Saturday, December 31, 2011

John Dodds: Bone Machines

From indie author John Dodds comes a very dark novel of a serial killer who murders for his love of his art.

Stephen Morrell is an artist with a very different medium. Decay, destruction, human bones, bodies, they are what make his art stand out. However, how he acquires his medium is his true art form and his victims will suffer for his art. They are men and women from around the Glasgow who have gone missing and yet the police are not willing to say that they are related. When people look at his art, he knows that they will never understand the true meaning of each piece of death that is portrayed, yet they attempt to and flock to see him. Ray Bissett is an investigative reporter who has put others on the line before just to get a story. He is drawn into the missing people story determined to show that they are linked, never realizing that this story is one that will hit very close to home.

I'm not sure how I found this ebook, but I thought it sounded interesting and I liked the name to I decided to read the first few pages to see if i would like it, I was hooked in from the first few pages. I did not want to put this book down, it had many of the elements that I look for in a thriller book.

The serial killer in this novel is Fantastically Sinister and Evil. I did not even mind that you know who it is at the serial killer is at the beginning of the book. Dodds does not go into too much detail of what is done to the victims but enough detail is given to give the reader the creeps but much of it is left to your own imagination which I think is worse. I like the interaction between Stephan's art and his victims (his real art form), as he displays many of the classic psychopathic tendencies. I also like how Dodds had Stephen have the ability to wear the mask of normalcy around everyone but his victims. This made him much more real and scary as he really could be anyone, anywhere. I really enjoyed the chapters from Stephan's point of view. How he views other people, how he hunts, his journal entries, all were really interesting and have the ability to really draw the reader in. The one thing I did not like was the "surprise" near the end of the book. This surprise used to be unique however, I have found more and more authors turning this way, therefore, the impact and uniqueness has worn off.

Outside of Stephen I found that this book was lacking in a few places. Ray is an investigative reporter but other than a contact near the beginning of the book, I found that he lacked in investigative ability or the right contacts to get the information that he needed. I think the individual in the story who had the most investigative ability is the forensic anthropologist, which is fitting as Stephan's artwork is mainly based in the use of human bones. I think that the investigative part of the story should have been based around her, have Ray as the secondary character.

I also found that the MP (member of Parliament) Robert Park and Miriam Allen issue was never fully finished or explained, and I am unsure if Dodds is going to release another book with the same characters in order to finish the Park's issue. It sounds like it but I do not think that I would want to read a book strictly about Ray and a possible corrupt politician. I think that Dodds novel should have forgot about the political angle and just stuck with the serial killer one as that was the best part of the book.

While this novel may be lacking in certain parts (oh and I will mention that there are a few spelling a grammar errors but nothing too major), I think that it is worth reading just for the serial killer aspects. This is where Dodds excelled in this book and would encourage me to read another novel by him if it is crime based. This is a FREE ebook and smashwords (, and one that I would recommend you try out, it is one of the better free ebooks that I have read.


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Friday, December 23, 2011

J.T. Ellison: All the Pretty Girls

In the first novel of J.T. Ellison's Lt. Taylor Jackson and FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin criminal investigative series, there are missing girls and missing hands scattered across the southern United States:

One local girl is found, hand missing, and another girl goes missing right after, Lt. Taylor Jackson and FBI profiler John Baldwin get the call and discover there is another victim of the Southern Strangler. As much as Taylor wants to help Baldwin he is called away to each state that has been affected by the Southern Strangler and Taylor gets the call to help out with a serial rapist called the Rainman. What Taylor and Baldwin are unaware of is the Southern Strangler has made contact with a TV reporter in Nashville Whitney Connolly, who is determined to use the contact to make herself famous but at what cost? As the serial killer spirals out of control and more girls are murdered, there appears to be no end in sight and the only person who may know the truth isn't sharing.

This book was pretty good start to the series and I will be picking up the following book as I did like the story and the characters that Ellison created. However, I do not think that this is the best first serial killer or crime book that I have read. This book did not have as many twists and turns to lead the reader and detective astray as I would have liked. I also would have liked a few more chapters or sections that were from the killers point of view, as I think that by having these chapters the serial killer is more defined therefore more scary.

I liked Taylor and Baldwin together and separate as characters. I enjoyed that Ellison had them work on different cases in this book, but still seeking the others expertise while doing so. I think this separation of the cases is very true to life situations as the FBI is more concerned with national crimes and Taylor is restricted to the city of Nashville. Although Taylor and Baldwin are working on two different cases and helping each other out when they can you never feel lost within the separate stories or confused on who is working on what. I think that Ellison did a good job of weaving the crimes and stories together in such a way that the reader does not get lost within them.

Taylor is a strong female character and she has to be in as she is the head of a homicide unit and is looked upon to make the major decisions for her unit. I really appreciate that Taylor did not feel that she had to do everything herself and was not a know it all. She treated the detectives who she was in charge with, with respect and would seek their advice and knowledge when it was needed. I also think that Ellison did a good job showing what it was like to be a head of a unit and that the Lt. is responsible for more than one case at a time, to me this was a very realistic aspect of this novel.

Baldwin is also an interesting character. He has been with the FBI for a long time and is starting to feel like he is burning out especially with the case his is currently working on. He feels like he has found a place of peace with Taylor but is unsure how to explore it because his job takes he across the USA. Together, Taylor and Baldwin seem like a great partnership whether on a case or living together. I think that Ellison did a great job in creating a balance between the two in their relationship and the interweaving of their separate cases.

