Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Review - Exposure

Oh no, she didn't!

Brandilyn Collins did it again. Her trademark is "Seatbelt Suspense" because she takes the reader for a ride, and that's not a lie with her latest book, Exposure.

In small town Wilmore, Kentucky, Kaycee Raye is known as the town paranoid. She plies her fears into a successful syndicated column, but she still battles demons at home. Is she being watched, or is it just her imagination. The local police force may think she plays it for her writing.

But what about the photo of a dead man on her camera?

When the bloody image appears on her computer and TV, she knows someone is really stalking her. However, the images vanish, leaving her no evidence to take to the police. When a tragedy strikes, she doesn't want to distract the police from her concerns, even though frightening events keep happening. Is she succumbing to her fears, or is there a real danger lurking?

I've been reading Brandilyn's books for a few years now, and I can expect some things: she has a unique vocabulary, she's going to put you in the protagonist's point of view so strongly you'll start to sweat, and she's going for the unexpected. When you're prepared for the unexpected, you won't be surprised, right?

She got me good this time.

I was actually getting a little frustrated with the book as it seemed to be moving along a few seemingly unconnected lines. The payoff was well worth it though, and I really enjoyed the "Aha" moment. I don't want to give away too much, because you have to read it for yourself.

Her strengths in characterization and keeping the suspense building are front and center as usual. I've noticed she has a few odd words she likes for certain situations, words I'm affectionately calling "Brandilynisms," and I guess they're losing a little of their uniqueness when I see them a few times a book. That is probably nit-picking, but that's the only thing I can really think of as a negative. The confusion of the plot lines early on was my negative point, but by the end I saw why it was done that way, and all my frustration melted when I got to the reveal.

She didn't really sucker me that much, did she?

Yes, she did.

Recommended highly for fans of suspense. There's a little blood and guts and a lot of peril for the faint at heart, but it serves the story and isn't there to shock. This book ought to win her new fans, and reward her stalwart ones.

Just watch behind you...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We're Being Boarded!

This year on Talk Like a Pirate Day we were overrun with pirates!

First to report is the sneaky Mad Dog Matt, comin' over the wall and climbing the fort!

When we can repel the boarders, there'll be more pirate-y news for ye...

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review - Through the Fire

A Hot Debut

Through The Fire is the debut novel by Shawn Grady. It was featured by the CFBA in June, but I didn't get it in time to review. It tells the story of Aidan O'Neill, a firefighter in Reno, Nevada, driven by a tragic past.

Coincidentally, Shawn Grady was a firefighter/paramedic in Reno. What are the odds?

Aidan O'Neill comes from a long line of firefighters, and he continues the family tradition even as he deals with the death of his father in the line of duty. The fire speaks to him, and he challenges the dangers past the point of confidence into recklessness. When a rookie fireman is severely injured, he is forced to take a break from the department.

He runs to Mexico, avoiding the introspection the break intended, but his suspension is cut short when an arsonist starts targeting Reno. Clues suggest a connection to his father's death, but his gift of reading fires has left him, leaving him with doubt about his livelihood and his life.

The new fire investigator Julieanne Caldwell comes to him with new information and a past connection. His attraction to her is matched by the way the flames seem to be seeking him out. The heat rises to a fiery conclusion as Aidan wrestles with his foundation as well as a danger that shows no mercy.

This is an impressive debut for Grady. The old adage is "write what you know," and in this case, he knows his stuff. I work at times with a fire department, and from my perspective, the gritty details of the fire and a fireman's life puts me on the scene, coughing and squinting due to the smoke. He does a very good job keeping description fresh, even as he has numerous fire-related scenes. It never gets old, and he even stretched my vocabulary. I like an author who makes me reach for the dictionary occasionally.

The suspense is palpable as well, and the twists and menance kept me off balance on who was the bad guy. He weaves a battle of faith into the the mix as well in a very fresh, organic way. There was one stretch where the pacing got a little bogged down, but overall he keeps the temperature rising throughout the book.

He writes believable characters, guys you'd want to go against a fire with, as well as crusty bosses and jilted love. The main characters Aidan and Julieanne are conflicted and imperfect, making mistakes along the way even as you're rooting for them.

In his bio it says he was named "Most Promising Writer" at a prominent writers conference. Through the Fire delivers on this promise. I really enjoyed the world of the firefighter, as you feel like you're in their boots. This book jumps into my favorites of the year list, and I'll be looking forward to more from Shawn Grady.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Sighting!

Yes, there has been a Jason sighting. I have been awfully busy at work and home, and I haven't had a lot of inspiration for posting lately, except for the occasional book review. I've read a couple of really good books lately though, and I'll be talking about them very soon. Plus, the official holiday of Spoiled for the Ordinary is coming up - stay tuned for some special reports shortly.

My friend had a saying: Real Life Interferes (TM). Too true.