Friday, March 30, 2012

Blood Law

Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes is the first book in the Alexandra Sabian series. Sabian is an "Enforcer" with the Federal Bureau of Preternateral Investigation (FBPI) investigating a series of vampire beheadings. Sabian, like everyone who works for the FBPI, is a vampire. The murders are similar to the 1968 murder of her father.

I have got to stop reading other people's reviews. I read one that said they were totally surprised by who the killer was. Really? The first page tells you it's someone who loved a woman named Claire who was killed by vampires. They blame Sabian for not catching the killers. At the first crime scene Sabian says it's someone with basic forensic knowledge. A few chapters later you find out it's Claire's husband.  Towards the end of the book, the human/vampire liaison officer has a conversation with someone who, if he was in the book at all, it was only to say a word or two. The killer said he was going to be there. Might as well have but a big red sign saying killer over his head. Do you need to be slapped in the face with a trout before you notice?

How could anyone be surprised at the identity of the killer? If you didn't notice you weren't really reading. That is right up there with not knowing that Rue from The Hunger Games was black.  Don't get me started! That's a whole other blog post. Grr.


The book revolves around one cliche after another. Small town prejudice. Hick sheriff who hates vampires. Anti-vampire hate groups. Former lover/mentor being called in to look over Sabian's shoulder. Bad guy wants to hurt Sabian so he intends on going after the only family member he knows about as a finale. Cliche.  If Holmes had tried any harder to connect the vampire rights movement with the civil rights movement she might have given herself a concussion.

There's nothing new for vampire lovers in this book. Even the terminology is old. Sabian is an "Enforcer" which is a term you'll find in many books. Her ex-fiance used to be a Hunter before vampires "came out" after the murder of Sabian's father. They're not even used in an original way. Could she not have found some  name for her vampire investigators other than the FBPI?

All this might give you the impression I didn't like this book. Not so. It was okay. Totally worth taking a couple of hours to read. The characters were cliched but  I can see them developing into something more. You have to take what I say with a grain of salt. I have read hundreds of vampire novels. I live in eternal hope of finding something new.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Grand Murder

Long time readers of this blog know that won't review self published books. After reading A Grand Murder by Stacy Verdick Case I may have to add independent publishers to that list.

Let me say straight off that it's not a bad book. It's a mediocre mystery. The author is pretty good at dialogue and knows it. Most of the book is dialogue. I think that the author can only get better. I thought the characters were interesting and I wouldn't mind reading more about them. One quibble I have is with the tittle of the book. The murder takes place on a street called Grand Avenue Hill. Two scenes take place at the crime scene and it it not mentioned otherwise. The cover pictures a large cup of coffee (the main character drinks a lot of it) which makes me think of a "grande" from Starbucks. If it is supposed to be a play on words it doesn't work for me.

My other nitpick is the geeky tech guy in love with the beautiful and unobtainable detective. Can we do away with that cliche already?

The real problems with this book I lay at the publisher's doorstep. They should have better proof readers and editors. Here are a few of the admittedly nit picky things that bugged me:

Words are missing here and there. For example the word "of" from the phrase "image of success" on page 158.
Plurals for words ending in an "s" are written with an apostrophe and an "s" instead of the now more common apostrophe. Page 114 has "Ridges's" instead of Ridges'.  
The "Ridges" spoken of on pages 114 doesn't show up anywhere else. I suspect the author changed the last name of the victim and used the "find & replace" on her word processor forgetting about the one plural. 
Words the author wanted to stress are underlined like the "I" on page 150. 
Use of a "dash" instead of a hyphen. They're sprinkled all over the place. Page 16 has nine of them. Some words I haven't seen hyphenated in years are hyphenated in this book. Using the dash takes up more than twice the space of a hyphen. It breaks up the writing and is really annoying.

The book is 207 pages long but the type is larger than normal. 207 pages of normal sized print is still a short novel. The price listed on the back of the book is $14.95 USD which would mean it would be about $17.95 CAN. If' I'd paid that much for this book I would have wanted my money back.

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Hunger Games

I'll admit that I never heard of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games until they started to make a movie of it. From the beginning the fans had definite ideas about who should play what parts and how the movie should look. I purposely did not watch any of the trailers or look at any of the images leaked to the media before I read the book. Now that I have, I can say I think the movie will be very interesting.

North America is now the country of Panem which is ruled by the Capital. There are twelve Districts. There used to be thirteen but one rebelled and was nuked or something. Every year each of the Districts must send a young male and a young female as "tributes" to compete in the Hunger Games. Think of it as Survivor to the death. Or as they say in the Highlander world: There can be only one!

When her little sister is picked as a tribute Katniss volunteers to go in her place. She is sent to the Capital with Peeta, the baker's son who has a crush on her. I figured that Katniss would win the games. I also thought someone else would kill Peeta and then Katniss would kill them. I was wrong.

I enjoyed the book. I felt sorry for Peeta, especially at the end. I kind of hate that it's the first of a trilogy. I hope the other two books are really good. Maybe they'll make movies out of them too. I've read that the plot is very similar to Battle Royale by Koushun  Takami which was published in 1999 (THG was published in 2008) but since I haven't read it I can't comment.