5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, T

REVIEW: The Book of Names by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori

The Book of Names
by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 341
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 30-31, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 74

First Line: Two men shoveled the sand under cover of darkness.

In each generation there are 36 people who hold the world in balance. The names of those 36 people are found in The Book of Names. If all 36 of those people are killed then the world as we know it will essentially end. Some  examples: Mt. Vesuvius erupted when 15 were killed; the Inquisition was triggered after 18 were killed. In the current generation, there are only three left to find and kill. So what disaster will happen once those three are identified and eliminated? It’s up to one man – David Shepherd to end the cycle. He sees all these names in his head and has been writing them down in a journal for years. He has no idea what these names mean or why they are coming to him. But when he learns the reasons behind these mysterious names coming to him he is horrified to find that the latest one that has come to him is his step-daughters name. Knowing he must save her no matter what, he sets out across the globe to finally end this once and for all.

I am such a sucker for action packed adventure that a book like this provides. It’s such a wonderful escape for me. It was also a great way to end my 2009 reading. Some of the stuff in this book was a little unbelievable, but I think that’s what made me like this book even more. I really enjoyed it. I don’t really know what I can say about this book other than that I recommend it to everyone. If you want a really good race-against-the-clock storyline this is a great place to start.

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, R, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: Conflicts with Interest by Michael Ruddy

Conflicts with Interest
by Michael Ruddy

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 333
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 28-30, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010
Yearly Count: 73

First Line: The river card snapped to the felt.

T.R. Morgan of Morgan Homes has had a successful life and business. But it’s all threatened by one little thing: a lawsuit. And who else is he going to be going up against but Steve Sanderson – a ruthless and feared attorney in the Bay Area. Not knowing much about what he is about to be involved with, he’s optimistic that his insurance company will come to his rescue and a quick settlement will be reached. But not with Steve Sanderson – even the insurance companies fear Sanderson. How far will this go? Will he lose his business? His home? Everything? Everything will have to play itself out before it will come to an unbelievable end. An ending that no one would have expected. Will T.R. bring Sanderson down, or will Sanderson bring T.R. down?

I was contacted by Rebecca Brown of The Cadence Group about reading and reviewing this ARC. Scheduled to be published in late January, 2010, this book was quite interesting. It was not a mystery, which is what I’m used to reading. But it was more of a general fiction book. It also dealt with the building industry, something that I am somewhat involved in being employed by a concrete company. Overall I think that this was a good debut novel. However, I had some reservations about it as well. First of all, the legal descriptions that are involved in this book can be a little overwhelming to the lay person. I also felt as if the chapters going back and forth were a little choppy. There were a few grammatical errors (but it was an ARC, hopefully they’ll catch that before final publication – I hate being such a stickler for grammar, but I am!) Overall though, this book kept my interest. It was an enjoyable read for me, and I’m glad that I was contacted about this book because it probably would not be something that I would pick up in a bookstore or library. I am interested to see where Mr. Ruddy’s writing will take him next based upon his background. He definitely has the skill to come up with new and interesting topics and I hope to see that in the future.

5/5, Alex Cross, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, SERIES

REVIEW: Violets are Blue by James Patterson

Violets are Blue
by James Patterson

Copyright: 2001
Pages: 393
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 26-27, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 72

First Line: Nothing ever starts where we think it does.

Alex Cross is still reeling from the Mastermind case and the murder of his partner in that case, Betsey Cavalierre. But in his business, murders don’t wait. When a series of strange vampire murders pop up throughout the country, Alex Cross is called in on the case. But really – vampires? Everyone is horrified and baffled by this case. What Cross discovers is unreal – a whole world of role players and secret clubs. And while Cross is trying to deal with this new case, he is still being stalked by the Mastermind. As the vampire case finally comes to a close, Alex is just getting started. He has to have a showdown with the Mastermind before he can finally rest easily. And what he finds out when the Mastermind is finally revealed to him scares him to death. Someone that he considered a good friend is the Mastermind and Alex must survive a deadly confrontation in order to finally put the Mastermind away. But what secrets the Mastermind is carrying are unbelievable to Alex. Those secrets will make Alex rethink everything he knows.

I simply love this series. I honestly think it’s my absolute favorite series EVER! This is actually one series that I can see myself re-reading at some point. And I never re-read anything! This one continued on where Roses are Red left off with the Mastermind. There were two storylines though, the Mastermind and the vampire murders. I was absolutely blown away by what Alex finds out about the Mastermind and just how far back it went in terms of his involvement with past cases. James Patterson really thought that character through when he made that particular person the Mastermind. I am definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series and seeing where we go to next.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, T

REVIEW: The Sorority: Samantha

The Sorority: Samantha
by Tamara Thorne

Copyright: 2003
Pages: 203
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 26, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 71

First Line: Meteors showered the black velvet night.

