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Review - Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron - 3 stars

I really wanted to like Nice Dragons Finish Last more than I did.

There's an interesting and complex world. Rachel Aaron sets her scene on near-future earth. Magic has returned and woken up all the magical creatures who were just resting their eyes a bit. I loved the magic elements to this story. They were well explained without a ton of exposition.

The supporting characters were also fantastic. The dynamic interactions between the characters made them feel lifelike, and the intrigue added enough mystery to keep them interesting. Best of all, they were remarkably distinct from one another. I had no trouble recalling a character who appeared briefly at the beginning of the book, even when I was near the end.

The storyline has some great twists and turns, and the setting and supporting characters create a great mix of assumed backstory and ambience.

Unfortunately, the main character annoyed me.

Spoilers Below!

It's important to note, the main character Julian has a lot to recommend him. He's wicked smart. He has a gift with words. And - oh yeah - he just happens to be superhumanly swift and strong. He also sticks with Marci, the most interesting character in the story, so he has good taste.

Don't get me wrong, he wasn't written as an annoying person. That wouldn't be nearly as frustrating. Instead, he is maddeningly self-assured in his sugar-sweet, "if we all just held hands the world would be so perfect, but alas no one knows how to be really nice but me" mentality.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the message this author wants to send. Time after time, the story contorts to prove him right.

Sometimes characters go completely against what they're characterized to be in order to aid that desired result. Julian, a twenty-four year old and incredibly sheltered dragon, drops his "just be nice and it'll all work out" mentality in among a bunch of centuries and even millennia-old dragons, and somehow they don't die of laughter. They even agree with him after the end of the story, albeit after some dangerous hijinks ensue.

Other people aren't as easily convinced about his rightness. Somehow, that never poses much of a problem for a literal apex predator like Julian. I suppose it's easier to be nice to someone when you know you can do just about anything to them and get away with it.

He has plenty of allies to call to his side when he's overpowered. Sometimes they show up even when he doesn't want them, which prompts some great scenes.

All of this means that Julius spends the entire story not growing or changing an awful lot. He goes from knowing that the world would be better if people would just listen, to knowing the world will be better because people listened. Not a lot of character growth there. Not to mention, his inherent rightness seems odd. He's a young man who spent most of his life in his mom's house, unwilling to venture outside. Why is he so savvy?

Another issue I found annoying was his constant stonewalling of the secondary character, Marci. If she says or does something he doesn't like, Julian just stops speaking to her. After the third time this happens, I find myself wondering why such a cool chick still has any interest in him at all.

He explains those silent brooding moments, but only in his head. Not to Marci. Even then it seems odd.

Okay, spoilers over.

Despite my frustrations with the main character, this was still a good book, and worth the read. The author champions Julius' worldview heavily in this book, but the other characters make some strong cases for their own points of view. This makes me hopeful for the author's future work.

Many other elements are strong in this story, so I'm at least hooked until the next part in the series.

If you are a sucker for YA paranormal fantasy with romantic elements and a trickster hero, this is the book to try. Especially if you think a broody dragon dude is super hot.


As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons...

Review: Snare by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae - 5 stars

Vampires! Paperwork! Romance!

This one is easy to love. The worldbuilding is fantastic, the characters are complex, and the pacing is believable. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes low-key paranormal elements/magical realism, meet-cute romances where the protagonists have a lot to work out after the inital attraction, and POV characters who *don't* immediately try to change a world they don't understand.

I loved Eli's emotional journey, and his exploration of the warrens avoided the pitfalls of many paranormal romances. The warren isn't some underground cave where people dress in capes and drink strangely soupy red wine; it's a community where beings of both species live together and care about each other. Eli doesn't become the chosen one who has to save a weird, wild world from eeeevil; he's just a guy who is new at this stuff and makes mistakes because he's not quite sure what the rules are.

The POV was more distant than I usually like, but it seemed appropriate for the presentation and subject matter. After a few pages, I found the distant POV helped to draw my attention to details I would otherwise have missed.

This whole story is so cozy and wonderful, and I look forward to reading more by these authors.


When Elliot Iverson, a municipal employee responsible for paperwork pertaining to New York City's vampire population, knocks on the door of the Gramercy warren, he wants only to resolve a clerical error. But a sudden snowstorm, a new friendship, and an ill-advised threesome force Elliot to make some big choices about his own life and death.

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