Wednesday, August 19, 2009


You know it's going to be bad news when the author puts a note in the front of the novel. I grabbed the box of Kleenex, knowing the puddle of tears would be on there way. Yes, F. Paul Wilson decided to end his Repairman Jack series. I know. I know. He always said it was a closed-end series, but who believes a fiction author? He's decided the series will end with number 15 thus, with great reverence I opened and began 13, Ground Zero.

I tried to read it slowly, absorb all the details, but I buzzed right through it like usually. Ground Zero starts with September 11, 2001 and suggest an alternative reason for the terrorism that occurred on that day. Jack's childhood friend has now begun to piece the puzzle together and Jack becomes involved in her misfortunes and the craziness of the internet 9/11 Truth Movement.

I'm officially in mourning. How else will I live vicariously? I am in awe of Jack's antics to rectify injustices. In a previous novel Wilson kept me white knuckled but giggling the whole time when he had Jack duct taped the villain, wearing reindeer antlers, to the front of a deuce and quarter trunk then drove the bad guy through New York traffic. One can only dream of such possibilities, F Paul Wilson is a clever guy. He comes up with so many unique forms of retribution. If only I were so creative. I do have a itsy favor to ask of Jack. Now if he would just answer my emails. But that's another story.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I finished The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly late last night, a good thriller. Connelly's history as a newspaper crime reporter lends great authenticity to the story. Jack McEvoy, the protagonist, (seen earlier in the Poet & The Narrows) is pink slipped due to downsizing by LA Times. He wants to go out in a blaze of glory so writes a story about a wrongfully accused young gang-banger of murder and rape. I'll admit some of the scenes are sadistic and scary, so be aware. McEvoy calls Rachael Walling (seen in previous books)to help him find the killer. Unfortunately the cyber-bully villian is already tracking McEvoy and Walling and causing havoc for the two.

Connelly tells a great story. I missed the character development that is more prevalent in his other series. My only other quibble, he has a great beginning, but the ending I saw coming at midpoint. However Connelly's writing is still heads above most. He also did several book trailers about Rachael Walling back-story just prior to her appearance in the book. I'm embedding the first one here. The rest can be found on Connelly's website or You Tube.

Max, A Maximum Ride novel by James Patterson. Lord knows James Patterson needs no extra money. This is for all the parents who still have butt numbing summer rides with pre-teens ahead of them. Get the audio-books from the library and take them with you on the trip. Max, a teenager, is leading her flock of genetically engineered half-human, half-bird hybrids. The flock must rescue Max's Mom who has been kidnapped by a criminal mastermind. Patterson spins a good tale. I'm not saying this is well written fiction, it lacks character development, has implausible plot twists, however the kids won't notice. It has lots of dialogue and quick action scenes that will keep them enthralled. I personally dislike audio-books which add music to increase the tension in a book, however in this instance it works and my preteen enjoyed it and didn't whine as often "are we there yet?". The lack of tension from the back seat was a balm for my soul. Give it a try.

Blood Groove by Alex Bledsoe I couldn't finish. I picked this up while browsing in the bookstore. I even read the first chapter, unfortunately I should have read further. Chapter two was where the problems started. Baron Zginski a vampire from 1915 goes into forced hibernation until the 1970's. When he is revived he must adapt to his new world. The premise has potential. However, the blaxploitation dialogue was lame, characterizations were stereotypical, and the misogynistic treatment of women and minorities was over the top and so offensive I just put it down. It never became apparent why the writer set the novel in the 70's, which further distracted from it's readability.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Why do we continue to read or watch a series when the reader knows the plot? We continue to read even when the characters show no growth. What is it that entices us to open the cover when we know the sad truth is the series has run out of steam? Well in my case it's to visit old friends and predictability.

Finger Lickin Fifteen by Janet Evanovich. It's time to visit Stephanie, Lula, Grandma and the boys, Morelli and Ranger. Stephanie is currently not involved with either of her men nor have her bounty hunter skills improved. Lula is still wearing spandex that is stretch to its limits. Grandma and Lula are both carrying a gun and neither one can hit a damn thing. Sounds about like we left them last year. Janet E's Plum series, for me is the novel version of watching I Love Lucy reruns. It's funny and predictable.

