A book review: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Aarti from the BookLust blog about contributing to the A More Diverse Universe blog tour. The goal of this blog tour is for people to read a speculative fiction book written by a person of color and blog about it, the purpose being to draw attention to authors who may not be as well as known.

I chose to read Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Cynthia Leitich Smith is a Texan author, who is a tribal member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Smith has received much recognition for her writing, which you can read all about on the About page on her website.

Tantalize has been on my to-be-read list for several years. I suspect I added it when it was listed on the 2008-2009 Tayshas Reading List, but who knows how I first heard about it. When I saw Smith’s name listed as a possibility of authors’ books to read for this blog tour, I decided to read it, finally.

I debated whether to honor my commitment to participate in the tour after I read the book. Aarti convinced me to post my review, even though I can’t review Tantalize positively. I wanted to like this book so much. It’s set in Austin, the city of my heart. It’s fantasy. But it just left me cold. It was a quick read, and I did enjoy the premise, which centered around the main character and her opening of a vampire-themed restaurant on South Congress. But overall, I just didn’t care for the book. It was at times serious and at times funny, and I couldn’t always tell when something was meant to be funny or if it was just too quirky. I honestly think Ms. Smith lost me at “weregator” and she had definitely lost me by “werearmadillo” and “werevulture.” There was a definite similarity to another vampire book written a bit before this book was published (but I think the similarities are due to cultural similarities in the vampire romance trope and not because it was influenced by that T——- book).

I don’t intend to let my experience with this one book dissuade me from reading other of Smith’s books, and I hope my review doesn’t dissuade you, either. This one wasn’t for me, but maybe you will like it more. And with so many honors, I’m sure there are other books of hers out there that I will enjoy more.

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by aartichapati on September 23, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for participating, Somer! I’m sorry you didn’t love this book – I don’t think I’d love werearmadilloes, either. But at least you tried, and maybe her other books are in a totally different vein than this one is.


  2. Posted by chrisbookarama on September 23, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Weregators?! Well, not every book is going to appeal to everyone. Not sure if it’s right for me either.


  3. I like this book, and think the series gets better, but not every book can work for everyone. I do recommend Leitich Smith’s blog to anyone interested in learning more about YA and kidlit – she’s a great resource.


    • I agree. That’s why I hesitated to post my negative review – I didn’t want others to be turned away just because I didn’t like it.


  4. Thanks for posting this. I know it is difficult to write about books we don’t like but I don’t believe others will be turned away by you thoughts.


  5. Honesty is always the best policy 😉 sounds like an average urban fantasy chick lit sort out a book.
    I always like to give san author to chances, one book might not be an accurate representation.


  6. I’m participating in the blog tour later this week, and I wasn’t completely thrilled with my selection either – it’s nice to know I am not the only one! Thanks for posting.


  7. It always makes me nervous when I see people comment and say that they won’t be reading a book just because one other person didn’t like it; I think they must be too easily swayed. Like you said, just because the book wasn’t a good fit for you doesn’t mean it won’t be a good fit for someone else, and the fact that you’ve shared the reasons why it didn’t work for you is helpful for others trying to decide whether they’d like to seek it out for themselves. Maybe you’ll enjoy another of her books more!


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