Thursday, August 20, 2009

Par for the Curse by Toyi Ward

First, what's good. Toyi Ward wrote an intriguing story spanning several generations that is accessible to many women (though I'd venture not as many men). In reading the book, I learned more about different cultures and religions (Voodoo and Hoodoo are two real and separate practices!) and gained an understanding about why some women behave in relationships the way that they do. It was a page-turning, quick read, with a "mystery" that ends in a satisfying manner.

What's not-so-great. I found myself frustrated with the women in this story, often thinking in exasperation that they each just needed to be stronger. That being said, weaker women exist in the world and should indeed be written about--their stories told, their lessons learned (or learned by others), their experiences commiserated with. In the end, although I felt frustrated by many of the actions of the women and the decisions that they continually made, I felt that the stories were well-told and worth being told.

As a side note, it took me a few pages to realize that the characters spoke in an "accent" that I do not think in. Before coming to this realization, attempting to "hear" the characters in my inner voice was annoying; however, once I realized the tone and adjusted my inner voice, the reading came much more easily and enjoyably.

THREE AND A HALF of Five stars.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

Review based on ARC:

This book does what many books in this genre do: it offers a quick, page-turning experience with supernatural characters, "romance," and a grand climax. I would never describe the story or its telling as unique or groundbreaking. However, it offers no more and no less than it promises to. Any Given Doomsday is the first in what appears to be a relatively formulaic series, setting up characters, relationships, and of course, the premise of an impending doomsday. Although I agree with many of the reviewers that the sex scenes and reasons behind them are arguably unnecessary and pornographic, I did not think that they completely detracted from the story around them.

Lori Handeland's style is easy and thoughtless--I never found myself tripping over a passage or a word as awkward or out of place. Instead, the story flowed quickly and easily from its pages. That being said, I have no great draw toward any subsequent Phoenix Chronicles books or Handeland books. Like many supernatural-formulaic books written these days, it was enjoyable while it lasted, but not particularly memorable or lasting. If you're looking for a supernatural fantasy with stock characters and a somewhat predictable story-line, but which will allow you to pass hours of your time without much effort, this is the book for you. If you're looking for something more complex and original, I suggest passing.

THREE of Five stars.