Tour’s Books Blog

April 15, 2012

Mixed Genres & Mixed Reviews (Mixed Drinks Optional)

March over and so is the whole ‘March Madness thing.  It’s a lot more reliable than crocus as a sign of Spring. Clocks have been pushed ahead and we have daylight at 7PM again.  Allergies aside, I like spring.  Blossoms start appearing on shrubs and trees, daffodils, hyacinths, and forsythia bloom and my taxes get done by my accountant.  Yippee.  Spring ain’t for sissies.

Neither is reading voraciously as I do.  Thank heavens for Amazon and its sales. The nice thing about their 4-for-3 promo is that I can try new series and new authors and not feel bad when I get a book I don’t like.  Hey, not everyone likes everything.  Most reviews on Amazon showed readers loved An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette, I didn’t.  I sent a review to PBS for their book blog but it likely won’t show up there for months.  I basically didn’t like the lead character.  Her personality annoyed me.  I’m the same way about Wendy Roberts’ Ghostdusters mysteries, I just don’t like them.  They aren’t badly written or anything, just ……. well, annoying to me.  Despite that, I had waited patiently to get a copy of the first book she wrote back in 2005 for Red Dress Inc, Dating Can Be Deadly, through PBS.  Well it finally made it thru the US postal system and I read it this week  I’ll start my reviews there.

  • Title:  Dating Can Be Deadly
  • Author: Wendy Roberts
  • Type:  Contemporary paranormal mystery
  • Genre: Chick-lit mystery
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG – 13
  • Length and price:  Novel – 80,000+ words – price varies
  • Where Available:  Available from used book sellers, including Amazon, Alibris, Half.com
  • FTC Disclosure: rec’d through through an online book swap site

As I noted above, I can’t get into Wendy Roberts’ Ghostduster mystery series, but I wanted to read Dating Can Be Deadly, so I had it wish listed on PBS for the past year and finally got a copy.  Light, amusing, entertaining and far more enjoyable for than her Sadie Novak Ghostdusters books.  Worth a read if you can find a copy.

Tabitha Emery is an office drone.  An ‘every-girl’ making her way in the world in tiny apartment and an ordinary job as a receptionist in a law office.  She’s just got this talent that she wishes she didn’t.  Tabitha is a clairvoyant.  Her talent is often triggered by touch, but sometimes, strong emotions can draw her.  She tries to ignore it, but her friends know the signs – fluttering eyelids and rolling eyes.  It doesn’t tell her when her car is about to break down again – in the pouring rain.  She and her friend see a cat that was ritually murdered in a cemetery, and so begins an interesting chick-lit type mystery.

Tabitha has a crush on a handsome lawyer at work, and runs between being scared of and attracted to the owner of a shop that sells occult and magic supplies.  When she reports blood in a dumpster, she ends up a suspect in a homicide.  Then she manages to get herself arrested, put on leave from work, and she has stalker.

Overall, I enjoyed this one way more than Roberts’ Ghost Dusters series.  Try and get an inexpensive used copy of Dating Can be Deadly  or the ebook.  It’s a fun and gets a solid B- (3.8*) from me.

*******************************************************

  • Title:  Memory Zero (Spook Squad, Bk 1)
  • Author: Keri Arthur
  • Type:  Contemporary paranormal
  • Genre: Urban fantasy
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating:  PG – 13
  • Length and price:  Novel – 80,000+ words – price varies
  • Where Available:  Available from used book sellers, including Amazon, Alibris, Half.com
  • FTC Disclosure: rec’d through through an online book swap site

Iamjinn Books publishes some excellent urban fantasy and I had Memory Zero on my wish list on PBS for awhile.  I got it in a swap, then it sat for months on Mt TBR.  Well, in my big spring clean out, I offered the book, but made sure to read it before letting it move on to the next member, and I’m glad I did.

