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Smashwords book reviews by TC

  • On Dark Shores 1: The Lady on May 26, 2011
    (no rating)
    When I was offered this book for review I was a little hesitant as I don't think of myself as a fantasy fan. However when I thought about it I do read a bit of fantasy and sci fi, so agreed to review it with the author being aware it wasn't one of my usual genres. Once again opening my mind to something different has paid dividends though. The harbour town of Scarlock is a virtual prison for its inhabitants, who are controlled by the moneylender Copeland.Those who get on the wrong side of him have to deal with his enforcer come bodyguard Blakey. Nereia is related to Copeland but this means nothing, she has had to become a master thief to support herself and protect her sister. However change is afoot and while Copeland starts losing control others are asserting themselves. Elsewhere the Mother of the Shantari, "guard and guide to her people", has to find The Lady and stop anything happening to her. The majority of the action occurs in Scarlock, which has a faintly Dickensian feel about it, with its taverns and brothel, and the moneylender whose sharp practices trap the people in a cycle of poverty. I was captivated by Nereia's story and the way she remained determined to protect her younger sister despite the consequences to herself. I wanted to keep reading to see where the tale was going to go. I also found myself questioning whether Blakey was a bad person, inflicting violence under the guise of just doing his job, or himself a victim. The role of the Mother of Shantari remains a bit of a mystery, no doubt to be addressed in future books in the series. She and the dark shore of the title provide the real fantasy element, and I was pleased to find I really enjoyed that aspect of the book and wanted a little more of it, rather than being put off by it. This is a dark and, in places, violent story that sets up what looks to be a grand epic. While this book does set up a lot of threads to be picked up in the next one, and introduce a lot of characters I expect we will learn more about in future, I did feel that end was a little too abrupt and I felt a bit disappointed that I'd reached the end at that particular point. I need the next book in the series to be available pronto so I can pick up the threads again! This is a book that has been released after a decent edit and proof-reading, which always pleases me and I don't recall noting any typo's. That and the attractive cover make for a polished end product. This is a great debut novel for J A Clement. The second book is one I'll be keeping an eye out for & I'm definitely going to have to reconsider what genres I say I enjoy in future.
  • All Night by the Rose on May 29, 2011

    This book looked like a good way to continue my recent forays into the world of short stories. I don't often use the product description in my reviews but as the author has done so it will help illustrate the range of stories within this book. "A brief synopses of each story: City on a Hill This city is like your own in a time period reminiscent of the 20th century. It is filled with gleeful hedonists out in an urban landscape celebrating ‘Merry Day’. Its narrative is experimental and filled with sharp observations as the characters go about their constant partying lives. I was trying to channel Allen Ginsberg and Dr. Seuss at the same time. Heartbreaker The protagonist of this story is a misanthrope out to teach a lesson to a prior lover of his ex-girlfriend. This is an experiment in language. I wrote it after reading ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and wanted to try my hand at non-colloquial vernacular. Since I’m not a linguistic scholar, I chose a language that has been bouncing around in my head. I’d like to imagine that I’m an expert in the linguistic choice within my own mind. Down with Me This story takes place at a mental institution and is a slice-of-life narrative. The protagonist and his friend have disorders in which things that cannot be there are for them. It’s an experiment in meta-fiction. Pave the Planet This story takes place in the outdoor break area at Honda Manufacturing in Alliston, Ontario. The main characters spend their brief lunch period gossiping while the protagonist compares two time-periods in his life. It’s an experiment of flashbacks and description. Red Backed Betty The protagonist of this story is out clubbing. When he meets a beautiful girl, he spends the rest of his night wooing her. How he’s wooing her is reminiscent of the Red Backed Spider with metaphorically similar results. This is an experiment in theme. Life and Times of 34 Empire Path The protagonist of this story is a building located at the titled address. The eras span six decades and within the context of these decades a narrative is weaved throughout. It’s an experiment with time. He’s Really my Brother In this tale, the protagonist deals with the poor showing he made of being a good brother to a child adopted by his family. It’s a straight-forward story, although it plays with flashbacks and timing. Kissing Eleanor This is a modern-day romance between childhood sweethearts. It’s a pretty straight-forward love story, but as with most of what I write, it doesn’t really end up where Hollywood expects it to. The Great Fall of a Mediocre Man A Love story: kind of the opposite of Kissing Eleanor in that it doesn’t begin as you’d expect it, but it has a feel-good ending. Saskatchewan Boulevard The protagonist reminisces about his childhood friend when he drives by his old house and then imagines what his friend is up to in Afghanistan. Of course, his imagination runs rampant and the reader ends up with a tale of eastern fantasy. Nabakan and Benikhir This was written as a counterpoint to the standard western fantasy. It’s set in a fantasy world that is reminiscent of the Middle-East. Nabakan and Benikhir must save the people from the tyrant Po. Janey Chu This is a children’s story and a study of theology from that perspective. It’s representative of society and it’s fantastic. Star Trek: White Trash This is satire aimed directly at space opera. Captain Hicks and his crew of misfits deal with a new Vulcan communications officer and at the same time, trouble in the Neutral Zone." I found the stories so varied there should be something for everyone within this book. While those with a sci-fi and fantasy bent weren't quite my taste I loved Kissing Eleanor and Life and Times of 34 Empire Path, which I thought was particularly clever. Many of the stories are vignettes and I liked the scope this leaves the reader to work out or assume more about the characters and the situations. Some of them have a gritty urban feel while others are more about the emotions and the backdrop feels less important. The author has used a wide range of styles and narrative voices and I thought there was some very effective use of different literary techniques. There was also some beautiful prose employed. In places it maybe got a little overly wordy though. As an e-book it is largely well formatted, although a few little typos had crept in. All in all this book made for an engrossing read that should have time taken over it in order to be fully appreciated, it doesn't deserve to be a quick easy read. With such a wide range of styles included I imagine a lot of people wouldn't love all of them but that's not really a negative when the writing is so interesting. In his descriptions of the stories the author mentions them being experiments in different ways, and I'd say they are largely successful experiments.
  • Transfection on June 05, 2011
    (no rating)
    Dr Carl Peters is a biologist who has sacrificed a lot to his research and has been struggling with funding. When there is a suggestion that GM food is linked to cancer suddenly the money comes rolling in and he is on the up. However when he discovers the reason for it he's labelled crazy and is soon on a downward slope again. This story touches on some interesting topics, and I would have happily read more should the author have chosen to expand on the themes. The book is about 23 print pages and I raced through it. However for the length I was impressed that I felt sympathy for the Dr and everything he goes through in the course of the book, the character was obviously developed economically but well. I went through a range of emotions as I read, as the book ran the gamut from amusing to sinister. While the story is only short the author has obviously spent a lot of time in creating a polished product. This was a really good quick , well written and I'm pleased to have more by the author on my kindle, to be read and reviewed at a later date.
  • Peter And The Vampires (Volume One) on June 15, 2011

    This book is the first in the Peter and the Monsters series, and comprises four short stories or novellas: Peter and the Dead Men, Peter and the Vampires, Peter and the Changeling and Peter and the Swamp Monster. Peter is ten and has just moved from California with his mum and 2 year old sister. He has been uprooted, torn away from his friends and made to move in with the grandfather he has never met. The house is huge and spooky sounding, with plenty of places off limits to Peter, including the basement which is not to be entered on pain of death! He quickly meets his new neighbour Dill, who thinks he's streetwise and savvy, and considered a bad influence by Peter's grandfather who doesn't want around him. The town they move to has some seriously weird things going on, as you can tell from the titles of each story within the book, and Peter's grandfather knows far more about what is going on than he lets on. As well as dealing with starting a new school and making new friends Peter ends up with plenty of other things on his mind, and dealing with all these incidents soon cements his friendship with Dill. As well as the monster stories there are undercurrents based around the boys' family lives. From the start this is some mystery about what has happened between Peter's parents, and Dill's dysfunctional clan made me sympathise and feel more understanding towards him. There is also clearly more going on with Grandfather than is revealed in this book, and the hint of a curse is also present. There are two more books in the series, again divided into shorter stories, and I'll be interested to see where those threads go. What I really want to know is what is going on in the basement! With the two main protagonists being just ten, and with the tone being scary and a bit disgusting without being too graphic I can see tweens enjoying these stories, but at 30 odd I found myself laughing in places, and picking up my reading pace as the stories reached a climax. The way the kids spoke, the things they worried about and the terms they used reminded me of being a kid again, and it was great! This was a really fun read, and although it took me a minute to wrap my head around how the books within the book worked once I got it I thought it worked nicely. I also thought it was well formatted and proofed so was a well-presented end product. No doubt I'll be revewing Peter and the Werewolves and Peter and the Frankenstein in the future.
  • Truth of the Python on June 17, 2011

    This book is described as a literary thriller, and with the book having a historical element it caught my attention. Set in Vancouver in the early 1990s hypnotherapist Philip Dozier is treating university student Greg Brodie for an embarrassing personal problem. During the course of their sessions Greg regresses 25 centuries and it seems in a previous life he was Greek philosopher Pythagoras. He also acts a channel for a being that knows Philip's secrets. Both men become obsessed with the past, Greg convinced he is on earth to continue Pythagoras' work and Philip concerned about his historical connection with Greg and repaying karmic debts. This is a well written book that covers some very interesting territory. I particularly liked a lot of the parts set around 500BC, reading about the different civilisations, their religious beliefs and the life of Pythagoras. I also found the present narratives enjoyable, and felt a degree of concern for Greg. However I found it hard to warm to therapist Philip, especially as his behaviour became less moral, and although she wasn't a major character I felt more empathy for his wife. While I was keen to read on to find out how the men were linked, and to discover more about the entity Greg channels there were parts that were overly philosophical for me. It's not a topic I know a great deal about, I found myself a bit out of my depth and those parts dragged a little for me. I was happier once I got back to the more straightforward accounts of the past and present. Overall though the style, while it had a literary bent, didn't make for a hard read. This was a thought-provoking story with an element of suspense, and although it didn't hook me in quite the same way as other thrillers, it was a good read that has been well edited with no noticeable typos.
  • Seranfyll on June 21, 2011

    I don't generally read a lot of books that are suitable for 10 years + , but when I saw the synopsis of this book with its suggestion that fans of Harry Potter would enjoy it (I love HP) I thought I should definitely give it a try. 13 year old Rain lives in the kingdom of Yoan and is a slave in the service of a good master, but one who has racked up serious debts. Her life looks like it's taking a turn for the worse when she is sold to a slave trader and separated from sister Snow. Locked up at a slave market she sits like a piece of meat for sale, but is then bought along with several other young slaves by a drunk and eccentric young lord with a reputation. The others fear him, having heard he rides a winged horse and is the devil, and flee from the manor after he grants them their freedom. However feeling sorry for him Rain stays. Only one other slave, Coal joins her, more to protect her from Lord Domrey Seranfyll than for any other reason. Life at the charmed manor is a revelation for the new inhabitants, but all the good is outweighed for Rain by the continued separation from her sister. I thought it was a wonderful world the author had created, and up to about the age of thirteen Celestria would have been my idea of heaven. While the language used and events in the book are suitable for the younger end of the audience it didn't feel like it was dumbed down or patronising. As well as the obvious comparison to Harry Potter it also brought to mind Disney's Fantasia with it's enchanted brooms and buckets. It held definite appeal for me, but probably wouldn't be so much of a fit for those who like their fantasy a bit darker. The three main characters are very different but all well written, and I hope it's not too wrong that I have a bit of a crush on Domrey! The menacing Lord Morgrav provides a dose of chilling nastiness and a good foil for Lord Seranfyll. I particularly liked the way the author has made Domrey a supporter of the abolition of slavery, and worked that into the plot, and her note at the end got me thinking more about the issue in the wider context. I found the book well paced, drawing me into the story quickly and other than a handful of typos there's not really anything negative for me to say about this wonderful charming (and charmed) book.
  • Fezariu's Epiphany on June 25, 2011

    I'm quite picky about which fantasy books I choose to read but the synopsis for this book caught my attention and had me wondering about Fezariu's story. Fezariu's childhood is marred by a series of deaths and upheavals, and he becomes convinced that he is the cause of these tragedies. Sadly for him childish misapprehensions cause him a lot of angst and completely change the course of his life. He sets his mind to becoming a mercenary, to gain respect and a replacement family. However he discovers the past isn't that easy to forget and has to try and face it in order to move on. This is a well written book and although before starting it I was a bit tentative about whether my latest foray into fantasy would be a sucess I found myself absorbed in the world the author has created. The story covers a period of decades and mainly covers key points in Fezariu's life. I thought the author's use of his letters to childhood companion Alycea, detailing his experiences during the years that aren't specifically covered, were a clever way of filling in the gaps and enhancing the story. I found in Fezariu a character I empathised with, and enjoyed his relationship with his closest friends and colleagues. I will admit though that I did struggle a little with all the different places mentioned, trying to figure out if they were towns, countries or something larger. It didn't greatly affect my reading experience but I would have appreciated a map so I could see how they related to one another. This was a very enjoyable read, and I can definitely say this is the sort of fantasy novel I like!
  • If You Go Into The Woods on June 27, 2011

    This book comprises two short stories. The first, the story of the title, introduces us to the world of 8 year old Jiri. He lives near a forest which has captured his attention. Although he is afraid of the dark recesses of the forest he wants to see the birds he hears high in the trees. When he finally plucks up the courage to take a look the dark becomes the last thing on his mind. The second story, an e-book bonus, is The Reset Button. Linus Eriksson is divorced, living in a one bed batchelor pad and allowed only very limited custody to his son. He unfortunately seems to be completely forgetable to everyone he meets. Both are written with a wonderful economy with words and a simplicity that I appreciated. I love the way the author sets up so many questions in the course of each story, making them thought-provoking and ensuring you don't stop thinking about the book when you put it down. I also love the cover, probably because Jiri isn't the only one with a thing about birds. I loved this book, and came away from it feeling a similar way to The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto, which I recently reviewed. I can't fully explain it but it made me smile.
  • I see... Savannah — Your Baby, Binoculars, and African Animals on June 28, 2011

    This is a lovely little book, just the right sort of length for a little one, with sweet illustrations and a nice range of vocab. I particularly like the view of parts then revealing the whole animal.
  • ...And Night Falls on Aug. 14, 2011

    Shelley is a spoilt daddy's girl who moved back in with her parents after her divorce and treats work at her father's real estate office as more of a hobby than a job. She has decided to be independent (but not that independent that she gets a job elsewhere) and moves into her own place. Her life is pretty sweet, but on a camping trip with her buddies she discovers the body of her colleague. Her father is already suspected of wrong-doing by the authorities and the massive coincidence makes Shelley a target of their investigations too. With plenty of people around her double-dealing she soon finds her life in danger for what she might know. Her new relationship with Deputy Cameron gives her an ally and someone to help her run for her life. Now the plot of the book is pretty good, and had a nice mix of blackmail, politics, corruption, old family vendettas and danger. I would also say that I quite liked the author's narrative style, and the balance of description and action was pretty good. However for me the book just didn't work that well. Firstly I couldn't warm to Shelley, she was just too spoilt, selfish and childish, and frankly a bit dense. She has been toting round a couple of letters that she didn't recognise, the names on them were a pretty obvious clue but meant nothing to her until someone pointed them out at the end. Her developing relationship with Clay was too syrupy for my taste too, and in places overpowered the main story. I also felt that at the end I knew who had done what, but in some cases I couldn't quite figure out why, or exactly what influence others had been exerting over them. It felt like it was meant to all be tied up nicely but bits of the puzzle seemed to be missing, although in fairness it is possible I didn't pick up clues as to how it all fitted. Although it is largely typo free there were a few instances where the main character's name was spelt wrongly. I also had a problem with the format of the book. I was given a copy by the author via this site. As there is no specific Kindle friendly format available , I downloaded the PDF which was so small I found it difficult to read. If you are going to buy this book I would seriously recommend avoiding the Kindle/PDF combo.
  • The Wrinkly on Aug. 21, 2011

