#ThrowbackThursday ~ Maelstrom by @FrancisGuenette #Suspense #Thriller

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week I’ve chosen Maelstrom by Francis Guenette for my Throwback Thursday post. It was published in November 2015 and was a 5* read. Continue reading

More Favourite Opening Lines 2016 #Books #amreading #SundayBlogShare

It’s all on twelve months since I first wrote about my favourite opening lines, so I reckon I’ve read enough books to warrant another selection. So in no particular order, here they are. Clicking on the book title will take you to my review if you’d like more info.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

15932273Mabel had known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbour children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden stairs worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in their place there would be silence.

Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker

21863524The Miami I knew wasn’t all G-strings and mojitos. We were undercover, working our way up the stairs of a parking garage in the Latin Quarter, minutes from a cocaine exchange, with no backup. We’d been trying to get to whoever was up there for two weeks and needed to make arrests. I’d be damned if we were going to let them walk away just because there hadn’t been a chance to call it in. Continue reading

2015 ~ My 20 Top Reads ~ #reading #books

A tough choice, I’ve read lots a great books this year and, in no particular order (as they say) here are my top 20 reads. They are all rated either 4.5 or 5 stars. Clicking on the cover links to Amazon UK.

ravenschoiceRaven’s Choice ~ The Replacement Chronicles #1 ~ Prehistoric fiction, based on fact

As Mark finds out, many people including himself, carry Neanderthal genes although he’ll never know for sure the exact circumstances that brought about this occurrence. But it signifies that Early Modern Man didn’t take the place of extinct Neanderthals but rather the races mixed and interbred, which is proved by the presence of Neanderthal DNA in present day man. It’s such an interesting approach to how life might have been all those years ago, and even more so because it’s a very credible scenario. 

A wonderfully researched, dramatic and detailed narrative sets the scene for forthcoming instalments of The Replacement Chronicles, which I look forward to following.

Full review      Amazon US

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00014]The Dead Lands ~ post apocalyptic, sci-fi, horror

This is a very well crafted story with perfect pacing, the drama unfolds with consistency to keep the narrative flowing effortlessly. The characters are well-developed and real, Lane especially, but all the personalities are drawn brilliantly, whether you love or loathe them. I think this story covers every eventuality with action, of which there is plenty, greed, deception, horror and sadness. Balancing out the negatives are loyalty, a touch of romance and truthfulness. And the promise of satisfactory karma for the villain of the piece. It’s graphic, gruesome, gritty….and great! 

Full review    Amazon US Continue reading

Maelstrom

  • MaelstromAuthor: Francis Guenette
  • Published: November 2015 by Huckleberry Haven Publishing
  • Category: Suspense, Thriller
  • five-stars

A shot is fired into the still night air and a young woman dies on Suicide Ridge. A dangerous game has begun. Over the course of one blistering, hot week, winds of change sweep through an isolated valley in small town America. 

In a clash of powerful men, with fathers pitted against sons, no one will be left unscathed. Maelstrom is a page turner that speeds along like a runaway train.

When Sheriff Bert Calder comes to tell Amos Tanner, the Mayor of Haddon, that Gracie Davison is dead, Amos’ wife Laura is eavesdropping on the conversation. She is sure her husband and the Sheriff have something to do with it. Laura knew Gracie from before she came to live in Haddon and is almost certain now who is responsible for all the bad things that happen in town. Her stepson Casey is running wild and Laura promises herself she’ll leave and take Casey with her. Casey experiences visions and dreams, able to ‘see’ past and future events when he touches an object or is close to someone. 

Sheriff Calder, a cold and calculating man, capable of cruelty beyond comprehension, has been controlling the town by fear, with the help of Amos Tanner, for over twenty years. He considers himself too powerful and intimidating for anyone to end his reign of terror. Continue reading

Chasing Down The Night ~ Crater Lake book 3

  • ChasingAuthor: Francis Guenette
  • Published: May 2015 by Huckleberry Haven Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • five-stars

Long-time resident, Izzy Montgomery juggles the stress of a new job with her burgeoning home life. Family dynamics go into overdrive when Alexander and Cynthia launch plans to build a home nearby and Liam’s sister, Fiona shows up to do an internship with the local doctor. Lisa-Marie and Justin are back for the summer and sparks fly. While crusty, old Reg keeps sawmill production booming, Beulah runs the organic bakery and plans the First Annual Caleb Jenkins Memorial Ball Tournament. Bethany discovers her own hidden talents working with young people at Micah Camp.
As a nine-year-old’s dreams reflect a dangerous reality, many encounter issues from the past.

