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26 December 2009 @ 12:16 am
50 Book Challenge Volume III.II  
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.

The last post got too large, so here's the new half!






36. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams

Thirty years of celebrating the comic genius of Douglas Adams... If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the end of the Universe? Which is exactly what the crew of the Heart of Gold plan to do. There's just the small matter of escaping the Vogons, avoiding being taken to the most totally evil world in the Galaxy and teaching a space ship how to make a proper cup of tea. And did anyone actually make a reservation? This is Volume Two in the "Trilogy of Five".

200 pages

This book was fairly good. It didn't really hold my interest much past about half way, but overall it was a good book. The characters became more familiar in this book as well as a bit more dynamic, which helped to sort of carry the storyline. Not a bad second book in a series over all. I will definitely read the next one.

All in all, I give Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe two and a half stars out of a possible five. Not too shabby.




37. Crosscut - Meg Gardiner

Fiction/Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

School's out forever...

And the high school reunion is a killer. Because something, or someone, is eliminating Evan Delaney's graduating class.

For Evan, China Lake was a tough place to grow up. But she didn't realize just how tough until, returning to the desert military base for her high school reunion, she discovers that a disturbing number of her classmates have died young.

And the night of the reunion, another one is savagely butchered. She is just the first.

There's a serial killer on the loose. one with a major axe to grind with China Lake high school graduates...


438 pages

This book is the first book that has ever truly disturbed me. The way the author describes the murders is very graphic and I honestly almost retched. Besides that it was a really amazing book. The horror is really part of it's charm.

The storyline was amazing. It really drew me in and it moved at a good pace. The ending was a little abrupt, though. It felt a bit anti-climactic. The characters were charming, dynamic and flawed enough that they were sympathetic and believable.

All in all, I give Meg Gardiner's Crosscut four stars out of a possible five. I very highly recommend it, but make sure not to eat before you read and to brace yourself for gore! Not for the young or faint of heart.




38. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder - Joanne Fluke

Fiction/Mystery

Hannah Swensen though she'd finally discovered the recipe for a perfect life. But her sometime beau Norman Rhodes tosses a surprise ingredient into the mix when he phones to tell her he's just bought a house from local drugstore clerk Rhonda Scharf - which he plans to tear down in order to build the dream home he and Hannah designed. It seems the plan has been cooking for quite some time, and Hannah's shocked. Especially since her ring finger is still very much bare...

The good news is that the soon-to-be-torn-down house is full of antiques - and Norman has given Hannah and her mother first dibs. They uncover some gorgeous old furniture, a patchwork quilt... and Rhonda Scharf's dead body. A little more sleuthing turns up the half-eaten remains of a very special dinner for two - and one of The Cookie Jar's famous lemon meringue pies. Now it's up to Hannah to turn up the heat - and get busy tracking down clues. Starting in her very own kitchen...


343 pages

The more of Fluke's books I read, the more I like them. This one was a nice, quick, entertaining read, although it was a bit more predictable than the other stories of hers that I've read.

The characters were lovable as always, the plot line kept my interest and it was entertaining overall. The ending, though not exactly surprising, was actually quite thrilling. Still wondering which man Hannah will pick, though! I can't wait to find that out one day!

All in all, I give Joanne Fluke's Lemon Meringue Pie Murder three and a half stars out of a possible five. A nice, light, fun read that I'd recommend for anyone!




39. Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips

Fiction/Humor

Being immortal isn't all it's cracked up to be. Life's hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn't respect you, and you're stuck in a dilapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there's no way out - until a meek cleaning lady and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down.

277 pages

The first hundred or so pages of the book were painfully boring. Even after that it only got mildly interesting, and even then for only about fifty pages. Then it seemed to drag on some more before it finally ended. At least the ending was decent, predictable as it was.

The characters were awful and awfully written. I didn't have sympathy for any of them. Though the book is supposed to be humorous, I didn't find it funny in the least. It was just far too boring and slow-paced for me.

All in all, I give Marie Phillips' Gods Behaving Badly two stars out of a possible five. The only thing that saved it from an even lower rating is really the last twenty pages. I don't really recommend it, but hey, who knows, you might like it.




40. Nightlight - The Harvard Lampoon

Fiction/Humor

About three things I was absolutely certain.

First, Edwart was most likely my soul mate, maybe.

Second, there was a vampire part of him - which I assumed was wildly out of his control - that wanted me dead.

And third, I unconditionally, irrevocably, impenetrably, heterogenously, gynecologically, and disreputably wished he had kissed me.

And thus Belle Goose falls in love with the mysterious and sparkly Edwart Mullen in the Harvard Lampoon's hilarious send-up.

Pale and klutzy, Belle arrives in Switchblade, Oregon, looking for adventure or at least an undead classmate. She soon discovers Edwart, a super-hot computer nerd with zero interest in girls. After witnessing a number of strange events - Edwart leaves his Tater Tots untouched at lunch! Edwart saves her from a flying snowball! - Belle has a dramatic revelation: Edwart is a vampire. But how can she convince Edwart to bite her and transform her into his eternal bride, especially when he seems to find girls so repulsive?

Complete with romance, danger, insufficient parental guardianship, creepy stalkerlike behavior, and a vampire prom, Nightlight is the uproarious tale of a vampire-obsessed girl, looking for love in all the wrong places.


154 pages

Okay, so it's not NEARLY as funny as I thought it was going to be. While it's got clever moments, most of the time it feels forced and seems like the author tried too hard to be funny. It ends up coming off as more stupid than anything, even for a parody.

I suppose I can't really comment on the characterization because they're supposed to be badly written for the sake of the parody, but they still could have been more witty and less idiotic overall.

Anyway, all in all I give the Harvard Lampoon's Nightlight two stars out of a possible five. Really not my type of book.




41. Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane

Fiction/Suspense/Thriller

In the year 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigatean unexplained disappearance. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept under constant surveillance in a locked, guarded cell. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on the island, hints of radical experimentation and covert government machinations add darker, more sinister shades to an already bizarre case. Because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.

369 pages

This book was pretty awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed Lehane's writing style. It was set in a time frame that was modern enough for me to be able to relate to, but at the same time far back enough to give it a rustic feel. The characters were well developed and flawed enough to be genuine.

The storyline moved quickly and was very catching. If I'd had the chance, I would've read it all in one sitting. There was a twist at the end that was shocking, yet at the same time it had been subtly hinted at throughout the book, making for a nice mystery for those so inclined. The very last two pages, however, confused me. I'm not sure what exactly to make of them, but still, good book.

All in all, I give Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island three and a half stars out of a possible five. I highly recommend it to those interested in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre and anyone looking for a chilling, haunting read in general.




42. Blood Lies - Daniel Kalla

Fiction/Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Ben Dafoe, a young emergency-room doctor, is haunted by addiction. Tow years earlier, a drug habit claimed the life of his identical twin, Aaron. Now Ben walks onto the scene of a savage stabbing to find that the victim is his former fiancee, Emily Kenmore.

When DNA from the scene matches Ben's, he becomes the prime suspect.

Convinced his twin is alive and involved in Emily's death, Ben goes on the run, desperately searching for Aaron while playing cat-and-mouse with the authorities.

But someone is determined to thwart his hunt at any cost, and as Ben struggles to solve a tragic mystery from his past, he might just learn that sometimes, blood lies...


314 pages

Probably the best book I've ever read. Honestly.

I've read some of Kalla's other works and I wasn't too impressed, but this book blew my mind. It was intelligent, exciting and compelling. I honestly couldn't put it down, right from page one. The plot was very intriguing and definitely kept me guessing. The characters were very dynamic and well-written. The writing style was fresh and interesting.

The ending was shocking. I mean, on the one hand, if I'd read more carefully and thought about it, I may have figured it out, but at the same time when identities were revealed I was flabbergasted. Definitely a wonderful shocker with a very climactic ending. A happy one at that.

All in all, I give Daniel Kalla's Blood Lies five stars out of a possible five. Truly phenomenal. I highly recommend it!




43. Children of the Flames - Lucette Matalon Lagnado & Sheila Cohn Dekel

Non-Fiction/Biography

During World War II, Dr. Josef Mengele subjected some 3,000 twins to medical experiments of unspeakable horror; only 160 survived. In this remarkable, evocative anrrative, the life of Auschwitz's Angel of Death is told in counterpoint to the lives of the survivors, who until now have kept silent about their death camp ordeals.

We follow the twins first as children, beginning their descent into Auschwitz by witnessing their entire families being led away to be killed, and focus on the years after the Liberation, as they struggle to rebuild their lives. Many are tormented by the gruesome deaths of their siblings, and all are condemned to live with a terrible double-edged sword: the hell they suffered because of Mengele, and the life they owe him as "his" children.

