4/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014

2014.53 REVIEW – These Few Precious Days by Christopher Andersen

These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie
by Christopher Andersen

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 308
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 20 – Dec. 31, 2014
Challenge: What’s in a Name
Yearly count: 53
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy – Purchased new
Series: N/A

These Few Precious daysBlurb: They were the original power couple – outlandishly rich,impossibly attractive, and endlessly fascinating. Now, in this rare, behind-the-scenes portrait of the Kennedys in their final year together, #1 New York Times bestselling biographer Christopher Andersen shows us a side of JFK and Jackie we’ve never seen before. Tender, intimate, complex, and, at times, explosive, theirs is a love story unlike any other – filled with secrets, scandals, and bombshells that could never be fully revealed … until now. Including:

  • Stunning new details about the Kennedys’ rumored affairs – hers as well as his – and how they ultimately overcame all odds to save their marriage.
  • The president’s many premonitions of his own death, and how he repeatedly tried to pull out of his last fateful trip to Dallas.
  • Shocking revelations about how the couple, unaware of the dangers, became dependent on amphetamine injections, the real reason – according to his longtime personal physician – for JFK’s notorious libido, and how the White House hid his many serious medical problems from the public.
  • How the tragic death of their infant son Patrick led to an emotional outpouring from the president that surprised even their closest friends – and brought JFK and Jackie closer than they had ever been.
  • Touching, firsthand accounts of the family’s most private moments, before and after the assassination.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews conducted with the Kennedys’ inner circle – from family members and lifelong friends to key advisors and political confidants – Andersen takes us deeper inside the world of the president and his first lady than ever before. Unsparing yet sympathetic, bigger than life but all too real, These Few Precious Days captures the ups and downs of a marriage, a man, and a woman, the memories of which will continue to fascinate and inspire for generations to come.


Review: This is the fourth book I’ve read by Christopher Andersen, having previously read After Diana, Diana’s Boysand William & Kate. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy Mr. Andersen’s books and this one was no exception!

It’s really no surprise that I picked this book up. I am a little Kennedy obsessed, after all. But for the most part, everything I’ve ever read about JFK has been entirely related to his assassination. So to say I learned a lot of things while reading this book would be an understatement. There was a ton of information in this book that I had no idea about. I really enjoyed it.

I can’t imagine the tragedy that Jackie went through during her lifetime. To have all that heartbreak with her child-bearing issues, suffering one miscarriage, one stillbirth and losing Patrick just a day or so after he was born (all while having to watch RFK’s wife pop baby after baby out).  And then to lose her husband while she was still grieving the loss of Patrick. I can’t even begin to imagine. Talk about a woman who suffered endlessly it seems.

For all that I know about JFK, there is so much that I don’t know about Jackie. It was fascinating to get a more intimate peek into who Jackie Kennedy was. It definitely makes me want to read more about her in the future.

It’s really amazing what the Kennedys were able to hide from the press and general public. If the world had known then what we know now … “Camelot” probably would have been over before it began. I think it’s just so shocking to me because we are so used to knowing everything about everyone immediately in our culture. JFK’s staff and aides, along with the Secret Service, really protected him in more ways than just physically. It’s amazing, really, what he got away with, so to speak.

Overall, this was a really interesting book to me. I think what draws me to Mr. Andersen’s books so much is that while being non-fiction, they are so easy to read. It reads like fiction, to be honest. It just flows so well and I never found any “dry” spots in this book. I would definitely recommend this author and this book.

 

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4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

2014.46 REVIEW – Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

Dead to the World
by Charlaine Harris

Copyright: 2004
Pages: 291
Rating: 4/5
Read: Oct. 25 – Nov. 1, 2014
Challenge: RIP IX
Yearly count: 46
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #4

Dead to the WorldBlurb: It’s not every day that you come across a naked man on the side of the road. That’s why cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse doesn’t just drive on by. Turns out the poor thing hasn’t a clue who he is, but Sookie does. It’s Eric the vampire – but now he’s a kinder, gentler Eric. And a scared Eric, because whoever took his memory now wants his life. Sookie’s investigation into who and why leads straight into a dangerous battle among witches, vampires, and werewolves. But a greater danger could be to Sookie’s heart – because this version of Eric is very difficult to resist…


Review: Paranormal is not normally my cup of tea, but for some reason I really enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse series. This book is another good installment, in my opinion.

