Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category

35560013
Dalí by E.M. Hamill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Content Warnings: sex slavery, kidnapping, sex, interspecies sex, violent death, genderfluid, third gender changelings, third gender, alcohol use, personal loss, microaggressions, attempts at eugenics, violence, violence directed at third gender people, terrorism, death

I received an ARC from Ninestar Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

First off, I loved this book. So much. Like didn’t want to put it down loved it. BUT. There are things that can be very off putting to people in this book.

I mention attempts at eugenics and violence directed at third gender people. This is a heavy theme in the book. Like literally part of the government wants to get rid of (in multiple ways: kidnapping, selling into sexual slavery, straight up killing) the third gender changelings because they’re sterile and people and scientists are freaking out that this means that they’re going to go extinct. Well the humans are. There are other alien races that don’t believe that at all. Some revere the third gender changelings. Others just accept them into society. But humans are your stereotypical humans and hate them for varying reasons.

The main character gets violently beaten up to the brink of death. Because they are a third gender changeling. And because the person who beats them up is disgusted with them and the fact that his brother had sex with them. I don’t remember if slurs were hurled at the main character before/during the beating but for trans and queer people, this can potentially hurt you.

During the investigation into the kidnapping and sex slavery thing (where the sex slavery is found out about for certain) the main character goes undercover to switch with someone who was already set for being sold into sex slavery. There is a death that happens during this due to mistreatment of the “prisoners” (those who were kidnapped to be sold).

The microaggression that I’m specifically referring to (that may not even be one depending on your point of view, but if you’re white I am not going to listen to your point of view on this) is the use of describing eyes as almond eyes. It happens A LOT in the book.

There’s also some genetic engineering talked about that can be thrown into the eugenics thing as there is a race that appears in the book (alien race) that was specifically bred to be a specific way and are treated really badly by most and feared by almost all but are shown to be intelligent.

Now, that’s all the bad that I can really go into detail with without spoiling the entire book.

There’s also a TON of Princess Bride references. If you aren’t a fan of the movie, tread cautiously into this book. Code names are Princess Bride characters. Phrases from the movie are in this.

I LOVED the world building in this. Like it wasn’t so minimal you’re left going “huh?” but it wasn’t so extravagant that you’re wishing it was less so more focus could be on the characters and the action that was happening. For me, it was that perfect balance of just enough information that I could see it but not excessive.

The personal loss is a thing I want to address. It’s through a good chunk of the book. As the main character is the one whose dealing with it. It’s a very heavy topic but I feel it was handled fairly well. It wasn’t just introduced and forgotten about until later. Dalí is shaped by their loss and it affects everything they do.

I honestly want more of this story. I want more set in this universe. I want to know more about what happens to Rhix. I want more adventures. And what happens to the third gender changelings who were with Dalí in the kidnapping. The ending is closed enough that it feels like a full book yet open enough that if the author wanted to, they could write more.

The characters that aren’t Dalí (I mean this applies to them as well) are pretty fleshed out. At least the named ones that we see. As opposed to the other passengers on the transports. Or the multitude of unnamed soldiers. They’re not given a whole lot of backstory (like Dalí is) but they feel like real enough characters that you couldn’t replace them with inanimate objects. Dalí is the most fleshed out being the main character. But Rhix, Sumner, and Gor were the next three that had a lot of fleshing out character wise.

I liked that Dalí was mixed race AND the main character. And that this wasn’t a romance. Space Operas, in general, I’ve had bad experiences with outside of the Star Wars books (both canon and non canon EU). So I was very hesitant going into this book. But I’m SO GLAD I read it.

All in all, it was a very engaging book that went into some very hard topics to go into without feeling exploitative. And I’d definitely recommend it to everyone.

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Snow Angel
Snow Angel by Ronica Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: lesbian romance, sex, mentions of injury

I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

While this was tropey (with the instalove and the stranded in snowstorm), I really enjoyed this. It was nice lesbian fluff in the “no one had to die” sense and the actual happy ending sense. And I really needed this book when I read it.

Some of it is a little hard to believe, generally instalove I find hard to believe anyway but this was like super instalove. Which isn’t bad but as other reviewers have pointed out they go from curious naive tv star and grouchy reclusive author to declaring their love to each other the next morning after they’ve had sex. And that….that was the hard to believe part. For me at least. Some of the dialogue is cheesy as heck but it was better cheese than average m/f cheesy in my opinion.

It’s a cute short story that plays on the being stranded and fate putting people in each other’s paths and works well enough for a quick read.

