Review of Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1)

Review of Justice Calling of the Twenty Sided Sorcery series. Written by Anne Billet

 

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Bellet, Annie. Justice Calling. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014.

 

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

“Justice Calling,”  is an absolute treat for lovers of Urban Fantasy with strong female characters. A la Mercy Thompson, Kitty Norville, and my favorite Rachel Morgan. Holla at “The Hallows!”  It is an exciting, albeit too short romp through a new world created by Anne Billet. The protagonist is fun, saucy, and not at all annoying. Something that I have missed in the last few Urban Fantasy novels I have read as of late

 

The summary is as follows:

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe.

As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

When dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, a sexy shape-shifter enforcer shows up. He’s the shifter world’s judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one, and he thinks Jade is to blame. To clear her name, save her friends, and stop the villain, she’ll have to use her wits… and her sorceress powers.

Except Jade knows that as soon as she does, a far deadlier nemesis awaits.

Justice Calling is the first book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series. Readers who enjoyed The Dresden Files or The Iron Druid Chronicles will likely enjoy this series.

Jade Crow, Sorcerous, shop owner, and gamer finds herself in a pickle of a situation. Does she stay or does she run? Does she out herself, and possibly bring ruin upon her future? Can she do all that she needs to do, and not use magic? I think if you are a fan of the Mercy Thompson Series or the world of Kate Daniels this might be a good series for you. Although definitely not as well developed as those worlds, is has the bones of a great series. Good plot points, fun characters, and I have to admit I absolutely love the gamer bent. Me being a gigantic geek myself, I can relate to her quite a bit. I hope that in her later books the author can flesh out the characters a lot more and give us more to read but, great start! Also, Jade has a very cool superpower. She knows every language. That is a superpower for a total geek. I love it!

Things that I don’t dig. Why is it that every Urban Fantasy with a female character needs to have some sort of love angle? No really. C’mon. Not all ladies need to have a love interest. Nor do those ladies need to be saved by the said love interest. Although, props to Anne Billet for letting this lady do the saving. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoy a good romance now and again, but this particular possible love interest seemed a bit shoehorned. Yes, he is hot, yes he has rippling muscles, yes he turns into a (sexy?) white tiger? Blah blah blah. I think it would have been much more of a compelling character if he was a just a plain normal looking guy. A guy with a particular skill set that led him to the job he is now in (I don’t want to give away to much).  He doesn’t need to speak like a combination of Dolph Lundgren and Daniel Craig to be compelling. At least that’s how I picture him. It makes him much more relatable. How many guys like Daniel Craig have you met in your life? Also, to some extent, there isn’t much of a story. This is more like an introduction to the characters. Which I really like and a very quick problem that they need to overcome. That is fine for me for a start of a series.

Do yourself a favor, read the novella. It is good light fun. Not a barn burner or anything. I don’t think anyone will be getting a Jade Crow tattoos like Twilight and Dresden. But its fun and saucy and thankfully not sugar-coated crap. Read up.

 

 

 

Review of “Year One” by Nora Roberts

 

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I was very excited to read Year One by Nora Roberts. First off, I have read close to thirty of her books. For a while there I was plowing through them. She writes great characters and exciting plots. Especially her later work. I also have read pretty much all the post-apocalyptic books I can get my hands on. Except for “The Road” which I won’t touch with a ten-foot stick.

 

My first observation is a positive one. The entire novel rests on an interesting, if not a slightly trite premise. World plague that decimates human the population. The thrilling thing is that the epidemic is based on lore mythology and magic. The disease is itself named “Doom,” and is made of these dark energies escaping and infecting the world. I think. Nora Roberts was a little fuzzy on it. In response to these increasing darkness and sickness infecting, a reaction in people with any spiritual and/or magical is that the latent power these people had increased exponentially. Another point I’m fuzzy on. Otherwords, some people get big woo-woo, others not so much. No idea what it is based on or why. Some people get nothing at all and remain human. Also no clue. It just is. Plot points like these that lay the foundation in novels, in my opinion, need to be rock solid. Otherwise, niggling questions remain and throw the reader’s mind out of the story.

The second observation is also a positive one. Nora Roberts knows how to write good dialog. It may be a little schmaltzy, but it flows like people talk. The dialog was well written. I may not have liked what the characters were saying, but she is damn good at writing it.

Character-wise, it is just damn confusing. She has some well-written ones in there that are fleshed out, and some that are flat as a board (I am looking at you Eric and Allegra) and you scratch your head wondering what the hell. Why are the ones that are vapid come from out of nowhere and give so much page time? Also, the pacing and plot arcs are jarring as hell. I have never read a novel that jarred me like a car accident from one vignette to another.

Lastly the third act of the story. I am going to speak in broad terms so as not to do any spoilers, but I spent 75 pages scratching my head. It was all so bland and wrapped up in a neat little bow. I didn’t give a damn about the characters at the end. The ones that I really liked and thought were interesting got unceremoniously excised from the last act of the novel which was a weird pacing and story arc thing to do. Maybe I was just slightly miffed at that. Where are my Arlys, Fred and Jonah? She should have at least nodded her head at them and told us a little of what was going on.

I want to be very clear here. This isn’t a crap book. Nora Roberts is a master storyteller, but this isn’t her best work. That’s ok not everything is going to be a shining star. It is a serviceable book with highs and lows and is very readable. I will read the next book in the series to see what happens. If I had to give it a rating, I’d rate it 3 out of 5.

ARC – Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5) by Patricia Briggs

I received this as an advanced copy from Netgalley.com for an honest review.

 

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When I first started reading this novel I felt pretty strongly that the story could have stood a trim and be better served as a novella. The plot felt too small and specific to carry an entire novel. This may be because I haven’t read books 2, 3, and 4 of the series and I am not as familiar with the characters as some. However, Patricia Briggs is, in general, a fantastic writer. I am a rabid fan of the Mercy books and pretty much anything she writes in that world. I didn’t think it would be a problem coming into the novel a little out of sequence, and it wasn’t. This is how I felt for the first 100 pages or so. It slogged a bit and the characters and setup just didn’t gel. Why is this plot important? Why do I care? What is the mystery that is trying to be solved? None of these questions came to much of a head till about 250 pages into the story. It is worth the wait. The climax of the story is absolutely worth the wait. But, I just don’t think this is one of her best books. It is heads above most writers out there, but all in all, it felt to slow for her normal pacing.