End of Year Wrap-Up, READING CHALLENGES 2012

Wrapping Up My 2012 Challenges

Wow … I still can’t believe that we are just a few short days from 2013! And I haven’t done anything in regards to my yearly reading statistics/favorites/new challenges/old challenges, etc. Ugh. There’s just not enough time in the day anymore. It never stops. Of course getting the flu earlier in the week did not help one bit. Honestly, I may just only do a Top 10 reads this year – no one really needs to know all the other junk I always include – plus I don’t have the time or energy to sit down and calculate it all up like I have in the past.

But tonight I’m just going to do a quick one post wrap up of the 3 challenges I participated in this year. Unfortunately, I only successfully completed one of those challenges. But that’s okay – I had a lot of fun either way.

Here goes:

First up is The Eclectic Reader Challenge. I actually completed 75% of this challenge, and to be completely honest with you, the four genres that I was unable to finish (Literary Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Classic) were the ones that I knew I would have trouble filling when I originally signed up. So I’m happy with how far I got.

GENRES:
Literary Fiction
Crime/Mystery Fiction – Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
Romantic Fiction – Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb
Historical Fiction – Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews
Young Adult – Betrayal by Gregg Olsen
Fantasy
Science Fiction – DiSemblance by Shanae Branham
Non Fiction – Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Horror
Thriller /Suspense – The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
Classic
Your favourite genre – Crime/Mystery Fiction: Damage by John Lescroart


Next up is the Mystery & Suspense Challenge. Let me be completely honest here – this is the easiest challenge in the world for me. Mystery and Suspense books are my absolute favorites. It makes up the majority of my reading. So it would be almost impossible for me to not complete this challenge. I originally signed up for 12 books, but I ended up reading 24 – very happy 🙂

  1. The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
  2. Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
  3. Damage by John Lescroart
  4. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
  5. Don’t Scream by Wendy Corsi Stuab
  6. The Immortals by J.T. Ellison
  7. The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
  8. Split Second by David Baldacci
  9. Stolen Prey by John Sandford
  10. The Pawn by Steven James
  11. Tick Tock by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
  12. The Wrong Man by David Ellis
  13. Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb
  14. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
  15. Sly Fox by Judge Jeanine Pirro
  16. Blowback by Brad Thor
  17. DiSemblance by Shanae Branham
  18. The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O’Brien
  19. Betrayal by Gregg Olsen
  20. Takedown by Brad Thor
  21. The Prophet by Ethan Cross
  22. Rules of Prey by John Sandford
  23. Father Night by Eric Van Lustbader
  24. The Intercept by Dick Wolf

And finally – Off the Shelf. *Sigh* I really am kind of disappointed with this one. I knew I was taking a big chance when I signed up for 30 books (having a baby definitely puts a damper on reading), but I was determined to clear off my shelves. Okay, so I managed 15 – that’s 50% of my goal. Not bad. But definitely not where I would have preferred to end the year.

  1. The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
  2. Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
  3. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
  4. Don’t Scream by Wendy Corsi Staub
  5. The Immortals by J.T. Ellison
  6. Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler & Craig Dirgo
  7. The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
  8. Split Second by David Baldacci
  9. Under Cover of Daylight by James W. Hall
  10. The Pawn by Steven James
  11. Tick Tock by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
  12. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
  13. Blowback by Brad Thor
  14. Takedown by Brad Thor
  15. Rules of Prey by John Sandford

So there you have it. There’s my quick wrap-up. I’ve already got my eye on some of the 2013 challenges. But I’m definitely going to try to control myself again this year. I hate setting myself up for disappointment. I’ve been considering not signing up for some of them, just trying to do them myself, without completely committing to them. But there are a couple out there that I am definitely signing up for – keep checking back for that info 🙂

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5/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book

2012.33 REVIEW – Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

Low Pressure
by Sandra Brown

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 343
Rating: 5/5Low Pressure
Read: Dec. 13 – Dec. 18 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge
Yearly count: 33
Format: E-book
Source: NetGalley

Blurb: Bellamy Lyston was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed in a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy’s fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene along with her memory of what really happened during the day’s most devastating moments.

Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a sensational, bestselling novel based on Susan’s murder. Because the book was inspired by the tragic event that still pains her family, she published it under a pseudonym to protect them from unwanted publicity. But when an opportunistic reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers the book is based on fact, Bellamy’s identity is exposed along with the family scandal.

Moreover, Bellamy becomes the target of an unnamed assailant who either wants the truth about Susan’s murder to remain unknown or, even more threatening, is determined to get  vengeance for a man wrongfully accused and punished.

In order to identify her stalker, Bellamy must confront the ghosts of her past, including Dent Carter, Susan’s wayward and reckless boyfriend – and an original suspect in the murder case. Dent, with this and other stains on his past, is intent on clearing his name, and he needs Bellamy’s sealed memory to do it. But her safeguarded recollections – once unlocked – pose dangers that neither could foresee and puts both their lives in peril.

As Bellamy delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Susan’s slaying, she discovers disturbing elements of the crime which call into question the people she holds most dear. Haunted by partial memories, conflicted over her feelings for Dent, but determined to learn the truth, she won’t stop until she reveals Susan’s killer.

That is, unless Susan’s killer strikes her first…


Review: I loaded this book onto my Nook and started it on my airplane ride to Hawaii. I was immediately sucked in and I have to say that it was the perfect vacation book. I found it to be very fast paced and exciting. I could hardly stand to put it down because I kept wanting more and more of it!

I especially enjoyed how a tornado really played into the storyline. On Feb. 29, 2012, my hometown of Harrisburg, IL, was hit by an EF-4 tornado. Both of my grandparents and my parents were all in the path of this storm. And it was a killer storm too – I believe 7 people lost their lives. My family was lucky to walk away with their lives, but their homes and emotions were not as intact as their physical beings. Knowing what a storm like that can do to a person, I found it very intriguing how Bellamy’s fear of storms and her memory loss was tied to the tornado in the book.

Little by little, Bellamy’s memory came back to her. I quite enjoyed seeing how she pieced everything together – what was revealed to her by something very minute would bring back quite a chunk of her memory.

The who-dun-it part of the story, while intriguing, was not exactly surprising. About halfway through the book I began to suspect the person who did end up being the killer. Like I said, it wasn’t really all that big of a shocking twist, but it still came together quite well at the end.

This book would not be for the under 18 crowd. There was quite a bit of steamy encounters between Bellamy and Dent. Personally, it didn’t bother me, but it might not be for everyone.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I feel as if it’s another great book by Sandra Brown and one not to be missed! Highly recommended.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Cotton Malone, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, SERIES

2012.32 REVIEW – The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry

The Charlemagne Pursuit
by Steve Berry

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 576
Rating: 4/5
Read: Nov. 29 – Dec. 13, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge; Off the Shelf Challenge
Yearly count: 32
Format: Paper book
Source: Personal Copy

The Charlemagne PursuitBlurb: As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told that his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic. But what he now learns stuns him: His father’s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica.

Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are also determined to find out what became of their father, who died on the same submarine–and they know something Malone doesn’t: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne’s tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in “the language of heaven,” conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and his father’s ill-fated voyage are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters, he will finally confront the shocking truth of his father’s death and the distinct possibility of his own.


Review: I feel as if I’m failing my readers here, because unfortunately I did not take very good notes after finishing this book and have read two books since reading this one, so I apologize if my review isn’t as in-depth as it should be.

This is the fourth book in the Cotton Malone series. I think what I like the best about these books is the way that Mr. Berry seems to effortlessly weave history into his fiction without it begin dull. Add some gunfights and adventure to that history and you’ve got a roller coaster ride.

I will say that the only reason that I rated this book a 4 instead of a 5 was that it lagged a little bit here and there. I think part of the problem was that I enjoyed one of the storylines more than the other. And unfortunately I honestly preferred the secondary storyline – not the one that Cotton was really involved in. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a good book all around – because it definitely was. I think my problem with it was that I really didn’t care for what the Charlemagne Pursuit ended up being. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I also didn’t like that Henrik and Cassiopeia weren’t in this book at all – they’ve been pretty important characters in the previous books and this one left them out completely. However, we do get to see more of Stephanie’s character in this installment, so that was nice to see.

I definitely would start at the beginning of this series, because this book would not read so great as a stand-alone. However, I did enjoy that we finally got to know a little bit about the enigma that was Cotton’s father. I found that to be very interesting.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and this series. It was a fun read – but at 576 pages it’s not a very quick read.

