|Posted by Alana Woods on February 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
Since reading these novellas I have learned they're in the Steampunk genre. The term isn't used in the reviews because at the time of reading and writing them I had no idea—not having read anything in the genre before.
WINTER OF THE PASSION FLOWER by Annie Seaton (first in the de Vargas family series)
This one threw me in the opening chapter. I thought I was reading a Victorian period piece when all of a sudden a submarine put in an appearance. I thought ‘Hello? There were submarines back then?’ Then comes biome domes and time travel and I settled back, knowing I was in for a sprinkling of sci-fi shaken over a romance with thriller background.
It’s the first in the de Vargas family series and follows the path of the elder of two sisters, Indigo, living in Cornwall who is dedicated to advancing science, but not without finding Mr Right along the way.
It isn’t a long read, I fitted it very nicely into a quiet Sunday afternoon relaxing on the balcony with a cold white and a cool breeze blowing on what was a very warm day. The story isn’t a brain-taxer, rather it’s an easy and entertaining read. The language was suitable for the period but not overdone, adding to the atmospherics. The dialogue I wasn’t so sure about, feeling that it could have been just a little less period.
Overall it was a good read that I wanted to finish in the one sitting.
SUMMER OF THE MOON FLOWER by Annie Seaton (second in the de Vargas family series)
I read WINTER OF THE PASSION FLOWER, the first in the de Vargas family series, before turning to this one so I knew what I was in for, meaning the automata and dirigibles didn’t take me by surprise.
The story follows the younger of two sisters, Sofia, as fair as her older sister Indigo from Summer flower is dark. Indigo lives in Cornwall UK, Sofia in Vienna. She is as committed to science as her sister but given that she’s seeking immortality it’s a pursuit she’s keeping to herself lest her enemies in the form of the Knights Templar discover it.
Once again the story is a sprinkling of sci-fi laced with romance and thrills. Her enemies send a young Scots nobleman to kill her and, yes, you should be able to guess the outcome.
I liked the juxtaposition of future technology and Victorian era. It made for an entertaining read interspersed with the unexpected.
As with the first in the series I wanted to finish this story in the one sitting. Very achievable as it’s not a long book.
Take this link to my interview with Annie Seaton.
Buy the books on Amazon
Add me to your Google + circles: +AlanaWoods
Let's link up on LinkedIn
Send me a Goodreads friend request
Like my Facebook page
Follow me on Twitter
|Posted by Alana Woods on November 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Alana Woods on November 23, 2013 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
Have you ever wondered about The Big Bang? What it was, how it happened? Wonder no more. Instead, follow the characters in this huge-in-scope novel as they set about re-creating it. Do they succeed? Oh yes. And how. With the help of an infinitely talented and intelligent computer named Jim they build their own little universe within the confines of a purpose-built building and then proceed to tweak, play and interact with planetary inhabitants to suit their own purposes.
The investors see only the mind-blowing profits that can be made from exploiting technology from more-advanced planets than their own, and they conflict with venture partners who want to observe and learn from one particular planet whose inhabitants are in tune with the entire universe.
This novel is an exploration of creation, the existence of a creator, spirituality, reincarnation and much much more. Matthews exhibits an expertly deft touch as he explores what are obviously to him important subjects. By novel’s end I found myself in a contemplative mood as I pondered the ideas he raised.
A lot of the story involves a voyeuristic slant as the protagonists watch what’s happening on the planets that interest them and my interest level dipped as this felt like surface-skimming. My interest lay in the meditation interactions with the Thetans and how the project changes the lives of the protagonists.
The story has a definite beginning and ending and about three quarters of the way in there’s a jolt that completely alters the reader’s perception of everything. That was clever and had me smiling.
This is the first in a two-book series, the second being JIM’S LIFE which I unknowingly read last year. While it’s not imperative to read them in order I wish I had because, even though I loved JIM’S LIFE and gave it five stars, it would have been advantageous to have the background of THE LITTLE UNIVERSE to draw upon.
This is a well-written, well-told story with characters I felt I knew by the time I finished.