I think this was a pretty good start to a a series and I am interested in seeing how Taylor and Baldwin evolve no only in their relationship but within their perspective professions. I look forward to seeing the different stories that Ellison is able to create around Taylor and I hope Baldwin as well.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kathryn Stockett: The Help

Probably one of the most popular books this year is Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help, where she explores the life of black women in Mississippi during the 1960s when the equality and integration movements started nation wide in the United States.

Skeeter is an aspiring writer who has grown up in Jackson Mississippi where segregation between blacks and whites is still the way of life, even to the fact where the black maids who work in the Jackson's white families home, are not able to use the bathroom within the house. Through her interaction with one of her friend's maid Aibileen and her love for her own maid growing up Constantine, Skeeter decides to write a novel from the Jackson's maids point of view, not realizing that by writing this novel could change everything in not only her life, but those who agree to be part of the novel.

I really enjoyed this book, the interaction between the three women and their different reasons for wanting to take part in writing the Help. I was not expecting it (because of what the movie trailer showed as Skeeter as the main character) but I really liked that Stockett had different chapters dedicated to each of the women. This allowed the reader to get to know each of the women individuals and really showed the disparity between Skeeter and Minny and Aibileen. It was very interesting to see the interaction between the women and how the each change throughout the book and how writing a novel changed them as well.

The characters within this book have been masterly crafted and you get to know each woman individually as there are chapters within the story that are dedicated to each characters. This helps give each women's perspective on what life is like and what is going on in Jackson Mississippi. 

Skeeter, is a strong character who is attempting to understand the changes that are occurring across the United States as well as her own perspective on life as it has changed and does not fit any more with the girls that she grew up with. Raised by the family maid Constantine, Skeeter loved her like any girl would love the woman that raised her and this has shaped her view on the white and black situation that is happening around her and gives her the strength to want to write about it. 

Minnie is the out spoken one of the three, who is not afraid to tell her mind to anyone, but knows that it will be this is also her downfall both within the work force but also at home. I really liked when Minnie went to work for Celia Foote, it showed a different side of Minnie that she really does have a caring side for white people even though she tries hard to hide it.

I think that Aibileen is my favorite character in this book, I cannot say how much I enjoyed her parts. Her strength and love for the children that she raises as her own is inspiring. She is a very soft spoken character, but who is probably the strongest of them all. Aibileen is trying hard to make sure that the children she raises feel important especially Mae Mobley who does not feel loved by her mother. Aibileen even begins to change how she raises the children through her process of telling her stories to Skeeter. As I said Aibileen is my favorite character within the book and I think the one who is explored the most.

I have seen the movie for The Help as well, and while it is a good movie, it does not hold a candle to the book. I found that there was lack of character development in the movie when compared the book. I also think that the movie did the book a disfavour by changing Constantine's story as to why she "left" and I think if they would have used the one from the book it would have showed more of the disparity between whites and black within the Jackson community.

I think that Stockett's novel is well written, has great story as well as fantastic character development. I think that is has a great message and could see parents reading this book with older children. If you were thinking of picking this book up, I would, you will not be disappointed.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Phaedra Weldon: Wraith

Hi everyone, sorry it has been so long since I have posted a review. I`m just going through a move right now and I don't really think that would be an over all excuse but the past few books that I have picked up to read have been (for lack of a better word) Lemons. So I kind of lost my motivation in reading as I strive to finish reading these past few books but I really do try hard to finish every book I start reading.

 In her debut novel, Phaedra Weldon takes the reader in the world of in between, where ghost and other things go bump in the night and not everything in there is friendly

Zoe Martinique is a Private Detective, but not of the cheating husband kind, more like a professional snoop infiltrating meetings that no one else is able to without someone else knowing she is there. Zoe has the ability of astral projection. Her spirit can leave her body and have all the abilities of a spirit free from a body plus some other Perks. Zoe should have known to stay away from the "oogy" feeling she was getting from the office building. After witnessing a murder by a fellow traveler Zoe has been scarred, literally and strange things are happening each time she leaves her body. But Zoe is determined to find the murder not only to help bring him to justice, but to find out what he has done to her.

I really wanted to like this book. I thought that the premise sounded interesting and that it might be something a little different in the paranormal genre. It took just over 250 pages (The books is about 375 pages long) to finally have this book pique some interest for me to read it, but it was like pulling teeth to get to this point. I found that other than the astral projection concept within the book (which is an interesting idea) that the book was severely lacking. This book lack imagination (other than the astral aspect), the writing style/language were hard to read at times, as well as I think that Weldon missed the mark in the character development.

The Highlight of this novel is Zoe's power. Not going to lie going Astral Projection is pretty cool and I like the integration of it into her occupation as a Private Detective or Professional Snooper. While I did find the Astral projection interesting and Zeo's ability to use it as her snooping tool, this was not enough for me to truelove enjoy this book.

I found that Zoe was very immature for her age (she is 28 in this book) and I was unable to relate to her thought process. She is a winy main character (I don't know how many times she wanted her mommy), who complains when she does not get her way. She also has the inability to learn from previous errors that she has made and it a little bit too man obsessed for my liking (this is not to say that there is a lot of romance in this book, very little actually, but she does think about men quite a bit). It also nagged me with the constant abbreviations for everything astral that Zoe's mom and Rachel had, we may live in a computer and texting world but that does not mean that I want to have them in the literature that I read. Also the over use of the word or "concept" of the word oogy really began to annoy me at the end and it was the use of this word that also attributed to Zoe`s immaturity

I think that Weldon had an interesting concept and premise, that if executed right would this would have been a great book. I think that the writing style and character development were not for me and were just lacking overall. Additionally, by the time I reached the end of the book, I was done, I do not want to read any more about Zoe, or her life. There is really nothing left in this book that would draw me in to read the next book, not even the interesting concept of Astral Projection.


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