Challenge Wrap-Up, End of Year Wrap-Up, READING CHALLENGES 2010

2010 Reading Challenges Wrap-Up

So I didn’t do as good on my reading challenges as I had hoped, but that’s okay. I’m still pleased with what I accomplished in 2010. Here’s where I stand in terms of my challenges for 2010:

FINISHED CHALLENGES:

  • Random Reading Challenge (12/12)
  • Thriller & Suspense Challenge (12/12)
  • Finish That Series Challenge (3 Series caught up with)|
    ALEX KAVA’S MAGGIE O’DELL SERIES
    JAMES PATTERSON & MICHAEL LEDWIDGE’S MICHAEL BENNETT SERIES
    TESS GERRITSEN’S JANE RIZZOLI & MAURA ISLES SERIES

 

UNFINISHED CHALLENGES:

  • 2010 100+ Reading Challenge (67/100)
  • Celebrate the Author Challenge (10/12)
  • Countdown Challenge 2010 (45/55)
  • Harry Potter Reading Challenge (1/7)
  • RYOB 2010 (45/50)
3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, Kay Scarpetta, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, SERIES

REVIEW: Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell

Book of the Dead
by Patricia Cornwell

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 511
Rang: 3.5/5
Read: Dec. 24-27, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2010
Yearly Count: 67
Format: Print

First Line: Water splashing. A gray mosaic tile tub sunk deep into a terra-cotta floor.

Blurb: Starting over with a unique private forensic pathology practice in the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, seems like the ideal situation for Scarpetta and her colleagues, Pete Marino and her niece, Lucy. But then come the deaths… A sixteen-year-old tennis star, fresh from a tournament win in Charleston, is found nude and mutilated near Piazza Navona in Rome. The body of an abused young boy is dumped in a desolate marsh. A woman is ritualistically murdered in her multimillion-dollar beach home. Meanwhile, in New England, problems with a prominent patient at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital begin to hint at interconnections among the deaths that are as hard to imagine as they are horrible. Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying, as the ones facing her now. Before she is through, that book of the dead will contain many names – and the pen may be poised to write her own.

Review: (There will be SPOILERS in this review). This is the 15th book in the Kay Scarpetta series. Overall, I felt as if the plot line was much better than the last few in this series have been. But, I do have a few issues with this book (and the series, really). First, let me just state: Pete Marino is a jerk with a capital J. Ms. Cornwell has managed to take a rough, yet likable, character and just totally ruin him and turn him into a disgusting excuse for a man. And Kay, well, if she forgives Marino one more time for a unexcusable offense, I think I will throw up. In general, the characters have really gone downhill as far as their characteristics go. Lucy hasn’t been in a good mood ever since the tumor was found. Benton, well besides the fact that you “kill” him off to bring him back 2 books later, has some serious communication problems when it comes to his feelings and Kay – and he’s a psychiatrist of all things, he should know better! But what really gets me is the fact that Dr. Scarpetta can’t stay in one place! In the last two books, she has moved to 2 different places (Florida, then South Carolina). And, having picked up Scarpetta, the 16th book of this series off my shelf to read next, I know that Kay has once again moved (Boston/NYC). I don’t know why Ms. Cornwell can’t just let her be in one place, all this moving is confusing. You meet new supporting characters, and then never hear from them again because she has once again picked up and moved. Anyways, I guess if you take away all my gripes and get down to the storyline, it’s slightly disappointing as well. There’s all this lead up to the who-dun-it part of the book, and then the killer is revealed (no big shocker, but somewhat of one) and then he’s effectively caught and imprisoned with only a slight mention in two sentences. Really? That’s how you’re going to end this book? Not sure I really care for this series anymore. I know of quite a few people who have given up on this series simply because the writing is not up to par with her early books and the characters are no longer enjoyable. It may be time for me to hang up Dr. Scarpetta as well. I suppose I will give it two more chances (since I have two more books on my shelves), after that I’m not sure I will pick up the latest installment (Port Mortuary) anytime soon.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, Review Book

REVIEW: At the Crossroads of Terror by Lenny Emanuelli

At the Crossroads of Terror
by Lenny Emanuelli

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 224
Rang: 4/5
Read: Dec. 22-24, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 66
Format: Print

First Line: They threw the woman to the ground, naked, on top of a pile of dirt at a construction site on the corner of Front Street and Noble Avenue in Philadelphia

Blurb: An Asian Crime family with the perfect setup, an unsolved double homicide, a billion dollar drug business, a wanna be, big time, news reporter, creating the perfect setting for a suspenseful romantic mystery thriller. Charlie Johnson, a man suspected of killing a local merchant, reluctantly teams of with a television street reporter, Sherry Mann, trying to prove, he is innocent which takes them both deep into the world of an organized Asian street gang, who is on the verge of making their biggest stride, in their drug business.

