Dream Stalker by Jenna Kernan

First, the horribly truncated summary: Half-Bear-Man steals woman via tornado to cure evil infection.

Next vehicle I get, I’m naming it Tornado. I can’t keep the inside of a car neat.

Paranormal romance meets Native American myth.

I should share this story first. I received this book via Goodreads First Reads, as well as the other three books in this series. I tried to get into the first book, but couldn’t because it’s in paper format.

Don’t look at me like that. I’ve grown attached to the Kindle.

Anyway, to remedy this, I decided to see if the library had a digital copy of the books. It did not, but the parent company Overdrive did, so I ordered the books for the library. The books come in, I select the first one… and I’m already on the waitlist. Yay for indirectly spreading the books to new readers. That, coupled with my penchant for not getting reviews out lately (sorry!), means that this book took a while to review.

As for the book itself, I liked it. I didn’t love it or think I should write home about it, but I was entertained with a good romance.

I am also seeing a pattern in romance books, now that I’m reading more of them. All male leads are tall. Obscenely tall. Over-the-top tall. “Nearly seven feet tall” in this case. I find this hilarious because my husband is 6’3”. He fears ceiling fans and historical buildings. My mother’s office doorway nearly took him out once. Legroom is more than a selling point and cheap airplane tickets are a nightmare. I can’t imagine a man being taller and comfortable. However, height translates into shoe size and shoe size translates into pleasure (apparently), so we accept that our male will always be tall and move on.

Michaela Proud, a modern day Lakota woman, is suffering from bad dreams ever since her near-death experience. Still recovering from the death of her mother, she goes outside to pick blueberries and get over the sense that someone is watching her. A possessed bear attacks and wounds her, but she is saved by Sebastian, our shape shifter. Her wound is infected spiritually and threatening her soul, so he takes her away to mend it while trying to figure out why the spirits want her dead in the first place.

The rest of the book is him keeping his nature away from her while they figure out the mystery. Oh, and sex. And travel via Thunderbird tornado. And other types of shape shifters.

Good stuff.

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Swans and Klons by Nora Olsen

First, the horribly truncated summary: In the future, men devolve into apes and women enslave each other.

For some, the future is closer than this book gives credit.

I was given a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Netgalley is generous and benevolent in waiting for me to perform, and for that, I thank them.

As it turns out, dystopia is the new paranormal romance. We like our dystopia these days, especially when the price of gas goes up. What’s a sparkley vampire going to do about that, huh?

Hmm… vampires attacking oil refineries. It’s just crazy enough to work.

Our future in this book is a time where a mitochondrial disorder has deformed men mentally and physically. In order to save the race, women began to clone themselves, leading to a society where there are only 300 types of women.

Not sure why they didn’t try to clone the last genetically healthy male, but that’s not important. What is important is that the leaders of the Society have created an upper and lower class based on genetics. The perfect embryos turn into Pannas while the “defective” ones are raised as laborers, or Klons.

The book opens with Rubric Anne (all Pannas are given nouns as a first name) waiting to find out which genetically-similar Panna will be taking her as a mentor. All young Pannas wait excitedly for this day, since it means adulthood/freedom from dorm living. Her girlfriend/schatzie, Salmon Jo, is selected to work at the genetic reproduction plant while Rubric trains with a famous artist.

We adopted a German vernacular in the future. No one knows why, we just did. Sorry, Japan, you tried your hardest.

Salmon Jo finds out that the differences between Pannas and Klons are non-existent and tells Rubric. Rubric tries to find out more and gets them both into trouble, so the two girls flee.

The devil is in the details and the details of this future world just aren’t here. When the reveal happens, the world isn’t built up enough to make it earth-shattering, so it instead turns lackluster. Scenes that should be action scenes are talked about instead of shown to us. The idea is good and the story is decent, but I kept wanting more than I was given.

Also, the ending was good, but the setup for it felt heavily contrived.

The Last Grand Master by Andrew Gordon

First, the horribly truncated summary: An awesome god-chosen wizard and his warrior lover ride their unicorns to… umm… well, there is an evil wizard.

Typical unicorn mythology does not apply here. It makes me thankful because I would like to ride one myself. And, as established by friends/colleagues, I have no virtue left.

Well, I might have some, but the parts of me requiring the virtue for a unicorn moving right along…

*deep breath* I will try to rein in my snark on this one. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it frustrated me. There were great parts, but they were surrounded by action that went too quick on one side and useless scenes on the other.

We open the book on Farrell, Prince of Haven, levitating outside. The day might be peaceful, but the threat of an increasingly powerful wizard looms like a dark cloud over Farrell’s actions. While working, his god comes down to him in the form of an eagle and explains that his nemesis has attacked a distant village. His god also tells him that he will meet his soulmate in the village, so he best get going.

The following pages are a mad-dash rush. Before I’ve been given a chance to care about the characters, our lead is taken to the village by the Queen of the Unicorns, fights off minions with magic, saves a group of defenders, meets a handsome man among said defenders, and fights to enter the city. It isn’t until we get inside and have a chance to breathe that we get to know Farrell and his god-chosen lover, Miceral.

I liked their relationship. Farrell is this great wizard with a penchant for melodrama while Miceral is his strong warrior (non-human-ly strong – He’s Muchari – a mythical race believed to not exist). Because they both know that they are soulmates, their courtship is over before it began and they have to get used to each other instead. It’s almost like an arranged marriage. Also, most other people are accepting of the homosexual relationship, which is a refreshing change. The only person who complains is Miceral’s father, and those complaints don’t last long because arguing with wizards ends poorly.

They then evacuate Miceral’s village to thwart the evil wizard’s plans and move all inhabitants to Haven. Once in Haven, everyone changes alignment to get away from Qeynos and align themselves with Innoruuk because Dark Elves…

Too much Everquest. Sorry.

Anyway, the magical evacuation and thwarting of their opponent (a wizard named Meglar) was awesome, but after that, the book became boring. Considering we’re only at 25% of the book by this point, it’s disappointing. There’s training scenes, wedding planning, rides on unicorns… basically, no conflict until minions of the wizard show up again at 60%. Even after that point, we have a couple melodramatic chapters and one useless ride-on-unicorns segment. We never see Meglar and, by the time the final battle of the book happens, we need to be reminded of the stakes. I completely forgot that Meglar liked to turn people into monsters and use women for incubation. That’s not something I should forget.

It comes to this: A conflict-less wedding is not exciting (and shouldn’t be in a book’s middle) and if an evil wizard needs several months to recharge himself, he should be located and attacked during that interim. There were great parts of this book, but there needed to be an edit of the darlings.

Also, who puts the Queen of the Unicorns in a stable and abandons her?

Me and Netgalley

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Oh, Netgalley, I’m sorry.
I’ve been a bad updater. I’ve been a bad reviewer.
I’ve had a review for a book you gave to me lined up and, quite frankly, I kept putting it off.

That’s why you’ve sent me the Netgalley Wellness Challenge, so that I can get back in the game. I have a stack of books on my kindle ready and waiting, and I promise not to let you down.

Coming up, Reviews for The Last Grand Master and Swans and Klons!