 

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, E-Book, Nonfiction, O, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012

2012.31 REVIEW – Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot
by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 275
Rating: 5/5
Read: Nov. 24-Nov. 28, 2012
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge 2012
Yearly count: 31
Format: E-Book
Source: Personal Copy

Blurb:Killing Kennedy

A riveting historical narrative of the shocking events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the follow-up to mega-bestselling author Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln

More than a million readers have thrilled to Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln, the page-turning work of nonfiction about the shocking assassination that changed the course of American history. Now the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor recounts in gripping detail the brutal murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—and how a sequence of gunshots on a Dallas afternoon not only killed a beloved president but also sent the nation into the cataclysmic division of the Vietnam War and its culture-changing aftermath.

In January 1961, as the Cold War escalates, John F. Kennedy struggles to contain the growth of Communism while he learns the hardships, solitude, and temptations of what it means to be president of the United States. Along the way he acquires a number of formidable enemies, among them Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Alan Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  In addition, powerful elements of organized crime have begun to talk about targeting the president and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

In the midst of a 1963 campaign trip to Texas, Kennedy is gunned down by an erratic young drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes the scene, only to be caught and shot dead while in police custody.

The events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century are almost as shocking as the assassination itself. Killing Kennedy chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot, bringing history to life in ways that will profoundly move the reader.  This may well be the most talked about book of the year.


Review: I just got a new Nook with Glowlight (for my long-time readers, you already know that I have a Nook Color – I will explain in a later post as to why I decided to get a different Nook) for Christmas. I picked it up at my local Books-a-Million on Saturday. I immediately brought it home and (impatiently) waited for it to fully charge. Then I was off and running and Killing Kennedy was the first book sample I downloaded to my new device. I read through the sample and immediately hit the “Buy” button. The beginning of it really grabbed me and hooked me in.

I have to just state that I am a huge JFK nut. Being a history major in college, I even wrote a paper on his assassination for one of my classes. Actually, it was for History of Journalism, and I compared the media coverage of Kennedy’s assassination to that of Lincoln’s assassination. The similarities are astounding, really. But that’s a little off-topic for this review.

I realized that I hadn’t read a single non-fiction book all year, and what better way to ease myself into one than this book. I found it to be an extremely fast-paced and exciting read. It definitely does not feel like you’re reading non-fiction at all. It reads more like a fiction novel to be completely honest – but that is partially because just about everything revolving around JFK can seem like it can’t possibly be true.

But since many of the events recounted in this book are so fantastic and also so horrific, and because so many of the details are rather intimate, it’s important to remind the reader that Killing Kennedy is completely a work of nonfiction. It’s all true. (pg. 258)

This book leads you up to the assassination. It starts with Kennedy’s inauguration, but then it goes back and touches on his time on PT-109 (something that I’m not very familiar with). Then it goes through all the big events in his presidency (Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Civil Rights) until it hits the assassination. And you learn a little about Lee Harvey Oswald and what he’s doing during these same time periods. It’s a very well laid out book and presented perfectly for everyone, whether you be a JFK expert or just a casual reader.

Obviously this is a book where the ending is very well-known. But it didn’t stop me from wanting more and more. I absolutely did not want to put this book down. I seemed to be constantly reading (something that hasn’t happened to me in quite some time).

In the backseat of the Lincoln, Jackie Kennedy holds her husband’s head and quietly sobs. “He’s dead. They’ve killed him. Oh Jack, oh Jack. I love you.” (pg. 231)

I would definitely highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to get to the other book, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever – I already have the sample downloaded to my Nook 🙂

5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book, U-V-W

2012.30 REVIEW – The Intercept by Dick Wolf

The Intercept
by Dick Wolf

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 387
Rating: 5/5
Read: Nov. 16-Nov. 24, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 30
Format: Print
Source: Review copy

Blurb:

Days before the July Fourth holiday and the dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero, an incident aboard a commercial jet flying over the Atlantic Ocean reminds everyone that vigilance is not a task to be taken lightly. But for iconoclastic NYPD detective Jeremy Fisk, it may also be a signal that there is much more to this case than the easy answer of this being just the work of another lone terrorist.

