Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing by

Delia Owens (Goodreads Author)
50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

Take a novel that is one part survival story, one part murder trial story, with a subplot of love, heartache, and retribution thrown in, and you have the plot for author Delia Owen’s first fictional book.

The bestselling author of nonfictional books about wildlife brings her expertise on nature into this story, as the main character, Kya, describes her home of the marshlands off the coast of South Carolina.  Kya’s isolation, thanks to being abandoned by multiple family members one-by-one, leads to her total immersion and dependence on her environment, culminating in her becoming an expert on the marshes and their importance to the world.

The author’s descriptions of the world where Kya lived are both beautiful and heartbreaking. The narration flows like the poetry Kya often quotes throughout the story. While the story weaves backward and forward through time, the author slowly moves focus from 1952, when Kya is first abandoned, to 1970, where her fate will be decided in a court of law.

Along the way, Kya faces prejudice, hardships, and loneliness, but ultimately finds peace in her surroundings and love of friends and recovered family.  Looked down upon by the local population because of her seclusion and poverty, she is labelled “The Marsh Girl,” a figure of scorn and ugly rumors.

Her perception by the locals as an outsider, even a savage, is in part what leads the local sheriff and the town in general hold her responsible for the death of a local celebrity, and try her for murder based on the most circumstantial evidence.  Luckily, Kya has a few true friends and honorable people in her corner, who seek the truth and stay beside her till the end.

I truly enjoyed this story.  It covers so much, in terms of plot and time, and includes several unexpected twists.  While there are plenty of stories where children survive alone in the wild, few evolve to a point where the characters are able to cast social commentary on the behavior of a small town, or reach the heights of becoming published authors.  Kya is truly extraordinary, and the life she leads is exemplary, all the more so because of everything she goes through.

Saying that, I was astounded at the direction the author took in the last chapter, the very last page, that through everything I thought about the book and the characters into an entirely new light- I really didn’t want to believe the ending.  This ending is the sole reason I give this book four stars; perhaps that seems unfair, but the last twist seems completely out of sync with everything I’d read up to that point.  Still, this is a very good book that I’d recommend to many readers, of mysteries, survival stories, and stories about strong female characters.

Movie Review-Dr. Sleep

Image result for doctor sleep characters

Over the weekend, my husband convinced me to watch the movie Dr. Sleep, which is currently available on Redbox.  For those not aware, Dr. Sleep is the sequel to The Shining, both of which are based on books written by Stephen King, published in 1977 and 2013, respectively.

The fact alone that Stephen King was the author tells the viewer there will be some elements of horror in the story, though this particular one also has action and paranormal elements.

The movie opens with events immediately following the events in the first book/movie, where a traumatized Danny must deal with the experiences from the Overlook Hotel, as well as the death of his father.  The denizens of the Overlook are still haunting him, until he learns to “lock” them in boxes in his mind.  Unfortunately, he cannot so easily brush off the trauma, and a few minutes in, we switch to an adult Dan Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor, who is in his mid-forties, and a struggling alcoholic.

It takes a visit from the spirit of Dick Halloran, the character from the first movie who taught Danny about his “shining,” (aka telepathy) for Dan to make any headway in life.  Dick’s appearances are far and few between, though, mainly serving as an expression of Dan’s conscience in times of turmoil.  It is Dick’s prodding that leads Dan to assisting Abra, another young character who also “shines” when she is appears on the radar of the “True Knot,” a group of immortal beings that feed off the shine of young victims to survive.

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The eerie True Knot beings claim a victim.

Through a well-paced plot, we discover that Dan has largely suppressed his powers, but he cannot ignore the needs of the patients at the hospice where he works as an orderly, a practice that earns him the nickname Dr. Sleep.  He also cannot ignore the daily communication with Abra, who contacts him via a blackboard painted on the wall of his apartment.  Through his connection to her, he is aware when she first encounters the True Knot, and recognizes their similarity to the beings that haunted Overlook.

When they come for her, Dan has to help.  Bringing his friend/sponsor along for the ride, they stage a plot to trap the True Knot group and prevent them from taking any more victims.  Events go south, though, and in a desperate attempt to stop the leader of the True Knot, Rose the Hat, Dan and Abra make the journey back to Overlook, hoping to turn its denizens against Rose, who is now hunting them.  The story culminates with Dan being visited by the ghostly remnant of his father, and repeating the sacrifice Jack Torrance made in the book version of The Shining, (the movie version ended differently.)

Image result for doctor sleep characters
Dan and Abra make their stand.

I don’t often go for horror movies, but this one had more supernatural and paranormal elements to it than true horror.  Yes, the audience got to revisit some of the creepier characters from the original The Shining, but the focus of the story was more on Dan’s reactions and fate following those events.  Overall, the movie was very good, with just enough of a creep factor and an interesting plot.  This movie should appeal to fans of the original, though viewing of the first film is not required for understanding.  I give it four out of five stars, and recommend it to anyone interested in the genres of horror, supernatural, and paranormal stories.

 

 

 

A Poem for My Valentine

heart shape multicolored stand

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

Hello, everyone!  In the past, I have used the week of Valentine’s to share some original poetry.  I have a new piece I would like to share with you, that I wrote for my husband.   Steve and I have been married for just over 29 years, so naturally we’ve been through a lot in our relationship, and it’s hard to pin down my feelings for him in just a few words, but I hope you enjoy my attempt.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Amy

To My Valentine

by Amy Caudill

We’ve been together for so long now

That I can hardly tell where you stop and I begin.

Your every word has power over me-

When you tease, or criticize, or praise

I am affected by you as no one else can.

When you show you care; you remember; you think of me;

I feel your love for me

It’s more profound than a thousand proclamations

Written in the sky.

The little things you do and say

Mean more than grand gestures once made

By others who remain only in fogged memory.

Sometimes we are so close, and sometimes we seem so far apart

Even in the same room,

But we always are.

There is no me without you-and I no longer remember who I was

Before you.

There is only we, in all our plans

All our hopes

All our futures.

I am yours; and you are mine.

 

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Proven Guilty

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files, #8) by

Jim Butcher (Goodreads Author)
50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

Where do you cross a line between evil deeds and good intentions?  The eighth installment in the Dresden Files series has Harry asking just this question as, in carrying out his duties as a Warden of the White Council of Wizards, he must report the daughter of a friend for working forbidden magic.

A practitioner of black magic has summoned a number of beings from the faerie realm that feed on fear, and take the forms of monsters highlighted in a local horror-movie “con.”  Only instead of being fictional like the on-screen characters, these “fetches” of faerie land actually kill, and keep killing, until Harry can locate the summoner who brought them into Chicago and stop them.

Young Molly Carpenter, (the oldest child of Harry’s friend and occasional comrade-in-arms, Michael, one of the Knights of the Cross) is involved in the “con,” and with several of the victims, but until he unwittingly turns the monsters against her, Harry is unaware of her true connection to events.  By then, she’s already been taken captive to the Nevernever, and the strangest group of questers imaginable must follow.

Harry is joined by SI Detective Karin Murphy; his half-brother, the vampire succubus Thomas; a armor-wearing Charity Carpenter, who has issues of her own with Harry and magic in general; and is aided by the Summer Lady and her Knight as the company ventures into the heart of Winter, the stronghold of Queen Mab.  Will they be able to find Molly, and save her from a fate worse than death?  Will they even survive the quest?

And should they return successfully, will Harry have to see Molly put to death by the White Council for breaking one of the laws of magic?

Jim Butcher just seems to keep getting better and better in this series.  The “universe” he has built keeps expanding; with characters, subplots, and major storylines continually building on each other and spiraling outward with each successive novel.  Harry Dresden has come a long way as a protagonist, from a lone wolf wizard to a friend, brother, comrade, and mentor to a whole family of characters.

While each book can be read as a stand-alone, to really understand the background I recommend reading the entirety from beginning to end, as I’m working my way through currently, anticipating the release of the sixteenth book, Peace Talks, in July of this year.  I award Proven Guilty five stars and recommend it to readers interested in paranormal and urban fantasy series, as well as readers of paranormal detective stories.

Cover Reveal:Frozen Stiff Drink

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Today it is my pleasure to participate in a cover reveal for the latest addition to author James J. Cudney’s Braxton Campus series, Frozen Stiff Drink.  This is the sixth book in a “cozy mystery” series that has enchanted readers since the release of the first book of the series, Academic Curveball, two years ago,  and which I actually reviewed last fall.  See my review here:

Here is the cover for his soon-to-be-released new book:

Frozen-Stiff-Drink-Promo-Hardback-Ereader

 

About the book:

BOOK BLURB

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead, and second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

BOOK LINKS

Amazon Link Coming soon

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49989079-frozen-stiff-drink

About the author:

AUTHOR PIC JAY

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun! 

List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

 

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Here’s a list from Wired of the best Science Fiction films of 1970 to 2019. Not a huge amount of disagreement – not sure Star Trek First Contact deserves to be on the list, I’d have thought the Motion Picture is more SF (or Undiscovered Country) but hey. Primer is great. Children of Men as […]

via And best Science Fiction films? — The Cedar Lounge Revolution

As a fan of science fiction, I’m always curious what other fans are watching (and reading).  Thanks to WorldbyStorm for sharing this list from Wired Magazine.  How many of these films have you seen?

A Modern Whodunit: Knives Out

Fans of classic mysteries in the tradition of the late Dame Agatha Christie, this is your movie!  Knives Out, currently showing in movie theaters, keeps audiences guessing whodunit to the very end.

The all-star cast, which includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, and Don Johnson, portray the family and staff of the late mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer) as they gather first for the birthday party of their patriarch; and again after his demise, which occurs later that same night.  The family members, instead of grieving, though, are more apt to quibble and point fingers at each other as to who had more motive and means to commit murder.

Daniel Craig plays Benoit Blanc, a modern Hercule Poirot-type detective with a southern accent, who was hired by means of a secret message to investigate the death.  Blanc follows clues and shadows Marta (Ana de Armas,) the late author’s private nurse, through wild goose chases that uncover more than one suspect and enough red herrings to hide the true criminal to the very end.

Marta, the only character other than the detective who was not after Thrombey’s fortune, spends most of the movie believing she is responsible for his death.   Marta tries to hide, and fails completely in attempts to lie, about her involvement in the crime.  Her surprising motivation-a promise made to the elderly author immediately before his demise.   Why did he prompt her to lie, and what other secrets will be uncovered before the end of the movie?  Who actually is responsible for Thrombey’s death?  And who will inherit his estate?

I was both pleased and surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.  The mystery was intriguing, the plot had as many twists as any good novel, and the action was enjoyable.  There was just enough humor included to keep the story from becoming too dark without turning the whole movie into a spoof of the genre.  Not to mention, the majority of the action takes place on an estate that contains hidden compartments, a secret door, and a horde of “props” from Thrombey’s novels, (spoilers) some of which may prove important to the plot!

Check it out at a theater near you!

 

 

 

 

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Sea Scope: A Psychological Mystery

Sea Scope by Debbie De Louise
Sea Scope: A Psychological Mystery by

Debbie De Louise (Goodreads Author)
50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

A series of clues written in crayon, reminiscent of the games once played by a now-dead child, and the long unexplained circumstances surrounding the death of one of their number casts a shadow over the planned reunion of family and old friends in this mystery by author Debbie De Louise.

Twenty years ago, the bed and breakfast at Sea Scope, South Carolina was closed following the death of a guest who meant far more to some of the long-term residents there.  In the present, Sarah, who was a child at the time, receives an invitation from her Aunt Julie, to return to the inn for a visit.  Julie plans to reopen the inn and wants select family and friends to help her prepare for its grand reopening.  As Julie gathers family and former staff members of Sea Scope, both Julie and Sarah receive messages pertaining to the events that led to a tragic summer twenty years in the past.

While the events of the present reveal those things long hidden, the past plays its part in the tale, too, as the reader is drawn into a haunting story with clues doled out one at a time.  The author carefully weaves an enticing mystery by alternating chapters between past and present, so that events may unfold in the past through the child Sarah’s diary and recollections, assisted by revelations by other visitors and family members from the time.

In fact, the revelations continue right up until the last few pages, where the true nature of certain characters and the events leading to the death of Michael are finally unveiled.  The switches between time settings are not confusing or detract from the appeal of the story at all, as the author also skillfully changes point of view, from third person in the past to first person in the present, with Sarah’s point of view.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book I was able to obtain through a recent Amazon promotion by the author.  I love good mysteries, and this one has much to offer, from a good plot to appealing characters and a beautiful location.  I would recommend this story to any lover of mysteries, and award it five stars for its originality and the quality of the mystery.

A New Year and New Chances

Happy New Year!  While elsewhere people are preparing for parties, getting ready to watch the ball drop, I am taking a few moments to regroup and catch my breath.  2019 has been exceptionally busy for me; between work commitments, spending time with loved ones, and even squeezing in a vacation, the year has been very full and passed too quickly!

While today is a good day for reflection, the final day of the year is also a time to look forward.  Many of us make resolutions for the new year, to which unfortunately  we commit only half-heartedly , or that will soon loose our interest.  To me, the concept is still sound-we resolve to be better versions of ourselves, in whatever form we would like to improve.  Often, the motivation to change, to improve, is more important than the end result.  In other words it’s okay to try, and fail; it’s better than not trying at all, or loosing faith in our own potential.

There are a few things I would like to happen this year-I want to meet my Goodreads goals; I want to publish a new story that I’ve had on the back burner for a while; I want to take a vacation somewhere exotic this year, or at least somewhere I’ve never been before; and I want to achieve balance between my personal, day job, and writing lives.  Will I succeed?  I don’t know yet; but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Today is a good day to think about goals-about the people we would like to be this year.  I hope for the most of us, it is a chance to become, as Bill Murray’s character stated in the classic movie, Scrooged“the people we have always wanted to be.”

Happy New Year everyone! I hope yours is a great one!

Happy Holidays!

lighted reindeer decor
Photo by Ignored shots on Pexels.com

To all my friends out there, I wish you the very best for this Holiday Season.  May your fondest wishes come true, and may you experience joy, hope, love, and togetherness in abundance.

However and whatever you celebrate this time of year, please accept my heartfelt greetings for a Joyful Season and a Happy New Year!

Amy