Sunday, July 24, 2016
Sunday, July 10, 2016
“Devil’s Grace” by Bath author Karen Dean Benson (Satin Romance, $15.95) is a compelling historical romance that’s subtitled “Renn Arelia’s Story.” Benson is a member of East Lansing’s MSUCC Creative Writing
It’s an intriguing debut novel, the first in her “Ladies of Mischief” series, set in the late 1700’s in England and Spain.
The well-designed 290-page trade paperback showcases eighteen-year-old, beautiful Renn Arelia Sheridan, who’s orphaned when her parents tragically drown in a carriage accident.
She enjoys teaching young children, but her new guardians, a duke and duchess, have other ideas. They tell her that her parents, who ran prosperous horse-breeding stables, left her nothing.
The pair have searched Renn’s room and the entire manor, looking for a valuable emerald locket. They put the location up for sale and dismiss the staff, forcing Renn to go with them to the ancestral Chippenham estate in London.
They have other devious plans for her, including an arranged marriage to a wealthy, obnoxious French Marquis.
When strong-willed Renn rebuffs the betrothal, she gets into real trouble; she quickly makes her escape into the dark night.
She’s almost run over by a carriage and is picked up by handsome Sebastian Navarre, Spanish Captain of “The Wind Devil”.
Renn is soon aboard his ship, wanting to dropped-off at Gravesend, where she plans to teach in an orphanage.
An unexpected romance occurs, the intrigue never stops and the swiftly-paced book soon becomes impossible to put down.
Benson’s terrific tale is full of well-developed characters, carefully-researched locales and settings, believable dialogue, dangerous threats and a brooding air of tension.
Her second volume in the series “Mission Song - Chenoa’s Story” (Satin Romance, $16.95) is a stand-alone novel that’s set in the 1830’s.
It follows the journey of a young woman who escapes the suffocating restrictions of a Boston convent, returning to Carmel, Alta California, where she was born.
As in Benson’s first book, there are many family secrets, unusual relationships, thwarted romance and violence; a nasty, vengeful character with evil intentions must be stopped.
“Mulberry Bend – Aisling’s Story”, the third entry in the series, set in the 1860’s, has numerous surprises as well; it’s scheduled for release later this summer.
More information is available at www.karendeanbenson.com.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
If you’re looking for bizarre, adrenaline-charged entertainment, “Double Tap”, by Canadian author Peter McGarvey (Cliff House Publishing, $14.95) should certainly be on your reading list.
It is likely to have specialized appeal however, as the entertaining crime novel has many deadly scenes of violence and sexual overtones.
More than half of the characters end up as corpses in a variety of often-gruesome murder scenes – untraceable to the main characters Rip Hunter and his sidekick Wilma.
Operating as expensive contract killers out of Detroit, the deadly duo are quite successful, relying exclusively on recommendations from their many satisfied customers.
This well-researched trade paperback is laced with dark humor, focusing on the incredible and sometimes improbable lengths the psychopaths will go to get information.
Against his better judgment, Rip takes on an unusual assignment – track down the killers of a prominent Senator for the Senator’s daughter.
It’s odd because he already knows the answer – Rip and Wilma did the unsolved crime three years earlier; they have to dig much deeper to discover the source of the money given to the person who hired them.
Their crime-laden journey gets them into many hectic confrontations, including deadly action with mobsters, renegade bikers, crooked cops, a nasty prison guard, a satanic cult, sadistic reclusive billionaires, hungry alligators and much, much more.
Intriguing characters abound, including a clever therapist, power-driven inmates, assorted geniuses, other successful hitmen and a pretty drug-smuggler.
The action doesn’t take place only in Detroit; the blood-spattered tale begins in Switzerland and moves around the country with conflict in a Michigan prison, a whiteout snowstorm in Buffalo NY and a Class Four hurricane in Charleston SC.
Just when you think “What else can possibly go wrong?” something does – their use of a truth serum and a drone gets unexpected, often surprising results.
While the characters names are occasionally annoying, the carefully-concocted, convoluted plot has an ending that’s impossible to predict.
This is the second book in a series, following “Hair-Trigger”, where Rip and Wilma break their own rules and get into lots of trouble.
McGarvey is also the author of two books in the Molly Parsons series, “Dark Sunset” and “Bloody Sunset” starring a Michigan small-town police officer with a haunted past.
More information is available at www.petermcgarvey.com.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Sunday, April 24, 2016
“Book Cover Designs” by Matthew Goodman (Schiffer, $34.99) is a thick, heavy, oversize paperback that’s full of gorgeous photographs.
These striking images of colorful artwork used for hardback and paperback book covers are fascinating and intriguing from the perspective of a reader, book collector or graphic designer.
If you feel like you really want to judge a book by its cover – this is a great place to start. Many of the vivid, carefully crafted designs do exactly what they are supposed to do – get your attention, whether now or on the bookshelf when you’re browsing in a book store.
This well-researched volume includes artwork on a wide variety of subjects including fiction and non-fiction, although there’s relatively little science fiction artwork.
There are more than 500 images from over 50 different designers, arranged in groupings alphabetically – by the designer’s first names. This can be a little frustrating to the average reader, who may be looking for artwork by a particular designer but might not remember their first name.
Each grouping includes an image of the designer and a very brief description of their techniques or methodology.
These one-page introductions to the designer are printed in very small type using quite light ink, making it difficult to read – in stark contrast to the bright colorful graphic cover designs. Book and photo credits are in even smaller, lighter type!
Here’s a partial description of David High’s designer’s approach, which is very similar to many others: “…My process is pretty much the same for every book. Read as much of the manuscript as is available and initially do what I think is best for the book, using the ideas that come while reading. Go over notes from client/editor/author and second-guess everything. Do a “gazillion” alternatives. Rest. Look at everything fresh and try to edit down. Procrastinate. Panic. Do some frantic-last minute- down-to-the-wire solutions…”
This is a book full of memorable and sometimes disturbing, knockout graphics, offering a highly creative view of contemporary book design.
There are many bright images of books that you’re likely to have never seen – by unfamiliar authors. There are also cover designs for writers like Albert Camus or Jack Kerouac – designed to appeal to a new generation of readers.
The author’s website is www.publishingdesigner.com.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books regularly since 1987.