Samantha ‘Sam’ Ryan is charged with the murder of her police officer partner.  Thing is, as she and Gabriel Stern, a werewolf member of some spooky government agency, the questions seem more about Sam’s past than the death of her partner.  But it’s a past she has no memory of.  None at all. Nor does she understand the powers that she’s developing.

Though a slim book and not Arthur’s best, the premise was good enough and done well enough for me to hunt down used copies of the next two books in the series.  The world is built and the basics laid out, let’s see where she takes the story.  For paranormal romance junkies, not a good choice.  For hardcore UF fans, not for you either.  Think of it as romantic suspense, without much romance.

Is Memory Zero worth the price of $10+ for a used book?  Nah.  Hunt around and find a cheaper copy somewhere.  I checked the Imaginn site and didn’t see the ebook, but it can’t hurt to ask them.

*******************************************

  • Title:  Discount Armageddon
  • Author: Seanan McGuire
  • Type:  Contemporary paranormal
  • Genre: Urban fantasy
  • My Grade: B (4.0*)
  • Rating:  PG – 13
  • Length and price:  Novel – 80,000+ words for $7.99 with discounts available
  • Where Available:  Available from most book sellers and online
  • FTC Disclosure: purchased thru an online bookstore

In a major departure from her October Daye character, Seanan McGuire created Verity Price, a salsa dancing, butt kicking member of the apostate Price family that left the Covenant and their ‘if it isn’t human, it’s dead’ philosophy.  It was not an amicable separation.

Fast forward to NYC where Verity Price is trying to pursue her dream of professional ballroom dancing and fulfill her family obligations to the others of the city.  Her entire life is thrown into chaos when a young hunter from the Covenant gets in her way.  It’s Hatfields and McCoys time as Verity bucks up against the Covenant ‘true believer’ – while she works for her boogyman boss serving drinks in a stripper bar so she can afford a tiny Manhattan apartment.  But too many others are missing and some are turning up without …… well, souls.  Evil is at work.  Looks like the Hatfields and McCoys will have to work together to get this case solved …. and maybe start bringing over another person who realizes being other doesn’t make you evil.

Lively, well paced, good characters, and fun, Discount Armageddon is worth the $7.99 asking price for anyone who enjoys lighter urban fantasy with a salsa twist.

*****************************************************

  • Title:  Bear Meets Girl
  • AuthorShelly Laurenston
  • Type:  Contemporary paranormal
  • Genre: Urban fantasy
  • My Grade: C+ (3.3*)
  • Rating:  PG – 13
  • Length and price:  Novel – 100,000+ words for $10.50 with discount
  • Where Available:  Available from most book sellers and online
  • FTC Disclosure: purchased thru an online bookstore

First, for the record, I love Shelly Laurenston’s books, especially her Pack and Pride series.  The have pride of place on my nightstand so I can pick one and re-read it every night.  Bear Meets Girl won’t make that cut.

Lou ‘Crush’ Crushak first makes an appearance in The Mane Event as a detective friend of Dez McDermott.  He comes back in Beast Behaving Badly when the Group needs help with the bears who had control of a crime scene.  In Bear Meets Girl, Crush is transferred to the all shifter police department in Brooklyn and finds himself the unwilling partner of Dez McDermott – and through her, he’s tied to the Group and KZS – aka Kitty, Incorporated.  But the real reason for his sudden transfer from years of undercover narcotics work to the secret shift police unit is the fact his crazy foster mother, head of the bear equivalent of the Group, ratted him out to the drug lords.

Lou soon finds himself involved with Dee Ann Smith, who he can tolerate, and Marcella Malone.  Of course, his introduction to ‘Cella’ was …. more intimate than he intended – which was all Dez’s fault, and Cella is obviously insane and probably mentally unstable.  For a cool, logical, cop bear, this chaos and casual disregard for law is not easy to accept.

Bear Meets Girl was a book that fought the reader on several levels.  It wasn’t sure what it wanted to be, which was confusing, and so it failed to excel in any area.  It wasn’t a great romance, because there were too many other things happening.  The constantly changing POV made the story choppy and uneven and the various plot lines hard to follow.  There was too much ‘shock and awe’ with hockey players.  Cella and Chush only gelled in small sections and the rest was lost in a tale to too many parts.  Cella’s complicated family background combined with Crush’s own complicated family background and his relationship with the far too dangerous head of bear security, would have been story enough, but laced through this is a car thief, another member of a ‘Travelers’ family, hunters with secret formulas, a scumbag human selling …. anything, and links between the hunters and highly placed shifters.

I felt like Laurenston wanted to transition to a more traditional urban fantasy with a strong, slightly dark story line about shifter hunters and their highly placed connections inside the shifter community as well as political allies, rather than telling her usual action filled romance.  The result was neither and pretty frustrating.  The reader was left shifting gears between styles to the point where I felt like I had story whiplash.   It was a book that would have worked well as a jumping off point for a more serious, darker group of books, but ended up filled with unanswered promises and no closure.

As characters, Cella developed well, but Crush felt flat.  I had so hoped for more.  Moments of classic Laurenston witty dialogue were sandwiched between scenes like non sequiturs.  Bear Meets Girl got a C+because even with all the problems, it was amusing.  It was, however, far from her best and not as much romance as her usual book.  Is it worth $11.00?  Not unless you’re a huge fan.

******************************

  • Title:  Let Them Eat Stake
  • Author: Sarah Zettle
  • Type:  Contemporary paranormal mystery
  • Genre: Urban fantasy/mystery
  • My Grade: B (4.2*)
  • Rating:  PG – 13
  • Length and price:  Novel – 80,000+ words for $7.99 with discounts available
  • Where Available:  Available from most book sellers and online
  • FTC Disclosure: purchased thru an online bookstore

Book 2 in the Vampire Chef Mystery series was a good read.  Nightlife, Charlotte Cain’s human/vamp eatery has reopened, but without her brother, who is busy running his spa business – a very successful business.  So much hinges on making this reopening work, including Charlotte’s staying financially afloat, that she gets lured into accepting a job as replacement for celebrity chef, and competitor, Oscar Simmons, to make the food for the paranormal wedding of the year.  Witch Deanna Alden is marrying vampire Gabriele Renault and Felicity Garnett is the wedding coordinator – and a kind of friend of Charlotte’s.  With the wedding date days away, it’s all hands on deck, right up to the point where Charlotte discovers the bride is a Maddox.

Not only had a Maddox warlock tried to incinerate Charlotte, one got murdered in her restaurant, and she dating what might be the only sane member of the witchy clan, Brendan Maddox.  Thing is, the whole Maddox family are vampire hunters and Charlotte’s brother, Chet, is a vamp.  Kind of a conflict of interest on several levels.  Against her better judgement, but thanks to the huge fee, Charlotte agrees to overlook the family history and do the job, which includes cooking for a house of witches and the vamp guests leading up to the wedding.

Word of her taking the job dropped by Simmons hits the chef’s grapevine and Simmons approaches her in a late night bar where chefs often hangout.  Their rivalry goes back to when Charlotte worked for him, and despite his sneering, and their mutual distrust and dislike, his claim that she hasn’t clue what she’s really stepped into rings true.  It seems even more plausible when Simmons is murdered that very night.

Only Charlotte’s professionalism keeps her at the Alden’s when things keep getting worse.  In the middle of dinner, a valuable artifact gets stolen.  According to Anatole Sevarin, the ancient vamp with more than a passing interest in Charlotte, the Renaults are less than respectable vamps and are certainly not in the Alden/Maddox level of society.

The plot spins out with twists and turns but always comes back to central core, the missing artifact, which isn’t really an artifact at all.  Again the Maddox clan plays hell with her life as Charlotte’s curiosity gets the best of her.  The ending is a good one.

Is Let Them Eat Stake worth $7.99?  Yes, far better story for the money than the typical ‘witchy’ mystery that sells so well these days.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: