Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jigsaw by Jerry Kennealy

I can't remember where I heard about this book, but I know my interest was definitely peaked as soon as I read this description. This book had a serial murderer who was taunting a local movie critic with clues from Alfred Hitchcock movies. As a lover of old movies and especially Hitchcock this book seemed like it was right up my alley. However, it didn't quite hold up to my expectations. I rate it a B-.

From Amazon:
A killer calling himself Thanatos, the Greek God of death, has been sending e-mails to entertainment critic Carroll Quint, taunting him with clues about his next target from Alfred Hitchcock movies. The victims were all friends of Quint: a screenwriter, an actor, and a makeup artist. Since Quint is the one person connected to all three victims, the police have fingered him for the murders. Quints mother, a former starlet and movie trivia buff, points him in the right direction when she tells him, Thanatos is like one of the midgets in Casablanca, Carroll. Hes right there, you see him, but you dont take any notice.

The clues were few and far between and I would have liked to see the ties in to Hitchcock have more to do with the characters. I guess this book was a little bit more of a cozy than I would have liked. I think it was a fantastic idea and more could have been done with the idea. That being said, it was an enjoyable read and Mr. Kennealy has written some wonderful characters that surround the main character Carroll Quint. Carroll is also an enjoyable character and had some great one-liners. This book is the first in the series though I don't think I will be actively seeking out the series but if I happen to run across it, I will pick it up. I guess I just like my books a little bit more juicy.

Having gotten back from vacation, I am having a problem getting back into my routine. My anxiety and depression was so much better when I was on vacation and now it is rearing it's ugly head again. However, I am happy to be back in my own surroundings and have my stuff around including my baby Roxy. Right now I am reading All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison and so far, its going good. I am only about 50 pages in and haven't had much time to read today since I am getting the house and laundry in order. I need to get organized before the week starts since this week I start working my late nights and Saturdays at my mom's office, so I want everything to go slowly. I hope everyone else had a wonderful week and Happy Reading!

You've Been Warned by James Patterson

The second book I finished while on vacation was You've Been Warned by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. This one was definitely not my favorite James Patterson book and I was really disappointed by it. I rate this a C-.

From Amazon:
Kristin Burns is making her way in New York City. Her photos are being considered at a major Manhattan gallery, she works by day with two wonderful children, and the man of her dreams is almost hers for keeps. But just as everything she's ever wanted is finally within reach, her life changes forever--with one murderous nightmare. Kristin wakes up every morning from the same chilling, unforgettable dream. And suddenly, it's visiting her during the day too. As her life turns stranger by the minute, Kristin is haunted and terrified. Is it all in her head? Or is the nightmare becoming her life? Kristin searches desperately for what's real through the lens of her camera, only knowing two things for sure: that no place is safe and the fate of everyone she loves lies in her hands.

This book is weird. It kind of lends itself towards a more paranormal book and from the description it didn't mention that. The book also seemed like it was too rushed and didn't make sense sometimes. I read the large print version and it was only 404 pages. I am so glad I didn't buy it though because that is a rip off. Kristin, the main character, was so difficult to like or even care for and I was totally unsympathetic. This hasn't turned me off of James Patterson, but I do hope that his time is dedicated more to quality than quanity. I wouldn't recommend it anyone, and even told my mom while we were on vacation to not bother reading it.

Big Boned by Meg Cabot

While on vacation, I managed to finish three books. Definitely not as much as I was hoping for, but at least I read three. The first book I finished was Big Boned by Meg Cabot and I enjoyed this third installment in the Heather Wells series. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
Life is reasonably rosy for plus-size ex-pop star turned Assistant Dormitory Director and sometime sleuth Heather Wells. Her freeloading ex-con dad is finally moving out. She still yearns for her hot landlord, Cooper Cartwright, but her relationship with "rebound beau," vigorous vegan math professor Tad Tocco, is more than satisfactory. Best of all, nobody has died lately in "Death Dorm," the aptly nicknamed student residence that Heather assistant-directs. Of course every silver lining ultimately has some black cloud attached. And when the latest murdered corpse to clutter up her jurisdiction turns out to be her exceedingly unlovable boss, Heather finds herself on the shortlist of prime suspects—along with the rabble-rousing boyfriend of her high-strung student assistant and an indecently handsome young campus minister who's been accused of taking liberties with certain girls' choir members.
With fame beckoning her back into show business (as the star of a new kids' show!) it's a really bad time to get wrapped up in another homicide. Plus Tad's been working himself up to ask her a Big Question, which Heather's not sure she has an answer for . . .

