Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Review of Agent (Empowered #1), by Dale Ivan Smith

I picked up a copy of Dale Ivan Smith‘s Empowered: Agent when it was free on Amazon. It was still free at the time of posting.

Description from Goodreads:
The world says those with superpowers are either heroes or villains. But what if you’re both?

Mathilda Brandt isn’t the angry, out-of-control teenager she was before she got out of jail. She’s hungry for a chance at a normal life, but when a gang threatens her sisters, she has no choice but to use her illegal superpower to protect them.

A secretive government agency gives her a choice: go back to prison for life, or infiltrate a notorious super-villain group in order to stop a psychotic Empowered. To save her city, her family, and herself, Mat must become the last thing she ever wanted to be again: a criminal.

Review:
Not bad, sort of your standard girl with superpowers gets pulled into something she doesn’t want to do and then goes about kicking ass and taking names. I thought she was a little too quick to jump to the “I need to kill this guy” stage, but I also felt her conundrum.

I do, however, have to ask such YA heroines always have to be so unfailingly aggressive and unpleasant. And I’m not just talking about Mat either. All the young women who wanted to look tough were just bulldogs with spiky personalities. I swear, you’d think this was the only version of tough authors had ever heard of.

All in all, not bad, just nothing superb or stand-out about it either. It felt a little short on details, considering how long it was, but had enough action not to drag. I’d be willing to read another of the series, but I’m not racing out to buy the sequel either. A solid 3-star read.

Review of The Spirit Tree (Tess Lamar #1), by Kathryn M. Hearst

I received an Audible credit for a copy of Katheryn M. Hearst‘s The Spirit Tree through AudioBookBook.

Description from Goodreads:
Tessa, a southern girl with a crazy family and a brand new college degree, wants nothing more than for her life to start. When her uncle dies unexpectedly, she inherits more than his old truck. Lifetimes of family secrets unravel and nothing will ever be the same. After learning that she is not only a Fire Bird, but also half Nunnehi—the Cherokee equivalent to a fairy—Tessa is forced to fight for her life. Good thing she was raised by two tough southern ladies.

Review:
Pretty good. I liked the characters, Bryson was especially wonderful and I liked that Tessa had a backbone. The writing was smooth, as was Holly Adams‘ narration. Mostly I liked the book, but I had a few gripes.

I’m not down with the pointless love triangle. There was no need for it, but more importantly, it meant I never really felt the actual romance in the story. Sure, Tessa chose one man over another and we’re told why, but the whole thing was just too diluted by there being two men.

Similarly, the secondary mystery (or maybe primary, it did come first) was solved too easily and then just disappeared from the plot in favor of another one. So there too, having two mysteries meant neither was strong enough on its own. Plus, it made the book feel awful long.

There were also a few TSTL moments in which Tessa threw herself into danger and had to be rescued. I got tired of her apologizing to Bryson for endangering herself.

Lastly, I’m a bit iffy with the use of Native American mythology in the plot. I’m not screaming appropriation or anything, but there were several occasions where I kind of had to side-eye the book.

On a broader, genre level, I have to ask why young women in such books are never raised to know their own heritage, such that some man (or men) have to step in and teach them amidst a crisis. This is practically a constant in fantasy and I’m ALWAYS confused by parents/guardians who raise their wards without teaching them the basics of their powers. I mean, if you’re a shifter or have magic, shouldn’t learning about them be as expected as, say, teaching a young girl about the period she’ll have one day? Why do they NEVER do this? Why?

Despite my few complaints, the book is worth a read and I’ll be happy to read more of Hearst’s writing, but it wasn’t perfect.

Review of Straight Outta Fangton, by C.T. Phipps

I received an Audible copy of C. T. PhippsStraight outta Fangton through AudioBookBoom.

Description from Goodreads:
Peter Stone is a poor black vampire who is wondering where his nightclub, mansion, and sports car is. Instead, he is working a minimum wage job during the night shift as being a vampire isn’t all that impressive in a world where they’ve come out to mortals. 

Exiled from the rich and powerful undead in New Detroit, he is forced to go back when someone dumps a newly-transformed vampire in the bathroom of his gas station’s store. This gets him fangs-deep in a plot of vampire hunters, supernatural revolutionaries, and a millennium-old French knight determined to wipe out the supernatural. 

Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to get out of the coffin.

Review:
This was really quite good; funny in a witty, sarcastic way, with a widely diverse cast and entertaining plot. Cary Hite did a wonderful job with the narration, which only enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

Going in, I was a bit iffy about the main character being a black vampire and joking about this at times, with the author being white. There are jokes people can make about themselves and their own group that outsiders really just shouldn’t. But I never felt Phipps was irreverent or insulting about his characters in any way. Peter and crew were marvelous!

I thought a lot of the geekdom references were funny, but I also thought they went a little overboard; too much of a good thing, if you will. Abut all in all, however, I loved this and hope for more.