Review: I received this book for review from Amy at Phenix & Phenix Publicists. This is a very fast-paced, enjoyable thriller. I will say, that I can see where some people might have some issues with the subject matter. But I’m not easiliy upset by what I read, so I had no problem with this book. I throughly enjoyed this book, especially since I probably never would have been made aware of this book had I not had the opportunity for review. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this book for anyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, Review Book

REVIEW: Defending the Enemy by Elaine B. Fischel

Defending the Enemy: Justice For the WWII Japanese War Criminals
by Elaine B. Fischel

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 383
Rang: 4/5
Read: Dec. 17-21, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 65
Format: Print

First Line: 1946. World War II had ended and the United States was to occupy Japan.

Blurb: From 1946-48, Elaine B. Fischel worked in Tokyo alongside the American attorneys assigned to defend the Japanese war criminals held responsible for the torture and deaths of millions of civilians and prisoners of war. She recounts the post-WWII transition in Japan to the country’s occupation by their former enemy, and the subsequent surprise on the part of the Japanese citizenry that the U.S. allegiance to democracy meant providing a fair trial even to the men considered the most evil perpetrators or atrocities. In letters to her family at the time, the author as a young woman tries to explain her relationships with the defendants and her own surprise at the growing fondness she felt for many of the “villains” of WWII – particularly prime minister and general Hideki Tojo, known during the war as “Razor.” Defending the Enemy is also the story of a young woman who wants to make the most of her time in a country so full of beauty. Fischel interweaves the activities and intrigues of the trial alongside her tales of travel throughout Japan, her social engagements with high-ranking military and civilians, and her unique enduring relationships, such as her friendship with Emperor Hirohito’s brother, Prince Takamatsu. In doing so, Fischel illuminates the paradoxes inherent during this period in history.

Review: This book was sent to me for review by Phenix & Phenix Publicity. As a history major in college, I was intrigued by this book when it was pitched to me via email. World War II is not a point in our history that I have studied a great deal on, so I was immediately drawn in with the chance to learn something about this time period. I do not read a lot of memoirs, either, so I was also looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked how the author was able to include portions of her letters home to really tell the story of her time in Japan. Ms. Fischel must have been a prolific letter-writer during this time period, but that is great for readers like me who enjoy reading about what life was really like through primary documents, such as letters. I did have two slight problems with the book, though. First, I tired rather quickly about hearing how many men she “dated” during this time span. It seemed like every single letter that was quoted, she was talking about a different man, and how good looking he was. This was fine at first, but like I said, it got to be a little bit repetitive. I understand that she was one of very few women over there, but I’m not sure the point had to be hammered home as often as it was throughout the book. Second, I sometimes felt as if the author switched topics with lightning speed. At one point, on page 117, the author went from attending fancy parties to horseback riding with no real transition paragraph (or sentence!). This was always a big no-no when I was writing papers in college, so it’s something that sticks out whenever I read now. However, those two issues really didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of this book. One thing that I really want to point out is how the author really had to handle her feelings toward the defendents in the case. When she was writing letters home to her parents, she had to pretty much conceal her true feelings towards the Japanese because public opinion of the Japanese back home in the United States was so poor. But at times, her true feelings would show through and she would try and explain to her family why she felt such a connection to the people she interacted with on a daily basis. I enjoyed seeing how she tried to explain to her family her thoughts and opinions. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to any history buff. It’s a really interesting read.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, SERIES, The Camel Club

REVIEW: Stone Cold by David Baldacci

Stone Cold
by David Baldacci

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 511
Rang: 4/5
Read: Dec. 7-16, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2010
Yearly Count: 64
Format: Print

First Line: Harry Finn rose as usual at six-thirty, made coffee, let the dog out into the fenced backyard for its morning constitutional, showered, shaved, woke the kids for school and oversaw that complicated operation for the next half hour as breakfasts wer gulped, backpacks and shoes grabbed and arguments started and settled.

