Monthly Archives: March 2018

Review of Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1), by Jennifer Estep

I bought a paperback copy of Jennifer Estep’s Cold Burn of Magic out in the real world.

Description from Goodreads:
It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call–get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her. . .

I didn’t love this. It’s told in first person, past tense and just felt very flatly told. Imagine a three-year-old who has a story to tell you and it’s full of “and then I” and “then the monster” and “I thought,” etc. I wasn’t hugely engaged in the story. I thought………[I’ve literally finished this book not 10 minutes ago and I can’t remember her name]….the main character was exceptionally shallow. I mean, she only seemed to have anger and sarcasm where her personality should have been. There’s some huge plot holes, not the least of which is that the town is full of monsters, that will literally eat you if you cross their bridge, for example, but somehow some people don’t believe in them. The villains (both sub-plots’ worth) are evil just for the sake of being evil. And they are all VERY OBVIOUS. I won’t be pursuing this series.

Review of Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1), by Vivian Shaw

I borrowed a copy of Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw, from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood.

Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

This was one of those books I generally enjoyed, then say back and thought about and decided I had a problem with it. I’ll start with what I enjoyed. I thought the vampire mythos was interesting, as was the idea of a supernatural doctor (that’s a doctor to the supernatural, she’s not herself supernatural). There was quite a lot of humor and the writing is pretty good. All in all, enjoyable.

But…BUT it’s just so classically and problematically male. It’s a Greta Helsing novel, granted, but why is she essentially the only female? The gang was comprised of Greta, two vampires, a demon and a research fellow. There just isn’t any reason at least one of those couldn’t be a woman. But no, Greta is surrounded by, taken care of by and takes advice from only men. At least one of which (the one she’s attracted to) thinks it’s not really appropriate for a woman to be a doctor. She’s constantly wishing for her father and his advice, her mother wholly absent. (I can’t remember if it even said how she, presumably, died.) Even the villain’s henchmen are all male. Why do authors (especially female authors) keep leaving women out of their worlds? Here, I noticed it and as the book went on it just got more and more noticeable and more and more irritating. Because the series may be named after Greta, but it’s a book about the men around Greta. Bah! Forget that.

Review of Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

I bought a copy of Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. Technically, it was for my daughter, but whatever.

Description from Goodreads:
The art attacks continue in this sequel to the acclaimed graphic novel THE PLAIN JANES. The coolest clique of misfits ever plays Cupid and becomes entangled in affairs of the heart. P.L.A.I.N. – People Loving Art In Neighborhoods – goes global when the art gang procures a spot in the Metro City Museum of Modern Art Contest. And the Janes will discover that in art and love, the normal rules don’t always apply.

I admit that when I picked this up I didn’t realize it is a sequel. And, reading it, I did feel the lack of having read book one. But it is followable. I thought it was nice the way the girls (and their tag along gay friend) support each other and stick to their guns to do their art (as in Do Your Thing). There’s a notably diverse cast and platonic male/female friendships (even in a book about Valentines Day). But I also thought it rushed (even for a graphic novel plot) and a little scattered. Plus, the villain is ridiculously depthless.  All in all, not bad though.