Tag Archives: book review

Review of Sinless (Deadly Omen #1), by Jenica Saren

I received an audible code for a copy of Sinless, by Janice Saren.

Description from Goodreads:

So, introduction time and all that fun stuff. Yay. 
My name is Ria. Don’t ask about the last name, I don’t wanna talk about it. I am twenty-three years old and living a pretty glamorous life, what with the fiancé (he’s amazing, by the way), the nice car, the gorgeous house, and the job I love. Huh? The job? 
Okay, so yeah. I’m a stripper. How’s that for an opening line? 
Well, I had all of those things before shit hit the fan and I found myself in this tiny town in a not-so-tiny house. Speaking of the house, I have roommates. Six, actually. Let me clarify: I have six insanely hot, insanely weird, and insanely insane roommates. Gory details and all that be spared, shit’s getting real in this innocent-looking town and, let’s face it, I’m not qualified to handle bizarre crap. Not my thing; I’m a stripper for fuck’s sake. 
However, Eliam, Gatlin, Kellan, Gray, Beck, and Rafe seem to think that I am just the gal for the job. The Severin brothers are getting me all involved and in danger, and I’m truthfully terrified – not of the danger stuff, but these guys. There’s something different about them that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I swear I’m going to figure it out.

Review (with spoilers):

Not great. I like what the author was trying to do here. Ria is determined to be her own person. She shows backbone when she finds her boyfriend cheating. She has a meaningful friendship with another woman (i.e. not all other women are the enemy). She’s not afraid or ashamed of her own sexuality and doesn’t agonize over it. 

However, I think Saren failed in a lot of the execution. The inner-self was so overused that Ria simply felt mentally unhinged. It became a little more bearable when it was hinted toward the end that she might actually have a split personality. But as it was, I cringed (often literally) whenever Ria started describing her inner-self, complete with what she was wearing, how she was walking, what expression she had on her face, the tone of her voice, etc. I wanted Inner-Self to die and go away. 

Secondly, the six heroes. This was majorly problematic for me for two reasons. The first being that I couldn’t keep them all straight and tell them apart. Saren gave them accents and habits, but six men filling the same role is just too many. Secondly, this book is referred to as a reverse harem. Ria only actually has sex with two of them (I think, definitely not more). But it felt super icky to me because she seemed a lot more like a little sister that they all got to fondle and fuck. (Or maybe she got to fuck her big brothers, as she was perfectly willing to initiate the act, which I did appreciate.) What’s more, Ria is a serious case of fawned over by all the males for being special, while not really doing anything particularly special beyond existing. 

Lastly (and this is a big one for me), the mystery/villian. It’s secondary to the plot, not even being addressed until the halfway mark. Then, one red herring villain is dispatched off-page and super anticlimactically. Cue Ria’s too-stupid-to-live tantrum because the men won’t listen to her about another villain still being at large (and they act surprised when this turns out to be true). But come one, the man stabbed her with a magical athame and by all description looked like a freakin’ zombie. This did not fly as something centuries-old, experienced people would miss. I 100% think the author forgot she’d included the stabbing in her plot. (I’m only half joking here.)

All in all, readable, but not a real winner for me. The narrator (Melissa Schwairy) did a great job though. 

Review of Virtues of the Vicious, by Martin Wilsey

Cover of Virtues of the Vicious

I received an Audible code for a copy of Virtues of the Vicious, by Martin Wilsey.

Description from Goodreads:

Elizabeth Cruze came to Earth for one reason: to buy weapons. She never counted on ending up in prison. Never fear, though, she’s not planning on staying there long. 

Special Investigator Neal Locke has made a career out of catching the most elusive and dangerous criminals. He’s never failed to “get his man.” 

When Cruze escapes from prison, Locke is tasked to track her down. She should be easy to find…all he’s got to do is follow the trail of bodies. 

But Locke has been an investigator for a long time. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that there’s more going on than what he’s been told… 

Review:

Much in the style of Leviathan WakesVirtues of the Viciousfollows someone going about their galactic adventure and an older, somewhat jaded investigator tracking behind them, slowly learning that there is more to his investigation than meets the eye. 

I generally enjoyed the story. I liked the characters and Wilsey’s writing style. I liked that the main characters were older and there was some diversity in the cast. However, I also three separate times tried to check Goodreads, Amazon or Google to ensure this wasn’t the second book in a series. It completely feels like it must be. Characters are mentioned that aren’t introduced until much later, the political system of the universe is left for the reader to figure out, and there is simply a distance felt that I imagined was caused by a lack of previous books. From what I could discern, this is set in the same universe as Wilsey’s other books, but not connected. 

There were a number of too convenient to be believed events that solved problems for the crew, Cruze seemed to find that crew willing to go to war with her without even trying (that could actually just be part of the previous point), and the villain was dispatched a little too easily. It was anti-climactic. 

I also thought the pacing was inconsistent and dialogue needlessly formal at times. The farther into the book I got the fewer contractions I noticed, for example. I think Shore’s narration exacerbated this though. While I think she did a good job, some of the sentences that I felt needed contractions and didn’t have them felt even more stiff in her mouth. 

All in all however, despite these complaints, I’ll be looking for more of Wilsey’s writing. I liked what I saw.

Review of Spell Caster, by Laura Greenwood

cover of Spell Caster

I received an Audible code for a copy fo Laura Greenwood‘s Spell Caster.

Description from Goodreads:

Can magic and science come together to catch a murderer?  

Cassie’s world is turned upside down when she’s given an unusual blood sample to test. And when a mysterious man shows up at her lab telling her he has the answers she’s looking for, she’s pulled into a world of murder, investigations, and intrigue.  

Finally able to explore the connection between her powers as a witch and her expertise as a scientist to uncover why paranormals keep turning up dead. 
–  
Spell Caster is a reverse harem paranormal mystery set in the Paranormal Council Universe.

Review:

Sigh. This wasn’t bad. It was just sort of a mess. For one, it’s called a reverse harem, which infers (though admittedly doesn’t say) it’s erotic. Most reverse harem books you encounter are, so tying itself into a known erotic trope suggests it is too. It isn’t. The steamiest this gets is that Cassie kisses each of her mates once (and they’re not even descriptive passionate kisses) and then each man kisses her forehead or the top of her head once. There is no passion or eroticism in this at all. If she was interested, I’d let me 9yo read it. 

Similarly there isn’t any passion (erotic or otherwise) about the mating. Cassie has a calm conversation with each man and then moves on. It literally could have been a work meeting over coffee. (Once even is over coffee.) 

But most importantly, how this four-way mating might work isn’t addressed at all. It’s clarified that each man is her mate and they aren’t each others mates (no menage). But I have a hard time believing that will work with no jealousy. Why would these guys share a mate?

The book would have simply been IMMENSELY improved if the author had left the mate element out and let the book be about Cassie getting a new job and earning her spot on the Paranormal Crimes Investigation team. And I honestly think the author would only have had to cut about 2% of the text to make this true. I cannot emphasize enough how underdeveloped the mate aspect is. It’s so underdeveloped that it’s just a distraction and detraction in the plot. I think I’d have really liked the book if it was just a paranormal mystery. As it is, I was just disappointed.

Edit: On a side note, the title is Spell Caster, but Cassie doesn’t cast a single spell in the book. She uses magic, but never an actual spell. Just saying.