Monday, June 24, 2013

One Lost Summer by Richard Godwin

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: One Last Summer by Richard Godwin.

Memory can often be elusive and when stress or shock is engaged, the past can become mired in an impermeable darkness.
In One Lost Summer by Richard Godwin, we are introduced to Rex Allen, a man who is obsessed with filming and photography. Lost in contemplation he has only vague memories of how he came to live in a new house, with only few possessions. A living shadow he is only brought to stark relief after meeting his beautiful neighbor, Evangeline Glass. Suddenly everything clicks for him again; the sound of the shutter becomes a loud tick, pulling him to an obsession of spying on her, and photographing her every move.  
When he blackmails her into becoming his own personal model, a strange evolution begins to evolve. Evangeline begins to become someone else.  A name he knows but not a face. He is searching for a past that forever haunts him. Can they both survive this strange and dangerous game of pretense?
I found myself both repelled and interested in Rex, as a person, a neighbor and yet a creep and inveterate bully.  But there is also something that lies below the surface of his personality that does not quiet repel you as would be expected in such a case. Godwin has found a way to make you appreciate this character even though he seems quite creepy.  He has spun an intricate tale of romance, horror and revenge in such a way that you are alternately confused, sickened and then understanding.
He has spun a tale around tragedy and life, one that creates waves of concern and anger as his character delves further into his own mind to find the hidden truths.
I was not sure how I felt about this novel as I found myself wrapped in the pages, it is like and yet unlike his other work, which is what I had been expecting. There is sadness and anger, romance and loss, and yet it is all spun in a package that you don’t see coming.
This would be a great book for the suspense and horror aficionado, as well as those who enjoy surprise and romance. Full of diverse and strange often brooding moments, this book will keep you guessing till the very end.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author's publisher. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Diabolist by Layton Green

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: The Diabolist by Layton Green

Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek are back in a no holds barred dark and suspenseful novel taking us back into the underworld of religion and its various offshoots. Private investigators, specializing in cults, they have drawn a dangerous murder that will test the very heart of their own conviction.
In The Diabolist by Layton Green, Grey and Radek are investigating the bizarre and almost supernatural death of a well-known Satanic Priest. Each witness is spellbound by what they observed, or thought they had. As the investigative team move forward they realize they will have to split up as another murder occurs in Paris under the same circumstances.
Grey is uncomfortable with separation but Radek is insistent. There is something going on that strikes fear into the heart of all those involved. As the strange and eerie evidence begins to pile up, Radek finds himself in a mental backlog of his past. While Grey pursues the chilling leads in Paris and on to London, Radek tracks his memories of the past and finds the very devil at his own door. 
Has mass hysteria swept the cults of the underworld, or is the figure that seems to appear and disappear at will, challenging and killing his adversaries with fire, really a new and powerful master.  Can Grey uncover the answers before his friend meets the very fate of the rest?
The Diabolist is a novel of darkness and suspense, with a charismatic pair of investigators. Having followed this team in The Summoner, the case that brought them together, I am even more interested to learn the depths and interactions have only improved. The descriptions are so vivid, I picture them in my mind, rooting them to find and unearth the things that often paralyze us with fear.  Reading the tale you feel an odd relief that they are on the job.  The fear felt by the characters permeates you reading as you move forward.  As I stop to turn up the lights, I remind myself that this is a story.  One that will move you to the edge of your seat as you shake off your fear.
If you enjoy dark suspense, and really want to find an interesting read for the summer months, The Diabolist is a great find. The characters are bold and yet carry flaws that make them so likable, you will enjoy their exploits as they delve into the differing cults in an effort to educate others to the tricks and practices. Yet there is just enough realism as well that if you are an X-Files fan, this will be another venue for the often strange happenings that cannot be explained. 
A great work for a reading group, the protagonists will draw you in, and keep you looking for more.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based on my reading and understanding of the material.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

If You Were Here by Alafair Burke

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: If you were here by Alafair Burke

As life moves on and we grow older, we also believe that our past is just that, something that happened once long ago. What happens when our past collides with our present?

