Books & Reviews 📚

Book #100: Roses Are Red

In a series of crimes that has stunned Washington, D.C., bank robbers have been laying out precise demands when they enter the building — and then killing the bank employees and their families if those instructions are not followed to the letter.

Detective Alex Cross takes on the case, certain that this is no ordinary bank robber at work — the pathological need for control and perfection is too great. Cross is in the midst of a personal crisis at home, but the case becomes all-consuming as he learns that the Mastermind is plotting one huge, last, perfect crime.

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The sun looked like a lemon drop melting in bright blue skies.

My 100th review!

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Shall we dance?

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No? Okay, on to the review!

I don’t normally reread books and the books that I claim to love usually just sit on my shelf, but this is the second time that I read this book (10 years later or so). It was a beautiful trip down memory lane, but I was able to look at it with fresher (and harsher) eyes than my young teenage self.

In this story, Alex Cross’s girlfriend Christine leaves him after going through a traumatic experience. On top of it, a psychopath calling himself the Mastermind is after Cross. The man never gets any rest. It’s always one thing after the other! The Mastermind is an evil genius. He pulls off bank robberies taking the bank employee’s families as hostages.

In the love department, Cross is trying to win back Christine, but at the same time,  he meets and falls for Senior Agent, Betsey.

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The stupidest part was Cross going ‘undercover’ at the mental institution when it was already established that the Mastermind KNEW HIS FACE! He went in there with no disguise expecting to nab a crazy man. Idiotic move.

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The title has nothing to do with red roses and should’ve been called The Mastermind. The man is a brutal killer and he won’t hesitate to strike you where it hurts. He is undoubtedly one of Patterson’s best and craziest villain that gave Cross a run for his money.

Oh, this is the first part of the Mastermind series with a killer ending. Part two is titled Violets Are Blue and I’m off to read it now.

COVER

Eh, it didn’t particularly wow me; 3/5.

OPENING:

BRIANNE PARKER didn’t look like a bank robber or a murderer – her pleasantly plump baby face fooled everyone. But she knew that she was ready to kill if she had to this morning. She would find out for sure at ten minutes past eight.

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffeelove coffee

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #99: The Thomas Berryman Number

It starts with three terrifying murders in the South. It ends with a relentless and unforgettable manhunt in the North. In between is the riveting story of a chilling assassin, the woman he loves, and the beloved leader he is hired to kill with extreme prejudice.

The winner of the Edgar® Award for Best First Novel, THE THOMAS BERRYMAN NUMBER marked the debut of acclaimed and bestselling author James Patterson. No other novelist writing today has created more enduring fictional characters, including legendary Alex Cross from the most popular detective series of the past twenty-five years.

I went back to where it all started for the world’s biggest and best-selling author: 1976. James Patterson was a relatively new author when he debuted with The Thomas Berryman Number.

I felt disconnected from the story. I read it like I normally would read a JP book, but I felt as if I had wandered into a rambling reporter’s world and his musings and I didn’t like it at all for it skipped around a lot. There’s never any suspense, the plot made no sense and the ending was lame. I had issues keeping up with several characters. 

The story had its moments, but it was too excruciating and complex to follow sometimes. It was too slow and a letdown. 

Bottom line: it was not JP’s best work and it shouldn’t even be in print in this reading age. Regardless of what some reading enthusiasts may say, JP’s writing matured and developed over time, but I had a hard time calling this book a thriller so I settled for mystery for that’s what it feels more like.

THE CHARACTERS

No one was memorable. They were all boring.

COVER

The cover is gold! The fonts and colors collaborate nicely! It’s a 5/5.

OPENING:

CLAUDE, TEXAS, 1962

THE YEAR HE and Ben Toy left Claude, Texas – 1962 – Thomas Berryman had been in the habit of wearing black cowboy boots with distinctive red stars on the ankles. He’d also been stuffing four twenty-dollar bills in each boot sole. By mid-July the money had begun to shred and smell like feet.

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffee

Entertainment

Favorite YouTube videos of the month!

YASSS! New monthly category!

 

I may have mentioned this in earlier posts that I frequent YouTube a lot, not for music videos, but for interesting, fun, and learning content. I’ve subscribed to some awesome channels and thought I’d share a few of the videos I’ve enjoyed for the month.

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Twins teach their 21-year-old best friend to ride a bike

If it’s one channel that I’ve come to love over on YT, it’s Lucas and Marcus. The Dobre twins always try to make family-friendly oriented content even when pulling softcore pranks on their brothers and parents. 

Anyways, earlier this month, the twins taught their cameraman and best friend, Steve, how to ride a bike. It was a really nice experience for Steve who mastered the art of bike riding by the end of the video.

Surprise, Marcus!

The twins turned 19 on Sunday and Lucas attempted to surprise his twin with a birthday party at their parents’ gym. Was it the best birthday party ever? I don’t know, but Marcus was sure appreciative of the gesture.

Reading books is amazing

One of my favorite BookTubers, Jesse lists 30 things that he loves about reading books. I might have identified with many, if not all of them.

Epic intro!

James Patterson pulls no punches when it comes to promoting/marketing his books and this 31-second clip of him entering a stadium to plug the book is amazing!

Whodunit?

This video is from September last, but I only discovered their channel this month (YouTube recommended it) and I like it! In this clip, there are 7 mysteries that only 5% can solve. Do you have what it takes? Then watch the clip and play along.

And that’s a wrap! 😃

Books & Reviews 📚

Book Haul part deux

This is a mini haul. My goal this year is to kill my TBR list, but it’s only growing bigger. I’m also working on doing a reading challenge this year, but it looks highly unlikely at the moment. Anyways, the following books are now added to the ever-growing collection.

Love Him to Death by Tanya Newman

This is actually the 8th book in the Poppy Fields Murder Mystery and I bought it for my sister who now wants to own the entire series. I’ll be reading it, though, for she read the book in one day and insist that I read it. 

Message in the Flames by Steven Torres

I got this book on sale and I just couldn’t pass it up. I read that it was first published as Burning Precinct Puerto Rico and the book is a reprint in a series of 3, but the publishers changed the numbers and this one is book 2. Whatever the confusion, I’m going to read this as a standalone.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

I was intrigued by the writer telling this story backward and many readers promised that the ending was one big fat twist. It sounds like a promising read and I hope for the best.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

This is supposed to be a literary thriller and this book is also the author’s debut. I have a confession, though: I only bought the book because I think the title sounded really cool and the edges are black.

The Crime Archives by Damon Wilson

This is a collectible and probably the coolest thing I’ve ever bought! It includes rare facsimiles of documents that led to the capture and conviction of these criminals.

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #82: The Take

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Freddie Jackson thinks he owns the underworld when he gets out of prison. He’s done his time, made the right connections, and now he’s ready to use them. His wife Jackie just wants her husband home, but she’s forgotten the rows, the violence, and the girls Freddie can’t leave alone.

Bitter, resentful, and increasingly unstable, Jackie watches her life crumble while her little sister Maggie’s star rises. In love with Freddie’s cousin Jimmy, Maggie is determined not to end up like her sister.

Families should stick together, but behind closed doors, jealousy and betrayal can fester until everyone’s life is infected. And for the Jacksons, loyalty cannot win out. Because in their world you can trust no one. In their world everyone is on the take.

Author: Martina Cole
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing (2005)
Pages: 661

I’m done. I am over Cole. This author has brought nothing to the table, but the same repetitive story with different characters and she overwrites. She’s becoming like those lame Hollywood remakes.

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Cole tends to center her writing around family and not just any family. Crazy families with bad people. Bad people who have the best relatives because they tend to lie and turn a blind eye to their shortcomings as Jackie did for Freddie. 

Jealousy ALWAYS plays a strong theme in her stories. Jackie fell hard for Freddie and her love was her undoing to her own mess which she helped created along the way. Freddie on the other hand; did not love only Jackie, his wife, and mother of his children, but he had many ladies who were only willing to sleep with him. Maggie, Jackie’s younger sister grew up looking at the way her older sister whom she once revered and decided that she will not be like Jackie.

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Jimmy, Freddie’s little cousin, and Maggie eventually gets married and is set financial-wise, but it leaves Freddie and Jackie jealous of the young couple’s lifestyle. Again, jealousy plays a HUGE part in the story. I know Cole’s stories center around reality, but sometimes it’s kind of hard to believe people behave like they do in the book. I was mad at Jackie for not being a proper mother to her girls. Mad at Freddie for being a proper right idiot. Oh yeah, I also think she could lay off some of the swear words. I get that she’s going for authenticity, but sometimes the swear words are a little uncomfortable to bypass. You don’t have to swear here, there and everywhere. We get it. There’s nothing shock value about swearing anymore.

I think it’s time for Cole to move onto something else. This comfort zone is a little too comfy now. Get out of it and create something new.

And now, it’s time for the bad parts:

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* Sexism is sexism and there was sexism in this sexism book and any type of sexism is bad. It’s also bad enough that the author is a woman.

* This book was irritating. The writing didn’t make up for it; it was poor.

* None of the characters are likable, except for Maggie. Every female character revolved around her boyfriend/husband and had no lives of their own. Are we still living in the 60s or something?

* I know I said this at the beginning, but Cole is a repetitive author and it was a turn off when she kept reminding me what happened, say, only two-three pages ago. Thank you for making me feel like an idiot.

* Her characters showed no growth when I came to the end. They were basically the same throughout. 

* I question humanity: how is this book a bestseller? 

I have The Family to read and get over, but for now, I’ll bypass it for another book.

VERDICT:

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NEXT UP:

Image result for gif michael jackson reading

Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Sidney Sheldon

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #78: Hope to Die

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Detective Alex Cross is being stalked by a psychotic genius, forced to play the deadliest game of his career. Cross’s family–his loving wife Bree, the wise and lively Nana Mama, and his precious children–have been ripped away. Terrified and desperate, Cross must give this mad man what he wants if he has any chance of saving the most important people in his life. The stakes have never been higher: What will Cross sacrifice to save the ones he loves?

Widely praised by the greatest crime and thriller writers of our time, Cross My Heart set a jaw-dropping story in motion. Hope to Die propels Alex Cross’s greatest challenge to its astonishing finish, proving why Jeffery Deaver says “nobody does it better” than James Patterson.

Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 19, 2015)
Chapters: 102
Pages: 496 including an excerpt of 14th Deadly Sin
Series: Alex Cross #22

How much suffering can one man endure in life before he suffers complete mental and emotional break?

UNPUTDOWNABLE!!

This was the sequel to the story of Alex Cross and Thierry Mulch/Marcus Sunday in Cross My Heart. Mulch/Sunday had kidnaped Alex’s family – wife, Nana-Mama, daughter and two sons – just to prove that he can break Alex Cross’ will to live. He threatened Cross that he will kill Cross’s family one by one. What triggered this serial killer off? Mulch has written a book under the pseudonym Marcus Sunday about the perfect killer who murdered two entire families. Cross reviewed the book and let’s just say, his review was unkind and Mulch/Sunday decides to out for revenge.

In this story, I was reminded of why I love Cross so much. JP brought him alive as his faith, humanity, love, and intelligence were put to the test. Despite his trial and tribulation, his faith in God and his love for his family never wavered. His faith and belief in God carried him through the times he wanted to give in and just do what Mulch/Sunday wanted. His strength of mind had me wondering if I was faced with a similar situation like that of Cross, would I be strong enough to face it? Would I be smart and cunning enough to convince then beat the enemy? 

Perhaps Cross was a little too superhuman for some readers’ liking, but when your faith in God is that strong one tends to feel that they are armed with some kind of superpower, but it’s not superpowers. It’s the spirit of the Lord that manifests within us and with that strength, we feel as if we can take on the world no matter what is thrown at us. God never abandons those who believe in Him and Cross’s situation was a testament to that.

Dynamic characters, suspenseful ending, thank you, James.

VERDICT:

4

NEXT UP:

Image result for gif michael jackson reading

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Coffee Tuesday! ☕

Teaser Tuesday: Upcoming themes and series

Teaser Tuesday:

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I have so many posts to share that if I were to share them all, I’ll be posting at least ten items a day! However, I want to share what you may see in the near future on La Petit Muse.

SERIES

Yes, this is our world. Under this category, I’ll be focusing on global news and prophesy, humanity, Christianity, and how they’re shaping the world and readying for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the one and only King of Kings. I’ve already kicked this category off last week with the independence of Catalonia.

Bible Study. I actually have a category already, but it needs to be updated regularly. While I was rereading Genesis a while back, I decided to put my notes on here about each book that I read.

Midweek Mystery. I am a HUGE fan of mysteries and I’ll certainly love to share some here! MM would be updated once or twice a month if I proceed with it.

Fairytale Friday: This idea popped into my head while I was helping a friend do research for a thesis based on Alice in Wonderland. I am not sure if I’ll actually proceed with this as yet, but if I do, I’ll be comparing the original with the remake.

Pretty Cool Fact!: Sharing a random fact once a week. 🙂

THEMES & CHALLENGES

I actually have many challenges that I’ll love to participate in, but time won’t allow me. Most – if not all- are found on Pinterest. I actually pinned 167 pins. Here is one:

CLICK HERE to download your printable OPEN MY HEART journaling plans.

As for the themes, I am yet to complete the Social Media one, something I hope that I can get back to soon. I have a few that I am excited to start on, but I’ve put them on the backburner for a bit.

And that’s it for now. 

 

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #68: Buffalo West Wing

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With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can’t afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a “no-wing” situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

Author: Julie Hyzy
Publisher: Berkley (January 4, 2011)
Chapters: 30
Pages: 469
Series: A White House Chef Mystery (#4)

This is actually my first book in this series and although I’ve had better, this was good enough to finish in one sitting.

