In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.- goodreads
Firstly, thank you to Hear Our Voice Book Tour for one existing and two for selecting me for this book tour. As one of my most anticipated reads for the year, I was too happy to get a hold of this book.
There are a total of 11 short stories in this book and let me tell you. . The House of Black Sapphires by Dhonielle Clayton ruined my life in a good way. This short story was a whole ass first two chapters to at least a 40 chapter book. It was so freaking amazing. The character detail was unexpected because it was a short story. As a reader, I was able to become invested in her characters in a fairly short amount of time. The world building was not only descriptive but it was unique, creative and dripping in history. *happy sigh* I loved that story and really hope Clayton extends it into a full novel.
The Boys From Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse was my next favorite read of this collection. Everything about it gave you a promise that you was about to fall in love with the wrong one, love it, hate it, try to change it and then remember why you love it. Although this one felt like a short story, it has the power to become something bigger and as this is the first thing I have read from Roanhorse, I immediately looked up her other books to read. Just like Clayton’s book, it is dripping in history. It plays upon the small town , which you know has a whole lot of secrets. I liked that this book was able to pull me in with song and with dreamy eyes.
In Kind by Kayla Whaley was the most unexpected read out of this entire series. The main character is disabled and something fierce. What happened to her is what took me back. TW by the way. I wasn’t expecting a story to be so real and real in the sense that the only thing making it fantasy is the main character happens to become a vampire. I was feeling all types of feelings with this read. These three stories were my top three (clearly I was completely in love with the first one but yeah).
The remaining stories were good but they didn’t hold my attention was much as I would have wanted nor did they have the depth that these other stories were able to demonstrate. When I think of vampires, even teenage vampires, I think of history, a mix of a good time and internal angst, and trouble. I wanted more darkness out of some of these stories. And all three of my favorites delivered on that.
Overall, I am happy I read this book as it introduced me to a lot of authors I have never read before.
Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does. She makes a list—a F*ck It list.
Be bold—do the things that scare me.
Learn to take a compliment.
Stand out instead of back.
Now she’s got a part in her school’s musical production of Othello, new friends and the attention of three very different boys. In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer is . . . a lot. #SMASHIT- Goodreads
My biggest problem with this book is how Black girls are depicted. There seems to be a trend that if you write about a Black girl they are either the loud one, who seems to have her ish together or the awkward one that is trying to find herself. This is getting a bit too common and I was pretty disappointed to see that in this book.
Also when you as a writer have a character say something along the lines of my Black friends aren’t like me. . . there is a problem.
Although that was the biggest problem for me I felt that this book read like a diary and it was all over the place. What I mean by both of those is that there is a lot of “I did this” “I heard this” “I saw this” “I felt this” Do not get me wrong there are interactions and developing characters in the background, however, it was so much inner monologue in this book.
When I say its all over the place, it felt like the author just added so much stuff to make this book seem complicated and full of depth. There were issues in here that was unprompted and were not followed up on. Listen if you want to write a “coming of age” story in which a Black gains confidence through signing up to become part of a musical production and has conflicting feelings about the boys in her life, cool go for it. But adding issues that are not her issues for the sake of keeping a book going isn’t the move.
ALSO the romance. Its not love triangle or whatever you call it when multiple people like you, IF the main character already decided who she wants to be with AND says repeatedly that she would drop everything for this one person.
I know that this review may be look at as harsh and to be honest, I thought hard about posting this. However, I stand by my words. Will there be readers who enjoy or love this book? Of course. I am just not one of them.
Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents.
But the beast grows ever greedier with each meal, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast.
The child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy?- Goodreads
I love when books switch things up. And I also love when books remind me of thing. In particular this book gives me “Little Shop of Horror” vibes ( my favorite musical btw). You know Seymour finds this plant that names it Audrey and feeds it his blood to grow and then Audrey demands more specifically a full human, so he gives him the nastiest person he can think of. . . the dentist.
So when I saw the summary of this book, that is what I thought of and just fell in love.
The writing style of this book is detailed, fun and at the same time you don’t feel as if the author added a bunch of fluff to drag the book. Ebenezer is a great villain because he doesn’t know he is a villain. Its not one of those good intention situations but its because he just don’t know. So anything really goes such as kidnapping a child even if it is a mean one.
There are mean and nasty children in the world. Seeing Bethany, although I don’t wish any child harm was interesting to read. Because on one hand you’re like why are you like this and on the other you’re like… well.
The characters were written extremely well. I loved the pace of the novel and its creativity.
Belasko thought he was beyond intrigues and machinations. But when the grief-stricken King demands vengeance, Belasko discovers he is expendable. His options are clear… find the real killer or satisfy the royal bloodlust.
With the forces of the palace mobilised against him he is thrust into the city’s bleak underbelly and must fight to discover the truth. With betrayal around every corner he must form unlikely alliances. Can the veteran warrior survive long enough to protect his friends and prove his innocence?- Goodreads
This is a good start to a series. I was surprised to have been invested into this book in such a short amount of time. Belasko is an interesting character who knows his stuff.
Belasko is unconventional in the sense that he already lived his life, did his fighting and now he just wants to take care of his students. I like this version of a hero. As a reader, I don’t see it often but in movies I see it a lot.
Although I wish he did more to give me that action pack I am the world’s deadlish former soldier, he is a old man (old for the book) just trying to live his life without mess.
I liked the characters of this book and the world building but it was slow. The book was dreadfully slow. About 20% into the book it lost steam. Which is unfortunate because there is good foundation within this book.
Overall, there is something about this book that makes you want to pick up book two.
In the vast palace of the empress lives an orphan girl called Nothing. She slips within the shadows of the Court, unseen except by the Great Demon of the palace and her true friend, Prince Kirin, heir to the throne. When Kirin is kidnapped, only Nothing and the prince’s bodyguard suspect that Kirin may have been taken by the Sorceress Who Eats Girls, a powerful woman who has plagued the land for decades. The sorceress has never bothered with boys before, but Nothing has uncovered many secrets in her sixteen years in the palace, including a few about the prince.
As the empress’s army searches fruitlessly, Nothing and the bodyguard set out on a rescue mission, through demon-filled rain forests and past crossroads guarded by spirits. Their journey takes them to the gates of the Fifth Mountain, where the sorceress wields her power. There, Nothing will discover that all magic is a bargain, and she may be more powerful than she ever imagined. But the price the Sorceress demands for Kirin may very well cost Nothing her heart- Goodreads
I enjoyed this book but there was a major red flag for me. This book was presented to me as #ownvoices but from the summary and from reading the book it is very clear that this book is based on a form of Asian culture. From what I know of the author she is White and living in Japan. So being called #ownvoices through me off by a lot.
Unless its #ownvoices for LGBTQ aspect of this novel. I am not sure. This is my first novel by this author so if anyone can provide some insight to that it would be great. Now let’s talk about the book.
I really liked it. It is unlike any other fantasy I have read and it is as romantic as it is magical. It focuses on world building and character development. Does action scenes happen? Yes, but not as frequent as you would think in a world with magic. I am chalking it up to writing skills because I was invested in this story-line.
However, there is a lot of back and forth in this novel. Nothing does all of it herself and although it is for good reason, going thirty chapters of her being not sure of anything is a bit much. Did I put this book down? Yes, actually a few times and because things didn’t just slow down they almost stopped for me. The intensiveness that I felt in the first half of the book dwindled and the lack of “action” did not help with that either.
But beyond this, I loved the romance displayed in the novel. Nothing grows to discover what love is and what is isn’t and that is comes in different times and forms. And also Nothing is fairly entertaining to read. She is quick on her feet, curious and oddly enough very objective. I liked her.
Overall, I was surprised by this book but in a good way.
Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.
Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.
But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?- Goodreads
There is no way in the world this book should have been this long and ended the way it did. I needed to say that first before anything.
I liked this book. I loved the concept that Ember is going in to take down the woman that destroyed her sister’s life. Its that will they become the evil they hate quest that gets me every time and the fact that it is set in high school makes it a mix of creepy and thrilling at the same. Creepy because it reminds me of politics.
The pace of novel was going really well until about 30% of the book. It was a lot of “I’m going to get the Queen” speeches she was giving herself and it was happening so often it was becoming redundant.
Ember did a lot of complaining and less trying to find information which was another thing that was getting tiring. How you going to do all those “this is what I am fighting for” speeches but then actually don’t do anything. Waiting for information to fall on your lap is boring especially with access to things that Ember had accessed to.
In regards to Ember herself. She was okay. Her focus was the court and protecting her family and that was all she did. Did I like her? My feelings for her are indifferent. She played her role of a teenager out for revenge very well and that was enough for me.
However, this book was too damn long. There was a lot of build up for an ending that was not good. Which is a shame because what I thought was going to happen didn’t. It went real left and I liked that.
But because the author decided to focus on building the tension and the thrill it took a lot a way from the book.
I liked this book but I could have liked it way more.
Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.- Goodreads
This is the third book to the DI Amy Winter series. I did not know this when I requested this arc on Netgalley. With that being said, you need to read at least the previous book. On top of the current murder investigation, a previous issue, that takes up 90% of Amy’s head space, is extremely prominent within this novel. Although I enjoyed this read, I would have loved it if I read the previous novel. So go do that before reading this review and the book :)
I was sucked into this book fairly quickly. It is told in multiple point of views and it was great. It wasn’t great because Amy wasn’t a good voice to read but it was great because each perspective gave actual insight to the case and everything else that was going on. Yes, you do get the killer’s point of view and its creepy. Like he is a creep but that isn’t what made it creepy.
Beyond this the book is fast paced but it was a hard read for me because I didn’t read the previous books. When I realized this was a third, I expected there to be some reference to the previous books not chapters about them. It took away my interest and it also made the current murder seem so small.
Despite this, I really enjoyed this book. The writing style is captivating. How everything moved together behind everyone’s eye took a lot of talent. Do I plan on reading the previous novels? Not sure. Since I know how some things end, it might not do me any good.
Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .
Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.- Goodreads
This is a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus. If you don’t exactly remember here the quick snapshot is this man goes to the underworld to save the woman he loves and has to walk back above without looking back to her. If he looks back, she stays in the underworld.
I love the spin Rivera puts on this mythology. Pheus is what makes this book. He has so much life and personality. Eury is sad and depressing. She has every right to be as there is a demon trying to take her to the underworld but calling it like it is, Pheus is what brings the life, the color, the interest to this story. He as well as the plot is written very well.
The story is told through both of their point of views, which shows the difference in personality between the two. Other than my love of Pheus what I loved was the rich environment. I’m from New York, Harlem & Long Island specifically and to see the Bronx so clearly, to hear the train as Rivera describes it is freaking amazing. The writing in this book is done extremely well.
There is a low build up in the novel but it is worth it. What I would have liked to see more is the family history of Pheus and Eury. Its mentioned and pretty much brushed over at the end. I would have liked to see more of that family connection and history since he is used as a foundation towards the end of the book.
The imagery in the novel is fantastic. When it starts getting to the climax/the end of the book it is thick and rich. However, I do feel the ending was not as strong as it could have been and a bit rushed but it did give me a satisfied feeling.
The culture displayed in this novel, being Dominican/Black and Puerto Rican could have been/should have been add more beyond the music references. Again, this goes back to family history. Its mentioned but doesn’t play a whole lot of significance until the end of the novel.
Overall, this was a fantastic read. I’m a sucker for mythology and this retelling was done really well.
As mentioned in the subject this post will contact both a book review and an interview :)
Logan’s the new boy at Cherrington Academy, a boarding school that’s promised to provide him with a safe haven away from homophobic bullies and neglectful parents. He’s left all that 2000 miles away.
What he doesn’t expect Cherrington to provide is; a bunch of friends who want to adopt him, a mysterious roommate who’s never home and a gorgeous guy with a secret crush on him.
His perfect new life begins to unravel when he discovers a web of secrets amongst his friends. Plus his roommate? Partial to blackmail. That gorgeous guy? Well, he’s taken by one of Logan’s now closest friends.
Can Logan shut off his feelings to protect his new friendships and the happiness he’s found at Cherrington Academy? Or is love really just all-consuming?- Goodreads
What can I say about this book other than how great it was. What I enjoyed the most about this book was the characters. They were well written and most importantly they had depth, they added to not just Logan’s (MC) story but to the world building and they had some development.
There is a lot that goes on within the novel, however, it does feel over-complicated nor does it feel as if the author threw in a lot of fluff to keep the book going. Everything connected and made sense (including the blackmail) and I am glad it did because when I read the summary I was a bit concerned about that.
I liked the pace of the novel. For most contemporaries, things tend to be drawn out due to the drama. And although there is drama in the novel, it moves very well. The romance was not bad either. But the characters, all of them, were fantastically written.
Quick Five Interview
Firstly, congratulations on your first published novel!
How was the process leading up to this moment? What positives, what difficulties did you face either writing, promoting, or publishing your book?
I think I have genuinely been so lucky with publishing that it has pretty much been an absolute ball of a time for me. I was incredibly blessed to be signed with SRL Publishing who have been the most amazing publishers to work with. They’ve listened to every idea that I’ve had for my story from the actual writing and editing of it, to the front cover and to letting me have a ridiculously long acknowledgements page. In terms of actually writing the story,
I loved it so much. The main difficulties that I faced were during the first stage of writing. I had all the ideas and an outline and character profiles ready to go, but I had no clue where to start.
Turns out the starting of it was definitely the hardest thing for me. I started writing in third person POV and about 45k words in I realised it wasn’t the right fit for my book, but I had no clue how to rectify it or change it. So instead I abandoned the book for around 7-8 months until I had a new plan and realized that I needed to move over to first person POV.
Some of the positives that I’ve faced were the absolute joy in working with my cover designer for Cherrington, Hayley is an angel and I’m always going to be so impressed with it and grateful for her! In terms of writing, damn I enjoyed every bit I can’t lie, I am so crazy that I absolutely just loved writing the book as it was my very first book baby and I just fell in love with the characters and the story.
It is noted in your bio that it was not until you moved to Canada that you were inspired to write Cherrington Academy. What exactly in that change of environment or in general inspired you?
My study abroad year in Canada in 2017/18 was exactly what I needed, without actually knowing it was what I needed. I was incredibly anxious about moving to another country for a whole year with no family and friends close by, but it was the best thing I ever did. It bought me completely out of my comfort zone which led me to feel like I could pretty much do anything. That included the book that I’d been longing to write forever.
I also thinking living in a North American style dormitory with a roommate and a dining plan and everything else that comes with that environment also really inspired the boarding school element of Cherrington Academy as it helped me to feel like I have a decent experience of living in one.
I was also just surrounded by amazing people that I became incredibly good friends with and still am even though I no longer live there. The whole environment of Canada just inspired me to be creative and really get stuck into writing Cherrington Academy.
How do you separate being a writer and a reader when you are writing your book?
This is such a good question. I feel like I have two answers for it. Sometimes I definitely think that you need to separate yourself from being a reader and a writer, especially during the editing stages as I want to be focused a lot on format, spelling, grammar, whether the story actually makes any sense.
However, when writing the story and especially when planning the story, I really do feel like being a reader and a writer is important.
As I want to be writing a book that is readable, that an audience is going to love and is actually a proper story, so I do feel like being a writer and a reader is necessary during these stages of writing my book.
Where do you see yourself as a writer in the next five years?
In the next five years I would love to have three or four books out. With Cherrington and the sequel Coming Home both coming out within the next year I definitely think that this is a good start towards this goal of at least three, maybe even four books being published.
I would also really like to have my writer website up and running, as I have dramatically failed at getting that going again this year. Another thing I’d really like to be doing more of as a writer, is writing short stories! I wrote my first one this year and submitted it to a competition and although I didn’t win, I had such a ball writing it that I’d love to write some more.
I also wrote a really random poem this year, it was very heartfelt and somewhat emotional, but again I also really loved dabbling in poetry so maybe I’ll even write some more poetry in the next five years.
Finally, what do you want readers to take with them when they finish your book?
I really hope they take my book as a little slice of life into a mid-late teen’s life. When writing this book, I really wanted it to be real and gritty and not a book that just portrayed teens lives to be fun and easy and just all about love being simple. Because it isn’t. I hope that came across; I really did. I wanted to portray LGBT characters in real situations, rather than Cherrington just being a coming out story.
I also wanted to deal with some of the stigma around male mental health and emotions and showing that there is support out there and that you should not be afraid to cry as a man or reach out for therapy.
Aspiring fashion designer Adelaide Song wants to prove she’s more than just a pampered heiress. All she needs is a little courage—and the help of deliciously sexy Michael Reynolds, her childhood crush and her brother’s best friend.
But when her secret crush turns into an illicit liaison, Adelaide realizes mixing business with pleasure spells trouble for all her plans…- Goodreads
This is my first book by Jayci Lee and it will not be the last. What I love about this book is how straight forward the romance is. Even when “the drama” comes into the story the romance between childhood friends is true and consistent. It takes bit but both of them know what they want. The problem is should they and it isn’t because of the brother’s best friend aspect; it is way much more than that.
Beyond the fact that the romance was straight forward, what I liked about this book was Adelaide and Michael actually working. Although Adelaide did act like a child at times, she knew her stuff and made sure she showed out. I loved the fact that both of them made sure their job would get done before they did their good. Don’t get me wrong they may have tried some stuff while on the clock but they kept it professional when it was down to it. I liked seeing them work.
The pace of the novel wasn’t bad. It was a semi slow build up. When things began to heat up, the pace of the novel didn’t change and the tone remained the same. That sense of urgency and tension was fading about half way through the novel.
I would have liked to see more of a relationship with her Grandmother or at least more of a background of it. This could have been in the first book but as this book focused on Adelaide, I would have liked to see them more together as opposed to it popping up when the author needed a distraction.
Overall, this was a nice read and some steamy scenes.
Making and breaking your favorite reads since 2017