In If You Were Here by Alafair Burke, we enter the world of mystery and intrigue, but not through the normal channels. When a magazine Journalist, McKenna Wright looks into a midtown subway rescue, she is transported into a past that has haunted her for years.  The shadowy picture from a cell phone that captured the rescue jolts her in a way she never saw coming.  The poorly lighted and strange angle of the photo make all certainty unavailable, but she believes the rescuer looks very like a classmate of her husband that she had developed a friendship with years before. This is––before she disappeared without a trace.

McKenna is now hot on the trail of her belief, but finding that the situation seems to be spinning out of control. When circumstances begin building up and information as well as witnesses begin to disappear, she finds herself in a dangerous game, way over her head.  No one believes her, including her husband.  Suddenly she finds herself at odds, and begins to suspect those closest to her of a cover-up.  How can she even begin to trust again, even her husband is not above reproach. Is there anyone she can turn to before anyone else dies?  When the tables are turned and she becomes the one being hunted, can the past secrets begin to reveal themselves?

Burke has penned a tale of revenge and danger. Trust becomes the game changer as the past comes back in unexpected terror. The characters are exceptional and you find yourself cheering them on, or hoping for their failure. The race against time to find the answers brings those close to her in the firing line. Her future and her reputation are at stake, yet it is the lives of those she holds most dear that has her in the most pain. The action takes you there, and you are so immersed you feel the suspense and exhaustion.

This is an excellent tale of romance and suspense, a work that will grace the libraries of the mystery book aficionados. If you enjoy the chase, and enjoy unexpected surprise you will enjoy this work. Alafair Burke breaks into the scene with a novel of suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat. 
Rating 5/5
This book was received free from the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead

Posted First as Book Review: The Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead on Blogcritics.

Small towns attract a variety of people for a varied number of reasons. The slow pace and quiet nature of Suburbia is not always the enchanted life of fairytales. Often beneath the demure and polite exterior of hometown events, feelings and petty jealousies rage unabated.

A sense of belonging is often why groups are drawn together. In The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead, we follow an eccentric group of women drawn together by their frequent dog walking activities. Having been friends now for some time, Cindy, Carla and Heidi are true connoisseurs of the culture of the town of Gordonston.  Part of their belonging to the group, of which they are charter members, wine is a prerequisite.  Following the activities as it spirals around them, they revel in the companionship and gossip as any true small town aficionado would.  As they discuss the illness of a dear friend, they alternate between sympathy and moving forward. Each has an agenda that is secret to the other, a vital reason for being.

Several young couples find their lives impacted by their own activities, ones they do not realize have an impact that sends ripples through the ether of time. As the friend of the women in the dog walking club dies and her own husband tries to come to terms with her passing, callousness and greed come close to the surface. Will Gordonston remain the charming place it has always been, or will the murky darkness of past exploits and memories tear the veil of innocence.

Whitehead has brought us a strangely suspenseful tale that takes you on a journey of history. Delving into the memories of his eclectic cast of characters we are taken to a deep and surprising journey. Red herrings and twisted theories keep you guessing, as you try to remove the masks surrounding the events and people.  As you begin to find yourself drawn to the characters, be prepared to find that not all is what it seems on the surface.

If you enjoy romance and suspense you will find this a delightful read. A love of dogs surrounds the character of the story, and a deepening dread will find its way into your mind as you slowly unwind the personalities of the people.  If you enjoy reading about real life and petty jealousies as well as enjoying a good solid mystery, this is the work for you.

A great read for a reading group, the events will contain discussion material for some time to come.  This is a fun find for your library.

Rating 4/5

This book was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Seduction by M.J.Rose

Posted First on blog Critics as Book Review: Seduction by M.J.Rose.

