially between Scott and Janelle. Their conflicts were very different than what they had been in the past. Janelle herself was a much more well rounded character in this book, gaining more interests and really coming into her own. I really liked her in this book, where I had been more lukewarm about her in the past. 


I did figure out the killer before the end of the book but I was left guessing as to how exactly they were accomplishing things. So know that the mystery is a little easier, though still fun. There were also some twists that felt a little out there, though not horribly so. If you're not a fan of twists, then you probably won't like this one. 


Final rating: 4 stars out of 5. Technically I'd give it more of a 3.75 but that's not an option on the star meter available here. But it's a fun read, a good mystery, and I'd recommend it. In fact, I already have to a few people. So if you're looking for a light read this summer, this is a fun one. 



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review 2016-07-01 16:37
Moutain RAMpage (Punny!)
Mountain Rampage: A National Park Mystery (National Park Mystery Series) - Scott Graham

Finished this last night. Luckily I started reading it early enough in the evening that it didn't keep me up to late, 'cause I was up until 2 in the morning when I finished Canyon Sacrifice


Two disclaimers:

1. Remember, I work for Scott and am friends with the publisher. My review might be biased because of that. 

2. I got a paper cut on my finger yesterday and it really hurts so I'm having to type strange. If there are more typos than usual, blame my poor pain tolerance. 


Mountain Rampage is the second book in the National Park Mystery Series. In it, Chuck Bender, archeologist and amateur detective, finds himself in Estes Park to conduct a field lab with archeology students in Rocky Mountain National Park. A murder happens and the killer tries to pin the crime on a member of his group, or even Chuck himself! At the same time, Chuck discovers the carcasses of poached Big Horned Sheep and, rightfully outraged, is determined to find the killer of the sheep while protecting his crew and family from the murderer in their midst. 


I had a lot of fun with this book. Like I said, I'm originally from Colorado, so I knew most of the places he was talking about, like Ouray and Leadville. I also almost went to school at Fort Lewis, Chuck's Alma Mater, so it makes me like the character all the more. If you're from the state or familiar with the area at all, I think you'll enjoy this book more than the average reader just because of all the little mentions. Kind of like how my friends in Salt Lake get jokes from The Book of Mormon the normal theatre goer might not appreciate. 


As far as the actual content of the book, I enjoyed that as well. The plot was very fast paced, making it difficult to stop reading. He ends a lot of his chapters with cliff hangers which made the phrase "Just one more chapter" pretty much just a bunch of empty words for me. It reads really quick and you don't necessarily feel like you just read 100 pages in one go. It's light but fast. 


One of my favorite things about the book is his use of imagery. I noticed this in Canyon Sacrifice as well, but when Graham describes a place you can really see it in your head. What's more, you can really feel the nature, smell the pines, see the sheep, etc. I've been to Rocky Mountain National Park so I can't say if this is true for the book, but I know in Canyon Sacrifice I felt like I was truly experiencing the Grand Canyon, even though I have never been there. If you are a nature love and enjoy reading books that focus a lot on the beauty of our natural world, I really think you'll like this one. 


The book isn't perfect. Some sections do move really slowly, especially towards the beginning. There's a lot of focus on how archeologists conduct there work and the history of the area, such as a few chapters on the Colorado gold rush, and while it's interesting, at times it did make reading feel more like trudging. A few of the characters could have been developed a little better, though I think they're likable enough that you still enjoy reading about them. Finally, I feel like the mystery itself could have been a little more cohesive. Nothing about the reveal read like a copout to me but I do think it could have been set up a little better, more clues dropped along the way and a few less twists and turns. 


Overall though I really enjoyed this book. I'm more than happy to be working for an author like Scott and look forward to reading Yellowstone Standoff next, though I'm gonna  try to finish The Girl with All the Gifts first. 


Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you're looking for a fun, quick summer mystery, this is definitely the book for you. 

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text 2016-06-25 17:46
Reading progress update: I've read 0 out of 267 pages.
Mountain Rampage: A National Park Mystery (National Park Mystery Series) - Scott Graham

I finished Canyon Sacrifice last night. I enjoyed it and am excited to start the next book in the series, Mountain Rampage. I'm originally from Colorado (trying to get back there, actually) so I'm a sucker for any book set in my favorite state. Also, I've been to Rocky Mountain National Park and it's simply gorgeous, so I'm really excited to see how Scott describes it. 


In case you all are wondering, I will not be writing reviews of books by Torrey House. It just doesn't feel right, considering how they've bought my love with free books and two really adorable cats who I miss playing with. I'll probably rate them, and I'll say if I enjoyed them or not, but I won't be writing full on reviews. That seems fair, yeah?  

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