Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer (Nightmares, #1) by Demelza Carlton

This review is a part of a reviews only book tour hosted by Irresistible Reads Book Tours. Visit the Tour Page for more reviews!

This is not my usual kind of read: but it was a good getaway from the routine. Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer is an odd story, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s very unique. I would probably have liked it a lot more at thirteen, but I’m glad I read the book anyway.

About the book:  There are real monsters out there. The worst part is that
they’re human.
“Nathan Miller.”
“What happened?
“I was shot.”
“Her name?”
“Caitlin Lockyer.”
“What happened to her?”
“Looks like someone tried to kill her.”
Nathan found a girl lying on a beach covered in blood.
Saving her life was just the start. Now he’s the prime suspect and he has to
find out who’s really responsible. Both of their lives depend on it.
Who hurt her?
Why was he shot?
 What did he promise?
Why doesn’t his story add up?
 Who was the dead man
on the beach?
What will she remember when she wakes up?

My thoughts: The first page throws you right into the very middle of the action. A man wakes up in a hospital asking after a girl, Caitlin. The story unravels slowly and you learn in the first fifth of the book that Nathan Miller has rescued the girl, after she had been repeatedly raped and dumped on a beach, where he happened to be. Even as you discover this, you know there are things Nathan isn’t telling. There are references to conversations about protecting Caitlin and finding the bad guys. For the longest while, it is difficult to judge Nathan, to guess if he actually is a good guy. Meanwhile, Caitlin Lockyer has been through too much, has dropped into unconsciousness and is riddled by vivid nightmares; which we get glimpses of in alternating chapters.

I don’t want to say how the story progresses after Caitlin wakes, far be it from me to spoil the book for you. But there’s one thing that I really love: the story keeps you guessing and it turns out that your guesses are invariably wrong. It’s intriguing and the suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat. The characters are fully fleshed out, hardly black and white; though the dialogue sometimes lacks ease. One thing which wholly lacks credibility is the slack hospital they’re in, but you just have to go with it. While not the perfect book, it is a lovely, emotional, even romantic break from reality. It certainly makes you appreciate your reality a lot more than you usually tend to. Mostly, Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer deals with a not-so-delicate, kind-of-disturbing topic with surprising subtlety.

The book does leave you with questions, which I have to admit is an annoying tactic to get people to read the sequel: The Necessary Evil of Nathan Miller. However, in spite of myself, I do want to read it! I am very curious to know the story from Caitlin’s point of view and I have a feeling I will enjoy it. Why don’t you to see for yourself? You can buy Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer by Demelza Carlon here on Amazon.

Rating: 3/5

About the author: Demelza Carlton has always loved the ocean, but on her first
snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish.

She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers
and stood on spray drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre
cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below.
Sensationalist spin? Hardly. She takes a camera with her to
photograph such things to share later. She asserts that sharks are camera shy.
Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark
attack capital of the world.
The Ocean’s Gift series was her first foray into fiction,
followed by her Nightmares trilogy.

The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery by Amitav Ghosh

I wasn’t sure if The Calcutta Chromosome was science fiction, until I read that it won the Arthur C. Clarke award. It is a fictionalized account of Sir Ronald Ross’s breakthrough in the research regarding the cause and cure of malaria.

Summary: The novel opens in the future and we are introduced to Antar (and Ava, his super high tech computer.) Antar is looking into the disappearance of a certain L. Murugan, whom he had met many years ago ago. And so we are transported many years back, to Calcutta, India, where Murugan has arrived tracking a conspiracy surrounding Ronald Ross and his malaria research. Through Antar’s investigation and Murugan’s travels, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall in place. Ronald Ross is supposed to have been helped reach his breakthrough by an underground group of natives. But this mystical Indian group was aiming for something even higher and they did achieve it – an eternal life or reincarnation of sorts, using what Murugan calls the Calcutta Chromosome.

My thoughts: This book is so odd and so terribly fascinating. It may be science fiction, but it also belongs to the genres of historical fiction, suspense, horror and fantasy. The book has been called too vague or pretentious, but I don’t agree with that. It is slightly hard to follow the twists and turns in the plot and the varying timelines, but it makes a good point.

“Knowledge is self-contradictory; maybe they believed that
to know something is to change it, therefore in knowing something, you’ve
already changed what you think you know so you don’t really know it at all: you
only know its history.”

I like that the entire theme of the book is repeatedly thrown at you in conspiracy buff Murugan’s entirely out of place teenage lingo. I liked his character, it’s just typical enough to be perfect! People don’t surprise you as often as you’d think and Murugan’s characteristic humour in the most inappropriate times (the best kind) has really kept the book fresh. The few other characters are also quite engaging. Ghosh has shown their traits and manners mostly through dialogue and at times put you right into their minds. It hardly takes a few pages before you begin to relate to Urmila and Sonali and are soon wholly involved in their intertwined stories.

I enjoyed the writing as well, though there were moments when it was a bit clumsy. At one point a man mentioned “the-one-who’s-at-home”, and I literally laughed out loud! The word Ghosh had in mind was a Bengali version of “gharwali”, I suppose, and it is a cheesy, villager-like way of saying ‘my wife’. Translating word for word from your language is sort of a rookie mistake, isn’t it? But four words that seemed out of place didn’t really matter to me quite as much, when I considered the whole book. The atmosphere created was fabulous. The descriptions of Calcutta in the late 90s were mesmerizing. I could even picture myself standing right there on the dirty but homey streets of the city with Murugan by my side.

The mystical Indian society and their reluctance, impatience even, when dealing with the British, the secrecy surrounding their strange customs, Murugan’s undying curiousity, the eternal thirst for knowledge, not to mention, that “Eureka!” moment are all portrayed wonderfully realistically. Though I cannot guarantee you’d love it, I do think the book is worth reading!

I didn’t exactly plan this, but I guess this counts as my second read for the 2013 Sci-Fi Experience.

Connections by Mary Lou Gediman

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: Pontiac Parker is a bit of an eccentric. He is also
extremely dedicated to his cultural and spiritual heritage. Pontiac’s extraordinary fixation with the number seven may
seem peculiar to the insensible onlooker. To him, thought, it’s as
natural as any one of his other beliefs. He doesn’t know how or when his
complex seven obsessions started, but, as the story unfolds, he will slowly and
surely find out.

On his wedding day a note with a feather attached to it and
a series of numbers written on it is left taped to his front porch, clues for
him and his new bride to decipher. These are soon followed by more clues, more
notes, and more elusive numbers to figure out. What does it all mean? Neither
he nor his new bride knows what to make of it all. They soon discover that they
cannot ignore the notes and the clues because the fate of many lives ultimately
hangs in the balance. But, in order for him to save these people’s lives and
also the lives of many generations to come, he must first face the most
debilitating and dangerous challenge he has ever encountered. And it is a challenge
that shakes the very core of his Native American belief system.
The risks are great and the rewards are many, but for whom? And in the end,
what underlying force will ultimately prevail – altruism or greed?

My thoughts: It is very hard to write about this book. I want to love it but I can’t and here’s why.
The plot of this book is intricate and naturally, very well thought out. The fact that the writer has conducted a lot of research and built an engaging story around it is evident. Everything, right from the title to the illness, fits together like pieces of a fabulous puzzle. Connections is what the book is all about, bonds and family ties and the fact that sometimes all we can do is help. I love the way the writer has integrated a message in every part of the book and the story and what the characters have to face do leave a lasting impression on the reader.
And still, something is missing. I found the book a bit dull. It took me a long time to want to read further. I had to trudge on through the first few chapters, searching for the action that came too late. The characters are introduced in excruciating detail way too soon. The author tried to be amusing as she spent the entire first chapter describing the eccentric Pontiac, but the humour was lost on me. I thought the characters were a bit too specific and because I couldn’t relate to most of their typical traits, they bordered on seeming boring. At times, they even seemed inconsistent and even though I discovered many things about Pontiac and Maggie throughout the story, there didn’t seem to be a real character arc.

So the question I keep coming back to is whether I can love a book for the story, when I didn’t particularly like the characters. That is something you should find out for yourself! If you like thrillers, with mysterious pasts and codes and relationships and such, this is the book for you. Grab your copy right here!

Dangerous Past by A. F. Ebbers Virtual Tour – Review and Giveaway

I have received this book in exchange for an honest review.

To visit the rest of the virtual book tour stops, visit the Partners in Crime Tours page. 

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Mystery
Published by: Silverhawk Books
Publication on: September 8th, 2011
Pages: 240

To win an e-copy of this fabulous book, scroll down.

About the author: A. F. Ebbers, a journalism graduate of Ohio University was a reporter/writer for major newspapers, ad agencies, and in public relations for Cessna Aircraft Company. He also graduated from Army Flight School and flew for the Ohio and Kansas Army National Guards. Later he was called to active duty and served two flying tours in Vietnam. After retirement from the military, he flew for corporations and for regional airlines. A dual rated ATP pilot, he has written for numerous national magazines, Sunday supplements and trade and travel magazines and has written screenplays and short stories. Today he lives with his wife in the Austin, Texas area and, when not writing, enjoys tennis, golf, flying and piano. Dangerous Past is his debut novel.

Summary: Airline Captain Frank Braden and his wife Nicole are suddenly stalked by professional assassins who have a deadline to make their deaths look like an accident or a suicide. And the couple doesn’t know why they are being targeted. They don’t realize that they stand in the way of a deadly conspiracy. Little by little they are pulled into a dangerous web of intrigue by a murderous criminal network that deceptively offers the pilot his wife’s life if he will concede to their demands. This is a thriller that rocks the highest levels of Washington.
Dangerous Past is a story of a man who must choose between doing what ought to be done or keeping his family alive by allowing a murderous and powerful VIP to escape his past.

My thoughts: I think it was Spider Robinson, who said (in Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon) that people should write about things that they know, irrespective of what those things are. I have paraphrased it, of course, what he said was definitely much funnier. I realized how true that was as I read this book. The author’s confidence with his own material is striking throughout the book and that makes it unlike most debut novels. The book is a page turner and can be read in one, exciting sitting.

The suspense is well maintained and quite frustrating (in a good way.) I could never figure out what was going to happen next and the author kept me well on the edge of my seat throughout the book. I loved the climax and the shocking revelations it brought. The theme of the book is also haunting and the title perfectly suits the story. The idea that someone can be so thoroughly framed is scary. The setting is very visual, and I liked the descriptions of Vietnam. The characters are convincing and not overly stereotypical. I liked the dialogue, I think very few authors can write good, realistic conversations.

My only problem with the book might have been the jumps in time and point of view and the confusion caused by them. Another thing was that the plot and action was at times a bit cliched and it felt too much like watching a movie. But in a combo of mystery, suspense, thriller, that is to be expected of most books.

Dangerous Past by A. F. Ebbers is a riveting read and I recommend fans of the genre as well as anyone looking for a fast read to try it out. You can buy it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 3/5 – I liked it!

Giveaway: Answer a simple question right HERE.
One randomly chosen winner gets a free copy of the book. Provide your e-mail address within the answer and I will send one lucky entrant an eBook (format of your choice)!

The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carre

Reading John le Carre always makes me realize that a good mystery does not need to be fast-paced. In this book, as well, le Carre takes his time introducing us to the different characters and creating an apt background for the story that is about to begin. I like the slow-ish pace, because the writing is engaging and the descriptions are very close to real. That being said, the book is certainly action-packed. The opening scene itself is a carefully arranged bombing that takes place in Berlin, which leads to the events of the book.

As with all his books, le Carre’s characters are introduced and depicted with skill. I really do appreciate the kind of effort the author takes to make his settings seem not only realistic but also relatable to the common readers. The central character in this story is woman named Charlie; the little drummer girl; a mediocre English actress, a flower-child/gypsy of sorts, who is recruited by the Israeli intelligence to track down a Palestenian agent. Her role in this ‘theater of real’ is that of a terrorist’s lover, whose brother they are trying to capture.

“Her name was actually Charmain, but she was known to everyone as “Charlie”, and often as “Charlie the Red” in deference to the colour of her hair and to her somewhat crazy radical stances, which were her way of caring for the world and coming to grips with its injustices. She was the outsider of a rackety troupe of young British acting people who slept in a tumbledown farmhouse half a mile inland and descended to the shore in a shaggy, close-knit family that never broke up. How they had come by the farmhouse in the first place – how they had come to be on the island at all – was a miracle to all of them, though as actors they derived no surprise from miracles.”

The writing, as you can see, is descriptive; and there’s a tinge of dry humour to all of it. In what outwardly seems like just another mystery, the author talks about morality and identity; it’s not a book about political conflicts; but about how these conflicts affect the people. Now I haven’t read any other spy novelists, like Graham Greene or others, so I am no expert on spy stories. But, I do read a lot of mysteries and this is one of the best ones I’ve read.

Killing Floor by Lee Child

I thought: should I be worried? I was under arrest. In a town where I’d never been before. Apparently for murder. But I knew two things. First, they couldn’t prove something had happened if it hadn’t happened. And second, I hadn’t killed anybody. Not in their town, and not for a long time, anyway.

About the book: Killing Floor is a crime thriller novel by Lee Child. Published in 1997, it is Lee Child’s debut novel. It is the first book in the Jack Reacher series.
Short summary: Jack Reacher is arrested for murder, almost as soon as he enters the tiny town of Margrave, Georgia. But the tough ex-military policeman has been through much worse. Unable to convince the cops of his innocence, Jack Reacher decides to take matters in his own hands. As he tries to uncover the truth himself, he stumbles across a much deeper conspiracy in Margrave.
My thoughts: It was a good read. With the fast paced action, the twists in the plot, the strong (albeit stereotypical) characters – it was a really good read. It was the sort of thing that I’d very reluctantly add to a list of ‘Guilty Pleasure Reads’, though. What I didn’t like was the drama. The first thing I thought was it would make a good movie (I don’t know if there already is one..?!) At times I found it too brutal, I found some dialogues kind of cheesy, and I didn’t like the fact that most of the core happenings in the book were shaped by some pretty huge coincidences.
It felt almost as if the writer had planned the ending first, and wrote the book backwards. So when I read it from the starting, it was hard to believe how the characters guessed and assumed all the things they did; it was almost as if they knew the end. The plot holes were a huge disappointment.
I thought of the book as something written to attract a huge number of fans – which it rightfully did. It was a fun read, but I also thought it could have been much better.