Sunday, December 15, 2019

December Book Reviews and Previews

A little early this month, but things have a way of getting busy later.

Happy Holidays!

For your consideration:
  • A horror story (Wake of the Sadico);
  • A fantasy (Elon: Journey to Truth);
  • A horror novella (The Haunted Bridge); and
  • A crime thriller (Deadly Enterprise).
Hope you find something for your library,

Wake of the Sadico by Jo Sparkes

A Scary Read; Just Watch Out for the Sudden Changes in Point of View

Wake of the Sadico is the story of five friends sharing a vacation scuba diving in the Caribbean. There is Melanie, the adult version of a kid in a candy store—she always wants the man she doesn’t have and has the physical beauty to make it happen. Jill is the coming of age tomboy who is as anxious to prove herself as she is confused about men’s attraction to her. Through most of the book, I would have said these two are our main characters, as we spend much of our time inside their heads. But Wall, the gangly, always polite and proper Brit comes to play a larger role by the end. Initially, our cast of five has some troubling experiences—fleeting images, bad dreams—but nothing most of us haven’t had. Then, the author turns up the tension with them seeing people who are here one moment, gone the next. Or they recall a past life of pain and brutality that feels too real to ignore (reincarnation is a central theme of the novel). By the end, our protagonists are facing off against a paranormal evil come to claim, as the author puts it, “a karmic debt past due.” You’ll want to keep the lights on for this one.

For the complete review, see

Elon: Journey to Truth by Isabella Adams

Issues of Genetics and Prejudice Are Just Below the Surface of this Compelling Fantasy

Elon must discover and learn to harness her powers if she is to save her planet from destruction. At that level, Elon: Journey to Truth is a fairly typical fantasy. But author Isabella Adams introduces an interesting twist. She links Elon’s emerging powers to her genetics, something that our protagonist worries about as well. “I reflected on my mixed genetics, wrestling with familiar confusion about my place in the universe.” In Adams’ fantasy world, being vamphyre means you can control minds, being Sidar means you can use telepathy, and being troll means you’ll be strong. And Elon has all three in her blood. Her best friend, Qidira, on the other hand, is initially identified as dwarf and human, but later in the story she is told she has “… the rare genetic gift of a fairy somewhere in your (her) bloodline.” As you might guess, with all this mixing of gene pools, there is great diversity in our characters and with it, considerable prejudice. More than once, Elon has to defend vamphyres against the closed-mindedness of her peers, reminding them that they are not all bad. Genetics may set the bounds, but few, Elon included, believe they define what one will be.

For the complete review, see

The Haunted Bridge: Part One (The Haunting of Bob and Brandy Book 1) by Lennie Grace

A Fast-Paced, Scary Novella … and Then It Just Ends

Brandy is a red-haired, high-school skeptic in this horror novella. "There’s no such thing as ghosts …. I only believe in science and logic.” Bob is Brandy’s guy-pal. He’s mature for his age, being described in Brandy’s thoughts as “… an eighty-year-old man trapped in a teen’s body.” But he’s the one who wants to test a local urban legend that one of the bridges in town is haunted by a ghost who kills everyone who dares cross it at midnight. Of course, Bob talks Brandy into joining him. From there, The Haunted Bridge unfolds at a good pace, never leaving the reader a dull moment. The bite-sized chapters—twenty of them in sixty-seven pages—seem to make it go even faster. I always wanted to read just one more. The only thing that slows the story are the typos, and there are quite a few. Some are easy to ignore, as the meaning is apparent, e.g., “She did feel beautiful with tonight.” But others, in the context of strange and eerie happenings, caused me to break from my train of thought, e.g., “… a book fell off of her dress” or “She nodded, leaning over the pant and catch her breath.”

For the complete review, see

Deadly Enterprise by Kevin Chapman

Sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness

When a twenty-year-old woman with a record for drugs and solicitation is found floating in the East River, everyone is ready to attribute her death to an accidental overdose. Everyone, that is, except Medical Examiner Michelle McNeill. She conveys her suspicions to her romantic interest, Detective Mike Stoneman. Since he’s rehabbing from injuries sustained in his last case and is not on active duty, Stoneman launches an investigation that’s part official, but mostly not. It’s driven by his and McNeill’s strong sense of right and wrong, with Stoneman’s partner, Jason Dickson, joining the cause. In addition to the overdose case, Dickson is working with a new, temporary partner, Ray McMillian, on a high-profile murder connected with a drugs and money laundering scheme. That case, too, erupts in violence, leaving Dickson juggling competing demands on his time and fighting office politics.

For the complete review, see

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