Review of Wanted and Wired (Wanted and Wired #1), by Vivien Jackson

I picked up a copy of Vivien Jackson‘s Wanted and Wired from Amazon, when it was free.

Description from Goodreads:

Rogue scientist • technologically enhanced • deliciously attractive
Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what’s left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas-sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.

Gun for hire • Texan rebel • always hits her mark
Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it’s the perfect storm…

I quite enjoyed this. There were several points I especially liked and a few that irked me, but the average definitely fell on the positive side.

The things I enjoyed were the snark, the high quality of writing, the world, the woman with sexual agency, the fact that there were incidentally gay characters and that the main characters were other than white.

On the negative side was the rape-as-backstory, the fact that the sexual agency I appreciated eventually became distracting as Heron and Mari just never let up.

All in all, I can’t wait for more of Jackson’s Tether series.

Review of Cursed with Claws, by Asta Idonea

I received a copy of Asta Idonea‘s Cursed With Claws through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
A dragon dwells atop the mountain that overlooks Ode’s village. Every year the surrounding villages gather to make an offering to keep the beast at bay: chests of gold and a human sacrifice.

When the wise men choose his beloved sister, Malle, as the latest sacrifice, Ode immediately offers to take her place. But instead of a dragon on the mountain ledge, he meets a mysterious young man.

I’ve learned. It took a little while, but it’s finally sunk in. Less Than Three Press publishes a certain sort of novella that I dislike. I always get caught by the blurb, but now I know not to be fooled. I read Alexandria Bellefleur’s Frostbite last year, which is also by LTTP and essentially the same plot as Cursed with Claws. I felt about it the same as I did this one. Meh. That’s it.

Cursed beast in a mountain cave? Check. Ingenue young man encounters him? Check. Almost instant attraction, despite one party being deadly/monsterous (both dragons)? Check. Love developing in too short a time? Check. Happily ever after? Check. Everything is very shallow, very linear and very Mary Sue/Marty Stew. It’s not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with it. There’s obviously a market, so those that enjoy it. I’m just not one of them. I was not impressed by Idonea’s Cursed with Claws, but it was the book that finally taught me what to be on the lookout for, so I can avoid reading it or its ilk again.

Review of The Twilight Pariah, by Jeffrey Ford

I borrowed a copy of Jeffrey Ford‘s The Twilight Pariah from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion’s outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.

Not bad, but I wouldn’t say it covers any new ground or anything. I appreciated that, even with the narrator being male, the leader of the gang is obviously the women. Similarly, the inclusion of an incidentally gay man (and his boyfriend) with no need to include a homophobic encounter was nice. The writing was easily readable and the editing was good. But I finished the story with a shrug, rather than a shiver.