Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Love is Blond by Marie Dees

When I reviewed the previous title in this series, I said that this series, while not quite what I expected after reading the description, was a cute little read and did the job as a diverting and capable mystery. I am pleased to say that the sequel, Love is Blond, is much improved---I still have some issues with the focus the author seems to be taking on the 'politics' of her imaginary world, but the story itself is much, much better and the quality of the writing is higher.

This book focuses primarily on Rafe and Patrick, two characters from the earlier story whose relationship---and lives---are put in jeopardy when an old mentor of Patrick arrives in town to host a conference. Things escalate from there, and I won't give it away except to say that the focus on building these characters is a welcome one. I think Dees worked a little too hard at the world-building in the last outing, and now that that's done, we can move on to more interesting things. Dees also weaves in Lynn's struggle to establish herself and find meaningful occupation in Cassadega, where she is not sure she belongs, and to establish her relationship with Alex. There is still dept to plumb with him; as Lynn is one of the more appealing characters in the series, I wonder if a third novel is being planned which explores her and Alex with the same depth in which Patrick and Rafe get treated this time around.

I recommend this one, and preferred it to the first book. But they do go together, and I am not sure you'll be able to follow this one unless you read the other one first.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Review: Tea & Witchery by Marie Dees

I had never heard of Marie Dees until her books came up during a multiformat search at Fictionwise, so I was surprised to find she had a mainstream 'print' presence on Amazon---at double the price, to boot! I am not sure this book is worth what Amazon is charging, but it is not a bad read at bargain e-price.

Tea and Witchery is about a woman named Lynn who goes to visit her aunt in a Florida town that is known for its paranormal society. There are the standard 'and then someone gets murdered' events, and Lynn must play detective while fighting off the amorous interests if her college buddy George, and the mysterious Alex.

The action moved fairly briskly, and Lynn evolved nicely as a character. My two quibbles were that most of the supporting cast were somewhat annoying and not terribly sympathetic (I would not have shed a tear if one in particular got killed, nor would the other characters) and secondly, the same complaint I had with Kelley Armstrong's latest---the author delves a little too much into the 'politics' of her special society, and I would have rather seen the world in action a little more carefully.

For a novel that purports to be about a group of 'real' psychics, she also fails to convince me that any of them really do have special powers. The 'signs' they use to get themselves into the society are vague and not terribly compelling. And the local cops seem to be view them as a bunch of kooks. When you have 'outsider' characters like Lynn and Alex being your dramatic leads in a story like this, it's that much harder. Perhaps less focus on politics and more focus on giving credence to whether these people actually had 'powers' or not would have served the novel better.

I got this on sale for less than $3 and it was a good read at that price, but I am not sure how much more I would suggest paying for it. Not much more :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Review: Sister Gypsy Moon by Karen Leabo

I'm ripping through the spoils of my recent Fictionwise multiformat titles binge! Rob from Books for a Buck was kind enough to send me a review copy of Sister Gypsy Moon. I had trouble formatting it for my iPod Touch, so when it went on sale at Fictionwise for 50% off in a special for members, I paid the $1.50 or so and bought it myself. I'm glad I did. It was an engaging, funny little mystery and well worth its reasonable price.

Gypsy, the title character, is a child of hippies (yes, Gypsy is her real name) who is going through a transition in her life. At loose ends and on the run from her almost comically irritating stalker, Darryl, her lawyer sister Petal finds her a job house-sitting an odd purple house. Its owner has vanished, the mortgage gone into collections, and the bank wants the place cleaned up so they can sell it. Gypsy only just gets going on that when her sister gets a crisis or two of her own and comes to stay with her. The two of them get caught up in the mystery of what happened to the home's former owner Ruby, and along the way dodge Ruby's religious fanatic neighbour, her nephew and his motorcycle gang, and Petal's repentent, adulterous husband Cullen, a cop who is Gypsy's former flame.

Gypsy has a great sense of humour as a narrator, and is a fun, hip character. I would love to see a sequel of this story detailing her further adventures in that purple house. I'll be keeping an eye on this author and seeing what else she has available, both now and down the road. This was a brisk, enjoyable read. Recommended.