Bite Me (The Puritan Coven Series Book 1)
Baker Thief Bite Me (The Puritan Coven Series Book 1) by Louise Cypress

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Content Warnings: death, heterosexual romance, violence, gore, mentions of torture, mentions of diets, internal organs outside of bodies, veiled reference to smuggling of said organs

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

This was an interesting take on the vampire genre. We’ve got vampires that don’t feed on humans and that can be in the sunlight but garlic doesn’t affect them. There’s two religious type groups that watch over the vampires that don’t feed on humans. There’s also ones that do feed on humans that are the dangerous ones. And with that we have the male equivalent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and I’m not kidding when I say that I was thinking that through at least half the book). And the non blood drinking vampires follow a Paleo diet. And that pretty much sums up the book. Oh and none of the vampires sparkle but if a female gets bitten by a vampire then she suddenly becomes *super* hot and irresistible. Vampirism also corrects your vision.

I’m not a fan of the “get bit by vampire become instantaneously attractive” trope. That does seem to dominate the genre though so I put up with it. The writing was good. The ending wasn’t too much of a deus ex machina which was nice because I’ve read a lot of vampire books that were.

It was interesting enough to catch my interest and to read all the way through. Not sure I’d buy it immediately but if I saw it on a decent sale (and had the money which is my bigger issue) I’d probably get it. If you like vampire books and don’t mind the young adult genre it’s a good book. If you don’t like one or the other you might not like the book.

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Song of Blood & Stone
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Content warnings: racism heavily implied (and at some points outright stated), heterosexual relationships, microaggressions, attempted rape, death, violence, blood mentions for magic use

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Ok yes, second time reviewing this book. But the first it was self published and this time it’s through a publishing house. My first review will stay up in it’s own post. This is going to be a different review.

Things that aren’t different from my initial review: I still adore the hell out of the cover because it’s absolutely gorgeous and I enjoyed the story.

Having read this once and this being my second read through of it didn’t change my love of it. However, I did notice more. Mostly because I wasn’t partly reading this at a party like the last time I read it (I don’t like people for the most part but it was a housewarming party and I like the person throwing it so I went for them….shush). There were definitely things that changed in it. Particularly around the ending. I remember the original ending very different from this time around. But it’s a great set up for the next book.

One of the things that particularly hit me was this quote

“Don’t I have the right to be in a temper when unarmed children are being shot? When this entire country seems to have fallen victim to lunacy? At what point, I ask you, am I permitted to be upset?”

which was said by the prince of the book. It hit me hard enough that I had a mini conversation on twitter with the author about it. It also might’ve hit me harder than it normally would have because I literally finished 4 YA books that literally have similar-ish themes only they aren’t in the fantasy genre. And it’s a serious thing that we need to continue to have conversations about because it’s been going on way too long (literally I went through my last year of middle school and all of high school -ok fine that was my 10th grade year- with shit like this going on…for chrissakes there’s a freaking wikipedia page about school shootings alone).

Anyways though, if you enjoy fantasy novels with a pretty good imagry for scenery/setting (I’m not talking Tolkien levels, I promise) and the content warnings don’t put you off of it, then I definitely recommend this. If you’re looking for a black female led fantasy book, I definitely recommend this.

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Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker.

Claire owns the Croissant-toi, but while her days are filled with pastries and customers, her nights are dedicated to stealing exocores. These new red gems are heralded as the energy of the future, but she knows the truth: they are made of witches’ souls.

When her twin—a powerful witch and prime exocore material—disappears, Claire redoubles in her efforts to investigate. She keeps running into Adèle, however, and whether or not she can save her sister might depend on their conflicted, unstable, but deepening relationship.
—————

BAKER THIEF is the first in a fantasy series which centers non-romantic relationships and stars a bigender aromantic protagonist. Those who love enemies-to-“lovers” and superheroes will love this story!

 Baker Thief Pre-Order Campaign

Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/l/bakerthief / All other retailers: https://books2read.com/bakerthief/

About the author:

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Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic spectrum writer hailfing from Quebec City. Her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders centered on aromantic and asexual characters. Her high fantasy series, City of Spires, started in February 2017. Her next book, Baker Thief, features a bigender aromantic baker and is full of delicious bread, French puns, and magic. Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids. Find out more on her website!


Ivan by Kit Rocha

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Content warnings: mentions of death, heterosexual relationships, sex, mentions of poverty, mentions of prior torture, mentions of death by alcohol, alcohol use, mentions of prior coup that causes the poverty living

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

I adore Maricela. I really do. She gets things done that need doing. Even if she shouldn’t be doing them.

I loved that she has her guilt thing going about how she feels bad about saying that she’s so privileged but that she feels trapped even though others have it worse. Because she sees the world more than some of the rest of her family does. And that she tries to do the right thing even if the right thing won’t particularly benefit her much in the long run. And all at the same time try to tell people that they’re more than what they see themselves as.

Ivan is my tragic boy. My heart was breaking reading about his childhood and the sector basically shunning him and his mother because of what his uncles did. And how much that correlates to things I’ve seen in society currently (where just by association people will get shunned or get things handed to them). I like that Gideon took them both in with compassion. Like everyone, he does put Maricela on a bit of a pedestal but at the same time he also sees her as a person rather than an object to marry/be married and doesn’t handle her with the delicate/kid gloves that everyone else seems to (with the exception of Nita since she doesn’t do that either).

I wish more had been said about both Sara and Lucas. I’m only hoping that further books will elaborate on them. Particularly Sara (or at least I think that was her name…the fortune teller girl). And I despised how everyone treated Maricela as just a bargaining chip including her sister. I get it, it’s how the world is set up but it still just made me feel UGH.

All in all, I adored this book. Like, I want to live in this world because it’s got a lot of the things I’d want if I were to make my own world and stuff. It gave me everything I wanted out of a bodyguard/guarded person romance.

Buy it here:

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Trans Voices: Becoming Who You Are by Declan Henry, Stephen Whittle (Foreword), Jane Fae (Afterword)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

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Content warnings: bad science, transphobic rhetoric

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

I had to DNF this book. Just in the first chapter there was SO MUCH wrong with it. It is a HARMFUL book. This book needs a few rounds of sensitivity reads and should never have been published as is. I put it down at 15%. It incorrectly quotes from the DSM 5 (of which I *DO* own a copy and was able to cross reference as well as check with friends who do work as licensed psychiatrists and psychologists) and incorrectly talks about Native Americans with regards to two spirit identities. It’s like the author did the barest glance of what this identity is and then made wild leaps of assumptions and published the book. I reached out to a wide variety of people across a wide variety of tribes across North America (in the US and Canada) just on what I read in this book and ALL of them told me how wrong this book was in it’s assumptions. And then there was the study about how trans men are more likely to be autistic. Which wasn’t really true. It was one study that didn’t really prove anything. Except for maybe bias in researching. It’s been a year, literally a year, since I put the book down and have not picked it back up because I’ve been researching all of this stuff. As a genderfluid person myself, this book hurt me since my identity falls under the trans identity umbrella (whether I choose to claim that identity or not it still technically does). More importantly though, if the vast majority of my friends read this book, it would deeply hurt THEM. As the vast majority of my friends are trans identifying people. And I care more about them and people like them who might pick this book up.

I sincerely hope that no trans person picks this person up and hopes that this book is for them. And that no trans ally picks this up hoping that it will help them. It is a harmful trash pile.

I can not recommend picking this book up. EVER.

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Portraits of a Faerie Queen by Tay LaRoi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Content warnings: lesbian relationships, body horror, magic usage, magical coercion, death, magical insanity, kidnapping

I received a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review from the publisher.

I was definitely not expecting the book that I read when I read this book. I mean, I wasn’t expecting some happy go-lucky happily ever after fairy tale type story but it definitely wasn’t this. And it’s a good I wasn’t expecting this type of story. I really don’t know what I was expecting. It just wasn’t this. More I was kind of expecting more along the lines of it to be either a mediocre to slightly above mediocre story (because honestly I’ve read a lot of fae-type stories and a lot have been REALLY bad despite having good premise and very few have fallen above slightly above mediocre that my hopes just don’t ever go above that anymore). I was happy to be surprised. It’s been a while since that’s happened.

I enjoyed the fact that this book took from fae mythology instead of the typical things most people tend to think of when they hear fairy/faerie. It wasn’t just “let’s make everything pretty and glamourous” it was “we’ll show glitz and glamour but we’ll also show the gruesome and the gore and the horror and the not pretty aspects of fae as well”. I’m all about the dichotomy when it comes to faerie lore. Too often do writers just show the beauty but don’t show the horror and don’t show that horror can have beauty as well.

I liked the whole needing to choose words carefully and needing to both trust and not trust faeries. Having to weigh your options carefully as to which faeries you actually can trust and knowing that you needed to not spend much time in faerie and not eat or drink anything there. And that looking too carefully at certain faeries or certain things in faerie can drive you out of your mind.

I enjoyed the sense of responsibility that Jocelyn has. She reads true to me at her age, especially if I had started driving then and hadn’t been delayed in my driving like I had and reads true to a lot of teens that I know who feel that kind of responsibility. Overall, this was a well written and good read that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys magic and faeries in their books.

