Tour’s Books Blog

May 30, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

That blissful, satisfied sigh you hear is me.  I devoured Gone Tomorrow in less than a day, all 421 pages.  No, it isn’t deathless prose, not even for an action thriller, but it is what Lee Child and his protagonist Jack Reacher do best – slam into you at full tilt from the opening lines and leave you hanging on for a wild thrill  ride.

“Suicide bombers are easy to spot.  They give out all kinds of telltale signs.  Mostly because they’re nervous.  By definition they’re all first timers.”

Jack Reacher is on the Lexington Avenue local at 2AM and remembering all the training he had by Israeli counterintelligence while watching a woman that fits the suicide bomber profile perfectly.  She’s wearing a bulky oversized parka on a hot fall day and it’s zipped to the neck.  She keeps muttering, as if reciting a prayer, her hands hidden in a small backpack on her lap wrapped around something hard – like the battery and detonator switch.  But surely it’s the wrong time – not enough people, but it was impossible for Reacher to ignore.  He figures he’s as dead where he sits as he will be closer, so he approaches.  Trying to calm her, he says he’s a cop.  Instead, she pulls out a gun and kills herself with a .357 Magnum through her head. (more…)

May 29, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Alexandria by Lindsey Davis

Alexandria is the 19th outing for the intrepid Marcus Didius Falco. Davis writes in the first person and Falco is our amiable and sardonic guide. The wryly witty Falco has grown assured and comfortable with himself over the years. He’s married now and the father of 2 girls with a third child on the way. His wife, Helena Justina, is the daughter of a Roman senator and he greatly respects her and her intelligence. The story of his private life with Helena – she was married when they first met and loathed each other on sight – tells so much of Roman life. I highly recommend reading all the books – just the story of Falco and Helena will make it worth your while. Now, as his personal life has become that of a settled man, a father and a husband, the mysteries have also changed. The last few have seen him and his little family traveling outside Rome to places like Delphi in Greece.

As the book opens, Falco, his little family and his restless brother-in-law Aulus are arriving in Alexandria, still the most valued center of learning in the ancient world. They intend to do some sightseeing and try and get Aulus accepted into the Museion. Rumor says Falco is also here on Vespasian’s errand, (before anyone goes running to check, the year is 77AD, about 100 years after the death of Julius Caesar) and more than one person is worried by his presence. Falco’s very real vacation plans get sidetracked when the Head Librarian of the Great Library, Theon, a dinner guest at his uncle’s house the previous night, is found dead at his desk in a locked office. (more…)

May 26, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Lycan Instinct by Brandi Broughton

I’ve been hunting around looking for an interesting werewolf series that isn’t like every other series out there. I’d tried a couple of books from Cobblestone Press, one of the smaller ebook independent publishers out there, and found some that were decent derivatives, and then I saw Lycan Instinct, it showed that it was an EEPI Award nominee, so I figured I’d give it a try. This full length novel was quite unusual. No living in isolated places. No, overwhelming Alpha male dominance. The fact that Raphael Stone and his brothers Gabriel and Lucian are Lycans and all alphas actually has limited impact on their behavior. They are far more fully integrated into human society than usual and other pack members are conspicuous by their absence. Mostly they act like any other human brothers. This is less a werewolf story than it is a mainstream mystery novel with a little romance with a guy that happens to be a werewolf rather than a Spec Ops guy, the popular hero protagonist these days. (more…)

May 23, 2009

The High Price of Revenge Characters

Filed under: Editorial,General — toursbooks @ 4:49 pm
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Remember the whole Victoria Laurie incident where she threatened someone who didn’t like her books by saying she’d create a character in revenge?  To refresh your memory just click on Dear Author and you’ll find all the interconnected links.

Well, it wasn’t original with her and it is certainly not as uncommon as you might think.  I’ve read more than one dedication where the author thanked friends for allowing them to use their good names for villains.   (Randy Wayne White is one who does that, with permission, of course.)  Hey, there are only so many names out there.  But the roman á clef approach, especially a vindictive one, can have consequences.

Well, a writer/producer on CSI is finding that out.  And win or lose, it will be a costly lesson.  How long this link will last, I’m not sure, but click here and read the tale of real estate revenge.  Melinda and Scott Tamkin are suing Sarah Goldfinger for creating characters in one of the CSI Las Vegas episodes who were sleezy realtors named Melinda and Scott Tucker – but had originally been named Tamkin.  And guess what, those two characters were given all those socially unacceptable character traits (booze addiction for her and pornography for him) that would make them undesirable business associates.  Melinda even gets bumped off.  Ms. Goldfinger and the Tamkins were involved in a real estate deal that went bad in 2005, though from what was available in article, there was nothing to suggest there was a reason for any anger on Ms. Goldfinger’s part.

I’m sure it was all very cathartic for Ms Goldfinger, but was it wise?  Did CBS know what was going on?  She is being sued by the Tamkins for $6 million.  That too is inevitable.  I notice the use of ‘could have been deterred’ by the Tampkins lawyer.  I guess that means there’s no direct evidence that the fall off in business is directly related to the TV show – but the ink might well be good for the Tamkins!  How else could they make the national news?  hummmmmmmm

Now all you aspiring writers out there, be discrete.  If you plan to skewer an annoying person, do so with discretion.  And only after chatting with a lawyer.  No doubt we’ll have to kill off a writer of a roman á clef just to even things out.  Oh, wait.  We’ve done that on several TV shows.  Maybe Ms. Goldfinger should have considered the fact the such writers are most often the victims on TV shows.

May 22, 2009

Editors Needed or Simply Irresistible Homophones

Filed under: General — toursbooks @ 7:19 pm
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Have you ever read a sentence where a word was missing or a homophone was used that totally changed the meaning of the sentence?  I see this quite often lately in print and not just on blogs, but in published material that has, supposedly at least, been professionally edited and proofed.

Here’s an irresistible example from a werewolf menage story, Hunger of the Wolf by Madelaine Montague: (more…)

May 20, 2009

Blogging Fixations – Amazon, eBooks and the Future of Publishing

Filed under: Editorial,General,opinion — toursbooks @ 1:45 pm
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Every blog has its own fixations. Some concern themselves with the lofty analysis of romance in ways only academics care about. Some focus on the nature of the hero and what makes him a hero – flawed, as he is. Some address publication in general and do so with great perceptiveness. I mostly review books with the odd editorial. One thing book blogs seem to have in common is very strong feelings about the impact of the business models of Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Borders and other major retailers on publishing and book distribution, promotion and the growth of ebooks as a market segment. #Amazonfail and its ripples are still being felt, and the importance of Amazon and Barnes and Nobel rankings to authors and publishers even makes it into novels themselves. (Death and the Chick Lit discussed it as an author talking point at a fictitious conference.) The latest concern combines the two issues as Amazon expands its many tentacled empire building beyond being the most powerful estore seller of books into publishing as well. Dear Author expressed their concerns this past weekend with their AmazonEncore post.

The Booksquare blog just a posted column on ebook costs and consumer perceptions of ‘value’ in formats with regards to the pricing of David Baldacci’s latest release, The First Family, on Kindle, priced well above the $9.99 Amazon had promised for bestsellers – at least temporarily. (See the link to Mike Shatzkin’s blog on the Booksquare link above.) Mike Shatzkin makes some truly excellent points and more importantly, technically correct ones. But there is still a lot of pricing reality that must be dealt with. (more…)

May 17, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Death and the Chick Lit by G. M. Malliet

Having recently read and reviewed Death of a Cozy Writer, G. M. Malliet’s first book, I promptly bought and read her second British cozy, Death and the Lit Chick. Second books can be tough when the first was an unexpected gem. Readers now have higher expectations and will be easily disappointed. The concept, bringing together a group of classic mystery writers with a common publisher, most with moderately successful careers – some of which are on the wane, with the latest ‘chick lit’ mystery mega-hit writer has all kinds of potential. It gives the author a chance to show readers the ‘business’ side of writing, the jealousy, the struggle to stay on top, the fears and politely poisonous envy of newcomer phenoms. (Interestingly, Amazon rankings and Barnes and Nobel rankings are mentioned several times, so do NOT underestimate the importance of the #amazonfail event we just experienced!) The author reinforces the image by drawing parallels with how J. K. Rowling saved Scholastic Press with her Harry Potter novels. So here at Dalmorton Castle in Scotland we have one wildly successfully writer in a stable of ordinary ones getting fêted by their collective publisher at a mystery conference. I do find it curious that in both of her books G. M. Malliet chose to make a mystery author the victim. It would seem being a mystery writer in the UK is more dangerous than being a police detective. (more…)

May 15, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Sins of Lord Easterbrook by Madeline Hunter

My threshold for stories that play out the history of characters in bits and pieces of backstory has reached critical mass.  If the damn backstory is important to current actions, just tell it to me and stop dribbling it out in teeny pieces like some bizarre trail of crumbs.  The other hot button is historical novels that use the ‘mystic abilities’ ploy as the rational for way too much.  I’m pretty sure Amanda Quick’s Vanza Society was lurking somewhere practicing their Leap Like a Spider Cry Like a Loon moves.  Jeeze.

Madeline Hunter’s The Sins of Lord Easterbrook just pushed me over the edge on both fronts, so forgive me in advance for taking out some of my pent up frustrations here.  Just let me say I started this book 3 times and for the life of me, I cannot get seriously involved with any story that opens with some gibberish that’s meant to be the 1800’s version of new age meditation. (more…)

May 14, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Murder in the Raw by C. S.Challinor

Ms. Challinor is an American who attended school in England and Scotland and now writes the Rex Graves series of British cozies.  Murder in the Raw is only her second book and the first of hers that I’ve read.  Not having read the first book does create a bit of an issue when trying to work out references to characters in her first novel, Christmas is Murder, especially those related to his personal life.  Several characters in this story were also in the first book that took place in England.  Here we are in the Caribbean on St. Martin where a week ago an actress, Sabine Durand, disappeared and the only evidence is a bit of bloody pareo and a broken ankle bracelet.  The local police presume she was taken by sharks as there is simply no other evidence.  Her friends don’t believe it and call in Rex, a Scots barrister of middle years, for help.  Paul and Elizabeth Winslow own the Swansmere Manor Hotel where Rex solved his first murder.  They feel the locals made little effort to determine what really happened to Sabine and they hope that Rex came solve the mystery or at least bring some closure.

Rex arrives at Juliana Airport after a stopover in Miami to see his son, Campbell, a marine science student.  Just as he’s relaxing, he finds out his luggage is lost, so all he has is his carry-on briefcase.  When clerk asks where he’s staying, he discovers Plage d‘Azure is a naturist resort, so he won’t be needing his clothes anyway.  Funny how the Wilson’s neglected to tell him that! (more…)

May 10, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Back Passage by James Lear

Filed under: Amateur Sleuth,Book review,gay — toursbooks @ 8:20 pm
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The Back Passage has multiple meanings, beyond the obvious, in this gay send-up/homage to the British Manor house mystery genre; the obvious reference to m/m sex, the servant’s stairs in manors, and in this case, hidden passages.  James Lear writes a funny, fascinating, mystery with a sexually graphic gay twist to it.  I am no fan of m/m books, so this was new territory for me and I wasn’t at all sure I’d like it, especially since it dared to trifle with a favorite genre of mine – British manor house mysteries.  This book was published back in 2006, but I’d never even been aware of it till last year when my foray into erotic romance and lifelong affinity for the British cozy caused Amazon to pop this title in their never ending list ‘might also enjoy’ books.  The reviews were so good I decided I’d give it a try.

The book is written in the first person by Edward ‘Mitch’ Mitchell, an American doing post-graduate studies for a year at Cambridge in 1925.  Mitch is a lively, observant, exuberant, sexually promiscuous, supremely horny narrator the way a 23 year old can be.  In his case, he’s also a totally gay one.  It is the tone that Mitch strikes that makes the story work for me.  I’m not entirely sure how Lear pulled it off, but for all the very explicit m/m sex, I wasn’t offended and the story held my interest. (more…)

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