4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, O, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010

REVIEW: Final Breath by Kevin O’Brien

Final Breath
by Kevin O’Brien

Copyright: 2008
Pages: 436
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Jan. 27 – Feb. 3, 2010
Challenge:  2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2010; Thriller & Suspense 2010
Yearly Count: 5

First Line: “I swear to God, I’m going to killer her,” he whispered. 

The deaths appear to be random. There seems to be no connection whatsoever. But one woman is slowly realizing that there is indeed a connection – and it’s her. Television reporter Sydney Jordan begins receiving strange souvenirs. She has no idea what these souvenirs really mean, but she eventually begins to realize that people that she has previously interviewed for her television show are ending up dead – most of them are made to look like accidents. But she knows that something else is going on with these deaths. After leaving Chicago abruptly with her son for Seattle, she feels that it will be a new start, but these strange occurrences just keep happening. Someone is watching her and her son, someone who knows her quite well, someone who has placed Sydney as a pawn in a very deadly game. When Sydney finally puts all of the clues together, will it be too late?

I have read a few other Kevin O’Brien novels in the past and have always loved the intense thrills that he manages to write. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s just one of those authors who can give me goosebumps. This one had a few slow places, but overall I thought it was a really good book! I had no idea as to who Sydney’s stalker was until it was revealed in the last few pages, and it was definitely a surprise. There were clues placed throughout the novel, but like Sydney, I missed most of them. My one gripe was that there were a few grammatical errors (my biggest pet peeve). I highly recommend this one.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, K, Maggie O'Dell, RATING, Read in 2010, READING CHALLENGES 2010, SERIES

REVIEW: Exposed by Alex Kava

by Alex Kava

Copyright: 2008
Pages: 373
Rating: 5/5
Read: Jan. 7-10, 2010
Challenge:  2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; Finish That Challenge Series; RYOB 2010; Thriller & Suspense 2010
Yearly Count: 2

First Line: Waheem was already bleeding when he boarded the crowded motorboat.

FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell and Assistant Director Cunningham cannot believe what is happening to them until it’s too late – they have been exposed. Exposed to a very deadly virus. Stuck in quarantine, Maggie beings to wonder if there isn’t some kind of a connection with the victims. Cunningham thinks it’s personal. And it is – they just have to figure out how. With nothing to think of except what could be going on inside her body, Maggie has to get inside this killer’s mind. And she needs to do so before this becomes an epidemic.

I love the Maggie O’Dell series. I was a little late in getting around to this one, mainly because medical-ish books are not really my cup of tea. But I should have known better- Alex Kava has never disappointed me yet. Since it has been so long since I read anything in this series, it was a little difficult for me trying to remember what had happened with the characters in the earlier books. There’s just something about the way Kava writes. Her books are always full of such great suspense and of course I absolutely love the psychological aspects!! I’m definitely looking forward to getting  Black Friday from the library so that I can get caught up on this series again until July when the 8th book in this series is set to be published.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, T

REVIEW: The Book of Names by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori

The Book of Names
by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 341
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 30-31, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 74

First Line: Two men shoveled the sand under cover of darkness.

In each generation there are 36 people who hold the world in balance. The names of those 36 people are found in The Book of Names. If all 36 of those people are killed then the world as we know it will essentially end. Some  examples: Mt. Vesuvius erupted when 15 were killed; the Inquisition was triggered after 18 were killed. In the current generation, there are only three left to find and kill. So what disaster will happen once those three are identified and eliminated? It’s up to one man – David Shepherd to end the cycle. He sees all these names in his head and has been writing them down in a journal for years. He has no idea what these names mean or why they are coming to him. But when he learns the reasons behind these mysterious names coming to him he is horrified to find that the latest one that has come to him is his step-daughters name. Knowing he must save her no matter what, he sets out across the globe to finally end this once and for all.

I am such a sucker for action packed adventure that a book like this provides. It’s such a wonderful escape for me. It was also a great way to end my 2009 reading. Some of the stuff in this book was a little unbelievable, but I think that’s what made me like this book even more. I really enjoyed it. I don’t really know what I can say about this book other than that I recommend it to everyone. If you want a really good race-against-the-clock storyline this is a great place to start.