Take this link to my interview with Jason Matthews
|Posted by Alana Woods on November 16, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
Diana Crawford had fled her family home, Aces Corral ranch just outside Calgary in Canada, two years ago to escape a family tragedy. HOME TO STAY opens as she returns home to pick up the pieces, knowing she will never leave again. The homecoming proves to be an emotional rollercoaster ride for her. Her nearest neighbours, Len and Dot Mackenzie, close to her in both proximity and love have had a tough time while she’s been away and now rely on their nephew, Barry Daniels, to do much of the work around the place. And, yes, Barry’s the gorgeous hunk who keeps Diana guessing almost until the last page in this light western romance.
There isn’t much in the way of plot and you know things are going to work out well but the will-they/won’t-they tension is handled well and maintained.
Depth to the story is added in two ways: first by the descriptions of a working horse ranch. The author seems to be in familiar territory here and it adds interest to what could otherwise have been a trite love story. Then there is Barry’s mysterious business dealings which keep him busy on the phone and internet and which he won’t discuss with Diana. Together they help to flesh the story out.
The sex is pretty detailed but fortunately, at least as far as my reading pleasure is concerned, it doesn’t go any further than the foreplay before the bedroom door is metaphorically shut.
I had a bit of trouble believing some of the dialogue, in particular the way Barry speaks to Diana. I tend to think that the love talk that is attributed to male characters in many books is what women wish their man would say to them when in actual fact no man would be caught dead uttering such stuff. But it’s not too unbelievable and that’s just a small criticism.
HOME TO STAY is a nice story satisfactorily told. The language is descriptive and I had no trouble picturing the location and scenery, all of which sounds superb.
Take this link to my interview with June McCullough
|Posted by Alana Woods on November 2, 2013 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
I was some way into this book, THE CRONE CLUB, before starting to think the story had more depth than I originally thought. I was thinking, ‘Stereotypical characterisation, lack of subtlety, no spark’ but it slowly became more than that and I found myself enjoying it.
The story begins with a class reunion, the gang now women of that magic age, 60—making them Boomers. Many haven’t met again since leaving school and they’re all interested in what each has accomplished in life. There are the porn star twins, the rich, the bitch, the professionals, the housewife, the widow and ... the missing. They form The Crone Club and set each other two tasks: a dream to realise and a challenge to accomplish.
The book deals with rape and how attitudes have changed over the years. There’s also controlling husbands, cancer, charity and third world hunger—some very big issues. They receive surface treatment only, no in-depth discussion, but then I don’t think that’s what the author was intending. It’s about mature people overcoming obstacles—yes, just because you’re 60 it doesn’t mean you’ve got it all figured out—and written in such a way that you don’t think of the morals being presented.
Bambi is the fairy godmother who takes everyone in, pays their bills and looks after them, which is very convenient for allowing characters to not find themselves in true-to-life no-way-out situations.
Essentially it’s about women enjoying themselves and empowering each other.
Are they successful? Finding out makes for a light read encompassing comedy, poignancy and drama as you follow each character’s path while they pursue their goals.
I believe it’s the first in a series, so we’ll be able to follow the Crone Club’s development.
I was unable to contact the author for an accompanying interview.
|Posted by Alana Woods on October 19, 2013 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Alana Woods on October 12, 2013 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
This is an autobiography of a different kind. The author tells her story in a series of flashbacks that she describes as lessons she has learned along the way, from early childhood to present time.
Immediately I began reading I found the language to be stilted, until I realised that English is her second language. Then suddenly in my head I heard her words in the voice of a Dutch friend who speaks the same way. After that I found the mistakes and the often formal style very charming.
Autobiographies and memoirs amaze me. It astounds me how much people can recall. I certainly can’t remember details and conversations from years ago, especially from when I was a youngster. So when I read a good one, such as this is, I’m fascinated.
Hausmann was born and grew up in Austria, moving to the US as an adult. From an early age she had wanderlust and began travelling in her teens to such wild and exotic locations as Russia, Kashmir and China in the days when it required major logistical organisation. She lived frugally with the purpose of travelling, saving as much as she could from the diverse and sometimes fascinating spheres she worked in, such as the film industry.
The enthusiasm and effort she puts into everything—travel, work, family—shines out. She believes in putting everything of yourself into everything you do and has applied that to herself along the way.
As I said, the book is told in the form of life lessons and she finishes each story with an afterthought and what the lesson has taught her.
Honesty shines out of these stories, sometimes intimate, sometimes humorous, always inspiring. She’s had it tough, losing her husband in an accident and her brother to illness. What you finish the book thinking is that this is one of life’s indomitables.
The drawback to reading this on my Kindle was that it didn’t do full justice to the photos. The scenic shots in particular are probably magnificent in full size and colour.
An inspiring read. If it doesn’t instantly energise or re-energise you to conquer your own mountains then perhaps we haven’t read the same book!
NAKED DETERMINATION on all ebook vendors
Take this link to my interview with Gisela.
|Posted by Alana Woods on October 5, 2013 at 6:30 PM||comments (0)|
LIFE WITHOUT starts with a sex scene. I thought “Hello, is this what the book’s about?” It isn’t. The scene acts as an indicator of where the main character, Stephen (Steve) Goodman is in his life at that moment. But the book is so much more than that.
It could have been so much better, as a read, if spelling, wrong word usage and poor punctuation didn’t litter it. As well, I thought the language could do with tightening up.
I was not going to persevere but I’m pleased I did because, unlike much fiction from young male authors who tend to write in the action, sci-fi and fantasy genres, this one is refreshingly contemporary. I liked the storyline very much.
Steve is a 30 year old Londoner who seemingly has it all: striking looks, intelligence, fabulous job, money enough to own a multi-million pound apartment in Notting Hill, women falling at his feet and a best friend he can rely on. However, there are two things he doesn’t have. The first is his wife, the woman he adores, who left him because of his infidelity. The second is a career he cares about.
The opportunity to pursue his dream career comes in the form of an unreliable depressive artist, well-known Julian Storm. Why he hitches his wagon to someone unreliable is for you to find out by reading the book.
As I have said, the story is fresh, I liked the way it flowed and I liked the plentiful use of dialogue to drive it along.
A final comment: the title intrigued me. LIFE WITHOUT. Without what? You find out in the story’s final words and I loved it. Such a good title.
I was unable to contact the UK author for an interview.
|Posted by Alana Woods on September 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Alana Woods on May 19, 2013 at 4:00 AM||comments (0)|
Poor punctuation on the first page especially is what made the first impression. Plus what I thought was a major spoiler in the first few paragraphs but as the foreshadowed incident happened very quickly after that point I revised my thinking.
Chapter 3 contains a description of a walk in heavy crisp frost in bright sunshine which conjured memories of a similar walk I took several years ago in the south of the UK. Beautiful.
Until chapter 3 I thought the story was going to be third person single point of view but in that chapter another character takes over. From then on the POV jumps back and forth between Maggie Sayer—the counsellor—and her clients. It took several jumps for me to become accustomed to the POV changes but they had the effect of not being able to immerse myself in the story. I felt I didn’t get to know the characters intimately; however, I did like them.
Without giving anything away Maggie Sayer undertakes training and becomes a counsellor after a personal tragedy alters her life irrevocably. She, more than many, is in a position to understand the trauma confronting the people who seek her help. Although alone she is not lonely, having good work colleagues, loving parents, a close friend and an adoring dog. Set in the north of England the scenic descriptions anchor the story within its setting.
I’d hazard a guess that Jackson has some expertise in the subject matter. Her handling of the clients and their problems, and Sayer’s methodology, smacks of someone who knows what they’re talking about.
I was not enamoured of the writing style and language; I thought they lacked spark. My opinion only of course because style is entirely subjective to the reader.
However, I liked the story line and there was a satisfying ending. And, finally, a big plus was the dialogue which was natural and used well.
Take this link to my interview with Gillian Jackson
|Posted by Alana Woods on May 5, 2013 at 5:00 AM||comments (0)|
This is a memoir with each chapter devoted to significant times in the author’s life. It is a retrospective, a looking back, at the situations and events that have made her who she is today.
