Forest of Whispers by Jennifer Murgia

Rating: 3 stars

Series: Forest of Whispers #1

In the Black Forest, Rune lived with Matilde who was known as a witch. They were safe in the forest until some bad things began happening in the village nearby. The villagers blamed them, and Rune had to go one the run. The secrets of her past began to unravel, and she learned that she was in more danger than she had thought.

This was hard to rate since I really liked some things and didn’t like others. I loved the setting in the Black Forest especially since it had a mystical feel. It took place in the 17th century when there were actual witch trials in Bavaria although unlike IRL magic existed in this world. Witch hunts/trials have always fascinated me. This was a good depiction of how easy it was for panic to spread and for rumors of witches to be perpetuated.

Rune needed to be more emotional. She went through a few traumatic events and didn’t have strong reactions. Whenever bad things happened, she simply accepted it as fate. Sometimes she was TSTL. I don’t understand why she threw herself into situations where she was in danger. Her motivations for those actions weren’t explained. Laurentz was appealing because he didn’t conform to the norms of society and believe everything that was said about witches. I did like the relationship between Rune and Laurentz, but there was some insta-lust, which really wasn’t necessary. Their relationship was slowly developing just from spending time together.

The magic could have used more of an explanation. It worked in vague and random ways. I think some of that will be explained later on in the series as Rune figures those things out for herself. Forest of Whispers was okay, but it was good enough that I’d like to read the next one.

I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bang by E.K. Blair

Rating: 1 star

Series: Black Lotus #1

Honestly I can’t think of anything good to say about this other than it was well edited. All of the characters were assholes. Nina had a tragic past, but she was such a bitch in the present that it was hard to sympathize with her. Pike was a sleazy and white trash. He did love Nina in his own way; it was a selfish love, so even that wasn’t an endearing quality about him. Declan had his good points but was too controlling to be appealing. Bennett actually wasn’t an asshole, but there was so little development to his character that it was hard to give a shit about him one way or the other.

One woman. Three men. Lots of sex. But this is no romance. It’s a story about revenge. The story was vague at first, but by a third of the way through it, I had the plot figured out. Once Nina’s motives were revealed, it made her seem insane. She was right to be pissed about her past, but it wasn’t fair to blame it all on the person she did. It was ridiculous to blame someone who had been a child at the time for her rotten life. The actions of the child seemed odd. IDK any kid that would do what he did. It was something only an adult would do.

After the story moved at a snail’s pace, things got crazy at the very end. Some of the insanity was a surprise but some of it wasn’t. The title of the book is Bang, so take a wild guess as to what makes a big bang and what it does to somebody. If I had cared about any of the characters at all, the ending may have evoked some emotions. It ended on a big cliffy, but I have no desire to continue on with this disaster.

Followed by Frost by Charlie N. Holmberg

Rating: 3 stars

I really liked The Paper Magician, so when I saw a new book by the same author I wanted to read it. Followed by Frost was different than The Paper Magician. The tone was different and the pace was much slower. This didn’t focus as heavily on romance.

Smitha was a selfish and heartless girl. A drifter expressed interest in Smitha. She rejected his advances in a cruel way. There were severe consequences for her actions. He cursed her to be as cold as her heart. It wasn’t just her body that was ice cold, everything within a mile of her was cold and snowy. No one could bear to be near her, so she was run out of town.

Based on the wording of the curse, it was easy to figure out how the story would end. It really lacked the element of surprise. The beginning was very slow. Smitha’s interactions with Death were interesting although I wish more had resulted from them. Towards the end I understood why Smitha acted the way she did. It had to happen, but it was frustrating too because of her passivity. The romance was subtle, but I enjoyed it. It was the slow moving kind where the couple really gets to know each other. It was an entertaining story about redemption, but it lacked anything that really made it stand out.

I received a copy of this from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Would Be On My Syllabus If I Taught Adult Urban Fantasy 101

kjhiTop Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s top ten is about what books to teach (any genre) 101. Urban fantasy is my favorite genre, and I greatly prefer books geared for adults. YA can be good, but it’s just not my preference. Instead of naming specific books, I am going to list top ten series since UF books usually aren’t standalones, and it would be hard to pick specific books out of a great series.