Izzy’s working life has changed and, she feels, not always for the better. She has taken over the job of Director at Micah Camp after Roland, the previous director, and his new love Jillian decided to go travelling, and is finding it quite stressful. She’s dealing with the repercussions of a large one-off donation to the Camp, the allocation of which includes expansion plans and all that entails. An accident in the kitchen means looking for a new Cook, coupled with the arrival of the incoming residents and the new trauma counsellor who is taking over Izzy’s old job, make her seriously doubt the wisdom of taking on her new position. Continue reading

2014 ~ Top Books

There have been so many great books this year, it was a very hard choice but, in no particular order, here are my top 12 reads/listens.

  1. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Alternating between the past and present and telling the story of a family drama. After the death of their father, sisters Meredith and Nina struggle to really get to know their seemingly reserved and cold Russian born mother. As the sisters finally begin to discover their mother’s tragic story the three women can reach out to each other and find the bond that ties them together. My review.
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir. Mark Watney is part of a team of astronauts sent to Mars and because of a terrible misunderstanding he is left behind. Completely alone and facing certain death, Mark struggles to survive in a totally alien environment. When the people back at NASA discover Mark is still alive the race is on to rescue him before his supplies run out. My review.
  3. Once Dead by Richard Phillips. The first of three prequels that set up the Rho Agenda trilogy. Jack Gregory is the CIA’s top assassin but when an encounter with a notorious criminal goes wrong Jack is left for dead. On his death-bed Jack is revived by a dark entity and has the choice of being a host to the demon or death. A sci-fi thriller with a supernatural twist. My review.
  4. Swan Loch by Randy Mixter. A really lovely, romantic and touching story that traverses time. Swan Loch is a peaceful New England town until a killer strikes. Police Chief Chris Hayward and FBI agent Jake Stanton try to solve a seemingly impossible case and for Chris it becomes very personal. Just when all hope is lost Chris finds the most precious thing in his life. A touch of the paranormal in this mystery thriller. My review.
  5. The Black Hours by Alison Williams. A chilling tale of life during the time of the self-styled Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he travels the country seeking out those he believes are in league with Satan. Seventeen year old Alice Pendle finds herself under suspicion in a tale of persecution and superstition. A suspenseful and gripping drama which mixes fact with fiction. My review
  6. Beyond Midnight ~ Asunder by Sarah M Cradit. Part of the paranormal Southern drama series, The House of Crimson and Clover, Asunder finds the Deschanel family reeling with the backlash of shock and horror brought on by the results of a two hundred year old curse. Hope brings them together to face whatever the future may hold. My review.
  7. Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler. A uniquely different concept and delivery with characters that parallel the life and times of Henry VIII and his wives in a modern day setting. Harry Lanchester’s dream of becoming a rock star is shattered with the death of his older brother and as Harry steps up to take the reins of the family business his life takes on an uncanny resemblance to the famous erstwhile King of England. My review.
  8. The Test by John Lansing. Although I’m loving the Jack Bertolino series, this short story is so touching and evocative, with incredibly vivid imagery and beautiful writing that it had to make this list. From the present day Jack Morgan looks back on his teenage years, being a fourteen year old growing up in the Long Island of the 1960s amid the racial tensions of the time and how it affects the rest of his life. My review.
  9. Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius. Frank Barnes, a homeless veteran, is content living on the streets and making the most of the little he has. Chloe Barnes is evicted and left destitute with two small children and finds life in shelters harsh and unforgiving. The two lives are interlinked and brought together in a compelling storyline. My review
  10. Don’t Touch (Null City #2) by Barb Taub. Lette Simoneau inherits a drastic form of the family ‘gift’ or curse as Lette thinks of it. Everything she touches each day turns into something different. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to the conclusion that boundaries are self-imposed  and as such are surmountable. An imaginative and fun story with a likeable protagonist. My review.
  11. Disappearing In Plain Sight by Francis Guenette. A very well crafted novel centred on the very tight knit community of Crater Lake on the shores of Vancouver Island. The characters are all genuine and the way they deal with their feelings and situations is very believable and show the complex layers which make up human nature. My review.
  12. Passing Through Perfect by Bette Lee Crosby. Book three of the Wyattsville series is set at the end of the Second World War as Benjamin Church returns to Alabama. A powerful and moving tale of the prejudices and intolerance of the time, showing the good and bad sides of human nature regardless of skin colour. My review.

And my top 5 series.

