**spoiler alert** This book just bored me, almost to tears. At page 157 (though it was a fairly fast read because of all the simple words and short se**spoiler alert** This book just bored me, almost to tears. At page 157 (though it was a fairly fast read because of all the simple words and short sentences), I decided I didn't really care to learn any more "plot" and skipped ahead to the climax so I could find out whodunit and all. And even that was just stupid. SPOILER ALERT: To avoid wasting any time reading this drivel, Bankston and Melanie did it! They are the a killer couple in so many ways (yes, that horrible pun was intended), and for fun, they like to reenact old murders (you know, like the ones the "Real Murders" club they belong to with the heroine of the novel, Aurora Teagarden, spends extensive time learning about). Anyway, they end the novel by trying to kill Aurora and her young stepbrother, but Aurora is saved by her two love interests in the book, and an old man named Jed with a penchant for firearms.
Now for Aurora. A stereotypical mousy librarian who always seems to say the wrong thing to the wrong people. I mean, generalizing police motivations to Arthur, a cop, and then hastily trying to change the subject? Inviting all the remaining members of the "Real Murders" club to her house and then stating that the murderer obviously had to be one of them? Still offering to host her little brother while murders that were hitting too close to home were happening in her town (as well as getting a box of poisoned candy herself)? Since I've read Charlaine Harris's "Sookie Stackhouse" series, I should have been prepared to spend pages upon pages with Aurora as she goes shopping for new clothes, brushes and styles her hair, and cleans her house when she's feeling sorry for herself—but yet, I was still vaguely annoyed. I mean, it's a murder mystery! Shouldn't there be more time spent on the murders, and the amateur detective work? As a rule for myself, I'm not a fan of "cozy" murder mysteries, but this book was cozy-light, and murder-light and romance-light. I'm honestly not sure what to make of either Robin or Arthur—both seemed like one dimensional male characters, neither of whom could really be attracted to Aurora other than to discuss murders—as she herself seemed only able to discuss.
One of the things I hate about the cozy murders series is that they always seem to be about women who are amateur detectives—smart but not quite qualified to be actual cops, and are still lacking in street smarts, and who always, always end up victims, either purposely targeted by whomever is killing people because she got in the way, or because she gets in the way accidentally, she ends up in life-threatening danger and needs to be rescued. And then it happens again in the next book, and then the next. It just bothers me.
I really only wanted to give this series a try because of a TV movie I saw based on the second book in this series, which was cute and didn't really feel like a cozy (though it definitely was). In spite of not liking this first book, I think I'm still going to try the second book, and see if it's any better.
**spoiler alert** This book was a sweet, sappy, cute Christmas read. It was pretty basic holiday fluff—meaning, the prose was certainly lacking for or**spoiler alert** This book was a sweet, sappy, cute Christmas read. It was pretty basic holiday fluff—meaning, the prose was certainly lacking for originality, variation in adjectives and turns of phrase. I have to blame the editor, who had to suggest (or insist) on using such repetitive adjectives such as "lovely" and "maudlin", as well as not knowing how to properly use a comma or how to proofread for typos or missed punctuation.
I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half, mainly because I didn't care for Zach's "schorphenic" commitment-phobic personality, as well as all his childish hangups with his parents, especially his mother, and his parents' several-years-ago divorce, which has apparently taught him that love doesn't last, so why try? I also didn't like that the last part of the book was spent on the fire at Zach's mother, stepfather and stepsisters' house, rather than on romantic goings-on with Zach and Merilee. I especially didn't care for the "in the very last seconds of the last chapter" Zach just showing up at Merilee's apartment and just starting to make-out with her and then offering her the lame excuse that "he's taking a chance on her". It's implied that they have sex, which kind of seems like a soap opera/TV movie cliche to me; they've barely had any "real" dates, since Zach pulled away every time Merilee made a good effort to show her interest in him.
The other thing that bothered me about this book—and I tried to not let it bother me and suspend my disbelief, but it was hard—was Zach himself. There seemed to be no escaping that Zach was a character created by a woman who thought she knew how a man would behave, what he would think and say. There was one point when Zach thinks (or says) the word "maudlin", a word to me always seems to a standard word in chick-lit or mass-marketed chick-lit masquerading as a mystery or a drama. I just can't imagine big, beefy fireman Zach uttering or thinking a word like "maudlin"–it just wouldn't be in his vocabulary.