What gets me every single time is just how much trouble Sookie manages to find herself in. And how she gets out of it is even more remarkable!

There’s not much that I could possibly say about this book that hasn’t been mentioned a gazillion times before.

I enjoyed it. And I would recommend this series to just about anyone.

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

2014.45 REVIEW – Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

Angel Killer
by Andrew Mayne

Copyright: 2012, 2014
Pages: 353
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 29 – Oct. 10, 2014
Challenge: RIP IX
Yearly count: 45
Format: Print
Source: TLC Book Tour
Series: Jessica Blackwood # 1

Angel KillerBlurb: FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she’s left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her . . . until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test.

A hacker who identifies himself only as “Warlock” brings down the FBI’s website and posts a code in its place that leads to a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground . . . as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star—until she turns her back on her troubled family to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes’s discovery of an old magic magazine will turn Jessica’s world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to achieving the seemingly impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock’s series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to stop a depraved killer? If she can’t, she may become his next victim.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in conjunction with a TLC Book tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I accepted this book for review with the reservation that I am not generally into magic. It just stretches my boundaries of what is believable. But there was something about the description that really drew me in … probably just the FBI aspect, to be honest.

Either way, I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to try this book. It worked. Really, really well, in my opinion. I found myself flying through the pages. There were a lot of twists and turns throughout the book that kept me guessing until the very end – and I never did have things figured out!

Jessica is a great character, but her self-doubting trait kind of got a little irritating at times. I like a little more confidence personally. And Damian – what a character! I don’t really know what else to say about that…

Overall, I definitely think this is the great start of a new series that I think will attract a very wide audience … magic lovers, mystery lovers, it’s just an all-around good book that I would definitely recommend!


Andrew MayneAbout the author: Andrew Mayne is the star of A&E’s magic reality show Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, and has worked for David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, and David Blaine. He lives in Los Angeles.

Connect with him through his website, Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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 Purchase Links

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

Other tour stops:

Tuesday, September 23rd: Always With a Book

Wednesday, September 24th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Thursday, September 25th: Priscilla and Her Books

Thursday, September 25th: Mysteries and My Musings – spotlight

Thursday, September 25th: Why Girls Are Weird

Monday, September 29th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, September 29th: Mysteries and My Musings – review

Wednesday, October 1st: The Road to Here

Friday, October 3rd: Not in Jersey

Monday, October 6th: BoundbyWords

Tuesday, October 7th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Wednesday, October 8th: Book Loving Hippo

Thursday, October 9th: Open Book Society

Monday, October 13th: Tales of a Book Addict

Tuesday, October 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, October 15th: Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks

Wednesday, October 15th: A Bookworm’s World

Thursday, October 16th: Book Marks the Spot

Friday, October 17th: Girl Lost in a Book

Friday, October 24th: A Dream Within a Dream

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3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, NetGalley, P, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

2014.44 REVIEW – Ryder by Nick Pengelley

Ryder
by Nick Pengelley

Copyright: 2013, 2014
Pages: 280
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Sept. 23 – 28, 2014
Challenge: RIP IX
Yearly count: 44
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley via TLC Book Tour
Series: Ayesha Ryder #1

RyderBlurb: As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries?

Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant.

Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley in conjunction with a TLC Book tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.

When I was first pitched this book I was immediately intrigued. I love a good action adventure novel. What I didn’t realize was that this book would have a lot of references to the Middle East. I am not a very political person. In all honesty, I know very little about what goes on in that side of the world. So for me, this book was a little over my head in regards to everything Middle Eastern.

That being said, I still liked the book. Because I liked Ayesha’s character. I wanted her to succeed. There came a point in the book when someone who I thought was trustworthy did a total 360 on Ayesha. I actually gasped out loud. And from then on I was hooked. It was at that point when I went from being slightly intrigued by this book to being full-on, Ayesha-has-to-succeed-no-matter-what. There were so many twists and turns, but it was that one revelation that really turned the whole book around for me.

The writing was very good. The action was extremely well written. The storyline, while I personally found it somewhat hard to follow just because of my lack of Middle Eastern knowledge, was still easy enough to follow that I wasn’t completely lost. The characters were interesting (Lady Madrigal Carey! What. A. Character!)

Overall it’s definitely a good book, but not necessarily the easiest book to read just because of the Middle Eastern slant. But I’d definitely like to revisit Ayesha again in the future.

Recommended.


There is a GIVEAWAY included in this tour. For a chance to win a $25 gift card to the e-retailer of your choice AND a copy of Ryder, please CLICK HERE.


About the author: Nick Pengelley is the author of the political thriller Ryder. Australian by birth, he’s had careers in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom as a law professor, legal consultant, and analyst on Middle East politics, which is his passion. Pengelley lives in Toronto with his wife, Pamela.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-a-Million | Barnes & Noble

Other tour stops:

Monday, September 22nd: Bell, Book & Candle

Monday, September 22nd: Omnimystery News – guest post

Tuesday, September 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, September 24th: D. L. Kamstra | Writing about Stories

Thursday, September 25th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, September 29th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, September 30th: Tales of a Book Addict

Wednesday, October 1st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, October 6th: Crime Book Club

Tuesday, October 7th: Read Love Blog

Wednesday, October 8th: 2 Kids and Tired Books

Thursday, October 9th: Queen of All She Reads

Friday, October 10th: A Fantastical Librarian

Friday, October 10th: Mystery Playground – Drinks with Reads guest post

Monday, October 13th: By the Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 14th: the smitten word

Wednesday, October 15th: Dwell in Possibility

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2.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, L, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, Review Book

2014.43 REVIEW – I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers
by Barry Lyga

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 282
Rating: 2.5/5
Read: Sept. 7 – 14, 2014
Challenge: RIP IX
Yearly count: 43
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: Jasper Dent #1

I Hunt KillersBlurb: What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I first saw this book in a NetGalley email. I don’t read a ton of young adult, but something about this book really caught my attention. I requested it and was excited to see that I had been approved for it.

Overall, I am a little disappointed in this book. It started out pretty interesting. But then somewhere along the way I really started disliking Jazz’s character and it all kind of went downhill from there. I was just so tired of his attitude. I get that he’s a teenager and he’s angsty. I get that his circumstances suck. But I could hardly stand the “oh, I think I am a serial killer because my dad is one” attitude that he kept taking. Deep down I want to believe he’s a good kid. But he seems to think otherwise. And it was a contradiction that just didn’t work out for me.

I actually got to about 70% done and was seriously considering giving up on the book. But at that point you get so far in and you don’t really want to quit. So I persevered on and finished it. I didn’t gain or lose anything from reading this book, and I think that’s why I had such a problem with it. It wasn’t horrible, yet it wasn’t very good. It was just so-so. But the potential. Oh the potential was so there. The whole idea of what happens when you’re the kid of America’s most infamous serial killer … that really was interesting. But the execution just didn’t work for me. And that’s really disappointing to me.

Maybe I didn’t “get” this book because I’m not a huge YA reader. I don’t know. But it didn’t really work for me.

READING CHALLENGES 2014

Joining R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

lavinia-portraitRIP92751

Since I had so much fun with this challenge last year, I’ve decided to sign up again this year!! Definitely looking forward to it!

I’ve decided to go with the same level I did last year:

ripnineperilfirstSo basically this means I am committing to four books between September 1 and October 31.

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

Those are the types of books you read for this challenge …. and right up my alley!

I have a stack of books picked out. Whether or not I stick with them, who knows (seeing as how A Discovery of Witches was on last year’s list and I didn’t get to it, I’d *love* to see myself reading it this year). I also have two review e-galleys that will fit this challenge which I will for sure be including.

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READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 8

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Well, here we are at the eighth TBR Challenge checkpoint.

I continue to be one book behind in this challenge, but I was able to knock out A Time to Kill by John Grisham in August. I still can’t believe that I had never read this book before. I really, really enjoyed it and highly recommend it to everyone. I am so glad that I read it; especially at a time when we have had a lot of unrest in the Midwest because of race issues. Definitely a timeless classic book in my opinion.

I’m not sure where I’ll head next with my list for this challenge. I have picked up The Dante Club and Relic a couple of times and set them both aside … I have a feeling I will need to use both of my alternates. Here’s what I’ve still got left to choose from, which one would you choose next!??!:

  1. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
  2. The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott
  3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  4. Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  5. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Alternates:

  1. Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell
  2. McNally’s Secret by Lawrence Sanders
4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014

2014.41 REVIEW – A Time to Kill by John Grisham

A Time to Kill
by John Grisham

Copyright: 1989
Pages: 515
Rating: 4/5
Read: Aug. 22 – 29, 2014
Challenge: Official TBR Challenge
Yearly count: 41
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: N/A

A Time to KillBlurb: Clanton, Mississippi. The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle – and takes justice into his own outraged hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life … and then his own…


Review: This book was from my own shelves, all opinions expressed below are my own.

