Tag Archives: #ReadDiverse2017

Review of Certain Dark Things, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I borrowed Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s Certain Dark Things from the library.

Description from Goodreads:
Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.

Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.

Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.

And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.

Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?

Review:
I’m going to be honest. I picked this book up at the library based on the cover alone. It is gorgeous and caught my eye. The word vampire was there took and that’s all she wrote. I too this sucker home.

This is a technique for picking out books that has often led me astray, but in this case it worked out just fine. I quite enjoyed Certain Dark Things. I mean, Mexican vampires, or more accurately vampires in Mexico City! The main character is from an ancient Aztec clan, but there are African, Canadian, European, Russian, Chinese and vampires from other places too. Ain’t immigration grand? Not all of them represented in the book, but there are at least 10 subspecies of vampires.

One of the main character is a bisexual Latinx vampire, and the other is about the cutest 17yo boy you’ll ever meet. Honestly, with his tendency to be uncertain in social settings and open, naiveté despite living on the streets, I wondered if he wasn’t meant to be on the autism spectrum somewhere. But I think that might just be me, nothing in the book other than how I interpreted his behavior suggests this. Either way, I adored Domingo. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Atl, but Domingo stole the show for me.

I wouldn’t call this a romance, though I think it has romantic elements and a HEA of a sort. But I like it better for how it ended.

The writing is lovely and I really liked the voice a lot. My biggest complaint is that it is cliche to have a villain obsess over hunting a woman down to rape and torture because his advances were rejected. Yes, there’s more to it than that, but that’s a lot of what it boils down to and that’s just motivation that’s been used and used and used and used.

All in all, Moreno-Garcia is on my radar now and I’ll be checking out more of her work.

Review of Rebel of the Sands & Traitor to the Throne, by Alwyn Hamilton

I borrowed a copy of Alwyn Hamilton‘s  Rebel of the Sand from my local library and I won a copy of the sequel Traitor to the Throne through Goodreads.


Description from Goodreads:
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Review:
I was really excited about a Middle-Eastern fantasy, with djinni and magic and….guns? Yeah, the guns threw me off, especially since none of the other technology that would normally develop along side guns seem to be present. But I eventually got use to that.

I liked Amani just fine and I like Jin too. I even liked them together,I won’t say they sizzled or anything like that, but I liked them. I liked the side characters, once they started showing up.

My main issue had to do with the fact that the first half of the book feels aimless. It’s basically just two people running around and confronting whatever pops up at them. Toward the end a goal, I might even say a plot finally developed. But as this is a series, the book ended before the overarching plot really got rolling.

I liked the writing just fine. The cover is awesome (the original one) and, again, I liked the characters and that there is some diversity in the cast. In fact, I liked this a lot more than a lot of YA books I’ve read. Jin is more than willing to let Amani shine and I appreciated that. I like a hero who lets a heroine step forward. But I always have a problem when gender disparities are used as a plot device and not explored. Even worse, when it’s used, it’s not explored, other less objectionable aspects of the culture being borrowed from aren’t included to balance the sexism out (as if the only notable things about the Middle-Eastern setting are the sand, the tents and the horrible way they treat women) and one character is just randomly able to buck the cultural immersion of an entire life. Why her and not other women?

Regardless, I liked it just fine and I’ll be reading the next one.


Description from Goodreads:
Gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. 

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Review:
Let me start with the fact that I liked this book. But I didn’t love it. It has some definite second book issues. I actually want to say, “middle book” issues, but I don’t know how many books are planned for the series. But this FEELS like a middle book. It’s long and tedious and starts a few months after the events of the first book, but ends before anything is really concluded.

Worst of all, there was so little Jin and Amani. Well, just so little Jin in general. But one of my favorite parts of the first book was Amani and Jin’s banter and unquestioning trust in each other. I missed that a lot in this book. The court intrigue and mental masterbation about what makes a good leader/ruler (and what the difference might be) was not a substitute as far as I was concerned.

That brings me to complaint number two. I missed the Amani who threw herself into action. The Amani of this book is sedentary and largely helpless and naive. I might not have minded it if so much of the book wasn’t this. But I felt bogged down in her being trapped.

I liked it, but didn’t love it. Still, if I remember the series when book 3 comes out next year, I’ll read it.

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.