Customer Reviews: Shades of Grey
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on March 19, 2012
Shades of Grey is a collection of three short stories. Each one different, but each with a very dark side to it. The stories all focus on violence and death, but from different angles. Each story is very different to the other, which is a credit to the author; all too often an anthology of short stories can be a bit too `samey' when written by the one author.

The title story, Shades of Grey, was a little too abstract for me. I didn't really get it, but then perhaps I was looking a little too deeply? It's well written, but was, for me, the weakest of the three.

There and Back Again is set on the battlefield of world war two, and will be a familiar tale to those who have studied the period. It's dark and it gave me a feeling of helplessness and a real feeling of the futility of war.

The third story, Down the Rabbit Hole, was my favourite. Other reviewers have commented that it reminded them of Roald Dhal, I see that comparison, although it's a darker version of the brilliant Roald Dhal. I think there'll be many different interpretations of this one, but it was, for me, the best written of the three stories, and the most interesting.

The stories are all thought provoking and do raise questions of morality, from the trained killer rationalising his own behaviours, to the looting of the bodies of dead soldiers to the ultimate demise of an abusive husband/father. Cargill does an impressive job of never casting his own judgements, he instead weaves enough into the stories for you to cast your own decision.

Shades of Grey is a well written, dark and different approach to the world of short stories and I'll be interested to look at Cargill's other work. These short stories were each so differently written that they could easily have been from different authors so I'll be looking out for one of Cargill's novels to see how he's approached that.

All in all a different, but satisfying, read.

Sarah Burns ~ On Behalf of The Kindle Book Review
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on May 22, 2012
I recieved a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I had agreed to review this book after receiving a fun email from the author. I hoped that falling for his personality didn't set my sights too high for his book. Well it did.......NOT.

The first story, Shades of Grey, gets you into the mind of a government agent in the UK. Who has been tied to a chair and is being held captive by an unknown. You get great bursts of imagery in this one and lots of crude language.

The second story, There and Back Again, is about a soldier in the British Army during WWII. Lots of violence and is touching at the same time. Very fitting for the times, I think.

The third and final story, Down the Rabbit Hole, is my favorite. Tom is an abused child who clings to his stuffed toy for comfort. The toy rabbit comes to life to help Tom work things out, but takes a different turn.

All three stories are dark and violent, but not overly so. All were good reads!
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on March 9, 2012
Three short stories all centered around seeing, experiencing and committing acts of violence. I suppose that sounds rather brutal, which it isn't at all. The author looks at it from three different angles. The first short introduces us to a man whose job it is to kill, and even he seems to think his own actions are more honourable and redeemable than those of others. The second short takes us into the world of war. Where being surrounded by death and violence becomes almost normal and the humans within that setting grow a little indifferent to all of it. Last but not least my favourite, which was the third one. It was dark, deep and worthy of a psych evaluation. Read that one carefully it is the image of a creation, the making of a future bringer of violence.I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.
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on June 9, 2015
*Book source ~ A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

This anthology contains three fictional tales of suspense and nail-biting. Each is very different from the other, but they all kept me on the edge of my seat. Should you pick up this book be prepared for tension build-up.

Shades of Grey ~
John is some kind of British secret agent who gets caught and is tortured.

I was a bit confused at the beginning of this one, but it soon came together. Pretty good read and it left me wondering, but in a good way.

There and Back Again~
James is a British soldier in WWII and this story has nothing to do with Hobbits, Dwarves or a certain adventure.

This was my least favorite story of the three. It’s well-written, but history isn’t really my thing. It is interesting though.

Down the Rabbit Hole ~
This is about a boy named Tom and his stuffed rabbit named Borger, who does not carry a watch or proclaim he’s late.

Poor Tom! I hate his dad and I have to say he got what was coming to him though the school counselor got a bad deal. That stuffed rabbit of his is way creepy. What the hell?
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on March 29, 2012
Shades of Grey
By Michael Cargill

Shades of Grey: British operative John, or "John the Baptist", has been abducted and is being tortured; this is a crude and tormenting short story that delves into the psyche of the tortured mind.

There and Back Again: An Action packed story of James a soldier during World War Two, showing the savagery of war and the bonds that form under such extreme circumstances.

Down the Rabbit Hole: An abused young boy, Tom, finds that his best friend, a stuffed rabbit, has actually come to life to help him with his problems. Tom is ecstatic until things become sinister.

This collection of short stories is about one hundred pages of action, adventure, and even a taste of the somewhat strange. I personally wasn't a fan of the first short story only because it tended to bounce around too much for my liking and was a bit too crude for me, but in my opinion Michael Cargill managed to pull it off with the last two stories, even saving the best for last. There were only a couple of things I could see that needed revising other than that well worth the read.

I was given a copy of this book for review for more details pls visit my blog :)
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on May 29, 2012
There are some writers..hand them anything and they turn it into a story..Michael Cargill is one of them.

The three stories in this anthology are simple stuff but that doesn't make them less interesting.

The first story,"Shades of Grey", is about John. He's a man who works for the government and is absolutely insane.

The second story is "There and Back Again" which focuses on James who is a British soldier taking part in a war for the first time. The ambiance and the emotions of the war are described beautifully, as is the feeling of guilt and shame when a soldier is asked to retreat.

The last story is called, "Down the Rabbit Hole", about Tom who has an abusive father whose behavior is getting worse everyday. Then Tom's favorite toy bunny starts to talk to the kid and solves his problems its own way.

All three stories are based on characters that are flawed due to events in their past and are trying to rise above it.
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on July 25, 2012
"Shades of Grey" is a compilation of three unique short stories with a recurring theme of torture/abuse. My favorite was the second story where we get a glimpse into the life of James, a British solider during WWII. The author was able to draw me into each story through his descriptive detail of each character and how they dealt with their situation. Even though the subject matter is disturbing,I would recommend it to adults who are looking for a thriller.
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on May 2, 2014
Shades of Grey consists of three short pieces, two of which I would classify as vignettes as opposed to actual stories since they seem to simply relay the events of a segment of time rather than possess any sort o beginning, middle and end. Having said that, I rather enjoyed them all, the first most of all.

I'll admit that the writing occasionally felt a little stiff and there was a certain juvenile (or maybe just male) preoccupation with excrement jokes and sexual/masturbatory references. I would be hard pressed to call this highbrow reading material, but I never got the impression it was trying to be. I enjoyed more than I grimaced at. What more could I really ask for?
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on March 9, 2012
Fans of military stories will enjoy the first two in this collection. My personal preference was the third one, which reminded me of a Stephen King genre. They were all well-written and interesting, but I would've liked to have know why John was being held captive in the first story as that was never really explained.
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on June 17, 2012
*Received e-book through Read It and Reap program from the Shut Up and Read! Goodreads group from author

Shades of Grey by Michael Cargill is a collection of three stories that illustrate the blurry area between right and wrong. The first story, Shades of Grey, depicts the torture of a secret operative named John, who has himself caused riots and killed others in the course of his job. The second story, There and Back Again, follows a British soldier named James who is bombarded by German attacks along the French border and must deal with the gritty reality of war. The final story, Down the Rabbit Hole, is about a boy named Tom whose toy rabbit begins talking to him, making dangerous suggestions to deal with an abusive father and a bully at school.

Shades of Grey: This was my second favorite story of the compilation. Cargill did an admirable job in bringing John's character to life with his inner monologue as he was strapped to the chair. I found John engaging and multidimensional as he described his previous assignments and his failed marriage. Despite his non-ideal past, I was hoping he would survive his torture. The only thing I didn't like about this story was that it ended too soon - I think Cargill could release a full story with John and would look forward to reading this.

There and Back Again: This was my least favorite story of the compilation. Although Cargill did a thorough job in describing James's ordeals in various battles, I did not connect to the character, unlike the other stories. I found myself becoming disinterested in the plot and was actually waiting for the end in order to read the next one. I think this story would be more appreciated by fans of war scenarios (which I am not).

Down the Rabbit Hole: This was my favorite story of the compilation. Reminiscent of a Stephen King plot, I loved the sinister feel of the talking rabbit as he persuades Tom (unbeknownst to him) to set up "accidents" for a bully at school and a delivery driver. I thoroughly enjoyed the tension-filled buildup leading to the bloody finale involving the father. I felt that Cargill successfully wrote a complete short story with enough introductory information and a satisfying ending.

Overall, Shades Of Grey was a fast and entertaining read. I would recommend this to adult readers who are fans of suspense/thrillers, such as those written by Robert Ludlum and Stephen King.
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