Confessions is categorised as Boomer literature but I’m not sure. My understanding of the genre is that the principle character or characters are boomer agers in the present day and the story is an exploration of how they are looking ahead and coming to terms with aging and pursuing a worthy life after retiring from their lifetime career. But Confessions, as I say, is the author reminiscing about her life and what brought her to this point. Therefore, is it Boomer literature? I’m not going to angst about it, it’s a nice read in its own right.
I always wonder when reading memoirs how the author, in revealing the intimacies of their own lives, reconciles the revealing of other people’s, often family members, intimate details. I imagine that they ask for and are given permission. I pose that question because this one does contain such revelations.
Most chapters recall a different event or episode in Robert’s life but several, from chapter 13, follow her through 15 years from the idea and creation of a play Letters from the front she and her husband eventually took on tour to US military bases throughout the world. It became known as ‘The world’s most decorated play’ and if the passion they so obviously poured into it has anything to do with it I can understand why it became such a success.
Confessions is a straightforward memoir, candid, full of warmth and caring. Roberts’ faith that God will show the way shines through. Each parable engenders an emotional response be it a lump in the throat all the way through to a smile.
Simply and sincerely told I found it an easy, at times heart-tugging but heart-warming, read.
Take this link to my interview with Marsha Roberts
|Posted by Alana Woods on March 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
This book has as good a hook as I’ve come across.
Like many ebooks I’m reading nowadays this one isn’t overly long. Having said that, it’s exactly the right length for the story. There’s no verbiage to mar the crisp and descriptive language. And it’s told in the immediacy of first person point of view. I liked it very much.
To me it’s a road story; the storyline centering on Woodstock, the famous music festival held in 1969, and encompassing two time periods: the time of the festival and the present. They run concurrently, chapters jumping between each. The 1969 story tells of the meeting between the narrator, Walter Ellington, a forciby-retired retired professor, and his future wife, Emily, at Woodstock. The present story tells of events leading up to their return with the narrator’s two best friends. Music plays a big part as the three used to have a band in their school days.
This is a boomer genre novel; one that portrays mature characters finding their place in the world after retirement, after the family has grown and left home, after everything familiar has often been turned on its head and they’re left floundering. It’s make or break time for many and at novel opening Walter has been floundering for two years.
Also making important contributions are the lingering effects on war veterans and the onset of Alzheimer’s.
If it sounds like a tough read be assured that it’s not. As I say, the writing is crisp. The dialogue carries the story as nothing else can—I’m a fan of good dialogue—and the story is heart warming. I had a few lumps in the throat while reading.
A good read.
|Posted by Alana Woods on February 16, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
All seems perfect in the Savannah suburb of Gordonston. The mature ladies meet each day in the local park to sip a cocktail and gossip while their dogs get their exercise. Their neighbours include a new widower, an attractive young couple who appear very much in love, an English house-husband and an elderly black man they don’t know but frown upon because he doesn’t clean up after his pooch.
Where to start with this novella? I have to say it took me a while to get into it, but get into it I eventually did.
It’s very much a telling of the story and I’m not a fan of that style. The best way I can think of to describe it is that it reminded me of how fairy tales are told, a linear unfolding of happenings. The narration does not include a lot of dialogue. The characters also are sketched in, not finely described.
It’s an ensemble piece. The many characters have equal billing and the author changes the point of view between them frequently and without warning. There are no, for instance, extra line spaces to herald a new perspective. You may stick with one character for several pages or a paragraph. However, once you realise you’re subject to frequent POV changes it ceases to be a problem.
Like a fairy tale all seems perfect at the beginning. These many characters are friends or good neighbours who show compassion when tragedy strikes.
However, after a while I began to notice a feeling of impeding doom settling on me, a feeling that something awful is about to happen. It does, but it’s not what I expected. The author very cleverly builds suspense while seemingly nothing of any moment is happening. From there the world of all these characters begins to disintegrate and we see through the sugar coating into their mean and ugly selves. No-one remains pure and although not everyone receives their comeuppance in the confines of the book it’s on the cards they will at some point down the track. Perhaps the author has a sequel in mind.
At the end it remained for me a modern fairy tale with wicked characters wanting to harm others without much reason.
