Tag Archives: mystery

Book Review/Rant: Dangerous to Know by Barbara Taylor Bradford

I really need to do a better job of playing book roulette.

Although I’d taken a bit of a break from my bookshelf cleanout while I worked on some other projects, the cold rainy weather has put me in the mood to curl up with a hot mug of coffee and a good book.

I got the coffee part right.

I selected Dangerous to Know by Barbara Taylor Bradford mostly because the volume contained two novels and I’d already read one of them. (That was probably about ten years ago…oops!) This made for a quick way to clear out some shelf space.

As I usually do in a book review, I’ll start with what I liked. Bradford uses her eloquent descriptive powers to create gorgeous backdrops in the mind’s eye. The flawless writing made the beginning of Dangerous to Know an intriguing read with distinctive characters and the sense that a major revelation would be divulged at every turn.

Then things got weird.

I don’t want to give away too much, in case you’re determined to read this book, but I certainly wish I hadn’t. While things are a little uncomfortable when it’s revealed that a woman ends up marrying her own guardian, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. What starts out like a classic murder mystery turns into fictional dirty laundry that I’m hard-pressed to understand why anyone would want to write or publish.

And when it comes to the structure of the plot, holy exposition, Batman! Aside from a few arguments, lunches, and memorial services, Dangerous to Know gives several main characters the chance to unload every grievance they’ve ever suffered. This reflective diarrhea isn’t unpleasant to read, but it kept me wondering when the real story was about to start. It turns out that’s not until the very end, when an elderly deus ex machina steps forward to save the reader from the monotony of it all and fill us in on just how screwed up her family truly is.

Overall, I’m glad this experience is over. Wish me luck as I head to the bookshelf for my next read!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Book Review/Rant: The Missing Ink by Karen E. Olson

I almost drowned this book in the bathtub. That’s where I was when it really started to piss me off.

I’ll try to be as fair as possible and start off with what I did like about The Missing Ink. Olson does a good job of establishing the main characters and the feel of Las Vegas from a non-tourist perspective (at least as far as I can tell, never having been there myself). She keeps the story moving with new clues around every corner and lots of action scenes.

Now, in regard to establishing characters, it seems Olson wanted the main character to be a real jerk. Brett Kavanaugh (nice choice of names, not that she would’ve known that back in 2009) is a tattoo artist. I get that maybe she’s not going to be the most sophisticated person around, but it seems Olson forgot that the main character has to be at least somewhat likeable.

Brett’s coworker is a little person. Her name is Bitsy (really?) and she drives a Mini Cooper (double really?). Brett gets frustrated with the noise of Bitsy dragging around a wooden stool, which she needs in order to be able to reach things around the shop. At one point, Brett hears Bitsy getting really excited about something in the other room and says to herself, “It was like she’d finally found the Emerald City.”

It was at this point that I nearly drowned the book.

I didn’t, which is how I know that Brett also makes a lot of mental comments about her other coworker, Joel, who’s 300 pounds. He’ll slow her down when she’s trying to follow someone. He stands out in a crowd when wearing a white t-shirt. He won’t fit in Bitsy’s car. He never needs an excuse for sweets. Weight Watchers would make a lot of money off him. All probably true, but not very nice. And then Brett has the nerve to judge someone else for being judgy.

Brett is further established as being kind of an idiot. Her brother is a detective, and she constantly withholds evidence from him just so she can check things out herself. I completely understand that any mystery is going to demand that the main character do some of this, but it’s just way too much. In fact, Brett was avoiding her brother so much that I was starting to think he must be the bad guy. (Spoiler alert: he’s not.)

The mystery itself was somewhat decent for the most part, but by the time I finally got to the finale where all was revealed, it just wasn’t worth all the frustration of having to deal with the main character.

Now, I know this book was published in 2009, and a lot of things have changed over the last few years. Even so, I don’t think I’ll be picking up another book by this Karen.

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Book Review: A Harvest of Bones by Yasmine Galenorn

A semi-spooky mystery with ghosts, supernatural powers, and cats.  What more could you need?

I’m presently working on reading through and cleaning out my bookshelves, and A Harvest of Bones was one of my recent selections.  I’ve been writing a lot in the mystery genre lately, so it’s always nice to do a little “research.”

From the Cover:  It’s harvest time in Chiqetaw, Washington; Emerald O’Brien’s favorite season. But this year, nature yields a most supernatural bounty. When Em and her sweetie, Joe, stumble over a bramble-covered foundation that has remained hidden for fifty years in the lot next door, strange events begin to occur. The cat vanishes. Will o’ the Wisps threaten to harm Emerald and her loved ones. And the ghost of a woman named Brigit and her beloved calico make themselves at home in the backyard. Now it’s up to Em and her friends to delve into the past, reveal the secrets of the dead and lay them to rest as they ring in the autumn with a harvest of bones.

What I Loved:  Like I said:  cats!  Okay, yes there are plenty of other good things about this book.  It was a nice combination of murder, ghosts, history, witchcraft, psychic powers, and everyday life.  The characters were mostly relatable and easy to keep track of.  The mystery in question was engaging, and while I had an idea of whodunnit about halfway through, all the little details were held back until the end.  And yes, there really were plenty of cats.

“Even a diary isn’t safe from prying eyes.  But a cat will listen, and keep her silence for you.”

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  I grabbed this book at a library booksale with the thought that it was more of a cozy mystery.  A liberal sprinkling of cuss words and a dash of semi-steamy scenes made this not nearly as cozy as I imagined.  I wasn’t offended by any of this; I just didn’t really expect it.  Readers who prefer something a little cleaner might not be interested.

Rating and Recommendation:  If you’re looking for a good mystery that’s a fun and easy read, I definitely recommend A Harvest of Bones.  I’m giving this book four stars.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

 

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion about an item when linking to it.

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Book Review: The Cat Who Had 14 Tales by Lillian Jackson Braun

With a plane trip ahead of me last month, I made sure to grab a paperback before I headed out the door.  Sure, my phone and my tablet are both loaded with ebooks, but there’s something I find incredibly satisfying about an actual book.  A collection of short stories was particularly appealing, since I would be traveling and likely too tired to have much of an attention span.

14 Tales

What I Loved:  I’ve read almost all of the other books in Braun’s Cat Who series, and I’ve loved them.  These short stories were just as good, but they revolved around different characters.  It was a nice change of pace, but of course there were still lots of cats!  It was a nice fast read, and I read almost the entire thing on the plane.  Braun was always excellent with description and characterization, and she accomplished this even in short stories.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  There are a few cats that die on these pages.  If you’re the type that absolutely can’t stand to have animals die in a story, then this might not be the book for you.  Nothing is graphically described, but it’s there.

Rating and Recommendation:  This is a great book for anyone who loves cats, mysteries, and short stories, or a combination of at least two of those elements.  Since I was bummed when it was over, I have to give it 5 stars.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.

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