Review of Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), by Janet Evanovich

I borrowed an audio copy of Janet Evanovich‘s Wicked Appetite from the library.

Description from Goodreads:

For centuries, treasure hunters have been eager to possess the stones, undeterred by their corrupting nature. The list is long — Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, to name a few. Now the Stones have found their way to Salem, Massachusetts, and so has Gerwulf Grimoire, adding himself to this rogues’ gallery of power seekers. He’s an uncommonly dangerous man, with a hunger for the forbidden, and a set of abilities that are way beyond ordinary. Abilities that he feels entitle him to possess anything he might desire.

That would include Elizabeth Tucker, the woman he needs to find the Stones. She’s freshly transplanted from New York City to Boston’s North Shore. With a new job as pastry chef at Dazzle’s bakery and an old house inherited from her Aunt Ophelia, her life is pretty much on track …until it’s suddenly derailed by a guy named Diesel, a rude monkey, and a ninja cat.

Lizzy can handle the monkey and the cat. She’s not sure about Diesel. He’s offering up his own set of unusual talents, promising to protect her from Grimoire. The kind of protection that Lizzy suspects might involve guarding her body day and night.

The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy wrath, sloth and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that is wicked. Diesel thinks it also pretty much covers everything that’s fun. And Lizzy thinks Diesel and the Seven Deadly Sins cover everything her mother warned her about.

Review:

I’ve wanted to try a Janet Evanovich book for a while. Everyone seemed to love them. But I was never certain where to start; there are so many of them. So, when I came across Wicked Appetite, clearly labeled book one in a series I jumped at it. (For the record, I think Diesel is a character from another of Evanovich’s series. But the book certainly stood alone.) After all the anticipation I was severely let down. I found the whole thing silly beyond belief. And not even endearingly silly, just stupid silly. I was irritated by all the onomatopoeia, the dialogue was ridiculous, the plot paper thin, and the characters shallow. I made it all these years without ever reading one of Evanovich’s books. It looks like I’ll go several more without them. I have no desire to read another one. Lorelei King did a fine job with the narration.

Review of Dreadnought & Sovereign, by April Daniels

I won a copy of Sovereign, book two of April DanielsNemesis series. So, I bought book one, Dreadnought.

Description:

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl. 

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Review:

This is an enjoyable superhero origin story that walks the line between entertainment and After School Special. Though I thought Danny’s magical transition problematic, I found the rest of Danny’s experiences and thoughts believable. Especially the inclusion of the male best friend who behaved as if he had a right to Danny’s sexuality (phrased as ‘dating’ at their age) simply by virtue of access. Outside the friend, you’ll find the openly transphobic, the mother who wants her baby boy back, the aggressively man’s-man father, the woman who thinks transgendered women are a threat to ‘real’ women, etc. Like I said, I thought the book’s representation was great. (I imagine the fact that the author is herself trans has something to do with that.) However, I also found it about as subtle as a superhero’s fist. Maybe a younger audience than myself needed it, but subtle it was not, which made it feel a little didactic too. 

As to the superhero aspect of the story….it was over the top. Dreadnought seemed to have no limits. Her power is never fully defined and so she seemed able to simply survive everything and surmount any challenge, without much challenge. Thus, fight scenes began to feel a bit like just a list of strikes and rebuttals. 

All in all however, Dreadnought is an enjoyable superhero story with a lovely message.


Description:

Only nine months after her debut as the superhero Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse. 

When she crosses a newly discovered billionaire supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. 

She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. 

And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings, ready to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

Review:

For about a third of this book I wished that the author had left well enough alone after book one. Everything just screams trauma, and I didn’t want to read a couple hundred pages of how shitty the world can be. But eventually the book settled into more superhero romp and less-watch-the-world-beat-up-the-queer-kid. 

All in all, it has some good action sequences and Danny grows quite a lot in the course of the book. I’d be willing to read more of her story. But I’m also not sad to be finished with the book.

Review of Much Ado About You (Essex Sisters #1), by Eloisa James

I won a paperback copy of Eloisa JamesMuch Ado About You. However, I chose to listen to it and borrowed an audio copy.

Description from Goodreads:

When you’re the oldest daughter, you don’t get to have any fun!

Witty, orphaned Tess Essex faces her duty: marry well and marry quickly, so she can arrange matches for her three sisters — beautiful Annabel, romantic Imogen and practical Josie. After all, right now they’re under the rather awkward guardianship of the perpetually tipsy Duke of Holbrook. But just when she begins to think that all might end well, one of her sisters bolts with a horse-mad young lord, and her own fiancé just plain runs away.

Which leaves Tess contemplating marriage to the sort of man she wishes to avoid — one of London’s most infamous rakes. Lucius Felton is a rogue whose own mother considers him irredeemable! He’s delicious, Annabel points out. And he’s rich, Josie notes. But although Tess finally consents to marry him, it may be for the worst reason of all. Absurd as she knows it to be, she may have fallen utterly in love . . . 

Review:

I have to be honest. I finished this by force of will alone. I didn’t particularly care for it. The writing is wonderful (as is the narration), but the story itself irritated me. For over half the book I kept thinking, “This isn’t a romance, it’s just a book about being on the marriage market.” Then, a dedicated bachelor suddenly and seemingly at random decided he was going to marry the main character and that was that. From there it’s just filler and unnecessary drama that I read thinking, “Why hasn’t this book ended yet?” I have the first couple books in this series, but Much Ado About You is the first book by James that I’ve read. I’m not really looking forward to more. Here’s hoping the series improves.