The Black Order

I have not been a very good blogger this summer. I am still trying my best to read and blog but school is taking priority… As it should! I felt like it took me forever to get through this book, not because it was bad or anything. How many James Rollins books have I read that I hated? If you answered “none”, your right ūüôā

51sdd2f4eJLIn the Himalayan mountains, a monastery is under attack by an unknown illness said to be a product of a ghost light. Painter Crowe is sent to investigate where he meets Dr. Lisa Cummings, who also came from Mt. Everest to see if she could be of assistance. The attack is not over, Painter and Lisa are taken hostage and cannot get into contact with Sigma for assistance. Under the mountain they are kept in, they discover that Hitler’s vision of a perfect race is still alive but it comes at a price. Painter starts to show the same symptoms as the Monks causing panic in both his life and the lives of his captors. An explosion under the mountain drive the occupants out and across the world into South Africa for answers and a cure. They meet up with other Sigma operatives but discover something more terrifying than some hidden experiments; an evil as old as the Nazi’s themselves.

My blogs are going to start getting shorter, unfortunately. I still want to write these and provide book recommendations, I might not be as on time as I usually am. I really really enjoyed this book, as I do all the other Sigma Force Books. I think I am nearly read the whole series, minus 2 or 3 books. Theses books are the best because you do not have to read them in order. Each book has its own story, the characters carry over and some background stories but nothing major that you have to read them in order for.

Like all the other books, it was extremely fast paced and action packed. This one had a few slow parts but doesn’t every book? The characters travel all over the world and you get to see places like the Himalayan Mountains, Copenhagen, the United States. It is a fun ride. There is plenty of drama, shoot offs, bombs, adrenaline pumping actions. It was really cool to see all the characters start apart at the beginning of the book and by the end of it they are all under one roof band together to fight evil. That’s hero stuff right there!

There wasn’t anything bad about this book, other than the slow parts.

Overall, if you have not picked up a Sigma Force book, you need to….Now. Seriously. You¬†don’t have to read them in order but you can if you want to.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Up Next: Whitney, My Love but Judith McNaught

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Calendar Girl: Vol. 2

The second installment of the Calendar Girl series was not as good as the first book. I know you are thinking “wow, brutal right off the bat.” Well, I am just telling you the truth ;). It was still good but there were something’s that I thought were cheesy or not as well written. There are some reoccurring favorite characters from the first book and a few really steamy sex scenes, so that’s good. This time when I bought the book, I knew what I was about to read and wasn’t going to be blind sided by the erotic romance factor.

image-1With January through March behind her, Mia was looking forward to making through half the year as an escort; she just has to get through April, May and June. Each month, she expected the same routine: be some handsome, rich mans arm candy for the month and sleep with him if she felt like it. That was what the previous months brought her and loads of cash. A baseball player, a Hawaiian model and a handsome politician were all planned out for her and she thought she knew what the next three months would hold until a few wrenches get thrown her way. A visit from an old flame, an engagement and an assault wasn’t what she planned for.

 

Lets break this blog down by the months:

APRIL:

This month, Mia was on the arm of Mason, a trouble making pro baseball pitcher. She was hired to help him clean up his image and make him appear to be settling down. He has some serious sponsors looking at him so having a stable girlfriend might help him. It does and while the media is lusting over him and Mia, Mason is lusting for someone else in his life. Mia takes it into her own hands to get these two together. There are a few ups and downs in this month but Mia comes out of it feeling like she actually accomplished something important and changed someone’s life. I think this is one of the more intellectual months we have read about and not filled with meaningless sex. Don’t worry, there is still sex, just not with who you may think it would be with.

MAY:

Summer time is approaching and where else would Mia go besides Hawaii?? I actually felt jealous that I was in bed reading this book and not on a beach somewhere. The main man in this chapter isn’t the person who hires Mia, for once. We meet a photographer and his wife who designed a swimwear line to fit real women… Sizes 6 and up. There is a perfect world in this book. Mia does some modeling and actually works for her money unlike in other months where she just looks pretty. Sure, she looks pretty for the camera but she was expected to show up on certain days and times, just like a real job. This is where she meets the hunky Hawaiian model Tai and they begin and epic love affair. Tai tells Mia that he is hoping to meet his soul mate, a women who his mother says has light skin, brown hair and green eyes… Sorry Mia, you aren’t her. On her last night in Hawaii, Tai takes her to a restaurant and a beautiful woman practically falls into his lap. She is everything his mother described and Tai can’t take his eyes off her or speak one word. Mia does all the talking and sets them up on the last, first date of their lives.

JUNE:

This month, we spend in a gorgeous mansion owned by a senator. His goal is¬†to get in with the big guys so he can get their funding for a project he is trying to launch. The only problem is that all of these big investors have women on their arms who are 20 years younger. Que Mia. She is hired to be arm candy once again and help the senator with his goal. She does more than just look pretty, she actually secures a few investors for the senator, helping to launch the project smoothly. While there is no real love interest for Mia in this chapter, she once again¬†plays cupid and makes sure the senator actually pursues his love interest seriously instead of keeping her hidden away. The senator’s son, though, will prove to be a dangerous challenge. Mia finds him attractive and flirts a little here and there but innocent flirting soon becomes unwanted advances. That puts Mia in a very dangerous and life threatening situation.

There seems to be a theme for this book: Mia the Matchmaker. While it is a good thought and warm aspect to the story, I found it a little cheesy. The first one in May I liked because it was the only one that happened so far in the series. When it was three in a row, I¬† found it repetitive and would roll my eyes. Also, I don’t like how these books seem to glamorize the escort business.

I did like seeing characters from the previous book, Wes and Alec to be exact. Those two have been my favorite so far in this series, along with Tai now. I guess we will have to see who the next book in this series bring and if I will add another favorite to the list.

The Good:
New stories, new places to see… New men.
A few reoccurring characters.
Sexy scenes ūüėČ

The Okay:
Mia the Matchmaker in every single month.
Making the escort business seem easy and fun.

Overall: I would recommend this book and the series if¬†you are looking for¬†more sexy reads after you come off of “Fifty Shades”. This book was not my favorite out of the two that I have read so far but there are six more months and two books to go before this series ends.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Up Next: Black Order by James Rollins

Sleeping Giants

This poor book sat on my on my book shelf since last year. Finally, gaining some interested back to it, I dove right in. A former co-worker recommend that I read it, I knew if she read it, it must be good! While it didn’t disappoint me, it didn’t wow me either. It had its climatic moments but it also had pages where I would quickly scan and get the necessary information. I was debating on reading the rest of the series but the epilogue of this book sealed the deal… I will be reading on!¬†51jz8SfBxFL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

As a little girl, Rose Franklin enjoyed the forest and her new bike made the place even more enjoyable. On that day though, as Rose was riding her bike, she falls through a hole in the ground. She is found unharmed and cradled in a giant metal hand etched with strange markings. Many years later, Rose is a physicist studying the hand and panels found with it. She assembles a team to research the markings and while it seems like they are going nowhere, more “body parts” start showing up around the world. Rose knows they are connected and must be found to complete the puzzle. What they find and assemble is much more than they bargained for; it could be a peacemaker in the hands of the right people or a planet destroyer in the wrong. The race begins to see what this metal woman can do.

I enjoyed this book for its mystery and sci-fi nature. You are running around the globe looking for the rest of the pieces that go with the hand, wondering where they are going to be and how the characters are going to get them. Then when you have all the pieces assembled, you wonder what this machine is able to do. You are shocked with the characters and I think the author did a good job working emotion onto his readers. Some people might not feel the same as me but I thought had a Transformers feel to it with the alien robot the characters assemble but it is driven by the people it seems to choose.

There are only a few major characters who you need to remember and follow close. You’ll know whose point of view you are seeing the story from, the chapter headers name them. There is only one character you almost know nothing about and I think he (or she) could be the most interesting of the book. It is the narrator of the story. You only know they are talking because their words are in bold and they are conducting the interviews in each chapter and each character. This person is heading up the robot assembly program and they are never named. I am hoping in the next books this character will be named or at least we are given their official title or position in the project. If not, I get it, all part of the mystery!

While I was reading this, I kept thinking this would be a great movie or even a television show. I googled it to see if something was in the works. Turns out, that notion is not off the table. While the latest article was from two years ago, there still might be hope for us fans out there ūüôā

The only thing that I wasn’t sure about was the format the story was written in. The reader got their information, visuals and moved through the story as if they were reading a Q&A from each character. The narrator was the one asking the questions or moving the conversation along while the characters were reporting what they were experiencing or how the project was going. This was a super unique way of writing a book and while I thought it was really cool, I didn’t like it at the same time. I found it hard to form visuals of the story and felt like I was missing pieces of the narrative. Also, there were no dates. I was often guessing how much time had passed between interviews or sometimes during the chapters. None of these things deterred me from enjoying the read and if you read this book, I hope you like it!

The Good:
Fast pace
Few (but important) characters to follow
The mystery and Sci-Fi genres mixing

The Not-So-Bad:
Format of writing

Overall: If you are a fan of the Sci-Fi, alien robot stories: this is a good one to pick up and work though. It has its fast paced moments, keeping you turning the pages, wanting more. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

Up Next: Calendar Girl: Volume 2 by Audrey Carlan

Endurance

Another space book under my belt but this time it wasn’t fiction. Space has always been an interest for the people of Earth, it is full of unknowns and only a few people have experienced it. I have always had questions about it and never really got the answers except from the movies; we all know how accurate those can be! The author, Scott Kelly, takes us up into space with him telling us what it is really like to be an astronaut and what it is like to live up there for a year.¬†81121.jpg

Scott Kelly didn’t always know he wanted to be an astronaut but when he set his sights on that goal, nothing was going to stop him. From his childhood to becoming a Navy Test Pilot, flying his first space shuttle up until he arrived back home after a year of working on the International Space Station, Kelly talks about his triumphs and challenges through his life. His story is simple: anything you put your mind to, you can achieve.

I bought this book for my sister’s boyfriend for christmas. Before I wrapped it, I looked through it and was interested in reading about the first person to spend a consecutive year in space. The pictures were what caught my eye first but what stuck with me was the fact that no one else has done what Kelly has done (yet) and this book would be a really true insight into what space is really like. We’ve all seen those space movies and have the idea in our head about what it would be like; some is true and some is way, way off!

The book is set up so that the chapters jump back and forth between him begin on the ISS and his past, starting at 11 years old. Sometimes there are dates at the beginning of the chapters and sometimes there isn’t so you have to be aware of the time hops. At the beginning it isn’t confusing at all but as the past starts to catch up with the present, you have to really pay attention.

My favorite chapters were the ones where he is actually living on the ISS and working his way through the year up there. Some of the chapters about his earlier life were a little long and uneventful but they are needed. My favorite chapter outside of the space ones was chapter 8. It was all about becoming a Navy pilot, the training he had to go through and all the planes he got to fly in including the fighter jets. These chapters go over the qualifications you need to have in order to be selected for astronaut school which is very interesting because I had no clue what you had to do.

We all want to know what it is like to be in space and this book has an incredible insight and answers just seeping from the pages. I loved learning about everything: from daily work schedules to trying to sleep in zero gravity, eating, going to the bathroom, cleaning and all the risks that comes with it. There is a lot of personal sacrifice but the rewards seem worth it and a once in a life time experience. You get to see earth like no other human has except fellow astro/cosmonauts. The people living on the ISS still get to do normal things like watch new movies together, vote, video conference with their families, tweet, get days off.

Scott Kelly does a great job describing space and what life is like living up there. His gives in-depth descriptions about what it is like to see the sun rising and setting every few hours, the pretty blue water of the Bahamas, a hurricane. He also includes a lot colored photos which are amazing to look at. I loved all of them. One description that I giggled at was him saying that the first time you open the hatch to the space station, it is the familiar smell of welded metal. I had just had a new exhaust system installed on my truck and i would smell the welded metal. I thought “Huh, I wonder if that is what he was talking about!!” Probably not but now when I get a small whiff of it, I think that’s what space smells like!

We learned that there are lots of trials in space both as a team and in personal lives: there were 2 resupply shuttles that were lost, the increase of CO2, technology going down, astronauts not being able to go home as planned, space junk coming dangerously close to hitting the space station, family deaths and injuries. Space travel tests and pushes you. I had no idea that his twin bother was married to Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Senator who was shot. He talks about this happening on one of his mission and you could tell it was tearing him apart that he couldn’t be there for his brother and the rest of the family.

Kelly does a good job of conveying emotions he was feeling to the reader making us feel like we are traveling with him. When he was talking about only being half way through his mission, I let out a sigh and got a little discouraged because I felt like he had already been up there for so long! At the end of the book when he started getting ready to go home, I started feeling nostalgic like he did.

Something that I had a random thought on was the length of the book. It is 365 pages. Was that intentional, signifying his time in space? Or was that by chance it ended up being that long. It would be cool if it was on purpose.

So what was the goal of his year in space? Was it just to do it and break a record? Not really.. It was to see how the body reacts to the atmosphere and trials it is put through. Our goal is making it to Mars and it takes a year to get there.

The Good:
Interesting!
Amazing insight about living in space
The photos

The Okay:
The chapters about his early lifewere kind of slow

Overall: If you like autobiographies, want to learn about life in space and are interested in space, this is the book for you! Even if you aren’t that interested in space travel, this might get you hooked on it.¬†

Rating: 4 out of 5

Up Next: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Finding You

I am really enjoying these Destination Love stories by Jo Watson. They are the perfect beach reads; they are light, funny, have good romance and are always set on a beach. As much as I wish I was actually on a beach reading this, drink in hand, I was there in spirit! If I ever needed a fun book to read, I would always turn to a Sophie Kinsella book. In the future, I will be turning to a Jo Watson book instead ūüôā¬†31934415

Jane Smith has always felt like she was the odd one out. The root of this feeling, she knew, came from knowing she was adopted. That didn’t change the way she felt about her parents and siblings but it did leave an odd hole in her heart. The only way to fill it and discover who she truly was, was to find her birth father. She had already found her birth mother, who didn’t want much to do with her still, but she was able to find out her father was Greek, ran a tour guide business and his name was Dimitri. Armed with that information, Jane packs her bags and heads to Greece only to discover finding her dad might be a little harder than she thought. Everyone in Greece is named Dimitri and has a tour business. Jane meets one of the many Dimitri’s and try as she might, she finds him wildly attractive. She doesn’t let him distract her though, so he takes it upon himself to help her in her mission. Traveling around Greece, seeing many sights and having different experiences with him, she finds more and more out about her father and herself. She also may have found the love of her life in a tour guide.

Don’t you just love the cover? I love this one and all the others for this series. The cover is what drew me to this series in the first place. They are relaxing and beautiful. To me, they set the tone for the whole book. This is one visual that you don’t have to make up and when you are building your visuals through the story, they are just as pretty as the covers are because you already have a nice base to work off of!

I picked up this book thinking it was going to be the same and just as funny as¬†Almost a Bride.¬†It was similar but not repetitive. It had plenty of laughs and second-hand embarrassment moments but it didn’t quite meet the bar that the previous book had set. I really did like it and I will explain why in a second, it just wasn’t as good as the last. I think what made it that way was the main character Jane. She got on my nerves several times because she was so tightly wound she wouldn’t let herself make mistakes or fall in love with the guy she was with. She eventually loosened up but in the beginning, I couldn’t really stand her.

What I love best about these books is how easy it is to relax and just sink into them. They are so easy to pick up and have fun reading them. I looked forward to each night when I could crawl into bed with this book. When ever you read them, you will see why I am starting to prefer Jo Watson over Sophie Kinsella now days. Watson’s style to writing allows to story and the characters move effortlessly and she doesn’t skimp on the humor nor the romance. You can tell she allows the humorous situations to evolve in the story instead of inserting them here and there, hoping they will fit.

So this book is the third one in the series. It is the same as what I said with the last one, you don’t need to read them in order to know the characters or the story line. The group of girl friends and the men they fall in love with are the only things that carry over. You get reintroduced each time so you don’t forget who is who. The destinations so far have been awesome. This book took us to Greece and to the (what I would imagine) amazing beaches. Again, I wish I was on a beach while reading this book but no matter where you are, you feel like you are right in the story.

The Good:
Love the story, wasn’t a repeat of the last book
Setting: Greece
Steamy romance

The not so Bad:
Jane was really annoying in the beginning but she loosens up.

Overall: I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light, humorous read. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

Up Next: Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly

 

Eragon

I remember reading this book cover to cover multiple times in a row as a kid. I was obviously obsessed with it and couldn’t get enough. I think this was the first fantasy book I read on my own and it had a certain pull on me. My favorite memory attached to this book was when Christopher Paolini came to the Tattered Cover in Denver. My mom took me to his reading and I was totally in my element in a room full of young kids in awe of this writer and of the story. My editions of Eragon and Eldest are signed; I see the autograph and remember how much fun that day was. This was an easy choice when deciding which book I was going to choose for my re-read challenge.¬†200px-Eragon_book_cover

Eragon was a normal¬†young man growing up on a farm. He hunted in the early morning, did his work in the fields in the afternoon and ate dinner at the table with his uncle and cousin in the evening. His normal life is disrupted when a dragon egg comes into his possession. Not knowing what it truly was, he pushes it aside after finding out no one wants to trade for it. One night, the egg hatches and out pops a baby dragon. From the second he laid his hand on that dragon, his life changed forever. From his home town to mountains hundreds of miles to the south, he is taken on a journey that will change him from a simple farm boy to a dragon rider fighting the corrupted empire. Being a rider isn’t as easy as it use to be. He is the first one in hundreds of year and there is one person in the empire who has an ultimatum: join him, or die.

 

 

I still love this book. It is easy to get through, fast paced and full of adventure. Reading it as an adult, it has changed in the way it sounded in my mind. This isn’t a bad thing in any way; something you haven’t read in a long time is bound to change because the reader has changed. The story stays the same yet it is different in what the reader takes away from it.

