Tag Archives: book reviews

Review of The Burning Magus (Blue Unicorn #3), by Don Allmon

I received a copy of Don Allmon‘s The Burning Magus through Netgalley. I previously reviewed the first two books in the series, Apocalypse Alley and The Glamour Thieves.

Description from Goodreads:

JT was a perfectly happy orc building cars in the Arizona desert until his old friend and sometimes lover Austin showed up and talked him into one last crime. Now “one last crime” has snowballed. With a new team of thieves—a supersoldier, a hacker, a driver, a graffiti artist, and a seafaring wizard—JT and Austin are determined to free an artificial intelligence from the dungeon of the Burning Magus. 

For JT, this job is more than a prison break; it’s a do-over of The Job That Went Bad two years ago, the catastrophe in which JT lost his closest friend and then chose to abandon everything, even Austin. Maybe this time no one will die. Maybe this time JT can return to Arizona and bury his old life for good. 

Except Austin won’t be buried. After two years alone, Austin knows he wants JT—not just as a partner in crime, but as the lover he always should have been. Maybe this time they won’t make the same mistakes, especially when it comes to each other. 

Review:

I was disappointed in this book. It’s not that it’s bad, but rather that I loved the first one, liked the second one and found this one uninspired. It felt much more rushed. I thought it had too many characters, too much pointless sex and too little pay off. 

To elaborate, all the previous characters are here in this one, so the book felt unfocused. And though I have no problem with sex in my books, like and expect it even, the sex here is largely voyeuristic and too frequently not between the established couples. (So, it adds nothing to strengthen the bond we’re supposed to believe exists.) What’s more, some of it felt very much like the author went, “Oh, this is SO in right now. I better add it, even if it feels like an after-the-fact add and isn’t well stitched into the plot.” 

As to pay-off, (this is hard to address without spoilers) questions are presented and not answered, and I didn’t feel Allmon made any effort to lead the reader to decide on their own. Instead, the whole thing feels forgotten. A whole important character is introduced and not given any significant page-time (and it really was needed). And bad guys are defeated easily (even ones that took whole books to beat in the past) and simply fade away without fuss. 

All in all, I still like Allmon’s writing style. And I like this series. But, when compared with the previous books, The Burning Magus fell extremely flat for me.

Review of Claim The Wolf King (Wickedest Witch #0.5) by Meg Xuemei X

I borrowed an audio copy of Meg Xuemei X‘s Claim the Wolf King through Hoopla. 

Description from Goodreads:

It’s a one in a million chance that the sexy-as-sin and savage wolf king finds his fated mate–me, the curvy warrior–on the most hostile alien planet. But you can’t call him one lucky bastard.

I can’t be his–I’ve sworn a blood oath to another. And I haven’t the time for mating when I have to lead a gang of the worst criminals to fight off the vampire hordes, cannibals, and Akem’s creatures of nightmare to find the veiled portal to go home.

The mating call doesn’t care for my difficult situation. It affects me with a fever like no other. Its frenzy bursts in my bloodstream, tormenting me with lust more than I can endure. But if I fail to resist it and break my vow, I’ll doom not only myself but everyone I protect, and we’ll never escape this inferno.

The ruthless, red-blooded wolf king isn’t one to listen to reason. And he has no intention of preserving my virtue and honor. He wants to mate with me more than his life is worth, and keep me as his forever. Nothing and no one can stop him on his way to claim me.

Review:

I’m going to be honest. I picked this book up expecting it to be complete shit. (I mean look at that cover!) But it was December 17th and I’d not yet read an X-authored book for my yearly alphabet challenge, didn’t even have one available to me. So, I grabbed this in a bit of a panic when I saw it. Any X would do at that point. 

For about half the book I was happy with it. Pleasantly surprised that, while the sex talk (and actual sex) was just as overwrought and cheesy as you’d expect, the main character was self-possessed and refused to kau tau to the normal cliches of shifter erotica. In fact, I thought the author was making a point to avoid them and was thrilled to find an author who did. But then she (the author) seemed to lose her way.

[Spoiler in this paragraph] Up until about 2/3 through the book, I’d have called it a 3-star read. Then the most cliched of cliched erotica tropes was dropped like a pile of loose shit on the plot. The only female shifter to be included in the book at all turned out to be the violently jealous ex of the hero. She waltzed into the plot and tried to kill the heroine, while claiming she would take the man back. As I said, this is extremely cliched and over-used. But it’s also insulting to women everywhere (as it is almost every time this plot point is used, and pretty much EVERYTIME it’s the only woman of a group). As if we only exist in relation to a man. As if we can’t trust each other. As if we are in constant competition for a man’s attention. As if we have no value if we can’t re-claim it. Right there I dropped a star. Probably would have DNFed the book if it hadn’t been for a challenge. 

What’s worse, in this case it went contrary to the world-building too. If finding your fated mate is so big a deal, I don’t believe anyone would think they could step between it. I don’t believe anyone would allow the ridiculous challenge she threw. Plus, after going on and on about how he’d kill anyone who threatened her, the hero just let the woman who literally tried to kill his mate and the man who facilitated it walk away. 

Adding to my feeling that the author floundered and didn’t know where to go with the plot, so she took the path most traveled, was the fact that the sex scene after this was full of his dominance and her submission (the heroine had not been the submitting type at all) and described with such violence that I had a hard time envisioning it as sexy and not just painful. In fact, the author even used the phrase ‘the assault of it’ at one point. It seemed to be ranked on how erotic it was by how many times the word ‘cock’ could be used. 

All in all, this was almost a good read. I honestly think the author set out to write a strong female character and avoid a lot of the misogynistic bullshit that often hides openly in erotica. But she didn’t seem able to avoid falling into the same pit as so many authors before her. I finished it rolling my eyes (literally) and disappointed. 

Felicity Munroe did a fine job with the narration. I have to give her props for getting through those sex scenes without sounding ridiculous. 

Addendum: When I posted my review on Goodreads, I realized I’d read another book by this author (The Siren). I laughed because I read it on Dec. 15th. So, I imagine it was the same end of the year, scramble for an X-authored book as this year. It made me laugh when I saw it.

Review of Dragonhunters, by Garon Whited

I received a copy of Dragonhunters, by Garon Whited, from Netgalley. I read it on vacation, as I traveled from Tennessee to Florida.

Description from Goodreads:
You don’t become a hero for the money. The money’s nice, sure, but you become a hero because something inside compels you, drives you to it. Defending people from monsters simply doesn’t pay well enough to make it a good career move. 

As for hunting dragons… well, the money is usually good, but the job really bites. 

A group of five professional heroes goes into the lair of the dragon. Who will win? 

Spoiler: The dragon. 

But it turns out killing a hero sometimes does nothing more than make him even more determined. 

Sometimes, heroes are never more dangerous than when they’re dead!

Review:
Man, what an interesting set-up that failed almost completely for me. Look, there are a ton of really fun ideas in this book. But the writing is so flat, the dialogue so formal and fantasy-quest-like (you know what I mean) that it distances the reader so far that I didn’t connect with anyone. I finished the book feeling like I hadn’t gotten to know anyone, nor did I care about any of them or their endeavor to kill a random dragon. No one had a believable emotion. No one seemed to react at all to, you know, dying and being resurrected, or becoming the locus of four ghosts. And the traveler that caused the whole mess is never explained at all. He pops up in the beginning and then disappears, never to be seen again.

For a while, in the beginning, I thought this might be a parody of a fantasy quest story. And it might have worked in that vein, but it isn’t. It’s an attempt at a real thing, as far as I can tell, and I was just really glad to see the end of it. Perhaps there will be readers that love it. I’m not making a blanket, “It’s bad,” statement. But it sure didn’t work for me.