Monday, March 22, 2010

Book Review: Red Hot Lies (Izzy McNeil Mysteries) by Laura Caldwell

I had a lot of trouble reading Red Hot Lies. Let’s start with the story itself. At the very beginning someone dies and someone goes missing and that’s pretty much it. Until page 314. That’s when things start rolling. That’s a long time to wait for a story to start. Along the way the protag, Izzy (I hate the name Izzy, so it was a little irritating to have to keep reading the name, but that’s on me, not the author) pondered numerous times if the people in her life could be capable of murder, and felt like she was being followed. Repetitive. I think there was about 150 pages too many in this book.

There was this subplot that didn’t need to be in the book at all. It’s like it was just filler, and with 450 pages, I don’t really think you need filler. Or, since the author is writing more books in this series, she may have been setting up relationships for future novels. I have no idea, but to me, the subplot was useless.

The supposed twists in the book were easy to figure out, at least for me. I was surprised by nothing except my willingness to continue reading. I knew who the killer was, I knew what was going to happen to said killer, and pretty much everything else.

Now, although I didn’t like the story, the writing was okay. Not fabulous, but the author sets the scenes well, she obviously knows about the law and Panama.

The best thing about the book was the characters. They were very likeable and well drawn. Izzy is a tough, sexy, red headed entertainment attorney. My favorite characters include gay but manly, black, bald assistant Q, clever, stealthy, private investigator Mayburn, and the loyal, best-friend-with-a-crush, Grady. You also have the doting mother, lazy brother, and the jerky co-worker to round things out. The author does paint a vivid picture of each character and they all have distinct and interesting personalities.

So, I wouldn’t mind reading another book involving these characters, but the author would really need to give me a story full of action, excitement, and suspense to get me to pick it up. It’s not that I wasn’t entertained, I was, I did keep reading, but Red Hot Lies lacked too much in plot to make it a good read for me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review of Swoon by Nina Malkin

Swoon is a YA paranormal love story. I like YA, I like paranormal, I like loves stories, but I did not like this book. I really wanted to, but it didn’t draw me in, didn’t make me think of feel much of anything.

Let’s start with the characters. While Ms. Malkin develops her characters well, with the exception of Marsh, they just aren’t very likeable, nor could I connect with them. The protagonist, Dice, I can’t even get a clear picture in my head of what she looks like aside from the fact that she has wild hair. And at the beginning I pictured her being overweight, yet men are attracted to her, so I decide I have no idea what she looks like. And she uses words even the most intelligent teen on the planet wouldn’t use. She knows everything about everything, a walking encyclopedia, which I found not very realistic. And being the hip teen from New York, I found her use of the term Momster out of character and just plain annoying. Her friends and cousin Pen are all clones of each other, blonde, beautiful, and rich. The only person I see clearly in my head is Sin, tall, fit, long black hair, but still personality wise, like I said before, there is no one to really like, to really sympathize with, to relate to except Marsh.

That being said, while I don’t connect with the characters, and don’t find them very vivid, their voices are distinguishable. The dialogue authentic teen.

Now, getting to the story: It started out intriguing enough, a cousin possessed by a soul in need of revenge. The semi-psychic teen witness to the possession falls in love with the soul, yet needs to vanquish him, which she thinks she does, but he becomes flesh, to her delight and surprise. Then the boy in body seeks revenge on the descendants of the townspeople that put him to death years before. For me, his revenge was weak, most of it being of a sexual nature, which didn’t really make much sense. Orgies break out wherever he goes. He deflowers one girl, one girl is raped, or thinks she’s raped, I never did figure that one out, one boy is forced out of the closet. Then he sets fire to an old folks home. His vengeance for me was empty. For me, the story never arced, it kept an even keel throughout, and not in a good way. There was a section I know was supposed to be the climax of the story, but it didn’t thrill or excite me, or put me on the edge of the seat. It was just the same as all the rest of the book. I didn’t like the ending either. I’ll leave it at that.

That being said, I do think Ms. Malkin’s writing is pretty good. It’s simple, no fluff, and I think that works for her. She also obviously did some research in regards to the time period in which Sin lived, kudos to her for that. However, her writing, authentic dialogue, and research were not enough to make this story work. In the end I felt nothing and thought, “Whatever.”