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Tarnished Gold
Tarnished Gold by Ann Aptaker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Content warnings: lesbian relationships, lesbian slurs, sex, death, violence, thievery, threats, human trafficking mentions, bribery, alcohol use, mentions of nazis

I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I didn’t love this book. And it’s more of a star and a half than 2 stars. But I rounded up.

The setting was good. It felt like 1950s New York. Crime noir is hit and miss with me and this is definitely crime noir. But this was more of a miss for me. I love reading about lesbians. I love reading mysteries. But something about this was a huge miss with me. And I can’t put my finger on why. Everything was there that I would need to enjoy it. But I didn’t. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t read the first book and this is the second book in the series. But that could definitely play into it. I know it’s not the fact that the character is female in a typically male role. Because I would have felt the same way about this book if it were a male (straight or gay) in this book. I know this because I re-read it and substituted all of Cantor’s gender descriptions with he/male and still felt the same way about it.

I personally can’t recommend it. But if you like lesbians, lesbian sex, and crime noir this may be a book for you.

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Girls Like Me
Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Content warnings: heterosexual relationships, divorce, death mentions, bullying, fat shaming, homophobia

I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I couldn’t. Part of why I couldn’t is how it was written. Sometimes I couldn’t tell WHO was talking. Which is a huge problem. I like prose. I like books written in prose. But I need to know who is talking and not be confused as to who is talking.

The author is good. I just think this book needed possibly another round of editing where someone went “hey, maybe make it a little clearer on WHO is talking at all times because it’s really vague at times”. Also, punctuation. There was no punctuation, no quotation marks (which goes back to people talking) so internal monologues vs people talking vs reading letters was hard to differentiate at times. Re-reading at times was necessary.

I liked the cover. I did. Honestly. It’s minimal enough that it can catch your attention but tells you enough about the book that you can figure out if it’s for you to even bother reading the blurb.

I almost didn’t like her (the main character’s) friends. Because they felt a bit like stereotypes. The girl who’s dying of a cancerous tumor. The gay boy with a homophobic father who gets sent to military school because of it. I feel like I’ve seen both those SO. MANY. TIMES. And her stepmother who is always trying to put her on a diet (I think to help her try to feel better about herself or something like that). Then you had the girl who bullied her for whatever unknown reason that was never really delved into. And I know that is a common thing that girls bully other girls for no reason (or seemingly no reason) I had it happen to me when I was in school. But it still bothers me to see it happen so frequently in books.

I felt the blurb could have done a better job in not spoiling one of the plot points of the book as well. Which I know authors typically have not a lot of control over. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But whoever had control over that, shouldn’t have spoiled a plot point.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent book. Your typical girl falls for boy she thinks she’ll never have and boy is secretly falling for girl and has to convince girl that they should date book.

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Have You Seen Marie?
Have You Seen Marie? by Sandra Cisneros

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Content warnings: loss, grief

This was so good and heartbreaking. Sandra Cisneros has a way with words that not only hits me hard but just gets me.

I really don’t have a lot to say about this book because anything I say would be spoiling this book and I try my hardest not to do that.

But I’d definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone especially those dealing with grief and loss.

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Of All the Stupid Things
Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Content warnings: lesbian relationships, cheating, heterosexual relationships, homophobia, possible gay relationships, possible bisexual representation, sex, alcohol use, deals with loss of parent

I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Though, the book on Netgalley is listed as When We Were. Which made finding this on Goodreads and Amazon a little difficult as I had to bring up all the books by the author and read the descriptions until I found them (luckily the author doesn’t have many). And depending on the version it’s either listed as When We Were or Of All The Stupid Things.

There were things I liked about this book. But overwhelmingly, there was so much I DIDN’T like that I *COULDN’T* rate it higher than 2 stars.

The few things I liked:

The fact that the main character wasn’t perfect and wasn’t beloved by all. She was flawed, she fucked up, she made amends…well she made some amends. She was also a hypocrite in some aspects but I’ll get to that in my dislikes.

The fact that one of the main character’s best friends realises that though she’s lost a parent she’s also gained one with her step parent. And that she may be the glue that holds the trio together but that she doesn’t *WANT* to be that anymore and she wants to stop being in that position in her friendships. And she goes and starts working on her own friendships. And that the main character starts realising what a shitty position she’s put her in and apologise to her.

The main character’s mother initially having a bit of homophobia but realising she wants her daughter happy above all else and working to get over it and see her daughter happy above all else was nice. It wasn’t perfect. But she tried. She made the effort. She didn’t forbid her from seeing the girl who made her happy. She encouraged her.

The things I didn’t like:

The main character after getting out of a relationship with her boyfriend and then getting into a relationship with a girl and then criticizing her ex boyfriend for possibly being with another boy. Constantly. Like through the rest of the book. Every time she thought he was with another boy she was being a hypocritical asshole about it. Like it was ok for her to be with a girl but wasn’t at all ok for him to be with a guy because girls being with girls is completely ok but boys dating boys isn’t ok and that was just…..frustrating as hell.

The gay(?)bi(?) boy being shown as a playboy who will go for anyone regardless of relationship status just because he can and just to fuck with relationships was really frustrating. Especially as he wasn’t really shown as either gay or bi. But it was implied he was one or the other. Especially as bisexual representation in media is really bad. And that plays into really bad bisexual representation (and as a formerly identified bisexual person that really rubs me the wrong way).

The main characters girlfriend and rich best friend being at each other’s throats most of the book just because and for no other reason than that. And a misunderstanding from something overheard in a locker room. Like. The fact that the main character couldn’t be arsed to give her best friend the time of day to even LISTEN to her concerns. Just dismissed them. Granted, in high school, I was also pretty ridiculous in that aspect but if someone came to me with a concern I would at least listen to them (I did have times where people came to me with concerns over people I was crushing HARD on and I did listen to their concerns and didn’t just go “shut up you’re lying they’re beautiful and I can’t be friends with you because you’re just jealous so stop talking”. Like one time I distinctly remember was someone who I was head over heels for but he had apparently raped a few girls and they had actually come up to a few of my friends and told them and my friends told me what they had told them and a week later he actually was arrested because of that so in a way they actually saved me because of that even though that’s not the case in this book. But what I’m saying is LISTEN TO YOUR FRIENDS IF THEY COME TO YOU WITH A CONCERN) and not immediately dismiss them as “you’re just jealous”. I think that was the worst.

Calling your best friend clingy when you’re intentionally avoiding her and making her super insecure. What kind of asshole does that? I wouldn’t want a friend that didn’t worry about me. Everyone shows worry differently. Yeah, it would annoy me if someone called me a bunch and left a bunch of messages, BUT, if they had been doing that since we were kids and that was how they showed they cared and worried and I was going through a tough time? I’d be touched. Annoyed, but touched. And I’d at least text them to let them know I’m ok (or call them to let them know I’m ok and I appreciate their worry and showing they care).

Using your friend who has a bad sense of direction for your own gains. “We’re worried about (friend) running off so let’s look in completely opposite direction she probably ran off in so we can go have fun because she’s probably fine”.  That’s just…..frustrating doesn’t even begin to cover it for me. Infuriating barely scratches the surface.

Also using the guy who is obviously head over heels for you for sex and buying you things and homework/notes but with no intention of being in a relationship with him. I mean, I hate using the term tease but that is essentially what you’re doing is being a tease. By all means, have sex. Use condoms while having sex. Screw up. Drink alcohol. All while in high school. But don’t play with other people’s emotions like that. It’s cruel. And unnecessary. Hormones do that enough to us as it is we don’t need others to do that as well.

I wouldn’t recommend this book. I also wouldn’t stop someone from reading it either. But there’s a LOT of homophobia in it. Like, all of the main character’s friends have SO MUCH homophobia in them. One of them tries her hardest to get over it because she wants her friend to be happy and wants to try to be friends with both her and her girlfriend. And she tries to hide her internal disgust at the public displays of affection between the two girls and the shock of it since her best friend hasn’t been, in the past, one to be up for showing public displays of affection (which the shock thing is a perfectly normal thing to feel when someone goes from not normally showing public displays of affection to suddenly doing so). The girlfriend’s parents are also hugely homophobic as well. Not to mention the main character has her own bits regarding her ex boyfriend potentially being with another guy. Ok being with one guy in particular. Being with the potentially gay/bi boy. There’s also the bit where the main character’s dad who walked out on them comes back for a scene with his new wife and son but it’s so inconsequential that for the unspoken interaction between the main character and the son it could have been left out almost completely.

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Of Cinder and Bone
Of Cinder and Bone by Kyoko M.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: heterosexual relationships, girls kissing girls (but not explicitly stated as lesbian or bisexual or any other sexuality), alcohol use, mentions of abusive relationships, sex (more implied than shown)

I received a copy of this in exchange for a fair and honest review from the author. And then of course I bought it for myself because I highly enjoyed it.

I was blown away by this book. This is the third book by this author I’ve read. She’s a pretty fantastic author all around and this book was no exception. It does end on a cliffhanger which sets it up quite nicely for the next book (actually on two cliffhangers one on the relationship front and one on the dragon front).

