Tour’s Books Blog

June 23, 2012

Tried and True – or is it Old and Tired

One of the downsides of being a prolific reader is lack of originality in books.  All kinds of books – well, all the genres I read.  A great new idea comes along once in a blue moon.  Reliable authors fall into ruts, even though some of those ruts hold very high standards, most just spiral downwards.  Lots of new authors come along each year – some excellent (Bruce DeSilva and Kevin Hearne) and some awful (E. L. James), but most fall into that large mid-section of just OK to very good, but not remarkable.

I’ll give you romance – after all, how many ways can you tell a love story?  Excuse me, romance.  It all comes down to an author finding a fresh take on the oldest theme out there.  Keep in mind, to be a romance, it must have an HEA (happily ever after).  Great stories like Gone with the Wind and Casablanca are not considered ‘romance’, they are ‘love stories’.  Love stories can have tragic endings – like Romeo and Juliet.  By definition, romance cannot.  So no matter what, you know how it all ends.  Of all genres sold, romance is by far and away the biggest seller.  Makes sense since women read more than men.  I enjoy a good romance, but find I prefer to re-read the few that I found entertaining than to plow my way through another mundane bodice ripper.  Well done romantic suspense is more my speed, but aside from a few reliable authors, even much of that is just junk.

Fifty Shades of Gray is by far and away leading the pack for the Worst Book for 2012.  OK, I admit I couldn’t actually read the whole thing – the writing was atrocious, the characters banal, and the plot nothing more than a teenage wet dream.  It was stop reading or risk permanent brain damage.  Then again, I thought Peyton Place was stupid (I still do) and never did understand why people were all inflamed over it.  It must be the first BDSM book to hit the best seller list, and it’s just so damn undeserving.  I’m no fan of the genre, but please, Shayla Black and Maya Banks could write better books half asleep than this tripe.  I just passed my copy Shades to some poor unsuspecting victim in another book swap and thanked heavens I didn’t spend any money buying the stupid thing.

No Tan Lines by Kate Angell is a contemporary romance with a promising start that kind of slips into the great land of BLAH about half way through and never recovers.  A beach read at best, but mostly a forgettable and modest romance that is seriously overpriced at the discount price of $8.69 (list $14.00).  If you need something mindless for a few hours and can get it free or used, fine, otherwise, spend your money somewhere else.

I enjoyed Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane.  In this second installment of her Bound by Magic series, she begins bringing in characters from her Cascadia Wolves series written for Ellora’s Cave and ties it in with her storyline evolving in the De La Vega Cats series she’s still writing for Samhain.  Again, I think this another good series of her’s.  Much better than the popular Psy-Ops futuristic series published by Berkley. ( I’m in a minority in not liking that series, which I find shallow with not very credible plots or characters.)   At $7.99 (discounts available), you get lots of entertainment for your money, but you will enjoy it more if you read  Heart of Darkness first.  You don’t need to read the Cascadia or De La Vega series, but I do recommend the De La Vega cats books as really good reads.

Dead Man Waltzing by Ella Barrick (a pen name for Laura De Silverio) was another good entry in this unusual, and well written ballroom dance based cozy series.  Unlike many series, this one need not be read in order to follow characters or plots.  Not a must read, but a better than average cozy worth reading – with the following considerations:  Like many cozies, at $7.99, it’s a fairly short book, so try for a deep discount used book or borrow it if you can.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from cozies is The Curse of the Jade Lily by David Housewright.  How could I resist a book with a title that harkens back to the heyday of B mystery movies in the 1930’s and 1940’s, something featuring Charlie Chan or Mr Motto?  I loved those movies and David Housewright is a favorite author of mine with his McKenzie novels.

Rushmore McKenzie is a former cop who quit the force so he could collect the substantial reward on stolen goods – Over $3 million dollars.  The insurance agent, Vincent Donatucci, who handed over his windfall shows up on his doorstep asking Mac for a ‘favor’.  Like John D MacDonald’s immortal Travis McGee, Mac isn’t a PI, he just does ‘favors’, and this one is being asked by the man who made him a millionaire.

“People we make big payouts to, I like to keep an eye on them, see how the money changes them.”
“Does the money change them?”
“Always. Always it changes them. Sometimes for the better. They become philanthropists, you know? Share the wealth. Most of the others, they become prisoners to their money. Not always their fault, though. Suddenly everyone wants a piece. Friends turn on them, usually out of resentment. Most end up wishing they could go back to the way it was before they were rich. And then there’s you. You became Batman.”

First rate classic mystery, written in his usual breezy, non-stop, first person style, with intricate plotting, and a wild, twisty ending.  Two thumbs up and a must read for any fan of Travis McGee or Spencer.

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