Bites
September 27, 2016

30833808Published: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

New Orleans, 1903.

Before he died, Christine Lambert’s father won a piece of eight in a poker game. How was he to know the coin was part of a puzzle that when solved revealed the location of Jean Laffite’s treasure? Now Christine must find the treasure before the killer beats her to it.

Matthias Blake is as out of place in New Orleans as a raven in a flock of hummingbirds. He has serious work to do and Christine is a distraction he doesn’t need. But how can he resist a lady in distress—even if that lady can win a fight armed with a hat pin? Together they must overcome their pasts and defeat dark forces sent by a shadowy evil. In the process, they just might find the greatest treasure of all… (goodreads.com)

I haven’t read the first book in the Haunting Desire series, but after reading the blurb for book 1 it doesn’t look like I need to. The books appear to be linked but not intrinsically so can look like they can stand on their own.

I like the New Orleans world that Mulhern has created, although it’s not specifically hers in that New Orleans has always been a supernatural playground. It’s more about the characters she’s created and how she brings New Orleans to life in her writing. All the pieces fit together nicely and create a captivating picture that certainly had me intrigued.

The story itself was okay. I didn’t feel all that invested in it, probably because I felt like the voice was trying a little too hard to be quirky and cute and it came up a little distracting. It’s not an uncommon voice in these types of books, but I do think BAYOU NIGHTS was playing it a little heavy.

The plot where Christine was chasing pieces of eight around the city was fun. She ran the gamut when it came to individuals she encountered, from fine families (who now live in her childhood home and for whom she makes hats) to brothels to the swamp itself. She was attacked by a possessed mob, a slew of ghosts, a zombie. Certainly no shortage of supernatural creatures here.

Christine herself is a pretty great character, holding her head up high despite the supposed shame her father brought on her family. I mean, considering the time, I guess it would be beneath people to live above a hat shop she also owned, but she’s an independent woman and a trend-setter. She runs in a mix of crowds rather seamlessly and she can adjust to any situation on a dime, and make it work in her favor almost every time. Note I say almost. No one’s perfect.

Mattias Drake, on the other hand, I could do without. The POVs switched between him and Christine and when in his head he wanted to hit things. A lot. Didn’t usually do it, but he has a rather violent, short-fused brain that I found off-putting, especially when he talked about inflicting harm on a woman. I’m not saying someone like Yvette Simms didn’t deserve a slap or two but it’s very different when a man thinks of striking a woman because he doesn’t like what she’s saying than a woman wanting to slap another woman for being snide. I found him very off-putting as a result.

Because of that I really wasn’t on board with their developing relationship. It was all rather standard, a lot of build-up with a monkey wrench thrown in, only to end up together at the end. Hard to be for a relationship with you don’t like one of the characters.

I was very intrigued by Mike, though. I’d be interested in reading her story, which is the next book I’m guessing, for sure.

3

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

8140709Published: November 10, 2010
Publisher: Pyr
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming. Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. When she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan, her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans. (goodreads.com)

This was a fun and interesting read. I liked how the Griffiths broke society down and when, and how they built it back up. The whiteness of the Equatoria Empire irked me, but I had to keep reminding myself before the world dissolved, the British were all up in colonization at that time. So not surprising, but still bothersome.

The only other irksome thing I had going on with THE GREYFRIAR was the head-hopping. It was jarring at times. Even from paragraph to paragraph it would happen, on top of chapter to chapter. I didn’t really get an omniscient third person POV out of the story so the flopping around kept disorienting me whenever it happens. I found myself, on multiple occasions, having to read back and see who stopped talking and who started because there was often no break between POV shifts.

Other than that it was entertaining. I like how ruthless the vampires were, with their own language, their own moral compass, their own way of functioning in the world. I liked how they were other than human. Above human, if you asked them. I also liked how the Greyfriar was a vampire. If you didn’t pick that up from the second he appeared on the page you’re reading with your eyes closed. It was obvious to the point where I felt Adele was being plot-servingly obtuse in not recognizing what Greyfriar was.

I liked how they built their world, how ravaged the cold areas where, how completely destroyed, but the warmer areas were thriving human meccas. It lends a different perspective to the post-apocalyptic influx of books out there. Not only is it set in the past (or rather happened in the past, alt history, if you will, as opposed to varying distances in the future, it’s also steampunk (dirigibles abound), it has vampires, and the world isn’t entirely obliterated. Planetary lines are drawn between where’s safe for humans and where’s vampire territory and it’s more than just little hovels of people. Full empires exist. It’s neat.

I have at least one more book in the series around here somewhere so I’ll definitely keep reading. My hair isn’t blown back by it (really, the head-hopping had a lot to do with that), but it was engaging. I think the characters are great, Adele especially. Such a BAMF. The world is wonderfully built and rich and I can’t wait to dive back into it again.

