Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: Undone by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of my favorite authors from the past few years. I have read all of her books, both from the Grant County series and the Atlanta series. So when I started looking for what books I missed, I was very excited to see that Ms. Slaughter had a new one out. The best part was that Undone combines characters from both her Grant County and Atlanta series!!!

Summary: In the trauma center of Atlanta’s busiest hospital, Sara Linton treats the city’s poor, wounded, and unlucky—and finds refuge from the tragedy that rocked her life in rural Grant County. Then, in one instant, Sara is thrust into a frantic police investigation, coming face-to-face with a tall driven detective and his quiet female partner…. In Undone, three unforgettable characters from Karin Slaughter’s New York Times bestselling novels Faithless and Fractured collide for the first time, entering an electrifying race against the clock—and a duel with unspeakable human evil.

In the backwoods of suburban Atlanta, where Sara’s patient was found, local police have set up their investigation. But Georgia Bureau of Investigation detective Will Trent doesn’t wait for the go-ahead from his boss—he plunges through police lines, through the brooding woods, and single-handedly exposes a hidden house of horror buried beneath the earth. Then he finds another victim.…

Wresting the case away from the local police chief, Will and his partner, Faith Mitchell—a woman keeping explosive secrets of her own—are called into a related investigation. Another woman—a smart, upscale, independent young mother—has been snatched. For the two cops out on the hunt, for the doctor trying to bring her patient back to life, the truth hits like a hammer: the killer’s torture chamber has been found, but the killer is still at work.

In her latest suspense masterpiece, Karin Slaughter weaves together the moving, powerful human stories of characters as real as they are complex and unforgettable. At the same time she has crafted a work of dazzling storytelling and spine-tingling mystery—as three people, each with their own wounds and their own secrets, are all that stands between a madman and his next crime.

With my swiss-cheese memory, my lack of reading and such, it took me until about the middle of the book to remember all the back stories of the main characters. But that did not keep me from enjoying the story. The characters are so alive in these books. In fact, I debated giving the book a lower rating because I am not happy with some of the choices of the characters. Like, I am mad at them so won't rate them as high as they should be. LOL

I was amazed at who was the killer and definitely did not see that. These books don't keep you on the edge of your seat with the suspense of the chase but rather include the emotions and thoughts of the hunters to make such a complete story.

Being the serial reader that I am, I do recommend going back and reading the entire set of books. Some of the character development might not be as interesting or understandable if you don't. But it's a good book all on it's own as well.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I blame it on...

I feel like I'm finally becoming me again. Is that weird?

About a year ago my husband started a new job in a different state. However our house didn't sell until January. So for four months we lived apart during the week and I was sort of a single mom. Yet I was still able to blog, scrapbook, work, take pictures, and keep up with everything (okay ... most everything).

When we moved at the beginning of February, it was three hours away. I moved to a town where we knew no one. I did move within a half hour of my sister with her cute little boys. I was blessed to be able to continue to work my old job remotely from my home. I love my new house. My kids settled well into school. Being the social creatures they are, they made friends very quickly. Sports starting in the spring and the busyness was renewed.

But I wasn't reading, blogging, taking pictures or scrapbooking. My house was a wreck. I wasn't really me. (well the house being a mess is probably the real 'me' LOL)

I blame it on...

- Depression - clearly I went through a depression. Knew it, wasn't any option but to go through it. Also gained a few pounds. What's up with that? I mean, I was already depressed... did I need to do something to further that issue? LOL

- Facebook - I had just joined facebook last fall and got thoroughly addicted. It seemed like such a great way to keep in touch with my wonderful friends that I left and to meet up with friends I haven't seen in almost a lifetime. However, do you know how easy it is to spend hours on facebook without really anything to show for it? And when you are supposed to be working from home and your work computer is on the same desk as your home computer.... it's quite easy to do both. Or to pretend to do both. And it was just so much easier to think of short statuses than entire blog posts. Too much effort was needed to blog. Plus, I needed to be reading to blog about reading.

- Not knowing anyone.

- The library - this sounds odd doesn't it? But my new library does not work well with my swiss cheese memory. When I put books on hold and they come in, it sends one email. One. And I only have three days from the time of that email to pick up the books. I'm sure that's a reasonable time for normal people, but I can never seem to get there to get the books. I either need a longer time or more reminders. But they aren't asking me for ideas. So, having no books to read just contributed to the no reading.

I'm not sure why or how, but I am reading again. I've been focusing on my favorite genre of serial killers and murder mysteries but am getting the itch to read a good women's friendship book. Getting an itch to read is good.

