Review of Henchgirl by Rita Stradling

This cover looks like it belongs to a mystery or thriller, not a YA urban fantasy, despite the flying dragon.

Henchgirl by Rita Stradling. ★★1/2

Henchgirl is a YA urban fantasy that shows promise. Unfortunately, the love interest is a grade A jerk and my feelings towards the book devolved to mainly anger.

In the world of Henchgirl, those who are descended from dragons rule the world. Dakota Kekoa is 1/8th dragon, which gives her special abilities, in her case to manipulate people’s emotions. With three sisters and a mentally absent mother, Dakota supports her family by working for her grandfather’s mafia like organization, which includes infiltrating an all human high school. Dakota manages the precarious situation until she’s given only a week to turn up several thousand dollars of rent money and is demoted by her grandfather at the same time. At the same time, girls all over the island are going missing, including one of Dakota’s human friends.

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Review of Marked by Sue Tingey

24934734Marked by Sue Tingey. ★★

I should never have read this book or requested it as an ARC. Unfortunately, it has two different blurbs, one of which is honest and one of which is misleading, and I read the wrong one. The honest one is upfront about this being a paranormal romance. The misleading one tries to sell it as a psychic investigation. Only the first few chapters are anything like psychic investigation before Marked takes an abrupt genre twist.

Listen, I hate paranormal romances. I always have, and in all likelihood always will. I am utterly the wrong person to be reading this book. This book is clearly wish fulfillment, and I don’t feel like I am the audience for it. If I’m going for a tropey wish fulfillment book, I’d chose the one about the action girl over the princess every time. However, this was an ARC from Netgalley so I felt obliged to read and review the whole thing. And even if you like paranormal romances, I think this one has obvious flaws.

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Review of The Shadow Revolution by Clay and Susan Griffith

22926502The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. ★★

The Shadow Revolution just doesn’t work for me, not even as mindless fluff.

The Shadow Revolution is one of those vaguely steampunk Victoriana sort of books. It’s the Victorian era and there’s werewolves plus some magic. That about sums up the world building. More specifically, the uber handsome playboy and mage Simon Archer teams up with Kate Anstruther, a gorgeous alchemist who of course thinks she’s ugly, the rugged Scottish werewolf hunter Malcolm MacFarlane, and the completely forgettable Nick Barker. Together they fight werewolves who for some reason have decided to take over London. The book’s basically action scenes strung together, and it’s remarkable how little I cared about any of them.

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Review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I love this cover!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik ★★★★

Trigger warning for attempted sexual assault

If I can restrain my rage about the romance subplot, Uprooted was a very good book.

Agnieszka lives in a valley bordered by an evil woods with strange powers. The valley is protected from the woods by a wizard known as the Dragon, but every ten years he takes a girl into his tower. This year, Agnieszka is picked.

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Review of Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

149866Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett. ★★1/2

Interesting Times is the seventeenth Discworld novel and the one I was most dreading rereading. I hadn’t picked it up since middle school, but what I remembered suggested that it could be… problematic.

If you’re going to read Discworld, go read Small GodsGuards! Guards!, The Wee Free Men, Monstrous Regimentor Going Postal a try. Interesting Times is the book which gives Eric and The Color of Magic a run for the title of “Worst Discworld Novel.”

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Review of Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

While I decry cover art being merely two stock photos slammed together, the harmonious cover scheme and nice text arrangement save this from being a cover fail.

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. ★★1/2

I really do not know what rating to give Perdido Street Station. It started out oh, so well. The descriptions were lovely, the setting vibrant, the characters intriguing, but the farther I read, the more the cracks started to show.

However, first I should describe what this book is actually about. I would roughly place it in urban fantasy, but it’s not the normal sort. The entire story takes place in an other world, fantasy city named New Crobuzon. The city is fantastic and so breathtakingly imaginative, if dark. I love how non-human races were woven into the city. Really, the setting is the strength of this book.

The plot described on the back cover is misleading. Yes, the story starts with Yagharek, who’s part bird part man, coming to Isaac, a renegade scientist and the main character (who’s black – yay, diversity!), and asking him to give him back flight.

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Review of A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is such bad Photoshoping. Seriously, they didn’t even make an effort to blend together the different images or make sure that the lighting’s consistent. I’m calling it: cover fail.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. ★★

The writing was beautiful and the world building interesting, but the pace was slow and the story clearly sexist.

A Wizard of Earthsea is a classic fantasy story about a Ged, a great sorcerer who makes a mistake when he’s a student. His mistake unleashes a terrible and unnamed shadow creature, which will destroy him if it can and then wreck havoc upon the world. The story’s reminiscent of a fable or fairy tale. The writing’s lyrical, and characters tend to be simplistically described. As other reviewers have pointed out, Le Guin tends to tell instead of show. I didn’t have too much of a problem with this aspect – for me, it added to the fable-like feeling of the story.

My biggest problem with A Wizard of Earthsea is that it’s openly sexist. Magic is explicitly only for men, and if a woman’s using magic, she’s clearly evil and ineffective:

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