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.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Unclean Spirits

Unclean Spirits by M. L. N. Hanover is the first book in an urban fantasy series called The Black Sun's Daughter. Jayné Heller is a college drop out with no friends, family or direction in life. Her uncle Eric dies and leaves her his vast fortune. She also gets dropped into the deep end of a world she never imagined existed.

Eric Heller was, for lack of a better term, a demon hunter. In the book they're called "riders" because they jump into a human and take control of his/her body. When a rider hit squad tries to kill her and fails, Jayné is introduced to a whole new world. Before long she learns the name of the rider who killed her uncle. Like most "good guys" she immediately decides that she has to finish Eric's work and kill the monster who murdered him.

Of course things aren't that simple.

The book is fast paced. The characters are interesting. In the beginning, I  found Jayné's "poor me I'm all alone" annoying. Luckily for her, she pulls herself together and gets on with the job. There's humor in the story which is a good thing. It can't all be death and demons. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

There was one little thing that bugged me. The main character's name, Jayné, is pronounced zha-nay. She has to keep mentioning that people are calling her "Jane" but she doesn't correct people. It's only the readers who are subjected to it ever and over when she says she doesn't correct them. I don't see the point in giving a character an odd name other than to add words to the overall word count.

A related peeve is the author's use of not one, not two but three initials instead of a first name. What the heck's up with that?

Last peeves: Truth in advertising. If you look at the cover she seems to have a short sword in her hand. The only weapon she uses in the book is a rifle. In the book the tattoo on her back is described as looking like Asian script. The tattoo on the cover doesn't look Asian or script-like at all.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Where Angels Fear to Tread

Where Angels Fear to Tread is an urban fantasy by Thomas E. Sniegoski. It is the third book featuring Remy Chandler a private investigator working in modern day Boston. He also happens to be a Seraphim in human form. It's an interesting trick of fantasy that it's easier to accept Remy being a Seraphim than it is to accept that he has a talking dog named Marlowe. I mean, really, why would a soldier of God need a talking dog? In this book he has little to do other than promote the stereotype that retrievers are not too bright, easily distracted and far to food oriented for their own good.

The story starts, like all good noir stories, when a woman walks into Chandler's office. Her ex-husband has taken their autistic daughter and disappeared. The little girl has a special talent, she can draw the future. She not only drew the abduction weeks before but she also drew a picture of Remy and Marlowe complete with his address and phone number.

It's a fairly simple story of good versus evil and eviler. Not having read the first two books in the series I don't know why Remy fights against his Seraphim nature. I got kind of tired of Remy not letting him out to play. Then again, the book might have ended sooner if he had. There are interesting characters in this book. I might go read the other books just to see how they all came together. There is humor in the book but some Christians will find some of it irreverent if not downright blasphemous.

A couple of things bugged me. The first one is because I'm a dog lover. Remy feeds Marlowe apples. Apples seeds are toxic to dogs. I would be happier if Remy had cored the apple and given it to Marlowe in pieces. No one should just give their dog an apple.

The other thing that bugged me is this sentence:
The man in the sweat suit shifted suddenly in his chair, bending forward to bury his head in his hands, softly screaming.
How the hell does someone softly scream? I can't imagine. It bugged me enough that I remembered what page it was on (152) after I finished the book.

The last thing I'll say is that I never trust a book that has a positive quote on the cover from someone who is listed in the acknowledgments/dedication of said book.
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