Category Archives: books/book review

Review of Craven Street, by E. J. Stevens

I received a free Audible code for a copy of Craven Street, by E.J. Stevens.

Description from Goodreads:

The discovery of bricked up skeletal remains at 36 Craven Street point to something more diabolical than an illegal anatomy school. The tool marks on the bones, arcane sigils of great power, indicate more than mere butchery, more than enlightened experimentation. The signs, omens, and portents support the crown’s greatest fears. A great evil is being unleashed upon the gaslit streets of London, a blood-drenched shadow reaching skeletal fingers beyond the slums of Whitechapel.

We must stamp out this demonic plague for the sake of our Queen, our Country, and our immortal souls. – Cora Drummond, Whitechapel Paranormal Society 

Collecting human souls is a thankless job, nearly as tedious as acting as solicitor to the fae. But when the demon Forneus enters an opium den searching for men eager to trade their souls for the ill-smelling weed, he stumbles on a plot so devious, so heinous, he’s jealous that he hadn’t thought of it himself.

There’s nothing like a maniacal plot to unleash Hell on earth to break the boredom of immortality. – Forneus, Grand Marquis of Hell 

Review:

This would have made a great novel. But it makes a somewhat disappointing novella. I liked the characters and the premise. But too much is just sketched out, major events are simply relayed passing, and there isn’t time for the reader to get truly engrossed in the story. 

Also, as I’ve often complained, why is it that so often in such books only women are murdered? Do you suppose the demonic hordes care if the sacrifices are male or female? But invariably the victims are always women and any reference to the killer is male. The language is painfully gendered, always it seems. Once you start to notice, it’s hard to stop. 

The narrators did a wonderful job, Melanie A. Mason especially. 

I’m baaaack

My family and I had a wonderful trip to Manchester, England and Yunnan Provence, China. That may seem an odd combination, but we went to Manchester to spend Christmas and New Years with family and then on to China for a wedding and time with friends.

We’re back now though. Which means the blog is open again. I have a few reviews to post from my time traveling. But I didn’t read anywhere near as much as I expected to. We simply did not stop. So, the only reading I did was on flights.

I read The Highest Tide, Blood of Elves, and One Dead Vampire. I was pleased with all of them.

Reviews:

The Highest Tide, by Marian Perera:

I liked this more than I expected to. I appreciated that the woman is the physically strong one who saves the day most of the time. She’s quite capable. I appreciate that she was allowed to be scarred, even if the author wasn’t willing to go as far as to let her heroine be ugly. Even scarred, men think she is beautiful. Which, of course, she can be. But I felt like the focus detracted from the fact that women don’t have to be beautiful, even if flawed, to be a heroine. It felt like the author got half-way there on not classically beautiful representation. But I’ll take what I can get. Similarly, I appreciated the little LGBTQ acceptance slipped in with no fuss or obvious ulterior motive.

As for the romance, I liked both characters and liked them together. But I didn’t feel the romance was well developed. Too much of the book has them avoiding each other, so there isn’t a lot of interaction. And for one of the characters the ‘love’ is so instant even he says he feels as if he’d been struck by lightning.

All in all, however, I’d be more than happy to read the rest of the series.

Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski

This book got me through a 10 hour flight. It was nothing like I was expecting though. I expected a lot of fighting, like in the prequel short stories. Instead, I found a lot of humor as a group of clueless men try to figure out raising a young girl. I quite enjoyed it, though I found it slow at times and Sapkowski’s writing style a little sparse for my taste. I’ll be continuing the series though.

One Dead Vampire, by Kris Ripper

Cute & fluffy. I generally loved Rocky and all of the side characters, plus all the representation. There’s a fat and fabulous main character, several characters of varied sexual and gender identities—using any number of pronouns—and characters of several races. I do think this is a book not written for those invested in remaining with-in the confines of the comfortable majority. I suspect I’ll see more than one review saying all of the pronouns and such were unnecessary or too hard to keep track of. But I think that’s more a matter of what you’re used to. It certainly works. 

I did feel like Rocky was too clueless about both the supernaturals and police procedure to have been raised in a supernatural cop family. Plus, I felt like all those cops/detectives enabling her compromising an investigation felt super unnatural. And the eventual reveal of the villain was too random to feel satisfying. 

The romance is secondary to the mystery and pretty mild. But, as I liked both characters, I was willing to roll with it. I was less able to accept that Rocky had given up her best friend because the friend had the audacity to go away to college. 

All in all, this was a higher than middle of the road read, but not five-stars for me. I’m well up for continuing the series though.

Review of On Her Own Two Wheels, by Stacy Xavier

I’m in England for the holiday and the blog is on hiatus, but I wanted to make sure I managed to get this review written and posted, since On Her Own Two Wheels (by Stacy Xavier) is my 2019 X-authored alphabet challenge book.

Description from Goodreads:

Just three years out of college and Cassie Wright has hit a dead end. Still living at home with her mom and dad and dating the same writer masked as a waiter, Devon, for just as long, she knows she wants more out of life. Motorcycle lessons seem like a fun idea and the perfect escape. Cassie soon finds herself breaking away from her dull life and starts on a journey to self-confidence as she learns how to make each day extraordinary. 

While driving home from visiting her grandmother in Wisconsin, she drags a reluctant Devon to a local biker event at a motorcycle dealership. From there, she becomes inspired to take riding lessons for some much needed fun and adventure. In time, she meets Marcus, the part-time riding instructor and full-time college administrator. He is drawn to Cassie’s ambition and adventurous spirit, and a romance quickly blossoms, forcing Cassie to realize she deserves better than what Devon chooses to give. 

Becoming more confident in her everyday life through her riding, Cassie quits the electronics shop to become the motorcycle dealership’s new marketing director, opening herself up to an entirely new set of professional and personal obstacles. Cassie must learn to approach her issues in a whole new way while striving to be the type of woman she herself would want to emulate. 

An inspirational coming-of-age novel for any woman who has ever settled for less, romantically or professionally, On Her Own Two Wheels tells the moving tale of a young woman finding the courage to challenge herself, break the mold, seek adventure, and make the ordinary in her life extraordinary as she truly comes into her own.

Reviews:

This was light and fluffy, but I also thought the writing quite pedestrian and the plot shallow. I very much appreciate the themes the book took on—sexism in the workplace, respect in relationships, finding yourself after college, etc. But the solutions were presented as too simple to be believed. She shattered long engrained sexual harassment habits in a garage full of men with professional dress and a quelling glance, for example. 

I think my biggest issue with the book however is that it starts with the main character deciding to change her life and she does, in big ways. But we’re never given any reason for this change in her attitude. It feels anchoress and random. If she’s such an outspoken, feminist, respect driven woman why has she let her life get to the point it has. If she hadn’t been up until the beginning of the book, what changed? I feel the book really needed that information. 

All in all, not bad but not great either.