5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, Harper Connelly, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008, SERIES

REVIEW: An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

An Ice Cold Grave
by Charlaine Harris

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 280
Rating: 5/5
Read: Aug. 20-23, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 43

First Line: The eastern seaboard is crammed with dead people.

Harper Connelly is called to a job in Doraville, North Carolina. She is hired to find a missing boy for a grieving grandmother. He is just one of several teenage boys that has disappeared from the area over the past five years. She ends up finding them all, buried at an old deserted house. Having done the job she was hired to do, all she wants to do is get out of town. Instead she finds herself attacked and in the hospital. While recovering Harper will learn more about Doraville, North Carolina, than she ever cared to know.

This is the third book in the Harper Connelly series. I have read online at Ms. Harris’ website that the fourth book due out later this year will be the final book in this series. I sure will be bummed out when this series ends. I have read the first three this year and I have really enjoyed all of them. I personally feel as if the first is still the best so far, but this was one was better than the second. I loved how Harper and Tolliver both grow as characters by leaps and bounds in this installment. I definitely recommend this series.

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AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008

REVIEW: Swimsuit by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Swimsuit
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 391
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Aug. 9-11, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 41

First Line: I know things I don’t want to know.

On the beautiful beaches of Hawaii a beautiful swimsuit model disappears. Kim McDaniels’ parents immediately fly to Hawaii in order to find their daughter. Ex-cop Ben Hawkins is now a reporter for the L.A. Times. He is given the assigntment of covering the McDaniels disappearance. He starts to get the feeling that this might be the one big story that he’s been searching for. And he also realizes that the local cops just might botch this, so he begins his own investigation. But the killer has a plan in mind. He’s planning his own next move, and it has Ben Hawkins in the middle of it.

This is really a complicated story to try and explain. It is written as a book within a book. Being a pretty big fan of James Patterson, I must say that this one was a slight disappointment for me. First of all, I really did not take to Ben Hawkins’ character one bit. I felt disconnected from him throughout the entire book, and to me that connection with the narrator is a very important part of the whole book experience. Now that’s not to say that I didn’t like the book in general, there were definitely some great parts, but I just didn’t think that it was really up to par in my opinion. I don’t really know what to say about this book if you want the truth. It just really didn’t speak to me much.

AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Fiction, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008

REVIEW: The Piper’s Sons by Bruce Chandler Fergusson

The Piper’s Sons
by Bruce Chandler Fergusson

Copyright: 1999
Pages: 424
Rating: 3/5
Read: Aug. 1-8, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; A Well-Rounded Challenge; RYOB 2009; Random Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 40

First Line: Would I have gone after the girl if my own daughter, Emma, were still alive?

Paul Sinclair is a haunted man. His brother disappeared many years before. His daughter, Emma, died years ago. But there’s more … there’s a terrible secret in his family. It’s a secret that he will only begin to scratch the surface of, starting with the unexpected death of his father. In his family history is a man called the Pied Piper – a brutal killer who was never caught and was presumed dead. But is he? He seems to be getting closer to Paul and his wife and son. And it’s Paul who is determined to find exactly what is in his past, even if it means losing his family in the process.

Okay, so this was really a strange book. It started out great and had me hooked from the first page. Then I got to the middle and it kind of lulled. Then it picked up again and I was really starting to see what Paul was seeing. But then, in the last 100 pages it hit another lull and I felt bogged down by a lot of unimportant descriptions that seemed more like filler to me than anything of real importance. I just don’t know what to think about this book. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it was definitely kind of weird. I had a lot of issues with the way Fergusson kept changing who was talking, I had trouble keeping up sometimes. Now I will say this, I hadn’t expected the ending. I was surprised by who the Pied Piper ended up being, but after I finished the last sentence and set the book down and tried to make sense of everything that happened in the last third of the book, I will admit – I was confused. I must have missed something because I never did see how he ended up with the ending he did. But overall it was an okay book, just a little weird that’s all.

AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008

REVIEW: Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker

Dancing with Ana
by Nicole Barker

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 170
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Aug. 3, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; A Well-Rounded Challenge; Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 39

First Line: “Christine McCady’s hair is especially shiny today,” Jenny told the three girls sitting with her at the lunch table.

