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Book Review: Of Boys and Beasts & Of Beasts and Demons, by Mona Black

Of Boys and Beasts, by Mona Black is a freebie on Amazon. I then chose to purchase a copy of Of Beasts and Demons in order to continue the series. This second book was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight earlier in the year.

of boys and beasts

About the book:

One’s a werewolf with an ax to grind
Two’s a vampire with a heart of coal
Three’s a demon with a taste for pain
Four’s a fae with a past of woe
Five’s a girl who will take them down all
In revenge for the pain they’ve sown
So what if they’re gorgeous? They must atone…

My name is Mia Solace. You know, the girl who will take them down all? That’s me.

When my cousin is returned to us by Pandemonium Academy in a glass coffin, in an enchanted sleep she isn’t expected to wake up from, I grab her diary and head to the academy myself.

Because her diary, you see, tells of four cruel boys who bullied her and broke her heart until she sought oblivion through a spell.

Four magical boys, because that’s the world we live in now, heirs of powerful families attending this elite academy where the privileged scions of the human and magical races are brought together in the noble pursuit of education.

As for me, I cheat to get on the student roster, and once I’m in, well… it’s war, baby. I’ll get those four sons of guns, steal their secrets, make them hurt. I’ll transform into an avenging angel for my cousin, for all the girls they’ve wronged, and I bet there are plenty of those.

While growing up, my cousin was my only friend. Now I’ll be her champion.

Only these boys aren’t exactly as I pictured them. Devastatingly handsome, deliciously brooding, strangely haunted, they’re getting under my skin and through my defenses.

Kissing them surely wasn’t part of my plan…

Getting into bed with them even less.

my review

I was invested enough to want to read book two and see where the series goes. So, I can’t claim to have entirely disliked it. But I think I was also invested in the story in the same way one is a train wreck. It’s a mess, but I couldn’t seem to look away. Also, the book doesn’t conclude. I won’t call it a cliffhanger. It’s just another book that doesn’t end. I cannot tell you how much I resent this trend. But I decided to give the second a chance to redeem itself. You’ll notice I stopped at two.

I think that the author doesn’t quite pull off what she’s aiming for. The boys, who are supposed to be dark, brooding bullies come across as broken children. It’s awful hard to find boys sexy, as we’re intended to. I’ll grant that the title is Of Boys and Beasts, but I have to admit to assuming that was just alliterative. Guess not.

Plus, the book is really bad about almost all non-main character girls being disposable sexual commodities. This isn’t uncommon in romance books, but the older I get the less patient I get with this authorial habit. In fact it kind of makes me rage. Can’t we do better by and for ourselves as women and female authors?

The premise is patently ridiculous. It’s fun in the beginning to see Mia’s blind determination. I honestly started to wonder if she wasn’t on the autism spectrum at one point, because of the way she plows of boys and beast photothrough so many social cues. I honestly think that would have been more interesting that what we were eventually given. Because the fact that Mia stays so on course starts to stretch the bounds of credulity.

Lastly, the book feels  a little to Young Adult, which be fine if it didn’t also feel so much like it is aiming for New Adult instead. Certainly the subject matter and sexual content is more NA than YA. So, there’s a disconnect.

But, as I said, I did buy book two. So, I can’t pretend nothing intrigued me.


of beasts and demons

About the Book:

Everyone now thinks I am a witch – a member of the Apollinari House. They couldn’t be more wrong since I was adopted when I was little, but they don’t know that and I won’t squander this advantage by telling them.

The boys have decided that they need a witch to help them fight the magical surges, and what better way to slip through their defenses and find out their dirty secrets?

Find them, expose them and get my revenge on behalf of my cousin who is lying in a deadly enchanted sleep back home. It shouldn’t be that hard. The boys, after all, seem interested in getting to know me better.

But that’s because I am a witch, someone they need. Which suits me just fine. Who cares why, right?

It shouldn’t hurt. I shouldn’t want them to want me for who I really am, to feel anything for me. That’s nonsense. I’m not here to court them; I’m here to hurt them.

So why is it so hard to go through with my plan?

After all, since when do I care for them?

my review

So, we have some serious magical Vajayjay going on here. And honestly it just took over too much of the plot. There was nothing new or interesting in it. The same exact thing happened with each boy, such that it just felt redundant and predictable. There was nothing left to keep me interested in that department.

What’s worse, the author’s continued insistence on having the character both playing the virginal ingénue and the whore, while also insisting to herself she was still out to hurt these boys while simultaneously being nothing but kind and falling for them stopped working looooong before the author gave it up. I realize she meant the character to be conflicted. But it just felt contradictory and like an artifice.

of beasts and demons photoI won’t say I was wholly uninterested. I’d like to read on to see what comes of the boy’s (and I do mean boys, despite the sex they all seem super immature) tragic backstories and the four of them coming together (which I found far more interesting than their obsession with Mia). But honestly, I’m not interested enough to buy the next book. If it popped up as an Amazon freebie or at the library, sure. But I don’t think I’d put more money into the series.


Other Reviews:

BOOK REVIEW: Of Boys and Beasts by Mona Black #reverseharem #paranormalromance #bookreview

 

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Book Review: Between Bloode and Stone, by Marie Harte

I picked up a freebie copy of Marie Harte‘s Between Bloode and Stone in December of last year. It randomly bubbled up to the top of my TBR recently and I gave it a read.
between bloode and stone

There is nothing so dangerous as a predator who loves…

Cursed long ago to check their growing power, vampires can only coexist in small groups. Yet despite their many conflicts, those Of the Bloode possess similar traits. All vampires, no matter where they came from, are male. They can go unnoticed by humans unless they wish otherwise, and they can’t survive sunlight.

Mormo, servant of the goddess Hecate, has created a small, new bloode clan at her behest. The six vampires he commands are rough, ill-disciplined, and mean, and they fail to follow orders on a daily basis. But they’re needed. Something big and bad is coming. Hecate, goddess of death, magic, and gateways, has a duty to guard the borders of the mortal world. She knows that without a strong force to contain the threat, chaos will come, destroying everything in its wake.

Hecate’s secret weapons are those Of the Bloode—vampires. Though they refuse to worship anything but themselves, she loves their wild ways. In order to battle gods and monsters and survive, they’ll need ferocity, inner strength, and something to fight for. Because there is nothing so dangerous as a predator who loves, and those Of the Bloode protect what’s theirs at all costs, in undeath and beyond.

And Varujan of the Night Bloode has just found the one female he can’t do without…

my review
This is one of those books that just isn’t quite bad enough to totally pan, but also isn’t anywhere near good enough to praise. The writing is readable, but not particularly impressive. The plot is thin, but manages to stay stitched together. The characters are colorful, but not particularly well fleshed out. The romance ends in a HEA, but you don’t particularly feel it develop.The world exists, but only in so much as is actually necessary for each scene (no sense of a bigger world), etc. It’s not bad. It’s just not good either.

I liked Fara and her determination to save her self and her brother. I liked the brother a lot, actually, and the other side characters were a hoot. However, Varujan was just a jerk for far too long for me to come around and like him by the end. I also thought the villain was cartoonish and defeated far too easily in a rush at the end.

All in all, I might read the next book if I found it free. But I probably wouldn’t buy it.

between bloode and stone photo


Other Reviews:

La Crimson Femme: Book Review ; Between Bloode and Stone

Between Bloode and Stone by Marie Harte-a review

 

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Book Review: Youngblood, by Sasha Laurens

I received an ARC copy of Youngblood, by Sasha Laurens as part of a book tour for the book. However, that tour was canceled on somewhat short notice. However, I’d already read the book. So, here’s a review.
Youngblood cover

High school sucks. Especially for the undead.

Kat Finn and her mother can barely make ends meet living among humans. Like all vampires, they must drink Hema, an expensive synthetic blood substitute, to survive, as nearly all of humanity has been infected by a virus that’s fatal to vampires. Kat isn’t looking forward to an immortal life of barely scraping by, but when she learns she’s been accepted to the Harcote School, a prestigious prep school that’s secretly vampires-only, she knows her fortune is about to change.

Taylor Sanger has grown up in the wealthy vampire world, but she’s tired of its backward, conservative values—especially when it comes to sexuality, since she’s an out-and-proud lesbian. She only has to suffer through a two more years of Harcote before she’s free. But when she discovers her new roommate is Kat Finn, she’s horrified. Because she and Kat used to be best friends, a long time ago, and it didn’t end well.

When Taylor stumbles upon the dead body of a vampire, and Kat makes a shocking discovery in the school’s archives, the two realize that there are deep secrets at Harcote—secrets that link them to the most powerful figures in Vampirdom and to the synthetic blood they all rely on.

my review

I think maybe—like Kat and Galen—I wanted to like this more than I did. The writing it quite readable. (I had an ARC, so I can’t comment on editing.) The idea is interesting, the self-discovery aspect seemed well done, and the characters had potential. But, in the end, neither was particularly likeable, the romance is put off too long to feel satisfying, and there’s just a whole subtle sense of ick to the story.

Part of the discomfort is in the blatant -isms of the vampires. And I’ll accept that people raised in eras past might carry some of the attitudes of that past with them. But a lot of it is just baked into the narrative and apparent in the way Kat is such a fair-weather ally. Sure, she notices how few BIPOC students there are, asks Taylor their pronouns, acknowledges various forms of privileged, throws the use of ‘boys and girls’ at the headmaster derisively, ‘as if non-binary people don’t exist.’ She says all the right things. But she’s perfectly happy to overlook it all for her own social advancement. In a very real sense, that’s the whole point of the plot (if looked at from a different angle than the author presents it to us).

And honestly, the author could have done SO much with that set up. What a chance to show self-reflection and growth in the main character…not to mention commentary on a lot of real-youngblood photoworld allyship. But she doesn’t take the opportunity. The end result is a book that feels like corporate allyship…you know, where they say the right things during June and purchase the right optics (or try to publish the right books), but don’t actually change their policies to protect anyone or improve lives and drop it all come July. So, ick. And bonus ick in a book with two baby-lesbians as the main characters and, one would presume, the primary audience.

All and all, this wasn’t a big winner for me. But I do love the art on the cover. That’s why I picked the book up in the first place.


Other Reviews:

ARC Review: Youngblood by Sasha Laurens