5/5, Alex Cross, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, SERIES

REVIEW: Violets are Blue by James Patterson

Violets are Blue
by James Patterson

Copyright: 2001
Pages: 393
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 26-27, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 72

First Line: Nothing ever starts where we think it does.

Alex Cross is still reeling from the Mastermind case and the murder of his partner in that case, Betsey Cavalierre. But in his business, murders don’t wait. When a series of strange vampire murders pop up throughout the country, Alex Cross is called in on the case. But really – vampires? Everyone is horrified and baffled by this case. What Cross discovers is unreal – a whole world of role players and secret clubs. And while Cross is trying to deal with this new case, he is still being stalked by the Mastermind. As the vampire case finally comes to a close, Alex is just getting started. He has to have a showdown with the Mastermind before he can finally rest easily. And what he finds out when the Mastermind is finally revealed to him scares him to death. Someone that he considered a good friend is the Mastermind and Alex must survive a deadly confrontation in order to finally put the Mastermind away. But what secrets the Mastermind is carrying are unbelievable to Alex. Those secrets will make Alex rethink everything he knows.

I simply love this series. I honestly think it’s my absolute favorite series EVER! This is actually one series that I can see myself re-reading at some point. And I never re-read anything! This one continued on where Roses are Red left off with the Mastermind. There were two storylines though, the Mastermind and the vampire murders. I was absolutely blown away by what Alex finds out about the Mastermind and just how far back it went in terms of his involvement with past cases. James Patterson really thought that character through when he made that particular person the Mastermind. I am definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series and seeing where we go to next.

5/5, Alex Cross, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, SERIES

REVIEW: Roses are Red by James Patterson

Roses are Red
by James Patterson

Copyright: 2000
Pages: 400
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 19-22, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Random Reading Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 67

First Line: Brianne Parker didn’t look like a bank robber or a murderer – her pleasantly plump baby face fooled everyone.

Alex Cross is called in on a case relating to a string of pretty violent bank robberies. A man known as “The Mastermind” is behind the robberies. And he has gotten away with a lot of money. Unfortunately, people have died unnecessarily in the process. So who is the Mastermind? And why are Alex and the FBI agents assigned to this case so mystified as to his intentions? But as Alex deals with a lot of personal issues, and they take down two people who they believe to be the Mastermind, he has no real idea as to who the Mastermind really is.

Oh my goodness. This book has to be THE BEST in the Alex Cross series thus far!! I almost always enjoy James Patterson’s books, but this one was exceptionally good! And who the Mastermind really is – well it’s a total shocker! It’s not someone that you would expect in the slightest. I was completely surprised right up until the very last sentence. That to me makes a wonderful book. I read so many mystery books that sometimes the more formulaic books are easier for me to figure out. But this one kept me on the edge of my seat. And I finished this one up during some down time at work today, and I’m absolutely positive that my mouth was hanging wide open and my eyes were bulging out of my head when I finally reached the end. This book is really that good!

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

No Place Like Home
by Mary Higgins Clark

Copyright: 2005
Pages: 472
Rating: 5/5
Read: Dec. 14-19, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2009 Celebrate the Author Challenge;  RYOB 2009; 2009 What’s in a Name 2; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 66

First Line: Ten-year-old Liza was dreaming her favorite dream, the one about the day when she was six years old, and she and Daddy were at the beach, in New Jersey, at Spring Lake.

When Liza Barton was ten years old she accidentally shot her mother while trying to protect her from her stepfather. Although the shooting was ruled an accident, and Liza was let off the hook, the papers and the people in the area all compared Liza to Lizzie Borden. But Liza’s adoptive parents change her name to Celia and tries to forget the past. Widowed with a young son, Celia remarries and is perfectly happy. That is right up until her wonderful new husband surprises her with a house for her birthday. The same house that just happens to be the one that she killed her mother in so many years before. Since her new husband does not know the story of her childhood, he is baffled by his new wife’s response to this wonderful birthday gift. But then strange things start happening – the house is vandalized and people start getting murdered. Unforunately for Celia, someone in her old hometown has recognized her as Liza because she starts getting tormented and set up for murder. Although a suspect for murder once again, Celia has to be strong for herself and her son, for they are actually the ones being stalked by the real murderer.

