Category Archives: books/book review

Review of Death Wish (Reaper Reborn #1), by Harper A. Brooks

I received an Audible code for a copy of Harper A. Brooks’ Death Wish.

Description from Goodreads:

Life’s a b*tch—but what comes after isn’t much better.

Jade Blackwell, a paranormal reaper, helps supernaturals cross over after death. Her job comes with lots of rules—but not following them is kind of her thing…until it ends up involving her in something much deadlier than she ever imagined.

With the protective veil fading away, demons are crossing realms and impregnating humans, and Jade’s best friend is among their victims. She’s determined to save her friend, even if it means working with Cole Masters, a dangerous demon halfling and notorious gun-for-hire.

But time is running out to fix the barrier and find a demon cure. With supernaturals everywhere in danger, and the balance between good and evil tipped for the worst, Jade must choose between her own eternal afterlife…or the living world she so desperately wants to be a part of.

Spoilery Review:

At one point, I jokingly referred to this plot as “seeking magical means to a supernatural, medically necessitated abortion.” Seriously, the whole book is searching for a way to make a woman who is pregnant, not pregnant anymore. True, at the last moment the author tacks on that the baby can be saved, but that’s literally a line or two in a whole book of ‘how to save my friend from having this baby that she didn’t plan and will probably kill her.’

If I believed the author set out to write a parable about body autonomy and a woman’s right to choose, I’d call this a raging success. I don’t actually think this though. I don’t think Brooks had such didactic goals. Doesn’t mean it can’t be read that way if you want.

Beyond that, I thought the book was ok. I liked the characters and the writing was fine, but I also thought an entire book of the heroine being saved by magical powers she didn’t know she had, didn’t know anything about or how to use felt an awful lot like a whole series of dues ex machina (which is dissatisfying when it shows up once, let alone half a dozen times). I also thought a lot of Jade’s internal monologue got redundant.

All in all, not bad, but not a huge winner either.

Review of Fire & Water (Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator #3), by Alexis Hall

I received a copy of Fire & Water, by Alexis Hall, through Netgalley. I read and reviewed the first two books Iron & Velvet and Shadows & Dreams in 2014. My god, 2014!

Description from Goodreads:

I like my whiskey like I like my women: embroiled in a magical war

Ten years ago I fought for the Witch Queen of London in a mystical showdown against a King Arthur wannabe with a shaved head and a shotgun. Back then, the law did for him before he could do for us.

I don’t think we’ll get that lucky again.

As if the mother of all wizard battles wasn’t bad enough, fate or destiny or a god with a really messed-up sense of humor has dropped a weapon that could rewrite the universe right into the middle of London, and anybody with half a sniff of arcane power has rocked up to stake their claim on it. Last time this happened, the city went to pieces. This time, it might just go to Hell.

Also, still dating a vampire. Still got an alpha werewolf trying to get in my pants. Still sharing a flat with a woman made of animated marble—only now apparently there are two of her. But you know what they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same crap that’s been trying to kill you your entire life.

Review:

It’s been almost five years since I read the first two books in this series. So, I went into Fire & Water a little warily. I wasn’t sure I’d remember enough to follow the plot or if my memory of enjoying the earlier books was accurate. But Alexis Hall is one of my favorite authors, so I had faith. Hall catches the reader up on past events, in the beginning, carries Kate’s sardonic humor throughout and wraps everything up (while leaving an opening for more) in the end. All in all, it was another win for me.

However, I did think things just sort of happened. From the start to the finish, the book is a series of Kate did this, did that, then a small section fo Elsie did this and that, then more Kate did this before a lot of people did that. There isn’t really any pause in the series of events for any character development or even getting to know anyone if you don’t already.

Despite my one complaint, I look forward to more Kare Kane in the future. I just hope I don’t have to wait five years for this one.

Review of Hot Wolf, by Ellie Valentina

I received an audible code for a copy of Ellie Valentina’s Hot Wolf, a compilation of the first three books in the Werewolves on Heat series: The Hot Wolf, The Red Wolf, and The Fire Wolf. As listening to them all crossed the 2019-2020, divide I posted a review of The Hot Wolf when I finished it. I’ll re-post it here, simply to keep them together.


I’ll make a few comments on the series as a whole, before posting my individual reviews. None of these stories was particularly deep. 2 of the 3 are too similar for comfort. It was like reading the same story twice. They all culminate in a marriage and baby as the happily ever after. None of the titles make any sense to the stories in them and none of them have the tension or passion to pull off the heat, hot, red and fire descriptors. And lastly,there seems to be no consistency in the series, when I sense it’s supposed to be an interconnected world, as opposed to a collection of unrelated werewolf stories.