Fisk—assigned to the department’s Intelligence Division, a well-funded anti terror unit modeled on the CIA—suspects that the event might also be a warning sign that another, potentially more extraordinary scheme has been set in motion. Fluent in Arabic and the ways of his opponents, Fisk is a rule breaker who follows his gut—even if it means defying those above him in the department’s food chain. So when a passenger from the same plane, a Saudi Arabian national, disappears into the crowds of Manhattan, it’s up to Fisk and his partner Krina Gersten to find him before the celebrations begin.

Watching each new lead fizzle, chasing shadows to dead ends, Fisk and Gersten quickly realize that their opponents are smarter and more agile than any they have ever faced. Extremely clever and seemingly invisible, they are able to exploit any security weak-ness and anticipate Fisk’s every move . . . and time is running out.


Review: I received this ARC for free after clicking on a link within a Shelf Awareness e-mail. I received no monetary compensation and the following review is my honest opinion of the book.

This book is due to be released 12/26/12.

PLEASE NOTE – This review WILL contain SPOILERS. Read on at your own risk.

Wowzers! This book is a fast-paced, thrill-ride of a read! I am very familiar with Dick Wolf’s name – I used to be a Law & Order junkie (the only reason I no longer am is because other good shows kept coming out during the same time slot, boo! Plus I’m an old school fan – I miss Lennie)

Anyway, that’s not to say that this book was perfect. It really isn’t. First of all, I sincerely hope that the final copy has a very good editor – there were a lot of typos in my ARC (more than in any other ARC I’ve ever read). Sorry, I’m a grammar fanatic.

But what really irritated me … SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER …. how in the heck can you kill off one of the main characters in the first book?! I mean, honestly. I never saw that one coming. And if this is supposed to be part of a series, why would you introduce such an important person only to have them gone by the end of the first book? It just seemed like an unnecessary move, in my opinion. And to be completely honest here, the story being told is really from Krina’s point of view – and yet, she’s killed off in the end? I don’t know – I think that it might have been a really bad character/series development move in my opinion. You just don’t do that in the first book if you intend to have a series, but maybe Mr. Wolf isn’t considering a very long series for Jeremy Fisk’s character. Who knows what the plans really are.

Personally, I think that this is a good book, but it definitely does have its flaws. But the storyline was relevant and interesting. The “bad guy” was a surprise to me. The build-up to the climax was well-done. Overall, it’s a good book and I would highly recommend it. However, I think that Mr. Wolf needs to realize that you can’t approach a book series in the same manner as you would a TV series. Once he conquers that, I think he will be a very impressive novelist. I look forward to reading the next Jeremy Fisk book.

Highly recommended.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, First Rule PR, K, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book

2012.29 REVIEW – Death by Bourbon by Abigail Keam

Death by Bourbon
by Abigail Keam

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 128
Read: Nov. 6-9, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge
Yearly count: 29
Format: E-Book
Source: Review copy from First Rule PR

 

Blurb: Life takes a dramatic turn for Josiah when she witnesses a death at an engagement party for guess who . . . Matt.  Matt?  Yes Matt.

Charming socialite Addison DeWitt falls into a fit after taking a sip of bourbon.  That would be upsetting enough but Josiah is sure it is murder. However, no one will believe her except for Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer.  The three of them conspire to bring the
murderer to justice.  It turns out that the suspect is always three steps ahead of them.

To make matters worse, Josiah’s daughter, Asa, decides to move to London, Franklin leaves town and Jake starts singing a different tune.  Josiah doubts her ability to meet the future alone.  Maybe it’s time to sell the Butterfly and move to Florida with the rest of the old folks.


Review: I don’t normally read cozy mysteries, I tend to prefer the grittier books. However, when I was pitched this book and did a little bit of research on it, I was intrigued and decided to get it a go. Part of me really wanted to read this book when I realized that Ms. Keam resided in Kentucky (I live in Paducah).

Going into this book, I knew it was in the middle of a series. Something that I’m not a huge fan of doing, but I was willing to take the risk on it. But I must forewarn you – I highly recommend reading the first books in this series before reading this book. In my opinion, it does not stand well by itself. You really need the background to have a full understanding of what is going on. It took me almost 20 pages in the beginning to really have a decent grasp on what was going on. Had this been a personal read, I would have stopped right then and there and read the books before it.

Some of the language used sounded a bit more traditional English than what us Americans are used to now. It doesn’t make it too confusing, but it did make me have to pay a little bit more attention to what was going on in the book.

Overall this was a quick and fun read. If you’re a cozy reader I would highly recommend this book. If you’re just dipping your feet into the cozies, I would definitely recommend starting from the beginning. But in general, this is a book that I would recommend to my readers.


 AUTHOR BIO:

Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.

Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.

Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

AUTHOR SITES:
  Website  
  Facebook                              

Praise for previous books by Ms. Keam:
Ms. Keam’s writing is more like lyrical prose, leaving the readers wanting to know more of Josiah’s life and clamoring for the next book. This can be read as a stand-alone book, but I highly recommend reading the first book – DEATH OF A HONEYBEE.
Bobbi’s Book Nook, July 30th, 2011
Abigail Keam writes with vision and understanding. Her tale is fresh and original … after all … what could beekeeping and murder have in common? Readers will have no trouble being drawn into this charming mystery. Keam leaves the reader yearning for more. DEATH BY DROWNING is an excellent second effort by Ms. Keam. Characters and action are well wrought, and the plot sizzles.
Midwest Book Review, Shelley Glodowski, Senior Reviewer, July 8th, 2011

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book, U-V-W

2012.28 REVIEW – Father Night by Eric Van Lustbader

Father Night
by Eric Van Lustbader

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 366
Rating: 4/5
Read: Oct. 23 – Nov. 5, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 278
Format: Print
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: A tidal wave of reform is sweeping across the Middle East. Many lurk in the shadows, eager to seize power – giants of a vast criminal underworld, fueled by revenge and vengeance. Their wars know no end. Their power knows no bounds.

At the center of it all are two men who are inches away from holding the world in their hands: one is known as Dyadya Gourdjiev, and the other is known only as the Syrian.

Department of Defense special agent Jack McClure has followed a trail of shadows and lies right into the arms of Gourdjiev’s alluring, powerful granddaughter, Annika Dementieva. The lovers are in Moscow when news of Dyadya’s failing health draws a slew of vultures – circling, anxious to seize the empire of secrets he spent a lifetime building. Jack and Annika find themselves locked in battle to ensure his safety … but when it comes to Dyadya, nothing is as it seems.

Alli Carson, the child of a dead U.S. president, has become Jack’s surrogate daughter. While Jack is in Russia, Alli is targeted by a cyberstalker who knows more about her than anyone should. With no one to trust but her friend Vera Bard, Alli is determined to discover the truth, but her path forces her to come face-to-face with the nightmarish terror of her past.

As these two stories play out, Secretary of Defense Dennis Paull, with the help of detectives Nona Heroe and Alan Fraine, follows a trail of lies, corruption, and secret pacts that begins with Washington, D.C.’s head of detectives.

All paths collide at the feet of one man, an old legend adapting to an ever-changing landscape … a man history might have forsaken, but whose heinous evil is still very much alive: Father Night.


Review: I have to start by saying that this is the fourth book in the Jack McClure series. However, I need to let you know that it also stands well on its own. I had absolutely no trouble following the characters, because Mr. Van Lustbader does an excellent job of filling in the backstory (and doesn’t take a gazillion pages to do so, either).

I found this to be quite an enjoyable book. It was fast-paced and read quite easily. I would sit down with it and realize that I had read 50 pages before I knew it. (Hey – I’m a mom to a 5-month-old – I read in whatever spurts I can get!)

Character development is what really makes or breaks a book for me. And I enjoyed all the characters in this book. However, I really took to Alli’s character. There was just something about her that really drew me to her. She was likeable. She had “baggage” and yet she wasn’t bogged down by that baggage too badly. I felt for her in regards to what had happened in her past – and I think that that’s really what shaped her into such a great character.

I have never read a book by Eric Van Lustbader before – but this definitely won’t be my last time reading him. (Hey, he must be a good author if Robert Ludlum’s estate picked him to continue the Bourne books!). Reading this book really made me want to go back and read the first three books in this series so that I could really understand everything the way the author intended (but as I said above, not having read the earlier books in no ways hampers the reader’s ability to follow this book).

