Friday, February 27, 2009

The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner

As I mentioned in a previous post, for awhile I have wanted to try a book by Meg Gardiner. I have read so much about her and the rave reviews her books get. I picked up one of her books, but it was part of a series and I really felt like I was missing out on a lot by not reading the first in the series. On one of my library runs, I decided to get The Dirty Secrets Club, a stand alone thriller by Ms. Gardiner. It was a good, quick read and I enjoyed it. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
An ongoing string of high-profile and very public murder-suicides has San Francisco even more rattled than a string of recent earthquakes: A flamboyant fashion designer burns to death, clutching the body of his murdered lover. A superstar 49er jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge. And most shocking of all, a U.S. attorney launches her BMW off a highway overpass, killing herself and three others.Enter forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett, hired by the SFPD to cut open not the victim’s body but the victim’s life. Jo’s job is to complete the psychological autopsy, shedding light on the circumstances of any equivocal death. Soon she makes a shocking discovery: All the suicides belonged to something called the Dirty Secrets Club, a group of A-listers with nothing but money and plenty to hide. As the deaths continue, Jo delves into the disturbing motives behind this shadowy group—until she receives a letter containing a dark secret Jo thought she’d left deep in her past, and ending with the most chilling words of all: “Welcome to the Dirty Secrets Club.”

Psychological suspenses are probably my favorite of the suspense genre and this book, with a forensic psychiatrist as the heroine seemed like something straight up my alley. I loved Jo as a main character, and one of the reasons why is because she wasn't afraid to be afraid. Sometimes there are characters who are so "tough" and always brush aside everything and it was refreshing to see a character who was affected by the things happening to her, but not so much that she was a wimp. I also loved the idea of the Dirty Secrets Club and can almost imagine something like that being formed in real life. There are a lot of twisted people out there who get into the thrill of confessing and bragging about the things that they do. The reader knows for the most part who the bad guys are, but there were a few twists and turns who keep you on the edge of your seat. Add in some earthquakes that frightened me, a Michigan girl who has never experienced one, and you have the makings of a great suspense book that is one not to be passed by!

With that being said, I have no more library books checked out! I am almost excited by this fact because I really need to start reading some of my own. I went to another library book sale and picked up 20 books for $4.00 so my collection keeps growing while the books keep sitting there. I hope to have a bit more free time this weekend, so I think I am going to grab a Greg Iles book. I have a few of them and really enjoyed the first one I read by him but sometimes the pure size of the book is a bit daunting. With some free time opening up in the next couple of days, I think I can put a good dent in one. I am also sick right now, which sucks, but I think almost everyone is. What better of an excuse than laying around and reading while sneaking in a few hours here and there at my online job? I hope everyone has a great weekend and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Breakneck by Erica Spindler

I have always enjoyed Erica Spindler's books, so when I realized she had a new one out I had to place it on hold from my library. It came in quickly using my trick of placing the Large Type on hold though it took me awhile to read it. I started it on Friday and just finished it now. I felt this book wasn't as good as other Spindler books and was a bit disappointed. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
A remorseless killer. A string of innocent, clean-cut victims. Detectives M.C. Riggio and Kitt Lundgren must race against a cold-blooded predator who moves at breakneck speed in this heart-pounding thriller from New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler.
Hot on the heels of their last case, partners Mary Catherine (M.C.) Riggio and Kitt Lundgren, detectives in the police department's Violent Crimes Bureau in industrial, blue-collar Rockford, Illinois, are called out to a college student’s apartment where a young man with no criminal record, not even a noise complaint from his neighbors, appears to have been murdered in his sleep.
The trail seems cold, until another victim turns up, and then another… each one striking closer to home for M.C. The growing list of seemingly emotionless kills leaves M.C. and Kitt little to follow—like the first victim, all the targets are young adults, kid-next-door types who’ve never taken a step outside the law. Meanwhile, the case starts to take its toll on M.C.’s personal life, setting her on edge with her partner and putting their hard-earned friendship in jeopardy. As M.C. and Kitt hunt a faceless killer, they are led deep into the cyberuniverse, where no one is who he seems and you never know who's watching. At the heart of this mesmerizing thriller is the relationship between two headstrong women as they struggle to balance their dual roles, to learn to trust, and to walk the fine line between upholding the law—and taking it into their own hands.

The main character, M.C., kind of grated on my nerves. Some of her decisions she made where so foolish, especially for a hard-nosed police officer. I guess part of it helps build the suspense, but I thought it could have been handled differently. I think part of the reason why I may not have enjoyed this book more if I had more time to read more of the book in one sitting. There was also so much killing in this book that it almost seemed like overkill (no pun intended). It seemed like a lot of coincidence that all of those that are killed were so close to each other. That being said, the premise of this book was compelling since identify theft is such a hot button topic nowadays, especially with the way the economy is. It is kind of scary to think about how vulnerable our identity is and all of the problems that can be caused by it. I recently was sent a letter from my local credit union telling me that my debit and credit card numbers were compromised. It is quite scary and this book covers the topic well.

I really need to squeeze some more time in for reading. This month's reading has been so slow and low and it is something that I enjoy so much so I need to find the time. I continue to be busy, but even if I fit in a half an hour a night, I think it would really benefit my mental health and my mood. I hope everyone is finding more time for reading than I am and that you are surrounded by great books! Happy Reading!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Little Face by Sophie Hannah

Little Face was another book I read about from Mystery Scene. Sophie Hannah, the author, is a British author who is well established across the pond and Little Face was her first book published in the US. I really enjoyed it, and give it a B+.

From Amazon:
When Alice Fancourt leaves her newborn daughter at home with her husband for the first time since becoming a new mother, she comes home to a horrifying discovery: her child has been swapped with another baby. I n near hysterics, Alice rushes to call the police, but soon discovers that no one—not even her husband, David—believes her. When the police are called in, Detective Simon Waterhouse is drawn to the lovely Alice but doubts her story and suspects that she is suffering from postpartum depression. Meanwhile, David is growing increasingly hostile and Alice begins to fear that her baby’s disappearance may be linked to his previous wife’s untimely death.

Little Face was filled with twists and turns and was told alternating between the first week when Florence is reported missing and a week later. This is one messed up family that Alice has gotten herself mixed up in and parts of the book was just unbelieveable. It is hard to say much more than that without spoiling it for anyone, but if you enjoy a good psychological suspense, then I would highly recommend you run out to your local bookstore or library and pick up Little Face. I do believe that it was released in trade paperback this past December and while looking at Amazon, I did see another one of Ms. Hannah's books being published here in the States. I think I will be on the look out for it.

Up next is Breakneck by Erica Spindler. I got it from the library last week and am now just getting around to it. I love Ms. Spindler's books and hope this one is just as good. I have little time to read this month and I believe it is effecting my mood a bit. I am getting a little cranky not having the ability to escape in other worlds for a bit. Hopefully I will get in a better routine soon and have more time for reading. I hope everyone else is enjoying their reads... Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Old Flames by Jack Ketchum

After reading some old Mystery Scene magazines, I cam across a review for Old Flames by Jack Ketchum. He was a new-to-me author but this book sounded like just my type of book... an obsessive woman tries to shatter the perfect suburban life, so I placed it on hold through my library. I started this late last night and finished it today. Two novellas are told in this story with Old Flames being the first one and Right to Life being the second one. I give Old Flames an A- and Right to Life a B.

Back cover:
Burned again. Men never treated Dora well. This latest cheated on her and dumped her. The last decent guy she knew was her old high school boyfriend, Jim. He'd said that he loved her. Maybe he did. So with the help of Flame Finders, Dora's found him again. Turns out he's married with two kids. But Dora isn't about to let that stand in her way...

Old Flames comes in at about 140 pages and while I normally shy away from novellas and short stories, this story was fantastic. It had suspense and even though the writing was different, it didn't bother me. There were a lot of short, choppy sentences but it just seemed to fit the book. There was even one part of the story that I was talking to the book. That rarely happens.

When I finished Old Flames, I really wasn't going to read Right to Life. I could tell from looking at the first pages that it dealed with abortion and I wasn't sure if I wanted to read about abortion. I am glad I ended up turning the pages, though, because it really wasn't about abortion but about some twisted people that kidnap a woman who happens to be going for an abortion appointment. The reason why I marked down the story a bit is the book was very graphic... especially in describing some of the rape scenes. Normally I am not too squeamish, but it was graphic. I wasn't forewarned and by the time some of it happened, I was already sucked into the story. That being said, I will be looking for more of Mr. Ketchum's other books. Stephen King stated that he was an excellent horror writer and I was expecting supernatural horror but it was all of the man-made kind of horror that is much more horrifying if you ask me.

Up next is Little Face by Sophie Hannah. This is another book that I saw in reading one of the Mystery Scene magazines. It is set in England, but with reading the books by Tana French I seem to be expanding my reading locations and traveling across the pond. I hope that it is good because Old Flames has really gotten my reading mojo back. Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Final Therapy by Robert A. Burton

This is an old book that I picked up from either a thrift store or used book sale at the library. The back of it sounded interesting and I thought it was something that would grab me right away. It ended up being a disappointment, however, and I rate it a C.

Back cover:
Dr. Alan Forester is one of San Francisco's most prominent psychiatrists. His patients are driven to self-destructive games of power and humilation. His job takes him into the darkest, most dangerous realms of human desire. But Dr. Forester understands that the relationship between doctor and patient is as delicate as the line between fantasy and reality. And he knows at least one colleague who has crossed that line.
Now one of Dr. Forester's patients is dead. The police are investigating a series of sadomasochistic murders. And someone is playing mind games with Dr. Forester. Mind games that kill...

I thought that the book was pretty predictible. The description of the book makes it sound so much more interesting that when it really was. I really enjoy reading books that center around psychiatrists and was hoping to find a new favorite, but the writing was just too dry for me. There was a lot of telling and not showing which sometimes works, but not in this case. I really hope that I am not entering a reading slump right now. This is two books in a row that has been a bit of a disappointment, and right now I have been working so much that all of the little time I do have for reading I want something that will be begging me to pick it up and delve in to the pages.

With that being said, I ended up picking up 4 books I had on hold from the library yesterday and also got about 8 books from a library used book sale. I also transferred some prescriptions to Rite Aide today and got $50.00 in gift cards, so I picked up the newest book by Lisa Jackson along with her sister Nancy Bush, Wicked Game. I have been eyeing this one for awhile and because of my budget cuts lately I haven't bought any new books. I figured with this extra money and savings with my coupons and gift cards, I deserved to get one new book. Who knows when I will eventually get around to it though...

Last night I got hit with a killer migraine, one of my worst ones in years. It included all of the fun things like throwing up and now suffering from a migraine hangover. I am exhausted but I think I am going to jump into one of my library books and at least get a head start. This week is Mid-Winter Break for schools, and one of the districts I sub for is off all next week and the other one is just closed on Monday and Tuesday. My mom needs me to work at her office on Monday and Tuesday, so there goes my mid-winter break. I am planning on probably having Wednesday off and have a ton of stuff to get done... but I just want a lazy day! My lazy Sundays are gone and right now I am just feeling very whiny and overwhelmed. Please ignore it...I have the mid-winter blahs. Happy Reading everyone!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Never Tell a Lie by Hallie Ephron

I read so much about this book and all of the great reviews, so I had really high hopes for this book. I was expecting this out of this world thriller, and maybe my expectations were just too high, but I was disappointed. I give Never Tell a Lie a B-.

From Amazon:
It all started with the yard sale. Ivy was eight months and one week pregnant when she insisted that she and her husband, David, clean out the junk they'd inherited with the old Victorian house they'd bought three years before. Call it nesting, call it nerves—she just wanted it all gone: the old electrical fixtures, the boxes of National Geographics from the 1960s, the four black wool greatcoats.
Neither she nor David recognized the woman at first. But it turned out that the customer asking about the lime-green glass swan dish—the woman who looks just about as pregnant as Ivy—was none other than Melinda White, a former high school classmate of David and Ivy's. When Melinda was a child she used to play in their new house, she explained. It looked like they'd been doing some work. Would it be all right if she took a look around? David took Melinda inside. And she never came out.
Now David's under police suspicion, and Ivy finds herself digging deep into the past to clear his name. But David's history, she begins to discover, is not necessarily the history she remembers, and before long Ivy has uncovered a twisted web of deceit, betrayal, and lies, both the ones we tell those we love and the ones we tell ourselves. . . .

I had the mystery figured out about halfway through the book, so of course that is always a disappointment. I felt there were not enough red herrings thrown in to really confuse the reader or add suspense at that kind of bummed me out. I also felt like the writing was a little to weak and it seemed like the book almost jumped from first to third person writing. I have previously read books by G.H. Ephron, which Ms. Ephron is one part of the two part writing team and loved those books, so I was a bit let down. With all of that being said, it was a good book and I would recommend this to those who enjoy a good suburban mystery. I always enjoy that subgenre of thrillers... when bad things happen to those who live nice, clean, safe lives.

This is the last of my big influx of library books, but wouldn't you know when I dropped off books I picked up one other one. I did end up picking on of my own off of my shelves to start reading today though, because I need to start reading more of my own. I think I am going to try and at least alternate between one of mine and then a library book, reading more of my own when I don't have a huge stack from the library. I am not going to say I am going to stop going to the library because I am not buying new books and browsing really does satisfy my need to buy new books. Happy Reading!

Monday, February 9, 2009

2009 Suspense and Thriller Challenge Finished!!

Here is the list of books from my first ever challenge finished!

1. Innocence by Karen Novak(Private Investigator)
2. Close to You by Mary Jane Clark (Stalker)
3. The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde (Drama)
4. Sleep Softly by Gwen Hunter (Forensic)
5. Black Out by Lisa Unger (Psychological)
6. In the Woods by Tana French (Police Procedural)
7. Bust by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr (Crime)
8. Telling Lies to Alice by Laura Wilson (Historical)
9. A Wicked Snow by Gregg Olsen (Serial Killer)
10. Married to a Stranger by Patricia MacDonald (Romantic Suspense)
11. The Likeness by Tana French (Murder Mystery)
12. Three Weeks to Say Goodbye by C.J. Box (Amatuer Detective)

I had a FANTASTIC time with this challenge! Thanks J. Kaye!

