Snapped (Tracers #4)

I am loving the speed at which I am able to get through the books in the Tracers series. I have been rotating through fiction and nonfiction books and it takes me much longer to read a nonfiction book, especially when I’m only half interested in the nonfiction book.

This installment of the series dives into the lives of Sophie Barrett, secretary at the Delphi Center, and Jonah Macon, a homicide detective for the SMPD. The book begins with what appears to be a random school shooting at the local university. As the plot unwinds the reader comes to learn just how meticulously planned out this attack was. Sophie, of course, had been walking through campus at the time of the shooting and was witness to much of the attack, making her SMPD’s key witness. She was the one to point out that the shooter had an accomplice, that the shooter’s car was planted in a certain spot, she even was the one making the 911 call and notifying the take down team of where the shooting was coming from! Sophie was at the center of it all.

Sophie makes the “mistake” of going on the news with her accomplice theory when the police don’t believe her. This sets up the scene for the rest of the book hiding from the mysterious Sharpe. There are a handfull of attempts to kill Sophie and each one draws Sophie and Jonah closer together.

It was another enjoyable book from Laura Griffin, and I’ve put in a hold at my local library for the next book in the series. Although I enjoyed it, there were a few parts that bother me a bit. I realize this book was written several years ago, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable to be using even fake school shootings as the background plot for a romance novel. I mean, I get it, the trauma brings the two main characters together, but I’m not really a fan of using a school shooting for subplot substance. For the most part I liked how Griffin portrayed Sophie. She is an independent woman who takes care of herself. That being said, most of her character development in this book seemed like a waste. Maybe that’s because the timeline of the book is so short, but I think it does the character a unjustice. She’s working really hard to get a promotion at the Delphi Center, and midway through the book we hear a rumor that she’s on the shortlist for the promotion, but we don’t find out any further what happens there. The reader gets a sense that Sophie and her parents and siblings are quite different in how they live life. At one point it seems we will finally meet a part of that famiy and get some closure there, but no, that meeting is brought to an end before it even ever really begins. Maybe we will continue to see Sophie throughout the series and some of these questions will be answered, but if this turns out like the pattern the rest of the books follow, we likely won’t see her character built upon much.

Happy Reading 🙂

Unforgivable (Tracers 3)

The third installment of the Tracers series was a fun read. The previous novels vaguely introduced us to Unforgivable’s main character, Mia Voss, the DNA tracer at the Delphi Center. I was excited to get to the story where Mia is the main character since she had made brief appearances in a few of the previous books.

One thing I love about this series is how Griffin portrays her female characters. They demonstrate that it is ok to be intelligent, nerdy, and tough. Each character has their vulnerabilities, but triumphs over whatever initially holds them back. Mia Voss is as smart as they come being at the top of her field in DNA.

Mia is the target of a carjacking during which an innocent man is killed. She is deeply hurt by this and doesn’t want much outside help as she doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt. Detective Ric Santos has other plans though, as he and Mia bonded before this incident he wants to protect her from the perpetrator.

I enjoyed this book for the depth of the story. Just when you think it can’t possibly get worse–it does. It was multi-level between the police involved, the detectives, and finally the FBI being drawn in. It wasn’t one of the more simple cases, that’s for sure.

Happy Reading!

Unstoppable (Tracers 2.5)

I am thoroughly enjoying the Tracers series from Laura Griffin! Each installment has been interesting and captured my attention in different ways as it focuses on different characters each time.

Unstoppable is a short novella focusing on forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn who works with bones and decomposing bodies at the Delphi Center. She is also a teacher of a graduate class and the book focuses on her time at a dig. Since there have been a scurry of crimes in the area her Navy SEAL father sends Navy SEAL Gage Brewer to play bodyguard for the remainder of the dig. Chaos ensues and Kelsey and Gage have to come together to solve the crime going on in the area.

I went into this novella being skeptical about it because I couldn’t understand why Griffin would publish it as a novella, instead of a full-length book. These main characters come back for book #6 of the series so after finishing Unstoppable it makes a bit more sense with the timeline of the series. By the time I got close to the end of the novella I didn’t want the book to end! I’m trying to quickly read the in-between books to get back to Kelsey and Gage’s story-line.

Happy Reading!

Hygge–Hygge–Hygge!!!

This past year brought an increase to the trend of hygge (pronounced HOO-GA). I had heard of the trend, but didn’t really know much about what it was about. So when the book “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living,” by Meik Wiking came across my desk at work, I immediately checked it out.

There are many definitions of hygge around the world. Americans might think of it as coziness, or hominess. It is mainly about comfort, well-being, and togetherness. Hygge is a night playing board games and drinking with friends, it’s a weekend trip spent hiking or camping, it’s a hearty stew with mulled wine in the winter.

Of course hygge sounds amazing! But the point I really got from this book is that the Danish take hygge way above and beyond what other cultures do, and Wiking hypothesizes that this may be the reason Denmark is consistently ranked one of the happiest countries to live in. I enjoyed this book so much that I was curled up under a blanket (can we say hygge anyone?!) reading it and finished it in one day! It was a great reminder to slow down, get comfy, and enjoy the little things.

As much as I really enjoyed learning about hygge, and the emphasis that Danes place on it, I wish this book spent more time trying to connect the hygge to how it makes people happy, or how to balance hygge with our busy lifestyles. Wiking very briefly mentions that even Danes have responsibilities to deal with that aren’t hygge, but doesn’t spend much time on how to balance the two. Is a game night with a few friends once a month enough? How much hygge is too much? Obviously, Wiking is writing from the Danish point of view, but he writes about several other countries enough that it would have been interesting to see what other countries do for hygge.