This time Lula is witness to a murder. Throughout the novel the assassins try to take Lula out, Lula perseveres, even will ducking for cover she decides Stephanie, Grandma and her should enter a million dollar barbecue sauce recipe contest. One small problem, the only thing they now about barbecue sauce is eating it. One can only image the trouble they get into with this contest. The sauce thread alone is worth the read.

Ranger, I do love a dangerous man, needs Stephanie to help him figure out who has broken into his data base at Rangeman headquarters and robbing his customers. Stephaine skates along the edges of the envelope trying not to fall in bed with Ranger while working for him. Personally I won't skate. I would take a leap and land in the middle of the bed. Morrelli's nice but Ranger is definitely my pick for Stephanie's love interest. Actually Stephanie ends up solving a problem with her brain this time instead of luck.

The Plum Series isn't the most lyrically written, nor does it have a multitude of plot twists. What it does have is lots of belly laughs and a wonderful afternoon of reading. Three stars on my billboard anyday.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Even by Andrew Grant has my vote for next year's Debut Anthony Award. I'm sure Andrew will do fine on his own, considering whom he got to blurb his book. Loved the first chapter, then Grant almost lost me slogging through the narrative for the first five chapters. The only thing that kept me going was the glimpses of great dialogue dispensed throughout the beginning chapters. Once I hit page 50, Grant's pace was in place and I didn't put the novel down until the end.

His protagonist David Trevellyan, a covert operative in the Royal Navy is a cross between James Bond and Burn Notice's Michael Weston. Grant gave Trevellyan Bond's sardonic humor and Weston's reluctant hero personality a dynamic combination. Trevellyan in New York, walks home from dinner and finds a dead man in the alley just as the police arrive. The police assume Trevellyan killed the man and arrest him. He figures his London bosses will have him out it time for breakfast. Unfortunate for Trevellyan, the London employers wash their hands of their spy and let him swing in the wind. The fun ensues as he tries to rectify this misunderstanding. Grant neatly slipped in the back story in the first paragraphs of each chapter as covert spy tips. We learned how the Royal Navy shaped his character and brought him to his current state with antidotes that read like Dummies For The Would-be-Spies. Nice use of a writing device.

I talked with Grant at Love is Murder in February over drinks. After minutes of kibitzing over the other conventioneers reenactor costumes, I told him he sounded and looked a bit like Lee Child. He smiled and politely informed me he was Child's younger brother. Color me red. I disengaged my foot from my mouth and lost all train of thought at that point. I"d wanted to ask about his protagonist name David Trevellyan. I love the arcane stuff in writing. The name sounds familiar, but just can't place it.

Although the concept of the rebellious spook is an entire sub genre, Grant has given the species a roll-coaster ride in his first outing. The Trevellyan series appears heir apparent of the genre.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Some like it Hot Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen is a funny mystery. I like Jeff's wit and oh the zingers. My face still hurts from smiling like an idiot while reading. Very punny. Well developed characters and plot. This time out a patron dies of poisoned popcorn at the Comedy Tonight movie theater and the fun ensues. Elliot the protagonist investigates the death on his bike. That image alone should get you to buy the book. When I'm down and need a lift I pick up Jeff's double feature series. All his book make me laugh. Great beach read.

OOLONG DEAD by Laura Childs writes a cozy series about the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston. The third in the series, her protagonist Theodosia Browing is asked to host a lavish tea during the Verdi-themed Masked Ball. Already in a bit of a tizzy Theodosia only adds to her work when she finds the dead body of her arch nemesis, Abby Davis. Occasionally I'll read a cozy. Several of my friends lavished this series with praise for her writing, and it's great detail to description of the south and of tea. Unfortunately for me after the second tea set description I was grinding my back teeth. Not my cup of tea.

Zen and The Art of Vampires, A dark ones novel by Kate MacAlitster. This novel was a recommendation from a friend. Not bad, but I prefer more mystery, than romance or scifi in my novels. The premise, a forty year old Pia wants the "normal" life, white picket fence with husband and kids, but what she gets is an unusual European singles tour with lots at stake. (Pun intended) If you like romance this might be a winner for you to sink your teeth in.

Off Street Parking by Bill James. Would a wife have the nerve to park her dead husband in the family car in the driveway? What a great hook, and that's why I picked up the book. It's a mystery, a slow slogging mystery, The author used a numbered bullet point as a device to inform us of his heroine's thoughts. That and all the asides the narrator gave in the novel, I lost the plot of the story and put the book down uncompleted.

Finally on this week's outing I tried to read Witch Fire by Anya Bast The same friend as above gave me this book, said I would love this paranormal mystery. Well the whodunit was I could hardly find or remember the mystery plot from all the romance. Not enough gore, too much romance. I'll have to remember this friend likes romance more than mystery.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Time to visit with all my favorite series characters and a few new ones. First up Sookie Stackhouse.

Charlaine Harris's new novel Dead and Gone was great. It is fun, a good romp of a summer read. Love Charlaine and love Sookie, but this time, maybe it was me, Sookie and I felt out of sync. Overall it was a great addition to the series. The ninth novel in her series filled in those hanging questions from previous books. Lots of action, great dialogue, sex, but the plotting well it wasn't up to Charlaine's great standards. Okay I'm nit pickin here, bare with me a minute.

My quibble is with the last third of the book. Not enough clues laid in earlier in the book for the reader to figure out who the murders were. And there's Mel dying declaration, the clues were so superficial I didn't see his announcement coming. I thumbed back through the book and tried to figure out where I missed the clues, which took me out of the reader mode. Plus I'm irritated with the continuous is it Quinn, Bill or Eric triangle in whose my lover? Geez, pick one. I'm not a fan of long drawn out love trysts, a la Stephanie Plum. Enough of my hair splitting. I really did like the book, but disappointed with a few minor details which most people will ignore. My carping won't take away from the fun.

Every girl loves a bad boy. They can be tempting, especially if we can love them from afar. My answer is Jack Reacher. What's not to love about Reacher? He lives off the grid. He's a contrarian. He never walks away from trouble and always has a unique solution to problem resolution. Vicariously I get rid of my murderous angst when reading Child's novels.

Reacher is back in New York for Lee Child's novel Gone Tomorrow. He's riding the subway after attending a jazz club. A passenger appears to be a suicide bomber and Reacher intervenes. And that's just the beginning, the results of his intervention lead to a thumping good story.

Lee Child knows how to build tension and he keeps the plot tight. His descriptions lean allow the reader to envision the scene without the purple prose. Great beach read.

Where oh where has Phillip Shelby gone? He writes a good spy novel. Dawn's Early Light written in 2003 was his last solo novel I've been able to find. He co-wrote several with Ludlum, but nothing lately by himself. A google search doesn't reveal much new.

Sloane Ryder works for the GAO police. (Who knew we had a secret GAO squad?) Wish we did have one that was as clever as Shelby wrote in his novel. Shelby follows the money like Ludlum always does in his novels, corruption at the highest levels of govt. It's well paced, characters could have been more fleshed out, but the plotting is tight and suspenseful. Good beach read. A quibble, one has to suspend disbelief that Sloane could get fired from Wall Street and easily move into a covert police squad. Plus everyone knows all the capitol police agencies playing together and sharing information is a fairy tale, but if you can get past those two roadblocks its full speed ahead.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


What makes you pick up a new book? An interesting cover? Favorite author? Enticing hook on the inside cover? How about book trailers? Lately they are all the rage, everybody whose anybody is making one for their book. I like them short, few spoken words, music appropriate for the novels theme, and evocative pictures which pique my interest.

I remember my first book trailer. Alex Kava's A Perfect Evil in 2000. It was extremely simply compared to the current trailers, however it drew me in. The view was the backside of a man, walking in deep snow toward a house surrounded by forest. The sound track consisted of howling wind, a short voice over and more wailing winds. The entire trailer was maybe 30 seconds long. I got goose-flesh, swear I felt the evil radiate off the computer and was immediately drawn into the scene. I didn't realize this was Alex Kava's debut. What a way to start off with a bang. I attended one of her signings, managed to put into words,how much I enjoyed the trailer. I still read Alex and was pleased with her latest novel Exposed.

