Blood Will Out (With the Proper Solvent) is dedicated to Terry Pratchett’s memory, which sets quite a high bar for author Lauren Stoker. I’ve read most, if not all, of Pratchett’s published works – many more than once. This book is a difficult read for the first quarter, dangling plot points and stranded characters. Once that deep into the story it gets a lot easier as things settle down.
The characters aren’t as well developed as I would like, and I didn’t grow attached to any of them. Also, the forces of “good” are massively over-powered which reduces some of the potential for the story arc. The last part of the book gets a bit preachy as well. People who read this for entertainment aren’t looking for an eco-sermon. It’s like going to the Salvation Army shelter for dinner.
The interior formatting is excellent, top-notch. It is a distinct pleasure to turn each page (I bought the hardback). The cover doesn’t reach the same standard.
I rate the book a 3.5, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced under $20 on Amazon or at your local bookstore, it’s available only in paperback or hardcover, and is a fair entertainment value.
Image by ana carla from Pixabay
I found They Laughed at Me to be a dark and disturbing story, but in a good way. It was easy to believe an alcoholic under house arrest for DUI could harbor dark impulses to murder his ex-wife, as well as to kill while performing at open mike nights like The Unknown Comic. David Kempf has delivered a very well written book which, though short enough to read in an afternoon, punches above its weight. In the end, was the result due to Jack Lively’s general incompetence, or a self-destructive mindset? Hard to tell, and that is part of the story’s charm.
I rate the book a 4.5, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a good entertainment value.
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Author Slayton has written a very entertaining work introducing Adam Binder (the titular warlock). It starts off fairly slow at first, introducing an interesting mix of characters and situations, however the pace soon builds relentlessly to a climactic conclusion. A few threads are left open for the next installment, but the story itself is self-contained. A short work, perfect for weekend reading. I especially enjoyed the nods to Denver, CO landmarks and attractions.
While the plot doesn’t break any truly new ground, priced at $6.29 for Amazon Kindle, it is a fair entertainment value. I rate the book a solid 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Image by Mustafa Alpaslan from Pixabay
The Trapnell family is at it again in this sequel to Jill Hand’s White Oaks. (click here for previous review of White Oaks) The offspring of recently-deceased billionaire Blanton Trapnell are still doing their best to inherit their respective portions of the largest estate in Georgia. It’s a terrible thing to be bound by the constraints of a trust fund. One can’t buy a snake-infested Greek island with a mere trust fund! Unfortunately the executor of the estate, oldest daughter Karen, has gone missing. Like most Trapnell problems this one is self-inflicted, as Aimee is pretty sure she successfully killed Karen. My favorite character among the children is the fastidious international arms dealer, Marsh, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about the character of the Trapnells.
Black Willows is another testament to Jill Hand’s skill in weaving an engrossing and humorous tale. I read it pretty much in one sitting, and re-read a week later at a much slower pace. Why? Because there are so many witty and sly cultural references embedded, I’d hate to miss one. It’s always a pleasure to read well-crafted stories without wasted threads. There aren’t many authors who consistently deliver on that score, but Jill Hand has done so repeatedly.
I rate the book a solid 5.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Available for pre-order at https://www.amazon.com/Black-Willows-Trapnell-Thriller-Jill/dp/1684335868, with international general availability October 20, 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JILL HAND is a former crime reporter. She is a member of International Thriller Writers.
White Oaks, the first book in her series about the scheming, free-wheeling Trapnell siblings, won first place for thrillers in the 2019 PenCraft Awards. Her short stories have appeared in many anthologies.
Banner and photography artwork provided courtesy of Black Rose Writing and Jill Hand.
Alex Harrow kicks off the first of the Voyance series with a bang, literal and figurative. The action is non-stop, filled with betrayals and plot twists when something isn’t being blown up. The writing is very tight and the characters well developed. I would caution there are fleeting scenes of graphic sexuality (if that is a concern) which were fully in support of the storyline. I was left still not knowing much about the Voyance, but I expect it will be fully explained in later installments.
I rate the book a solid 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $6.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a fair entertainment value.
(Disclosure: I received my signed paperback copy at a charity event for child literacy)
Image by Omni Matryx from Pixabay
Jane Lindskold has done it again; produced a gripping Firekeeper novel which has a storyline easily capable of standing on its own. The characters are vividly painted and the plot is well-tuned (as usual). I purchased the paperback version, which is beautifully presented in both cover art and interior formatting. It isn’t often a reading experience is as delightful as this one.
Will I read it again?: Absolutely, and probably before she finishes the series.
I rate the book a solid 5.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $7.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s well worth the premium.
Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay
This is a book which veers from tear-jerker to thriller to morality tale and finally redemption storylines. Normally that indicates a lack of focus on the part of the author, but Lorraine Cobcroft succeeds in pulling it all together in this technically well-written book set in Australia. I had to chuckle at her multiple references to Australian aristocracy, but I suppose all barn yards do sort out their chickens.
The dialogue is fairly flat, as most of the characters use the same turns of phrase and speech mannerisms regardless of education or background. Also, in my experience, lawyers achieving at the level described of the protagonists would be much more complex in thought, but verisimilitude is not necessary to enjoy this read.
I rate the book a 3.5, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a solid entertainment value.
Tony Saunders puts up a story which has been told and retold many times, the earliest I remember would be a Tom Swift, Jr. book which uses a similar propulsion drive principle in the 1960s. However, the author doesn’t demonstrate a working understanding of the physical sciences, engineering, business, or government in this book. Those can be set aside if the author is telling a compelling story, which in this case he does not. There’s a story here, it just isn’t presented in its best form. The biggest issues are pace and characterization. The dialogue is mostly unattributed and spare of descriptive detail. All speech sounds like the same person is talking monotone, without emotional context. What do the characters look like, do they smile, how do they move, what are they thinking, etc. Why are there variable jumps in time from one paragraph to the next? What were the aliens doing for the years it took to launch Earth’s spaceship? Did the editor only provide a spelling and grammar check?
My recommendation is that potential buyers read the sample text on Amazon before buying a copy. The sample is very representative of the overall quality in this case.
As it stands, I think this is most suitable for a young teen SciFi audience, I rate this book a 3.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a fair entertainment value.
(Disclosure: I learned of the book through Veracious Readers Only! and purchased a copy)
Well written albeit less-than-believable plot with simple characterization. Amazing how quickly bullet wounds heal in this book. Hey, it isn’t any more far-fetched than the latest Dan Brown or David Baldacci formulaic screeds. The female lead is a unicorn, an Italian of Albanian extraction who flawlessly speaks and understands colloquial English. She’s beautiful as well as deadly (chortle).
Having said all that, the book is perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon bunkered against viral contagion and can easily be read in one sitting.
I rate this book a 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $5.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a fair entertainment value.
(Disclosure: I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only!)
Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Solid storytelling and a fun concept: Imagine a financial advisor steals your retirement nest egg and leaves for parts unknown. It happens to an older couple living on the poorer side of a Florida beach town, and now they can’t afford to stay put. Luckily though “Mac” looks like Harrison Ford and his equipment is still functional as “Mitzi” will attest. With so many rich older women in town, surely there is a solution to their financial problem. Nothing can go wrong, right?
I enjoyed the story and its setting (I live in Florida). Secondary characters were hard for me to remember, and indeed interchangeable in some respects, but the primary ones are more than sufficient to carry the story. The plot is a bit far-fetched, but what caricature isn’t? We’ve all met Florida people very much like the ones featured.
I rate this book a 4.0, based on the FCP book review standard. Priced at $3.99 on Amazon Kindle, it’s a good entertainment value.
(Disclosure: I bought a signed copy at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore – Delray Beach)