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+Received from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you

Life, Death and Back by Cynthia Vespia. Bryan Caleb is left with a dilemma on his hands. After dying and refusing to go to heaven, he is given the choice of helping Lisa Zane set her life straight. He tries to comply but she is not making things easy. Neither is his family for that matter.

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I found it curious that the book was written in three parts because the book now feels like a collection of short stories involving Lisa Zane and Bryan Caleb (plus his family). I think Vespia made a good choice in doing so because Friends and Enemies really does not match as a continuation story to  Guardian and Resurrection

In Guardian, Bryan is helping Lisa, who is in a great deal of trouble, get her life back from Cyrus and his drugs. That’s where they meet Thomas Martin, a straight-laced detective passing for a crook, and Martin manages to protect Lisa from Cyrus until Bryan steps in. Point being, Bryan helps her out. In Resurrection, Bryan who has been dead for 18 years comes back to world of the living to help out his son. The overall feel of this second part just does not jive with the feel of the first part. There is so much more anger in it that was not expressed in Guardian.The anger affects how the characters are seen and the overall feel of the story.  At first, I really could not find any traits that were redeemable in Kriticos (Bryan’s son) because he was so angry and his thoughts were borderline psychopathic. In the final part, Friends and Enemies, Chris (Kriticos) is together with Lisa when their part catches up to them meaning Chris’s anger issues and Cyrus.

For a paranormal book that deals with angels, it certainly does not feel like a paranormal book. More like a slice of life. The issues that drive the book forward are very real (drug addiction, violence, anger issues, sexual assault) and less to do with the paranormal world. Even when Bryan is a ghost, it does not feel paranormal because he does not actively explores his abilities and what paranormal activity happens is based on chance.  Friends and Enemies has no paranormal factors in it; it is just real life.

I do have two issues with this book. One is the lack of pain Cyrus feels when he (spoiler alert) gets his “junk blow off.” There is just a lack of pain that I personally feels he deserves. He tormented Lisa, he beats her up and while he is scarred horribly by not having a certain anatomy, it still feels like he is getting a better than deal than Lisa because his pain is not expressed. My second issue is with Thomas Martin keeping his real name when he goes underground. It does not make sense for him to keep a name he uses as a cop to be the same name he uses as the underling to Cyrus. These are just two issues that are off for me. The good thing is that it does not take anything away from the book.

Overall, I felt like I was reading a collection of short stories rather than a book. Lisa Zane was really the only  character that was present in all three. I wished I had received more details on the afterlife but the problems on Earth were interesting. I’m not sure whether I should label this as a paranormal book but I like the book in general.

3.5 Fleur de lis-Good but lacks spice

3.5 Fleur de lis
32nd book in the 100+ Reading Challenge

Feel free to buy the book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Cynthia can be reached at her blog so check her out.

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