Description of The Hot Wolf (which has the same cover as the compilation):

Ava Sparks was a paranormal assassin tasked with eradicating werewolves from existence. 

Her latest target was gorgeous billionaire Chase Elliot. Intelligence suggested he was hiding a secret life as a werewolf and because of that he was to be erased from existence. 

However, once Ava became close to the charming Chase she made a stunning realization that changed everything. 

Now, instead of killing the werewolf, she was to find herself making love to him and life as everyone knew it would never be the same again… 

Review:

First, I think both the title and the cover of this book are misleading. The title makes you think it’s erotica, but it’s not at all. There is VERY LITTLE heat in it. What’s more, the werewolf in question is very cool and collected. He may be attractive, but hot isn’t an adequate description of him as a whole. He’s a politician, not a soldier or anything else that would have him hulking ripped on the cover either. All in all, you are simply given there wrong first impression of this book (and probably series). 

This is exacerbated by the fact that werewolves are basically extraneous to the plot. The characters could be from opposing political factions, or ninja clans or corporate spies. None of it would change the plot one iota. I was disappointed by this fact.

Getting past all that, I though it was still only so-so (not bad, but not good either). The ‘parents’ seem to make decisions based on who knows what that make the heroine go off and make ill-thought plans and take poorly executed actions. (She’s awfully inept for an experienced assassin.) She seems to have several personality shifts throughout the book. And the happily-ever-after is just too pat to stomach easily. 


Description of The Red Wolf:

When Josephine Lancaster first caught a glimpse of the handsome, muscle bound Edward Jake Hunter she knew she would be unable to resist his charms. 

A steamy night of passion between the two was inevitable and it was the best night of her life. 

However, Edward was a man with many secrets. 

Not only was Edward a werewolf but he was a werewolf on HEAT. And this meant one thing and one thing only. 

Josephine would soon be carrying the werewolf’s baby… 

Review:

Not great, in fact, I’d go so far as to say flat out bad. First, it’s too similar to book one—shitty, over dominating parents, a woman trying to get away and running to the male lead, who happens to be a werewolf, etc. The werewolf aspect was extraneous to the plot too. Jake could have just been an ex-SEAL and the book could be 100% the same. 

Second, there are a ton of inconsistencies. Things like telling Jake about the baby the night before an ultrasound and then him speaking to his mother ‘the week before’ about the pregnancy, or a man demeaning her for being pregnant and then her inner narrative saying she can’t let him know she’s pregnant, etc, etc. 

The plot is just paper thin, not well explained or developed, and repetitive at that. And there is a SUPER convenient event that allows the hero to rescue the heroine that made me roll my eyes so hard I almost saw my brain. All-in-all, I simply didn’t enjoy it. The narrator did a fine job, but I didn’t much care for her style here.

Lastly, the blurb specifically says, “Not only was Edward a werewolf but he was a werewolf on HEAT. And this meant one thing and one thing only.” But this is never addressed or explained. He doesn’t go into heat, nor is his passion so hot as to be called heated, not is he driven to find or identify his mate. This sentence in the blurb that supposedly sets the tone for the book is literally unrelated to the book. Maybe it’s meant to be hyperbole. But I feel like a blurb isn’t the place for ambiguousness in such things.


Description of The Fire Wolf:

Ranger Nick Greyson was a werewolf on heat. 

When he caught the scent of 20 year old Sarah Benson he knew he had caught the scent of his fated mate. After all, the nose never lies. 

However, Sarah’s scent made Nick so wild with desire that he did the one thing he knew he should have never done. 

He bit her. 

And now young Sarah is set to also become a werewolf on heat..

Review:

To sum it all up, this book isn’t very good. To elaborate, I’ll start with an irritant, the plot literally has nothing to do with fire. Nothing. Why give a book a title that has nothing to do with the plot?

What plot it does have is very thin. And the whole thing just feels ickily sexist. There are so many small examples, but they add up to a whole heck of a lot of (probably) internalized misogyny. Things like the fact that all the women except the main characters are basically just sex toys. The main female characters all stay home and be protected while the men go out and do things (even the man who’s been a werewolf for a matter of days and the woman who has been one since childhood). All decisions are made by the men, even in situations in which you’d expect a different power balance (like when speaking to your mother in her home). And worst of all the man who tries to essentially kidnap and rape the main female characters is befriended by her brother and shown to be a hotheaded, but well-interventioned guy. Nothing in the narrative condemns his attempted kidnapping and rape. It literally is just passed off as unworthy of mention in it’s appropriateness.

I am so glad to be done with this series.