Samantha Penrose knows that there’s something going on in the Gamma Eta Pi sorority house at Greenbriar University. And her investigative journalist instincts tell her to look into it as much as she can. Between Eve’s “suicide” and Merilynn’s disappearance, Samantha takes every opportunity to dig deep into the secrets of the house, sisters and the exclusive Fata Morgana. But what she finds is not just scandalous – they’re sinister! Malory Thomas is watching her every move, but that is not stopping Sam from finding out what exactly is going on in the sorority house.

This was the finale of the trilogy. Taking all three books together, I must say that the trilogy itself seemed to be quite standard. The basic premise behind this whole trilogy was this: there are evil witches living as sorority sisters at Greenbriar University. Three young new sisters end up in the same sorority after meeting as young girls at the cheerleading camp across the lake from the university. They all know that there is something funny going on with the lake and the woods that surround it, but when they end up in the same sorority, they realize that something is weird with the sorority as well and they all set out to figure out what really is going on in their sorority house. The three books follow the three main characters’ own personal story of the mysteries surrounding Gamma Eta Pi. Again, it seemed kind of standard and formulaic, but I still enjoyed it altogether.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, T

REVIEW: The Sorority: Merilynn by Tamara Thorne

The Sorority: Merilynn
by Tamara Thorne

Copyright: 2003
Pages: 203
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 24, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 70

First Line: “A long time ago, the town of Applehead was located right there under the lake.” Counselor Allie Mayhew pointed toward the lake, its black water slowly rippling with silver moonlight.

Merilynn Morris is an old soul. She’s always had a sixth sense that she can’t explain. After Eve Camlan’s mysterious disappearance, and suspected suicide, Merilynn is troubled. She is absolutely certain that there is evil in the Gamma Eta Pi sorority house at Greenbriar University. When Malory Thomas invites her to be involved with the ultra secret Fata Morgana, Merilynn gets even more concerned because of the glimpses of evil she is having. Is this some kind of a warning of things to come?

This was a continuation of Eve’s experiences. This one answered a lot of the questions that I had after finishing Eve’s version. I’m not sure what to make of this trilogy in general. It seems pretty standard in terms of evil sorority sisters and black magic. Will have more to say about the trilogy as a whole after Samantha’s version.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: Decoding the Lost Symbol by Simon Cox

Decoding the Lost Symbol
by Simon Cox

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 221
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Dec. 17-23, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 69

I was contacted by Anna Suknov at FSB Associates about reading and reviewing this book. First of all, it hurt that I have not read The Lost Symbol yet (But I did see the movie). I guess it never occurred to me that I would need to read the book before I read this “Unauthorized expert guide to the facts behind the fiction.” Now that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book. It was pretty good. However, it would help if you read The Lost Symbol before reading this one (OOPS! LOL) I learned some new things. Actually, I learned a lot of new things. I have previously read (and loved) The Da Vinci Code but I never thought to look into just how much of a stretch Dan Brown took when writing it. But after reading this one, I realized that Brown probably stretched quite a bit to make his fiction so enjoyable. On the flip side, it was nice to read this book before reading The Lost Symbol so that I would have a clearer picture of what is what in regards to fiction and fact. So all in all, if you want to know what is fact and what is fiction in The Lost Symbol this is a great resource to begin with! Mr. Cox makes great use of numerous sources and really helped me to understand certain aspects about the book that I never would have understood had I not read this one.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, T

REVIEW: The Sorority: Eve

The Sorority: Eve
by Tamara Thorne

Copyright: 2003
Pages: 240
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 22-23, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 68

First Line: “They say she’s still down there.” Merilynn Morris trailed her fingers through the cool summer water as Samantha and Eve dipped their oars, slowly paddling toward the little island in the center of the lake.

Eve Camlan is drawn to Greenbriar University. But she’s even more drawn to Gamma Eta Pi, a very elite sorority. What she wants most is to be a cheerleader at Greenbriar, and to do so she must be a Gamma Eta Pi. However, there’s something spooky altogether about the sorority house. Dark magic, sin, sex and murder are all hidden behind those doors. And the sisters take an oath never to reveal what goes on behind the doors of Gamma Eta Pi. Evil is in that house. And it might just cost Eve everything she’s got.

