Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Book Review: SAVING BEN

Title: Saving Ben
Author: Ashley Farley
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 241
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐

Saving Ben from the clutches of her roommate Emma is rich girl Katherine ‘Kitty’ Langley’s only goal. The two siblings are extremely close and have always had each other’s back, a comfort against their mother’s selfishness and their father’s blind desire to appease and please his wife at all costs.

Going off to college, Kitty hopes to put her family drama behind her and enjoy college life to the fullest. Roommate Emma is beautiful and fun to be with and at the beginning, both Kitty and she get along well. Until Emma begins to show off her psychopathic and manipulative side and Ben loses himself in a more-off-than-on relationship with Emma, as she lies and schemes her way through life, wanting a sugar daddy for herself.

At first Kitty gives Emma the benefit of the doubt, but then she sees how deeply Ben is in thrall of her. Ben steadily loses weight and becomes addicted to drugs, eventually losing control of himself and failing to distinguish between right and wrong actions.

Will Emma destroy Ben or will Kitty be able to save him?

A subplot revolves around the childhood best friends of Ben and Kitty. Siblings George and Abigail Turner. Abigail is being bullied at school and she gives in to anorexia, eventually dying from the disease.

The book is written in the first person past tense point of view of Kitty. It starts in the present on New Year’s Day, then leads us back to a time 16 months ago when Ben and Kitty first met Emma, then slowly leads us back to the present again.

I thought the friendships between the young people were drawn out very well. Even Reed and Spotty, Ben’s fraternity friends, become protective of Kitty. In turn, Kitty has her own close friendship with Archer and with Abigail.

I liked the character of Blessy. She should have been given more space in the book, instead of making her a cleaner of other people’s messes.

There is the sounding of a cautionary note, indirectly informing young adult readers that drugs ruin lives and how the use of drugs adversely affects one’s personality and character, that nothing is worth getting depressed over, that life is beautiful, and that one should seek help if one feels unhappy, how we should seek out our friends and keep in touch always. 

I liked the fact that Kitty has a goal; she wants to be a nurse, and that she encourages Ben to pursue a career as a chef, not study business management just because the family business awaits him. I also liked the subplot about the need to forgive and reconcile with one's family members.

Kitty seems to be a poor judge of character, first with Emma and then with another character Maddie Maloney, who Kitty first admires greatly, then sees how malicious she is. Even in Emma’s case, Kitty continues to make allowances for Emma’s behaviour for a long time, even though she has been cheated by her.

There are far too many flashbacks in the book, and I got a little tired of the siblings' childhood stories.

There were some questions that remained unanswered. Why does Emma drug Kitty and Ben? It doesn’t look like she has any nefarious plan up her sleeve.

When Emma goes missing, disappearing from a house full of young people, Ben and Kitty first have the presence of mind to call the police. But very quickly, it appears, that they take leave of their senses as they open her car and search through her things, compromising the evidence, even though the police are still in the house at this point.

There were a few proofing errors too. Thompson, Kitty’s boyfriend, had the ‘p’ in his name dropped unceremoniously on one page.

The ending seems forced. The subplot is eventually made to connect with the main plot, but not in a very convincing manner.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019


Title: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #1)
Author: JL Bryan
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 220
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐

Ellie Jordan, the senior investigator of Eckhart Investigations, is, at a mere 26 years of age, a veteran when it comes to fighting ghosts and clearing haunted houses. She has a sidekick, a trust fund girl trained in filmmaking called Stacey Ray Tolbert, who helps her to solve her cases.

The two women are called to the home of Anna and Dale Treadwell. Anna and the couple’s 10-year-old daughter Lexa are tormented by a ghost, Mercy Cutledge, who wants them to leave the huge yet rundown mansion they have bought in the hope of converting it into a small hotel. Dale is in denial, and refuses to believe that the ghost is real.

Mercy, it turns out, brutally murdered her former employer, Capt Augustus Marsh, and was later committed to an asylum. When the asylum was closed down, she returned to the house and hanged herself.

Calvin Eckhart, the owner of the firm, wants Ellie to work with Jacob Weiss, a young accountant who is a psychic and needs to practise his psychic calling as part of his therapy. This is something that Ellie isn’t too happy about at the beginning, but then Jacob turns out to be an asset to the team.

Ellie’s and Stacey’s attempts to get rid of Mercy turn on them. Even as they struggle to get rid of her, a deeper, more malevolent evil awaits them in the depths of the house. Will they die in their attempts to rid the house of this evil presence?

The book is written in the first person past tense point of view of Ellie. The story was well written and I enjoyed it. It was good to see things from Ellie’s perspective and get to know of her fun working relationship with Stacey. The description of the house and the asylum were very evocative, inviting me to imagine the scenes. The danger at the asylum, in particular, were scarily real. The final confrontation and the resolution were well drawn out. The story wasn’t left hanging, to be continued in Part 2.

Ellie has a great sense of humour. She says, If we could learn to harness and domesticate ghosts, we could save a ton on air conditioning, especially down here in the Deep South.

Elsewhere she says, The stairs below me creaked and groaned under my weight – which isn’t that much, people.

In another instance, Ellie tells Stacey to play music to temporarily stun the ghosts. Stacey clicks her iPod on but Taylor Swift’s “We are never ever getting back together,” plays instead. It surprises the ghosts for a moment but then they get over it. Ellie says, The ghosts recovered and began to advance on us again from both stairways, clearly ignoring Taylor Swift’s firm rejection of pursuing any further relationship.

While I liked the characters of Ellie and Stacey, the book became even more interesting once the psychic element was introduced. Of course, while Ellie’s back story was believable and explained the compulsions that forced her to do such work, I could not understand why Stacey would opt to do such work just because nobody else would. After all, she is a trust fund kid. Paying the bills isn’t a pressing need for her. And her romantic interest Jacob isn’t even introduced when she makes up her mind to continue ghost trapping for a living.

Even though the book concerns the paranormal and the field of parapsychology, Ellie prides herself on being scientific in her approach. She has all kinds of impressive machines to help her corner and nab spirits and spy them. Bonus points to the author for the imagination required to ‘invent’ such machines.

One grouse I had related to Lexa’s parents. How could they continue to make her sleep alone, when the house was haunted, and the ghost repeatedly pushed the little girl’s locked door open to scare the family into leaving? Why couldn’t they invite her to sleep with them? Isn’t there safety in numbers? Especially when several characters mention the horror film trope of characters separating just before they die.

This was the first book in the Ellie Jordan series and I enjoyed it. I’m on my way to the second now.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...