  1. Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. This is a supernatural urban fantasy series which really caught my imagination with a very unlikely hero – or anti-hero would probably best describe James Stark, half angel, half human. Stark’s return from 11 years in hell, bent on revenge is a sharp, hilarious and sardonic tale. MacLeod Andrews portrays Stark and a multitude of diverse characters perfectly. Audiobooks 1-3.5.  Audiobooks 4-6
  2. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. An Urban Fantasy series featuring Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, who lives in Arizona and runs an occult bookstore. Atticus draws his power from the earth through the Druidic tattoos on his arms. He is able to shape shift and enjoys hunting with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. A fun series full of myths, legends, gods, goddess, witches and demons. Superb performance by Luke Daniels, with distinct voices for each character. My reviews 1-3, 4-6, 7
  3. The Project Eden Series by Brett Battles. This is a really compelling storyline. As Daniel Ash’s world crashes down around him he’s catapulted into a nightmare scenario. He can’t comprehend the fact that what happened is no accident. And there is worse, much worse to come as a deadly organisation plots the end of humanity as we know it. MacLeod Andrews delivers a flawless narration. My reviews.
  4. The Georgie Connolly Series by E.L. Lindley. Georgie Connolly is a transplanted English woman living and working in Los Angeles. Feisty and very often landing herself in hot water, Georgie acts on the spur of the moment, without thinking things through.  A change from the norm, Georgie is not connected to law enforcement but makes documentaries, no matter how serious the subject. A fun and easy series but with dangerous undertones. My reviews #1 #2
  5. The Black Series by Russell Blake. Artemus Black is a Hollywood P.I. Down on his luck, with money problems, anger issues and an assistant who ridicules him endlessly and a fat cat that hates him. Life couldn’t get much worse. A great characterisation of an easy to like protagonist with a cast of memorable, humorous characters and excellent and witty story lines. My reviews #1, #2, #3, #4

 

The Light Never Lies

  • TheLightNeverLiesAuthor: Francis Guenette
  • Published: February 2014 by Huckleberry Haven Publishing
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • five-stars

Life is never dull for those who live on the secluded shores of Crater Lake. Set against the backdrop of Northern Vancouver Island, The Light Never Lies is a story of heartbreaking need and desperate measures. People grapple with the loss of cherished ideals to discover that love comes through the unique family ties they create as they go.

The Light Never Lies begins a few months after the end of Disappearing in Plain Sight, with flashback chapters to fill in the intervening time. The multi layered story and characters are complex yet realistic, identifiable and as totally engaging as the first time around. And revisiting Vancouver Island and the beautiful Crater Lake setting was a treat in itself, still just as appealingly evocative and visual.

Lisa-Marie returns to the Crater Lake complex with Justin Roberts, scared and with shock news that will impact on everyone’s lives. Liam especially has a hard time coping with the repercussions, afraid it’s affecting his newly formed relationship with Izzy Montgomery, the trauma councillor at Micah Camp, a refuge for troubled teenagers. There are new residents at the camp, one in particular whose presence facilitates a deadly confrontation which shatters the already fragile peace and tranquility of Crater Lake.

Liam checked Caleb’s gold watch on his wrist; despite the removal of two links by Izzy’s jeweller, the band was still loose. Any minute now the bus would be arriving in Dearborn and Beulah would be on her way back to Crater Lake with Justin and Lisa-Marie. Liam didn’t know when he moment of confrontation might come, but come it would and there wasn’t a thing he could do to avoid it. He was like a deer standing on the highway, blinded by the headlights of an oncoming transport truck. All he could do was wait to be flattened by the impact.

Bethany, Lisa’s aunt, struggling with issues after her near death experience, and Beulah, her partner, experiencing her own problems while trying to keep everything on track, are drifting further apart.

Alexander Collins, a native elder, and Robbie, his son, smarter than his years and with a fascinating gift (which relates to the book title), travel to Crater Lake looking for family. Edward, Izzy’s father, wants to spend his final days with his daughter. Cynthia St. Pierre, a mystery writer, and baby Sophie, all add to the dynamics and aspect of Izzy’s fast growing and extended family. Each personality is defined and as the intricacy of the relationships unfold sympathetically I was absorbed into the story and could picture it as if watching from the sidelines.

