Author      :  Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes

Copyright:   2005

Publisher :   St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Published Date :  April 5, 2005

ISBN-10: 0312934300

ISBN-13: 978-0312934309

Pages         :  344

The Story :

Annie Fortenberry’s bed and breakfast business with a bordello-inspired house is starting to be quite profitable.  That is, until a hired hand uncovers the buried remains of her husband, whose disappearance led everyone to believe that Annie was abandoned for another woman.  Annie’s life suddenly turns upside down as she becomes a murder suspect and a media curiosity.  Now, not only does Annie have to face charges, but she has to juggle preparations  for an important hush-hush wedding,  the day-to-day business management of her little B&B,  frustrations with a demented cat, and (heavens!) a poltergeist as well, and all while trying to guard her heart from ruggedly handsome Wes Bridges who unrelentingly tries to solve the mystery.

The Review :

The story can’t get any crazier than this.  Seems like two authors for one book certainly spoiled the broth.  The novel is a tacky mix of genres — murder mystery, paranormal, romance, and comedy —all expressed in chick-lit writing style.  Throw in some annoying air-headed characters like a psychic named Destiny (even the name’s so laughably cheesy); Theenie, a cowardly prude; and a senile vet named Doc (to name a few) and you come up with a weirdly concocted brew of a story which I had to swallow to its contemptible end.

There is a permeating air of nonchalance in this book,  even in its supposed serious points.  The surprise readers get on the “whodunit” issue  is just irritatingly incredulous and the motivation for murder,  downright stupid.  I mean, c’mon….

It is no wonder this book was on sale with a 50% markdown.  Serves me right for picking this up on the merits of its price tag.  But I just wanted to try a Janet  Evanovich novel.

My almost uncanny luck for picking up good books has been broken by this mistake.  A complete waste of time and immediately forgettable, this book is absolutely one for those garage sales.

My Mark :   Trash. Don’t bother.

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Author : Joe Hill

Copyright : 2007

“Jude had a private collection.”

So begins Joe Hill’s first novel of an aging but successful rock star, Judas Coyne, who possesses a black hobby of collecting the bizarre, the eerie, or the perverse.  Naturally, when an obscure internet auction offers a ghost for sale,  Coyne snaps him up for a thousand dollars.  Little does he know that he would be paying more __much, much more.

The original idea of a poltergeist for sale piqued my interest in this book.  The author set a good pace; his modern  writing style made this an easy read.  He wrote with scenes that abruptly changes moods in mid-stride so you’re jolted from time to time — a pretty good technique in a horror novel.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t really feel the fear of the protagonist; so, I couldn’t feel the terror as well.  That is the failure of this book, I think.  I could just perceive anger and fierce determination in the character but not the all important feeling of terror which should be THE element in a horror novel.

I didn’t have the spine-tingling chills. I didn’t close the book in mid-paragraph because I couldn’t bear to be more scared.  And I didn’t cringe nor take to nail-biting.  For a book that wants to scare,  there were just pinpricks of chilling scenes that gave me little goosebumps, but no more…scenes like Judas Coyne finding the ghost next to him in the front seat, with yellow teeth and mad black scribbles for eyes.  Aside from these very few, nothing much gave me the thrill I was looking for from a horror novel.

But because of a well paced plot and smooth writing style, I still enjoyed the book.  I cannot say, though, that Joe Hill wrote a good horror novel.  A Heart-Shaped Box just lacked that bite of fear for it to be so.  Rather, I shall say that Hill penned a good dark fantasy instead.

My Mark : Good