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review 2013-12-01 20:34
Book Review: Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford


This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review.  As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.


To be fair, I have loved almost every book I have read by Rhys Ford.  There is something about how she describes a scene, a place, or a character.  Some of my past reviews of her books are found here: Black Dog Blues or Dirty Secret.


Basic Plot:


Tristan Pryce has a history of being thought odd and crazy by his family.  Now his family thinks Tristan has gone over the edge and they have called in professionals — ghost hunters!


Wolf Kincaid is a skeptic ghost hunter with a past.  He and his team journey to Hoxne Grange in response to Tristan’s family in proving that the haunting is all in Tristan’s mind.  But what both men find is more than ghosts, and perhaps a new future.


Wolf Kincaid:


Wolf is our alpha male.  He is passionate in his job and he has the adoration of his family.  I loved how Ford describes him:



And if he had a chance, he’d go back in time and kick the shit out of its builders too.  


At a little over six feet, he should have had more space to walk around in the upper floors’ hallways.  Instead, he felt like Alice after she had too many frosted cakes.  His elbows hurt from banging into the walls, and the household staff wouldn’t have to dust for cobwebs because Wolf was pretty sure he’d walked through all of the ones in the attic storerooms.



This quote hits perfectly because it describes both Wolf’s physicality but also his humor.  One of the best things about Ford’s writing is her sense of humor and Wolf embodies this.


There is a lot of back story for Wolf, mostly revolving around his family.  I would write about it here, but I fear that it would hamper his mystery and part of the plot.  So just know that his character goes from a repressed work focused man to fully appreciate his family, culture, and need for love.


Tristan Pryce:


I actually adore how Wolf describes Tristan:


Hell, Wolf thought, he probably was the one in the case and Tristan was the one setting him free.


Staring up the length of Tristan’s long, slender body, Wolf was caught by the man’s hooded gaze.  The duality of Tristan’s soul lay bare on his face, a delicate, pure innocence striated with a weary, tattered wisdom Wolf wanted to patch together with kisses.


His description captures Tristan’s character.  He is comfortable with the role of caretaker for the manor and the ghosts, as taught by his uncle Mortimer.  Now, he hides from life and the living by taking care of the dead.  Wolf sees how this affected Tristan’s life.


Strong Points:


As always, the strongest point of Ford’s writing are her descriptions.  She is an artist with words, painting a picture that is vivid enough for a movie.  There is a scene later on that is so macabre that it reminds me of something out of Stephen King’sThe Shinning:



The already dead lay about the fringes of the grand hall, caught in the throes of either their previous demise or the one newly created by their murderer.  To the left of them a rotund man wobbled on his bloated stomach, his torso stripped of a shirt.  Something was trying to work its way out of his body, stretching the man’s mottled skin along his ribs and distorting the man’s already deformed body.  His face was slack, and his tongue lolled back and forth as his body rocked from its parasite’s efforts to break free.


“Shittiest version of a black cat clock I’ve ever seen,”  Wolf joked to ease the tension he saw building up in Tristan’s slender body.



In the past series, Ford’s focus was on suspense.  One of her hallmarks is an explosive beginning like a Bourne movie intro.  This book is no different, but while there is mystery and suspense, Ford captured the creepy horror aspect perfectly!  I actually kept interrupting my husband while he watched TV to read quotes from the book.  This hardly ever happens when I read any of my romance books.


The other aspect I love about her writing? The humor.


Glass cherries dangled from her lobes, a row of four in each ear, and they chimed when she moved her head.  While they matched the printed cherries on her button-up shirt, Wolf thought it looked like she’d lost a fight with a fruit salad.



What could be better?


In all honesty, there is very little that I would change about this book.  This section is where I determine if a book is a 4 star or 5.  In this case, it screams 5 stars.  In her other series, culture is a focus, especially Asian cultures, and while this gives the novels depth and uniqueness, it began to feel repetitive.  With this novel, however Ford takes that skill as a researcher and we learn a lot of ghost hunting!  I am actually interested in knowing if any of the technology descriptions are accurate in how modern ghost hunters operate.




There were too many quotes that I marked for this review, which is a fantastic sign!  This is probably my favorite book of Rhys Ford.  I have always loved her suspense, but I found not just action, not just sexy love scenes, but a novel of substance.  


This book allowed me see that Ford has more variety in writing style, and this novel demonstrates her growth.  I think that if you liked her other novels, then you will like this no less.  So, if you are a fan, get ready to love this book, and if you are new to the author you will certainly love the story.



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text 2013-11-23 16:21
So, I was supposed to do a blog post about...

…. I have so many books for Advance Copy Readers, but I was blown away by this fan fiction Sterek last night (finally put the book down at 3:30am last night).  I just finished it, and let me just say that I was emotionally distraught while I read it, it was that well written.


So, this weekend, that is what the blogpost will be. Such an amazing book!

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review 2013-11-17 20:06
Book Review: Illumination by Rowan Speedwell


Recently, I feel like I have read book after book and just never getting anything worth while to focus on in a review.  In away, that’s why I have struggled with this blog in the last month.  Well, that and moving to another state!

But then I cam across Rowan Speedwell’s Illumination.


Basic Plot:

We have Adam Craig, a musician who is tired, both mentally and physically.  What used to energize and bring him a high becomes dulled and his recreational highs are becoming too much.  One night, he drunkenly finds himself on a porch — owned by one Miles Caldwell.  Miles is a recluse, but he is strangely drawn to Adam.  As their relationship heats up, is it even possible for them to find a future, or is it better to walk away?


Adam Craig:

When we first meet Adam, it is clear that he is living the rock-star life style.  Lots of alcohol and lots of drugs, while we do not really get a “choir-boy” feel for him, we are sympathetic of his pain.



We see a man who understands he needs to stop, but doesn’t know how to and doesn’t have the support to be able to do so.


Miles Caldwell:

Miles’s character development is substantial, but difficult to discuss here because it is intrinsic to the plot.  We first meet him at his lake house, hiding out on his property without having left it in years.  There are reasons for it and his history is disclosed as it unfolds.


The eyes that stared at him, still wide with shock, were gold.  Not brown, not hazel, not even amber, but gold.  Gold like the 23K stuff he used for gilding.  Gold as Cennini.  ”Where am I?”

“My chaise,” Miles snapped.  ”My patio, my lake.  You’re fucking trespassing dude, and you need to get your ass gone.”


We see him in the beginning as a grumpy agoraphobic gus, but with more and more interactions with Adam he finds that his current lifestyle is not enough.


Theme Summary:

I could point out several themes in this novel, and they revolve around the title, Illumination.  In the most obvious theme, their meeting brings light into their lives and it becomes Illuminating to their lives.  But Mile’s work, recreating Illuminations, is also played on.  He describes their meaning:


Miles waved his hand dismissively.  ”That’s not the point.  The complexity of the design was perceived by the ancient monks who drew it as a way to describe the glory of God as a reflection of the complexity of life.  That and there really wasn’t much else to do in an Irish monastery in the eighth or ninth century.  The point is that it’s twisty and complicated and doesn’t really make rational sense.”



He then goes on to describe Visconti Hours Renaissance Italian:



“Look at the bright colors, the beautiful artwork, the florals, the animals and birds and how fucking gorgeous this thing is?  It’s complex, but understandable.  Relatable.  The colors, the gold- God, Dougie, this is fucking amazingly beautiful.  You can see this, understand this, appreciate this.  This- this is Adam.”


So, what I got out of this is that Miles was like the monks of the past, living isolated, studying and replicating something intricate and detailed, but there is no emotional connection there.  And then Adam walks into his life and now he sees these things in color and details.  He yearns to be able to stay with this embellishment of the heart, but he is frightened to do so.


I believe that was what Rowan Speedwell wanted the reader to understand.  There is more here in relationship to Mile’s work and art, but to discuss this topic further would spoil some of the plot.


Strong Points:

I enjoyed the humor in the book.  We deal with serious topics like family death, drug use, physical and psychological damage, so sometimes we need a little giggle.


“I think I woke up in The Twilight Zone.”  ”Could be worse,” Miles said, “you could have woken up in The Twilight Saga.


And well, anytime I get a Douglas Adams reference, my heart is happy:


They lay still and silent a long moment, then Miles raised his head and said blankly, “Forty-two?”  ”The Answer,” Adam murmured.


What could be better?

I really can not think of anything major that I would change about this book.  The characters are not perfect, they both make mistakes, so if you are looking for perfect characters with a sweet romp, this is not for you.



I love any romance that has musicians.  Because I have come from a family of musician, when an author gets how to hear and write music and THEY GET IT, then it just makes my enjoyment of the book even more.  This book had a theme and storyline that I could identify with, which moved me and had tears falling toward the end.  There were times when I wanted to say, “just forget it, it’s too hard!”  But both of these characters did keep trying and their effort is worth it.


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text 2013-11-03 19:44
Sooo. I had an epiphany…..

I just finished a blogpost over at my webpage:  So… Why do We Write Book Reviews?


And what it boiled down to is that, for me writing a book review is about starting a honest discussion on the plot and characters of a book.  For me, I have no agenda, it's just Be a writing a book review and hoping that it might be of value to someone else.


I am tired of hearing about censorship over at places like Amazon and Goodreads.  Now to be honest, I do not know the validity of these claims, for all I know the claims of misconduct are all just flamewars.  But it is enough that I do not feel comfortable really posting book reviews over there.


So for now on, my book reviews will be on my webpage (http://beawriting.com) and here. 


This week is just a condensed post from my blog (see link above for full editorial), but the move and new job has taken most of my energy this week.  For the next month my biggest concern is going to be making sure I get to keep my job and learning how to get around in a new state.  Let's not even talk about trying to find a new house and not live in someone's 600 square foot basement!


So, I might not be as vocal here for the next month or so, but I am still here and most likely just hanging around in the background!



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