Tag Archives: 2022 Winter Reading Challenge

entered in the alien bride lottery

Book Review: Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery, by Margo Bond Collins

I picked up a compilation of the first three books and a bonus short story in Margo Bond CollinsKhanavai Warrior Bride Games series as an Amazon freebie. Here I’m only reviewing the first one, Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery and the Christmas short Christmas for the Alien Bride Lottery. I ended up reading this now because the short qualified for my 2022 Winter Reading Challenge.


There are a million ways to end up in the Alien Bride Lottery. But it takes only one.

Every unmarried female human over the age of 21 gets entered once a year. You can also accept extra entries for legal infractions—instead of paying a parking fine, for example, you can request an extra entry. Lots of women do that. I mean, why not? The chances are astronomical that your name will get chosen to be one of the hundred or so women who get shipped off to space every year.

And even if your name is drawn, the odds are slim that you’ll match up with an alien who’s looking for a mate.

Most of the lottery-drawn women come back to Earth every year and resume their lives as if nothing changed.

But some don’t.

And no matter what, getting drawn in the Lottery means you have to compete in the Bride Games.

Guess that’s where I’m heading now.

I only hope I can avoid catching the eye of one of the giant, rainbow-hued brutes whose mission is to protect Earth—and who can claim me as a mate.

All because I was Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery…

my reviewI have and read this as part of the The Alien Bride Lottery Volume 1: The Khanavai Warriors Alien Bride Games Books 1-3. However, I do not think I’ll read any more than this first story.

I generally like the Mars Needs Women trope, in a cheesy sci-fi sort of way. And I’ve read Margo Bond Collins books before. They’re usually fluffy, silly fun; nothing deep but enjoyable. And this book was competently written. However, I did not like it. Partly because I didn’t like what Collins did with the story and partly because there wasn’t enough development that I could come to accept what Collins did with the story.

Here’s the thing. It’s not at all uncommon that the women in a Mars Needs Women trope get taken from their life on Earth to live among the aliens. That’s kind of the whole shtick. And some authors pull it off well enough that it isn’t quite as rage-inducing as it can be. And some author make a hash of it, such that you can’t ever come around to forgiving the alien for what they did to her. And some, like Collins here, do something even worse, in my opinion. They make their female character decide they want to give it all up to go pop out babies for their alien husbands. And, in order for this to be worth a plot, the woman has to have something to be giving up. it doesn’t work if she has no life to speak of.

And this is what I didn’t and don’t like. Collins gives us a woman who is in university, has goals, dreams, and a life plan. And then she very quickly decides to give it all up to run off and play broodmare to an alien. But the underlying message is the same old patriarchal claptrap women are always subtly fed. Those goals of education and a meaningful career aren’t really women’s true purpose, being a wife and mother is her proper role. And this is reinforced in these stories by how quickly the female characters see the the error of their ways, see how much better life would be as a wife and mother instead educated or with a career and course correct, by giving up their own hard earned lives to play second fiddle to a man.

No matter how you restructure the plot in various books, this is the moral of a lot of romance stories and it crops up frequently in the Mars Needs Woman trope. The trick for the author is to make it not so blatant that women (like myself) who value education and a career don’t feel slapped in the face for our “wrong choices.” *Insert eye-roll.* Collins failed in this.

[Spoiler ahead] She tried, I’ll give her that. The H is lovely and wanted to find a way for the h to accomplish her goals. And they did find a way for her to finish her degree as a distance student, which is more than some authors offer their female characters. But what good would that really be on an alien planet? And in the end it doesn’t negate the fact that we were given a female character who has to choose between the educational goals she set for herself and has worked entered in the alien bride lottery photohard for and a man. Then, without a second thought, tossed her own goals aside to take up the mantle of support to a male. (The finishing of the degree did not come up until after she’d made this choice.)

*Yawn.* Yawn because it’s been written a million times before in support of patriarchal norms and yawn because it required exactly zero creativity. Collins seems to have made exactly zero effort to give us anything new and interesting.

