Tag Archives: magic

the hunter and the spider

Book Review: The Hunter and the Spider series, by E.M. Jeanmougin & Jay Wright

I picked up copies of E.M. Jeanmougin and Jay Wright’s Strangers in the Night and Friends in Low Places (The Hunder and the Spider series, #1 & 2) when they were freebies on Amazon. I’m afraid of spiders, so the idea of an MM Urban Fantasy with a werespider both horrified and intrigued me!


Where there’s demons, there’s bound to be demon hunters and in Brooklyn there’s no shortage of either.

Jasper Craig is a hunter at New York’s secret St. James Academy, and he’s one of the best. With superior strength, agility, and a handy ability to sense demonic energy, it’s like he was born for the job. Since he was orphaned at a young age, his parents took the secret of what, exactly, he is to their graves. And if his adoptive father knows, he’s not telling.

Loyal to the cause of keeping the mortal world safe from the evils of demons, there isn’t anything Jasper wouldn’t do. So when his father and superior officer tells him to go undercover to trick a rare and dangerous werespider, Jasper agrees.

Crimson Apocalypse is one of New York’s oldest residents and the only known werespider in the north eastern United States. He’s the sort of guy who lives as fast as he talks and talks as fast as he drives, and if Jasper wants to get closer to the werespider he’s going to have to keep up.

But getting closer might be dangerous in more ways than one and what Jasper learns may not be what he expects.

my review

This had a strong start, sagged in the middle, and then ended well. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all of it, even the saggy middle. I liked Jasper and Crimson (and Al and Max) a lot and loved the slow-SLOW burn of their relationship. But the book doesn’t have one over-arching plot or villain to defeat, etc. It’s mostly two people who meet, are given a reason to be thrown together, and then go about their daily lives together. It just so happens that those lives are quite exciting. It just felt like the middle went on a little too long and got a little too creative (ridiculous) before finally tapering off to a cliffhanger ending. I am jumping right into book two though, so I obviously liked it (even if I’m afraid of spiders and therefor a little horrified by the giant werespider).


friends in low places

No one ever said being a Hunter would be easy, but Jasper Craig is finding it much more difficult these days.

Following the events of an eye-opening summer spent in the field, Jasper is back within the walls of St. James Academy – New York City’s world-renowned Hunting agency and training school.

And he’s hating every minute of it.

Unfortunately, the only way out is through, and so, with all eyes on him, Jasper once again rejoins the ranks of Hunters keeping the city “safe” from demonic threat.

But St. James’ dogma has lost its luster for Jasper. Not every demon deserves to die due to their inhumanity. Jasper’s (ex?) boyfriend, Crimson Apocalypse, taught him that.

Speaking of Crimson, when a series of mutilated corpses bearing Jasper’s name begin showing up around town, the Hunters suspect the three-thousand-year-old werespider may be to blame. Even worse, there’s plenty of evidence to support the claim. Only Jasper, who knows the man within the monster, believes otherwise. But can he slip through St. James’ iron-clad grip and catch the real culprit before it’s too late?

my review

I enjoyed this, though not as much as book one, and more in the second half than the first. The problem, for me, was that the two main characters aren’t together in the book until the 55% mark. They are apart and miserable that whole time, and it felt longer than need be to make the point it was making. However, once they got back together and the pace picked up, I was a happier camper. The whole thing wrapped up satisfactorily, but with several open threads. I look forward to finding out what happens in the next book (whenever it comes out).

magic for liars

Book Review: Magic For Liars, by Sarah Gailey

It was chore day, so I wanted to listen to an audiobook while I slogged away at them. But none of the ones I have on my Audible cloud looked appealing. Thus, I borrowed Sarah Gailey‘s Magic For Liars from the library.

magic for liars sarah gailey

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magical. She is perfectly happy with her life. She has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

I’ll admit that this was a tad on the slow side, but I generally enjoyed it. And I’ll tell you what I liked about it. I too am a salt-n-pepper woman (like the main character). That makes me 43. I figure Ivy was a bit older, though it’s not explicitly stated. She’s stuck in a high school dealing with teenagers. I have an almost 14 and almost 12 year old. They roll they eyes at me constantly, and generally think they know everything and parents are idiots, as teens are wont to do. The teens in Magic For Liars are the same. And like adults everywhere, Ivy sees right through their act. But because she has a mystery to solve she uses her adult knowledge to get the information she needs. She doesn’t posture and ensure the children know they’re children. As is always so tempting when their mien of superiority gets to be too frustrating. She lets them go right on thinking they’re the smartest people in the room. What parent hasn’t had that feeling while dealing with their teen? Maybe because I too am stuck dealing with tweens/teens in my real like, I found her manipulation of them with their own artifices superbly satisfying.

