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review 2017-05-31 22:50
The Only Child - A Review

The story of Frankenstein’s monster has captured the imagination of readers of almost two centuries, not only because of the story itself but also it’s back story.  It has also been retold in many forms.  With this one Mr. Pyper hits it out of the park.

 
THE ONLY CHILD by Andrew Pyper
 
Lily Dominick was six years old when, as she looked on, her mother was brutally murdered.  The trauma caused her recollections to be hazy … she recalled only a monster knocking on the door to kill her mother and her six year old self being rescued by a white creature.  The incident still haunts her dreams and may well have led to her career choice as an adult where she is Dr. Dominick working as a psychiatrist with the worst of the worst criminals in New York’s Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Centre.  At work it sometimes seems to her she can read the mind of the incarcerated.  One morning she walks in to interview a man known only as Client 46874-A and claiming to be 200 years old.  For Lily he is an enigma; she can’t get a read on him and she feels as if he is looking into her mind instead of the other way around.  Then he throws Lily totally off balance when he claims to have known her mother and what happened to her so many years ago.
 
The next day Lily awakens to the news that Client 46874-A has escaped.  Driven by clues he leaves for her and the need to discover if he can truly help her solve the riddle of what happened on the night her mother died Lily sets out to find him and hopefully the truth.
 
Mr. Pyper takes his reader along on Lily’s quest as she travels across Europe picking up more and more information about not only “Michael”, as she named the mystery man, but about herself as well.  And for Lily the truth does indeed turn out to be stranger than fiction.
 
“The Only Child” is a well-written page-turner.  I would expect nothing less from Mr. Pyper.  This book is not only a psychological thriller with it’s share of the paranormal but is extremely entertaining in it’s explanations of the basis of not only “Frankenstein” but also “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Dracula”.  Within the context of the story it had me nodding my head and thinking “Oh yeah … makes sense”.
 
As I read closer and closer to the end I began to formulate my own theory about Lily and Michael so I was quite pleased to discover that I was at least half right.  Despite that, the reveal caught me by surprise.  I had hoped for a different outcome but the ending suited the story.  Not wanting to have to include a “spoiler alert” I do want to mention that there was one scene at the end of the book which wrapped up the story so extremely well that I still pause to think about it a few days after I’ve closed the cover – so well done Mr. Pyper.
 
* I’d like to thank the publisher, Simon and Shuster, and Netgalley for providing me with the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review.*
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website
 
Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1968. He received a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from McGill University, as well as a law degree from the University of Toronto. Although called to the bar in 1996, he has never practiced.
 
Andrew’s creative writing teaching experience includes terms at Trent University, the University of Toronto, and, currently, Colorado College. Last year he won the Grant Allen Award for contributions to Canadian crime and mystery literature.
 
He lives in Toronto.
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review 2017-02-18 20:24
City of the Lost - A Review

Casey Duncan has three things in her life she cares about: being a detective, her best friend Diana and her no-strings-attached sometimes lover.  She also has one big secret.  When it seems like her past is catching up to her and Diana’s present is getting dangerous she realizes that they both have to disappear.  No place better than Rockton …

 
THE CITY OF THE LOST by Kelley Armstrong.
 
Rockton is a unique place.  It’s in the middle of nowhere and you will not find it on a map anywhere.  Somewhere in the Yukon, Rockton is filled with people who found it necessary to disappear from their lives … some for their own protection and some to evade the law.  Each must go through a vetting process and possess a significant amount of money to be accepted but only the Sheriff knows who is there and for what reason, yet even that information may not be trustworthy.  As each person arrives they are given tasks according to their particular skill set so Casey quickly becomes a deputy … just in time to help solve a gruesome murder.
 
In this, the first book of her new series, Ms. Armstrong once again does what she does so well – build a fictional world that is believable and unique.  Whether it’s her “Otherworld” or Rockton she takes us just far enough out of reality to make it ring possible.  An isolated town, a murder mystery and a little romance thrown in make “City of the Lost” an excellent read.  Originally published as six mini novellas I’m sure the reader was kept in suspense from one installment to the next.  I waited until all six parts came out in book form and am glad I did so.  Although, let’s face it, it’s a great marketing ploy but I would have found it frustrating to read it in bits and pieces.  Can’t wait for the next book in the series.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
 
I’ve been telling stories since before I could write. My earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, mine would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to my teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make me produce “normal” stories failed. Today, I continue to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in my basement writing dungeon.
 
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review 2017-02-08 01:19
HauGHnt - A Review

A deathbed confession, a family curse, a dark and stormy night complete with a mysterious stranger; really, what more could you ask for in a horror story?

 

HauGHnt by David C. Cassidy

 

As his father lies on his deathbed Paul Steele finds he can barely look at the man let alone offer him any comfort as he takes his last breaths. His father’s life-long quest to find peace in the bottom of a bottle destroyed Paul’s mother and alienated Paul. What the old man has to say before he dies does nothing to change Paul’s feelings, but now Paul may understand his never ending drinking. Paul’s father committed an unimaginable crime and avoided prosecution by making the proverbial deal with the devil. “We’re all damned. It’s just a question of when”. For Paul Steele the mysterious “when” turns out to be “right now”.

 

This short story is the first of Mr. Cassidy’s “Dark Shapes, Dark Shadows” series and after reading “HauGHnt” I am looking forward to what’s to come.

 

Mr. Cassidy seems to enjoy taking an ordinary person with an ordinary life and putting them in the most extraordinary situation. It certainly makes for a chilling read. Short stories are not my usual go-to read because, by their very definition, they are – well – short. It’s difficult to come to care for characters in the few pages allotted to the read but Mr. Cassidy packs a lot into this one, so I found myself totally involved in Paul’s dilemma. I couldn’t get to the end fast enough – in the good way! And the end? Paul shocked me as did HauGHnt and that’s always a good thing in a horror story.

 

I admit to wishing the story were just a tad longer, but taking the “creep” factor into consideration I’m giving this one 4 ½ stars.

 

* I’d like to thank the author for providing me with this book at no charge in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. *
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his Goodreads page) Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several best-selling novels of horror and suspense, Velvet Rain, The Dark, and Fosgate’s Game. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating dark and touching stories where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots. David lives in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and blogging, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

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review 2017-02-02 03:03
Except the Dying - A Review

I can’t believe it’s already the first of February and I haven’t posted one review.  In my own defense I got that horrific cold that’s going around – it’s a bad one – so stay healthy everybody.  I still have the tail end of the cough.  Also, every time I fired up the computer I had other things to do on it.  After being downsized out the door at my job at the end of last year I decided that while I have the safety net of unemployment benefits I am going to try to start a small home based business – but more on that later this week.  There are some prizes in the offing so stay tuned.

 
Sick as I was I was still reading, mostly light stuff that I could digest through my stuffy sinuses.  My BFF has long been a fan of the television series “Murdock Mysteries”.  I finally gave it a look when I was up at strange hours because of my cough and there were reruns on at crazy morning times.  I was pretty quickly hooked because it’s a rather clever series set in turn of the 19th century Toronto.  Of course when I found out that the series was based on books – WELL! – You know I had to pick up the books.  So on to my first review of 2017 …
 
EXCEPT THE DYING by Maureen Jenkins
 
In the winter of 1895 Toronto acting Detective William Murdock is called out to a murder scene.  A young woman is found naked in an alleyway.  She is clearly not a lady of the evening and winter in Toronto is not a time anyone would be outside without clothing so obviously, this young woman met with foul play.
 
William Murdock knows no boundaries when it comes to looking for a killer.  He visits the lowest and highest echelons of society to look for his answers.  And answers he finds through meticulous police work without the availability of all toys and whistles a reader might be used to in more modern police procedurals.
 
This was Ms. Jennings debut book and it was an interesting read.  It showed some good research into that era of Toronto’s history and the dialogue was excellent.  There were a few slow spots, but I could forgive those.  Having the hindsight of reading a few more in the series before writing this review I can honestly say the books improve with each addition to the series.
 
The cover of the book is a bit deceptive as it pictures the characters from the television series.  For fans of the series – be forewarned – the book is similar but definitely not the same.  While the show is often humorous and tongue-in-cheek the book is deadly serious (pun intended).  I did particularly enjoy the more in-depth look into Murdock’s life away from the police station.
 
“Except the Dying” is well worth the read and I’m giving it 3.5 stars because I know the series improves in subsequent books.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)
 
Born in England, Maureen Jennings taught English before becoming a psychotherapist.  “Except the Dying” was published in 1977 followed by 6 more books in the series.  Three of her novels were adapted into movies of the week and four years later Shaftesbury films created the Murdock Mysteries television series.
 
Maureen lives in Toronto with her husband and their two dogs.
 
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review 2016-11-22 20:21
Saving Houdini - A Review

SAVING HOUDINI by Michael Redhill

 
Bloom the Beguiler – that “great mystifier” – is performing at the Canon theater and Dashiel Woolfe is excited to be attending the show.  The show commemorates the 85th anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death.  Dash was surprised that his mom managed to snag tickets since the show usually sold out a year in advance.  However, when it came time for the finale, “The Great Soap Bubble Vanish”, Dash was really hoping he would not be the one picked to go up on stage … of course, he was chosen.  Dashiel had his own reasons for not wanting to be up on stage but had he known the history of the “Soap Bubble Vanish” he would have been even more apprehensive.  It was only performed once before and that night was never spoken of again.  Dash soon enough found out why when the last thing he remembered was standing inside a giant soap bubble and now he was alone on the stage … in 1926.  The first thing he did was throw up!
 
How would he get back to 2011?
 
With the help of a new friend, a washed up magician and, maybe, Harry Houdini himself they may be able to recreate the trick and get him home.  Maybe?  To make that happen Dash and his friend Walter need to get from Toronto to Montreal, convince Houdini that his “time travel” story is true and build the machine for the soap bubble.  And, as only Dash knew, Houdini’s death loomed only a couple of days away.  Simple, right?  What if Dash could save Houdini too?  Quite the page turning adventure ensues.
 
Being a bit of a sucker for things “Houdini” I picked up this book in my recent “use up my gift card” book-shopping spree.  It’s written for young readers and I can certainly see them becoming quickly caught up in this well written and entertaining story.  I certainly was.  There is edge of your seat suspense, the conundrum of time travel, some breath stopping escapades, humor and of course, a little magic thrown in every now and then.
 
I think this book would definitely appeal to ‘tween readers of both genders but particularly boys.  The (mis)adventures that Dash and Walter get up to would certainly make a young man’s imagination run wild as well as tickle that pre-teen funny bone.  Mr. Redhill did an admirable job of describing the differences between 2011 Toronto and the same city in 1926.  “Saving Houdini” also contains a great message about friendship between it’s pages.
 
If you have a young (or young at heart) reader who likes adventure stories this would make a wonderful gift.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)
 
Michael Redhill is a fiction writer, playwright, and poet, and is the co-editor and former publisher of the literary magazine “Brick”.
 
His first novel, “Martin Sloane”, a finalist for the Giller Prize, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and the Books in Canada First Novel Award.  His novel “Consolation” received the Toronto Book Award, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was the winner of the Keep Toronto Reading “One Book” campaign.
 
A father of two, Michael Redhill lives in Toronto.  Saving Houdini is his first book for young readers.
 
 
 
 22/30
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