Monday, 26 September 2016

Born to be Bound (Alpha's Claim #1) by Addison Cain






TW: RAPE, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, SEXUAL SLAVERY, FORCED IMPREGNATION, WEIRD SEX, AND MANY OTHER THINGS

If you read this a romance (which I see some people are doing and... ok) it's shit. Just my opinion, so don't bother arguing with me about it.
If you read this, as I did, as an in-depth exploration of abusive relationships it's A+++.

Seriously, it's like The Handmaid's Tale but only with icky sex!

I love Claire so, SO much! 
She is so strong, so brave, so honourable. 
She is honestly such an amazing character. It's admirable how she doesn't cave under the horrible abuse and repeated rape she is subjected to, how she never stops trying to escape.
It's just heart-warming how she always, and I do mean ALWAYS, looks out for other women. 
It's refreshing how she constantly points out how fucked up the whole situation is and how she is not consenting to any of it.
It's just a breath of fresh air how she does NOT fall for her abuser, no matter how manipulative he is.

I don't know if Cain meant this as I read it, but it's amazing and so unlike the usual plot followed in these types of books. And even if she didn't mean for it to be read like this... well, every reader interprets a book as they want, so it's a fantastic book to me regardless of the author's intent.

If you can stomach the subject matter this is a book you shouldn't miss.


Buy Born to be Bound (Alpha's Claim #1)
@ Amazon


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle


  Arc Provided by Tachyon Publications through Netgalley

 It's been a few days since I finished this story, and in that moment, I gave it a three star rating. The beginning was really good; if you like beautiful writing, but in the second part the story doesn't exactly evolve. There were situations that should have been more developed, namely the ones related with the magical realism aspect. Things that happened that felt strangely out of place and that left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

 Thing is, this is a quiet story that follows the lives of a couple that has been together for more than twenty years. They're quirky, intelligent, and after all those years they still like to keep their personal space.
After more than two decades together they still keep their own houses. They have their own lives with their very different interests: Del, a flight attendant, is always on the move, her non stop rhythm finding a pause in Abe's quieter way of life.

Abe is a reformed professor who is in the process of writing a book. His hobbies involve brewing domestic beer and messing with his neighbour's peace and quiet: Abe likes to play the harmonica.
My enthusiasm for the story rested heavily on their relationship.
And then Lioness appears...
Lioness is beautiful with a presence that would make her right at home in times of old... and strangely both Abe and Del end up entranced by her.

Why?
I have absolutely no idea, since I found her extremely dull.

And that's when things started unravelling. Lily's, Del's daughter from her only marriage also falls head over heals over Lioness. Everyone falls for Lioness.
Strange things start happening, but they are mostly told in a dispassionate format.

I start reading only one or two pages per day: let's face it, my enthusiasm had disappeared with Lioness's dull character.

And then Abe goes and Spoiler does something completely yucky... and even the description of that part becomes kind of ugh... and I was like, "ugh, ugh, my eyes, my hears."

Then the explanation for why Abe behaved the way he did was so lame. And so weak.

I've read about compulsion... maybe in the last book that I truly enjoyed of the Mercy Thompson series. Well, until that scene :/
Abe didn't act under a compulsion!!

So, yeah, after that I was like "what the hell am I reading?"
spoiler the sexual adventures of a sixty six year old with someone who looks like she's thirty? Hell no. Also I hate, hate cheaters. And, where the hell did that come from??

Now, a couple of days after having finishing it, I feel that reading "Summerlong" was akin to a dream: you may remember a couple of things, but mostly, the story it is already forgotten.



Bookdepository.com

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Once Broken Faith ( October Daye #10) by Seanan Mcguire




                             Arc provided by Daw through Netgalley
                                        
                                   Release Date: September 6th

Toby is back! And my heart nearly got broken -_- but everything turned out okay in the end ;)

“I never do anything heroic or stupid unless I’m under someone else’s control,” I said. “I’d be a lot happier if everyone would just leave me alone to eat pizza and watch television, but you people seem to constantly need saving, so here I am.” (Sir October Daye)

October Daye, reluctant Knight and Hero of the realm has been through a lot. She has gone against foes stronger than she, and lived to count the story. She has established alliances in almost all parts of Faerie. Gained friends who are as peculiar as she is... and enemies in old friends.
She has dethroned evil queens. Caught runaway Princesses... and she has even been named an Ambassador. Much to her dismay :)
Now, the High King of Faerie father of you know whom has requested her presence in a Fairie conclave to discuss what to do about the just found cure for elf-shot.
Toby would rather not... but people just don't leave her alone!
There, she finds herself among a great number of snotty Fae who don't think a changeling has any place there.
With tensions rising between different parties, and Fae...people ending up dead, once again it will be up to Toby to find a murderer between giving political speeches in the conclave. -_-
Honestly, guys, enough is enough!

As usual with all things Toby, there's a lot of self cutting, a lot of bleeding.
A lot of ruined dresses.
And even a little bit of dying...whatever that may mean ;)

As for romance, Tybalt once again shows us why he's our favourite cat. Ever :)

Definitely a series in which the author can go with a multitude of spin-off's. At this point I would be happy with a book about Mae, Dianda, Sylvester, you name it.

As for the novella, "Dreams and Slumbers" it features Queen Windermere, in the aftermath of what just happened in "Once broken Faith". Things that were supposed to be easy get complicated, and she'll have to strike a bargain with someone she'd rather not.

Now to wait another year for the next one :/ 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan #1) by Kelly Gay




Figures that I'd finally find an absolute jewel of a UF series and it's one that's been dropped by its publisher...

Still, I must rejoice, I suppose, because after a long and arduous journey through a bunch of 1-star rated PRs I finally found this series!

Charlie is a 31 year old single mother struggling with PTSD and basically trying to live a normal life.

It's so refreshing not to encounter the usually 20-something year old with tragic backstory and who is just ~special~.

Charlie has normal worries: how to deal with her ex-husband, how to balance work life with raising a kid, grocery shopping, and trying to best she can be.

She's so mature!
I love how sensible she is, the no-nonsense and practical way she approaches her problems, the absolute lack of immature drama in her relationships: she has a stellar relationship with her sister, a solid friendship with her partner, and she does her best to have a civil and healthy relationship with her ex-husband.
More than any magical powers this sets her apart from all other UF heroines.

Not that she doesn't have powers, but she deals with them in a way normal people would - not the "I should use these powers to save the world," but "Yeah, I don't want this, it's a hassle, I just want to live my life."

The plot is interesting, but it gets minus 1 star for dropping the reader with no clue in the middle of the action. Yes, it's all explained later, and this being left clueless and in the dark is an important plot point, but I did not like it, it was incredibly frustrating.

Anyway, all in all, I really recommend this book!



Kelly Gay's official website

Buy The Better Part of Darkness 
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)




Thursday, 1 September 2016

Girls and Goddesses: Stories of Heroines from Around the World by Lari Don



                                 
                                    Arc provided by Lerner Publishing Group through Netgalley
                                                           Release Date: September 1rt

This was an interesting collection of  twelve short stories for young readers with young girls as heroes.
These are tales full of wit, wisdom and sometimes self sacrifice.
Now, I know that I am not this book's intended audience, but I've become accustomed to middle grade books that are brilliantly written. I didn't find that to be the case here. I found the writing style to be serviceable, but maybe that was already the goal: to have the tales told in a more traditional way.

Chi and the Seven-headed Dragon (Chinese legend) - 3,5 Stars
One day, a dragon with seven heads appears in the Kingdom. The Emperor who likes things quiet _who doesn't?_is less than thrilled by this circumstance, and following his counsellors' advices decides to feed the dragon with what is supposed to be his favourite food: little girls. -_-
Typical.
 Weeks and years go by, until courageous (and bright) Chi appears. Then, and all by herself she is able to properly deal with the dragon: it may involve a different diet ;)

Inanna and the Box of Monsters (Sumerian myth) - 3.5
A story about Inanna, the Sumerian Goddess of Love ( no, I had never heard of her) , who wasn't content with the power she already had, and how she came to acquire more of it.
A story that shows us that not even the God of Wisdom can resist a goddess, if she decides that she wants something from him.
According to Inanna, the ends definitely justify the means ;)
Also good friends always come in handy!

The Wolf in the Bed (French folktale) - 3.5 Stars
"Once there was a young girl who lived at the edge of the forest."

Was this the first Red Riding Hood story?
I don't know. Apparently it was one of the firsts in which the girl saved herself all by herself.

Telesilla and the Gates of Argos (Greek legend) - 4 Stars

When the city of Argos is invaded by the Spartans, and Argos' men fail to protect it, it will be up to Telesilla, a young schollar, who will command the rest of the population into the protection of their city.

“We are the women of Argos and we are defending our homes.”

A wise woman who knew what drove most men.
Ego.

Durga and the Demon (Indian myth) - 3.5 Stars
The story of the fight between a super powerful demon ( aren't they all?) and a woman. "A tall dark woman named Durga."
A story of the "type" be careful what you wish for...


Kopecho and the Two Suns (Venezuelan myth) - 3.5 Stars
Another perfect example to which if you want a job well done, you have to do it yourself... even at great risk.

Mbango and the Whirlpool (Cameroonian folktale) - 2.5 Stars
 The perils of envy...

Hervor and the Cursed Sword (Norse legend ) - 2.5 Stars
The story of a powerful cursed sword and the family who kept it throughout the years.
Because like they say, "it's our family curse".
Well then...you can keep it.

Visiting Baba Yaga (Russian folktale) - 4 Stars
Or basically how to survive your wicked stepmother whom to make matters even worse, is also related to Baba Yaga...
Can't a girl ever catch a break?

Aliquipiso and the Cliff (Native American legend) - 4 Stars
In which the self sacrifice of a girl managed to save the rest of her tribe.

Tokoyo and the Skin Rope (Japanese legend) - 4 Stars
Good deeds never go without reward? Also, what's with so many girls sacrifices? *says she in a naive tone of voice*


The Giant’s Heart (Scottish folktale)- 4 Stars
In which a Princess must beat the Giant who has kidnapped her, in a match of wits. Now, she only has to find where he keeps his heart... and be able of destroying it.

All in all, a rich and interesting collection for young readers.

Author's Official Site

Bookdepository.com

Sunday, 28 August 2016

First Star I See Tonight (Chicago Stars #8) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips




TRIGGER WARNING: DUBIOUS CONSENT

I never thought the day would come that I'd hate an SEP book, yet here we are...

Let me start by saying that I really liked Piper, the main protagonist.
She was a strong woman who'd risen above her emotionally abusive childhood to become a capable and brave adult who went after what she wanted. She was also extremely concerned with doing things in an ethically correct way. I respected and liked her.

Which is why it's so appalling to me how horrible this book was. 
There's so much to complain about that I'll do it by topic.


  • POC Being Used as a Subplot to Show Us How Great the Hero Is:

We get a subplot about Faiza, a Pakistani girl who is enslaved by a royal Middle Eastern family from a country described vaguely to avoid lawsuits. 
She is beaten and forced to slave away for a princess, she's had her passport taken from her. She dreams of becoming a nurse in Canada.
This is all very touching and could have been an amazing part of the story.
Too bad this subplot's point is to endear that pos Cooper to us, and to create drama over a stolen ring.
And even then, in exchange for his help, he haggles with Piper trying to get sexual favours in return...
That being said, once Faiza has fulfilled her role in developing Cooper's character in the story she all but disappears.


