Month: October 2018

Review of ‘A Town Like Ours’

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Jack Wilcon is a wannabe movie producer; not that he’s interested in making great films, he just wants to get that one mega-hit out there to make himself a ton of money. His problem is that he really knows nothing about movie making. He talks a good game, but depends more on his listeners being even more ignorant than he is. When a shlocky film he’s trying to produce flops, Maybelle, his part-time receptionist, one-time lover, and long-time friend, suggests he apply for a job advertised in Variety for a producer to make a community film in the tiny town of Coddington St. George in Australia. Reluctantly, he does, and through his usual chicanery, gets the job. And, boy, does he get the job – or rather, one might say, he gets jobbed. Jack ends up in the middle of small-town politics and internecine squabbling, and as usual, he’s without a clue.

 

A Town Like Ours by Alexander Cade is a droll look at big-city con men, small town hypocrites, and the fireworks that occur when they intersect. Cade has created an amazing, and amazingly flawed, cast of characters; impossible to love, but hard to turn away from. It’s kind of like the reaction of motorists driving past the scene of an accident—they can’t resist slowing down to see if there’s any gore evident. The author has played expertly on that human tendency. Without feeling a shred of sympathy for Jack, for instance, you can’t help but wonder what will happen to him next.

 

It you’ve ever lived in, or even visited for longer than a day, a small town, you will recognize Coddington St. George, no matter where in the world you’re from. It is like any small town desperately clinging to existence by a frayed gossamer thread, trying to preserve a past that was never all that great, cope with a present that is oppressive, and fearing a future that’s unknown.

 

This is a book that, once you start reading, is hard to put down. The pace varies, which is a good thing, because you’ll need the occasional break to recover from laughing at Jack’s misfortunes. Of course, with this book, bathroom breaks are not optional—yeah, in places it’ll make you laugh that hard.

A final note; in many stories like this, the endings are usually kind of left up in the air. Cade, though, has done a masterful job of lacing up loose ends. Don’t miss this one.

Review of ‘Mindful Framing’

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Anxiety and stress plague millions, but these bug-bears need not be all negative. In Mindful Framing, Oscar Segurado shows how to use modern meditation and visualization techniques to transform anxiety and stress into effective energy. Accessible to anyone, and requiring as little as 15 minutes per day, these techniques can help anyone deal with the strains of modern life, and emerge a healthier, more mindful person.

While the book is in large part a promotion of the NEO-Chi technique of meditation, this in no wat detracts from its value. It has something for almost everyone, and for the harried person having difficulty coping, is a recommended read.

I received a free copy of this book. I give it three and a half stars.

Review of ‘Driven to Death’

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After her husband is killed in an auto accident, Bex Wynter leaves her job as a homicide detective at NYPD and heads to London where she’s been hired to head a new division within the London Metropolitan Police. Even before she can unpack her bags, the day she arrives in fact, she’s assigned the task of determining whether or not an auto fatality involving a young girl and the errant son of an English VIP was an accident or murder. Her life is complicated by the high-profile nature of the case, the mess that is her own life, and a co-worker who resents an American being brought in over him to head a unit which he feels should be his to lead.

Driven to Death by Elleby Harper is a fascinating short novel, novella, that moves with the precision of a Swiss watch and the inexorable force of a hurricane, following the actions of a diverse and interesting cast of characters as they tackle a situation in which the main perpetrator is dead, and thus beyond the law, but in the interests of justice, the case must be resolved. The author sets up the twist ending very well, but it still came as a shocker.

A received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. A very well done book.  I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Zo (Saint Zoya’s Dance)’

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Andrew Chornavka became a Trappist monk in a secluded monastery in America to put his tortured past behind him, but his past catches up. His late-sister, Zoya, is being considered for sainthood, and the archbishop insists that Andrew tell her story.

In Zo (Saint Zoya’s Dance) by Murray Pura, the narrator recounts his family’s past, the story of a family that tries hard to stay together. His story, a compelling narrative of war and loss, is hardly the story of God and a girl who walked with angels that the archbishop desires.

Weaving the present with the past, the author takes you on a journey of memory and the quest to remake the past that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give the author four stars for a well-told tale.

Review of ‘Emergence’

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An ordinary 15-year old, Ricky’s life is turned upside down when his parents disappear, leaving him to pick up his life without them. Emergence by Emilia Evans is a strange story, part coming of age, part metaphysical journey. Interesting for the most part, but the author overuses speech tags that in some cases border on the fantastical and unlikely.

A story that has potential that could be vastly improved with more judicious editing. In addition, the cliché ending could be improved upon. I won’t spoil it for future readers by detailing what it is about it that falls short.

This is an author with a fertile mind who just needs a bit more time at the keyboard to make a mark on the fiction world. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased and honest review. To be brutally honest, I can only give it three stars.

Review of ‘Prophecy of Ashes’

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Doing tarot readings to earn extra money, Diane suspects that she has psychic abilities. When her special-needs brother, Josh, tells her that she does not need the tarot cards, she’s loathe to believe him, until she’s visited by the ghost of a young woman who informs her that she comes from a long line of witches. When she’s kidnapped by Jacob, a wraith who has engaged in a cycle of murder and theft of life from a virgin every fifty years for hundreds of years, she must quickly master her new abilities, or die. Her quest is added by the father-son team of Connor and Liam, bounty hunters from an ancient order whose mission is to find and destroy wraiths, her Nana, and a young nursing student who also has psychic powers.

Prophecy of Ashes by John R. Monteith is a gripping paranormal tale of treachery, death, and magic that will captivate you on every page, and hold your interest until the bloody climax.

I received an advance reader copy of this book. A compelling read that I give four stars.