Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Review of Venom & Vanilla (The Venom Trilogy #1), by Shannon Mayer

I borrowed and audio copy of Shannon Mayer‘s Venom & Vanilla through Amazon Prime. (I’ve just realized I can do this for audio books!)

Description from Goodreads:

Successful Seattle baker Alena Budrene doesn’t want to die. But when she’s infected with a lethal virus spread by supernatural beings, her only chance for recovery is to make a deal with the devil—or in this case, a warlock.

Though he saves her life, it looks nothing like the life she once knew—and neither does she. Alena is a new breed of “Supe” no one has ever seen before. Even the supernatural police don’t know what she is. Now exiled to the northern side of the Wall, which marks the divide between humans and Supes, Alena is thrust into a dark and magical new world.

But just as she begins to adjust to all things supernatural, she realizes that her transformation is the least of her worries—and it was no accident. She was chosen…to be killed by a Greek hero trying to make a name for himself once more.

Alena was brought up to be subservient, preferring creating to fighting, and vanilla and honey to blood. But that was then. Now, to survive, she must stand up for herself—and this time she’s got fangs. But will she be ready to use them?

Review:

I was not impressed. Another reviewer, who is on Mayer’s street team, says the author calls this an urban fantasy parody. That makes the whole ridiculous thing a little easier to swallow. But it still just isn’t very good. Maybe it needed to be more or less of what it is. More parody, if a parody or less parody-like if a serious novel. I don’t know. Maybe an author who writes in the urban fantasy genre shouldn’t be writing parodies of it unless they highlight what it is in big neon letters. Either way, almost everything about the book irritated me. 

First and foremost the stupid non-cursing grated like sandpaper. Hearing an adult woman, who is supposed to be kicking ass and taking names call someone a donkey’s butthole instead of a jackass was not cute. It was super irritating. Similarly, wanna RUIN any sexual tension you have going on? Throw in a “He grabbed my bumm.”

Mostly though Alena was just too perfect. She wakes up with the perfect body. She’s loyal and sacrificing. She makes allies out of enemies with nothing but her sass. She defeats her foes with aplomb. She saves the day and gets the guy (if she wants him). And while all of that sounds fine, to have it all in one character is over-reaching and moves right into underdeveloped and unbelievable. 

All in all, this was a big old bust for me. No thank you.

Review of Shadow Hunter (Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill #1), by B.R. Kingsolver

I borrowed an audio copy of B.R. Kingsolver‘s Shadow Hunter through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Meh, I suppose this wasn’t bad. But I didn’t find anything about it that stood out and I REALLY don’t think Erin lived up to her own hype. We’re told she’d been intensely training (20hrs a day) since she was 14. But the gaps in her magical knowledge (mostly so the author had an excuse to explain things to the reader) were too wide and frequent to be believed. Plus, her whole “I’ve never lived in the world” schtick contradicted the fact that she’d been sent on missions, sometimes as staff and sometimes with high society, bout out in the world. Am I really supposed to believe things like she’d never had pizza?

I did like most of the side characters (that I was meant to like) and the mechanical writing and narration appear to be fine. It all just felt far too mediocre YA novel for my tastes. But I have no doubt it will find it’s audience.

Review:

Meh, I suppose this wasn’t bad. But I didn’t find anything about it that stood out and I REALLY don’t think Erin lived up to her own hype. We’re told she’d been intensely training (20hrs a day) since she was 14. But the gaps in her magical knowledge (mostly so the author had an excuse to explain things to the reader) were too wide and frequent to be believed. Plus, her whole “I’ve never lived in the world” schtick contradicted the fact that she’d been sent on missions, sometimes as staff and sometimes with high society, but out in the world. Am I really supposed to believe things like she’d never had pizza? 

I did like most of the side characters (that I was meant to like) and the mechanical writing and narration by Madeleine Dauer appear to be fine. It all just felt far too mediocre YA novel for my tastes. But I have no doubt it will find it’s audience.

Review of First Blade (Awakening #1), by Jane Hinchey

I own an copy of Jane Hinchey‘s First Blade. However, I’d forgotten that when I borrowed an audio copy from Hoopla.

Description through Goodreads:

Georgia Pearce possesses remarkable psychic abilities. When she discovers an ancient dagger hidden in her workshop, she knows it can only mean one thing. Trouble.

Trouble arrives in the form of Zak Goodwin, an entity more powerful – and definitely sexier – than any she’s come across before. However, when a horde of dangerous vampires show up and threaten Georgia and her sister, she has no choice but to ask Zak for help.

Along with a shifter cop, a band of vampire warriors, and her own psychic skills, Georgia sets out to stop the awakening of an immortal vampire who has the power to destroy the world — and discovers that staying alive isn’t nearly as dangerous as falling in love. 

Review:

Mechanically this was fine. But there is just literally nothing about it that isn’t super cliched. There is zero originality here and it has several of my least favorite PNR occurrences in it. Most notably, the only female vampire is stereotypically sexy and a villain because she wants the hero and has been spurned. This makes me want to scream, especially when female writers fall into this trap. As if women can only be heroines and villainous sex kittens (or rabbits, as she is literally referred to as Jessica Rabbit at one point), no in between. Plus it constantly perpetuates the myths that other women can’t be trusted, men are all we care about, and sex is only a weapon or a tool. I expect more and am getting increasingly frustrated and decreasingly patient when authors are too lazy to break out of this BS rut.

Add to that big one (big for me anyhow) the fact that the female main character is a psychic who has one vision in the whole book and the male lead is super skeezy for most of the book. All in all, this is a big fat fail for me.

Having said all that, the narrator did a fine job.