Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Book Review Blogger.
First Grave on the Left is a witty combination of clichés, one-liners and stereotypes; add well-written characters and an original storyline to the mix, and you can’t help but call Darynda Jones’ debut novel a raging success. Grim Reapers are quickly becoming one of my favourite supernaturals and this book went a long way towards bumping them further up my list. I’d even go so far as to say that they currently rank second, right under werewolves and you all know how much I love them! I was as intrigued by the plot line of this novel as I was entertained by Jones’ side-splitting humour. As a result, this entire series has become a must-read for me.
With a name like Charley Davidson you pretty much have no choice but to have a sarcastic side to your personality; having to constantly deal with smart-aleck comments about your name tends to do that to a person. I should know. That point aside, I found that her overall character was incredibly thought out and after only one book I felt like I walked away really knowing her. I’m positive that she still has a lot more to share with readers but Jones does a phenomenal job conveying Davidson’s complexity in just one installment. My first impression of Charley was “boy does she have a mouth on her!” but later on it became apparent that her snark is actually a defense mechanism. No one told her how to be a Reaper and it’s difficult for her to get close to anyone because if she shares too much they usually think she’s nuts. Underneath the surface Davidson is compassionate, fearless and has an innate sense of justice which makes her a stand up gal in my books.
There are three engaging plotlines in First Grave on the Left that are guaranteed to keep you interested. Charley’s investigating the murder of 3 lawyers, trying to figure out her Reaper side and then there’s the mystery that is Reyes Farrow. You’d think that with this many competing plotlines the story would get a bit muddled but Darynda isn’t just gifted in the area of character development, she’s also a natural at storytelling. I loved all of the ghosts that Davidson encounters in this book; they’re quirky and just plain funny. There’s her crazy aunt who likes making “coffee”, the evil demon child, the weird guy in the corner who Charley’s named Mr. Wong, and of course the 3 lawyers. The other secondary characters are also equally as enjoyable and last but not least there’s Reyes. Jones describes him in such a way that by the end I found myself drooling at the mere mention of his name. I highly doubt that this is the last we’ll see of him and thank god for that!
In the span of just one book Darynda Jones went from being a previously unknown author to me to an absolute must read. This novel also allowed me to discover Lorelei King as a narrator and I immediately became an insta-fan of hers. She reads the story like it was written for her and is the perfect voice for Charley’s brand of humour. First Grave on the Right is a brilliant first installment; now on to Second Grave on the Right!
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
This was often a side-splittingly silly book. It was totally unbelievable but that didn't matter. The plot was convoluted and difficult to follow but that didn't really matter ...much. The romantic hero was totally unappealing because he was either dead, Satan or nothing but grey smoke and it is hard to make any of that sexy. It is just creepy.
But the snappy writing, the quick one-liners and the silly naivete of the heroine made all of those faults totally unimportant. And the whole book was written so tongue-in-cheek that those really weren't faults. They were part of what made the whole package so fun to read.
Because of who the characters were, the story could have so quickly gotten bogged down into philosophical discussions of good versus evil, spirit versus soul, etc. The author could have easily pulled an "Anne Rice" on us. But she didn't. She kept it light, fluffy and entertaining.
Her secondary characters were well written and strong enough to not wilt away in the glow of the main character. I loved her best friend, the various apparitions in her life and especially, Rocket.
The narration was great
My only complaint is that the bits of information that actually moved the plot forward, that explained what was going on and ultimately, what would lead you to read the second and third books in the series were so buried under the pithy one-liners and double entendres, that if you blinked you missed them. I finished the book not sure I had a clue about what actually happened in the plot. And wishing she had focused more on certain traits of Charley, like the fact she had perfect memory of everything that happened from the second she was born. But this might have been a timing problem on my part. I'm not sure I was up for quite so much humor in my current read when I sat down with this book. And if you are not in the mood for good-natured silliness, the book can be unfulfilling. Like eating your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's when all you really wanted was toast. But that is not the author's fault.
