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review 2014-11-24 10:46
The Light Never Lies (Crater Lake #2)
The Light Never Lies (Crater Lake Series #2) - Francis L. Guenette

Author: Francis Guenette

Published: February 2014 by Huckleberry Haven Publishing

Category: Contemporary Fiction


Life is never dull for those who live on the secluded shores of Crater Lake. Set against the backdrop of Northern Vancouver Island, The Light Never Lies is a story of heartbreaking need and desperate measures. People grapple with the loss of cherished ideals to discover that love comes through the unique family ties they create as they go.


The Light Never Lies begins a few months after the end of Disappearing in Plain Sight, with flashback chapters to fill in the intervening time. The multi layered story and characters are complex yet realistic, identifiable and as totally engaging as the first time around. And revisiting Vancouver Island and the beautiful Crater Lake setting was a treat in itself, still just as appealingly evocative and visual.


Lisa-Marie returns to the Crater Lake complex with Justin Roberts, scared and with shock news that will impact on everyone’s lives. Liam especially has a hard time coping with the repercussions, afraid it’s affecting his newly formed relationship with Izzy Montgomery, the trauma councillor at Micah Camp, a refuge for troubled teenagers. There are new residents at the camp, one in particular whose presence facilitates a deadly confrontation which shatters the already fragile peace and tranquility of Crater Lake.


Liam checked Caleb’s gold watch on his wrist; despite the removal of two links by Izzy’s jeweller, the band was still loose. Any minute now the bus would be arriving in Dearborn and Beulah would be on her way back to Crater Lake with Justin and Lisa-Marie. Liam didn’t know when he moment of confrontation might come, but come it would and there wasn’t a thing he could do to avoid it. He was like a deer standing on the highway, blinded by the headlights of an oncoming transport truck. All he could do was wait to be flattened by the impact.


Bethany, Lisa’s aunt, struggling with issues after her near death experience, and Beulah, her partner, experiencing her own problems while trying to keep everything on track, are drifting further apart.


Alexander Collins, a native elder, and Robbie, his son, smarter than his years and with a fascinating gift (which relates to the book title), travel to Crater Lake looking for family. Edward, Izzy’s father, wants to spend his final days with his daughter. Cynthia St. Pierre, a mystery writer, and baby Sophie, all add to the dynamics and aspect of Izzy’s fast growing and extended family. Each personality is defined and as the intricacy of the relationships unfold sympathetically I was absorbed into the story and could picture it as if watching from the sidelines.


All the characters, old and new, are a great mix and Francis Guenette weaves a compelling and very well crafted story which tugs at the heartstrings and pulls out respect,  appreciation and compassion. Each of them dealing with difficult situations which are explored with sensitivity, whether it’s the teenage resident at the camp who is angry and afraid because he believes he’s gay. Or the relationship between Bethany and Beulah. The convoluted connection between Izzy, Liam, Lisa and baby Sophie. And the terminal illness of a family member. They are all interwoven into the story allowing the exploration of individual weaknesses or failings. A wonderfully captivating and touching story with a very moving ending.

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review 2014-11-11 19:07
Disappearing In Plain Sight
Disappearing in Plain Sight - Francis L. Guenette
  • Author: Francis Guenette
  • Published: February 2013 by FriesenPress
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction


Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.


Lisa-Marie is spending the summer on the beautiful shores of Crater Lake, Vancouver Island, with her Aunt Bethany and her aunt’s partner, Beulah. They live by Camp Micah, a refuge for troubled teenagers who have spent years in care, and among a small diverse community who all have their own conflicting personalities, emotions and issues.


Crater Lake is remote and peaceful, a place to which people gravitate in the hope of leaving behind their troubled pasts. But, as the cast of very authentic and well drawn characters find, problems have a tendency to follow on regardless, as if attached by an invisible cord. And no matter how much or how long they are ignored, one day they will demand to be resolved.



On her first evening at the A-Frame, Lisa-Marie grabbed a novel from the coffee table and flopped onto the sofa. She didn’t mind spending her time with a good book but she usually got to pick reading over other options – no TV, no internet and no phone. It was like being captive on an episode of Survivor….

Beulah strolled casually by the sofa flipping a brochure onto Lisa-Marie’s lap. ‘Micah Camp…why not check it out? Maybe they need a cook’s helper or something. Maybe you could get a job….better than lying around on your ass for the next two months.’ Lisa-Marie had to give Beulah credit. That remark slid in like a well aimed shiv in the prison exercise yard. And the timing was superb; her Auntie Beth had walked out of the room just moments before.


