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

The Aztec Heresy by Paul Christopher

The Aztec Heresy
by Paul Christopher

Copyright: 2008
Pages: 346
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 3 – 11, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 64

First Line: Friar Bartolome de las Casas of the Ordo fratrum Praedicatorum, the Order of St. Dominic, heard the giant wave before he saw it.

In search of a Spanish galleon, Finn Ryan and Lord Billy Pilgrim, find evidence of the lost Aztec Codex. This book is said to reveal the location of Cortez’s lost City of Gold. But Finn and Billy are not the only ones on the hunt for the Codex and the City of Gold. However, in while in search of the Codex, they stumble upon something much bigger. Secrets worth killing over are at stake, and Finn and Billy must find their way through the jungles of the Yucatan to the Sonoran Desert.

This is the fourth in this series. Usually I do not like to skip books in a series (and I really regreted it after I started the book, too) but I had to because a Yahoo group buddy requested this book from me. Either way, this was a good book. Life got in the way and it took me like forever to finish it, but it’s a really good read. I personally think that Michelangelo’s Notebook, the first in this series, was better than this one. But I did enjoy it. However, I don’t really recommend reading this series out of order. There were small references to previous books scattered throughout the pages, but it wasn’t impossible to follow. Overall a good book.

AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Nonfiction, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz

Children of Dust
by Ali Eteraz

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 337
Rating: 4/5
Read: Nov. 16 – Dec. 3, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010
Yearly Count: 63

First Line: In Mecca fathers become inclined to give up their sons.

This is not a book that I would have picked up from a bookstore or the library. It’s not even something that would have attracted my attention on a shelf. But when I was contacted by Julie Harabedian of FSB Associates about reviewing this book, I was intrigued by the description. I will admit that I know little about Pakistan and their people and their faith. It’s just never anything that I studied in school or on my own time. However, after reading this book I find myself interested in learning more. But to focus on the point of this post: the review of Children of Dust. This is really an enlightening book. It is extremely well written, by which I mean that it really flows. (For anyone who pays attention to the above listed dates in which I read this book, please ignore them: I went out of town and left the book at home because I have a huge fear of leaving books on airplanes). This book is not a slow read by any means. It begins with the Mr. Eteraz’s early childhood in Pakistan and how things were. We then follow him to the United States, when his family immigrated. It was very interesting to see how Mr. Eteraz describes trying to just be a normal kid when he had such a strict upbringing in regards to his home life. But my favorite section of the book was when he returned to Pakistan. I think his years in the United States really opened his eyes up to what his childhood was really like and what his life would have been like had he never immigrated to the United States. As Americans, a lot of us do not understand the kind of impact that religion has on other people around the world. I, for one, am not extremely religious, nor is anyone in my family. And this book really demonstrates quite well how there is a fine distinction between religious belief and religious extremism. I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It allowed me to learn more than a few things about the Pakistani world and their religious beliefs. If you want a really raw emotional book, this is a good place to start.

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

REVIEW: Denial by Keith Ablow

Denial
by Keith Ablow

Copyright: 1997
Pages: 358
Rating:4/5
Read: Nov. 24-28, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Random Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 62

First Line: I shot up, sweat dripping down my face.

Frank Clevenger is a forensic psychiatrist with more than a few problems. Problems with drugs, intimacy, childhood abuse, and professional mistakes have made him who he is today. And that is exactly what makes him so good at his job. But this latest case is one that he needs in order to get back into the good graces of his employers. A young woman is found brutally murdered and mutilated. But when Frank goes to the morgue he is shocked to find that he knows the woman lying on the table. She is a good friend of his girlfriend. The main suspect is a schizophrenic homeless man. But Frank isn’t convinced that he committed the murder. When more evidence and more bodies begin to stack up, it is Frank who must race agains the clock to find the murderer to end the killings. But what he finds will terrify him.

