Monthly Archives: January 2020

Review of The Half-Assed Wizard, by Gary Jonas

I received an Audible code for a copy of Gary JonasThe Half-Assed Wizard.

Description from Goodreads:

A couple of jerks wake me up at the crack of noon. Seems my clepto uncle stole an ancient deck of Tarot cards from a high-powered wizard, and too many losers want to ruin my day to get them back. 

The cards are cool, so I check them out, but my magic-happy cousin, Sabrina, tells me I’m not supposed to touch them. Oops. Too late. Now the damn cards are tuned to me, and if someone else wants to use them, I have to die. Why couldn’t she have led with that information? 

Magic was never my scene, but my dad is one of the most powerful wizards in the world, so I’ve got unrealized potential if I ever bother to apply myself. I’d rather power nap, but with wizards, gunslingers, and cannibalistic shark dudes coming at me, that’s not gonna happen. 

They say I’m a half-assed wizard, but if I don’t play my cards right, I’m gonna get my whole ass killed.

Review:

This is the third male-led Urban Fantasy, written by a male I’ve read in a row. They all seem to have variations of the same ‘hero’ (anti-hero). They’re sarcastic, misanthropic, invariably powerful, but determined never to be seen trying at anything. I wondered for a while why these characters are so venerated. But I’ve ultimately decided that it’s a validation of the male (white male especially) world view that a true man conquers and succeeds because he is simply and inherently the best. He shouldn’t have to try at anything, because he will still always come out on top. What more, to be seen to be trying undermines the naturalness of their supremacy.

I say all this in order for it to make sense when I say I am tired of this character. Brett is the just one more of an overplayed, unimaginative ‘hero.’ Perhaps he could be king of these men who refuse to even try to live up to their potential (but still expect to be handed the winning ticket). He is after all just as half-assed as the title suggests. His literal goal in life is to sleep all day and live on daddy’s money, while simultaneously refusing to comply or cooperate with the family in any way. I found literally nothing in him to relate to or enjoy. I wanted to spank him like the whiney man-child he was (and not in any sort of fun way).

What makes this whole situation worse is that I couldn’t even truly believe his refusal to use magic. His commitment to never using magic required a dedication I couldn’t imagine him capable of, especially as lazy as he was.

All in all, the book is written well enough. The narrator did a great job. And I can imagine a whole host of Chads enjoying it. But I most certainly did not.

A housekeeping note on slow reviews

This is just a quick housekeeping note on why my reviews are coming more slowly than normal lately. I am reading and listening to several compilations at the moment. Sometimes (depending on how much I’m enjoying them) I binge on the books. Sometimes I read/listen to one and then read/listen to something else before coming back to the compilation, often jumping between series as I go. I’ll review the series together when I finish them. Here are some recent example of me doing this: The Primal Trilogy, The Cassie Scot Series, The Redneck Apocalypse Series.

This all means that instead of reading/listening to one book, reviewing it and moving on to the next, I’m reading several books before a longer post is written. But I promise I am still reading and the reviews will get posted in time (just in clusters).

Review of Sinless (Deadly Omen #1), by Jenica Saren

I received an audible code for a copy of Sinless, by Janice Saren.

Description from Goodreads:

So, introduction time and all that fun stuff. Yay. 
My name is Ria. Don’t ask about the last name, I don’t wanna talk about it. I am twenty-three years old and living a pretty glamorous life, what with the fiancé (he’s amazing, by the way), the nice car, the gorgeous house, and the job I love. Huh? The job? 
Okay, so yeah. I’m a stripper. How’s that for an opening line? 
Well, I had all of those things before shit hit the fan and I found myself in this tiny town in a not-so-tiny house. Speaking of the house, I have roommates. Six, actually. Let me clarify: I have six insanely hot, insanely weird, and insanely insane roommates. Gory details and all that be spared, shit’s getting real in this innocent-looking town and, let’s face it, I’m not qualified to handle bizarre crap. Not my thing; I’m a stripper for fuck’s sake. 
However, Eliam, Gatlin, Kellan, Gray, Beck, and Rafe seem to think that I am just the gal for the job. The Severin brothers are getting me all involved and in danger, and I’m truthfully terrified – not of the danger stuff, but these guys. There’s something different about them that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I swear I’m going to figure it out.

Review (with spoilers):

Not great. I like what the author was trying to do here. Ria is determined to be her own person. She shows backbone when she finds her boyfriend cheating. She has a meaningful friendship with another woman (i.e. not all other women are the enemy). She’s not afraid or ashamed of her own sexuality and doesn’t agonize over it. 

However, I think Saren failed in a lot of the execution. The inner-self was so overused that Ria simply felt mentally unhinged. It became a little more bearable when it was hinted toward the end that she might actually have a split personality. But as it was, I cringed (often literally) whenever Ria started describing her inner-self, complete with what she was wearing, how she was walking, what expression she had on her face, the tone of her voice, etc. I wanted Inner-Self to die and go away. 

Secondly, the six heroes. This was majorly problematic for me for two reasons. The first being that I couldn’t keep them all straight and tell them apart. Saren gave them accents and habits, but six men filling the same role is just too many. Secondly, this book is referred to as a reverse harem. Ria only actually has sex with two of them (I think, definitely not more). But it felt super icky to me because she seemed a lot more like a little sister that they all got to fondle and fuck. (Or maybe she got to fuck her big brothers, as she was perfectly willing to initiate the act, which I did appreciate.) What’s more, Ria is a serious case of fawned over by all the males for being special, while not really doing anything particularly special beyond existing. 

Lastly (and this is a big one for me), the mystery/villian. It’s secondary to the plot, not even being addressed until the halfway mark. Then, one red herring villain is dispatched off-page and super anticlimactically. Cue Ria’s too-stupid-to-live tantrum because the men won’t listen to her about another villain still being at large (and they act surprised when this turns out to be true). But come one, the man stabbed her with a magical athame and by all description looked like a freakin’ zombie. This did not fly as something centuries-old, experienced people would miss. I 100% think the author forgot she’d included the stabbing in her plot. (I’m only half joking here.)

All in all, readable, but not a real winner for me. The narrator (Melissa Schwairy) did a great job though.