Review: WITH A VENGEANCE by Freydís Moon (2022)

Genre: Adult Dark Paranormal Romance
Year Release: 2022
Source: Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: Dominant/submissive roleplay, rape fantasy, consensual explicit content, dubious consent, deadnaming, misgendering, body horror, dysphoria, reference to off-page sexual assault, murder, violence and gore, spanking, belt play, religious eroticism, religious trauma, familial death, saliva play, blood play, size difference, primal play, breeding kink, psychosis, mention of depression, depressive episodes, suicide ideation, racism, police brutality

Kye Lovato (they/them) returns to their haunted childhood home to settle their recently-deceased mother’s affairs. A demon prince, Eligos, hears Kye’s desperation and possesses them, starting a relationship that’s drenched in the supernatural, complete with powers. As if that isn’t complicated enough, an ICE agent starts sniffing around their mother’s alebrijes business and threatens the community she’s taken care of.

This romance between a nonbinary human and a demon is affirming and hot in its sexual content, while, also having a nuanced exploration of culture, family, grief, healing, and the things people do to keep their community safe from shady law enforcement. An incredible blend of recovering from trauma, a mystery, and getting split open by a saucy demon.

An interview with the author will be going up on September 1st.

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Review: I’M GLAD MY MOM DIED by Jennette McCurdy (2022)

Genre: Adult Memoir
Year Release: 2022
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: anorexia, bulimia, vomiting, child abuse, death of a parent, cancer, alcoholism, sexualization of minors

Jennette McCurdy is best known for playing Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon show iCarly. I had not grown up watching the program, so what drew me to this memoir is its evocative title. And I found an incredibly frank and intense personal story within its pages.

Exploring the pain of and recovery from being raised by a narcissistic and abusive mother, McCurdy brings humor and frankness to a discussion on the aftermath of parenthood that often gets buried under the sentiment, “Do not speak ill of the dead.”

Content note: This review will mention specifics of the abuse.

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ARC Review: SPEAR by Nicola Griffith (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: April 19th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a physical ARC from the publisher
Trigger/Content warning: death of a parent, fantasy violence, misogyny, discussions of infertility

Peretur grew up in a cave with her mom, Elen, without a name until she sees a band of knights and decides to go to Cair Leon where her destiny lies. There’s the lady of the lake, the sword in the stone, and the holy grail, remixed together in a swoony tale that fully honors its origins.

Romantic in a way only medieval romance can be, I really loved this exploration of the quest, the relationship between the chosen one and her mystical mother, and, ultimately, how much this story loves the women found within its pages.

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Review: THE ROUTE OF ICE AND SALT by José Luis Zárate (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2021 (1998 in Spanish)
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content/Trigger warnings: discussion of a hate crime, voyeurism, nightmares, PTSD

Continuing the series of vampire books we, as a culture, were not privy to until very recently (first of which is The Gilda Stories), this novella is a retelling of Dracula’s journey to England from the point of view of the ship’s captain. It originally came out in 1998, but debuted in English last year.

This novella is horny and gothic with all the pricks and discomfort of long months of an icy sea.

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Review: OUR WIVES UNDER THE SEA by Julia Armfield (2022)

Genre: Adult Literary Horror
Year Release: 2022
Source: Physical Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Trigger warning: eye trauma, death of a parent (both parents discussed in different scenarios), claustrophobia, blood

Leah is a marine researcher. Miri is her work from home wife. Leah went missing for a bit after going on a deep sea dive. She returns, but Miri worries when she starts spending more time in the bath

Haunting with beautiful prose that led me to excessively mark up my copy, this literary horror moves deftly from quiet melancholy to straight-up nightmare fuel when a wife returns, but did she really?

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Manga Review: THE ROKUDO ROUNDS by Serina Oda (2022)

Genre: Science Fiction Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In an underground world, the only way to achieve any kind of social mobility is to participate in the Trial of the Six Realms (which also happens to be an alternate translation of the series’ title). En is a street rat living in a literal trash heap, until he’s betrayed by a beloved mentor and discovers he’s actually a cyborg with lightning powers. There are many like him and they all fight in the Trials. He enters and it’s a bloodbath with uncertain outcomes and even more unpredictable characters.

If you’re searching for a seinen anime with the trappings of a shonen battle saga complete with over-the-top powers and people shouting their abilities before using them, give this a read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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ARC Review: THE SLEEPLESS by Victor Manibo (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: August 23rd, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an Advanced Bound Manuscript obtained from ALA AC 2022
Trigger/Content warning: suicide, burnout, gun violence, beating, alcoholism, drug abuse

In the year 2043, the world has passed through a plague like any other, one that rendered a quarter of the population Sleepless. We follow Jamie Vega, a reporter, who didn’t develop hyperinsomnia via the illness. He got it by biohacking, and it leads to some serious problems. Like forgetting the details of what happened the night before he found his boss, Simon, dead. Mysteries and a global conspiracy unravel, with twists on twist on twist.

This sharp examination of the cost of non-stop productivity at a personal and a global level includes a personal character journey as Jamie tries to clear his own name and get to the truth of what really happened that night.

An interview with the author will be going up on release day, August 23rd, 2022.

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Manga Review: LAND OF THE LUSTROUS Vol. 1 – 11 by Haruko Ichikawa (2017-2021)

Genre: Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018-2021
Source: Barnes & Noble Physical Copies

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In this blend of science fiction and fantasy, the Earth has been long abandoned by humans and is now inhabited by the Lustrous, gem people whose literal crystals are occupied by micro-organisms called inclusions. Every so often, they’re attacked by the Lunarians who take them to the moon for unknown reasons. The story starts with the primary character, Phosphophyllite “Phos”, asks Sensei for a job. It only gets existential and angsty from there.

This series is meticulously researched with evolving world-building and plenty of heart-shattering moments, I’m so glad it’s back on hiatus and resuming chapters because I’m so invested.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Review: IN THE BEDROOM OF MEDUSA by Magen Cubed (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2021
Source: Kindle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: snakes

Evelyn Horne is an escort met with an enigmatic new client proposition in the form of Lady Demetria Balaskas, whose presence is powerful and enigmatic, accompanied by hissing and rattling. Evelyn is invited to live on the Balaskas estate and dalliances plus feelings ensue.

What I particularly love about this novella is how much respect there is for every working person. From the maids to the secretary to Evelyn’s work as an escort itself, there is an attention and care there that I haven’t personally seen in erotic works so far. In Lady Demetria’s house, all women are women, sex work is work, and all workers are deserving of their dignity. I particularly loved the secondary relationship between Lucy and Evelyn for many of these reasons and, honestly, wouldn’t mind a spinoff that’s just their friendship.

The novella has rad slice-of-life elements taking shape as wish fulfillment for being financially and personally taken care of by a monster dommy mommy.

Oh, and the sex is very hot.

ARC Review: I NEVER LIKED YOU ANYWAY by Jordan Kurella (2022)

Genre: Adult Contemporary
Year Release: August 15th, 2022
Buy Links: Indiebound | Kindle Edition

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Content warning: death, discussion of suicide, abusive relationships

Orpheus and Eurydice get the CW treatment in this retelling that puts the tragic couple in college. Both are music majors, and both have different goals for their relationship as well as their musical careers. A litany of questionable choices follow, told in the past in the music program and present in the Afterlife.

Really fun with delightfully messy relationships and excellent use of music references to move the story along.

An interview with author Jordan Kurella will be going up on release day, August 15th, 2022.

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