Overall – if you enjoy a thrilling, fast-paced adventure – I would highly recommend giving this book a shot.


* I received this book courtesy of Anne Staszalek, Marketing Associate for AuthorsOnTheWeb, in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Lucas Davenport, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, S, SERIES

2012.27 REVIEW – Rules of Prey by John Sandford

Rules of Prey
by John Sandford

Copyright: 1989
Pages: 479
Rating: 5/5
Read: Oct. 18-Oct. 22, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly count: 27
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb: The killer was mad but brilliant.

He left notes with every woman he killed. Rules of murder: Never have a motive. Never follow a discernible pattern. Never carry a weapon after it has been used… So many rules to his sick, violent games of death.

But Lucas Davenport, the cop who’s out to get him, isn’t playing by the rules.


Review: Looking back, I realized that I have only read two books in this series – both of them more recent installments. And now that I have read the first book in the series all I can do is shake my head and wonder what is the matter with me? I loved this book. Like, love love loved. Seriously. Since having Garrett in May it’s been hard for me to get any kind of rhythm back into my reading. I’ve been reading what I’ve had to read by deadlines I’ve agreed to. But other than that, reading books off of my shelves has been a little hit or miss lately. But this book – this book definitely broke me out of that cycle! I simply couldn’t put it down. When Garrett would take his nap I would pick this book up (when I should have been doing laundry, dishes, work, etc.) and would be upset when he woke up again. Because I wanted to keep reading!

I just have to say that Lucas Davenport is a badass cop. He pretty much does what he wants when he wants to. Some of the things he did in this book, well they would be a little outside the normal boundaries. But I think that that’s what made this book feel so much more real to me. Davenport isn’t necessarily a play-by-the-rules kind of guy. He’s killed five (six?!) men in the line of duty – most cops never even pull their guns. And he didn’t have any remorse about doing what had to be done in order to catch the maddog – even if it was a little outside the lines of legal.

Now I will state that this book was originally released in 1989 – that means that things were a little dated. And seriously – who uses the word prophylactic? I had never even heard that term before! They’re condoms, people! And it wasn’t used just once – no, it was used throughout the entire book. So much so that it was a little overboard at times. Obviously there were no cell phones, no internet, no widespread computer use. (Can you imagine how hard police work must have been before the age of computers?!) It definitely ages the book, but I honestly didn’t even notice most of the time because the writing and storyline were that good.

Overall I want to hit myself upside the head for waiting so long to read this book. I have had it on my shelf since 2007 (and I know that because I actually remember buying it at the grocery story when I was first married). I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you have somehow missed this book, I highly recommend hunting down a copy and giving it a shot.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Scot Harvath, SERIES, T

2012.25 REVIEW – Takedown by Brad Thor

Takedown
by Brad Thor

Copyright: 2006
Pages: 433
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 25-Oct. 3, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly count: 25
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb: July 4th weekend, New York City: As thousands of holiday travelers make their way out of Manhattan, a flawlessly executed terrorist attack plunges the city into a maelstrom of panic and death. Amidst the chaos, an elite team of foreign soldiers is systematically searching for one of their own, a man so powerful that the U.S. government refuses to admit he even exists and will do anything to keep him hidden. Now, with the world’s deadliest enemy upon America’s doorstep, counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath must fight his way through the burning city streets to take down an invisible terrorist mastermind with the means to unleash hell on a global scale.


Review: What a great installment in this series! I would definitely consider it the best one thus far. And the ending – wow, what a cliffhanger! I suppose it was surprising because Mr. Thor hadn’t done a cliffhanging ending in the previous four books of this series, so it was definitely unexpected. It for sure made me very eager to get to the next book (which I would have done immediately if I didn’t have review books that have to get read. )

Unlike the previous books, this one was set in the United States. I definitely preferred that simply because I could understand the setting a little bit better. These books are a little bit out of my comfort zone with the terrorist aspects to them, but I thoroughly enjoy them.

The writing in Mr. Thor’s books is alway exceptional; he definitely has a great editor because there never seem to be any grammatical errors (sometimes I feel like I’m the grammar police, but bad grammar is a big pet peeve of mine).

We met a slew of new characters in this installment that I hope will make some appearances in later books. Character development (another biggie for me) was done quite well and definitely left me wanting to learn more and more about these new characters!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Giveaway, Book Review, Empty Coffin, Fiction, O, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book, SERIES

2012.24 REVIEW – Betrayal by Gregg Olsen ((Giveaway!))

Betrayal
by Gregg Olsen

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 267
Rating: 5/5
Read: Sept. 19-23, 2012
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge; Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 24
Format: Print
Source: Review copy for The Readiacs’ blog tour

Blurb: When foreign exchange student Olivia Grant is stabbed to death at a party, the accusations fly through Port Gamble faster than Twitter trending. Fingers point at frenemy Brianna and her dim-witted boyfriend, Drew. But loner and host-roommate Beth Lee may also have an ax to grind, which sends her best friends Hayley and Taylor Ryan down a twisted path to clear her name – only to discover a tangled web of shocking secrets about all of them.


Review: After reading Envy last year, I was eagerly anticipating the 2012 release of Betrayal! So I was more than thrilled when I got the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for this book 🙂

This particular installment in the Empty Coffin series felt a lot different from Envy did. This was more than just Hayley and Taylor’s story – there were other characters that had a big impact in the storyline. With the storyline revolving around a murder, the reader gets a lot of perspective from the local police department, including Chief Annie Garnett –  a character that I personally liked.

But that’s not to say that Hayley and Taylor weren’t the main characters, because they definitely were. I find it amazing what kind of trouble Hayley and Taylor can get themselves into. They sure got themselves into some precarious situations in this book. And it’s not because they’re stupid either – most of the time they knew better, but they are stubborn and determined young women.  also can’t help but wonder what else can happen in little Port Gamble, Washington. That town is full of some dandy people – not just the teenagers! Plus we got to learn a little more about the twins’ “secret.” What  we learn at the end of the book definitely makes me look forward to the next book in the Empty Coffin series – Guilty.

One thing that really resonates with me when I read this series is that Gregg Olsen really seems to get teenagers. There’s been a few times when I’ve read YA books and the author just doesn’t seem to understand teenagers and the way they thing/talk/act. Gregg Olsen does. And while I may not be a teenager anymore (and haven’t been for 8 years) and while I don’t necessarily understand the current generation of teenagers myself, I can still remember what it was like to be in high school. As I said, some authors don’t seem to be able to get the teenager feeling onto the pages, but Gregg Olsen does a great job with that in my opinion. And may I just say that I definitely had a Brianna in my graduating class 😉

There was “Truth in Fiction” section at the end of the book where Mr. Olsen discusses how a recent case in Italy (Amanda Knox) lended itself somewhat to this book. Personally, I only know the very bare bones of the Amanda Knox case, so I can’t say much about the similarities. But this seems to be a theme with the Empty Coffin series since Envy revolved around cyber-bullying and referenced the Megan Meier case out of Missouri. I know a lot of authors get their original inspiration for novels from actual headlines around our country. I actually like that Mr. Olsen includes a little information at the end of both books about what (I’m assuming here) prompted the original inspiration for the particular novel.

Overall I would highly recommend this book. I think that it will definitely appeal to a very wide audience – not just the YA crowd. While this book can stand as a standalone, I definitely recommend reading Envy first so you can understand the characters better.


—–> GIVEAWAY!! <—–

    

I am thrilled to announce that I am hosting a giveaway of my ARC of Betrayal AND a finished paperback copy of Envy!

US entrants, only.

As always, your information will never be shared and the form will be deleted upon the end of the giveaway.

Giveaway begins 9/25 and will end 10/2 at 5pm central time. Winner will be selected using random.org and will be announced here on the blog. (And the winner will also get a confirmation email)


Be sure to check out the other tour stops on the Betrayal blog tour:

Monday, September 24thThe Reading Date
Tuesday, September 25thTales of a Book Addict
Wednesday, September 26thReading Lark
Thursday, September 27th A Dream within a Dream
Friday, September 28thEvie Bookish

Monday, October 1stYA Between the Lines
Tuesday, October 2ndI Am a Reader, Not a Writer
Wednesday, October 3rdNerd Alien
Thursday, October 4thHopeless Bibliophile
Friday, October 5th – Book Hi (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t find this blog when I googled it – if you know this blog please let me know so I can add the link)