  1. October Daye by Seanan McGuire This is one of the best UF series around, but it’s highly underrated. It has phenomenal and highly memorable characters. Tybalt is one of the best characters ever written. The world building is top notch. It’s obvious from reading the series to know that Seanan McGuire plans ahead when she writes. When doing a reread there are things you notice that you didn’t the first time. The first two books in the series aren’t the best, but it gets really good after that.
  2. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews Most people know about this series and love it. It’s highly praised for a good reason. The writing is so good. It’s funny. Ilona Andrews knows how to write characters well. Even the side characters have depth. The first book is a little rough and confusing the first time, but everything smoothed out with the second book. Eight books in and the series is still going strong.
  3. Alex Craft by Kalayna Price This is one of those series where it’s a blend of UR and PNR. One of my most hated tropes is a central feature which is a love triangle. It’s the best love triangle ever! Both of the love interests are appealing, but personally I like Death. The only issue with this series is that it has been on hiatus for a few years, but supposedly the fourth book will be out early next year.
  4. Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane A truly original series for more than one reason. Chess the MC is a drug addict, which can be difficult to read sometimes, but is an interesting perspective. Terrible is an unusual love interest: he’s not good looking and is a thug but still remains appealing. The world building is unique and original. Since Chess lives in the ghetto, lingo was created just for those characters. The lingo was a little irritating at times, but you get used to it. The publisher cancelled the series before it was finished. It hasn’t happened yet but more books are supposed to be self published.
  5. The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning Another very popular series with rich world building. The characters are written in a way that makes it hard to know who is good and who is bad. Many of them are deceptive. It’s a fun ride trying to figure out who MacKayla can really trust. Originally there were only meant to be 5 books. So far those are the best. The other books is the series are okay. More are going to be written, so things may improve.
  6. The Veil Series by Pippa DaCosta This series is highly underrated, and not very well known since it’s self published. The characters are extremely well written. They are very complex. One minute you think you know them and the next you don’t. Good characters will do bad things and bad ones do good, which makes things unpredictable.
  7. Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs A really good series with memorable characters. It has good storylines and world building, but it’s the characters that keep me coming back for more. Even the side characters are well developed and have personality.
  8. The Disillusionists Trilogy by Carolyn Crane Part of what made this series great was that it didn’t involve the usual supernatural creatures. The world building was unique. I’ve never read anything like it. The only downside was that there is a love triangle, but it worked into the story and world building well.
  9. Cassie Palmer by Karen Chance The writing style is different and can take a little while to adjust to. Some of the action scenes can be drawn out and slightly confusing. The series has gotten much better as it has gone on. It’s the kind of series where a reread is worth it because you’ll get more out of it. Karen Chance really impressed me by taking a character that I loathed and turned them into a character that I loved. It takes talent to pull that off.
  10. Charlie Madigan by Kelly Gay One of the best things about this series was that the MC is a single mom and still kicks ass. I’ve never encountered that in UF before. The world building was good. Most of the supes weren’t the usual weres and vampires. This was another series that was cancelled by the publisher. More books are supposed to be self published, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s worth reading even if another book isn’t published.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Rating: 2 stars

Series: Red Queen #1

In typical dystopian fashion, one group of people (the silvers) lorded their power over another group of people (the reds) essentially making them slaves. The reds had started their own rebel group to bring equality. A special snowflake heroine was discovered amongst the reds who could be useful to both sides.

If you can’t guess the gist of how this will end from this brief synopsis, then this is the book for you. Unfortunately early on I knew how this would play out. The subterfuge the author used to attempt to deceive me about the characters’ true natures was pathetic. It was painfully obvious who was good and who was bad.

The fact that Mare couldn’t figure any of this out made her highly unlikable and, well, frankly stupid. People kept giving her hints that she shouldn’t trust some of the people she was trusting. There was no reason to heed their advice because she knew it all. Only if I hadn’t seen the end coming long before she did it would have been a nice twist. In some ways it didn’t feel like she was all that much better than the people she wanted to defeat. She hated the silvers because they only saw what they wanted to in the reds, but she did the same with the silvers.

Mare was soooo special, and it made me like her even less. She barely had any redeeming qualities aside from her special power. This trope is highly overused and didn’t do this story any favors. Some personality, wit, and intelligence would have gone a long way towards making Mare interesting.

Aside from the incredibly predictable plot, Mare had not one, not two, but three love interests. Three FFS! Mare couldn’t get a good read on any of them although I think it’s fairly obvious who she will end up with. One of the them was the childhood best friend who had such a small role that I didn’t care or know anything about him. I was constantly told that he was worthy of being defended by Mare but not shown it. One guy had real potential and was the only character in the book I liked. The third guy was a power hungry jerk whose role was obvious from the start.

The world building could have been better. The reds definitely deserved better. They were living in horrible conditions and were treated like dirt although they were what made the way the silvers lived possible. The ultimate goal of the reds wasn’t clear. Do they want equality or power? It seemed like they wanted power, and it made it difficult to get behind their cause or at least to really believe they were the good guys.

Red Queen wasn’t original. It didn’t have enough action, and it had too much teen drama. I will not be reading the next one.

Hanover House by Brenda Novak

Rating: 3 stars

Series: Hanover House Chronicles #0.5

Evelyn was tortured, raped, and left for dead when she was a teenager. She was emotionally scarred by this. Twenty years later at 36 years old years old she could not form meaningful relationships. The only way she knew how to function was to devote her life to studying psychopaths.

I would have liked this better if it didn’t have insta-lust. After spending decades avoiding relationships but also not having any genuine sexual interest, it struck me as slightly odd that she met Amarok and felt so drawn to him. She must have seen good looking men before. Why didn’t they have the same effect on her? I really did enjoy the budding relationship between Evelyn and Amarok, but would have liked it better if they got to know each other a little more before the lust was a strong factor.

Hanover House was a good prequel for the upcoming trilogy. Since this was an introduction to Evelyn’s story, it is likely the actual trilogy will focus slightly more on the psychopaths she studies, which could be very interesting. It’s a bit of a dark twist for romantic suspense novels.

I received this from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.