Bites


Pub Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire. (goodreads.com)

Ugh. If there ever was a sequel just as good as the first in a series, it’s A CROWN OF WISHES. Written in the same golden prose as A STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN with a story that stabs you in the gut and a heroine that would sooner set you on fire than save you, I couldn’t get enough of it. I just want to eat it all up.

But then I might turn into a werewolf creature. And that would be bad. Maybe.

Gauri is Maya’s sister, for whom A STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was about. And she does make a brief appearance in A CROWN OF WISHES, but don’t expect a lot. This is Gauri’s story. And she’s so incredibly fierce and determined and vengeful and sometimes pig-headed. I actually think Chokshi balanced her character well, creating a wholly likable person in Gauri while being incredibly flawed and not obnoxious. Personalities like Gauri’s, if overdone, can come off forceful and off-putting. But she was snarky, witty, and all around awesome.

And, like the first one, there was some prince being in need of rescuing. I love that Chokshi keeps flipping the story like that. Gives me the warm and fuzzies.

And let’s not forget the world. My god, the world! Just as strong and vivid as in the original, it’s its own character in the book, coming to life on the pages as Chokshi weaves a dark and dangerous and appealing web of her world. I couldn’t get enough of it, the world whore that I am.

If there were to be a third book, and I’m thinking there might be, I think I know just whose story it might be, and my god. I can’t wait. MOAR! When’s the next one coming out? What do you mean A CROWN OF WISHES isn’t out yet? How’s that relevant? MOAR!

5

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

Click the link to read an excerpt from A CROWN OF WISHES! –> A Crown of Wishes_Blog Tour Excerpt

February 28, 2017

Pub Date: March 1, 2017
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

The letters went out in mid-February. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So, a lakeside retreat for girls nestled high in the Starveling Mountains. Each letter came with a glossy brochure with photographs of young women climbing rocks, performing Shakespearean theatre under the stars, and spiking volleyballs. Each letter was signed in ink by the famed and reclusive businessman and philanthropist, Inge F. Yancey IV.

By the end of the month, twenty-five applications had been completed, signed, and mailed to a post office box in an obscure Appalachian town.

Had any of these girls tried to follow the directions in the brochure and visit the camp for themselves on that day in February, they would have discovered that there was no such town and no such mountain and that no one within a fifty-mile radius had ever heard of Camp So-and-So. (goodreads.com)

At first I was really disoriented by CAMP SO-AND-SO (as, I’m sure, were all the campers I was reading about). It’s a very non-traditional story told from multiple viewpoints in third person omniscient that tells multiple stories that are otherwise connected, but functioning independently from each other. It’s very strange but I adored the voice so I pushed through and I’m so glad I did.

What a fantastic story. Every time I’m surprised by a Carolrhoda Lab book and I shouldn’t be because I’ve loved nearly every book I’ve read from them. They just know how to pick them. And CAMP SO-AND-SO is no exception. It’s campy (ha!) but in a grounded sort of way that mixes in the supernatural and the faery world in a way that perfectly blends together. Despite the fact that you literally have twenty-five different characters you’re following I never lost track of any of them (okay, I may have mixed up the girl in the orange hoodie and the girl with beads in her hair a couple times toward the end, but I think I’m a little justified there considering what happened between the two). They’re all completely independent of each other and they stand out against each other.

CAMP SO-AND-SO was a downright fun book. It had the very quirky camp feel, but completely upended that entire trope on its head and nearly bastardized the whole idea. I loved it. I also loved that not everyone come out unscathed. Or at all. That appeased my blackened soul nicely. And the ending fit nicely with the overall tone of the book: fun and quirky with a dark underlying tone lurking just beneath the surface of the world McCoy created. Awesome.

It’s a story that’ll appeal to the younger reluctant YA reader for all the action and playing around the story does along with the older YA reader who’s looking for something different, but still plays to known tropes within the genre (camping genre? is that a thing?). I was never a camp person (I was allergic to the outside when I was little, camp probably would have killed me) and CAMP SO-AND-SO made camp both appealing and appalling all at the same time. Although I’m pretty sure that was the point.

An excellent read, I highly recommend McCoy’s book. There’s literally something for everyone (a hint of romance, the supernatural, super villains, the outdoors, an epic quest, and stagehands!).

4.5

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

Published: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents and brother were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told. Written with Michelle Burford, this memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families likes the author’s and on a system that fails them over and over. (goodreads.com)

Cried multiple times reading IN THE COUNTRY WE LOVE. I can’t even imagine what Guerrero felt when her parents were taken away from her.

Everything is told in Guerrero’s own voice. It feels authentic, like she’s talking right to me as I read. I can hear her say every word. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to recount all of this, but it’s a story that people need to read. Especially in light of the fascist anti-immigration movement being spearheaded by this country’s very president (I would say our own president but, you know, #notmypresident).

If someone who’s anti-immigration and pro-rampant deportation were to read this and still feel the same way about it, I’d consider them a completely soulless individual who cares nothing about facts and everything about argument for argument’s sake at the cost of people’s lives. In the face of facts proving otherwise they’ll continue to say that immigrants like Guerrero’s parents took jobs from American citizens (despite the fact that said Americans are far too prideful and overconfident in their own self-worth to do those very jobs and in fact did not to them), that the job loss had nothing to do with trade policy or advances in technology. They’ll continue to see them as criminals, deserving of every dupe and prison cell they have coming to them. They’ll fail to understand that the way to decrease the amount of immigration this country sees is not by building a wall, but by reaching out to these more impoverished, crime-ridden countries and bolstering them. Helping them get social services implemented, driving jobs to the country, improving education so that they don’t want to leave to find something better because they’ll already have it. Instead they’ll just take their toys, go home, and lock the door. It’s easier to ignore the problem than actually think about fixing it.

