Sunday, 28 June 2015

Book Review - Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Kia Ora!

I remember reading plenty of Janet Evanovich's books (particularly her Stephanie Plum series) years ago, when I was 18/19/20 years old. I loved the books for the outrageous characters and situations, and the many times I laughed out loud while reading her books. A new book of hers has just been released, in collaboration with Phoef Sutton, and I have decided some of my readers may also be Janet Evanovich fans and appreciate a review.




Lizzy Tucker is happy to work quietly at Dazzle's Bakery, preparing delicious treats for the locals. But her partner Diesel is all about the hunt. Right now he's tracking down a famous pirate's treasure, hidden somewhere along the coast of New England. This bounty contains much, much more than gold and jewels: it's also the hiding place of the powerful Stone of Avarice. 

Lizzy and Diesel aren't the only ones searching for the Stone. Some greed-driven seekers are willing to kill for it, or even make a deal with the devil. And one of those dangerous seekers looks a lot like Diesel's deceptively charming cousin, Wulf - who also happens to desire Lizzy herself. 

Wicked Charms is the third in another series by Evanovich, where the baker extraordinaire Lizzy Tucker teams up with Diesel to save the world. Their world involves special abilities, magic, and stones that represent the Seven Deadly Sins (and will destroy the world if Lizzy and Diesel don't get to them first). Wicked Charms is about the race to find and control the Stone of Avarice, and the hi-jinks the characters get up to in the process. It costs $34.99 and was released on 23 June 2015. 

Image sourced from http://ravenseyestudiostravislacey.blogspot.co.nz/

This is a fairly fast-paced book, which deals with pirates, demons (in particular the demon Mammon - represented above), greed, vampires, special powers, magical coins, a race for the treasure, and magical tasting cupcakes. There is excitement galore inside this book, and the adventures never seem to stop (sometimes I had to put the book down just to catch my breath).

This book is a clear example of the Urban Fantasy genre: a fantasy narrative which is set in the modern world, often in a cityscape and contains elements of the supernatural - usually magic or magical beings. Lizzy and Diesel's special powers often appear to be elements of the supernatural, as well as their main purpose of securing the stones which represent the Seven Deadly Sins. There are vampires and other supernatural creatures that pop up too. Wicked Charms is clearly set in the modern world and this is made clear through the use of modern technology (cars, cellphones, computers, etc.) and pop culture references to Harry Potter and Bewitched. I really like this genre, and in particular Neil Gaiman's depictions of urban fantasy. It's always interesting to read another book set in a genre I like though, and I enjoyed the setting of Wicked Charms.

Image sourced from here
I enjoyed reading this book, but on a superficial level. It's perfect for a 'blob' read, where you want to switch off your brain and not need to concentrate on anything. The characters are relatively well fleshed out, although it would help to read the first two if you are interested in some slightly deeper levels of meaning. However, prior reading of the series isn't compulsory as this can easily be taken as a stand-alone book.

I did notice that it was written a bit like the plot of a TV show, where the reader is being told what is happening in the plot, and a visual aid for most action scenes would not be amiss. I think this might be (warning: personal opinion) due to the collaboration with Phoef Sutton, as his background is as a screenwriter and producer for shows like Cheers and Boston Legal. Some scenes you are given a basic gist of the action, but it feels like much of the relevant wording or extra details are left out, and it is presumed they will appear in the visual accompaniment (which doesn't currently exist).

The other way in which this book reminds me of a TV show, particularly a G-rated one, is the treatment of sex scenes. I know that some authors don't write sex scenes at all, and tend to gloss over the intimate scenes, while others are very descriptive and provide lots of details. I haven't read any other Janet Evanovich books in years, but I don't remember her being shy about sex scenes (particularly as some of her characters are renowned for being smoking hot). However the sex scenes in this book end ubruptly in the middle, where a change of rooms leads to a closing door ... and all of a sudden it's the next chapter and the next day. It seems like the sort of ending that would be before an ad break, to set the mood and titivate the audience a little bit, but also as a way to get around censorship and still get publication. Nothing wrong with the way these have been written, but it does feel as though the relationship factor is glossed over and falls by the wayside a bit.

Overall, this book is middle-of-the-road, nothing special, but not that awful either. I'm not sure how much of my perspective comes from doing a university degree in English Literature though, and reading a million and one books prior to that.

Is anyone else going to go out and read this? You can get it from Book Depository (which has free shipping worldwide).

Until next time ...

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review purposes, but all opinions expressed are true and honest and 100% my own.