Tag Archives: #indiefever

Review of Dragonspire, by Talya Andor

DragonspireI received a copy of Talya Andor‘s Dragonspire from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
In the wake of his grandfather’s death and the unexpected contents of his will, Gideon abandons his career, cuts ties with his family, and heads overseas to figure out a life that has never made him happy. He settles for a time in Myanmar, content to roam the country taking pictures, carefully avoiding the dangerous local politics.

When he ventures into the jungle, he expects wildlife and possibly men with guns if he’s unlucky. Instead, he meets a princess who sweeps him off to another world, claiming that Gideon is the only one who can help her slay the terrible black dragon threatening her people—and if he ever wants to see home again, he has no choice.

I think OK is the best I can give Dragonspire, and even that is only for beyond the 30% mark. The first third is so rough I almost just gave up on the book. But I stuck with it and it did smooth out eventually.

I did enjoy the main characters and the general shape of the plot. But unfortunately I thought the whole thing was dragged out far too long, with too many conveniently unspoken things leading to misunderstandings. Plus, you’re never given a satisfying explanation on Gideon’s grandfather’s actions that spurred him into the events of the book.

I also had an issue with the diversity in the book. Hang with me a minute, because I can’t believe I’m saying this either. It’s the sort of thing that normally makes me cheer. I want everyone to be able to see themselves represented in their literature. But at one point, one character is introduced to ten or so dragons and their mates and they are of every conceivable pairing. There are M/Ms, F/Fs, M/Fs, gender fluids partners, non-binaries partners, polys, etc. And while a very very large part of me was like, ‘Yeah, look at that. I love seeing such representation’ another (admittedly smaller, but still present) part of me was like, ‘Oh look, the author tossed in some obligatory, I’m-so-liberal diversity.’ The characters (and their sexuality) played no significant part in the book and the pages and pages and pages of description were distracting, but worse, felt like hollow tokenism. Maybe for some the former will outweigh the latter, but it made me uncomfortable.

Anyhow, after the first third, it’s a fluffy, feel-good book that, if you like that sort of thing, is worth picking up, despite my complaints.

Review of Unspeakable Words (The Sixth Sense #1), by Sarah Madison

Unspeakable wordsI picked up a copy of Unspeakable Words, by Sarah Madison, as a Dreamspinner freebie over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Description from Goodreads:
Special Agent John Flynn is everything Jerry Parker is not: dangerously handsome, coolly charismatic, and respected by his peers. Special Agent Parker is dedicated and meticulous, but his abrasive personality has given him a reputation for being difficult. When new information on a cold case appears, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn, and the sparks fly as their investigative styles clash. Contact with a strange artifact changes everything when it bestows unusual and unpredictable powers on Flynn… and the two men must learn to trust each other before a killer strikes again.

I’d give this a 3.5/5 and then round up for sheer enjoyment. Sure, the plot is a little wonky. The fact that the men are FBI agents is basically irrelevant for all the investigating they do. The whole set up for the serial killer is literally just dropped in exchange for something different all together and never picked back up again. The two characters’ personalities aren’t really all that consistent from beginning to end. But despite all that, I enjoyed the book. It’s predominantly just the two main characters stuck together and getting to know one another. But it’s cute and a little funny. Actually, it’s a bit like a Mary Calmes book. Objectively I know it’s not really a very good book, but I still liked it and I’d read more.

Review of Day of the Dragonking (The Last American Wizard #1), by Terry Irving

The Last American WizardDespite the off-putting cover, I picked up a copy of Terry Irving’s The Last American Wizard from Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:
Mystically powered terrorists unleash volatile magic on the world, turning Washington, D.C., into a politically charged fantasyland ripe for human sacrifice.

A trio of suicide attackers with magical abilities bring down a 747 by summoning a dragon to rip it from the sky, using the hundreds of lives lost as a sacrifice to initiate the Change. The country morphs into a new landscape of swords and sorcery. Now computers and other machines are coming to life, and regular people have started to turn into mythical creatures and forgotten deities, creating a chaotic world easily seized by whoever—or whatever—set this shift into motion. Hope appears in the nation’s capital where, along with transforming Democrats into potbellied elves, Republicans into cantankerous dwarves, and Tea Party members into trolls, the Change has granted struggling freelance journalist Steve Rowan the abilities of the Tarot Arcana’s Fool card, making him a powerful, yet unreliable, wizard. Realizing his potential, he is “hired” by the trivia-obsessed sentient computer Barnaby and coupled with the attractive, no-nonsense female Navy SEAL Ace Morningstar to uncover the puppet masters behind the plane crash. –Kirkus Reviews

Hmm, what to say about The Last American Wizard.  “Ho-hum” comes to mind. On the plus side, the book is funny and it is a page turner. I liked the characters and the writing was quite readable.

On the negative side, it wasn’t well fleshed out. There were a lot of arcana/tarot related info drops and some repetition (sometimes of the info drop information). But that information wasn’t fully utilized. And it didn’t always seem to obey its own rules. For example, all the divine or mythical creatures were supposed to have come into existence after the events at the beginning of the book, but characters who shouldn’t have existed before that have histories together and sometimes greet each-other as old friends. How does that work?

The comedy was over-played at times, especially around Ace. It approached eye-rolling territory more than once. But I had a serious problem with the fact that within hours of the inciting events, when people started turning into trolls and fairies and cards of the arcana everyone calmly went about their business, even incorporating their new abilities into their jobs, as if this was perfectly normal. There was no panic or anger or evidence of fear. There was NO BELIEVABLE EMOTION around this huge change at all actually.

My biggest critique however is the lack of ending. The major baddie isn’t stopped (or even identified). The minor baddie is only temporarily dispatched. No mystery is solved. No final solution is even discussed. The character just ran around for 300+ pages putting out whatever fire popped up and then basically said, “Let’s go for a beer and save the world tomorrow.” There was no peak to the plot, let alone a tapering off to an end. An event in the beginning sparked off a change and then the whole book coasted at one speed and elevation until it just stopped. This never ever makes me happy.