Last week I picked three books from my shelf, decided for one of them and put the other two as nah-not-in-the-mood on my coffee table. Executive decision the day after: putting them into my give-away-basket. And guess what… the book I did decide to read was not a winner either. I tossed the anthology during the fourth story. I guess there is a reason why these books spent so much time on my bookshelf—subconsciously I knew that I would not enjoy them.
It has been years since I really, deeply enjoyed reading Urban Fantasy, with some exceptions. So take this review with a grain of salt. I am basically working through my TBR pile.
Based on the quarter of this book that I did read these are short stories set in between full-length novels of longer UF series. This book will be better for fans of these series. I think everybody else will miss context.
Shiny, A Weather Warden Story / by Rachel Caine ✅ Read Ill Wind in 2015, ⭐️⭐️⭐️, never continued the series and do not plan to.
The short story was entertaining.
In vino veritas / by Karen Chance ✅ Dorina Basarab #2.1, Cassandra Palmer #6.5. I read 16 of the books and stories. There is plenty more, but eventually they did not grab me anymore.
Can be read for free here or get a free copy on Smashwords. The story has lots of vampires. The usual high octane craziness. Probably better for people that know this world.
On my TBR pile and seriously considering to delete them after only mildly enjoying this: Masks & Ride the Storm — I did actually look up each ebook and read the first page of each. Meh. I am so done with the usual UF vampires etc.
Hunt / by Rachel Vincent. ❌ Apparently a spin off from Rachel’s Shifters Series. I read the first book, Stray, in 2011. and gave it ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Never continued the series or read anything else by the author.
Attempted rape and murder. Why do so many UF stories have rape in them? Not interested, skimmed.
Monsters / by Lilith Saintcrow ❌ I have not read anything by this author. The first two pages of this story made not much sense, you probably really need to know her books for this to work. Nope.
This point in the anthology brought me to page 86 of 366 and made me realize one more time that I do not enjoy this type of UF anymore. DNF at 23%.
Also in this anthology:
Vampires prefer blondes / by P.N. Elrod Read another one of her short stories in Hex Appeal, it was ok.
Nine-tenths of the law / by Jenna Black Read The Devil Inside in 2013, ⭐️⭐️, and found it pretty irritating. Pass.
I have not read anything by these authors, unknown to me: Double dead / by Cheyenne McCray A rose by any other name would still be red / by Elizabeth A. Vaughan Superman / by Jeanne C. Stein Monster mash / by Carole Nelson Douglas Wanted: dead or alive / by L.A. Banks Mist / by Susan Krinard Beyond the pale / by Nancy Holders
It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake. While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks, chasing unicorns, Abigail is chasing her own mystery.
Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real, and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead…
Novella told in Abigail‘s voice, which is pretty entertaining. I have the ebook, but normally this series is an instabuy as audiobook, because the usual narrator rocks. This audio is told by a woman (makes sense) who sounds just as much fun in the audio sample.
If you don‘t know the series, go away and start with the first book!
It was good. No Peter, some Nightingale, lots of foxes. Those were great. I liked the build-up to the main plot thingie more than the main event. Fairly simple plot, straight forward story. Good for fans of the series, not essential reading.
Welcome to #6degrees. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I mostly use this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. Or to give myself a reminder of the books on my TBR pile or want-to-read-shelf.
So, as usual, this month starts the chain link with a book I haven‘t read or ever heard about — we begin with Trust by Hernan Diaz. Pretty cover. Is that a snowglobe with a skyscraper inside?
Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the brilliant daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth. But the secrets around their affluence and grandeur incites gossip. Rumors about Benjamin’s financial maneuvers and Helen’s reclusiveness start to spread–all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. At what cost have they acquired their immense fortune?
Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the reality-warping gravitational pull of money and how power often manipulates facts.
Part of the book blurb
Historical fiction, but not necessarily set in an era that I enjoy reading about. I have another book on my shelves though that is titled Trust…
Rowan Gant used to be just an average guy who just happened to be a Witch. However, when the spirits of murder victims found out he could hear them, they started coming to him for help. His life just hasn’t been the same since…
Part of a 10-book series, of which I read 8. Not typical UF, Rowan Gant is a witch in a very contemporary setting. He hears dead people, but there is less magic going on as for example with Harry Dresden. Unusual and I liked it. Maybe one of these days I will get the last two books of this series. Not all witches are enjoyable though. This one didn‘t really do it for me:
Marked for death, Rachel is a dead witch walking unless she can appease her former employers and pay off her contract by exposing the city’s most prominent citizen as a drug lord.
Bottom line, this book was boring and the main character was not interesting. Potential for great world building, but it was not happening. The narrative was flat, not funny and sloooooow and I had the sneaking suspicion that Rachel is really stupid, not just clumsy. It was a major struggle to finish this book and I never picked up another book of this series.
