January 31, 2014

Review: Them Bones

Them Bones
Sarah Booth Delaney, Book 1
Carolyn Haines

Published: Nov 1999

Bantam, mass market paperback, 318p.
ISBN: 978-0-553-58171-3

Meet Sarah Booth Delaney...
an unconventional southern belle whose knack for uncovering the truth is about to make er the hottest detective in Zinnia, Mississippi... if it doesn't make her the deadest.

No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth's situation.  Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she's flat broke and about to lose the family plantation.  Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state - or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend's prize pooch to raise some cash.

But soon Sarah Booth's walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she's hired to solve a murder.  Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago?  And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer?  When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself... and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.

This book was such a disappointment for me.  I wanted to like it - it sounded like such a great book - but the reality was that not only did Sarah come off as a scheming woman who could turn on the charm when she wanted something, but she had the audacity to blackmail and betray a friend for money.  I realise that she's trying to save her family's plantation, but that still didn't make her actions any more excusable. After a few pages I found that I just didn't care at all for Sarah.

January 28, 2014

A Random Question

What's the earliest you've gotten up to watch cartoons and what did you watch?

Book Review: Scones & Bones

Scones & Bones
A Tea Shop Mystery, Book 12
Laura Childs

Released: Hardcover - March, 2011.  Paperback - March, 2012.

Berkely Prime Crime Mystery, mass market paperback, 295p.
ISBN: 978-0-425-24664-1

A search for a missing treasure stirs up the waters of the Charleston social set in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Teaberry Strangler.

Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is lured into attending the Heritage Society's Pirates and Plunder show by her master tea blender.  Amid the gold earrings and doubloons, and antique skull cup with a huge diamond steals the show - and gets plundered by someone who murderes a history intern in the process.

Even with that on her plate, Theodosia still has to attend Charleston's Food and Wine Festival, where she's hosting a tea and cheese tasting - the latest culinary trend.  But as her thoughts keep drifting to the victim, Theodosia knows she'll have to whet her investigative skills to find the killer among a raft of suspects.

This recent offering had me feeling a little let down by a series that has so far been a joy.  The relationship dynamics between the characters is starting to get a tad stale.  There never seems to be any change between their interactions.  Delaine is a monumental pain, but everyone puts up with her because of her money-making/raising skills for local causes.  Theo even comments that she caves because its for a good cause.  Just once I'd like to see someone really put Delaine in her place (Nadine too) for all their gossiping and insensitive ways.

January 27, 2014

Book Review: Death by Darjeeling

Death by Darjeeling
A Tea Shop Mystery, Book 1
Laura Childs

Released: May 2001

Berkley Prime Crime Mystery, mass market paperback, 242p.
ISBN: 978-0-425-17945-1

Meet Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's beloved Indigo Tea Shop.  Patrons love her blend of delicious tea tastings and Southern hospitality.  And Theo enjoys the full-bodied flavour of a town steeped in history - and mystery ...

It's tea for two hundred or so at the annual historic homes garden party.  And Theodosia, as event caterer, is busy serving steaming teas and blackberry scones while guests sing her praises.  But the sweet smell of success turns to suspence when an esteemed guest is found dead - his hand clutching an empty teacup.  All eyes are on Theo... who is now trying desperately to save her reputation and track down the real killer.  If only she can make sense of it all - before someone else takes their last sip...

It was nice to go back to where it all started and finally see how all the characters were introduced.  I was surprised to find that the Indigo Tea Shop was already a budding success, and that our three main characters, Theo, Drayton and Haley, were already working together.

From reading her later books in the series, I was never quite sure of Theo's age (36yo), or whether Delaine had always been a part of the scene - she was, and is not one word different than she is in future books.  Where had Theo met Jory (have answer now), and where did Det. Tidwell, and his slightly adversarial relationship with Theo, come from.  I now have answers for all the questions I had regarding the nitty gritty of the characters.  Anal I know, but I do like to get all the facts about my series characters ;-D

January 26, 2014

Book Review: Dirty Magic

Dirty Magic
Prospero's War, Book 1
Jaye Wells

Released: Jan 2014

Orbit, paperback, 381 p
ISBN: 978-0-316-22843-5

Magic is a drug.
Careful how you use it...

The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets.

But there's a new blend out there that's as deadly as it is elusive.

When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she's brought in to explain herself.  But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier - on the same day she swore she's give up dirty magic for good.  Kate Prospero's about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

This is at the grittier end of the UF genre.  There is no real romance, and the murder/mystery is more a police procedural than cosy mystery.  While I found the storyline to be an engaging prospect, I had more than a few problems loosing myself in this world.  Most importantly, I didn't really feel all that sympathetic with the main character, Kate Prospero - perhaps that was just my mood when I read it - but I just didn't click with her.  I found her brother, Danny, just got on my nerves no end as the perpetually brooding teenage stereotype, but then so did most of the secondary characters.  Kate's ex, the now very wealthy and influential John Volos, really peeved me off.  I know that she dumped him all those years ago, but when they interact, he seems to be projecting the whole 'hey, you dumped me...why?' vibe, but there is also a underlying aura of vindictiveness that creeps in from time to time that really put me off.  Especially when he reveals his expectations of Kate at the end of Dirty Magic.  He is quite the user, and doesn't see anything wrong with that.  If he is meant to be Kate's future romantic interest, than God help us because at the moment he is about as attractive as a slug trail.

I'm not sure whether I'll buy book 2, Cursed Moon, but perhaps if I read this book again in a few weeks I might see it in a better light.  I'm only giving it 3 stars because the world building was very well done, and the grungy urban setting was perfect for Kate's struggles.  Perhaps if the characters were fleshed out a bit more, and given distinct and unique personalities - they seem to fit in the same mold: grumpy, snarky, smart-arses - then perhaps I would enjoy the series more.

If you like Lilith Saintcrow's style, then this should be right up your alley.