Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

Title: Wicked Ways
Author: Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
Series: The Colony #4
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Kensington Pub Corp  (October 7, 2014)
Source: NetGalley eArc
Rating: ☕☕

Elizabeth Gaines Ellis is an ordinary suburban wife and mother. That's what she tells herself as she flits between her realtor job, yoga class, and caring for her daughter, Chloe. But for months now, Elizabeth has worried that she's far from normal…that she's somehow the cause of a series of brutal, horrible deaths.
Her mean-spirited boss. A bullying traffic cop. Her cheating husband. Elizabeth had reason to be angry with them all. She didn't mean for them to die. No one will take her fears seriously—except the private investigator prying into her past.…
The more scared and angry Elizabeth becomes, the higher the death toll grows. But those who wrong her aren't the only ones in danger. Because others have secrets too, and a relentless urge to kill without mercy or remorse.

My Thoughts: This is my first book by both Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush and I am wondering whose writing style this book falls under. To me it was long and tedious. So many pages with nothing happening!

Let's start with the biggest issue in the book. Elizabeth. We spent so much time in her head I really wanted to gouge my eyes out with a dull pencil. #1)This woman apparently spends a lot of time wishing bad things to happen to a lot of people. Not just bad things but death. What kind of person wishes evil things onto people? Not a good one in my eyes. Which leads us to #2) She thinks she has a psychic ability to actually make people die if she wishes it so we spend a lot of time reading about how guilty she feels because she made it happen. What kind of person truly believes they can wish someone to death? Oh wait...she believes it because #3)When she was a child she could see bad things happen before they actually did. Oh wait...she really didn't remember that for the most part so I guess she's just a nutball. #4) After a week trying to get used to her husband being dead she falls in lust with someone else. #5) Her well meaning friends worked hard to engage Elizabeth to get out of the house and have some fun. Once Elizabeth accepted the invites we then had to read her internal musing on how much she hated it and couldn't wait to ditch her friends. Yes I hated Elizabeth.

Let's talk plot: Well, the secondary storyline with Elizabeth's cousin Ravinia going on a journey to find Elizabeth was actually better than the one with Elizabeth, herself. The hunt for Elizabeth (who had been adopted as a baby) was faster paced than the primary mystery. Not a whole lot faster but some. However, the addition of a romantic interest for Elizabeth 2/3 into the book was a mistake as there wasn't enough time to see a relationship form let alone something as complex as love. Especially since Rex and Elizabeth do not spend more than a few minutes together over the course of several days. The ending seemed rushed as it finally wrapped up the plot thread introduced in the prologue in what felt like an afterthought. Seriously, the beginning is not mentioned in any way for over 400 pages other then we readers could speculate if Elizabeth was that stolen baby or not. Who the stolen baby was seemed a total stretch even factoring in the paranormal psychic stuff into the equation.

In a Nutshell: I didn't like this book at all. I'm character driven and I just didn't like many of the enormous cast of characters in this book. To tell the truth the only character I was intrigued by was more of a ghost of a character as they are mentioned within the book but no one is really sure if they were actually there or not. When coming up with my 2 star/cup of coffee rating I factored in whether or not this book could be read as a standalone or not. This is the only book I have read to date in this series. I do not think that I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd read the first three. To tell the truth if the first 3 are similar to this one I probably would have quit the series after book 2 and never got to book 4 to begin with. I think there probably is some background on the Colony and the women who live there that may be of interest to readers, in addition to some plot details of earlier books that had been mentioned in this one briefly but I'm really not interested in going back and reading the first three. Except I also have the 3rd book (Something Wicked) from NetGalley which I feel obligated to read and review, which I will do....someday.

Angel's Ink by Jocelynn Drake

Title: Angel's Ink
Author: Jocelynn Drake (narrated by Michael Urie)
Series: The Asylum Tales #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: HarperAudio (November 13, 2012)
Source: Scribd Audio
Rating: ☕☕
Buyer beware....
Looking for a tattoo - and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of true love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using unique potions - a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks - to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart's desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has its price.
No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Tower where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him the right to practice magic. And if he disobeys, his punishment - execution - will be swift.
Though he's tried to fly under the radar, Gage can't hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead - or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage might just make it through this enchanted world alive. 

My Thoughts:  This is my first attempt at Jocelynn Drake's writing and I'm not sure she pulled it off. She wrote this from Gage's perspective but his internal musings were a bit too soft for me. He mentioned several times how much he adored Trixie because she was just so wonderful. I had issue with this because we didn't know why Trixie was just wonderful other than Gage telling us she had a kind heart amongst other things. I like to come to my own conclusions about the characters in the book rather than being told how I should feel. Another issue with this is that it was hard for me to see Gage as an Alpha type character since he one step from writing poetry about Trixie. Overall, the romance fell flat because it wasn't believable since we never saw the characters fall in love.

The action was decent but there was also an issue with believability. I had problems believing that Gage's life was bombarded with one life changing event after another all within a day. There was way too much happening in this book. His old mentor (the warlock mentor not the tattoo artist mentor) wanted to kill him forever and finally made his move to do so. This would have been sufficient plot device in addition to a believable romance to carry the book forward. But noooooo Drake threw in a scary mob boss, a faerie king who complicated Trixie's life, the betrayal of a friend, a talking magical cat, a dying woman whose last request is to be tattooed with angel wings, a hall monitor type warlock keeping Gage in check and a past tattoo client who keeps popping into the book like a bad penny. Throw in a 3 day time limit and you've got just too much going on.

If those had been my only issues this book would have been worth 3 stars but I actually listened to this book and absolutely hated it. The narration for Gage was ok. The narrator (Michael Urie) was able to have many different voices for the plethora of men in this book. Unfortunately some of them sounded a bit too alike because when I say plethora, I mean PLETHORA. OK maybe there were only 9 or 10 men who had dialogue but to come up with voices for all of them had to be hard and Urie just didn't pull all of them off. In addition his voice for the female characters was not pleasing to the ears. Trixie came across sounding like a drag queen. This in itself wouldn't be horrible if this were a romance between two men but as romance between a man and woman it made it a bit awkward to listen to.

On the upside, Urie's voice for Gideon was kind of hot. Think Christian Bale in The Dark Knight hot. Unfortunately this was not Gideon's story but Gage's. Urie's voice for the talking cat, Sophia, was pretty decent too but it didn't save me from hating the narration aspect of this book.

In a Nutshell: An interesting idea for an Urban Fantasy series as Warlocks are generally not front and center in a series...except for that particular idea came to Jim Butcher's mind over a decade before Drake thought it up. Well, at least there is that tattooing part to help with some originality. Despite my issues with the book I'll put the second one on my BOLO list. Meaning if I happen to see it for a quarter at a  thrift store I will pick it up but for sure I'll not be listening to any more of these unless there is a different narrator.