Saturday, April 14, 2012

Snapshot Saturday - Easter 2012

I have so enjoyed looking at everyone's Easter pictures all week on Facebook.  Even the scrappiest folks look good on Easter Sunday :) I think it's the first taste of sunshine and the promise of Springtime.  

We usually spend Easter at my mom's, and this year was no exception.  Layla was allowed to visit my mom's for the first time...and promptly pooed on the floor within the first 15 minutes of arrival :/ In her defense, it was the longest car ride she's ever been on...who knows how long she'd been holding it :(

Anyhoo, after the poo was cleaned up and Layla was allowed to live, we did enjoy the weekend and ended up with these fine photos Sunday afternoon. 


From left to right: the youngest, Layla, the firstborn, Lizzie, the middle daughter.


 Lizzie and my middle daughter (how bout those dimples, folks?)


the youngest, Layla, and the firstborn


yours truly and my best buddy Layla :)



I so hope others are sharing Easter pics today!! :)

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review - Deja Dead



Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

Downloaded from Audible
Narrated by: Barbara Rosenblat

Why? this past year I've been disappointed in a couple of series I've loyally read for several years...(James Patterson's Women's Murder Club and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum)...and one of my favorites is coming to an end Summer 2012 (Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse).  
I decided to spend some times "researching" three other series I thought I might like to get into next.   Besides Kathy Reichs' Temperence Brennan series, I also looked into Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles as well as Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta novels.  I read a few reviews for each series, and I even watched the pilot episodes of both the Reichs and Gerritsen books.  I was immediately drawn to Bones but not so much to Rizzoli and Isles, so I decided to push Gerritsen to the back burner (for now) and chose Tempe Brennan as my next smart girl heroine :)  
Stephanie Plum better get with it...
or else :p

What Now? This series makes me think...and it makes me ever so thankful that professionals like Temperence Brennan really exist and have the thinking skills as well as the book knowledge to solve these crimes, sometimes using only leftovers (ahem, human leftovers) as evidence.  
On to book 2 :)

Why Audiobook format?  I started off reading Deja Dead on my Nook...but I had to keep forcing myself to read.  How could I like a tv series so much and have such a difficult time getting into the books the show was based on??
You see why I have the rule about reading first??

The first book takes place in Montreal and Quebec, and much of the language is tinged with French phrases, names, etc. I have absolutely nill background about this area of the world.  The science is also about as steep as it can get.  All that together made me almost feel dumb.  I think it overwhelmed me. 

I blamed myself rather than the book and decided I would give it one last shot...but instead of going back to my Nook, I took the plunge and downloaded it to Audible.  
Audiobooks are expensive.  Period.  
I'm one of those folks who loves to buy books...and even after I've listened to an audiobook or read a book via one of my electronic devices (Nook, Kindle, Iphone, etc.), I sometimes still want to buy the paper copy...especially if the book ranks up there with the other keepers I have on the shelves of my antique secretary.  The audiobooks I've listened to in my car end up being on clearance at BAM or Barnes and Noble or checked out from the library.  I mean, really, have you seen the prices on brand new audiobook selections??  I don't mind paying hardback prices for books...but not for CD's of the book when there's a possibility I'm gonna turn around and buy the book anyway.
:/
With Audible, I pay a certain fee per month and can download audiobooks at discounted prices.  With each purchase, I also earn points that can be used toward my next purchase.  
Much, much more affordable.

Summary

Temperence Brennan is a forensic anthropologist at the Laboratoire de Medecine Legale.  On top of the highly specialized job of identifying human remains, Tempe is incredibly smart, incredibly successful, has a college aged daughter, an ex-husband (divorced barely a year) and is a recovering alcoholic.  

In Deja Dead, through her own work, plus assisting her longstanding friend Gabby with an anthropological project among prostitutes, Tempe stumbles into a serial murder investigation.
Tempe puts clues together but is forced to run those clues through a group of male detectives who are anything but happy that she's stepped up to the plate, especially one older detective named Charboneau who seems to think women are better in the kitchen and at home than working on a murder investigation.  