For me, this book was light on mystery but full of information of on Heather's life and her love life. I really like her as a character, but I would have appreciated a bit more of mystery. I was happy to see Heather finally find true love and rebuild a connection with her family. For those who are fans of Meg Cabot and like light mystery, I would recommend Big Boned to you. However, I would definitely read these books in order.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Night of Reunion by Michael Allegretto

As I mentioned in the previous entry, I am not sure where I heard of this book but as I was looking for the summary on Amazon, I noticed that several reviews compared this to Mary Higgins Clark books. I have always enjoyed her books, so that may have had something to do with it. I enjoyed this book and give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Four-and-a-half years earlier, Christine Helstrum murdered Alex Whitaker's family. Now she has escaped from a mental hospital, and Alex fears she will attack his new wife and son. The police assure them that Christine could not possibly find Alex, but, unknown to everyone, Christine is already hiding in the Whitakers' rambling Victorian basement, emerging to play innocuous pranks. The pranks, and the novel, are focused on Sarah Whitaker. She knows Christine is toying with her and her family, but can offer no reasonable explanation as to how Christine is penetrating their defenses. Christine's tricks become more malicious, and Sarah's tension and frustration grow until the final confrontation, a battle over Sarah's son. The author has made it easy to identify with Sarah's mixture of fear, anger, and self-doubt; and the inexorable escalation of Christine's mischief into murderous violence makes for a suspenseful thriller.

I would be hard pressed to call this book a thriller but it was still an enjoyable read. The violence level was almost non-existence and we always knew what was going on even when the main characters, Sarah and Alex, don't. However, it was kind of frightening with some of the things that the villan was doing and had me thinking about all of the things that could be going on in a big house that you wouldn't even know about. The book held my attention, and even though it was written over 17 years ago, it held up with the time. I pretty much read this book last night and finished it today on my lunch. I was glad to get another library book returned though. Only three more left.

I leave for Florida on Saturday, so I need to still pack my clothes, and of course pick out my books to bring. I am working tomorrow, though only half a day. I still have a ton of stuff to do, but my cooperating teacher from student teaching had a family emergency and asked me to sub for her yesterday, today and tomorrow. The class is so challenging for us who know them, much less a sub who hasn't had the pleasure to meet them. I also brought home a stack of papers to grade tonight so when she gets back to class on Tuesday she won't have her desk overloaded. She helped me so much so I am happy to help her out. However, I am beat from them and the last thing I feel like doing is grading some papers tonight. I would love to just curl up in bed right now. Oh well, I will have plenty of time to relax next week right?

Up next is Meg Cabot's Big Boned. I enjoy this series and even though I said I was kind of through the chick lit mystery, this one isn't so much chick lit. Ms. Cabot is always hilarious and I have never been disappointed with her books. I hope to get it done before I leave but I am sure that won't happen with all I have left to do. I am not sure if I am going to bring my laptop or not, but if I do, I hope to blog on my reads. If I don't, everyone have a great weekend and week and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

I loved Ms. Lancaster's second book, Bright Lights, Big Ass, and had to read her first book. I had it on hold forever at the library and it finally came in. This was another fun read and was a breeze to whip through. I would give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Jen Lancaster was living the sweet life-until real life kicked her to the curb. She had the perfect man, the perfect job-hell, she had the perfect life-and there was no reason to think it wouldn't last. Or maybe there was, but Jen Lancaster was too busy being manicured, pedicured, highlighted, and generally adored to notice. This is the smart-mouthed, soul-searching story of a woman trying to figure out what happens next when she's gone from six figures to unemployment checks and she stops to reconsider some of the less-than-rosy attitudes and values she thought she'd never have to answer for when times were good. Filled with caustic wit and unusual insight, it's a rollicking read as speedy and unpredictable as the trajectory of a burst balloon.

