jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
This is the sixth book in the Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, with an emphasis on humor and fun, rather than being dark like most of the urban fantasy out there. I've been enjoying this series since the first book and recommend it for someone looking for a light, easy break from typical urban fantasy out there.





The premise of this book: Esther's usual waitressing job is ended when the restaurant run and frequented by one of the mob families in the city is raided by none other than her on-again-off-again boyfriend Connor Lopez. Her mob friend and hitman Lucky goes into hiding in Chinatown and ends up calling Esther and Max when he suspects that one of the Chinese mobsters has been killed mysteriously . . . by a fortune cookie. Esther agrees to confront Evil once again, with Max at her side, and it has nothing--absolutely nothing!--to do with the fact that the mobster's son is making an independent film and suddenly needs a new leading lady.

As I said, I've been enjoying this series. It's light and easy to read and the characters are fun to follow around, especially when they get into the most bizarre and interesting situations. Lucky, Max, and Connor return, of course, and all of them end up playing a significant role as the plot unfolds and they start investigating the spread of these misfortune cookies. A good portion of the book is spent on the continuing relationship troubles between Esther and Connor, the main point here being that Connor has slept with Esther and yet HASN'T CALLED HER for over a week since. But Max and his magical talents are actually required in this book, and they are front and center, rather than being performed off to one side. And Lucky plays an important role in the resolution, as well as recognizing the Evil in the first place. We get the introduction of a new character with some fairly strong hints that he'll play a role in the next book. But I don't want to spoil anything here, so that's all I'll say.

I didn't rate this as highly as some of the previous books in this series because it isn't quite a strong in terms of plotline and development. I thought that far too much time was spent on the "hasn't called me yet" aspect of the relationship, but then I'm a guy, so perhaps I'm not tapping into the seriousness of this situation as much as I probably should be. But while reading, I reached the point where I said, "I get it, let's advance this part of the plot to another level, please." I also thought that the main plot regarding the fortune cookies, once it got started, kind of stalled out a little bit in the middle. For a long while, nothing happened with it, mostly because there was (initially) only the one misfortune cookie sent. However, once the second one appeared, the plot rocked from then on.

So, overall a good story and nice installment in the series. Certainly an enjoyable and fun read that doesn't discourage me at all in terms of reading the next book when it comes out. Not as strong as some of the previous books, but certainly much better than a slew of other humorous urban fantasies out there. If you haven't started this series, I suggest to start it now.
jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Polterheist is the fifth book in Laura Resnick's Esther Diamond light and humorous urban fantasy series. Lots of fun and an easy read, not the usual dark and heavy urban fantasy that seems to be the norm.





The basic premise is that Esther Diamond is forced to work at the department store Fenster's during the holiday season as a Jewish elf, since her usual "between jobs" work as a waitress is unavailable. So she endures the insanity of the holiday crowds with gritted teeth. But then inanimate objects start coming to life and trying to kill her, while her fellow employees keep disappearing. Not to mention that someone keeps hijacking Fenster delivery trucks, bringing her erstwhile boyfriend Connor into the picture. And all of it seems to be escalating as the holiday season reaches its peak. Is it all caused by a poltergeist, perhaps the recently deceased matriarch of Fenster's come back to haunt them, or is it something more defarious? Esther will need the help of Max, resident wizard, and the mobster hitman Lucky to figure it all out . . . hopefully before her boyfriend arrests her or the city of New York is destroyed in the process.

As usual, the humor never stops with Laura Resnick playing up the insanity of working in retail during the holiday season to its maximum effect. I've worked retail myself, and quite a bit of this would have been even funnier if I hadn't. So there's a sharp edge to the humor here for most. But it's still rollicking fun. Esther is in true, typical form, causing mayhem and destruction, all with the best of intentions.

The plot for this book wasn't as strong as the previous book, Vamparazzi, especially the play on the title. The allusion to the strange activity actually coming from a poltergeist is more of a passing theory, quickly brought forth and discarded, and I don't think any reader will be convinced that's what's going on from the beginning. But that's fine, because it makes a great title, and what's really going on is so much more deadly and interesting in the long run. As usual, there's a great cast of characters, with Esther dealing with the other employees trapped in elf and Santa outfits and the owners of the department store and management. Max and Lucky don't appear much in this story, which is fine.

Connor is back, of course, and actually the interaction between him and Esther is the best part of the entire book. Their plot arch takes a significant leap forward in a very good way, in my opinion, after having stalled out in the last book. I really enjoyed how this developed here and it was by far my favorite section in the book. It was handled well and believably and not in any heavy-handed, overly romantic way. In fact, it was just right.

So, not the strongest plot in the series so far, but certainly a ton of fun and with some great development between Esther and Connor. Certainly looking forward to the next book in this series.
jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
This is the third book in Laura Resnick's Esther Diamond series. The first book is good, and the second was great, this one sort of landed in the middle of both of those. Fun and interesting, better written than the first, but it didn't have the same uniqueness as the second book. It's going to be hard to top that second book though, in terms of creativity.





In this book, Esther is working on her guest appearance on a TV cop show called The Dirty 30, but then the lead actor gets sick. During the break while he recuperates, she tries to help a man being attacked by two gargoyle like creatures and in the process gets arrested. Not only is she wearing her hooker's outfit, but the man she tried to help turns out to have been dead for weeks. She's forced to call her ex-somewhat-boyfriend Connor for help. As she begins to investigate herself, she finds herself mixed up in zombies, voodoo, and a rather unsavory snake.

I liked the book, but as I said it didn't have the uniqueness of magic that was present in the second novel. But the author still played with the magic of voodoo in all its possible incarnations well, creating a fun and at times frantic plotline and of course the usual humor and sort of slapstick situations that we've come to expect from Esther and her crew. I did like the development of the relationship between Esther and Connor in this one. It felt much more natural and believable than in the previous book--the conflict with Connor not understanding what Esther was getting into and Esther afraid to tell him everything since he'd likely not believe her, I mean.

So, a good addition to the series. Definitely worth reading, especially if you enjoyed the second novel. We get some advancement in the relationship plot, get to play around with some voodoo, with some good laughs along the way. I'm ready to move on to book four.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the first book of Laura Resnick's that I've read and is the first book in her Esther Diamond urban fantasy series. The premise: Esther is a struggling actor in NYC but has a small part in a musical built around a magician's act. In the final scene, the magician makes one of the main characters in the muscial "vanish." The actors have rehearsed the scene an uncountable number of times, and have been performing it for weeks . . . but one night, Golly Gee, the lead, literally vanishes and the magician can't bring her back.

Esther is ecstatic, because that means SHE gets the lead, but soon she begins to get warnings not to do the vanishing act. Terrified, she begins to investigate Golly Gee's disappearance and discovers that Golly Gee isn't the only magician's sidekick to have vanished recently. The deeper she looks, the more she learns about the magical world around her that she's never seen. Real magic, not the illusions magician's ply on stage. And unless she wants to risk her entire career, she needs to find out who . . . or what . . . is causing people to disappear during magic acts, or she may be the next victim.

The set-up is cool and the writing really captures and drew me into the novel. I enjoyed Esther's character and loved the fact that Esther herself doesn't have any magical powers that make her special in any way. She's exactly what she's portrayed to be: an actor who'd like to keep her job and not get killed. There's also some romance elements woven into the plot and, while generally I'm not really reading for this, I thought this romance was well done. I didn't feel the need to skip pages or paragraphs and was actually interested in the romance plotline because it struck me as realistic, not overdone.

My main complaint about the book is that there was a lull in the middle of the book where it felt as if the plot had stalled out. This is the section where the slew of interesting characters Esther has somehow gathered together to help her are trying to research what's happened to the vanished people in their lives. Having the characters hit a wall and not know where to go next or what to do is fine, but this dragged on too long in my opinion, and I wasn't interested in the many wrong possibilities that were "discovered" by their research. Too much time was spent on this part.

Also, while the tone of the novel was fun and fast-paced and, yes, a little over the top like Esther's character, I thought the events at the end of the novel were just a little TOO over the top.

In the end, a very fun read. Fast-paced, with a ton of interesting characters, most of whom I hope appear in the next book. And I'll definitely be reading the next book, because even though I pointed out a few "issues" I had with the book, they were far outweighed by the sheer fun of the adventure.

Just FYI, the version of the book I have was published by LUNA and is no longer readily available. However, DAW Books will be re-releasing Disappearing Nightly in paperback this coming June. Preorder your copy today!

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Joshua Palmatier

March 2017

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