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#TuesdayBookBlog Our Trespasses: A Paranormal Thriller by Michael Cordell (@TCKPublishing) Mystery, paranormal, horror, twins and cinematic writing #horror #paranormal

Hi all:

I bring you a hybrid book that combines two genres I am a fan of. I enjoyed it!

Our Trespasses by Michael Cordell

Our Trespasses: A Paranormal Thriller by Michael Cordell

Deliver us from evil…

Drowning in a meaningless existence flipping burgers, Matthew Davis suddenly collapses from a powerful psychic connection he shares with his twin brother, Jake. The pain is violent and immediate, and Matt knows exactly what it means… hundreds of miles away, Jake has been viciously killed. But instead of severing their connection, the murder intensifies it and Matt begins to suffer the agony of Jake’s afterlife.

Hell bent on solving Jake’s murder in order to break the connection, Matt travels to his troubled hometown of Hatchett, Nebraska, where an old lover and savage new enemies expose the festering wounds that Jake left behind.

Matt tries atoning for Jake’s sins, but when a demon infests the connection between the two brothers, Matt must find a way to sever their bond before his world, and ours, become engulfed in the flames of hell.

Fans of Stephen King’s The Outsider, Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist will find this new paranormal thriller impossible to put down.

https://www.amazon.com/Our-Trespasses-Paranormal-Michael-Cordell-ebook/dp/B09GPXRWJT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Our-Trespasses-Paranormal-Michael-Cordell-ebook/dp/B09GPXRWJT/

https://www.amazon.es/Our-Trespasses-Paranormal-Thriller-English-ebook/dp/B09GPXRWJT/

Here is the link to the publishers website:

https://www.tckpublishing.com/

Author Michael Cordell

About the author:

Michael Cordell is a novelist, playwright and produced screenwriter. His first novel, “Contempt”, is an Amazon Best Seller and Amazon Top 10 Legal Thriller. He has sold three screenplays to Hollywood, including “Beeper”, an action-thriller starring Harvey Keitel and Joey Lauren Adams.

Michael currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

You can reach Michael at michaeljcordell@gmail.com

 https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Cordell/e/B001KECNKU/

 My review:

I thank TCK Publishing (Maria Inot in particular) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

I had never read any novels by Michael Cordell, but once I started to read this one, I was hooked. His experience working as a screenwriter (and a screenwriting teacher) comes through, as there are some scenes in this book so vividly rendered that it is impossible not to see them playing inside your head while you read it. And, they aren’t always comfortable viewing either! (I’m not sure I’ll look at a clothes closet the same way again, but I will not go into it to avoid spoilers).

This novel offers an interesting combination of genres. Although it is not the first time I come across a mystery/thriller with paranormal/horror elements (I’ve enjoyed Hyde by Craig Russell and The Coven Murders by Brian O’Hare, for example), this one has some interesting elements that might appeal to people who don’t normally read in either of those genres. The main character, Matthew (Matt) Davis, is not a detective or a policeman, but a pretty normal guy whose brother has been killed. We are aware, from the very beginning of the story, that he had a special connection with his twin brother Jake, but we soon learn what this truly means in the current circumstances. Although he ends up investigating his brother’s death, this is not out of revenge or even to try to get his brother’s murderer to justice, but for a pretty different reason. The paranormal element, which starts pretty low-key, moves onto full-blown horror towards the end of the novel, and I am not revealing anything unduly when I say that hell and demons play a big part in the story (and there are crows. Those of you who loved Hitchcock’s The Birds will nod in recognition at several scenes in the book).

I think these two genres mix quite well in this particular novel, as long as readers are willing to suspend their disbelief and not stick to the specifics of either genre (the mystery-thriller especially). In fact, I think the combination of the two genres works to keep us guessing and makes it more difficult for us to focus on solving either aspect of the story (because there are several mysteries and a lot of secrets hiding in this narrative). Although the pace of the novel is more contemplative than many thrillers are, the tension builds up slowly but ramps up towards the end, and its particular rhythm allows us to get to know the main character (whose point of view we follow —although narrated in the third person— the whole story) and to get a good picture of the little Nebraskan town where the story takes place. Of course, the author does not reveal everything about the character, and although we might have some suspicion about what really happened in the past, the ending brings some interesting twists to the story.

Apart from the novels mentioned in the above description, the story also had elements that made me think of The Dry by Jane Harper. The grown-up man coming back to his hometown after many years away to attend a funeral (in that case that of a friend, rather than his brother), and the descriptions of the weather, the place, and the secrets brought it to my mind, although there are no paranormal elements there. And I also thought about A Nightmare on Elm Street more than once (although no Freddy here).

