Tag Archives: witches

Review of Wisteria Witches, by Angela Pepper

I received an Audible credit from Angela Pepper to get the box set of the first three Wisteria Witches book. However, I’m choosing to review only the first here on the blog.

Description from Goodreads:

Zara Riddle moves to the town of Wisteria for a dream job as a librarian. She hasn’t even unpacked her moving boxes when she and her teen daughter, Zoey, are swept up in a murder mystery.

With all the ghosts and supernatural creatures around (Including a real hunk of a wolf shifter! Meow!) it’s a good thing the Riddle women are tougher than they look. Now, if only they could handle their new witch powers as well as they’ve mastered their sarcastic wit!

Review:

This didn’t work for me. Though I suspect it is a matter of taste over quality. There are some consistency issues, people knowing things they haven’t been told and such, and I thought the dialogue got too formal at times (especially considering how informal Zara is in general). But for the most part what bothered me wasn’t a matter of the book being bad, but of it being everything I dislike. 

I found Zara intensely annoying! Yes, I see that we’re supposed to think her Gilmore Girl cute. But I found her endless blather like nails on a chalkboard, all her constant media references trite, and her naiveté insincere. I felt like even the author thought her immature, often excusing the things she says by calling them juvenile, long-standing jokes between her and her daughter. The book falls short of calling anyone a poopy-head, but not by much, and only because it’s so committed to “ding-dong.” 

Calling Zara and her crew Mary-Sues would be an understatement. On the upside, the book is 100% clean, not even a curse word is uttered. On the downside, it means the book lacks any sort of grit. So much so that there is barely any tension. I was just this side of board for all of it.

Plus, the book takes a long time to pick up any kind of speed, spending far too much time on dinners and descriptions. (Hope you like adjectives.) Then, once it does, the mystery essentially solves itself off page, leaving the reader out of the action. 

Lastly, I disliked Tiffany Williams’ narration style. It fit the book really well, actually. And again, the quality is fine. But the places she emphasizes words and her tone, etc, just highlights the overly-sensitive, overtly clean aspect of the book, making all my annoyances stand out even more. 

Please don’t take the last few paragraphs as my having an issue with clean stories. I just don’t know a better way to describe the feel of it, like it’s been scrubbed of anything interesting and real. I guess that’s my base issue, why people complain about Mary-Sues in general, they don’t feel real. They’re too idealized to relate to and thus feel fake. 

I actually have the audio boxset of the first three books. I went into them with really high hopes. I’m all about cozy paranormal mysteries right now and the main character even has my same name. When you’re named Zarah, that’s not something you encounter often. I will challenge myself to give the next book a try. Maybe with the world building done the next book will be better for me. I was disappointed with this. But I can 100% see all the things that irritated me so being exactly what another reader will love. To each their own.

Review of Glove of Satin, Glove of Bone, by Rachel White

Glove of satin, glove of boneI received a copy of Rachel White‘s Glove of Satin, Glove of Bone from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Enne Datchery and Muriel vas Veldina, ex-lovers and witches with a shared apprentice, are tasked by the Citadel, to repair an old grimoire together, despite the fact their relationship is tense at best.

The situation is further complicated when the book is stolen, and tracking down the thief stirs even more of Muriel’s past. It swiftly becomes clear to the two that dealing with their fractured relationship is going to be the easy part of the assignment—if they can live long enough to complete it.

Review:
*Sigh* I am disappointed. It’s not that the book is bad. It just misses so many opportunities to be better. I mean, how did White take a book about missing Grimoires of destruction, wicked witches, lesbian book repairers, gay circle archivists, warlock councils and MAGIC and make it boring? She made all that stuff side items and focused on two bickering women who can’t communicate, that’s how. *Sigh*

The characters are interesting, if not particularly developed and not exceptionally likable. The world seems like a cool one, but it isn’t deeply developed. The writing is good and there is occasional humor in there. But despite all of that, I just didn’t enjoy it very much. The book feels very much like it starts in the middle of something, as all the action seems to have happened in the past and we’re picking up the aftermath. What little action there is is brief and anti-climatic. What romance there is is mired in guilt and angst we never learn the origins of.

So, while the book isn’t a hot mess or anything, it’s not a winner for me either.

Review of Wicked Good Witches, by Starla Silver

Wicked Good WitchesHey-ho, choose a cover. I don’t know which is the new and which is the old, but neither of them fits the tone or content of the books, so, go with whichever you happen to like best.

I picked this bundle by Starla Silver up from Amazon while it was free in May of 2015. (I know, I sometimes hold on to books for ages before I get around to reading them.) I chose to read it today because I’ve set myself a challenge to read all the books on my To-Be-Read shelf that include the word Alpha and, of course, book two of this box set is titled Alpha Knows Best. And as other reviews mentioned that these books don’t stand alone, I’ve started from the beginning, with Demon Street Blues.

As an amusing aside, I asked my five-year-old to pick which of the Alpha books I would read first and this is the one she chose. Looking at the covers, I can kind of guess why.

Anyhow, series description: 
The Howard Witches, three siblings charged with protecting The Demon Isle… 

Charlie, the werewolf. 
Michael, the empathic death reader. 
Melinda, living under self-inflicted house arrest. Her gift: prophetic dreams of people about to die. 

Their mentor, the four-hundred year old Vampire, William Wakefield. Charming, ridiculously handsome, and walking a dangerous line between sinking into darkness and living in the light. In constant temptation to declare his love for the one woman that could be his undoing. 

The story begins with an unsolved murder. One that will change everything… 

Come stalk the streets of The Demon Isle… you’ll go up against witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, shapeshifters, ghosts, mermaids, faeries and a host of other devious supernatural creatures waiting to wreak havoc on The Demon Isle. Where fans of the paranormal come to vacation and immerse themselves in fantasy. Where magic comes to life, mysteries abound, and you might just find yourself laughing, crying, and most definitely, falling in love. 

Reviews

Demon Street Blues:
Things I found to be true about all three books I read: simplistic writing, stilted dialogue, names used too frequently to be natural, frequent drastic and disruptive shifts in POV (I don’t think the author actually payed any attention to POV consistency), schmaltziness, cheesy language used during sex scenes, and men tend toward action while girls primarily agonize over love/sex. Lastly, none of the books stand on their own. They are closer to long serial installments than books in a series.

I thought this was an OK read. Really that’s about it. As I noted above the writing seemed simplistic and stilted, but not that much more than many other books I’ve read.

Unfortunately, I found the main character, which I THINK was Melinda (and honestly, shouldn’t that be something I can be sure of) annoying. Her entire personality seems to be guilt, self-doubt and intrusive sexual thoughts.

I also thought her history inconsistent. She’s supposed to have been a recluse for four years, but she’s emotionally distraught because of a bad date and sexual experience. What recluse goes on dates? Where’d she even meet a guy to invite her out? She also acts like she doesn’t know anyone on the island because she’s been in the house for 4 years. But what about the previous 17 years she lived there? She doesn’t know anyone but the sheriff  from that time?

The book ended when what I thought of as a side character finally made a decision about a relationship. It felt very secondary to the plot and like a random place to end the book. It’s not a cliffhanger exactly, more like just a place to break one continuous story, which is what I sense this series is.

It’s not wholly without attractions. The idea of a magical island is an interesting one. The characters, though shallowly written, were engaging. There was some occasional humor. Maybe this is just a matter of taste. If you like schmaltzy books with a sort of (I think unintentional) innocence to them (like a virgin trying to talk dirty) this could be right up your alley.

Alpha KnowsBest:
To repeat, things I found to be true about all three books I read: simplistic writing, stilted dialogue, names used too frequently to be natural, frequent drastic and disruptive shifts in POV (I don’t think the author actually payed any attention to POV consistency), schmaltziness, cheesy language used during sex scenes, and men tend toward action while girls primarily agonize over love/sex. Lastly, none of the books stand on their own. They are closer to long serial installments than books in a series.

