Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ghost of a Chance: An Easy, Frothy Paranormal Romance

Just so my readers know, I have been complaining about how terrible the past two years have been for journalists, like myself, and apparently someone finally did a study and confirmed it:
It's Official: 2009 Was Worst Year for the Newspaper Business in Decades (NYT/Media Decoder)
It's no surprise that 2009 was the worst year the newspaper business has had in decades, but the scale of the damage is stunning. Advertising revenue fell 27.2 percent, or more than $10 billion, from 2008 -- which was, at the time, the industry's worst year since the Depression.
I wasn't just freaking out for no reason, folks, it really was a horrible year for real journalists. That said, business seems to be picking up for this journalist who has had two assignments already this year, and is hoping for another next month. Notice that great, gusty sigh of relief you're hearing? That's me, breathing again now that the drought is easing.

On to the book.
Have you ever spent money/time on a book that you KNEW, like you knew the sun would rise in the morning, was going to be a complete lark?
I happened upon a copy of Yasmine Galenorn's "Ghost of a Chance" at Baker Street Books in Black Diamond (BSB is currently under siege as they fix the whole street and make an unholy racket while doing so...I feel for Mr Charles, the stores owner, having to listen to those big earth-movers every day) a few days ago, and I just couldn't resist the cute cat, roses and teacups on the cover, with the back cover blurb, "Emerald O'Brien, single mother of two, is the owner of the Chintz N China Tea Room, where guests are served the perfect blend of tea and tarot readings. She never set out to be a detective, but once word gets out that she can communicate with the dead, there's no turning back..." which made me smile, as it sounds a lot like a trailer for the TV series, "Ghost Whisperer." There was also a nice little note on the back of the book saying "Charm recipe included!" which also made me smile, as I have a neighbor who has 99 percent of the ingredients required to make the "Mystic Moon Protection Charm" yet I am fairly certain she'd laugh at the idea of lavender, rose petals and herbs wrapped in silk being anything but a nice smelling pomander for one's closet.
Still, after finishing yet another WWII book for my KCLS book group ("The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," which was an account of Seattle during the days of the Japanese internment), I confess I was more than ready for some 'light' reading, something that wouldn't tax my brain, yet wouldn't offend me with horrible romance-novel cliches and poor quality prose.
"Ghost of a Chance" was perfect in that regard, as the author has a feel for engaging characters and a well-paced plot. Her prose, though decent, read a bit young, meaning it sounds like the work of a precocious teenager or an adult who needs to work on their style and at adding layers and believable subplots to their work.
That said, I had a jolly good time reading "Ghost," and though the main character isn't really that much like me, I empathized with her and her need to keep her children safe while solving a mystery. I could see what was going to happen, as clearly as Emerald sees spirits, by about the third chapter, but it didn't matter, because the journey held my interest and the descriptions of local landmarks were a delight.
Though I am a fan of "Ghost Whisperer" (and the lovely Jennifer Love Hewitt), I am not a true believer in Wicca and the pagan religions. I figure live and let live, though, and I don't think that modern witches should be discriminated against, any more than any other religion. Yet I found myself fascinated by the descriptions of ceremonies, talismans and other 'magic' performed by Emerald, her son and friends. I must say I was disappointed in Emerald's very kind dealings with her son, after he brought forth a huge demonic presence, just to show off to a friend, (I would have done a lot more than ground the child), but every parent deals with childrens misbehavior in a different way, and, as a parent, I try to respect that until real harm comes from the children's actions that impacts my family.
So, all told, this is a book that is to reading what a cookie is to your daily food intake...its sweet, light and tasty and probably not that good for you, but what is life without cookies?
I'd give it a solid B, and recommend it to older teens and adults who like easy-reading paranormal romance/mysteries.

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