Izzy Montgomery is a psychological trauma counsellor, a widow grieving for her husband, Caleb, who was the grounding force in her life for so many years. Caleb’s influence is still felt strongly and his absence affects the residents of Crater Lake. They can do nothing else but accept and control their reactions as best they can. The different perspectives give a lot of insight into each wounded and complex personality, and as a result there are strong feelings running through the narrative along with the underlying effects of guilt, bullying, grief and abuse. These challenging social issues are handled with sensitivity and illustrate how they can have a devastating effect on the people suffering the consequences of such emotional ordeals.



Each chapter explores a specific character and includes past events which eventually brought them to Crater Lake and this point in their lives. It’s really fascinating and clever the way Francis Guenette has woven together these individual stories with insight and awareness for human nature and frailties.


This summer at Crater Lake, with transient folk added to the mix, precipitates a change in everyone’s life with the emotional strains and tensions, which have built up over time, challenging them all to focus on soul-searching and whether there is the ability to leave troubles in the past where they belong, leaving the way open to adjust and move forward.


The setting is extremely appealing and very visual, the detailed descriptions of the area are evocative and expressive. The story encompasses a lot, some experiences no-one should have to experience, unrequited love, dealing with loss and grief and eventually coming round to letting go of blame and so being able to embrace the not always easy process of healing.



About the author

GuenetteFrancis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and dog and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden on the Northern end of Vancouver Island. She lives in an off-the-grid home that employs a combination of micro-hydro and solar power. 


Between May and September, Billy Bob the Bear drops over to graze and eat huckleberries and salal. Now and then cougar tracks are spotted meandering across the property. Life is good in the hinterlands, but Francis warns – you have to keep your eyes open and know where you are.


Francis has a daughter and a son – both happily married and pursuing interesting careers. She also has two beautiful and wildly funny granddaughters who provide her with inspiration for writing and living. 


For most of her working life, Francis has been an educator. She has worked with special needs children and youth and taught at the undergrad level at the University of Victoria. She has a graduate degree in counselling psychology and very nearly completed her PhD. There was that pesky matter of the doctoral dissertation, but enough said on that score! She has worked as a trauma counsellor, a researcher, and a graduate student supervisor. 


During her academic life Francis published (on her own and with others) several articles that were accepted to peer-reviewed journals as well as contributing to chapters in two published books. Disappearing in Plain Sight is her first novel. She is already hard at work on the sequel. 


Visit her WordPress blog http://disappearinginplainsight.com to learn all you would ever want to know about Francis and her writing life. There you can like her on Facebook. You are also invited to follow Francis on Twitter @FrancisGuenette 

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review 2013-08-19 00:00
disappearing in plain sight
Disappearing in Plain Sight - Francis L. Guenette What I didn't like. There are still quite a few unanswered questions from the book. I am not sure if this was intentional for the readers to think or if these will be answered in another book.
Did you find that the cover and title represented what the story was really about? Absolutely. We expect our problems and grief to disappear but when we run away from them, they only disappear in plain sight but not permanently.
What did you think of the story structure? The story flowed perfectly. The reader is never distracted from too many characters or the strong emotions they feel.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.
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review 2013-08-19 00:00
disappearing in plain sight
Disappearing in Plain Sight - Francis L. Guenette Top 3 things I liked about the main character. Lisa-Marie is very realistic and can be your neighbour or friend. Crater Lake seems to be a destination we all know to well, the place we go to run away from our problems but end up facing them head on. The writing brought these characters to life and I definitely want to read more by this author.

What is your favourite scene. When Izzy looks at the team photo of the Crate Lake Timber Wolves. The way the memories came back to her is a sentiment many people can share with her.

Cover. With a title like "Disappearing in Plain Sight" the shades of grey amidst what I assume is Crater Lake, everything about it is perfect.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.
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review 2013-07-04 00:00
disappearing in plain sight
Disappearing in Plain Sight - Francis L. Guenette What are some of the book's themes? Dealing with loss and overcoming grief. What I especially liked were that the characters were different ages so the reader is able to understand their grief from different perspectives.

Did the book end the way you expected? In some ways, the ending was expected but many of us at the book club were also expecting an open ended ending so were glad when we realised that the characters received closure.

Top 3 things I liked about the whole book. The emotions the author touched on were very real and many people aren't able to overcome these emotions. The backdrop and location of the book were well suited to the story. Lastly, I liked the way each character had some kind of "brokeness" to bring to the table. Nobody is perfect, after all.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.
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