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The Woods by Harlan Coben

>> Thursday, February 26, 2009

Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 508
Challenges: none

I’ve loved Harlan Coben’s books since I picked up the first Myron Bolitar books several years ago. I really missed Myron when he started writing standalone thrillers, but the thrillers have just been such fun that I’ve remained a fan.

The Woods is several stories in one. There is the mystery of what happened in the woods at a summer camp twenty years ago: six teenagers out in the woods after hours, two bodies found, two missing, and two who may or may not have told the truth about what happened. There is the current courtroom drama: privileged fraternity boys accused of raping a stripper who had been invited to a party at the house. The prosecutor in that case is Paul Copeland who just happens to be one of the teens who didn’t die or disappear that night in the woods twenty years ago. His sister was never seen again after that night. Is she dead? Is she alive? What about the murdered man in New York who may be connected to Paul and the summer camp case?

Throw in many many secrets, and lots of intertwining storylines and you get a book that I read in one day thanks to a long flight and lots of time waiting for taxis, planes and luggage. It was another great vacation read.


Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter

Series: #6 in the Grant County series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 573
TBR 2009 Challenge Alternate #2

Slaughter writes grisly, gritty, crime stories with some main characters that I don’t like all that much, but I can’t seem to keep myself from reading them. This sixth book in the Grant County series finds Pediatrician/ coroner Sara Linton and her Police chief husband Jeffrey Tolliver away from home once again. This time they’re coming to the rescue (again) of Detective Lena Adams. Lena is back in her hometown wrestling with the demons of her past and some pretty big trouble in the present. The problem is that this time, Lena has been arrested and is under suspicion for a brutal murder.

Everyone in this series is hiding something from the others. The layers are peeled back bit by bit and the truth of what happened in Lena’s hometown both in the past and in the present is revealed.

These books are not easy reads, the depiction of hardened criminals and drug users is brutal and in your face. But Slaughter manages to keep me hooked and reading. I’d heard there was a surprise ending, and even without spoilers, I guessed. It’ll be interesting to see where Slaughter takes this series next.


The Winner by David Baldacci

Genre: Thriller/ Suspense
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 628
Challenges: none

I’m late getting on the David Baldacci bandwagon, but I’ve really enjoyed his first two and this third one as well. LuAnn Tyler is 20 years old, unmarried with an infant daughter. The baby’s father is a lowlife who has no intention of marrying LuAnn, much less being faithful or much of a father to their baby. A strange man makes LuAnn an unbelievable offer. She can win the national lottery. He can ensure it and her life will never be the same again.

Sure it sounds too good to be true, but just before LuAnn’s deadline to give her answer to the stranger, things happen that make disappearing from her old life and starting fresh the best possible option.

LuAnn’s life will change, but not all of it is for the better. She makes promises in order to start a new life and later when she breaks those promises, her past comes back to haunt her. She finds herself and those she loves in danger.

This thriller requires the reader to suspend a lot of plausibility, but all in all it’s a fun thrill ride that made for a great vacation read.


Vacation is good

>> Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I like vacation.

So this is where I've been for the past 5 days. We got back late last night (technically early this morning) from Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo Mexico. We went unplugged and offline for the trip. Didn't take cell phones or computers. It was great. I feel way more than five days worth of relaxed. The beach where we stayed had plenty of sun shelters available which I truly appreciated. With my history of skin cancer I was pleasantly surprised and thankful to have lots of shade available and to be able to really enjoy reading on the beach.

I read three books since last Thursday night so I have reviews to write, pictures to sort and upload as well as email and google reader to catch up on. I'm glad I took today off to continue the vacation mode a bit to catch up with my friends and the world as well as get the laundry and grocery shopping done.


Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George

>> Thursday, February 19, 2009

Series: #1 in the Southern Sister series
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 244
Support Your Local Library Challenge #7, What’s In a Name 2 Challenge #3 (Time of Day)

Yes, I’m starting a new series. I’ve had this first book in the cozy mystery Southern Sister series on my TBR list for over a year. I first read about this series on
Booklogged’s blog.

The Sisters of this series are Patricia Anne and Mary Alice, both in their 60’s and living in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Mary Alice is older and more impulsive than Patricia Anne, but they both have a quick wit and sense of humor. I really enjoy both of the sisters and their family members introduced in this first book.

The story opens when Mary Alice announces to her sister that she’s just purchased a local country western club because it would be fun. The next day, the man she bought the club from is found brutally murdered inside the building. Of course that’s just the beginning. The mystery was interesting and it kept me guessing.

