I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent.
Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.
A+ Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A- Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+ Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B- Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+ Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C- Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish
updated July 9, 2015
For those that have yet to experience Charley Davidson: stop right here, do not read this review, and instead go to your favorite book retailer and purchase First Grave on the Right. Unfortunately, this review is not intended for those who’ve never read the series. So much as happened over the course of seven books, each building on the previous, that I cannot “dummy it down” for virgin readers. I do apologize for this.
Also note: Some may find that the list of “good and bad” about the book (below) spoilerish. If you do not like spoilers please do not read this review. Now… on with my thoughts…
At the conclusion of the previous book, we found out that Charley is pregnant and agreed to marry Reyes. Also of note is that the twelve hounds of hell have been sent to destroy Charley. There were also various unresolved issues left dangling such as what’s going on with Charley’s dad, what exactly is Mr. Wong, and Charley’s ex-BFF turned enemy is a ghost.
As the seventh book unfolds, we find Charley helping Special Agent Carson (who we find out has a first name!) on a cold case involving a mass murder of girls at a day camp. Reyes is tagging along because the Twelve are after Charley and their baby. What happens after the opening scene is a flurry of jokes, action, ghosts, mysteries, and so much more.
I had serious issues with the previous book, Sixth Grave on the Edge. I felt that there were simply too many storylines, with several left open-ended and a few that were downright pointless. I mention this because instinctively I was comparing the sixth book to the current one while reading it. While Seventh Grave and No Body did not come across quite as convoluted and uneven, I was still overwhelmed by the sheer volume of plots and storylines; once again with too many left unresolved or mentioned once or twice and then nothing. At about the 25% mark of the book, there were already eight separate storylines introduced. I stopped counting after that.
While the multiple storylines bothered me some, I found Charley’s apparent inability to grow and mature after seven books even more frustrating. I adore Charley. Her humor is unparalleled. Her ADD gives her interesting quirks that make her unique. Yet she doesn’t seem to want to grow into her relationship with Reyes. I was utterly exasperated at the number of times Charley thought it was okay to lie to Reyes and go behind his back to do stupid things. She is engaged to be married and having a baby while trying to save the world. I beg of her to stop being so irresponsible and thoughtless.
Now that the ranting is over, here are the highlights of what I loved:
The humor: I miss this when I’m not reading these books. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments.
Charley and Cookie: They are an amazing team and fabulous friends.
Ubie and Cookie: Too cute for words!
The primary mystery of apparent suicide victims: This storyline was well played and engrossing. I enjoyed the attempts to discover the truth and the twists along the way.
(and surprisingly) Jessica the Ghost: I was prepared to be annoyed with this one. Jessica was a miserable character when she was alive, but Ms. Jones saves her by creating a more introspective, less selfish ghost. There is a scene with Jessica and some family members in the hospital that was one of the best in the book.
Here are some of the things that I was more neutral about – or that had both ups and downs:
The Prophecy: It’s still too cryptic for my liking. It’s moving slowly and convoluted. But I do like how Charley is learning more about herself and her abilities.
The priest and the haunted house: It was interesting and creepy, but what did it mean?
A mystery involving a ghost teenager with a missing corpse: At first I found this to be an interesting mystery, but the resolution was a bit mundane. I wonder if the purpose was to demonstrate Charley’s drive to help others.
Charley and Reyes: I am frustrated with their inability to communicate and grow both personally and as a couple for a two-thirds of the book. The last third was better, especially after a couple of critical conversations. While the pair have smokin’ hot chemistry, their relationship will stagnate without more than a mutual lust. I have hope they are on the right path, and will give them another shot in the next title.
And these are highlights of what I felt was problematic with the book:
Charley’s Dad: At the beginning of the prior book, Charley’s step-mom ranted at Charley about how she’s a problem and her dad is acting weird. Then nothing. Until it’s brought up some more in this book, but still very cryptically. Until the end of the book. That’s all I’ll say.
Mr. Wong: For five books he was the dead guy in the corner of Charley’s apartment. Now he’s something more – but what? We don’t know, and those that do know won’t say. I’d be a little freaked out by this, but everyone just seems to ignore him.
The opening mystery involving ghosts at the campground: Went stagnant and we never saw resolution.
Swoops and his quest to determine if he’s a baby daddy: WTF? That’s all I can say about this one.
In the end, I liked and enjoyed large parts of Seventh Grave and No Body. I found that I missed these characters and was happy to return to Charley’s world. The humor was amazing. However, I do have some concerns about the overall direction of the stories and the lack of closure on so many of the plotlines. I will give the next book a shot because I have enjoyed this series so much, and this book is better than the previous one. But if Charley doesn’t get her act together soon, I may have to say goodbye.
My Rating: B- Liked it but had a few issues