All posts by Amy Caudill

About Amy Caudill

I am a a writer and dreamer of different worlds, who dabbles in paranormal and science fiction, a fan girl at heart who loves books and movies in equal measure. Join me as I explore and sample some of the best in media available as well as some original writing.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : 206 Bones

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
206 Bones (Temperance Brennan, #12) by

Kathy Reichs (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review

Feb 19, 2019

This latest installment into Cathy Reichs’ “Bones” series features Dr. Temperance Brennan facing accusations of impropriety in a recent case.   Brennan and Quebec Detective Andrew Ryan travel to The Windy City during a snow storm to address these unfounded charges, and uncover hints of an enemy determined to hurt Brennan’s reputation, but the why and who remain unknown for the majority of the novel.

Those familiar with the author’s work will recognize Dr. “Tempe” Brennan as the same feisty, brilliant, brave and compassionate forensic anthropologist from the hit TV show Bones. Though the locales and supporting cast of characters changed for the show, Tempe is the same passionate soul who will let nothing stop her from finding justice for those who land on her autopsy table.

Dr. Brennan and Det. Ryan are soon back in Quebec, working on multiple cases both together and separately.  Tempe clashes with a new addition to the staff of the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciares et de Medecine Legale, a Dr. Miranda Briel, a pathologist with delusions of ability in forensic anthropology.  Briel seems to deliberately attempt to undermine her colleagues to advance her own career.  How far Briel is willing to go to further her ambitions, Tempe will unfortunately discover, in a nearly fatal encounter.

While I’ve long been a fan of Reichs’ work, 206 Bones has to contain far more of the dry procedural stuff commonly found in her novels- cataloging bones of a found skeleton, detailing street maps of Chicago, Quebec, etc., as the characters travel, not to mention the different “tells” that can help identify bones and teeth of a particular specimen.

What keeps the entire story from being mundane, though, is the fact that it is actually being told in flashback, with “flashes” forward interspersed between other chapters detailing the life-or-death climax Tempe has found herself in; how she arrived in this predicament is the true focus of the plot, with “hold your breath” suspense as to if she will somehow miraculously escape and survive.

206 Bones is the twelfth book in the author’s series, and while it is not the best I’ve read, it still has plenty of appeal from a series of murders that may or may not be related, and drama from both interoffice interactions with Tempe’s colleagues and her former lover in Ryan.  I give this book 3.5 stars and recommend Reich’s work to those readers interested in police procedurals, detective stories, and cozy mysteries.

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A Supernatural Love Story: The Shape of Water: A Movie Review

Over the past weekend the hubby and I found time to sit down and relax with a movie, not realizing at first how appropriate this supernatural fantasy would be for the coming Valentine’s Day week.

What followed was an amazing, mesmerizing tale featuring on two main characters, played by Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones, both of whom are mute, isolated in their own way, and yet are almost instantly drawn to each other in a way that defies logic or conventional interpretations of love.

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)
A most unusual love story, from the 2017 Oscar-winning movie.  Image from imbd.com

Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, a cleaner at OCCAM Aerospace Research Center in 1962 Baltimore, who is present when Doug Jones’ character is brought in as a specimen referred to as “The Asset.”  The government and military forces running the facility are desperate to “get ahead” of the Soviets in the space race, and believe they can do so by studying, and eventually dissecting, an amphibious man captured from South America.  Coincidentally or not, “The Asset” has a very similar look, and is played by the same actor, who played Abe Sapien in another del Toro film, Hellboy.

The director of the facility, Strickland, played by Michael Shannon, has tortured The Asset, who is response has bitten off two of Strickland’s fingers; even knowing this Elisa doesn’t fear him, instead she spends her lunch breaks visiting him.  The amphibious man and the cleaning lady bond over hard-boiled eggs, music, and sign language, and when Elisa overhears plans to terminate her friend, immediately plans to free him.

