Friday, October 26, 2012

Incendiary by Chris Redding

Published by Imajin Books

Sometimes trial and tribulation make us stronger in character. Sometimes too much power and wealth make us weaker. This story shows us both sides of the coin.

Chelsea has inherited her father's voluntary rescue company. Her brother is the town's fire chief. They are often at odds at home but are dedicated to their work which sometimes requires both fire and rescue. An arsonist is at work in the town and resembles completely the work of an arsonist several years before. The person suspected of the earlier arsons happened to be Chelsea's boyfriend and her brother Chad's best friend, Jake. But Jake moved away years ago, so who is setting these copycat fires?

Another friend of Chelsea, Brad and Jake, is Tim, head of the bank that holds the mortgage on the rescue building and equipment, and coincidentally has the hots for Chelsea, even to the point of trying to get to her through her adopted son Max.

When Jake comes back a decade later to clear his name, his return coincides with the new arsons. Is Jake setting these fires? Is he really back to clear his name? Or is he back to reclaim Chelsea's broken heart? Rumors begin once again and nobody knows who to trust.

Chris Redding has delivered a different twist of a mystery, a well-written scenario of did he - didn't he? Will she - won't she? Overcoming the past, saving lives, murder, secrets and rumor. Switching from loss and distrust to fear and desperation, with comfort, humor and love between, this book dishes up several flavors throughout to keep the reader spellbound. I found myself getting more immersed the more I read. Informative and captivating, compassion and greed, all wrapped up in one exciting package.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Town That Died by Michael J. Bird

Published by Nimbus Publishing

Many people in this age of man-made destruction are not familiar with the first,  the largest, man-made explosion in the world before Hiroshima, in the somewhat isolated Maritimes of Canada. This is the story of how on Dec. 6, 1917, the town of Halifax was decimated.

The late Michael J. Bird wrote this account of the explosion in 1962. Since then there have been several editions, the edition I read was printed in 2011.

Several books have been written both about what led to this disaster, and also used as a background for a few novels. How could such a huge event happen in Halifax? World War I was still going on, ships were the only option for transporting supplies from North America and Halifax was the closest outgoing port to Europe. This book is the best I've read on the subject, utilizing official reports and records of the event as it happened, as well as eye-witness testimony.

The explosion itself gave the appearance of what we would later see as the atomic bomb, a mushroom cloud over twelve thousand feet high. The explosion not only blew buildings down, windows shattering, and stripping the clothes from people in the path of the wind blast, but also caused a tsunami. Most of Halifax and Dartmouth on the other side of the harbour, were flattened in minutes, then came the fires. A number of factors come into play to cause this. A ship weighed down with ammunition and gasoline and a ship coming out of the harbour collided, causing the friction of the steel to spark and start a fire on the ammo ship.

This book reads very well, and is well documented. It is factual and yet personal in a way. The feelings of fear, miscommunication, confusion, and trauma, along with heroism and the flip side of looters, brings the human perspective into play. The nervousness of the captain of the ship with ammo and his desperation trying to avoid a collision is alive with tension.  Hundreds of bodies, more than 3,500, were never identified and are buried in a mass grave and many more died in the harbour. Hundreds were blinded by either the flash or from flying shards of window glass. I recommend this book on the basis of its facts and realism of a casualty of a war being fought on another continent.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Zombie Always Knocks Twice - Hollyweird: Book 1 by E. Van Lowe

Published by Imajin Books

Move over Buffy, there's a new girl with a new Power in town. Meet Kristyne Golden, teen necromancer.

Kris refers to them as "deadies". Wandering dead people seem to come out of the woodwork, one even goes so far as to come through the woodwork. Someone has raised some bodies and it's her job to lay them back to rest. These deadies are not gruesome, they wander unnoticed. They are pale but recognizable and appear to be alive. One is even a TV star. Who is going around raising the dead from instructions given in a video on youtube? What happens when a deadie refuses to rest?

This young adult book is off-beat, funny but sad in a way. The thought of dead teens who have been raised, but can't take their place back in society is sad. So is the thought that some of these deadies were out of the loop when they were alive. Is this their chance to get back at their tormentors? Zombies are the result of botched raisings and considered unstable, yet some are friendly in a brutish way. The hilarity of many aspects of the book take the edge off any sadness. I mean really, a youtube instruction video? Great fun! Kris wears fuzzy pink earmuffs to keep out the demanding spirit voices that surround her. Is it possible she might fall for a deadie? We'll have to wait and wonder for the next installment.

The whole concept of this book obviously comes from a rich imagination and E. Van Lowe without a doubt has that percolating to brew a fully entertaining read, leaving me wanting more. Fortunately, Hollyweird is a series. Young adult fiction or not, this grandmother completely enjoyed it and I am looking forward to the next installment. In fact, I'm looking forward to reading other E. Van Lowe books too, this writer fascinates with his unique imagination. Oh yes, the Zombie? He definitely always knocks twice ... hard!

Nightshade on Elm Street - a Flower Shop Mystery #13 by Kate Collins

Published by Obsidian

Take a rich mama's boy, a discarded fiance who has successfully picked herself back up, one hot Italian private detective, two smothering mothers, a ditsy fashion-conscious cousin, a missing girl, a bunch of wacky guests, and the parties are on!

What has happened to Melissa? She is allegedly engaged to Pryce Osborne who was previously engaged to Abby, now owner of the flower shop "Bloomers". Abby is now engaged to and assists Marco, the private detective called in to find the missing Melissa.

Jillian, Abby's cousin and coincidentally married to Pryce's much more compassionate younger brother Claymore, pleads the case, and it's off to the upperclass lakeside "cabins" for Abby and Marco. Little do they know just how complicated this case will become.

Kate Collins really has her hands full keeping up with all these fascinating characters, I must say! I always like learning something new, and here I learned flowers and their proponents.

With Abby's bridal shower imminent, her plans are running amok. She wants to put it together herself, and pitted against the formidable group of mother, mother-in-law, cousin and shop staff on one side and a ridiculously complicated (and often drunk) group of misfits on the other side, she can feel the rock and the hard place closing in fast. Only Marco seems calm. There are so many secrets her head is spinning. The investigation even more complicated, with the neighboring elite forever coming and going at the Osborne's large cabin. Did Melissa go to an exclusive resort? Did she remain nearby, perhaps unwillingly? Whose body has washed up at the lake? Just one of many strange happenings.

Everyone is intent on "helping" with her shower, while at the Osborne's, mysteries become more sinister, who will be the next victim? Although there is no “locked door” I am somehow reminded of Agatha Christie. How will everything get accomplished at the shop and a murderer caught in this luxurious vacation spot in such a short time? Suspicions galore, are there no real leads?

Great writing to keep us all guessing, and give us a glimpse of the uber-rich, who surprisingly seem unaffected about the mysteries and victims around them.

I really enjoyed this book, Lots of twists and turns, and a plethora of oddball characters fill out the latter plot while Abby's fiance, cousin, and mothers working in the background bring a surprising sanity in the end. This is #13 in the Flower Shop series, so I may have repeated some parts of Abby's life that appeared in earlier books. I can hardly wait to read another!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Heckel Casey by James Koch

Published by Imajin Books

Portent of things to come? "Heck" of a thriller!
The ultimate fight of good against evil. The world is not just poised on the precipice, it has gone over the edge. It is the age of destruction and evil reigns. James Hoch has written a fast-paced thriller of fear, horror and despair as the world collapses. But from the very beginning, there is a trickle of hope in very few, not extinguished. Is it enough to save what is left of the world?

This was a gripping piece of thriller fiction, one I found difficult to put down. Reminiscent of life in the Twilight Zone, part reality, part macabre, part paranormal, it comes with a message. The signs are all there in our real lives today. The outcome remains to be seen. The collapse is already hidden in the shadows of reality. The author has taken that shadowy present and shaped it into a terrible future that is fiction...but will it become fact?

The search by one man, Heckel or "Heck", for any sign of normalcy left in the world. One man walking, who as a boy, was somehow protected from the seduction of evil, and he isn't the only one. They exist, he has only to find them, people untainted by evil, and find them he does after walking for about a year. He finds them in various small-holds, isolated homes around the country and in burned out small towns. We must believe that there are others in other countries playing out the same game. Like any hero, Heckel has an odd sidekick, a cat he calls Jerky. Jerky seems to have adopted him, and is a unique protector, giving warnings of something not right ahead.

Faith and God play a role in the later encounters, angels strengthen the souls and bodies of these people, aiding in their fight against supernatural demons. This is not to say the book is a tome of religion, but belief and faith in the good in humanity.

Fiction at its best, fascinating plot, amazing characters, and fulfillment of promise...but will it last and which will it be: Good or Evil? Enjoy the book, I did.