What really defines a “classic”? Is it something from a gazillion years ago that we are forced to read in high school, with language and dialects that we can’t even follow along with? Or is it something that can be written in the 1980s and still resonate with a reader in the year 2014? I go with the latter.

I originally placed this book on my to-read list this year for the Official TBR Challenge. I don’t remember why this particular book made it onto my list, but I’m sure it was just the shock of realizing that I had never read this book. I will be honest, I have seen the movie (though years ago, and I only recalled that Matthew McConaughey portrayed the defense counsel).

But here’s what really gets me about this book. You’d have to be a complete recluse with no contact with the outside world to not know what has happened in Ferguson, Missouri in the past few weeks. All I want to say about the matter is that it was a sad situation and the violence and rioting was completely unacceptable. But back to the book … I was amazed at how the racism aspects of this book is still very relevant to today’s world. The events of the past month have proved that there are still very large problems in our country. Ones that are ignored for the most part, until things come completely undone.

And that, my dear readers, is why I feel like this book is such a classic. If I can read a book that was published when I was 5 years old and be able to sit down and realize that the plot of this book could be played out today in just about any court in the country … it just speaks volumes to me.

Personally I highly enjoyed this book. And I think it should be required reading. My one and only complaint is that it really could have been about 150 pages shorter. Every character we encounter along the way seemed to have their own back story, which just continued to draw out the book. But the last 100 pages were full of nail-biting suspense and really set the bar for Mr. Grisham’s fellow authors.

My copy of the book included an author note from Mr. Grisham. I want to leave you with the last sentence:

This one came from the heart. It’s a first novel, and at times it rambles, but I wouldn’t change a word if given the chance.

If you have never read this book, do not hesitate. If you have read this book, consider a re-read.

READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 7

2014tbrbutton

Well, here we are at the seventh TBR Challenge checkpoint.

In July I finished one book for this challenge. I’m still one book behind, but I keep managing to not get any farther behind! Yay! Downside … I’m not as excited by the books that are left on my list. Boo. Why didn’t I chose better?! Ugh! Oh well. I guess that’s what makes it a “challenge”, right?

So I finished Trunk Music by Michael Connelly this month. I’m slooooowly making my way through the Harry Bosch series and I’m still really enjoying it! This one was a little slow in the beginning, but it ended up being an overall fun read.

I’m not sure where I’ll head next with my list for this challenge. Here’s what I’ve still got left to choose from, which one would you choose next!??!:

  1. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
  2. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  3. The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  5. Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  6. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Alternates:

  1. Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell
  2. McNally’s Secret by Lawrence Sanders
4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, Harry Bosch, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, SERIES

2014.33 REVIEW – Trunk Music by Michael Connelly

Trunk Music
by Michael Connelly

Copyright: 1997
Pages: 427
Rating: 4/5
Read: July 10-July 19, 2014
Challenge: Official TBR Challenge
Yearly count: 33
Format:  Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: Harry Bosch #5

Trunk MusicBlurb: When B-grade L.A. movie producer Tony Aliso is found stuffed into the trunk of his Rolls-Royce, all signs point to “trunk music” – a mob hit. Detective Harry Bosch, just back from an “involuntary stress lave,” is not so sure. And when he finds the money trail, he follows it … all the way to Vegas.

Seems this Tony had his share of enemies, and in no time, so does Harry: Vegas thugs, LAPD’s organized crime unit, a smarmy internal affairs investigator and, of course, Tony’s killers. Everyone wants a piece of Harry. And somehow, they’ve found just the way to get it…

Turns out that just before his death, Tony was seen at a Vegas poker table with one Eleanor Wish – ex-FBI agent, ex-convict … and ex-love of Harry’s life. Now it’s time for Harry to keep his cards close to the table – and his enemies even closer before it’s time to face the TRUNK MUSIC.


Review: Oh, Harry … how I love you so much! Seriously, I really like Harry Bosch! I’m slowly making my way through this series, but the books are getting better and better.

This one was a really good installment. I found it so much fun to work the case with Harry. I only had part of the “who-dun-it” figured out before it was finally put together by Harry.

There’s not much else that can be said about an older book that has already been read and reviewed a gazillion times. I liked it and I’m looking forward to the next Harry Bosch book!!