Three Weeks to Say Goodbye by C.J. Box

I started reading a book by Meg Gardiner, but I put it down because it seemed like I was missing a lot of backstory and I didn't want to ruin the previous books. I decided to pick up Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, instead and am glad I did. Even though I was super busy and tired, I stayed up way too late to finish it and can grade it a A-.

From Amazon:
Jack and Melissa McGuane have spent years trying to have a baby. Finally their dream has come true with the adoption of their daughter, Angelina. But nine months after bringing her home, they receive a devastating phone call from the adoption agency: Angelina’s birth father, a teenager, never signed away his parental rights, and he wants her back. Worse, his father, a powerful Denver judge, wants him to own up to this responsibility and will use every advantage his position of power affords him to make sure it happens. When Jack and Melissa attempt to handle the situation rationally by meeting face-to-face with the father and son, it is immediately apparent that there’s something sinister about both of them and that love for Angelina is not the motivation for their actions.
As Angelina’s safety hangs in the balance, Jack and Melissa will stop at nothing to protect their child. A horrifying game of intimidation and double crosses begins that quickly becomes a death spiral where absolutely no one is safe.
How far would you go to save someone you love?

This book really tugged at my heart while having it race at the same time. It took me awhile to get into the book, but I really think it is because I worked all weekend and had only minutes here and there to sneak in a few pages. Once I finished work last night, I sat down and finished it in one sitting. I loved the way the book was written from Jack's point of view and showed the extreme that he would go to protect his wife and family. Mr. Box did a fantastic job with the suspense and I couldn't figure out where the story was going. There were plenty of twists and turns and the ending was something that was believable. I have picked up other of Mr. Box's books, but always put them down because the description didn't sound like something I would like, but I am definitely going to rethink that decision.

This book also allowed me to finish J. Kaye's Suspense and Thriller Challenge! This book qualifies for the Amateur Detective thriller and is my 12th and final book for the challenge. I loved this challenge and will always hold it close to me as it was my first challenge! Thanks J. Kaye for sponsoring such a fun challenge!!!!

Today at school I started Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy. It seems kind of weird right now, but I am only 60 pages in. I have to work tonight until 8:30, but when I get home I think I am going to cuddle up and just read. I relax so much when I read and right now I am wound up tight! Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Likeness by Tana French

After loving In The Woods, I quickly placed The Likeness on hold from my library. It came in last week and I started it on Sunday. I finally finished it and give it a B.

From Amazon:
Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She’s transferred out of the murder squad and started a relationship with Detective Sam O’Neill, but she’s too badly shaken to make a commitment to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case: a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin. The dead girl’s ID says her name is Lexie Madison—the identity Cassie used years ago as an undercover detective—and she looks exactly like Cassie.With no leads, no suspects, and no clue to Lexie’s real identity, Cassie’s old undercover boss, Frank Mackey, spots the opportunity of a lifetime. They can say that the stab wound wasn’t fatal and send Cassie undercover in her place to find out information that the police never would and to tempt the killer out of hiding. At first Cassie thinks the idea is crazy, but she is seduced by the prospect of working on a murder investigation again and by the idea of assuming the victim’s identity as a graduate student with a cozy group of friends.As she is drawn into Lexie’s world, Cassie realizes that the girl’s secrets run deeper than anyone imagined. Her friends are becoming suspicious, Sam has discovered a generations-old feud involving the old house the students live in, and Frank is starting to suspect that Cassie’s growing emotional involvement could put the whole investigation at risk.

This book wasn't as great as In the Woods. Part of the reason I believe, is because the reader has to suspend some belief that this story could even happen. I find it hard to believe that Cassie can look so much like Lexie that she is able to move in to her old house, live with her friends who are more like a family, and basically take over her life. I also felt that this book was about 100 pages too long. There were some descriptions and events in the book that felt somewhat like a filler to me. It took me awhile to read this, partly because I have been working 11+ hour days but also because there were some dry spots in the story. That all being said, it was a good book and a good police procedural. I would recommend this book, but I would advise people that it doesn't hold up to the great work of In the Woods. This book qualifies for the Library Challenge and Suspense challenge in the murder mystery category.

Up next is a book by Meg Gardnier. I am not sure what the title is and it is in another room and I am way too lazy right now to get up and get it. Right now I am working at subbing, my online job, and working at my mom's office. I am pooped and getting a bit frustrated because I feel like all I am doing is working and going to bed only to repeat in the morning. Oh well... I am not going to complain too much, in this economy I need to take everything and anything I can take. Happy Reading!