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Beyond Forever (O’Kane for Life, #2) by Kit Rocha

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Content warnings: sex, mentions of attempted theft, theft and then return of stolen goods, alcohol use, alcohol abuse, mentions of death, underage drinking, gambling, fighting, mentions of prostitution, mentions of sex slavery, mentions of children being sold as prostitutes/sex slaves,

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

So if you wanted to read the story on how Dallas and Lex met and got together, this is the book for you. It’s told in both present day and in flashbacks. Like, this is literally them meeting.

All of his warm feelings fizzled. His safe was open. And a thief had her fucking arm elbow deep in it. She froze, then slowly turned to face him. “Well. This is awkward.” It was sure the fuck something, but he didn’t know if awkward covered it. He hit the light switch next to the door and squinted at his intruder through the sudden brightness. The woman looked all of twenty-five—probably not even that—and woefully out of place in his shitty little bedroom. Because she was stunning. Not pretty, not hot, not even of this fucking world. Her dark brown eyes watched him with amusement, like he was a curiosity in some traveling circus, and her full, perfect lips looked poised to smile. He’d bet men had killed each other to earn that smile. Yeah, no doubt about it. This one made men stupid. Dallas refused to fall for it. “It’d probably get less awkward if you took your damn hand out of my safe.”

I really enjoyed reading about them meeting. Truly I did. But my favourite part? Wasn’t even about them. It was the bit with Lex and Nessa. Nessa has always been one of my favourites of the girls though. And not just because she makes the hard liquors.

There’s so much in this book that I want to talk about but everything I want to talk about would wind up being quoting half the book and spoiling it for those who want to read it and I try so hard not to do that and be sparing with my quotes (unless I’m tearing a book to shreds for being terrible and that’s completely not the case for this book it was great and I loved it). Like this review is one of the harder ones to write because of that. In addition to family shit that’s been going on that delayed this review.

Dallas and Lex are like what people’s relationships should aspire to be (the end result not the beginning mess that it started out as). Because they respect each other and love each other. And they show it to each other constantly. All while staying true to each other. They give in to what they want and come back to each other and it’s a wonderful thing.

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The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Content warnings: police brutality, heterosexual relationships, violence, death, institutionalized racism, racial profiling, racial micro aggressions, gang violence, dealings with socioeconomic status, dealings with poverty, trauma related flashbacks, drugs

(This book is important though and everyone should read it. I even have my mother reading it right now and she’s enjoying it so much that she told me I had to make sure to buy it (since she’s reading the copy I have checked out from the library). So, for now, read it. Especially if you still aren’t sure what the deal is with the Black Lives Matter folks. Because this book? Is happening. EVERY day. And I need all of my white friends to read this book before jumping into conversations with ill informed opinions.)

I’m going to leave what’s in the parenthesis up. For my own reasons.

T.H.U.G. is a very powerful and VERY important book. For a variety of reasons. And I am *NOT* the one who will be able to do a review of this book justice. This is a book that everyone should read. Especially white people. Especially people who don’t understand the Black Lives Matter Movement. This book was born from the movement. And explains it better than I could ever hope to explain it with more nuance.

To date, Aimal, has the best review I’ve read of this book. Seriously. You should all read their review. It’s fantastic and says all the things I wish I could say better than I could ever say them.

This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend.

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Word Play
Word Play by Amalie Silver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: alcohol use, heterosexual romance, sex

I’m honestly being generous with the 4 star rating. It’s more of 3.5 stars. Had I read instead of listened to it, probably would have been more of 2.5 stars. Really, I enjoyed listening to it. But knowing what I like reading vs what I like listening to and knowing that they aren’t always the same thing…..This would have definitely gotten lower star rating had I read it.

I didn’t care for the derision of the male author toward erotica/romance authors. We get enough of that IRL we DON’T need that shit in books. SERIOUSLY. That was my least favourite part of this book. That and the whole “writing romance/erotica will make my writing less valid as a mystery writer” bullshit. Because once you write romance and/or erotica you’re now not a valid writer of anything else…or some other stupid sexist bullshit like that. Because we all know that romance and erotica authors are just vapid and shallow and can’t write anything that makes us think
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But I digress.

The Monica’s Musings stuff was kind of unnecessary and didn’t really add much to the story. I felt like that could have been cut out and nothing would have been lost from the story. The main character was borderline alcoholic. And overall it was a decent story with a lot of fluff for filler. Some of which felt like it was there just to pad out the word count (ie: Monica’s Musings). Decent story.

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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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