All the characters, old and new, are a great mix and Francis Guenette weaves a compelling and very well crafted story which tugs at the heartstrings and pulls out respect,  appreciation and compassion. Each of them dealing with difficult situations which are explored with sensitivity, whether it’s the teenage resident at the camp who is angry and afraid because he believes he’s gay. Or the relationship between Bethany and Beulah. The convoluted connection between Izzy, Liam, Lisa and baby Sophie. And the terminal illness of a family member. They are all interwoven into the story allowing the exploration of individual weaknesses or failings. A wonderfully captivating and touching story with a very moving ending.

Disappearing In Plain Sight

  • DisappearingInPlainSightAuthor: Francis Guenette
  • Published: February 2013 by FriesenPress
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction
  • five-stars

Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

Lisa-Marie is spending the summer on the beautiful shores of Crater Lake, Vancouver Island, with her Aunt Bethany and her aunt’s partner, Beulah. They live by Camp Micah, a refuge for troubled teenagers who have spent years in care, and among a small diverse community who all have their own conflicting personalities, emotions and issues.

Crater Lake is remote and peaceful, a place to which people gravitate in the hope of leaving behind their troubled pasts. But, as the cast of very authentic and well drawn characters find, problems have a tendency to follow on regardless, as if attached by an invisible cord. And no matter how much or how long they are ignored, one day they will demand to be resolved.

On her first evening at the A-Frame, Lisa-Marie grabbed a novel from the coffee table and flopped onto the sofa. She didn’t mind spending her time with a good book but she usually got to pick reading over other options – no TV, no internet and no phone. It was like being captive on an episode of Survivor….

Beulah strolled casually by the sofa flipping a brochure onto Lisa-Marie’s lap. ‘Micah Camp…why not check it out? Maybe they need a cook’s helper or something. Maybe you could get a job….better than lying around on your ass for the next two months.’ Lisa-Marie had to give Beulah credit. That remark slid in like a well aimed shiv in the prison exercise yard. And the timing was superb; her Auntie Beth had walked out of the room just moments before.

Izzy Montgomery is a psychological trauma counsellor, a widow grieving for her husband, Caleb, who was the grounding force in her life for so many years. Caleb’s influence is still felt strongly and his absence affects the residents of Crater Lake. They can do nothing else but accept and control their reactions as best they can. The different perspectives give a lot of insight into each wounded and complex personality, and as a result there are strong feelings running through the narrative along with the underlying effects of guilt, bullying, grief and abuse. These challenging social issues are handled with sensitivity and illustrate how they can have a devastating effect on the people suffering the consequences of such emotional ordeals.

Each chapter explores a specific character and includes past events which eventually brought them to Crater Lake and this point in their lives. It’s really fascinating and clever the way Francis Guenette has woven together these individual stories with insight and awareness for human nature and frailties.

This summer at Crater Lake, with transient folk added to the mix, precipitates a change in everyone’s life with the emotional strains and tensions, which have built up over time, challenging them all to focus on soul-searching and whether there is the ability to leave troubles in the past where they belong, leaving the way open to adjust and move forward.

The setting is extremely appealing and very visual, the detailed descriptions of the area are evocative and expressive. The story encompasses a lot, some experiences no-one should have to experience, unrequited love, dealing with loss and grief and eventually coming round to letting go of blame and so being able to embrace the not always easy process of healing.

Rosie's Book Review team 1This book is reviewed for Rosie Amber‘s book review team and is based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.

About the author

GuenetteFrancis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and dog and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden on the Northern end of Vancouver Island. She lives in an off-the-grid home that employs a combination of micro-hydro and solar power. 

Between May and September, Billy Bob the Bear drops over to graze and eat huckleberries and salal. Now and then cougar tracks are spotted meandering across the property. Life is good in the hinterlands, but Francis warns – you have to keep your eyes open and know where you are.

Francis has a daughter and a son – both happily married and pursuing interesting careers. She also has two beautiful and wildly funny granddaughters who provide her with inspiration for writing and living. 

For most of her working life, Francis has been an educator. She has worked with special needs children and youth and taught at the undergrad level at the University of Victoria. She has a graduate degree in counselling psychology and very nearly completed her PhD. There was that pesky matter of the doctoral dissertation, but enough said on that score! She has worked as a trauma counsellor, a researcher, and a graduate student supervisor. 

During her academic life Francis published (on her own and with others) several articles that were accepted to peer-reviewed journals as well as contributing to chapters in two published books. Disappearing in Plain Sight is her first novel. She is already hard at work on the sequel. 

Visit her WordPress blog http://disappearinginplainsight.com to learn all you would ever want to know about Francis and her writing life. There you can like her on Facebook. You are also invited to follow Francis on Twitter @FrancisGuenette