Friday, December 7, 2012


Note to self: Never read a book that has a subtitle describing the genre the book falls into. If it needs that kind of help there is no hope for it. Fingerprints: A Mystery Suspense Novel by Marcia Leonard is a book I wish I'd avoided. It could have been a good book. It had the proper elements: a murder, an innocent man accused, a fight for justice, a lawyer with a complicated past, and a bit of romance.

What it did not have was a mystery. The killer was revealed in the first 50 pages. In a 212 page book that is just stupid. Once you've shown a reader who the killer is there's no point the reader sticking around. I did. I think there might have been an interesting story between the protagonist and the lawyer but I didn't care because I already knew who did it. The time I spent reading the rest of the book was just wasted.

That's all I can say about this book.

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Resurrection Express

Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano is an interesting thriller with lots of twists and turns. At least that's what a note I wrote immediately after I finished reading it said. A couple of weeks later I only vaguely remember this book. That's not a good sign.

What I do remember of the book is a rather complicated story. I remember I read it quite quickly so it must of been interesting. I didn't make note of any major nitpicks so I must have been enjoying it.

The story revolves around a computer hacker named Elroy Coffin. There are a number of what the book blurb calls "criminal masterminds" floating around. You can't be too sure if Coffin is working for one or not. Some of those criminal masterminds are a little too cliched: too crazy, too immoral and too fond of hearing their own voices.

There's a lot of violence in this book and the high body count that goes with it. Fairly typical for thrillers. Towards the end, it gets kind of silly with a revelation that shows that Coffin may have been involved with the project at hand for many years but he didn't know it.

Even though a lot of the details of the book haven't stuck with me, I'm going to say I liked the book. I finished it fast. I think I read it in one day. I'm probably going to read it again. I can't say that about a lot of the books I've reviewed that I do remember clearly. I would gladly read another book by Stephen Romano.

I've also learned that I have to write the review right after I finish the book. Live and learn.

I received a  review copy of this book.

Friday, November 9, 2012


1222 by Anne Holt (translated by Marlaine Delargy) is the kind of book I usually stay away from. I hate reading translations. I always feel as if I'm missing something. I think that if I could read it in the language it was written in it would be so much better. Of course I have no proof of this. I just think that no translation can be perfect.

The other reason I wouldn't normally read a book like 1222 is because it takes place in the snow. I hate snow. That's why I live in Vancouver. Very little snow here. Not like Norway. The book starts off with a train accident near a mountain village with a storm approaching. The survivors have to take refuge in a hotel that is soon all but buried in snow. Brrrr.

This is a murder mystery and soon people start dying. It just so happens that an ex-cop is among the passengers. She's confined to a wheelchair but her brain is still intact. Hanne Wilhelmsen is another one of those anti-social, hard as nails, female cops like J. D. Robb's  Eve Dallas Or Carol O'Connell's Mallory. I don't understand why female cops can't be happy, social, well adjusted people. Do they all have to be so broken?

Despite the fact that it takes place in the cold, cold snow, I liked this book. It's filled with interesting characters. Many of them are not exactly as they seem. By the end of the book, I not only wanted out of the damned hotel but I wanted to know whodunit. I liked it so much that I might be temped to read others in this series.

The one nitpick I have is with the word "cripple". It is used a number of times, usually by Hanne herself. It is not a word that is used today. It's not socially acceptable and it really bothered me.

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Romeo Spikes

Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay is part mystery, part police procedural and part epic struggle between good and evil. Detective Alexis Bianco works for SCURO which is a clandestine group that handles supernatural crime.

The book introduces a group of evil supernatural beings called the Tormenta. They push humans toward suicide. As their victims die they suck the remaining "life span" out of the body by kissing them. Bianco and her partner Lola - a renegade Hunter - track down Tormenta and kill them.

There's a lot going on in this book. The "Brothers" who train the Hunters have their own rules and they don't always fall in line with the "good" side of the good vs evil struggle. For a first novel, Romeo Spikes is quiet accomplished.  It's a good story with good pacing. My only nitpick is that the traitor inside the Brothers' organization is a bit too obvious.

I received a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Vampire Hunters

The Vampire Hunters is the first book in the Vampire Hunters Trilogy by Scott M. Baker. You won't find any cuddly, sparkly vampires in this book. These vampires are monsters.

The story takes place in Washington DC. I'm not going to say anything about that city already being filled with blood suckers. The joke is too easy. I do wonder why Baker chose that city. Our heroes are a couple of ex-cops who discovered the existence of vampires while working a serial murder case. At the end of that case, they are recruited by an unknown benefactor to hunt down and destroy the nest in Washington.

It's a decent story. Nice to see vampires as evil again. It's also interesting to see the heroes dealing with the aftermath of fighting vampires in a world that doesn't believe they exist.

As usual, I do have a few nitpicks.

The head vampire is a man named Ion Zeilenska. The name bothered me because the character was supposedly Bulgarian. Historically, Bulgarian names have different suffixes depending on gender. Zeilenska is female. I had to stop and re-read the chapter because I was confused. His name should have been Zeilenskov.

The second nitpick has to do with holy water. Supposedly religious places or symbols do not bother vampires. Holy water, on the other hand, can hurt them quite a bit. This makes no sense to me. You can't pick and choose - okay, you can because it's fiction but it's not logical. Water is only holy in connection to religious places, symbols and ceremonies. If none of those things bother vampires the water shouldn't either.

The last nitpick has to do with vampire hunter Alison Monroe. She refuses to take any weapons other than a couple of stakes. It's stupid and dangerous. She almost gets killed twice. The second time she's only saved by having put holy water on her neck. Which shouldn't have worked. Having a person like her on a team is dangerous.

Is it just me or does Alison on the cover look like Olivia from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?

I recieved a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Post: Donna Del Oro

My Personal Research into ESP Phenomena

It started with my cousin. She was a full-time, practicing psychic. People came from all over California for her “readings”, at which she claimed an approximately 85% accuracy. One day, while in my 40’s, I decided to get a reading from her.  Extremely skeptical—although I’d known her all my life and knew she wasn’t a con artist—I arrived, fully expecting a lot of lucky guesses on her part.  An hour later, I left dazed and confused. How did she know that my husband and I were deliberating over which of two investment opportunities to take. We hadn’t mentioned this to anyone, not even anyone in my family or my husband’s.   The one my cousin advised against—and which we didn’t take, fortunately—ended up in bankruptcy a year later. There were other revelations that day that proved true in the months to come.

And so, I became intrigued by this strange phenomena known as ESP, or sometimes psi. Whatever you called it, it was known as “extrasensory perception”. My cousin claimed to be a “clairvoyant”, or able to “see” what most humans cannot see. Her insights into people, their health, and other personal facts were amazing to me. People in my family both welcomed and dreaded her phone calls. It was often: “You’ve got diabetes,” “You have a cancerous tumor in your bladder. See a doctor immediately”, “Your appendix is infected. Get yourself to a hospital now!” One close friend of the family received one of her calls. She told her that her brother was dying of cancer and that this friend should call him as soon as possible. The friend insisted that her thirty-five year-old brother was perfectly healthy and they’d just spoken days before. However, my cousin persisted and prevailed, even over objections of the friend’s brother. Two weeks later, the friend’s brother called back. He’d seen a doctor, had gotten a series of tests, and his prognosis was grim. He died a year later after a valiant battle against cancer.

When I probed my cousin, she explained the genesis of her visions and revelations. As a child of eight, she began having dreams. Some occurred at night while she slept, while others happened as daytime visions.  A recurring vision puzzled her but one day it suddenly made sense. Her parents—my aunt and uncle—had announced that they were moving to Hollister, California and had just bought a house with property attached. My cousin “knew” what it looked like and proceeded to describe it to her parents, who hadn’t shown pictures of it to anyone. What she described, from the house to the trees, driveway and outbuildings, matched the place her parents had just put a down payment on.

After that, the family believed my cousin to have a gift from God. That experience prompted me to open my mind and begin a thirty-year exploration into ESP. What I’ve learned has convinced me that clairvoyance does exist, and that perhaps to some extent, precognition. Many people have incredible, intuitive abilities and many share this gift with others, at no intent of monetary gain but simply a desire to help others. A poll cited in the Journal of Parapsychology showed that at least sixty percent of Americans believe that they have had at least one psychic experience in their lives.

The difference between a true psychic and a charlatan, or someone who uses trickery and seeks profit or notoriety?  Only one does it for monetary gain. True psychics, as do the psychic women in The Delphi Bloodline, share their gifts quietly and gratuitously.

Like my cousin.

Donna Del Oro lives in Northern California near the Sierra Nevada foothills and Folsom Lake. After retiring from high school teaching, she decided life was too short to waste. Thus, began a journey doing what she'd been wanting to do for many years--write fiction. She sold her first novel, OPERATION FAMILIA, right away and this book went on to win an award for the Best 2010 Latino Books into Movies Award. Following that first sale, she published three more women's fiction books, then branched out into writing her first love, romantic thrillers. This year, 2012, saw the launch of A BODYGUARD OF LIES and THE DELPHI BLOODLINE, both ebooks and available on Kindle, Nook, Apple, and elsewhere. If you have read any of her books, she welcomes your input. Leave a review on Amazon and your name goes into a pile for a $50 gift card at B&N.  She can be found online at

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ghost Trackers

Ghost Trackers is written by TV's Ghost Hunters, Jason Dawes and Grant Wilson, with novelist Tim Waggoner. I'll admit I used to watch Ghost Hunters every now and then. It was good for a laugh. When I was offered a review copy of this book I was skeptical.

Turns out it's not a bad novel. It sort of reminds me of V. C. Andrews or John Saul. As I was reading it I felt that it was trying to be like Stephen King but not quite making it. I guess if you read enough horror it all starts to seem the same.

The main characters are Amber, Drew and Trevor. 15 years ago they went into a haunted house and ended up at the side of the road with no memory of what happened in the house. Since then Drew has become a psychologist, Trevor writes about the supernatural.

On the other hand, Amber is totally screwed up. She exists on a disability pension because she can't function due to depression, nightmares and possibly agoraphobia. And there you get to the thing that bugged me most. The only female main character in the series is the screwed up one. It could just as easily been either of the two males but no. They had to make the woman be the one who can't cope. And then, later in the book, she's used as bait. I'm so tired of horror movie tropes. At that point I almost threw this book against the wall.

Most of theaction of the book takes place during a reunion weekend. The three amigos are vacillating between wanting to find out what really happened way back when and forgetting all about it. Too bad the Big Bad has other plans. Soon people start dying and Amber is kidnapped.

As I said Ghost Trackers is not a bad book. The three main characters are likable. Once you figure out what's going on you'll want to read the rest just to find out how it all works itself out.

I received a review copy of this book.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer Trailer

Book description by Amazon:
In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.
Buy The Last Dragonslayer

Friday, September 28, 2012

Death on a Longship

Death on a Longship by Marsali Taylor is a quiet little mystery. Most of the action is on or around one of two boats. One boat is the home of the main character, Cass Lynch. The other boat is a Viking longship that is being used as a movie set. Cass is the skipper of the longship.

One of the film people is killed on the longship. The first two suspects are Cass and her father. She decides she must find the real killer. There are plenty of people with motives around. Cass uncovers a lot of secrets during her investigation.

Overall, I liked this book. It's a decent mystery even if I did figure it out before Cass did.  I'm not too thrilled with the "twin" aspect of the story. I've always thought using a twin was a bit of a cheat.

I've been reading too may books where the female protagonist is borderline anti-social and wallowing in her own past. I guess bright, happy women don't get accused of murder. I was sort of wishing that Cass would make it with the cop in the kilt.

I received a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Post: Marsali Taylor

Costume is vital - and fun too! 

I love clothes, so my way into the past is through costume - what did my characters wear, and what did those clothes feel like?

