Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shepherd: A Henry Shepherd Novel by Michael Ozarks

Shepherd: A Henry Shepherd Novel (The Henry Shepherd Series Book 1)Shepherd: A Henry Shepherd Novel by Michael Ozarks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shepherd: A Henry Shepherd Novel (The Henry Shepherd Series Book 1) by Michael Ozarks is a wonderful first entry into this series. Henry the protagonist begins in the first chapter by apologizing for his name. That bit of melancholy seems to permeate the book and sets the tone. Driving home one night, Henry accidentally hits and kills a girl, Karen. While not charged with a crime, Henry carries the guilt with him like a cloak. Fate intervenes however, and soon Henry is involved with Karen's twin sister. With that unlikely premise, the story and characters are quite well written, Henry not only being overcome with his burden of killing someone, but his involvement with the victim's sister is yet another emotional hurdle. This story truly describes the power of forgiveness and redemption even in the most troubling and impossible of circumstances. A must read for an emotional and fulfilling literary journey. Looking forward to the next installments in this series.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dare To Remember by Susanna Beard

Dare to RememberDare to Remember by Susanna Beard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard is a well put together psychological, suspenseful story. The main character Lisa, and her flat-mate are brutally attacked one night, Lisa's flat-mate is killed and Lisa wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of the attack. Moving to the countryside, Lisa struggles to put her life back together and put the attack behind her. Much of the story is devoted to Lisa trying to recover memories from that night; she has flashes of remembrance, little nudges in her subconscious that may reveal what happened. Lisa establishes some friendships in her new environment, most notably with her next door elderly neighbor. This relationship appears to be a healing balm for Lisa, and is well developed and portrayed. Beard does an excellent job with character development in this story, and while not a thriller in the truest sense of the word, the writing was nuanced enough and careful enough to make this novel an outstanding debut. With enough of a subtle twist to the story that prompts an "oh, okay, that's what happened" response from the reader, I look forward to reading more from this author. Thanks to Netgalley.com for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Treasure: A Trilogy by Vanessa Leigh Hoffman

Treasure: A TrilogyTreasure: A Trilogy by Vanessa Leigh Hoffman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Treasure: A Trilogy by Vanessa Leigh Hoffman is the tale of three men, each with their own agenda and their own secrets. Treasure consists of three separate yet related stories: Rear View Mirror, Silk Road to Atlantis, and Subterfuge. Hoffman has opened up the book with a prologue that seems to set the tone for the book with a woman crying and screaming at the universe in it's unfairness. The book then opens with Camille, sitting at a bar in Florida who meets Kenneth, a well to do sixty odd years old retiree with scads of money and a ranch in the rural part of Florida. They continue to meet daily for weeks and develop quite a relationship. But things are rarely as they seem, and Kenneth may indeed have some secrets. Camille may have secrets of her own. Hoffman manages to explore the paths that different lives take, whether by chance or due to specific decisions that have far reaching effects. She has cultivated a theme that is interwoven between the stories, tying them effectively together while exploring misfortune, opportunity, and how people become involved with evil entities. Highly recommend for an interesting look at the foibles of mankind.

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Catadoupe by Jason Akley

CatadoupeCatadoupe by Jason Akley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Catadoupe by Jason Akley is a collection of nine stories rather loosely linked together. The word Catadoupe means waterfall in French, and that certainly describes the tone and tenor of this collection. There are various plot dimensions in the work of rambling words and verbiage, but it all works together. The stories include a medical lab tech, a married couple, a dad with two daughters, a lot of marijuana, a gangster, and several cats. Even bitcoin is mentioned. These elements combine to create a vast array of visually written and diverse reading experiences. The reader must be alert and attuned to get the most from this book. Akley largely avoids the use of punctuation throughout his books, making them quite a challenge to read, and can leave some of the writing less impactful than it might be if it were more traditionally presented. Still the book has moments of deep rumination on the characters' parts and will leave the reader with more questions than answers which is sometimes a good thing.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Confessions of a Neighbor by Heather Nadine Lenz

Confessions of a NeighborConfessions of a Neighbor by Heather Nadine Lenz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Confessions of a Neighbor by Heather Nadine Lenz follows the young life of Ella. Ella is quite young, only sixteen, and has recently lost both her mother and grandmother. She lives alone in a studio apartment, and is struggling at life, trying to become a real ballerina and support herself with a waitressing job. Compulsively lonely and alone, Ella begins to watch her neighbors across the way through their window and witnesses what she thinks is spousal abuse, this time the man being abused by his wife. Once down this voyeuristic path, it is hard for her to stop. With plenty of twists and turns to the story; Ella actually meets the man who is being abused; and lots of tension throughout, this is a compelling and gripping story about stalking that takes on a life of it's own. Lenz does an excellent job of creating tension in the story, and fleshes out the character of Ella quite well. An interesting read that gives the reader a peek into life in Switzerland, which is a great addition to a thoughtful and creative story.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The St. Louis Affair: The Adventures of Herbert Falken by Michael Scheffel

St. Louis Affair The Adventures of Herbert FalkenSt. Louis Affair The Adventures of Herbert Falken by Michael Scheffel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The St. Louis Affair: The Adventures of Herbert Falken by Michael Scheffel is a wonderful rendition of the old school style mystery. Reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and company, this mystery that takes place in St. Louis in the late 1800's begins with a bang as Falken battles another fighter in the ring, wins some money, and lives to fight another day. Highly atmospheric with accurate details that depict the time, Scheffel has done a superb job of rendering realistic characters as they struggle to solve another murder mystery. Falken is well portrayed as a likeable guy who is a private investigator, but who has a little baggage courtesy of war time and battles waged. An all together riveting look at the industrial age and the seedier side of life, Scheffel also allows the sublime to shine through, simply by describing Falken's lifestyle in his private home. That ability to meld two worlds together keeps this murder mystery interesting and satisfying to the end. Highly recommend for an educational and insightful read.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rick's Place by Jason Akley

Rick's PlaceRick's Place by Jason Akley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rick's Place by Jason Akley is a meandering story, a stream of consciousness that encompasses the whole book. Akley has a way of making his characters seem so real, you can almost touch them. It takes a while to get into this book; the writing is heavy with long sentences that go off into different directions. With a little patience though, the reader is rewarded with the poetry of language and the level of story-writing that is quite rare. An experimental book, Rick's Place captures the essence of so many bars and dives, divulging the mystery behind them, if only we take a risk, take a look inside. The everyday, mundane thoughts and activities; the simple act of sitting on a barstool and telling jokes, that no one hears, no one cares about, these things rise to the level of beauty. Akley is able to disseminate and advance the theory that in the ordinary lies a bit of wonder. Prepare to be mesmerized and entertained when you delve into this highly recommended book.

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