Tag Archives: The Wild Rose Press

otehr than title

Book Review: Other Than, by Mia Jo Celeste

other than mia Jo celestI picked up a free Audible code for Other Than, by Mia Jo Celeste, somewhere around the internet. I can’t say that I recall where though.

about the bookIt only takes one drink from the Water of Immortality to kill Evie Woods—halfway. Trapped in undead flesh, the world’s last skin-slider wakens on an island purgatory where a cursed spring bubbles with immortality, and zombie cannibals crave living flesh. Her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the one man who would see her fail. Lord Victor Lowell, the man of her dreams and darkest nightmares. Contrary and intractable, Victor preys on others to maintain his angelic charisma and preternatural prowess.

Trapped in an ever escalating war they can’t stop, Victor and Evie fight time for a cure, but as the long days pass, blackness tears at Evie, ripping her thoughts from her one memory at a time. Victor will do whatever it takes to prevent her from deteriorating into a rotting husk, even if it means dooming himself, but Evie won’t surrender his soul without a fight.

my review
Slightly spoilerish

I will admit this wasn’t anything like what I expected. The blurb’s reference to escape left me expecting a grand, sweeping tale of attempting to get off the cannibalistic island. It’s not that at all. In fact, it’s setting and plot are small and intimate instead, taking place almost entirely within the confines of a single plantation, with a relatively small cast. The thing is that even if it wasn’t what I expected I enjoyed it. It went directions I didn’t expect. The writing is sharp and the Keira Stevens did an excellent job with the narration.

It’s not without it’s problems though. In fact, I’d call it flat out problematic in some of it’s tropes and stereotypes. There’s the fact that it’s set on a plantation for one, and the hero is the lord of the manner. Now, the slaves in question aren’t black people, they’re the ‘zombies.’ But the people of color in the book are definitely represented in the same manner as slaves. They’re derogatorily referred to as ‘the darkies’ at least once, though to be fair that language came from a villain. (Actually, now that I’ve said all that, it’s never articulated that they aren’t actually enslaved, so maybe they are in addition to the zombies, as opposed to instead of.) Either way, it’s hard to see a slave owner as a hero and, while Victor is definitely shown to be trapped into doing some of the evil things he does, this one isn’t addressed at all.

Then there are some of those black characters. Most are fairly characterless, but the cook isn’t. She 100% fulfills the stock-character tropes of being both a “Mammy” and a “Magical Negro.” Large, joyous and female (but stripped of any sense of sexuality) existing solely to assist the white characters and containing the mystical knowledge and sacrificial fortitude to save them all. (In a bit of a twist, this mystical knowledge is the Christian God.)

And since I touched on femaleness, I’ll point out that, other than the heroine, there are three female characters. There’s the Mammy. There’s the hero’s scorned previous lover (whose state of free vs. enslaved isn’t clear, so calling her his mistress is iffy, but that’s how she’s referred to in the book) who is an enemy of the heroine. And there’s the hero’s harridan of a mother who is also an enemy to the heroine. A large part of the book’s plot hinges on her anger at being a set-aside wife. So, all women who compete for a man’s sexual favor are suspect, only sexless women are safe. Gee, that’s a trope I’ve never seen in a book before. Not.

Lastly, there’s the religious aspect of the book. The evil to be defeated is a ‘native’ mystical power, possibly goddess (again, can’t trust those females), and the Mammy’s Christian God is instrumental to saving the hero and heroine (who converts) and are therefore the only ones worthy of survival. I mean God doesn’t come down in a fiery ball of save-your-ass or anything, there is a very real ‘do for yourself’ theme here. But the religious undertones are NOT subtle toward the end of the book.

File this book under sometimes you can enjoy something while recognizing that it has problematic aspects. This book 100% does. But it was still a largely enjoyable read.

Edit: I’ve just looked at a bigger image of the cover, such that I can actually read the tagline, which refers to a character as a slave. So, I suppose that answers the slave question.


Review + Giveaway: Tears of the Wolf, by Sharon Bushbinder

It’s not frequent, but occasionally I’m starting to accept review requests from blog tours. I thought getting to share a giveaway might be fun and I like all the pretty graphics. Today is my stop on Sharon Buchbinder’s Tears of the Wolf tour. The book was also featured on Sadie’s Spotlight.


Tears of the Wolf
Hotel LaBelle Book 4
by Sharon Buchbinder
Genre: Paranormal Romance


Chief of Tribal Police Jacob Graywolf serves and protects his community on the reservation. When an epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women hits home, he’s relieved the FBI gets involved. But something about the woman agent has him running scared.
FBI Special Agent Zena Adalwolf is certain Jacob is her soul mate. Their connection at first sight is immediate and urgent—a bond that transcends their professional relationship. If only the clueless hunk would realize they belong together!
After more Native American women are killed, Zena and Jacob suspect they have a serial killer on their hands. To track down the unsub, they allow their inner wolves to come out and play. But with the ever-ticking clock going wild, will the killer find them first?
Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a PhD in Public Health. She is the author of the Hotel LaBelle Series, the Jinni Hunter Series, and the Obsession Series. When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, herding cats, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.



Despite its subject matter, I thought Tears of the Wolf was sweet above all else. The romance is buried under the mystery (and honestly fairly flat, with almost no angst at all) but it is needed honey in the story. I did appreciate however that Jacob and Zena don’t play games. The author creates no artificial barriers to overcome for them to be together, no big “misunderstanding” or secret from the past; just two adults deciding to be together. It was nice to not get messed about in that manner.  But it did leave the romantic aspect of the book lacking substantive impact.
I can’t say that for the mystery though. It was impactful, in both good and bad ways. On the good side, Buchbinder tackled the plaque of missing and murdered Indigenous women in America. And as much as I can judge as a white woman, seems to have done it well. If her lengthy, source citing note at the end is to be trusted, she did the research the subject deserves. However, despite a small attempt at a red herring, the villian is pretty obvious, and their methods, motivations, and internal monologue are cliched to the point of cringe.
All in all, I’d call Tears of the Wolf a solid, if flawed read, and would happily read more of Buchbinder’s work.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$5 Amazon 





love on the train

Review of Love on a Train, by Colleen L. Donnelly

I received an Audible code for a copy of Colleen L. Donnelly‘s Love on a Train.

Description from Goodreads:

The moment Martha noticed Raymond on the train, everything her mother warned against erupted – romantic notions, palpitating heart, the desire to write it all in a novel and tell the world. 
Martha lived and wrote that love story until the day Raymond handed her a sketch. “Want to see a picture of the girl I plan to marry?” The penciled profile resembled Martha… But when Raymond went away, she knew. She wasn’t the girl he planned to marry. 
David was her father’s apprentice, everything Martha’s mother said made a good husband – hardworking, no romantic tendencies, no tolerance for writing about it. 
Martha added a fictional happy ending to her and Raymond’s story and published it. Cleansed herself of romantic love, ready to marry David. Until a copy of her book appeared. Full of sketches, Raymond’s version of their love story, drawings that enticed her heart to beat once again. 


My rating (which was a 2 star) is based on my enjoyment—or general lack there of—and the fact that I had to force myself to finish the book. The writing is solid and I’ll even concede that the book within a book mechanism was clever (though occasionally repetitive). And the narrator (Amy Deuchler) did a good job with the audio version. However, I didn’t enjoy the book.

I understand that it was supposed to be set just after the end of the world war and women of that time period had different responsibilities and restrictions. But my god, Martha was a fucking doormat. She didn’t stand up to her mother when they pushed her into an engagement she obviously didn’t want. She didn’t push pack when her fiancé (and mother) expected her to give up all of herself to be a wife. She somehow fell in love and thought to marry a man she met on the train, but apparently didn’t actually know that well. She just went along with everything, internally hand wringing the whole time. And despite being obviously smart, she had NO AMBITION beyond getting married.

Then there was the fact that said man was already engaged to another and just disappeared for months without a word. But as soon as he shows up everything was forgiven and it’s supposed to be a happy ending. Ummmm, no.

And Donnelly should seriously be fined for making the reading of a novel take weeks, dragging the plot out interminably and then, after hundreds of pages of ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ marry him, having the decision and event (arguably the most interesting thing to happen in the book) happen off page, such that the reader is denied it.

I imagine this is just a case of wrong reader for the book. There will no doubt be some that enjoy this. But I did not. I was almost insulted by it.