When I found out Meg Cabot, the literary queen of cutesy teen princesses, wrote an adult book about vampires, I couldn’t hit the pre-order button fast enough. For all you ladies who would rather read the instruction manual to your DVD player than pour through another predictable vampire love story – don’t roll your eyes just yet. Unlike many cheap Twilight and True Blood knockoffs – this one doesn’t suck! Very punny, I know.
Fans of Sookie Stackhouse and Buffy the Vampire Slayer looking for a lighter version of the vampire huntress should cotton to Meena Harper, a quirky New York City gal who really wants to be normal, but suffers from pesky precognitive powers that force her to see how everyone she meets is going to die.
Plagued by images of her pregnant best friend’s untimely demise, Meena’s luck goes from bad to worse when she gets bypassed for the position of head dialogue writer for the daytime soap “Insiatiable,” and the producers decide to pump up ratings by incorporating steamy, spiky-haired vampires into the script.
Things really get complicated when the endearingly dingy protagonist up and falls in love with – who else – the Prince of Darkness.
The prodigal son of Dracula Lucien Antonescu abhors human bloodletting and will stop at nothing to put an end to the murderous vampire hijinx in Manhattan. But despite his noble ambition, Meena sends him packing when she discovers she’s been kanoodling with a walking dead guy.
Enter the smoking-hot vampire adversary – Alaric Wulf (a very clever last name, I might add). A member of the Paletine Guard, a secret society of vampire annihilators, Alaric has a bit of an anger management problem and a major beef against vamps. Hot on the trail of the Prince of Darkness, Alaric swoops in on Meena and finds that it’s not just her link to Lucian and conveniently useful psychic powers that he’s after.
With punchy jabs at the Stephanie Meyers vampire franchise and literary references to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this fast-paced read will definitely leave readers wanting more. The deft touch of Cabot’s trademark humor is evident in the snappy dialogue. Even the most loyal Twihard will giggle at lines like, “Guys have been asking me to do their hair like his for weeks. Like it’s an actual style and not something accomplished with a razor blade and some mousse. People are psycho for that guy.”
Last Halloween I wandered into a random book tent at the Texas Book Festival and found myself chatting with Sylvia Dickey Smith, author of the “Third Eye” mystery book series. Won over by her sweet southern charm, I bought a copy of “Deadly Sins, Deadly Secrets,” stashed it in my bag of books and moseyed on my way in hopes of bumping into one of my favorite Texas authors. Not expecting too much from an unknown mystery author, I decided to scan the first couple pages just to see if it was worth my time. Fifty pages later, I found myself fully immersed in an absorbing world of romance, mystery and (be still my heart!) ghosts.
Move over Stephanie Plum and Annie Darling because there’s a new sassy sleuth on the scene and boy is she a firecracker! After escaping decades of confinement as a preacher’s wife, Sidra Smart returns to her sleepy East Texas hamlet to take over the reigns of her dead brother’s “Third Eye” detective agency. Just when she starts to get her bearings, her office burns to the ground and her apartment is yanked out from under her. With an empty wallet and limited options, Sidra has no alternative but to room with her endearingly neurotic aunt in a spooky 19th century haunted house. Just when life couldn’t get more complicated, she befriends a crotchety geezer in desperate need of proving his son’s innocence in a grizzly murder case. With a little help from a ghostly sidekick, a lanky, floppy-eared hound, a meddlesome aunt, and a trusty Cajun-tongued detective, Sidra combs through a lurid web of secrets, lies and deceit.
In the third installment of Smith’s mystery series, “Dead Wreckoning,” Sidra finds herself in a boatload of trouble – pun intended! Strapped for cash and in desperate need of a paying client, the last thing Sidra needs is a pro-bono case. But when Boo, a cantankerous old recluse who resides in the bellows of the Big Thicket, is framed for a murder involving a ghost ship and modern-day pirates – how could Sidra say no? Against the wishes of her mentor, George Leger, and her protective fiancé, the ferociously independent PI probes into the case and finds that even the people she trusts the most are not who they appear to be. Steeped in a humid, eerie deep south atmosphere, “Dead Wreckoning” is a solid who-done-it rife with all my favorite elements – loveable furry companions, ghosts, mystery and romance!
Smith, who has now been added to my dirty dozen of top mystery authors, has created a charming and winning character in Sidra Smart. With her atmospheric descriptions of rural East Texas, and character-driven plots, she has a real knack for crafting a quality thriller.