A dead witch walking leads me quite naturally to many other dead walking… a classic by now!
At first I was a bit confused, because Rick didn‘t look like Rick. And then I wanted to smack myself, because the comic came before the TV series. I really like the black-white-and-grey pencil work. Minimalistic, but great in telling the story. Very good artwork. I still haven‘t finished the whole series. Last year I completed volume 21, The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War Part 2. Still a few volumes to go. I do like Robert Kirkman though, he tells great stories. Another comic on my shelf that he wrote is this…
Mark Grayson is just like most everyone else his age. He’s a senior at a normal American highschool. He has a crappy part time job after school and on weekends. He likes girls quite a bit… but doesn’t quite understand them. He enjoys hanging out with his friends, and sleeping late on Saturdays… at least until the good cartoons come on. The only difference between Mark and everyone else is that his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, and as of late, he seems to be inheriting his father’s powers. Which sounds okay at first, but how do you follow in your father’s footsteps when you know you will never live up to his standards
Superhero comic with a teenager. Not really my thing. This came as part of a comic bundle, aka a mixed bag. Not sure yet, if this will work for me, but you never know. The subtitle of this comic is „family matters“ — family and those previously mentioned dead lead me down memory lane…
After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman
Remember Sookie Stackhouse? Truly a Blast from the Past! The last one hundred pages or so of this particular one were pretty good. Turns and twists and suspense. The two hundred-odd pages before that were meh. Not good, not bad, they flowed along pleasantly. Not much of a plot, really. Sookie was getting a bit tired by book #10. And I backed myself into a bit of a corner with that last link. Let‘s see…. Faery war… the Fae!?
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….
Mac is extremely annoying. Obsessed with pink, nail varnish and silly clothes. Petulant and childish. I would have tossed her and her stupid book over a cliff, if I hadn’t received assurances, that she grows up in consecutive books. The afterword by the author also put my worries to rest (a little).
What I didn’t like either: being told at the end of a chapter (or anywhere, really), what horrible thing might happen to her soon / how irrevocably her life will change or what she will commit, do, not do… It’s a lazy plot device to raise suspense and it made me roll my eyes by the third time the author did it.
I was really uncomfortable with that first scene at the museum and don’t understand, how anybody can find that guy sexy after what he did. There is no coming back from that.
What I did like:
Barrons, although he stays a bit one-dimensional. I hope that’ll change in the coming books.
The writing in general. Good characters (annoying, pink, stupid…), good setting, flows along nicely. I liked the idea of a dark zone. I’ve never been to Dublin, so I don’t have an opion on how well it was described. The world building was not bad, although I could have done with more.
Summarizing the experience: massively annoying female main character. Barrons has potential, but remained a bit flat. Good story, bit flat as well. Kept me hooked, I will definitely read the next one, in the hopes that plot, characters and world-building pick up a notch in the next books. Would recommend it.
PS: I gave up on this series after the first chapter of the third book. The MC was just too silly.
Kate and Curran have moved to Delaware with Conlan, trying to keep a low profile. They are renovating a house—well, who are the kidding, it‘s a fort—and one of the people working on their house has a problem. Kate goes to help. There goes the low profile.
This novella has all the elements we know from Kate Daniels. Magic, shapeshifters, vampires, various other magical creatures and deities. Hugh makes a brief appearance. It‘s humorous and there is too much information about the hair styles and clothing of everybody we meet. Great comfort reading for fans.
This was fun. I would have read it in one sitting, if I didn‘t need to sleep occasionally. The subtitle of the book, Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years #1, is promising. Looking forward to more!
I don‘t DNF a lot of books. I used to be one of those people that did not DNF books at all. I HAD to read them to the end, even if it took me months. Eventually I came to my senses and started to occasionally DNF a book, if I did not enjoy it after 50-100 pages (depending on allover length) or it took me more than a few days to get that far. I still never DNFd more than perhaps one book per month or less. And these days I tend to rather skim heavily rather than DNF, because I often want to know how it ends. I just read about the rather tempting idea of “…will DNF a book if it takes me more than 2 days to read 50 pages.” That would mean that I would have DNFd my current eye read days ago. I finally made it halfway and there are some fascinating ideas in the book, but it is still not a gripping read.
So, what books did I DNF last year, because not even heavy skimming could take me to the end? Well, there were some comics.
I bounced off hard of Sin City by Frank Miller. Some classics probably only work for men. I disliked the art. The story was too offensive to finish it. I can only take a certain amount of sexism, before it really puts me off.
Copra by Michel Fiffe was a big disappointment. I have read some superhero comics, mostly Marvel, but it‘s not my favourite genre. Here I had ti deal with Unlikeable superheroes to boot. I am not a big fan of characters that are just mean for no obvious reason and don‘t seem to have any redeeming features. If I don‘t like the characters or they don‘t interest me in another way, why bother?
