Book Review: Rising Inferno

review-cover-rising infernoTitle: Rising Inferno [Dark Alpha Dragon Series 1]

Author: Lucile Wild

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Novella

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Skye Louise left her safe but predictable home in Texas, her overbearing parents, and moved to Manhattan to study at the Art Institute. Even though she doesn’t quite fit in with her hip, sophisticated New York classmates, she is determined to learn everything she can and turn her passion into a real career.

On her first night in the city, she is horrified to see a mugging outside of her window. A masked vigilante rescues the would-be victim and then burns the mugger’s face with his bare hands.

Later, she discovers that the masked vigilante is the grandson of a kind restaurant owner in her neighbourhood, and the last of a long line of dragon shapeshifters. Now, Skye must prove that she can be trusted with his family’s secrets. She must also find a way to fight her growing attraction to him.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I picked this novella up. I was asked to give it a review, and I thought “why not, I’ve never read a dragon romance before!” What ensued, was a very strange 15-30 minutes where my face was continually stuck in “WTF” mode. Even now, I’m still kind of laughing at the absurdity.

Here’s the thing… the description, the tags on GoodReads, and the very title on both GoodReads and amazon (BBW Ménage) are a lie. This is not a ménage. There is no evidence of anything BBW. The cover shows a disproportionate Asian guy with feathery wings—but let’s be clear, the man in the novella actually has bat wings—and in no way does the main character, Skye, ever try to fight her growing attraction for Raiku.

What this book is, is a very short 33 page encounter between a naïve country bumpkin from Texas (who couldn’t be more stereotypical. I live in Texas, and no one talks like her or dresses like her here.) and  a very quiet and somewhat shy ‘shifter’ whose only claim to being remotely dragon-like is his ability to produce fire with his hands and a set of bat wings. He does not actually turn into a dragon. The novella is incredibly short and very sweet, but to be honest, it has its problems.

There were a few typos—too many for something this short, and a lot of stereotypes were used. The characters were pretty one dimensional and sweet as cotton candy in a dumb-blonde sort of way. The “romance” between the two main characters was kind of endearing… but wasn’t very substantial.  The events in the novella span about three days, so the characters barely know each other, and while drawn to one another, I don’t know if I’d call it a true “romance”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really an “erotica” either. The story ends in the shortest dry-hump “sex” scene I’ve ever read. I don’t even really consider what the characters did sex. They were like two virgin teens playing at sex and failing miserably.

That isn’t to say the story was all bad, though. Despite its many flaws, I actually kind of liked it. Though the characters had all the depth of a puddle, they were adorable together in a shy “let’s hold hands and smile” sort of way. I liked them. Also, despite the time jumps and location switches (as has to happen in all shorter fiction) I didn’t feel like the story was rushed. It felt like a complete encounter from beginning to end. The writing wasn’t bad… it just wasn’t great.

Overall, I liked the story, but at the same time, it had a lot of flaws. More importantly, it is not what it is advertised to be. I give this one three stars. It was okay. It made 15-20 minutes of my life more interesting, and I’m glad to have gotten a taste of the author’s writing style. Were this a longer, more fleshed out book, I think I probably would have liked it a lot more… there’s just only so much you can do in 33 pages. If you’re looking for a kind of a fun read to pick up while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office somewhere, and you aren’t particularly looking for something steamy, give this a try. If you’re looking for a steamy erotica or in-depth romance, you may want to keep looking.

Book Review: Wild

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Title: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Author: Cheryl Strayed

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What an amazing, wonderful, and strange journey I have just been on. Wild by Cheryl Strayed isn’t a book I’d normally pick up. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read an entire biography in my life—on anyone. Ever. So why did I pick up this book? I happened upon a trailer for the movie, and I thought “I need to see that.”… and I did. Immediately before I read the book, I watched the movie—and I’m glad that I did for a lot of reasons.

Wild is the true story and memoir of Cheryl Strayed, a woman who, when she was 22, went on a self-discovery hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in order to find herself. She walked over 1,100 miles (give or take a few) from the Mojave Desert all the way up to the border of Washington and the Bridge of the Gods. The reason this story intrigued me is that it sounds like something I’ve always wanted to do. I grew up in Oregon, hiking, camping, hunting, and enjoying the outdoors. I’ve been to a lot of the same places that Cheryl went on her journey—and I was intrigued to find out what she may have learned along the way. Like Cheryl, I too lost my mother to cancer at a young age (though I was just a teen), and I couldn’t help but identify with some of the commonalities between our lives as I read through her journey.

It’s difficult for me to quantify this story in the way that I normally would in a review. Normally I’d pick apart the language, sentence structure, characters, and world building. I can’t do that here. Cheryl Strayed is a real person, and the events of the story really happened. It would be insulting to try and quantify this story on any sort of literary level. So instead, I’ll say this: Thank you.

This book took me two days to read—which is longer than most books take me. The story delved into aspects of life that I try to avoid in fictional stories… drugs, promiscuity, death, abandonment… but I’m infinitesimally grateful that I read this story. When the last page was finished and Cheryl’s hike came to a close, I felt like I too had been on an amazing journey. Wild made me think. It made me consider the importance of life and the people in it—of who all of us are once we strip away the needless things of our daily lives.

There were some differences between the movie and the book. I felt a lot of the original printed story was cut out for the movie, and some details were definitely altered and re-arranged for the cinematic screen, but deep down, the story at its core was the same. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would have felt about the movie or the book had I not seen/read both. The movie wasn’t particularly engaging, and neither was the book… but I couldn’t help but be drawn into the story anyhow. Watching the movie ahead of time made it easy for me to visualize the landscapes, people, and events that occurred in the book, and I think because of that, it made the book easier to read in a way.

Overall, I loved the book. It’s a weird thing to say because the book failed at every turn if I were to compare it to the fiction I normally read. The writing wasn’t particularly engaging or fluid. The main character wasn’t particularly sassy or endearing, and the plot? What plot? This was a true story—it didn’t need a plot. I can’t rate this book on the same scale I’d normally use to decide if a book was “good”—but oh, how it was. When the story was over I was left with a feeling of wonder and joy. I am so very glad that I read it.