So, I think I’m done with this series.

***

I also read the short story Christmas for the Alien Bride Lottery. (It was included as a bonus with the compilation). It was barely anything at all. Another girls gets called up for the lottery, immediately decides she likes the look of one particular alien (who has also decided she’s his mate), they have a brief holiday experience, and a fairly bland sexual encounter and wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and live happily ever after. I wasn’t impressed. But I do think even this condensed version was was less rage-inducing that book one of the series. I felt like this heroine didn’t have a lot going on earth-side, looked at her options, and decided going with the alien worked for her. She didn’t throw away all her plans and hard work for it though. Plus, she was the initiator for a lot of the story.


Other Reviews:

Thrifty Thursday Review: Entered in the Alien Bride Lottery (Khanavai Warrior Bride Games #1) by Margo Bond Collins

 

 

Book Review: The Unseelie Prince, by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

I received a copy of Kathryn Ann Kingsley‘s The Unseelie Prince in last month’s Supernatural Book Crate.the unseelie prince coverThe throne is Valroy’s for the taking…but first, he needs a queen.

As the son of the Morrigan and heir to the vacant Unseelie throne, Valroy itches to shed the mantle of prince and take his place as King. To his great regret one ancient tradition stands in his way, demanding he first take a bride. With all the members of the Unseelie court proving to be insufferable, what is a prince to do?

Steal a human, of course.

Abigail often wonders if the townsfolk aren’t right in calling her cursed. Abandoned by her husband and with no family to call her own, everything in her life hangs by a thread. Never did she except her downfall would come by taking pity on an old hermit. Abducted into the dangerous world of Tir n’Aill, Abigail is thrust into a terrifying maze that defies all logic. There, she finds herself at the mercy of an Unseelie prince with a strange offer—survive his maze and he’ll give her the solution to all her problems…

If she can live that long.my reviewI am 100% torn about how I feel about this book. On one hand I love old-school fae who don’t conform to mortal norms and morals. They’re basically my favorite kind. And that’s Valroy in a nutshell. However, on the other hand, this is supposed to be a romance. And the romance aspect of this fell really flat for me.

Sure, I get anti-heroes. I understand dark romance. And I saw that Valroy’s attitudes were changing over the course of the book. But the fact remains that he legitimately didn’t care if she lived or died for the majority of the book. And that does not equal any sort of romance in my mind. So, for me, it was a fail on that front.

But there is the undeniable third hand in which I am curious to see where the story goes from here. So, I’m going to call this a middle-of-the-road read and hope that the romance strikes my fancy a little more in book two. the unseelie prince photo


Other Reviews:

The Unseelie Prince Book Review

February 2022 Wrap Up

 

see sadie read 2022 winter reading challenge banner

2022 Winter Reading Challenge

It’s that time of year again, time to set out my yearly Winter Reading Challenge. OK, it might be a stretch to call it yearly. I did a big one last year and a small one in 2017. But I’m aiming to make it yearly. How about that?

Here’s a little history/housekeeping first. In those past posts, I’ve called this my Christmas Reading Challenge. Then, at some point last year, I had an ah-ha moment and realized that was problematic. It excludes all the other holidays occurring at around the same time.

For me, Christmas is Santa and elves and shiny bows. I simply wasn’t thinking nativity scenes versus yule logs or menorahs. But once I realized even my secular use of the word Christmas was excluding other people’s celebration of the season, I swapped over to Holiday Reading Challenge (trying to be more inclusive). But that left me with consistency issues, as I’d said Christmas for the first half of the challenge, which annoyed me.

snowflake-Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from PixabaySo, this year I’m avoiding the issue altogether and going with Winter Reading Challenge. This has a second bonus benefit too. I read a ton of holiday books and stories last year (44)! Which is great, since the whole point of a holiday challenge is to clear holiday-themed books off my TBR. I tend to pick them up throughout the year, but find that I almost never want to read a holiday book in, say, June. So, it’s read them this time of year or not at all. And I enjoyed the heck out of it overall.

But, honestly, I also got really tired of holiday-themed books toward the end. This is partly just too much of a good thing. But it was also a symptom of the fact that a lot of the holiday-themed books I had on my shelves were/are contemporary romances, and I simply haven’t been craving contemporary romances lately.

So, the secondary bonus of making this a Winter Reading Challenge instead of a Holiday Reading Challenge is that I got to pick out books that give me Winter Vibes in general. That gives me a lot more books to choose from and, I hope, will avoid the holiday theme burn-out. There are some cons to this, though.

  • I own a lot of wintry books. So, the challenge pool is huge.snowflake-Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
  • Clearing Winter books off the TBR isn’t accomplishing quite the same thing as clearing holiday-themed books off it.
  • There is a much bigger chance of accidentally reading books as part of the challenge, that turns out not to actually meet the qualification of the challenge.

This last one deserves a moment of consideration. I had to sit and think about what to do with such books. The manner in which I chose the books for this challenge was by going through my Goodreads shelves—only books I already own qualify—and picking out anything that gave me a wintry vibe, be it from the title, plot, or cover. I’m aware that there will be cases in which some element I took as snow-like (for example) might actually be stars or rain on closer examination, and the book might not be wintry at all. So, I thought on it…and decided that I get to make the rules, and they count anyway (though having an author named Winter does not). Giving me wintry vibes is pretty loosy-goosy, but I’m running with it.

As a result, my challenge reading pool currently has 12 short stories (anything under 100 pages) and 165 Wintry books (couple of those are compilations). Obviously, I’ll only read a fraction of these. Even starting as early as I am this year, with my current school schedule, I’m aiming for all the short stories (some of which are in series that require me to read books before reaching them) and 20 books from the challenge list; giving precedence to anything left over from last year’s challenge and physical books. (I need the shelf space!) Plus, some of these have been on my TBR for a long time. So, I’ll give a thought or two to age.

And yes, I do realize that it’s ridiculous to pick out 165 books, in order to choose 20 from that list. But it’s my challenge and makes me happy. So, just roll with it.

Ok, that was a lot of words to explain a simple idea. Let’s get to the actual books, shall we? It should be noted that (in most cases) if the wintry book was later in a series, I only added it to the list, not the preceding books. And if a whole series seemed wintry, I only added the first book in the series to the list (even if I might end up reading more than that first one).

Here are the short stories.

Winter short stories

Miss January
Paddy’s Power
Careened
Ozoni and Onsens
Illicit Activity
Counting Fence Posts
A Trial of Ice Blood
His Curious Mate
Deck the Demons
One Charmed Evening
The Greatest Gift
Family

Some of those are left over from last year. I pulled them from the running because they were 3rd or 4th in series. It’s my goal to read them this year. But we’ll see what actually happens.

Now for the bulk of the challenge, the full-length books. Last year I broke them up by length. I didn’t this year. I’ve simply ordered them by author. But I’ve clustered them just a little bit, to avoid a wall of text. (And let’s be honest, I’ll still probably read the shorter books first. Just to trick myself into feeling like I accomplished more if nothing else.)

Here we go:

2022 winter reading challenge 1

Gingerbread Mistletoe
Mountains Wanted
Only Gold
Blue Skies
Winter Rising
The Last Sky
Lady at Last
The Rising Tide
The Perfect Place
A Wedding in Twinkle Falls
Hint of Danger
Stealing the Wind
A Dance of Water and Air
Cursed: Broken
Intrigued
Cold Attraction
Decadence
Black Briar
Carried Away
Bring Me Edelweiss
Mistletoe in the Marigny
Impact Winter
Quest of the Dreamwalker
Christmas Spirit
Training Season
Will and Patrick Do the Holidays
Mr. Naughty List
Valor
The Dashing Widow
Blood Bound
League of Vampires
The Cold Beneath
The Ducal Detective
Mating the Omega
A Taste of Seduction
Star Found

