Tag Archive | Mollie Cox Bryan

Review: Scrapped by Mollie Cox Bryan & Suprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie

The two books that I’m blogging about tonight are on the surface completely different. One is a modern day cozy mystery, the other a historical romance. And yet here we are. I always said I was a little ecclectic, so now is when we put it to the test.

Please note: Both books were provided as ARCs from Kensington Books. Both are the second books in a series, but you don’t need to read the first books to get into them.

I was excited about Scrapped by Mollie Cox Bryan, I really enjoyed the first book, Scrapbook of Secrets. This one… I enjoyed the novel, but I’m not sure about where the author is taking a few of the characters. By the end of the book, Annie seems to be headed for some no-no action with Detective Bryant, and Vera is embroiled in a no strings relationship that quite frankly, I just don’t get. They’re still great friends, the mystery moves right along… But I’m not sure I’m going to follow on the next book. The friendships in the novel are still solid, Annie’s involvement in the mystery is a little more believable… overall, it was a good book. My trepidation is a personal thing.

Surprising Lord Jack is the historical romance, and it has all of the conventions that you would expect. But what you don’t really expect is for the heroine, Frances, to be quite as headstrong and as determined as she is. I liked her fire, her spunk. Even though she is perfect for Lord Jack, and you’re rooting for the two of them… You almost wish that they had been in a time/place when she wouldn’t have to marry to save her reputation. However, this one was exactly the way I like them: fast, funny with a strong heroine who isn’t afraid to voice her opinion. It is the perfect building block from the previous novel… but I think I actually like this one a bit more 🙂

So, two stand alone sequels to two very different novels. As readers, I want you all to go out and buy more books. But as a writer, I have to ask…Why is one so much more successful than the other? It’s not genre: even though they are in different genres, both are pretty much what I call bubblegum. Great to read, enjoy, breeze through an afternoon.

I think the main thing is that one (Surprising Lord Jack), takes on 2 different characters, with other characters making a reappearance. The other one (Scrapped) revolves around a group of friends, and the focus has remained on the same characters. This makes it harder for an author, because you not only have to bring your loyal readers along with you— you need to make sure that the characters have some kind of growth and change.

You just have to be careful to keep your readers with the characters as they do it.

For me… I think as a writer I prefer the first way. I’ve tried writing a sequel to one of my (unpublished) novels, and while I love the character… I think I’d have to just forget that I had ever written that first novel. Use it as back story. How about you?

If you have written a series— how do you handle it? If you’re a reader– which way do you prefer? All the same characters with a few new ones thrown in? Or new main characters, with your favorites from stories past making appearances?

Branching Out

There are times in a reader’s, even in a writer’s, life where one is forced to branch out. Not because what we read (or write) is suddenly boring, or because our favorite authors have suddenly become lame. Mostly because, if you’re like me, you’ve already read all the books that you like and suddenly find yourself with the prospect of either going without (OH! The Horrors!), re-reading favorites (which can be fun in and of itself) or branching out.

Let’s branch out for a bit. Not a whole lot, but just a wiggly little bit.

Enter Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan (release date February 2012, Kennsington Mystery). I like scrap booking, and I like funny mysteries so I decided to give this one a try. And really, who can resist any novel that begins with “For Vera, all of the day’s madness began when she saw the knife handle poking out of her mother’s neck.” (Never fear, her mother is a force to be reckoned with all throughout the novel). As a matter of fact, most of the novel revolves around Vera, her mother, and a newcomer to the area, Annie. I really identified with Annie, trying to balance being a wife and mother along with a need for some professional (writing) release. Although the novel is set up so that you think the author is extremely unsubtle about who did it— it was a surprise when the whodunit was revealed. And all the clues were there! I give this one a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

And let us not forget Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight (release date February 2012, Kensington Books). Nicola James is an engineer with a list, a plan, and… a fairy godmother? With the appearance of a diary that gives her advice ala Jane Austen as fairy godmother, Nicola’s life goes from left-brain logical to a walk on the whimsical side. Especially when Fairy Jane decides that she needs a gentleman that decidedly does not fit in with her plans. Not only a good read, but the author appears to have had a rollicking good time writing it. I love books like that, where the author’s passions come out. Another four out of 5 stars.

In personal news, it’s early Sunday morning. Ray is out back playing. I already have my laptop on and thanks to my friend Rie, I have a great idea for a short story on a hoarder of a wizard. So I’m off to get that written. Have a great week, my lovelies! Hopefully I’ll have more to post by about midweek. I’m in the middle of a Sheryl Woods and have another in the stacks waiting to go.