Tour’s Books Blog

July 3, 2018

Another Round of Erratic Reads

Swear to heavens, authors need a kick in their collective butts.  I hate when a book is so boring it could be a sleeping pill.  The other thing I hate is plots so predictable I can tell what will happen after 10-20 pages.  It’s like most authors have gone BLAH and taken the easy road.

John Grisham wrote two excellent books – The Client and The Pelican Brief.  He’s lived off his reputation since.  There are a lot of writers like that.  Series writers get stuck in a character rut so deep there’s no way out.  The list is endless.  Smart authors limit their series to 3-5 books.  After that, the characters often go stale.

I started this entry back in early March, but colds and allergies and the weather got to me, and I was in a BAD MOOD for weeks.  I’ve also been dealing with dry eye and discovering some drops cause bad reactions for me, and the carpal tunnel in my right wrist is still there, some days really bad.  The problem with my eyes made reading ebooks hard, so I read a few DTB.  We’ll start a few that are a waste of time and move on from there.

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Image result for camino island grisham

Having problems with insomnia?  Need a sleeping pill?  Don’t turn to drugs, try reading Camino Island by John Grisham.  I won it in a book swap game in hardcover, so it was easy on my eyes.  Generally, I give a book 30-50 pages before giving up.  I gave Camino Island over 100 pages before literally tossing it across the room.  OMG.  Tedious, boring, yawn-inducing, and uninteresting.  I can’t even remember a character.  I’m pre-disposed to like books set in Florida, but even that couldn’t save this dull mess.

Camino Island is supposed to be a ‘caper’ book, fun and fast-paced.  I’ve always loved caper books since way back in the days Ross Thomas and Donald Westlake had a blast with this genre.  The key to all good caper books is characters, snappy dialogue, misdirection, and very fast pacing.  All of these elements were absent in Camino Island.  If you have to force yourself to read 100 pages, it is NOT a good caper novel, it’s junk.

No grade, just a DNF and a piece of advice to avoid it – unless you need to take a nap.  Ross Thomas is mostly out of print as are most of Westlake’s, but The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie is a good example of ‘caper’ style book as are the first 3 in the Kipp series by John Sanford (originally published under his real name, John Camp.)

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Image result for publish and perish Phillipa Bornikova

Phillipa Bornikova wrote 2 really good Linnet Ellery books.  I waited over 2 years for Publish and Perish.  She didn’t jump the shark, she a double gainer with a twist over the Statue of Liberty.  The long build up to saving Linny’s lover John from Fae was not a dramatic climatic event.  It was as exciting as mopping the floor and happened so fast you got whiplash.  Oh, thanks to the shard in his eye the evil queen won’t remove, John still has no emotions.  Basically, he’s walking emotionally dead person.  It kept right on jumping double fips and reverse twists as it lept from one thing to another until the ‘big reveal.’  There are no words to fully describe how ludicrous it was.  I couldn’t believe she got it past a sane editor without a complete re-write.

Her ‘big reveal’?  Black Masons.  No, I’m not making that up.  Apparently, the author felt the need to drag National Treasure plotlines in and create White Masons (good guys) and Black Masons (NOT good guys) and dear old dad – is guess what?  Very touching.

The entire book was little more than a string of scenes of loosely held together by frayed bits and pieces to a flat-out stupid ending.  Shame on the editor for letting this garbage go to print.  Reading it risks permanent brain damage.  Worse, I paid for the blasted thing from an online bookseller.

My rating is a rare F (0*).  This is a HUGE disappointment and total waste of time and money.

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The most recent entry in the Elemental Assassin series did what too many publishers have done, changed a series from mass market paperback to trade size.  I bought the ebook on sale.  Venom in the Veins is a solid entry but a bit shorter than her other books.

Gin Blanco, AKA Spider the best assassin in Ashland, it trying to find out about ‘the Circle’ that ordered her mother killed.  And as the leader on Ashland’s Underworld, something she doesn’t want but is kind of stuck with, she’s always alert to other assassins trying to move up in the world and take her place.  But first, she and her foster brother Finn have to have dinner with Finn’s boss, a dwarf, at the swankiest place in town.  At least she doesn’t have to cook – but she’s wearing black just in case Spider has to come out and play.

Dinner was great, but Finn’s boss is attacked and we’re off piecing past and present together as Mab Malone’s belongings get auctioned off and the daughter of a female vampire/cannibal Gin killed as a teen still under Fletcher’s tutelage comes for her.  Interesting twist at the end.

Venom in the Veins gets a B- (3.8) as it’s pacing and twists were predictable since Estep never changes her formula in her plots.  Recommended series.

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Book 3 in the Orphan X series finds the man now called Evan Smoak AKA Nowhere Man, looking for the last protege of the man who trained him and acted as his surrogate father, Jack Johns.  Hell Bent pits Evan against an old nemesis, another Orphan who can’t forgive Evan for being chosen first and being better, Van Scriver.

Like the first two books, the pacing is fast and furious as the race is on to the find the last Orphan – Evan to save them, Van to kill them and Evan so the whole program can be closed down before it’s it’s found out.  But 16-year-old Joey isn’t an ordinary Orphan, Joey is a girl.  Evan gets there first, but she’s not trusting and Sciver is hot on their heels.

The action is relentless and Joey is well trained, but not trusting.  The uneasy alliance is based mostly on Jack’s Rules and slow bond of trust that builds while running from the well equipped and financed Sciver.

Greg Hurwitz can be uneven in his books, but he nails it here.  The reader is pulled headlong into the story and the 400+ pages just flew by.  The ending had an amazing and unexpected turn.  I bought this online in hardcover.

Hell Bent gets a solid B to B+ (4.2*) for an action thriller.  Smoak and Joey are well-developed characters, Van Sciver less so, but enough to give him depth, the shady secret group remained shady and secret, except Evan knows at the end where it came from.  Book 4 will be a must-read.

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Image result for wilde fire jenn stark

Wilde Fire, Book 10 in the Immortal Las Vegas series is the final book in the story arc about the Arcane Council, Sara Wilde, and the war to keep the old gods out of this world.  Jenn Stark has slowly built a complex world of magic based on the Tarot and centered around Sara Wilde who starts as a relic hunter with a touch of magic and evolves into a powerful magic user and one of the Major Arcana.

In book ten, the Veil is finally torn and the battle rages and Sara is the lynchpin.  Her ally is surprising, so is her biggest enemy.  The denouement was great and has led to a spin-off series about former demons who are the only ones that can hunt and demons that end up on the Earthside on the veil.  (I started the first but wasn’t thrilled.)  Dixie and other characters get involved and the war brings the Connected out of the shadows all over the world.

I give Wilde Fire B- (3.9*) and strongly recommend reading the series in order and the overarching plot evolves in each book and it’s the only way the plot makes sense,

 

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