This is a true story, one of thousands, if not millions, of our current immigration system in this country. It’s a system that tears families apart, leaving a child to fend for herself. Forgotten. It’s about holding immigrants to an even hire standard than the people who live here purely based on the technicality that they’ve been sliding out of vaginas on American soil longer. The stingerless WASPs need to remember that they’re not native either. That their ancestors were escaping injustice and persecution too, looking for a better life. We are a country with the brain of that dude in Memento when it comes to history. It was different then . . . How?

So if you want a gut punch in your life, to have your hearth wrung out while you’re reading, read Guerrero’s IN THE COUNTRY WE LOVE. It should be required reading as a human to get a better understanding what irrational and ignorant ideals can get us.

5

Published: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Broken Angels (self)
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Eight years ago, vampire Justus de Wynter fell in love with bluestocking, Bethany Mead, and suffered the consequences. He was sentenced to exile as a rogue vampire, and she was imprisoned in a mental institution.

After years of searching, and dodging patrolling vampires, Justus has finally found his love. But even after he breaks Bethany out of the asylum, the challenges that face them have only begun. For Justus is still a rogue, with no territory to grant them safety, and Bethany is a fugitive.

As they flee across the English countryside in search of refuge, Bethany and Justus must overcome the challenges of their past and find out if love is possible on the run. (goodreads.com)

Ugh. I love Ann’s writing. I really do. With the way WYNTER’S BITE ended I’m wondering if this is the last of the series. Each book has set up the next book’s protagonist nicely and obviously. This one . . . it could be a couple different people. I’m wondering if the intent is to let the series lie with this one and if she decides to carry it on she at least has a couple options. Methinks that might be the case.

The one thing that stood out to me about WYNTER’S BITE against the other books was that the sexual tension wasn’t as fantastic here. I’ve always praised Ann’s ability to write panty-soaking tension with her character. She likes to build up, dangle a piece, and then take it away at least one or twice before the culmination actually happens. Here, though, the tension was subdued. I didn’t feel that squirmy anxiousness that I normally felt in the other books.

That could have to do with the character situations and pacing being vastly different from the previous books. In all the other books the female protagonist and love interest are new to each other. Here Justus and Bethany have known each other and he’s rescuing her. So we have some flashbacks to set up their meeting, flashing forward to the rescue, peril as they remain on the run, both for Bethany as an escaped lunatic and Justus, a rogue vampire, before they finally settle. So no surprise that in a book that deviates from the norm of the series it’s going to deviate in more than one way.

Just don’t think this is me saying that the book was bad. Not at all. It just stands out against the others and I wasn’t prepared for such a different take on the standard plot so it threw me a little bit. I still loved Justus’s development and Ann creates fantastic, strong female characters that fit the regency mold in their limitations but break clean out of it with their strong minds and strong wills. Ann uses women that would have otherwise been rejected from society and gives them life with other societal rejects in the vampires. I love it.

I do hope Ann keeps writing in the Scandals with Bite series, but if she is setting this one aside for now I would understand. She has plenty else for me to read, and I can always re-read some of my favorite books!

4.5

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

Published: May 25, 2013
Publisher: Aphrodisia
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

By day, Monica is a barista in a local Las Vegas cafe. It doesn’t pay a lot, but it puts her up close and personal with her sexy boss, Drew. Unfortunately, that’s as far as a succubus can go unless she wants to take his soul.

Monica needs mind blowing sex to sustain her, and she finds her victims every night at a local strip club where she’s an exotic dancer. But when her powers begin to diminish and her fellow succubi start turning up dead, all bets are off. Monica realizes she’s the one immortal who has a chance in hell of making things right… (goodreads.com)

I couldn’t help myself with SOUL STRIPPER. It was one of those deeply discounted eBooks that I got through some Kobo sale or something and it just sounded so ridiculous and appetizing that I just couldn’t not. So I did. And I’m kind of glad I did.

My biggest issue was that the editing wasn’t stellar. More typos than I’d care to see in a finished book, and Aphrodisia is a Kensington imprint so it’s not like it’s self-published or a super small indie or something. But there were enough for it to be irksome.

Other than that it was a fun, super hot little read. I mean if you’ve watched any of the TV show Lost Girl (which is also a fun, trashy little show that I need to get back into) then a succubus having to bang dudes to heal herself and sustain herself is nothing new. The fact that Monica’s a stripper just helps her out in that regard (and creates some hot sex scenes, let me tell you). It’s not a mind-blowingly awesome story, but it’s compelling. It had me hooked, especially because the book started on some incredibly hot sex. How could I not be?

I did like how Collins interjected some substance to it. There’s this whole unknown regarding Monica’s rise as a succubus and going through her history in little flashbacks was interesting. I did think, though, that her banging her way through a battle field in order to alleviate soldiers’ pain (and lessen her own guilt) was a bit much. Kind of lost me there a little. But other than that I was totally on board for the story I was being told (and the sex, have I mentioned that?).

I knew who the killer was from the beginning. It’s fairly obvious and the fact that no one in the story made the connection was a bit plot-serving (and a dead giveaway), but whatever. I had fun reading it.

SOUL STRIPPER isn’t fantastic, but it’s fun. You’ll have a good time with the story. From the action (non-sex action) to the sex (sex sex action) to the character development (believe it or not), it was all really enjoyable once you got over how silly and kind of ridiculous the premise is. There’s not much to not like here, not when you’re looking for a light romp through a demon-run strip club. I already have the second book on its way to me!

4