02 May 2013

Celebrating the Short Story: A Doctor's Wife by Luis Jaramillo and Cold, Cold Heart by Karin Slaughter

Today I have two short story entries to tell you about.  One is a collection of short stories and the other is a stand along story.  Both were enjoyable reads.

Title:  The Doctor's Wife
Publisher: Dzanc Books,
Price: $12.75 for Paperback, $7.69 eBook
Genre: short stories
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I really enjoy when I happen across a book that surprises me, for whatever reason. The Doctor's Wife by Luis Jaramillo is just such a book. To call it a collection of short stories is misleading in a couple of ways. First of all, I would class the book as more of a collection of vignettes, as none of them are longer than 4 pages. Secondly, the genre "short stories" brings to my mind a collection of tales that give separate brief glimpses. In this case, you have a book of stories, told from varying perspectives, by three generations of the author's family. Each story is an interesting tid-bit all it's own, put them all together and you have a picture of a typical family living in the Pacific Northwest during the 60s and 70s. The book as a whole has a wonderfully homey feel to it, especially when the various storytellers start correcting each others tales. I felt like I was sitting in the living room of the house on Lake Steven, listening to Jaramillo and his relatives tell the family stories. It was a wonderful experience. If the book had any downfalls, it was that it was so short. I ended up wishing I could have spent more time with Luis and his grandmother, mother, and aunt.

Title: Cold, Cold Heart
Publisher: Random House Books
Price: 1.93 from Ebooks.com
Genre: Digital Short Story
Rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Cold Cold Heart is a 24 page short story was a bit different than what I am used to from Karin Slaughter. It is the story of Pam and John, a couple whose marriage has ended. In the ensuing years, their lives go in very different directions. 

There were several things that set this story apart from the other books that I have read by Slaughter. First of all, both the Will Trent and Grant County series would be classed as mystery/thrillers, and as such there is a lot of both action and suspense. Cold Cold Heart, though, is much more subtle, the revenge much more covert. Additionally, this story does not have the wonderfully developed characters that I am used it in her full lenght novels. I mean, how much character development can you really pack into a story that is only 24 pages long. I definitely got a feel for the characters, but would liked to know a bit more about them. 

To sum it up, even though this story was different than what I expected, I enjoyed it. The ending actually made me smile. It was a nice way to keep my nose in Karin's work while waiting for her latest novel to come out.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing the copy of Cold, Cold Heart in exchange for my review.  

29 April 2013

Monday's review: The Orchid Murder Untangling a Web of Unsolved Murders and Legal Malpractice by Christine Hunt

This book was provided by the publisher in return for my review

Recommended for: People familiar with the crime and those that are curious about it
Genre: True Crime
My score: 3 out of 5 stars

Published by Right Line Publishing 
Format: Paperback
Price:  Paperback $17.95
               eBook $9.99

When I was in high school (many years ago) I read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, which started a life long love of true crime stories. The thing is, finding really good true crime books is a bit of a challenge. Christine Hunt's The Orchid Murder: Untangling a Web of Unsolved Murders and Legal Malpracticewas an interesting entry into this genre. It is really almost a tale of two books, with very different feels for each part. 

Ms. Hunt devotes the first half of the book to describing the 1973 murder of Bob Nachtsheim, referred to as The Orchid Murder because he was found in his flower shop, lying in a pool of blood, with a flat of orchids by his side. I was not familiar with this crime or it's outcome, so I found this part of the book fascinating. In addition, Ms. Hunt's description of the outcome of the investigation, the performance of Philip Gainsley, the defendant's lawyer, and it's effect on the life of Norm Wartnick, the defendant was fascinating. Ms. Hunt's background as an investigative journalist really shined through here as her descriptions and explanations were well done. 

Once the focus switched to the malpractice trial brought by Joe Frieberh and Jerry Snider, though, the book fell apart for me. At first I was mesmerized by the legal maneuverings and backroom deals that seemed to be stacked against the plaintiff's and their lawyers. As the time line unfolded, though, the book began to read like a trial transcript. While this is not a bad thing in and of itself, it began to get quite repetitive and I found myself skimming large sections. I would have liked to see a little less of the trial transcripts and a bit more analysis and explanation. 

I will say, though, while reading the book, you were never quite sure which way the final outcome was going to go. In that respect, the author did a great job. In fact, my inability to tell exactly how it would end was the main thing that kept me reading. I also appreciated the follow up that was included in the end, and the numerous explanatory footnotes throughout the book. 

In the end, the book left me with a lot of questions regarding the actual unsolved murder (By the way, the title says Unsolved murders, but in fact only one murder was really addressed). I find myself wanting to research the actual murder more to see if there is any addition analysis out there anywhere. In addition, I thought the Legal Malpractice part could have been better handled. I would class this book as a recommended read, but not a highly recommended read.

28 April 2013

Passing it Along: Her Best Books Celebration of Women and Writing

Some of my favorite female authors are celebrating women authors for the next week (April 28 - May 5) .  They are having a wonderful party with give aways, gifts, and lots of stories and blog posts about women and writing.  Here is the link to their blog:


Head on over and check it out!  It is well worth the time.