Review: Calling Major Tom – David M. Barnett

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SYNOPSIS: We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world. – via Goodreads

So, it did take this book a while to actually become something to me, but it finally did ramp up from the slog it was initially. While it did not hit the heights of the claim of being “the feel good novel of 2017”, it certainly was a decent read, and it was a quick one, too.

The plot is absurd, and it is good. A lot of time is spent in the beginning of the book telling us a little bit about Thomas and then the Ormerod family, and it isn’t happy, pleasant stuff. Not super dramatic either, it just feels like filler, even though it is important to set up the remainder of the novel. Necessary, though. Then the novel just dives in. The whole story is built on a wrong number call made by Thomas Major, and from there, things snowball.

I really like Gladys. She is sweet and endearing and it is really sad to know that she has knowledge of the fact that dementia is taking her. Ellie is a character that did not grow on me, not at all, no matter what was happening. James is a cute and confused little boy, and Delil is the comic relief we need in this whole thing. I really enjoyed the interactions between Major Tom and James, super sweet.

The book is a bit predictable though, not going against anything in the heartwarming formula, and that is okay. Once you accept the premise, it gets rolling, and when you start wondering when the humour is going to start kicking, you get some particularly juicy Taxi Driver, ninja granny moments, and it is great. Calling Major Tom also plays heavily on Thomas Major’s name and mission in connection to David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and it works for this. It is just enough to not be too much. It also has a pretty decent message it presents, never too heavy handed about it, either.

While not my favourite book, Calling Major Tom is a decent read and is very sweet. Characters you don’t expect to grown on you do (like Craig), and the story is fun to follow. I liked it, even though I didn’t love it. Others will likely enjoy it more than I did if this is their genre – let’s not forget mine is mind games, gore, and twisted killers.

Review: Deadly Recall – T.R. Ragan

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Jessie Cole #2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: When you search for the missing, there’s no telling what you’ll find. PI Jessie Cole learned that painful truth firsthand when her sister disappeared. Now a new case will test Jessie and Ben once again.

Owen Shepard, the public face of one of the country’s biggest health insurance companies, has become the target of a vengeful father. The man blames Shepard for his child’s death and plans to make the CEO know what it’s like to live with a broken heart—and watch others die. After killing two employees, the desperate father kidnaps Shepard’s daughter. Tasked with finding her, Jessie and crime reporter Ben Morrison are running out of time to save her.

Meanwhile, Ben is still seeking insight into the man he used to be before a car crash erased his memories. And each discovery is leading Jessie and him down a frightening road. What they find could scar both of them forever. – Goodreads

You know, I have read the majority of the Lizzy Gardner series, and I am really not a fan. It’s like… they are okay to read, but nothing special at all. When this series launched, I thought it would be worth giving it a shot, and I was actually impressed with Her Last Day. I didn’t expect to be, but I was. I am pleased to say that the second instalment in the Jessie Cole series is also a pretty good read.

There really are so many parallels between the Gardner books and the Cole books, but I honestly feel that the execution and characters are far better in the Cole books. Again, the pacing is a lot better in this. The book speeds by and is interesting throughout, not suffering from a lot of unnecessary bloat, and the multiple cases being dealt with are handled really well here, neither being forgotten or wasted away.

Zee returns in this book, and I am glad about that, as she is a character who is odd but I like her. Deadly Recall also gives us a bit more time to chew on Ben Morrison and who/what he is, as this book spends some more time digging into that. I really like this aspect, and I think Ragan is handling it really well.

Overall, Deadly Recall is a solid follow up to Her Last Day, and I am really interested to see where Ragan takes it from here. The book reads quickly, is interesting, and has characters that are more memorable than her other series. All in all, it works better, and is well worth the read if you are looking for a little something new to look into.

Review: The Silent Corner – Dean Koontz

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Jane Hawk #1

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: “I very much need to be dead.”

These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for—but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demand: find the truth, no matter what.

People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important—so terrifying—that they will exterminate anyone in their way.

But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless—and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love. – via Goodreads

I quite enjoy Koontz, usually his books are a fast read, though their quality is all over the show. Some books are really good, some are mediocre, some are messy, so it is quite the mixed bag. When this opened for request, I figured why not? I did not realise when I began that it was the first novel in a series he has started, but no worries. I found that out right at the end, when I only had a few pages left and wondered how on Earth he was going to wrap this crazy story up with to little time.

The book starts off and hits its flow pretty quickly, though it takes some time to actually figure out what is going on and what Jane’s deal is because everything is really vague, which contributes to what Jane is feeling, and slowly but surely more pieces start to fall into place, to pull you in to see what else is on the loose, and before you know it is a crazy, sci-fi style conspiracy has blown up, and you are in for a wild ride. There are chases and escapes and constant fear and terror for Jane, so the book barrels along. There are some cool characters, too, though they mostly just pop in and out.

I felt that there were places the book could have been tightened up more, but I have also realised that this is also par for course with Koontz. There are sections that just ramble on or go on, and they are a little incongruous to the other parts of the book that just barrel along. But that overall does not detract from the reading experience, just slows you down a little once in a while. The dialogue is also a little stinted at times, and there was not really much of it, which is why it sticks out to me so much.

The Silent Corner is an interesting read with a pretty cool, creepy concept, and I think that this series could be well worth the read, and I will certainly follow up with the second one when it releases. I could recommend this, especially if you like a fast read and some conspiracy thrown in for good measure, then this is definitely for you.

Review: Carolina Moon – Nora Roberts

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nora roberts carolina moon

SYNOPSIS: Tory Bodeen grew up in South Carolina, in a small run-down house, where her father ruled with an iron fist and a leather belt—and where her dreams and talents had no room to flourish. But she had Hope, who lived in the big house just a short skip away and whose friendship allowed Tory to be something she wasn’t allowed to be at home: a child.

After young Hope’s brutal murder, unsolved to this day, Tory’s life began to fall apart. And now, as she returns to her hometown, with plans to settle in and open a stylish home-design shop, she is determined to find a measure of peace and free herself from the haunting visions of the past. As she forges a new bond with Cade Lavelle—Hope’s older brother and the heir to the family fortune—she isn’t sure whether the tragic loss they share will unite them or drive them apart. But she is willing to open her heart, just a little, and try.

Living so close to those unhappy memories will be more difficult and frightening than Tory could ever have expected, however. Because Hope’s murderer is nearby as well… – via Goodreads

GRADE 7This was a recommendation from my bestie, Natasha, who is a massive Nora Roberts junkie. This novel, however, is one that I liked far more than most that I have read. There was less hanky panky crap clogging up the pages, and this actually had more of a story to tell. There were places where I felt things were not fleshed out properly, or a jump was made in the story, but other than that it flowed quite well. I liked Cade’s character eventually, though I really do have to wonder what is up with Roberts writing about these pushy males, who all pop up, fall for the girl, and refuse to accept that the girl’s not interested. It has been like this since pretty much the second book onward for me. Initially, Faith was a character I could not stand, and while she remained childish and annoying at times, she was also the character that lightened the story up quite significantly at times. To read about Tory’s childhood was very sad, there is nothing as awful as growing up in an abusive home. Ugh, it was terrible to read about it, but truly gave more weight to the story and all that happened. The villain is not a shocker at all, and the “investigation” so to speak is relatively non-existent. If you are going to read this for a serious, in depth “whodunnit”, you are going to be sorely disappointed. If you are looking for a read with a character battling her past, moving on, making things happen for herself, this would be the one. It’s like… this dramatic little soap opera on paper, and it was exactly what I needed. Not too much romance and sex to irritate me like the others (think of the forest fuck fest of the last one I read), but not absolutely nothing happening to frustrate me, either. It was something that kept me busy and entertained, and I enjoyed it. It was nice to read a novel set in the South of America again, though I cannot say that Roberts captured it as successfully as other authors, and there were some things that were said/done that even had me wondering about how accurate it was. Maybe I have been spoiled by reading so much Anne Rice, and she lives in and loves the South, and it comes through in her work. There were also too many loose ends right at the end, but I suppose you can’t have everything. Oh well. I did appreciate the darker tone that was set in this novel, it gave rise to more different characters than she usually writes about, and I liked that.