Paolini wrote this book when he was about 16 years old. While it is a well written book, you could tell it was done by a younger person. The vocabulary throughout the book was simple and isn’t developed enough. The character emotions and actions weren’t projected to the readers the right way. The words were too simple to convey anger, love, anger, fright and they didn’t have as big as an impact on me. They still got the point across just wasn’t deep.

The one thing that drastically changed was the ending. I remember it being action packed and the battle was full of detail. The battle and the very ending was underwhelming to me and it left me wanting more.

If you are looking to read this book for the first time, don’t let this review hinder you reading it. I still think you should! My expectations were higher than they should have been as I was eleven or twelve when I read it. Things have changed, I have changed and have read so many books since then. This book was an original, fun idea that is bound to give you a good ride.

If you don’t want to read it because you saw the movie… Please pick up the book now. The movie wasn’t the best adaptions I’ve seen and I remember sitting in the theater next to my sister telling her all the things they got wrong. The script writers changed a lot and people were not happy about it but it wasn’t as bad as I once thought it was. It still follows the book well but you could tell it was low-budget. If Hollywood is looking for a movie to reboot, please do this one and do it better.

The Good:
The fun, fantasy aspect
Easy read
Decently paced

The Not-So-Bad:
Written by a younger person, lacking the strong vocal for emotions and descriptions.

Overall: Reading this a second time, I still enjoyed it and it is still a favorite book of mine. If you like to read fantasy novels about dragons and war, this is a good one to pick up. It won’t take¬†you long to get through.¬†

Rating: 4 out of 5

Up Next: Finding You by Jo Watson

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

I have been super excited to read this book. A friend told me about it a while back and I have been asking for it as a gift for a little while now. I finally received it and got to reading. I love the idea of finding something that belonged to a loved one and finding out its meaning; bringing you closer to them in some ways. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting it to be, though; it was a little duller. I liked the message behind it, your lives may change, you might discover something new but the love you feel for someone won’t.

51deW-KDXxL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Arthur Pepper has had the same routine everyday since his wife died. It made him feel in control and made him feel a little closer to her. When the time came to go through her belongings, he comes across a charm bracelet. Never have seen it before, Arthur wonders where his wife got it and what the charms stand for. One by one, he discovers their meaning and it shows him another side to his wife he never knew. Traveling from London to India, Arthur discovers new things about Miriam and about himself a long the journey.

There were things I enjoyed in this book and there were things I didn’t. One was how adventurous it was. I was expecting Arthur to travel throughout the whole story but it was really only half. I found myself wishing for more traveling but never got it. When I did get to those parts, they were light and fun to read about.

I think my favorite parts of the book were learning what each charm meant and where Miriam got them. There was an elephant, a tiger, flower, book, golden thimble, a paint palette, a heart and a ring. When Arthur discovers this bracelet and sees all these, the reader has the same reaction as he does: wonder and curiosity. Finding out what they stood for was really fun but often sort of vague.

I wish the author dove a little deeper into the stories behind the charms and created a fuller story for them. What I envisioned happening was when Arthur started putting together a story for each charm, our vision would shift from him and the future to his wife when she was young and the events leading up to her receiving the charm. Kind of like a Second Hand Lions¬†type of story telling.¬†The story would have been more interesting to me like that, instead of being from one point of view. I think it would have added more meaning and significance into the story and the reader would have gotten to know Miriam better.¬†The last two charms were the best to read about; the heart and the ring. Their stories were filled with drama and they were fully explained. They didn’t leave me wondering or leave an end untied.

There was one thing in the book that I wasn’t overly fond of: the fillers to the story. Every book has parts where it is slow or setting something up. I don’t know why but the parts in-between the charms were so boring and were not of any interest to me. I scanned through most of those and didn’t lose anything from the story. They didn’t add anything to the book for me other than showing what Arthur is doing when he isn’t discovering his wife’s past.

I liked watching Arthur go from being the older man who didn’t leave his house or routine to being a globe-trotting adventurer who doesn’t over think what he is doing. This book showed that it is okay to live outside your comfort zone. Nothing interesting will happen to you if you are scared to step out of your door. Watching Arthur learning about his wife’s past and growing during the process was fun. Watching him come closer to his children and meet new people across the world was heart warming. I really enjoyed this book for that aspect alone. Adventure is out there, you just have to go find it.

The Good:
Our main character
The stories behind the charms
Adventures around the world

The Boring:
The fillers

Overall: If you are looking for an adventurous, heart warming story, this is a good one to read. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

Up Next: Eragon by Christopher Paolini