I have people to talk to - at the soccer and volleyball games, I have people who actually choose to sit by me. And they talk to me. On purpose. I'm being funny but have been working very hard to not become stalker lady and scare away potential friends. We've been getting together with the sister and her family. We even invited one of hubby's high school and college friend over along with her family and had a great time.

I'm still addicted to Facebook and don't see that changing any time soon. LOL

So, what did I miss during my hiatus? What good books are out there that I need to put on my tbr list? Any changes to the book blogging arena that I need to know about? Any new blogs? Talk to me!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: Evidence of Murder by Lisa Black

Last year I read Takeover by Lisa Black. It was her first novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it (my review). I listed it as one of my top reads of 2008. I was excited to get an email from Lisa a few weeks ago saying that her next novel is out. Evidence of Murder starts off about 8 months after the end of Takeover.

Summary: Eight months ago, forensic investigator Theresa MacLean lost her fiancÉ in a bank robbery gone wrong, and she's had trouble concentrating on her work ever since. But now a particularly difficult case may just be what she needs to regain her focus by demanding all her skill, intelligence, and attention.

Jillian Perry has been found dead in the woods, leaving behind a husband of three weeks and a young daughter. The police can't determine how she died—her body shows no visible marks, and the autopsy reveals nothing suspicious—and the leading theory is that she purposely wandered into the forest and succumbed to the freezing weather. But something doesn't feel right to Theresa, and she can't let it go.

To complicate matters, a former boyfriend of Jillian's unexpectedly petitions for custody of the daughter. Obsessed with Jillian, he also suspects foul play in Jillian's death, and now he and Theresa believe Jillian's daughter may be in danger of meeting a similar fate. With a child's life at stake, Theresa must search for evidence of murder—evidence that doesn't seem to exist—before it's too late.

I have to say I was kind of disappointed in this book. It did not have the 'wow' or the suspense that I expected. However, it was still a good read. The characters are believable but could be a bit more....something. The word stiff comes to mind but am just thinking that they could have been more fleshed out or something. I think they didn't really do anything in the story - Theresa was depressed and yet I didn't feel for her.

The plot was very good. I liked the way it was all set up and the work Theresa did within her job and on her own. I was guessing right up to the end on the 'whodunit' - right along with Theresa. She thought she knew who was the killer but there were enough doubts around to make me wonder too. That was fun.

Overall, it was a good book, but not a great one. I am interested to know what others have thought. And I would like to read more from Ms. Black.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Teaser: Undone by Karin Slaughter

My two 'teaser' sentences are from Undone by Karin Slaughter. I am reading it on the Kindle and these sentences are in location 1143-50.

Maybe she hadn't managed to escape. Maybe her attacker had found her before she could reach for help.

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read.
- Let the book fall open to a random page.
- Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
- You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
- Please avoid spoilers!

Check out other teasers around the blogs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beauty Killer Online!

I just recently read Chelsea Cain's series of books: Heartsick, Sweetheart and Evil at Heart (my reviews are linked). In these books, the main serial killer is Gretchen Lowell. She is nicknamed The Beauty Killer.

How many times have you read a book that had a female serial killer in it? Not often. Gretchen is definitely unique. The public in the books are fascinated with her - both in a good way and in a weird, scary way. There are websites talked about throughout the last book (and maybe the second) about the public's desire to know Gretchen.

Guess what? You can check out one of them! Check out I Heart Gretchen Lowell. It's so fun to read, especially having read the books. And I can imagine it would be a definite draw to the books if you haven't read them.

Oh, go read them already!

Review: Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

I am a big fan of murder mystery series, thrillers, serial killers (in books), interesting and flawed detectives... basically the entire murder mystery genre. It's always been my favorite type of book and I've read a bunch of them. So when I say that this Heartsick series by Chelsea Cain has jumped to the top of the list of favorites, know that it bypassed quite a few great books!

I received Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. When I realized that it was the third in the series, I had to go back and read the first two. See my reviews of Heartsick and Sweetheart. The thing is... it gets better with every book!

Summary: Chelsea Cain’s novels featuring Portland detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell have captivated fans through two nail-biting entries, Heartsick and Sweetheart, both of them multiweek bestsellers in The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly.

Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she’s more of a cause célèbre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers weekly and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, Portland Herald reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre kind of fan club, which celebrates the number of days she’s been free.

Archie Sheridan hunted her for a decade, and after his last ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong, remains hospitalized months later. When they last spoke, they entered a détente of sorts---Archie agreed not to kill himself if she agreed not to kill anyone else. But when a new body is found accompanied by Gretchen’s trademark heart, all bets are off and Archie is forced back into action. Has the Beauty Killer returned to her gruesome ways, or has the cult surrounding her created a whole new evil?

