Review: Fierce Reads: Kisses and Curses ed Lauren Burniac

Monday, December 11, 2017
Title: Kisses and Curses 
Editor: Lauren Burniac
Genre: anthology, fantasy, contemporary
Series: The Lunar Chronicles 0.5, Razorland #1.1, Birthmarked #1.5, Crewel World .1, The Grishaverse #2.5
Pages: 390
Published: May 12, 2015
Source: borrowed library
Rating: 3/5

Beloved of readers and booksellers, our Fierce Reads program has garnered tons of enthusiastic fans since its inauguration in 2012. Now, the authors you know and love are coming together in one book! With standalone short stories from a handpicked set of FR authors, this fabulous collection will include a mix of original content and popular favorites, and will often feature characters or worlds from existing Fierce Reads books. Extended, personal introductions from each author will make this a must-buy for fans as well as a fantastic portal for engaging new readers with the program. With a wide range of genres and subject matter, there will be something here for everyone!

Glitches by Marissa Meyer- 4 Stars
Previously read, still a good introduction to the world. I think it's really necessary before Cinder, actually. It answers a lot of my questions about her family and how she got where she is.

Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski - 3 stars
The story was okay. It didn’t didn't tell me much about the characters or the world; it’s a pretty tenuous link to the Winner’s Curse series, but the actual fairy tale of how stars got into the sky was very pretty. I wouldn’t seek out the actual series based on this story.

Dynamite Junior by Jennifer Mathieu - 3.5 stars.
The Truth About Alice is one of my all time fave contemporaries. This companion was good but confusing. There are a lot of time skips and Mathieu tried so hard to obscure the secret of Jorge that I had trouble with the pacing. I’m glad she dropped Carmen as a potential POV, but I’m also glad to meet her here.

Monster Crush by Anna Banks and Emmy Laybourne - NR
Haha, no. Not with that formatting.

Fixer by Courtney Alameda - 3 stars
I wish they wouldn’t include stories in these collections that require you to have read the series already. This was fine, gave me some insight into the world of reapers and Hellsings and zombies, but since I don’t know the characters? *shrug* No emotional resonance.

Unstolen by Jennifer Brody - 2 stars
The main character of this series is named Seraphina and she has purple eyes.

Secret Heart by Ann Aguirre - NR
Why is this even here? It’s one scene, rewritten. It’s six pages. I think Ann’s intro is longer. I can’t rate something that can’t be more than a hundred words.

Death & Waffles by Lish Mcbride - 4 stars
This is what I want in a tie in short story. It stands alone but makes me want to read the Necromancer series. It’s funny and sad and introduces the world, but doesn’t overstay. Ash seems like a really cool character.

Krisis by Lindsay Smith - 4 stars
Sekret never held any appeal to me, but I really liked the writing of this story. As with Death & Waffles, a self contained story that made me long to know the larger world. Good job, I’ll add Sekret to my TBR.

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things To Mend Deleted Scenes by Katie Finn- 2 stars
Finn was just desperate to spoil the reveal in this book, huh. Good job, editor.

Tortured by Caragh M. O’Brien - NR
Intro warned for spoilers and I haven’t read Birthmarked yet. Shame, I loved Vault of Dreamers and this was one of the stories I was looking forward to. I’ll just have to move the series up the ole TBR.

Blue Moon by Nikki Kelly - 0 stars
This story opens with a quote from one of my least favorite comics of all time, the masturbatory wankfest that is Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum. So we’re off to a great start and it just goes downhill. The writing is terrible. Skimmed, found nothing I wanted.

The Cypress Project by Gennifer Albin - 3 stars
A prequel to Crewel, which I anticipated so highly and ended up not liking at all. I never continued the series, so this was actually good to confirm a theory I had re: "the War" and the worldbuilding timeline. I’ve read one other short story set in this world and it was better. Lucy and Joshua were fine, but the story didn’t need four POVs.

The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo - 4.5 stars
Hey look, the story I borrowed the anthology for. Loved this take on Little Red Riding Hood. I have a slight quibble with the end, which keeps it from a full five stars, but Bardugo did a great job building the world and making it feel Russian/Ravkan in a really short space.

