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18 April 2009 @ 12:33 am
50 Book Challenge Vol. III.I  
50bookchallenge is a little community that challenges it's members to read fifty books in a single year. I thought I'd try it out again and see how it went! Besides reading fifty books this year, I'm also trying to read at least fifteen thousand pages.

1. The Making of a Nurse - Tilda Shalof


Tilda Shalof has been a caregiver all her life - at six years of age, she took care of her ailing mother - so it was not surprising that she gravitated to the profession of nursing. After graduation from nurses' college, Shalof traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel, where she found adventure, young love, and a career that was exciting, demanding, and inspiring. After a year abroad, she returned to a life that had lost luster. Her mother was hospitalized, she had nowhere to live, and she was not ready to take on the responsibilities and burdens she had escaped so recently. Living on the streets, traveling the subway at night, Tilda realized that she needed to find her way back, and it was through her work as a nurse that she regained her balance.

With her trademark humor, unflinching honesty, and skilled storytelling, Tilda describes her experiences inside and outside the hospital walls - including summers on the job at a kids' camp and the challenges and rewards of nursing her friends and family. These stories and many more reveal on woman's roller-coaster ride to becoming the proficient nurse she is today.

314 pages

This book was interesting. On the one hand, I understand a lot of the things Shalof says about her experiences within the hospital walls. On the other hand, there seems to be an often negative spin on those experiences. It almost seems to turn me off of the idea of nursing.

I disagree with a lot of Shalof's analyses and insights. I suppose it's just a difference of opinion and character, but it made for a slow and difficult read.

Though her journey through twenty years of intensive care nursing is admirable and interesting, it feels as though her storytelling style doesn't quite do it justice. It just doesn't make me feel the emotion that I know lies beneath all the words.

All in all, I give Tilda Shalof's The Making of a Nurse two stars out of a possible five. It wasn't very easy to get through and I have no desire to go back and re-read it.

2. Outbreak - Robert Tine


Motaba. You can't see it. But you can die from it. Fast. And in agony. For Motaba is the deadliest virus that science has ever encountered. And Dr. Sam Daniels, top troubleshooter for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, can only thank God it is confined to a remote spot in the African rainforest.

Except that it isn't. A California town is dying of it. All America may be next. But that is not the most horrifying discovery that Sam Daniels makes as he tries to halt the medical holocaust. His most dangerous enemy is not the super-virus in the bloodstream. It is someone pumping paralyzing venom out from the heart of his own government...

331 pages

Considering it was a book written in the wake of the movie, I'm surprised that I was surprised when it was exactly like the movie... word for word. It was interesting, though, and a quick read. Makes me want to see the movie again. Not too much more to say besides that. If you've seen the movie, you've pretty well read the book and vice versa.

All in all, I give Robert Tine's Outbreak three stars out of a possible five. A nice, quick, easy read.

3. Goddess of the Rose - P.C. Cast


It's not a green thumb that's kept the Empousai family's roses blooming for centuries - it's the drops of blood that their women secretly sacrifice for their gardens. But Mikki would rather forget this family quirk and lead a normal life. Until the day she unwittingly performs a ritual and ends up in the strangely familiar Realm of the Rose. As its goddess, Hecate, reveals to her, Mikki has the blood of a high priestess running through her veins. And the realm has been waiting for her...

In a long ago flash of temper, Hecate cursed her Guardian beast with a slumber that only her priestess can undo - and Hecate is counting on Mikki to set things right. At first the beast terrifies Mikki - but soon he intrigues her more than any man ever has. But the only way he and the realm can be saved is for Mikki to sacrifice her life-giving blood - and herself...

353 pages

This book was great. It had a slow start and I did take a while to get through it, but the ending was well worth it. Yes, it was a romance novel and we all know how they end, but still.

The characters were great. Mikki and the Guardian were both very sympathetic, and while it took me a while to warm up to Hecate, I ended up liking her very much.

The plot was a good one. On the one hand, it was formulaic but on the other hand it had twists and turns that I definitely did not expect. Overall it definitely kept my interest.

All in all, I give P.C. Cast's Goddess of the Rose four stars out of a possible five. Great read for those hopeless romantics out there!

4. The Island - Heather Graham


On a weekend vacation Beth Anderson is unnerved when a stroll on the beach reveals what appears to be a skull. As a stranger approaches, Beth panics and covers the evidence. But when she later returns to the beach, the skull is gone.

Determined to find solid evidence to bring to the police, Beth digs deeper into the mystery of the skull - and everywhere she goes, Keith Henson, the stranger from the beach, seems to appear. He claims to be keeping an eye on her safety, but Beth senses other motives. The a body washes ashore, and Beth begins to think she needs more help than she bargained for. Because investigating is a dangerous game, and someone wants to stop Beth from playing.

372 pages

This book took almost 200 pages to catch my interest. Most of the book was spent repeating over and over how nervous and paranoid Beth was becoming. There wasn't much to the plot and what little there was, it was spread very thin and read dryly.

There were too many characters to really develop any of them. Yes, Beth, Ben and Keith were quite dynamic, but the others were brought into the mix so often that it was tough to determine who played more importantly in the plot than whoever else. Besides that, I wasn't really drawn to any of the characters.

The ending was predictable and pretty anti-climactic. I didn't feel any emotion when it was all said and done.

All in all, I give Heather Graham's The Island two stars out of a possible five. I can't really think of any reason why I'd recommend this book.

5. Night - Elie Wiesel


A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family... the death of his innocence... and the death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as personal as the Diary of Anne Frank, Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.

109 pages

This book was an incredible account of the horrors in several of the Holocaust-era concentration camps. When I was in high school, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Elie Weisel. He spoke to my graduating class about his experiences in the camps and how it affected him and we all got copies of his book, but I hadn't read it until now which was a blessing because I could not have understood the true meaning in the words even a few short years ago.

There are many lessons one can take away from this book. The emotion is so real that it hits very close to home. I find the horrors of the Holocaust both horrifying and fascinating. It's a quick but very somber, heavy read.

All in all, I give Elie Weisel's Night four stars out of a possible five. I very highly recommend this book.

6. Plague Room - Steven Piziks


Just an ordinary day in Grandview with customers at the Village Java looking for that perfect caffeine fix and lookylous being transformed into buyers by the eclectic assortment of antiques at Same As It Never was. But there's nothing ordinary about the blur of activity at Jack's Dry Cleaning, where shirts are spinning on the racks and dresses are dancing without their owners.

A spirit has taken up residence in the store, and although Melinda Gordon usually can sort out what's keeping a spirit from crossing over, this particular one is frustratingly uncommunicative. After a week of trying, the store owner is convinced that Melinda will never succeed.

Then self-acclaimed spiritual consultant Wendy King comes to town, guaranteeing success in moving spirits to the afterlife... for a fee. But Wendy's methodology involves trapping and forcing spirits into the light. And she pays no heed when Melinda tells her that what she is doing is wrong and dangerous.

After a young couple inherits the old Ray mansion and asks for help selling the antiques that fill the house, Melinda pushes aside her concerns about Wendy. But the old house holds a terrible secret and a spirit that Melinda cannot budge. The frightened owners turn to Wendy King, who forces the spirit to cross over, despite Melinda's pleadings. But Wendy's actions release an evil, unyielding spirit, one who promises to release a flood of disease and terror on the tow, starting with the people closest to the Ghost Whisperer.

291 pages

This book wasn't too bad. I was already familiar with the characters because I watch Ghost Whisperer, so it was easy to sympathize with the regulars. In addition, the new characters were developed quite well and I found it easy to see things from their perspective as well.

The plot line was interesting. It held my attention throughout and it moved quickly. The ending was pretty cheesy, though it was sort of unexpected at the same time, so it all evened out.

All in all, I give Steven Piziks' Plague Room three and a half stars out of a possible five. A quick, fun, easy read that I do recommend!

7. The Shack - Wm. Paul Young


Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

252 pages

This book was absolutely, unspeakably incredible.

I've always believed in a higher power. I wouldn't say I believe in God, necessarily, at least not in the way He's written into the bible, but I do believe. The way God is written into this book is a perfect description of what I imagine when I think of God. It's given me a sense of validation.

Mack is a wonderful character. He is easy to identify with and when I saw what a burden he was carrying in regards to Missy, it feels like I'm carrying a part of it with him.

The things that God says in the book about human nature, independence and freedom are very real and very enlightening in a lot of ways. The messages in the book have really helped me to understand a lot about myself, my relationships and the people around me. This book has honestly changed my outlook and ultimately my life.

It was a very heavy read, but very much worth it. I'll need to re-read it a couple of times before it even begins to sink in more fully, but I'll do so gladly. There's so much to this book, there are so many elements to consider, that it's impossible to catch on to everything in one sitting, but the lessons that can be taken away from it are well worth it.

All in all, I give Wm. Paul Young's The Shack five stars out of a possible five. It was absolutely amazing and I very highly recommend it to those who believe, those who don't and especially those who aren't sure whether or not they do.

8. A Lion Called Christian - Anthony Bourke and John Rendall

Non-Fiction/Animal Literature

In 2008 an extraordinary two-minute film clip appeared on YouTube and immediately became an international phenomenon. It captures the moving reunion of two young men and their pet lion Christian, after they had left him in Africa with Born Free’s George Adamson to introduce him into his rightful home in the wild.

A Lion Called Christian tells the remarkable story of how Anthony “Ace” Bourke and John Rendall, visitors to London from Australia in 1969, bought the boisterous lion cub in the pet department of Harrods. For several months, the three of them shared a flat above a furniture shop on London’s King’s Road, where the charismatic and intelligent Christian quickly became a local celebrity, cruising the streets in the back of a Bentley, popping in for lunch at a local restaurant, even posing for a fashion advertisement. But the lion cub was growing up—fast—and soon even the walled church garden where he went for exercise wasn’t large enough for him. How could Ace and John avoid having to send Christian to a zoo for the rest of his life? A coincidental meeting with English actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, stars of the hit film Born Free, led to Christian being flown to Kenya and placed under the expert care of “the father of lions” George Adamson. Incredibly, when Ace and John returned to Kenya to see Christian a year later, they received a loving welcome from their lion, who was by then fully integrated into Africa and a life with other lions.

Originally published in 1971, and now fully revised and updated with more than 50 photographs of Christian from cuddly cub in London to magnificent lion in Africa, A Lion Called Christian is a touching and uplifting true story of an indelible human-animal bond. It is is destined to become one of the great classics of animal literature.

226 pages

This book was great! It was a heart-warming story of the relationship between two men and their lion. Through amazing description of Christian's character, I really felt for him and fell in love with him (and his handlers) very quickly.

This book carries within its pages a powerful message: with enough love and the ability to adapt quickly to new situations, anything is possible. It makes you laugh, cry and everything in between and showcases the enormity of the love and determination of human kind.

All in all, I give Anthony Bourke and John Rendall's A Lion Called Christian five stars out of a possible five. I very highly recommend this book!

9. Cherry Cheesecake Murder - Joanne Fluke


There's no such thing as privacy in Lake Eden, but Hannah never thought things would go this far. Everyone has been telling her what to do ever since she got not one but two marriage proposals. Movie mania soon shoves Hannah's marriage dilemma into the background and even gives her cat a shot at stardom. The Cookie Jar serves as snack central with Main Street rented out for the week. She stirs lots of fresh gossip, whipping up treats for cast and crew, including demanding director Dean Lawrence's favorite - cherry cheesecake.

Everything's on schedule until Dean demonstrates a suicide scene with a prop gun that turns out to be all too real. As filming continues, Hannah sifts through the clues, hoping against hope that the person responsible for Dean's death is half-baked enough to have made a mistake. When it happens, Hannah intends to be there - ready to rewrite a killer's lethal script with the kind of quirky ending that can only happen in Lake Eden...

382 pages

This book was pretty good. It moved at a fairly good pace and it kept me interested. The characters were likeable enough and I could sympathize with them well.

The ending was predictable. The pieces were easy to put together. The only real issue I have with it is the whole Hannah-Norman-Mike love triangle. It gets really old really fast and it made me kind of wish she would just pick one already.

Anyway, all in all I give Joanne Fluke's Cherry Cheesecake Murder two and a half stars out of a possible five. It was fun, but not something I'd re-read.

10. Just One of the Guys - Kristan Higgins


Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be...

So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1 - she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2 - she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers.

While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over - although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.

Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys...

376 pages

This was a re-read for me, and even just into the first chapter I remembered why I love this book so much. It's witty, funny and it held my attention from page one right through to the end.

I'm absolutely in love with Chastity and Trevor and while I disliked Ryan's character last time, this time I had a little more sympathy for him. He's still not anyone I'm terribly fond of, but he's not completely awful.

The storyline is a good one that made me laugh, cry and everything in between. For a romance novel it was surprisingly insightful and intelligent.

All in all, I give Kristan Higgins' Just One of the Guys five stars out of a possible five. Definitely a great book that I will read again and again!

11. How to Live with a Huge Penis - Dr. Richard Jacob & Rev. Owen Thomas


Is bigger really better?

Here at last is the first self-help book for men with Oversized Male Genitalia (OMG), a genetic birth defect that grows the penis to absurd proportions. Every year, thousands of men are diagnosed with OMG. Sadly, most are banished to the fringes of society, victims of their own freakish length and girth. How to Live with a Huge Penis brings them an inspiring message of tolerance and hope - along with helpful information on:

  • Unzipping: coming out to your friends and family
  • Sharing your pain: sexual intercourse with a huge penis
  • Big blessings: unexpected advantages of a huge penis
  • And much, much more

    Complete with prayers, poetry, a daily affirmations journal, and thoughtful quotations from leading self-help experts, How to Live with a Huge Penis will inspire men of all shapes and sizes.

    128 pages

    Oh my God, I finished this book last night and I'm still laughing. A page didn't go by while I was reading where I didn't at least giggle heartily. The book was crude but strangely appealing. There isn't much to say about characterization or plot, since it is written in a very self-help book style, but there was something about it that read very well.

    All in all, I give Dr. Richard Jacob & Rev. Owen Thomas' How to Live with a Huge Penis four stars out of a possible five. I highly recommend it as a light, funny read.

    12. Bone Key - Keith R. A. DeCandido


    Twenty-two years ago, Sam and Dean Winchester lost their mother to a mysterious and demonic supernatural force. In the years after, their farther, John, taught them about the paranormal evil that lives in the dark corners and on the back roads of America... and he taught them how to kill it.

    Sam and Dean are headed for Key West, Florida, home to Hemingway, hurricanes, and a whole lot of demons. The tropical town has so many ghouls on the loose that one of its main moneymakers has long been a series of ghost tours. But the tours are no more, not since one of the guides was found dead of an apparent heart attack... his face frozen in mid-scream. No one knows what horrors he saw, but the Winchester brothers are about to find out.

    Soon they'll be face-to-face with the ghosts of the island's most infamous residents, demons with a hidden agenda, and a mysterious ancient power looking for revenge. It's up to Sam and Dean to save the citizens of Key West... before the beautiful island is reduced to nothing more than a pile of bones.

    290 pages

    I was disappointed by this book. I love the show, so when I saw there were Supernatural books out there, I was excited. I can't say I had high hopes, but they were higher than what the book could live up to.

    The character development lacked. I was already familiar with most of the characters from the series and I found them out of character. With the new characters, there wasn't enough mention of them for me to really get to know them and so they felt very dull.

    The plot moved at a decent pace, but it wasn't very interesting. It's the same old thing they're always dealing with on the show, and parts of the book felt like they were just stating the obvious again and again. The ending was predictable, too.

    All in all, I give Keith R. A. DeCandido's Bone Key two stars out of a possible five. A quick and easy read, but not worth reading twice.

    13. Revenge - Doranna Durgin


    on a chilly spring night in Grandview, reformed tough guy Gordon Reese makes a final break with his old ways, bidding farewell to his roughneck buddies at the Whetstone Bar. But a vicious killer makes certain that Gordon's farewell will be final indeed. And now the haunting begins.

    Gordon's murder has sparked a return to his violent ways, and his embittered spirit is quickly learning how to physically unleash his fury. he hunts down Craig Lusak - the last man to see Gordon alive - and begins to terrorize him mercilessly in a rage fueled by vengeance, anger and unrelenting bloodlust.

