Book Review: Pray for the Innocent

Another book review to add to our library of posts! Chris Connors is back with another of his magnificent reviews for Pray for the Innocent by Alan Orloff.

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Synopsis: Can former best-selling novelist Mathias King—now a rumpled, grizzled English professor—save America from a terrorist of his own making? In the shadow of the Pentagon, a secret DoD brain research experiment goes terribly wrong, and an ex-Special Ops soldier escapes, believing he is Viktor Dragunov, the Russian operative from the 80’s thriller novel, Attack on America. To capture him, the Feds turn to the person uniquely qualified to predict his next moves, the man who created the fictional character, best-selling author Mathias King. Now a reclusive English professor, King is reluctant to get involved, having sworn off the culture of violence after a deranged fan murdered his wife. But when innocent people start dying, King is thrust back into that dark world. With help from his enthusiastic graduate assistant Emily Phan, King must outsmart his own creation—while outmaneuvering the cover-up-loving Feds—before Dragunov succeeds in his hell-bent mission. To destroy America.

It is often easy to tell if a book is written by an author working with a publishing house, or if the book is a self-published indie book. Alan Orloff’s book, Pray For The Innocent, is one of those indie novels that feels like it was run through a publishing house. The writing is clean, elegant, not clunky and tortured, and has a polished edge that you often obtain after professional editors have commented on it.

Orloff knows how to write characters that feel real. He uses little details that bring his characters to life. He does it so well I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d taken a class on how to write good characters. I was even concerned about one of his minor characters when the person she loved was killed. He had managed to make her “real” in just a few scant pages even though most of our knowledge of her came from her brother’s thoughts rather than her own scenes.

As I read the book, which had me up way too late, I was also thought, “Why hasn’t a publishing house grabbed this guy? He is better than some established prolific *coughLustbadercough* authors”. The premise was intriguing; some spy stuff, cutting-edge neuroscience research, an old professor with a tortured soul, an experiment that goes wrong. While the Amazon synopsis sounds a bit over-the-top with an ex-Special Ops soldier thinking he is a 1980s fictional Russian spy on a “hell-bent mission” to destroy America the author doesn’t let the novel turn into a jingoistic pile of patriotic propaganda. Instead he makes a rather implausible premise come across as more realistic without devolving to simplistic black-and-white ‘rah-rah USA!’ style writing.

I will nit-pick a few small things, and I mean really small, nothing that affects the book or writing. Nit-pick the first: A character watching birds, among other things, has a copy of the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding to help him identify birds. That is not the book he’d use, it isn’t conducive to quick identification of tricky species—the bird seen is not tricky at all either—as there are pages of information about just one bird, often involving the bird in its drab fall plumage (the book is set in mid-summer so birds would still be in their brighter breeding plumage). One of the quick identification guides like Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, or the ones by Peterson, or Sibley, or Stokes, or National Geographic are better.

Nit-pick 2: A scientist in the book says we shouldn’t try playing God. It is hard to imagine any scientist saying that. We recognize that we’ve been “playing God” for thousands of years when we treat and cure diseases, alter ecosystems on a vast scale, breed plants and animals to produce things that don’t look much like the original species, and now manipulate the genetic code.

Nit-pick 3: There is a serious misconception here. A character thinks his brother-in-law’s suicide is cowardly and selfish. This is a misconception that mental health professionals, among others, have been trying to correct for decades now. While the character might think this I was hoping somewhere in the novel this misconception would be addressed, but it was not.

Prior to this book, I had read two other excellent books—by publishing house authors—in two days so my standards for a good book were now pretty high. I was reluctant to start Pray For The Innocent in case it killed my reader’s high from the previous two books: I needn’t have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. That it was written as an indie book makes it all the more remarkable. Definitely 5 stars out of 5.

Book Rating: 5/5

Click on the image below to see it’s Amazon Page!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in digital format by the author to be read and honestly reviewed.

Charles Tyrwhitt

Book Review: Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Woohoo! Another review is done and another book added to the shelf. This one was called Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh.

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Synopsis: Ingrid always loved to sing. Auditioning for a summer job after high school shattered her dreams. She fled Germany for Detroit where she married with the hopes of starting a family. When hope crumbled, she attempts to sing again. Will singing bring the life Ingrid always desired, or will her mutilated soul lose her everything?

This book was somewhat interesting. I feel like it was definitely too long for the storyline it had because once the characters were introduced and you got to know them, there was little left to build on their personalities.

Ingrid was struggling with her inner turmoils and it was frustrating because it takes her so long to do anything about it. Granted she did have some events in the past that were deeply unsettling and would be hard to cope with. The introduction of another character named Mick to help her work on and push past her barriers was a good way for the author to add some depth to the novel.

Her husband Joe was just annoying. I know that the book is set in the 90’s so they weren’t exactly up to date on equality (2018 millennial mind here) but he did not treat her well and any woman in her right mind would have left him rather than put up with his bullshit. This is also a good thing that the author created his character this way because it helps you feel for Ingrid and want her to succeed in the end by escaping her clutches and attaining her dreams.

One thing I found kind of hard to follow was the dialogue at points. This novel is very obviously written by a multilingual author and there are many parts where people make statements in German and you don’t really find out what they said.

There were lots of little twists that kept me going to the end of the book so that was good (I like when a book is unpredictable).

Book Rating: 3/5

Click on the image of the book below to see it on Amazon!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author in a paperback version for an honest review.

Also if you guys are feeling generous or compassionate, my cousin just received a diagnosis from their vet that his dog has bone cancer and they are doing surgery to amputate one of its legs. They don’t have a lot of money and the surgery is quite expensive but this dog means the world to him. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs. You can check it out at the link below and even if you don’t donate, just sharing it and spreading the word would mean a great deal to my cousin who is just doing anything he can to save his dog.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-spryte

Charles Tyrwhitt

Book Review: Clemmie’s War by Rosie Boyes

Our reviewer Sara has another great recommendation for you bookworms. She recently read Clemmie’s War by Rosie Boyes. Read her review below 🙂

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Clemmie’s War is about a young girl named Clemmie who finds herself in a place called Heartease, which seems to function like an afterlife for children who have died. She meets a house full of warm and wonderful characters who are strange but kind. She is soon followed by her Grandfather, who is not a good man and is looking to get to her at all costs to complete his mission, which we learn about later in the novel. There are many twists and turns in the plot, revealing new aspects of how Heartease and its characters operate in this parallel world. We soon discover that Clemmie’s arrival has caused a time rift which begins to cause drastic changes as well as earthquakes in Heartease. Doctor Rose, the head of the Children’s House, and several other interesting characters must travel back in time to repair the damage done and save Clemmie.

This novel is similar to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, in that it is a house in what seems like a parallel world to our own, where the children there are kept safe by their strange caretakers. Although all the characters here are essentially dead and living a second life in the afterlife, they are otherwise normal people. The characters are unique and strange, and well fleshed out by the author. If you are looking for a strange read that will make you smile, then this is a delightful book. There are constantly new developments and elaborations on the world of Heartease as you go along, ever-changing.

This is a cute story and I enjoyed the read. It was different than anything I have read recently. My only complaint is that it could have been better developed – there were often moments where it almost read like a synopsis of itself; instead of elaborating on a situation or conversation, it would glaze over it, where the story would have benefitted from more details. I would have loved to understand more about how Heartease and the subsequent time travel worked, and this would have been even better if the author had made the story more detailed.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon!

Disclaimer: We were provided a digital copy of this book by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book Highlight: The Mark of Wu – Hidden Paths by Stephen M. Gray

Congratulations to Stephen M. Gray on the release of his book The Mark of Wu – Book One: Hidden Paths. I am currently reviewing this book that was sent to me by Ingram Publisher Services. It is good so far and I am halfway through. Sometimes life gets in the way and stops us from reading. If only we could read all the time 😛

Anyway back to the book highlight!

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Description:

Hidden Paths, the first novel in The Mark Of Wu series, opens in 519 B.C., as the Spring and Autumn period of the Eastern Zhou dynasty devolves toward Warring States Period. 

The Emperor’s grip on the feudal states is over. Brutal rivalries, both new and old now rule, and military dashes lay waste to those who are unprepared. Some men are driven by pure evil, and States either gain power or die.

State of Ch soldier Yuan stands on his chariot, reining in his eager team of horses, anxious for a chance to unleash his rage on the invading Wu barbarians in the battle before him.

Author Bio:

Prior to becoming a serial novelist, Stephen M. Gray worked as a corporate attorney on complex litigation. Early in Gray’s career, his travels to Asia fuelled a thirst to learn about China’s history. His extensive research into the teachings of Sun Tzu for application in today’s business world led to his fascination with 6th Century BC China. There Gray discovered folklore about the abuse of power and privilege and the noble effort of a few brave warriors who fought against tremendous odds for their survival. Hidden Paths is Gray’s first of five books in The Mark of Wu novel series.

So far the book is good and I look forward to sharing my full review with you bookworms!

Kobo Canada

Book Review: To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin

Another book review for the shelves. This one was called To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin. It was more of a novella as it was only about 43 pages but I have found a certain love for these types of books. They are not too short but also not too long and they always end with one last line that sticks with you for days afterward.

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Synopsis: A well needed week away from the mainland sounded like a great idea. But this innocent trip to a private island won’t end as well as it began. Tracy finds herself in a situation she could never have imagined as she gets to know the secrets of her love – Ryan Bailey.

The question is: when love turns to fear, how will you survive?

I was drawn in rather quickly to this novella. The main character Tracy was likable and the type of person that has had to earn everything she has. She deserves a break and decides to go on this trip with her friends. The trips starts out great but quickly turns into a nightmare.

I won’t spoil it because it is a pretty short book but I will say that I would not want to be in the circumstances she was in. She has to endure some pretty brutal stuff just to survive another day. You can guess where the plot is going if you have this genre of book but I would still suggest checking this one out.

Another thing that I loved about the book is that it was based in Australia. It has been my dream to go to Australia since grade 4 I think and I will make it there one day.

If you wish to get the book, you can click the link :

You can connect with the author on her website www.melinasvoice.com or catch up with her on her Facebook Page.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent the book by the author so that I could read it and give an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way.

 

Book Review: You Should Come With We Now

I recently finished a book sent to me by STORGY for review called You Should Come With Me Now by John Harrison.

‘You Should Come With Me Now’ an anthology by M. John Harrison from the wonderful Independent publisher Comma Press boasted a collection of short stories that were quite different and a joy to read, this due in part to the range Harrison possesses; the storylines ranged from people with schizophrenia (are they schizophrenic or were there ghosts living among them), different worlds that only some could see and tales of stalking etc.

What I really enjoyed most about these short stories is that Harrison leaves each one open to the interpretation of the reader. In so much as to say I could think that it means one thing and someone else could have a completely different interpretation and reaction to the same story.

Some of the stories were slow burners at first; hard to get into the story, but by the time the ending drops it leaves you with one line that at first you wouldn’t think is a good ending but plays on the mind long after reading, giving you an understanding of why Harrison concluded the story in this way. These short stories really make you think out of the box in the way Harrison uses descriptions of characters and settings.

Reflecting about which was my favourite, the one that stands out in my mind was about a man and his close friend; whom you can tell he loves but she is married and her husband is a hermit that lives in their attic. He is always up there working on some project but no one knows what it is and the story trundles along to show how his absence from their lives is affecting everyone else. When it gets to the ending, the house gets almost torn apart! My interpretation of it is that he has been working on defending himself from another dimension, which is revealed masterfully at the end for
the rest of the characters to see. Someone else might interpret this story in a different way which is so cool because then it would spark a discussion about why and how they see it their way.

Overall, this collection of short stories was pretty interesting and they didn’t ramble on as many short stories do, being reminiscent of Novellas instead of the delicate craft of the short story. Each time I returned it felt like reading a new book each time, once again highlighting Harrison’s range of writing and the intricate craft of the short story form.

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M John Harrison – M. John Harrison is the author of eleven novels (including In Viriconium, The Course of the Heart and Light), as well as four previous short story collections, two graphic novels, and collaborations with Jane Johnson, writing as Gabriel King. He won the Boardman Tasker Award for Climbers (1989), the James Tiptree Jr Award for Light (2002) and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Nova Swing (2007). He reviews fiction for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, and lives
in Shropshire.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book to review by STORGY. I am in no way being compensated for this review.

Here is the link to the STORGY article.

What book had the most surprising plot twist ending?

Finally I am back at writing for the blog. This week has been hectic and busy but I am glad to get back to something I love doing. Anyways, this question was very easy for me and a certain book popped into my head immediately. If you have not read Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, then you better get on it. The ending was crazy and so unexpected. If you are going to read it, then avoid the section called spoiler below.

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Synopsis: A terrible accident has robbed Christine of her memories. She cannot remember the past – or even yesterday. Determined to discover who she is, she has begun keeping a journal before she goes to sleep. Before she can forget again.

But the truth may be more terrifying – and deadlier – than she bargained for…

This book was very intense. The main character is constantly struggling with herself and trying to remember who she is and was before her accident. Her husband goes through a lot trying to help her remember and become the person she used to be.

SPOILER

The crazy twist is that the man she believes is her husband since the start of the book is actually the man who caused her accident and is the reason she can’t remember – he is also not her husband (her husband is real and comes into play eventually). She also has a child that this man makes her believe died when she was in the accident.

SPOILER ENDED

I really recommend this one because I could not put it down without knowing what happens to the main character and how they get out of their situation. Let me know what book had a crazy plot twist for you int he comments.


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