Ms. Lancaster learns a pretty bitter, important lesson throughout this book. She had been living the high life for so long and then everything just crashes. In the wake of 9/11, the jobs dry up and eventually both her and her new husband are unemployed. Jen tries to get jobs everywhere, yet she is either over-qualified or has burned bridges. I somewhat understand what she and her husband, Fletch, went through. Living in Michigan, we have been in a one-state recession (as all of the Republican nominees have been saying the past five days while campagining here... and don't gett me started about how messed up the Democrats who run this state caused for no Democrat people coming here and only having Hillary on the ballot (who I can't stand, though doesn't bother me too much since I tend to lean towards the right)) and with the automotive industry losing money our economy has been in the pooper. My husband is working less and I have little hopes for finding a full time job as a teacher so there are like zero openings. However, Ms. Lancaster lived foolishly and spent outrageous amounts of money on rent and $800 purses. It is an interesting story to see how they are able to make positive things come of it all and eventually turn things around. The story also contains Ms. Lancaster's fun wit and sarcastic remarks which had me laughing out loud. I am looking forward to her newest book which is to be released this spring.

Up next is going to be another library book that I got a recommendation from an old Mystery Scene magazine. It is by Michael Allegretto and is titled Night of Renuion. It was published in 1990 and I have high hopes that it is some what better than Smash Cut. Actually now that I think about, I am not sure how I heard of this book, but here it is. I just read the inside cover again and it still sounds good. I hope I finish this one fast because on Saturday morning I am leaving for a week in Florida. I would really like to limit the amount of library books I bring with me. Hope everyone else is having a good start to the week and Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Smash Cut by Steven Womack

After reading By Blood Written by Mr. Womack, I immediately looked for his backlist. Thankfully my library had several of his books and I placed a hold on Smash Cut. Unfortunetly, Smash Cut did not live up to any amount of success that By Blood Written had for me. I give it a C.

From Amazon:
The head of a sleazy international film studio becomes tangled in corrupt Louisiana politics in Womack's fine second mystery to feature public relations expert Jack Lynch. When Pearl Bergeron, the head of Louisiana's state film commission and the governor's daughter, challenges millionaire filmmaker Andrew Kwang's bid to turn a failed nuclear plant outside New Orleans into a major studio, Kwang calls on Lynch for help. Kwang becomes a suspect when Bergeron is found beaten to death, so Lynch simultaneously investigates the victim's unsavory lifestyle while employing damage-control tactics for his cool, calculating client. Tutored in film world mores by cinematographer Lois Finlayson, the first person for whom he has any feeling since the murder of an earlier love (in Murphy's Fault ), Lynch is threatened himself . He persists in his quest and uncovers a curious connection--another death--between Kwang and Bergeron.

I don't why this book didn't work for me. Part of it is probably because of the tie in with politics, as I tend to shy away from books with politics. Maybe it was because there were so many characters in the story and I felt like the majority of them did not play a role in the story. Some were set up as possible suspects, but it was not very convincing and I knew about 25% through the way in who the killer was. Another thing could have been that the book was written in 1991, though in the past I haven't had problems with books that were written before the invention of cell phones and the Internet. Overall, it just really didn't work for me andit is a part of a trilogy and so I felt like it wasn't really resolved. I am happy to be done with it.

I have hit a rough spot in my reading lately. All ho-hum books and I hope to have some good reads coming up. I leave for vacation on Saturday and I need to have good books to read while I am gone. I think for the time being, I am going to start Jen Lancaster's first book, Bitter is the New Black. I loved her first book, which got me started on my memoir kick. I have had it on hold forever at the library and finally got it in last week when all of those books came in. I am sure I will whip right through this one and it should get me back on the right track. I am dreading that tomorrow is Monday, and I have a job. I have Tuesday off for appointments and then Wednesday I can only work half a day, so I should just muddle through it. But the thought of just laying around the house is so appealing. I am starting to feel real anxious again and I so don't want to be traveling down that road again. Hope everyone else's reading is going better and Happy Reading!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Killer Riff by Sheryl J. Anderson

I have been reading this series since it first came out several years ago. These books have always been a fun, light read but for some reason this book didn't do anything for me. I would give it a C.

