Monday, January 30, 2012

Book: Abduction of Mary Rose by Joan Hall Hovey

This is a fairly good mystery, with decent suspense in places.  Hovey's work here verges on very good, but never quite makes it.  I see evidence that she can (maybe will, maybe already is) be a great writer, as the bones of the story are wonderful.

The opening hooked me right in, and the first third of the book kept the momentum going.  As the story progressed, though, the suspense lessened, the dastardly villain was revealed (about halfway through) and the instances of proofreading errors increased greatly.  It became more of a chore to keep going, and just about the time the mistakes made me consider quitting, the book reached its climax.  The 3/4 in place of dashes, starting with the first page and continuing through the entirety of the book, were especially annoying.

I did keep reading to the end, because I had come to care a bit about the main character, Mary Rose's daughter, Naomi.  As far as characterization goes, Naomi was definitely most fleshed out and easiest to understand.  Secondary characters were less consistently well done and in some cases, not well at all for their importance to the continuity.

This book was not a dog, but wasn't great, either.  Solid three stars for keeping me interested in what happened to Naomi long enough to ignore the other stuff.

This was a Kindle edition that I downloaded while it was free.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book: Second Star by Dana Stabenow

I found this book on one of my searches for free Kindle downloads.  I put off reading it because I just have so many Kindle books on my phone!

One I started, I had a really difficult time stopping for little things like eating, and I did not go to sleep until I finished it.

This is hard science-fiction, no fantasy here.  Wonderful characters about whom it was easy to care - I cried in at least two places, so much did I care about the characters.  Even though much of the book is basically "a day in the life," it was far from mundane.  When the story heated up and the real action got started, it was even more fascinating.

Polished writing and professional editing.  I did not find a single editable error in the entire book.  Considering the state of many of my Kindle reads lately, I'd almost give an extra star just for that, if I could.  :)

My two regrets:  I did not find this book, or its sequels in the 90s, and the two Kindle sequels are completely out of my budget.

Suitable for about 13 and up.  There are a couple of sexual situations alluded to, but not actually put on paper (so to speak).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book: Ten More Bodies by Connie Triplett

I made myself finish this one, because the last book I tried to read, I had to give up, and I refused to give up on two books in a row. I'm giving it three stars because it was a good story that could have been great. FBI agents, serial killers, small-town law enforcement, southern settings, maybe a touch of romance. All things I love in a book. I took a chance on a book with only two reviews, with one being from the alleged proofreader, and thought I couldn't miss. Boy, was I wrong.

The writing was high school level, with awkward sentence structure, grammar errors and an inexplicable dearth of commas where they really should have been. Gads! Chapters were rife with short sentences, quotation marks around conversations with no idea who was actually speaking, and thought processes that seemed more suited to high school students than trained FBI agents. There were characterization issues and problems with realism: federal agents don't hop on planes on a whim, or visit death row prisoners just because they ask. Nor do they conduct entire investigations without reporting to a supervisor. Trained federal agents who happen to be female and "serial killer specialists" don't scream like ten-year-olds and give up on life just because there is no immediately obvious way to get out of a dangerous situation without a male agent readily to hand.

I'll give Ms. Triplett credit for an intriguing idea that could have kept me immersed, but not for writing a good book. The end leaves room for a sequel. Unfortunately for this author, I won't be looking for it.

If grammar errors don't bother you, feel free to read this book - you may just like it. Otherwise, steer clear.

This was a free Kindle edition.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book: Killer Temptations, volume 1 by Danity O'Shae

I enjoyed this book, a little bit.  I wanted to enjoy it more, but the plot kept getting interrupted with sex scenes.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE sex in my books - the more graphic the better, though I prefer tastefully graphic, rather than prurient.  But in this case, the sex scenes were fairly short, not really very appealing, and were stuck in right when the story itself was starting to get interesting.  Some scenes were necessary, considering the subject and plotline.  Necessary or not, they nearly always felt intrusive rather than important to forwarding the movement of the plot, and the attraction between the two main female characters seemed contrived and was never convincing to me.

There is a really good story lurking here, about the underground S&M club scene, and the women who get into it, for whatever reasons.  It just never lived up to its potential.  The relationships were good, but not really great, not enough to make me really care about following these women into the next book.

Supremely annoying was the author's use of the word breast, always referring to both breasts.  She would say nipples or titties, but the word breast was always singular.  The first couple of times, I just thought it was a typo, but it continued to happen.  She used it a lot, and I got so tired of it.

At the time of this review submission, I'm the sole dissenting vote in a small field of five-star ratings, so your mileage probably will vary.

This was a free Kindle edition of the book.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book: Embers of Hope, Flickers of Passion by Kristen James

Gag me.  With a spoon.

The writing level in this book is someone taking college courses, writing a novella for a class assignment.  Poor sentence structure, mixed up words, bad grammar, and so on.  It needs a solid once-over from an editor/proofreader (the author's blurb claims she is one, but if so.....) to clean up the mess.  I was mentally rewriting the book while I was reading it.

The premise was good - a woman moves to Texas from Oregon, meets a guy, marries him, has a baby with him, then comes home because her best friend's husband died.  The woman has secrets about her time in Texas, things she didn't tell either her best friend, Cassie, or her mother, Margaret.

To the book's detriment, therein lies much of the conflict in the story - Savannah reconciling her secrets within herself, and sharing them with her friend and her mother. In what could have been an interesting twist, turns out that the guy Cassie sends to pick Savannah up at the truck rental place when she hits town is Cassie's dead husband's best friend, and is also the firefighter who rescued Savannah from an apartment fire two years ago.  Unfortunately, Cassie is angry at Jason for killing her husband (not that he actually did), and the chemistry between Savannah and Jason is tepid, at best.  The enmity between Cassie and Jason is the remaining conflict in the story.  There's a small B arc with Savannah's ex-husband suing for custody, but it's not even really interesting.  That B arc did have the most glaring mistake in the book, so wrong that it stuck in my mind.  A woman CANNOT keep a man from seeing his children just because he is not paying child support.  CANNOT.  In the eyes of the law, paying child support and spending time with your children are two completely disparate things.

Jason resists getting sexual with Savannah (with one maddening exception) for over 80% of the book, for reasons that didn't make sense to me at all.  When they did finally consummate, there was a lot of ear-nuzzling and back-rubbing, leading to the least satisfying sexual experience I've read in quite a long time.  I mean, they were talking throughout their encounter!  If the sex is good, conversation with full words is damn near impossible.  The one sexual encounter about halfway through the book happened on the couch with the toddler playing in the kitchen.  Every mom I know lets her kid play in the kitchen unsupervised.  And every mom I know thinks that you can indulge in some heavy petting on the couch and the kid won't even notice the noise.

I would have like to have enjoyed this book, but I really didn't.  Too bad, because it could have been a really good story.  I might give Ms. James another try in five or six years, in the hopes that her writing has matured, or she has a better editor.  But since there are so many books out there to read, probably not.

This was a free Kindle edition.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book: Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater

Love a man in uniform, especially when he's a cowboy, but...

For the most part, I really enjoyed this story.  It was well-written, a very pleasant change for a Kindle edition, with great characterization and colorfully scenic backdrops.  Laughably accurate as to high school football in Texas, particularly in small towns.  It was a sweet love story, with a sweet ending.  Nonspoilery comments: there is no cursing and no sex, only some very tame kisses, and a scene or two with fairly frank descriptions of a man struggling with battle fatigue.  That's as untame as it gets.

Ms. Gillenwater set this book (and future books, I presume) in West Texas (not to be confused with West, TX, lol) on a working ranch outside of a small town.  The small town is named after the heroine's family.

Descriptions of work done on the ranch, and on the neighboring cotton farm, were accurate, to the best of my knowledge, but glossed over a few things, maybe because such descriptions of spring roundup activities, for example, would have been inappropriate for the christian audience.

PTSD is a serious issue, not just for many of today's returning Armed Services veterans, but for those who have been back for years, or even decades.  Good work on that front, too, Ms. G.  Great foundation for further information in the upcoming books, since PTSD is not a "curable" thing, but an ongoing struggle.

A minor quibble is that the two-year-old in the story, the heroine's son, was asking questions of his uncle at the wedding.  They were cute questions, but I found it difficult to believe that two such conscientious parents (and yes, I'm including the hero) would have gotten to the wedding stage of the game without having a talk with the toddler about the changes they were making to his life.  Talk about just asking for a temper tantrum!

What strained my credulity, almost to the breaking point, is the idea of a town where every character described is a devout christian, even random people just visiting the town.  Seriously?  Not real, not even in a small Texas town.  Then, to be even more unbelievable, the hero of the story was a grown man, nearing thirty, as far as I could gather from the descriptions of his life both before and after his military service.  I have never met a grown man, however plain, however devoutly christian, nearing thirty, who had not only never kissed a girl/woman (at all), but had never even dated.  Not once.  Uh-huh.  And from all accounts, he was far from plain.  Sorry, Ms. G.  Ya totally lost me there.

I finished the book, and if christian fiction were my bag (how I wish I had known what this was before I "bought" it!), I probably would have loved this story.  I did recommend it to several christian friends of mine, who I imagine will think it eminently readable.  For me, though, the praying and talking to the Lord and God will provides and all that was overkill and, along with the above issues, took two stars away from an otherwise wonderful story.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trying something new...

How would you like an $18,291.75 paycheck
EVERY MONTH automatically?


Download this now before it's gone!