Tour’s Books Blog

October 31, 2011

New Releases: A Mixed Bag of Genres

Well, I’m still busy reading away, but life does interfere with my plans.  I did enjoy a few good books.  Barry Eisler got close to being back on track with a new John Rain thriller.  Laura Resnick has another chapter in the Esther Diamond series with Vamparazzi – one of the BEST titles this year!  Vicki Lewis Thompson continues her amusing paranormal romance books and .  No, none are stunning blockbuster books, but all were above average and really good reads.

  • Title:  The Detachment
  • Author:  Barry Eisler
  • Type:  Action thriller
  • Genre:  John Rain and Dox get drawn into another adventure
  • Sub-genre:  Manipulation, deception, and the impossible is all too plausible
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 90,000+ $8.25 to$12
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores and online
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from an online book seller

The best news, John Rain, one of the BEST characters developed by any author in the past decade, is finally back.  So too is his Dox, his sniper friend and sometimes partner.  Barry Eisler had lost much of the edge that appealed to me with his two Ben Treven books, both of which I found disappointing.  He seems to recapture much of his old magic in The Detachment, though the plot is more obvious than those in his far more twisty and better written early books, and Col ‘Hort’ Horton is not in any way an admirable, or fundamentally honorable person.

Rain has broken up with his girlfriend and Mossad operative, Dehlia.  She refused to leave intelligence agency and he found he could not live with her job – or maybe he was just bored.  As always, he returned to Tokyo, living quietly and going just one place he might be associated with – the Kodokon.  He notices two Americans watching from the stands.  When he catches the them quickly checking the next night, he knows he’s been found.  His response is classic Rain – he leads there where they want to go, lulls them and then kills them both.

But it was a setup and the men pawns that were deliberately sacrificed to catch Rain on camera and blackmail him into doing a job for Col ‘Hort’ Horton.  In LA Hort tells Rain there’s on oligarchy ready to create domestic terrorism in such a way that suspending the Constitution and granting extraordinary powers to the President and Executive Branch of Government seems the only logical course of action.  He uses the very real slow erosion of rights and privacy that the Patriot Act and various government entities – from ICE to TSA to the NSA have already created as a way to get citizens accustomed to a ‘new reality’. (more…)

October 6, 2011

Is Fall Finally Here? Short Reviews for Rainy Days

Wow, the past 7 weeks have been wet.  I feel like we should be building an Ark or  two – or three.   More rain is predicted for this weekend.  I swear, I walk outside and it smells like mold and mildew.  Leaves are falling, but not not much color is showing.   It looks like once again the spectacular fall color may go missing thanks to rain and unseasonable temperatures and humidity.  Well, it’s not like we can do anything about the weather, it is what it is.  But football has started (yes, I’m a fan) regardless of the temperatures, so I get entertainment while I read.

I did get an unexpected treat from a friend on Paperback Swap – a hard to find book by author Kris Neri.  Loved it and wish she’d written more in this series.  It’s hard, really, how many good writers never get a chance at a bigger audience.  One did – H.P.Mallory’s Josie Wilkins series got picked up by Bantam and will go mass market early next year with the third book in the series, Witchful Thinking.  I have it on pre-order  at Amazon.  I have a LOT of books on pre-order thanks to their 4-for-3 sale.  Mysteries, paranormal, romance, thrillers, you name it – and I’m anxiously awaiting a number of them, but a few good ones have arrived, so here we go, short and sweet.

  • Title:  Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
  • Author:  H.P. Mallory
  • Type:  Paranormal/fantasy
  • Genre:  Josie Wilkins Series, Bk 1 – Every little thing you do is magic
  • Sub-genre:  Unrest and contentions in the magical underground
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 80,000+ $11-$12
  • Where Available:  Available at select bookstores, online, and used
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from an online book seller

One minute you’re a sort of successful psychic in LA running a psychic shop with your best friend Christa, and than tall dark and handsome walks into your life and turns it upside down.  Rand Balfour is a warlock of considerable years and he, like other magic users, is looking for a witch that had been prophesied.   Much to the everlasting shock of Jolie Wilkins, that’s her.  Initially, all he asks for is a reading, something she’s usually really good at.  And he pays well too.  Then he comes back for a second one.  He’s convinced Jolie is the one he’s looking for and offers her a job.  He needs to know what happened to his client.  They go go to the house and to Jolie’s eternal shock, she doesn’t just raise a ghost, she brings the dead back to life.

Word spreads in the underground community of magic users.  A ragged and unkempt man approaches her to bring back the groups leader.  Hesitantly Jolie agrees and brings back the alpha of a werewolf pack, she earns their loyalty – of course, she didn’t know they were werewolves when she did it.  She also earns the unwanted attentions dangerous head of the LA magical community and the attentions of a very handsome vampire.

Suddenly, Jolie has to choose who to serve the LA ‘queen’, who is one scary babe, or go to Rand.   Jolie and Christa head to England and the safety of Rand Balfour and his offer to take on Jolie as his apprentice of sorts.

The relationship between Rand and Jolie never stands a chance because Rand won’t let it, despite their mutual attraction.  He retains a cold distance that she doesn’t understand.  I did find that part a bit annoying along with Rand’s casual control of Christa.  It was as if his moral compass no longer fully functioned.  In general terms, Christa is the typical self-centered LA Babe to Jolie’s ‘quiet mouse’ and she has trouble with Jolie suddenly becoming far more important.   The queen is evil and Rand is the emotionally cool and remote man – so the character’s are not exactly original, but the plot works pretty well.  Not as well as the Southern Witch series by Kimberly Frost, but it the various plot lines made sense and kept the readers interest even when the characters got annoying and childish.  The story arc was well paced, if predictable in it’s general outcome.  Some of the secondary characters were more original than the main players.

Was Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble worth the nearly $12 price tag?  Well, no.  It was a good read and I did buy the next in the series, Toil and Trouble (which I found had an annoying plot device and have yet to finish), but I’d say enjoy a price break and buy the far less expensive e-book.  You can download to Kindle software to your computer if you don’t have the device.  (I don’t.)  The e-book is $4.  If you want a print copy, try waiting to see if Bantam publishes Book 1 and 2 in mass market. (more…)

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