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)
The start of friendship, or true love?  Image from imbd.com

Elisa finds allies in her cleaning partner, Zelda (Octavia Spencer), her neighbor Giles (Richard Genkins), and strangely a Soviet spy (Michael Stuhlbarg), whose love of science outweighs his loyalty to his native country.

Freed from the facility in a daring escape, The Asset goes home with Elisa, where she tends his injuries, and is drawn ever closer to her, as he shares with her and Giles abilities that defy explanation, and create a deep bond between them.  They know their time together is to be short though, because when the rains overflow the canal in Boston harbor, The Asset will finally be able to flee to the sea, and safety, from Strickland who is still hunting him.

The action sequences are well-done, the visuals are spectacular, and the surprisingly sweet and romantic turns of the plot are very well done.  Of course, I am not alone in my opinions: The Shape of Water won Oscars in 2018 for both Best Picture and Best Director.  There was also a book, written by del Toro and Daniel Kraus, of which publication followed the movie (in 2018) but from all sources is not merely a movie novelization, rather a much more in-depth exploration of the story as conceived by Kraus.

I think this movie, which has been called an adult fairy tale, is a perfect romantic story for those who don’t mind a little fantasy with their romance.  Check it out this week on Redbox or HBO, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Would you put books backward? This decor trend has people seriously divided. What do you think of the backward books trend?

I found this very interesting article about incorporating book storage into home decor by Pak_Tek, which I’m all for, seeing as there is not a single room in my house that doesn’t have its own “mini library.”
I’ve done the arranging books by category, and even by color, though I’m not sure about the inward-facing spines. What do you think?

PAK_TECH

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When you go to line a bookshelf with books, how do you face the spines? If you say out, you’re with the majority of people — it’s the way libraries have always done it and makes sense, so you can see the titles.

But there’s a new trend making waves in the interior design world that involves lining the shelf with the spines facing in, and it’s causing quite the controversy.

A recent Buzzfeed article called attention to the fad, pointing out how ridiculous it is especially for bibliophiles who prefer to which book they’re grabbing. In the site’s opinion poll, 87 percent of readers said doing it this way was an abomination.

Natasha Meininger, who runs the Outside and In interior design blog, is on the other side, however, supporting the trend and posting pictures of it on her Instagram account.

“My book collection is huge so…

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Amy Caudill’s Reviews : City of Endless Night

City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston
City of Endless Night (Pendergast, #17) by

Douglas Preston (Goodreads Author), and Lincoln Child
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Amy Caudill‘s review

Jan 29, 2019

This latest installment of the long-running series starring Aloysius X. L. Pendergast, oft-rogue FBI agent, is unlike so many of the authors’ previous works.  Fans of the series have come to expect Pendergast to delve into cases that flirt with the mystical, occasionally delve into the paranormal, and frequently feature macabre murders and even creepier villains.

I am happy to report that while City of Endless Night breaks this mold, the story does not suffer for it in terms of action, suspense, and chilling details.

Pendergast, ably aided by sometimes-partner Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta of the NYPD, investigate a series of murder/decapitations that present more questions with each subsequent victim.  Is there one killer at work? Two?  A copycat?  Or even more?  The bodies pile up, the suspects dry up, and D’Agosta feels the pressure from the mayor and the police brass, but he’s left flailing by Pendergast who is inexplicably off his usual game.

The novel lacks Pendergast’s usual trip into his mind palace to find hidden clues; instead the preternaturally cognizant detective seems distracted, even disinterested at the beginning of the story.  This turn of events actually helps the plot though; no hint of the actual killer is given until three-quarters of the way through the book.

What follows is sheer classic Pendergast-a manhunt with an intelligent, cunning, and utterly ruthless murderer who seeks the ultimate “big game” hunt, pitting himself against a quarry he considers worthy of his attention, Pendergast himself.

I award this latest Pendergast thriller five stars, and am happy that although this is the seventeenth addition to the series, the authors have found a way to keep the characters fresh, and the plot both entertaining and unpredictable.

 

In This House…We Do Geek

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Just a bit of wall decoration, but with a deeper meaning hidden in its passages.

I have a new piece of artwork hanging on the wall in my office.  This past Christmas my daughter gifted me with a poster that many of you may have seen before-a clever assembly of quotes from various science fiction and fantasy series that forms a statement about its fans.

This mass-produced copy of a somewhat popular poster, though, means more to me than just a cute quote or novelty art piece.  To me, this picture represents a statement that it’s okay to like the things I like, to be interested in the things that interest me, and that I’m not alone in my opinions.  This series of quotes contains memories of family time, of trips to movies and listening to books on tape, of nights spent in together in front of the TV and competitions to see who could finish the next book first.

But above all, this poster points out that it’s okay to be geek and nerdy, because we are people too.  In the not-so-distant past those who share our interests may have been teased and ridiculed, but as “geek” has moved firmly into the mainstream those same interests are now considered acceptable, to the point that many closet-trekkies and vamps and cosplayers have now come out of the figurative closet, and feel free to express themselves.

These days I care far less about other people’s expectations or negative views than I did growing up, and mostly relish in being myself.  (Such comes with age and supposed maturity.)  Still, I am glad that I have family who share the same interests as me, and together we can debate over whether the next superhero or wizard movie will be worth the trek to the movie theater, or make recommendations to each other about books that we are sure will find an appreciative audience.

There are so many things about this world that need work and change, but it’s nice to know, that sometimes acceptance can still be found.  That there is hope for all those kids who had the oversized glasses and maybe weren’t very popular in school or were more interested in drama than playing sports.  It’s okay to be us.

I hope that those who read this post take comfort, and find comradery for your own inner geek, and I hope you feel free to express yourself, as only you can.  Let me hear from you how you make out.  Bonus points for those of you who can accurately name the source of all these quotes!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : My Grave Ritual

My Grave Ritual by G.S. Denning
My Grave Ritual by

50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

Jan 15, 2019  ·  edit

This third installment of the author’s paranormal parody of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective features Warlock Holmes, a hapless, frequently helpless practitioner of dark arts who is riddled with demons that occasionally prove useful, but more often threaten the sanity of Dr. John Watson, who is not the sidekick, thank you very much, but the real brains behind the crime-solving duo.

This anthology of short stories is based off Conan Doyle’s originals, but in this version the separate cases tie closely together to reveal a larger plot that is hinted at throughout the book.  Nightmarish prophecies where living porcelain dolls reveal a ritual that portends someone’s death and the escape of the disembodied Moriarty, cast out of Holmes at the end of the last volume, spells impending doom if Holmes and Watson cannot solve the mysteries, capture the mastermind, and save the world in time.

All of Conan Doyle’s most notable characters are present, though some in altered form.  Scotland Yard Inspectors Lestrade and Greggson come to call, though their non-human natures, a vampire and troll respectively, offer complications that Conan Doyle never envisioned.  Mrs. Hudson is her mirror opposite in every way, and street urchin Wiggles, in this version a lycanthropic shape-shifter, also pop in to add to the mayhem.

“The Woman,” a.k.a Irene Adler, makes multiple appearances, but this time it is hopeless romantic Watson who is obsessed with her, to the point of his foretold and inevitable “death” at the end of this volume.  Time will tell if mortal Watson’s death “takes” or is somehow retracted by Holmes, especially as the next volume of the series, The Sign of the Nine, is due out in April of this year.

G. S. Denning does an admirable job of copying Conan Doyle’s style along with the language and mannerisms of 1890s London, while adding his own unique twists and turns to the genre. As a long-time fan of all things Holmesian as well as paranormal stories, I greatly enjoyed the two previous volumes in the author’s series, A Study in Brimstone and The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles, and look forward to the next two planned volumes. I give My Grave Ritual five stars, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a spoof of Sherlock Holmes, paranormal stories, or just a light-hearted take on detective fiction.

It’s a New Year!

backlit beach christian dawn
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year!

Today I started my day by having a late breakfast with my family, and then started cleaning out some of the clutter acquired over the last year.  My thoughts automatically turned to all the things I would like to do this year: places I’ve never visited, goals I’ve never accomplished before, and though I don’t habitually make resolutions, I decided I do have some aspirations that will make this year the best yet.

It’s been a crazy few weeks at my house;  between holidays, visiting family, and starting a new job, I’ve had a pretty full plate, but today I can take my time to rest, and plan, and dream.

I want to treat 2019  like a clean slate.  I want to attempt to be the best version of myself that I can be, or at least a better version of myself.  I know I will falter along the way, and probably fail at some point, but right now I choose to look on this change of date with optimism, and embrace the possibilities.

I hope you choose to embrace this chance to start anew along with me, whether or not you set any resolutions for yourself.  Let’s make 2019 the year we accomplish our dreams, the time we become the people we have always wanted to be.

I wish you all joy, and peace, and love, and fulfillment for 2019!

Amy

My Christmas Wish for You

adult beautiful christmas cold
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I just wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt wishes for all of you out there this holiday season.

I wish you joy, and peace, and a special time spent surrounded by your loved ones.

I wish you health, and happiness, and that you have or find motivation to reach for the stars this next year.

I wish you all love, for yourself, and for those you call family and friends.

Most of all, I wish for you, dear readers, a Merry Christmas to you and yours and a very Happy New Year!

Amy

My Interview on A Dreamer’s Blog

person using macbook pro
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I was recently privileged to be interviewed by Jason Foss about the inspiration for my novel Virtual: Can you be sure what’s real? and my future work on his blog, A Dreamer’s Blog.

Thanks so much for his kind words, and for his insightful interviews with many other authors.  To check out the interview, click this link: ‘A Dreamer’s Blog’ by Jason E. Foss

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Amy

 

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Blood of the Earth

Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Blood of the Earth (Soulwood, #1) by

Faith Hunter (Goodreads Author)
50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review
Nell Ingram doesn’t think she’s special; actually she’s afraid that the strange “gifts” she has, if discovered by the God’s Cloud of Glory cult she escaped from as a child, would see her burned at the stake. So she lives alone, almost completely isolated save for her mystic connection to the forest that she barely understands. Being alone protects her; being alone is comfortable, but her quiet isolation is not meant to last. Forces meant to help and harm are both coming her way, and Nell will be forced to use her strange connection to the Earth to save lives.

This first book in a new series by author Faith Hunter revisits a world where “paranormals” live and work side by side with ordinary humans, and both groups are touched by good and evil. When Homeland Security’s special division for dealing with paranormal crimes, PsyLED, saves her life, Nell Ingram is forced out of her self-imposed isolation to assist in a case involving the kidnapping of multiple young girls, and work with a group of individuals whose gifts are just as unique as her own.

Nell’s insider knowledge of the God’s Cloud of Glory church, which is suspected to be involved in the kidnappings, makes her a valuable asset. In order to save the lives of the innocent girls, one of whom is her own sister, Nell will have to face her past, and push her strange powers in ways she’s never before imagined.

I picked up this book as a choice from my local book club, and I really wanted to like it simply because of the location; the setting is mainly in East Tennessee, in and around Knoxville, an area that is near and dear to my heart. While the descriptions of the region and are spot on, I had more difficultly with the plot.

The story seemingly meandered along for the first half of the book, before the pacing finally picked up somewhere along the last third of the text. Granted, some of this was necessary world-building, but it seemed to me to be a bit excessive in mass. Still, by the end I was fully invested in the action, and cheered Nell and her team on as they reached a very satisfying ending, and epilogue.

I offer this story three and a half stars, and would recommend that readers interested in paranormal and urban fantasy stories check out this series as well as other works by Faith Hunter.