First Chapter Friday for July 2023

Welcome back to First Chapter Friday, where I read the first chapter of some random books and tell you what I think.   I’ll do a follow up in a couple of weeks to update you on the ones I actually liked enough to finish.  I always say there is a reader for every book, let’s see if I have one you ‘otter’ be reading…

First up this time is a cozy paranormal The Ghost in My Hotel by Bonnie Elizabeth.  First impressions:  the cover art is awesome and chapter one was interesting.  We are in the Tennessee/North Carolina mountains at a huge resort hotel that wasn’t actually earning its keep as a ski getaway.  At least until the manager (our heroine, Maggie) begins marketing the Neary-Ten as a HAUNTED HOTEL.  The twist is not only is it really haunted-the ghosts are the non see through interactive types.  So we have a bit of a “suspend your disbelief” as we have actual ghosts wandering around the hotel.  It was a little heavy handed but I bought into it.  We do get a big info dump to set up the whole plot of a threatening ice storm, cozy mystery writer’s convention, a park ranger who could be the love interest, and cats.  I felt like the author has been working on this for a while and knows the characters and the backstory so she just throws it all out there to get the reader up to speed so we can get into the story.  I wanted to keep reading after chapter one so let’s keep our fingers crossed; I already know I will give this one at least a few more chapters to see what happens.  

City of Lies is book one in the Counterfeit Lady series by Victoria Thompson.  We all know Victoria Thompson.  She has written everything and been nominated for every award out there.  She is what you call a prolific writer with, for example, 26 books in the Gaslight series alone.  So I was very ready to dive into ‘City of Lies’ which is seven volumes so far.  Chapter one opens with Elizabeth “Lizzie” running a con in Washington City/DC that goes wrong leaving her with no option but to go on the run. The mark, Oscar, is not just greedy, he is vicious and means to track her down.  We know, don’t we dear reader, that money isn’t the only thing he wants to get his nasty hands on.  This was so good, I was way into chapter two before I could put it down.  

First clunker of the week award goes to Dinosaur Lake by Kathryn Meyer Griffith. The cover is K I L L E R.  As you can see we already know what we’re getting into with this one.  I wanted to fall in love with this book since I adored Jurassic Park, Jaws, and (from the way, way back machine) GRIZZLY by Will Collins.  These animals/nature gone wild and rampaging through the citizenry books are the kind of campy violence summer read I was looking for with Dinosaur Lake; but it wasn’t for me.  The series is apparently a huge hit with readers as Griffith has churned out seven books.  The big issue for me was that the first chapter was long-21 pages.  This is a huge commitment for the reader to take on with no action to break up the info dump/setup of the plot.  By the end of it, I was over it.  So many details were crammed into it that I was exhausted.  If you want a ‘you are there’ type of book, this is it.  I felt like I was there in person listening to the park ranger drone on and on about something while I looked at a lake and some rocks with the rest of his hostages, I mean tourists.  So much in this chapter but no actual dinosaurs or anything scary, no carnage, just a boring tour of Crater Lake.  I get it, we have to set up the book so the action can happen but this was excessive.  Not the book for me and I won’t be continuing with the series.

Another cozy I picked up in anticipation of the next book in the series coming out soon was the Baker Street series by Valerie Burns:  Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder.  The premise is that social media influencer, Maddy is left at the altar during her live streamed wedding.  But it’s all good because her great aunt has passed and she is off to Michigan to claim her inheritance and hope everyone soon forgets the wedding debacle.   Maddy is a hoot as a privileged girl finding her way in the ‘real’ world.  Chapter one is the perfect setup to this fun book.  According to the Goodreads blurb there will be a bakery, a dog, and a murder!  There were several moments of rich girls who can’t relate to regular people, but done in a fun way.  Think Paris Hilton instead of mean girls. Lots of hashtags and selfies, I can’t wait to finish this one.

Lastly I have book one in the NeoG series by K.B. Wagers:  A Pale Light in the Black. The blurb promised a “rollicking first entry in a unique science fiction” and the Near Earth Orbital Guard (NeoG).  OK, sign me up-this sounds like it is right up my space alley and the reviews were off the charts. Book three is coming out this summer so I am ready to tuck into this series.  

Then I read the first chapter…well that was disappointing, so I read the next two chapters and what the heck happened?  I was misled, dear reader!  There was no rollicking, not even a tiny bit of it, despite the promise of a lost spaceship, space pirates and swords in space!  None of this fun stuff ever materialized or if it did it was after I gave up .  It was sooooo slow and too disjointed with too many characters wandering through a confusing set up about the NeoG (Near Earth Orbital Guard) crew that is sort of like the US Coast Guard protecting Earth but out in space.  

There is also some sort of competition between I’m guessing other teams of NeoG people? It wasn’t explained very well so I’m not sure how it will all come together.  At least the chapters are those short ones like James Patterson perfected but here it just made me more confused by the time jumps and lack of coherent plot. 

Having said all that, the reviews for the entire series are extremely positive and readers that love the series REALLY love it, so if you enjoy space-y stuff this might be the series for you.  My copy of book one came from the library and there were plenty available. 

And there you have it, dear reader, five first chapters that may lead to some new favorite reads. I will follow up in a couple of weeks with any I managed to read all the way to the end!

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