2022 winter reading challenge 2Enchanted
Magic & Murder
Witching for Grace
Cedardale
The Cardinal Gate
Mystic Invisible
Witch Myth: Wildfire —> Review
The Alien Bride Lottery —> Review
Destiny Awaits
The Storm and the Darkness
Caleo
Mischief & Mistletoe
Shadow & Poison
Hara’s Legacy
Frost
Mistress of the Wind
Between Shades of Gray
Trapped
Cold Grey
The Coventry Carol
The Winter Duchess
Cherishing the Goddess
Once Upon a Midwinter’s Kiss
Dragon Dilemma
Quantum Cannibals
The Last Winter of Lonely
Cold Magic
Long Winter
Believed
Rule of Claw
Night In His Eyes —> Review
His Christmas Bride
Demon Slave
Winter Knights
Living In Ether
Song at Dawn

2022 winter reading challenge 3Murder Wears Mittens
Three Dog Night
Whiteout
Bits of the Past
Saving Eira
Chains of Frost
Spark of Lightning
The Skin
Wynter
Jonathan’s Hope
The Fallen Angels of Karnataka
Unbonded
Unwrapping Ainsley
Cabin Love
The Compeer
Winter Blom
Naughty & Nice
Once Upon an Academy
The Gentleman Devil
Handsome and the Yeti
Wolves and Daggers
The Fallen Snow
It’s You
Other Side of the Stars
The Unseelie Prince —> Review
Fallen Lady
Passing Strange
Lucky in Loveland
Withered + Seer
Shinigami
Kodiak’s Claim
Academia of the Beast
Fallen Empire
Lullaby
Taming Teddy
The Raven’s Flight

2022 winter reading challenge 4Academy of Magical Creatures
Winter’s Edge
A Beautiful World
London Holiday
Iron
Moroda
Pure & Sinful
Once Upon a Forbidden Desire
Devil’s Backbone
Tuyo
Cold Feet
Winter’s Heat
Murder in an Irish Churchyard
The Alps
Curse of the Wolf King
Snow Kissed
Black River Pack
Snowbirds of Prey
Snow
Minerva
The Power of Three
The Longing of Lone Wolves
Falling for a Rake
The Storm Glass
Princess of Lost Memories
Fae’s Prisoner
Darkling
Winter’s Fury
Ice Cold Death
The Tarot Witches
Winter’s Blood
The Distance Between
Parker
Coldheart
A Case For Christmas
Cold From the North

2022 winter reading challenge 5Cecilia
Spirits of Falajen
Alexi
Drunk, Blind, Stupid Cupid
What the Stubborn Viscount Desires
A Moment After Dark
Chasing the Duke
Shrewd Angel
The Dragon Warrior and the Princess
Awakened
Dust of Snow
Snowblind
A Very Shifter Holiday Boxed Set
Angeli
Skinner Luce
Boy Toys
Dragon Song
Eight Kinky Nights
Santa’s Wolves
Daughters of the Storm
From Out in the Cold
Blood Hunter
Seeking Snow Falls
To Catch a Fae

snowflake-Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from PixabaySoooo, that’s a lot, right? There are several genres in there, plus books of various lengths, ebooks, audiobooks, and physical books—so, lots of variety. And that’s assuming I don’t come across one or two I missed on my Goodreads shelves or pick up a new one (which I’ve promised myself I won’t do and, even if I do, it won’t count, but…we’ll see if I can stick to that).

As I said, I expect I’ll only accomplish a fraction of these. But this gargantuan list is what I’ve set aside to choose from. I think I’ll come back and link reviews as I post them. To make them easier to find. Anyhow, there you have it, my 2022 Winter Reading Challenge.

What do you think? Too much? Do you do reading challenges?