They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young was another disappointment. Essentially another superhero comic, with teenager developing psychic powers. Didn‘t like the artwork. The story didn‘t do anything for me, could not be bothered to continue for long or pick it up again after putting it down. It took too long to get interesting.
I started to re-read the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice with some reading buddies last year. I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. However, by the time I got to book #4, The Tale of the Body Thief, I was throughly fed-up with it. There were some scenes I remembered fondly, namely the part in the Gobi desert—which I had attributed to another part of the series. But overall, it felt dated and lacked tension. Knowing the plot wasn‘t helping, obviously. Too much detail, repetitive bla-bla and over exposition of almost everything. I skimmed quite a bit to get to the body swapping part, but was willing to plod on. Then the rape happened—I had no recollection of that scene from previous reads. Or maybe I didn‘t understand and didn’t consider it rape before—it had been several decades since I read this last. That scene pretty much killed the book for me. The callousness really bothered me. Maybe this was done intentionally by Rice, but I couldn’t get past it. Don‘t get me wrong, I get that this is fiction and authors explore all kind of things—I just re-watched four seasons of Dexter, who is a sociopathic serial killer and I love the series and Dexter. But I couldn’t deal with Lestat raping that waitress. Killing her and drinking her blood, no problem…. I get how nuts that it.
How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper… *sigh*. UF leaning towards PNR. A decade ago I barely read anything but UF. I was oversaturated. So I stopped, with very rare exceptions. PNR was always a gamble. The heroines tend to be TSTL. I can‘t tolerate that. Why do female authors write these stupid cliches of their own gender? Anyway, back to this particular book. The love interest is a dragonshifter and the town’s sherif. The couple has zero chemistry, there is no decent world building. Nothing of consequence happened in the first 40% and I was to disinterested too listen to more of the audiobook.
Polaris Rising by Jesse Mihalik was another book in the same direction. I had that trilogy on my TBR shelf for a while and quite a few of my buddies love Mihalik. Yep. So not my cup of tea. Brain Candy in space with a romance sub-plot. Insta-love, too many blond people, thin world building, a Mary Sue, two people great at hiding that keep getting captured and then proceed to repeatedly free each other. Sounds all pretty daft, right? It was.
Gallant by Victoria Schwab was more unexpected. A haunted house, relatives with a mysterious past and a hostile cousin, a vaguely creepy and gothic atmosphere. No romance elements. I didn‘t find the story as such terribly suspenseful, although it is definitely well written. It was too straight forward for me and too predictable. I liked the story, but started to drift off around the middle—there was just not enough tension or interest for me to keep going.
There was another comic, two Clarkesworld magazines and a Great Courses Lecture series that I broke off. Oh yes, and an autobiography by a German TV presenter who loves camping. I mostly got that one for my mum. It was ok, just not my kind of thing.
How about you, what was your most disappointing DNF of 2022?
This week‘s topic: top ten most anticipated books releasing in the first half of 2023
Another meme that I haven‘t done in a really long time. And I doubt that I will get together ten books. I don‘t check and plan ahead a lot for my reading. It‘s more of an accidental affair. So, anyway, let‘s see what I have planned already in terms of new books for this year…
I do not actually have anything newly published on my list until late April. So the title of this Top Ten Tuesday is right out of the window. Anyway, April!
This one is a maybe, I have plenty of other books on my T.J. Klune backlog.
In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe.
Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and like Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall-E, In the Lives of Puppets is a masterful stand-alone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.
Next one. I am not even sure this here will be published in May, as I can‘t find any dates about it anywhere besides its Goodreads bookpage:
Twelve years have passed since a widespread blackout triggered the rapid collapse of society, when the constants of the old world—cell service, landlines, satellite and internet—disappeared. Twelve long years since the steady supply of food and fuel from the south became a thing of the past.
The sudden end of the world as everybody knew it, and the horrors of that first winter since everything became dark, only steeled the resolve of Evan Whitesky and the other members of the Anishinaabe community to survive on their own terms. Because the world wasn’t ending, as the community elders reminded them. It had already ended with the original displacement of their people to the far north by colonial authorities. They have seen this “apocalypse” before. They’ve seen it—lived it—over and over. But they had always survived. And they will survive this too.
The book was supposed to come out last year. Maybe Corona threw a wrench into the works? On Rice‘s Twitter he posts about a Fall 2022 draft, so work is still going on, fingers crossed. Sequel to MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW. My review of that book wasn‘t too favourable, when I read it in 2019. But the story has lingered, so it can‘t have been that average.
The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us the third and final novel in an extraordinary space opera trilogy about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.
“I didn’t know you were a… demon.” “You idiot. I’m the demon.” Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….
After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.
Doesn‘t sounds all that different to dear old Murderbot, right?
