Posts Tagged ‘ARC’

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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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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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.

Buy it here:

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Gilded Cage
Gilded Cage by Vic James

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Content warnings: mentions of rape, violence, death, alcohol use, alcohol abuse, slavery, inequality, abuse of power, abuse of magic, oppression

I received a copy courtesy of Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I legitimately cannot make any of my feelings about this book into a comprehensive review. I’ve been trying. Since March. And I’m done trying so this is what you’re going to get.

YOU CANNOT CONSENT TO A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE WHO OWNS YOU.

WHY IS A 10 YEAR OLD IN CHARGE OF WATCHING A BABY?

WHY IS THIS A STORY ABOUT MOSTLY WHITE PEOPLE? AND THE FEW POC WHO DO APPEAR GET BEATEN BADLY? IT DOESN’T MAKE IT BETTER OR OK THAT THE WHITE PEOPLE WHO ARE SLAVES DO SO AS WELL. THERE WAS ONE FLEETING MENTION THAT I RECALL OF A POC WHO HAD SKILL. THAT IS PREPOSTEROUS. AUTHORS STOP WRITING BOOKS WHERE POC EITHER MAGICALLY DON’T EXIST OR ARE A VERY SMALL MINORITY.

On the level of the politics and history it was VERY well done

Like the author took her time to really build up the history and work on the politics

and set up political uprising
or attempts of but the rest of it falls short in SO MANY WAYS.

Ok so it’s failings
It jumps around a lot in point of views and sometimes has the bad habit of trying to make you remember small details mentioned in passing from the beginning of the book near the end of the book
Obviously treatement of slaves vs masters
and skilled vs commoners
(commoners who aren’t slaves not just the slaves)
It has the double edged sword of some of the skilled working undercover to “help” the slaves
BUT
their help winds up putting the slaves lives at risk
literally
and can condemn them to a life of being a slave
or worse
One of the slaves is condemned into being a dog
his crime?
during his slavery he and his wife were slaves at an estate and one of the skilled raped his wife and impregnated her and kept raping her to the point that she hung herself
not only that but the skilled have this skill, they all have it, where they can mind rape you as well
they can go in your mind and make it so you can forget what happened
or not be able to talk about it
and some can go in your mind to try and figure out if that’s happened and it’ll drive you insane
and kill you
so he figure out that was happening that she was being raped mentally and physically
it’s called being silenced
and after she killed herself (and the baby) he snapped and killed everyone on the estate
so he got turned over to the sadistic master of torture, got made to forget EVERYTHING but his crime
and forced into acting like a dog
gets fed dog food
is naked all the time
walks on all 4s
regardless of weather
etc
and got turned over to an equally sadistic skilled
minus those two though, everyone else thinks it’s horrific that he’s a dog
yeah
and sadistic asshole revealed at end of the book, plot twist, he found a way to take skilled people’s skill away from them
So now of course I have to read the second book because I need to find out what happens next because that’s a huge thing
Like is there going to be a huge overthrow now?
cause there was just one overthrow of the ruler person I can’t think of the title
but that was done as punishment because someone, a skilled, was brazen enough to come forward and say “i’m behind all the riots in one of the slave towns and this is my doing”
no trial
just “well as my position allows I’m making executive judgement”
it’s also all white people
well not exclusively
but the main characters are all heavily implied as
there’s a few non white
but majority? white
Cause we all know England is predominantly white……..not
Oh and once you start your slavedays you aren’t seen as people anymore……..parallel anyone?
That’s why I’m taking it
Also the parents
Luke, Abi, and Daisy’s parents. They’re present
but
flat
Like I could literally take them out and replace them with ANYTHING and it’d be just as effective
talking dog? sure why not
animate piece of cardboard? definitely
They suffer from sexy lamp syndrome
Except they’re not there to be sexy
And then Silyen, Jenner, and Gavar? Power hungry egotistical father and mother who cares more about appearances than anything else
the former trio are the slaves and the latter trio are the skilled
Jenner could be a sexy lamp to Abi who is barely more of a character
she starts out as a hopefully well rounded character but….
Silyen is manipulative
and Gavar? definitely cares about his daughter. Little else. Sadistic lazy asshole who enjoys raping slaves, having sex with equals to “show them the ropes of parliament”, and shooting slaves in “hunting accidents” in cold blood
Silyen and Jenner do care somewhat, Jenner moreso than Silyen
but Jenner is still a sexy lamp

What Gilded Cage lacks is the terror and the atrocity that the Skilled inflict upon their slaves. While reading this it felt like I was stuck in the worst job I’ve ever worked, soul defeating but bearable. That was until I encountered the character of Dog. Here is a man who is broken and turned into a thing. This is what I wanted Gilded Cage to be. The horror of what a society built upon slavery does, not cotton candy fluff sprinkled with bits of moldy fruit cake.

