Review of Clouded Vision by Linwood Barclay – 4 Stars

Clouded VisionClouded Vision by Linwood Barclay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Crime Thriller

Premise: Keisha Ceylon is a fraudulent psychic who passes herself off as possessing real powers in order to extort money from vulnerable families with missing family members, in return fpr psychic predictions regarding their disappearance. When Keisha spots Wendell Garfield on tv pleading for information regarding his wife’s disappearance she decides to pay him a visit. However, the man might not be quite as innocent as he looked on camera.

I am a Linwood Barclay fan. His books are all quite similar and if you have read one of the books, the others are quite predictable. That said I do enjoy his style of writing, easy to read, quick-paced and not overly gory. This book is part of the “quick reads” collection, which I have begun looking through lately. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than normal book by world leading authors. One of the things I quite like about these books are that they force the authors to cut out a lot of the waffle that sometimes goes on in books. This keeps the stories quite fast paced with a lot happening in less time. This shorter novel suits Linwood Barclay’s writing style.

The only downside to this book (and I realise it is a personal taste thing) but this is one of the reasons I haven’t given it 5 stars, is that in this book there are actually no likeable characters. Keisha who seems to be the main character/hero of the book, you are told from the outset is a fraud and is there to pray on vulnerable people. The grieving husband is covering something so already you like and distrust him, even the vanished wife is a constant nag and in some ways, you think the family are better without her.

I always think it is useful to see an extract of an author’s writing and in this book there are quite a few action focussed parts to choose from but I thought this one is quite interesting as its intriguing without giving too much plot away:

You started off vaguely, with something like, ‘I see a house… a white house with a fence out front…’
And they’d say, ‘A White house? Wait, wait, didn’t Aunt Gwen live in a white house?’
Someone else would say, ‘That’s right, she did!’
Then picking up the past tense, you said, ‘And this Aunt Gwen, I’m sensing… I’m sensing she’s passed on.’
And they said, ‘Oh my god, that’s right, she has!’

I did enjoy this book. As I said, it was predictable especially if you are familiar with Barclay’s previous work but it was still a good read.
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Review of Wrong Time, Wrong Place by Simon Kernick – 4 Stars

Wrong Time, Wrong PlaceWrong Time, Wrong Place by Simon Kernick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Crime Thriller

Premise: Ash and Guy are hiking in the Scottish Highlands with their couple friends who they are quickly becoming irritated with. The couples come across a girl. She is half-naked, has been badly beaten, and she can’t speak English. She is clearly running away from someone or something. The couples argue whether to leave her or help her when Ash makes the decision they should help her and they take her back to the holiday home they are renting. However, unbeknownst to them the girl is being followed and the follower is determined to cover their tracks at all costs.

I liked this book. It is part of the “quick reads” collection which I have began looking through lately. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than normal book by world leading authors. One of the things I quite like about these books are that they force the authors to cut out a lot of the waffle that sometimes goes on in books. This keeps the stories quite fast paced with a lot happening in less time. Wrong Place, Wrong Time is no exception with a clear cut storyline and fast paced plot it meets the quick read criteria perfectly.

The only downside to this (and the main reason I haven’t given it 5 stars) is that in this book particularly you aren’t really given the time to really like or hate any of the characters. Ash who seems to be the main character/hero of the book, I couldn’t remember the name of and I had to flick back through the book to find it out before writing this review. I have read a few books in the quick reads series now and others seem to manage this slightly better.

I always think it is useful to see an extract of an author’s writing and in this book there are quite a few action focussed parts to choose from but I thought this one is quite interesting as its intriguing without giving too much plot away:

 

The last thing she remembered was the current driving her into the shallows where she could feel the ground beneath her feet. Then, finally, everything went black.

This book takes place in the Scottish Highlands and I think the author manages to capture the sense of remoteness and isolation very well in this book.

I liked the ending of this book. It was not what I expected at all and I love when a book can still surprise me. All in all a pretty good read. A great introduction to this author and I look forward to reading more of his work.

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Review of The Children’s Hour by Douglas Clegg – 3.5 Stars

The Children's HourThe Children’s Hour by Douglas Clegg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m really perplexed about writing this review. This author was recommended to me on the premise that he was very similar to Stephen Kings older horror books and I soon purchased this book with eager anticipation. I didn’t find that to be the case. I didn’t have that terror that somehow kept you addictively reading with Stephen Kings classics such as the shining. Nothing like that, at all.

That being said the book itself wasn’t too bad. The premise is really intriguing. A family returns to the town the father (Joe) grew up in and on his return he is confronted by a girl that disappeared during his childhood. The issue being the girl is exactly the same, she hasn’t aged at all and she remembers Joe.

Clegg’s writing is really quite good, it’s strange and quirky and at times a very vivid image of this small backwater town is portrayed. However, for a lot of this book, I found it quite boring. Not a lot seems to be actually happening. I do agree with other reviewers also that there are just too many points of view in this book, so you sort of struggle to really champion Joe as the main character as the perspective switches a lot along with quite a few flashbacks. It makes the reading quite hard-work and off-putting and all these flashbacks/perspective switches, do slow the pace down a bit.

So, a bit of a mixed bag for me really. This book is not for me a Stephen King equivalent. The story was much more complicated than it needed it to be. That said I didn’t totally dislike it, I really enjoyed the premise, the main character Joe was pretty good and I did like the ending. I think this author has talent and as he continues to write I think his writing style will really flourish, for that reason I will keep an eye out for future books, but I think this one could have done with just a little extra polish and honing. Still, overall an enjoyable read and it’s nice to find something new in this genre. 3.5 star rating.

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Circling Above – #writephoto

The sound woke me. My head throbbed as the screeching sounds pierced my brain. What was that? I blinked. The light above me scalded my pupils in the few seconds my eyes were open to the sunlight. In fact, as I lay there with my eyes closed

birds wings photo by Sue Vincent

I became aware that I could see the brightness through my eyelids. And the shadows moving beyond the closed veil. And the noise. The continuous noise continued to screech and echo inside my head. There was no way to block it.

I forced myself to open my eyes again. Longer this time. I had to figure out what was going on. As I looked up at the sky the black shadows moved above me, screeching, and swirling like dementors ready to suck out your soul, I had read about those in a book one time. When? I didn’t know.

With every effort I rolled over onto my stomach, the quick roll gave me a wider view of my surroundings. I was outside, on a picnic blanket, but with no picnic. Yet, I could tell I had been with someone. The fuzzy clouds in my brain parted just a little to offer me a filtered flashback of lying on our backs, looking up at the sky, talking, holding hands, did we kiss, or did I just want to kiss them? I wasn’t sure. Who? I shook my head trying to get a clearer picture of the fuzzy picture, any clue, a face, a name, but it was no use.

I forced myself to roll back over, I had to start moving but that small movement alone knocked the wind out of me and sent my head spinning again. Lying on my back I gave myself a countdown. On three I would sit up, regardless of the pain, I had to do this. I lay there and counted, watching the birds swirl above, then after the slow agonising account to 3. At that moment my world went black. Something had been placed over my head, and my arms had been pulled sharply against my back, my wrists held together buying something tight.

“Who is there?”, I asked but the only answer was the high-pitched cry from the birds. I was pulled to my feet, my arms feeling like they were being wrenched from their sockets, and an overwhelming dizziness struck me making me feel nauseous. The grip on my arm grew tighter and I was pushed forward into a walk.

“Where are you taking me I asked?” A low hollow laugh was the answer I was given as I was marched away, the echoing birdsong disappearing in the distance as I walked.


My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt. The start of something intriguing but I’m not quite sure where I am going with it. 🙂

If you want to give the prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – Wings #writephoto and join in the prompt. KL ❤

Review of What lies beneath by Sarah Rayne – 3.5 Stars

What Lies BeneathWhat Lies Beneath by Sarah Rayne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book contains the usual mysterious historical fiction and modern day interlinked storylines that Rayne seems to do brilliantly, it isn’t quite as dark and unnerving as some of her other standalone novels (such as House of the Lost), but certainly darker than her Nell West series.