In earlier posts I've mentioned Sandy Tooley's (aka Lee Driver) Chasing Ghosts trailer, Kit Ehrman's Triple Cross trailer, done on small budgets but very professional looking and both enticed me to read their books.

Can I weed out some books based on the trailer. Yes, The first clue is the music. When I click on the trailer if it has a pounding bass that increases my blood pressure, I know I'm in the wrong age bracket. If there's no tension in the music, it's probably a cozy.(I like to have the be-jesus scared out of me so I rarely read cozies.) If it has pictures of teens or soldiers again not my cup of tea. Although I must admit I enjoy quite a few of the teen book videos.

Out of all the trailers I've visited lately here's one which is very well done. Only 90 seconds long. But you get the gist of the debut novel and the potential for a series. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I'm back from the mother ship. Bruised, but not battered. My sanity is questionable, but normal for me. Any minute now I'll figure out how to use the walker without running over the oxygen tube. Hope abounds.

On my enforced vacation I've been reading and listening to audio books to escape mentally from the dungeon. I've got a few tips for authors and publishers.

PLEASE, by all things which are holy; chocolate, kettle cooked chips and a good single malt scotch, DO NOT add music to increase tension in an audio book. Give the author back the MS and make them write page-turning thrills or lump in the throat despair. If they can't or won't, then you do your job and get yourself another author. I know, I know, harsh.

Authors you've got a difficult job to accomplish in the first fifty pages. You MUST make me like and root for your protagonist to succeed in his/her mission which you've set. Could you do this without boring me to tears on the back story? Yes, I realize it's a ton to ask, yes, I know it's difficult to write, but hey, I'm a picky reader.

I loved flawed/handicapped/misfit characters. But damn, give them a backbone and a job most of us wouldn't tackle even for an ocean view house and a pool boy with abs to die for. Have you guessed by now I ran into numerous disappointments in my reading material over the last month?

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz. I love new authors. I adored and promoted Lisa's debut book. She'd written a quirky protagonist with heart. Her writing was fast paced, irreverent and hilarious. Her second novel, was still funny but the footnotes and annotations were just down right annoying. The third novel, her protagonist, Izzy shows little character growth, her quirks are no longer cute but irritating, the ubiquitous love triangle leaves me rooting for no one. Damn, what a waste of a potentially great series. I'll borrow her novels from the library, if they get good revenues. Disappointed.

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley. A debut. Yippee, a new author. A down on your luck reporter, after a failed attempt at the big Detroit Times, crawls back to his home town to be the local editor. He ends up investigating the death of his hockey coach who died 10 years earlier. Not a bad premise. Blurbs by Michael Connelly, Steve Hamilton, CJ Box and George Pelecanos, saying nice things about his writing. His bio suggests he has the writing chops for the deserved blurb praise. However by page 50, I was bored silly with his protagonist. I didn't even hate him. I wanted to ignore him. I wasn't sure at the 50 page point if there was even a murder worthy of investigating. He had potential for great setting descriptions, cold Michigan winters and hockey, unfortunately, neither of these came alive in his writing. Half way to the end I set the book down and I've yet to pick it back up.

Runner by Thomas Perry. Nine long years since he wrote a Jane Whitfield novel. The original series Jane showed people how to disappear from one place and learn to live in another without them getting killed. Very creative series. Jane was/is a complex protagonist. If you haven't read the series rush out and get the first, Vanishing Act. Block out reading time because you won't put it down until you've finished the last page. Perry's written pace and tension were up to his usual standards. I do however have a quibble, the back story. BORING, snoring here. Jane was never that introspective. I realize the new reader needs to catch up, but damn, just not all in one book. Hopefully we'll see Jane again soon.

I picked up Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris. Sookie is a favorite of mine and Charlaine deserves all her recent success with HBO's series True Blood which features Sookie. Charlaine has written several other great series, but not with the success of this one, they are worthy of tracking down to be read. After only a few pages I've got one question for Charlaine. Seriously, what's up with the deep fried pickles?

PS. Hello Devin and Benjamin welcome to the wacky family.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I've been tagged by my niece to play one of the name games. I'll give it a whirl. Really, I'll try. Be warned my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek.

1. Given name: Debora Watson
2. Witness protection name:(mother and fathers middle names) Shirley Dale
3. NASCAR name:(first name of your mother's dad, father's dad) Joseph Leo You think I could get away with Joseph? Maybe Joey.
4. Star Wars Name:(the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your
first name) Watde
5. Detective Name:(favorite color, favorite animal) Red Mutt. Actually this name has possibilities. Rather noirish.
6. Soap Opera Name:(middle name, town where you were born)Jean Michigan
7. Superhero Name:(2nd fav color, fav drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Teal Scotch Really? Oh hell no. Imagine my costume? No, let's not, or at least let's order a drink first.
8. Fly Name:(first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)Deon
9. Street Name:(fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie)Chocalate Thin Mint Hope the superhero costume is spandex, otherwise I need to pick a different icecream/cookie name, something healthy, Carrot Patty. Oh yeah, I'll get street creds with that name.
10. Rock Star Name:(current pets name, current street name)Gandalf Gwinnett
11. Porn Name: (1st pet, street you grew up on)Tammy Allover
12. Gangsta Name:(first 3 letters of real name plus izzle)Debizzle
14. Goth Name:( black, and the name of one of your pets)Black Gandalf
15. Stripper Name:(name of your fav perfume/cologne,fav candy)Boucheron chocolate

Tag now your it. What's in a name?

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Chicago is cold this time of year, but next week-end, February 6-8, there will be plenty of heat at the Love Is Murder Conference held at the Chicago Westin.

The headliners include Jeffery Deaver,(Lincoln Rhyme series) Alex Kava,(Maggie O'Dell series) Sharan Newman,(Levendeur series) and Steve Berry.(The Cotton Malone series)

The local guest of honor is Raymond Benson. Ray has been an author, composer, computer game designer, stage director, film historian, and film genres instructor for over thirty years. He is also the fourth official author of the James Bond 007 novels. Plus a very cool guy to hang out with at the bar.

Got a novel, but not a editor, agent or publisher? You have the opportunity to pitch your manuscript to several literary agents and editors during our Pitch-a-Palooza to be held three times during the weekend.

I'll be there in the Newbie author breakfast panel on Saturday. Give me a wave, better yet let's meet in the bar Friday night. I've attended last the last two of LIM conferences. It's a first class conference, great way to mingle with other fans and authors. Rob Walker summed it up nicely when he said,"so what if it's in Chicago in February, how else can you gonna keep the bodies on ice?"

The full online registration price of $290 includes ALL the food--from Friday evening's dinner to Sunday morning's breakfast, as well as a High Tea on Saturday afternoon, and admittance to ALL the workshops from Friday at 11:30 a.m. to Sunday at noon. The Pitch-a-Palooza is extra for $55.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Believe it or not I was held captive by little people. They wanted to be played with and fed. They also wanted 24/7 attention.

Did you know the new Mario has three worlds on a DS player? News to me, but I'm sure if you have small people around all the time this isn't an earth shattering news flash. Oh well, needless to say my reading was curtailed.

I'm having an affair with Jack. Even though we havn't formally been introduced he's got my mind occupied with his antics. F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack is one bad boy in his lasting outing By The Sword.

Jack lives off the grid and has no identity. He's an anarchist, an urban mercenary. Jack fixes those problems the establishment can't. I love a character who walks the edge of the envelope between good and evil and battles back when I would under the same circumstances turn into a ball of goop.

In By The Sword Jack must find a legendary sword stolen (kanta) from the Hiroshima Peace Museum. Unfortunately a cabal of Yakuza ganesters, an order of mystical monks, the Kickers from previous novels, and let's not forget his supernatural nemesis Rasolom are all also trying to retrieve the sword. Talk about your bad day at the office. The bodies do pile up in this one. Jack uses his brain more than brawn. A nice cross between the original Bond and MacGiver. I'm amazed at how Jack extricates himself from his latest assignment.

Then there is the whole "otherness" and "ally" tug of war going on to boot. Unfortunately you can't really jump into the middle of this series, although F.Paul believes it can. I think they need to be read in order. BTW F.Paul has started a trilogy for young adults The reader meets Jack as a teen, his mother and father, big sister Kate, his bully of a brother Tom, even an old lady with a dog. (Yikes!) Great escapism.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin