Tag Archives: self published

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Book Review: Club Blood, by Sarah James & Cassandra Celia

I accepted an ARC review copy of Club Blood (by Sarah James and Cassandra Celia)  through Pride Book Tours.

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Sin City just got extra bloodthirsty… Welcome to Club Blood.

Vampires no longer hide in the shadows and humans have adjusted, learning to coexist with the Known. But in a city filled with sinful acts and lustful affairs, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to happen.

Cecelia agrees to visit Ambrosia, a notorious nightclub run by vampires, on the night of her birthday. But as Cece stumbles across the murder of one of the Known’s most feared council leaders, she is thrown into terrible danger.

For Mercy, being at the top and conquering her kingdom has always been above all else. It doesn’t bother her when she has to rip the heart out of her boss in order to get what she wants, though she does find it inconvenient that there’s a human witness.

Mercy and her coven hold Cece captive in order to secure Mercy’s quest to reign. Soon, Cece finds it hard to separate fear and attraction, being drawn to the enticing danger of Mercy’s life, and Mercy discovers that there might be just one person she’s willing to protect more than herself.

Just being together is enough to upend both of their lives, hurling them towards a war neither of them ever wanted to start.

Mercy must decide whether having Cece could be worth losing her kingdom, and Cece must endeavor to survive in a world of danger and darkness that was designed to kill her.

Their lust might be worth the bloodshed.

my review

I’ve got to admit. I didn’t resonate with this book. The writing is quite readable, and even though I had an ARC, the editing felt competent. So, any complaints I have are really just of the how well the book did or didn’t gel with me sort. And I’m afraid I leaned more toward didn’t.

I liked the idea of the book. A female vampire, fighting the patriarchal vampire culture to rise to the top of her bloody and cut throat career/society. And I appreciate that James and Celia were playing with gender tropes a little bit. But I also felt the plot and characters was super cliched. I’m afraid making it an F/F romance, but keeping all of the characteristics of a M/F romance isn’t transgressive. It’s lazy.

[Spoiler] Here we had the villainous jealous ex. The jealous ex that is contrasted against the innocent love interest by her aggressively sexual presentation (in her clothing, attitudes, and actions). How many times have readers seen this same thing? Too many. There’s both the sassy (and promiscuous) BFF who tempts the pure main character to leave her safe bounds. Her promiscuity gets her killed, BTW. We’ve seen this a million times too. Then she’s replaced with the sassy gay BFF. This one is male, but still a character we’ve all seen in just this character position many times before. Let’s just stop there. But I could go on. The big shark who smiles to Mercy’s face but really duplicitously seeks to re-subjugate the woman who dared leave her subservient place? Yep, not new or interesting.

Really the cliched characters were more than I could handle. But the real reason this didn’t resonate was that it was inconsistent. Mercy is said to be so merciless, but if that was true she never would have let the events of the book go as far as they did without solving (or even acknowledging) the problem. Her very actions undermined the primary characteristic we’re given for her. Further, the whole reason she breaks character club blood photo(separately than the preceding point) to keep and eventually fall for Cece is a mystery. I mean it’s a mystery in the book. So, again, her supposed ruthlessness is undermined by her actions. Then there is Cece. She has a convenient personality shift that allowed for the happy ending. But it didn’t feel believable. It was too abrupt.

All in all. I had complaints. Several of them. But they are things that bother me. They don’t bother a lot of other people. I suggest reading the book and deciding for yourself.


Other Reviews:

Book Review: Contagion, by Amanda Milo

I purchased an e-copy of Amanda Milo‘s Contagion.
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One OCD neat freak alien.
One human woman.
Both are abducted and held captive in a very unsterile environment.
What more could go wrong?

Simmi: I’ve broken free and I’ve also freed the human who was held captive with me. But I don’t know where we are, and I don’t know where my home is. The local wildlife may be smaller than I am, and maybe they don’t have fangs near as large as mine, but I’m still terrified. My issues with germs–and my uncompromising avoidance of all the things that I’m afraid of coming into contact with–is going to get me killed in this wilderness.

Thankfully, Aurora lets me follow her.

Thankfully, she seems to know the way out of this endless and inhospitable woodland and desert biome.

But by the end of our journey, she’ll suspect she’s harboring a contagion. I have no way to know it, but she’s afraid to tell me. Afraid of how I’ll react once I find out what she’s carrying.

my review

I have forgotten who recommended this to me. I probably saw it on Tiktok. I wish I could remember though, because I’d like to thank them. This was a joy to read. Simmi is just so very himself in every way, but all of those ways are courteous and self-aware. He’s hilarious and kind. Meanwhile Aurora is steadfast, patient, and willing to look past Simmi’s frightening exoskeleton.

It wasn’t a perfect book for me though. As much as I loved all of Simmi’s neuroses it was a bit of a one trick pony and I did find myself tiring of it toward the end. And I didn’t realize when I picked it up that it is actually a second book in a series. So, I felt like I was missing out on book one. (That’s not the book’s fault, of course.) All in all, however, I’ll be looking for more of Milo’s work. contagion photo


Other Reviews:

https://cauldronbookreviews.tumblr.com/post/649943672655314944/contagion-amanda-milo-ebook-available-on

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Book Review: Hell Gate, by Veronica Eden

I received a copy of Hell Gate, by Veronica Eden in last month’s Supernatural Book Crate.

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Open the gate…if you dare.

The first thing I’m warned about when I arrive at the girls’ home is to stay away from the abandoned graveyard. Local urban legend claims it’s host to a gate to Hell.

Then I was dared…

The legend is as real as the monsters I’ve summoned by activating the gate. Demons guard it, waiting for skeptical idiots like me to do the ritual. Three sinfully hot, dangerously powerful demons.

Valerian.
Matthias.
Alder.

Ruthless.
Deadly.
Terrifying.

The gate’s three wicked protectors won’t let me get away without paying their price.
I’m at their mercy, fighting to survive them and the supernatural world they drag me into.
But none of us are prepared for what is awakening within me.

A long buried secret and hidden ancient magic will change everything.
The match is lit and together we’re all going up in flames.

my review

I gotta be honest. This was a big ol’ meh for me. It was competently written and I imagine it’ll find it’s audience. But I was bored with it. I just felt like Lily spent too much of the book whinging about her rough childhood and then the rest of the book was just the men telling her how amazing she was, over and over again. So, yes, I get it, she’s a special special snow flake and not like the other girls. Can we move on now?

Further, I was a bit weirded out by her barely legal-ness. She’s 17 (there’s an 18th birthday in there somewhere, but it’s unclear where). The sex starts as just sex but very quickly progresses to things like double penetration to accommodate three mates. Maybe it’s a symptom of getting old and having teen daughters, but I was just a tad squinked out by a new-to-sex woman so quickly hell gate photoprogressing to kink-queen. Plus, the men where forever telling EACH-OTHER what to do with her—move her this way, make her beg, etc—but never speaking to her at such moments. I felt like she was just a doll for them to act upon with one another.

Lastly, the plot is weak. Sure, I get that porn-with-plot exists. But I didn’t sense that this 400+ book was aiming for plot-less erotica status. It had a plot. It was just a paper thin one.

All in all, it’s probably a taste thing. I liked the characters well enough and the world was interesting, but I was meh about this book. It’s probably fine, just not for me.


Other Reviews:

Review – Hell Gate by Veronica Eden

Hell Gate by Veronica Eden