I’ll Judge a Book by its Cover

by Jay Hood on December 20, 2012


Photo Dec 18, 12 12 21 PM

This will be the least informed review you could possibly ever read. I can guarantee you I’ve never read any of these books. I should probably apologize in advance to anyone who loves these books. They might be works of a genius. They might be the best books of the year. Or, they might not. Chances are good, they are not.

But I don’t know. I’m claiming ignorance.

Zombies, vampires and other spooky entities used to fill the horror sections of bookstores across the country. But now, like a zombie plague, they are overtaking the entire bookstore. They’ve escaped the horror section and are infecting everything from young readers to science fiction.


If you search the science fiction area these days, no creature is more prevalent than the vampire. But how does the old time scifi reader, more accustomed to aliens and strange planets, determine which of the myriad of blood sucking books infiltrating their section is worth reading and which are written by someone just friends with a publishing agent?

Amazon certainly provides plenty of reviews. But while standing in the bookstore without a smart phone, Amazon is useless.


Publishers clearly take a lot of time and effort to design a cover to capture potential readers. From eye catching cover photos to positive reviews liberally quoted in any available blank space to well-crafted book descriptions, the cover is calling for you to pick up the book and buy it.

So prepare for a seriously wild ride while we take a stroll through the science fiction section of the local Barnes & Noble to find out if we can judge a book by its cover.

The Kingmakers by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith


Stupid me, I picked up the third book in the series. I feel like I’ve ruined what will happen in the first two books by looking at this one. If you’d prefer to avoid the spoilers, I’d suggest skipping ahead a paragraph or two. But then you’d miss hearing about all the excitement found in part three of the Vampire Empire series.

It seems every vampire novel needs unforgettable characters. According to RT Book Reviews, this one is no exception. But really, doesn’t every novel need some unforgettable characters if it hopes to reach a bookshelf near you? That hardly seems to be something of note to set this book apart. None the less, it is a pretty impressive statement because this novel is set in a post apocalyptic wasteland. With a reduced population, you’d think it rare to find so many unforgettable people. But apparently Scotland and France fair pretty well during the end of days.

Without spoiling anything, lets just say there is betrayal, morality plays, vengeance, sacrifice and above all else, vampires.

Ghosts of Memories by Barb Hendee


Automatically I’m a little leery. This is billed as “A Vampire Memories Novel.” This must be part of a series. That sounds like a commitment. Do I really want to devote the next chapter of my life to reading Barb Hedee novels? Romance Reviews Today is giving the quote on the cover. That’s not exactly my go to source for literary reviews. But they do say that Eliesha, who I’m guessing is our hero, does have quite a bit of charm. Charm that I won’t be able to resist. It appears as if her charm has attracted a stalker too based on the cover. She might want to tone that charm down a little bit.

Booklist says the author has a gift for intricate plots. Evidently, the writer who wrote the synopsis on the back had a little trouble following the intricacies. Or at least had difficulty summarizing these intricacies. Apparently there are vampires and protectors and former police psychologists and psychics (who I will presume are different from psychologists because I don’t think the police do that whole new-agey thing) and upper crust Seattle society and they are all just doing their thing. And Eliesha (who, I hear, is quite charming) and her friends are helping find loner vampires and teaching them all about “Four Laws”. Meanwhile, other people aren’t quite as charmed and don’t want to play by her rules and are up to no good.

This is only book one and she’s already facing off against the most deadly predator she’s ever faced.    Who knew that upper crust Seattle society was so dangerous.

Got it?

Dying Bites by DD Barant


Must everything be a series these days? It seems like each author is attempting to produce the next Harry Potter, or Twilight or whatever all the kids are reading these days. DD is throwing his/her hat in the ring with the “Bloodhound Files” series, presumably to score the big movie deal or something with HBO.

Dying Bites just might do that. At least if Kelley Armstrong’s name has any weight in Hollywood. Kelley promises me that this will be a satisfying meal of a book. Who am I to doubt Kelly Armstrong. Wait, who is Kelley Armstrong? Why, she is another best selling author. She probably lives next to D D. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Still, if this has the potential to be the next big series, it clearly deserves consideration.

I don’t think we need to go too much past the first few words in the second paragraph to be hooked.

Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world-one in which only one percent of the population is human is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day…

Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…

Just let that sink in and tell me this isn’t a must read …

“Vampire Head of the NSA”

I really might be brave and read one of these. Stay tuned.

Jay Hood (Section Chief Shea Garage/Contributing Editor)

Jay Hood has lived in Baltimore, Maryland for the past 25 years.  He likes to travel and is an avid photographer.  His photography has been featured in several obscure and unassuming locations, such as John Ball Zoological Gardens.  He does not eat vegetables and is learning to enjoy seafood.  He strives to keep his DVR no more than 40% full.  Comfort is paramount and he is not above a little slacking.

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