2/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, L, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, Review Book

2014.32 REVIEW – The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three
by Sarah Lotz

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 395
Rating: 2/5
Read: July 5-July 15, 2014
Challenge: What’s in a Name
Yearly count: 32
Format:  E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: N/A

The ThreeBlurb: Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioral problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behavior becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…


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

I originally saw this book mentioned in a Shelf Awareness email. It sounded really good and I was excited when I got the notification saying that I had been approved for a copy on NetGalley. Then I do like I seem to do with every single e-book I get … I let it sit. And sit. And sit some more. I decided it was time to clear this book off my review list and loaded it up onto my Nook and took off with it.

Now that I’ve finished this book, I’m just confused. First of all this book is billed as “horror.” To me there’s not a lick of horror in this book. I can’t even bring myself to call it creepy in any way, shape or form. I think horror fans are going to be sorely disappointed by this book.

The premise behind the book sounds really interesting. But the execution was just lacking in my opinion. I was okay with the book within a book format, but then it took a really strange turn at the end that I didn’t understand. The ending was so ambiguous and I did not like that at all.

Obviously the book wasn’t horrendous, because I finished it. But it just didn’t work for me.

READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 6

2014tbrbutton

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

In June I managed to read one book off my list. I’m still technically one book behind, but at least I didn’t get any further behind 🙂

This month I chose to read Killing Floor by Lee Child. I had actually tried to read this book last year and ended up putting it aside. I held onto my copy though, because I knew that I wanted to try again with this book. So I took it with me on vacation and gobbled it up! I read all 524 pages the first 3 days of my 4 day trip. I will admit I skipped out on some stuff with the group of people just to sneak in a few more pages. (Yes, I am anti-social like that).

Overall, I’m glad I finally read this first installment to the Jack Reacher series. However, I am so upset with myself that I watched the Jack Reacher movie before meeting Jack Reacher in the book. Boo. It kind of ruined it a little bit for me. Because having the description of Jack Reacher that Mr. Child gives in this book and yet constantly picturing Tom Cruise … well, it’s disappointing really. Couldn’t Hollywood do a little better casting?! After reading this book and really thinking on it … Jason Statham. That’s who I’d cast.

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
  7. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly

Alternates:

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

2014.28 REVIEW – Killing Floor by Lee Child

Killing Floor
by Lee Child

Copyright: 1997
Pages: 524
Rating: 4/5
Read: June 12-15, 2014
Challenge: TBR Pile Challenge
Yearly count: 28
Format:  Print
Source: Personal Copy
Series: Jack Reacher #1

Killing FloorBlurb: Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Reacher knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.


Review: Sometime last year I picked this book up and put it back down after about 50 pages. It just didn’t catch my attention at the time like I needed it to. But I held onto my copy because I really wanted to read this book, I just had to catch it at the right time. 

Apparently my beach vacation is exactly what I needed for this book to “work” for me. Because I absolutely devoured this book! I couldn’t get enough of it. I started it on the plane, and I read snippets of it here and there every chance I could get. Including some time by the ocean 🙂

There’s not much I can say about this book that probably hasn’t been said a million times. Although I have to say that I’m a little irritated that I saw the Jack Reacher movie before I read this book. Because all I could think of all throughout the book was how Tom Cruise is just wrong, wrong, wrong as Jack Reacher.

Regardless of that, though, I really enjoyed this book. I thought the plot line was interesting. The characters were all well-developed. Actually, I was surprised as to how developed they were seeing as how Reacher is a drifter. Will this cast of characters reappear in later installments?

Either way, I’m definitely interested in meet Mr. Reacher again in the near future!

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, M, Nonfiction, O, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014

2014.27 REVIEW – If I Can’t Have You by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris

If I Can’t Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the Murder of Her Children
by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 322
Rating: 5/5
Read: June 5-7, 2014
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge, What’s in a Name Challenge
Yearly count: 27
Format:  Print
Source: Library
Series: None

Blurb: New York Times bestselling authors Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris investigate one of the twenty-first century’s most puzzling disappearances and how it resulted in the murder of two children by their father.

Every once in a great while a genuine murder mystery unfolds before the eyes of the American public. The tragic story of Susan Powell and her murdered boys, Charlie and Braden, is the only case that rivals the JonBenet Ramsey saga in the annals of true crime. When the pretty Utah mother went missing in December of 2009, the media was swept up in the story – with lenses and microphones trained on Susan’s husband, Josh. He said he had no idea what happened to his young wife, and that he and the boys had been camping in the middle of a snowstorm.

Over the next three years, bombshell by bombshell, the story would reveal more shocking secrets. Josh’s father, Steve, who was sexually obsessed with Susan, would ultimately be convicted of unspeakable perversion. Josh’s brother, Michael, would commit suicide. And in the most stunning event of them all, Josh Powell would murder his two little boys and kill himself with a brutality beyond belief, leaving a family destroyed and a nation in shock.


Review: In my late teens and early twenties, I gobbled up true crime. In any way, shape, or form. I just devoured it. From books to documentaries, to CourtTV … I couldn’t get enough true crime! Then I kind of got away from it. I still occasionally catch a TV show here or there, but for the most part, I’ve really not devoted much time to my love of true crime. 

But then I had seen the pre-publication publicity for this book and I was immediately intrigued. So I put myself on my library’s wait list and was excited when it came in. But what I wasn’t expecting was to absolutely devour it. Like in 3 days.

I learned a lot of stuff by reading this book. I remember the Susan Powell disappearance. And I remember Josh’s weird behavior. And I remember the absolute heartbreaking news that Josh had killed his two precious little boys. But I didn’t know a lot of the fine details. Which, after reading the book, a lot of people didn’t because the police never released a whole lot of information until after the case was officially closed. And by then, I’m not sure how many people were still interested.

I was really surprised by how tight-lipped the police department really was. It was almost as if they didn’t want to pursue the case. Knowing what I know now, they were doing things that a lot of people didn’t know. However, I finished this book with the profound feeling that Charlie and Braden could be alive and well today had the police department done a little bit more. I know how difficult it is to progress with such circumstantial evidence. But at the same time, I think Susan’s father had it right all along … Josh would have broken down in jail. He wouldn’t have reacted to that well and I think he would have talked.

Now, do I have a strong feeling as to what really happened to Susan? No. I can’t say whether I think it was an accident, premeditated, or if Josh was just a participant, not the actual offender. I do think that there is only one person alive today that knows where Susan actually is … Steve. I think Charlie and Braden saw something that night “camping.” And they were desperately trying to process it, you could see that in their behavior after Susan was missing. I think Josh’s brother Michael knew something, why else would Josh make him beneficiary to his life insurance … and why would he commit suicide when the police focused on him?

This book left me with a lot of questions. But that’s the ultimate problem with this case. There are so many unanswered questions.

Regardless of what you know or think you know about Susan Powell’s disappearance, I can’t recommend this book enough. It reads so easily. It’s not dry or hard to read. It puts things in such a light that you heart will break over and over again before you reach the end.

READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 5

2014tbrbutton

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

I didn’t write a checkpoint post last month, because I failed to read anything for this challenge in April. Boo 😦

Going into May I was three books behind. Oops. However, I read two books for this challenge in May and got (almost) caught back up! Woo!

First up was The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry. I always love me some Cotton Malone. But I keep getting further and further behind in this series because his books seem to take me a long time to read. They can be very detailed and can sometimes take me a week or two to read just one book. So far I think I’ve only been averaging one of these books a year (see why I can’t get caught up?!) This one was good, but overall I enjoyed the character development more than I liked the plot.

Then I was finally introduced to Stone Barrington with New York Dead by Stuart Woods. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this book! It was a lot of fun from page 1! It was definitely the right book at the right moment for me, too. Definitely leaves me wanting more Stone Barrington!

