Claude Bouchard Books

Crime thrillers and other stuff...

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My Top 5 Reads in 2011

Posted by bigceebee on December 31, 2011 at 7:40 AM

Where acquiring reading material used to involve going a Chapters/Indigo store here in Canada to stock up on a dozen or two traditionally published novels, times have changed in recent years. Barring the occasional paperback at Costco for $5 - $6, books entering our home are now of the E variety, destined to be devoured on one of four Ereaders lying around at our place.

Due to the ridiculous pricing of many big-name author Ebooks, our literary entertainment is now sourced almost exclusively from Indie authors. I'll admit that some have been bad, though I have also encountered my share of novels by established authors that sucked over the years. However, a number of these Indie creations have been excellent and I didn't hesitate to post reviews on Amazon for these fine works.

I've selected five which I considered highly worthy of mention for which I present below, the reviews I penned. They are presented in alphabetical order by book title, an order which in no way reflects my preference as I found each equally good. I urge you to give these novels a go as all earned a full five star rating.


A non-stop adrenalin rush! Having read Romyn's "The Dark Path", I already knew he didn't simply call himself a writer, he 'was' a writer, and I was anxiously awaiting his next release. I was not disappointed. BLACKLISTED keeps you on the edge of your seat from the prologue to the last word of the final chapter. Romyn has developed his characters well, such that you feel you've known them for years. His action scenes, of which there is no shortage, leave you feeling like you're on location witnessing them as they take place. The storyline will make you question what really takes place behind the scenes in the world of global politics and espionnage. Ludlum would have been proud, or jealous. A big time five star read which you don't want to miss!

The Coven Conspiracy by Youngblood Hawke

Simply Splendid! Proper grammar, flowing and descriptive prose, a solid plot, strong character development and an unexpected ending are all elements needed for a novel to deemed a great one. Hawke has masterfully succeeded in incorporating all of these elements in "The Coven Conspiracy". I'm often left with an "Oh well" impression when finishing a novel, even those penned by best selling authors of our day. In the case of this book, I must admit I literally had chills and goosebumps when I reached its climactic end. It was that good.

HUNTER: A Thriller by Robert Bidinotto

100% Solid Thriller! I was introduced to Robert Bidinotto in an interview he did with fellow author Gary Ponzo and was immediately intrigued, particularly since "Hunter" was a novel about vigilantism, a concept I'm familiar with through my own writing. I was not disappointed.


A journalist by profession, Bidinotto's writing is flawless and precise. He uses words to create scenes much like an accomplished artist uses paint and brush to create a masterpiece. His characters are three dimensional; they are real, flesh and blood people with true emotions. The story itself is an intricately woven tapestry of details which all perfectly mesh together resulting in a highly believable, suspenseful read.


I thank Gary for bringing Robert and "Hunter" to my attention as this novel is the best in the crime thriller genre I've read in a while. I can only give one piece of advice to you readers out there. Buy this book!

Night of the Assassin by Russell Blake

Blake is proof that some indies can WRITE! I met Russell Blake online a month ago when he and I became involved in a group book promotion event. He came across as a real, witty, down to earth kind of guy and a quick look at the genre he wrote, coupled with acquired knowledge he'd written eleven novels in 2011, spurred me on to see what he could really do. On the day I snagged a couple of his novels, Blake announced he had just released his twelfth novel of the year, "Night of the Assassin", the prequel to his eleventh, so I got that one too. It was a very wise move on my part as Blake is not just a good writer, he is a brilliant writer. "Night of the Assassin" gives you a front row seat from which you watch a child morph into "El Rey" a killing machine in cartel-war torn Mexico with no lack of suspense and action.


For a novel to cut it for me, it must be well written and plausible. Blake not only can write sentences which are grammatically correct, he can actually paint with words such that you're not as much reading a book as watching the action take place. You can feel the heat, smell the dirt and, yes, you wince at the pain. As one might expect, violence is present but Blake doesn't present it more graphically than is required to get the message across. In terms of plausibility, not one scene or element within the novel was unbelievable. No super-heroes here catching bullets in their teeth to defy death. When in pain, the characters scream and when shot, they die.


Needless to say, I give "Night of the Assassin" a robust 5 STARS and I'm already enjoying another of Blake's works which so far has not disappointed in the least. Thanks, Russell!

Pandora's Grave by Stephen England

Move over, Clancy: Much of the reading I've done over the last couple of years has been works by indie authors, the quality of which has ranged from "Ugh" to "WOW". Stephen England's first novel, "Pandora's Grave" is a definite "WOW". His writing is extremely tight, his characters are well developed, his story is believable and the action is unstoppable. "Pandora's Grave" is the type of novel that you'll pick up to read, even if you only have 30 seconds to spare. It's that good. One might consider England comparable to Clancy (sans the overly technical filler) or Ludlum (without the super-human heroes). Oh, and one last thing about Pandora's Grave... It ain't over til it's over...

Of course, in addition to these fine novels, you may want to consider mine, starting with Vigilante, the first six available.

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