Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cry Your Way Home by Damien Angelica Walters book thoughts

Title: Cry Your Way Home
Series: N/A
Author: Damien Angelica Walters
Published Date: January 2nd, 2018
Publisher: Amazon
Source: Publisher
# of Pages: 259
Format: Ebook
Genre: Anthology/Horror/Sci-Fi
Days to Read: 4
Rating: 3.51 out of 5
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

"Once upon a time there was a monster. This is how they tell you the story starts. This is a lie."

Sometimes things are not what they appear to be. DNA doesn't define us, gravity doesn't hold us, a home doesn't mean we belong. From circus tents to space stations, Damien Angelica Walters creates stories that are both achingly familiar and chillingly surreal. Within her second short story collection, she questions who the real monsters are, rips families apart and stitches them back together, and turns a cell phone into the sharpest of weapons.

Cry Your Way Home brings together seventeen stories that delve deep into human sorrow and loss, weaving pain, fear, and resilience into beautiful tales that are sure to haunt you long after you turn the last page.

"Once upon a time there was a girl ..."

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this anthology over-all! Here are the story names and my individual ratings (which equaled to 3.51 average)

"Tooth, Tongue, and Claw" - 5 stars
"Deep Within the Marrow, Hidden in My Smile" - 4.5 stars
"On the Other Side of the Door, Everything Changes" - 5 stars
"This Is the Way I Die" - 3.75 stars
"The Hands That Hold, the Lies That Bind" - 3.5 stars
"Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant's Tale" - 4 stars
"The Judas Child" - 3.5 stars
"S Is for Soliloquy" - 2 stars
"The Floating Girls: A Documentary" - 4.5 stars
"Take a Walk in the Night, My Love" - 4 stars
"Falling Under, Through the Dark" - 5 stars
"The Serial Killer's Astronaut Daughter" - 4.5 stars
"Umbilicus" - 3 stars
"A Lie You Give, and Thus I Take" - 3.5 stars
"Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home" - 1 star
"Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice" - 1 star
"In the Spaces Where You Once Lived" - 2 stars

As for the ones I didn't care for or like, sometimes it was as simple as it just wasn't for me or I didn't get it which could entirely be a me thing. Over-all though I loved the anthology with many of them packing hard emotional punches, and yes, some even made me cry! I cry easily at books but short stories? Now that's a feat! Many important themes were touched through-out the stories, delved into and written beautifully. My only complaint is I want more! <3 I definitely recommend checking this out when it comes out in January!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand book thoughts

Title: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Series: N/A
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published Date: October 24th, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Won ARC in Goodreads Giveaway
# of Pages: 389
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult/Retellings
Days to Read: 5
Rating: ★★★.75 (3.75 out of 5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

My Thoughts

TW: Fire, Death

I won an arc of this in a giveaway on Goodreads. All thoughts are my own. Since this is an arc it might differ to the final version, I do not know.

Since I enjoyed this over-all, as usual i'll get my minor gripes out of the way first. It took me between 50-100 pages to get into it but honestly I should have guessed it, because Holly, the scrooge, starts off so unlike-able and awful, the perfect scrooge! But by 100 pages I was sold, and it just kept getting better from there, which i'll get into in a minute.

Since it is A Christmas Carol retelling I honestly should have also expected the Christian over-tones. I know the story, and while I can't read Dickens writing i've seen adaptations of it and do enjoy the story as it as a good message in it. I don't mind religion in books if it doesn't feel preachy or a bit much, and as the story goes it did feel a bit preachy-ish to me a couple times, but this could just be a me thing. It didn't ruin the book for me or anything, just made me roll my eyes.

Also while reading I found the project scrooge people...well creepy and kind of hated them sometimes, to varying degrees, but now that i've finished the book I actually understand why things were that way, for the most part. I still think it's a bit creepy, and I felt like they could have had more compassion sometimes, I mean wasn't that supposed to be the point? But I digress.

I also disliked the tone of "A day wasted on others is not wasted on one's self," type of things here and there. I get helping others is awesome and you should do your best to be a good person, but one shouldn't forget to take care of oneself either and at times I got the impression that taking care of yourself at all is considered selfish and bad. I don't think that was supposed to be the message though.

Wow that sounds like I hated the book. Trust me there is much to love about it too! While it took me awhile to come to terms with Holly, I really got to know her over the course of the book. Why she was that way. Why scrooges come to be scrooges. Sometimes you have to look past the surface and really dig deep. You have to look into someone's past. I loved the character development and complexity that shined through!

As the plot progressed and the pacing picked up I just kept loving it more as I continued reading and eventually I didn't want to put it down! It was thought-provoking at times and I ended up loving Holly's POV. I got very emotional many times through-out the novel, i've annotated this book like crazy! Also there is a twist I didn't see coming and she does get her happy ending, but not like you'd think! I'll leave you with this quote.

"Without stories, we're all just lonely islands."
"Stories let us see and hear and feel what someone else does," she explained. "They build bridges to the other islands. That's why stories are so important. They create true empathy."

So yes, I do recommend this book, particularly around the holidays! It was a wonderful holiday read that i'm really glad I read and stuck with! I wish I could say more about it but I don't want to spoil it!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pierced Ink by Dani René book thoughts

Title: Pierced Ink
Series: N/A
Author: Dani René
Published Date: November 27th, 2017
Publisher: Carina Press
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 50
Format: Ebook/Kindle
Genre: Adult/Erotica/Romance/Contemporary
Days to Read: 1
Rating: ★★★★.5 (4.5 out of 5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

The Dirty Bits from Carina Press give you what you want, when you want it. Designed to be read in an hour or two, these sex-filled micro-romances are guaranteed to pack a punch and deliver a happily-ever-after.

Ava was the only woman to really get me. She broke down the walls I built up and burrowed herself beneath the surface. She became a part of me. There’s no other way to describe her, or us.

Everything about her drew me in. From her captivating smile to those nipple piercings she used to love me tugging on. Her body is pure perfection—smooth tanned skin covered in ink I gave her, and surface piercings on either hip I loved to tease with my tongue.

Two years ago, at the height of our love—the height of us—she woke up and packed her stuff into a single small suitcase.

The next moments passed by in a blur. And then she was gone. No explanation. Nothing but an empty room.

My world crashed around me and I let it.
I let her walk out.

Two years without a word from her—until today. Ava’s back in my shop, on her knees, begging me to mark her once again.

My Thoughts

This is a short story so I don't want to give too much away, but despite being short it really packed a punch!

I fell in love with Ava and Jag. At first I wasn't sure what to think but then things fell into place, at what had happened and how they got to where they were. And things hit rather close to home for me in some ways and by 50% I was crying. Like ugly crying. This story managed to quickly hit me right in the heart and feels and i'm just bitter it's so short because i'm greedy and want more!

I was worried that it being so short would hurt the characters but that wasn't the case! They have so much depth to them and it's wrapped in a short, sweet, and erotic, story! I ended up really understanding Ava and why she did and felt the way she did and Jag, ugh i'm in love with them <3!

I'm just bitter it's short. I mean it's wrapped up wonderfully and I love it, i'm just greedy with characters I fall in love with, I always want more. If you want a quick and dirty, but also very sweet romance, i'd definitely recommend this!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Forbidden Blood by R. L. Kenderson book thoughts

Title: Forbidden Blood
Series: Yes (Forbidden #1)
Author: R. L. Kenderson
Published Date: July 1st, 2014
Publisher: R. L. Kenderson
Source: Netgalley (and later Amazon because it was free)
# of Pages: 302
Format: Ebook
Genre: Adult/Paranormal Romance/Erotica
Days to Read: 7
Rating: ★★★★.25 (4.25 out of 5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Love knows no boundaries and rarely ever follows the rules, even if you’re a vampire.

Naya Kensington has always been an impeccable daughter, honoring her father and mother, the king and queen of the Vampires. Now her parents are planning her future with a complete disregard for her wishes and desires. Feeling restless and a bit rebellious, she retreats to a human nightclub on the wrong side of the tracks with the coaxing of her best friend. Despite the energetic crowd, Naya remains discontent and detached from life. However, everything changes when she meets a dark stranger, named Vaughn, who’s unlike anyone she’s met before—vampire or human. Taking a chance, Naya leaves with him, and their evening ends with a one-night stand. Knowing they can only have the one night, she gives herself to the stranger completely, and even though it is forbidden for her kind to drink from humans, she unintentionally consumes his blood during the intensity of their passion.

When Vaughn Llewelyn spots the woman across the nightclub, he immediately wants her and knows no one else will do. Upon meeting Naya, Vaughn senses she is special and willingly accepts this, because he is different in his own way. Unable to fight the irresistible pull, their one-night stand extends past their expectations. Nonetheless, they can never have forever and reluctantly part ways, because Vaughn understands Naya’s obligations as he has duties of his own. Resigned to a future without Naya, Vaughn is ultimately shocked when he sees her again and discovers their first encounter has unexpectedly bonded them together, including her need for his blood alone.

As everything they know changes, Naya and Vaughn struggle to find where they belong in their own worlds as well as each other’s. To do this, they must conquer societal prejudices in their determination to be together. But unbeknownst to them and everyone around, there is a dangerous and devious scheme that could threaten their newfound love and possibly their lives.

My Thoughts

I initially picked this up from Netgalley but then later saw it free for a day on Amazon and picked it up there too so I have it, though it was still free either way.

I love vampires! I have since I first saw Buffy the vampire slayer. I saw vampires and paranormal romance I was like YES, GIVE IT TO MEEEE but i'm still new to the paranormal romance genre, even though I already knew i'm a sucker for vampires. And I am so glad I picked this up!

Because I did love this over-all let's get my one issue with it out of the way. At times it seemed, to me, painfully heteronormative. I'm bisexual and can gladly read any romance, m-f, f-f, m-m, m-m-f, f-f-m etc. I don't care as long as it's well written. I'm just talking about me personally here, not saying others can't.

This is very erotic which I wasn't expecting (not my problem with it, I loved it!) so of course there is plenty of arousal at certain things and possessiveness (but not in a bad way, i'll get to more on that later). Some of the things I am talking about in terms of heteronormative-ness "Along with the bond it created, this was probably why unmated vampires fed from the wrist of someone of the same gender" "Did the opposite gender's blood cause sexual urges?" it's never mentioned what about gay or bi vampires? I can get how it would be switched around for gay vampires but bisexual ones? Are they just doomed to always be horny and want to fuck everyone, ya know, the stereotype for bisexual people? This is literally my only issue with the book, which yes it bugged me, but I found so much more to love about this story!

There are also shifters (cats and wolves) in this book and they can be possessive of their mates. Each person does have a different personality and is well thought out, which I loved. Just because someone is a cat shifter and has that possessive-ness doesn't mean they have to be a jerk about it or scary. They can still temper it with their human side, think, and be caring and attentive to others wants and needs and not be, well a huge jerk about it for lack of knowing how to better say it. Being an Alpha does not have to go hand in hand with being a jerk as this book ended up showing and I loved it!

Due to the differences in shifter and vampire culture there were some mixed signals in the book but eventually communication would happen and it'd be worked out.

I loved learning about how vampires and shifters worked in this book. I also really enjoyed all the different characters. There are several POV's in this story and normally I get confused very easily but thankfully that didn't happen here. I still found it easy to know who was who and what was going on. Sure I don't love all the characters but I love their characterization. They are all different and complex, learning more about them as it goes on. I know real people like them exist and could easily believe people would act the way they were. I also loved how it touched on important themes, messages and had strong characters. I am living for these character arcs! This book had my emotions going all over the place and by the end, there were tears!

I am loving the plot too. I'm trying to not give too much away though this book is making that hard! Yes, it's erotica and has sex scenes, but it also has well developed characters and a thought-out plot! I am invested in what is going to happen to these characters, the plot is believable (as long as you can get behind vampires and shifters existing which I love paranormal stuff like this personally) and I need to know what happens next! Also Naya and Vaughn are now my OTP.

If you are into paranormal romance and this sounds like something you'd be interested in, i'd definitely recommend picking it up!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dark Goddess Craft: A Journey through the Heart of Transformation by Stephanie Woodfield book thoughts

Title: Dark Goddess Craft: A Journey through the Heart of Transformation
Series: N/A
Author: Stephanie Woodfield
Published Date: November 8th, 2017
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 240
Format: Kindle
Genre: Nonfiction/Spirituality
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Discover how to use the many faces of the dark goddess to navigate the process of deep and rewarding change. This practical guide looks at the misconceptions surrounding dark deities and encourages you to draw on the power of the dark goddesses to work through aspects of yourself or your life that you wish to change.

Organized into three sections—the descent, challenge, and rebirth—Dark Goddess Craft guides you into your own darkness and helps you emerge renewed. Stephanie Woodfield presents the goddesses you will meet along your path of transformation and explains each one's role in helping you. This book will light your way through the shadows and show you how to become the best version of yourself.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

People hear of dark goddesses or dark things in general and think evil, bad, negative and are scared of them. That isn't the case here, and no this doesn't deal with dark magick. Yes, things in this book deal with things that frighten us, but they aren't evil. It helps teach how to deal with our demons, we all have them. How to deal with the darkness within us. That balance is a necessary part of the world and sometimes, what we think of as dark, is just something we have trouble with and are scared of. Honestly this book is hard to describe and review as it's non-fiction and spiritual based.

I think almost anyone could learn things from this book though. I learned a lot reading it. About mythology, about humanity, about myself. I hope to go through this book again at some point but take it much slower really taking the time to go through each part as I am pagan too. Even if someone is not pagan, if you are open to it I do think anyone could gain things from this book, even if everything in it is not for you. Also please keep in mind if something in particular does not work for you, your path is your own and you can rework things so they work for you and your life and ignore what doesn't work for you.

For not knowing how to put it in better words, i'll let the book speak for itself. Please keep in my mind I got an uncorrected proof from Netgalley, which may differ in the final version.

"The dark goddess and the lessons she teaches are vital to our lives. Her destructive aspects teach us that there is death within life, that we are constantly changing and evolving. No matter what we have been through in our lives, we can rise from the ashes and like Kali dance ecstatically on the ruins of our old selves toward rebirth. As the fierce warrior drinking the blood of the slain, she is a no-nonsense goddess, teaching us to make our voices heard, to stand up and be counted, and inspiring us to bring about change, both in ourselves and the world around us. And she is also the shadowy keeper of the dead, teaching us how to pierce the veil, to see into the future, and to commune with the beloved dead. But she is also the side of the Divine we avoid the most, and as a consequence we often have difficulty working with her."

"Dark Gods rule over the things we fear the most. Some fear that working with this aspect of the dark goddess will bring out the darkest or worst parts of themselves. Other times we are simply afraid to welcome change into our lives and finally release the things we keep buried deep within our souls. While working with the darker aspects of the Goddess may make you face things about yourself you would rather ignore, her path is one of transformation and ultimately one of healing."

"Today we like to think of the world in terms of everything having its opposite, instead of seeing that most things, including the gods, fall into a gray area. There is male and female, night and day, and good and evil. Dark deities are in no way evil, but what we have learned to do when we approach the gods in this manner is to label any deity that holds sway over a realm or concept that frightens us as "dark." Gods who rule over death, change, war, violence, anger, and all the things that make life difficult or painful must also be dangerous and untrustable in some way, not unlike the things they hold sway over. What we often fail to see is that dark gods are not the cause of these things, but rather the very beings who teach us to understand them, who challenge us to move past our fears and give us the strength to face some of the more painful unavoidable things in life."

"Defining "dark" as a term that always indicates something negative also has racial connotations. There is an element of cultural baggage around the idea that lightness is good or preferable and being darker is shameful when it comes to skin color. There is even a myth about how Parvati is shamed by another god who calls her dark-skinned, and she takes measures to lighten her appearance, the darkness she sheds transforming into the goddess Kali, whose name means "black." We have to let go of the idea that "dark," within any context, is a bad thing. These attitudes influence not just the way we look at each other but how we perceive deity."

"You may be a parent, a spouse, a child, and a coworker and play many roles to different people, but you are still one person. When we put a label on something, we tend to forget that it is anything else but the label we have given it. It took me many years to see that the Morrigan has other aspects and faces. She can be dark and scary, but that is not the limit of her power or scope as a deity. The problem with labeling something "dark" or "light" is that we put blinders on and forget that the gods are more than the title or box people put them in."

"Throughout this book, I will refer to the goddesses we are working with as dark, but only because this has evolved into the terminology that we are most familiar with."

I know that's a lot but there is so much more I have highlighted. So much more i'd love to share and talk about but I want others to experience the book for themselves. This is a very educational and thought-provoking book, and one I really should work more in-depth with.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew book thoughts

Title: Winterglass
Series: N/A
Author: Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Published Date: December 5th, 2017
Publisher: Apex
Source: From Publisher
# of Pages: 127
Format: Ebook
Genre: Fantasy
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★.25 (3.25/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

The city-state Sirapirat once knew only warmth and monsoon. When the Winter Queen conquered it, she remade the land in her image, turning Sirapirat into a country of snow and unending frost. But an empire is not her only goal. In secret, she seeks the fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire.

At her right hand is General Lussadh, who bears a mirror shard in her heart, as loyal to winter as she is plagued by her past as a traitor to her country. Tasked with locating other glass-bearers, she finds one in Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon that will strike down the queen.

To earn her place in the queen’s army, Nuawa must enter a deadly tournament where the losers’ souls are given in service to winter. To free Sirapirat, she is prepared to make sacrifices: those she loves, herself, and the complicated bond slowly forming between her and Lussadh.

If the splinter of glass in Nuawa’s heart doesn’t destroy her first.

My Thoughts

This story is beautifully written. A queer retelling of the snow queen. It has fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk elements. Interesting and tough characters that I did like reading about. The world-building was beautiful too.

Fantasy sometimes goes over my head as it did here. I would have liked a bit more explanation and in-depth but I don't think it's a story fault. I think it's more so me being easily confused and not well versed in fantasy or the snow queen fairy tale. If you are more into fantasy, steampunk or the snow queen retelling I'd bet you'd understand it more than I did.

That said I still did enjoy reading it. I got it at least some of the story, enough to like what I was reading. There are also some erotic elements to it (which I enjoy but I know everyone has different tastes).

I loved how it's unapologetically queer! Being trans, different pronouns, being queer, it's no big deal and I loved that! I do highly recommend this. I'm sorry I didn't fully understand everything but what I did was beautiful and I'm thinking I'll need to do a re-read of it in the future. Thank you to Apex publishing for providing me with a copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Siren by Jaimie Roberts book thoughts

Title: Siren
Series: No
Author: Jaimie Roberts
Published Date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Amazon
Source: I bought it
# of Pages: 291
Format: Ebook
Genre: Adult/Dark Erotica/Contemporary
Days to Read: 4
Rating: ★★★★★(5/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

I’m not a good person. In fact, I’m a real bitch. If the opportunity arises, I will take your husband, give him the best sex he’s ever had, and laugh behind your back once I’m done with him. I do not put on airs and graces. I just take what I want whenever I want it.

I am the abused who has become the abuser. I live for power because all power had been stripped from me for years. Now that I have it back, I feed off of it like it’s my primary sustenance, and I don’t care who I hurt in the process.

Every woman hates me, but do you know what? I don’t give a shit.

You won’t like me. I’m not here to be liked. You want to know my story? I won’t stop you from observing. Just know that once I’m done with you, no shower—no matter how scalding—will ever get me out from under your skin.

Warning: If you’re looking for pink, fluffy clouds, rainbows, and HEA’s, then this book is not for you. These pages contain flashback scenes of child abuse in all forms (physical, sexual, and emotional) as well as BDSM and other taboo themes.

Love does not live in this book. Only dark, twisted, and sick obsessions thrive here.

You. Have. Been. Warned!

My Thoughts

TW: Rape, Death, Abuse

This book is a tough read. It's sick, it's raw, and deliciously twisted. Scarlet isn't always easy to like, heck she doesn't like herself, and sometimes she's downright despicable, but man if this book didn't have me rooting for her! Let's back up. Scarlet was abused as a child. To say Scarlet has daddy issues is the understatement of the century. Her dad rapes her starting at 14 years old. She was the unwanted child in a way, and she pays for it. Her sister and mother don't believe her. They all have their reasons, but that doesn't change it's fucked up. Only she gets to see the evil inside of him. He ruins her.

In her early 20s she ends up, well like the blurb says. She'll take what she wants when she wants it. She gets power and she uses it. After all when she was a teen all power was stripped from her, and it twists her. Ultimately though she just wants revenge on those that hurt her, and she WILL GET IT. If you ask me, and probably anyone with a heart, she deserves her revenge. I wanted them to pay for what they did to her. They get no sympathy from me. But it takes her down a dark path, and there is more twisted shit going on than she knows. Some happiness does come through the book, but mostly it's just twisted sick obsessions and pain. And those obsessions can prove deadly.

I don't want to give too much away so sorry if i'm being vague. The book is fast-paced. It had me wanting to read so much faster than I actually can, I didn't want to stop reading, though at times I had to take a breather. It had me thinking hard at times. My emotions went all over the place, from aroused, to rooting for her with a grin on my face (questioning my sanity here), to crying, to shock and feeling like my insides were being squeezed. This book will make you feel dirty but you won't be able to get clean no matter how hard you try.

The writing flowed nicely and the characters were well written. I either loved them or loved to hate them. Scarlet is so much more layered than at first glance (and she has good in her). She may be twisted, but she was made, not born, that way. She's only twisted because she's human, so very human, and has went through so much hell that no one, especially a child, should ever have to go through. I just want to hug and protect her, let her cry and tell her it will all be okay. It won't be okay though, this book has chewed me up and spit me out.

I related to her feelings in ways through tore at my heart. I haven't went through what she has but I resonated with some of her feelings. The shutting off of emotions, or thinking that one has anyway, and she became my baby. You know those characters, they become your children.

This book has complex and well written characters and plot. It has strong messages and will make you think. It'll also shatter your heart.
This book can be hard to read, require tissues, and may shatter your soul, but if you think you can handle it or decide to give it a shot I do highly recommend it, as long as you are in a good head-space and have the tissues close. This book isn't for everyone. I recently finished this (a few hours ago as of writing this) and pieces of the puzzle are still falling into place...and I really wish they weren't.

Love does not live in this book. Only dark, twisted, and sick obsessions thrive here.

You. Have. Been. Warned!