3.5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

23399015Published: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group Duttom
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

The Manhattan waterfront is one of New York City’s most beautiful vistas, boasting both the noble Statue of Liberty and the George Washington Bridge, the world’s busiest for motor vehicles. But in Devil’s Bridge, Assistant DA Alex Cooper will discover the menace that lurks in this seemingly benign corner of New York City as she and Detective Mike Chapman, in the midst of their own growing relationship, take on a case that forces them into their most vulnerable positions yet—apart from each other, as a killer’s twisted plan draws ever closer to home. (goodreads.com)

This is book #17 in this series and for the record, I haven’t read any of the others. The book is a stand-alone; I wasn’t lost in any of the plot or anything. But I think it would have had more meaning if I were more familiar with the world Fairstein created.

As it stands it’s a decent enough story. I really wasn’t that riveted by it. That probably had more to do with the characters than anything else and their incredible overuse of each others’ names. That’s just a writing pet peeve of mine. I think it’s used for emphasis, but used too much it just becomes downright unnatural. People don’t use each others’ names that much in normal conversation. It was constant here and it kept drawing me out of the story.

On top of that I thought Mike was a bit of a choad. I get the appeal of the uber-masculine cop with a heart of gold (please, I watch SVU, thanks), but Mike was too gruff and insistent for me. I just didn’t find him appealing on the page. As a result I ended up glazing over a lot in the story. I didn’t find myself invested like I probably should have been and I found myself reading just to get through the pages.

From a plot standpoint it was interesting, but I was hoping to get something from Alex’s point of view while she was in custody. Not a peep. Once she’s off the page, about a quarter of the way into the book, it’s all Mike. And I didn’t get a huge sense of immediacy looking through his eyes. Or I should say the immediacy felt forced, and his interactions with people didn’t feel genuine.

Overall I didn’t connect with DEVIL’S BRIDGE. I wouldn’t be opposed to starting the series from the beginning. I wasn’t that turned off by it. But I’m not going to run out and start buying up copies either. Eventually, maybe.

2.5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

First the stats. So from May 7th to date I’ve received 119 indie book review requests. I’ve accepted a total of 7 of those requests. Still holding steady around a 6% acceptance rate. Same as the last time I posted some numbers in June.

Over these handful of months I’ve picked up a few . . . behaviors that should be curbed when sending me, or any book reviewer/blogger, review requests. You may say I shouldn’t be all high and mighty about this. I’m being offered free books. Just take it. I’m just a blogger. It’s not like you’re a PROFESSIONAL. To that I’d say, if that’s how you think of me and what I do, fuck yourself. I don’t want to read your damn book anyway.

I may not be a professional book reviewer but YOU need to be professional in how you manage business correspondence. If you’re not taking your book seriously, neither will I. Look, I know I’m a tool for you to use. Doesn’t mean I actually want to be treated like one. I’m sure no one does. So take these tips how you will, if at all. Just remember, look at those numbers above. You’re already at a disadvantage. Don’t make it even worse because you can’t be bothered to learn email etiquette.

ADDRESS ME BY NAME.

Hell, I’ll even just take a greeting. No name even necessary. Just whatever you do, don’t call me by my goddamn blog’s name. My blog is not a sentient being. It’s a website. So when you call be Lit Bites, ONE, you don’t even know what the name of my website is, and TWO, you just ensured that I skim through your email and send you a decline. Doubly so if you’re trying to be cute and quirky in your email and show that you read some of my reviews or whatever.

MY WEBSITE IS NOT CALLED LIT BITES.

MY NAME IS NOT LIT BITES. OR BITES.

Seriously.

DON’T ATTACH ANYTHING.

I mean anything. I’m not going to open it. Other people may feel differently about this, but especially if it’s the entire book, no. You’re being presumptuous when you do that and it’s a turn-off. In this world of computer viruses, hold off on attaching anything, even if it’s promotional material, unless the person you’re sending the request to accepts it.

MAKE SURE IT FITS MY READING GUIDELINES.

Some of the random book review requests I get, I’m just like, did you even read the guidelines? Probably not because I don’t actually care about your non-fiction book on a particular bird species. Thanks, though.

INCLUDE A BOOK BLURB.

You’d think this would be a given. It is not. Not even close. Put it in the body of the email. Don’t give me links and have me go find it myself. Don’t just point me to where I can find the book, without links, and have me find it myself. Don’t give me just praise for the book. Give me the damn blurb. It should be less than 250 words and copy/paste-able into the body of the email. Not hard. If I can’t figure out what your book is even about, I’m going to pass. And I’m not going to go hunting for it either. Make this easy for me, not a scavenger hunt.

And it goes in the body of the email. Not as an attachment. No attachments unless you have an acceptance.

NO MASS EMAILS.

I know you’re busy and I know this is hard but BCC is a bitch and it’ll almost guarantee you a decline. I know I’m one of many, but don’t rub that fact in my face. Taking those few extra seconds to copy and paste a marketing email and just change out the name can go a long way.

NO-GO FOR MAILING LISTS.

Don’t sign me up for it without my permission. I will just unsubscribe and I won’t look at anything.

EMAIL FORMATTING.