-Katie Sholty, Goodreads Reviewer

 

The only character I liked was the all-powerful son of the Evil Superpower Lord, Silyen. He was a true charming but devious but manipulative weasel, but possibly working for good??? I say “possibly” because I have literally no clue what he was trying to achieve.

It only had a small smidge of romance (YAY) but it was instalove between a slave girl and her master (NAY). Like how can you fall in love with a guy who’s family destroys and murders and turns people into abused animalsand steals your memories??? Like sure, the guy she likes might not be doing it himself: but his FAMILY ARE and he does 0% to stop them or indicate he thinks it’s wrong. HIS BROTHER FRIKKIN SHOOTS HIS SLAVE GIRL MISTRESS IN THE PROLOGUE BECAUS LOL @ WHY NOT.

Least to say the romance was hella disturbing.

……

the kids had parents, but haha, did they even ever SPEAK? no. they were about as active as a peanut butter sandwich

……….

ALL IN ALL: It was definitely a great premise with SO much potential! I would’ve liked to have understood everyone’s motives, but I did not. I would’ve liked to have a character to connect/care about, but still #nope. Total chance it was just me who got confused. But the book was like toast I was really looking forward to, but dropped, and it fell jam side down on the floor.

Cait (Paper Fury), Goodreads Reviewer

 

Gilded Cage brings nothing new to the table. Like Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, it features a modern yet dystopian society wherein the “normal” lower class suffers under the reign of the “special” upper class. Unsurprisingly, the book revolves around the gradual reformation of such a flawed political hierarchy. The only twist to the overrated plot is that each member of the British lower class is required to be a slave for ten years. The rationale behind this is that the Skilled royals are above doing menial work; their powers entitle them to an indefinite amount of free time, which is supposedly spent to maintain order in society.

Joshua Gabriel (Forever Bookish Josh), Goodreads Reviewer

I literally can NOT recommend this book. AT ALL. But, if you want to read it, I’m not going to stop you. Just be advised, I’m not exaggerating any of this. Nor are the 3 people I’ve quoted above. I both want to read the second book to see where the politics in this book go because that was the most well developed in this book and don’t want to because it disgusted me that much. 2 stars because I’m rounding up for the politics and history.

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Huntsmen
Huntsmen by Michelle Osgood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: sex, lesbian relationships, gay relationships, bisexual relationships, genderfluid characters, violence

 

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author/publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This review took me a little bit of time to write. I had a bit of processing to do for it. I enjoyed it but there was processing.

Another disclaimer for this book, I didn’t read the book before this one so I *MIGHT* have missed some things and other things may have been explained in the book prior. I acknowledge that and if that is so and I find that out when I eventually buy and read that book I will update this review to reflect that. However, at this point in time, I am going off of the information that I have based off of what was given to me contextually in *THIS* book.

Now that that’s all said, one of the things that niggled at me was Taryn. Ryn in themselves was NOT the problem. EVERYONE else in relation to Ryn was. Kiara especially. For someone who is suppose to be a partner of a genderqueer person and supposedly understanding of said genderqueer person I would expect them to use pronouns and refer to their partner as more than just “she”. It was disappointing to me. Like as a reader who is genderfluid just seeing that a main character (it’s arguable that both Ryn and Kiara are main characters in the book as the book revolves around them both) focuses *ONLY* on the fact that one of Ryn’s pronouns is “she” and ignores the other pronoun is “they”. I get that everyone is different especially between genderfluid and genderqueer. But as someone who is constantly referred to as “she” instead of “they” by people they’ve asked to use “they/them” pronouns it still hurts to read it. And it reads a bit like misgendering someone. Like I got really excited when they were first introducing and pronouns were introduced as well. Like no one explicitly asked “hey what are your pronouns?” It was just “I’m (name) and my pronouns are (pronouns)” which is about how it should go anyway. But then to have the cis characters constantly call Ryn “she” just really bothered me. Xan West articulates it a lot better in their review here.