I liked Matt well enough, even though his life seemed to be very unfocused and low-key to begin with, stuck and unable to move on for no clear reason. Things become clearer as we read on, and we get to understand his actions and empathise with him by the end. I also appreciated Matt’s sharp and dry wit, and his somewhat dark sense of humour, especially evident at the beginning of the novel (seeing the funny side of things gets difficult as the days pass). Jake… We get different versions of Jake, and although he is not a sympathetic character, he is an intriguing one, and not as one-sided as he appears at the beginning. I liked Claire. Although we don’t get to know her very well, she has done the best of a bad situation, and she is supportive, tries hard to do the right thing, and is a friend to her friends. I loved Andy. He is a fantastic character, and I would happily read a whole book about him. He also provides some light relief to the story (but he has some eerie moments as well)! The twin’s mother is a character I would have liked to learn more about, and I would also have liked to know more about the family dynamics, but that would have slowed the story down and turned it into something else.

The book abounds on reflections about guilt, duty, family ties and relationships, loyalty, small-town politics, faith and religious belief, the need to forgive and move on… The protagonist is faced with some impossibly tough decisions, and although not in the same circumstances, many readers will empathise with the feeling of being trapped and having no good way out.

I have mentioned the vividness of the writing, and the skill and craft of the writer come through. The story flows well, and although the rhythm is not frantic or typical of a thriller, it keeps you turning the pages (or sweeping them) to learn what is going to happen next. There are beautifully descriptive passages and quite a few hair-raising action scenes that make it into a satisfying reading experience. Remember that you can always check a sample of the book in your e-book store if you want to make sure the writing style fits your taste.

A couple of snippets of the book here:

 That was one of the things you could count on in Nebraska: most everyone was nice and more than happy to help. It was already starting to put him on edge.

 Skiz had told him a story that sounded as reasonable as talking monkeys riding unicorns, and yet he’d latched onto it as if it were a scientific fact. (If you wondered about the suspension of disbelief, the protagonist has some misgivings as well).

 The ending will satisfy most readers, I think. I have mentioned the twists (you might or might not see them coming, but I wouldn’t say they are evident), and because of my particular taste in endings, I would probably have preferred something a bit more nuanced and less final, but that is me. It makes perfect sense in light of the genre combination, but horror for me… must leave us feeling uneasy rather than reassured.

As to recommendations, this is a good and fun read, and people looking for books that combine genres, happy to suspend their disbelief, and not scared of paranormal and horror elements, (and not easily offended by somewhat unorthodox religious references and bad language) will have a great time with this story. I would also recommend it to those who enjoy movies in those genres, as it is very cinematic.

Thanks to the publisher and the author, for this novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to stay safe, optimistic (as far as you can), and to keep reading, smiling, and enjoying life to the maximum. 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog BLIND TURN by Cara Sue Achterberg (@carasueachterberg) A wonderful mother-daughter relationship were everybody learns #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you a book by an author I’ve read and loved before. I’m slightly ahead of its publication date (it is due on the 7th of January 2021), but I thought you might appreciate the chance of getting ahead and having some suitable reading ready for the beginning of the year (and let’s hope it helps start the year on a better note). And without further ado…

Blind Turn by Cara Sue Achterberg

Blind Turn by Cara Sue Achterberg

In the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident, a mother and daughter must come to terms with the real meaning of forgiveness.

Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter. Jessica is an honor-student, track star, and all-around good kid. So how could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.

Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she once rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband. Jessica faces her angry peers and her own demons as she awaits a possible prison sentence for an accident she doesn’t remember.

A tragic, emotional, ultimately uplifting story, Blind Turn is a natural book club pick.

https://www.amazon.com/Blind-Turn-Cara-Sue-Achterberg-ebook/dp/B08LSLSZZF/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blind-Turn-Cara-Sue-Achterberg-ebook/dp/B08LSLSZZF/

https://www.amazon.es/Blind-Turn-Cara-Sue-Achterberg-ebook/dp/B08LSLSZZF/

Author Cara Sue Achterberg

About the author:

Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer, blogger, and shelter dog advocate who lives in New Freedom, Pennsylvania and Bentonville, Virginia.

She is the author of four novels, two memoirs (‘dog-oirs’), and a handbook/memoir of the organic life.

Cara has fostered over 180 dogs for the nonprofit all-breed rescue organization, Operation Paws for Homes and writes a blog about her experiences (AnotherGoodDog.org), and she is the co-founder of Who Will Let the Dogs Out (WhoWillLettheDogsOut.org), a non-profit initiative whose mission is to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs.

Her small hillside farm in PA is home to a shuffling cast of foster dogs and foster kittens, her two dogs Gracie and Fanny, two horses, a barn cat named Tonks, and plenty of chickens. Cara travels to the mountains of Virginia every chance she gets. Links to all of her blogs, pictures of her foster dogs and more information can be found at CaraWrites.com.

twitter: @caraachterberg
instagram: @carasueachterberg
Facebook: @carasueachterberg

https://www.amazon.com/Cara-Sue-Achterberg/e/B00PYVVB5S

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I read and reviewed a novel by the same author, Practicing Normal, over three years ago, but I enjoyed it so much, and it made such an impact that I requested this one straight away. (You can check my review here). The author has been busy with other projects and has published several non-fiction titles in the meantime, but I can say that her new novel was worth the wait.

The book description gives an idea of the bare bones of the story, which is not very complicated, at least on the face of it. The novel follows the aftermath of a terrible accident, although perhaps not a totally ‘accidental’ accident, as the girl driving, Jess, was ‘allegedly’ texting while driving. The girl, who suffers a concussion, can’t remember anything about the accident, but her friend Sheila, who was with her in the car, has plenty to say. The victim is a well-known town coach and a friend and mentor of the girl’s father. Let’s say there’s not much love lost for the girl and her family in the town (Jefferson, Texas) after that happens. The novel falls into the categories of family drama (or women’s stories, as the story is told by the two women, Liz, the mother, and Jess, her daughter, in the first-person) as well as a coming of age story. Jess is only sixteen when the accident happens, and she grows up considerably during the next few months, while she discovers who her real friends are, reorders her priorities, gains a new appreciation for both her parents, learns about guilt, and more than anything, about forgiveness. She is not the only one who grows up in the process, and her mother also learns a lot about herself and about those around her.

I’ve mentioned some of the themes discussed in the book, and there are others: disappointed expectations, second chances, the risks of texting and driving (of course), parenting, split-up families, the nature of guilt and forgiveness, the way all lives are interconnected and all actions have consequences, unplanned parenthood, looking after the elderly (especially our parents)… This is not a novel full of secrets and twists, devious characters, and bizarre motives, but rather one that we could imagine happening to our own relatives and/or friends (or ourselves). That is one of its strengths. The plot does not require any suspension of disbelief (or not much. At times, I wondered if in real life things wouldn’t have got even more difficult for those involved, and especially some of the male characters seem very understanding and forgiving, although that is refreshing), and as the book is not heavy on details or descriptions, it is even easier to imagine its scenario taking place around us.

I liked all (or most) of the characters. Although I have little in common with Liz or Jess, I found them both easy to empathise with. They are not perfect but are fundamentally good people trying to get on, and they love each other deeply, though at times it might not be that evident even to themselves. The rest of the characters are also pretty decent despite their flaws, and this is not a book where good and evil are clearly separated. Sometimes a mistake can have terrible consequences, and sometimes good people can do terrible things. If I had to choose some of my favourites, I quite liked Katie, Liz’s sister; her friend Avery; their neighbour, Dylan; Ellen, the counsellor; and Fish, a boy Jess’s father knows. Both of their love interests are endearing, although at times they appear a touch too perfect (but things happen that qualify that impression), and even the characters whose behaviour is not exemplary are not despicable. Through the main characters’ narrations, we get to share in their doubts, hesitations, fears, defense-mechanisms, disappointments, expectations, hopes, guilt feelings; and it’s impossible not to wonder what we’d do in their place. I have no children, but I could easily imagine what Liz might feel like, and as somebody who’s driven for years and has been lucky enough not to be involved in any serious accidents (none involving injuries), Jess’s plight was instantly recognisable. Their thoughts and their emotions felt true, and the way they behave and eventually grow suits perfectly the kind of human beings they are.

The use of the first-person narration by the two main female characters works well, as we get both sides of the story, with access to more background into the changes and the actions of each character than the other has, and it also provides us with some distance from each woman and an outsider perspective on them, and we come to realise that they are more alike than they think. The author is both skilled and thoughtful enough to avoid common-places, and she does not give her characters an easy way out. They have to work through their issues and earn the hard lessons they learn. Saying that, I loved the ending that manages to be both, open and hopeful.

The writing flows easily, and although the novel is not full of action or a page-turner in the standard sense, there are very emotional moments. We become so involved in the lives of the characters that it’s difficult to put the book down, as we care too much for them to rest until we know what happens. I read a review written by somebody from Jefferson, Texas, who felt somewhat disappointed because she had expected to recognise some of the landmarks, so beware if you have similar expectations. On the other hand, I got a good sense of what it felt like to live there (or at least in the Jefferson of the novel) and to know the characters personally, and that worked perfectly well for me.

I thought I’d share a few of the passages I highlighted (although, remember mine was an ARC copy, so there might be some slight changes in the final version):

Why does forgiveness require a sacrifice? That piece of Christianity never made sense to me. That sounds more like making a deal than offering forgiveness.

I am the roadrunner, running in thin air, moments from smacking into reality.

Sometimes it feels like I’m in a dystopian novel being controlled by a cosmic author who makes the characters do things no one would ever dream they would do —especially themselves.

I am different too. I am finished withholding forgiveness and clinging to my anger and fear like some kind of sick armor to shield my heart.

I recommend this novel to readers who love realistic/plausible coming-of-age stories and family dramas that don’t fall into the trap of trying to make everything right or easy for the characters while at the same time avoiding unnecessary twists used simply for effect. If you’re looking for an inspiring story you can connect with and characters you’d love to have as neighbours or friends, this is your book. There is heartache, tears, and also a process of growth and lessons to be learned, and you’ll feel better for having read it. And what more can we ask for! (Oh, I almost forgot! There are dogs as well!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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