Thursday, June 25, 2015

'A Pleasure and a Calling'

While reading a book, I'm sure that many of us mentally cast the actors for the film version. We dream about the perfect Heathcliff, or the best Harry Potter (actually, the chosen actors were fantastic).

So, while I was reading Phil Hogan's new book, 'A Pleasure and a Calling', who should pop up in my mind but....Benedict Cumberbatch.  Although the character of Mr. Heming remains physically unremarkable (the way he wants it) and unnoticed, Cumberbatch is noticed and very memorable.  But he's a fine actor, a chameleon, actually, and I think he would do the part justice.

But enough about Cumberbunny, and back to this creepy story.  Yes.  Creepy.

The narrator is our antagonist, Mr. Heming, and he's quite a smooth character. He's always a step ahead of the game.  He plots and lies with great confidence.

He's also very creepy.

Mr. Heming loves the leafy English village where he lives. As a local real estate agent, he knows every square inch of the town and sees himself as its protector, diligent in enforcing its quaint charm.  Most people don't pay much attention to him; he fades easily into the background.  But Mr. Heming pays attention to them.  He has the keys to their homes; he has the keys to every home he's ever sold in town.  Over the years, he has kept them all so that he can observe his neighbors, not just on the street, but behind locked doors.

As disturbing details emerge about Mr. Heming's childhood, his disturbing hobby begins to form a clear pattern, and the reasons behind it come into focus.  But when a dead body is found in the backyard of a client's home, Mr. Heming realizes it may only be a matter of time before his secrets are found out.

I kept thinking about Patricia Highsmith's brilliant 'Ripley' series.  Just when we think the anti-hero's movements are going to be discovered, he smoothly covers his tracks.

Mr. Heming is a cool character, sure of himself, yet there are times when he's worried that some people are getting a bit too close. 

I love this book.  I couldn't put it down. Hogan's a fine writer; he kept me turning the pages, and the suspense was killing me.  

Author Phil Hogan
It's made my Summer....creepy.  And it will make your Summer creepy, too.

It just might make you dust off those 'Ripley' books and have a good reread.

But just keep your house key safe because you...never.....know.....

And don't forget to check the attic.

'A Pleasure and a Calling' by Phil Hogan is available at your local library and favorite independent book store.  ISBN: 978-1-250-06063-1

Saturday, June 20, 2015

'Circus Mirandus'

It's been a very crazy month.  Actually, it all started in early May, when I was diagnosed with anxiety.  So, I took some time off, read some books (thankfully, reading calmed me so much), walked A LOT, ate healthy food, stopped drinking caffeinated coffee (I miss it, though), and saw my doctor many times. 

I think I'm doing well, actually.  I'm not letting this anxiety business take over my life.  I'm determined to get through this; I thank my dear friend, Dawn, for getting me into yoga again, and I've found a great psychologist.  My new phone has been keeping me busy, too.  So much for me to explore, stuff that most people take for granted as they scan, download, and text.

As I said, reading calmed me; the books took me out of myself and offered a safe harbor.  I reread all the Harry Potter books, read some great non-fiction, and just yesterday, I finished a most marvelous Independent Reader book.

'Circus Mirandus', the first novel from Cassie Beasley, was delightful.  It carries the theme that magic is everywhere; you just have to pay attention.  There's also love and devotion, and frustration seasoned with a bit of anger.  Friendship comes into play in a big way, but the greatest relationship in this story is the one between the boy and his grandfather.

Micah Tuttle's grandpa Ephraim has always told him wonderful stories about Circus Mirandus, a magical circus he visited when he was a boy.  But now Grandpa Ephraim is dying, and terrible, grouchy Great-Aunt Gertrudis has arrived to take care of Micah. All the magic of Micah's childhood seems lost until Grandpa Ephraim finally tells him the truth:  Circus Mirandus is real, and the Lightbender, the circus's greatest magician, owes Ephraim a miracle.

With his best friend, Jenny, in tow, Micah goes in search of the circus in order to find the man who can save his grandfather's life.

Author Cassie Beasley
Beasley has done a wonderful job in creating characters that grab your heart, or make your blood run cold.  One in particular, Great-Aunt Gertrudis, is the relative from Hell, and she and her brother are as different as night and day.  

And then there's Micah's grandmother.  She's a character you love to hate.

The love between grandfather and grandson is precious, indeed, and their devotion to one another brought tears to my eyes.

I may be on to another book (I'm giving 'The Goldfinch' another try), but I won't forget 'Circus Mirandus'.  Cassie Beasley is a writer to watch.

'Circus Mirandus', written by Cassie Beasley, is available at your local library or favorite book store.  ISBN 978-0-525-42843-5

Monday, June 1, 2015

'Patience is a Virtue'

I wish to take this time to thank all of you for your patience regarding Book Hog's book reviews.

I am going through a rather difficult time right now; maintaining good health can be a tricky thing.

So, thank you so much for enjoying my reviews, and, hopefully, I'll be posting in the near future.

Take care and happy reading!