Two Minute Reviews Boogaloo

Friday, December 8, 2017

Look, another round up! So I started this post literally the same day as the last round up I posted because Jess is always like Dani, don't put 18 mini reviews in one post, put them in two posts. Then we have two days of content. She's smart like that.

But if you read the monthly wrap-up, you know why this post didn't get finished. So here it is, a month late. I think we're going to have to make it a three parter, even, as I read 12 books since I finished part one.

I'm a disaster.

Young Avengers, Volume 1: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillen - ★★★★

Gillen and McKelvie, the masterminds behind my obsession, The Wicked + The Divine started together here, Young Avengers, with an utterly gorgeous collection from the sadly defunct Marvel NOW! This brand was basically Marvel's YA, focusing on teenage heroes in relatable situations, like balancing caping with school or dealing with bigotry. It gave us Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, the all female X-Men, and pizza dog. You've probably seen more scans from this time period on social media than all the others put together. And it was awesome.

Kid Loki is assembling a new superhero team for totes not suspicious reasons. (Kid Loki being how Loki reincarnated after he removed his name from the Book of Hel, effectively becoming immortal. His kid persona eventually chose to follow its own path and turned his evil personality traits into its own entity, a magpie named Ikol. Then stuff and stuff and the two reunited and now you can never really tell if it's Ikol or Loki running the show.) He has his eye on America Chavez, approaching her first to take out Wiccan and his boyfriend Hulking (I've always hated that name, Teddy's only relation to the Hulk is that he's also green.) America tells Loki that if she ever sees him again, she will murder his face until it can't be murdered any more. Which, in a way, is a shame, as Loki was trying to stop Wiccan from summoning an interdimensional parasite known as The Mother.

Once the entity is released, Loki gives up his quest for murder and brings Teddy, Billy, and America together with Marvel Boy and his hookup and joyrider, Hawkeye. It's a great team against a good villain. The writing and art play off each other very well. The dialogue is snappy and funny. Except for the whole origin of Kid Loki, it stands on its own. (The scene with the two Lokis will confuse even veteran comic fans.) My only criticism is McKelvie's female faces can run together a bit. America's head is copy pasted from (well I guess to considering this came out the year before) Laura from Wic + Div.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two #1 by Tom Taylor -  ★★★★☆

Starting at the funeral of ████ ███, despite the call for a day of cease fire to mourn, tensions between the two superhero factions continue heating up. With █████ out of commission in the Tower of Fate, it's up to Black Canary to lead the charge against Superman and his superpowered human army. Recruiting what can be trusted of Gotham's police force, and with the help of Superman's superpill, the fight takes to the street as a much larger threat appears over space. The Guardians have decided Superman is a threat and they've sent Guy and John to sort him out. When that goes as well as you'd expect it turns to all out war as every Lantern is recalled to Earth. The dichotomy of the two battles is interesting, though Superman's police force does turn totalitarian kind of out of nowhere. The real interest here is the villain who joins Superman's team, and his machinations. I think if I'd read one and two as a combined volume, as I did for year one, it would have flowed better.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two #2 by Tom Taylor -  ★★★★☆

This book broke my fucking heart. If you're here for the Batangst, look no further. A comic book based on a Mortal Kombat rip-off made me cry. It made me scream. It made me awww at a decibel not found in human beings. This book pays off the war with the Lanterns and sees Superman cross a line that can't be uncrossed, even more dire than the (mostly) accidental killing of ████ ███ at the end of book one. Of the two year two books, it's the better, but they really would work better in a complete collection like year one.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - ★★★☆☆

This book is terrible and I was living for it. I was really into Mead's adult series, The Age of X, but since I was apparently the only one into it and the third book has been shelved indefinitely, I thought I'd give her most famous work a try. This is a pretty fun take on the vampire craze of the early Thousands. Rose is basically Blade, a half human, half vampire trained from the cradle to kill (evil) vampires. She attends St. Vladimir's Academy, a typical catty boarding school stereotype except it's full of (good) vampire royals and the dhampir guards training to protect them.

