CAMERA CLUB ENTRIES

This Tuesday, my Camera Club is hosting an informal competition. An external judge will critique each picture and award points out of twenty. There is an Intermediate category and an Advanced category. I am in the Advanced category and these are my three entries. For variety, I have selected a composite image (Death of a Maiden), a fisheye image (The Cheat) and a straightforward monochrome (The Fascinator). They’re all pulled from my archives and all have done very well when entered into International Salons, so it will be interesting to see how they fare. I’ll come back on Wednesday and enter the scores.pho

DEATH OF A MAIDEN
THE CHEAT
THE FASCINATOR

THE RED BOOK

THE RED BOOK
JAMES PATTERSON
with DAVID ELLIS

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I gave up on James Patterson books a few years ago, finding them a bit ‘quick and slick’ with the short chapters and pared down writing. The Red Book, written with the collaboration of David Ellis, was a pleasurable surprise and has re-affirmed me as a fan of Patterson. Although the main character, Detective Billy Harney, has the conventional troubled past, it doesn’t dominate the story but is interwoven skilfully and completely believably. His sidekick has her own secrets and the twisty reveal is excellently done. I had not realised that this was the second in the series but will now search out its predecessor, The Black Book. Highly recommended.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

WIN

WIN
HARLAN COBEN

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I always quite liked the character of Windsor Horne Lockwood in Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series. He could be irritating in a minor way as a secondary character but, as the eponymous ‘hero’ of this book, he is a royal pain-in-the-derriere. He is not only unlikeable, he is unbearable with his constant references to how rich he is, how immoral he is, how he casually kills and injures people he has judged to in need of despatching. He is immaculately dressed, knowledgeable about every subject that crops up, has casual unemotionless sex (at which he excels, naturally) and travels vast distances by ‘copter. He also has an annoying habit of addressing the reader, telling us what to think and dismissing any notion that our opinion would matter, anyway. I get what Coben is trying to do here, but he has overshot the mark by a country mile.
As far as the plot goes, it is moderately interesting as ‘call

me Win’ follows the trail of a thirty year old incident involving activists, murder-by-accident and stolen paintings. Most of the book is taken p with Win travelling the country, either by his personal jet, his copter or his chauffeur driven car, asking questions and coming to brilliant deductions. There is no tension or element of suspense because there is no question that he will be successful. There is one incident mid-book which involves violence and a potentially interesting sub-plot which is written off in a few paragraphs.
The end, when it limps tiredly into view is simply a few pages of Win demonstrating (again) how brilliant he is and then deciding how events should be tied up … because only his opinion matters, as he tells us ad nauseam throughout the book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own..

CREEPY CRAWLIES

Trawling through the wildlife archives with one eye on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

SMALL SKIPPER WITH BEETLE
RHAGIUM MORDAX LONGHORN BEETLE
SNIPE FLY

DEVONN

Devonn is the grand-daughter of one of my best friends, Dawn, who was also the best friend of my late daughter, Aisling, so she is very special to me.
As well as being a very beautiful young girl, Devonn is fierce on the football field and destined for a great career in her chosen sport.

She was just fourteen years old when she first came to the studio for a photograph session with her friend, Emma. (Teenyboppers) I was keen to shoot with her again and she proved to be a very responsive and intuitive model. I’m sure we’ll work together again one day when the Covid clouds roll back.

THE GIRL WITH THE GREEN EYES
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
YOUNG CONTENDER
TEENYBOPPERS

THE APRIL DEAD

THE APRIL DEAD
ALAN PARKS

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are a small number of authors whose books I will buy without reading reviews because I know I am in for a great experience. I have just added Alan Parks to that select group. Having now followed his deeply-flawed cop, Harry McCoy, from January to April, I am completely hooked on the author’s particular take on Scottish noir. His taciturn, stripped down style of writing only serves to render shocking events even more so. And there are shocks a-plenty in The April Dead, the best offering by far in McCoy’s journey through his metaphorical year. The story hits the ground running – bombs going off in Glasgow, a missing American sailor, mysterious goings-on at an army base and a great cast of characters, all fully rounded and none of whom get forgotten as the plot thickens, as so often happens. As if that wasn’t enough, McCoy’s deeply

toxic relationship with Stevie Cooper is further explored, with a little more about Cooper’s background being revealed. I am hoping for more Cooper in future ‘months’.
The only discordant note for me in this offering is that Wattie, McCoy’s ineffectual sidekick, is becoming a bit of a caricature and one of the things he does in the novel merits him being dismissed from the force. But McCoy is nothing if not loyal, so I guess Wattie is here for the foreseeable.
Expect surprises, twists and a satisfactory ending. There is a tantalising strand left pointing towards future events but it doesn’t detract at all from a decent conclusion but does its job of whetting the reader’s appetite for the next book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

THE PLAYERS

THE PLAYERS
DARREN O’SULLIVAN

Rating: 3 out of 5.

BLURB
A stranger has you cornered.
They call themselves The Host.
You are forced to play their game.
In it one person can live and the other must die.
You are the next player. 
You have a choice to make.This is a game where nobody wins…

REVIEW
The Players has the bones of a good story and succeeds in raising questions in the reader’s mind about just how far one would go to protect one’s family.
DI Karen Holt is an interesting character, in a stable relationship and a welcome change from the tormented alcoholic / guilt ridden main character that pops up all too often in contemporary thrillers.


The author does however, succumb to a few predominant cliches – the officer who is the only competent person who can solve the crime in spite of being forbidden to do so, putting one’s loved ones in danger, loyal and admiring sidekick who hangs on Holt’s every word.
The novel built slowly with an over emphasis on Holt’s therapy, which was endlessly discussed but bore no relevance to the story.
Disappointingly, I found The Host completely unbelievable when his identity was revealed and there was more than one occasion where he could have been apprehended much earlier in the story.
A good premise which unfortunately stutters to an unconvincing end.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

GOOD EGGS

GOOD EGGS
REBECCA HARDIMAN

Rating: 3 out of 5.

BLURB
Meet the Gogartys; cantankerous gran Millie (whose eccentricities include a penchant for petty-theft and reckless driving); bitter downtrodden son Kevin (erstwhile journalist whose stay-at-home parenting is pushing him to the brink); and habitually moody, disaffected teenage daughter Aideen.
When Gran’s arrested yet again for shoplifting, Aideen’s rebelliousness has reached new heights and Kevin’s still not found work, he realises he needs to take action. With the appointment of a home carer for his mother, his daughter sent away to boarding school to focus on her studies and more time for him to reboot his job-hunt, surely everything will work out just fine. But as the story unfolds nothing goes according to plan and as the calm starts to descend into chaos we’re taken on a hilarious multiple-perspective roller-coaster ride that is as relatable as it is far-fetched.

REVIEW
More of a curate’s egg than Good Eggs, really. Rebecca Hardiman has peopled her debut novel with whimsical stock Irish characters – the granny, a bit of a kleptomaniac; the guy having a midlife crisis; the stroppy misunderstood teenager etc. She writes cleanly and the story flows along quite steadily. The problem, for me, was that I’ve read it all before and in stories that were livelier and that captured my imagination. I couldn’t work up any sympathy or liking for the Gogartys and, at times, just longed for the over-written granny to calm it down a bit.
I’d rate Good Eggs as a potboiler, a quick easy read to pass an afternoon but, sadly, lacking the depth and charisma I look for in Irish based novels.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


THE HOLDOUT

THE HOLDOUT
GRAHAM MOORE

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Maya Seale is on jury duty, charged with deciding whether Bobby Nock, a young black teacher, had killed one of his students. She is the only juror who thinks he is innocent or that, at least, there isn’t enough evidence to bring in a guilty verdict. Over a period of time, sequestered in a hotel, she wins all the other jurors over to her way of thinking, includingRick who she has been having an affair with. So far so “Twelve Angry Men”.
Roll on 10 years and the jury reconvenes in the same hotel, brought together by a television company who have been persuaded by Rick that he has new evidence that proves Bobby Nock’s guilt. After a fierce argument between Maya and Rick she storms out of the hotel only to return and find Rick dead. She is duly arrested for his murder and is released in bail.

Graham Moore is an excellent writer and has spun an extremely complicated plot here which simultaneously follows Maya’s investigations to prove her innocence and explores the happenings of the original trial. The sensible side of my brain recognises that the plot is pretty absurd but the side willing to suspend belief really enjoyed the intricacies of the story. I don’t think any reader will guess the ending because Moore seems to have plucked it out of thin air.
All in all, it’s a pretty good, rollicking read although, now I know the author’s propensity towards the introduction of new evidence so near the end of a book, I’m not entirely sure I’d read another one of his books.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

… AS THE DAY YOU WERE BORN

Naked, that is.
I’m often asked if I feel uncomfortable, or even exploitative, when photographing nude women or men.
I don’t.
We all are naked under our clothes. Theirs are just younger and more beautiful than mine.

Clockwise from top left:
Mischkah. Model: Mischkah
Lady of the Mist: Model: Rosa
I Dream in Pink: Model: Eachelle
Penance: Mason
Nearly Nude. Model: Mischkah

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