Monthly Wrap Up

May 2014 Wrap-Up

Well. After having an okay April (4 books read), I turned it around in May with an awesome month of finishing SIX books! I fully thank Bout of Books for the jumpstart my reading needed. Great books also helped 🙂

Books read: 6 (YTD: 25)

The Paris VendettaThe BlondeCritical DamageNew York DeadSomeone You KnowThe Kafka Society

The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry
The Blonde by Anna Godbersen
Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis
New York Dead by Stuart Woods
Someone You Know by Brian McGilloway
The Kafka Society by Ron Felber

Pages read: 2167 (YTD: 8738)

Challenge Progress:

Eclectic Reader Challenge: 4/12
Official TBR Pile Challenge: 4/12
What’s in a Name Challenge: 1/5

Books received: 4 (see list here)

Hard copy Review books: 1
Purchased New: 3

Memes posted: 3

Events Participated In: Bout of Books

I read a total of 7 hours and 22 minutes
I read 441 pages
I finished 1 book

Recipes shared: 1

Cheesy Turkey Nachos

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, Stone Barrington

2014.25 REVIEW – The Kafka Society by Ron Felber

The Kafka Society
by Ron Felber

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 341
Rating: 3/5
Read: May 24 – May 29, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 25
Format:  Print
Source: Publicist
Series: Jack Madson #2

Blurb: After a night of clubbing, Jack has no memory of the past twenty-four hours. Who is the beautiful woman he discovers in his hotel room? How did a severed head get into the trunk of his Mustang convertible? Is he a murderer? Before he can answer these questions, Madson finds himself helping his former high school nemesis, Tom Dougherty – now chief the FBI’s East Coast Operations – get disentangled from a blackmail scheme. Nothing is quite what it seems. As his investigation progresses, Madson uncovers a criminal organization that specializes in the most monstrous of enterprises: global human trafficking, run from abandoned tunnels deep beneath the streets of New York City and directed by a coterie of intellectual thugs known as the Kafka Society. Once again, the reader follows Madson through a wealth of dangerous episodes and exotic pleasures before the exciting conclusion of this thrilling page-turner.


ReviewI received a copy of this book for free for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I had read and reviewed the first Jack Madson book, A Man of Indeterminate Value, last year. So when I was pitched this book, I was interested simply because I wanted to see what else Jack could possibly get himself into!

Overall, I have to say, I still do not like Jack Madson’s character. I don’t like all the booze, pills, sex and just overall stupidity that he finds himself in. He brings most of his troubles upon himself and he just seems to “prepare” himself with more drugs. I was also a little turned off by all the sex in this book. I don’t mind sex in books as a general rule, but the descriptions were very graphic and at times it felt more like erotica than a crime thriller. Just not my cup of tea.

But all that said, I still kept reading the book! So obviously it wasn’t that bad. I really wanted to know what happened in the end. I wanted to know if Jack would figure it all out in time. And really, I liked the ending. It’s actually made me quite curious to see what Mr. Felber has planned next for Jack Madson.

So while I would say that this book has a few bad characteristics to it, overall, it’s a compelling read, and I will be on the lookout for the 3rd Jack Madson book.

READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 5

2014tbrbutton

Well, here we are at the fifth TBR Challenge checkpoint.

I didn’t write a checkpoint post last month, because I failed to read anything for this challenge in April. Boo 😦

Going into May I was three books behind. Oops. However, I read two books for this challenge in May and got (almost) caught back up! Woo!

First up was The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry. I always love me some Cotton Malone. But I keep getting further and further behind in this series because his books seem to take me a long time to read. They can be very detailed and can sometimes take me a week or two to read just one book. So far I think I’ve only been averaging one of these books a year (see why I can’t get caught up?!) This one was good, but overall I enjoyed the character development more than I liked the plot.

Then I was finally introduced to Stone Barrington with New York Dead by Stuart Woods. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this book! It was a lot of fun from page 1! It was definitely the right book at the right moment for me, too. Definitely leaves me wanting more Stone Barrington!

I’m not sure where I’ll head next with my list for this challenge. Here’s what I’ve still got left to choose from, which one would you choose next!??!:

  1. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
  2. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  3. The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  5. Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  6. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  7. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
  8. Killing Floor by Lee Child

Alternates:

  1. Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell
  2. McNally’s Secret by Lawrence Sanders
Book Blitz, Book Nerd Tours

Book Blast: Vengeance is Mine by Harry James Krebs

Nerd Blast

About the book: 

Vengeance is Mine by Harry James KrebsDriven by a traumatic, violent event in his teenage years, Benjamin Tucker, bestselling true crime author, is obsessed with helping authorities solve savage crimes near his home turf of Holly Springs, North Carolina. When a series of decapitated female victims is found in neighboring communities, he is helplessly drawn in to the investigation to help bring the killer to justice. But in a bizarre twist of events, the psychopathic murderer becomes fascinated with Tucker and stalks him, presenting him with unimaginable, grotesque gifts. The hunt for the killer turns personal and Tucker isn’t sure if he’s become the killer’s idol or his next victim.

Vengeance is Mine, a gripping thriller with a healthy dose of droll humor, is a tale of sadistic revenge guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

About the author: 
Giveaway BannerAfter receiving his BA in applied physics from Aurora University in Illinois, Harry spent thirty-seven years with United States Department of Energy Contractors as a senior mechanical engineer. He designed, built, maintained, and operated large experimental detectors for high-energy physics experiments at national laboratories such as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Superconducting Super Collider, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University.

Krebs always wanted to write mystery novels, but his engineering career left him little time to write until now. His first novel, Fractured Persona, is based on a recurring dream where he would wake up in someone else’s body and life.

The author and his wife currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina with their Chihuahua, Lucille.

Connect:

There is a giveaway in conjunction with this book blast.

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
 

1 Winner will receive Autographed Print Copies of Fractured Persona and Vengeance is Mine + $20.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Please GO HERE for the Rafflecopter for the giveaway.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, May 26, 2014

Mailbox Monday has returned home to Mailbox Monday’s site this year.

Happy Memorial Day for those of you in the United States! I hope you have a good holiday. Today we are going to St. Louis for the Cardinals vs. Yankees game.

Anyway, this past week I got three books in the mail. One for review, the other two I found on the Bargain Section at booksamillion.com (2 books for $5.95, with free shipping since I’m a member, sure!)

For review:

The Qualities of WoodWhen Better Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can’t forget the girl, can’t ignore the strange behavior of her neighbors, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart.

The Qualities of Wood is a novel about secrets. Family secrets. Community secrets. And secrets between lovers, past and present. And all of these secrets have their price.


And the two from Books-a-Million:

The Spellman FilesMeet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, PI. This 28-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors – but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed PI with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. In fact, it comes all too naturally. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman. And when Izzy’s parents hire her little sister, Rae, to follow her, Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there’s a hitch: she must take one last job before they’ll let her go. She accepts, only to be dealt a mystery far closer to home.


TestimonyEnter a world upended by the repercussions of a single impulsive action.

At an exclusive New England boarding school, a sex scandal unleashes a storm of shame and recrimination. The men, women, and teenagers affected – among them the headmaster, struggling to contain the scandal before it destroys the school; a well-liked scholarship student and star basketball player, grappling with the consequences of his mistakes; his mother confronting her own forbidden temptations; and a troubled teenage girl eager to put the past behind her – speak out to relate the events of one fateful nigh and its aftermath.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her greatest work, Anita Shreve explores the impulses that drive ordinary people into intolerable dilemmas.


Also I purchased one book at Kroger (on sale for $5.99)

InfernoHarvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon awakens in an Italian hospital, disoriented and with no recollection of the past thirty-six hours, including the origin of the macabre object hidden in his belongings. With a relentless female assassin trailing them through Florence, he and his resourceful doctor, Sienna Brooks, are forced to flee. Embarking on a harrowing journey, they must unravel a series of codes, which are the work of a brilliant scientist whose obsession with the end of the world is matched only by his passion for one of the most influential masterpieces ever written, Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno.