This is the first in a series. (Like I need any more of those!) Either way, this is not a book for everyone. This book has all the elements of what I like to call “sick sh*t”. I’m not offended or turned off easily, but some people may be. If that is the case for you, then do not read this book. However, I felt like it was an interesting read. I always like to read fiction novels with psychological elements in them. This one definitely has that. There were certain times when I did want to just knock Frank upside the head and knock some sense into him. But I think the ending sure did sober him up. I personally liked how Mr. Ablow created a character who was addicted to cocaine rather than the standard alcohol (how many books have main characters with alcohol problems these days?) I felt like it gave the book a different angle. I think he eventually found himself in this book in a very unconventional way. Now how this series continues will be very interesting in my opinion. So I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next one.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, Harper Connelly, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, SERIES

REVIEW: Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Grave Secret
by Charlaine Harris

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 306
Rating:4/5
Read: Nov. 17-24, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2010 Countdown Challenge;  2009 Celebrate the Author Challenge
Yearly Count: 61

First Line: “All right,” said the straw-haired woman in the denim jacket. “Do your thing.”

Harper Connelly has traveled to Texas with her stepbrother Tolliver to do a job. They like to travel to Texas, it allows this to see their little sisters. But what they learn while in Texas is worse than they could have ever imagined anything. First they learn that Tolliver’s father is out of prison and is trying to re-establish family connections. After they finish the job that brought them to Texas, Tolliver is shot. But the police think that Tolliver was not the intended target, that Harper was. While Tolliver is recovering in the hospital, Harper is trying to figure out what is going on. She has a feeling that there is a connection between their last job and Tolliver being shot, but she can’t possibly figure out what it is. And the fact that Tolliver’s father is back in the mix only makes matters worse for her. However, what she will ultimately find out will turn her world upside down. Harper finally finds out what happened to her sister so many years ago, but what the truth reveals is something far more disturbing than anyone ever thought possible.

This is the fourth (and, sadly) the last in the Harper Connelly series. Although Ms. Harris left a small opening for another book in this series, she has mentioned in numerous places on her website that she is finished with Harper. And honestly, I can see where it would be hard to go anywhere else with this series. Although a lot of people might have been turned off by the relationship between Harper and Tolliver, I didn’t find it all that problematic. In fact I can see where it can be quite common – however, I would have thought that the attraction would have happened when they were teenagers. However, having Harper and Tolliver together practically 24/7 on the road made it kind of inevitable also. I personally liked Harper’s character. I thought that the gift that Harris thought up for her was quite interesting, and her descriptions of how she did her work were interesting. However, I have a rather large complaint about this book – there was very little action in regards to what Harper does as a living. She came in and did her “thing” within the first chapter and that was that. The rest of the book was mainly about Tolliver recovering and Harper trying to figure out what was going on with the help of Manfred. I rated this book a 4/5 simply because I felt it was a little rushed in places. It was like Ms. Harris was trying her hardest to wrap this series up as quickly as possible. There were also more than a few grammar/spelling errors (which I have noticed is a common thing in Ms. Harris’ books). Overall I thought that this was a pretty decent way to end this series, and that although I am sad to see the end of this series, I am also glad to have a conclusion.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Nonfiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson and Martin Dugard

The Murder of King Tut
by James Patterson & Martin Dugard

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 332
Rating: 5/5
Read: Nov. 13-15, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 60

First Line: It was New Year’s Eve as a somber, good-looking explorer named Howard Carter, speaking fluent Arabic, gave the order to begin digging.

King Tut, the Boy King. Less than a decade after becoming Pharaoh of Egypt, the boy dies mysteriously. In the years following his demise, his name is essentially wiped from the history books. Even today, the death of King Tut remains somewhat of a mystery. Howard Carter’s life mission was to uncover a virgin tomb; he wanted King Tut’s tomb the most. He began his search in 1907. It would take many, many years before he finally found Tut and the world would finally begin to understand the Boy King. In this book, James Patterson teams up with Martin Dugard to really look through all the evidence and put Tut’s life and death in a spotlight like never before – true crime and history collides in this book as Patterson unravels the mystery surrounding the Boy King.

Being a history major, I love anything history pretty much. But here recently my husband, mom, and dad, all went up to Indianapolis to see the King Tut exhibit. It really reignited my interest in Egyptian history. I was unfortunately never able to take a course in college on Egypt, but I knew some things from different museum trips and whatnot. But this book was really interesting to me. It read like a novel, which will make history interesting to a lot more people. (It also has the name James Patterson on it – which I have come to the conclusion sells a book like nothing else.) It’s really an easy read. And yet it’s historical. A lot of people don’t read historical books because they might feel bogged down or whatever the reason – however, if you are one of those people, please pick up this book!! You will not be bogged down at all. It reads like all of Patterson’s other works – like a novel. If you have any interest whatsoever in Egypt, this is an interesting book. However, I do want to add, that I’m not completely sold on Patterson’s conclusion – that it was a conspiracy of the three people closest to him. I’m not saying that it isn’t true, it very well may be, but without knowing more information regarding the mystery surrounding Tut’s death I’m not sure if this is right. Who knows if Tut was even really murdered?! However, if he was, there was almost certainly some sort of conspiracy, and it definitely revolved around the desire to have the power that Tut had as Pharaoh. But one of the three people that Patterson names, I’m not completely sold on being a part of the conspiracy. I think that there could possibly be other explanations for that person’s actions. But that’s just my opinion … I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good murder mystery, because that’s what this book is all about!

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

REVIEW: The Eleventh Victim by Nancy Grace

The Eleventh Victim
by Nancy Grace

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 353
Rating: 4/5
Read: Nov. 6 – 13, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2009 Celebrate the Author Challenge; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 59

First Line: A little something. What was it? Something … Some detail was wrong.

Young Hailey Dean’s life is turned upside down when her fiance Will, is murdered weeks before their wedding. She deals with it the only way she can think of: she becomes an attorney. And a darned good attorney at that. Working as a prosecutor in Atlanta, Hailey racks up a 100% win rate in court. She is unstoppable. Until she meets Clint Cruise. She manages to get the jury to convict the serial murderer, but it will be her last case. She has finally reached her limit. She leaves Atlanta and the court system behind. She finds herself in New York City working as a psychiatrist. She thinks everything is going great for her – until not one, but two of her patients turn up murdered. And who is the police’s prime suspect? Hailey herself. She manages to get herself out of jail, but she knows that the police are watching her every move. But when she finds out that Cruise has been released from prison on a technicality – her whole world is going to be chaotic because she knows he is the one who is framing her for the murder of her patients.

I enjoyed this book. It was slightly formulaic and predictable. However, I thought that overall the storyline was pretty good. Knowing Nancy Grace from watching her show over the years, I’m sure she has lots of great ideas for fiction books based on all of her experience. I know she put some of herself into Hailey Dean, which made Hailey’s character that much more likable. I thought that for Grace’s first stab at fiction, she did really good. She had some well developed characters and I love how she had kind of two, almost three, storylines going on at the same time and yet they weren’t confusing to me the reader as to what was going on. I enjoyed this book and hope that I see more of Nancy Grace’s fiction books in the future.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: Silent Witness by Richard North Patterson

Silent Witness
by Richard North Patterson

Copyright: 1996
Pages: 500
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Oct. 29 – Nov. 6, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 58

First Line: Gina Belfante murdered her husband at one-fifteen on a Tuesday morning.

Attorney Tony Lord left his hometown shortly after graduating from high school and never looked back. He left the memory of his murdered girlfriend behind. But when he returns, nearly thirty years later, it’s to defend his high school best friend of the charge of murder. Sam Robb, married father of two, was the last person to see sixteen-year-old Marcie Calder alive. And when forensic evidence reveals that she was carrying his child, he quickly goes from witness to suspect. Tony returns back to town to help his former best friend. But he has no idea what he is getting into and what the consequences of defending his friend of Marcie’s murder could be in the end.

This one was a good read in my opinion. It took me a little longer to read than it should have because I’ve been really busy lately. But overall it’s a really good read. There are some sluggish parts, and the way that Patterson utilizes the flashback style of writing could be a little confusing in parts. However, I found that the ending to be very good. Patterson really brought things back together full circle and had his characters have to face some really tough issues. I really recommend this book.

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

REVIEW: The Double Eagle by James Twining

The Double Eagle
by James Twining

Copyright: 2005
Pages: 399
Rating: 4/5
Read: Oct. 22-25, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 57

First Line: They were late.

Someone has managed to steal five Double Eagles from Fort Knox. These five $20 gold coins were some of the few still in existence. President Roosevelt ordered them destroyed during the Great Depression, and they are worth millions. When one of them turns up in the stomach of a murdered priest in France, FBI agent Jennifer Browne is put on the case. Browne knows that she needs to close this case in order to save her stalled career. Following all the clues leads her directly to art thief Tom Kirk. Kirk wants out of the game, and Browne can promise him a clean break, if he cooperates with her and helps her recover these coincs. This unlikly pair sets out on a breakneck race around the world and right into a surprising conspiracy of greed, power, and death.

I have had my eye on this book for a few years now. One of my co-workers’ wives recommended this book to me at a company Christmas party back in 2006 or 2007. It sounded interesting, but not something that was high on my priority list. But I kept coming back to it on my PBS reminder list and finally used the credit for it. And I can only say that I am disappointed I waited so long to meet James Twining’s work! I was totally taken pretty much from the first page. I was intrigued and couldn’t get through the pages quickly enough to figure out what was really going on. And when I got to the end, there was definitely a nice twist to the ending that surprised me. I really enjoyed all the descriptions about how Tom Kirk carried off his heists. This is a wonderful book I am definitely looking foward to getting around to the rest of the books in this series, and I doubt that I wait another two years to read the second book. I highly recommend this book.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: Wait Until Twilight by Sang Pak

Wait Until Twilight
by Sang Pak

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 229
Rating: 3/5
Read: Oct. 19-21, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010
Yearly Count: 56

First Line: The sun sits flat against the blue sky like someone pressed it on there with a giant thumb.

Sixteen-year-old Samuel is looking for the perfect subject for his video project for school. He has heard rumors about these supposed alien triplets in town. With his interest picqued, he heads out to their house to find out what the real story behind the triplets is. Immediately upon seeing these deformed babies, he is physically ill. However, an intense obsession with them begins soon after.

I was contacted directly by the author in regards to receiving a review copy of this book. I was intrigued after reading a brief excerpt, I thought it sounded really interesting. However, I was kind of confused about the book at about the halfway mark. It’s not a bad book at all; in fact Sang Pak has released a wonderfully written debut novel. It was just that the overall story was a little weird in my opinion. But I’d definitely recommend others to read this book.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, L, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: The Murder of Laci Peterson by Cliff Linedecker

The Murder of Laci Peterson
by Cliff Linedecker

Copyright: 2003
Pages: 222
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Oct. 13-19, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge ; RYOB 2009; Countdown Challenge 2010
Yearly Count: 55

First Line: Homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in America.

I followed this case like nothing I had ever followed before or since. I was just absolutely obsessed with it. And yeah, I thought Peterson was guilty from pretty much day one. I don’t want to go into a lot of details of the case itself because anyone who was alive in America and paying the slightest bit of attention in 2002 after the disappearance of Laci to the end of 2005 that culminated with the guilty verdict and death sentence of Scott knows at least the basic facts of this case. All in all, I was like a lot of the American people, I fell in love with the young woman with the deep dimples who was excited to be having a baby boy in a few months. And I was outraged that her husband could possibly be responsible for killing her. To read the first line of this book that I quoted up above is absolutely sickening. Pregnancy is supposed to be the happiest time in a woman’s life. It’s really a miracle, a blessing. Having never been pregnant myself, I cannot imagine what it would feel like to carry a baby inside me. But I also cannot imagine the pain and hurt and betrayal that would accomany being murdered by your spouse either. But to know that you and your baby both were being murdered: unthinkable. There really isn’t nothing new in this book that anyone who paid attention to this case as it was unfolding wouldn’t already know. It was published before Scott Peterson went on trial for the murders of his wife and unborn son, so there is a huge chunk of the case not even covered in it. But I suppose if you want a pretty good description of the facts of the case, this would be a good choice. I have also read Laci by Michael Fleeman (last year I believe). I’m not sure which one would be the better choice, because the facts are the facts pretty much in this case. But if you’re a true crime fan, this is definitely a book and case that will prove to be interesting.