Tag Archives: self published

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Book Review: Driftworld Atlas, by L. Bell

I accepted a review copy of L. Bell‘s Driftworld Atlas through Love Books Tours.

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Like snowflakes in a snow globe, the worlds drift across creation. And, recording their tales, is the Driftworld Atlas.

When an eternal traveler finally awakens, he does so in a world that has been shattered to ash. Creation has been stained by a crime, and while his jumbled memories provide no answers, a single note is left to guide him forward. “Let’s drink, come find me.”

But to follow this message, he has to get help, from a witch who knows how to read the sea, trapped in a prison of her own making. The problem? Clearly his old habits, for why shouldn’t he take in the demon needing his soul he found along the way? When unlikely connections emerge from the sea, threatening to put his search to an early end, the answer is simple. Because his biggest obstacle has always been himself – and old enemies don’t wait.

my review

This is one of those reviews that I just don’t really know what to do with. Sure the writing is mechanically competent and I don’t remember too many editing mishaps. So, it’s over all readable. But the simple fact of the matter is I’ve finished it and still have to admit that I just don’t get it. I don’t know what the plot was supposed to actually be, if it was accomplished, if there was a theme, etc.

Sure, the whole thing occasionally achieved a Monty Python-esque randomness and I chuckled a time or two toward the end. But mostly I just read the whole thing waiting for it to come together in any manner, and don’t feel like it ever did. My overall impression is of an author trying to be too clever and sacrificing their plot to the effort.

All in all, it was a bit of a flop for me. But maybe someone readers will understand it better than I did and enjoy it more.

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Other Reviews:

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Book Review: Edge of Magic, by Jayne Faith

I picked up a freebie e-copy of Jane Faith‘s Edge of Magic on Amazon, way back in 2020.

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My name is Tara Knightley, and I’m on the Fae mafia’s hit list. My childhood crush just rode back into town, too, and that may spell even bigger trouble . . .

My talent for sensing magical objects has made me a damn good professional thief for the past decade. But it’s also what got me into a blood oath with notorious Fae mob boss Grant Shaw.

My relationship with Shaw is rapidly souring, and I need to break free before it turns deadly. The solution? I must steal a magic skull from Shaw’s biggest rival and deliver it to him, and then he’ll nullify our blood oath.

Just as I’m set to go after the skull, my childhood best friend and crush, wolf shifter Judah McMahon, shows up asking for help. It’s been ten years since the falling out that ended our friendship, and I know I shouldn’t get involved.

But Judah’s life is threatened. How can I say no? The catch is, helping Judah will cost me the chance at freedom from Shaw . . . and possibly my life.

my review

I have very middle of the road feels about this book. On one hand, I liked the characters, the world seemed interesting, and—barring a few editing mishaps—the writing is pretty good.

On the other, the plot meanders. There is quite a lot of time dedicated to things that aren’t particularly plot relevant. (I’m thinking the knife throwing training session and, honestly, the whole sword side-quest.) It wasn’t until the very end that something resembling an actual single plot appeared.

The love interest is supposed to be super regretful for leaving her a decade ago and we’re expected to root for a re-ignition of romance. But I didn’t feel it. He had 10 years to come back, or just call/text/email. He’d even been in town several times. But he never contacted her until he needed something. I don’t feel any desire to see that romance bloom. How guilt-ridden and sorry could he truly be?

Further, I’ve gotten to an age that I’m just kind of done with plot in which women are in desperate financial straits and a man swoops in with his money/resources/connections and fixes everything for her. I think Faith needed to decide if she was writing a contemporary, second chance romance or a fantasy romance, because the whole Judah plot-line felt disconcertingly contemp romance and out of place in the fantasy plot. And it sure took up too much page time.

But worst of all, I’m 100% sick of reading books that don’t end. A cliffhanger in which some threads wrap up and others are left open is one thing. This book literally just abruptly stops. I edge of magic photoflipped the last page back and forwards because I hadn’t sensed any sort of drawing to a close and basically felt like I walked into a wall with the sudden, “Look for Echo of Bone, the next book in the Tara Knightley Series by Jayne Faith!” In fact, the plot looked to finally be starting to settle into a single trajectory and ramping up. So, the precipitous ending felt especially unforeseen and jarring.

So, meh. I’d probably read the next book if I found it free. But I feel no need to go buy it.

Other Reviews:

Edge of Magic by Jayne Faith – A Book Review


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Book Review: Wicked Monsters series, by Skye Jones and Marissa Farrar

I picked up a copy of the four-book compilation of the Wicked Monsters series, by Skye Jones and Marissa Farrar the other day. Then, later, realized I actually already had each individual book. So, it turns out I now have this series twice.

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One girl, five monsters, one hell of a ride.

Taken from the Pit where she was raised, Aisha believes all vampires are horrifying… Then she finds herself in Dashiell’s possession.

Powerful, handsome, and charismatic, Dashiell is not what she thought her master would be.

His dark desires draw her into his world, and things heat up between them.

But with a demon gargoyle scratching at her window, and wolves sniffing at the door, Aisha might not stay in the vampire’s grasp for long.

Danger and temptation surround her on all sides, but Aisha is determined to fight them all.

My Reviews

I did write individual reviews as I finished each book. They’re below.  But I’ll say a few overall words first. This was bad. It started out bad and got worse as it went. As you’ll see, I was so distracted by the authors’ refusal to call sexual slaves, slaves in book one that I barely focused on anything else. But once the cast list expanded this was less jarring. But the sex because less and less feasible and the dialogue more and more atrocious as the series progressed. Until, by the end, I think I was reading in a permanent cringe.

Additionally, the plot only makes even a little sense if Aisha literally has a magical vagina…maybe addictive in some fashion. There isn’t any reason 5 powerful men instantly dedicate themselves to her, above their own self-interests with nothing more than a single sex act. (I mean, her magic pussy even brought a demon back to God. I don’t think I can roll my eyes hard enough for that!) All in all, the only positive thing I can say about this series is that, having read it, I can mark four books off on my yearly Goodreads challenge.

Night Captive

night captive photoI’m both torn and not torn about this book, which I understand is confusing. I’m not torn in the sense that I can 100% say with certainty that I did not like this book. But I am torn in the sense that this is the first of four and that gives the series a lot of time to improve…or at least grow past the things I hated so much in this first book. Should I give the next a chance or not? Decision, decisions.

There are numerous reasons I didn’t like this book. But I’ll state upfront that the writing itself seems fine. I didn’t even notice any serious editing mishaps. And I appreciate the bisexual characters. But I just really did not enjoy the overall tone of the book and there were several linguistic quirks that almost drove me to rage. Here’s the biggest one. The authors refer to Aisha and her ilk as serfs. But they aren’t. They’re slaves. These words do not mean the same thing. They cannot be used interchangeably and the characters are not serfs. They are property. They don’t have any of the rights or protections of serfdom. They are slaves. And I found Jones and Farrar’s avoidance of the language reprehensible.

If you are going to be ballsy enough to play with the power dynamic of a master/slave sexual relationship, you shouldn’t skirt around the realities to make it more palatable by wimping out on the language. You need to call it what it is. Anything less is just skeevy.

This is only reinforced by the way that Dashiell is referred to as Aisha’s lover. He is not her lover. She is not his lover. He owns her. There is no equality. There is not relationship outside of his ownership of her.

Look, I’m not ranting that this is a master/slave dark reverse harem erotic novel. I’m not saying these shouldn’t be written. I’m ranting that Jones and Farrar wanted the titillation of a master/slave dynamic without being willing to own up to the fact that that is what it is. They water it down and artificially present is as something other than slavery. And that I have a serious issue with.

When I mentioned this elsewhere someone said, “Sounds like some white supre[macist] bs that re-imagines serfdom as the same thing as slavery.” And that’s just it. It feels supremacist. It feels like someone wanted to snicker and bask in the slavery trope, but didn’t want to truly have to face the atrocity that is slavery.

Again, write slavery tropes, sure. But be honest enough to call it what it is.

But the book ends with Aisha escaping her slave master and there’s a chance of the next book being more tolerable. But I honestly don’t expect much.

Cruel Moon

cruel moon photoThis is very much a middle book. It doesn’t stand on it’s own, FYI. Much more porn without plot than book one. This is basically just a series of sex scenes and Aisha arguing that the wolves want to keep her just as imprisoned as the vampires, which is true. The word slave is still never used, but the wolves are basically just offering a little more illusion of freedom in her enslavement than the vampires did. But it’s also supposed to be luuuurve.

I did appreciate that Aisha was standing up for herself. She made some very good arguments, not that they made any difference. But I continually came up against the question of how and why Aisha is able to articulate herself so well. She grew up in a very limited environment. She’s far too educated and well spoken for the history the authors have given her and I felt it sharply in this book.

I’m also still not particularly enjoying the tone of the book…series really. Not on any deep reason, just in a not-good-for-me way. The whole thing just feels super ick and I’m struggling with it.

Enchanted Dusk

enchanted dusk photoBy this point I’m pretty much finishing this box set/series by grit alone, because I don’t want to leave it languishing in my Kindle Cloud unfinished. But I’m done, toast, really really not enjoying anything about it.

The sex is becoming increasingly ridiculous in an attempt to incorporate all five men. Some of it doesn’t sound at all enjoyable, or like the character herself is enjoying it. I can’t account for all these men dedicating themselves to Aisha by anything but a magic pussy. It’s just stupid really. And I am 100% sick of the hollow Aisha worship. And Aisha is far, far, far, far too knowledgeable about, well, everything, for someone who grew up without experiencing anything.

On a positive note, the word slave is finally used to describe the slaves, though only the once and not in reference to Aisha or in acknowledgement of those who actually held them.

I will read book four, just to finish it. But I don’t anticipate enjoying it any more than this one.

Fierce Light

fierce light photoSo, I managed to read this whole series. I think I deserve an award. So, does anyone else who made it through this drek. It was…not good. The final random plot event was both predictable and poorly done. It was just more people who wanted Aisha’s magic pussy. I got so tired of it.

And look, porn without plot books are a thing and I’m not knocking it. But this didn’t read like that. This felt like the authors (two of them) were trying to write porn with plot and just failing miserably. The dialogue too seemed to get cheesier and cheesier the farther into the series I got, until it felt like full on Stilton here.

God, I’m just glad to be done.

Other Reviews:

Book Nook Nuts: Wicked Monsters