Tag Archives: vampires

Review of Vamp City, by C.D. Brown

I received an Audible code for a copy of Vamp City by C. D. Brown.

Description from Goodreads:

All Sophia Fontanelle wanted was to be left alone. On the run from New Orleans and its vampire council, she heads to Los Angeles to start a new life. But when The Caballero, the ancient peacekeeper rumored to be the great Zorro himself, is murdered, Sophia finds herself caught up in a fight to clear her name. Threatened by a 1950s-era gangster turned vamp by the Caballero himself, can she survive in Vamp City?

Review:

I have really conflicting feelings about this book. In one sense it was pretty good. Certainly, it’s mechanically well written and perfectly readable. Similarly, I’m thrilled to have an ex-prostitute as the main character, an adorkable cinnamon roll love interest, and plenty of varied representation. Ther are white characters, black characters, Latinas, Omni-sexuals, rich, poor, etc. And both black and brown characters get to be good guys.

However, I have two pretty big complaints, both of which hinge on this same varied cast. First, in a very real sense, a lot of the book balances on the author creating opportunities to present the reader with one more quirky vampire subset. We have the vegan, the lispy Catalonian, the punks, the classic Hollywood era vamps, the 1950s gangster vamps, the sassy Latina vamps, the 1990s style gangland vamps, the sharp-tongued lawyer vamp, the “Omni-sexual” glam vamps, the start-up millennial vamps, etc, etc. etc. I very quickly got tired of meeting the newest type of vamp. I understand that being a noir style some of this was expected, but it was a schtick Brown leaned far too heavily on.

Secondly, while I appreciated all the representation in the novel, it was seriously compromised by being INCREDIBLY (and problematically) stereotypical. The Latina was a sassy sexpot. The black characters were gang bangers that didn’t respect women and were questionably trustable. The gay (or omni-sexual) characters were campy. None of them were developed beyond the cliche. And the downside of many of them being on the heroine’s side and therefor having more page-time was that they were given more opportunity to show off their stereotypicalness. Plus, they tended to be louder and more unruly than the white vampire groups. (There was an unmissable in-crowd and out-crowd.) I don’t necessarily think the (white male) author meant it to be this way. But it was. The way the characters spoke, alone, was majorly problematic. So, taken all together it’s cringy to the extreme.

I do think the narrator did as good a job with it as she could. But with so many characters using dated terms like, “babe” and “doll,” it got hard to tell them apart.

I’m baaaack

My family and I had a wonderful trip to Manchester, England and Yunnan Provence, China. That may seem an odd combination, but we went to Manchester to spend Christmas and New Years with family and then on to China for a wedding and time with friends.

We’re back now though. Which means the blog is open again. I have a few reviews to post from my time traveling. But I didn’t read anywhere near as much as I expected to. We simply did not stop. So, the only reading I did was on flights.

I read The Highest Tide, Blood of Elves, and One Dead Vampire. I was pleased with all of them.

Reviews:

The Highest Tide, by Marian Perera:

I liked this more than I expected to. I appreciated that the woman is the physically strong one who saves the day most of the time. She’s quite capable. I appreciate that she was allowed to be scarred, even if the author wasn’t willing to go as far as to let her heroine be ugly. Even scarred, men think she is beautiful. Which, of course, she can be. But I felt like the focus detracted from the fact that women don’t have to be beautiful, even if flawed, to be a heroine. It felt like the author got half-way there on not classically beautiful representation. But I’ll take what I can get. Similarly, I appreciated the little LGBTQ acceptance slipped in with no fuss or obvious ulterior motive.

As for the romance, I liked both characters and liked them together. But I didn’t feel the romance was well developed. Too much of the book has them avoiding each other, so there isn’t a lot of interaction. And for one of the characters the ‘love’ is so instant even he says he feels as if he’d been struck by lightning.

All in all, however, I’d be more than happy to read the rest of the series.

Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski

This book got me through a 10 hour flight. It was nothing like I was expecting though. I expected a lot of fighting, like in the prequel short stories. Instead, I found a lot of humor as a group of clueless men try to figure out raising a young girl. I quite enjoyed it, though I found it slow at times and Sapkowski’s writing style a little sparse for my taste. I’ll be continuing the series though.

One Dead Vampire, by Kris Ripper

Cute & fluffy. I generally loved Rocky and all of the side characters, plus all the representation. There’s a fat and fabulous main character, several characters of varied sexual and gender identities—using any number of pronouns—and characters of several races. I do think this is a book not written for those invested in remaining with-in the confines of the comfortable majority. I suspect I’ll see more than one review saying all of the pronouns and such were unnecessary or too hard to keep track of. But I think that’s more a matter of what you’re used to. It certainly works. 

I did feel like Rocky was too clueless about both the supernaturals and police procedure to have been raised in a supernatural cop family. Plus, I felt like all those cops/detectives enabling her compromising an investigation felt super unnatural. And the eventual reveal of the villain was too random to feel satisfying. 

The romance is secondary to the mystery and pretty mild. But, as I liked both characters, I was willing to roll with it. I was less able to accept that Rocky had given up her best friend because the friend had the audacity to go away to college. 

All in all, this was a higher than middle of the road read, but not five-stars for me. I’m well up for continuing the series though.

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.