Monday, August 20, 2018

“Dreaming At the Top of My Lungs” by Israel Finn – Brief Pictures of Horror

Israel Finn's Cacophony of Terror

The genre of horror, in literature just like in movies, lends itself to some interesting studies, especially when tracing its development through time. What was once considered horrifying has now turned into nothing more than a cliche, and it feels as if boundaries are increasingly difficult to push the further we get into it. I believe it has come to the point where for most people, horror doesn't really scare them any more as much as it startles, grosses out or makes them feel uneasy. We rarely find ourselves truly scared by any fictional work, and if we do it's only temporary as we are introduced to rules and familiar elements which engage rather than terrify us.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

“Lemon Blossoms” by Nina Romano – Nothing More Precious than Family

Nina Romano Explores a Different Realm of Love

Love comes in literally all shapes and sizes, one of the few truly formless aspects of life which can create miracles and join people who would have otherwise never noticed each other's presence. Most people who enjoy romance novels would agree to stories of difficult love being the most interesting and engaging ones. It's the type of quest we can all relate to, the one with the potential to make us root for virtually any character; it just touches us on such a profound level we have yet to truly qualify the effect.

As an author, it seems Nina Romano certainly agrees with this line of thinking, or at least it's what her approach to her Wayfarer Trilogy seems to indicate. In the first book of the series, we were introduced to a pair of star-crossed lovers never meant to be together and all the obstacles life threw in their way. In the second book, titled Lemon Blossoms, we witness a different a whole other realm of difficulties which lay on the path to a fulfilling love.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

“The Woman in the Woods” by John Connolly – From the Belly of the Beast

Deep into the Woods with John Connolly

Death has always been an integral part of human life, and it should come as no surprise we have developed countless ways to try and deal with its many aspects. As a result, this creates some social expectations which can divide between the natural and unnatural demises. When a person dies, it is expected we'll be able to find out who they were, how it happened, and trace the chain of events which led up until that point.

When we are unable to obtain these answers, what we are generally left facing is an abnormal atrocity, or what we refer to in the world of literature as a mystery. In John Connolly's The Woman in the Woods we get treated to just such an affair, and although at first it begins to seem like a very normal excursion it becomes increasingly apparent something rotten is at play.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

“The Secret Language of Women” by Nina Romano – Daggers in the Heart of Fate

Nina Romano's Star-Crossed Lovers

Scientists have been trying for a while to isolate the physical processes accompanying what we call love, and for the most part, they've managed to boil it down to a few chemicals firing in some receptors. Nevertheless, it's a mystery we have yet to pierce completely down to its very core, for we are still having trouble quantifying what makes us fall in love with any specific person... often times, it happens without rhyme, reason or warning, which is the main reason it can be equally tragic and beautiful. As a matter of fact, innumerable stories of star-crossed lovers populate bookshelves around the entire world, offering authors the perfect canvas to explore many aspects of human nature as well as history. Nina Romano is an author who took that canvas and turned it into a real wonder with her historical romance novel titled The Secret Language of Women , the first entry into the Wayfarer Trilogy.

Friday, July 20, 2018

“The Glass Forest” by Cynthia Swanson – Threnody for a Marriage

Cynthia Swanson's Glass House

While overtly it might seem like the ties binding people to each other are obvious and can be observed with common sense, the more profoundly we think of them, the more we realize things aren't exactly set in stone. We have yet to unanimously define the abstract concept of love, and yet it is the sole thing holding countless people together, regardless of culture or religion. Many would be hard-pressed to elaborate until reaching a final truth as to the reason they enjoy the company of certain of people and consider them friends. For most of us, these might just be some philosophical musings we ultimately brush away and forget. For some however, they are the beginning of an unravelling, a profound introspective journey during which they are forced to reevaluate their lives... and that's precisely the fate awaiting Angie Glass in Cynthia Swanson's The Glass Forest.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

“A Casualty of War” by Charles Todd - Scars of the Mind

The Charles Todd Team Returns to World War I

Endless literature, both factual and fictional, has been created on the topic of the First World War, the events leading up to it as well as its eventual historical repercussions. It came to an end a hundred years ago, and the further we step away from it, the less real it all feels in a certain sense. While we know without a doubt the events did take place, I believe very few of us actually feel a connection to them or the people caught up in the meat grinder... at this point, they are all just stories. Then comes along the writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd with the novel A Casualty of War, reminding us people as real as you and I took part in the war, and they were no less damaged by it than the unfortunate veterans of today.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

