Review of Some Kind of Magic & A Boy and his Dragon, by R. Cooper

I borrowed a copy of Some Kind of Magic through Amazon and bought A Boy and his Dragon from Dreamspinner. Both are by R. Cooper and part of the Beings in Love series.

Description from Goodreads:
Being a police detective is hard. Add the complication of being a werewolf subject to human prejudice, and you might say Ray Branigan has his work cut out for him. He’s hot on the trail of a killer when he realizes he needs help.

Enter Cal Parker, the beautiful half-fairy Ray’s secretly been in love with for years—secretly, because while werewolves mate for life, fairies…don’t. Ray needs Cal’s expertise, but it isn’t easy to concentrate with his mate walking around half-naked trying to publicly seduce him. By the time Ray identifies the killer—and sorts out a few prejudices of his own—it may be too late for Cal.

Review:
A sweet little story of a werewolf and his mate, a human-fairy hybrid. I quite enjoyed it. I thought Ray’s frustration and Cal’s flirting were a hoot. However, the situation is supposed to have gone on for two years! Considering the events of this book are a matter of days and I was already getting tired of it, two years would be intolerable. Because mostly it all comes down to two people not saying the things that need to be said and that’s a plot device that doesn’t work well for me.

There is no on-page sex, but all the longing kind of made up for it. And I quite like the idea of Beings, with shifters, pixies, fairies, etc being out in society. Plus, each having species’ characteristics and tht they have to contend with legends that aren’t always true. Again, a sweet story that kept me interested enough to want to read the next one.


Description from Goodreads:
Arthur MacArthur needs a job, and not just for the money. Before he dropped out of school to support his younger sister, he loved being a research assistant at the university. But working for a dragon, one of the rarest and least understood magical beings, has unforeseen complications. While Arthur may be the only applicant who isn’t afraid of Philbert Jones in his dragon form, the instant attraction he feels for his new employer is beyond disconcerting.

Bertie is a brilliant historian, but he can’t find his own notes without help—his house is a hoard of books and antiques, hence the need for an assistant. Setting the mess to rights is a dream come true for Arthur, who once aspired to be an archivist. But making sense of Bertie’s interest in him is another matter. After all, dragons collect treasure, and Arthur is anything but extraordinary.

Review:
It was cute. I’ll give it that and I did enjoy it as a cute, fluffy read. But exactly like book one, it’s a book who’s plot 100% depends on two men not saying what needs to be said. In fact, it pretty much is the plot. The dragon won’t tell the human what he wants, despite hinting at it, and the human won’t believe the hints or admit to his own desires. Thus, they pine for each other for 240 pages. Again, it was cute and well written, but that wasn’t really enough for me. Plus, I thought the ‘tragic sister’ (who’s life didn’t really seem so horrible that her brother had to sacrifice so much for her, she certainly seemed capable enough) was a pointless and over-used plot device. I’d read more of the series though.

Review of True Colors, by Anyta Sunday

I received a copy of True Colors, by Anyta Sunday from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Oskar used to be Marco’s best friend. His everything. His sunshine yellow.

But that was before. Before Marco stopped being a hot jock. Before he learned to live with scars and pain. And before Oskar tore their friendship apart.

Now the boy next door has returned home, determined to rekindle his friendship with Marco, and Marco’s more afraid than ever. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of being humiliated.

Afraid of falling in love. 

Can Oskar find a way through Marco’s fear, back into his heart?

Review:  Mildly spoilery
This was a very sweet second chances romance. I liked that it was a slow burn and both characters were just lovely and sweet. I could relate to Marco’s self-consciousness and Oskar’s guilt. The sex is hot, without being porny and I liked the family involvement.

But I had a few problems too. The biggest one being that, though I totally get that what Oskar said was traumatizing to Marco, as well as the self-sabotaging aspect of the event, but they had been best friends for nine years. I don’t think it would have been enough to suddenly (and I mean cold turkey) throw the friendship out the window.

Additionally, I couldn’t fathom the logistics of it. The book reads like the event happened and they never saw each-other again. For example, Oskar’s nose was broken the next day and years later, when they meet again, Oskar wondered how it happened. But they lived next door to one another. Their bedroom windows faced one another. Their families hung out. Marco was a second brother to Oskar’s sister and basically mentored her. So, how exactly did they simply never speak again? How did they manage to never find themselves alone together with Oskar apologizing, Marco accepting and both moving on in one way or another? It stretched my suspension of belief too far.

Similarly, there’s a bully from the past that shows up. Turns out he’s matured out of being a dick and sought out one of the characters to apologize. The one that moved away, I might add. So, why only the one and not the other, the one that stayed in town and was both more easily accessed and more grievously harmed?

I had a little trouble following Marco’s sudden turn around too. I mean, he had to stop hating Oskar at some point in order for the book to progress, but it felt very sudden. And this after I’d spent most of the book wondering how both families seemed to not know what happened between the boys. Or, if they did, how they could be so heartless and cruel as to so blithely force Marco together with someone who hurt him so badly. So, either they were all blind or hard-hearted or the author just hoped the reader wouldn’t look too closely at this point.

Lastly, while it’s interesting that the book was set in Berlin, Germany, honestly, it could have been New Brunswick or Nashville for all the difference the setting made to the story. While I’d have hated for the author to throw in a whole lot of German stereotypes, the book and its characters felt very American. If not for the city names I would have NEVER known it wasn’t set in some nameless American city.

I mostly loved this. I thought the writing was lovely and the pairing sweet. I also had no problem following it, despite it being a sequel. (In fact, I didn’t know it was a sequel until I finished it and looked on GR to review it.) I’ll definitely be reading more of Sunday’s writing, but I thought this one had some holes in it, leaving me with a few too many questions.

Review of The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco

I received a copy of The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco, from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Review:
How can you be disappointed in a book that is beautifully written? I don’t really know, but I’ve managed it with The Bone Witch. Honestly, the writing and world-building is superb, but there my praise pretty much ends.

This book is 400+ pages long and the only action in the whole darned book occurs at the very beginning when the brother is raised from the dead and at 90%. That’s it. The whole rest of the book is Tea (pronounced as Tey-uh, as we annoyingly discover 67%) learning to be a geisha. Yes, she’s an all powerful bone witch. The only new one in decades, the one desperately needed, as the deava (undead beasts that rampage and kill people) keep popping up and, well killing people and she’s the only one who can do anything about them. But does she? No. In fact, when she asks to, she’s told to not waste time “with any more of these foolish wildgoose chases.” Instead, she learns to sing and dance and make pleasant conversation with her (apparently all) male cliental. That’s right, she’s basically just there for the entertainment of men, as are all asha.

There are things I appreciate about the book. There is some diversity in skin tone and culture. Some gender norms are purposefully challenged, though FAR MORE are passively reinforced. Again, the writing is beautiful. The reveal at the end piqued my curiosity, but I kind of saw it coming. It’s enough to interested me in the next book. But I spent a lot of this one being frustrated with the lack of pace and betrayal of a promise of a strong female lead. She’s stubborn and she is powerful, but I thought that every surrounding detail of the book—from the fashion to the families, to the political structure—undermined female autonomy and strength and reaffirmed women’s (or girls’) secondary position, even when possession an overwhelming ability. Which is not uncommon is fantasy, but I felt I’d been promised something different here. What’s more, I kind of sense the author thought she did write something different.

Case and point, an official graphic: