Review: Skull Session ~ Daniel Hecht

skullISBN ~ 978-1582344966
Publisher ~ Bloomsbury USA
No. Of Pages ~ 496 pages
Links ~ iTunes, Amazon, Daniel Hecht

Despite his brilliance, Paul Skoglund hasn’t held a steady job for years, partly because of his Tourette’s syndrome. When his eccentric, wealthy aunt asks him to take on the repairs of her magnificent hunting lodge, he is in no position to refuse. But then he finds that the rambling old house has been savagely vandalized: he discovers a scene of almost superhuman destruction, a violence mirrored by a series of disappearances and grisly deaths haunting the region. Paul delves into the wreckage, wondering what dark passion—and what strength—could cause such chaos. As state police investigator Mo Ford pursues the mystery through official channels, escalating events force Paul deeper into his family’s past and into the darker aspects of his own nature.

4 Thumbs-UpThis is an interesting book on many levels, and had me hooked from the first page and, as much as it may seem that this would be an automatic 5 thumbs review, there were parts of this novel that pulled it down to a 4 thumbs rating.

The main protagonist suffers from Tourette’s syndrome which in itself is an unusual choice of malady to use in a protagonist.  However, it works well with the subject matter of the book and, through the struggles the main lead has with his condition the reader learns a great deal about this illness; and this is where the book lost its 5 thumbs, at times there is so much neurological information it slows the narrative down, and that really affects the novel overall, but it did make me wonder if the Author had not had personal experience in some way of Tourette’s.  Back to the main character; it is safe to say that this man has his plate full dealing not only with his own problems but those of his son who also has issues, what kind I am not saying as it would spoil the experience of reading the book.  The reader is often taken inside the mind of the main character and is able to experience the world he lives in and the events that happen to him through his eyes.  This serves to make him a very real person with great depth and, at times, it feels as if the reader is right there with him in this world.

When I first started reading this I assumed it was going to be a purely neurological thriller, and was quite happy to accept this; however, as I soon found out, I was totally wrong.  With a skilful hand the Author turns this book into a cross-genre novel covering everything from horror to supernatural urban fantasy with stops at the psychological and medical arenas along the way.  It may sound that this leads to what is a very disjointed read, but each of the genres are woven seamlessly together making this an easy, if not very fast paced, read.  For the die-hard horror fan out there, the ‘scary’ portions of this book may seem a little tame, but with everything that this book has going for it, it really doesn’t matter in my opinion.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good thriller/mystery, and I will be reading more by this Author.divider

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Review: Joe After Maya ~ Marina Raydun

Joe after mayaISBN ~ 978-1499593266
Publisher ~
No. Of Pages ~ 268 pages
Links ~ Amazon

Joe is lost.
A sudden widower, he is alone in the trendy apartment he had earned at a great cost to himself. He has nowhere to look but back.
His wife Maya violently murdered, the next week of Joe’s life is a dizzying whirl of revelations and cigarette smoke as he reflects on their time together in the effort to uncover who killed her and why.
On his journey, Joe reluctantly finds and faces himself.

4 Thumbs-UpIt has been a while since I read a book as raw in emotion, setting and characters as this one; it’s also a book that will pull the reader into the storyline and not let them go until the very end.

Joe, the main protagonist is well-developed and written.  His emotions are raw and on display for the reader to see and experience with him, and because of this I felt that I was living through this time of his life with him.  It was quite surprising that the Author wrote all the lesser characters, including Maya, in the same way, making them vivid and real without being overly descriptive.

The book is full of twists, turns, suspense and a touch of horror, with the supernatural aspect of the book being explained to the reader in such a manner as to make it believable.  The way in which the Author weaves together all the aspects of this book with the characters and events add a great deal of depth to the book and made it one that I sat and read in one sitting, only breaking off briefly to make more tea.

If you are looking for a good psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages to the end, I would highly recommend this book to you.  I will definitely be reading more by this Author.

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Review: Daughters of the Teardrop Sea ~ H.M. Cooper

DaughtersAnyone who knows Laura can see that she is bound to be successful at whatever she chooses to do. The future looks promising. She is a psychiatric resident at a major urban hospital. She is six months pregnant. Her life is nearly perfect. She’s married to a surgeon who loves her completely and whom she loves with equal passion. She is challenged everyday by patients who test and develop her skills. She has friends who are devoted. What tragedy could happen to wreck all of this? It’s a freak accident that changes Laura’s life and sends her on a journey from which she may never return. A journey to save the one thing that matters the most to her; the life of her unborn child

3 Thumbs-UpThis book is the first in a series of books, and is a debut novel for this Author; it is also something of an oddity as it doesn’t have a foot firmly in any particular genre, which makes it possibly appealing to a wider range of readers.

It is hard to review this book on any level without revealing spoilers, but I will do the best I can starting with the main protagonist, if they can actually be called that.  Given the way in which the novel is written, through a series of dreams, there is very little in the way of character development.  The reader receives snippets as they progress through the book, but there are no in-depth, breath stopping revelations about motivation and this really doesn’t matter one bit.  Through the imagination of the Author, the reader is actually made to care deeply about this character, and it really doesn’t detract from the book in any way that we don’t know her deepest secrets and flaws; the reader just cares, plain and simple.  As she is the centre stage for the most part of the novel, there are no cluttering pages of other characters we need to keep track of and try to remember their place in the scheme of things as we read; I found this to be very refreshing and made the book easier to read than it would otherwise have been.

On some levels this novel could be classified as a broad horror story, not that I could see why, but it would take some stretch to firmly place it there; as I said earlier, it has no standing in any genre.  However, some readers may say it is a psychological thriller or even a sci-fi novel; for me it was just a very good and gentle read.  Through deft writing skills in the dream sequences, the Author weaves into his storyline characters from Greek Mythology such as Clotho, Lechesis and Atropos, The Fates who decide our destiny, and makes them  part of the dream reality of the protagonist.  So well does the Author paint the images of the dream world, that it comes as a shock to the system when the reader is brought back in to the real world, and we are reminded that they are just dreams.

This book is a journey, and at risk of sounding like the opening to the ‘Twilight Zone’ it is a journey into and through the human mind, and each step of the journey takes our protagonist one step further towards healing and acceptance.  As with most journeys, this is one with direction, subliminal planning and a purpose, one that the reader will travel every step of the way to its conclusion.

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a print copy of this book, and was glad I did as the formatting of the book would have given me cause for concern if I had read in on any of the e-readers out there.  I’m not sure if it is because I like longer paragraphs in my reading selections or whether these were not intended to be short and choppy but I found these, along with some spelling errors in the first few pages to be quite distracting and they did pull away from my overall enjoyment of the novel.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read just for the sheer enjoyment of finding something new and interesting; I will most likely be looking out for the next instalments to see where this journey leads.

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