Aug 19, 2010

Pray For Silence by Linda Castillo

PRAY FOR SILENCE is the second installment in Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder Series. Kate is the Chief of Police of small town Painters Mill, Ohio, which includes a large Amish community. She is no stranger to the Plain Life, being born into an Amish family herself. However, after enduring a traumatic event as a young girl, when Kate became of age, she decided not to join the church, which resulted in her being banned by the church, the Amish community and her family. Even though she doesn't live the Amish life, she still respects their beliefs and strives to keep a balance between the two cultures.

The peacefulness of small town life was brought to an abrupt end when an entire family was found brutally murdered with no apparent motive and little evidence left at the scene. The fact that the murdered family was Amish was even more baffling. The Plank family had recently moved to Painters Mill from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and had become well liked and respected by the other families within the district.

Even though Kate didn't personally know the Plank family, she felt a connection to them and given the brutal manner in which the two young daughters were assaulted, it affected Kate more than she cared to admit. It triggered painful memories of her own past that she has tried to put behind her.
Once again Kate enlists the help of Detective John Tomasetti, from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in Columbus, to help with the case and offer a profile of the murderer. But Kate also has her own personal reasons for wanting him there. They'd become quite close some ten months earlier when they first met while he was assisting her on a previous murder case. Their relationship is complicated yet she feels a certain reassurance and comfort from him that she neither expected nor knows how to handle.

When Kate finds a diary written by one of the daughters it begins to shed some light on what may have happened that terrible night and reinforces the fact in Kate's mind that even the Amish have secrets. It may well have been Mary Plank's secrets that got her entire family murdered.

My thoughts:

As in the first book, the story takes off right away with the quick discovery of the murder victims and subsequent criminal investigation. It's been roughly ten months since we first met Chief Burkholder and her small but effective staff. The list of suspects begins to grow. Not a lot of attention is put on the relationship between John and Kate, although there is a definite connection there. We do learn that John has been put on leave until he deals with some of his own issues, namely his addiction to prescription medications. He can not return to his job until he passes a drug test that he previously failed. His suspension, however doesn't keep him from assisting Kate on her murder case. What I like is that even though these two characters have such a strong chemistry, their relationship doesn't take away from the main theme of the book, which is the murder case. However, I actually found myself wanting there to be more going on with them.

The murder case is just as realistic and believable as the serial killer case in the first book and since most of the characters are carried over from the first book, I felt like I already knew them. The new characters involved in the investigation are equally as original and help give the story twists and turns.

The bottom line is that even though I wasn't as on the edge of my seat with this second book, I did enjoy the story and was completely satisfied with the outcome of both the murder case and how things were left between John and Kate. I think Ms. Castillo is smart in developing this relationship slowly and not making it center stage where it may take away from the main theme of the book. I look forward to seeing what the next case brings and if the romance will continue to grow. I would like to thank Mnotaur/St. Martins Press for supplying my review copy.

Author: Linda Castillo
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Published: June 2010
Pages: 320
Grade: B

You may also be interested in my review of SWORN TO SILENCE found here.

Aug 11, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I must first start off by stating that I don't normally read books that have had such a mass popular following as Stieg Larsson's books have had. A lot of books I read are written by authors who aren't so widely known or on the most popular books lists. I love reading new authors and quite honestly grow weary of hearing names like Patterson, Grafton, Koontz and others that get so much publicity in the mainstream market. I hate to sound cynical or biased, but I just don't fall for all of the hype that these popular books give off. That said, I made an exception with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. While on vacation earlier this year, I picked up a copy and vowed to read it at some point. A few months went by and for some unknown reason, I picked it up one day and decided it was time to see what all of the fuss was about. Another reason I wanted to read it was so that I could participate in conversations about the book based on my own experience and information. Let's face it, people are talking about this book everywhere!

I'm not going to try to sum up all of what goes on in this amazing book except to say that is a story with two main characters who are equally engaging and interesting. One is Mikael Blomkvist - journalist and part owner of a controversial magazine called Millennium. The other is a twenty-four year old social misfit who is as mysterious as she is smart. The story centers around criminal financial dealings and a forty year old missing persons case. You can find a complete synopsis here from Amazon.

My thoughts:

What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said over and over again? I'll just get right to it: I really enjoyed this book! I mean, I LOVED it! I'll be honest, though. When I first began reading, I was concerned that with so many characters (and difficult Swedish names) I would have a hard time keeping them straight, but once I got into the story I realized I wasn't having a problem at all. The characters, especially Blomkvist and Salander are two of the most intriguing and original characters I've ever read about. They were so well developed that by the time they actually met each other in the book, each of their personalities was clear to me. I loved their exchanges and quickly regarded their new friendship as something real and honest.