Four sixteen-year-old friends, Beth, Jenny, Rachel and Melanie are struggling to find out who they are as young women. And they’re also struggling with the fact that there’s always going to be someone skinnier, someone prettier, someone with better hair, the list can go on and on. But for Beth, life is going especially tough for her and she hasn’t even really realized it yet. Her father has left their family for a younger woman, she’s falling in love with her best friend, and she is determined to get down to her “target” weight of 110 pounds. She’s so determined that she has enlisted the help of her closest friends to diet together. But their diets are dangerous – they’re hardly eating. The horrible headaches and dizziness finally makes Beth’s friends realize that they have no business dieting like they’re doing. But Beth is determined. However, when she hits 110 pounds, she realizes that she’s not as happy as she had expected to be. In fact, she’s actually even more depressed. But as she keeps going, her friends and new boyfriend are finally able to step in and help her realize that she doesn’t need to do all this dieting in order to be pretty and happy.

I’m going to include a small selection from page 164 that really highlights what has been going on with Beth. The first girl talking in this blurb is Christine, McCady, the most popular girl in school.

She paused at the door. “By the way, love what you’ve done with yourself. Ten more pounds and you’ll be super hot!”

And she was gone.

Beth looked at herself in the mirror, and for the first time, saw the dark smudges under her eyes. Her hair hung loose, laying flat against her head. Her skin was very pale. Hesitantly, she lifted her oversized t-shirt, exposing her stomach. All of her ribs showed, and her stomach was sunken in. For the first time, she saw how frail her arms looked.

She also finally saw how she’d chosen to deal with her father’s abandonment … by destroying herself.

I was contacted directly by the author, Nicole Barker, to read and review this book. I received it in the mail yesterday and sat down with it last night and read it in one sitting. It was that good. I could really relate with Beth’s character; I was a milder version of her my junior year in high school. Barker’s descriptions of the new love that all four of the girls finally began to experience reminded me of those first few months of young love with my husband when we were in high school. I find it kind of ironic that at the age of 24 I find myself enjoying YA reads, whereas when I was 15 or 16 and should have read a book like this I wanted no part of them. I honestly believe that women of all ages could really relate to the girls in this story, I highly recommend this book to everyone.

READING CHALLENGES 2008

Harry Potter Reading Challenge

HarryPotterReadingChallenge

I shouldn’t … I really shouldn’t, but I’m going to anyway. I’m going to join the Harry Potter Reading Challenge. Two years ago my mom and dad bought me the hardcover boxed set for Christmas right after it came out on Amazon. Would you like to know what’s sad?! I never even picked up any of the books. In the past I have read books 1, 2, 5, and 6. I have somehow missed 3 and 4 and I purposely did not read 7 … heck, I don’t even know the spoilers because I didn’t want to know! So this challenge is something that I need because I’ve been wanting to start the series from the beginning and read it all the way through. My original intentions was to do this before I saw the 6th movie, that didn’t happen. But now I’m more determined than ever to read the series in its entirety in order. This challenge will help me achieve that. So here are the rules:

Calling all muggles!  Do you aspire to master the craft of wizardry or witchcraft?  Well if so you can start your research here!**waves wand**

Introducing the Harry Potter Reading Challenge

<<cough cough>> Dang all that awesome mist and fog is getting me all verklempt.

Anyway, the deets:

What: Read or listen to all seven books in the Harry Potter series

  • Sorcerer’s Stone REVIEW
  • Chamber of Secrets
  • Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Goblet of Fire
  • Order of the Pheonix
  • Half-Blood Prince
  • Deathly Hallows

When: The challenge will run from August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010.  I know we’re all busy with life and work and other such fun things so join up whenever you want, there are no deadlines to the challenge besides the end date above.  :)

So there we go, I’m going to read all the books in the Harry Potter series! I’m going to make myself do it … I’ve only been talking about reading the whole series through forever now … now I’ll really get around to it! I’ll be linking my reviews back to this page.

AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008, S

REVIEW: The Dyodyne Experiment by James Doulgeris & V. Michael Santoro

The Dyodyne Experiment
by James Doulgeris & V. Michael Santoro

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 448
Rating: 4/5
Read: July 20-25, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge;
Yearly Count: 37

First Line: Summer days in New York City could either be hot and oppressive or sparkling and glorious.

A research team has developed an amazing new technology: a computer system that can track people secretly with unimaginable accuracy. The system is called DaNA, and it is spread as a virus that can pass to others that the original person comes into contact with. What would make the country want to use this technology? Well, the idea behind it is that it can be used to track down criminals’ accomplices really trying to hone in on the drug cartel. But the research team gets orders from Homeland Security that they must put this system into use, before they can really test it out and work out all the kinks. What they find is unbelievable – six nuclear bombs hidden is six cities across the country. But as the team rushes to track down the terrorists in charge of these bombs, they find out something worse is happening …. DaNA is mutating and is spiraling out of control.

I received this book from Merritt Talbott at Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for review. I don’t normally read books like this, but the blurb that she presented me just sounded too good to pass up. And when I finally got to reading the book, I have to say that I was definitely not disappointed! I found it to be a fast read, even with everything going on. It was easy to read as well, especially with some of the names and subplots it could have gotten confusing at times, but I had absolutely no problem with it. I really took to Sarah’s character, I thought that she was really well written and believable (which is something very important in my opinion). Overall I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to read this book, because I probably never would have seen or heard anything about it if I had not been contacted about it simply because it is a little out of my comfort zone, but I really do recommend this one to anyone.

READING CHALLENGES 2008

Random Reading Challenge

RandomReadingChallenge

So Wendy over at Caribousmom has come up with a really neat challenge that I’m going to sign up for! It’s called the Random Reading Challenge; I’m looking forward to it because it’s going to really help me weed through my TBR pile. Part of my problem with reading from my TBR pile is that I have a lot of trouble picking which one to read next, so this one will definitely be helpful! Here is what Wendy wrote:

August 1, 2009 – July 31, 2010

Are you stuck in a rut? Do you always find yourself reading from set lists or feeling committed to reading one book while another book screams at you from your TBR mountain? Has your reading become completely scheduled? If so, the Random Reading Challenge may be just the thing to put the spontaneity back into your reading.

For this challenge, readers will be choosing books randomly from their TBR stacks. You may select one of three levels of participation:

Level I:

You are just a tad compulsive about your reading – you love your lists and schedules. Being spontaneous is not something that comes naturally to you.  To complete the challenge, force yourself out of your rut and read just six books.

Level II:

You really want to break away from all those lists, but you do still have a responsibility to your reading groups, other challenges and all those review books. Six books is too little, but twelve is too much. Stretch a little and read nine books for the challenge.

Level III:

Throw away the lists, don’t look at your schedule, bring on the joy that comes with the freedom to chose books randomly. Read twelve books for the challenge.

Rules (come on, you didn’t think I would be THAT random did you?!?!?):

  1. NO lists allowed. Books for the challenge are chosen one at a time when the mood strikes.
  2. Sign up at any time during the challenge period using Mr. Linky below. Please give me a direct link to your blog post about the challenge. If you do not have a blog, no worries. Simply enter your name and leave the URL box on Mr. Linky blank.
  3. Book reviews are not required, but if you want to write a review I will be providing a review Mr. Linky after August 1st.
  4. Books are selected one at a time using the following procedure:
  • Randomly select any number of books from either your physical OR your virtual TBR pile (I don’t care how you do this, but it must be random…no “cherry picking” allowed)
  • Assign a number to each book based on how many books you selected (ie: if you selected 14 books, assign each book a number from 1 through 14; if you selected 28 books, assign each book a number from 1 through 28…you get the idea)
  • Go to THIS SITE and use the TRUE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR located in the upper right hand corner of the page to randomly select the book you will read. NO CHEATING – whatever the random number generator generates is the book you must read!
  • Each time you select a book for the challenge, you will use this procedure. You many select different books each time, choose a different amount of books each time, etc…have fun, mix it up, keep it random.

So I’m really looking forward to this! Not only am I in a rut, but I find myself wanting to rebel against the lists that I have made up for the challenges that I’m currently in. So I am going to commit to Level III and read 12 books. I think the way I’ll do it is make sure that all my books are up-to-date on my Goodreads page and I’ll use those numbers there; I haven’t taken any advantage of the ordering of the TBR pile there, so it will be completely random for me. So that will be my easiest method without “cherry picking.” I’m definitely looking forward to it!

My list will be kept here:

  1. The Piper’s Sons by Bruce Chandler Fergusson
  2. The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker
  3. Denial by Keith Ablow
  4. Roses are Red by James Patterson
  5. Shall We Tell the President? by Jeffrey Archer
  6. Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell
  7. The Dying Game by Beverly Barton
  8. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
  9. The Camel Club by David Baldacci
  10. The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen
  11. The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver
  12. Pacific Vortex by Clive Cussler
AUTHOR, D, Fiction, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008

REVIEW: BoneMan’s Daughters

BoneMan’s Daughters
by Ted Dekker

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 401
Rating: 4/5
Read: July 19-12, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge; What’s in a Name 2 Challenge
Yearly Count: 36

First Line: The day that Ryan Evan’s world changed forever began as any other day he’d spent in the host desert might have begun.