It started with my very first novel, A Crown of Roses, in which a lost Jacobite heiress is returned to the rowdy London of 1770.  It's the prettiest china-shepherdess period, all lace frills and powdered hair - except that for my poor Sovra, brought up in a Spanish convent, the clothes are as uncomfortable as the morals of those around her.

But how uncomfortable?  I started my research in London, at the V & A and City museums, and spent a couple of hours sketching their 1770s robes.   I also bought a book, Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion. When I got home I drew my pattern, bought 6 metres of old-gold lining fabric, got out my dressmaker's dummy, oiled my 1906 Singer sewing machine, and set to work.

Stays first.  I wouldn't have used whalebone, even if I could have got it, but I laid short lengths of the stiffest Rigilene so close together on the stay shape that I could only just get my needle between them.  In London, my Sovra's 'boning' would have been made of iron rods.  Long shoelaces provided the back lacing.  Our school's technical teacher made me a hoop out of fencing wire, and I attached a waistband.

Once I'd got the underwear, I began on the robe (the noun dress, then, meant formal attire, rather than an article of clothing).  The intricate looking 'saque-back' is surprisingly easy - a wide back, pleated to fit, sleeves, fronts pleated to fit, and a decorative stomach panel.  I even discovered what 'furbelows' were: the thrifty woman's trimming, left-over material cut into long, narrow strips with pinking shears, and gathered to make decoration.

When I put it on, I was surprised at how easy it was to wear.  The skirt hung out around me, rather than being underfoot, and the hoop waistband took the weight of the material.  However, I couldn't bend my body at all, which made normal tasks hard.  But then, ladies wearing this finery wouldn't normally be trying to wash dishes.  I soon realised why the fan was a must-have - to hold over your cleavage when you're talking to someone taller than you!

Even though Death on a Longship is contemporary, I've managed to squeeze costume into it.  My heroine, Cass, is the skipper of a Viking longship being used as the set for a big Hollywood movie, and Cass has recruited the crews of the local rowing teams as oarsmen.  Naturally, they're able to supply their own Viking costumes - because they've all been involved in an Up Helly A.  It's one of the most spectacular reminders of our Viking heritage: a fire festival which takes place in Lerwick, Shetland's capital, in late January.  It's led by a squad of Vikings, stunningly attired in velvet tunics, shining breastplates and horned or feathered helmets.  Up to a thousand guizers march in a torch-lit procession through the streets of Lerwick (the streetlights are put out specially), with the chief Viking, the Jarl, brandishing an axe from his replica galley.  There are special songs, the galley is burnt, then everyone parties till morning.  The country version of Up Helly As aren't quite so large, but the lead Vikings are still resplendent in swirling cloaks and sheepskin boots. 

The star of the film in Death on a Longship, Favelle, has a long, green velvet dress (dyed to match her eyes) and Cass tells DI Gavin Macrae: 'Green velvet, floor-length, very heavy ... I can't believe the real Gudrid went anywhere near a ship wearing something like that.  It tangled round ropes and trailed everywhere.'

It means that when a rock is rolled down towards the actors, Favelle has the least chance of getting out of the way ...  Is it sabotage of the film in general, or an attempt at murder?

Cass doesn't do pretty dresses.  They'd ruin her equality image in the male world of sailing.   When her opera-singer mother arrives, elegant in French black-and-white chic, then Cass is horrified to find herself being dolled up in a dress and heels, to give her a better image with the press.  Her Maman says, 'They have seen you as the captain of the ship, and the one who found the body, and perhaps a love interest for this Ted Tarrant.'  She said the name French-style, with a disapproving intonation.  'Now we will do the young girl with her family around her.'

Cass's Maman knows the importance of clothes to make you look like, feel like, a different person - and it's a great way to begin getting inside the heads of characters who lived centuries ago.

Giveaway Info

Marsali is giving away THREE prizes; a copy of Death on a Longship at each blog stop on her tour, a 1st place grand prize giveaway at the end of the tour of some silver Viking-inspired jewelry from the Shetland Islands, and a 2nd place $15 Amazon gift card.

To win a book: leave a comment on this blog post to be entered to win a book (open internationally for ebook or the US, UK, and Canada for a print book). Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you're the lucky winner. This giveaway ends five days after the post goes live.

To win Viking-inspired Jewelry OR a $15 Amazon gift card: Click the link to go to the contest's website and enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post. A first and second place lucky winner will be selected on October 1st. First place person gets to choose which grand prize he/she wants. The second place person gets the remaining grand prize. Open to every country. Click to enter

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Killer Librarian

Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin is a cozy set in London, England. Karen Nash is a librarian from Minnesota who gets dumped by her boyfriend, Dave, the night before the couple are supposed to go on a dream trip to London. She decides to go on the trip alone but sees him and his younger girlfriend at the airport.

After that, Dave becomes a subplot which I found a bit ridiculous. Karen tells a stranger in a pub about being dumped and he offers to take care of it. When she sobers up, Karen thinks she's sent a killer after her ex. I had a suspicion about who the stranger was and I was right. Still I kept waiting for Dave to turn up dead. It was a long wait. He was an ass.

Meanwhile Karen is having "something" with the owner of her B&B. It's cute until another woman shows up and Karen feels she can't compete. I don't understand why many mysteries written by women set up this competition (usually only in one woman's head) between women. It's the 21st century, haven't we got better things to do than compare ourselves to other women and find ourselves lacking?

Overall, I liked this book. It was an easy read and entertaining. The "main" death in this mystery is almost an after thought - not a lot of time is spent on it compared to other mysteries. I also have a bit of a nitpick with a sentence on the front cover:
When she checks in someone always checks out...
It sounds like librarian is the killer and that couldn't be farther from the truth. I guess I have a nitpick with the title too.

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Targets of Deception

Targets of Deception by Jeffrey S. Stephens is the first Jordan Sandor thriller. Originally published in 2009, it was republished in 2011 along with Targets of Opportunity.

I like the occasional thriller but I'm kind of particular about them. I want them to make sense first of all. I want them to be plausible. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to a certain point. I'm willing to believe that the hero is trained to kill and is the best fighter on the planet. Having said that there is only so much punishment the human body can take. Only so many hours one can stay awake.

Luckily Stephens didn't push any of my buttons. This book is highly enjoyable. Jordan Sandor is a likable hero. I wanted him to figure out what's going on. I was proud of him for not accepting the easy answer. The bad guys plans are a little convoluted and a lot more complex than they should have been. Then again, if bad guys didn't over think everything they wouldn't get caught so often. And that would be bad for book sales.

I did feel sorry for some of the people who died needlessly throughout the book. I'm kind of resigned to the fact that thrillers have a high body count on both sides. I read both of the Sandor books back to back -- I read book #2 first for some strange reason -- think I should have read another book in between. I had to stop in the second book and go back because I was remembering things from the first book that I thought happened in the second. Lesson learned.

I like the Jordan Sandor series and will definitely be reading any other books featuring him that come along.

I received a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Missing Rebecca

I like to take part in virtual book tours when I can. Today I was supposed to post a review of Missing Rebecca by John Worsley Simpson but, due to some kind of snafu, the book never arrived. Too bad. I want to read this book. Hopefully, I'll review it some time in the future.

Here's the book description:
Death and deception. After a whirlwind romance, Liam and Rebecca marry, knowing almost nothing of each other's backgrounds. Only months later, on an afternoon shopping trip to a mall in the Buffalo, New York, suburb of Cheektowaga, Rebecca vanishes, seemingly abducted. Or did she make herself disappear? Was the marriage a sham? Was Liam a dupe? This is a novel of high crimes and dark shadows, involving the immensely profitable drug industry in which exclusive access to the market for a medication can mean billions of dollars, and holding on to that exclusivity might lead to lies, deceit, corruption, payoffs, and even murder.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Collared by L. A. Kornetsky is the first book in a new series of mysteries. It's a non-traditional mystery in that there is no dead body at the beginning of the book. The mystery is not a whodunit but a what did who do? Frankly, it's a little convoluted. I'm not really sure I understand who all the players were and what they were playing at.

The book is competently written and the main characters are likable. I even laughed out loud a couple of times. The one thing I didn't like were the sections (in italics) of the dog and cat talking to each other. I found it rather twee. The back cover of the book says that the pets help the humans solve the mystery. They don't. They just hang around being cute. The dog does bite a bad guy but that's it for helping. I would be willing to read more of the books in this series if she dropped the pet sections.

If you want to read some great mysteries with an animal protagonist, I suggest the Midnight Louie series by Carol Nelson Douglas. Start with Catnap.

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, August 31, 2012

All Seeing Eye

All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman is the first book in a new series. This book is part mystery, part paranormal thriller. There's a lot of action that takes place in a short amount of time.

If you've got a secret, you don't want to shake hands with psychic-for-hire Jackson Lee Eye. And don't leave any of your personal belongings around either. All seeing Eye is not a joke. He is the real deal and he makes some people really uncomfortable. The government blackmails him into helping them clean up an experiment that went wrong. Soon Eye sees that there's a lot more going on than he's been told. And there's someone who wants to stop Eye from seeing anything else.

This book is well written. The action is fast paced. The characters are likable. I actually read this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. It's been a long time since I've had a book that held my attention for hours at a time.

I have only one quibble with the meaning of the word massacre but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Year Zero

Year Zero by Rob Reid is a fun, quick read. If you liked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy you'll probably like this book. If you can't stand silliness and having a parrot named Pauley (as in "Yo! Paul-LEE" not Polly want a cracker) as the bad guy then this isn't the book for you. Believe it or not, a lawyer is the good guy. See? Silly.

This book was a fast read that had me laughing out loud. Just the thought of people from an advanced alien civilization trying to work its way through our copyright laws is enough to make me giggle - or throw up my hands and cry, "We're all doomed!".   You never really know if the Earth is going to be destroyed or not until the very last minute.

I found a really good interview with Rob Reid which starts at 4:43 of this video.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In A Fix Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she's able to take on her clients' appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don't want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable...that is, until Ciel's island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client's about-to-be-fiance is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she's been crushing on for years - both skilled adaptors - step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client's intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.

Buy In a Fix

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cephrael's Hand

At 643 pages Cephrael's Hand: A Pattern of Shadow & Light Book One by Melissa McPhail is a big book. It could (and maybe should) have been two books. I was warned that this was book 1 but this book commits a cardinal sin IMHO. Nothing in this book is wrapped up. It's all left up in the air like some season finale cliffhanger. I think one character might actually be hanging from a cliff or at least falling off one. At the very least McPhail could have had all the major players meet up to progress into the next book.

The book begins with three pages of "Dramatis Personae" which almost made me want to throw the book out the window. When there are too many people it is hard to care about any of them.I believe it is also almost impossible to give each character any depth. There are some characters in this novel who are just outlines. Maybe they'll develop in later books. I don't know. The book is really cluttered with people, most of them on the move. I tried to keep track of where everyone was in relation to the others but I gave up after awhile because a reader shouldn't have to work that hard to visualize things.

That's not to say that this is a bad book. It's not. It's fairly interesting story competently written. There's just nothing really new. Almost every fantasy trope is pulled out, prince in hiding, magic dying from some unknown cause, assassins in search of the prince, a wanderer who doesn't know who he is... on and on.

Here are my three nitpicks:

  1. Using pagan festivals or other things specific to Earth. If you are going build a world then build all of it. Create games, laws and festivals for your world. Unless you're going to tie it up in the end like Planet of the Apes and reveal that we were on Earth all along. And I swear that if that is what happens with this series I will burn it.
  2. Putting an apostrophe in the middle of a name or any other word. I think this is an affectation that fantasy and sci-fi writers use too often. If you can't make your characters exotic to a Western audience without adding an apostrophe then maybe you don't need that character.
  3. The main female character is almost useless. Yes, she's a competent healer but she never acts on her own. She gets kidnapped twice and both times gets away because of someone else's actions. It's like she's a Doctor's companion from the 60s always getting captured. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Numinous Place

I got a very interesting email from the people creating "the world's most technologically advanced book." The book will use all kinds of media to tell their story including art, video, news reports, phone calls and emails. According to the email I got, Russell Crowe will be one of the characters.

They have only 4 days to raise $40,000 so click here to fund this project on Kickstarter.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Calypso Directive

The Calypso Directive by Brian Andrews is a fast paced thriller. Will Foster escapes from medical quarantine and goes on the run. He needs to figure out what's been done to him and why. Luckily he has an ex-girlfriend who can help him.

I enjoyed this book. It's premise was plausible. Things moved along swiftly. The medical jibber jabber was kept to a minimum. I'd love to see more books featuring members of the "think tank." Two things I could have done without: the psycho bounty hunters and the ending.

When I read a book that has good guys and bad guys, I want all the good guys to win. I do not want one or more of the good guys to end up in the same - or worse - situation from where they started. I also want all the bad guys punished. No bad guy should ever get rewarded at the end of the book. I know reality is like that but I read as an escape from reality. I need my good guys to have good endings.

Even with the unsatisfactory ending, this book was still a worthwhile read. The questions surrounding genetics and who owns our genes are relevant in a time when companies are taking out patents on them.

I received a review copy of this book

Friday, July 27, 2012

Suzy's Case

Suzy's Case by Andy Siegel is all about medical malpractice. Surprisingly, it's not boring. Siegel manages to keep the story moving along without tying readers down with lots of technical jibber jabber. This is the first book in a planned series featuring personal injury and Malpractice attorney Tug Wyler.

I enjoyed the book. It moved at a fair pace. The story was straight forward. There were lots of colorful characters. The only thing I didn't like was the main character, Tug. That is a fatal flaw.

Tug has a habit of saying or doing things that show him as a sexist jerk. For example, every woman in the book - accept for one in her late fifties - is an object of prurient interest. The man wants to shag them all even though he's married. Then he tries to make it all okay by saying "At least I admit it." There are other instances of Tug being a jerk but the sex is a recurring theme.

Owning up to bad behavior doesn't make it okay in my books. I took an instant dislike to the man. I honestly didn't care if he got bludgeoned or shot or killed outright. I kept reading because I wanted Suzy to get what she needed. I'm not the least bit tempted to read another book in the series.

Friday, July 20, 2012

This Dark Earth

I almost didn't read This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs because I hate zombie books. The cover didn't entice me either. I'm not inclined to read books that state, "Grab your head-knocker and get ready for some wet work in the murder-hole" first thing.

I got this book from the publisher by mistake. Somewhere out there there's a zombie fan wondering what the hell to do with my cozy. I tried to pawn this book off on friends but I couldn't find any takers so I had to bite the bullet. I'm glad I did because it was a pleasant surprise. Jacobs didn't go overboard with the gore so I was able to skip over brief sections without much trouble.

If you have to read a zombie apocalypse novel I'd suggest you read this one. You'll have to skim over the cause of the zombie outbreak. Some of the characters think it might have been a biological weapon gone wrong but we're never told the truth. You'll also have to gloss over the fact that characters survive ground zero of a nuke by hiding in a culvert. It is fiction after all.

If you're interested in stories that examine a post-apocalypse Earth where the best and the worst of humanity are trying to build a new society, then this is a book for you. It is well written and the characters are interesting. You never know when things are going to go bad for the heroes. Be warned, the book ends in a place that cries out for a sequel. That's the only thing I didn't like. I wanted closure. Maybe I'll get it in the next book. If there is one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Excavation Trailer

Book description from Amazon:

High in the Andes, Dr. Henry Conklin discovers a 500-year-old mummy that should not be there. While deep in the South American jungle, Conklin's nephew, Sam, stumbles upon a remarkable site nestled between two towering peaks, a place hidden from human eyes for thousands of years. 
Ingenious traps have been laid to ensnare the careless and unsuspecting, and wealth beyond imagining could be the reward for those with the courage to face the terrible unknown. But where the perilous journey inward ends--in the cold, shrouded heart of a breathtaking necropolis--something else is waiting for Sam Conklin and his exploratory party. A thing created by Man, yet not humanly possible. Something wondrous . . . something terrifying.

Buy Excavation

Friday, July 13, 2012

Signs of the South

Signs Of The South by Narielle Living is a paranormal mystery. The action takes place in a small town in Virginia. Ella moves into a house without any idea of its history. Soon strange things start happening and she is having strange dreams. Eventually Ella has to accept that she's living with a ghost. All she needs to do  is solve a disappearance from more than 30 years ago.

I've never been to the Southern United States (I'm pretty sure Southern California doesn't count) but the more books set there that I read the less I want to go. This book doesn't help things. Think of any "Southern" cliche and it's in this book. Racism? Check. Misogyny? Check. Stupidity? Check. Hypocrisy? Check. Deep dark secrets? Check.

Having said that, this isn't a bad book. It's a fairly fast read. Ella is likable and the mystery is intriguing. As for the other characters, Ella's sister is annoying and there are a pair of college professors who remind me of Nick and Nora Charles for some reason. There's a cop for a love interest but he really isn't in the book very much (though he and Ella end up in bed pretty quickly.)

My one big peeve with this book is that the "whodunit" is never solved. The body is found but no culprit is named or punished. When I read 348 pages of a story, I want to know who did it! If they're not going to be punished, it better be because they're dead.

I received a review copy of this book

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest Post: Brooklyn James


After completing my second book, Vigilare, which is book #1 in the Vigilare trilogy, I thought I had written a detective mystery with a paranormal spin. Lo and behold, my surprise, when I kept reading reviews referring to my novel as a THRILLER. I had no idea I was that exciting!

Gabino Iglesias of the Austin Post said:
“Vigilare walks the line between a thriller and a supernatural adventure while safely anchored in a scientific discourse around blood that James put together so well that it's reminiscent of a Douglas Preston or Michael Crichton novel. With action, romance, a strong female hero and a likeable group of characters, Vigilare reads like a good action movie.”
After reading his review, I call up my Editor, and I say, “How would you classify Vigilare?”

She says, “With all of that action, twist and turns, and a cliffhanger-ending, you have a Thriller on your hands, my dear.”

With further research, I found that I did in fact write the beginnings of a Thriller trilogy, as the novel has aspects of suspense, tension and excitement. Wikipedia says, “Thrillers heavily stimulate the viewer's moods giving them a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, surprise, anxiety and/or terror.”

With renewed clarification of just exactly what my novel consisted of, my curiosity was piqued about the Thriller genre. After looking into it further, I found men have been writing and reading thrillers for years, with the name James Patterson dominating that list. The genre is relatively new as a mainstream medium for women, however there are many talented female thriller writers, such as Tami Hoag, who successfully made the jump from romance to thrillers. I always found Anne Rice be to quite thrilling, even before the term thriller became synonymous with books. One book I have on my to-read list is Jessica Fortunato's, Sin Collector. I certainly find the premise thrilling!

From what I gather, there is quite a gender discrepancy in the thriller genre, as far as what content the reading public will accept from a male versus a female writer. I get questions every now and then about my “dark side.” In my interview with Gabino Iglesias of the Austin Post, he said, “Looking at James, a stunning belle with a perpetual smile on her face, it's hard to picture what would drive her to write a novel where sexual abuse and death are two crucial and ever-present elements.”

Vigilare is set in the town of Vanguard, where Detectives Gina DeLuca and Tony Gronkowski investigate a string of murders among the city's most loathsome population, rapists and pedophiles, of which the Vigilare is most likely responsible. Vigilare, an Italian term, meaning to watch over, to look out, to protect--is a play on vigilantism. I was inspired by comic books and movies, such as Batman and The Punisher. And I do love me some Boondock Saints. Pitting evil against good, and how good can turn bad, even with the most pure of intentions.

I am an upbeat, positive individual in my personal life. I like light, love, peace and tranquility. However, when I get into writer mode, most often I enjoy allowing my mind to take me to uncomfortable places. I find fear only propels us to a deeper understanding.

In my first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me (An Amazon Breakthrough Novel Quarter Finalist), I take on themes, such as domestic abuse, alcoholism and suicide. I certainly do not take on darker subject matter with the intent to justify it or glorify it. Shocking things happen to people everyday. As a writer, I feel difficult subject matter can be delivered candidly, yet with enough finesse and tact to allow readers to transport through it (maybe on the edge of their seats...or biting their fingernails) to the other side.

To start in the darkness, allows an author to steer her words toward the light, allowing characters to come to terms with tragic things in their past, growing, evolving and coming out of it. For me, dark, intense reads allow for pivotal character development. And as a reader, I enjoy works that are more than the words on the page. Books that make me think. Books that make me question my own morality, standards and outlook. Books that leave me wondering, What would I do? If given the same set of obstacles. As a reader, I don't pay particular attention as to who is delivering the story…male or female.
“If there is something in which James excelled, it has to be the way she treated her subject matter. Scenes of attempted rape and physical violence abound, but they're always carefully and tactfully done. Instead of going for the cheap thrills and shock value, the author gently deconstructs a sad reality and unflinchingly exposes the psychological devastation that such an experience can bring.” -Austin Post
Even with such nice reviews, I receive some negative feedback every once in a blue moon. “I didn't like the language in certain scenes.” OR “Some of those scenes were hard to read.” Menacing, disturbed people are not going to talk like alter boys. And if those darker scenes didn't make you a bit uncomfortable, then I didn't do my job as a writer. I always ask if they would think as such if they had read the same scene from a male writer. This usually causes them to tilt their head and think momentarily.

Maybe it's the mixture of dark and light, hard and soft, trauma and romance, that makes it glaring. There are some questions as to whether a true thriller should include a romantic underbelly. For me, that is the redeeming quality. It's like a female heroine. She can't be concrete tough and without flaws, or the reader will not relate nor empathize. Right? I get no satisfaction out of reading a book that starts out dark, intense and at times horrifying, and ends the same way. As a reader, I have to have a resolution. Take me on a journey, even a harrowing one, but give me closure.

I'm currently reading Wodke Hawkinson's Betrayed, a perfect example of a book that keeps me turning the pages. At times, it is brutal and harrowing, but as the story plays out, it is redeeming. A nice mixture of suspense and romance, all the while intricately developing their characters and the forces that drive them.

Essentially, I write from the female perspective, with intent to tell a good story, and empower those who have come through challenging circumstances. It is not by choice that darker subjects pique my attention and weave their way into my writing. It simply is what comes out of me. It has been a most interesting journey into the thriller genre. If you may be interested in a suspenseful journey, I hope you will take into consideration my Vigilare series.

Brooklyn James is an author/singer/songwriter inspired by life in the Live Music Capital of Austin, Texas. Her first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, has an original music soundtrack and was chosen as a Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Brooklyn holds an M.A. in Communication, and a B.S. in both Nursing and Animal Science. The Vigilare trilogy is an adaptation from a short narrative film. She is currently working on the last novel in the series, as well as another book and music soundtrack combination. All songs from the soundtracks are written/co-written and performed by the author. Listen free at her website or on Facebook

Vigilare and Vigilare: Hell Hound (Volume 2) are available now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Year Zero Trailer

Book description from Amazon:

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

Soon he’s on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Corpse in the Crystal Ball

Corpse in the Crystal Ball by Kari Lee Townsend is the second book in her Fortune Teller series. It's a fun, fast read. The characters are engaging and the mystery is just complicated enough to keep a reader's interest.

Psychic Sunny Meadows (!) has the hots for Detective Mitch Stone and just as she works up the nerve to do something about it his ex comes to town. Before you can say "Red Shirt!" she's dead and Stone is accused of the crime. Meadows is asked by the mayor of the town to help clear Stone's name. If that's not enough to do, she has to look after her Granny Gert who is, let's just say, slightly wacky. Not as wacky as Stephanie Plum's granny but cast from the same mold.

The things I don't like about this series are mostly small things but every time I notice them they pull me out of the story and that, for me, is a big problem. The main character's name bugs me. Sunny Meadows. It's really hard to take her seriously.  She's supposed to be this terrific psychic but she seems to have trouble reading people and situations. She often jumps to conclusions that are skewed if not outright wrong.

As with the first book in the series, the idea that the mayor would insist that she work with the police to solve a crime is implausible. I can see a defense attorney getting a lot of the "evidence" she uncovers thrown out.* Especially in this case where she wants to do the nasty with the prime suspect.  I know this is a work of fiction but the basic premise has to be plausible. I just don't buy it.

Having said that, the book is well written and the characters likable enough to hold my interest. I will probably read the next book in the series with the hopes that Sunny will be a paid consultant with a willing Detective Stone so the mayor doesn't have to insist they work together.

*I will concede that some of my objections stem from differences between the US and Canadian legal systems and my understanding thereof.

I received a review copy of this book.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Guest Post: Kari Lee Townsend

Kari Lee Townsend's latest cozy

What is a Cozy Mystery anyway?

When I first started writing mysteries, I didn’t have any clue there were so many different kinds. Cozy mysteries, soft boiled mysteries, hard boiled mysteries, thrillers, etc. It was a little overwhelming, but once I did a little homework, it wasn’t so bad.

I chose to write cozy mysteries because I love everything about the word “cozy.”

Cozy mysteries are usually set in a small town. Or if they aren’t in a small town, then they revolve around a small area like the theater or some area that feels like a small community. The small town almost becomes a character itself. A place you would want to visit with quaint aspects like the shops and maybe a park or some unique touristy things to do. Readers love to keep revisiting places they know and love.

Cozy mysteries are all about the characters. The regulars who live and work in the quaint town you’ve created. They grow and evolve and form relationships that readers want to keep reading about. That’s what I love about a series. You get to keep up with what’s happening in these characters’ lives. Root for them when they’re down, cheer them on when they up, fear for them when they’re in trouble. You become invested in them almost as if they are real. And with some cozy series running so long, you really feel like you’ve known them for years because … well … you have!

I love romance in a cozy because the best part of a romance for me is the chemistry between the couple. In a cozy, everything too steamy takes place off screen so to speak. The only thing you see on the page is the chemistry, and well, okay a little bit of heat, but nothing that would make your granny blush.

The same goes for violence and swearing. We get the best aspects of trying to figure out whodunit without having to see the actual violence itself. That too takes place off screen, and we are simply left with the clues and suspects to work it all out. There can still be danger and your lead can still be in jeopardy, but you can rest assured nothing too scary will happen. For me, that’s the perfect type of book. Great characters, a perfect setting, a bit of romance, an interesting mystery to solve and a touch of suspense. I, for one, hope to be writing cozy mysteries for a very long time.

National Bestselling Author, RT Reader’s Choice Award & Agatha Nominee Kari Lee Townsend lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter, who keep her grounded and make everything she does worthwhile…not to mention provide her with loads of material for her books. Kari is a longtime lover of reading and writing, with a masters in English education, who spends her days trying to figure out whodunit. Funny how no one at home will confess any more than the characters in her mysteries!
Kari writes fun and exciting stories for any age, set in small towns, with mystical elements and quirky characters as Kari Lee Townsend. Kari also writes romantic comedies and women’s fiction with the same sense of humor and quirky characters as Kari Lee Harmon.  To find out more about Kari and all her books go to

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity

The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray is a collection of 14 short stories about fae living in the modern world. None of the stories really stand out. A week after reading it I have to look at the table of contents to remind myself what I read.

There aren't any "big stars" from the fantasy world in this book. No Jim Butcher or Laurel K. Hamilton or Tanya Huff. There are only a couple of names I'm sure I recognize (Elizabeth Bear, Anton Strout) but since I don't always remember the author's name that doesn't mean much.

Of the 14 stories, my favorite is "How to Be Human" by Barbara Ashford. The idea of a fae becoming a self-help guru spending his days running motivational seminars tickled my funny bone. Fae trying to spread the use of plastic in "We Will Not Be Undersold" by Seanan McGuire was slightly disturbing because it explains some things.

This collection of stories is an easy read for a rainy after noon. Each of the stories deal with a different aspect of being fae in the mortal world. The tales are uniformly good. You might even find yourself wanting more of the specific world in a story.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Trailer

Book description from Amazon:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. 
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Calypso Directive Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
For one hundred and fifty-five days, Will Foster has been locked in medical quarantine without his consent. The doctors claim he is infected with a deadly virus, but this is a lie. Encoded in his DNA is a mutation that provides immunity from disease for all who possess it, source code that Vyrogen Pharmaceuticals aims to commercialize as a multi-billion dollar gene therapy.Against all odds, Foster escapes his laboratory prison and steals a virulent strain of bubonic plague as insurance. To help him unravel the mystery inside him, Foster contacts the only person he can trust--a former lover and microbiologist living Vienna-- and the two become fugitives, hunted across the heart of Europe.Under the guise of averting a plague pandemic, Vryogen hires an elite, underground Think Tank to track down Foster. But when the team sets a trap for Foster, they discover they're not the only ones in the hunt. In a race against two deadly assassins, can the brilliant minds of the Think Tank unravel the truth before time runs out for their quarry?In a novel where conscience clashes with greed, loyalty with suspicion, and paranoia with reality, THE CALYPSO DIRECTIVE deftly explores the issues of genetic exploitation and piracy.

Buy The Calypso Directive

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Winslow Incident Trailer

Book description from Amazon:

A tale of ghosts, madness and other strange happenings. 
What would you do if everyone around you went instantly, inexplicably mad? 
Welcome to Winslow, Washington, where all anyone expects is another ordinary summer: tourists taking the ghost town tour, locals cooling off in Ruby Creek, the carnival in Prospect Park. Nothing unusual. That's because residents here have always done well at keeping order, keeping secrets and keeping the past buried. 
Until now. 
First, the animals go strange. Then townsfolk begin losing their minds. And that's when the ghosts come out to haunt. 
Inspired by true events. Set in a small town hidden in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The Winslow Incident--a present-day thriller informed by historical accounts of entire villages gone mad. What triggered the mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials? Why did residents of Pont-Saint-Esprit suddenly lose their minds? And how does it feel to be the last sane person in town?

Buy The Winslow Incident

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Parade's Summer Reading Guide

I got an interesting email from the people at Parade magazine:

In PARADE's 2012 Summer Reading Guide out this Sunday, Castle star Nathan Fillion graces our cover and reveals why he's hooked on books. Fillion’s favorite books are a fitting selection for an actor who has earned serious cult status— just ask his million-plus Twitter followers. “I’m the biggest geek of all,” he tells PARADE. “Adventure, fantasy, comic books—I can’t get enough.” As the son of two highschool English teachers, actor Nathan Fillion, who plays a mystery novelist turned crime solver on ABC’s Castle, learned early on that books possess magical qualities. “Whatever our bedtime was as kids, we could stay up an extra half hour if we were reading,” Fillion tells PARADE for this Sunday’s issue. “Now I read in bed, I read at work. I read standing in line. It’s like, ‘Hello, my name is Nathan and I am a reader.’ ”

 A sampling of Nathan’s favorite reads:

Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence by Michael Capuzzo “I love reading about shark attacks,” Fillion says about this real-life story of a Jaws-like rampage on the New Jersey coast in 1916. “A book that can make you afraid? I love it.”

The Spenser detective novels by Robert B. Parker “Spenser’s supertough, but he’s not indestructible. He’s got just the right amount of macho. If they remake that TV series [Spenser: For Hire, in which Robert Urich starred in the 1980s], I’d be interested.”

See video of Fillion at the shoot and hear more about his series, fans, and summer travel plans. Plus, sample the new Richard Castle Mystery: on the Parade website

Friday, June 8, 2012

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar is a steampunk adventure novel. I could image this story being serialized in a newspaper. If they still did that type of thing. The story starts off with Milady De Winter arriving at a the scene of a murder on the Rue Morgue in Paris. And the literary hits just keep coming. I started keeping track of all the references to other fictional characters from the late nineteenth century but gave up because there are so many. There are also a lot of references to real people and events of the same time period.

Like any steampunk story, the world described slightly different than the real Victorian age. For one thing, an alien lizard is the queen of England. Seriously. It's a very important plot point. The other thing is there is absolutely no racism in Tidhar's world. The man character is a 6 foot tall black woman who once married into English society. She now works for the Black Council of France as some sort of supper agent/troubleshooter and no one bats an eye.

The crime scene Milady is called to is a locked room (how I detest locked room mysteries!) but once you notice the window is open it's not so important. In fact the whole murder is inconsequential to the rest of the story. I read the book and I still don't know why the victim was carrying something inside his stomach. At some point Milady ends up with a piece of a jade sculpture in her eye but it's not clear where the piece came from. Was it once inside the belly of a dead man?

There are a lot of people in this book and not a lot for some of them to do. Everyone's after the jade lizard statue. Everyone wants it for his/her own reasons. The only people who know what the statue really is are the lizards. And the reader. The statue "talks" to the person holding it and to Milady but neither of them understand what it's talking about. Anyone who has read a lot of science fiction will figure out what the statue is for.

I could have done without whole portions of this book. I think they could be ripped out without causing any ripples in the story. Sometimes color is just annoying after a while. Having said that, I will read more books by Tidhar.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bedeviled Eggs

Bedeviled Eggs by Laura Childs is a cozy that revolves around a restaurant/book and craft store (yeah, I don't get it either) run by three women. Suzanne, Toni and Petra are friends of a similar age and background. I'm not a big fan of cozies but, being a Cancer, I am drawn to stories that revolve around food. It is unfortunate that, with many of these stories, the recipes are more interesting than the plot. This one is one of those.

A man running for mayor is killed with a crossbow outside the restaurant. A little later a deputy is killed with his own gun. Suzanne does a little snooping to find out if the two are connected. She ends up coming face to face with a killer she never suspected. That is the BIG problem with this novel. NO ONE could have expected the killer because he came out of nowhere. There are no clues leading to him. There are lots of red herrings in the plot but no clues as to who the real killer is. Suzanne is shocked and so are the readers. I call FOUL!

At one point in the novel they make a point of finding out who owns a crossbow and who could have the talent to use one (the victim is shot between the eyes on the first shot) this leads to a red herring. It's never explained where the killer gets a crossbow. One possibility is the museum he works at. This is a stretch because I can't think of a reason for a crossbow to be in any local history museum in the US. They were never used as weapons in North American history. Even if we stipulate that one was in the collection, what are the chances that the head of the museum is a crack shot?

My other problem with this book is the three women.  While they have some characteristics that make them unique, I found it hard to tell them apart in scenes full of dialogue between the three of them. Their voices just weren't distinctive enough.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cook the Books

Cook the Books by Juessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant is the fifth book in the Gourmet Girl series. I haven't read the other books series. After reading this one I'm probably not going to read any of the others. It's not that the book was bad. It's just that it wasn't really interesting.

One of the quotes on the back cover sums it up: "Recipes that will leave you hungry for more of the Gourmet Girl's antics." There are recipes included at the back of the book and they are a heck of a lot more interesting than anything that happened in the previous 224 pages. I wonder about using a quote that praises the recipes and says nothing about the story. I guess they were desperate.

The "mystery" in this book (who killed the cook?) is so weak that I'm not sure I'd even consider it a mystery. It becomes obvious rather early who the bad guy is. Most of the book is taken up with the main character, Chloe Carter, complaining about her school work, her lack of funds, her part-time job and her ex-boyfriend. Not necessarily in that order.  This is pretty much why I don't like "Chick Lit."

I've also been under the impression that a mystery novel requires a detective - even if it is an amateur. No one does any investigating in this book. The mystery is solved by accident with a "deathbed" confession.