From Amazon:
Glossy mag advice columnist Molly Forrester has been working her tail off to get recognized as an investigative journalist and has even solved a few murders along the way, but none of that matters to her editor, who’s more than happy to keep Molly tied down to her Dear Abby roots. Thankfully, though, her publisher has taken notice and has a lot more faith: Molly’s been promoted, and her first assignment as a full-time feature writer should be a cinch. It’s a profile of Russell Elliott, the legendary rock manager/producer who just died of an accidental overdose. The rock ’n roll world is pretty accustomed to seeing its brightest stars burn out early, and jaded as it sounds, no one is shocked by Elliot’s death---no one except his daughter, that is, who is convinced that it was no accident. All Molly has to do to keep her new job, pump up newsstand sales, and win back reluctant beau NYPD homicide detective Kyle Edwards is give Elliot a once-over like a devoted fan, without looking too deeply at anything that smacks of murder, like his infamous family, his infighting protégés, or the rumor about his long-lost bootleg tapes. What could be easier for Zeitgeist magazine’s newest star? Almost anything.

This book just didn't do anything for me. I don't know if it is because I am kind of the chick-lit phase or if it is just the timing right now, but I couldn't get into it. It took me close to two days just to get 100 pages in and then I felt like I had spent this much time in reading it and I couldn't just give it up. Some of the good things include the fact that I like Molly and her friends and they have a really tight friendship. Her boyfriend Kyle is all right too. The mystery was kind of hard to follow and I felt that there were too many characters to keep track of. I also didn't like how one minute Molly is in one location and then the next sentence they are somewhere else. No page break, different chapter or even a different paragraph. It just irritated me and I had to concentrate more than I like to in a chick lit book.

Up next is another one of my library books. I picked up two more books and currently have six library books to read. I had so many on hold for awhile and then all of the sudden had them all come in. The next one I am going to read is Smash Cut by Steven Womack. This is the same author that wrote By Blood Written that I loved so much. This book is fairly old published in 1991, but I hope it is enjoyable. Everyone have a great weekend and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cold Case by Steven White

After finishing Beach Road by James Patterson, I looked on my bookshelves and pulled out Cold Case. I had listened to one of Steven White's previous books on CD and remember enjoying it. Cold Case was just an average read where I give it a C+.

From Amazon:

Crime-fighting psychologist Alan Gregory untangles a vexing unsolved case of double murder in the Colorado Rockies in this rousing page-turner by thriller specialist White. Gregory is drawn into his seventh fictional adventure by a private organization of criminal experts called Locard, named after a 19th-century French detective. Locard, which reopens decades-old murder cases at the request of survivors and their families, wants Gregory to help reexamine a puzzling case in which the partially mutilated bodies of two teenage girls Tami Franklin and Mariko Hamamoto were found during the spring snowmelt outside Boulder. Gregory is asked to assemble psychological profiles of the girls, their parents and others close to the case in hopes of dispelling the official line that the murders were the work of a drifter. As Gregory's side of the investigation progresses, the finger of guilt seems to point directly at Colorado congressman Raymond Welle, a psychologist who was treating both girls at the time of the killings. Welle also has a shadowy connection to another notorious murderAthat of his wife, who was shot to death seven years earlier by one of his patients. Gregory, along with his wife, Lauren CrowderAnow pregnant and increasingly weakened by her multiple sclerosisAquickly find themselves in the awkward position of accusing one of the state's most powerful politicians of not one, but two crimes.

I thought that this book was just all right. I know this book is one in a series and I know I am reading this out of order, but I was able to get know Dr. Gregory very little. I am not sure what happened with his previous wife, how he got together with his current wife and know hardly anything about him. While this is good in a way as not to give away the plots of other books in the series, I thought a little more detail could be given. This book is long, at over 400 pages, and I think there were some serious overkill with the details of the landscaping and Dr. Gregory's inner thoughts. Maybe it was me, but the book just kind of dragged and wasn't that interesting. There were also a lot of characters to keep track of and that threw the story about. Will I read more of Mr. White's books? Sure, the ones on my TBR. Will I look for more? Unless his other ones pick up the pace, I doubt it.

Up next is one of my library books. I just picked up four more books from the library so I have five to read. There goes part of my goal of reading more from the TBR. However, I have had some of these books on hold for quite awhile, so I am anxious to read these. Up next is Killer Riff by Sheryl Anderson. This is a series I have been reading and enjoy it always, so hopefully that stays true. I am a little sick of the chick lit genre, but I have a feeling I might like this one. Hope everyone else spent a good amount of time reading this weekend and Happy Reading!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Beach Road by James Patterson

As I mentioned yesterday, I decided to get Beach Road at the library because I had started to listen to it on my Ipod. I really enjoyed this book and give it a B+.

From Amazon:

Tom Dunleavy has a one-man law firm in America's wealthiest resort town-legendary East Hampton. But his job barely keeps him in paper clips. His clients make a living serving the rich. The billionaires and celebrities swarming the beaches already have lawyers on their payroll. VERY EXPENSIVE Then a friend of Tom's is arrested for a triple murder near a movie star's mansion. Tom knows in his gut that Dante Halleyville is innocent. Dante asks him to represent him in what could be the Trial of the Century. VERY EXCLUSIVE Tom recruits Manhattan superlawyer Kate Costello to help. She's a tough hire, because Kate is his ex-girlfriend-but she agrees. In their search to find who really executed three locals, Tom orchestrates a series of revelations to expose the killer-and what emerges is staggering. VERY EXPLOSIVE The final scenes of this book unveil a truth that will leave readers gasping in shock.

I really liked reading this book more than I did listening to it on my Ipod. I am not exactly sure why, but maybe it is just because I like Mr. Patterson's books so much. They are just so easy to read and most of the time throw me through a loop. They are such fast reads and I love the format of short chapters. I started reading this last night around 5:00 and finished this morning. The ending of this book was really surprising and I didn't see it coming. I was shocked and even talked out loud to myself while I was reading it. My husband kinda looked at me weird and wanted to know why I was talking to myself, but that is just how surprising the ending was. I definitely want to read more of Mr. Patterson's books, but I won't buy any. I read them way to fast and a lot of them are in the taller paperback format that they charge $10.00 for. I think that is just absolutely crazy. I don't understand how they can charge that much.

Anyways, I am not sure what is up next. I have no more library books checked out. I do have one that just came in, Killer Riff, which is part of a series I read that are mostly chick-lit mystery though I feel like reading something from my shelves before I start that one. Plus the library hasn't called me yet so it may not be ready yet. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and happy reading!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

By Blood Written by Steven Womack

I got By Blood Written when I was at the bookstore just looking around. The cover grabbed me, so I picked it up. The premise sounded really, really good and something totally different then anything else I have read. I give it an A-.
From Amazon:

At first, it was only research . . .

Author Michael Schiftmann has received resounding critical acclaim for his novels that few people buy or read. The sad truth is that readers aren't interested in great literature—they only want glitz and violence. So that's what Michael intends to give them—shocking stories of a blood-chillingly efficient serial killer that are filled with gore and horror. And to ensure that his books are impeccably realistic in every aspect, he plans to try his own hand . . . at murder.
Soon his fictional killer is a sensation, and Michael is a rich, sought-after celebrity—and his beautiful, rising-star literary agent, Taylor Robinson, is falling in love with him. But there is one serious problem: Michael Schiftmann has discovered that bloodletting feels good . . . and he can't seem to stop.

This is a chilling suspense novel that has such an interesting premise. I was able to learn about the publishing business while reading a wonderful written suspense novel. I have never heard of Mr. Womack before, but I can tell you positively that I will be checking out his backlist. In this story, we always know who the bad guy is, but there is a lot of suspense that goes on in the story. I really enjoyed Taylor and I was even doubting myself that Michael could be a killer. Mr. Womack did an absolutely wonderful job in creating his characters into very realistic people. As I mentioned, I will be getting more of his books.

I didn't meet my goals from last year except to keep my reads documented in here. I was one book short of 100 while it was a disappointment, I am impressed with the amount of reading I was able to get in. Between my rough time this summer, graduating in December, and working full time while going to school full time in the winter my reading was pretty good. This year I am going to try and read 115 books and keep up with this blog. I probably won't be participating in many challenges because I hate to feel stuck to something and I hate not completing something I start. I will try and get the books in my TBR shelves read more than I did last year. I have quite a bit of gift cards for the bookstore but I will try and save those and spread them out over time. I love utilizing my local library, but do want to read from my shelves. For every book I buy or get from the library, I am going to read one from my bookshelves. That being said, the next book I am going to read is Beach Road by James Patterson. I started listening to it on my IPod but there is a problem with finding where I left off, so I stopped listening. Hopefully I will fly through this one pretty quickly since listening to part of it earlier. I hope everyone else had a wonderful New Years and Happy Reading!