Tag: review

REVIEW – The Eclectic Review

REVIEW – The Eclectic Review

Ms. Beals’ novel is both a lesson in the love of the Canadian wilderness and dog obedience training and a slow-building thriller that had this reader holding her breath.

Cass and Noah are private people with a few close friends and family. Their trips to Lac Rouge are always a welcome getaway that gives Cass time to train her obedience dogs for competition as well as enjoy her secluded cabin and the beautiful Canadian wilderness. Little does she know she’s being observed by a young boy with unknown intentions.

Told in Xavier and Cass’s points of view, the story gives off a creepy stalker vibe at first and turns into a lesson in friendship and protecting those you care about. It starts with a slow build of well-developed characters and underlying danger intertwined with new friendships and troubled relationships. I went into this story thinking it was a suspense thriller, but it is much, much more. It is has a twist that you don’t see coming with an antihero that earns the reader’s trust and acceptance.

I enjoy Cass’s closeness with her cousin, Lori, as they enjoy the outdoors together. However, Cass’s life with her husband is a bit strange. She treats him like one of her dogs. In fact, I just don’t see the attraction between them. As for the dogs, the training routines that Cass exercises seem authentic and very informative.

The author does a wonderful job inserting the reader into the physical and emotional developments of this story. Sometimes they are gratifying and playful, sometimes they are tense and unpredictable. I felt like I was right there in the midst of the Canadian wilderness as Ms. Beals drew me down a path of mystery and revenge with a bit of a letdown when it seemed to end abruptly.

I recommend this suspense-filled thriller for dog lovers and naturalists alike who enjoy compelling characters with a twist.

Thank you to Ms. Beals for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.

Read the full review on Sharon’s blog, here.

REVIEW – Long and Short Reviews

REVIEW – Long and Short Reviews

What an interesting book! What a talented author. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this…the blurb sounded intriguing, but it felt as if there would be some “gray area” here in terms of right and wrong. I was right, but I wasn’t as conflicted as I might have been…

The book starts slowly, but I was never bored. The author weaved her words carefully and well, with strong descriptions and solid “showing” and not telling. I learned about each character–even the dogs!–in significant detail cleverly shared. I went into this thinking it would be an edge-of-your-seat thriller and it was, but it wasn’t. Honestly, I loved this book and didn’t think writing a review for it would be difficult, but it kind of is because this book wasn’t like the usual “thriller” I’ve read. That was a good thing, and interesting and definitely set this book apart from many others.

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Ellie’s Book Reviews – Never Far Away by Michael Koryta

Ellie’s Book Reviews – Never Far Away by Michael Koryta

Big Time Fun! (5/5 stars)

Never Far Away, by Michael Koryta, was big-time fun. Here’s an indication of how much fun it was. I have started every morning since Nov 9, 2016, with a cup of coffee and the New York Times. Every day. No matter where I was. This morning, I sat up in bed, reached for the Kindle on my bedside table, and immediately dived back into the mayhem Koryta created in the woods of Maine. Didn’t even get a coffee first!

So what makes Never Far Away so compelling? First, it is beautifully written – great characters and descriptive passages that never distract the reader with intrusive showiness. If you are discerning – you’ll note the fine writing, but the flow of the book is so good you may not even notice some of the lovely narrative on first read. Kudos to Koryta on plot development also. His plot makes sense – complex and believable and – thank you thank you! – not so byzantine that I’d need to map it to keep track of people and events, betrayal and counter-betrayal. Indeed – the plot unfolds well and the flow of the book is superb, with momentum that grows steadily and doesn’t abate until it should – when the book ends.

Koryta has created believable, strong characters. Kudos to him for Nina, a well-drawn and believable strong female character. His kids are also well-developed, as is the dog Tessa. As anyone who reads my book (Emergence) will know – I have a pretty sharp eye for the veracity with which dogs are presented. Finally – his villainous anti-heroes Bleak and Dax are so compelling that one can’t help but suspect that they will re-appear some time in the future.

Kudos to Michael Koryta, for giving me the kind of high-adrenalin ride I haven’t had since I binge-read the first fifteen Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child (who has endorsed the book).

Ellie’s Book Review – Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman

Ellie’s Book Review – Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman

Skillfully Wrought But Not Compelling (3.5/5 stars)

I wanted to love this book. Kellerman, and his protagonists Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis are like old friends from whom I’d been separated for many years. I don’t know why it’s been so long since I read one of Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels….it just happened. But I assumed that just as you quickly fall back into the patterns of long and comfortable association with old friends in your “real” life – I hoped and trusted that would be the case when I read Serpentine.

And my hopes were at first, realized. Alex and Milo are as well-drawn as ever (perhaps better than ever, for Milo) and Kellerman still delivers the powerfully vivid descriptions I’ve always loved. His accounts of his characters’ appearance, including their clothing, remain brilliant. I do not understand why knowing not only the style and color of garments worn, but also the details of jewelry, are so important to me. But they are, and I repeated old patterns by often reveling in Kellerman’s descriptive acumen, reading those passages a number of times before moving on. I’ve always enjoyed the same descriptive detail about food. The food descriptions ARE good – but in Serpentine, for me, there are just too many of them. Do these people never stop eating?!!! How can they even move, proceeding as they do from one huge meal to another? At some point, surely, they say “Enough – let’s just have some scrambled eggs and toast for dinner”?

OK – that was a pretty snitty comment. But it is indicative. Of what? I think of my growing feeling as the book progressed, that there just wasn’t enough action. The Kellerman series has always been cerebral – more brain than gut, no visceral nausea-induction, regardless of the violence of the crimes described. I like Kellerman’s moderation – I’m grateful that he isn’t a practitioner of either the gore-splattered pages of Clayton Lindemuth, or of too-cozy-for-me mysteries, with their stylized and antiseptic crimes from a distance. But in this case, I found it all too cerebral – the suspense which I want built through inaction that eventually escalates into a more visceral threat – just didn’t build all that well. I was curious, but far from enthralled. That means my bottom line (3.5/5 stars) is that I give Serpentine a good nod for the fine, writerly technique Kellerman continues to display, but a less stellar assessment than I’d hoped to provide, because it simply wasn’t all that compelling.