Here is an entirely new story about the Holocaust and its aftermath - and of the men and women who have achieved a fragile and hard-won triumph over the past.


268 pages

This book was absolutely mind-blowing. I've been interested in Holocaust history, specifically the work of Dr. Josef Mengele, for quite some time and this is the first authentic account of his life and work that I've read. Brilliantly written and well detailed, the authors have put together a very thorough and engaging commentary on the life of one of the most notorious war criminals who ever lived. A heart-wrenching story written so vividly I could almost picture myself amongst the throngs of people pouring off of the train into Auschwitz.

All in all I give Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel's Children of the Flames four stars out of a possible five. It was very engaging, very informative and very well written. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Holocaust history or just generally interested in a good biography.




44. Emergency: Christmas - Alison Roberts

Romance

Mark Wallace, the new E.R. doctor, started out as Penelope Baker's "Plan B." Dating him might make her "Plan A" man take notice. But when Penelope and Mark witnessed a terrible car accident, and risked their lives to free the injured occupants, a strong bond was formed. Penelope was through with games, and she quickly accepted Mark's marriage proposal.

But just weeks before the wedding, Mark discovered Penelope had been dating him to make another man jealous. Mark was stunned and refused to listen to Penelope's explanations. Would it take another life-or-death crisis for Penelope to prove the true depth of her love...?


217 pages

Yes, a Harlequin romance novel. As formulaic as it was, it was still enchanting. The characters were easy to love, the plot was simple but well put together and the story moved along at a good clip.

I would give Alison Roberts' Emergency: Christmas four out of a possible five stars. Another great and quick read that's sure to bring a smile to your face and happy tears to your eyes, not to mention get your pulse racing at the odd moment. I definitely recommend it!




45. Saving Flynn - Carol Marinelli

Romance

Meg O'Sullivan fell in love with Dr. Flynn Kelsey the moment he kissed her. But when she discovered a photo of Flynn's wedding, she jumped to the obvious conclusion: he was married.

Flynn was a widower, yet in a very real sense he was still married. Flynn's wife had died in an accident, and he was plagued with guilt over her death. His house was full of her possessions and memories. So when Flynn proposed to Meg, she wasn't sure if he could put the past behind. Or would saying yes free him to love again?


218 pages

Yes, it's a Harlequin romance novel. Try not to laugh. Once in a while a girl's just gotta let go and read some mindless fluff! It's a zen thing. In any case, it was a good book. The characters were lovable, but not overly perfect like you'd expect them to be. Meg tended to be a bit melodramatic and overly huffy sometimes, but then again, who isn't? The storyline was a good one, formulaic in the sense that they fall in love, drift apart, find some hope, fall apart completely, and then get back all happily, but still good. Just a fun read.

I would give Carol Marinelli's Saving Flynn four stars out of a possible five. A great, quick, mindless, feel good read. I recommend it to anyone needing a break from hardcore literature, or just life in general.




46. A Full Recovery - Gill Sanderson

Romance

Ben Franklin knows Jo Wilde needs support and friendship. She's recovering from a broken heart as well as an accident. If he's to convince this beautiful woman to love again he must be very patient.

He succeeds. Eventually Jo is so bowled over by him that their attraction to each other culminates in one night of blissful passion. Except that now Ben fears Jo is acting on the rebound.

How can he be sure that her feelings are truly for him?


186 pages

Your typical Harlequin romance novel yet again - formulaic, perfect ending, lovable if only slightly flawed characters. Still not bad, though. Good storyline, moved at a good pace. I wouldn't mind reading it again, given the chance.

All in all, I give Gill Sanderson's A Full Recovery three stars out of a possible five. A nice, quick, fluffy read.




47. Spontaneous Combustion - Bobby Hutchinson

Romance

A warehouse fire rages out of control. Firefighter Shannon O'Shea enters the burning structure. A beam shakes loose, her path is blocked. And then a miracle...

Firefighter Shannon O'Shea is lifted from the rubble of a burning building by an unknown fireman, his protective gear shielding his identity. She's convinced her mystery rescuer is John Forrester, the newest member of their team. But when John denies it, Shannon becomes suspicious. Nothing about John seems to add up. Is he behind the explosion and fire? The only way to find the truth is to get closer to her sexy, enigmatic colleague... and risk the heat of their attraction.


Good book overall. Another harlequin, and though I've said it before, I'll say it again - formulaic, idyllic and all together terribly warm and fuzzy, but not bad. Good storyline with a few nice twists, decent characters and not too much unnecessary filler.

All in all, I give Bobby Hutchinson's Spontaneous Combustion three stars out of a possible five. A nice, quick read that's perfect for a rainy day when you just want to curl up and forget life, or, in my case, finish a challenge in the face of a rapidly approaching deadline!




48. Lover Unbound - J. R. Ward

Fiction/Supernatural/Romance

In Caldwell, New York, war rages between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now the cold heart of a cunning predator will be warmed against its will...

Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, possesses a destructive curse and frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father's war camp, he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of a human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time - until a destiny he didn't choose takes him into a future that cannot include her...


502 pages

Okay, so I'm going to make this mixed-feelings review sort of a shit-sandwich.

On the one hand, I loved the book. The characters were so dynamic and unique that I was compelled to want to learn as much as possible about each and every one of them. It was fantastic being able to see what went on in their heads. The plot was also a good one - interesting, moved at a decent pace and had some good twists in it.

On the other hand, the author's writing style turned me way off. She writes in the third person omniscient and confuses her tenses a lot. Her writing is also often casual to the point of sounding amateur. Besides that, she's invented some words and has purposely misspelled others as names (Vishous, Phury, Rhage, etc.) which drove me bananas. I often found myself putting the book down just to piece together some of the events in the past few pages because the language had sort of taken away from the overall impression of the story itself.

In the end, though, I must say I quite enjoyed the book. The ending was a bit of a disappointment though and how things unfolded made it feel almost like the whole story before that had been cheapened. Life's not fair and this book really sort of jumped the shark to make it fair. Upon suspending disbelief for a while, though, it really wasn't too bad.

All in all, I give J. R. Ward's Lover Unbound three and a half stars out of a possible five. I'd recommend it for those into the genre, and I may even re-read it at one point or another.




49. Flashback - Jill Shalvis

Romance

Firefighter Aidan Donnelly has always battled the flames with trademark icy calm. That is, until a blazing old flame returns - in the shape of sizzling soap star Mackenzie Stafford! Aidan wants to pour water over the unquenchable heat between them. But that just creates more steam...

Kenzie is not the delicate, fragile female she looks like. She has one clear objective, and nothing will stand in the way of her goal - well, nothing but the red-hot touch of a certain dangerously sexy fireman, that is!"


211 pages

I loved Shalvis' first book in this sort of series, but this one was a bit of a letdown. I did like the characters in the end, but it took me almost 200 pages to warm up to Kenzie. The romance between them was so angsty for most of the book that it just put me off entirely, too.

The plot sucked. The ending came as a complete surprise, but only because the author didn't build up to the twist at all. In any good book one should be able to piece together subtle clues that eventually come together for a great ending, but here she gave absolutely no indication of who the culprit responsible was until the last five or so pages, and by then everything was over. VERY anti-climactic.

All in all, I give Jill Shalvis' Flashback two stars out of a possible five. Boring, formulaic and not worth the hour and a half it took to read. I don't really recommend it at all, even to avid Harlequin readers.




50. A Family for the Children's Doctor - Dianne Drake

Romance

For renowned plastic surgeon and single mother Caprice Bonaventura, her volunteer work with children is a lifeline. Spending all her free time with her young patients and daughter means she has no chance to admit she might be missing out in other areas of life...

Then she meets the handsome and caring Dr. Adrian McCallan, with whom she shares the experience of being a single parent. Adrian sets her senses alight in a way no man has before. Though breaking down his emotional barriers means putting her heart on the line, Caprice knows it will be worth the risk!


185 pages

Cute, fluffy Harlequin romance novel. The characters were easy to identify with, though sometimes a bit too stubborn for their own good - like the author was trying too hard not to make them perfect. The storyline was good and moved along at a good pace, but in some places left something to be desired. The ending was cute, though, even if it was typical of this kind of book.

All in all, I give Dianne Drake's A Family for the Children's Doctor three stars out of a possible five. Not exactly great literature, but a good book to pick up if you need a warm-fuzzy or just a quick read.






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: exhaustedExhausted
Music: Alejandro - Lady GaGa