    Problem is, Gordon may be haunting the wrong man. When ghost whisperer Melinda Gordon begins to investigate the murder, she discovers a terrified Lusak, who, though desperate to ward off his ghostly tormentor, is secretive about his involvement with Gordon Reese's death. Melinda's interference provokes the killer to begin stalking her, and she becomes the next target of his obsessive homicidal rage. For each minute that the murder goes unsolved, Lusak grows weaker and Melinda faces increasing danger.

    In the ultimate battle between good and evil, will Gordon Reese overcome his demons in time to save Melinda from his killer, or will Gordon's unquenchable thirst for revenge lead to a horrific end?

    339 pages

    Well, the last Ghost Whisperer book I read was half decent, even possibly worth re-reading, so I figured this one might be alright, too. I was wrong.

    While the story was interesting enough and the characterization was good, there was just something in the way the whole plot moved along that threw me off. I found it difficult to keep turning pages and to get through the book at all. The only redeeming quality in this book was the ending. Though it was predictable, it still had some shock value.

    All in all, I give Doranna Durgin's Revenge two stars out of a possible five. You're not missing much if you don't read it, and I certainly won't be re-reading it.

    14. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult


    Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate - a life and a role that she has never challenged... until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister. So, Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable - a decision that will tear her family apart and possibly have fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

    500 pages

    This book exceeded my expectations. I'd heard mixed reviews about it, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    The plot was very well developed. At first I was a little bit thrown off by the changing point of view, but after a few chapters, once I got to know the characters a little bit better, the book read very well. It was interesting to see the same situations through a few different sets of eyes.

    The characters were very believable and because of the changing points of view, were very easy to sympathize with. Understanding their motives and the way their minds worked was very instrumental to the plot.

    There were funny moments, sad moments and moments where all I wanted to do was throw things in frustration or anger, but the emotions balanced well. At the end of the book, after a big climax (although somewhat predictable), I wasn't so much depressed as I was satisfied. Yes, there was tragedy, but it worked out in a way that didn't leave me feeling like it was unfinished or unfair.

    All in all, I give Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper four stars out of a possible five. I will most definitely re-read it and I highly recommend it.

    15. Handle with Care - Jodi Picoult


    Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made u of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-yea-old an unexpectedly deep source or wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

    Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?

    Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. With the grace and wisdom she's become famous for, this novel by beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable story about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.

    477 pages

    This book was a lot like My Sister's Keeper. There was The lawsuit surrounding a medical tragedy, the breaking up of a family and the heart-wrenching ending.

    The characters in this book were easy enough to sympathize with. Once again Picoult rotated the point of view in each chapter, allowing us to see through each person's eyes and letting us in on their thoughts.

    The storyline was a good one. It was interesting to get insight into the lives of parents with a disabled child. It allowed me to appreciate the difference in even the simplest daily tasks that these families need to contend with.

    The ending of the book was heart breaking. After all was said and done, it just seemed like an unfair way to have things happen. It kind of put me off, but overall, I still thought it was a well done book.

    All in all, I give Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care four stars out of a possible five. It was a good book and one I'll eventually want to re-read.

    16. EMT Rescue - Pat Ivey


    These are the gripping true stories of the mobile emergency medical technicians who often are the only thing standing between us and death. Author Pat Ivey uses her extensive first-hand experiences and an unflinching eye for drama and detail to bring us the unsung tales of heroism and courage of the EMT units. She takes us into a hidden world of children in need, women seeking shelter from the horrors of spouse abuse, and the realities of industrial accidents. A simple car crash turns into a Herculean effort, an epic struggle against the clock and against the odds. Tragic misfortunes that usually occur silently in everyday America and the men and women that literally go through fire to help their fellow men and women are graphically portrayed in this compilation of action and adventure by deeply compassionate heroes and heroines.

    200 pages

    First off, let me start by saying that Pat Ivey has been working in EMS for longer than my presence has graced God's green earth. She's been in the line of fire more times than I can ever imagine stepping up to myself. And still, she works the streets with a compassion and understanding that very nearly puts Mother Theresa to shame.

    This book exemplifies what the ideal EMS system and the ideal medic should be like. Pat Ivey is an amazing role model for all those aspiring to be great in this field of ours. If all of us in EMS tried every day to be a little more like Pat Ivey, we wouldn't lose so many of our brothers and sisters to burnout, we wouldn't let so many lives slip through the cracks because we were too jaded to be bothered to pay attention to our patients as people, not just as a set of vital signs.

    This book had me laughing, crying and everything in between. This is the perfect account of work in the field as an EMT in a quiet, small-town service. I only hope that one day I can recount my own career with a spin even half as positive as the one Ivey puts on hers.

    There are two kinds of medics in the field: those who got into it for the power trip and feed off of illness and injury, and those who genuinely care for a patient's well-being and got into it not because of how good it makes them feel to treat a patient, but because it humbles them to know they have the skills and knowledge at their fingertips that can potentially save a patient's life. Ivey is the latter of the two, and an amazing example thereof.

    All in all, I give Pat Ivey's EMT Rescue five stars out of a possible five. Just phenomenal. Read it and you won't regret it. Read it if you want to get into EMS, or if you just want to understand what motivates those of us in the field. You won't be disappointed.

    17. To Feel Stuff - Andrea Seigel


    Meet Elodie Harrington, college student and medical anomaly. From chicken pox to tuberculosis, Elodie suffers such a frequent barrage of illnesses that she moves into the Brown University infirmary. When charismatic Chess Hunter enters the infirmary with two smashed knees, he and Elodie begin an intense affair, but Chess is only a visitor to Elodie's perpetual state of medical siege. As he heals, he moves back to his former life. Elodie heads in the other direction and begins to see a ghost. When Professor Mark Kirschling, M.D., gets wind of Elodie, he's convinced he can make his professional mark by cracking her case but he's entirely unprepared for what he's about to encounter.