Look, I need to actually be able to read your request. If it’s a smash-up of a giant wall of text that looks like you sneezed it out, I’m immediately going to pass. I’m not going to Magic Eye your email in order to decipher what it is you’ve written.

BOOK LISTS

This is specifically for the marketing people/publicists for hire: don’t shot gun a giant book list out and see what sticks. You’re doing a disservice to the authors you represent, especially if that list is little more than two dozen books with elevator pitches, at best. Someone’s not getting their money’s worth out of you. Deleted.

Again, I’m sure some people will think I’m a prima donna or something. I’m really not. I just can’t be bothered with all of this. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that arena.

If you’re trying to pitch me your book to review it means you’re trying to sell it. You have a product, you’re running some level of business, and you’re trying to market it. You need to do it in a way that looks like you actually give a shit, not only about your own product, but about the people whom you’re trying to reach. We’re not throw-aways. We actually do help get the word out there. I’m not saying don’t piss us off or else. I’m just saying you need to be professional with your book.

And don’t turn it on me. This isn’t about me. I’m writing reviews in my pajamas on my own self-hosted WordPress blog. I don’t get paid for what I do and I don’t answer to anyone for what I do. This is not how I make my living. I could stop doing this tomorrow and I would be just fine doing that. I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m not trying to get people to buy my product. I’m not trying to get people to work with me, although I do have people who work with me based on years of rapport and my professional interaction with them.

This is about you. You need to put your best foot forward. I’m just trying to help you do that and trying to eliminate some of these less-than-savory email practices at the same time.

These last couple of weeks I’ve taken a break from review reading because I got married. I needed to eliminate any unnecessary potential stressors for a short amount of time, otherwise I feel I may have lost my mind. If you’re waiting on a review from me, don’t worry. It’s coming. I should be back to my regular reading routine by now.

26114119Published: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

In an auction house in London, there is a mirror no one will buy. Standing seven feet tall and reaching four feet across, its size makes it unusual. Its horrific powers make it extraordinary. For centuries, the mirror has fed off of the lives of humans, giving them agonizing deaths and sucking their souls into its hellish world.

When Jonathan Frazer, the wealthy owner of a furniture and antiques shop in Los Angeles, buys the mirror at an auction, he believes he is getting the bargain of a lifetime. With its age and size, it is easily worth eight times what he paid for it. At this point, the mirror has sat dormant for years. But within days of Jonathan’s purchase, the deaths begin again. One employee is crushed when the mirror falls on top of him. A few days later, the corpse of another is found in front of the mirror, brutally stabbed. A third is burned beyond all recognition. All the while, an enormous man with a scarred face is following Jonathan, demanding that he give him the mirror and killing any police officer that gets in his way.

The police are becoming desperate. As the death toll rises, Jonathan himself becomes a suspect. He knows there is something wrong with the mirror. He knows it’s dangerous. But he cannot bring himself to get rid of it. Everyday he becomes more captivated by the mirror.

For the mirror is awakening, and its powers are resurfacing. (goodreads.com)

What is it about horror that begs for gratuitous sex? I don’t get it. Actually, I’m wondering if it’s one of those deeply-seeded societal issues inherent in the majority of the population where sex =  evil and only bad things come from sex. Take this mirror that’s fueled literally by male spooge, female orgasms, and blood. People have sex and bad things get unleashed on the world. I honestly don’t get it. Where’s Freud when you need him?

I was intrigued by the book because mirrors are a pain point for me. They freak me out and I’m always on the look-out for books that will actually scare me. What better way to attempt to ensure that than reading something about an object that really does give me the willies? Except I get a mirror that feeds on cum stains and pulsating pussies and it’s left me wondering what sort of Night of the Living Dead B-movie I just fell into. Heavy breasts and dark nipples abound here.

1a3aa3

How fitting are their faces right now?

There were a lot of ill-placed exclamation points that were just kind of flicks to my nose every time I saw them. Most of the time it wasn’t in dialogue. And it liked to happen at moments where SCARY THING JUST HAPPENED! <–emphasis Except that little exclamation point has the opposite effect on me. This book didn’t rely on me to posit what was and wasn’t scary. It told me with punctuation. And just the all around voice was off. No sense of immediacy, I didn’t really feel invested in any of the characters. I was just reading along, waiting for the story to end.

I mean, I didn’t feel like it was a slog to read, so at least there’s that. I was able to get through it pretty quickly. But it was not scary in the slightest. From sentence construction itself to voice to just the basic plot, it didn’t leave much to the imagination, and I find that’s where horror really dwells. I felt spoon-fed. And the sex. Holy crap. Don’t get me wrong. I love sex in a story, when the story calls for it. But this is just . . . off. It’s like, I get it. Sex is the root of all evil, especially female sex. Move on already.

I can forgive oddball elements in a book if the story’s at least good, but that’s not what we have here. Forget MIRROR IMAGE. If you want cheeseball, just watch some campy 80s horror on Netflix. At least that’s entertaining. This was just . . . meh.

2

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.