To be completely honest, I only picked up this book because of the Christmas movie on Hallmark this past 2014 season (also called "The Nine Lives of Christmas", which I found to be cute and adorable and appropriately romantic without being too over-the-top sappy. (The movie's plot varies from the books; several very good changes, in my opinion, were made to give the plot and the movie itself a fresher, better updated and more romantic feel.) I enjoyed watching the movie more than reading the book, but still, the book was a pretty fun read. I did really like the sections that were from Ambrose's point of view, like the opening chapter, Ambrose's trip to Pet Palace to see the "Santa Monster", and the disaster scene following Ambrose's gift of bird feet to Zach. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book was a cute, fun, mystery-lite read. The prose is kind of springy but also has good descriptions. The novel centers around**spoiler alert** This book was a cute, fun, mystery-lite read. The prose is kind of springy but also has good descriptions. The novel centers around Kate, a nice girl with a homemade fashion sense who has stayed away from fashion ever since her mother, Eva, once a rising fashionista herself, became estranged from her family. Kate is planning to go to medical school to become a doctor when her aunt Victoria scores her an internship with the high fashion magazine "Tasty". The beginning parts of the book were really fun and reminded a little of "Ugly Betty" (the TV show), which was a cool reminder as well as ironic how easy it would be to imagine those slaves to fashion bitches as (secretly) vampires.
I was engaged more with the beginning and the middle of the book, while Kate was still innocent of her coworkers' true natures, and there were valid (but still on that mystery-lite scale) strange occurrences and deaths that concerned Kate and seemingly no one else. But after Kate found about the vampires, and confronted them, the plot and the sense started to unravel and fell completely apart by the end.
I'm always up for a retelling on the vampire myth (I'm still not offended that Stephanie Meyer's vampires "sparkle" in the sunlight), but I have to say it was difficult to suspend my disbelief enough to cover the reasons behind how people became vampires in this novel and what vampire bites did to a person. For example, people could only be transformed into vampires if they had "the style gene", and any one the vampires bit were called "blood donors"; apparently, the bite of a vampire makes a person want to shop and go to Fashion Week in Paris, and eventually seek out vampires to bite them. After Kate is bitten by a vampire named Lillian, she has to resist a strong urge to go some designer store and just window-shop. It was kind of off the wall.
I was also disappointed that Kate, who seems to be a fairly intelligent young women with wits about, couldn't figure out who the "fashion murderer" was without being told. Earlier in the book she makes a comment to herself about something that has happened and chides herself for "not reading/knowing" the patient and listening to/seeing the signs (she was an EMT before becoming the "Tasty Girl" intern), so I have to wonder why she couldn't put two and two together herself, about that and about her love interest.
Overall, it was fun and fast but not witty or sharp enough to deserve four stars. ...more
Honestly, I should have known better than to pick up "romance" and expect any kind of real plot that doesn't lead to the two hot main characters havinHonestly, I should have known better than to pick up "romance" and expect any kind of real plot that doesn't lead to the two hot main characters having hot foreplay that leads to overly detailed sex. I think I'm going to relabel the romance genre as "PWP". All I was really looking for was a bit of Christmas fluff—much like that of a sweet, adorable Hallmark Holiday movie: not too sappy and not at all porn-ish.
Anyway, I really couldn't get into any of these short stories. The first one, "The Christmas Portrait", was the only story I read all the way through, and was ultimately disappointed to discover it was not only PWP, but too sappy and porn-ish. I mean, yes, there was a plot, but the storytelling was so overdone and repetitious that it just made the characters and their plight and emotions seem silly. The first was set in 1882 New York.
The second one was set in 1692 Massachusetts. It started off okay and almost had promise; the prose was stronger than the first story, but the second the main character met the love interest, I started to check out. I ended up skimming that one.
The third story is set in London in the 1850s. The thing that interested me about this story—the fact that this time around it was from a "male perspective"—also ended up turning me off, mainly because the "male perspective" seemed to be too female. In this story, a young man, an American reporter in London, who is nearly devoid of Christmas spirit, meets a ghost at an abandoned building that used to be a fancy hotel. But I was too hard pressed to believe that a cynical, skeptical guy could just be "so drawn" to the young woman who was a ghost that he'd ignore what seemed like his own personality and intutition. It came off as fantastical and unrealistic. Just not the right voice.
The fourth story is set in England in medieval times. I just started this story but have no desire to continue.
**spoiler alert** 3.5 stars, really. I wanted to read this mainly because of the TV show on Lifetime—which started last summer. (Like the show, it's f**spoiler alert** 3.5 stars, really. I wanted to read this mainly because of the TV show on Lifetime—which started last summer. (Like the show, it's fairly entertaining, as was this book up to a certain point. And as many things, the TV plot is very different that the novel's plot.) I wholly enjoyed this book up until the totally off-kilter nonsense near the end about the gods and goddesses of Asgard and the broken bridge and the total blah blah crap that made up the last few chapters. Honestly, I couldn't picture any of the descriptions of the happenings within the Tree of Life or the dealings with Loki/Bran; it just seemed like tacked on crap that made me wonder if this author's editor was taking acid while "editing" this book. The very last chapter got the readers back to the characters that I enjoyed reading about throughout the novel, though the ending itself was sappy-sickly sweet with "virginal witch" Ingrid letting herself "go" (after apparently 5,000 years)—letting her hair down, literally, and starting to fall in love for the first time. Also, there was the sudden, strange and inexplicable return of Freya's twin who accuses her current and true love of setting him up 5,000 years ago in Asgard—for destroying the bridge that connected Asgard to Midgard (the current Earth we all live on and where the most of the former gods and goddesses are "stranded" and are now warlocks and witches).
All of that said, I thought the book was a fun read, very sexy and romantic but also (up until a certain point) a decent mystery. (This is up until those last chapters when the author decided to tell rather than show—I hate that, the random, tacked on expository endings of fairly decent plots. I would have honestly rather the author started the book with that stupid chapter that tells the reader that the Beauchamp women are actually goddesses from Asgard, etc., etc., rather than just witches with supernatural abilities, etc., since the way it's revealed is just, well, see above—the "acid" part.)
I did buy the second in the series and have begun reading it, but unfortunately I've already started rolling my eyes. The first chapter is a shoddy rehashing of everything that happened in the first book (making me wonder, why did I read the first book?) and the next chapter finds Freya suspicious of Killian (since at the end of the last book when her twin, Fryr/Freddie returned, he accused Balder/Killian of setting him up 5,000 years ago) and decides within these first few pages that Freddie must be right and that Killian is probably evil and will cause her death. So I guess I'll have to see how it turns out, if I can stand it.
If you're looking for a fast, fun, mostly light read, this is a good book to pick up for that. But I do suggest just skipping the last few chapters and then just picking up the second book and reading the summary of events just to spare yourself those "WTF WAS THAT?! WAS THE AUTHOR AND EDITOR ON ACID?!" moments.
I should also just state, for the record, that I did buy the first book in the "Blue Bloods" series but decided not to read it because the main character's name was Schulyer (that was a girl, in high school, I think). Since Blue Bloods (vampire royalty in NYC) are referenced in this book, I can honestly say I don't think I was missing out not reading that series. I think I gleaned everything I needed to know about the Blue Bloods from the few sentences provided in this story. Relieved!...more
To be completely honest, I'm often a sucker for vampire books because I like vampires. I don't like zombies or aliens, and I think werewolves are justTo be completely honest, I'm often a sucker for vampire books because I like vampires. I don't like zombies or aliens, and I think werewolves are just "okay". (Unless, for example, I'm reading books like "Blood and Chocolate", because then I think werewolves are excellent.) And maybe "sucker" is kind of a ridiculous pun, but I am drawn to these types of stories.
But this story . . . I'm utterly repelled. I've only read 20 pages, and I'm trying to hold out for 30 more pages (for that requisite 50 and all), but I just don't want to make the effort. I don't really want to read a "sexy romance" as the book's cover advertises. As yet, I find Violet nor Kasper likable in any way. And I can't even imagine I'll enjoy a book about a woman forced to stay among vampires against her will who eventually gives into lust. Yuck. I think I should just put this one in the "donate" pile.
No, wait, I've definitely decided to donate this one. To be completely honest, again, my opinion is that if it was published ONLINE—even if it was wildly popular there—it doesn't mean it'll translate to print, and should, instead, stay as online. (This even goes for the writings I've published online—they're for an audience of a different kind, mainly, ME.) ...more