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Issue: November, 2013

Reading Matters

- A Collection of Short Reviews

Welcome to a collection of short reviews of material we read in November, 2013.

For a list of all the books reviewed in Spring (Sept-Nov) 2013, go to the Bookroom. More detailed reviews are listed there. For more reviews, search for 'book reviews' in our gold site search box at the top of this page (the bottom field, please).

Writers Between the Covers

(The Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes and Cads)

book cover, Writers Between the Covers; 93x139

Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon
(Penguin Plume, Oct 29 2013, ISBN 9780452298460, USD 15.00)

Writers Between the Covers is a slightly dry, gossip book about affairs in literary circles. The accounts vary between a paragraph and a few pages. There is a 'select bibliography', but individual claims are not documented, so we have to take Schmidt's and Rendon's tales on trust.

The subtitle suggests that the book is going to be a rip-roaring ride through artistic sexual histories, but the result is much less engaging. If you want a bit of goss about people you've probably heard of, this book is for you, but it lacks verve, and the subject needs it.

Second Chance

book cover, Second Chance by David Perry; 94x140

David Perry
(Bookmasters, Aug 12 2013, ISBN 9780983637547, USD 9.99)

Pharmacist Alex Benedict investigates a series of deaths in his hospital. This first novel is an uncompelling crime story set in the author's own environment. His characters are not immediately engaging and his persistence and insistence on using 'man' as a verb, group noun, and in cliches rapidly drove me from the book. I didn't care about the characters, I wasn't fascinated by the crime, the style was awkward and the language misogynistic. The media blurb promised that the protagonist in "a climactic, unforgettable scene must make an agonizing, life-defining choice that will haunt him forever", but the storyteller couldn't provide a story that was worth following to see if the end was worth the tale.


Dark Witch

book cover, Dark Witch by Nora Roberts; 95x140

Nora Roberts
Berkley, Oct 2013, ISBN 0749958588

Iona, a horsewoman who has grown up in a cold family home, follows the path her grandmother set her own, going to Ireland to develop her magical powers; and to join with her cousins in fighting an ancient family enemy.

Ireland is a favourite setting of Roberts', and in this fantasy/contemporary romance, she follows her familiar formula of introducing six characters who will pair off, presumably, over the period of three books.

Roberts is a writing machine, regularly releasing romances and her J.D. Robb science fiction/crime series books. Her writing style is light, fun and well-paced. A must for the readers of romances.

The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers

book cover, The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox, book review; 87x140

Angie Fox
Season Publishing, Oct 2013, ISBN 9781939661050

It wouldn't be fair to blame Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) for the plethora of twenty-something women in killer outfits fighting demons and vampires and living in worlds filled with witchcraft and supernatural beings, but he set the bar high for those who do write such pieces.

The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers has an ex-preschool teacher riding with a biker witch coven, in love with a shape-changing griffin, fighting demons on a learner's permit.

There is sex, supernatural activity, battles between good and evil, and a slayer learning on the run. There is also some of the silliest magical activity that anyone has even mistaken for humorous scenes. This book is pure pulp. It is a passable way to spend time, the writing isn't awful, but it lacks the style and verve that makes a really fun, engaging read. This book is for fans of the genre who can't get enough, but it never rises above average.

Two Guys Detective Agency

book cover, Two Guys Detective Agency by Stephanie Bond; 88x140

(humorous mystery series--book 1)

Stephanie Bond

NeedtoRead Books (May 28, 2013), ISBN 0989042936

Two sisters discover that their lives are based on lies.

Linda is a stay-at-home mom. She fell pregnant in college and was obedient when her husband insisted that she never pursue a career outside the home. Her life is filled with two children, rooms full of half-done renovations, and bulk deliveries of prizes she has won in contests.

Octavia chose a trophy husband -- a lawyer who could provide her with a mansion, a personal trainer, botox and expensive jewellery.

Both women are lacking in close ties, no close friends, and not close with one another; and as they discover at the same time, not close enough with their husbands to know how precarious their dependent lives are.

However they pull together and close all but one of Linda's husband's outstanding private investigations while discovering some of the facts behind their husbands' activities.

Described as a humorous series, I laughed exactly not at all. It is an interesting morality tale on the perils of living off a man as a career, and how women can get a job done if they make an effort. A quick read, but it leaves unsatisfying loose ends for the inevitable next book.

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by Ali Kayn
See also: more reviews listed in the Bookroom