Monday, September 19, 2011

Opal Fire / Barbra Annino

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery/Paranormal/Chick Lit

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: YES Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A native of Chicago, Barbra Annino is a book junkie (aren’t we all?) and a Springsteen addict (we should all be this, too). Formerly a bartender, Bed and Breakfast owner, and humor columnist for Illinois magazine, Annino now works as a freelance writer. She, her husband, and all three of her Great Danes live on the bluffs above the Mississippi river, in northwestern Illinois. For more, visit Annino’s website.


This is the first installment of the Stacy Justice Mystery series.

Stacy Justice is a reporter for her small town newspaper. A fire in an old building owned by her cousin uncovers a mystery that Stacy sets out to solve. Her boyfriend (who happens to be a cop) and her eccentric aunts (who are witches) are at times a help, and at other times, a hindrance.


Opal Fire is a mystery with a touch of paranormal. It also has the qualities of the best chick lit, without actually being chick lit. Before I run off any men who would rather read a cereal box than chick lit, give me a chance to explain that last sentence before you leave.

My working definition of chick lit provided to me by author Donna Fasano. She says it is, “a female protagonist and her personal (and usually foible-filled) journey toward self-understanding and self-acceptance.” Stacy may gain some self-understanding or self-acceptance on her journey to solving the mystery, but, if so, it is a very small part of the story. It does seem foible-filled, which along with some funny descriptions and dialogue gives the story some humor, much more like chick lit than a typical mystery. For example, I liked this description of Stacy’s cousin:

His voice was chipper. Cinnamon hated chipper. She wrapped Chipper up in duct tape, pounded nails into it and used it to beat the crap out of Perky.

But let’s not forget, this is a mystery. The mystery plot keeps you guessing. A few subplots tie in well to the main story , and are entertaining in their own right. And the humor and quirky characters will keep you laughing.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars


Deborah Batterman said...

You got me with book junkie + Springsteen fan. Quirky humor + your appeal to 'men who would rather read a cereal box . . . ' + 4 stars make for a recommendation I'd be hard put to resist.

BooksAndPals said...

Let me know what you think, Deborah. I'm guessing you'll like it.

Jessica said...

This sounds right up my alley!

BooksAndPals said...

As I was writing the review, Jess, I thought of a couple people I thought would like it. You were one of them.

Barbra Annino said...

Thanks so much for the review, Al. Wanted to let folks know that book two, Bloodstone, is about to be released as well.