Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter

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#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

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This is the second book that I have read from Karin Slaughter who is the mistress of crime dramas in my opinion. Although I am new to her, I have moved her to my top five favourite authors list.

My research has indicated that this author mostly writes a series, which has quite a few volumes in it. I’m not ready to embark a new series at the moment, so I am working my way through her standalones first. Pretty Girls is set in Georgia in the modern-day. It tells the story of a family that has been torn apart by tragedy and the two sisters who stumble across each other again now, nearly two decades later. At first I worried that this would be very similar to her book The Good Daughter, but this isn’t the case at all.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is that the author regularly flashes back in time, to the years immediately following Julia’s disappearance. Here, we can listen to the narrator, speaking from Father’s perspective to his missing daughter, as if reading his journal. We experience how he mourns her. How he still searches for her, never giving up in his efforts, although, the same cannot be said for hope. How their child’s loss tears apart a family, a marriage, and the lack of a body denies any chance at closure.

I think this was a very emotional way to look back on the past and inform the readers of the characters’ backstories. It gives the Dad a voice, as he is deceased in the present. It also shines a light on why marriages tend to end following the loss of a child, how it tears them a part. Julia’s parents look at each other and see a father who gave his daughter rides on his shoulders, a mother who rocked her babies to sleep with a smile. Neither can look at the other parent and separate them from them from Julia.

I felt that Pretty Girls was a little slow in pace at first. This could be partially due to the fact that I would have made different choices than Lydia and Claire did as they started to investigate Paul’s actions. But the book IS nearly 700 pages as well. That is a lot of time to spend in one story. So, SO worth it though. This book kept me guessing and thoroughly engaged from start to finish. I’m already try to peddle it to friends and family because I think it is such a great book.

Ms. Slaughter is the Queen of twists and turns. Just as you think you know how the book is going to play out, there is a sharp left turn. I like books that allow me to think, to ponder different directions it could take, as long as I don’t always turn out to be right. The main thought that kept popping into my head throughout Pretty Girls was “do you really think that that was a coincidence, anymore”?

Pretty Girls is a fantastic example of domestic noir. Definitely a recommended read for anyone looking to sink their teeth into something a bit longer and darker than your typical fiction. This is one of those books that had me yelling out loud at my phone at times. It is a wild ride with graphic violence but the story is amazing.

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xx

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Sisters – film review

Sisters is the hilarious new comedy from Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Two sisters struggling to move on in their adult lives come home to Mom and Dad’s to clear out their childhood rooms in preparation for the sale of the house. While reminiscing, they decide to throw one last epic high-school style party with all their old friends. Cue the shenanigans.

Trailer (via youtube)

Ok, I have to admit I didn’t think this movie was going to be all that great. I went to the theatre with my Mother and oldest niece (14) to see something else but tickets were sold out and this was the only other film playing at the right time.

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It. Is. Hilarious. I freaking loved this movie. I almost had to leave the theatre because I was seriously worried I would pee my pants from laughter.

Now, it was also completely INAPPROPRIATE for a  14 year old girl. I was worried about that but the theatre said it was rated 14A. Um, no. After seeing the movie, I definitely feel it was Rated R and now I can see that is what the trailer was rated as well….. So my sister might be a bit mad but thankfully that will fall on “Nana’s” shoulders, not mine. Phew.

But seriously, I highly recommend that you go and watch this movie. Both my Mum and I agreed that it was the most we had laughed in a theatre in a very long time.

The part with the music box, between Maura and her beau …. good lord. You can’t get funnier than that.

There were two things that really stood out to me in this film.

John Cena’s part actually should have been expanded. He does have his tough guy-bouncer moment but it was very comedically done. Not bad since this is a comedy but I think the film could have afforded for him to be a bit more … well more, in that moment.

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I also would have loved to see him and Kate (played by Tina Fey) develop a relationship. I thought he was going to help her rescue Hayley; it would have been cute to see them together in the “post-script”, and would have been in keeping with Kate’s personality. Sure, she learns a little more responsibility, but no one changes overnight. He might not have been the best parental role model, but that wasn’t really the moral of the story.

Secondly, and as I said to my Mother as we walked out of the theatre, “I didn’t take you and Dad selling the house that badly”. If you don’t know, I am highly resistant to change, and didn’t exactly handle it well. In fact, when they sold my childhood home I stopped speaking to them for a bit and it took several years before I was completely over it.

Because I am.

Over it.

Totally.

As I was saying … Sisters is cute. It’s funny. It is even romantic. And it reminded me that I’m all grown up when the sexiest point in the movie was James repairing the ceiling he fell through for Maura, while the party rages on around them.

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xx

 

Favourite Author Series – Christine Feehan

This is the third in a series of three blogs discussing my favourite authors. They are written to help readers who may be looking for new books, and to thank my favourite authors for their efforts by publicizing their works.

(By the way, the spacing is messed up in this post and the previous couple and I have no idea why. I tried to fix it like twenty times, but the updates aren’t taking. Please forgive).

Christine Feehan was my favourite author for ten years or so. I absolutely loved her and couldn’t pass a book up. I salivated over a new release for weeks, if not months, obsessively stalking her website for when the first chapter and promotional book trailer were posted, and then participated in the comments section.

The last couple of years I have moved on to other who have surpassed her as my favourite authors (see my two previous blog posts) but she is still in my top three and will likely be so for a long time. Christine currently writes four series. Below is a bit about each one, with some hunky cover art.

The Leopard Series:

This series is about the a race that evolved alongside the rest of humanity and they can change into leopards. Feehan describes them as being companions to one another with both species residing in the same body. The are romance novels but slide up against the barrier of erotica. They are her most erotic series.

