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review 2018-11-09 20:54
Sometimes it's not about who did it, it's about why...
Criminal Intentions: Changing Faces - Cole McCade

Ok, I'm going to try and share something new and fresh here but I have to be honest this is book #4 Criminal Intentions Changing Faces, for this series and 'other than "ohmyfreakin'godthisis hella,hellaGOOD" I'm starting to feel like a stuck record but I'll give it a go anyways ok.

 

'Criminal Investigations' is a series with a slightly different form to it. The author's plan is to write this  with a format that more strongly resembles a television show than a book series. As most of us know book series can vary in terms of when and how often they're released.  I've read series where the books have been released almost all at once as was the case with Brent Weeks 'Night Angel' trilogy these books were originally released within weeks of each other (and no that wasn't an intentional play on words) other series may have months between each book or sometimes even years (let's think G.R.R. Martin here and still others have totally erratic release dates). Whereas with a television show we know that basically we're getting 13 episodes per viewing season (it use to be 22 but these days 13 seems to be the average). So the plan for this series as I understand is a possible 5 seasons with 13 episodes per season. So if you're planning on seeing this through to the end, as I and some other souls are want to do it's going to be like making a commitment to G.R.R. Martin himself the endgame is not for those in need of immediate gratification. 

 

In order not to spoil this for anyone with a potential interest in following this series let me just say that...I'm not going to write spoilerish things in my reviews anything that I use that directly pertains to the events in an episode will also be found in the blurb.

 

Ok, so what am I going to talk about well the obvious of course why I'm reading this series. I love a good crime drama story, especially if it has a personal connection to it. With each episode of CI (yep, we're going to save me some typing and refer to this as CI for Criminal Intentions) anyways, with each episode there's a different crime being resolved and by different I don't mean same crime different faces I mean different crime with different faces and here in CI #4 what we were given was a case of domestic violence and while the who and why of who done it was apparent fairly early in the story. I was ok with that because while this was a part of the story it wasn't the focus this time around the focus was more about the impact that the case has on Seong-Jae one of the MCs in this series as he works to resolve the circumstances surrounding the victims murder... because we don't always live in a world of clear absolutes and sometimes upholding the law doesn't always mean adhering to the letter of the law and as an officer of the law Seong-Jae not only has to resolve this murder but he finds he needs to come to terms with that resolution...it's good stuff folks seriously thought provoking stuff because if you've read this and heard any news stories over the past few years I'm sure you'll agree with me that much of this story could have easily come from the pages of any newspaper.

 

And this leads to the next thing that I really like about this series and that's the strong undertone of realism that runs through these stories. This is not a light and fluffy series with sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. These stories deal with the dark side of human nature sometimes the lines between right and wrong become pretty fuzzy...just like in the real world.

 

So now onto my favorite thing about this series or I guess I should say things...Seong-Jae and Malcolm...these two men...sweet baby jebus!!! Let me just say this will test the patience of even the staunchest slow burn fan but it's going to be worth it...of this I feel certain.

 

These two men...I don't even know how to explain the dynamics between them other than to use a very cliche phrase and say 'It's complicated'. Seriously we're 4 books in and we'v basically gotten a couple of kisses that's it but..DAMN!!! I've read full on sex scenes that didn't radiate the heat that these two just begin in the same room...or even on a telephone together.

 

With every story we're given a crime drama that's resolved from start to finish but with each story we're also given a little more about Seong-Jae and Malcolm's past as they continue to dance around each other and there's an overlying storyline that's building and it's the one that keeps me coming back because in spite of the crime that's resolved the author leaves us with just enough answers to pique our interest while also adding just enough questions to tease the readers curiosity.

 

While this was probably the weakest of the stories in terms of the crime that was committed and resolved for me it was in fact one of the better stories from the perspective of personal relationships. It also seems to be a pivotal point as things seem to be changing both for and between Soeng-Jae and Malcolm.

 

I'm not sure what comes next for this series but I do know I'm on board to find out...episode 5 everyone 'It's Witchcraft' and it's happening tomorrow (November 10) and I'm so there! This series...very highly recommended! and definitely best read in order.

 

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A copy of 'Criminal Intentions: Changing Faces' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-04-17 20:12
Ripping off a thousand masks
The Hero With a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell

After the bitter disappointment of The Power of Myth, I wanted to try Joseph Campbell's original work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  I hoped it would be more illuminating than the pretentious nonsense of Campbell/Moyers collaboration.

 

If anything, it was worse.  I managed to slog through about 50 pages before giving up.  There isn't enough time in the world to waste on this.

 

I was expecting an analysis of myths from around the world to show how they fit Campbell's pattern, but what I got seemed like fragmentary stream-of-consciousness ramblings.  Though his "nuclear unit" of story construction made sense, nothing else did.

 

That nuclear unit posits three main parts of a myth or story.  The hero begins in his/her ordinary world, then leaves that world to have some kind of adventure in a non-ordinary world, and finally returns to the ordinary world with some special knowledge or talent or gift that fixes whatever was wrong in the first place.  Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again - that sort of thing.

 

If he had taken that core and expanded it into the more detailed structure of Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Threshold Guardian and so on, I might have felt there was something of value.  But his examples of myths rarely illustrated his premise.  The last one I bothered to read was about the Chinese prince who didn't want to get married, but Campbell ended the chapter without explaining what the point of it was!

 

The other negative for me was the inclusion of dreams, either from Freudian or Jungian psychoanalysis.  First of all, I'm not all that impressed with either Freud or Jung, though Freud really rubs me the wrong way.  But second, and far more important, was that I just don't feel random dreams, taken completely out of context, are a valid foundation on which to build a theory of story structure.

 

A few nights ago, I had a dream that a volcano was opening up under a portion of my house.  In the dream, I was trying to keep certain objects from falling into the volcano, but they were relatively valueless objects.  As I came to the realization that there were far more valuable objects to be saved, and that I did have the means to save them and escape the path of destruction, I exited the house and began to select items to be packed and taken away with me.  As I did so, however, I discovered that someone was cutting down all the trees and big cactus on my property, with the explanation that he was doing so to stop the volcano.  At that point, I woke up.

 

Because I'm aware of the context in which that dream developed, I know that there's not a whole lot of Freudian bullshit involved.  Were the dreams cited by Campbell also taken out of an everyday context?  Not knowing for sure, I just brushed them aside as meaningless.

 

That, of course, made much of the rest of the discussion equally meaningless.

 

The book was definitely not what I expected, and I really didn't find it useful at all as a basis for analyzing story structure.

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review 2018-01-13 15:02
Review: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Bad Girls with Perfect Faces - Lynn Weingarten

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A dark YA thriller about friendship, obsession and jealousy taken over the top and everything going horribly wrong. Sasha and Xavier have been best friends for years. Sasha is not the most likeable character in the world, she’s cold, blunt and frankly, kind of a bitch. The only person who gets her moods and can handle her is her BFF Xavier. Who this reader found kind of dull and rather bland. But he and Sasha connect pretty well, they hang out, have their own sense of humour and inner jokes. They get each other.

 

It’s worked for years, they live in a small town, are outcasts at school and pretty much just have each other. Until Xavier got a girlfriend, Ivy. Ivy was even more of a brat than Sasha. Ivy came from a very wealthy family, she has an outgoing personality, but she’s also the type of manipulative bitch who knows how to push people’s buttons and wrap them around her finger and make them think everything she does is okay, no matter how wrong it actually is. She plays with Xavier pretty much breaks his heart.

 

At the start of the novel what Sasha doesn’t know is that Xavier has started seeing Ivy again. What Xavier doesn’t know is Sasha has fallen for him and has no idea how to tell him. Naturally she’s worried that if he doesn’t feel the same way their friendship would be ruined. And it doesn’t help that Ivy is now back on the screen.

 

Sasha and Ivy can’t stand each other. Not surprising really, their personalities clash and they are both epically jealous of the other’s relationship with Xavier which in a way is kind of understandable as both girls get different sides of him. Only made worse by Sasha’s feelings now boarding on obsession as she worries over what Ivy’s going to do to him this time.

 

So Sasha comes up with a plan. She invents an online profile of a guy to trap Ivy and convince Xavier finally that she is a cheater and no good for him. Which is sort of cringe-worthy to read and with the feeling of malice and foreboding in the story, it’s clearly all going to go wrong at some point. The novel is told in three different viewpoints – Sasha’s, Xavier’s and Ivy’s. Then when a plot twist happens another mysterious view point appears with no name, someone else who knows something has gone wrong and is doing their own investigation.

 

The psychological mind sent of the three different characters was quite interesting over how Xavier, and Sasha both displayed obsessive behaviour, while Ivy was obsessing over the fake profile guy she was getting to know and revealing sides of herself she usually keeps hidden.

 

Of course everything goes hideously wrong and Sasha finds herself in a very bad situation she doesn’t know how to handle at first. It all gets a bit ridiculous here. Xavier ends up tagging along without realising what’s really going on, Sasha’s got another secret she knows she’s never going to be able to keep for long without giving some sort of explanation and that it could potentially ruin her friendship with Xavier. To make things worse someone else has figured out Sasha is up to something and is on their trail.

 

The drama is a bit over the top but there is a definite rise in tension in this bit. Nerves are stretched to breaking point and it comes through clear in the writing and makes things very uncomfortable. I was quite impressed with the ending. Didn’t see it coming, and the way it concluded was actually quite believable.

 

It’s definitely a page turner, and while a little silly in some of the plot twists, there’s a compelling element about it that makes you have to keep going to know what’s going to happen. It’s a great example of a good book about unlikeable characters. The characters are well fleshed out and well written even though they are mostly horrible people.

 

I wasn’t overly impressed with the first book I read by this author, but I really liked this one. I bought a finished copy from iBooks.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Electric Monkey/Egmont Publishing for approving my request to view the title.

 

 

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review 2017-12-15 14:40
Faces in the Crowd - Valeria Luiselli
This is one of those books where you have no idea what is going on most of the time, but it is still an enjoyable read. I don't know what it is exactly, but the experience of reading this novel is amazing. 

The writing is beautifully disjointed, or rather it is "a horizontal novel, told vertically. A novel which has to be told from the outside in order to be read from within." 

I loved the ideas expressed in the novel and how they made their way into the narration. The voice of the narrator shifts throughout the novel, which is utterly confusing, but also spell-binding. 

The entire experience is altogether quite difficult to put into words, but it is perfect in its imperfections. A wonderful read that is beautiful and haunting.

For more reviews, check out my blog Craft-Cycle
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review 2017-10-22 12:54
Angel with Two Faces
Angel with Two Faces - Nicola Upson

What was that?

 

I was so looking forward to the second instalment in the Josephine Tey series, because the first one had really surprised me in the best way - and I'm not keen on either series or tribute- / fan- fiction.

 

But where was the sparkle, the pep, the genuine dialogue between the characters that made the first book work so well? 

 

For what its worth, where was the plot???

 

This book seriously suffered from "telling, not showing", from a stagnant plot, from solely basing all success of this story on shock-value (which was not that shocking once got used to all sorts of stereotypes being exhausted...).

 

So disappointing.

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