This is the first in the Sorority Trilogy. It was a quick and easy read. I still have more than a few questions about what is going on, but I have the other books on my shelf and will be starting them immediately so that I can get my answers. I haven’t really decided what exactly is going on behind the doors of that sorority, but it’s definitely something scary. I was never a sorority girl in college, but I can tell you some of this stuff would make you think twice about joining a sorority! But in all seriousness, this seems like a good start to a very interesting trilogy. I don’t read a lot of paranormal horror (I think that this is where we’re going with this) or a lot of trilogies either. So I’m definitely looking forward to getting into the second book and find out what really is going on at Greenbriar University and Gamma Eta Pi.

5/5, Alex Cross, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, SERIES

REVIEW: Roses are Red by James Patterson

Roses are Red
by James Patterson

Copyright: 2000
Pages: 400
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 19-22, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Random Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 67

First Line: Brianne Parker didn’t look like a bank robber or a murderer – her pleasantly plump baby face fooled everyone.

Alex Cross is called in on a case relating to a string of pretty violent bank robberies. A man known as “The Mastermind” is behind the robberies. And he has gotten away with a lot of money. Unfortunately, people have died unnecessarily in the process. So who is the Mastermind? And why are Alex and the FBI agents assigned to this case so mystified as to his intentions? But as Alex deals with a lot of personal issues, and they take down two people who they believe to be the Mastermind, he has no real idea as to who the Mastermind really is.

Oh my goodness. This book has to be THE BEST in the Alex Cross series thus far!! I almost always enjoy James Patterson’s books, but this one was exceptionally good! And who the Mastermind really is – well it’s a total shocker! It’s not someone that you would expect in the slightest. I was completely surprised right up until the very last sentence. That to me makes a wonderful book. I read so many mystery books that sometimes the more formulaic books are easier for me to figure out. But this one kept me on the edge of my seat. And I finished this one up during some down time at work today, and I’m absolutely positive that my mouth was hanging wide open and my eyes were bulging out of my head when I finally reached the end. This book is really that good!

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

No Place Like Home
by Mary Higgins Clark

Copyright: 2005
Pages: 472
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 14-19, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2009 Celebrate the Author Challenge;  RYOB 2009; 2009 What’s in a Name 2; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 66

First Line: Ten-year-old Liza was dreaming her favorite dream, the one about the day when she was six years old, and she and Daddy were at the beach, in New Jersey, at Spring Lake.

When Liza Barton was ten years old she accidentally shot her mother while trying to protect her from her stepfather. Although the shooting was ruled an accident, and Liza was let off the hook, the papers and the people in the area all compared Liza to Lizzie Borden. But Liza’s adoptive parents change her name to Celia and tries to forget the past. Widowed with a young son, Celia remarries and is perfectly happy. That is right up until her wonderful new husband surprises her with a house for her birthday. The same house that just happens to be the one that she killed her mother in so many years before. Since her new husband does not know the story of her childhood, he is baffled by his new wife’s response to this wonderful birthday gift. But then strange things start happening – the house is vandalized and people start getting murdered. Unforunately for Celia, someone in her old hometown has recognized her as Liza because she starts getting tormented and set up for murder. Although a suspect for murder once again, Celia has to be strong for herself and her son, for they are actually the ones being stalked by the real murderer.

I simply love Mary Higgins Clark. She just writes wonderful books! How on earth she is able to come up with new ideas is beyond me. But I guess that’s why she’s the author and I’m the reader 🙂 Either way, this book was exceptionally good. The twists and turns were really interesting. I had no idea what was really going on and who the real killer (or killers) were until the very ending when they were revealed. I felt sorry for Celia because she seemed to have really bad luck to have her husband buy the same house she accidentally shot her mother in. Clark really formulated some really mean characters in this book also. She had some really good villains in my opinion. I really can’t think of anything bad about this book, it was wonderfully written with a great storyline. I highly recommend this book!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, R, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling

Copyright: 1997
Pages: 309
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 6-13, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2009 Celebrate the Author Challenge; Harry Potter Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 65

First Line: Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

Harry Potter only knows one thing: he has a miserable life living with his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys and their son, Dudley. But he also knows that he’s a little different than the average kid. When he gets really upset or angry, he can make strange things happen without realizing what he’s doing. He is as confused about it as anybody else is. But he will finally get some answers to what is “wrong” with him when on his birthday he gets a letter that arrives by owl messenger: it’s an invitation to go to a school that he’s never heard about. What he finds when he arrives at Hogwarts is unforgettable. He finds friends, magic, and new found fame.

I love Harry Potter 🙂 This was a re-read for me (something I never do!) and I loved it just as much as I did the first time around. Rowling created such a wonderful series when she started Harry Potter. I simply cannot say enough good things about this series and this book in particular. However, my one complaint is that this book is a little more juvenile than I care to read (the later books aren’t like that), but it’s still an enjoyable read.