Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Review of Dying for a Living, by Kory M. Shrum

I picked up an ebook copy of Kory M. Shrum‘s Dying for a Living as an Amazon Freebie in 2015. Then, I purchased the Audible version in my recent audiobook buying spree

Description from Goodreads:

On the morning before her 67th death, it is business as usual for Jesse Sullivan: meet with the mortician, counsel soon-to-be-dead clients, and have coffee while reading the latest regeneration theory. Jesse dies for a living, literally. As a Necronite, she is one of the population’s rare 2% who can serve as a death replacement agent, dying so others don’t have to. Although each death is different, the result is the same: a life is saved, and Jesse resurrects days later with sore muscles, new scars, and another hole in her memory.

But when Jesse is murdered and becomes the sole suspect in a federal investigation, more than her freedom and sanity are at stake. She must catch the killer herself—or die trying.


This was OK. That’s the best I can say for it. It wasn’t bad, but nothing in it lit me up either. It’s and interesting world Shrum created and I appreciated the bi-sexual lead, but I also found Jesse’s constant sarcasm annoying and I often found her responses to things stupid. Here’s an example, someone is trying to kill you, you know this. They’ve almost succeeded once already, in fact. A friend calls and frantically tells you that people are coming for you and you have to get out of the house fast. Do you drop everything and run or do you whine about how you just made a sandwich and could leaving wait? Hmmmm, this is apparently a hard decision because Jesse did the latter. There were several similar instances. There were also a couple ‘well, isn’t that convenient’ moments. The final one with Lane, especially. So, while the book is competently written, it wasn’t a winner for me.

Now, a word of the narration by Hollie Jackson. She did a fine job in the narrative parts of the story and I thought she did a fine job with Jesse and the male characters, as well. However, each and every other female in the book is voiced with such saccharine, borderline teasing tones that I wanted to slap them all. None felt natural. Never have a met a woman who actually speaks like all of these women do.

Review of Dark Siren (Half-Lich #1) by Lee Dignam & Katerina Martinez

I picked Dark Siren (by Lee Dignam and Katerina Martinez) as a freebie in 2017, but I upgraded to the Audible version in my recent audiobook buying binge.

Description from Goodreads:

A nightmarish realm. A city of monsters. One girl’s soul caught in the middle.  

Supernatural bounty hunter Alice Werner loves her job. She gets paid the big bucks to take down her targets and doesn’t ask her clients too many questions as long as the money’s good. But when a girl goes missing and the case feels all too familiar, Alice can’t help but act.

Concern for the girl’s safety draws her into a risky case. Compassion keeps her involved when the stakes begin to rise. Desperation forces her to call on an old flame for help. Despite their unfinished past, Alice and Isaac Moreau, a prominent Mage, must work together to save the girl.

When clues reveal more than meets the eye, Alice must face her deepest fears and confront demons from her past to protect the victim, and herself, from a fate worse than death.


This didn’t work for me. I thought it too much depended on past events that weren’t well integrated into the plot, the characters were fairly shallow—such that I never felt I got to know them—and the writing held far too many similes for comfort. Further, there were several instances of foreshadowing that never came to fruition in the book and the whole thing never really concludes. All in all, I wasn’t impressed.

Complicating matters further for me was that I also didn’t care for Laurel Schroeder’s narration style. Her intonation and speech patterns annoyed me. If I had to guess at the cause, without comparing it to the written text, I’d say she over-emphasized commas. This meant that instead of there being a brief, breath-length pause in the middle of a sentence or list, there were whole full stops. Everything felt broken up. This may be a preference thing and not bother others, but it annoyed the heck out of me.

Review of Playing with Fire, by R. J. Blain

I purchased a copy of R. J. Blain‘s Playing With Fire.

Description from Goodreads:

What do you get when you mix gorgons, an incubus, and the Calamity Queen? Trouble, and lots of it. 

Working as the only human barista at a coffee shop catering to the magical is a tough gig on a good day. Bailey Gardener has few options. She can either keep spiking drinks with pixie dust to keep the locals happy, or spend the rest of her life cleaning up the world’s nastiest magical substances. 

Unfortunately for her, Faery Fortunes is located in the heart of Manhattan Island, not far from where Police Chief Samuel Quinn works. If she’d been smart, she never would have agreed to help the man find his wife. 

Bailey found her, all right—in the absolutely worst way possible. 

One divorce and several years later, Bailey is once again entangled in Chief Quinn’s personal affairs, and he has good reason to hate her. Without her, he wouldn’t be Manhattan’s Most Wanted Bachelor, something he loathes. Without her, he’d still be married. 

If only she’d said no when he asked her help, she might have had a chance with him. While her magic worked well, it came with a price: misfortune. Hers. 

When Quinn’s former brother-in-law comes to her for help, he leaves her with a cell phone and seventy-five thousand reasons to put her magic to the test. However, when she discovers Quinn’s ex-wife is angling for revenge, Bailey’s tossed in the deep end along with her sexiest enemy.


This is one of the more disappointing books I’ve read lately, since I think it could have been so good! Instead it is too over the top and unfocused. If Blain had had an editor that was willing and able to sit her down and say, “You’ve abandoned your plot in favor of all this sarcastic silliness and it’s not working,” this book could be five-star worthy. Because Blain really can write. But what the reader is actually given is a good start, and then inconsistent plotting, almost no world-building, little to no character development and far, far, far too much snarky repartee. Repartee (as much as I love it) is supposed to enhance a story, not be the sole content of a book! 

What’s more, I don’t think a lot of it held together. We’re told Bailey is unsociable and has no friends. But we see that she does just fine in society and has a whole lot of people who obviously care for her. We’re told she hates Quinn and he hates her, but it’s immediately obvious that neither is true and Bailey would have to be a lot stupider than she’s present to not realize this. Etc. Etc. Etc. 

All in all, I wanted so much more than this book delivered. I want what this book promised. I want what this book had the potential to be.