Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Review of Coveted, by Shawntelle Madison

I picked up a signed copy of Coveted, by Shawntelle Madison in a second-hand shop.

Description from Goodreads:
For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.

Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.

Review:
This was not very good. It was simply dull and inconsistent. One moment the narrator was going on about how Nat had no friends, the next her best friend was showing up on her doorstep. One moment she’s being treated like a pariah by her family, the next they’re there for her. (And visa versa, they flipped several times.) For the whole book Nat was completely spineless, super subservient and inferior to everyone, then she randomly whipped out the alpa attitude.

Then there was all the back and forwards with Thorn. The fact that he abandoned her five years earlier and basically ruined her life wasn’t ever addressed. This irritated me on two fronts. First that the loss of a man ruined her life and no one seemed to blame him for the dick move or give her time to grieve. (Instead they made her condition significantly worse by being inconsiderate and then further blamed her for the predictable results). Second he was never expected to apologize or even explain and she instantly forgave him. Worse, she’d been waiting for him for 5 years without word and didn’t seem to need to forgive him.

This forgiveness for men carried over in the whole book. Nat was thrown out of the pack and practically disowned by her family for not behaving just as they want (they called it being weak). But her brother was a womanizing ass, her father a killer, the alpha cruel, and her love was fickle and disloyal. Still, no one ever did anything by praise and support them.

I disliked the book. I can come up with a dozen reasons why, but the main one is that Nat was so weak, and whiny that I basically hated her. I thought her OCD was interesting, but that wasn’t enough to make me warm up to someone so willing to be a doormat and who shows NO GROWTH throughout the book.

Review of Death Days, by Lia Cooper

I received a copy of Lia Cooper‘s Death Days from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
By day, Professor Nicholas Littman works as an itinerant professor at a small college in the Pacific Northwest. He teaches seminars on mythology and the intersections of folklore and magic in the ancient world. By night, he’s the local necromancer, a rare magical talent that has left him alienated from other practitioners.

All Nick wants from life is to be left alone to run his magical experiments and teach kids the historical context of magic without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately, his family is sworn to sit on the council of the Order of the Green Book—a group of magicians dating back to the Crusades—and they aren’t willing to take Nick’s no for an answer.

As though that wasn’t bad enough, a coven of Night Women has arrived in town, warning Nick that there are wolves at his door he had better take care of. But what can one necromancer do when every natural and supernatural card seems stacked against him?

Review:
I was totally confused by this book. I went in thinking it would be m/m Paranormal Romance, because that’s what I’ve read from Lia Cooper in the past and it’s a lot of what Nine Star Press publishes, but it’s not. The main character is gay and there is a character that might be a romantic partner in some future book (if one is coming), but there’s no romance here. So, do yourself a favor and go in expecting Urban Fantasy and you’ll be a lot happier with the result.

Of course there’s nothing really wrong with not being the genre I expected. That’s not a sign of poor quality. Poor marketing maybe, but not quality. But I wasn’t all together thrilled with the book in general. If anything, it felt like a 250 page prequel to a larger novel. I finished the book feeling very much like, “Well, we’ve got the background sorted. Now the story can start.”

None of the various threads wrapped up. I mean NONE. The big mystery is set up and never even addressed. Nick spends the whole book avoiding being roped into the council, but we don’t know what happens with that. There’s the set up of a maybe romance. But it’s not delved into at all. Nothing ends…just like in all those silly ‘prequel novellas’ that were popular last year. And do you remember how I feel about them?

I found the mechanical writing fine and the banter between people was good. But the story is slow and I found the narrative a bit flat. Things happen, but I never felt much invested in the outcomes. Nick seemed equally concerned that he submit end of terms grades on time as with the ‘hole in the world,’ new werewolf, and creeping vampires. And if he couldn’t hustle up any emotional reaction, neither could I.

All in all, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I’d read the next to try and see the outcome. Now, I gave this a 3-star rating on Goodreads, but if it turns out that this is meant as a stand-alone I’ll going coming back and rerating it a one star. There’s no way this is complete.

Review of The Library, the Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders #1), by Mindy Klasky

I’m on vacation this week, so my posts might not be regular. But I read a book and a half on the way here and I have internet connection at the moment, so, I’m taking advantage of it and posting a quick review or two.

I won a copy of Mindy Klasky‘s The Library, The Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders) (Volume 1) through LibraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
Former warder David Montrose has a problem. Or two. Or three.

He’s been fired from his job protecting the witches of Washington DC. Now, he’s stuck working a dead-end job at Hecate’s Court while he tries to redeem his reputation and put his life back together.

Which would be a decent plan if things weren’t so…complicated. His new boss is a tyrant. His father says he’s disgraced the family name. And instead of sympathizing, his best friend is trying to drag him onto the front lines of an all-out supernatural war.

Just as David gets a glimpse of the elusive work-life-magic balance, he’s summoned back to warder status. His unexpected new charge is a captivating witch who possesses the strongest powers he’s ever seen. David already has enough on his plate. How can he possibly juggle work, warfare, and warding Jane Madison?

He’d better figure things out soon. Jane’s safety—and all of magical Washington—depends on him!

Review:
This was fluff, but enjoyable fluff. Don’t go in expecting anything heavy or substantial, but just float along for the ride. Klasky has a fun writing style and I found myself liking all the characters. Though I did find some of it cheesy and cliche (the black cat familiar named Neko, the pocket protector/smudged glasses/bad fashion sense/pudgy antagonist), though I think some of that might have been purposeful on Klasky’s part, playing with tropes.

This is labeled a cozy mystery, but with it’s magic element I think it’s a sort of urban fantasy, though not gritty enough to actually carry the title. For those looking for urban fantasy bordering on paranormal romance, look elsewhere. A warder and his witch is a platonic relationship, so no romance here (maybe later in the series going by the clues dropped, but not in this book). But I didn’t feel denied. I like the way things turned out.

Lastly, this is apparently the flip perspective of Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft. Meaning it’s the same story from the male lead’s perspective, while GGtW is from the female lead’s perspective. This is normally something I dislike. Who wants to read the same story twice? But in this case I can see how it might work. Jane’s situation is only a small part of what David has going on in this book. Honestly, if a quarter of the plot focuses on her I’d be surprised. So, there is plenty the reader doesn’t see of Jane. I actually have GGtW. I think I picked it up as a freebie. So, if I ever get around to reading it, I’ll update this review. But in the mean time I don’t think the two would feel too redundant and The Library, the Witch, and the Warder doesn’t make me want to avoid it.