Archie is so depleted after the first two books, he doesn't really know which end is up. He's not even sure he can 'be' in the real world. His head is all messed up and yet he's still obsessed with Gretchen. Susan, Henry, and Claire are all here again, working hard to continue on while Gretchen is still out there. Then the killings start that have to be hers....or do they?

The unique thing about this book and Ms. Cain's writing is that one of the characters doesn't really 'show their face' during this story and are more behind the scenes. Yet they truly are always there. I'm sure you can guess who it is, but if not I don't want to spoil it.

Now, I do need to provide a warning. These books, especially this one, discuss some unique methods of torture. While it's not all blood and guts, it does have some descriptions in it that will stick with you for awhile. But it's such an integral part of the psyche of the characters, the book wouldn't be as good or suspenseful without it.

Evil at Heart became available on September 2nd. You need a copy! You need all three books!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review: Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

Second in the Heartsick (Heartsick reviewed here) series, Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, is another great book filled with lots of suspense, drama, anxiety, great characters, and unique twists.

Summary: With Heartsick, Chelsea Cain took the crime world by storm, introducing two of the most compelling characters in decades: serial killer Gretchen Lowell and her obsessed pursuer Portland Detective Archie Sheridan. The book spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and garnered rave reviews around the world. But the riveting story of Archie and Gretchen was left unfinished, and now Chelsea Cain picks up the tale again.

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Portland’s Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the last time they found a body there, more than a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer’s first victim, and Archie’s first case. This body can't be one of Gretchen's—she’s in prison—but after help from reporter Susan Ward uncovers the dead woman's identity, it turns into another big case. Trouble is, Archie can't focus on the new investigation because the Beauty Killer case has exploded: Gretchen Lowell has escaped from prison.

Archie hadn't seen her in two months; he'd moved back in with his family and sworn off visiting her. Though it should feel like progress, he actually feels worse. The news of her escape spreads like wildfire, but secretly, he's relieved. He knows he's the only one who can catch her, and in fact, he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all.

Chelsea Cain has topped her own bestselling debut thriller with this unputdownable, unpredictable, edge-of-your-seat read.

Loved this book just as much as the first. What a unique take on the serial killer/cop relationship. And what being a policeman can do to your family. I felt for Archie's wife, Debbie - you could tell how much she wanted her husband back and yet... On the other hand, I could feel Archie's confliction (and guilt) between wanting to be a part of his family and being drawn to Gretchen.

Then there's Susan. She's the one you yell at in the movies "Don't Go In There!!!" yet always does. Her spunk and attitude together with her self-esteem vunerability just make me want to slap her and mother her at the same time. LOL

Can you tell I liked this book? I feel like I know these characters. What an awesome writer Chelsea Cain is!!!

The best part is how she interweaves the 'other killers' - the ones that are committing the murders the cops are actually investigating now - with Gretchen and her murders, the flashbacks, the continuing drama between Gretchen and Archie, etc. It makes for a very fast-paced, don't put down book.

Read this series!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Last month, I received a copy of Chelsea Cain's newest book, Evil at Heart, from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. It's the third in a thriller/serial killer series that starts with Heartsick. Given my issues with reading books out of order, I just couldn't read the third without going back. So, back I went.

And I am SO glad I did!!!

Summary: Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer. In the end, she was the one who caught him…and tortured him…and then let him go. Why did Gretchen spare Archie’s life and then turn herself in? This is the question that keeps him up all night—and the reason why he has visited Gretchen in prison every week since.

Meanwhile, another series of murders is tearing up the Portland streets. Archie seems to be getting closer to solving this high-profile case…until he finds himself in a fatal collision course with the killer—one that inevitably leads him back to his former captor. Gretchen may be the only one who can help do justice. The only thing she can’t do, this time, is save Archie’s life.

Serial killers/thrillers like this have got to be my favorite genre of books. I've read ALOT of them. So when I find a book that is different than anything I've read in the past, I am Hooked! That's the case with Heartsick.

The story is told in forms of current time with Gretchen in prison along with flashbacks from when she held Archie prisoner and tortured him. There's just enough detail of the torture to keep you on the edge of your seat but it's not too much to gross you out. The anguish Archie feels, on many levels, combined with the psycho Gretchen's weird emotions leads to lots of interesting moments!

Also in the story are Henry, Archie's partner and Susan Ward, a reporter. They are both very wrapped into the story, into Archie and catching the bad guys. Great characters all around.

Can you tell I really liked this book? I am so glad I read it. Look for my review on the second in the series, Sweetheart, tomorrow.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars