Diane Johnston

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Diane Johnston

  • Concerto on July 18, 2011

    This was a short book, 169 ebook pages and is a romance/murder mystery. Chrispen is a talented violinist working for a small midwest US orchestra where a reknowned violinist, Alexis Brooks, is also playing. Alexis was internationally famous but joined this orchestra because he was from the area and he and his new wife wanted to settle down where they grew up. However, 5 years ago, his wife was murdered and he was accused of it. He was found not guilty because the evidence was largely circumstantial but most people, including the police and his father, think he was guilty. Suspicion hovers around him. Chrispen has only been part of the orchestra for 6 months and has made some friends but seems to have aquired a stalker. First it's just phone calls and notes, then it's photos that clearly show someone has been watching her and even been inside her house. As the book goes on, the incidents escalate and become more threatening. Many people suspect Alexis but could it be Dwight, another musician in the orchestra who fancies Chrispen but is always spurned? Or could it be a jealous woman who used to fancy Alexis and now Dwight but is also rejected by both of them? Chrispen doesn't think Alexis is guilty and grows closer to him which angers the other two. She's been warned by the police who can't seem to do anything about the stalker even when someone spikes her drink and she nearly dies from an allergic reaction. Why? Because the bloody thick woman keeps throwing away evidence! That's one thing that annoyed me. The other thing that seemed quite jarring is her recurring nightmares. The book starts off with one where she is running into a building hoping to save someone but is too late and sees a murdered woman. It's very detailed. Later in the book, she has another nightmare about the murder of Alexis' wife, again in great detail which turns out to be the exact circumstances of the murder, right down to the identity of the murderer, details that she couldn't possibly know. The first recurring nightmare actually happens at the end of the book, in the exact same detail. yet nowhere in the book has she ever shown any other signs of being clairvoyant nor has it been mentioned that this is something that happens to her. If she had been, she probably wouldn't have been in the trouble she gets into. Having said that, i did enjoy the book, even though i had the murderer figured out pretty early on. So much so that i even second guessed myself thinking it was too obvious but no, the more you read, the more you know it *is* indeed the obvious. It's just a matter of how and when. Good book, good dialogue, no long winded descriptions and tedium, right to the point even if the main character is a bit too naive for my tastes.
  • Tyler Palewhite:Soft-Boiled Detective on Nov. 01, 2011

    this was a book from Member Giveaway. I have to say, this was not, for me, a great book. It was short at least but probably should have been a little longer. It sometimes changed focus from one scene to a different location or group of people between one paragraph and the next without a word or notice to say that it had so i'd be confused at first thinking what just happened and where am I and who are these people and where did they come from before i realized we're now in a new place, sometimes even a new day. It's about a salesman who isn't all that good at his job. He wants to be a writer and has penned a book about a Private Investigator but can't seem to get anyone to publish it until he pretends to be a detective in real life. He decides to take on a case so he can at least pretend and, flushed with the success of that case though only solved by his somewhat bumbling methods, he takes on another when asked by a beautiful woman with whom he instantly falls in love. She's not what she seems and her story isn't either. You can tell that straight away but he can't. He gets in over his head quickly and is snarled in a murder and kidnapping debacle. I found the plot predictable, the writing too. The shift in focus was sometimes abrupt and distracting. There were chapter breaks, why not do it for those focus shifts, too? I later realized that it was sort of like watching something on tv or in a movie but there, you have the visual and you can tell that you've changed a scene. On screen, things don't feel as rushed or abrupt but when you are reading it, it doesn't work very well. You need something to indicate the shift in focus, whether a short sentence, a new chapter or even little dots or graphics between those two paragraphs that give you more of a sense of separation. The other thing that felt out of place were two sex scenes. The scenes themselves probably weren't out of place, but I don't think they needed to be quite so graphic. They didn't seem to match the tone of rest of the book so stumbling into these almost felt gratuitous. The book has potential and probably would work well as a screenplay since it's written sort of like that but without the direction notes. The characters are a bit stereotype, the bumbling writer/salesman/detective, the faithful coworker who secretly loves him, the beautiful villain, her violent yet sometimes gentle co-hort, (a bit inconsistent, that). I think this was supposed to be a comic farce but the drawbacks took away from that element. It wasn't bad, but it could have been better.
  • Irreparable Harm (A Legal Thriller) on Dec. 02, 2011

    This was sent as a free book for a review here through Librarything. I really enjoyed this book. It's a legal thriller featuring petite lawyer Sasha McCandless who's a rising star in her firm and who is also a fierce warrior training in a self defence type of "martial" arts called Kava Magna. She ends up having to use her training a few times through the course of the book! The book starts with a plane crash that seems obviously triggered by something a passenger did with a phone. Who is he? why did he do it? Who is he working for? It's not called terrorism but really, that's what it is except the motivation isn't political, it's greed. Someone is trying to sell a navigation system that can be controlled remotely. Sasha's law firm represents the airline and things get complicated from there. Little by little she unravels the plot and mystery, encountering a Federal Air Marshal agent and a few thugs along the way. The plot moves quickly, is well written, with characters that keep you interested. I had a hard time putting this one down!
  • Naked Mommy on Dec. 29, 2011

    This is the story of two Irish brothers who become obsessed with the same woman, someone they grew up with who'd moved away and has recently returned with a baby in arms. Liam and Mel Caffrey are brothers who grew up close but now have very different lives. Liam is a local crook and Mel became a monk but has lost his faith and is home to pick up the pieces of his life and find a new road. Nuala Macree has been traveling and living in Spain where she had an affair with a bullfighter, resulting in the baby. She's home in Ireland now because the affair ended badly and a big corporation is threatening to take over the local lake and water rights. She's an activist and has joined the local protest group against this happening. She's also very beautiful and has caught the eye of the Caffrey brothers, both of which are determined to have her for their own. Liam has bought a big old house and is renovating it with the view to impressing Nuala and Mel is just trying to work out how to talk to Nuala without making a total eejit of himself and failing badly. The book ends with a party in Liam's house which ends in disaster, literally as well as figuratively. The book is written mainly from the points of view of all three main characters but you get glimpses from the minds of several others as well, and is written in local vernacular, just as if you were listening to them think or speak. It's fun and lighthearted and full of quirky characters.
  • After Dinner Mint & Other Stories on April 27, 2012

    Five short stories with a twist or surprise ending. The last one about the reading of a Will was ok but i wasn't all that keen on the others.