I have loved the last three books to come out, but the author seemed to have trouble finding her stride with this particular series. The first four or five books weren’t as popular as the ones in her other series, but they have greatly improved since. If you are on the fence about reading them, you could skip the first few and start with Burning Wild or even Savage Nature without losing very much background information. While reading all of the books in her series in order will give you a better sense of each community, they are written in a way that allows them to be read as stand-a-lones.

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Series order:

#1 The Awakening

#2 Wild Rain

#3 Burning Wild

#4 Wild Fire

#5 Savage Nature

#6 Leopard’s Prey

#7 Cat’s Lair

#8 Wild Cat (pub November 2015)

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The Dark Series :

This is the oldest and longest-running series by Christine Feehan. There are twenty-odd books published with many more announced. They are about an ancient Carpathian species existing in the modern day world. Similar to vampires, only honourable and possessing many more gifts, they are a separate species from humans and on the verge of extinction when leaders realize that women who have special powers (clairvoyant, etc) can survive the conversion and find their lifemates.

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The Dark series is amazing and has a ton of books in it. Most are full novels but there are also a few novellas.

Along the way, the author has introduced other human-like races such as mages and lycans into the mix, but my favourite aspect of the series is its focus: a lifemated couple. I love the fact that they can talk to each other telepathically – this is a Carpathian gift so even if the woman wasn’t able to before, she can so after her conversion. I envy them this intimacy. How amazing must it be to be able to share all your thoughts and emotions with the person you spend all eternity with.

Series order:   *novellas marked (n)

#1 Dark Prince   #2 Dark Desire   #3 Dark Gold   #4 Dark Magic   #5 Dark Challenge

#6 Dark Fire  #7 Dark Dream(n) #8 Dark Legend  #9 Dark Guardian  #10 Dark Symphony

#11 Dark Descent(n) #12 Dark Melody  #13 Dark Destiny  #14 Dark Hunger (n)

#15 Dark Secret   #16 Dark Demon   #17 Dark Celebration   #18 Dark Possession

#19 Dark Curse   #20 Dark Slayer   #21 Dark Peril   #22 Dark Predator   #23 Dark Storm

#24 Dark Lycan   #25 Dark Wolf   #26 Dark Blood   #27 Dark Crime (n) (pub Aug 2015)

#28 Dark Ghost (pub September 2016)     #29 Dark Promises (pub March 2016)

The Ghostwalker series:

The Ghostwalkers are book versions of action movies. While still romance, they are the most popular series among men. They feature heroes who are military specialists (Seals, Rangers, etc) and have been genetically enhanced to have physical and mental super-abilities, including psychic gifts. Many of the women in this series have also received military training. They are enhanced, and many were raised in laboratory settings, unlike their male counterparts.

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I love the ghostwalkers books for their action and sense of team camaraderie. I like how you get more than just the main couple, you see interactions between teammates and their women. When done well, this is my favourite aspect of a story in books and media.

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Series order:

#1 Shadow Game  #2 Mind Game  #3 Night Game  #4 Conspiracy Game

#5 Deadly Game  #6 Predatory Game   #7 Murder Game   #8 Street Game

#9 Ruthless Game   #10 Samurai Game  #11 Viper Game  #12 Spider Game (pub Jan 2016)

Sea Haven:

Feehan’s Sea Haven books are my favourite series that she writes. It started out with an original seven books about the Drake Sisters, seven sisters who inherited magical gifts from their mother. There is an ancient prophecy in their family that each seventh daughter will produce seven more daughters who will inherit the gifts and pass them on to her children. Each generation, when all seven are grown, the prophecy unfolds and each will find the one they are meant to be with in life, over the course of a year.

Although there is a supernatural element to the stories, The Twilight Before Christmas is the only story that features it heavily. The remainder of the books are contemporary romance, with sexy heroes, most of whom have a military past. There are over-arching themes and storylines so I would strongly suggest you read them in order. This would be the most important series to read in order, IMHO.

Series order:

#1 Magic in the Wind (novella)

#2 Twilight Before Christmas

#3 Oceans of Fire

#4 Dangerous Tides

#5 Safe Harbor

#6 Turbulent Seas

#7 Hidden Currents

drake sisters

After the last Drake Sisters book was released, Hidden Currents, a sister series was released about other inhabitants of Sea Haven. There is some crossover of characters and the books are similar. They are about 6 sisters of the heart, women who found each other in group counselling and decided to buy a farm together in Sea Haven. They also possess special talents, and are bound to elements that they can control. This series is two thirds finished unfolding.

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Fire Bound and the as-yet-untitled sixth book should be out in the next two years. After they are released, the Sea Haven saga will continue with a new series about its residents. The author has released very little information thus far, but the bits and pieces of information floating around make me suspect that this series will be about other Russian specialists, like Aleksandr (Oceans of Fire) will be coming to settle down. Hopefully Feehan accelerates the rate at which this series is released!

Other:

There are a few other books that are stand-a-lones. The Scarletti Curse and The Lair of the Lion were both very early pre-cursors to Dark Symphony but they are in no way considered to be Carpathian novels.

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Christine also wrote the novella Rocky Mountain Christmas which was a novella in The Shadows of Christmas Past and After the Music, another Christmas novella from A Very Gothic Christmas.

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I highly recommend each of the three authors I have written about and hope you give them a chance. My thanks and appreciation to Ann Mayburn, Cherise Sinclair and Christine Feehan for all the hard work and hours of love poured into each tale.

Now that I have finished this mini-series of blogs, I’m going to go back to my regular reviews and ramblings. I have a ton of books to review, and a few movies, that I’ve been holding onto. My OCD tendencies wouldn’t let add something in part way through.

xx