The BoneMan is a serial killer who is looking for the perfect daughter. He has already killed six young women in his quest. After he takes a girl if she doesn’t live up to his potential he simply breaks their bones and leaves them to die. Intelligence officer Ryan Evans has not been the perfect daughter to Bethany – nor the perfect husband to Celine. He’s too tied up in his work and currently he’s overseas on assignment. Bethany and Celine have pretty much moved on from having any hopes of being a family together again. But Ryan is taken hostage in the desert and as his life is hanging in the balance he realizes what a mistake he has made in the past with his family. He returns to the States in order to start anew. But Bethany and Celine want no part of it. Before he knows it he’s out of their lives for good. That is until BoneMan takes Bethany. This causes Ryan to be out for blood. He will do whatever it takes to track down BoneMan and to save his only daughter …. he’s going to be the perfect father once and for all. But when the evidence begins to point towards Ryan as being the BoneMan he realizes that Bethany’s only chance at survival lies within Ryan. But BoneMan has a plan …. BoneMan knows that there can only be one father for Bethany, and he is determined that it is not going to be Ryan Evans.

So I picked this one up at the library after reading a review of it on someone’s blog … and once again I have forgotten whose blog I read about it on (I really should start writing that stuff down so that I can link reviews!) Anyways, I picked it up and was immediately sucked in. I have never read a Ted Dekker book before and this one was really enjoyable for me. It was well written and fast paced. The suspense was wonderful. The way that he bounced between differing points of view was interesting, you  never knew what was really going to happen next. I found myself hoping that Ryan would prevail in the end, that he would save Bethany from BoneMan, even if he was beaten down psychologically. I know that I only rated this a 4 and my reason was really because of the cookie-cutter ending. I’m not saying that I didn’t like the ending, but it was too neat for my tastes. Overall I really recommend this book, I found it fascinating! Dekker really created a superb serial killer in BoneMan …. also – could BoneMan return in a future book?? I guess we’ll have to wait to find out….

AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Cotton Malone, Fiction, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008, SERIES

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry

The Templar Legacy
by Steve Berry

Copyright: 2006
Pages: 475
Rating: 5/5
Read: June 3-7, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge; 1st in a Series Challenge; Suspense & Thriller Challenge – Religious thriller subcategory
Yearly Count: 27

First Line: Jacques De Molay sought death, but knew salvation would never be offered.

Cotton Malone, once an agent for the US Justice Department, is enjoying a peaceful life in Copenhagen as a antiquarian book dealer. But all of that changes when his former boss tries to meet up with him while she is on vacation. However, he finds out rather quickly that she is not on vacation; she is not an any type of operation, but she is up to something. As he sets out to figure out what it is that his former boss does not want to let him in on, he quickly finds himself involved in an ancient puzzle that has mystified scholars for ages. The more involved he finds himself, the more dangers the stakes become, and the more intrigued Cotton Malone becomes. For there is one very powerful man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even with Cotton in his way.

I’ve been keeping my eye on this book for a while, but I had been slightly unsure about reading it. However, after seeing Angels & Demons in the theater, my interest in this type of book has been renewed (I also have Angels & Demons waiting anxiously on my TBR pile for me). So I checked this book out of the library the last time I was there. And let me tell you – I was absolutely hooked on this book from about page one!! I loved it. I loved the historical/religious aspect of it intertwined with the fast paced race-around-the-clock action!! I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it yet!

AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2008

The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Midnight Twins
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Copyright: 2008
Pages: 235
Rating: 3/5
Read: Jan. 13-15, 2009
Challenge: What’s in a Name 2 – Time of Day in title category; Countdown Challenge; 2009 100+ Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 3

First Line: Meredith and Mallory Brynn looked exactly the same.

The Brynn twins are quickly becoming famous in their little hometown. On their thirteenth birthday they narrowly escape a deliberately set house fire, saving their younger brother and cousins from the flames. As they begin to heal, strange things begin happening to them. Being twins, they always had a sort of telepathy between the two of them. But since the fire occurred, they have been having strange dreams. As they begin to sort through these dreams, they realize that Meredith can see the past and Mallory can see the future. And what they see scares both of them. But they know that they are the only two in their town that can stop the danger that a boy that they have known since they were born is causing and will stop at nothing to keep the twins from stopping him.

Okay, seriously. I wanted so much to love this book. I am fascinated by twins and the telepathy that some of them experience. So when I saw this book reviewed on another blog, I ran to the library to pick it up. It sounded great! I’m starting to kind of get into young adult reads (they give me a sort of “break” from my reading occasionally). And I read a lot of this book in one day. But I just did not like it. I found myself struggling to keep the twins straight, there were a lot of occasions where Mitchard would start a sentence without indicating which twin was talking. I found myself waiting for the climax to happen – and when it did I was like, that’s it?! When I read in the author’s acknowledgements that she had never tackled a mystery before all I could think of was, this was a mystery? I just wasn’t impressed. I hastily put myself on the wait list for another one of Mitchard’s books at the library, but I’m not sure that I really want to read it now. This book was just okay for me.