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  -

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Blood Lines by Angela Marsons (audio)

Title: Blood Lines
Author: Angela Marsons
Series: DI Kim Stone, #5
Narrator: Jan Cramer
Published: October 2016, Bookouture
Length: 8 hours 52 minutes
Source: Publisher
How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr. Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

A totally gripping thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page to the final, dramatic twist.

My thoughts: This is the fifth book in Angela Marsons' DI Kim Stone series and seriously, can I just tell you I freakin' love this series!!! OMG - I don't think there is a more deviously twisted series out there and I mean that as the most sincere form of praise. Angela Marsons writes the best characters and the best plots you could possibly imagine and I just cannot get enough of them!

I was so excited to see the diabolical, deliciously evil Dr. Alex Thorne back. Oh, she's one crazy, twisted character and wants nothing more than to play games with our beloved DI Kim Stone and boy oh boy has she ever done that. The cat and mouse games she continues to play are epic - it seriously is a battle for control. Both these women are smart but who will be the victor this time?

I loved that we got further insight into Kim's past, particularly about her mother. Despite the fact that this was tied into the games played by Alex Thorne, it was still valuable information into Kim's psyche and her motivations in general. There's still so much about Kim that is unknown - that's part of her tough-gal persona and I have a feeling will always be that way. But just giving us that little bit with each book is like hitting gold - and another reason to read this series in order! It all makes sense and all the pieces fit together so much better.

As with each book, we get just a little more on each member of the team as well. Not too much, but just a little. I love the interactions Kim has with Bryant and Stacey - they tend to be humorous and happen at just the right time. Then there's Dawson, who seems to be feeling a bit left out of things. This team is feeling more and more like a family, which is good since it's just about all the family that Kim has.

I can't say enough good things about this book and this series. If you like dark, twisted thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat the entire need to read Angela Marsons. And lucky for us, the next book is out very soon!!!  

Audio thoughts: What can I say about Jan Cramer narrating this series that I haven't already said...I adore this woman and her ability to bring life to these characters. She is so consistent book after book, each character having their own unique voice and her pacing and the tension - spot on! I love listening to this series and so hope Jan continues to narrate it as long as it goes on.

Books in this series:   
  1. Silent Scream
  2. Evil Games
  3. Lost Girls
  4. Play Dead
  5. Blood Lines
  6. Deal Souls - due out April 28, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Black Fall by Andrew Mayne

Title: Black Fall
Author: Andrew Mayne
Series: Jessica Blackwood, #3
Published: March 2017, Harper Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

In Black Fall, the third book in the ITW Award-nominated series that began with self-published eBook phenomenon Angel Killer, magician-turned-FBI agent Jessica Blackwood investigates a series of seemingly unrelated, but equally bizarre and sinister, crimes that lead her to the Colorado desert and a town that has, simply, disappeared.

With two big cases under her belt, FBI Agent Jessica Blackwood is learning to embrace her unconventional past as the rising star in a family dynasty of illusionists. Her talent and experience endow her with a unique understanding of the power and potential of deception, and a gift for knowing when things are not always as they appear to be. Once resenting her eccentric grandfather, a brilliant magician in his own right, Jessica now sees him as a mentor and regularly seeks his advice about her work.

But Jessica’s routine surveillance operation becomes a fight for survival when a disturbed young woman, clutching a baby, shows up at the stake-out location and threatens to kill her child. On the same day, an hour after a severe earthquake rocks the eastern seaboard, a strange video goes viral. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Devon has been dead for eight years, yet here he is on camera, predicting the location and date of the earthquake. Jessica is put on the case by her boss, Dr. Ailes, but when Detective Aileen Lewis reports that they’ve found a Jane Doe who matches her description of her attacker, she’s torn between professional duty and a personal desire to find out who the woman was, and why she was killed.

The investigations pull her in very different directions—until they start to converge, leading Jessica to confront something darker, and more powerful, than anyone expected. Something so twisted, only one person could be behind it…the Warlock.

My thoughts: This is the third book in Andrew Mayne's Jessica Blackwood series and I just love this series! It's such a unique series in it's premise and I just cannot get enough of it.

Once again, I found myself completely engaged in the story and hooked from page one. As soon as I started reading, I had a hard time putting this book down - the story just grabs you, and then there's the short chapters that typically end with mini-cliffhangers where you just can't stop reading - you need to find out more about what was just revealed! 

And then there's Jessica - one of my favorite characters! She's endearing because she's so unsure of herself at times and known for her bluntness, yet she's so good at her job that she ultimately ends up getting the case solved. I loved the way she took to Detective Aileen Lewis. I would love to see them work together again - that bond they created just seemed to jive, and the dinner invitation was just priceless! I also like how we get the occasional flashbacks of Jessica's childhood every once in a while - these help give us a better glimpse of who Jessica really is, a more solid picture of her. 

The case that Jessica and her team are working on is quite intense and it never really seems to let up. The tension is so palpable I could feel everyone's nerves as they feverishly worked to solve what was going on. And it seems as if it could have been ripped from today's headlines to some extent - that's a little scary!

This is such a great book and while it can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the two previous books in the series first to have a better understanding of Jessica and all her talents.  Now, hopefully we haven't seen the last of Jessica...I need more of her, more of this magician turned FBI agent!!!

Books in this series:
     1.  Angel Killer
     1.5  Fire in the Sky

     2.  Name of the Devil
    3.  Black Fall


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