Lissa, Rose's best friend and future liege, has a secret that's created a bond between the girls that hasn't been seen since the bible. The vast majority of the book is them navigating high school cliches and "forbidden love" (which in this case means Lissa's in love with someone from a lower social status and Rose is in love with her twenty-four year old fighting instructor). There's a kidnapping and one pretty badass fight between Rose and a bad vamp, but for the most part it's a relatively standard YA that happens to feature vampires.

This review is of the 10 year anniversary edition which also featured four short stories: The Turn and the Flame, which looks at Christian's back story (it was fine), From the Journal of Vasilisa Dragomir, Lissa's journal from the times immediately prior to this book (also just fine), The Meeting, an utterly pointless retelling of the first chapter from Dimitri's point of view, AND Hello My Name is Rose Hathaway, a five star short story that is so much fun. The dhampir have a scavenger hunt on Halloween that sees Rose and stick-in-the-mud Dimitri flirting like SO MUCH. I was on the fence about the ship until this one.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - ★★★★★

It's been a long time since I've loved a character as much as I love Dimple. She's so unabashedly Slytherin in a world that doesn't want women and especially women of color to be cunning, ambitious, and driven. Weird how Hermione punching Draco was totally cool with this community but Dimple throwing a (n iced) coffee at what she assumes to be a crazed stalker made her violent and unlikeable. Things that make you say hmmmmm.

Rishi is so unbelievably sweet and it's great to see the script flipped and the male character as the romantic, ready to settle down one. The banter is off the charts. The book is so. funny. Could the last couple chapters have been tighter, yes, but oh my gosh science and art cuties making an app together and good parental relationships and realistic friend fights and I'm screaming again.

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty - ★★★☆☆

Nothing but respect for MY Moriarty.

The book was fine. I skimmed a lot of the middle, which isn't like me. I'm a read every page girl. But, I didn't feel the romance and I thought the killer was pretty obvious. Everything leading to him seemed like filler. 

I did like the end where Mori actually seemed like her namesake and got ruthless and broke the rules but Lock was so flat. 

Monstress: Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu - ★★★

This is still one of the most beautifully illustrated graphic novels I've ever read, but while the main plot is actually picking up, (I found it slow in book one,) I'm increasingly frustrated with the way the world building is doled out in expositional dumps at the end of each chapter. Generally set as a classroom where the nekomancers teach history to the young cats, it's just so lazy and poorly integrated. It's not working for me.

Maika is so hard and angry and I won't lie, she's hard to read, but she's so sad and her bond with Kippa just keeps getting stronger. I can't wait to see her fully heroic.

Lumberjanes, To The Max Edition, Vol. 2. by Noelle Stevenson - ★★★★☆

Collecting Lumberjanes 9-12, 14-17, I really liked the second omnibus. I found the storyline was much more cohesive than the original 8 issues. We're finally getting the real info on the forest and residents, including an extremely interesting call home which seemed to prove time passes differently in Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp For Hardcore Lady-Types. The new antagonist made a lot more sense than the deitic war.

What's more, there's actual on screen romantic content from Molly and Mal, which was definitely sweet and kind of figuring stuff out in the first volume but they go on a date! And then there are raptors! 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. - ★★★★★

Don't come for me. The sex scenes are bad. The prose is lurid. There's a distinct lack of drive though the middle sections, despite having a world ending, time sensitive antagonist. Tamlin's flipped on a fucking dime and Feyre's transformation into a high Fae is still ludicrous.


I am what I am.

(Belated) November Wrap-Up with Bonus Bingo!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hey loves, long time no talk. If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that my grand blogging comeback was derailed by finding my husband unconscious on the bathroom floor three weeks ago. Turns out multiple organ failure, even if they're not your own organs, will turn your life on its head. So here's a quick and dirty November run down and also my Fall Bookish Bingo board

Books Read: 11

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #1)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

And that's it. Sorry babes, I did warn you.


Person on the Cover: Sanctuary by Rebekah Weatherspoon (9/2)
LGBT: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (9/9)
Set in a School: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (9/10)
2017 Debut: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (9/16)
First in a Series: Lock and Mori by Heather Petty (9/19)
Different Culture: Apex Magazine Issue 99 ed. Amy H. Sturgis (Indigenous American) (9/22)
Asian American Author: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (9/25)
Co-AuthoredGemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (9/26)
Over 500 Pages: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (10/1)
Fall Release: Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (10/7)
Required Reading: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (10/9)
Set in Another Country: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes (10/17)
Paranormal: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (10/21)
Black Cover: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (10/21)
Magic in the Real World: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (10/28)
American History: Hamilton's Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole (10/31)
Horror: My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (10/31)
Yellow Cover: Dusk and Dark and Dawn and Day by Seanan McGuire (11/4)
Ensemble Cast: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (11/6)
Poetry: Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood (11/10)
Translated: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (DNF 11/25)
Witches: Immortal Souls ed Joamette Gil (11/30)

Two Minute Reviews Dump

Monday, October 30, 2017

This is another round up post, books I read in the last three months or so and (mostly) enjoyed but didn't have enough to say for a full review. Onward and upwards, shall we?

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology ed. Joamette Gill - ★★★★★

A beautiful collection, thoughtful and expressive. Not all the stories spoke to me personally, but the ones that did were truly meaningful to my life. It's a volume that stays with you.

Standout stories include The Whisperer by Arianne Hokoki, which in addition to being a wonderful story about depression, self acceptance, and love, is phenomenally drawn with a beautiful, saturated style. Her Gift by Coco Candelario, which looks like Steven Universe and Kiki's Delivery Service had an adorable, baking baby. Def Together by fydbac earns the spot for best character design. Their unnamed MCs are gorgeous in a way you'd never see in mainstream comics. But for my money, the volume saved the best for last. Songbird For A Vulture by Naomi Franquiz is arresting. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.

The collection itself is nicely laid out. The table of contents includes content warnings on five of the fifteen stories, (including both The Whisperer and Songbird For A Vulture, so be careful with my recommendations,) which I appreciate and hope indicates the future of publishing. The cover is drop dead gorgeous and deserves to be front facing on any shelf. I want a poster. The section "Meet the Coven", with each author's self portrait is also very nice, since a lot of anthologies don't bother with a section on their contributors. (If nothing else, go look at Aatmaja Pandya's portrait because oh my god.)

Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel - DNF

I saw Sonia speak on the Buzz Book panel at BEA 2016 and I was immediately desperate for this. Unfortunately, something that I didn't see covered either at the panel or in early reviews is the fact that this book needs a huge trigger warning for incest and CSA. I also had some problems with pacing. Unfortunately, I bowed out at 30%

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde - ★★★☆☆

Bah bah, black sheep.

Where a lot of my friends found this book meaningful and saw themselves in it, I just found scenes like Taylor forgiving the bodyshamer preachy and disconnected from reality.

Two things work against this book. One, I don't like this current trend of comic con stories. I find them extremely flat, full of characters with no thoughts or interests outside of one tv show. Two, every SwoonReads book I've encountered has been extremely juvenile. I don't mean teenagers making teenage decisions, that's expected and encouraged in YA. I mean word choices and editing that belong in a very junior novel, not a borderline NA.

Yes, it's great that this book has ownvoices autism rep, something I hope to see more of in the industry and a bi WOC in a f/f ship, but the actual plot did nothing for me.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger - ★★★☆☆

I wanted this to be a home run, but it was just a 2 point conversion.

Considering who rec'd this to me, I can't believe the mess of girl hate going on in this book. Bailey hates Mona from the word go. She's jealous and rude to Jess, an old high school acquaintance, only being nice when she needs something. That's literally every female character who gets more than a page of screen time. What the hell? (And don't get me started on the "reveal" of Jess liking women and the shitty way Bailey treats that.)

The magic system is super cool and I really liked the world building of the Court. It reads like a lot of my favorite UFs, like The Shambling Guide to New York City. Vincent is the best character and it does him dirty.. Book needs a TW: animal death, I know that's a deal breaker for a lot of people.

The Hogwarts Collections by JK Rowling - ★★☆☆

I requested this collection from the library the day it was announced, back in January. I received it in June, happily right in time for the HP20 celebration. This collection of collections, collectionception, brings together "Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies", "Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists" (the inclusion of Peeves in this book does not work and is clearly only for the alliteration), and "Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide", which only serves to remind me I've been asking Jo to release a real "Hogwarts: A History" since I was 13.

In all, the book collects about 20 Pottermore articles and three or four new ones. There's nothing shocking or special between the pages. Again Jo continues her burial of Lupin and doubles down on her shitty werewolves = AIDS metaphor. The Minerva bio is great, but it's available for free on the website. Some of the essays are shockingly short, very little under the surface. In all, it's fine.

Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L Wilsons ★★★☆☆

 The cat sex book. Thanks Angie.

LotFL is the first in a series set in a pretty darn complicated fantasy world about a dying race of faeries who are led by a shape changing faerie, called the Tairen Soul. The faeries have sealed themselves off from the humans following a great war that saw the death of the Tairen Soul's wife, causing him to destroy much the human world. Now, hundreds of years later, the Tairen Soul must return to the human world to broker peace and to claim his truemate.

That description isn't far from the SJM faerie books or The Falconer, but what Wilsons does to differentiate herself is put in a shit ton of sex. Not just between Ellie and Rain, the Tairen Soul  their courting is relatively sweet  but between the human queen and the king. The queen and the mind-controlled member of her court. The evil magician and his mind-controlled servant. A massive drug induced orgy over court dinner. It's a lot and not all of it is consensual. 

And it's at odds with sweet-natured Ellysetta and her courtship with Rain. They spend a lot of time taking her sisters on walks and going to museums, while an entire batshit side story goes on. I don't hate the part of the story they're in, but it's like Wilsons couldn't decide between a relatively standard paranormal romance and a kookoo bananas high fantasy. I still don't understand what's going on with the queen and the members of her court who are all ranked by jewels or something?

Snotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't Care by Bryan Lee O'Malley - ★★☆☆☆

13 years and O'Malley still has no idea what a human woman actually sounds like.

Lottie and her "friends" sound like an 80s fever dream of sexy, catty supermodels. I've seen porn with better dialogue, and like porn it's exploitative and queerbaity.

The mystery of CoolGirl and whether the entire plot is all an allergy med induced nightmare was actually interesting and I'm sorry I won't see it play out, but I just can't get past all the unlikable, unrealistic characters.

Shade, the Changing Girl, Volume 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci - ★★★☆☆

Shade, the Changing Girl is a sequel/homage to the classic Vertigo title, Shade, the Changing Man. Beautifully drawn and colored, this book features a thought provoking storyline about the nature of humanity and how it changes two different women who happen to share a body. Unfortunately, it is totally not for me. The madness makes for an interesting background to every panel, but it made it hard for me to focus and connect to the story. It's more existential than I like and large swaths of the book left me uncomfortable and unsettled.

Those are failings on my part, that I don't want a comic that pushes too hard. Maybe you do.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, JK Rowling - ★★★★☆

Ooh, black sheep in the other direction. I loved Cursed Child.

I also hated parts. Ron feels very out of character to me. There are several blatant attempt to rewrite the sins of the original series, including another damn redemption story for Snape. Scorpius' romance at the end has no chemistry or reason beyond once again pairing up all the seventeen year olds.  

But the story. Oh I love Albus and Scorpius and their adventures. I love the alternate worlds and the butterfly effect. I love Headmistress McGonagall. I loved experiencing Slytherin and Harry's desperate attempt to relate to his son and Hermione being the fucking Minister of Magic. It's not great art and the actual cursed child portion is definitely the weakest, but it just made me so happy to have another adventure with my favorite characters. 

I need play tickets more than air.

That's going to do it for this part of the round up. Stay tuned to part two, the time Dani read mediocre anthologies. 

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