Book Review: Fury by Shirley Marr

StarStarStar

Young Adult > Mystery

Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in…

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

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…Slow-moving but I was kind of surprised about the second body. That sucked.

Fury was not as compelling as I’d hope it would be, but I have to say that when I started reading the first few chapters, I had high hopes. Marr’s dark writing just sucked me in until I reached the last page. However, I didn’t think there was anything more the book could give me that was not in its blurb. Mildly disappointing, but I had fun reading it.

Eliza was not afraid to show that she’s a spoiled brat with a foul mouth. But that doesn’t mean she’s not smart, only not smart enough not to get caught for a murder. Ha! *ahem*

Eliza’s narrative began with her interrogation at the police station. While giving her (non)statements, she was recalling what really happened on that awful night. I liked how the story unfolded, but the buildup was so good for a not-so-twisted climax that I ended up.. looking for more, I guess. Just when I thought my breath was going to hitch, it was over. There was little surprise to shock me into silence.

and that one character I liked the most, died. Yeah, it deflated me a little. =(

For those looking for a HEA, Fury cannot give you that. But the exquisite writing and subtle mystery/suspense might interest you.

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FURY by Shirley Marr

Ebook, 277 pages

Published May 1st 2010 by Black Dog Books

3/5 stars

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Book Review: Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

StarStarStarStarStar

Genre: General Fiction > Mystery & Suspense > Thriller

Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #1

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind—addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie’s a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she’s right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth—he can’t stay away.

When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all.

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…Yeees! Oh, how i love thee. *evil grin*

My fascination with serial killers came back with Heartsick. With a woman as the serial killer made it all the more interesting. I miss watching Dexter. =(

Archie and Gretchen have a very complicated relationship. You’d think Archie doesn’t want anything to do with her after she abducted, tortured, left him wanting to die, then turn herself over to the police. Chelsea Cain is playing with my emotions, because I felt something for Gretchen other than hate and revulsion.

The story was compact. I loved Archie‘s POV. He knows there’s something wrong with him, that his life sucked, and his mixed feelings for Gretchen were abnormal. Still, he does a good job being a cop. But the darkness Gretchen showed him during his time with her remained.

Susan the reporter is okay, too. Her life is as f*cked up as Archie’s, but she hides it well. The way Gretchen read her like an open book whe she visited at the prison is so enjoyable. Hee.

I am in love with how Gretchen‘s mind works! Manipulative, smart, and very, very devious. This is the villain to beat!

Heartsick has gore, horror, and pain. I had an unbelievably good time reading it! It takes one to know one, right? So in order for Archie to defeat Gretchen once and for all, he has to think and act like her. like a maniac. 🙂

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HEARTSICK by Chelsea Cain

Hardbound, 336 pages

Published September 4th 2007 by Minotaur Books

5/5 stars

Book Review: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

RATING: StarStarStar

Genre: Non Fiction > True Crime

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

*****

How will I rate a non-fiction book?… When I’ve always rated a book based on how I enjoyed the story. In Cold Blood is not an imaginative tale, but a grisly true account of a senseless murder of a family living a simple farm life. So, tell me. How do I rate this?!!!

I didn’t like how the layers of stories were told in Part I. I felt I was being led into a wild goose chase (from one character to another) when all Capote wanted to tell me was how the Clutters lived for the last day of their lives. I was like, just get to the point, please.

But when I reached Part II, my reading was smooth sailing already. It fascinated me how the killers have other facets of their lives other than being the murderers of the Clutter family. Capote keenly captured my interest. I was mesmerized with the storytelling.

I only wanted to know the reason behind the murders, I really do. The killers’ psyche was what I wanted to delve on, and I got that. Only… the reason why Dick & Perry killed the Clutters was simple and shallow that it deflated my interest a bit. Still, people kill for less obvious reasons, right? Oh, well.

So… 3 stars? 4?

To say the story was not impressive is harsh (since this is non-fiction). Because Capote gave life to a story that could have been another senseless crime. The portrayal of the killers was distinctive but there was a point where I thought Dick & Perry were being glorified…?

I love crime stories. Add to that the ugly reality of In Cold Blood since it happened in real life, I was hooked. Between Dick & Perry, the latter is more dangerous for me. Perry was the one I’m a little scared of. His indifference in taking a life gave me the creeps.

In Cold Blood is a must read for crime fiction fanatics, if only to discourage us, even for a while, that senseless deaths do happened in real life. It can touch us with a single thought of greed and malice.

I think I will settle with a 3.

Book Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Mystery | Suspense

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

*****

I suddenly miss Dexter Morgan of Dexter TV series. *sigh*

Have I ever told you how fascinated and obsessed I am with books that have Serial Killers in them?

The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood
The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner

Imagine my intense delight when I came across a YA book with that theme! *happy dance*

Okay, not to sound so morbid or anything, but I really enjoy such stories. I have yet to perfect the act of blending in, so no, my tendencies of becoming a serial killer is still not apparent… Ha!

I Hunt Killers is very disturbing, and that’s really good for me. The murder scenes might be mild to my taste (compared to Adult Crime fiction), but the terror lying beneath is there. Bill Dent… crap, he gave me the creeps with his charm and intellect. Really now, Barry Lyga knows his stuff!

Jazz Dent got me in his clutches from page 1. For someone who’s hell bent on not becoming like his father, Jazz showed me snippets of himself that wanted, wanted to succumb to darkness so badly. I can feel his conflict, his guilt, and his defiance to his father’s legacy. It was freaking amazing! Add to that his best friend Howie, whose punchlines are so funny. 🙂 Ah, Bliss.

My favorite part(s): Jazz’s internal dialogue with Billy – how to act in a certain situation? Billy is always in his mind to whisper practical, nasty, brilliant advice. Oh, you are evil, Barry Lyga. I am engrossed with Jazz and his dilemma!

I read maybe 2 or 3 YA books with serial killers in it, but I Hunt Killers is undeniably leading the pack. Woohoo!

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Contemporary | Realistic Fiction

‘I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day… or wondering who did the heart breaking and why.’

Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

*****

But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.

I didn’t expect to get (magically) swept away. I really didn’t. I was expecting a whining, dramatic fifteen-year-old Charlie. But all i encountered was openness and sweet, sweet honesty. Oh, Charlie. You owned me from page one. 🙂

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a lot of things. It dealt with drugs, sex, abuse, bullying. You might find that negatively intimidating but Chbosky’s writing softened the blows that might have stung because of such delicate issues. The softening was a welcome embrace.

Charlie had a run with (almost) everything teenager-y. Unrequited first love. LSD. Make out sessions. Smoking. Abortion. With all this, he still felt he was standing on the sidelines. But he was loved by his sister. he talked to his dead aunt in the graveyard when no one else wants to be his friend. he has his English teacher who kept on giving him books that seemed to be the little stories of his life.

A tumultuous year it might’ve been, but Charlie made it. By being unconsciously strong, and unflinchingly accepting to things he cannot alter.

Once I started, I could not put down The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s charisma is undeniable. Numerous chuckles erupted from me every now and then. I want to shelter Charlie from the harsh realities of life, but Charlie reveled in it. He flourished. And while things in the past cannot change, Charlie chose to move on with his life. But this time, he will be living it, and not for others. =)

I am in love with the mixed tapes! Asleep by the Smiths. Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. A song from Nirvana. Me and Charlie have similar taste in music!

 

And Charlie likes to read! *high five* Mostly they are classics, and yes, i will read them soon. i already added them to my TBR list! such is the power of Charlie over me. Gosh, classics. Help me. Haha!

Book Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Contemporary

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Literary Awards: Edgar Award Nominee, Printz Honor (2011), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2010), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)

*****

He was free because on the inside he was tied up in knots. He lived hard because inside he was dying. Charlie made inner conflict look delicious.

I cannot ignore the awesomeness of this book (pun intended). I really, really liked Vera. If i were to go back to my teenage years (but i hope not), I would choose to be her. Oh, the irony of it all! Hating her best friend, Charlie for being dead. Hating Charlie for leaving a mess then being dead. What a fun life you have, Vera Dietz. 🙂

I immediately fell in love with King’s writing: fluid, sarcastic, funny. The perfect combination for a screwed-up teenage girl’s voice. Nothing I didn’t love about it. I felt Vera‘s loneliness, angst, and need (for a father to be present for her). I love her eccentric father (with his hilarious flowchart diagrams!) and their dysfunctional relationship. Funny at times, hurting at most (for Vera).

Charlie Kahn is a sweet enigma. Love him, hate him. It’s weird that I found his character more solid and provocative than James since Charlie’s the dead one, and James is the current fling. I always feel forlorn when reading Charlie’s POV. His regret reaches out to me, enveloping into this cocoon that i can’t help but be bitter myself on how things turned out for him. 😦

Please Ignore Vera Dietz: one of the best contemporaries out there. You wanna know how Vera copes with her grief? Imagine her writing a note in a piece of napkin, putting it in her mouth, and swallowing it.

Lost love sucks when your best friend screwed you over long before he was dead.

Book Review: Millennium #3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Mystery | Thriller | Crime | Suspense

(Millennium #3)

Lisbeth Salander–the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels–is under close supervision in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: when she’s well enough, she’ll stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will have to prove her innocence, and to identify the corrupt politicians who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse. And, on her own, she will plot her revenge–against the man who tried to kill her and the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.
Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Lisbeth Salander is ready to fight back.

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller, Favorite Book, Favorite Heroine (2010)

Book 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review          Book 2: The Girl Who Played with Fire review

*****

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest dramatically wrapped up the Millennium trilogy. Although I was expecting more *ss-kicking action scenes, this third book was satisfying for Lisbeth Salander fan like me!

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest picked up exactly where I was left hanging from book 2. Salander was on the brink of death. Even if she lived, she would still have to face the murder charges.

Blomkvist is the star here because Salander needed to recuperate from her injuries first before she can fight (in the latter part of the book). The different POVs worked and it added to the thrill and suspense. I didn’t like Blomkvist lady friend here. I saw the Swedish version of the movie and yes, i love it better than the book. Probably because it did not show Blomkvist’s affair with his lady friend. Ha!

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is mild compare to The Girl Who Played with Fire; book 2 will always be my favorite among the series. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is more on the intellectual side of the story. It was engaging, yes, and very heart-thumping. I found myself smirking in the end. oh yeah, vengeance is ours!

If you are into suspense and conspiracy, you better read the Millennium trilogy. I tell you, you will be missing a lot if you don’t pick them up! Lisbeth Salander is a goddess, i tell you. and I WORSHIP HER. 🙂

Book Review: Millennium #2: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Genre: Mystery | Thriller | Crime | Suspense

(Millennium #2)

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past. 

Literary Awards: Dilys Award Nominee (2009), Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery/Thriller (2009)

Book 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review     

*****

As if the horror was not enough in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! Why, oh why, did i wait to read this sequel? The Millennium Trilogy is meant to be consumed continuously! Stieg Larsson, I am now a fan! 

Lisbeth Salander is my woman of steel. 😀 what a brilliant character. Here, i got to see how others perceived her. what a sordid past for a girl. =( but she fought back, and she’s still fighting now that she’s been accused of murder. Salander is one tough chick to bring down, that’s for sure.

For a brief time, i saw what a man-wh*re Blomkvist really was. I guess age is just a number to him? LOL. Other than that, Blomkvist is still the smart and relentless journalist who will always be in pursuit of the truth. His shining moment for me was when he discovered Lisbeth’s apartment. He didn’t realized how painful and difficult her life is until that time.

The Girl Who Played with Fire is hardcore. It is ruthless and more brutal than its predecessor. My first 5 stars for 2012. Yay!

 

 

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

RATING: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Mystery | Thriller | Suspense

(Millennium #1)

It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age–and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it–who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism–and an unexpected connection between themselves.

*****

The dark allure of Lisbeth Salander’s character is too addicting to ignore because truth be told, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo rocked my world! Goodness, it’s been awhile since I was enamored with a mystery/thriller book. And now, the big question is: was this book all worth the hype? A big YES!

Mikael Blomkvist is a respectable financial journalist who fell into a nightmare when sued for libel and got convicted for it. As he retreats to regroup his life and career, industrialist Henrik Vanger hires him to investigate the case of his missing niece, Harriet, forty years ago. Lisbeth Salander is a private investigator with major issues and loads of (un)emotional baggage. She was hired to investigate Blomkvist’s background and with Vanger as their common link, meeting her subject is inevitable. Eventually, she helps Blomkvist unearth the mystery behind Harriet’s disappearance. Little did she know that stepping into Hedestad is a nightmare she doesn’t need in her already messed-up life.

Blomkvist’s character is very solid: he’s a smart guy and a strategist. Although I do not approve of his casual friendship with Erik Berger (it really bothered me), he’s a pretty decent male lead. Salander is so different from all the heroines I’ve encountered but boy, did she take the cake! Plus the icing! She’s brilliant, cunning, and downright cruel (well, if you asked me, those brutes deserved what they got from her). The complexity of her character is so amazing that I can’t help but scream, “that’s my girl!”. She had a rough life, having it still, but it mattered little when she’s working, snooping about other people’s business. Salander made my heart ache in the end.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an astounding read. From the calculated indifference of a seasoned killer to the precise debauchery of a brilliant girl, this book will rob you of any sanity you might have. Family legacy has never been this inescapable.

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.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Butterfield Institute #1: The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose

Rating: StarStarStar

(Butterfield Institute #1)

As one of New York’s top sex therapists, Dr. Morgan Snow sees everything from the abused to the depraved, from couples grappling with sexual boredom to twisted sociopaths with dark, erotic fetishes. And the Butterfield Institute is the sanctuary where she helps soothe and heal these battered souls.

Cleo Thane is one of those special patients Morgan connects to immediately. A high-priced prostitute, Cleo is remarkably sensitive and unscathed, a woman desperate to reconcile her successful professional life with her neglected personal one. And when she asks Morgan to read her unpublished tell-all book about her exclusive clientele, Morgan realizes that what she has in her hands could be explosive.

Then Cleo disappears.

Detective Noah Jordan is trying to stay one step ahead of a serial killer who has been targeting prostitutes, killing them with ritualistic precision. When a missing person’s report is filed on Cleo Thane, Noah wonders if she, too, has fallen prey to the psycho’s wrath. He approaches Dr. Morgan Snow for any insight on her patient, but Morgan refuses to breach patient confidentiality. Instead she begins her own investigation into Cleo’s disappearance.

Certain that the answers lie in the manuscript that Cleo has entrusted her with, Morgan delves into the private confessions of a woman paid to act out the sexual fantasies of some of the city’s most powerful men. But she is shocked by how much the intimate sexual details of another woman’s life affect her own. Too late she realizes she’s ventured into dangerous — even deadly — territory.

*****

The Halo Effect was the sore thumb among the Butterfield Institute series. This is the first book and Rose was just building Morgan’s story, so maybe that’s why i didn’t enjoy it as much as i would’ve? Because i love The Delilah Complex and The Venus Fix; imagine my suprise when this one fell short for me.

The serial killings were elaborate and grisly, but the killer’s motive to do the acts were rather… plain? It was too simple for me to warrant that kind ofdeviant behavior towards prostitutes. Dr. Morgan Snow is effective as a sex therapist but like most women who have successful careers, her family life was kind of in shambles. Noah Jordain sounds like a god to me, knowing he’s a cop but a great cook and musician. Not to mention he has no problems with money. Highly impossible to be true, right? Still, i like his character.

The Halo Effect is an ok read for me. Perhaps you can start this series with little expectation, because when you get to The Venus Fix (my favorite), Rose will surely satisfy your thriller/suspense cravings. It will be worth it. 🙂

 

#24 Off-the-Shelf Reading Challenge 2011

 

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.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”