Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: Deer Lake Series - Books 1 & 2: Night Sins/Guilty as Sin by Tami Hoag (audio)

Title: Deer Lake Series - Books 1 & 2: Night Sins/Guilty as Sin
Author: Tami Hoag
Series: Deer Lake Series, Books 1& 2
Narrator: Jennifer Van Dyke
Published: July 2016, Brilliance Audio
Length: 39 hours (Book 1 - 19 hours 45 minutes; Book 2 - 18 hours 32 minutes)
Source: Publisher
NIGHT SINS: A young boy disappears. There are no witnesses, no clues - only a note, cleverly taunting, casually cruel. Has a cold-blooded kidnapper struck? Or is this a reawakening of a long-quiet serial killer?

A tough-minded investigator on her first make-or-break case… A local cop who fears that big city evils have come to stalk his small town home… Together they are hunting for a madman who knows no bounds, to protect a town that may never feel safe again.

GUILTY AS SIN: A respected member of the community stands accused of a chilling act of evil. But when a second boy disappears, a frightened public demands to know: Have the police caught the wrong man? Is the nightmare continuing…or just beginning?

Prosecutor Ellen North believes she''s building a case against a guilty man—and that he has an accomplice in the shadows. As she prepares for the trial of her career, Ellen suddenly finds herself swept into a cruel contest of twisted wits, a dark game of life and death…with an evil mind as guilty as sin.

My thoughts: I became a big Tami Hoag fan, after starting her Kovac and Liska series and so when I saw this audio book available to review, I decided to give it a go - it's an older series, orginally written in 1995 and 1996, but boy oh boy did it keep me engaged and on my toes! And despite the length, I was so invested in the story - both stories, actually, and loved the way they were tied together!

Since this review is for two books, I am going to structure it a little differently. I'm going to try to keep it as concise as I can so that this doesn't become too long, plus I don't want to give away any spoilers. 

Night Sins:
The characters in this book are so well-developed and the mystery surrounding the kidnapping of Josh Kirkwood is haunting. Someone is playing a wicked game of cat and mouse with the people of Deer Lake. I loved how each section started out with the time and the temperature and wind chill - you really felt the cold and the desperation that these people were feeling. The notes that the kidnapper(s) left throughout just added to an already ominous feeling of dread. There were plenty of suspects that we are led to believe might be the "guilty" party, but the twists and turns we are taken on throw us off more often than not. The romance that brews between Megan O'Malley and the Chief offers a nice balance to all the heaviness of the case.

Guilt as Sin:
***Caveat - This book really does need to be read after reading Night Sins - a lot of what happens is based on that story! That being said, I'm going to be a bit vague, so as to not give away anything that happened in Night Sins.

Again, the characters in this book are well-developed. We have the prosecutor, Ellie North, building a case against the person responsible for kidnapping Josh Kirkwood, who is now in jail. But the question remains...did this person work alone or have an accomplice? The twists and turns that this book takes kept me guessing the entire time. I never saw the ending coming - it was brilliant! And let's just talk about the creep factor that Tami Hoag manages to deftly work into her books - she is able to create such creepy characters when she needs to - OMG...I get chills just thinking about them! Such despicable, twisted characters that have no qualms about doing whatever they want to whomever they want just to make a point. 

So, bottom line - I really enjoyed both books - but, be warned, they are long! I listened to them, back-to-back, but I happened to have a long car ride, so I had time. They don't need to be read/listened to back-to-back, but they do need to be read in order!

Audio thoughts: I am a big fan of Jennifer Van Dyke's work as a narrator, so when I saw that she was narrating these books, I was excited! She did a great job with these two stories. She gave each character their own unique voice and was consistent in each book - there were a few characters that appear in both books. Her pacing is spot on and she infuses just the right amount of tension in her voice as needed. As I mentioned, these are long audiobooks, but her narration kept it from dragging on. Well-done! 

Books in this series:
  1. Night Sins
  2. Guilty as Sin 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: The Lost Children by Helen Phifer (audio)

Title: The Lost Children
Author: Helen Phifer
Series: Detective Lucy Harwin, #1
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Published: March 2017, Bookouture
Length: 9 hours 46 minutes / 320 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible/ Netgalley via Bookouture
Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…

For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to an ancient gurney...

Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging the asylum’s wrongs.

What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.

As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose?

An absolutely terrifying and gripping thriller that will chill readers of MJ Arlidge, Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott to the bone.

My thoughts: This is the first book in Helen Phifer's new police procedural series and I absolutely loved it! It's dark, twisty and has a kick-ass lead female character that has tattoos, wears converse sneakers and dyes her hair bright, crazy colors - what's not to love? 

Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin is one tough, complicated gal. She's just back on the force after a previous case put her on leave and she has a ton of baggage that at times weighs her down. But I find her fascinating! I think she is going to be a great character study as this series progresses. And her side-kick, Mattie - he's harboring some feelings for her, but won't fess up and I definitely feel this will at some point be explored - at least I hope so! They make a good team, professionally, have each other's backs and when danger comes around, really worry about each other.

The case they are working on is a tough one to swallow. This book is dark and deals with some heavy, disturbing topics. The action is fast-paced and the characters are all intriguing - you want to know more about them all, especially the villian! While I had figured out who was behind things fairly early on, it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book - I wanted to know how they were going to get caught and what their ultimate motivations and goals were. 

This book kept me engaged and on the edge of my seat the entire time. I loved the way every once in a while we got flashbacks to the past - just nuggets of what really happened at the asylum. Even just thinking about it now gives me the chills! I can't wait to see how this series progresses and where our characters go next!    

Audio thoughts: I love listening to series on audio - especially when I find a good narrator. Alison Campbell is a new-to-me narrator, which can be a good thing as she doesn't already have any set voices in my head, if that makes sense? I thought she did a great job with this audio production. She gave all the characters distinct, unique voices, and kept the pacing just right, infusing just the right amount of tension and suspense in her voice as necessary. I do hope she continues to keep narrating this series for as long as it continues!

Books in this series:
  1. The Lost Children


Sunday, March 26, 2017

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in March 24

So, my two week break is over and I came back with a vengeance! I did 4 10K's last week :) Plus, I found a quick and easy arm workout that I did twice - it's perfect to add in after my walks and now I just need to find a good ab and leg workout and I'll have a nice balance of strength-training to balance out my week! And if I make it to a yoga class or two that would be a great compliment.  

March Goals: 

  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - 5/5, 1/2
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - met
  • Eat mindfully/eat enough - met
Here's how last week went:    
Mar 18:  7,882 steps
Mar 19:  6,076 steps

Mar 20:  18,757 steps (10K - 6.26 Charity Miles for MS)  
Mar 21:  17,418 steps
(10K - 6.2 Charity Miles for MS; Arm workout) 
Mar 22:  11,070 steps (30 min fitness walk)

Mar 23:  19
,259 steps (10K - 6.2 Charity Miles for MS)
Mar 24:  19
,060 steps (10K - 6.2 Charity Miles for MS; Arm workout) 

Total Steps: 99,522 steps

Audiobooks listened to last week (since I'm not much of a music fan, I listen to books while I walk):

  • Finished The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg, narrated by Simon Vance
  • Started & Finished The Lost Children by Helen Phifer, narrated by Alison Campbell

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:                             September:   
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     February:                             June:                            October:

           5K  -  4                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  9                                10K  -                                 10K  -   
     March:                                  July:                             November:
           5K  -  0                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     April:                                    August:                        December:
           5K  -                                     5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -                                    10K  -                                  10K  -


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