Tag Archives: TBR challenge 2015

Chance in hell kampman

Review of Chance in Hell (Chance Lee #1), by Patrick Kampman

Chance in HellI downloaded a copy of Patrick Kampman’s Chance in Hell in October of 2012, from the Amazon free list. Thus, it qualifies for my TBR reading challenge, in which I’m trying to read books I’ve owned for two years or more.

Description from Goodreads:
Chance is a Texan vampire hunter until a botched raid kills his team and sends him running for his life. Looking for a place to lie low, Chance takes what looks like an easy job in California. Dispose of a mysterious object. No vampires involved. But Chance’s life is never that simple.

Within hours of reaching the West coast, his contact is murdered and Chance is left holding the key to a demonic weapon of mass destruction. To make matters worse, the weapon was stolen from the ruthless head of a multi-national corporation who will do anything to get it back.

With supernatural hit men on his heels, Chance has no choice but to turn to the creatures he once hunted. Soon he’s neck deep in otherworldly seductresses, rival werewolf gangs, ravenous witches, and dysfunctional vampires. His only hope is to gain their trust, and their help, before all Hell breaks loose. 

Hmm, not bad…ok, I suppose. This is yet another book that was entertaining enough to read but contains nothing spectacular. It’s funny. I’ll give it that. And Chance seems like a nice, honorable guy. I respect that. The writing is pretty good and nothing about the editing threw me off. So, on the whole it was all right.

But it’s a bro-book; not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. I don’t just mean all the car, motorcycle and gun specs, or even all the ‘this is how you flatter a girl’ nonsense (a good bit of which is wrong, from a female’s point of view, BTW) but much of the actual humor and all of the romance is geared toward guys. Again, that’s fine. Men deserve books too.

But I have to confess that, while some sexual innuendo can be fun, this book is drowning in it. Add to that a diarrhea-mouth, 17-year-old ‘player’ who constantly hits on anything that walks and what you end up with is a ceaseless barrage of frankly juvenile jokes. Scaled back it could have been great, I thought it was really funny in the beginning. By the end, it had lost all of its lustre.

And the ‘romance’ was just as bad. Essentially, two ultra-sexy, powerful, possessive, competitive alpha-type females lay claim to Chance practically on sight ad then throw themselves at him. Isn’t that every man’s fantasy? No need to work for it. Plus, he seems to have a decided preference for one, so I never could figure out why he strung the second along (and according to the synopsis of book two, continues to throughout the series).

There is very little world-building or character development. I never felt Chance’s history as a hunter. He felt too much like an average college student to have also been a hardened hunter. And you learn none of the other characters’ history.

Plus, the whole ‘this is a dangerous artifact that I can’t give the bad guy’ is all just stated and not really supported in any way, so that it feels very random. A lot of people put their lives on the line for something no one seemed to need to verify. I honestly thought the plot twist at the end might turn out to be that the urn was actually empty the whole time and every one had just jumped to unfounded conclusions. This all left the book feeling shallow and a bit like a gloss.

All-in-all, an ok book that I didn’t hate but didn’t love either.

Review of Talking to the Dead, by Bonnie Grove

Talking to the DeadI’m making an effort this year to read books that have been on my TBR for more than two years. I downloaded Talking to the Dead, by Bonnie Grove from the Amazon free list on November 15, 2012. So, it qualified for my TBR challenge.

Description from Goodreads:
Twenty-something Kate Davis can’t seem to get this grieving widow thing right. She’s supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead she’s camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep-because her husband Kevin keeps talking to her.

Is she losing her mind?

Kate’s attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an “eclectically spiritual” counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, a mean-spirited exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate’s fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past . and Kevin begins to shout.

Will the voice ever stop? Kate must confront her grief to find the grace to go on, in this tender, quirky story about second chances.

Before I get into the review of this book I should fess up to some discomfort. I downloaded this thinking it was Women’s Fiction and it passes as it until about 90% into the book, when the main character had a clear Transcendental experience with the “One True God” and the rest of the book was heavily Christian. Looking at the rest of the book through that religious lens also changed my interpretation of a lot of the previous events.

I say all of this because I’m ok with Women’s Fiction, not so much with Christian fiction. I literally stuck my finger in my throat and made gagging sounds at my Kindle. I would not have read the book if I’d known where it was going. This is not a condemnation of the book, just an informative statement of genre classification. So, the rest of what I have to say should probably be taken with the above in mind.

My primary response to this book was, “I’m apparently not a nice enough person to read this.” Now, acknowledging the religious bent of the book, I can understand that forgiveness is obviously supposed to be important and the book focuses solely on Kate’s experience. BUT, and this is a big BUT for me, none of the characters who do her seriously wrong ever get their comeuppance. Hell, Kate never even says a cutting word toward them let alone does anything that leaves the reader feeling satisfied that the bad guys got what was coming to them. NONE!

Yeah, yeah, ‘all things before god. It’s not her place to pass judgement. She’s a better person for not.’ Bla, bla, bla. They got off too easy and I wanted to at least see them being told what shits they were…preferably in public, with significant and measurable consequences. Didn’t happen.

The book is well written and I didn’t really see any serious editing issues. And I did really like Jack and Maggie reminded me of someone I know and love in real life. I appreciated the representation of how easy it is to get trapped in the mental health system. I’m not even blind to the small kindnesses of the people who did Kate so wrong, giving their characters a bit of grey. (Too bad all those kindnesses were in response to situations they created and threw her unsuspectingly into.) So there is something worth praising here.

I just get stuck because the very things that are supposed to provide emotional satisfaction and closure for the reader (they are there for the right reader), mean nothing to me. Therefore, I’m left in the cold still waiting for a happy ending I’ll never get because what I want to happen wouldn’t be ‘Christian.’

So, if you’re the type of reader who likes to see a woman totally and unfairly destroyed by her corporeal life in order to accept God into her life, this is a must read. I’m not that reader. In fact, I tend to actively avoid such books. It’s a shame I got sideswiped by this one.