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Book pick: ‘This Side of the Grave’ fun in parts but missing spark! March 8, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in Reviews/summaries.
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Longtime fans of Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones series will want to read THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE, but it’s not the snappy, fast-paced story we’ve been treated to before.

In fact, I found it hard to get into the first few chapters. We knew what the storyline was  one based on the last novel: The ghouls are itching for a war against the vampires, and Cat is the flash point because of the unusual abilities she’s gained. She and Bones head back to New Orleans to meet with Marie Laveau, who juices Cat up with some of her black magic mojo  — and boy are there some interesting results —  and then — well — the gang tries to stop the war from occurring.

Sounds good, but on the whole, you just never get the sense of doom like in the previous stories. There also is a serious lack of tension between Cat and Bones. No danger. No anger. Very little lust. That much-talked about Chapter 21 wasn’t anything  like Chapter 32 of ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE, although I get what Frost was trying to do. Frankly, I was so distracted by  how the wax was manipulated that the atmosphere Frost was trying to create — and she usually does these scenes very well — was totally missing for me. To be fair — the previous novels have featured all kinds of obstacles between Cat and Bones. I guess it might be kind of hard to keep upping the ante in the couple’s relationship. Even Cat makes a remark about how their relationship has settled.

Also, I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the book yet, but the historical reference to the other half-vamp — made me roll my eyes. Yes, it’s part of the back story but it just seemed — well — almost funny to me that Frost would pick this person.

However, parts of THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE were fun  and interesting, and I just wish we’d had more of that. The scenes between Vlad and Cat are good. You can’t help but wonder how Frost will write his story — and she is planning a couple of books about him. The storyline with Don is fascinating and I can’t wait to see how that develops. We also get to see Tate, Juan,  Mencheres and Kira, and Denise and Spade, too. But it just wasn’t enough to really keep me riveted as I usually am with Frost’s stories.

That said, most fans will happily soldier through book No. 5 and get to the good nuggets in the story — and that will be enough to keep them wondering about the next book in the series. I still think that this one feels like  a “bridge” book —  that there’s something more coming — and this was a story to keep everything glued together. And I’m OK with that because I like the overall series.

Other reviews of THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE:

It’s March Madness — and I don’t mean NCAA hoops February 27, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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So many good reads out there right now — so little time to get through them all. But we will have some good stuff coming this week on the blog!

Look for my take on the latest Cat & Bones book — THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE — by Jeaniene Frost.
Patricia Briggs comes out with her latest Mercy Thompson book — RIVER MARKED — on Tuesday. I’ll be looking at that and posting this week.
Q&A with Dianne Duvall on her debut release DARKNESS DAWNS (She will be giving away a copy of her book!)

RT convention in LA: Anyone going to LA April 6-10 for this event? If so — holler. I might go one day, but am not sure yet. Just seeing if there’s anyone else who might attend. (Which authors are you most interested in — see website HERE for author list and events. )

Something fun: Check out GEEK SPEAK MAGAZINE’S “The Top 13 Paranormal Romance Cliches.” It’s a hoot. Subtitled: “Virgins, whores, soulmates, serendipity, mortal enemies, and more. A look at all the tropes we love … and love to mock.” So have some fun! CLICK HERE for the article and list!

My fave on their list is No. 7. Here’s a little excerpt: (What’s your fave?)

7. The Headless Hero
You know how you can tell it’s a Paranormal Romance? The cover features a dude with chiseled abs and no head. Okay, that may be an oversimplification — sometimes it’s a scantily clad and nubile headless woman. There will often be a full moon. Other indicators are an exquisitely wrought young thing taking a bite out of someone’s neck, any kind of black and lacy wings (especially prevalent, in this time of angels), or perhaps even a hot chick in leather staring sultrily out at us — though the latter does tend to suggest that the book is leaning more towards the Urban Fantasy end of the spectrum. But a good rule of thumb in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section of the bookstore: if you can only see a tantalizing part of the cover model’s perfect face and/or semi-naked body, then odds are, it ain’t Tolkien.

On a related note, you can tell it’s the Paranormal kind in the Romance section of the bookstore by answering ye these questions three: 1. Is there only a partial person on the cover? 2. Is the cover shadowed and kinda mysterious? 3. Does the title have anything to do with a) darkness, death, or any kind of hunger, b) wolves, moons or The Night, c. legendary creatures, myths or magic, or d. the Scottish Highlands? Preferably, in pun-form? If so, it’s PR alright!

Book video trailer & author tidbits from ‘This Side of the Grave’ February 14, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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We’re one week away from the release of THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE, book No. 5 in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series about half-vamp Cat and and her vampy hubby Bones.

The book picks up a few months after events from DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE. Here’s the book blurb from Amazon.com, and then scroll below for the book trailer and comments from Frost about the upcoming release — Feb. 22 — she made during a recent podcast:

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance … With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing.  A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”–the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. … to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Frost won’t say much about the book but in a recent podcast she did say:

  • Vlad is a prominent character in this book. And she is working on a separate novel about him. (Her Twitter feed says 2 books and first release is expected in 2012.)
  • Justina is back and readers will be “surprised” by what she’s been up to.
  • Chapter 21 of THIS SIDE OF AN EARLY GRAVE is apparently very steamy — akin to Chapter 32 in ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE. (She says that chapter was only one she didn’t have to revise. However,  she worried about it because when she wrote it, she didn’t have an agent or book deal and didn’t expect anyone to see it. She was nervous because it was very explicit. Turned out her editor was right to leave it intact, she said.) On reading Chapter 21, Frost’s editor tweeted that it was a good thing she wasn’t a prude. Frost says if she had to sum up Chapter 21 — she’d say: “Cat bites back.”
  • She likes giving out deleted chapters/material. One idea she’s toying with now: Should she release a deleted alternate storyline from DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE, where Gregor could erase Bone’s memories, much as Mencheres did to Cat. She didn’t include it in the book because she realized it deviated from her world building. It went against rules she had in place — that a full vampire wouldn’t be able to do that to another vamp.
  • We will find out who the other half-breed is/was. In DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE, Bones and Gregor told Cat she wasn’t the only half-breed. Frost says the half-breed is a recognizable historical figure — but won’t say if that figure is alive in the book or dead.
  • Book No. 5 takes readers to Ohio, New Orleans,  Memphis, Tenn., and Garland, Texas.
  • Book No. 6 is titled ONE GRAVE AT A TIME.

Want an early glimpse of book No. 5? CLICK HERE to go to Frost’s website where she has 20 percent of the book posted. (I haven’t checked it out yet!)

And here’s her video trailer for THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE.

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