    I like a good comedy, and I've seen one or two communities in Florida that have quite frankly scared me with their perfect appearances and promises of idyll, so this seemed like a good read for me. Mike Lewis is 39, sells TV advertising slots & dates younger women. On a trip to Florida for a conference he discovers a community with wonderful leisure facilities and every class going to enrich a life. All the people he sees look happy. Returning home he checks into his financial affairs and decides to move there, announcing at his 40th birthday party that he's taking early retirement. It's only after he's paid the deposit on a rental home that he realises it's for the over 60s only. He's so sold on the way of life that he decides drastic action is necessary to blag his way in. Once there he finds himself playing plenty of golf, and meeting attractive women of various ages. However keeping up the facade provides good comedy material. While trying to adopt the gait, voice and habits of a man 20 years older he still finds himself fending of advances, ends up in a very confusing romantic situation and finds the golf club is being used by drug dealers. The basic premise is a bit far-fetched, and at the start I didn't understand why Mike was so easily hooked on the idea of moving to Goldenville, but if you get past that and enjoy the ride there's some good humour to be had from the situation. The author also makes his motivation for the move a little clearer later on in the book. Many of the characters are larger than life and although Mike felt like the only fully developed one the ensemble cast helped make the book. The plot is pretty simple and provides some nice humour. This wasn't a particularly long book, and it was a nice, easy fun read that left me in a good mood. If I was the sort of person who kept a pile of books for summer/holiday reading this would sit nicely in that pile.
  • Fey Girl on Oct. 12, 2011
    (no rating)
    I was intrigued by this book's description - "Jude Pender has troubles managing his emotions. Case in point: Cecile. He thinks he can bury his thoughts and that the rest of his neurons will naturally grow around them, leaving an obelisk that he can visit as if in a dream. And since he doesn't know when to give up, the result will be an explosive release after a series of betrayals." The cover also suggested something a bit different to me. Jude first meets Cecile while he is dating Terry, but notices she has an aura that draws people to her. After he splits with Terry he becomes close to Cecile and they start a complicated relationship. He tries to pretend he isn't attracted to her in order to stay friends but gradually becomes less happy with how they function together. The other complication in his life starts with some strange dreams. When he meets a new colleague who has been tasked with finding him, he ends up in the Fey World during the dreaming. It turns out he is an orcling and he has a part to play in saving that world, with Cecile involved in a round about way. I found the book a bit slow to get started, and got about a third of the way in wondering when things were going to start happening. Up to that point was primarily introducing Jude and his circle of friends. I liked Jude, especially as he became more assertive later in the book, and I felt I could associate with his crowd of mates. I didn't have to wait much longer though and soon found the story picking up pace and moving into Fey World and introducing a range of mythological characters. This was definitely the part that interested me, although the relationship between to two friends became more intense later in the book and the way things were left between them made for a good ending to that part of the story. The point at which the Fey story was left has me hanging and looking forward to more of the mythology in future books. This is the first book in a series of four (a tetralogy - love that word, you learn something new all the time) with a set of short stories due that provide more of the back story and mythology. In places the pacing felt a bit slow, and some of the philosophical debate between characters was a bit heavy for me but the world of the Fey and the promise of more in future installments will most likely draw me back.
  • Black Ops: Libya on Nov. 14, 2011

    Libya, 2011. The regime of The Colonel is about to collapse. NATO's secretive Unit 5 sends in a team including former SAS man Alex and former Navy Seal Jack to retrieve a secret document that could cause problems for the UK & USA were it to fall into the wrong hands. This novella is so topical it sounded like a great read and for me this is one of the beauties of e-books, the speed with which an author can respond to world events and have a work published. The material, a black ops team sent into hostile territory then forsaken by their masters needing to cover up dubious politics, has been done before but I have no problem with variations on a theme when they are done well. Unfortunately, while there were some good action parts, had this been a full length novel I'm not sure I'd have persevered with it. There were issues with spelling, grammar and punctuation, and in places the narrative could do with some tweaking. I found myself getting really exasperated with basic errors like the use of "you're" rather than "your". I found myself wondering if proofreading was sacrificed in favour of making the book available as soon as possible. I didn't feel any connection with the main characters, and other than knowing that Unit 5 was made up of personnel who had been in some sort of trouble I didn't get any real feeling for who they were or what they looked like. Finally the ending seemed weak and wasn't particularly satisfying. I don't like to include spoilers in my reviews so it's hard to explain exactly why, but the bottom line was it didn't seem credible. As it was topical and had some nice action it wasn't a 1* book, but I'd struggle to say more than it was okay.
  • The Animals of Grandfather Mountain: An Animal Caretaker's Tales on Dec. 23, 2011
    (no rating)
    This is a short, non-fiction book written by a former keeper about the various characters and goings on at Grandfather Mountain. The animals include deers, bears, otters and eagles, each of whom have their own personalities. This is a book that will particularly appeal to animal lovers and younger readers. I'm a wildlife fan and found myself learning some new things reading this book. I particularly loved the descriptions of the otters playing in the snow. The individual stories are quite brief which makes it easy to pick up and put down, and there are some photos to illustrate. Most of the pictures have transferred quite well to the kindle, although it would be lovely to see them in colour too. The behind the scenes peek at the work of the staff caring for the animals was fun to behold, and I'm kind of envious of the jobs they have (at times) I found the description of the animal cast and how they came to be at Grandfather Mountain and got their names interesting, but as someone who had never heard of the place before would have liked more of an explanation about Grandfather Mountain somewhere in the Foreword or Preface. Being slightly picky I thought that it would have been preferable to put the information about the staff at the end as I was starting to get impatient to get to the actual stories. I found this a quick, enjoyable read that made me smile. If you like this sort of thing it's a bargain at 99c.
  • Enthralled on April 06, 2012

    Annette has a chance encounter with a woman in a supermarket and their paths cross again shortly afterwards. This woman has powers Annette is firstly dubious about, but she changes her mind when she discovers a link with her strange dreams. The pair travel to a haunted manor to try and find out about its mysterious past. There they meet a real group of characters, and there is more to them than meets the eye. I quite liked the way the story was set up and thought it had good potential. I was expecting things along the lines of Scott Nicholson's Creative Spirit which I really enjoyed. However as the tale unfolded it moved further away from my comfort zone and became a bit predictable. I've never been shy about admitting I'm quite picky about fantasy, or that I'm not keen on books with certain types of fantasy creatures. As such it's probably a bit unfortunate that I didn't realise from the product description that this book would give me all my least favourite fantasy elements. I also found it hard to connect with any of the characters. Most of them were too under-developed and main character Annette felt like a mass of contradictions. As far as the writing, while it flowed nicely in places and I enjoyed the early part, there were too many grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, and in places it just didn't read well. I also thought that it lacked the necessary tension. I think the reader is meant to read the part set at the manor envisioning it in the grip of a storm almost throughout. In other books I have seen this setup create a hostile and oppressive environment but in this book it was more of a footnote. This is a book that has potential, especially if this sort of fantasy is your bag, and there were hints of a good read but has too many negatives for me to rate it higher
  • Enthralled on April 06, 2012

    Annette has a chance encounter with a woman in a supermarket and their paths cross again shortly afterwards. This woman has powers Annette is firstly dubious about, but she changes her mind when she discovers a link with her strange dreams. The pair travel to a haunted manor to try and find out about its mysterious past. There they meet a real group of characters, and there is more to them than meets the eye. I quite liked the way the story was set up and thought it had good potential. I was expecting things along the lines of Scott Nicholson's Creative Spirit which I really enjoyed. However as the tale unfolded it moved further away from my comfort zone and became a bit predictable. I've never been shy about admitting I'm quite picky about fantasy, or that I'm not keen on books with certain types of fantasy creatures. As such it's probably a bit unfortunate that I didn't realise from the product description that this book would give me all my least favourite fantasy elements. I also found it hard to connect with any of the characters. Most of them were too under-developed and main character Annette felt like a mass of contradictions. As far as the writing, while it flowed nicely in places and I enjoyed the early part, there were too many grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, and in places it just didn't read well. I also thought that it lacked the necessary tension. I think the reader is meant to read the part set at the manor envisioning it in the grip of a storm almost throughout. In other books I have seen this setup create a hostile and oppressive environment but in this book it was more of a footnote. This is a book that has potential, especially if this sort of fantasy is your bag, and there were hints of a good read but has too many negatives for me to rate it any higher.
  • Beta on May 04, 2012

    Mallory Petersen is a hard hitting Private Investigator, quite literally as she is also a fourth degree black belt with her own Taekwondo school. Most of her cases are mundane and run of the mill; employee checks, suspicious spouses and so on. When a distraught mother appears at her office Mallory is drawn into an investigation that will put her in danger and show her the worst of mankind. Eight year old Cindy McGee has been kidnapped from play park. Mallory establishes from her contacts that local police have few leads and the FBI breathing down their necks, as the disappearance is one in a recent series. Her investigation quickly leads her to the dark world of child pornography. When the trail leads from Des Moines, Iowa to the Quad Cities she teams up with a Special Case Squad who have their own share of drudge work and a team leader who appears to appreciate Mallory and her slightly unorthodox methods. This tense thriller has the reader wondering whether she can find Cindy and who is behind the ring peddling young children like merchandise. This book tackles a dark and emotive subject but does so in a way that provides enough detail to make the level of depravity clear, but without becoming too graphic. What is left unsaid is powerful enough. There are parts where the viewpoint switches from Mallory to Cindy, and through her eyes the horror of the situation becomes even more immediate. I enjoyed the tone Mallory adopts, reminding me slightly of old fashioned PI films. The narrative is fast paced and there is plenty of action as Mallory comes up against those who have secrets they would rather keep hidden. The ending reinforced feelings I was having throughout the book and was unexpected. Fortunately a hint of romance with an Adonis provides a bit of light relief. I really enjoyed the characters, most of whom had some little quirk that made them endearing. At one point Mallory seemed a little too close to indestructible, even with her training in mind, so it was good to see she had a vulnerable side. I was intrigued by her serene assistant and amused by her snitch Willy and persistent suitor Brougham. As the book is described as "A Mallory Petersen Mystery" I'm very much hoping we will see further instalments which will reveal a bit more about her past and develop some of the characters in this book further. I raced through this book, which in addition to the positives above was well formatted and virtually typo free. I'd be very happy to read more by this author in future.
  • Infinite Sacrifice (Infinite Series, Book 1) on May 15, 2012

    When Maya dies she finds herself in somewhere akin to heaven. She is keen to be reunited with others she has lost but instead finds herself at the start of a journey, lead by her spirit guide Zachariah. Before she is able to move on she has to review her past lives and show she understands the lessons each incarnation should have taught her. This is the start of a series and in this book Maya relives pasts as a High Priest in ancient Egypt, a Spartan mother hiding a secret, a young Irish boy captured by Vikings and a Doctor's wife in plague-ridden London. She must prove she has learnt one of the important lessons before experiencing more of her past lives. In each story there are other characters who re-appear, recognisable by minor physical characteristics. I have to admit I was both impressed and slightly concerned by the foreword. The author has a website which includes more detailed research about the facts behind the work, which I thought was a real positive, but it also mentioned that to prevent confusion from the intricate character histories there was a chart at the end of each life to help identify the characters. This sounded a bit disconcerting, being told up front I might struggle to keep up! As it happens I found that I was able to identify the main characters with no real problems and didn't need to keep trying to refer to the charts at all. I really enjoyed this book. I'm a fan of historical fiction anyway and the idea of reincarnation is of interest, so I found this an interesting meld of the two. By the time I got to the end I was so engrossed with the progress through history that I'd almost forgotten about the context holding the stories together. Each life was full of interesting little details and mostly I was able to identify approximately where and when the life was unfolding without too much prompting from the author. Some of Maya's incarnations are more likeable than others but each has a good story to tell. This was a very good read that made me think, and I thought the magical realism surrounding Maya's arrival in "heaven" and how the process she finds herself going through works was well handled where it could have been fudged. I would definitely read the next in the series, Infinite Devotion.