In the modern storyline, we go with Ella Haywood who finds out the town from her childhood is to be re-opened for a short while prior to being cleared for new motorway bypass. This is the talk of the town and soon Ella gets very jittery and no-one including her granddaughter knows why. Ella’s behaviour becomes more and more obscure and no-one around her knows why.

The historical storyline was very interesting. The story switches back to 1912 where we meet the Cadence family of Cadence Manor in the village of Priors Bramley, mostly through a series of journals – author initially unknown. We also flashback to Ella’s childhood and an incident on the day the village closed.

Other reviewers have complained about Rayne’s writing style in this and I do agree with some of the comments (e.g. it is quite slow in places). There are four storylines in this book and it is quite complicated how it is held together. Normally Sarah Rayne’s writing style is much sharper, darker and more dramatic. However, I did enjoy the storyline non-the-less. Also, the main character in this book Ella is not very nice, normally Rayne has a really strong protagonist who you champion throughout the book whereas this character isn’t. I did enjoy Rayne’s experimentation with this technique but I think having a main character that you dislike isn’t always an easy sell to other readers.

Overall, I still really enjoyed this book, not as good as others she has written but still very clever, particularly the historical storylines. For those that haven’t discovered the Sarah Rayne’s writing, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie. Although the dark dividing (standalone novel) is my favourite out of her books. The Nell West series she writes is also very good. This is more of a 3.5 from me but as that option isn’t available and a 3 felt very mean I gave it a 4.

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Secrets – #Writephoto

Rebecca stood alone in the room.

The dirt on the floor, the bare walls and the light streaming through the window faded into the background as images began to play to her.

A woman, like her.

Alone.

secrets-writephoto-image-by-sue-vincent

Secrets photo by Sue Vincent

 

Cowering in the corner of this very room.

Rags covering her frail body.

The window providing the only light in the room.

Yet her eyes shone.

Fear?

Or Madness?

As the images began to fade, Rebecca turned and left the room in search of her husband and the estate agent, she had decided to take the house.

She had to know its secrets.


Originally written in response to Sue Vincents #writephoto – Secrets. I’m a little rusty having missed a few challenges but I hope you enjoy anyway.
Use the image to create a post on your own blog… poetry, prose, humour… by noon (GMT) Wednesday and link back to Sue’s post with a pingback. KL❤

Review of The Execution by Sharon Cramer – 5 Stars

The Execution (The Wintergrave Chronicles #1)The Execution by Sharon Cramer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a medieval thriller set in the fourteenth century which tells the stories of two young men; Ravan and D’ata. Unknown to the young men until they first meet, they are orphaned twins. Each man has lived a troubled life, entirely different from the other and recounts his tale of his joys and his sorrows. Time ticks as one of the young men is condemned as a killer and due to be hanged.
I loved the historical origins of this plot, an orphanage, a farm girl, a priest and a mercenary. Others have pointed out about historical inaccuracies but I think the story-telling was so prominent any inaccuracies didn’t detract from the story for me.
The characters Ravan and D’ata were both well written, if anything they could have been expanded upon as I definitely found myself wanting to know more about their world. Each had their own strengths, their own weaknesses and their own trials to overcome without the story becoming repetitive. Smaller characters were also interesting without detracting from the main characters story too much. There also wasn’t so many of them that it became confusing which is often the case with these dual storyline novels.
This is written very well, the descriptive writing lets you really immerse in the novel and its powerful storyline. The flashbacks by each young man were split and timed very well along you to understand both storylines but never long enough to forget the precious characters section.
I was pleased to find out this is actually a series and I’m interested to see how it continues. As mentioned, a lot of the smaller characters were quite intriguing themselves and I wonder if they develop more in the later books. All in all a really enjoyable novel and a great start to a new series.

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