15802432Anatomy of seduction from Wikipedia: seduction is the process of deliberately enticing a person, to lead astray, as from duty, rectitude, or the like; to corrupt, to persuade or induce to engage in sexual behavior. When the past and the present combine to create the power of seduction, often lives collide.

In Seduction by M.J.Rose, we learn a great deal about the novelist Victor Hugo, an author from the early 1800’s who lost his daughter to drowning. Unable to cope with the despair, his is seduced by the spirits from beyond the grave, constantly seeking his approval by offering to exchange the life of his dead daughter for another. Yet there is much that is private and unknown about Hugo and his writings, as well as his interaction with his wife and others.

Enter mythologist Jac L’Etoile, recovering from her own loss and grief. In her effort to uncover more about the reclusive early author, she also hopes to uncover the secret of his islands Celtic roots.

Invited to Jersey by Theo Gespard, a friend and mentor from her own past, little does she realize that Theo has his own agenda for the research and history she is following? As she delves into the mystery of Hugo’s transcripts dealing with his conversations she senses a mystery. As he writes his dialogue with someone known to him only as the Shadow of the Sepulcher, little does she understand the danger she is uncovering that puts her very life at stake? Is the key to these conversations worth her sanity and that of her friends? Can she find the answers that beckon her, and put the shadows to rest before it is too late?

Rose has moved the needle with a suspenseful and eerie mystery. Beginning with an early ghost story, the words take you into the darkness and madness of grief. With a gripping turn of the pen you are transported into the mind of a man whose misery comes close to ruining his life. This darkness and despair echoes through the story and the island home of Victor Hugo, turning the lives of those searching for answers upside down.

If you enjoy romance and danger and a bit of the paranormal with a mysterious story, then you will enjoy Seduction. This would be a great book for a reading group; there is a great deal of information and action that will make for great discussion. Full of tragedy and hope, the ending takes you unaware and leaves you wanting more. This is a must read for the M.J. Rose fan, and will garner her a whole new audience.

Rating 5/5

This book was received free from the publiscist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Barbed Crown: An Ethan Gage Adventure by William Dietrich

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: The Barbed Crown: An Ethan Gage Adventure by William Dietrich.

Admittedly, the time of Napoleonic France was a dangerous and troubled time, yet often filled with adventure and danger as well as glory for many.
In The Barbed Crown by William Dietrich, we follow his erstwhile protagonist and adventurer Ethan Gage as he tries to find peace after the death of his beloved wife, and escape the clutches of the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. Hi anger and despair drive him to try and become the catalyst in the destruction of the new regime. Having fought beside the man himself, in Egypt, and being a part of his agency in Italy, America and Greece, Gage now finds his is ready to turn on him, blaming him for the death of his wife as well as the kidnapping of his son.
Backed by the British, Gage is smuggled into France with Astiza where they plan to make of mockery of Napoleon during his coronation by substituted his crown with that of the Crown of Thorns, the religious relic rumored to be worn by Christ during his crucifixion.  When the plan does not play out as planned, Astiza is captured and Gage is left to flee to England where is again a part of the plot to stop Napoleon before it is too late.
The history and pageantry is interesting, and beautiful as well as fiery and dangerous. The characters are interesting, and the mix of fiction and fact is smooth, making you wonder of much of the interplay actually may have happened. Gage is an intriguing protagonist, one that could do a lot of damage to Napoleon’s crusade.
If you are a history buff you will enjoy and appreciate the intricacies of the dialogue and scenes, mixed with fact which seems to accompany the action. While I really enjoyed the character of Gage, I felt as though the action was sometimes a bit slow, bogging down my enjoyment of the story.  The sabotage and danger keep you going, and the glory casts a hook that keeps reeling you in.  
The mystery and suspense is a great web, creating a line of deceit, and surprises that keep the entertainment of the times just a bit of kilter.
Dietrich has given us another look into European history with the exploits of his character Gage with his thirst for knowledge and his determination to make things right.
Rating 3/5
This book was received through the publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.