reviewed by Cy Wyss
Grace and Disgrace is the story of Jack Tuohay, an Inspector with the Royal Irish Constabulary around the turn of the century (early 1900s). Tuohay comes to Boston following the trail of a missing diamond and proceeds to follow a path of murder and mayhem. Tuohay’s friends Eliza and John help him, as does a shadowy Inspector in the Boston Police named Frost. The web of intrigue involves some higher ups in the Boston Catholic church as well as potential police wrongdoings. Along the way, Tuohay and friends unravel some diabolical codes and try to piece together clues before the murderer gets them too.
Aside from the odd spate of overly purple prose, Milhomme’s writing is smooth, easy to read, and impeccably edited. What is really compelling about the book, though, is the plot and characters. Once I got about a third of the way through I found I couldn’t put Grace and Disgrace down. Milhomme’s historical Boston is rich and inviting, and the main characters are well-rounded and unique, yet familiar, like old friends. The mystery is enriched by the codes that need to be unraveled, an area that Milhomme has obviously studied well. Although in retrospect I feel I could have solved the mystery, the answer came as a surprise to me, which happens in a well-written yarn. Great book, definitely recommended reading.
reviewed by Cy Wyss
“Klubbe” rhymes with tube or cube. “It is enough for a parrot to be a parrot, a walrus to be a walrus, an ape to be an ape, a crab to be a crab, but it is not enough for a turkle to be a turkle.” Thus begins Klubbe’s adventures as an inventor. First, he invents a spaceship and finds fame and honor building it, and intrigue in the stars flying it. He even stops at a little blue and green planet the inhabitants call “Earth.” When Klubbe gets back home his adventures continue.
I would give Klubbe 3.5 stars (rounds up to 4). The writing is smooth and the descriptions are beautiful, but the book is short on dramatic conflict. Klubbe finds only minor resistance to building his planet’s first spaceship out of nothing and what little resistance he finds is quickly and easily overcome. Similarly for his ship’s maiden voyage. I felt a lot more could have been made out of (for example) a trip to Earth, or a trip to a foreign unknown space station but these potentials pass by with little conflict. Perhaps for middle graders Klubbe the Turkle will be well-received, especially for those who love the idea of world building and don’t mind a slow pace. Here’s hoping book 2 has more action and less description.
Everyone says getting honest reviews is key to any book marketing strategy. But, it’s harder than it looks. The first review conundrum was the apathetic reader, who won’t review your book even though they really liked it. This review conundrum, equally confounding, is the overworked indie reviewer: there aren’t that many of us, and we’re easily swamped. If only I could read faster, I might make longer inroads in my “to review” pile.
reviewed by Cy Wyss
Blue Spirit is the story of Skye, who is having a really bad couple days. First, she loses her cushy Starbucks job over a misunderstanding unfortunately involving Vodka, then her residence burns down—almost with her inside it—then her boyfriend blames her and leaves her for an uppity newcomer Skye terms “Queenie.” It might seem like an unlikely route to success, but the best heroes are tested in the worst ways. Skye befriends a plucky firefighter, Annabelle, and with the help of Annabelle and such unlikely allies as a dwarf-fairie “Transit King” called Bask and a skater-cum-wolf called Deke, Skye manages to come out on top.
The writing is brisk and compelling and Garrison’s characters leap off the page into the imagination, whole and complete like pretty pictures. I found Blue Spirit impossible to put down. I had to find out what happened next, and the fact Skye is a gamer and the climax scene is set at a LARP event for pretend vampires is pure genius. The book is a great mix of fantasy and in-book pretending, the two of which are somehow always kept straight despite their obvious affinities. Skye is a memorable and determined heroine, although I did have concerns at how quickly she dumped her boyfriend of years for her new firefighter friend. A small concern in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable read. This smooth and light-hearted gem is a great read for a couple summer afternoons.
reviewed by Cy Wyss
Illusion of Choice is set nearly 100 years in the future, after a horrible plague that turns humans into zombie-like creatures has ravaged the world, breaking down society’s resistance to being taken over by a single evildoer. The hero of the story, David Warren, is one of the new world order, a policeman under the world government, until he is attacked by not one but two of his fellow officers, both of whom attempt to murder him. To survive, he must go underground and throw his lot in with the dissenters, who have marked him as one of them already. Warren had the gall to help one of their members during a police maneuver, and the underground quickly realized he has a deep conscience.
I would give Illusion of Choice 3.5 stars (which rounds up to 4). The book could use some careful editing and at points the incorrect usage of words or a typo or two will throw you out of what is otherwise a fine story. There are many twists and turns, rendering what could have been a trite plot fresh. At some places the book seems to be a combination of classics such as Robocop and Universal Soldier, with it’s own take on their premises. Warren rises above himself to save humanity from the grips of the madmen in power and their technological suppression devices. It’s a fun ride.