As Temperence begins to unravel the clues, the killer begins to lose concentration on his victims and turns his sights on Tempe herself.  

What I Liked 

Tempe - how can you not like this woman.  Her life is not perfect, and she doesn't pretend nor strive for it to be.  She is a mom, a professional, a woman, a friend, a person.  Tempe is tough but also vulnerable...She wants a drink, but remembers why she can't even dance one dance with that particular devil.
Even though a drink would help for the moment, the morning after always comes...and it's not worth it.

She loves her daughter Katy fiercely but knows Katy has some decisions to make and that Katy will most likely make those decisions on her own. Tempe lives with and loves her cat Birdie :)  She loves and appreciates Birdie for his independence and catness...as only a genuine cat lover can.

Tempe cares for her ex-husband Pete (more for the happier times from  their life together than the present, but she still cares). Tempe knows that she and Pete don't really belong together; their lives are different now, and their relationship changed before the marriage was over.

Plus, when he's not getting on her nerves, Detective Ryan really looks nice in those 501's he wears :)


Tempe loves Gabby...and accepts her for who she is...even when Gabby gets on Tempe's nerves.  Tempe even loves Gabby enough to know that she can't keep rescuing her every time she gets herself in trouble...and most importantly, like Katy, Gabby is a grown woman and will choose her own path in life and will take her own risks, no matter what Tempe suggests.

Last but not least, Tempe cares for the people whose bones she identifies...she wants their families to have some closure...some kind of peace.  While it's her job to put up walls and sometimes anesthetize herself from what she sees, she can't help but feeling emotional for those who've been left behind.

And, most importantly (to me anyway), Tempe is not whiny about ANY of these things.  
Life is what it is.  And, Tempe Brennan lives it.  

The science - whoa Nelly...I think one of the reasons I like the science is bc I really have to pay attention...if I'm trying to get my mind off something (driving back and forth somewhere day after day, the crappy day at work I just had, a monotonous day's routine, etc.), I plug the earphones in and I'm gone.  My brain is racing to keep up. 

The suspense - I never knew who the killer was until the killer was unmasked...as a matter of fact, I didn't have a clue.  My heart raced at times, anticipating the killer's next move...and then it wouldn't happen.  Instead of being disappointed, I was relieved.  My fear level rose immensely when the killer finally made his final move, and I could barely breathe until the scene was over.
Now, THAT is a a series that's worthy of my time :)

What I Didn't Like

The science - for example, there was one place in the audio where Tempe discussed the different kinds of cuts made by saws...she calls a saw expert and for page after page they talked about various saws, their individual teeth, what kinds of pressure it takes to move the saws, the motions, the grooves, the way the cut, groove and pressure affect the bone....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Oh, sorry :p
I'm not exaggerating, folks...Kathy Reichs is all about some scientific detail.  It's incredibly exciting and challenging most of the time, but it can also leave you behind if you're, let's say, not a saw afficianado ;)

Narrator

I listened to the first chapters in the regular paced audio speed, but once I got used to the words, the surroundings and the accent, I sped her up :)  The voice was not distorted at all, just a little less time between the pauses.  Perfect.  
I knew from the first few minutes of the audio that I would be ok with this narrator; her accent is flawless and sounds original...her French impeccable where French phrases were used for effect...I even found myself near the end picking up on nuances and noticing words in French that were similar to English words.  
She switched voices between gruff male detectives, Tempe herself, her friend Gabby, the prostitutes Gabby was working with, Tempe's daughter Katy, the villain in the heat of a kill, etc. with ease.  The dialogue was very easy to follow and kept me on the edge of my seat.  

Overall Recommendation

1.  Do NOT read the Kathy Reichs series expecting Temperence Brennan on television to be Temperence Brennan in the books.  The name is just about the only similarity between the two characters, that and the fact that they are both forensic anthropologists.

2.  If you are tired of the same old formulaic, no brainer detective/mystery stuff, and want something to challenge your sleuthing abilities as well as question whether or not you took enough science classes in high school, this is your series.  




Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review - Pray for Silence



Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo

Format - On my Nook
Why?  Pray for Silence is the 2nd book in the Kate Burkholder series...I couldn't wait to start it :)
What Now?  Diving into the 3rd in the series...the last one so far

Golden Lines

The thought makes me sick.   The terribleness of it frightens me on a level so deep that for a moment I can't catch my breath.  I've never been a crier, but I feel the burn of tears at the backs of my eyes.
"Chief?  You okay?"
I choke back a sound I don't recognize.  A sound that echoes the barrage of emotions banging around inside of me.  For a full minute, I don't respond.  When I'm finally able to speak, my voice is level.  "Call Glock and Pickles again.  Tell them we need those lights and generator yesterday."


Relinquishing control of your emotions is the ultimate bad form for a female cop.  Especially a female in a position of command.  I need to get a grip.  Suck it up and get the hell back in there.  Start the paperwork that will close this godforsaken case once and for all.
But I'm in no condition to go back inside.  I can't face my team.  I'm too raw.  Too far gone.  Already over that precipice and tumbling down the mountain.

I end the call and sigh.  In the kitchen, I find another lantern on the counter, light it, turn up the wick.  I want it light in here.  Crossing to the sink, I open the curtains.  Lightning flickers above the trees to the north.  A cool breeze wafts in, and I smell rain.  The storm would be perfect cover for a home invasion.  I go to the living room and pull open the curtains.  I want him to see me.  An Amish woman staying up late to mend trousers and socks or maybe work on a quilt.  Her family is already in bed for the night.  The doors are unlocked.  They are the perfect victims.
"Come on, you son of a bitch," I whisper.  "I'm waiting.  Come on in and get me."

Summary

10 months after solving The Slaughterhouse Killer murders, Kate Burkholder is faced again with a violent crime targeted this time on one Amish family...The autopsy reports focus specifically on the 15 year old teenage daughter as most likely the target of the violence.  The case becomes more than just a horrific case for Kate; it becomes a revisit to the violence in her past as a young Amish girl.  

What I Liked

The relationship between Kate and Tomasetti - while "together," their relationship doesn't consume either of them...they lead their own lives, deal with individual issues from the past without each other and then come together...both grasping for a chance at a happy future...but slowly.  They each have their vices and their nightmares, but they know that they have to deal with their own issues before they can help each other deal with being a couple.  

Amish culture - I love the inside information Castillo shares just at the right moments...the clash and conflict the Amish feel with the English, the positive aspects of their culture reinforced by Kate's warm feelings from her childhood, as well as Kate's realistic look at their differences, many of which are reasons she chose to leave the church.
I also appreciate Castillo's portrayal of the Amish as imperfect...the Amish are a community of people within which live many different personalities.  Those who are examples of the stereotypical Amish people and those who aren't.  Who'da thought the Amish liked to gossip?

Mary Plank - we only get to know Mary posthumously, but she is the epitome of young girls her age, Amish or not, who get in over their heads before they realize what's really happening.  As a mother of two teenage daughters, it is one of my biggest fears.  I sometimes think teenage girls are little rabbits we send out into a world of wolves.  And, no matter how much we prepare them, they are easily duped by slick talking fellas who know all too well how to schmooze and take advantage of their naivety.

What I Didn't Like

Lots of Suspects - the list was almost too long...By the time the killer is unveiled, I had to look back to see exactly which person he was...his connection and where he entered the story.  

I wanted to see Aaron Plank once more after Kate completely closed the case...it seemed there should be more to his story after Kate finding him and his lover at the house after the murders.  This was a loose end for me.

This crime takes place 10 months after The Slaughterhouse Murders.  I couldn't help but think that's actually a pretty short amount of time between murders in a small town.  I'd be pretty nervous if I lived in Painters Mill.  I realize there has to be more murder for there to be more books...but is it realistic for only that short amount of time to have lapsed? 

Overall Recommendation

If you like strong female characters, Amish culture, and a no holds barred murder mystery that turns your stomach and grabs your emotions, this is your book.