Tag Archives: urban fantasy

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.

Review of Chicagoland Vampires, by Chloe Neil

From Hoopla, I borrowed and listened to the first five Chicagoland Vampire books: Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites, Twice Bitten, Hard Bitten, Drink Deep. I only bothered reviewing the first and what turned out to be my last though. Middle books are so often just “ditto.” Especially when the series is read back to back, and feels like a single reading experience.

Description:
Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world. When a rogue vampire attacked me, I was lucky he only got a sip. Another bloodsucker scared him off and decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed,
four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude—and servitude. Right…

But someone’s out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood.

Review:
This was dated, but I still found it entertaining. It does have a serious case of “she’s so special” going on. The heroine breaks the rules from day one, setting herself aside from others, and is allowed to get away with it. This is a plot device that always annoys me. All the powerful males are attracted to her because she’s so prickly and refuses to submit. But WHY exactly is she allowed to act this way when anyone else wouldn’t? No idea.

Having said that, as a first in a series, it was fun. I’ll give it one more book before I judge, because I really do feel like this one was mostly all just set up. I thought Cynthia Holloway did a good job with the narration, as I listened to the audio version. But I gotta say, this cover is atrocious!


I gave it four more books, my opinion didn’t really change much. But as the series went on and I felt nothing progressed, I became less tolerant of the things that annoyed me and eventually just didn’t want to follow it anymore. In the end, it fizzles for me. I finished book five and then made the following note:

I technically have the next book in this series (Biting Cold), but I don’t think I’ll bother reading it. I think I’ll stop now. I liked Merrit and her crew, but the plots are just getting too ridiculous and predictable. I can only stand so many books in a row in which the supernaturally special heroine, who somehow bypassed being new and inexperienced and EARNING trust, struggles against the short-sighted and self-important bureaucracy. It’s like no matter what else the plot involves, the megalomaniac leader who the good guys have to work around just gets changed out, washed and repeated. I’m bored with it now. And I think the author must even know the books were becoming overly formulaic. There’s a joke about how the main character loves a series, despite it becoming just so.

Review of Bitten and Stolen (The Otherworld #1-2), by Kelley Armstrong

I borrowed Bitten and Stolen (by Kelley Armstrong) from my local library.

Description:
Elena Michaels seems like the typically strong and sexy modern woman, She lives with her architect boyfriend, writes for a popular newspaper, and works out at the gym. She’s also a werewolf.

Elena has done all she can to assimilate to the human world, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy, continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves, Elena must recon with who, and what, she is in this passionate, page-turning novel that begins the Women of the Otherworld series.

Review:
I liked but didn’t love this. I liked the idea of it. I enjoyed Elena’s stubborn nature and could relate to her not wanting to forgive someone for doing something that diverted her whole life, even if by accident. Plus, I like Armstrong’s writing style. But something about the whole thing just never wowed me. Perhaps it’s just a matter of the book being from 2010, so it feels like old news now days.


Description:
Elena Michaels, the female werewolf who finally came to terms with her feral appetites in Bitten, is back—and she has company: Katzen the sorcerer, Leah the telekinetic half-demon, Cassandra the vampire, and Savannah the twelve-year-old witch who is just coming into her considerable powers.

Vampires, demons, shamans, witches—in Stolen they all exist, and they’re all under attack. An obsessed tycoon with a sick curiosity is well on his way to amassing a private collection of supernaturals, and plans to harness their powers for himself—even if it means killing them. For Elena, kidnapped and imprisoned deep underground, separated from her Pack, unable to tell her friends from her enemies, choosing the right allies is a matter of life and death.

Review:
I enjoyed the first book in this series. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t regret reading it. I almost didn’t finish Stolen. I pretty much hated it from start to finish. Armstrong lowered herself to using TSTL stunts to put Elena in danger and move the plot alone. While in book one Elena was strong and stubborn, here she talked a big talk but just acquiesced over and over again. Even her escape wasn’t really of her own doings. I have the third book in the series, but I don’t think I’ll bother reading it.