I’m totally a sucker for books about dragons. Especially books about reviving dragon species. This is only the second book series I’ve read that has breached that type of topic (the first was a YA/MG series that is still being worked on by another author). I adore the whole alternate timeline where dragons existed and it’s not just fairy tales and wishful thinking.

The only criticisms I really have aren’t really anything the author has any control over they’re all just criticisms of amazon and their continued use of bing for translation and bing being terrible for translation especially in the kindle app for the Hindi and Japanese that appears in the text so if you’re like me and like to know what words are be aware that bing doesn’t like to translate either language in it (or it didn’t for me) so having a computer or phone that has access to translation software that isn’t bing is advisable (or knowing someone who speaks/writes the language helps as well……it’s written in English version of the languages so you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to type in the languages).

Well that and content warnings. Because I’m a huge advocate for content warnings for everything. But if you aren’t reading this author and you like fantasy (and sci-fi for this book in particular) then you’re missing out.

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Officer Down
Officer Down by Erin Dutton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Content warnings: lesbian relationships, coming out, unsupportive families

I received a free Arc via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Honestly, this review on Goodreads expresses my feelings a hell of a lot better than I could ever really express most of my feelings.

This was my first book ever by Erin Dutton. And I’m really really hesitant on coming out type books. Especially ones that have police cars on the cover. After reading this book, I’m so glad I keep getting rejected from police dispatch jobs if this is any inkling of what it could be like (even without me being openly out about not being straight) I wouldn’t survive a year with my anxiety and panic disorders (but then again, my local pd and sheriffs dept, I’m convinced are set up to make almost everyone fail the interview so I stopped applying even though with my typing speed they’d love to have me…their words not mine that they wanted me on typing speed alone). I appreciate that the author writes on things that she knows in this regard.

I agree with most other reviewers some of the dialogue was hard to follow on the internal dialogue but that might have been easier to follow had either the voices been a little more distinctive or a name been said in the dialogue. Being forced to re-read a piece of dialogue just to figure out who it’s about isn’t one of my favourite things to do.

I really enjoyed reading the biking scenes though and them getting to know each other. As well as the realistic bits about her knowing she’s lesbian but being closeted around her family because she knows how bigoted and unaccepting they are and still coming out to them knowing how they’ll react because she’s tired of hiding herself. It’s so real to feel that it’s nice to see it in a book. It still sucks to see it in a book but it’s nice at the same time that it doesn’t feel fake like some other coming out stories that some other books have had (that know who they are).

Overall, this was a pretty nice story with a nice sense of realness to it that didn’t feel fake at all with the coming out portions.

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White Horse in Winter
White Horse in Winter by Franci McMahon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Content warnings: lesbian relationships, death (human and horse), homophobia (internalized and external), sex

I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

So this was definitely a thing. It felt like a “kill your gays” type of book. Because literally the villain of the book is killing her ex lovers because of internalized homophobia. And could we not? That’s just one thing I don’t enjoy reading in my books because it’s so pervasive in movies and tv and still sometimes in books. I just want the kill your gays trope to die for a while before we start killing everyone off again it’s one thing when it’s a memoir but another for a book like this.

It was a murder/mystery type book that had it been straight people it most certainly would have been borderline cozy mystery (minus the fact that sex happened because that’s the rule in cozy mysteries is no sex) but amateur sleuth definitely. If that’s not your type of story I don’t advise this book. If you don’t like animal deaths I don’t advise this book either.

This was a follow up book to a book I didn’t read but overall, it stood up well on it’s own. Like I didn’t even realize it was a sequel until after I finished. Which is always nice.

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From Stars They Fell
From Stars They Fell by H.R. Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: betrayal, sex, death, attempted murder, drugging of a character in an attempt to kill them, neopronoun use, non heterosexual relationships.

I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for a fair an honest review.

I adored this. From the female dwarves with beards to the neopronouns for the alien.

There was some great world building in this novella that I’ve seen lacking in full novels. There’s also the bits where the alien doesn’t know the language and then goes to learn the language that’s really neat (and it’s not just one language that xie has to learn). It was all so cute.

I do remember it having a few issues here and there but for the most part the few issues are masked by the rest of the book. There is deaf representation in this book (that’s the other language the alien has to learn is sign language) but as I am hearing and don’t speak much sign language that’s not something I can speak a whole lot on and I would defer all my potential issues (I think I had one or two things that rubbed me weird with representation there) to the deaf community as they are more the experts in their community and what is good and bad representation.

Overall though, super cute novella that I’d definitely recommend.

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