I also couldn’t really get behind Ryn and Kiara’s relationship as their first go around with their relationship felt kind of toxic in the it was all consuming way. Like they got too caught up in each other. Or more, Kiara got herself way too consumed and caught up in Ryn as Ryn was able to manage to continue to be productive and continue her career where Kiara wasn’t. She made her whole world out to be just Ryn.

The sex in this book was definitely hot. I’ll say that for sure. I definitely liked that Ryn’s dysphoria was addressed and respected. And that Kiara and Ryn had the talk of consent of what was ok beforehand. As a person with body dysphoria it’s a huge issue when it comes to sex (of course it’s a huge issue for me just getting undressed to get in the shower but that’s another topic altogether). It’s nice to see it addressed in a way that doesn’t show it as “ewwwww you have dysphoria well screw you” or that kind of attitude or type of attitude. I’ve talked to people who’ve had that kind of attitude and like even in general conversation that’s a huge turn off just to talk to a person.

I absolutely LOVED the focus of queer family. Family they chose for themselves. It’s heartwarming and wonderful. They support each other and don’t leave each other out for themselves. And the geekiness that permeated through them. Not all of them were geeky but they all participated in being geeky even if it wasn’t their thing. It was absolutely wonderful. I could feel the love they had for each other. And the love they had for the newcomer in their family group and acceptance of their newcomer once Kiara made it clear she wasn’t leaving Ryn. I definitely know people who have their chosen family like that. And to my own extent have my own though we’re not quite that close as we all have our own illnesses and such that prevent us from seeing each other as much as we’d like.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to read a book about werewolf shifters and hot sex. With some incidents of violence. And chosen queer family who’ll stand by each other’s side while the world falls apart and is against them.

Buy it here:

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Hades in Love
Hades in Love by Mel Bossa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: sex, gay relationships, prostitution, alcohol use, alcohol abuse, drug use, drug abuse, mentions of homophobia

 

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

This was an interesting take on capturing essences of what the Greek idea of Gods would be in perfume. With a romance thrown in. It was cute. And a really quick read. And not at all what I expected.

I had a few issues with how the prostitution was shown but I can’t exactly put my finger on the why I have the issues. I can say I do have issues with how he was treated by some of the other people in the story because screw that nonsense as sex work deserves just as much respect as any other work.

All in all, short cute ish story that I more or less enjoyed reading.

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Juliet Takes a Breath
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Content warnings: drug (marijuana) usage, mentions of cutting, equating women with having vaginas, lots of talk of feminism, intersectional feminism, polyamorous relationships, lesbian relationships, alcohol usage, cigarette smoking, medical issue discussion, microaggressions, discussions and mentions of racism, talks about allyship, talks about safe spaces, mentions of pregnancy, talks about privileges, talks about consent, brief mentions about sex, nudity mentions, mentions of alternative medicines (acupuncture and oils and meditations), mentions of politics, mentions of 9/11 and the after effects of the attack and first responders, mentions of religion (both Christianity and Judaism)

 

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

Oh. My. Gosh.

This book.

This fucking book.

NEVER thought I would see myself in a book with regards to my asthma. But I DID. And I practically cried. I mean that’s the only spot I really saw myself with this book but do you know how rare it is to see yourself in a book like this when it comes to asthma? Like the dumbest things (to me) trigger my asthma. Too much excitement. Too much stress. Too much panic. Too much anxiety. Running  (which is one of the only things I *DON’T* think is dumb that triggers it). Smoke of any kind (fire, cigarette, marijuana, etc). Laughing too much. Crying. Perfume/Cologne. And seeing a main character who not only has asthma but carries an inhaler AND USES it and it isn’t an afterthought but an integral part of WHO they are? That was wonderful and life changing and I want more. It made me realise what I was missing. And I NEED MORE.

And the calling out of the white lady fucking up. I was 100% there for that. As well as there for her calling out the white girls being rude. Because the one act doesn’t cancel out the other act. I can remember being in Juliet’s shoes. Learning who you are and discovering yourself. In a way I’m still kind of there. This is one of those books where I want to buy a bunch of copies and distribute them to libraries and to people who want a copy of it if I had the money to do so.

All I can really say is if you have the opportunity/means to do so, get this book and read it. It’s worth the price.

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The Devil's Prayer
The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Content warnings: religious zealots, lots of talk of religion specifically of catholicism and orthodoxy, death, rape, attempted murder, selling your soul to the devil, death of teenager, miraculous healing, dealings with the devil (multiple), self flagellation, torture, religious torture (self imposed and not), suicide, alcohol use, drug use

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

There’s a lot to digest about this. From the non ending ending to the religious conspiracies to the research that I need to do to fact check to see if we’re given factual information with religious conspiracies or if just barely researched wikipedia information religious conspiracies to the statements made by Catholic priests that don’t sound like they’re coming from Catholic priests. It’s a LOT to digest.Which has a website you can visit if you’re interested.

So, a few quotes in this book stood out to me. For very distinct reasons. Both these quotes were stated by priests. And honestly, from being raised in a non denominational household (by my parents) and having very religious family members (Roman Catholic on dad’s side and extremist Christian on mum’s side) and going to church A LOT as a child, I can unequivocally say that no Catholic priest (and it was stated that it was Catholic priests) would say anything like this. They might infer it but wouldn’t outright say either.

Religion is the oldest business in the world. “We sell faith. Faith is being sure in what we cannot see and being certain in what we live for. The greatest fear of the human race is loneliness. Religion offers you God as your companion, to be with you all the time, wherever you go. “It is instilled in the very young by wonderful myths like Santa Claus that bring enormous happiness to children. Many come back to religion when death knocks at their door; for with religion you will not walk alone, and perhaps you will not walk alone when you leave this earth. Every day, in nearly every city and town in the world, some old man or lady dies, leaving behind something in their will—a house, some money, some land—all to the Church, their last friend who kept them company in their time of loneliness. Some perhaps hope it buys their way to heaven or makes amends for their sins in the past. Guilt is the currency of the Catholic faith.

 

There are many religions, many having their own gods. So which god is the Devil fighting?”Father Jakub answered softly. “You are confusing God with religion. It is like water. Water is water, whether you drink it from the tap, or you get it from a bottle sparkling or still, it is always water, irrespective of the brand or packaging. God is like water and religion is the brand or packaging.”“What are your thoughts on the hundreds of thousands of innocents killed over the ages in the name of God? As a priest, how do you still believe in God?”Jakub replied, “The problem is neither with religion nor with God. The problem is with man and what he does in the name of God. Religion is like a knife: in the hands of a surgeon, it heals, but in the hands of a murderer, it kills. “Every religion encourages you to have a regular dose of God in your life in the form of regular prayer and meditation. In the words of Renaissance physicist and occultist Paracelsus, ‘Sola dosis facit venenum’, which means the dose makes the poison. Even oxygen and water, which are essential to all living creatures, are toxic if the dose is too high. And so it is with religion, too.

That all said, both quotes are very true. Catholicism’s currency is guilt and the way that deity works is that the deity is there regardless of your particular religious beliefs. All religions tend to believe the same things especially amongst the Abrahamic religions and as much as it makes them angry to hear it, Christianity is closest to Islamic beliefs rather than Judaism. And Judaism is also closer to Islam than Christianity. And Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are the triad that make up the Abrahamic religions (and all believe in the same God).

Anyway, off of the religion topic because I don’t like discussing religion for varying reasons (but I will if people want to in the comments), this was a very compelling read. And while I wasn’t too happy about the unexpected rape scene, I am happy how it was resolved in the end. I am also happy that the goodreads page has been updated to add content warnings for the book it’s nice to see that as content warnings aren’t often seen or used and it’s often a fight to get authors to even consider using them.

As to the history part of the novel, I can say that there’s quite a bit of the book that is accurate like some of the specific people mentioned and quotes attributed to them that may or may not have actually been said by them (or misquoted by them) and their reputations. The prologue was interesting to read.

If you like historical fiction and you like religious conspiracy books, this book will be right up your alley. But if you don’t, then you probably won’t like this book.

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