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
  7. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
  8. Killing Floor by Lee Child

Alternates:

  1. Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell
  2. McNally’s Secret by Lawrence Sanders
4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

2014.23 REVIEW – New York Dead by Stuart Woods

New York Dead
by Stuart Woods

Copyright: 1991
Pages: 324
Rating: 4/5
Read: May 17 – May 19, 2014
Challenge: TBR Pile Challenge
Yearly count: 23
Format:  Print
Source: Personal Copy (PBS)
Series: Stone Barrington #1

New York DeadBlurb: Everyone is always telling Stone Barrington that he’s too smart to be a cop, but it’s pure luck that places him on the streets in the dead of night, just in time to witness the horrifying incident that turns his life inside out.

Suddenly he is on the front page of every New York newspaper, and his life is hopelessly entwined in the increasingly shocking life (and perhaps death) of Sasha Nijinsky, the country’s hottest and most beautiful television anchorwoman.

No matter where he turns, the case is waiting for him, haunting his nights and turning his days into a living hell. Stone finds himself caught in a perilous web of unspeakable crimes, dangerous friends, and sexual depravity that has throughout it one common thread: Sasha.


Review: I have six review books stacked up and waiting for me. I had just come off of reading 2 review books back to back and was itching to read a TBR book. I was hoping that I would choose wisely and pick something that wouldn’t take long to knock out. I had no idea my choice would be a home run!

This book caught me from the very first page and I devoured it in about 48 hours. I have no idea why on earth it has taken me this long to discover Stone Barrington. But I liked him. And I’m looking forward to meeting him some more in the future (good thing, there’s only a gazillion Barrington books already published).

I found the storyline in this one to be very well written. There were a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. There were some predictable spots as well, though. But all in all it really balanced itself out to be a really enjoyable read. The characters were all well-developed. And not all of them are as nice as they appear. While I will say that I wasn’t necessarily shocked at the ending itself, I wasn’t entirely ready for part of it.

Can I just say that while it’s nice to be a book blogger and read the latest and greatest books out there, sometimes it’s nice to read a 23-year-old book and find a gem where you least expect it.

Overall, definitely a great first book to a series that I hope I continue to enjoy in the future.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Giveaway, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, Review Book

2014.21 REVIEW – The Blonde by Anna Godbersen {GIVEAWAY}

The Blonde
by Anna Godbersen

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 390
Rating: 4/5
Read: May 5 – May 11, 2014
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge
Yearly count: 21
Format:  Print
Source: Publicist for review
Series: None


The BlondeBlurb
: In 1947, a young, unknown Norma Jean meets a mysterious man in Los Angeles who transforms her into Marilyn the worldwide star. Twelve years later, he comes back for his repayment, and Marilyn is given her first assignment from the KGB: Uncover something about JFK that no one else knows.

But what begins as a simple job turns complicated when Marilyn falls in love with the bright young President, and learns of plans to assassinate Kennedy. Now the most famous woman on the planet will do anything to save her man, the leader of the free world. Part biography, part love story and part thriller, The Blonde is a vivid tableau of American celebrity, sex, love, violence, power, and paranoia.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free from a publicist for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

Faithful readers, you know I’m obsessed with JFK. Add Marilyn Monroe and I’m even more intrigued. So you can imagine that I never even hesitated when I was pitched this book for review! I couldn’t wait to dig into this one and figure out how Ms. Godbersen was going to present Marilyn Monroe as a spy!

And I must tell you, the gloves are off in the way the characters were portrayed. It’s obviously well known that JFK was quite the ladies man, which is quite evident in this portrayal. But I will admit that I didn’t like who Marilyn became in this story. Without giving away too much of the storyline, Marilyn is promised something very important to her in return for whatever information she can get out of JFK. Seducing him is the obvious way to get what she needs. I have typed out a sentence four times trying to word it the way I need to for you to understand my dilemma with Marilyn in this book. Maybe I should just keep it to the fact that I wanted to like Marilyn but I just didn’t. I couldn’t like her.

