Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “supernatural”

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #44: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Karen Robards mixes the paranormal with a fairly standard serial killer mystery to mixed results. In this mash-up of genres, Dr. Charlotte Stone (Charlie) is a renowned forensic psychiatrist specializing in the study of serial killers (despite being only about 30 years old and no unique area of research noted). She is so renowned, in fact, that the FBI comes to the prison where she is working to request her help on a case. To be fair, they also seek out her help because Charlie, when she was a teenager, witnessed her friend’s family being murdered by The Boardwalk Killer. The FBI team, led by Tony Bartoli, are concerned that the current case may be a copycat, or worse, The Boardwalk Killer returned. To top it all off, Charlie has a special “skill” in being able to see the spirits of recently violently deceased. When the FBI agents interrupted her interview of Michael Garland, imprisoned for life for killing seven women, Garland is shanked in the halls. Charlie’s attempt to save him, somehow “seals” him to her, and she must deal with his presence while helping the FBI.

The book has some potential, but overall I just couldn’t love it. The mystery is often lost for chapters at a time in favor of paranormal stuff, especially when Charlie is initially dealing with Garland. Also, there is a totally bizarre and unbelievable love-plot with Garland as well. I assume that in future books we will discover that Garland is in fact innocent of the crimes, but it seemed so out of place that Charlie would be so emotionally attracted to someone she knows to be a murdered of women. Her attempt to “psychoanalyze” herself did not exactly justify this either (oooh Daddy issues. Give me a break).

Also, I just got the sense that the author must not have much background in psychology/psychiatry. All the psych stuff was so hackneyed and cliche it felt like Robards just mimicked things she’d seen on TV or read in other books. I hate to say it, but traditional psychodynamic orientations aren’t the most popular currently, yet that was clearly all Charlie knew. Combined with a misuse of the word “schizophrenic” made me just feel annoyed with any of the psychological aspects of the book.

The writing was a bit inelegant at times, and could have been tighter and more exciting. The dialogue and characters were fine, but nothing particularly inspiring. The ending was a bit out of the blue, especially given that the mystery was clearly not the focus of the book. Apparently, Robards has written dozens of books (I’ve never heard of her), but I doubt I will go out of my way to seek out her books in the future.

This was a netgalley advanced copy and is available now!

Read more of my reviews at my blog!

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #42: Children of the Fog by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

From Good Reads:

Sadie O’Connell is a bestselling author and a proud mother. But her life is about to spiral out of control. After her six-year-old son Sam is kidnapped by a serial abductor, she nearly goes insane. But it isn’t just the fear and grief that is ripping her apart. It’s the guilt. Sadie is the only person who knows what the kidnapper looks like. And she can’t tell a soul. For if she does, her son will be sent back to her in “little bloody pieces”.

When Sadie’s unfaithful husband stumbles across her drawing of the kidnapper, he sets into play a series of horrific events that sends her hurtling over the edge. Sadie’s descent into alcoholism leads to strange apparitions and a face-to-face encounter with the monster who abducted her son–a man known only as…The Fog.

I found this book to be quite odd. The plotline is definitely an interesting one, and I was expecting this to be along the lines of literary fiction. However, the characters were poorly developed throughout although I was enjoying the story until the unnecessary supernatural twist half way through the book, which totally threw me off. It took quite a bit of motivation to keep reading. This book desperately needed to be told from a first person’s perspective. We only ever see Sadie’s side of the story and frequently she speaks out loud so we know her internal dialogue — so why wasn’t this written from Sadie’s perspective? As a result of this odd choice, Sadie is underdeveloped and quite frankly, pretty annoying at times.

I wish Sadie’s “descent into alcoholism” had been explored with more nuance and depth, but it’s as cliche as we can expect and also apparently leads to these supernatural interactions. I also wondered throughout what inherent quality did Sadie have that allowed her to channel the supernatural? I doubt this popped up out of nowhere, and to have alcohol as an explanation just doesn’t cut it. The dialogue is mostly hackneyed as well.

So in writing this, I guess I disliked the book more than I thought! It’s not the worst thing I’ve read this year, but it certainly isn’t the best.

Read more of my reviews at my blog!

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #35: Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff

Alexandra Sokoloff brings a unique, supernatural twist to the traditional crime thriller. The story is an overall success, with some truly excited and interesting moments.

Read the rest of my review here at my blog!!!

rdoak03’s #CBR4 Review 23: Song of Susannah by Stephen King

A disappointing installment in the otherwise amazing Dark Tower series. Find out my biggest peeve about this book on my blog.

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 review #17: The Calling by Robert Swartwood


I actually have a lot to say about this book which certainly says something, I’m just not sure what. Before that though, I have a nifty story to tell. After writing my second review of Robert Swartwood’s work, No Shelter, Swartwood himself posted comments on my reviews! I geeked out totally, emailed him, and we had a couple email exchanges where I got to ask questions about his writing process, as well as the online publishing process. It was all very cool, and he was very gracious and down to earth. He also sent me the e-versions of two of his newer novels “The Calling” and “The Dishonored Dead.” I put off reading them to add some variety to my reading list and reviews, but decided it was finally time.

One of my biggest criticisms of the other three Swartwood books I’d read was that he seemed to be stuck in one archetypal tale–that of the protagonist’s loved ones getting kidnapped and the protagonist having to go above and beyond to find them. Well, The Calling certainly does not follow that format, so it was exciting to read something totally different from him.

Read the review at my blog!

Figgy’s #CBR4 Review #4: “The Mist” by Stephen King

A short, but very, very good story. Scary and fun. Read the review here.

BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #01: Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Black Magic Sanction is book 8 in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, a supernatural series set in an alternate reality of Cincinnati, Ohio. In this world, deadly tomatoes wiped out a large proportion of the human population a generation ago, leaving space for witches, vampires and werewolves to come forward and be acknowledged.
As this is a series, the basic plot is familiar – our heroine, Rachel Morgan, is a witch in peril, a perpetual outsider fighting to belong. Despite the predictability of the plot, it is an enjoyable, fun book.
In this book, Rachel’s primary enemy is the Coven, the governing body of witches. In previous books, she has antagonized them by publically consorting with demons to save her life, and the coven wants to punish her. More than that, they need to silence her before the secrets she has uncovered about the origin of witches gets out.
Rachel must once again fight to save her life and clear her name.
What sets this book apart from many series is the strong characterizations and interpersonal relationships. Rachel herself is on a path of self discovery, trying to control her addition to danger while determining if she is a good witch, a bad witch, or a demon. Her business partner/best friend/potential girlfriend Ivy is a living vampire trying to come to terms with what she will become upon death – a soulless blood drinker. Her other business partner, Jenks the pixie, is coming to terms wiith his having surpassed the limits of pixies.

I especially enjoyed that in this book, when the Coven puts Rachel in jail, the jail is Alcatraz. Next time I’m out sailing around Alcatraz, I’ll be wondering if there are witches locked inside.

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