The author hasn't met an adjective she didn't like. Everything is described in detail from the bathroom to every freaking guy she sees. With the same narrator it makes it hard to remember this isn't a Stephanie Plum book. There's the same lusting over multiple guys and describing and thinking about them until I want to scream! By the time I'm ready to run my car into a tree from boredom she finally stops drooling over some guy and we get to some action. But it's not enough to make it worth the price.
I love the narrator, but that is the only good thing about this book. I am at a loss to understand all of the positive reviews. While some of the elements of a good story are here, they are not woven together into anything remotely resembling a plot. It is almost like the author wrote a series of short passages that someone later pieced together. Coupled with the lack of character development, this makes it almost impossible to care about the assorted individuals and events presented. So, unless you have a credit to burn, I???d pass on this one.
I have been happily married for 17 years, I have 3 children (12, 14, & 16), and 2 dogs. I am currently working on a 2nd degree. Life is chaotic and stressful, but I wouldn't change it. I am blessed and enjoying my life.
I am going two buy book 2 and book 3 after this review! That should let you know how much I like the book :)
I really like the character Charley, although I was not too sure of Reyes "son of Satan". At first I wanted the love interest to be Greyes (?), but "Bad" is growing on me. Can't wait to listen to the next book!
Reading the other other reviews I feel like I must have listened to a different book! I found many of the attempts at humor stale. The story line was mildly interesting but seemed more an excuse for erotica than a real story. I felt the reader could have improved it but her timing was all off which made the whole experience more tedious. I finished this book only because I started it and I will not read another in the series!
I couldn't put down this book I finished it in two days, didn't want to go to sleep just so I could keep listening. It was funny and well written, I can't wait for the sequel to come out in august.
Darynda Jones is an amazing writer hope to read many more books from her.
I'll start with the good... The narration is excellent, as many of us have come to expect from this narrator. The writing is funny. The main storyline is interesting.
Now for the rest... Look, I'm not exactly a bra-burning feminist. I like the heroes of my trash to be a little He-man- me Tarzan, you Janeish. But there's a pretty solid line between liking a hero who's a little dominant and having a heroine who's obsessed with a man with whom her only interaction was his threatening to rape her and then sneaking into her dreams and- in fact for him, while in dreams for her- having sex with her. That is over the line. It's creepy and disturbing and frankly a little gross. No. Bad.
Also, the funny writing gets old after a while. Yes, it's clever, but cleverness in every line gets boring and old and in the way of progress in the plot and any kind of actual character development. Maybe there could be something that would justify Charlie's obsession, but we never really find out because she's more interested in zinging one liners at us to in any way be self-aware enough to look into her own emotions. She acts and she talks, but she doesn't appear to think. Charlie would make an excellent secondary character, but I need more from a main character. I need to care if she lives or dies at least, and I don't get that from Charlie.
If you want to listen to a book about a very one dimensional character who doesn't seem to develop or change, then this book is for you! Oh and if you like played out "sass" - in other words acting like a recalcitrant child - then yep, this book is for you.
One of the thinnest plots with one of the most basic undeveloped characters I have ever seen. Add to that the scenes of soft core that seem to creep out of nowhere (didn't realize I was picking up a romance novel), and the entire thing is a mess I regret ever purchasing.
The narration seems forced, especially when she does the voice overs for characters other than the main "heroine". The main character's voice doesn't seem very convincing but I'm not sure the narrator could have done much with the dialogue she was handed.
Anger. Anger that a book I was expecting to have mystery with a touch of the supernatural ended up being a set up for a few overly descriptive and unneeded sex scenes.
Unless you're into Harlequin romances with a touch of the supernatural, pick up something else.
Just a book fool.
While this book is quite charming (in parts) and occasionally "laugh out loud" funny, at the end of the day we just didn't click. The actual plot line is a little weird and sometimes difficult to follow.
I have zero interest in book two or three or any other book that might be related to this one. NO, I did not hate it, and I might even recommend it. This book just wasn't my thang.