I’m not trying to brag, but I have had a great reading month so far. Not gonna lie, having my Kindle read to me while I play video games has helped a lot. Even so, I’ve managed to plow through four books so far this month, and I’m well on my way to 50! Fingers crossed I don’t fall down at the finish line 🤞.
Ashes Swept by Julia J Simpson
Young Adult, Science Fiction and Dystopian
Buy it on Amazon
Y’all know I am absolute trash for a fairytale retelling, right? I haven’t read too many Cinderella retellings, though, which kinda makes when I find one all the more interesting. Julia J Simpson is another author I know from Instagram, and she is kind and wonderful and awesome, so I definitely recommend you follow her.
As for the book, this retelling had pretty much all the pieces I like. The world-building was really well done without being overbearing - I think a lot of books that require world-building tend to over tell you what’s happening, especially if it’s dystopian. This one was very centralized to Florida, and I’m totally okay with that because it was masterfully done. It also takes a hard look at class issues and handles them very well. And thank goodness for a book with diversity! We had POC characters, LGBTQ characters, and it was normalized, which I love to see. We need more of this in books! Anyhoodles, the ending did let me down a little because I felt like the final win was a bit passive, but I still really enjoyed the experience and hope to see Julia come out with more retellings.
How the Dead Lie by Stacey Rourke
Science Fiction and Fantasy, Paranormal and Urban Fantasy
Buy it on Amazon
When I went to Penned Con earlier this year, I met a bunch of authors from the Havenwood Falls Collective. Don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s okay because I’d never heard of it before either. It’s basically a bunch of authors who’ve gotten together to write books for this shared world, which is pretty amazing when you consider the coordination that must go into an endeavor like that. In addition to the regular Havenwood Falls collection, they have a YA one called Havenwood Falls High, a historical one called Legends of Havenwood Falls, and a naughty/adult collection called Havenwood Falls Sin and Silk. And you’ll pretty much never run out of material with this series. As I understand it, they have so many contributors now that there’s a new book from one of the collections coming out every week! 😲
Regarding the story, I was pleased I had no idea where it was going most of the time. When we got to the twist in the end, I was pretty shocked, and that’s one of my favorite things when I’m consuming entertainment. I find a lot of stuff to be pretty predictable TBH, so when I don’t know what’s going to happen, I get super jazzed. And I almost never find books where the necromancer is the protagonist. Plus, she works in a butcher shop. Hijinks ensue. Hooray. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like the sense of humor throughout the book. I love me some snark, but I feel like there’s a line between clever snark and petty high school snark, and this book, for me, tended to lean towards the second type. And the dialogue was really clunky. Still, it was a good romp, not to mention pretty short. I want to read one of these stories from the perspective of the amazing little coffee shop next. If you’re familiar with any of the titles that do, let me know in the comments below 👇.
Binding Dante Lovelace by Jennifer Rainey
Science Fiction and Fantasy, Gaslamp, Steampunk
Buy it on Amazon
You all may remember I reviewed the first book in this series, The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, here. Binding Dante Lovelace is the follow up to that one, and I gotta say, I liked this one even more than its predecessor. Like the first one, it’s a little hard to connect with the Dante and Iago because they’re demons and do horrible things to people. I thought I would have even more trouble with Dante, though, because he’s what’s called a Catastrophe Artist, so he’s the type of demon responsible for freak accidents that rip friends and families apart. Surprisingly, I found I actually felt more for him because we see he feels remorse for what he does. Iago never really did. I like that we get to see a bit more of what hell is like too - a giant corporation of evil. If you’ve ever worked for an uncaring corporate entity, this will speak to your soul (no pun intended). They even hide behind their own policies when Dante, one of their own demons, gets into a sticky situation. Seriously, guys?! 😂 The plot gave us a proper adversary too, someone you can really enjoy hating, which I think creates ground for an interesting discussion on human nature and the potential for evil within ourselves, but that’s more of a coffee shop chat. Anyway, I don’t really have many complaints except for the fact that I still can’t really separate myself from the fact that Iago and Dante are demons, so I can’t quite bring myself to root for them as much as I want to.
Awakening by Brianna West
Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal
Buy it on Amazon
I was in the mood for a light, fluffy romance and… well… not quite. Here’s the thing, and I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, I really, really, really don’t like gender stereotypes. And I know romance books tends to lean into them pretty heavily, so I was prepared for that. Unfortunately, these were way beyond anything I expected, to the point where some parts felt like we’d been transported back to the 1950s. For instance, our main character is cooking and she thinks she might actually make a good wife one day with a little more practice. Ugh, okay, no. Being able to feed yourself is a survival skill all human beings need to have. Granted, her love interest can also cook, but this does not fall into a “wife material” category. And the gay character was depicted super stereotypically as well, which just piled onto the mountain of gender stereotypes. People are people. A rowdy personality isn’t only a male thing, just as liking flowers or whatever isn’t exclusive to women. I find it all ridiculous and annoying. I didn’t find the book terribly sex positive either, which was something I was not at all prepared for. I expect romance books to be sex positive since, ya know, we’re here for the romance. But there were a lot of instances where the main character is defending herself, saying she’s “not a hussie, but…” or describing certain ways of dressing as “hoochie.” I admit, those words aren’t as bad as, say, slut, but they’re in the same ballpark, so I can’t get behind these kind of descriptions since they still demean women. So… yeah, unfortunately, this one was not for me.
So there are my books read so far this month. I’m currently reading on The Drowned Tomb by James Fahy, which will be my 48th book of the year. Wish me luck on getting to 50!
Thanks for reading!