And we finally move into June. ANOTHER IMPERIAL RADCH!!! Boy, did I wait long for this one! I got so fed up with waiting, I re-read the first Imperial Radch trilogy in 2021. Tea did not help with the waiting, dear!
The mystery of a missing translator sets three lives on a collision course that will have a ripple effect across the stars in this powerful new novel by award-winning author Ann Leckie.
Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else isn’t “optimal behavior”. It‘s the type of behavior that results in elimination.
Squeee! Presger translator! So looking forward to this one!
At some point in 2023 there should be Mercy Thompson #14 by Patricia Briggs. That‘s all I know. No title or cover art yet. But I will definitely read it, when it comes out.
That was only six books, sorry! We‘ll see what other books will sneak up on me in the next few months! And then back to my owned pile of TBRs….
My November 2022: – The Stand-In ★★★☆☆ audio, romance, slightly more diverse than the usual fare. – Wolfsong by T.J. Klune ★★★★★ ebook, gorgeous! What a great take on werewolves and found family. – A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers ★★★★★ ebook, novella, roadtrip in the pursuit of meaning and comfort. – Explorer (Foreigner #6) by C.J. Cherryh ★★★★★ audio, conclusion to the second trilogy. Fun! – How the Earth Works ★★¾☆☆ audio, non-fiction, The Great Courses, exhaustive lectures on everything from the Big Bang to plate tectonics, volcanoes and more. DNF after 10.5 hours and 13 more hours to go. – The Nox ★★½☆☆ full-cast audio, horror in the arctic circle. Meh. – The Drowned World ★★★☆☆ paper, StoryGraph #1, anachronistic climate fic, post-apocalypse. Dated, but with some good imagery. – Neanderthal Seeks Human ★★★☆☆ audio, romance, nothing special.
Currently reading: – Ship of Destiny, ebook, moving really slowly… for a while now. I like it, I just have Liveship overload. – Thistlefoot, ebook, sweet and a little creepy… – Children of Memory, audio, odd, but good. The zoo is growing.
Pages and minutes in November 2022 1,142 pages, 49.05 hours
Oh, this was so pretty. Feel good story, some drama, some action, some love, a witch and some werewolves. Lots of dialogue and inner monologue that made me feel good. What a joy to read. What a great take on werewolves and found family. Ok, yes, also some violence, cruelty, blood, murder…. It is a story with werewolves after all. And some really bad guys.
“And it was true. I was not cursed with an overabundance of brains.“
The plot was almost irrelevant, it was the relationships and the development that Ox went through that made the book for me. Such a lovable character…
The book has a nice amount of my type of humour. Definitely for mature readers though, there is plenty of swearing and some graphic sex.
I was not a massive fan of adult Joe or the romance between Ox and adult Joe. It was not bad, but for me it was the only weak part of the book. Still 5 stars though, because I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time I read this. I had a hard time putting this down for any length of time.
“Mom! Mom. You have to smell him! It’s like… like… I don’t even know what it’s like! I was walking in the woods to scope out our territory so I could be like Dad and then it was like… whoa. And then he was all standing there and he didn’t see me at first because I’m getting so good at hunting. I was all like rawr and grr but then I smelled it again and it was him and it was all kaboom! I don’t even know! I don’t even know! You gotta smell him and then tell me why it’s all candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”
The 4th Alex Verus novel. I wasn‘t entirely sure if I still wanted to read this, but it was really good and I am glad I did. Although I only read #3 in May, I was struggling to remember who everybody was during the first few pages.
The tone of this novel is darker still than the previous ones. Alex has to finally deal with his past and the horrible things he was forced to do back then. He has to face someone wanting revenge for his past actions. The good times of the previous book are gone and he might even loose some of his friends, when they finally realize what he is willing to do to survive.
I really enjoyed the final confrontation and I was stunned how forceful Alex became. He is going through some really good developments as the main character of this series. Which I missed in the series he is compared to quite often, the Dresden Files.
There is a big cliffhanger at the end, obviously. Let‘s see when I will get to the next book in the series, I added Hidden to my shelf already. More about that here. One of these days I will have to crosspost my reviews of the Dresden Files book here in my blog as well…
A female anthropologist visits a small town in Louisiana to meet and interview mythical shapeshifters living together with humans peacefully and in harmony. The love interest is a dragonshifter and the town’s sherif. They have zero chemistry, there is no decent world building. DNF at 40% (2 hours 33 minutes), as nothing of consequence had happened until then and I was to disinterested too listen to more of it. The audiobook narration was decent.
PS: It‘s a shame, really, as my reading buddies all seem to like this. So it might be me, who knows.
This month is pretty spectacular so far. I DNFd three — THREE!!!! — books, which is pretty unheard of for me. However, 2 of them are UF, leaning towards PNR. It proves that I am really, truly done with that type of subgenre.