Tour’s Books Blog

July 24, 2013

July Releases Redeemed – Quick Reviews of Must Reads for UF/Paranormal Fans

Just when I thought UF/paranormal was a lost cause for July, I hit two good ones in a row.  I don’t have time for detailed reviews, but these are two must reads for any UF/paranormal fan.  While the second book is a best seller (and deservedly so), the first one needs more positive exposure and the series is worthy of more fans.


I know this series gets little attention, but the Weird Girls series is so well done it deserves a lot more.  It’s not light, funny, or fluffy.  It’s a bit on the grim side at times, and despite the more rural setting of Tahoe, it is UF.  The first book, Sealed With a Curse was really good, so I didn’t hesitate to pre-order book 2, A Cursed Embrace.  Four sisters, each with a special talent, all the result of a back-fired curse.  But it leaves one sister, Celia, in the toughest spot.  Not only did she save the local vampire Master, in the process of doing so she gave him back is soul.  Now Misha is not just grateful for what she did, he’s deeply attracted to her.  But Ceel wants Aric, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack.  And his other wolves are deeply attracted to her sisters, Taran, Shayna, and Emma.

It all starts with a dead wereraccoon, and attacks by demon-kin – the offspring of a demon and a human female.  And someone using cursed gold bullets.  That story is deftly interwoven with the romance between the wolves and the sisters – even though Aric knows he cannot ever have Celia permanently.

The plots pace is fast, so the nearly 350 pages seem shorter.  Like all good UF, it’s not HEA’s at the end and I have to give kudos to Ms Robson for not taking the easy road.  There’s some sex, but more in the R level.  My rating for A Cursed Embrace is B (4*) and the series is highly recommended for anyone who reads Anton Stout, Alex Huges, Rob Thurman, or who enjoyed Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway (which was NOT as well done as this series.  I paid $7.19 for the book from Amazon and felt I got my money’s worth.


Fifth Grave

NOTE:  A full review of this book will be available the week of 7/28 on PaperbackSwap’s blog.

OK, this is, hands down, one of the best and most original UF series to come along in a long, long time. Forget Sookie Stackhouse and that whole lot of losers, pull on your big girl panties and meet Charley Davidson, PI and Grim Reaper.  No, no, she doesn’t run around with a long cape a scythe.  Charley is a portal, the one dead spirits pass through on the way to the afterlife.  She also has a crush on Reyes Farrow who just happens to be the son of Satan.  And the man who loves her – and knows a LOT more about her is than she does about herself.

Now, two warnings, this is a series that MUST be read in order to follow the complex over-riding plot.  The other is, despite being filled with humor, there are some very grim and unpleasant elements central to the plot, including child abuse and pedophilia (alluded to rather than graphically played out), so if that bothers you, be warned.  And each book has a central mystery that also often involves serial killings.

Fifth Grave Past the Light gets an A- (4.5*) rather than a straight A.  Very highly recommended.  I paid $14.66 + tax for the book, but it’s now over $19.  Is it worth it?  At $19, no, unless you want a first edition for your keeper shelf.  Wait and buy it between $13-$15 or wait a LONG time for the paperback, which will likely be a tradesize in the $10-$12 range.  NOTE:  The sex is in the R range.

July 23, 2013

Hot! Hot! HOT! Summer Reading Reviews

OK, I confess, summer can get just too damn hot for me.  Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve been spoiled here in the Northeast with several pretty mild summers in a row and summers are SUPPOSED to be hot.  Still, walking out the door is like getting hit in the face with a steaming hot towel.  ICK!  You don’t take your clothes off, you peel the sodden mess from your body and shower twice a day.  Have I been in hotter places?  Well, many years ago I was in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in July and it was about 130F.  The wavy air currents that you see coming from hot pavements extended above the heads of the visitors and the photos I took all had this odd pink hue to them, like I’d slapped a colored filter on the lens.  Abu Simbal was 123F.  And Scottsdale, AZ was 117F – so yeah, I’ve been in MUCH hotter places.  But hot, muggy, Northeast summers were meant for the beach or the lake, not grocery shopping at mid-day.

So what can one do but read?  Not that I ever need much of an excuse.  And I’m falling behind in getting books read for swaps.  I wrote 3 book reviews for PBS (paperbackSwap) book blog so I can’t review them here, but I’ll give you a few sentences and my rating.


Book 2 of the Sweet Nothings series is a well written bust because you know the who and why by page 50.  If you don’t, shame on you and turn in your Nancy Drew badge at the door.

My rating is C- (2.6*) and a suggestion you give this dull effort a pass.  You’ll miss nothing.  I spent $7.19 for this from Amazon and it was a waste of time and money.



A year, I waited damn near a year and was ready to strangle Jory Strong half way through this sex fest masquerading as urban fantasy erotica.  Honestly, this is a 16 year boy’s wet dream, with pieces of an actually good story threaded thru it.  Not as well done as Inked Magic, the first book and overall, disappointing in its story quality.  I found myself skipping pages so I could keep up with the plot, which wandered badly.  The sex would put the book in the XX range.

My rating for Inked Destiny is C (3*) and I’m being kind.  Will appeal to erotica lovers, but UF fans are doomed to be disappointed.  Only smut lovers need to consider a buy, everyone else wait for a cheap or free copy.  I can’t believe I wasted nearly $11 on this through Amazon.


werewolf in alaska

Did someone forget to tell me July was Mediocre Book Month?  Seriously, another paranormal romance from a usually reliable author that’s BLAH!  Good thing this book cost me less than $5 on BAM or I’d be ticked.

My rating for Werewolf in Alaska is C (3*) and again, that’s being kind.  Get it free or used.


biting Oz

I like the Biting Love series by Mary Hughes and her books in general.  Yeah, they’re another vampire romance series, but they’re done with a flair and fun to read.  Published by Samhain in both print and ebook, I bought Biting Oz from Amazon to read and use as part of a prize basket I offered in a big swap.  It was on my wish list anyway, so the fact the prize winner wanted it too gave me the excuse to buy it.  At $12 with tax, it was a good thing I enjoyed it, but it’s still over priced.

For a small town Miers Corners has a lot of strange events happening lately.  But on the upside, someone is spending a LOT of money to renovate places like the old theater where they’re staging a rewrite of Wizard of Oz, called Oz, Wonderful Oz, a musical starring a quite talented young woman who seems a bit lonely to ‘Junior’ Stieg, a member of the orchestra and worker in her father’s sausage store.  Junior and her pal Nixie (Biting Nixie, one of the few books in the series that kind of annoyed me with all the punk cant) and Nixie’s handsome lawyer husband Julien.

Junior is running late to the dress rehearsal, hauling multiple instruments and a music stand when she – literally – runs into overexcited Munchkins blocking the aisle to the pit.  Suddenly, tall, dark and really, really big saves her and the Munchkins from disaster.  Glynn is a Welsh vampire who was hired to protect the young star, Mishela, by the show’s financial backer and town’s fairy godfather, the enigmatic Mr Elias.  But when Rocky, Junior, Mishela see something strange attack, Gylnn’s phone all to Mr Elias seems to convince her ever thing is normal.  Unfortunately, it did NOT convince Junior.  And Junior’s attraction to Gylnn not withstanding, what the hell is going on?

It’s only when Junior’s parents invade her bedroom after hearing obvious sounds of an amorous adventure that has Junior realize Gylnn really isn’t human.  Not when he hid in the one place they’d never look – on the ceiling!  Enter a jealous ex-girlfriend, problems with the cheeseshop owners next door, and things get really out of control.

Biting Oz has more substance than the usual paranormal fluff romance, but the nosy parents of an adult woman (especially the bedroom invasion which did nothing but make me dislike her parents) and the way her mother speaks to Junior really annoyed me.  Frankly, Junior should have stood her ground more.  That was the only part that really annoyed me.

Overall, I give Biting Oz C+ to B- (3.5*), better than average, but not by much.  For series fans, buy the ebook.  For print readers, wait for a used copy.



Waking up handcuffed to an uptight female French vampire, Lizette, who refuses to believe Johnny Malone is really alive and his supposed death just a way to dump a persistent girlfriend, is no way to spend the morning after one of his best friend’s wedding to a dominatrix – who is also out cold in the same room.  But even worse, he’s staring at the naked butt of his bandmate, ladies man Drake, in some kind of a sex swing contraption inches from his face also and the very human caterer, Josie – wearing nothing but the frilly shirt that Drake had on when dressed as the best man in a pirate costume.  The really bad part, no one could remember the night before.   Must have been a hell of night if Drake ended up wearing nothing but chaps, leaving a lot more than his ass hanging out.

On top of all that, Saxon, the groom, is missing and there’s an alligator in the hallway.  Oh, the handcuffs?  Titanium.  Johnny and Lizette are stuck together – and her blouse is covered with blood down the back.  Now Johnny and Lizette need to get free of each other, and Drake and Josie have to figure out what the hell happened to everyone’s things – including Drake’s pants.

Erin McCarthy and Kathy Love created a fast, fun read.  Short on substance, but entertaining enough to finish it and not feel cheated.  No, it wasn’t captivating, just a good beach read.  Undemanding and amusing.  While the ending kind of loses steam, the bulk of the book is better than average for fluff.

Fangs for Nothing came to me via a PBS bookswap and I’d give it C+ to B- (3.5*) and a suggested summer read if you can find it cheap in a used book store because the ebook is no bargain.

July 5, 2013

Murder Can Be Fun

I was playing in a swap on PBS and asking various trivia and riddle questions (good thing I had the answers on the riddles, because I SUCK at riddles) when I realized I was thinking a lot about my favorite films.  Of course there are some classics like The Maltese Falcon (My question was ‘It’s ‘The stuff dreams are made of.'”) and Casablanca – cheesy sets and all, it’s a brilliant movie – possibly the best movie ever.  But I love my comedies.  AFI loves doing lists of greatest actors, movies, comedies, etc.  I often find myself disagreeing with them totally, but one I was in full agreement with, the best comedy of all time – and it opens with a gangland slaying a la the St Valentine’s Day Massacre.  The film?  Some Like It Hot starring Jack Lemon, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe and a host of famous character actors from the 30’s and 40’s, like George Raft, Joe E Brown, Pat O’Brian and Nehemiah Persoff. On the run from mob hitmen, Lemon and Curtis dress in drag and join an all girls band on its way to play at a Florida resort.  The script, acting, and direction are nothing sort of brilliant.  And it comes full circle when the gangsters have a meeting at the hotel when our two musicians in drag are playing.

Then there are the deliberate over-the-top send ups of all the 30’s and 40’s mysteries based on famous fictional detectives in literature and film written my the award-winning playwright Neil Simon – Murder by Death.  It skewers The Thin Man, Sam Spade, Charlie Chan, Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot in a broad farce that is NO match for the quality of Some Like It Hot, but is a fun thing to watch for mystery lovers.

Just as not all mystery films are serious, neither are all assassin film filled with CIA or covert ops people being serious about national security – or just killing for money, some are pretty funny.  Think Grosse Pointe Blank or REDS rather than Day of the Jackal (the original, not the awful remake).

Do I like a good laugh with action?  Yup, so here are some good beach book options …………..

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer – stand alone novel

This book was the second collaboration between Jennifer Cruise, a PhD, occasional college instructor, and full time writer, and Bob Mayer, a West Point graduate, former Green Beret, and military action thriller writer.  This off-beat story is a classic blend of humor, action, and mystery set in a sleepy southern town that somehow became to home to a couple of Jersey mob guys, and slightly cranky food writer named Agnes.  One of the mob guys has a nephew …………. a hit man, but for the US Government.  Well, he wants his nephew to ‘take care of his ‘little Agnes’ because she might need protection from some old mob guys.  But what about the guys that need protection from her?  Agnes has some ………….. anger management issues – and a way with heavy skillets and sharp meat forks.

The cast is large, the story complex, hitmen abound, and ending has lots of surprises.  It took me awhile to warm up to this book, but once I did, I fell in love with the quirky characters and far from traditional romance.

Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Cruise – stand alone

Before she teamed with Bob Mayer, Jennifer Cruise wrote what I always thought of as one of her best books, Getting Rid of Bradley.  Like most of her books, except the two she did with Mayer, its short.  And unlike her other books, this one had a mystery woven into the plot.  A case of mistaken identity has the heroine hitting the cop (a plain clothes detective) with a bag filled with high school physics books (she’s a teacher who just had her divorce to Bradley finalized.) when he grabs her in an alley when someone shoots at her.  She thinks he has a demented hero complex.  He thinks she’s nuts.  It’s a short, breezy, fun read perfect for the beach and available in ebook, though print can be hard to find.

The Bombay Assassins Series by Leslie Langtry

Here is a series that kind of defines quirk.  I mean, how many times do assassins try and put together a marketing plan in PowerPoint to get more government jobs because freelancers are undercutting your costs?  Starting with ‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy, where an average, car-pooling suburban mom has a contact on a guy guarded by the really hot guy she wants to get to know.  But my favorite is Standby By Your Hitman which has reclusive inventor Missy Bombay shipped off to a cheap Canadian knock-off of Survivor to kill an international arms dealer masquerading as a contestant.  Problem is, the guy she’s given doesn’t seem like a bad guy, and there’s this bartender that really interests her – a LOT, and her twin sons show up and tell her they aren’t sure the ‘vic’ really should be the vic!  Some of the scenes have me laughing hysterically even when I reread the book.  Guns Will Keep Us Together is another good one.

Unfortunately, Dorchester was the publisher of these books, so the Bombay series is mostly out of print, but they are available as Kindle ebooks and and are good beach reads.

Miss Fortune Series by Jana DeLeon

Another refugee from defunct Dorchester us Jana DeLeon who has written a character I fell in love with – ‘Fortune’ Redding, a CIA assassin.  She kills the brother of an arms dealer using the heel of her Prada Shoe and ends up with a huge bounty on her head.  Her boss is convinced there’s a leak in his office that blew her cover, so she shipped off to Sinful, LA as her boss’s niece – a librarian and former beauty queen.  Talk about not fitting the role.

Louisiana Longshot starts the story, but my favorite line is in book 2, Lethal Bayou Beauty, when her former partner Harrison is yelling at her for killing two people (one with a knitting needle!), “Jesus H. Christ!  You’d be less conspicuous as a Wiccan Hooker in Salt Lake City!”  Funny and a good plot to boot.

The John Ceepak Series by Chris Grabenstien

This series feature ultra-straight-arrow and former MP John Ceepak as the new detective on the force of a fictional New Jersey beach town.  Grabenstien was a comic, so his writing has a light hand that he deftly mixes with some very dark plots.  Each title is named for various amusement rides, like Tilt-a-Whirl, Rolling Thunder, and Fun House.  He captures the Jersey boardwalk perfectly and anyone (like me) who has spent time in various NJ beach towns will feel right at home.  The series is kind of hard to come by and it does help to read them in order, but each is a stand-alone and told from the perspective of Ceepak’s ‘partner’, a young local Ceepak has taken under his wing, Danny Boyle.

These are great beach reads and good, if light, mysteries.  Like most series, some hold up better than others, but anyone who associates the shore (in Jersey, we go ‘down the shore’) with carousels, taffy shops, hot dogs, roller coasters and boardwalks lined with food stands and trinket shops will be happy to get lost in these fun mysteries.

Never published in mmpb, they can be bought used on and other book sites and ebooks are available.

If you want to watch a good movie with a great script, wonderful directing, and some fun acting, see Some Like it Hot.  Then enjoy the lowbrow comedy with Jack Lemon chewing the scenery as Professor Fate, Peter Falk as his henchman Max, both playing the dark foil to Tony Curtis’s The Great Leslie in The Great Race, loosely (very, very loosely) based on the real New York to Paris car race of 1908.  It features not only Edith Head costumes on the comely Natalie Wood, but the best pie fight ever filmed.

Now go and enjoy your summer.  It’s all about FUN!

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