Tour’s Books Blog

October 9, 2010

New Paranormal Release and a Good Mystery

Somehow, and for reasons known only to my subconscious, I joined a combination swap and reading challenge on PBS.  As if I don’t have enough to do.  I’m already reading for other swaps and sometimes I do need to work for a living.  It’s amazing how humorless American Express and my mortgage bank are about things like paying bills on time.  The two books below are part of the reading challenge.  I selected titles in different genres to humor my taste – which has been described by my family as ‘that weird crap you read’.  Of course, that’s the category reserved for all paranormal, si-fi, fantasy, UF, romance, and erotic romance.  In short, anything but mysteries, thrillers, historical adventure, and non-fiction = crap.  Well, only one of these isn’t dismissed out of hand by the family and that is a mystery that borders on a cozy, so no one would read it but me.  Hence, into the swap it went with a cheery one fingered salute to my beloved, but taste limited, family.

  • Title: Eat, Prey, Love
  • Author:  Kerrylyn Sparks
  • Type:  Paranormal romance
  • Genre:  Shapeshifter finds human mate
  • Sub-genre:  A were-panther that’s part of the vampire household finds a human mate when he needs a panther
  • My Grade: C- (3*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 90,000+ words for $7.99
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookseller

South American panther shifter Carlos Panterra is afraid for the future of his people.  With the majority of adults hunted to near extinction, he fled with children seeking refuge with the Vampires under Roman Draganesti in New York.  He allowed everyone to think he was gay, like his now dead twin brother to avoid the pressure of matchmaking.  But Carlos knows his responsibility to his people.  he must find a female panther to mate with to insure their survival.  He’s been searching all over hoping to find an unhunted colony of panthers somewhere.  His latest clue comes from a contact in Thailand and he’s determined to go there and find any wild panther shifters hoping for a suitable mate.  It is possible for a shifter to make a human into a shifter, but it can end in death as often as not, so Carlos won’t even consider a human mate.

Roman’s wife Shanna invites her sister, an ex-employee for the US State Department, to their son’s birthday party.  Caitlyn Whelan is the youngest daughter of the psychic control freak CIA leader that hates and fears all supernatural things (AKA ‘Monsters’ – a word he uses to describe his own grandchildren) while excusing himself from using his own gifts to control those around him, especially his wife.  He goes ballistic when he learns Caitlyn is going despite his efforts.  (This guy is insanely contemptible and should have been killed off way back).  Caitlyn has a gift for languages.  She can learn them psychically.  (Eyeroll)

Eat, Prey, Love starts out on as a run of the mill paranormal romance with a few laughs, though the heroine is just too sweet for me, but the whole thing is so contrived, and not even slightly credible romance of the “I can’t have her because I have I have a higher duty to my people” vs. “I want him and I will convince him we belong together” variety can lift it from the doldrums.  Predictable, easy reading with little in the way of tension and characters that follow an easy script that any romance fan knows by heart.  To her credit, Sparks didn’t try and make Caitlyn into kick-ass heroine, which is actually one of the few saving graces of the story.  But by the same token, Caitlyn can’t seem to grasp that her very limitations, played mostly for laughs, are actually a serious danger in high risk situations.  But, unsurprisingly, it’s her language skills that save the day.

About midway through, the modestly interesting plot became dull and tedious.  By end of the book I was just glad it was over.  Ms Sparks has no gift for creating believable environments outside her personal experience.  The jungles of upland Thailand could have been Disney World without the rides.  When you step off a plane in the Orient, especially places like Thailand, they smell different, feel different, vibrate at a different frequency.  (Unless you just stay in a US hotel chain and then it’s all kind of a smelly Disney with stupas and pagodas.) The whole uber bad guy here is another formless character.  And therein lies the crux of the problem.  The characters in this series, which started with a lot of promise, have got less and less credible.  Caitlyn is supposed to be ‘feisty’, but puts herself in dangerous positions she’s ill equipped to handle, except for those language skills – which sure comes in handy in the plot when Thai tiger shifters help them.  Carlos is 2 dimensional and keeps bouncing between “she smells so good” and “I must continue my species.”  As usual, the romance has the HEA, but the bad guys eludes them – again.  This is getting really old at this point in the series.  Bad guys should start dying sooner rather than later, but Sparks can’t seem to find a way to end them, so she makes more bad guys who never gel into serious presence in the book.

I suppose as fly weight romance, it was ok, though you need to have a high threshold for mediocrity.  As a paranormal, unimpressive.  Lacking in atmosphere, character depth, and with a tissue thin plot, this was one of the weaker entries in the series that has been more popular than good from the start.  How to Marry a Vampire Millionaire remains one of the best of the lot and has the best characters – including bad guys you could hate, a properly tormented hero, and a few laugh out loud scenes.  The rest of the series has never lived up to that level.

Is Eat, Prey, Love worth $7.99.  No, not for me.  Borrow it, get it used, swap for it, but save you money unless you really like Harlequin/Silhouettes style programmable plot books.


  • Title: Driven to Ink
  • Author:  Karen E. Olsen
  • Type:  Mystery
  • Genre:  Amateur Sleuth – Tattoo Shop series #3
  • Sub-genre:  Tattoo artist loans car to an elderly couple for wedding and it comes back with a corpse in the trunk
  • My Grade: B (4*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 90,000+ words for $6.99
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookseller

This series is one of the better new ones to come out lately.  Karen Olsen is a good writer and she’s created a very cool character in Brett Kavanaugh, owner of the Painted Lady tattoo shop.  The supporting cast is really good too, especially Jeff Coleman, friendly competitor of a different shop that specializes in flash type tattoos.  Jeff’s elderly mother Sylvia is getting remarried to 81 year old Bernie Applebaum and they ask to borrow Brett’s beloved classic red Mustang Bullitt convertible.  To bad Sylvia and Bernie returned with a body in the trunk.  Brett lives with her brother, police Detective Tim Kavanaugh in Las Vegas.  Given their respective hours they don’t see all that much of each other, but Brett has his curiosity, which causes trouble.  But Brett’s first call on finding the body isn’t to Tim, it’s to Jeff Coleman to see if he knows where Sylvia and Bernie went after the wedding. Then she calls Tim and things go down hill from there.  Especially when she realizes the clip cord used to strangle victim could be from one of her tattoo machines and the victim had a fresh tattoo done in her shop.

Once again, Brett gets curious and with Jeff’s help – after all, his mother and new father in law could be involved, and she’s worried about that whole clip cord thing – they start poking their nose in where it doesn’t belong.  Many characters from the first two books, so if you haven’t read those, you might find the character’s reaction a bit confusing at times.  Brett and Jeff pose as prospective bride and groom at the That’s Amore drive thru wedding chapel – the guys dress, look and sing Dean Martin songs – where Sylvia and Bernie got married to see if they can discover anything about the dead man in her trunk – who was also the singer she requested at her wedding.  Along the way, Brett finds out something she never expected.  The dead man is Sylvia’s son.  A son who has been in prison and one that Jeff knows nothing about.  Then there another man at the chapel – another ‘Dean Martin’, husband to Bernie’s daughter Roselie, who abuses her – but she’s involved in an affair with a different guy.  He also gets dead.  And everyone seems to be finding or missing $10,000.

Someone tries to run her down – twice.  And she keeps wrecking cars.  There are illegal guns getting sold through a website clone as tattoo equipment, a Dean Martin who wants to be in a Vegas show, and an old boyfriend who might forgive her for suspecting him of murder in the past.  And finally she and Jeff get shot at.

Like Olsen’s previous books, Driven to Ink moves along quickly and with a flare often absent from the all too familier formula cozies and amateur sleuth books cluttering the shelves these days.  Following the characters and events almost requires a map, especially given so many ‘Dean Martin’s’.  I recommend reading Pretty in Ink and Missing Ink first, so you know the core characters. Ms Olsen has quite an unusual character in Brett Kananaugh and I like Jeff Coleman too.  Perhaps they’ll have something together in future, but not yet.  I liked the ending, because even Brett is surprised at who did it, and why.

Is Driven to Ink worth $6.99?  YES!  Give this series a shot.  Original and fresh, it really is good.


1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paranormal Romance, NightsEmbrace. NightsEmbrace said: New Paranormal Release and a Good Mystery « Tour's Books Blog: Eat, Prey, Love starts out on as a run of the mill … […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention New Paranormal Release and a Good Mystery « Tour’s Books Blog -- — October 10, 2010 @ 10:06 am | Reply

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