The stories going on are masterfully interwoven and kept me turning the pages with anticipation. I'm not what I consider to be a fast reader but I read this book in a very short amount of time based on my usual timetable. I just simply didn't want to stop reading and was finished in 6 days and given that it was 600 pages, that really says something. One thing I like about this book is that there is so much happening and so much to learn about the characters. Though the mystery of what happened to Harriet Vanger back in 1966 is at the book's core, there are other sub plots that play huge roles and will no doubt surface later. There are also many unanswered questions about Lisbeth that I am looking forward to being revealed. In a great mystery, answers tend to lead to more questions and Stieg Larsson was a master at crafting a powerful mystery.

However, I'll be honest - if you're the type of reader who likes to quickly get to the action in a story, you may have a difficult time waiting through all of the development that takes place in this book. Even the most seemingly unimportant detail may well turn out to be a critical part in the story. There is a certain amount of patience needed for this type of book, but in my opinion it is well worth the wait.

The bottom line is that I loved reading this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates complicated, layered plots and intriguing characters. I found it to be wonderfully multi-layered and I thoroughly enjoyed peeling back those layers to get to the end. Many times books don't live up to the hype they get from being so popular which is why I typically shy away from those books. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is the exception and I believe will not disappoint you if you choose to read it.

I can easily say this is my favorite book so far this year and even though I hated to see it come to an end, I am very much looking forward to the second book, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE. I have a feeling I'm going to love it every bit as much as this one.

Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Vintage Crime
Published: June 2009
Pages: 600 pages
Grade: A (Highly Recommended)

Aug 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: TGWPWF

If you'd like to play along on Teaser Tuesday, follow these simple rules. MizB hosts this weekly meme each week and it's a great way to take a peek inside some really great books!
  • Grab your current read
  • Let it fall open to a random page
  • Pick two sentences to use as teasers
  • List the name and page number of the book you're taking your teasers from
This week my teasers are from the second book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE. There's so much talk about these books everywhere, so I'll just get straight to the teasers!

Salander was seething inside. She was so enraged that she tasted blood in her mouth. Now she was going to have to punish him. ~ page 197

I can say whole heartedly that as much as I enjoyed THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, I am enjoying this second book every bit as much - possibly even more! If you're looking for a book with well developed characters and a story that has many layers, you should really make the time to read this series.

For more teasers, visit Should Be Reading.

Aug 8, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Rainy Days and Book Sales

I'm getting a bit of a slow start on my Sunday Salon post for today, but I think the weather has something to do with it. It is so humid that it just sucks all of the energy right out of me. I've had a very leisurely morning that included making myself an amazing breakfast to get my day started off right. I made my version of an open-faced veggie omelet. I used zucchini and red bell pepper, topped it with melted cheese and sprinkled some garlic chives on top from my herb garden. I had whole wheat toast and fresh squeezed orange juice with it and it was fabulous! I don't normally eat a big breakfast, so this was a special treat that will last me through the whole day. I'd be happy to share my recipe with anyone who is interested in trying it. Just leave me a comment and I'll get it to you!

The storms have officially arrived early again today so it will be a great day to do some reading. I did venture out yesterday in between downpours and made my way to our library's quarterly book sale. This time they dedicated a whole room to fiction, which was a great idea. It made for a lot more room to browse. I found some books by authors that I've always wanted to read. Here's what I got:
  • Anne Rivers Siddons - UP ISLAND - Someone at the book sale highly recommended this one to me and since I've always wanted to read her work, thought it was a good sign.
  • Maeve Binchy - TARA ROAD - Binchy is such a popular and successful writer and I've been curious about her books and this one sounds fascinating.
  • Sue Monk Kidd - THE MERMAID CHAIR - Since THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES is one of my all-time favorite books, I snatched this one up as soon as I saw it!
  • Alice Hoffman - AT RISK - I grabbed this one up too simply because I haven't read any of her books and I figured this was a great place to start.
Looking at that list of authors, I think I did very well. That was the easy part - now the hard part is making the time to read them all! Of these books, i think I'll probably read Hoffman's first. I'm actually embarrassed to admit I haven't read anything by her. Have you read this book? If so, I'd love to know what you thought of it.

Since half the day is gone already, I think its time for me to grab my current book, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, and start reading. I still have two reviews to post this week - PRAY FOR SILENCE by Linda Castillo and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson, so I do hope you'll visit again soon and check them out.

Hope your Sunday is a pleasant one filled with lots of time for reading!

Aug 4, 2010

W.W.W. Wednesdays

W.W.W. Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and to play along, all you have to do is answer these simple questions:
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What are you planning to read next?
Here are my responses:
  • What are you currently reading? I just started reading THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson and loving it already! The characters were so well developed in the first book and the story takes off right away.

  • What did you recently finish reading? I finished two books, which is not the norm for me, but they were both fantastic! The first one was THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson and the second was PRAY FOR SILENCE by Linda Castillo. I will be posting my reviews in the coming days, so please come back. I also posted my review of A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick and you can find it here. This book caused some varying reactions and it's been interesting reading how differently people feel about it. It's definitely a book that gets people talking. Have you read it?

  • What are you planning to read next? There are two books I'm planning next, one being non-fiction. It is FORGIVING TROY by Thom Bierdz. He is one of the actors from The Young and the Restless whose brother, Troy, beat their mother to death in 1989. Troy is mentally handicapped and this is Thom's story of how he and his family have dealt with this tragedy for the last twenty years. This is an award-winning book that I'm sure will leave an impression. The other book I'm planning to read is QUEEN OF PALMYRA by Minrose Gwin. I have to credit Ti from Book Chatter and Other Stuff with this choice. It was because of her rave review that I chose this book, plus the fact that I really enjoy books set in the south. I'm very anxious to start this one!
What books have captured your attention this week?

Aug 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Pray for Silence

Teaser Tuesday is where we readers/bloggers share a couple sentences from the books we're currently reading. It's a great way to get a feel for books you may be interested in reading for yourself. For more details and other teasers, visit Should Be Reading each Tuesday.

Today the teaser I'm sharing is from a book I actually finished yesterday. The book is PRAY FOR SILENCE by Linda Castillo. It's the second book in the Kate Burkholder series, the first being SWORN TO SILENCE, which was recently released in paperback. Here is my teaser from PRAY FOR SILENCE . . .

For a second, I can't speak or move or even think. Then my cop's mind switches on and the horrific details of what I'm seeing slam into my brain. ~ page 15

This is a great series from Linda Castillo that I have been enjoying very much. I'll be posting my review in the coming days, so I hope you'll come back to check it out.

Aug 1, 2010

[TSS] A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Usually when I finish reading a book, especially one that I've anticipated for a while, I come away with a pretty definite understand of how I feel about that book. When A RELIABLE WIFE made it's rounds on the blogs when it first came out in 2009, it instantly became, for me, a book I must read. Most of the reviews I read were favorable, which only made me want to read it more. But having now read it, I have mixed emotions about the book and that surprises me. Just in case you aren't familiar with the book, here's a brief synopsis (without spoilers).

Ralph Truitt, a successful and lonely widower living in the Wisconsin countryside in 1907, is tired of living alone after twenty years and puts a personal ad in a Chicago newspaper for 'A Reliable Wife'. He's not necessarily looking for love but companionship and possibly children in the future. His wishes are made very clear.

Catherine Land is the woman who answers the ad, looking for a new beginning in a place she's never been and hopeful that things will work out. Catherine is willing to go along with Truitt's objective, however, she has plans of her own. It becomes clear early on that she isn't who she says she is and she doesn't have Truitt's best interests at heart.

What follows is a story about trust, loyalty, love, and at the center of everything - lust. The story takes place in about a year's time and brings out the most basic of human desires: to live a happy and contented life.

My thoughts:

What I noticed right away in treading this book was Gookrick's unique writing style. It is direct and is told almost as if someone is standing there telling you their thoughts, at times, repeating certain lines to ensure you got their message. The story takes off immediately and the cold Wisconsin winter setting was perfectly described so that I could almost feel the winter's cold on my face.

I didn't think I was going to like Ralph Truitt at the very beginning, but it didn't take long for me to change my mind. He was a likable and realistic character, as was most all of the supporting characters. However, right away, I was leery of Catherine and her motives.

The story itself was an original one and considering the era in which it was based, I thought it was believable. Shortly after Ralph and Catherine are married, Ralph insists Catherine help him bring his long lost son home to Wisconsin. He hasn't seen the boy since he was a teenager but has had the famed Pinkerton Agency looking for him for many years. Catherine reluctantly agrees to travel to St. Louis to meet with the now grown man to encourage him to come home with her. That's when things really get intense. Nothing is as it seems and the story becomes riveting at that point. I was fascinated by what was happening and had to keep reading. I was pleased with the ending and I did feel a sense of relief once I was finished. I must say that it was a strange story with many twists and turns but I felt satisfied with the outcome and I'm glad to have read it.

That said, when people ask me what I thought of it, I still have trouble putting my finger on it. I can't say I loved it, although there were aspects about the story that kept me intrigued. Still other times though, I ask myself, What was the point of all of that? So you see, I'm still not quite sure how I really feel about it. I will just say, I was pleased with this uniquely strange story about a man looking for a woman to share his life.

Have you read this book? And did you have similar feelings about it or is it just me? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I do believe that this book is not for everyone. It has some racy parts that might make you blush if you're sensitive about talking about sex. As a whole, I would recommend this book but not to everyone.

Author: Robert Goolrick
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Published: Paperback January 2010
Pages: 320
Rating: 3 and a half Stars - I think!