I did feel sorry for Ivy. She wanted to desperately to be loved, not too unlike all those teens. But her sister just wasn’t capable of it. I really hope the open ending, with the possibility of happiness on that front comes to fruition for her.

Interestingly, this could be read as a parable on the importance of providing access to safe contraceptives and/or abortions. There are certainly some interesting reflections of life and death, beginning, middle, and end of life going on in the book.

All in all, a winner for me.

 

 

The Awakening Kaylee Johnston

Book Reviews: The Witch & The Awakening, by Kaylee Johnston

I first came across Kaylee Johnston’s The Witch & The Awakening when Sadie’s Spotlight had a Release Day Blitz for The Awakening. I read them as part of my Awakening Challenge, where I set out to read eight books titled Awakening. (Or rather, I read The Awakening for the challenge and read The Witch because it’s the preceding novella.)


the witch kaylee johnston

Description from Goodreads:

Magic always has a cost.

In a world where humans aren’t meant to know about witches, Ella Louise Duncan just wants her boyfriend to know who she truly is and what she can do before they take their relationship to the next level. When she shows him her true identity, she doesn’t expect him to completely reject her — or send a posse after her and all of the other witches in town.

With the humans wanting to do away with witches for good, Ella Louise is ready to bring the fight to them. When her parents and all the other elder witches force her to run with her sisters, she’s not exactly happy. She is ready to fight for her right to live out of the shadows, but nobody else agrees.

When she runs into a stranger who reveals he’s not who he says he is, she has to learn how to take responsibility for her actions, follow directions even when she doesn’t want to, and protect her friends and family. Does Ella Louise have what it takes to bring the witches out of the dark and into the light…or will it all end in ruin — and her death?


Not all out horrendous, but sloppy and inconsistent. I appreciate that Ella Louise was strong and willing to stand up for herself, but I disliked her to the extreme. She was selfish, stubborn, and ultimately ignorant to the obvious, a fact I found implausible.


the awakening kaylee johnston

Description from Amazon:

Not everyone wants magic.

In a world where humans hate witches, there’s no one who hates them more than Jameson Tyler – they are the reason his mother and little sister are dead. Then one morning, he wakes to find those he’s hated for his entire life are now his only hope to understanding his new identity, his new life…as a witch.

Jameson has to get to the witch’s side of town – a place he’s never been and has loathed his entire life – and give up everything he’s ever known before the Witch Special Forces (WSF) captures him. On top of avoiding the WSF, when his new Headmistress attacks him, things get even more complicated.

He must accept his new fate and life before being killed, letting the Magical Community fall into the wrong hands. Can Jameson put his hatred aside or will he let his prejudice destroy them all?

my review

I hate to do this. I mean really, really hate to do it. I abhor having to leave a bad review as the first review a book gets and every second it sits as the only review a book has bothers me. But I’ve promised myself to be honest in reviews, so I’m not going to pull punches. This book is A MESS. I often read ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) that haven’t had a final edit yet. I am accustomed to overlooking a few editing mishaps. This is not an ARC as far as I know, since it was published in February. But even if it was, I’d call it too much of a mess to have been sent out for review.

I’m talking homophones (passed and past are misused a lot), repeat words (scoffed used in subsequent sentences, for example), inconsistencies (has it been 1000 or 50 years since the last Guardian), and timeline quagmires. At one point a new un-introduced character shows up and then in the next chapter the main character meets her (and there’s no time travel involved).

Then there’s just the story itself. The main character is literally homicidally anti-witch. He tries to kill one. Then he meets a witch and in less an hour is laughing and making friends with him. The plot leaps around, focusing on the minutia and literally skipping over the important events. At one point the main character is kidnapped and rescued, resulting in a death of someone important, and the author literally doesn’t show it, just lets the friends relate the events in about 3 paragraphs. But we’re told about cooking a roast over several pages.

I think even if someone came to me and said, “Hey, you actually did read an ARC” or “turns out the author uploaded the wrong file, not the final one” and I had to ignore all the editing problems, I’d probably still give this a 1 or 2 stars based on the jagged writing and overblown emotions. No one talks, everyone yells. Peoples’ miens swing from calm to exaggerated in seconds. The pacing is inconsistent, etc.

I hate to say it, but skip this one…at least if or until a new edition comes out.