Friday, 20 July 2018

Hearing Evil by Jason Parent

Reading the second book of series without reading the first is never a good idea. Whilst this book (the second in a series called Cycle of Evil), technically, does stand alone, I found it difficult to form a picture of the two main characters, Detective Sam Reilly and her ward, Michael. Their history and how he became her ward is an important part of their relationship and although, references are made, I think I would have benefitted from the full story. 

That said, there was plenty of distraction from that little detail in the form of some dramatic action scenes and some very good portrayals of some evil nasty criminals.

Michael has a gift…or is it a curse?...he can see people’s fates just by touching them. He also has fragments of memories he needs to piece together to help him understand the tragedy that occurred when he was a young boy. Sam has taken Michael into her care, but she’s a dedicated police officer and her maternal instincts are struggling to surface, especially when some brutal criminals are intent on pretty heavy-duty devastation. Michael, his past, Sam and both their futures suddenly become dangerously connected.

It’s certainly action-packed with nail-biting stuff aplenty. But I couldn’t get close to either Michael or Sam; I found it hard to feel any emotion of any kind for either. The ending does leave a door open for a third book, but I don’t feel this is a series that can run and run.

For all that, it's a decent read which I quite enjoyed. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This certainly lived up to its description of ‘spellbinding and darkly twisted'. Hall’s psychological thriller is a chilling one with this story of psychopathic obsession.

Despite Mike Hayes’ disadvantaged childhood, ending up in foster care, he goes to university and subsequently gets himself a very good job. And the icing on the cake is a girlfriend he adores, one he met at university. And she is The One, without doubt. They know each other, breathe each other, feel each other, are totally dedicated to each other. She can do no wrong. Why, then, is she going to marry another man after those beautiful years together? She’s testing him, isn’t she? Of course she is. Fine, he’ll play the game.

This is certainly a very compelling novel, but it throws up more questions than answers. I had an opinion about how I wanted it to end, how I thought it should end, and right to the very last few pages, I was convinced it would. However, I was disappointed. I was slightly confused and felt there were loose threads. Whether or not this was to pave the way for a sequel, remains to be seen. That said, Mike is the sort of character you love or hate, and your feelings for him determine which way you want this to end.

And that, makes for a very interesting read.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Hardly Even Rich: A Short Story by Dennis Canfield

Short stories have to have the same structure as novels: a beginning, a middle and an end. But in fewer words, a solid story still has to be told. In my opinion, anyway!

We have a small, but perfectly formed model right here.

Brian is prone to bending a few rules when he’s selling life insurance. Who’s going to find out a little omission here or a little omission there? He has a wife and a child to support. So when his rule-bending threatens to expose him, he finds himself dealing with a calculating widow. Enter Brian’s wife…

Canfield has an easy style which leaves you free to immerse yourself unencumbered into a story. And two things became evident: amongst other things, Canfield can write a good short story. Secondly, he has a future in crime writing.

This is a thirty-minute story with a tardis interior. A perfect way to pass that boring morning commute to work.

Ethan and the Key by Dennis Canfield

Having enjoyed everything I've read by this author, it comes as no surprise that he’s written another wonderful fantasy novel. It’s impossible to slot it into an age group because it would entertain anybody between nine and ninety. 

Fantasy isn’t my first love when it comes to genres, but I’m more than comfortable when there’s a foot on either side of the line, between normal and the not so normal. In this novel, Ethan is a twelve-year-old boy, his parents’ only child. He goes to school, plays baseball, prefers not to bump into a particular peer, has some good mates he likes to hang out with. And that’s it. Nothing strange there. Until a green puddle appears in his house and when he steps into it, he’s transported to the kingdom of Abentur. The king of Abentur has the means to ‘send’ him back to his real life whenever he wishes, but when Abentur’s future is threatened by invaders, led by Draykik, Ethan discovers he and Smoke, the dragon, are key to saving the kingdom.

It’s all just great fun, gallops along at a breathtaking pace, and I found it hard to put down. Canfield writes with fluidity and ease. It’s quite simply a wonderful, effortless read.

Read it yourself, read it to or with your children or grandchildren. Any which way is guaranteed to entertain you all!


See Also:

Reverse Santa Clause
Silent Night - A Christmas Story
South Pole Santa - Back to Christmas
The Robin and the Sparrow

Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

Despite the fact that I guessed very early on whodunnit (it wasn’t hard to guess), I found this book compelling, notwithstanding the irritation of the author’s (and, I guess, her editor’s) ignorance of how to say, ‘I better *do something*' (The phrase has a verb, dear both; it’s: 'I had better *do something*'). At the back of my mind, I kept thinking, yep, this is going to get a good review from me. But then it all went to pot at the end. One fairly major thread was left hanging, along with one minor one. One of my pet hates. Our heroine, Harper McClain, has a lot more story in her, without doubt…and I do like characters with mileage: I can quite happily read half a dozen plus in a series. But: the stories must stand alone. I consider the ‘to be continued’ ending a tad arrogant of an author, who obviously assumes you will have enjoyed his/her book so much, you will undoubtedly pick up the sequel. That very attitude will probably make me jump off the wagon trail.

Harper is a difficult character to like. Finding the body of her viciously murdered mother when she was only twelve has, naturally, had a profound effect on her. She’s very guarded, insular almost and stubborn. But she has grit, determination, stamina and does her job as a crime reporter very well…even if she does blur the lines a little. However, when, fifteen years later, a twelve-year-old is walked out of the house after finding her brutally murdered mother, Harper is on a mission. This has to be the same killer. Her conviction of this threatens her entire future. And her discovery is almost sure to make her question everything she’s trusted.

Despite the aforementioned editorial faux pas, this really was very well written and riveting. Even realising at an early stage who the perpetrator was, I was totally committed and gripped to find out how it all panned out.

Will I read the next book? Probably…I think I’ll have forgotten my annoyance of the untidy ending by the time I get round to it.