An Alien’s Guide to the Human Species

* * * 3/10

Deb McEwan

Alien's Guide Cover

While the idea behind the book is a good one, the writing itself is very matter-of-fact and flat.
There’s a subtle but important difference in being told a story and being told of a series of events. The characters may as well be cardboard cut-outs they are so 2-dimensional and the plot is lost in a tedious list of things these characters do. They don’t do much.
The plot itself is an interesting idea, it is well-edited with no errors, but the writing needs a lot of work and perhaps some rethinking.

Advertisements

Pencil Lead

* * * * * * * * 8/10

Fran Heath

pencil-lead-book-cover-largeLyle was a character I found surprisingly easy to sympathise with. He’s uncertain of what he wants, in life or anything, with no hope or prospects coming his way. This is of course mostly due to lack of effort to make anything of himself, but then, what do you work toward if you don’t know what you want? He’s a character so uncertain of himself that he comments on how he is a different person for certain people, because that’s who they think he is. He makes a show of his life and makes a show of being… himself.

A good deal of the book is getting to know Lyle before he meets Holly, and from there focusses on their destructive relationship which doesn’t really get any oomph until they involve escorts. While anyone else might look at that as being the beginning of the end and unhealthy while it lasts, neither of these two are able to see beyond their own confusion and certainly in Lyle’s case, selfishness.

I wasn’t very fond of the ending. It went quite quickly and suddenly from a couple hell-bent on ruining their lives as fast as they can, to a rather heavy moral lesson on the dark side of ‘escorts’. I wouldn’t describe it as a happy ending in particular, though I suppose that would depend on how you see happiness coming out of a relationship like that. I’m not too sure the choice Lyle and Holly made in the end was to the benefit of either of them.

Little Red is Coming Home

* * * * * * * * * * 10 / 10

Angelika Rust

Litte Red Cover

A book of short stories inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, ranging from cheeky, bloody, impolite to considered and moral. You wouldn’t think there were so many different ways to go with one story but there is, each one an utterly unique take on one basic plot until each is a story of its own.

There’s remarkable talent here, a book that you’ll think you’ll take a few days to read before you realise you just spent your evening turning pages, disappointed that there’s not more.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

* * * * * * * * * *  10/10

Douglas Adams

200px-Dirk_Gently_front_coverI was utterly delighted with the brief reference to Hitchhikers.

It’s been sat for so long on my to-read shelf, I ended up watching it on Netflix before I ever got near it. Then I googled it and found out there’s a British TV show which I still need to sit down with, and finally I remembered I have the book, gathering dust.

Svlad Cjelli, otherwise known as Dirk Gently is not a psychic, not even a little. Definitely not. It’s just coincidence.

He is a holistic detective who will find your missing cat through proving the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

It’s exactly the kind of book you’d expect from Douglas Adams, and every bit as good as Hitchhikers.

Killjoy

* * * * * * * 7 / 10

LeVar Ravel

517uZolDueL._SY346_Elizabeth, known better as Gwen, has been made a fool of. Her husband and their business have been made fools of. The only reasonable way to deal with the cause of their unhappiness is with a hitman.
The best man for the job is the man who makes his hits look like suicide, making certain that his employers are never implicated in the death at all. No one knows how he does it, they just know he’s the best.
The story starts off well and is hard to put down. The characters interact well, Gwen and Charles in particular, and in a way that while it’s easy to see how they got where they are, it’s still frustrating. By the end of the book, it was like I’d known them for years.
It does come a little heavy on the moral lessons, the ending a little cloying. The story itself is good, though.

The Soul of Nemach

* * * * * * 6/10

Scott Butcher

download (1)A story set in the 40’s, where the threat of Nazi invasion is palpable. Nemach and Humphrey must outwit the bad guys and stop them interfering in the filming of a movie that could aid the war effort.

It’s a nice little comedy which at times feels a little under-written. I got the impression that I had picked the book up mid-way through a series. Being a short book, there wasn’t much time to get to know the characters so they came across as being a little one-dimensional.

Even so, it’s not a bad story and could be an excellent series if the author gives it a little more attention.

Coldheart Canyon

* * * * * * * * *  9/10

Clive Barker

download (1)Todd Pickett has a face-lift that goes horribly wrong, and has to go into hiding until he has recovered, in the hopes that he will recover. The perfect hiding place is found in Coldheart Canyon. The beautiful house and grounds are neglected but liveable, and although are not to Todd’s usual tastes, he is quite happy to stay. It isn’t long before Todd finds out why Coldheart Canyon is so lost to the world, however.
This one was read in just a few days. I wasn’t sure about it to begin with, having started at the start like you do, about a canyon. It didn’t take long to get right into the story though. The the celebrity name-dropping made me smile, but at the same time made the book much more real and was much easier to get into the plot.
These are not people I can relate to, with problems that I am faced with and at no point was there an attempt to ‘normalise’ these super-stars for me. This was much appreciated.
Where I was disappointed is in how much story happened after the story ended. Everyone except the dead got their happy-ever-after, everything worked out well and it was as glittery, shining and fake as the people the book is mocking. In a way it was the perfect ending, but it went on for a little too long and felt a bit like the author was uncertain of where to stop.