Can I just state the obvious here? The whole idea of Marilyn Monroe as a spy?! Oh. My. Gosh. I simply cannot get over that concept! It might seem like a total stretch, but the way it plays out in this novel… well, it really works! There’s a lot of twists and turns that you don’t really expect. There are characters who might seem out of character from what you know of history. There are revelations that make you wonder… and that, in my opinion, is the heart and soul of this book. Could it be true? You really never know anyone else, do you? Like I said, it’s a concept that is a lot of fun to see how it unfolds in this book!

Overall though it’s definitely a good read in my opinion. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next while reading it. The writing was very well done. The characters were well-developed. The only thing to be aware of is the fact that there is a lot of sex in this book (but it is Marilyn Monroe and JFK after all…)

I would definitely recommend this book! Another great read in my opinion!


So now that you’ve patiently read through all my ramblings about this book, let’s get down to the nitty gritty here. I have a giveaway opportunity! Somehow I ended up with a hardcover, finished copy of this book (it arrived mysteriously a couple of weeks after I received the ARC). So I would like to extend the offer of a giveaway to my readers.

Fine print: If you want to win and you live in the United States (sorry, international friends :() just leave me a comment here with your email address to be entered. You have until 7pm central standard time on Sunday, May 18th to enter. At that point I will take the number of comments I have and use random.org to decide a winner. Your comment will decide your entry number. At that point I will make an announcement and contact the winner by email. You will have 24 hours to respond, or I will have to choose another winner. Good luck!!


Anna Godbersen_creditedAbout the author: Anna Godbersen was born in Berkeley, California and moved to New York to attend Barnard College. After graduating she worked in the literary department of Esquire magazine, where she also wrote book reviews. Her debut novel was the first installment of the bestselling LUXE series for young adults, which she followed with the BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS series. THE BLONDE, to be published by Weinstein in May 2014, is her first book for grownups. She lives in Brooklyn. 

AUTHOR WEBSITE

3.5/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Cotton Malone, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, SERIES

2014.20 REVIEW – The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry

The Paris Vendetta
by Steve Berry

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 472
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: April 25 – May 4, 2014
Challenge: The Official TBR Challenge
Yearly count: 20
Format:  Print
Source: Personal Copy (Bookmooch)
Series: Cotton Malone #5

The Paris VendettaBlurb: Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone wakes to find an intruder in his Copenhagen bookshop: an American Secret Service agent with assassins on his heels. Narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight, the two journey to the secluded estate of Malone’s friend Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon has uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multimillionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. But Thorvaldsen also harbors a hidden agenda – a vendetta – that will force Malone to choose between friend and country, past and present. Starting in Denmark, moving to England, and ending up in the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, Malone is forced to match wits with a terrorist for hire and to plunge into a desperate hunt for Napoleon’s legendary treasure, lost for two hundred years. It’s a breathless game of duplicity and death, all to claim a prize of untold value. But at what cost?


Review: This book is the fifth installment in the Cotton Malone series. I have slowly worked my way through these books the last few years. They always pique my interest, with all the history involved, but I find them to be somewhat slow reads (which is why I probably only read one a year).

In this particular installment, there was a lot of things going on. I found myself not as interested in the actual storyline as I was in the character development. There is a lot of growth, betrayal, and devastation within the characters of this book. Because of this I would not recommend reading this book without having read the previous books in the series. I don’t think you would appreciate some of the characters’ decisions without some background information.

As always with Mr. Berry’s work, the book appears to have been meticulously researched. The writing was extremely good, the storyline interesting. Overall a great book that I did indeed enjoy. It’s just that I have hit a slump in my reading and unfortunately, I think this was the book that started that slump. But I was determined to read it because I knew it would be worth it in the end, it was just a long journey to get there.

Overall, definitely a book and series I would highly recommend to those of you who love a good adventure with lots of history involved.

READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 3

2014tbrbutton

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

I’m happy to say that I’ve done a little bit better this month than last month. What’s that mean, you ask? Well … I at least read one book for this challenge this month 🙂

So while I’m still technically one book behind on this challenge, at least I didn’t get another book behind. I keep hoping that I’ll catch a break in my reading schedule to get some personal books read, but I keep accepting review books, haha! (Which is okay too because I’ve read a lot of good books this year!)

Anyway, for this month I read Max Allan Collins’ Bye Bye, BabyIt’s part of his Nathan Heller series, but the first in a trilogy within the series that revolves around the Kennedy family.

As I state in my review, I liked the book but I think it’s overall reach in regards to its readership would probably begin and end with people interested in Marilyn Monroe and/or the Kennedy family. But I would recommend it and I look forward to reading the other two books in the future sometime.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading more for this challenge, but I have a pretty bad feeling that I’m going to end up not too happy with the books I chose. Oh well!

Until next month’s check-in … happy reading!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014

2014.11 REVIEW – Bye Bye, Baby by Max Allan Collins

Bye Bye, Baby
by Max Allan Collins

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 326
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Mar. 1 – 4, 2014
Challenge: TBR Pile Challenge
Yearly count: 11
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy

 

Bye Bye BabyBlurb: Hollywood, May 1962: Marilyn Monroe, the ultimate goddess of the silver screen, is at the peak of her popularity, internationally famous, universally admired by women and desired by men. But she’s also famously insecure and temperamental and is being pilloried in the press for delaying the production of Something’s Got to Give. When the head of Twentieth Century Fox threatens to cancel her contract, Marilyn hires “PI to the stars” Nathan Heller to tap her phones and record conversations that might prove to be important if there’s a lawsuit.

Less than three months later, Monroe is dead from an overdose and, officially, a suicide. But Heller isn’t buying it. He knows that in the weeks before, the star was anything but suicidal. He knows, too, about her affair with JFK, about the secret connections between the Kennedys and the Mob … and about Bobby Kennedy’s blood feud with Jimmy Hoffa. In short, Heller knows too much to accept this bum rap on a beautiful, gifted woman loved by the whole world … including Nathan Heller.

So he investigates, though his efforts might enrage some very famous, very powerful, very dangerous people. But they can’t keep Heller from finding out the astounding truth behind Marilyn Monroe’s untimely demise…


Review: I have had this book on my radar since 2011 when it first came out and I saw it mentioned on Caribousmom‘s blog. I picked up a copy during some online shopping in 2012. And it has sat on my shelf ever since then. What better way to finally get this book read than to add it to my TBR Pile Reading Challenge list? Because for whatever reason, I had let this book sit for far too long considering how much I was interested in this book when I first saw it.

So, what did I think about it? I enjoyed it for the most part. I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily a book that I would go screaming praise from rooftops, but it wasn’t a disappointment either. It lays somewhere in the middle. Not great but not bad. Just plain “good.”

But here’s where I have an issue with it really. I honestly think that this book’s reach will more than likely begin and end with readers who are intrigued by Marilyn Monroe and/or the Kennedy family. That’s it. As you know, I’m obsessed with all things Kennedy. So obviously that’s where my interest in it lies. However, I only have limited knowledge about Marilyn Monroe. I obviously knew who she was and that there were doubts surrounding her death. (Dare I say the word …. conspiracy?!) Regardless, that’s about where my knowledge of her ends. So all this book really made me want to know is where did the truth stop and the fiction start? Because I had no way of knowing what was what. And that makes me want to read more about Marilyn in general. (Hopefully I can get to that someday soon, because I have a couple of books on her in my possession.)

The book is well written overall. I liked Nate Heller’s character. I had no idea that there were so many Heller books out there (17 in case you’re curious). But at the same time, I don’t think it’s likely that I will go back and read the entire back list. However, I have discovered that this book was the first in a planned three-book “trilogy” that involved the Kennedy’s. I think it will be interesting to see where Mr. Collins takes the next two books, so I definitely have them on my radar for the future.

Overall, like I said this isn’t a bad book. I liked it. But I honestly don’t think it will appeal to just any reader.