Blurb: Oliver Stone, the leader of the mysterious group that calls itself the Camel Club, is both feared and respected. Keeping a vigilant watch over our leaaders in Washington, D.C., the club has won over allies, but it has also made some formidable enemies… Annabelle Conroy, an honorary member of the Camel Club, is the greatest con artist of her generation. As an old, powerful mark hunts her down and the Camel Club tries to protect her, a new opponent suddenly arises. One by one, men from Stone’s shadowy past turn up dead. Behind this slaughter stands one man: Harry Finn. To almost all who know him, he’s a loving father and husband who uses his skills to keep America safe. But Finn is also an unstoppable killer who now sets his lethal bull’s-eye on Oliver Stone. And with Harry Finn, Stone may well have met his match.

Review: This is the third installment in the Camel Club series. These books just keep getting better and better. I can’t get enough of them. This book, in particular, was really good. I was glad that the readers were finally given more insight into the man behind Oliver Stone – “John Carr.” What I found really surprising was that this book raised just as many questions as it answered in regards to Oliver and his shadowy past. But that’s okay with me – I love the intrigue behind Oliver’s character! It was very sad to see one of the founding members of the Club not make it in this book, but I think that that really opens up things into regards of where the next book will go from here. The ending is especially intriguing, because it is really a big question mark ending – and I love those! It always makes me wanting more … and with this series, I want more right now! I already have the next book in this series, Divine Justice, waiting for me on my shelves. I know it won’t be very long until I get around to it, simply because I’m eager to see where the Camel Club goes next. What kind of trouble will they get into? What kind of trouble will find them?!

Challenge Wrap-Up, READING CHALLENGES 2010

FINISHED CHALLENGE: Finish The Series Challenge 2010

Well, I finally finished this challenge. It was a much needed challenge for me. And although I read quite a few books that are part of a series this year, I was only able to get caught up on 3 challenges (which was my original goal). Here’s what I finished:

 So overall, I’m very pleased with where I’m at. Because in addition to these series that I was able to catch up with, I was able to read 12 books in the Kay Scarpetta series and 4 in the Alex Cross series.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, L, Michael Bennett, P, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, SERIES

REVIEW: Worst Case by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Worst Case
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Copyright: 2010
Pages: 356
Rang: 5/5
Read: Dec. 4-6, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 63
Format: Print

First Line: The stocky man with the salt-and-pepper hair felt light-headed as he crossed beneath the marble arch into Washington Square Park.

The son of one of New York’s wealthiest families is snatched off the street and held hostage. But this kidnapper isn’t demanding money. Instead, he quizzes his prisoner on the price others pay for his life of luxury … and wrong answers are fatal. Detective Michael Bennett heads the investigation. With ten kids of his own, he can’t understand what could lead someone to target anyone’s children. When another student from a powerful family disappears, the FBI sends in its top abduction specialist: Agent Emily Parker. Bennett’s job and love life suddenly get even more complicated. Before Bennett has a chance to protest the FBI’s intrusion on his case, the killer mastermind changes his routine. His plan leads up to the most devastating demonstration yet – one that could bring cataclysmic ruin to every inch of New York City.

This is the third in the Michael Bennett series, and it is the most current one until the fourth is due to release in 2011. Personally, I felt like this was the best book in the series so far. I had been a little unsure about Bennett’s character (partly because he simply isn’t Alex Cross, my all-time favorite series character), but in this book I really started to like him. I enjoyed the storyline of the book, the villain was original. There’s starting to be a little bit of romance in Bennett’s life for the first time since his wife’s death in the first book. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend this series to anyone.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, Review Book

REVIEW: When No One is Watching by Joseph Hayes

When No One is Watching
by Joseph Hayes

Copyright: 2010
Pages: 313
Rang: 4/5
Read: Dec. 1-4, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 62
Format: Print

First Line: “I love this ride, Dano!” Blair Van Howe yelled exuberantly to his partner, who was passed out cold in the passenger seat.

On the eve of announcing his run for Congress, a charismatic Chicago politician causes a deadly accident. Panicked, he frames his best friend, a good-hearted alcoholic, and flees the scene. As one man tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, the other embarks on a meteoric rise to political stardom. But when a dogged detective digs deeper into the case, the political superstar must decide just how far he is willing to go to keep his dark secret.

