Saturday, November 1, 2014

Africa and Ammie (Disappointing October Reads)

I’m going to make this quick because I really don’t too much care to talk about these last two books.  But I must.  Here are the last two books I read in the month of October and both were incredible, incredible disappointments. 

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda

Jade Del Cameron was raised on a ranch in New Mexico, years before she became an ambulance driver in France during World War I. Between the two, she has gathered her own personal connection with the animal kingdom as well as a survivor’s proclivity required during War Time. So when she witnesses her beau’s military plane shot down from the sky by the enemy, her immediate reaction is to rush to his rescue unfazed by the smoking danger. Pulling him from the wreckage, she lays him in her arms as he whispers his last dying words for her to find his long-lost brother as well as for her to find out the truth behind his father’s murder. Later, after having experienced the coldness of her dying beau’s mother, Jade turns to the family lawyer for assistance in where to begin her search.  She's determined to fulfill her promise and seek the answers her dying beau pressed into her, even if that means heading all the way to Africa. Before long, Jade is stepping off a train in Africa; and onto African curses, murder, and a touch of newfound romance.

Oh, Jesus. Where do I start with this book? Mark of the Lion, by Suzanne Arruda, completely stalled out my October reading. It took on a hefty week and one day for me to complete; killing the strong reading start I had at the beginning of the month. So why did this book slow me down? Why did I plow through this safari-based murder mystery by choking down 50 pages a day instead of my much required 100? The answer is… well… I really don't have one.  However, in retrospect, I felt it suffered from the problematic middle-slump.  No amount of new character introductions or small stretches in the sub-plots could save me from the apathy I felt during the middle of this book.  The African setting couldn't save it either.  I was bored.  Sometimes I sat up with the book reasoning with myself by thinking that maybe I chose a bad time to read it.  

The single saving grace (for me) is the main character of Jade.  Some reviewers claim she's portrayed as a modern woman slipped into the era of World War I.  She's great with a rifle, speaks her mind, and is proficient as an auto mechanic.  I really didn't care for the difference, concerning Jade and the reality of women of her era.  Because of her, I'm willing to give the series another go by moving into the second book in the series.  But man was this an unexpected disappointment.

Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels

"The seance began as a party game.  A playful diversion for the guest in Ruth Bennett's fashionable Georgetown home.  But when her niece Sara speaks in a voice not her own, the game becomes frighteningly real... and the dark, forgotten secrets of yesterday's passions rise up to claim new players..."

Such a huge, enormous let down. Despite Barbara Michaels being Elizabeth Peters’ other penname, not even that realization could save this story. It was just… well… a boring ghost story that drug on and on and on for no reason. The back-story concerning the ghost and how that played out was moderately interesting. Nevertheless, alas, it was just too boring and dry of a story.  And I doubt that has anything with how dated the material is (it was written in the late 60's).  At least I don't claim that.

I didn't care for the characters at all–which didn't help matters. Most of them were snippy at one another, and the “possessed” Sara was a doormat to the ghost as well as her family and boyfriend. Damn. I was really hoping this book was going to creep me out and keep me up at night, especially after reading the synopsis months ago. Needless to say, it didn't creep me out or keep me up. I digested this one in a sluggish 50-pages a day, while finding myself extremely (and I mean extremely) restless and stir-crazy after only five pages into each session. That was a total of five days thrown into this book, rounding out my October with a whimper. And that’s all I care to talk about. To the library donation pile this one goes.

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