    269 pages

    I was disappointed by this book.

    It started out very well and managed to hold my attention, but as it went on, I found the changing point of view to be very distracting and thought that it really took away from the story. This book would have been much better had it been written in one person's point of view.

    I found I couldn't identify with the characters at all. As well-described as they were, they still seemed very flat and static. There was no real goal for any of them to work toward and so the book never really hit a climax. In addition to that, the ending was abrupt and overall it felt unfinished.

    All in all, I give Andrea Seigel's To Feel Stuff one and a half stars out of a possible five. A real disappointment and not something I'd recommend readily.

    18. Dewey - Vicki Myron


    Dewey is the heartwarming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa, as told by his owner and companion of nineteen years, Vicki Myron, the librarian who found him on a frigid January morning when he was abandoned as a kitten in the book drop slot. It is also the story of a remarkable small town, which burned down at the beginning of the Depression, only to rebuild itself, and which was almost shuttered during the farm crisis of the 1980s, before regrouping and rededicating itself to small town American values. Dewey's local charm and worldwide fame became a symbol of hope for this recovering town. Through Dewey's antics, we come to know and love many of the colorful and inspiring people of Spencer. But perhaps the most inspiring person in Spencer is Vicki Myron herself, a single mother who survived the bankruptcy of her family farm and working in a box factory to put two of her brothers through college to become one of the leaders of the Iowa library system. Dewey is one lovable, roguish cat who managed to transform an entire town and inspire people across the globe.

    277 pages

    I loved this book. It was heartwarming, heartbreaking and everything in between. I became very attached to Dewey, Vicki and all of the other people written about in the book. Everyone was so real, so genuine that I felt like I was a part of it all, right there experiencing the events first hand.

    It amazed me how Vicki Myron could take Dewey's lifespan and write it into less than 300 pages, but at the same time make it feel like a whole lifetime while keeping it a very short, simple read.

    All in all, I give Vicki Myron's Dewey four stars out of a possible five. A very good rainy-day read and one I will definitely re-read.

    19. Marked - P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast


    Enter the dark, magical world of the House of Night, a world very much like our own, except here vampyres have always existed. Sixteen-yearl-old Zoey Redbird has just been marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night, a school where she will train to become an adult vampyre. That is, if she makes it through the Change - and not all of those who are Marked do. It sucks to begin a new life, especially away from her friends, and on top of that, Zoey is no average fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Zoey discovers she has amazing powers, but along with her powers come bloodlust and an unfortunate ability to Imprint her human ex-boyfriend. To add to her stress, she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny - with a little help from her vampyre friends.

    306 pages

    This book was even better this, the second time, around. The characters were even more lovable than last time, probably because I know more about them since finishing the next four books and starting over with this one. It's nice to be able to pick up on all of the subtle hints at what's to come this time, too.

    All in all, I give P.C. and Kristin Cast's Marked five stars out of a possible five. If you want a new and unique twist on vampyre lore, this is the book for you and I VERY highly recommend it!

    20. Betrayed - P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast


    Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night finishing school. She finally feels like she belongs, even gets chosen as the leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, she actually has a boyfriend... or two. Then the unthinkable happens: human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey's old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world. betrayed, the second book in the House of Night series, is dark and sexy, and as thrilling as it is utterly shocking.

    310 pages

    Just like the first book, this one blew my mind. I couldn't put it down and this one I did read in a single sitting. It was phenomenal.

    I usually hate books written in the first-person point of view because they often seem somewhat amateur and choppy. However, this series is so drawing, so perfectly capturing, that I didn't even realize until half way through this, the second book, that it was written in the first person.

    In this book, the characters of Zoey and all of her friends develop further. Despite having a bad feeling about Erik in the first book, I've come to thoroughly adore and trust him here. I'm starting to warm up to Heath, too. Neferet I'm not such a big fan of here. And of course, I'm missing one of the others that unfortunately doesn't make it through her change. It broke my heart.

    This book was real, it was emotional, it was suspenseful and just generally awesome. I can't speak highly enough of it. Where most sequels don't live up to the original, this sequel far surpassed the first book, and I hope that the next two books will be just as good, if not better.

    All in all, I give P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast's book, Betrayed, five stars out of a possible five. I very highly recommend this book and the series in general. Definitely going to be re-reading these ones.

    21. Chosen - P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast


    Bloodlust and dark forces are at work at the House of Night, and fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird's adventures at the school take a mysterious turn. Those who appear to be friends are turning out to be enemies. And, oddly enough, sworn enemies are also turning into friends. So begins the gripping third installment of this "highly addictive series" (Romantic Times BOOKreviews), in which Zoey's mettle will be tested like never before. Her best friend, Stevie Rae, is undead and struggling to maintain a grip on her humanity. Zoey doesn't have a clue how to help her, but she does know that anything she and Stevie Rae discover must be kept secret from everyone else at the House of Night, where trust has become a rare commodity. Speaking of rare, Zoey finds herself in the very rare position of having three boyfriends, a situation with the potential to spell social disaster. Then vampyres start turning up dead. Really dead. But as Zoey and her friends find out, things are not always what they seem...

    307 pages

    Holy mother of all things good and graceful. This one was possibly the best book yet. Lots of anger, heartbreak, twists and turns. Had me scared for the characters' lives several times, gripping the edge of my seat. I stayed up most of the night reading it before I had to work a 13 hour day the next day. It was intense.

    I have a whole new outlook on all of the characters. I like a lot of them more than I did before, but there are a few that I've really changed my mind about for the worse. It's nicely balanced for that, though. The plot was great, it was riveting, I couldn't stop reading. The emotion was real, the imagery was fantastic. I couldn't get enough of it!

    All in all, I give P.C. and Kristin Cast's Chosen five stars out of a possible five. Just freakin' wicked. I'll definitely read it again, and I can't wait to read the next one. I highly recommend it.

    22. Untamed - P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast


    Life sucks when your friends are pissed at you. Just ask Zoey Redbird - she's become an expert on suckiness. In one week she has gone from having three boyfriends to having none, and from having a close group of friends who trusted and supported her to being an outcast. Speaking of friends, of the two Zoey has left, one is undead and the other one is unmarked. And Neferet has declared war on humans, which Zoey knows in her heart is wrong. But will anyone listen to her? Zoey's adventures at vampyre finishing school take a wild and dangerous turn as loyalties are tested, shocking true intentions come to light, and an ancient evil is awakened in P.C. and Kirstin Cast's spellbinding fourth House of Night novel.

    Holy epic cliffhanger, Batman! Geez louise. The suspense is killing me. Or at least it would have been if I hadn't already read this series once, hehe. Still love it, though!

    This book is the best so far. Lots of suspense, lots of cliffhangers, lots of emotion. The Native mythology was really heavily embedded in this book, and it was fascinating. The inter-twining of the Native beliefs, the vampyre lore and the thread of Catholicism put together here are just great.

    I don't hate Erik anymore, which is a bonus. I can't wait to see what comes of him in the next book. Darius, the son of Erebus, is also an interesting addition to the plot. As is James Stark.

    There were a number of moments in this book that honest to God had me feeling faint and made my heart flutter. There are so many things going on that there was the worry throughout the book of it all becoming a giant convoluted mess, but it all worked out brilliantly in the end.

    All in all, I give Untamed five stars out of a possible five. A fabulous next chapter in this series! I highly recommend this book, this series, to everyone!

    23. Hunted - P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast


    At the start of this heart-pounding new installment in the bestselling House of Night series, Zoey's friends have her back again and Stevie Rae and the red fledglings aren't Neferet's secrets any longer. But an unexpected danger has emerged. Neferet guards her powerful new consort, Kalona, and no one at the House of Night seems to understand the threat he poses. Kalona is gorgeous, and he has the House of Night under his spell. A past life holds the key to breaking his rapidly spreading influence, but what if this past life unearths secrets Zoey doesn't want to see and truths she can't face?

    On the run and holed up in Tulsa's Prohibition-era tunnels, Zoey and her gang must discover a way to deal with something that might bring them all down. Meanwhile, Zoey has a few other little problems. The red fledglings have cleaned up well - they've even managed to make the dark, creepy tunnels feel more like home - but are they really as friendly as they seem? On the boyfriend front, Zoey has a chance to make things right with super-hot ex, Eric, but she can't stop thinking about Stark, the archer who died in her arms after one unforgettable night, and she is driven to try to save him from Neferet's sinister influence at all costs. Will anyone believe the power of evil has to hide among us?

    323 pages

    This book (fifth installment in the House of Night series) was, for the most part, absolutely fabulous. Despite their quirks, I'm still in love with the characters, even the evil ones. The book is written in Zoey's point of view and as such, the language is very informal, but it fits well with the overall feel of the book.

    The plot was a good one, with enough twists to keep me interested. It moved a little less quickly than some of the other books, but at the same time, the issues explored were well worth the slowing down of the pace. The ending left a little something to be desired, though it makes me think there may be more in this series, which is good.

    All in all, I give P.C. & Kristin Cast's Hunted four stars out of a possible five. I'll definitely be re-reading it and I do highly recommend it.

    24. 5th Horseman - James Patterson


    The Women's Murder Club faces an unspeakable horror in the most gripping medical and legal thriller in years. A young mother is recuperating in a San Francisco hospital when she suddenly gasps for breath and dies. Doctors are completely mystified as other recovering patients inexplicably become deadly ill. Accompanied by the newest member of the Women's Murder Club, Yuki Castellano, Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer probes deeper into the deaths. Is a maniac playing God? When someone close to her begins to exhibit the same frightening symptoms, Lindsay fears no one is safe. But the hospital is determined to shield its reputation at all costs. And while it wages a cout battle that grips the entire nation, Lindsay and the Women's Murder Club must hunt a merciless killer.

    428 pages

    This book was interesting but extremely predictable. Patterson's writing style is appealing and insightful. His characters are very human; very believable. The storyline held my interest, but at every turn it was easy to guess what was coming next. There wasn't much suspense there. It was a nice, quick read, though!

    All in all, I give James Patterson's 5th Horseman two and a half stars out of five. Not the best book ever, but I'd still recommend it.

    25. Goddess of the Sea - P.C. Cast


    Home alone on the night of her twenty-fifth birthday, U.S. Air Force sergeant Christine Canady yearned for something to cure her loneliness. After drinking too much champagne, she recited a divine invocation to revive her humdrum life. But how was she to know the spell would actually work?

    When her plane crashes into the ocean, CC's life changes forever. She awakens, bewildered, to find herself in a legendary time and place ruled by magic - and in the body of the mythical mermaid Undine. But danger lurks in the water, ready to swallow CC whole. Taking pity on her, the goddess Gaea turns CC into a damsel so that she might seek shelter on land. When a dashing knight comes to CC's rescue, instead of falling for this dream come true, she aches for the sea and the darkly sexy merman who's stolen her heart...

    342 pages

    This book was a fun read. It was a little dry at first, but once the story picked up, I found myself drawn in. It moved at a good pace and there was enough interest in the story line to keep me reading. The ending was a bit of a surprise, really, and I did shed a few tears here and there, which I commend the author for.

    The characters were great. CC was very believable and I could see things from her perspective easily. Dylan was incredibly sweet. Gaea was very well written and of course, I loved Isabel. Together, they fit perfectly and supported the storyline very well.

    All in all, I give P.C. Cast's Goddess of the Sea three and a half stars out of a possible five. For those into the paranormal type romance, I'd highly recommend it!

    26. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold


    "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her - her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

    328 pages

    This book was very unusual. On the one hand, it held my interest fairly well, but at the same time it read so dryly that I was amazed I wasn't putting it down for good. I didn't find myself becoming attached to any of the characters. While they are all very well developed, they still seem somewhat static and flat. The lack of dimension in them really turned me off of the story.

    The plot itself seemed almost pointless. Susie spends the years following her death watching life go on without her. A book about life going on despite tragedy is, in my opinion, a moot point because life goes on in the face of tragedy each and every day and we are all touched by it in some way. It was just very boring in the way that it was nothing new.

    The ending was very unsatisfying. While a number of things were resolved, the loose ends that I'd really hoped to see resolved were untouched and nothing felt like it had really moved. It was very anti-climactic.

    All in all, I give Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones one and a half stars out of a possible five. It really wasn't my type of book and I can't say I'd really recommend it, but who knows, you may like it.

    27. Strawberry Shortcake Murder - Joanne Fluke


    When the president of Hartland Flour chooses cozy Lake Eden, Minnesota, as the spot for their first annual Dessert Bake-Off, Hannah is thrilled to serve as the head judge. But when a fellow judge, Coach Boyd Watson, is found stone-cold dead, face-down in Hannah's celebrated strawberry shortcake, Lake Eden's sweet ride to fame turns very sour indeed.

    Between perfecting her Cheddar Cheese Apple Pie and Chocolate Crunchies, Hannah's snooping into the coach's private life and not coming up short on suspects. And could Watson's harsh criticism during the judging have given one of the contestants a license to kill? The stakes are rising faster than dough, and Hannah will have to be very careful, because somebody is cooking up a recipe for murder... with Hannah landing on the "necessary ingredients" list.

    309 pages

    This book was fun. After reading a few of Fluke's books, I've gotten to know the characters and I'm really enjoying the action. The characters are all very well rounded, very dynamic characters. What I really liked about this book was that it had one single linear storyline. There weren't too many people with too many different agendas to take away from the overall plot. It was a nice, smooth read.

    The plot line was interesting and the ending really came as a surprise, which I admire. It moved along quickly and efficiently, keeping my interest all the while. I didn't want to put it down! It had something for everyone: laughs, cries and everything in between.

    All in all, I give Joanne Fluke's Strawberry Shortcake Murder four stars out of a possible five. It's not great literature, but it's a really quick, super fun read that I'd highly recommend!

    28. Godplayer - Robin Cook


    There have always been many ways to die. But now, in an ultra-modern hospital, there was a new one... the most horrifying one of all.

    319 pages

    I really liked this book. It was very interesting in terms of plot and the author's writing style very much appealed to me. The characters in the book were well developed but at the same time there was enough left unsaid about each of them that it left me curious to read on and find out more. The plot line was great. Plenty of suspense to be had. About half way through the book I was almost certain about who was responsible for all of the deaths, but then as the ending drew nearer things became a little more confusing and I was thrown off. In the end, even though I had known who it was going to be, I was so shaken off by the events near the end that the killer's identity came as a total shock anyway.

    The plot moved along nice and quickly, but not so quickly that there were plot holes or crucial details missing. The ending was very climactic and overall it was a satisfying ending.

    All in all, I give Robin Cook's Godplayer five stars out of a possible five. Just a wonderful book. For those interested in this genre, I highly recommend it!

    29. Peach Cobbler Murder - Joanne Fluke


    With The Cookie Jar, Hannah Swensen has a mouthwatering monopoly on the bakery business of Lake Eden, Minnesota. But when a rival store opens, tensions begin to bubble...

    As she sits in her nearly empty store on Groundhog Day, Hannah can only hope that spring is just around the corner - and that the popularity of the new Magnolia Blossom Bakery is just a passing fad. The southern hospitality of Lake Eden's two Georgia transplants, Shawna Lee and Vanessa Quinn, is grating on Hannah's nerves - and cutting into her profits.

    At least Hannah has her business partner Lisa's wedding to look forward to. Unfortunately, Shawna Lee has finagled an invitation to the reception - and is bringing her Southern Peach Cobbler for the dessert table. Things go from bad to worse when Shawna Lee and Hannah's sometime-boyfriend, Detective Mike Kingston, are no-shows to the wedding. When Hannah sees lights on at the Magnolia Blossom Bakery after the reception, she investigates - and finds Shawna Lee shot to death.

    Everyone in town knew the Cookie Jar's business was suffering - a fact that puts Hannah at the top of the initial list of suspects. But with a little help from her friends, Hannah's determined to track down whoever had the right ingredients to whip up a murder.

    358 pages

    I really enjoyed this book. This one moved a little slower for my tastes, but in the end it was worth the wait. The killer's identity took me completely by surprise. The plot was interesting and fun, and it held my attention overall.

    The character development was good. I managed to find out even more about some members of the team and it's only helped to make me like certain characters even more. Other characters I sort of grew less fond of, but I'm sure that'll all be made up for in the next installment.

    All in all, I give Joanne Fluke's Peach Cobbler Murder three and a half stars out of a possible five. Not the best in the series, but definitely not the worst, either. I'd recommend it!

    30. Tempted - P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast


    If you can't trust your best friend with your deepest, darkest secret, who can you trust?

    Zoey wasn't a moron. She knew something was wrong. That was obvious, but how could Stevie Rae even start to tell her? There was just so much to explain. He was just so much to explain. And she'd never meant for any of it to happen.

    319 pages

    Oh. My. God. This book was amazing! It focused a lot more on Aphrodite and Darius, as well as on Stevie Rae, which makes me happy since I love the characters. Thankfully there was a lot less boyfriend drama and so consequently there was more time to expand on the plot.

    The storyline was a good one. It moved at a quick enough pace to keep me interested, but slowly enough that I know there have to be another few books to tie things up, which makes me ecstatic. There were a few crazy twists in the book which kept me on my toes and the ending was an epic cliffhanger. I laughed, I cried, I was frustrated, I was angry... I felt a lot throughout the book and I commend the authors on their ability to make me feel along with the characters.

    All in all, I give P.C. and Kristin Cast's Tempted four and a half stars out of a possible five. It was almost perfect and I would highly recommend it to both old fans and those who have not yet read the series (just make sure to read the others first!). Spectacular!

    31. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

    Science Fiction

    It's an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards, to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, and his best friend has just announced that he's an alien. At this moment, they're hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words: DON'T PANIC.

    The weekend has only just begun...

    180 pages

    In the past, I'd pretty much resigned myself to never reading sci-fi, so I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I ate my words, read this book and fairly enjoyed it. Unfortunately I saw the movie first, which sort of ruined the imagination part of it for me, but overall I still really liked it.

    The storyline was so completely random, though still kept within tight enough confines that it wasn't utter nonsense. I enjoyed the characters. They were all quirky in their own ways and not overly complex so it was easy enough to keep them straight in my head.

    All in all, I give Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy three stars out of a possible five. A nice, easy, fun read that I'd highly recommend to anyone looking for a few laughs! Will definitely be reading the second book in the series.

    32. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer

    Fiction//Young Adult/Romance/Suspense

    About three things I was absolutely positive.

    First, Edward was a vampire.

    Second, there was a part of him - and I didn't know how dominant that part of him might be - that thirsted for my blood.

    And third, I was unconditionally, irrevocably in love with him.

    498 pages

    This was my second time reading Twilight. Since the New Moon movie is due out in a couple of days, I figured I should re-read at least the first two books so I can be prepared.

    Truth be told, while I still enjoyed the book and realized there was a lot to the story that I'd forgotten about since my last read through, I didn't like Twilight as much the second time around. It just felt like it took a long time for things to really get exciting and even then, while the imagery in the final climactic scenes was fabulous, it was all over and done with too quickly.

    All in all, I give Stephenie Meyer's Twilight three and a half stars out of a possible five. I do recommend it for first-time readers, but I won't personally re-read it again for another couple of years or so.

    33. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer

    YA Fiction/Romance/Suspense

    I knew we were both in mortal danger. Still, in that instant, I felt well. Whole. I could feel my heart racing in my chest, the blood pulsing hot and fast through my veins again. My lungs filled deep with the sweet scent that came off his skin. It was like there had never been any hole in my chest. I was perfect - not healed, but as if there had never been a wound in the first place.

    563 pages

    My second time around reading New Moon. I enjoyed it a lot more than I had the first time. It definitely helped that I liked Jacob a lot more this time. The book moved a little bit slowly, but overall I very much enjoyed it. It was a great book to just read and relax with.

    All in all, I give Stephenie Meyer's New Moon four stars out of a possible five. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a unique writing style with a good plot and dynamic characters.

    34. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer

    YA Fiction/Romance/Suspense

    In the dead silence, all the details suddenly fell into place for me with a burst of intuition. Something Edward didn't want me to know. Something that Jacob wouldn't have kept from me. Something that had the Cullens and the wolves both in the woods, moving in hazardous proximity to each other...

    Something I'd been waiting for anyway.

    Something I knew would happen again, as much as I might wish it never would.

    It was never going to end, was it?

    629 pages

    My second read through this book as well. I must say, once again, that I enjoyed it a lot more the second time. I noticed a lot more of the details and subtleties in the storyline which made for an altogether fun reading experience. Since I'm a much bigger fan of Jacob this time around, I felt much more at ease reading it this time. It was a good refresher of my memory - amazing how much I'd forgotten. It moved at a good pace, had a solid storyline and plenty of character development.

    All in all, I give Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse four stars out of a possible five. I'd say don't listen to all those nay-sayers out there - if you enjoy YA fiction, I'm sure you'll like this series!

    35. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer

    YA Fiction/Supernatural/Romance

    When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

    To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fare of two tribes hangs.

    Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life - first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse - seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?

    756 pages

    I must say I enjoyed this book a lost more the second time than I did the first. Perhaps it was because I didn't have such high expectations the second time around. I was able to appreciate the story much more than the last time and I found that I rather did enjoy the pace at which it moved and the events that happened. The characters were well developed as well and the ending didn't feel quite so anti-climactic.

    Al in all, I give Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn four stars out of a possible five. A good, quick read with a storyline that everyone can find a way to relate to.

    All titles behind the cut come with summaries, a few thoughts I have about the novels I choose to read, a page number and a rating out of five. Check out my list, see if anything sounds interesting! If you've read anything I've listed, please feel free to comment on it and we can discuss it all!

    Just putting up a meter here to track my progress!

    Here's how many books I've read out of my total goal so far.

    Mood: tiredTired
    Music: More to Life - Stacie Orrico