  • Forgettable, Barely There Secondary Characters:

One thing I love about SEP's books are the secondary characters' stories!
There are always amazing stories within the main story where the fully fleshed out secondary characters find their own happy ending. 
In this story, apart from their names, jobs, and problems mentioned in passing, they might as well not have been there.
Take Amber and Jen, Piper's supposedly best friends.
We never get a true sense of their friendship because they rarely see each other. They rarely speak, even on the phone. We know nothing about them, except that Jen is having trouble at work and Amber is an opera singer.
Then there's Berni, her elderly neighbour who'd lost her husband but becomes convinced she's seen him wandering around the city. I was expecting a nice romantic subplot for her, but we only get a tiny scene about her!
So disappointing :(


  • Weird and Unappealing Sex Scenes:

I've never had a problem with SEP's sex scenes in her books, but for some reason she decided to just add a bunch of stuff that put me right off. Here are some things you shouldn't use when writing sex scenes: 

-- "It hurt a little as he opened her with his fingers" - I don't want any mention of pain during sex, how does this not immediately turn everyone right off?

-- "abrasion of his fingers" (while fingering her) - The last word I want to see associated with fingering is "abrasion".

-- "the sweet laceration of his mouth" And the last word I was to see associated with oral sex is "laceration".

I don't know, these seem like common sense to me...


  • Babies Ever After:

We get Piper mentioning, throughout the book, how much she likes children and how she doesn't want them. Cooper almost goes into a panic attack when she jokes about being pregnant.
That doesn't stop us from having to endure an epilogue about their twin babies...
Listen, I love kids. I want kids. But I have plenty of friends who do not, and that's a perfectly healthy and normal choice!
Why tell us throughout the book that kids aren't for Piper and then give her twins???
Are children really needed to portray a woman as happy?


  • Too Much Tell Not Enough Show:

I never imagined I'd ever encounter this problem in an SEP book...
But we get pages and pages of SEP telling us about how Piper and Cooper spent hours together talking about their lives, establishing a connection, blah blah... But we're never show this?
All it did was keep me from being in any way invested in their relationship, not that I would have been because...


  • DUBIOUS CONSENT:

For a book that made such a big deal about pointing out that rape is wrong, it did the shittiest job portraying consent.
Even in SEP's earlier books, where the male protagonists would actually slap the female protagonist if she started getting ~emotional~, this issue has never been portrayed so poorly...

We start with even Cooper being disgusted with himself for wanting to foist himself on a woman who is working for him. 
"He wanted to take her right now. Against the sink. On the counter. Strip her naked and reassert the natural order of things. Male over female.
The sting in his wounded hand restored his sanity. He was disgusted with himself. Where the hell had that come from?"

The natural order of things? WTF. What kind of Neanderthal shit it this...

Then you have Piper CONSTANTLY telling him she does NOT consent.

First he kisses her against her will and she reacts like this:
No!” She shoved hard against his chest. “Back off!”

She was furious with him, more furious with herself. “You try that again, and you’ll end up on the floor . . . like your drunken friend.” She spun away and rushed upstairs."

Then he tries to justify the kiss like this:
[The kiss] was about saving your stupid life.” He pointed one long, sturdy finger at her. “Let’s get something straight, Sherlock. I have no sexual interest in you. None. Zip. Zero. The only reason I kissed you was as a distraction from what I really wanted to do, which was strangle you. Now this conversation is over.

...Excuse me?! WHAT?! Is this supposed to be sexy? Are we supposed to want them to end up together? 

Then, of course, he does it again, even thought this time she sort of consented:

"A low growl rumbled in his throat. He lunged for her. Caught her by the shoulders. Gave her a hard shake. And then he kissed her. Again.

She felt his anger in the force of his lips, the coiled tension in his body. He dragged her against him, making her seem small and defenseless, even though she was neither."

Why are their sexual interactions always mixed with mentions of Cooper being angry? None of this is even remotely healthy.

Also his motives are written in such a disgusting way...
"(...) that was the reason he couldn’t let Piper Dove waltz out of his life. Because he wanted her, and she refused to want him back."

That's a signal for normal human beings to back off.

Also, I don't know how SEP could miss this, but rape means sex that is no consensual. A sleeping person cannot give consent. But we get this:
"She awoke in the middle of a blazingly erotic dream to find him inside her."
Of course it's treated as no big deal, and they get right on with it, but this is NOT cool.

Then we get this gem:
This is wrong in so many ways. I don’t even know where to start. Ouch! Yes, I do know! I’m calling my lawyer.”

“You don’t have a lawyer.” Another smack. “Besides, don’t you read? Rough sex is the rage these days.”
“Only between consenting adults! Stop it! Do I look like I’m consenting?”
“If you weren’t, I’d be on my ass right now.”
True. She was hardly helpless.

If someone says they do NOT consent that's it. It's over. It doesn't matter how capable of beating your ass they are. No is a full sentence. There is no reason for her to prove how non-consenting she was by beating the shit out of him.
I know this is treated in a lighthearted way, as foreplay.
But it's sickening to me how the mention of a woman not consenting, even if as a joke, doesn't immediately put everyone off the mood and leaving.
This is an insidious aspect of rape culture that needs to stop.

This whole book was full of this type of stuff, not to mention Cooper constantly putting Piper down, and when that fails , he thinks such charming things as this:
"He frowned, not liking that his deliberate put-down hadn’t made her curl up in the corner and cry."

And of course, before they end up together, Cooper starts stalking her, even after she tells him again and again that she NEVER wants to see or speak to him again. He even sends his manager to get her to agree to meeting him one more time, since she sensibly warned everyone she knew about not allowing him anywhere near her...
He even tries to justify this shit!
"(...)he kept remembering what he’d said to Jada about stalking, but trying to have a simple conversation with Piper against her will hardly constituted harassment, did it? So maybe it was a gray area."
Yes, asshole, it does! and there are no grey areas in stalking, wtf is this book even about?!
And SEP is one of my favourite authors...
I don't know, I just feel so betrayed by what she wrote...

So... If you read this, please bear in mind the warnings I gave and whether or not you can deal with this.

If you can, it doesn't mean you won't enjoy it. Maybe none of this stuff bothers you...

It just means I couldn't enjoy it.


Monday, 22 August 2016

Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop



TRIGGER WARNING: CUTTING

I went into this book with admittedly high expectations: the reviews were great and it's firmly established as one of the best urban fantasy series.
And I have one thing to say for this book: it keeps you reading. I was never bored despite its many flaws, which include:

  • Racist worldbuilding: 

So apparently a long time ago Humans came to be, possessing many of the blessings of nature, including creativity and just being generally great and smart, always furthering society with inventions and progressive views.
But when they built ships and decided to go explore the rest of the world they found out it was already occupied (read inhabited because, amazingly enough, things don't automatically belong to white people - I'm sorry - Humans) by the Others.
The Others are barbaric shifters and an assortment of other supernatural beings who are incapable of inventing things or pretty much learning Human inventions because... I guess the rest of the world is just backwards like that?

Anyway, the book tries to make us feel sorry for the Humans because whenever they reached other parts of the world intent on living there (read: conquering them) they were slaughtered and eaten.
I'm sorry but this to me sounds like a great AU for what happened in the real world.
Imagine all the white people arriving to other continents intent on genocide, rape, and pillaging, and instead of succeeding they ended up killed and eaten. A+++

  • Mary Sue protagonist:

Personally I don't get the appeal of having an emotionally child-like lady protagonist who sees everything with wonder and innocence because of her ~magical blood~, and thus charms the hearts of all the Others - even though most of them eat people for fun and just hate Humans in general.
She arrives with no skills, gets an important job, makes everyone absolutely love her and be obsessed with protecting her for no reason.

  • Abusive love interest:

Sure Simon is an alpha werewolf who hates Humans (whom he, and others, constantly refer to as monkeys) for murdering his sister (and don't you love the old trope of women dying just to provide a tragic backstory for the man?), and is just into eating people in general. 
But, taking into account Meg's abusive past, is the author expecting me to feel anything about Simon other than abject horror?
He constantly threatens to kill her and eat her. his emotions are hyper-volatile, he loses his cool at the drop of a hat and if others are not there to calm him down he seems determined to slaughter Meg. 
Like... is this for real? We're supposed to want them to be a couple? What?

  • Absurd villain: 

There's the main unseen villain who's trying to get Meg back, but the one who really goes around actually thwarting our ~heroes~ is named Asia and is constantly slut shamed. Not to mention the fact that, in the middle of trying to sabotage/kidnap/poison/etc. our protagonist she starts pretending to be a P.I. for a tv show because her dream is to be an actress? So she goes about her life, doing evil, as a villain does, and before she does anything she stops and goes, "What would a fictional character I would play if I were an actress do???"
I mean... wtf.


If you can get past all of this stuff... I don't know... read it, I guess. But it certainly wasn't for me.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Made for Sin by Stacia Kane



                                     Arc provided by Loveswept through Netgalley

                                                             Release Date: August 30th

Here's the thing is, I love the author's "Downside Ghosts" series.
Even when the thing is breaking my heart, I am loving it. From the plot, to the amazing characters, not forgetting that amazing setting, that series is a must to all urban fantasy addicts.
And then you start reading this, and you have to adjust your expectations, because when it comes down to the characters, this story feels too paranormal romance, and I've stopped being a fan of it...

"Made for Sin" had a potentially amazing storyline. Not that it hasn't been done before, but, this is queen Stacia Kane, so yeah, great expectations.
The idea of a normal guy having to share his body, more precisely his mind with a Demon is a great one, and the author knows how to write: this was an engaging story from first page to last.
Thing is, I didn't care about the characters.
I didn't even memorized their names: his seemed to come from an old noir movie. Hers? Well it could be at home in "Lord of The Rings". lol

So E.L. Speare is supposed to be this big shot PI who occasionally does the dirty jobs of this Mafia boss guy. Also, he may be related to said Mafia guy, so things are even more complicated, as if hosting a Demon in his head wasn't enough trouble already.

We get the story from Speare's pov, but the thing is, at time he felt way too young for all that he had gone through. I don't know if it was just me, but with the exception of the steamy parts, he felt a little too YA: too emo. I got a little tired of being in his head.

As for Ardeth, most of the times she was just this red haired Barby, with the great body, and with a plastic personality. She's supposed to be this master thief, but it was hard to get on board with that, since she spends most of the time bickering with Speare.
And it isn't as if that bickering led to great sexual tension. Because it didn't!
Most of the times they just came out as two (okay, she more than him) stubborn, moronic people, wasting time on frivolities. Yes, Ardeth, I'm looking at you.

The plot was nicely done in a macabre way. Think Buffy and the Initiative episodes...

Towards the end, the pace picks up a little more, the story becomes more interesting with possibilities, some truths were revealed, and the pages flew faster.
I don't know if this is going to be a series, but if so, I really hope Ardeth gets a new personality. That, or that we get a new leading lady.
As for the ending, there's no cliffhanger, but there are obvious possibilities for this to get turned into a series.
Although, I would much prefer a new "Downside Ghosts" book.

Author's Official Blog

Kobo

Full of Briars ( October Daye 9.3) by Seanan Mcguire





What can I say?
My memory kind of sucks, so I really should have re-read the previous book before going into this new short story.
But even so, it isn't as if I don't "know" the characters and their peculiar "traits".
As such it was funny ( I must share Mae's sense of humour) to see Quentin's fretting about Toby meeting his parents. As always, Tybalt's nonchalance to everything "no cat... and Toby" related was a pleasure to read.
As for Tybalt's nephew, that "kitty cat" needs some boundaries. Crazy cat!
As for the ending, it took me a little by surprise. Did I forgot about it in the previous books?
Had there been signs of that relationship? Because I don't remember anything, but sometimes I feel as if I am going senile, so...

Kobo 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

New precious

Also known as books ;)
Here they are:



       Once Broken Faith (October Daye, #10) The Needle's Eye



"The Needle's Eye" by author Lani Lenore sounds deliciously creepy and mysterious. It is one of those books that I'm already curious to know what is going to happen.

Release Date: September 13 th

"Once Broken Faith" is the tenth volume in my favourite urban fantasy series. Last year's volume wasn't my favourite, so great expectations that this one will pick up things again.

Release date: September 6th
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