“Another Woman's Husband” by Gill Paul – A Tragic Spotlight for Women

Gill Paul's Tale of Betrayal and Friendship

Princess Diana is one of the few figures in modern history found fascinating all around the globe. Today, what most people remember about the woman is her tragic ending as well as the controversy surrounding it... even to this day the question hangs in the air as to what really happened in that car crash, and how accidental it was in the first place. Nevertheless, it seems her eventful death overshadowed her even more remarkable life, one which lends itself to works of historical fiction such as Another Woman's Husband by Gill Paul. Though not directly centred on the famous figure herself, it does present a compelling portrayal of two very special women in history and a stab at lay beneath a scandal which shook the whole world up.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

“Operator Down” by Brad Taylor - The Nuclear Anti-Democracy Party

Brad Taylor Shows his Espionage Chops

Ever since Ian Fleming's James Bond rocked the world through countless novels and movies, the idea of a super-spy has become immensely popular all around the world. After all, what could more exhilarating than a man with all the brains, brawn and charm the world could afford? As it turned out over the years, many things can be more exciting as the archetype begins to seem more and more like a relic of the past. It takes a certain amount of skill and know-how to create an engaging super-spy figure these days, and I have to say while many authors have tried, not too many have can claim to have known the success Brad Taylor has. Penning multiple series with their own special agents, Taylor has given his all to the thriller espionage genre and still going strong as ever with his latest Pike Logan novel titled Operator Down.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

“Fraulein M.” by Caroline Woods – The Immense Weight of Family Roots

Caroline Woods Jumps through History

Despite the countless fiction and non-fiction books written on the Second World War, I somehow doubt it will cease to make for an engaging setting for novels of virtually any genre. It remains a period in time fraught with pain and hope in equal measure, of stories waiting to be told. The impact Nazi Germany had on the world cannot be overstated, and in some cases is even felt to this very day. After all, the people of the Third Reich were all humans, and once all was said and done, most tried to go back to their regular lives. Understandably, many of them did whatever they could to hide their history and affiliations, even if they weren't to blame for them. In her novel titled Fraulein M., Caroline Woods takes us into the heart of a family drama where a woman discovers her family roots to be quite different from what she expected.

Monday, June 11, 2018

“The Wonderful World of Bernies” by Bernard M. Patten – The Emergence of a Genius

Bernard M. Patten's Unusual Path

Though they are relatively few when compared to the rest of us, notably great people have come and gone throughout history in greater numbers than we'll probably ever fathom. After all, not every sort of greatness will lead to public and historical recognition, and many of the people standing behind humanity's greatest feats and discoveries will largely remain mysteries, at least for the majority of us. Thinking about these great people which we did and didn't know, we can't help but ask ourselves how exactly do they come to be? Are they born with irrevocable talents? Do they simply happen to be at the right place at the right time? Where do their drives and ideas come from? Where they always destined for greatness? How do their lives differ from a regular person? The questions requiring answers are many, and surprisingly enough we get quite a few of them in Bernard M. Patten's The Wonderful World of Bernies.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

“The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence” by Alyssa Palombo – Passion Immortalized

Alyssa Palombo's Re-Imagined Romance

I think it's safe to say, over the course of human history, we never really had a solid idea of how to treat the concept of love, one of the few unquantifiable phenomena we know exists with steel-like certainty. Societies have tried to impose various rules, morals and traditions around it, changing them time and time again to fit the climate of the epoch. The saying dictating chivalry being dead, while greatly exaggerated, points to the idea of romance having lost importance over the years... and while I can't exactly vouch for how it was a few centuries ago, there has been a general trend of substituting practicality in favour of emotional satisfaction. Some dream of going back to a simpler time when romance took a central stage in peoples' existences, as does Alyssa Palombo in her novel titled The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

“Robicheaux” by James Lee Burke – Grasping Hands from the Darkness

A Return to James Lee Burke's Louisiana Backwoods

A distinguished place in terms of people, geography and history, Louisiana has for a long time attracted countless artists, begging to be studied and used for its limitless potential as a source of inspiration. James Lee Burke is one of the many authors to have seized upon this opportunity, using the atmospheric backdrop for his detective series, Dave Robicheaux. Centring on a broken and haunted war veteran turned detective, the series has seen him tackling one ghost from his past after the next all while trying to stay afloat in the twisted and murderous swamps practically beckoning to him. In the latest novel about the alcoholic, Vietnam veteran, widower detective, titled very simply Robicheaux, we once again return to the mysterious towns and backwoods of Louisiana as a murder investigation takes the titular character on a path of self-discovery he could have never anticipated.