Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year my family is celebrating on Saturday so I am having a quiet day at home today. I have some books to read and movies to watch and I plan to treat myself to a little pumpkin pie later. :)

It's been a stressful year but I have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for my loving family, friends, a job I enjoy and great people to work with, and most especially my mom's complete recovery from her illness this past February. I am also thankful for my readers. Thanks for continuing to read my blog even though I haven't been at my best this year.

I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (196)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

So I was surprised when I woke up this morning to find snow outside my window. We are supposed to get 3-5 inches. I'm not sure how much we already have. Ugh. I was really really hoping that we wouldn't see this much white stuff till December. Oh well. Looks like I lost the snow contest at work :)

I haven't been motivated to read lately. I've finished about a book a week which is slow for me. I was busy with stuff for work so maybe that will change this week. The library's first holiday open house was a big success. I had fun teaching little kids and adults how to fold napkins and make nail polish ornaments.  I hope to have some pictures to share next week. We are definitely going to do it again next year. 

Books reviewed:

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Books read:

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I liked this one but I didn't care for the strange dream segments in between chapters. It tied in with the story later on but I could have done without it because I found it confusing.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

I am glad I finally read this book. It takes awhile to get to the mystery so you have to be patient and enjoy getting to know Georgie and her friends.

Currently reading:

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

So far I like The Rosie Effect but maybe not as much as The Rosie Project. I reserve final judgment till I've actually finished the book :)

What I might read next:

The White City by Alex Michod

This is the book I drew from my evening book group's book exchange. I think it sounds interesting. It is a historical mystery set at the 1893 World's Fair.  I haven't read The Devil in the White City yet so I won't be able to compare the two. 

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (reread)

I read this book years ago when it first came out and I have since watched the movie several times so I thought it might be fun to revisit the book and see how it compares to the film.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published: November 4, 2014

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

My review:

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes's teen novels. I loved her Raised by Wolves series but I am enjoying her new contemporary suspense novels even more. Killer Instinct is a sequel to The Naturals, a novel about teens with unusual gifts like being able to profile people, read emotions from facial expressions, or tell when someone is lying. 

In the first book, Cassie joins the Naturals program and the teens help to catch a serial killer with ties to the murder of Cassie's mom. In Killer Instinct, Cassie is dealing with the aftermath of that case and the emotional trauma. Now it looks like someone is copying the murders committed by Dean's dad, the serial killer Daniel Redding. The teens are supposed to stay behind the scenes but they end up involved as things escalate and murders occur on a college campus. 

Killer Instinct is a fast-paced and suspenseful book. The serial killer storyline is well done. A lot of times I can figure out who the bad guy is well before the protagonist does but that was not the case here. There are so many twists and turns that took me by surprise. 

Even though this is a thriller, there are also moments of character growth. Cassie is still reeling from loss and learning how to relate to the other teens in the program. She also has to work through her feelings regarding Michael and Dean and her complicated relationships with her roommate Sloane and prickly Lia. Cassie wants to help Dean without causing him further pain. The author does a good job of looking at what emotional turmoil is involved when you have experienced such darkness. Dean grew up as the son of a serial killer and that haunts him. Cassie is haunted by what happened to her mom and the killings in the previous book. Michael, Sloane and Lia also have their own dark issues to face. Cassie may be the main character but the other teen characters are also well developed. 

I think fans of suspense would love this series. If you haven't already read The Naturals, pick that one up first since there are spoilers in this book. This series is not as gory as suspense novels written for adults can be but there are some dark themes (serial killers, descriptions of crime scenes and victims, etc.) so keep that in mind.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (195)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I can't believe it is already November and Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks. I've started listening to Christmas music too (though it isn't on the radio yet). This weekend was so cold and my parents even had snow at their house. Thankfully I didn't have snow where I live. We have a contest at work to guess the first day of measurable snow fall (on a day the library is open). The prize is a gift card to a local coffee house and I hope I win this year! I picked December 6th but I don't know if the snow will hold out that long.

We have our Holiday Open House at the library in two weeks and I am going to be trying to make various homemade ornaments this week in preparation for the program. I like to make crafts ahead of time to see if the instructions work. I also spotted a tutorial for nail polish ornaments which involves filling clear ornaments with old nail polish. I have lots of unused nail polish that I could put to use! I am also going to try filling some with acrylic paint.

Books reviewed:

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
Boomerang by Noelle August

Books read:

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I liked this suspenseful sequel to The Naturals. There were lots of twists and turns. My review will be up later this week.

Long Man by Amy Greene

This was a book I drew in my afternoon book group's book exchange. It was interesting but not as suspenseful as I had expected. 

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

I loved this book. I don't know much about Indian history but I found the Rani of Jhansi to be a fascinating person.

Positive by Paige Rawl

Positive is the inspiring true story of a young woman with HIV who was bullied when her classmates found out and how she overcame her painful circumstances to became a role model and spokesperson.

Currently reading:

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner