#BookReview Sex and Death Edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs

Sex and Death is a mixed bag of stories full of, you guessed it, sex and death.

This anthology features a large array of short stories. I say it’s a mixed bag because, like any set of stories, some of them are amazing and some of them don’t hit as well. What I’ve found is that it really depends on what type of reader you are. I really enjoyed some of the stories focusing on the family structure – George and Elizabeth by Ben Marcus, Fixations by Ceridwen Dovey, and Evie by Sarah Hall. The stories had me hooked and interested and somehow left me wanting so much more out of them. I wanted entire books for those stories! They were intriguing, well written and absolutely fantastic!

To highlight my three favourites:

George and Elizabeth follows George after his father died. He’s in the process of seeing a therapist and reaches out to his sister. He meets his Father’s ex-half-wife and participates in some situations that he might actually need therapy for. This slice of life story is crafted so beautifully that I wanted a full length novel of this book. George and “Pattern” (Elizabeth) are unique characters with a unique relationship. I need to find more books by Ben Marcus because he is just phenomenal at writing!

Fixations by Ceridwen Dovey follows Selene after the birth of her child. The difficulties of post-partum life and having medical procedures was really interesting to follow. Hearing Selene’s point of view about how the midwives think she has post-partum depression but really it’s from the physical pain of the childbirth was eye opening. I couldn’t pull myself away from this book! Yet again, Ceridwen Dovey has an addicting writing style!

Evie by Sarah Hall follows a romantic pair who dip into something new. Tragedy strikes during their slice of life, and a relationship will be tested. This story was just too darn short! I wanted to see the fallout of everything that was happening because Sarah managed to get me attached to these characters. It is absolutely amazing what some authors can do with their words!

All of the other stories were well written but just didn’t hit me like those three did. But, that’s the point of an anthology! There are many different types of stories around one topic (this one being sex and death). Honestly, the way these authors dove into mental health, sex, ambition, life, and death was truly incredible. Hats off to these guys! Despite every author having a different writing style, all of these books felt like they fit in and that they should be winning some kind of award!

Some of the stories end in tragedy, some feature happy endings and some are just… there. There are very short stories and there are longer stories. What Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs have done is craft a beautifully arranged anthology that definitely should be in more readers’ hands!

Overall, this was a marvelous read and I’m really happy I got the chance to read it! I’ve been staring at this book for ages while it sat on my shelf. I finally got the nerve to pick it up and devour it!

Four out of five stars! The stories ranged from one to five stars, but it’d be a shame to give it anything less than a four. As a complete set, this book stands out!!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

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Here’s some other books and reviews you might enjoy:
#BookReview Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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#BookReview White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Many, many years ago I saw this book at a local Wal-Mart and had one of those “OMG I NEED IT” moments. I bought this book, put it on a bookshelf, buried it in said bookshelf, and then lost it until I reorganized my entire house. When I reorganized all of my books I decided to put this book on the “Read Next” physical shelf. WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER?!

Seriously, this book is an absolute GEM and I’m hitting myself (figuratively speaking) for not reading it sooner. It’s everything I love in a YA – potential love triangle, crazy fantasy, typical friend and families woes – and it has an epic cover! It was a home run! It hit it out of the park! It was the best YA book I’ve read in a good while! I loved every second of it! And gosh darnit I need the next book and I don’t have it!

On top of all of that, my friends have been telling me for years to read books by Jennifer L. Armentrout and THEY WERE RIGHT!

So, let’s get down to business….

The positives:
Gargoyles. Yes, you heard me right. FREAKING GARGOYLES. If there’s one set of monsters I haven’t read about in my reading life, it’s them! We have people who turn into gargoyles – so right off the bat I’m impressed because it’s something different. Then you have to throw in the demons who are the greatest foes of said gargoyle people. Now, before you get all excited over this, the gargoyles change forms like a shapeshifter so they do survive out in public. But, the public also know about gargoyles? It’s kind of confusing for me, but she makes it work.

I liked that this book had lots of romance and flirting it in. I love a good romance story! There’s just enough action and adventure to keep the plot going – so it felt like a good mix.

On an even brighter note, Jennifer has an amazing writing style and tone. I got addicted to this book SO FAST that it was unbelievable. I couldn’t put it down and it was almost making me mad! It’s a great story to binge! I absolutely want to read the rest of this series and whatever else Jennifer spits out of that brilliant mind of hers.