I simply love Mary Higgins Clark. She just writes wonderful books! How on earth she is able to come up with new ideas is beyond me. But I guess that’s why she’s the author and I’m the reader 🙂 Either way, this book was exceptionally good. The twists and turns were really interesting. I had no idea what was really going on and who the real killer (or killers) were until the very ending when they were revealed. I felt sorry for Celia because she seemed to have really bad luck to have her husband buy the same house she accidentally shot her mother in. Clark really formulated some really mean characters in this book also. She had some really good villains in my opinion. I really can’t think of anything bad about this book, it was wonderfully written with a great storyline. I highly recommend this book!

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Nonfiction, P, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson and Martin Dugard

The Murder of King Tut
by James Patterson & Martin Dugard

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 332
Rating: 5/5
Read: Nov. 13-15, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2010 Countdown Challenge
Yearly Count: 60

First Line: It was New Year’s Eve as a somber, good-looking explorer named Howard Carter, speaking fluent Arabic, gave the order to begin digging.

King Tut, the Boy King. Less than a decade after becoming Pharaoh of Egypt, the boy dies mysteriously. In the years following his demise, his name is essentially wiped from the history books. Even today, the death of King Tut remains somewhat of a mystery. Howard Carter’s life mission was to uncover a virgin tomb; he wanted King Tut’s tomb the most. He began his search in 1907. It would take many, many years before he finally found Tut and the world would finally begin to understand the Boy King. In this book, James Patterson teams up with Martin Dugard to really look through all the evidence and put Tut’s life and death in a spotlight like never before – true crime and history collides in this book as Patterson unravels the mystery surrounding the Boy King.

Being a history major, I love anything history pretty much. But here recently my husband, mom, and dad, all went up to Indianapolis to see the King Tut exhibit. It really reignited my interest in Egyptian history. I was unfortunately never able to take a course in college on Egypt, but I knew some things from different museum trips and whatnot. But this book was really interesting to me. It read like a novel, which will make history interesting to a lot more people. (It also has the name James Patterson on it – which I have come to the conclusion sells a book like nothing else.) It’s really an easy read. And yet it’s historical. A lot of people don’t read historical books because they might feel bogged down or whatever the reason – however, if you are one of those people, please pick up this book!! You will not be bogged down at all. It reads like all of Patterson’s other works – like a novel. If you have any interest whatsoever in Egypt, this is an interesting book. However, I do want to add, that I’m not completely sold on Patterson’s conclusion – that it was a conspiracy of the three people closest to him. I’m not saying that it isn’t true, it very well may be, but without knowing more information regarding the mystery surrounding Tut’s death I’m not sure if this is right. Who knows if Tut was even really murdered?! However, if he was, there was almost certainly some sort of conspiracy, and it definitely revolved around the desire to have the power that Tut had as Pharaoh. But one of the three people that Patterson names, I’m not completely sold on being a part of the conspiracy. I think that there could possibly be other explanations for that person’s actions. But that’s just my opinion … I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good murder mystery, because that’s what this book is all about!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, T

REVIEW: The Double Eagle by James Twining

The Double Eagle
by James Twining

Copyright: 2005
Pages: 399
Rating: 4/5
Read: Oct. 22-25, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 57

First Line: They were late.

Someone has managed to steal five Double Eagles from Fort Knox. These five $20 gold coins were some of the few still in existence. President Roosevelt ordered them destroyed during the Great Depression, and they are worth millions. When one of them turns up in the stomach of a murdered priest in France, FBI agent Jennifer Browne is put on the case. Browne knows that she needs to close this case in order to save her stalled career. Following all the clues leads her directly to art thief Tom Kirk. Kirk wants out of the game, and Browne can promise him a clean break, if he cooperates with her and helps her recover these coincs. This unlikly pair sets out on a breakneck race around the world and right into a surprising conspiracy of greed, power, and death.

I have had my eye on this book for a few years now. One of my co-workers’ wives recommended this book to me at a company Christmas party back in 2006 or 2007. It sounded interesting, but not something that was high on my priority list. But I kept coming back to it on my PBS reminder list and finally used the credit for it. And I can only say that I am disappointed I waited so long to meet James Twining’s work! I was totally taken pretty much from the first page. I was intrigued and couldn’t get through the pages quickly enough to figure out what was really going on. And when I got to the end, there was definitely a nice twist to the ending that surprised me. I really enjoyed all the descriptions about how Tom Kirk carried off his heists. This is a wonderful book I am definitely looking foward to getting around to the rest of the books in this series, and I doubt that I wait another two years to read the second book. I highly recommend this book.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Jane Rizzoli, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009, SERIES

REVIEW: The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

The Surgeon
by Tess Gerritsen

Copyright: 2001
Pages: 359
Rating: 5/5
Read: Oct. 3-5, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2009 Celebrate the Author Challenge; 2010 Countdown Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 51

First Line: Today they will find her body.

He is dubbed The Surgeon. He slips into women’s homes unnoticed and does horrendous things to their bodies. Things that are so precise, it indicates that he is a man of medicine. The only clue is another surgeon, Dr. Catherine Cordell. Two years ago she was attacked and fought back and ultimately killed her attacker. But everything Cordell has worked to build will come crashing down when The Surgeon begins to do his work in Boston – he will re-create almost identically the ordeal that Cordell went through.

Okay, so I’ve read a later book in this series, Vanish, a couple of years ago and I really enjoyed it. I’ve had this one on my shelf for over a year now and finally picked it up! And I am definitely glad that I did pick this one up, I was really surprised by it. I loved it! I am not one who normally reads and/or likes medical type books. But this one was a little different than your typical medical thriller. There was an actual story kind of outside of the hospital to this book. Sure, there was a distinct medical aspect to the book, but as the reader I was not bogged down with a lot of medical terminology. I found it to be a really easy read and very suspenseful! Highly recommended!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2009, READING CHALLENGES 2009

REVIEW: Michelangelo’s Notebook by Paul Christopher

Michelangelo’s Notebook
by Paul Christopher

Copyright: 2005
Pages: 355
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 23-27, 2009
Challenge:  2009 100+ Reading Challenge; 2009 1st in a Series Challenge; 2010 Countdown Challenge; RYOB 2009
Yearly Count: 49

First Line: Maggiore Tiberio Bertoglio, wearing the uniform of one of the Mussolini Black Brigades – complete with ebony shoulder boards, bloodred-and-silver double-M collar tabs and a silver-and-black skull-and-crossbones insignia on the forepeak of his regulation bustina – sat in the backseat of the dusty Lancia staff car, arms crossed over his ches Il Duce-style, not feeling half as grand as he looked.

Beautiful art history student Finn Ryan is just an intern when she discovers something amazing: a Michelangelo drawing that has been mislabeled and seemingly forgotten about. But this is no ordinary Michelangelo. Finn is pretty certain that it is from Michelangelo’s missing notebook. After a confrontation with her immediate supervisor, Finn is fired from her intern position and her boyfriend is killed that same night, stealing the sketches that she had made of that drawing. Not knowing what is going on, Finn flees while she still can, to the address that her mother gave her before she moved to NYC. It brings her face to face with an antiquarian book dealer, Michael Valentine. Together, they will unravel the mystery of this Michelangelo and try and discover a secret that has been well-kept since the final days of World War II … a secret that has ties to the Vatican … a secret that could get Finn and Valentine killed.

This book starts out really good. It has a lot of fast paced action. But then at times it’s also kind of confusing because it flashes back and forth between the present day with Finn and Valentine and the last days of World War II. It took me quite some time to even begin to figure out what was going on and why the flashbacks kept happening, but overall I thought that this was a good book. I have the other three books in the Finn Ryan series and I’m definitely looking forward to getting to them. I will say that I gave this book a 4 overall simply because it was a little hard to follow in places. So overall this is a great book that I highly recommend.