Take this link to read my interview with Duncan Whitehead.
|Posted by Alana Woods on February 9, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
THE BLUE HOUR. The French call this time ‘l’heure bleue’, the time between dusk and sunrise when the sun is still below the horizon, and the world is awash with a hazy blue shadowed hue that suspends us somewhere between the accepted divisions of darkness and light.’
THE BLUE HOUR. What a wonderfully evocative title.
And as it led me to expect, and didn’t disappoint, it was the introduction to a story told in what could be described as noir style with a decidedly Raymond Chandler/Phillip Marlowe feel to it.
It wouldn’t take much for a review of this book to contain spoilers but I’ll try to sidestep them while also giving something of a synopsis.
According to the blurb at the back of the book this is the first in what will become a series of Churchill and Wade mysteries. Churchill and Wade are the principal characters, Churchill with a law enforcement background, Wade from the private investigation field. The location setting is never identified but you work it out after a bit. Churchill and Wade meet in the opening pages and join forces to tackle an especially sleazy form of crime.
‘I didn’t need to be sober to know I was in deep, deep trouble!’ Got me! Right there with the Chandler style opening. But could Hulse keep me?
The story is told in the first person from Churchill’s point of view. It adds immeasurably to the immediacy and impact of the storytelling.
There’s a terrific plot line and the characters are drawn well especially, as you would expect, Churchill and Wade, but I also liked very much Madalene Helaine, The French Assistant Director of EUROPOL. She’s exactly what every red-blooded woman in her fifties hopes she approximates at that age.
So, did Hulse keep me to the end? It dipped in the middle. The overall narration is very witty but it felt forced, became ‘clever’ in the middle, but thankfully picked up again. So, yes, he kept me.
Take this link to my interview with Stephen R Hulse
|Posted by Alana Woods on February 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
Anjaline Rodriguez, born and raised in Quito Ecuador, is ripped at the age of 14 from all she holds dear by her anthropologist stepfather who takes her and her mother to live in Hope Valley, a remote settlement in British Columbia, Canada. She is an exotic flower from a sun-drenched country dropped into an alien land of cold and snow, and a small village of strangers including—as you would expect in a YA romance novel—several very attractive young males. Angeline experiences all the tortuous angst that every young teen alive has ever felt when she gives her heart to one of them.
McGuire has a way of description that I like very much. Sparse but evocative. Few words paint the picture. Quito comes to life and you feel the bone-chilling cold of Hope Valley.
She develops her principal characters nicely. There’s rather a lot about the physical attractions of the two mains but I guess that’s what teenagers tend to focus on, so it follows that any story involving them is also going to focus on that aspect.
The ‘does he/she like/not like me’ begins early and continues for a major part of the book, but then that’s part of the conflict so resolving it too soon would have been awkward.
McGuire has a nice writing style, it flows easily and for the most part without padding. I was less impressed with the amount of angst. Do teenagers really agonise quite SO much. Still, it’s a few—quite a few—years since I’ve been one, so I’ve probably forgotten.
McGuire steers strictly away from anything controversial in the relationship area, keeping the book a safe but I imagine heart-stopping read for her intended audience of young adults, girls particularly. The closest she gets to the subject of sex (a word that is not used) is ‘His hormones were raging’ followed by a kiss.
Chapters 1 to 10 are told totally from Anjaline’s point of view, after that multiple points of view take over but stay principally with Anjaline and her love interest.
The book has everything: love, torment, happiness, tragedy and hope.
Take this link to my interview with Amy McGuire
Amy's Amazon author page
|Posted by Alana Woods on January 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (2)|
The book’s sub-title is 31 men in 31 days—what could possibly go wrong? and then we dive straight into an often very funny, often very insightful look at exactly what can go wrong, or right, about online dating.
While it would definitely appeal to Bridget Jones' fans THE SERIAL DATER'S SHOPPING LIST actually tells a better story, one where the main protagonist, Isobel MacFarlane, or Izzy Mac to her friends, is not a journalist desperate to find a man, although she is a journalist. She writes the technology column on a Northamptonshire UK newspaper. The story opens with Izzy just having been given an assignment of a different kind—to join an online dating service and, pretending to be a secretary, date a man a day for a month and write an article about each date. With loose-lipped colleague and friend Donna party to the intrigue keeping her identity secret sometimes takes effort.
The story is written in first person present tense and Bailey handles it well, keeping the pace moving and keeping it entertaining.
I liked the descriptive narrative, such things as ' ... Tea shoots up both nostrils, which isn't pleasant but clears the blockage nicely'. That and many more had me wondering if Bailey is writing much from life and if she actually took on this assignment in the interests of making it come across as real, because it has the ring of authenticity. I was smiling often and even breaking into a grin with some of the dates, and I don’t do that often.
The story is interspersed with a well-rounded drawing in of the lives of work colleagues, friends and family—a necessary diversion away from the 31 dates which, as an unbroken litany, could otherwise have become boring even though well told.
This is quality chicklit. The story and characters kept my interest, the writing is polished. My one criticism is the use of whilst, not once but often. I'm Australian and such spellings haven’t been common here for years. We go for the simpler while, among, program etc. If I'm being unfair I apologise but after the first couple it annoyed me.
That aside this was a very entertaining read.
And in spite of not really looking, does Izzy actually meet a man she'd like to take home?
Take this link to my interview with Morgen
|Posted by Alana Woods on January 19, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (2)|
This is another quality, albeit short, read from Nougat. Well-thought out plotline, character depth, polished prose. What more could you ask for.
This book tackles the elemental story of aging. In common with YA fiction it looks into one of life’s transitions, this one the transition from work to retirement, from a life of busyness—if not usefulness—to one of what to do with oneself when one no longer has a primary purpose.
Nougat is in fact the initiator and driving force behind the next big thing in genres: baby boomer literature, be it fiction or non-fiction. A HOOK IN THE SKY is her first contribution. If the online airplay Nougat is receiving is any guide it’s generating massive interest.
The story follows a childless couple from the day of husband Robert’s—French—retirement from the UN. His wife Kay—American—is 20 years younger and a contemporary art gallery owner. They have nothing in common, a fact that comes very much to the fore once Robert’s no longer working. He rekindles his interest in painting. Locations shift from the US to Italy to France as Robert and Kay separate then come together again with a big art project, all the while Robert exploring what else life has to offer, namely other women.
What’s wrong with the book? Well, I prefer longer novels but that’s not a criticism. The plot and characters don’t suffer, they’re well developed.
My one criticism is that the story is told from Robert’s point of view except for several brief instances where it swaps to Kay’s. I didn’t like this. If you’re going to swap points of view, give the characters equal time. As it is it looks like the author has inadvertently veered or hasn’t figured out how to convey what Kay is thinking or feeling any other way. However, it’s a small criticism.
I enjoyed the read. I can see it having general appeal—not just to the BB age group—because it draws in so much.
I imagine Nougat used her own experience to build the character of Robert. She worked at the UN herself and is a painter. I loved the details about art and painting. In one particular scene Robert is choosing what paint colours to buy. I’m not going to tell you the wonderful descriptions Nougat gives them, you’re going to have to read the book yourself for that delight.
As for the cover design, its meaning becomes very clear towards the end of the novel.
Take this link to my interview with Claude
|Posted by Alana Woods on January 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
This is the second book in the Jonathon Savage trilogy, the first being FINAL DIAGNOSIS which I reviewed last week.
Because it's called The Jonathan Savage trilogy I expected BLOWBACK to also feature Jonathan Savage but it doesn't. The link is Miranda Phillips, the criminal in the first book who lived to get away. FINAL DIAGNOSIS was played out for the most part in New York and Bali. The setting for BLOWBACK is England with brief excursions to other places including Africa.
The story revolves around a very nasty virus being let loose in public places around London, the first in a late night tube train, and the assumption that it is a terrorist attack. Until that is confirmed Chief Inspector Jim Moore of Scotland Yard is asked to lead the investigation into the multiple murders. As the second and then a third attack occurs the pressure on Moore to solve the case becomes increasingly intense. I won't reveal what Phillips' involvement is except to say she is one nasty piece of work. Moore has to contend with his own demons while trying to track down the real ones holding the UK to ransom.
All in all a good read well told. There is no in-depth characterisation, Walters concentrates on the plot. Characters are drawn to the extent needed to advance the story.
It's a read that will keep you absorbed without taxing your brain. In other words, a good book to relax back with, glass in hand, to while away an afternoon or evening.
Take this link to my interview with Paul V Walters.
|Posted by Alana Woods on January 5, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
First off the bat let me say that the FINAL DIAGNOSIS plotline is a good one with only one flaw for me. That flaw has to do with the number of people who work for one of the baddies—Miranda Phillips, a drop-dead gorgeous female with cascading red hair and Botticelli face—who are party to what she’s doing. I found it hard to believe that all these employees are okay with what is required of them, which is to carry out investigations that have deadly consequences.
The story: Jonathon Savage, a communications billionaire with a company fast rivalling the likes of Apple, receives some devastating medical news and hatches a plan to circumvent what he’s told will be a fast downward spiral. The plan sees him leaving a trusted friend in charge of the company while he globe trots in an effort to evade an assassin. Bad luck of a personal nature follows Savage around. Several years previously his wife and daughter died in a plane crash. In Spain he meets a beautiful young woman and is instantly attracted. That attraction puts her in danger’s path. It’s touch and go whether they survive.
Other than Savage I felt the characters were rather one-dimensional. Miranda Phillips tended to scream a lot, which got on my nerves. Fortunately she doesn’t appear on every page. The dialogue, for me, was not quite natural, and at times I had to read it twice to see who was talking because exchanges between characters ran on instead of dropping down when there was a change of speaker.
Other than those points, as I say, the story is a good one. It kept me turning the page to see how Savage survives because, as this is the first in a three-book series, survive he obviously does.
The next in the series is BLOWBACK.
Paul is travelling overseas at the moment - lucky him - and I have unfortunately been unable to contact him about an interview to accompany the review. Another time then, perhaps with one of the next in the series.
|Posted by Alana Woods on December 22, 2012 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
In ambitiously categorising this book as Literary Romance and Realism the author has not overstated its quality.
The lovely, complex language is redolent of a more leisurely age in reading, when being able to get through a book quickly was not the imperative it is to many today. The story, also, is complex and veers wildly, for me, between extreme realism and extreme surrealism.
Definitely not a book for the casual reader if only because of its length, which at 200,000+ words is more than twice the size of most books on shelves today. It demands total attention and lengthy sojourns within its pages. It deserves prolonged immersion.
Reminiscent of serialisation of novels in past times, chapters finish on cliff-hangers. The tensions are well-maintained, aided by successive chapters swapping between the two main characters.
I found I had to persevere for the first several chapters—the detail makes for slow going. In fact, this is true throughout the book but as I became used to and accepted the degree of exposition the more I found myself falling under its spell.
The title CLOTHO’S LOOM is a reference to Clotho, one of the Three Fates, who was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. References to the warp and woof, as allusions to the vagaries weaving through lives, run through the story. At one point the female protagonist actually restores and uses a handloom.
The story: Will and Nexus are a childless couple approaching middle age. He is a university professor, she a lawyer. In his youth Will was in the military and it’s the experience and specialist knowledge he holds that on his 39th birthday sees him being inducted back into service. From there it’s a downward spiral of competition between the factions wanting him while the philosophy of each constantly wars within him. He abandons his wife just as she falls pregnant, leaving her to fend for herself in an unsatisfactory and often unnerving office situation.
Both undergo extreme physical and emotional tests. In searching for their own paths do they find each other again? One wonders how, given the path down which Will allows himself to be led. But given the sub-title ‘A novel of romance ...’ one could be forgiven for thinking, perhaps hoping, that somehow all obstacles are overcome.
I was less taken with the character of Sage, an almost goddess-type who befriends Nexus. What transpires between them is a little too vague at times. I couldn’t quite believe in her.
Whew! was my reaction on completion. For the length, for the complexity, for the language, for the scope, and for StJean’s vision in writing it.
Take this link to my interview with Shawn StJean
© This website and all information is copyrighted to Alana Woods.
It cannot be reproduced elsewhere in whole or in part without Alana Woods permission.