Tuesday, August 7, 2018

From the Den: July Edition

From the Den is a feature to showcase the books that I don't post reviews for on the blog, whether I liked them or not. I read so many books that never make it onto The Fox's Hideaway, so I wanted a feature where I could still tell y'all about them. :)

*****

I read A LOT in July, the most I've read in a month so far this year. I'm sharing reviews for most at later times, but I've still got a few to showcase here! :D


Beneath the Sugar Sky
Gah, I love these novellas. I could read DOZENS of them and never get bored. Because while the author ties up loose ends, more subplots emerge, and there's *so much* she could write about. I wasn't as giddy about this one because of Cora's character. There was just something about her that... annoyed me? I can't really put my finger on the why of it. But Kade and Christopher are my faves, and I even loved nonsensical Rini. I have a feeeeeling I know who the fourth one is about, and I'm SO EXCITED FOR IT.
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


Nussia
I just found this SO boring. And maybe it's because I'm not an alien fan in general, since I tend to stay away from books with those creatures in them. Or maybe it's that it's set near the end of the 1970s, which I didn't really care to read about. But whatever it was, it was so dull to me, and I didn't really like any of the characters except their grandma. And the MC, Lindsay, was okay. Her voice was just so young, which makes sense because she's only 13/14, but I couldn't get into the story. Ugh. SADNESS.
Rating: 2 Paw Prints!


When the Letter Comes
Oh, I ADORED this one. This story is for everyone who wished to fall down a rabbit hole or find a magical wardrobe in an old house, and for all the people who don't feel like they fit anywhere, who've had to learn their way to their own selves, who have yearned for the fantastical because it's the only place that feels right. And at its heart was a beautiful relationship between two sisters; one who gets a letter, and the ordinary, but fierce one, who doesn't. I would gladly have read more of it!
Rating: maybe 4.5 stars


The last two are short stories published by Book Smugglers Publishing, and you can see all of them here. I really recommend checking them out! Roshani Chokshi's was fab, and I adored the one above, When the Letter Comes. They're bite-sized, but they're good reads!

Monday, August 6, 2018

The First One-Star Book I've Read in Years

Title: Hideaway (Devil's Night, #2)
Author: Penelope Douglas
Publisher: Penelope Douglas LLC
Release Date: October 1st, 2017!

From Goodreads...
DEVIL'S NIGHT is returning! Hiding places, chases, and all the games are back... 

BANKS

Buried in the shadows of the city, there’s a hotel called The Pope. Ailing, empty, and dark—it sits abandoned and surrounded by a forgotten mystery.

But you think it’s true, don’t you, Kai Mori? The story about the hidden twelfth floor. The mystery of the dark guest who never checked in and never checks out. You think I can help you find that secret hideaway and get to him, don’t you?

You and your friends can try to scare me. You can try to push me. Because even though I struggle to hide everything I feel when you look at me—and have ever since I was a girl—I think maybe what you seek is so much closer than you’ll ever realize.

I will never betray him.

So sit tight.

On Devil’s Night, the hunt will be coming to you.

KAI

You have no idea what I seek, Little One. You don’t know what I had to become to survive three years in prison for a crime I would gladly commit again.

No one can know what I’ve turned into.

I want that hotel, I want to find him, and I want this over.

I want my life back.

But the more I’m around you, the more I realize this new me is exactly who I was meant to be.

So come on, kid. Don’t chicken out. My house is on the hill. So many ways in, and good luck finding your way out.

I’ve seen your hideaway. Time to see mine.

*Hideaway is a romantic suspense suitable for ages 18+. While the romance is a stand-alone, the plot is a continuation of events that began in CORRUPT (Devil's Night, #1). It is strongly recommended that you have read Corrupt prior to reading this.

*****

My Review!
CWs: animal abuse, child abuse, incest, sexual assault/attempted rape, violence

Kai was literally the only one of the horsemen I cared about, so I am MAD at this book. Michael is trash. Damon is trash. Will can’t sober up enough for me to give one fuck about him. Kai was the one I wanted to know the most. He’s so controlled, tightly wound-up, and mysterious, so I expected BETTER. I expected more to him besides his shameful past. Not to mention, a friend told me the characters on the cover are Chinese, and Kai is Japanese-American, so I’m not sure whether the author cared enough to write his character accurately or genuinely (would love to read some #ownvoices reviews on this). I think she only cared about creating a fucked-up story just for the sake of shock and fiction, not because it truly served a purpose. 

Because, here’s the thing: it all centers around Damon. It all centers around this notion that I should empathize with this fucker just because he’s had a shit life. But I’m not of the mind that your pain and suffering and abuse should get to excuse you from all the horrors you’ve put upon others, how it doesn’t mean you can’t still be a garbage human being. I will not be reading his book, because I frankly don’t think Penelope Douglas can do this type of storyline justice. She already proved that to me with Hideaway. Plus, the relationship between Damon and his sister, Banks, was DISGUSTING. It felt very coded incest, so I’d been wary from the beginning. Even knowing it’s not like that, the way that they grew up and how Damon is so possessive of Banks, made me feel so gross. HE is gross, and he gets his own book? Nah, pass.

The problems were just too many that getting to that ending wasn’t worth the repetitiveness and annoyance of the first 90% of the book. And I just did. not. honestly. give. a. fuck. about. Banks. I didn’t like her character. There was an underlying tone to her attitude where it was like I should care more about her because she’s not like other girls. She wears Damon’s clothes, doesn’t show her femininity, and has never had sex. I did NOT appreciate that, because it was like she was pitted up against Rika and Alex, the only other women in the series who matter. Alex is my favorite. She deserves better because lbr, Will’s gonna fall in love with that cousin of Damon’s, and Alex is gonna get left behind. Also, the queer-baiting? Hmm. I’m not sure how I felt about certain parts of the book for what felt like was only there for the shock value, and not for any other reason than because it made for better drama.

That’s how it felt with a lot of things. The animal abuse, Michael sexually assaulting Banks when she’s a kid (I HATE HIM SO MUCH), the scene with Damon’s mom at the hotel, Gabriel fucking Torrance ordering his men to rape HIS OWN DAUGHTER. Some of it is because the author is giving Damon his own story, and so he needs to have his background explored so the readers can sympathize with him. But there was much in this book that wasn’t actually needed. And there wasn’t *enough* focus on Banks and Kai’s romance. It was all about Damon that I didn’t really GET why they fell in love with each other. Like I much preferred the past chapters versus the present. I just wish I could’ve gotten behind the two of them and their relationship, instead of spending most of my time hate-reading.

This is so disappointing, because I really did enjoy Corrupt, and I was super excited about Kai’s story. I wanted inside of his head. And I have to say, it’s not what I thought. Banks and Kai’s characters weren’t explored enough, weren’t given the time they needed to develop beyond being a girl with a fucked-up family and a boy who feels ashamed of the darkness inside of him (which is funny considering how long the fucking book is). Plus, Kai spent so long not knowing that Damon and Banks were siblings and not lovers, that it shadowed a lot of how I felt toward their relationship. So yeah, I’m officially done with this series. It’s too bad. I like dark, boundary-pushing books. But this is Too Much.

RATING:
 

Friday, August 3, 2018

June and July Mini Reviews

June and July books have been a mixed bag for me so far! I've loved some, but others... not so much. 

*****

Title: The Unbinding of Mary Reade
Author: Miriam McNamara
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: June 19th, 2018!
*eARC kindly provided by Skyhorse Publishing via Edelweiss*

Find it on Goodreads.

This book was just so AWKWARD. The writing was not… good, and it didn’t always seem to fit in with the characters and time period. And oh god, the characters. Maybe it’s because I don’t know the history of Mary Reade, Anne Bonny, and Calico Jack that well, but their story just never seemed to blend well together. I mean, they spent the first 50% of the book on one damned island, doing nothing but drinking, cleaning the ship, and getting into fights. And I thought the romance between Mary and Anne developed fast and didn’t feel very organic, and there was a lot of drama created because of it with Jack and the rest of the pirates. The book was weirdly paced in general, and I didn’t think it needed the past chapters with Nat at all (though if this is part of Mary’s true-life story, then I guess, but I wouldn’t know that). The confusion Mary felt over who she was felt realistic given that she’s lived as a boy since she was a kid, but I can’t speak on whether it was problematic or not. So yeah, there was just a lot about this that seemed off, and while I loved that ending, I was wholly hoping to love this f/f story but didn’t. The Unbinding of Mary Reade was one of my most anticipated novels of this year, and boy did it disappoint me greatly. I’m so SAD.
Rating: 2 Paw Prints!


Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 5th, 2018!

Find it on Goodreads.

Oh, I ADORED this. The characters, all of them, but especially Michael, Stella, Quan, Michael's mom and grandma, and Janie. They were so real, and the romance felt so fresh, and just so damned beautiful. It did take Michael a long time to find his worth as a person, and to let go of his stubborn pride and accept help and go after his own future. But I loved his journey, as well as Stella's. Being autistic, she's always had problems with social interaction. But through her relationship with Michael, she starts to come into her own and find her footing with life and people, and she was so clever and bright and refreshingly genuine that I just ended up rooting for her so hard. I can see why so many people have fallen for this story and its two main characters at the heart of it. It's a wonderful portrayal of what it means to love and care for someone with your whole being. I'm SO here for more books in this series. I'm eagerly anticipating The Bride Test, though it's going to be a year yet before I can read it. *sobs*
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


Title: Grace and Fury (Untitled #1)
Author: Tracy Banghart
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 31st, 2018!
*eARC kindly provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley*

Find it on Goodreads.

I wasn't expecting to finish this today, but the book was so readable, even if there wasn't as much action or exciting plots. It's on the quieter side, more about finding your strength and your lines and having faith in who you are even when everyone is telling you that what you think and believe is wrong. It was about two sisters whose worlds are turned upside-down. They're both thrown into lives that are the complete opposites of all they'd been taught and raised to be, but the two of them are fighters. And they love each other so much that they're willing to do almost anything to save the other. I loved their relationship, the complicated-ness of it just felt real and genuine, and so did how they just wanted each other to be safe and happy even when it directly conflicted with their own predicaments. I wasn't as sold on the romances. I just didn't CARE enough, and I was more invested in the sisters' love, and in these groups of women who have learned to survive in a society that hates them and turns them into competitors. It was very feminist at its core. The world-building wasn't as good as it could have been, but I still really enjoyed it. It's like a futuristic Italy. And I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel!
Rating: 3.5 Paw Prints!


Title: Like Never and Always
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: July 17th, 2018!
*Physical copy kindly provided by Tor Teen*

Find it on Goodreads.

I feel very MEH about this book. I could understand Liv's confusion, as she reexamines who she is in Morgan's body, and has to reconcile that with this new life of hers. So the fact that her relationships with people are complicated, it makes sense. But I just was SO annoyed by the love triangle. It completely took me out the story at multiple points, and I wish I could've gotten into the romance. Clay was the actual best. But I just did not really care about any of this, or the main character. And the explanation over what happened was definitely not what I expected? I could suspend my disbelief in a way, but I didn't always like the treatment of mental health here. Plus the whole mystery behind Morgan's secrets wasn't thrilling at all, and some of it felt WAY out in left field, man. Like, all of the shit that happened near the end? It felt like it was there purely for drama's sake, not because it moved the story or the MC in any way. You still don't get all the answers, and in the end, I was left being like that's it?! I don't know, I just think none of this came together that well at all.
Rating: 2.5 Paw Prints!


Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: July 12th, 2018!

Find it on Goodreads.

But the world I wanted wasn't the world I lived in, and if I would do nothing until I could repair every terrible thing at once, I would do nothing forever. 

MAN. What a story! I didn't love it like I love Uprooted, but it was *so* good! I really came to care and love the characters, all of them, not just the main ones. And I cared about what would happen to them. This was a found family, of sorts, which is one of my favorite tropes, and I thought it worked SO well here. I just found the change-up in POVs startling sometimes, and it took me a minute to figure out who was speaking. And there wasn't really any romance? Which made me sad, even when I understood and was satisfied with the results. But yeah, like as I was reading this, I kept setting it aside and going slowly and I wasn't at all sure about it at some points. By the end, though, I was pretty in love with how everything came together, and how the little pieces fit into the overall plot, and the way that two queens made bargains and stepped into other worlds and saved multiple kingdoms. They were fierce and cold, and they would have nothing less than what they deserved and wanted. omg I loved the girls so much. Spinning Silver was, in a word, a fairytale, about debts and love and the line connecting them.
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!