Poor Olivia Paras! The White House chef falls out of favor with the new first family over a box of suspicious chicken wings that had the children’s names on it which happened to be poisoned. Then there is the nasty Peter Sargeant who despises her and wants her to fail at her job. And if that is not enough on her plate, the first family eventually brings their family chef, Virgil Ballantine to the White House and Virgil despises the fact that he has to answer to the executive chef, Olivia.

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Things soon take a turn for the worst when Olivia and Josh (President’s son) is kidnapped by Nourie (terrorist pretending to be Special Agent). The action was all good.

However, I feel as if Olivia has been fighting to keep her job since the series started, for in this book the author focuses more on the chef’s job struggles than the actual mystery. Although I like the concept and I think the writing was good enough to read, I feel a little bit disappointed as if something was missing. I have mixed feelings about this one, but hopefully the other book I pick up from this author would be much better and I hope Gav and Olivia stay together because I kind of like them as a couple.

I couldn’t put a face to Olivia or half of the characters because there weren’t proper/full descriptions of them. Some tasty recipes are featured after the last chapter.

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VERDICT:

3

NEXT UP:

Image result for gif michael jackson reading

Garlic, Mint, & Sweet Basil. Essays on Marseilles, Mediterranean Cuisine, and Noir Fiction by Jean-Claude Izzo

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #66: Gray Mountain

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The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday (October 21, 2014)
Chapters: 40

Pages: 368

This is the first time I started a John Grisham book that I couldn’t finish. The story starts off slow and boring, but I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt. Fifteen chapter later, I lost my marbles and tossed it. Had this been my Kindle, I might have broken it in a rage.

Samantha was incredibly boring and the number of times she said ‘It can’t be legal’! ARRGGHH! I couldn’t stomach another chapter of this book and decided to end the torture early.

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VERDICT:

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NEXT UP:

Image result for gif michael jackson reading

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #64: Confessions: The Paris Mysteries

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The City of Lights sets the stage for romance, drama and intrigue in the latest Confessions novel from the world’s bestselling mystery writer!

After investigating multiple homicides and her family’s decades-old skeletons in the closet, Tandy Angel is finally reunited with her lost love in Paris. But as he grows increasingly distant, Tandy is confronted with disturbing questions about him, as well as what really happened to her long-dead sister. With no way to tell anymore who in her life she can trust, how will Tandy ever get to the bottom of the countless secrets her parents kept from her? James Patterson leads this brilliant teenage detective through Paris on a trail of lies years in the making, with shocking revelations around every corner.

Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 7, 2013)
Chapters: 69
Pages: 293
Series: Confessions (#3)

Tandy finally reunites with her so-call lost love James Rampling (I can’t get over how pompous the surname is!), but not everything is fine and dandy.  Tandy stupidly gave James her virginity without thinking. I mean, come on, she’s the protagonist and only 16! Sixteen! 

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When she wakes up the next morning, alone in the rundown Paris hotel and realizes that James left her, I shouted, ‘HOW DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE USED, YOU STUPID GIRL!’ Okay, I may not have shouted that, but I can’t get over how much I dislike Tandy, so yeah, she deserved it. Serves her right for behaving like an adult. 

Oh! Did I say they were reunited in Paris? *Hits head* So, the “lovers” reunited in the City of Lights. The Angels learned more about Gram Hilda (the grandma who left their father with only $100 to his name in her will because she despised Maud) and how she left them a house, which eventually burned down in the end.

I did not like the stereotype here:

“Tandy, you wouldn’t like it here. I’d even say you’d be miserable. You’d have to wear black all the time and diet constantly like all Parisian women do. And have you seen the young French men? Messy. Scruffy. And they smoke. All of them.”

Come on! Not EVERY Frenchman are messy, scruffy and smokes and not every Frenchwomen diet constantly. I dislike seeing stereotypes as these from American writers.

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Again, no hatred lost for Tandy and this book shouldn’t have been called The Paris Mysteries. The authors should have titled it Obsessing Over James. I can’t seem to invest my emotions in this terrible series. This book in the series was the worst yet because there was no mystery to solve! It was just Tandy bemoaning the fact that James left her and when she finally goes back to the States, she goes to see him only to find out that her best friend C.P. is actually in a relationship with him. 

The best part about working in a library is the fact that I get to read books in order to recommend them to students and staff members. I wouldn’t recommend this series at all, but I know everyone has different taste. Case in point: A staff member and student borrowed this series and upon returning, I asked them if they enjoyed it, and they said yes. Another student thought the series was too slow to follow and gave up on it. 

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VERDICT:

2

NEXT UP:

Image result for gif michael jackson reading

Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes