Tag Archives: magic

Review of Bound (The Silverton Chronicles #2), by Carmen Fox

I won an Audible copy of Carmen Fox‘s Bound. I read and reviewed book one of The Silverton Chronicles, Guarded earlier in the month.

Description from Goodreads:
Florian has it all: excellent fashion sense, a kickass job with his best friend, and a hard-won place among Silverton’s werewolves. When a pack of females pads into their territory, Flo’s alpha dispatches him to handle a merger. Total cakewalk. Except Keely, their alpha, has no intention of submitting her wolves to Flo’s larger pack. Worse, a single glance from her baby blues sends his eloquence on vacation and his heartbeat into overdrive. His flirtations seem welcome too, but there’s a snag. She doesn’t know he’s a vampire.

While Flo struggles with his conflicts—obey his alpha or win over Keely—his estranged sire blasts into town with a catalog of radical ideas. And hanging out with unsophisticated werewolves didn’t make the list.

With violence in the air and all sides testing his loyalties, Florian must bite back, even if showing his fangs costs him the girl.

Look, I realize that not every book is going to be a feminist masterpiece. But there are times when a reader who is even remotely aware of stereotypical representations of women in fiction reads a book and can’t help but notice when a woman is pigeonholed in a patriarchal way. And there are times when this is done so drastically or repeatedly that it becomes an all-encompassing distraction for said reader. That is the case with me and this book. I was so often side-eyeing it with a ‘why does that female character act that particular way’ or ‘why is that women treated this way’ that it blotted out most of the rest of the story.

This book was infuriating. As far as I was concerned it’s basically a litany of ways to subtly to say ‘subservient to a man is a woman’s true place.’ Everything from the older female vampire who couldn’t stand up to her maker, while the younger brother was a “full grown male” so he could, to the ultra powerful Guardian who could only do her duty because her husband allowed her to, to the female alpha who didn’t really want to be an alpha, but “just a girl” (not woman mind you, but girl) who gives responsibility to someone else (a man). And of course she also happened to like to be tied up and spanked, another way to give away her power. And of course she was treated as unreasonable because she didn’t want to submit. And of course the solution the book comes to in the end  was actually subservience to a male dressed up as something else.

But there’s more. There’s the vampire sister who really liked to clean up after her brothers and iron the clothes and domestically slave away for them, instead of pursuing her own career. And a whole boatload of victimized women who are treated as a commodity. But mostly, it’s just a ton of subtle little snipes that put men above women. And that’s without my getting into how dehumanizing I thought their constantly being referred to a ‘the females’ was. None of whom had names or personalities. They might as well have been ‘the vases’ or the ‘vehicles’ or ‘the incubators.’ It drove me crazy.

But stories that paint women as secretly wanting to place themselves in the hands of a man, instead of being responcible for themselves isn’t uncommon. The thing in this book that irritated me, but isn’t so common was the treatment of Ollie (maybe Ali, can’t tell with an audio version). Unless he gets an M/M book next in the series, I’m going to have to call that whole thing nothing more than queer bating. There is just no reason for Florian and Ivy to be bound to ‘mates’ in the same ceremony and one lead to a romance without readers expecting the same from the other. And there isn’t any reason to set this up with a man except queer bating. You might say it was so that Florian could get out of it to meet his mate here, but it simply wasn’t necessary in the first book, so it’s not necessary here. Queer. Bating.

Lastly, the whole thing was very predictable. I found it annoying that no one was supposed to see the obvious machinations. And I found the little bit of bondage and spanking irrelevant. It wasn’t well incorporated and felt unnatural in the sex scenes.

The thing is, this is a second book in a series and I had a lot of the same sort of problems with book one. So, I can’t say I’m surprised. But I really wanted to have this read and off my TBR. The mechanical writing seems fine, but the authors version of what should make women happy makes me gnash my teeth. The narrator, Brian Callanan did a fine job with it though.

Review of Storm Raiders (Storms Of Magic Book 1), by PT Hylton & Michael Anderle

I received an Audible copy of Storm Raiders (by P. T. Hylton & Michael Anderle) for review.

Description from Goodreads:
In a time when magic rules the sea, she only trusts her sword.

Abbey has always been an outsider in Holdgate. While the people of her adopted city dominate the seas with their weather-controlling storm magic, she prefers the work in her father’s blacksmith shop.

Besting any foolish enough to question her skills with a sword.

But when her father is falsely accused of murder, she has to sneak aboard a stormship and take to the seas in a quest to clear his name.

Teaming up with a young storm mage and a no-nonsense Captain, Abbey sets off on a swashbuckling adventure.

She’ll soon learn that the legendary Storm Raiders–a terrifying group of seafaring pirates–are all too real.

Set on the foundation laid by the Kurtherian Gambit Series, Storm Raiders tells an entirely new story in the Age of Magic–and of the heroes and villains who battle for control of its destiny.

Generally enjoyable and I thought Gabra Zackman did an excellent job with the narration.

The good: I liked Abby and Dustin. I liked that she’s pretty much badass and he’s more than willing to let her go forth and kick butt, while he takes a step back. I thought the writing was quite readable and the world, future Earth, is interesting. Though that same world seems to be part of a larger series in which several authors are creating stories. (I didn’t realize that until I got to the Authors’ Notes section at the end.)

The bad: I simply could not believe that there was such a large and long running conspiracy and no one knew about it. Which mean, I pretty much didn’t believe the underlying premise of the mystery and plot. Further, I don’t believe that even if such a large, long running conspiracy had been occurring two separate groups could undercover it in a day or two. That was all far too convenient and easy.

Personal quibble: I didn’t like the cursing. Now, I don’t have any issue with cussing in general. I, myself, curse like a sailor. But the book is YA and I would say on the lower side of YA. Not quite MG, but certainly I could see a tween reading it; which means the cursing seemed out of place. So, my complaint isn’t any sort of prissy, moralistic one, but stylistic. It felt like the author aimed for a certain audience, which genre-wise generally doesn’t include ‘dirty words,’ but then dropped a curse in every once in a while and then I didn’t know which age bracket he was aiming for after all.

Review of Vanity in Dust (Crown & Ash #1), by Cheryl Low

I won a copy of Cheryl Low‘s Vanity in Dust through Library Thing.

Description from Goodreads:
In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets. 

Vaun Dray Fen never knew that world. Born a prince without a purpose in a Realm ruled by lavish indulgence, unrelenting greed, and vicious hierarchy, he never knew a time before the Queen’s dust drugged the city. Everything is poisoned to distract and dull the senses, even the tea and pastries. And yet, after more than a century, his own magic is beginning to wake. The beautiful veneer of the Realm is cracking. Those who would defy the Queen turn their eyes to Vaun, and the dust saturating the Realm. 

From the carnivorous pixies in the shadows to the wolves in the streets, Vaun thought he knew all the dangers of his city. But when whispers of treason bring down the fury of the Queen, he’ll have to race to save the lives and souls of those he loves.

What a lovely cover that is. I wish the book lived up to it. It’s accurate and all, there’s a well-dressed, handsome man and he drinks lots of tea and eats lots of pastries, but I didn’t love the book as I loved the cover. Now, I didn’t hate it. And for most of the rather plodding, slow book I held out hope I’d end it happy. But I did not. Mostly because a very small mystery developed toward the end of the book and it was solved, but the larger mysteries were never even touched on. Not touched on in a way that makes me doubt they’d be solved in a next book or one after that.

I thought the world was interesting. Magic is basically a drug, it suffuses almost every aspect of the wealthy citizens’ lives, making them vapid and useless. And you see this in everything from their attitudes, to their sex to the tea cakes and torts that constitute food. It was a well-drawn world. I thought the writing a little purple, but still good. The pace was very slow, but it was atmospheric and I didn’t mind until I realized it wasn’t going to go anywhere important. So, some really good points for the book, but a few demerits too.

I was annoyed that the one thing that spawned Vaun to action was his affection ( won’t call it love) for a woman. The one woman he previously has never been able to have. I HATE this plot device. You have a man who has sexual access to every woman in the kingdom practically. He’s a man-slut (they all are). But one woman won’t sleep with him. So, she’s THE ONE. So, she sleeps with him. I’m always annoyed by this.

But on a more world-level scale I was not happy with the use of bisexuality. At first I was really thrilled to see that bisexuality seemed to be the norm. But it really was just presented as a way for characters to have more sex (twice as many options for sexual partners, you see), and not explored at all. But what’s more, it was all inferred. Like, the author was willing to allow for it, but not brave enough to show it. Granted, most of the sex was off-page, but there were plenty of ‘waking up in bed together’ scenes and they were all M/F, except one, and I didn’t sense sex had been involved so much as one man coming into the room in the morning to avoid being seen elsewhere. So, it kind of felt like a cheap use of bisexuality, instead of a representation of it. Similarly, if they were all so sexually debaucherous, why was prostitution still so shamed? More so than a child-like woman who trolls the rough side of town for her rape fantasies and is still considered the only “innocent Vym.”

All in all, I had complaints, but I would have rated this quite a bit higher if I felt the overarching mystery was touched on at all, instead of set up to hover over the book like a giant spider and then ignored. I probably will give book two a chance. If it looks like it is going to move the bigger plot along I’ll finish the series. If it remains focused on the smaller dramas, probably not.