I received this book for review courtesy of Megan at Phenix & Phenix Publicists. Overall, I enjoyed this story. There was actually two storylines throughout the book – one followed the path of Danny, the “driver” of the deadly car crash and the other followed Blair, the rising political superstar. The book itself moves at a very rapid pace, it spans 10 years in a short 313 pages. And what seems so strange when reading it is the fact that it feels as if Blair’s story is moving so much more rapidly than Danny’s story is, but I assume that it’s supposed to feel that way based on the two different storylines and the choices that the individual characters make. As the reader, we get to see Danny bring himself up from rock bottom – he goes to prison, he settles with the grieving wife, he cleans himself up and gets involved in AA, and then in the end nothing can save him. In alternating chapter, we also get to witness Blair’s rise to political stardom, from Congressman to Presidential candidate. And along the way, we see him falter and eventually crash and burn himself. Chapter 35 was especially poignant to me because Danny actually runs into the son of the man that was killed in the car crash – through AA. And from there we get to see what happened to the family that was torn apart because of the accident. This entire book is a really good testament to what can happen based on the choices that we make every day of our lives. Some people choose to take the high path, while others end up going in an entirely different direction. This book really illustrates what those choices could mean for you in the long run. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, it’s a really good read.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010

MINI REVIEW: Damaged by Pamela Callow

Damaged by Pamela Callow

Haunted by the death of her sister and wounded by her ex-fiancé’s accusations, Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm. When the grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it’s just another custody case. But then the teen is brutally murdered. And it isn’t only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl’s death. Put on notice by Randall Barrett, the firm’s charismatic managing partner, Kate must fight for her career, for her reputation—and for redemption. Unwilling to live with the damage she may have caused, Kate pursues the case on her own and unearths some chilling facts. Facts that lead straight to the heart of a legal conspiracy. Facts that lead Kate directly into the surgically skilled hands of the Body Butcher.

I read this book as an e-book and unfortunately I’m behind on my reviews, so this is only getting a mini-review. I enjoyed this book, it was a fast-paced and overall good read. But I had my issues with the main character, Kate. How stupid can one woman be? Seriously? First she gives practically a stranger the key to her house so that her dog can get walked while she is at work. Then she actually breaks into a funeral home in order to find evidence to support her theory. Really? Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, because I did, I just had some issues with Kate as a character. I already have the second Kate Lange book loaded onto my Nook ready to read. I’m interested to see where she goes from here.

Rating: 4/5

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, Review Book

REVIEW: The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer

The Inner Circle
by Brad Meltzer

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 457
Rang: 5/5
Read: Nov. 18-25, 2010
Challenge: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge
Yearly Count: 60
Format: E-Book

First Line: He knew the room was designed to hold secrets.

“There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I love those stories. And since I work in the National Archives, I find those stories for a living. “Beecher White, a young archivist, spends his days working with the most important documents of the U.S. government. He has always been the keeper of other people’s stories, never a part of the story himself . . .Until now. When Clementine Kaye, Beecher’s first childhood crush, shows up at the National Archives asking for his help tracking down her long-lost father, Beecher tries to impress her by showing her the secret vault where the President of the United States privately reviews classified documents. After they accidentally happen upon a priceless artifact—a two-hundred-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington—hidden underneath a desk chair, Beecher and Clementine find themselves suddenly entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder. Soon a man is dead and Beecher is on the run as he races to learn the truth behind this mysterious national treasure. His search will lead him to discover a coded and ingenious puzzle that conceals a disturbing secret from the founding of our nation. It is a secret, Beecher soon discovers, that some believe is worth killing for.

I was able to request this book directly from the publisher, Hachette Book Group, through the website http://netgalley.com. This is truly a great source for those who enjoy ARCs, but would like to have them in the e-reader format. Anyways, on to the review. I have never read a Brad Meltzer book before, even though I have two or three of his previous books on my shelves. However, when I first stumbled across the information regarding the upcoming release of this book, I was immediately intrigued. I was a history major in college, so anything with a Presidential/Historical aspect will usually catch my interest. And the fact that this book had murder, conspiracy and a little bit of history … well, it was a home run for me! I was immediately taken in with the storyline, I loved the whole idea of the president of the United States going into the National Archives to perhaps send and receive secret messages. I liked how the story unraveled right in front of my eyes, especially when I was trying my hardest to find out who Beecher, the main character, should trust and who he should not trust. I wanted to scream at Beecher sometimes because of how stupid he was acting because he was supposedly lovestruck. Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and I know that it will do well with other readers when it hits bookstores early in January 2011. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and I am definitely looking forward to getting to some of the other Meltzer books that I have in my TBR pile.