This isn’t a long series to commit to because the author has passed away and there are only 8 books total in the series. This looks to be a fun series to turn to when I need a quick, light book with enjoyable characters.


A Body to Die For by Kate White

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Series: #2 in the Bailey Weggins series
Genre: Mystery / Chick Lit (is Chick Mystery a genre?)
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 365
TBR 2009 Challenge Alternate #1

This series is somewhere between a mystery series and a chick lit series. Good for when I need something a little mindless to blast through quickly without being too far into the Chick lit realm.

Bailey Weggins is a free lance writer who has a fairly regular contract as the crime writer for a women’s magazine. She’s invited to spend a weekend in the Berkshires at the country inn/ spa owned by a friend of her mother’s. Bailey’s plan is for a nice weekend to get away from Manhattan to relax and figure out whether she’s really over her recent relationship. She’ll meet with her friend’s spa manager to talk about how to better publicize the inn with some of Bailey’s contacts in the publishing business.

Nice plan, but the first night at the inn ends with Bailey discovering a dead woman wrapped up like a mummy in one of the treatment rooms at the spa. Of course Bailey can’t help but start her own investigation ‘to help out her friend’.

It’s a pretty typical light mystery series. Not something I’d want a steady diet of, but worth picking up when I need a quick light book. I won’t be in any hurry to read the next book in the series, but I probably will sometime down the road.


The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

>> Friday, February 13, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 341
Support Your Local Library Challenge #6

I first heard about this book on
Bookbrowse, and was able to get on the library waiting list while it was still relatively short. I’m glad I did. I was impressed with this first novel by Tiffany Baker.

It takes place in upstate New York beginning in 1953 with the birth of Truly Plaice and the death of her mother. Aberdeen is a small town, but Truly is a big girl. She’s much bigger than she should be due to what is eventually described as a pituitary gland problem. Truly’s older sister Serena Jane is petite and beautiful which only makes Truly’s differentness more apparent to herself as well as the rest of the town. This is a story of several generations of not only Truly’s family, but also the Morgans, who have for several generations spawned a line of doctors for the town.

When their father dies, Truly goes to live with the local poor farmer’s family while Serena Jane lives a life of privilege with the preacher’s family. Their lives continue on both separate and intertwining paths.

The quirky characters are both interesting and not wholly likeable, but I did enjoy the story. There’s a dark side to it along with a bit of revenge flavored folk medicine along the way. It’s hard to say much about the plot without getting mired in the complexities of it, so I’ll just say I did enjoy the book.


Audiobook – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2007
Read by: Michael Maloney

I’ve had this on my TBR list for several months now, but when I heard from Amy at The Sleepy Reader that the audio version included a worthwhile interview with the author, I decided to get the book on CD from the library.

I’m glad I was convinced to get the audio version – I liked the reader and the interview addressed some concerns I had with the book.

It’s the story of Bruno, a 9 year old German boy who has clearly lived a pretty sheltered and privileged life. When Bruno’s family suddenly moves to a place he’s never heard of due to his father’s job, Bruno is quite unhappy to be leaving Berlin and his friends. At their new home he remains unhappy until he goes exploring and meets a boy who wears striped pajamas at a fence. They strike up a friendship and discover their similarities as well as their differences.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what was going to happen, but it was interesting to hear the story from a perspective I hadn’t before.

The character of Bruno is overly naïve and childish for a 9 year old and the repetition of his phrases and misunderstandings can get grating, but these things are there for a reason and ultimately kind of work for the story. I did enjoy the interview with the author at the end of the CD version and was glad I’d opted for this version.


In the Woods by Tana French

>> Monday, February 9, 2009

Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 429
Challenges: None

I added this book to my TBR list last July when my friend gave it such high praise. I’ve learned to trust her recommendations and when I started seeing other book bloggers also post such positive reviews I couldn’t wait any longer to read it.

Oh this is good. This is really good.

Twenty years ago in a Dublin suburb, three children disappeared in the woods. Two of them were never seen again. One of the boys was found clinging to a tree with no memory of what had happened. His shoes were filled with blood. That boy is now Detective Rob Ryan and a 12 year old girl has been found murdered in those same woods.

Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox begin their investigation. Cassie is the only person he works with who knows Rob’s connection to the old case. The questions just keep coming. Are the cases connected? Will Rob remember anything of what happened when he was a child? Can he effectively work this case? What kind of extra pressure will this put on his partner?

The writing is wonderful, the pacing is superb, the story unfolds and the tension rises. This is a psychological suspense story as much as it is a murder mystery. The praise for this book is well deserved. I highly recommend it


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