All in all, this book taught me about something I didn’t know about before, from a culture that I didn’t really know much about. Hygge is definitely something I would like to explore more in the future. I also plan to read more about the Happiness Research Institute that Meik Wiking runs in Copenhagen. I’m very interested in learning more about how people research happiness when so many different things make different people happy.

Unspeakable

Unspeakable is the second book in Laura Griffin’s Tracers series. Each of the novels in this series focus on two characters in the criminal/forensic fields in Texas. This book focuses on Elaina McCord, an FBI agent, and Troy Stockton, a true crime writer who was featured as one of the characters in the first book in the series.

Elaina is a rookie FBI agent trying to demonstrate her skills, but the men on the case want nothing to do with her and are essentially icing her out from being helpful on the case. She constantly has to prove herself, but often gets herself into more trouble than she should because she is more of a loner than part of a team. She always feels that she needs to do things on her own to prove that she isn’t a weak link to the team because she is a woman.

The team is investigating a series of murders of young women who were violently killed and left to decompose in the muggy Texas marshlands. The murderer begins taunting Elaina with phone calls and other notes. Luckily, through every dangerous turn Elaina has Troy Stockton keeping an eye on her. Stockton is the only one that believes Elaina is on the right track right from the get go and helps her develop her leads and interview suspects and witnesses. He introduces his contacts at the Delphi Center to Elaina so that she can get evidence tested when her supervisor doesn’t believe it is worth the FBI’s time. Troy seems to be the only one watching out for the safety of Elaina, when even she jumps into dangerous situations without thinking.

With the killer knowing how to get to Elaina, while she doesn’t know who he is, it is a race against time to figure out who he is before he gets more victims, or targets her. This is the cause of several arguments between Troy and Elaina as his first priority seems to be her safety.

Through a search back several years it is clear that the killer has been honing his skills for quite some time and in several locations. Police from different areas of Texas come in to help out and the forensic specialists at the Delphi Center score big when testing the evidence sent in. It was a true group effort to solve this case, and an enjoyable read. I can’t wait to continue the series!

Bored and Brilliant

I really enjoy reading books that will help me better myself in some way. For that reason I was really excited to hear about the book, “Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self,” by Manoush Zomorodi. Zomorodi is the host of WNYC’s podcast Note to Self, the podcast the launched the Bored and Brilliant experiment.

The experiment that was launched via the podcast was a series of challenges that listeners would follow in order to allow themselves to be bored. Many, if not most/all of the challenges included strategies that help you put down your devices and let your mind wander. However, Zomorodi is clear that she is not anti-tech and even shares a few apps that can help you make conscious decisions about your tech usage. One of these will tell you how many hours and minutes that you are using your phone. If you use certain settings it will break down how long you spend in each app through the week, which I have found very helpful to demonstrate where my weak points are so that I can avoid spending so much time on those apps the following week.

Some of the challenges are easier than others, and some aren’t new ideas either. I’ve heard from many places to delete ‘that’ app. ‘That’ app that causes you the most time suck to your day. Are you constantly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with no end to the perma-scroll? Then that is going to be ‘that’ app for you. Always mindlessly playing Candy Crush, Sims Freeplay, or Home/Gardenscapes? There’s your app to delete. I’ll be honest, I have yet to delete ‘that’ app on my phone/tablet. But I have been more mindful of my time on those apps and find myself closing them down after shorter time periods than before.

However, one of the more interesting things I took out of this book were all the sections of research on boredom and how being bored can lead to being more productive/creative. I did not really expect to learn as much as I did. I expected more of a general overview, similar to the many other self-help/happiness books out there. As a librarian, one of the most intriguing tidbits I read in the book was about how our attention spans have decreased from reading on the Internet so much, leading to fewer literacy skills. Zomorodi interviewed a scholar that had to reteach herself how to read her own favorite (lengthy) novel by increasing the amount of time spent reading print books. I found that absolutely fascinating! In beginning this blog I have definitely been picking up my reading of print and I have noticed a pick up in my “reading endurance” of print materials.

I found this book very enlightening and think it could be a good tool for those looking for a way to put down those devices and to start daydreaming more.

Happy Reading 🙂

Untraceable

As a Technical Services Librarian, pretty much every book that my library orders comes across my desk at some point. Fortunately, and unfortunately, that means I have a huge TBR list so a lot of my posts aren’t about the most recently released books. Nevertheless, they are still enjoyable reads. A few weeks ago, the most recent book in Laura Griffin’s Tracers series came across my desk. The plot sounded great to me, since I love detective/forensic murder mystery series. I didn’t want to start with the most recent book though, so I looked for the first book in the series and ILL’d the book–“Untraceable.”

Griffin introduces readers to a crime in the middle of it, instead of after the fact. I really liked that she did not bring us in to the plot by immediately introducing us to PI/computer genius Alexandra Lovell and Detective Nathan Devereaux. Lovell also takes on clients who are women who have suffered abuse and are looking to disappear. Alex helped victim Melanie Bess disappear and now she is really missing and Alex has a gut feeling that something isn’t right.

I really hate giving spoilers–yes, even for a book published in 2009, so I don’t want to give away too much plot. But the rest of the book focuses on searching for Melanie and what crimes are connected to her abusive husband, who is a cop. There are many twists and turns throughout the story line including some that I didn’t see coming.

The other subplot going on is the budding relationship between Alex and Nathan. There is a sexual tension between them throughout the novel, and includes some back story as to when they met previously. As I was reading I had to double check that this was the first book in the series because their meeting was brought up so often.  I’m intrigued to find out how their relationship further develops and was surprised to see how much happened in just the first book of the series. Normally, authors will let the tension build up a few books and slowly jump in, but this book jumps right in.

This book was a fun, quick read, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I can’t wait for the book to get shipped to me so I can get started!