Dan Brown has raised the bar yet again, combining classical Italian art, history, and literature with cutting-edge science in this captivating thriller.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Edelweiss, Fiction, Lucy Black, M, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, SERIES, Stone Barrington

2014.24 REVIEW – Someone You Know by Brian McGilloway

Someone You Know
by Brian McGilloway

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 337
Rating: 4/5
Read: May 20 – May 23, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 24
Format:  E-Book
Source: Edelweiss via publicist contact
Series: Lucy Black #2

Someone You KnowBlurbJust before Christmas, the body of a sixteen-year-old girl is found along the train tracks on the outskirts of a small town. As Detective Lucy Black investigates the teenager’s tragic last hours in search of clues to her death, she realizes that some of the victim’s friends may have been her most dangerous enemies-and that whoever killed her is ready to kill again. Haunted by the memory of a case gone wrong, and taunted by a killer on the loose, Lucy finds herself pitted against a lethal opponent hiding in plain sight.


ReviewI received a copy of this book for free via Edelweiss for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the first Lucy Black book, Little Girl Lostback in January. I really enjoyed that one and was excited to see this second book available for request.

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed Lucy’s character. I just like her. And in this particular installment, she does some things that probably are not the smartest things to do. I actually couldn’t help but wonder if she purposely put herself in bad situations; did she want to get herself hurt or killed? At the end of the book it is assumed she does something (it’s alluded to, but never mentioned explicitly that she did it) and I think that was really telling about her character. I think it opened up a lot more as to who she really and truly is and where she will go from here.

The storyline itself was interesting. The missing girls storyline, while not very original, had some good twists and turns along the way, felt fresh and believable. The writing was very good. The other characters were well-developed. And I’m really rooting for Tom Fleming to come out of the mess he’s found himself in.

This is the second in a series, and I’m not sure I would advise anyone to read this one before reading Little Girl Lost. There’s a lot of stuff going on that really wouldn’t make much sense without the background information that book 1 provides.

Overall, another great book that has left me wanting more Lucy Black!!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

2014.23 REVIEW – New York Dead by Stuart Woods

New York Dead
by Stuart Woods

Copyright: 1991
Pages: 324
Rating: 4/5
Read: May 17 – May 19, 2014
Challenge: TBR Pile Challenge
Yearly count: 23
Format:  Print
Source: Personal Copy (PBS)
Series: Stone Barrington #1

New York DeadBlurb: Everyone is always telling Stone Barrington that he’s too smart to be a cop, but it’s pure luck that places him on the streets in the dead of night, just in time to witness the horrifying incident that turns his life inside out.

Suddenly he is on the front page of every New York newspaper, and his life is hopelessly entwined in the increasingly shocking life (and perhaps death) of Sasha Nijinsky, the country’s hottest and most beautiful television anchorwoman.

No matter where he turns, the case is waiting for him, haunting his nights and turning his days into a living hell. Stone finds himself caught in a perilous web of unspeakable crimes, dangerous friends, and sexual depravity that has throughout it one common thread: Sasha.


Review: I have six review books stacked up and waiting for me. I had just come off of reading 2 review books back to back and was itching to read a TBR book. I was hoping that I would choose wisely and pick something that wouldn’t take long to knock out. I had no idea my choice would be a home run!

This book caught me from the very first page and I devoured it in about 48 hours. I have no idea why on earth it has taken me this long to discover Stone Barrington. But I liked him. And I’m looking forward to meeting him some more in the future (good thing, there’s only a gazillion Barrington books already published).

I found the storyline in this one to be very well written. There were a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. There were some predictable spots as well, though. But all in all it really balanced itself out to be a really enjoyable read. The characters were all well-developed. And not all of them are as nice as they appear. While I will say that I wasn’t necessarily shocked at the ending itself, I wasn’t entirely ready for part of it.

Can I just say that while it’s nice to be a book blogger and read the latest and greatest books out there, sometimes it’s nice to read a 23-year-old book and find a gem where you least expect it.

Overall, definitely a great first book to a series that I hope I continue to enjoy in the future.

Book Giveaway, Book Giveaway Winners

The Blonde Giveaway Winner…

You guys …. I totally forgot about the giveaway winner announcement! Garrett was sick on Sunday and my blog was the last thing on my mind.

Anyway. I didn’t completely forget about you; I’m here now. 🙂

And I’m pleased to say that the winner is……

STACY!!

Thanks so much for entering the giveaway! Keep a lookout, you never know when the next one will pop up!

Bout of Books

Wrapping up Bout of Books

Well… Bout of Books is over! Whew. Let’s just briefly recap what my original goals were:

  • Read
  • Participate in at least one challenge

Not very difficult. So … how did I do?

Well…

  • I read.
  • But I failed to do one challenge.

Here’s my final totals:

  • Time spent reading: 7 hours 22 minutes
  • Pages read: 441
  • Books finished: 1

I really wanted to keep things low-key this time around because my situation is a lot different than it was in January. I’m working 4 days a week now (instead of 2 like I was in January) and Friday was our 7th wedding anniversary. I didn’t read a single, solitary page on Friday. I had entirely too much wine with dinner. 🙂 Saturday we had my parents watch Garrett for the day and we went to lunch and a movie. Sunday I had planned to get quite a bit of reading in the afternoon, but little man woke up sick as a dog that morning and the day didn’t go exactly as planned.

So overall I really didn’t do half bad. I managed to finish the book I was reading (and got a review of it up) and I managed 2/3 of another book. Pretty good results in my opinion. I really hope that this was the jump-start I needed in my reading because I had hit a pretty nasty slump.

I’m already secretly looking forward to August’s bout of books. I really like this low-key, week-long read-a-thon. It definitely suits my needs much better than the 24 hour one (which I’ve never even wanted to participate in).

I hope the rest of you bout-of-bookers had a great week! See ya in August!!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, L, Mark Mallen, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, SERIES

2014.22 REVIEW – Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis

Critical Damage
by Robert K. Lewis

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 303
Rating: 4/5
Read: May 11 – May 15, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 22
Format:  Print
Source: Author for review
Series: Mark Mallen #2


Critical DamageBlurb
: When ex-cop and recovering junkie Mark Mallen is asked to track down two very different girls who have gone missing, he doesn’t think twice about putting himself in harm’s way to find them. Bloodied and bruised, Mallen shakes down the pimps and hustlers who could crack the cases wide open, leaving no stone unturned in San Francisco’s criminal underground.

But something isn’t right. Somebody’s trying to scare Mallen off, and it’s no ordinary street thug. With heat coming at him from all angles, Mallen’s search for the truth leads him to men who will stop at nothing to make sure their twisted desires never see the light of day.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free from the author for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I read and reviewed the first Mark Mallen book, Untold Damage last year as part of a TLC Book Tour. So I was really excited to be contacted by Mr. Lewis himself about reading and reviewing the second Mallen book. I was definitely on board!

I took a gander through my review from Untold Damage, just to try to refresh my memory a little bit before I sat down to write this review out. I can tell you that I loved this book just as much as I loved the first one!

In this particular installment, the prediction I had in last year’s review came true, Gato most definitely asked Mallen for a big favor. His sister had gone missing and he came to Mallen for help. In the end, though, they both had to help each other to get out of the mess they found themselves in.

I still really like Mark Mallen. There’s just something about his character. And I’m pleased to say that (so far) he’s staying clean! I want him to stay clean so badly. If not for him, then most definitely for his daughter, Anna. I think I warmed up to Gato more in this installment than I did in the previous book. Yes, he did end up asking for a big favor from Mallen that definitely got them involved in more than they could have ever imagined, but his intent was pure … he just wanted to find his sister. I think Mallen and Gato would definitely be the kind of guys you would want as friends, they will do anything to help their friends out.

The action in this book was non-stop from just about page 1. I read the first 80 pages in one setting and was bummed that I had to put it aside for other obligations. I kept trying to figure out how on earth Mallen and Gato could get themselves in such trouble in such a short period of time! The writing was very good, but the language is not for the faint of heart (if that bothers you in a book). If you like gritty, non-stop action, with a flawed main character that you want to succeed more than anything, then this book is most definitely for you!

I really can’t say enough about this book. I loved it. Really loved it. And I love Mark Mallen’s character. And after perusing Mr. Lewis’s blog, I discovered that there will be a 3rd Mallen book! Yay!

Overall, a book that I highly recommend. If you haven’t met Mark Mallen yet, do yourself a favor and read Untold Damage. [You could read this book first, but I think you need to have the background information the first book has to really understand who Mark Mallen is.] If you have met Mallen, then don’t hesitate to pick this one up – I really, really, really liked it … and dare I say … I think this book is even better than the first!

On a side note, I want to include a link to Mr. Lewis’s blog post that shows a little more detail into his personal writing process. I have always wondered how authors can possibly sit down and put it all on paper. I definitely have a great respect for authors in what they do. But this particular blog post, found here, definitely shows his process, which I personally found to be really neat.