Tag Archives: vampire

Review of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, by Marta Acosta

I picked up a copy of Marta Acosta‘s Happy Hour at Casa Dracula when it was free on Amazon (mostly because I’d earlier bought paperback of the third book in the series, The Bride of Casa Dracula, not realizing it was part of a series.)

Description from Goodreads:
Latina Ivy League grad Milagro de Los Santos can’t find her place in the world or a man to go with it. Then one night, at a book party for her pretentious ex-boyfriend, she meets an oddly attractive man. After she is bitten while kissing him, she falls ill and is squirreled away to his family’s estate to recover. Vampires don’t exist in this day and age — or do they? As Milagro falls for a fabulously inappropriate man, she finds herself caught between a family who has accepted her as one of their own and a shady organization that refuses to let the undead live and love in peace.

There were several things to appreciate about this book. There was a decent amount of humor. There was a heroine with a backbone. There was diversity; the main character is Mexican-American for example. There was appreciation for voluptuous bodies, without shaming people who are thin. But there were also things that annoyed me. It’s written in first person, which I hate. Names are dropped into almost every line of dialogue, and it makes the writing feel more amateurish than it deserved. The attraction between the heroine and hero is instant and feels unexplained, as I didn’t at all feel any spark. Previous relationships are unintentionally ambiguous. There’s cheating, more than once on a partner. The book calls out Latina stereotypes and then turns around and uses them. Nothing of note happened for most of the middle (a lot of shopping) and then the whole last quarter felt contrived and too convenient. And, despite her Ivy League education, when a solution is needed, it’s her sex appeal, not her brains she falls back on to resolve the problem. I have the rest of the series and I liked this one enough read it. But I didn’t love it enough to jump right into book two. I’ll step away for a while first.

Review of Chicagoland Vampires, by Chloe Neil

From Hoopla, I borrowed and listened to the first five Chicagoland Vampire books: Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites, Twice Bitten, Hard Bitten, Drink Deep. I only bothered reviewing the first and what turned out to be my last though. Middle books are so often just “ditto.” Especially when the series is read back to back, and feels like a single reading experience.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world. When a rogue vampire attacked me, I was lucky he only got a sip. Another bloodsucker scared him off and decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed,
four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude—and servitude. Right…

But someone’s out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood.

This was dated, but I still found it entertaining. It does have a serious case of “she’s so special” going on. The heroine breaks the rules from day one, setting herself aside from others, and is allowed to get away with it. This is a plot device that always annoys me. All the powerful males are attracted to her because she’s so prickly and refuses to submit. But WHY exactly is she allowed to act this way when anyone else wouldn’t? No idea.

Having said that, as a first in a series, it was fun. I’ll give it one more book before I judge, because I really do feel like this one was mostly all just set up. I thought Cynthia Holloway did a good job with the narration, as I listened to the audio version. But I gotta say, this cover is atrocious!

I gave it four more books, my opinion didn’t really change much. But as the series went on and I felt nothing progressed, I became less tolerant of the things that annoyed me and eventually just didn’t want to follow it anymore. In the end, it fizzles for me. I finished book five and then made the following note:

I technically have the next book in this series (Biting Cold), but I don’t think I’ll bother reading it. I think I’ll stop now. I liked Merrit and her crew, but the plots are just getting too ridiculous and predictable. I can only stand so many books in a row in which the supernaturally special heroine, who somehow bypassed being new and inexperienced and EARNING trust, struggles against the short-sighted and self-important bureaucracy. It’s like no matter what else the plot involves, the megalomaniac leader who the good guys have to work around just gets changed out, washed and repeated. I’m bored with it now. And I think the author must even know the books were becoming overly formulaic. There’s a joke about how the main character loves a series, despite it becoming just so.

Review of Greywalker, by Kat Richardson

I bought a second-hand copy of Greywalker , by Kat Richardson at a bricks and mortar store.

Description from Goodreads:
When Harper comes to in the hospital, she begins to feel a bit …strange. She sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.But Harper’s not crazy. Her “death” has made her a Greywalker-able to move between our world and the mysterious, cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift (or curse) is about to drag her into that world of vampires and ghosts, magic and witches, necromancers and sinister artifacts. Whether she likes it or not.

This book was dated. Which I really can’t blame it for. It was written when it was written, and if pagers, Hansen and Brosnan as Bond were the markers of the time, so be it. What I can fault it for is being boring and feeling too scattered.

The action starts without allowing the reader time to get to know Harper and then doesn’t really provide further opportunity as the plot progresses. Thus, I never felt connected or invested in her. I simply didn’t care all that much. Plus, she’s whinging and denying her abilities through the whole book, while simultaneously accepting vampires and witches and ghosts as blasé. And as soon as she has abilities, those vampires, ghosts and such start showing up all over the place. The day she returns to work she gets two (and only two) cases and both happen to be paranormal. One is explained, the other I’m supposed to believe is coincidence?

By the end she’d come to terms with her abilities, so maybe future books in the series wouldn’t seem so annoying. But unless I find a copy as a freebie, I don’t think I’ll continue with it.