Category Archives: books/book review

Review of Venom & Vanilla (The Venom Trilogy #1), by Shannon Mayer

I borrowed and audio copy of Shannon Mayer‘s Venom & Vanilla through Amazon Prime. (I’ve just realized I can do this for audio books!)

Description from Goodreads:

Successful Seattle baker Alena Budrene doesn’t want to die. But when she’s infected with a lethal virus spread by supernatural beings, her only chance for recovery is to make a deal with the devil—or in this case, a warlock.

Though he saves her life, it looks nothing like the life she once knew—and neither does she. Alena is a new breed of “Supe” no one has ever seen before. Even the supernatural police don’t know what she is. Now exiled to the northern side of the Wall, which marks the divide between humans and Supes, Alena is thrust into a dark and magical new world.

But just as she begins to adjust to all things supernatural, she realizes that her transformation is the least of her worries—and it was no accident. She was chosen…to be killed by a Greek hero trying to make a name for himself once more.

Alena was brought up to be subservient, preferring creating to fighting, and vanilla and honey to blood. But that was then. Now, to survive, she must stand up for herself—and this time she’s got fangs. But will she be ready to use them?

Review:

I was not impressed. Another reviewer, who is on Mayer’s street team, says the author calls this an urban fantasy parody. That makes the whole ridiculous thing a little easier to swallow. But it still just isn’t very good. Maybe it needed to be more or less of what it is. More parody, if a parody or less parody-like if a serious novel. I don’t know. Maybe an author who writes in the urban fantasy genre shouldn’t be writing parodies of it unless they highlight what it is in big neon letters. Either way, almost everything about the book irritated me. 

First and foremost the stupid non-cursing grated like sandpaper. Hearing an adult woman, who is supposed to be kicking ass and taking names call someone a donkey’s butthole instead of a jackass was not cute. It was super irritating. Similarly, wanna RUIN any sexual tension you have going on? Throw in a “He grabbed my bumm.”

Mostly though Alena was just too perfect. She wakes up with the perfect body. She’s loyal and sacrificing. She makes allies out of enemies with nothing but her sass. She defeats her foes with aplomb. She saves the day and gets the guy (if she wants him). And while all of that sounds fine, to have it all in one character is over-reaching and moves right into underdeveloped and unbelievable. 

All in all, this was a big old bust for me. No thank you.

Review of Shadow Hunter (Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill #1), by B.R. Kingsolver

I borrowed an audio copy of B.R. Kingsolver‘s Shadow Hunter through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Meh, I suppose this wasn’t bad. But I didn’t find anything about it that stood out and I REALLY don’t think Erin lived up to her own hype. We’re told she’d been intensely training (20hrs a day) since she was 14. But the gaps in her magical knowledge (mostly so the author had an excuse to explain things to the reader) were too wide and frequent to be believed. Plus, her whole “I’ve never lived in the world” schtick contradicted the fact that she’d been sent on missions, sometimes as staff and sometimes with high society, bout out in the world. Am I really supposed to believe things like she’d never had pizza?

I did like most of the side characters (that I was meant to like) and the mechanical writing and narration appear to be fine. It all just felt far too mediocre YA novel for my tastes. But I have no doubt it will find it’s audience.

Review:

Meh, I suppose this wasn’t bad. But I didn’t find anything about it that stood out and I REALLY don’t think Erin lived up to her own hype. We’re told she’d been intensely training (20hrs a day) since she was 14. But the gaps in her magical knowledge (mostly so the author had an excuse to explain things to the reader) were too wide and frequent to be believed. Plus, her whole “I’ve never lived in the world” schtick contradicted the fact that she’d been sent on missions, sometimes as staff and sometimes with high society, but out in the world. Am I really supposed to believe things like she’d never had pizza? 

I did like most of the side characters (that I was meant to like) and the mechanical writing and narration by Madeleine Dauer appear to be fine. It all just felt far too mediocre YA novel for my tastes. But I have no doubt it will find it’s audience.

Review of Feral Ice: Paranormal Fantasy (Ice Dragons Book 1), by Ann Gimpel

I borrowed an audio copy of Ann Gimpel‘s Feral Ice through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Doctor and biochemist, Erin signed up for six months aboard an Antarctic research ship to escape her stifling surgery practice. Jerked from her cozy cabin, she’s dumped in an ice cave by men who assume she’s dead. 

Konstantin and Katya, twins and dragon shifters, have lived miles beneath the polar ice cap for hundreds of years. Other dragons left, but they stuck it out. When several humans—all but two of them dead—end up not far from their lair, the opportunity is too good to pass up. 

If the lore is to be believed, humans can become dragon shifters. Delighted by a simple solution to their enforced isolation, the dragons lure the humans to their home. Surely, they’ll be thrilled by the prospect of becoming magical. 

Or not. 

Too bad no one shared the script with the humans. Science be damned, they’re horrorstruck in the face of fire-breathing dragons. All they want is to escape, but home is thousands of miles away.

Review:

This was bad…like really bad. I thought, in the beginning, I might be able to enjoy it in the ‘it’s so bad it’s amusing’ sort of way. But no, it didn’t even manage that. The story moves along in robotic jerks. The romance is so underdeveloped I literally thought it was going to be between the two humans, instead of the dragon and female human. Honestly, I think it would have been a better pairing. But mostly it just meant I didn’t feel anything for or about the couple. The lore is ridiculous and poorly explained. And dialogue is super cheesy.

The narrator did and OK job. But I don’t understand why Gimpel would choose a male narrator for a book in which the only first person POV is female.