Genre: Adult

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Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

June 8, 2017 Diversity 4, Reviews 2 ★★★★½

Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Published by Tor.com on April 5, 2016
Genres: Adult, Adult Fantasy
Pages: 176
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests


Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Trigger warning for eating disorders.

Diversity Rating: 4 – This Is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (good mix of identities among the kids, though the core group of characters is mostly white)
QUILTBAG: 5 (Nancy is asexual (possibly heteroromantic) and Kade is a trans boy)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 5 (basically delivers the message that any kids can have a whimsical adventure)

Portal fantasy books aren’t something I think much about. I didn’t read the Chronicles of Narnia as a kid; though I’ve seen the animated and live action adaptations of Alice in Wonderland, I greatly dislike them both. Even looking at my stuffed-full bookshelf of favorites, I see maybe two books that would fit the definition. But Every Heart a Doorway has an asexual main character and I therefore had to read it. Now I’m mad I didn’t read it sooner. Read more »

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Review: Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

August 29, 2016 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review: Sex Object by Jessica ValentiSex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Published by Dey Street Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: Adult, Adult Memoir
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-stars
Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny and bracing memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes from the every day to the existential.

Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.

In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, this literary memoir is sure to shock those already familiar with Valenti’s work and enthrall those who are just finding it.

Jessica Valenti can be problematic as a feminist, but her book The Purity Myth introduced me to other works of feminist criticism and was generally my gateway to feminism’s more academic form. There will always be a place in my heart for her and her works. Throughout her essays in Sex Object, Valenti embraces just how problematic she is in the form of exposing how she behaved in her teens and early twenties, how that conflicts with who she is now, and the way what she went through changed her. Read more »

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Review: Love is Red by Sophie Jaff

June 5, 2015 Diversity 0, Reviews 0

Review: Love is Red by Sophie JaffLove is Red by Sophie Jaff
Series: Nightsong Trilogy #1
Published by Harper on May 12, 2015
Genres: Adult, Adult Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
one-star
This electrifying, addictive, and hypnotically beautiful debut spins suspense and literary fantasy into a stunning epic—the first volume in the Night Song Trilogy—ablaze with fear, mystery, and possibility.

Katherine Emerson was born to fulfill a dark prophecy centuries in the making, but she isn’t aware that this future awaits. However, there is one man who knows the truth: A killer stalking the women of New York, a monster the media dubs the “Sickle Man” because of the way he turns his victims into canvasses for his mesmerizing, twisted art.

Unleashed upon Manhattan after lying dormant for centuries, the Sickle Man kills to harvest the precious hues of his victims. As his palette grows, so too does his power. Every death brings him closer to the one color, and the one woman, he must possess at any cost.

While the city hunts the Sickle Man, Katherine must decide what to do about two men who have unexpectedly entered her life: handsome and personable David, and alluring yet aloof Sael. Though she’s becoming increasingly torn between them, how well does she really know them? And why is she suddenly plagued by disturbing visions?

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Katherine and the Sickle Man, Love Is Red is a riveting thriller that unfolds into an intense story of obsession and control, desire and fate. Katherine may not realize it yet, but with this haunting novel—as arrestingly original as Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, Patrick Süskind’s Perfume, and Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls—her moment of awakening is here. And soon she will find herself fighting a battle at the edges of our world, among forces more dangerous than we can possibly imagine.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (black single mother and son; mom ends up dead, son is practically incidental, and all of this happens in New York)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Ugh ugh ugh. Sometimes, my buzzwords “obsession” and “stalker” are able to lead me to chilling, well-thought-out books. Other times, they lead me astray and have me mourning the lost hours of my life. If you can guess which one Love is Red is based the star rating you’ve probably looked at before you’ve read a word of this, you get a lollipop. Not everything about this novel is horrible, but wow, it left me feeling angry at how half-baked it is in almost every respect. The characters are shallow, the romance is laughably bad, figuring out the identity of the killer took little effort, and the magical realism elements of it get no explanation beyond a few Capitalized Words being used. Read more »

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Review: Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway

March 9, 2015 Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Lacy Eye by Jessica TreadwayLacy Eye by Jessica Treadway
Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 10,2015
Genres: Adult, Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: BEA 2014
Goodreads
three-stars
Hanna Schutt never suspected that her younger daughter's happiness would lead to her husband's death and the destruction of their family. When Dawn brings her new boyfriend home from college for a visit, her parents and sister try to hide their doubts because they're glad that Dawn - always an awkward child - appears to have grown into a confident, mature young woman in her relationship with Rud. But when Hanna and her husband, Joe, are beaten savagely in their bed, Rud becomes the chief suspect and stands trial for Joe's murder.

Claiming her boyfriend's innocence, Dawn estranges herself from her mother, who survived the attack with serious injuries and impaired memory. When Rud wins an appeal and Dawn returns to the family home saying she wants to support her mother, Hanna decides to try to remember details of that traumatic night so she can testify to keep her husband's murderer in jail, never guessing that the process might cause her to question everything she thought she knew about her daughter.

Me and adult lit? Pfffft, almost never. But someone abandoned their poor copy of Lacy Eye beside a booth at BEA 2014 and I felt compelled to help the sweet little book. Once I took a break from the chaos and read the back of the book, I realized Lacy Eye did in fact sound like my kind of book. You know those Investigation Discovery series like Scorned: Love Kills, Behind Mansion Walls, Deadly Women, and the like? Those shows used to be my crack before I got bored of their sensationalism, but this novel sounded like it was along those lines. While still better than those awful ID shows, Lacy Eye is a middling novel that may suffer most from the perspective its tale is told from.

Read more »

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Review: The Crush by Sandra Brown

September 12, 2014 Reviews 0

Review: The Crush by Sandra BrownThe Crush by Sandra Brown
Published by Grand Central Publishing on August 26, 2003
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
zero-stars
Notorious contract killer Ricky Lozada is on trial and Dr. Rennie Newton is on his jury. Bringing the same dedication she displays as a surgeon to this job, she delivers a verdict of not guilty-and discovers she has a new admirer. Days after Lozada's release, one of Rennie's professional rivals is brutally murdered. Although Lozada's dark shadow looms over the case, Rennie becomes the prime suspect ... while Lozada stalks her and grows more and more obsessed with having her. She forms an uneasy alliance with Wick Threadgill, a rogue detective with his own personal vendetta against Lozada. Wick has nothing to lose by confronting a hit man, who, like the prize scorpions he treasures, strikes so quickly Rennie may never see it coming.

Whaaaaaaat? A YA reviewer like me reading and reviewing a romantic suspense novel? Yup. See, I was hiding from my niece in a cupboard of a room after she started throwing rocks and became too much for me to handle. Mom found me and handed me this book. “Give it a try,” she said. “You’ll like it,” she said. WRONG, MAMA LLAMA. Quoting my exact words to her, The Crush made me pop a lady-boner of rage. The last time I read any of her bodice rippers and romantic suspense novels, I was fifteen and couldn’t finish a single one because they all bored me. Five years after I thought I learned my lesson, I actually did learn my lesson and finished this book solely because I had to see how its premise would play out. Such wasted potential! It all started so well and then fell into cliche territory. Read more »

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