Sunday, May 15, 2016

Book Review: Midnight Owl

Midnight Owl is the first book in the Joe Leverette Mystery Series. Don’t get too comfortable because the book starts off with a real bang. The action erupts on page one as a young woman is stalked. We, the readers, get to watch her death by dismemberment. That’s right, dismemberment. So if you’re looking for a sweet little murder mystery with a Miss Marple lookalike pottering around, think again. This is not it. The body is cut into six parts, and these parts are found by six individuals, completely unrelated to each other or the victim. The problem is, each ‘witness’ has had a horrible dream involving seeing the criminal kill the young woman. The body part they dream about is the one they find. They awaken to the sound of an owl hooting three times. Naturally, they don’t tell the police this because they’d be thought mad or even suspects. An even bigger problem is the killer is now going after these ‘witnesses’ and he manages to kill two. Detective Joe Leverette, who is assigned to the case, finds himself (hesitantly) attracted to one of the witnesses, Carole Sage, who is a ‘sensitive,’ meaning she can see the original murder and the murders of the two witnesses. The police sting set up to catch the killer fails, but is Carole next on his list?

Well, put aside your chores because you’ll just read and read and read (as I did) until you fall off the edge of the cliff. There’s no cliff-hanger in the conventional sense. The book ends with the reader going, “Oh no, don’t end now!” I’m a bit of a cosy mystery fan so this one had my hair standing on end. I love things that are slightly paranormal, but not outside the bounds of what could happen. I found the idea of the dreams and Carole’s psychic abilities fascinating. I also found the fact that the chief of police accepted her help in this regard quite refreshing. I wonder how many times a psychic has pointed out the location of a body to the police.

The book is quite graphic, but when you consider some novels and television series that make sure the reader/viewer is awash in blood and gore, I didn’t think this level of action overstepped the bounds. Murder, after all, is a bloody business and to commit cold, premediated murder, one has to be a particularly horrible person. I was disappointed that the book ended so abruptly, literally at the moment critique, but I have it on good authority that the author is writing furiously to continue the tale. I’m dying to know who the killer is, why the ‘witnesses’ had dreams, what’s the meaning of the owl hooting, so I’m eagerly waiting for the next in the series.  I didn’t feel I got to know as much about Joe Leverette as I’d have liked, but that’s what sequels are for, and I hope the author expands on his character and back story. I’m also rooting for a romance between him and Carole. If you’re a murder mystery or detective thriller fan, you’ll love this book. Five stars.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: Dragons Are Real

Dragons Are Real, written by Valarie Budayr and illustrated by Michael Welply, is a must-have for dragon aficionados the world over. Inside this amazing book is a grand revelation: dragons ARE real. Much maligned over the centuries through myth and legend (and made up stories!), the dragon is not the tyrannical, fire-breathing monster who kidnaps damsels in distress and gobbles them up with mustard and ketchup. No, the true dragon is a humble, gentle friend to all, with amazing qualities that would make anyone want to be his comrade for life.

 They love to laugh, so you can always give them a good tickle, and they particularly enjoy riddles. The author offers a unique riddle inside the book, one that is guaranteed to secure your lifelong friendship with a dragon. They love reading and (contrary to popular opinion held usually by banks and kings in their counting houses) the dragon prefers to hoard books, rather than gold treasure. You see? A very different picture of the dragon begins to emerge. They love to dance and have fun. Masters of disguise, they can become anything you want, for example if you feel like rolling down a lush green hillside, just for fun. The dragon is an amazing and incredible creature and this book reveals the true nature and excellent qualities of dragons.
This is an absolutely beautiful book. I received a pdf copy and would have loved a print copy because the design and illustrations are just outstanding. This is a book for children to keep, to linger over and treasure, not only for the amazing images, but because the detail within each page keeps the reader there. The dragons’ expressions, the fine detail, the very ‘aliveness’ of each illustration had me spellbound. I loved the dragon being a master of disguise, and particularly appreciated the intricacies of the dragon’s study, filled with books, and with a tiny resident mouse also engrossed in a miniature volume.

I cannot praise this book more highly and I feel really privileged to have read it. I wish it could be animated, so as to enjoy these amazing dragons and the beautiful details even more. Congratulations to the author and illustrator for a work of art. I spent time on each page and I’d encourage parents to do the same when reading this with their kids. An excellent message, besides all the lovely ones about the good and noble qualities of dragons, is that reading is something to bring enjoyment; it’s a doorway to a magical world, as this stunning book amply proves.