And then there’s Roth. He’s super hot, he’s funny, he’s slightly inappropriately and I love him. Zayne kinda bores me but whatever. We’ve got two hot guys and I have already picked my side! Also… Bambi. A giant snake tattoo demon creature. Yup, this book is that cool.

The negatives:
In typical YA fashion, the heroine is the master of the universe. She’s the special one everyone’s been waiting for. Am I tired of this trope? Yup. Did the story suffer because of it? Nope! So, essentially, it doesn’t really affect the story at all but I did get a little judgey because OF COURSE she’s the answer to everyone’s problem.

The virgin side of the story had me feeling cringy and icky. When your adoption/step father like figure starts talking about your sex life and not in a “Birds and the Bees” or “Stay Safe” kind of way, I always get creeped out. I get that’s apart of the prophecy in this story but… EW!

Additionally… there is a fair bit of slut shaming and women against women vibes. I hope that disappears in the next book but… ya never know.

Overall, I think this was a fun YA ride. I don’t take it to be some seriously, Oscar-winning drama book but I don’t think we’re meant to. It’s a lot of fun and whisked me away from my real world for a few hours.

Five out of five stars!

You can find this book on:
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If you enjoy YA books with romance and fantasy, check out these other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
#BookReview Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1

 

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#BookReview Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue was an intriguing novel.

It’s my own fault that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I could have. It has been YEARS (and I mean, literally years – probably five?) since I’ve read the first two books in this series (The Raven Boys and The Dream Theives) so I don’t remember much of what this series is all about. But, I really love Maggie Stiefvater so I wanted to continue on with this series! It’s safe to say that I was REALLY lost about what was going on.

What I got out of this book was: witches, fantastic friendships, parental drama, ghosts and death, and a giant cave.

I really enjoy Gansey in this series even though I’m not quite sure about what his character is supposed to be. He’s not the love interest, he’s not the typical best friend side character and he has no typical trope about him. I love that aspect of these characters (Maggie is great at not making a typical trope-filled book) but I’m still just so unsure. I love him, but… I need to know what happens in this last book to see how it all plays out.

Noah the ghost interests me too. What was going on with him and Blue? He’s still her energy but he is also acting very strange. Something is up with these ley lines! I want to know more. I’m too analytical for books like this – I need to know everything now.

The plot itself just confused me. The screaming man, the man they found in the cave, the lady at the end… Don’t stop this series if you intend to keep reading it. That’s my biggest suggestion. Reading other reviewers’ reviews helped a lot but I really should have re-read the series to make sure I knew what was going on. It’s a real shame too, because Maggie has a beautiful writing style and her prose is to die for! She’s fabulous.

I did binge this book in one sitting. Since I forgot most of what happened in the previous books, I knew that if I put it down I would never pick it back up. The binging was okay, but I’d rather have read it in bits and pieces.

My biggest praise is the cover. My gosh, all of the covers for this series fall into the realm of absolutely beautiful!

Overall, this book is marvelous but didn’t hit high with me. Hopefully one day I will be able to jump back into this whole series and mass read the entire set. Maggie is such a good writer but it’s a shame that we had to wait for her books. That’s what really did me in – waiting for books to come out and then not being able to afford them so I had to wait until I could. One day Maggie! One day I will read this excellence in full and understand the whole darn thing!

Three out of five stars!

 

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Check out some other reviews you might enjoy:
#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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#BookReview The Age of the Child by Kristen J. Tsetsi

The Age of the Child by Kristen J. Tsetsi is a dystopian novel where women’s rights are violated.

You could pitch this book as a companion to The Handmaid’s Tale – since this book involves a dystopian world where women are forced to give birth (no birth control and no abortions).

To be blunt, I didn’t enjoy Kristen’s writing tone or style, so the story didn’t connect with me as much as I wanted it to. Stories like this intrigue me, because they can tell you a lot about society and the way certain people see it. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect well. I still read and finished the book, but I don’t think I was the desired reader.

That being said, the book is excellent! It’s a well crafted story that takes the reader over a span of a couple of decades. We follow Katherine and Margaret, as well as their children Lenny and Millie. Over and over there’s article headlines stating that children are everywhere – parents are abandoning their children and trying to adopt them out. I would have liked to see more of the big picture throughout the book since the story mostly focuses on the main characters. How did a world get to this point?

The second half of this story follows Millie and her journalistic journeys. Her investigation of the world pulled me in a lot more than the first half of the story (mostly because I had a good idea of where Katherine and Margaret were going to end up). Eventually, we learn that births are regulated (which was quite the opposite of Millie’s parents time). I would have loved this to be two separate books with more fleshed out dystopian views. There’s just so much good content and some of it wasn’t explored.

Graham drove me crazy. He really wanted his child only to go work and not really want to bother with her. It seems we’re meant to feel that way, but my goodness… I had SO many frustrated feelings over his character. It is a good note on one of the society’s point of view of having children though!

Overall, the book didn’t work for me but it has tons of potential. I know there’s an audience out there that will love it WAY more than did. This dark story is told in such an intriguing way, it’d be a real shame if more readers don’t pick it up!

Three out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Kristen J. Tsetsi, in exchange for an honest review.

 

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#BookReview Kissing Coffins by Ellen Schreiber

Ah, yes. Another throwback from my teen years – Kissing Coffins, the second book in the marvelous Vampire Kisses series.

Just a gentle reminder, these books are Young Adult novels with young, lovely characters who act like immature kids (because, they are YOUNG). If you’re looking for a True Blood or Game of Thrones level of maturity, you’ve come to the wrong place.

As a teen, these books were my LIFE. They were a big part of my high school years and I was madly in love with them. I wanted to find my own Alexander and live in a big, spooky house. I idolized Raven and her style (because, let’s be honest, she was my inner self). At the time, these books made so much sense – young mistakes, young love, lots of young fun! Reading them as my older self, obviously I wouldn’t make the same decisions as Raven because I have life experience. But I believe Ellen did a really good job of making Raven feel like a real teen. Well, a real teen from my timeline.

That being said, this book is a lot of fun, full of goofiness and full of adorable romance. Alexander and Raven are a really cute couple and they really deserved the many books they got in this series. I found this series was a lot more fun to binge read then read alone. I wanted the story to keep going because I was so addicted. Not every reader has found this to be true, but I sure did! I love escaping into a YA like this series, and sinking into a fun, not totally realistic book. Did anyone really expect a vampire romance to be realistic? This series is like a vampire, soap opera for teens! It’s excellent.

My biggest con for this series was at the time of my initial reading, I had to actually WAIT for the next series in the book. Oh man, was it frustrating. I’m glad I can jump back into this series as an adult and read it all in a row like I dreamed of back in the day. Other than that, I found this book to be fun and flawless! I love Ellen and her books!

Five out of five stars!

 

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If you enjoyed this book, check out another book or review you might enjoy!
#BookReview The Coffin Club by Ellen Schreiber
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller

 

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#BookReview Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

I originally bought Haunting Violet when it first came out (way back in 2011… my gosh, it has been a long time). It ended up on my shelf and floated around for years, and I mean YEARS. I’ve been staring at this book for most of 2019 knowing full well I wanted to read it. Buuuuut… I know Alyxandra Harvey is one of my favourite authors, so I figured I’d have to find a time to sit down and binge read the whole darn book. And I did!

I finally picked this book up, knowing full well I’d love it. I have a special place in my heart for Alyxandra Harvey. Her Drake chronicles/series was one of the original series that got me into my crazy reading habit. I fell in love with Quinn and Solange and all of their wacky family and friends. So, it’s only fitting that I continue to fall in love with Alyxandra’s books (they are just a little harder to come across now – there’s too many books to read). It’s especially harder since the book store that introduced me to her (and pimped her books out BIG TIME) went out of business around 2012. So, there’s that.

Anywho – Haunting Violet. This book is a lovely stand alone novel that really should be a series. Violet lives in the past (I want to say Renaissance-esque era. Back when ladies wore corsets, gloves and had to be married off) and with a Mother who fakes seances. Then, suddenly, one day Violet starts seeing ghosts! A lovely, young, ghost lady appears out of nowhere and leads Violet to become a sleuth. Someone has murdered this girl, and Violet will find out too! Along the way we meet her friend Elizabeth, her love interest Collin, her other love interest Xavier, the dead girl’s living twin and many other suspicious characters. Xavier chases after Violet’s hand in marriage, Collin also tries to woo her despite not being from an esteemed family and it’s your typical 2011/2012 young adult novel (in my humble opinion).

Side note: Violet’s mother is a complete psychopath. I’ve seen other reviewers relate her to Mother Gothel and OMG yes. She’s absolutely evil and nuts. I absolutely hate books with mothers like that, but I’m sure women like that exist. She infuriated me! Yet there’s no epic payoff for her (there kind of is, but not enough if you ask me!).

These sort of books are my FAVOURITES. There’s lots of tropes – love triangle, best friend turned romance, murder mystery, and exciting descriptions of locations and outfits. The book was a little predictable, but I also read WAY to many murder mysteries and young adult novels for my own good.

The writing style is what kept me hooked. Alyxandra’s writing style is fast paced, descriptive and enchanting. I felt myself getting lost and addicted to her words, and I hardly noticed the time flying by. Suddenly a 300+ page book was done! It was slightly annoying since I do love a good Alyxandra Harvey book.

My biggest negative for this book is how it was presented on the web. Everywhere says this book is apart of a series, but I have never seen a sequel. I’m assuming it has something to do with the publishers, which is a real shame. I’d love to see this book turn into a series because it was enchanting! I’d like to see more crazy heists and murder mysteries set in the past. Collin and Violet are also too darn cute to not continue!

Overall, this is another lovely YA to add to your shelf. Necromancy, ghosts, paranormal, romance and drama flood the pages (pun intended… there’s a drowning in the book, FYI). The book is light, easy to read, fast paced and marvelous! It’s also a PG rated book, so if you’re looking for a good novel to start your pre-teens or teens in, this book could be it!

Five out of five stars! Give me more Alyxandra Harvey STAT!

Check out this book on:
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Check out some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview Dance with a Vampire by Ellen Schreiber
#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
#BookReview Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

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#BookReview I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan was a pleasant surprise!

I love books that let me inside another person’s life and culture, and I am Thunder met the bill! This book welcomes the reader into a Muslim and Pakistani lifestyle which is something totally new to me. I’ve seen the headlines, I’ve had classmates, but I’ve never been able to learn this much about a culture in one sitting. While this book is only ONE view in a Young Adult (and slightly dramatic) book, it was still truly intriguing. Hats off to Muhammad Khan, seriously.

This book does cause some waves in the reading community though – I’ve seen lots of praises and lots of criticism. So, I’ll just share my thoughts.

I like that this book follows one young woman’s story. Yes, it’s like a soap opera and slightly dramatic at times but isn’t all YA? Muzna’s story gives some fabulous insight into her culture (for example, the difference between a religion and the actual practices someone follows). Her family life, her thoughts, her trouble deciding what to do with her life and the effect it has on everyone felt very REAL. It felt like I was reading a book made for and by a teen – she wants to meet boys, she wants to impress people, she wants to try to have a life but do what’s best for her family too. I could totally relate to her in that aspect. She struggles with being a teenage girl trying to just BE a teenage girl.

Are there parts of this book that were rough and tough? Yes. I don’t fully know what this woman’s culture would be in an accurate depiction, so maybe this is all my views as a reader. Buuuut… her parents are HARSH. It seemed like no matter what this girl did that they weren’t proud of her. It’s no wonder that Muzna “acted out” because there was no way she’d ever please those parents. It was borderline abusive. I don’t think it was a culture thing… honestly, I’m certain it’s not supposed to be a reflection of their culture. Those parents were borderline abusive if not actually abusive. Like, show a little familial love? Or at least, don’t be cruel at all times of the day?

Extreme religion was also apart of this book, so let there be a trigger warning for those who might be bothered by this topic. I found it interesting to read, but at times it felt like everyone were quite extreme with their religious practices. I know there’s only so many pages in a book, but there could have been some “softer” practices or realistic ones. I know many lovely people who study and follow various religions who aren’t as “crazy” or as extreme as some of these characters.

If I had to list the good things about this book, they’d be the following:
1. This book showcases a different religion and a different point of view in a largely read genre. I like that YA has diverse books like this one floating around so readers can learn more about the world. Difficult topics like religion and politics should be brought into books (especially YA) so more people can learn and experience the world.

2. Muzna felt like a real character with real struggles. She didn’t feel out of place or goofy. She made me really feel for her story and want to know more about her.

3. This book can start wonderful discussions. It’s the type of book I wish we read back in high school. I could have picked apart this book and had some really great discussions with my classmates and teachers. Just think of a diverse class discussing their points of views on topics like these! Oh, it’d be an interesting time!

Overall, this book is a really well written book! Muhammad Khan has written a beautiful story that will introduce you to Muzna’s world.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check this book out on Goodreads!

Or check out another book you might enjoy:
#BookReview Gods in Oslo by John Plaski
#BookReview The Fencers by Geza Tatrallyay
#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

 

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