My opinion of Melinda did not improve in this book. She just keeps getting weaker and weaker in my mind. She’s had a mental breakdown, been a recluse for four years, trips and falls repeatedly (caught by man, of course), can’t decide on her love, lets one man’s mild possible criticism and poor sex destroy her sense of self-esteem and can’t have sex without felling ashamed and guilty. She’s just broken in a way her brothers aren’t, despite similar circumstances. She is a cliched romance heroine.

Here, in this book, we got much more of a sex scene than the last one and the use of descriptors like, “lusty flesh”(hers) and “lusty throb” (his) to describe genitalia just cheesed me out. Plus the lack of condoms was distracting. I’m not usually someone who insists on condom usage. Fantasy is fantasy, but here I kept getting distracted by, “Doesn’t anyone worry about getting pregnant?”

Plus, we have the establishment of a love triangle. Why? Isn’t it bad enough that the female character is too wrapped up in her own head and thoughts of sex to be concerned with the safety of her brother? Do we have to make her incapable of deciding on a man too? Do we have to add the unnecessary angst of a triangle too?

Then there are the brothers. One is extraneous to the plot, never really doing much of anything and the other seems to be an idiot. The villain is so obvious it felt like the characters had to be being purposefully obtuse not to see it.

Like in the first book though, it manages to skirt by without ever falling into truly bad territory, annoying and trite, but not all out bad. I think there are those who like this sort of writing and story-line and I did really appreciate that Charlie was into full-figured women and it wasn’t made out to be anything special.

Bye Bye Bloodsucker
Things I found to be true about all three books I read: simplistic writing, stilted dialogue, names used too frequently to be natural, frequent drastic and disruptive shifts in POV (I don’t think the author actually payed any attention to POV consistency), schmaltziness, cheesy language used during sex scenes, and men tend toward action while girls primarily agonize over love/sex. Lastly, none of the books stand on their own. They are closer to long serial installments than books in a series.

I’ve said in the review of each book in this series I read that the language around sex was cheesy. I never knew so very many things could be described as lusty—‘lusty breaths,”lust steps,’ ‘flesh,’ ‘throb,’ ‘fire,’ ‘pants,’ ‘shiver,’ ‘sting.’ I could go on. It’s used a lot. But Bye Bye Bloodsucker also included what I’m convinced is the worst line (in a long line of lines involving too many occurrences of peaches, peaks and fuzzy) I’ve ever read in a sex scene.

He groaned, the limp worm swimming in her hot peach, tickling her insides with sudden girth.

On man, that is SO bad. Not just because it’s CHEESY, like disturbingly so, but also because when read in context, I’m pretty sure the POV shifts within that one sentence.  Most the scenes seemed to be of the same sort of tone. I read it to my husband and he just stared at me until the moment stretched so long and we both burst out laughing.

While with the previous two books I was kind of so-so, but never really put off, this one never made the grade for me. I was just reading it to have finished the box set. It even ended on a twist you can see coming from the first chapter. It stayed with the women are klutzy, trouble magnets with little intelligence theme (the mermaids were the worst). There was too much happening and not enough tension allowed to build, such that I never really cared and again, the book ended with most the threads still open. We were just basically given the same happy ending as we’d been given at the conclusion of book one.

Edit: Ha, I have to laugh. I couldn’t decide which cover to use for these books when I posted this review. I happened to be scrolling through my review page on Amazon, just now, and noted they have new covers AGAIN. So, I did a quick Google search. Is this a new things, changing up covers frequently to catch peoples eye or something? I bet I’d find more if I really went searching. 

Authors, obviously this is just my opinion, but as a reader who recognizes book mostly by the cover, this constant change up is really annoying. It means, if it’s eye-catching, which I understand you want it to be. But I end up checking it out over and over, only to discover it’s something I already have/read. And you know what that is? As I said, really, REALLY annoying and a waste of my time. It means I’m likely to avoid putting myself in the same position in the future, by not bothering with your books in the first place. That’s just me, but it’s something to think about. 

Edit #2: Look, they all have new covers AGAIN. I just happened across it, this morning. I wonder how many I’ve missed. 

Edit #3: Look, they have a whole new set of covers again, again, again, again…