Friday, June 15, 2018

Flashback Friday Review: The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish

We wanted to revisit Rose Red's review from 2016 because The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish is finally being published in the US and it will have a brand new cover! I really like the new cover but I still love the old one more. No matter the packaging, it's an awesome story!

The Voodoo Killings
(Kincaid Strange #1)
Kristi Charish
Canadian Release: May 10, 2016
US Release: June 12, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
For the first time since we launched Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Random House Canada is thrilled to announce the debut of a new urban fantasy series. Kristi Charish's The Voodoo Killings introduces Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner...

For starters, she's only 27. Then there's the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she's broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker--who happens to be Kincaid's on-again, off-again roommate.

Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighbourhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he's tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle's infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City's oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She's broke, but she's not stupid.

And then she becomes the target...As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.

You all know how much I love Kristi Charish's The Adventures of Owl series, right? Well, I think this series may have surpassed it. I absolutely adored it! This book was everything I wanted it to be! Zombies! Ghouls! Voodoo outside of New Orleans! Ghosts! Poltergeists! All of these things mixed with bits and pieces from various mythologies made for some A+ worldbuilding, which is something I've come to expect from Charish and enjoy the hell out of in each of her books. But amazing worldbuilding aside, how could I not love a book about a voodoo practitioner who lives in Seattle with the ghost of a grunge rockstar?

Kincaid Strange was a seriously kick-butt heroine. I was able to relate to her on an emotional level. She knows how to keep herself together and is a planner after my own heart. She is a really mature heroine who avoids unnecessary drama and gets things done. She was brilliant! Add in her sarcastic wit and sense of humor and she easily became a favorite character of mine.

Also, did I mention this is an urban fantasy murder mystery with zombies? It's totally a murder mystery with zombies, which is such of fantastic premise! This book is fast paced and full of action. Like with the Owl books, there was never a dull moment. I also loved that the supernatural world was known to everybody and that some of the politics of dealing with the "non-living" were explored. It added a whole new dimension to the book. 

And Charish deserves a slow clap for her zombies. They are not your typical zombie apocalypse zombies. No unknown viruses making zombies out of the living. The dead are raised with voodoo and have a surprising range of capabilities and weaknesses. And the Underground City for zombies and ghouls beneath Seattle was such a cool touch.

Charish has a gift for creating a monster mash of paranormal creatures. I loved the secondary characters! Of course, zombie Cameron was a big part of this book and learning what happened to him really drove the story, but there was also Kincaid's ghostly roommate, Nate, and her zombie informant/Otherside ringleader, Lee Ling. Nate was my favorite! Not only was he an awesome character, his and Kincaid's friendship and teamwork was a really great additional dynamic. I really loved the two of them and their interactions together!

I switched back and forth between the audiobook and the ARC while reading this and I can't recommend the audiobook enough! By the time I finished the book, I had listened to over 75% of it. It's definitely one of the best audiobooks I've listened to in 2016. The narrator, Susannah Jones, totally captured the atmosphere of the book and her portrayal of Kincaid and the other characters was on par with what I had imagined in my head.

I can say with certainty that Kristi Charish’s books never disappoint! They are like a breath of fresh air in so many ways. The Voodoo Killings is no exception and is an excellent start to a new series! I love how she made the zombie trope her own. I absolutely cannot wait to read more of Kincaid's adventures!

ARC provided by the author

  4.5 /5 Stars

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Most Intimidating Books on My TBR

I'm just coming out of a major book slump and I've been thinking a lot about the books I have hanging out on my physical TBR pile. Part of that has been because I've recently moved my books into one of the empty rooms in our house and I'm setting up my own personal library. I never realize just how many books I own until I start moving them around. It's been good because this move inspired me to cull my books a bit and I got rid of a few. While I was going through everything, I came across some books that I'm honestly intimidated by and I keep putting of reading them because of it. So I decided to make a post about them. Some of them are intimidating because of their size. Others because of the hype around them. Let's talk about some of the books I'm scared of.

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
This book is literally a behemoth. It's huge. I'm not normally intimidated by large books but I am of all 1289 pages of this one. Why? Because it's a Sanderson book and my feels are going to be pulled through the wringer again. I'm going to read this but not anytime soon I think. I need to talk myself into first.

Winter by Marissa Meyer
I'm starting to realize that I am terrible at reading the last books in series especially if I adored the previous books. Winter has turned into one of those for me. I was so excited for it to come out and then I started hearing mixed things about it so I keep putting it off. Now, I need to reread the previous books because I can't remember everything. It's a vicious cycle.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
When I ask for sci-fi references, this is always the first book people recommend to me. It is loved by a lot of people and has a lot of hype surrounding it because of the tv show. I'm scared to read it for that fact. The sad thing is that I'm pretty sure that I'm going to love it once I finally let myself sit down with it.

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
There is so much hype surrounding this book and I've heard nothing but great things about it. Plus, it's been blurbed by Robin McKinley which automatically increases the hype for me by like ten times. I've been a black sheep on several really hyped fantasy this year already so I'm scared to read it and not like it.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Remember me saying I'm terrible at reading the last books in series? I haven't been able to bring myself to read this one because I'm still not ready to say goodbye to the Graceling world six years later.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Yes. I'm scared of the perpetual book club book. I am kind of ashamed I haven't read this yet because I've been a member of five different book clubs who have all had it as one of their monthly books. It's one of my Mom and Grandma's favorite books. I'm kind of scared that I won't love it as much as everyone else so I just keep avoiding it. One of these days I'm going to make myself read it.

Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
This is still one of my most anticipated books of this year but I am scared of it. I know it's going to emotionally wreck me and I'm not ready for that when I still have months to wait for the next book. I'm going to read it this year but it'll probably be December because the fear of this one is real.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
This book is Maggie's most hyped and beloved book after her Raven Cycle series and I'm scared to read it. One, I know it's going to make me emotional. Her Raven Cycle books did. And two, I have so many friends who, for them, this is their favorite Stiefvater book. The bar is set high with this one and I'm just not ready to see if it's going to met my expectations yet.

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
Just like with Chainbreaker, I'm scared of the emotions this book will make me feel. I bawled so many times reading This Savage Song and I've heard this one hits you even more in the feels. I'm not emotionally ready for it yet.

What is the most intimidating book on your TBR?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Release Day Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Ocean Light
(Psy-Changeling Trinity #2)
Nalini Singh
Release: June 12, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love...

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there's a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment--taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he's at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling...

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won't hide the facts of Bo's condition from him or herself. She's suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine...

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back--even if it means striking a devil's bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy...

I'm going to be real honest here. I've been wanting a Psy-Changling book about Bowen Knight since he made his first appearance in Branded by Fire. I've been dying to know his backstory because something pretty traumatic had to have happened to make him hate the Psy so much. Sadly, that little insight of mine was dead on. I've also wanted to know what kind of person his mate was going to be. I was kind of hoping he'd end up with a Psy partner but I'm totally happy with where the romance went. I ship it pretty hard actually. 

Ocean Light worked for me on so many levels. If you read Silver Silence, then you know that our favorite Human Alliance security chief/leader is in bad shape and not just from the failing chip in his brain. I loved how BlackSea came into play with that. Plus, we got to finally learn more about BlackSea and the underwater deep sea station some of them reside in was absolutely fascinating!

BlackSea was more intriguing than I ever thought possible! They have so many different kinds o changelings in their pack and honestly the options to what creatures there could be are unlimited. I found it intriguing that they all are very secretive about what they changed into but nonetheless are fiercely protective of each other. It was a beautiful thing to read. The sea changelings aren't as charismatic overall as say the bears from the previous book but they were fascinating in their own way. I really hope the author writes many more books about BlackSea in the future.

Nalini Singh is a master of her craft and I was sucked into this book as soon as I picked it up. I just love this world she has created and how she continues to expand it. I was really into the sweet romance between Bo and Kaia from the start. They've both had some seriously traumatic things happen in their pasts and the learning curve for them to over come them is a steep one. Add in some treachery and deception that threatens to resolve the alliance between the two groups and the literal ticking time bomb in Bo's head and you have one hell of a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat until you turn the last page.

I instantly fell in love with Kaia's character. She has a very playful and loving nature that has a bit of an edge to it. She's tough but she's also kind of a big softy when comes to the people she views as hers. I loved that her way of taking care of her pack was to cook them their favorite foods! Kaia has issues aplenty but she made me laugh and smile. I was also very intrigued to find out what her changeling form was and I kept trying to guess as the clues were dropped. It wasn't until the last quarter of the book before I could finally have my suspicions confirmed on what her other form was. I did find her animal form to be very fitting. You'll just have to read to find out what she is. :)

I loved that we got to learn more about Bo and see a completely different side of him. He's still the paranoid security chief but he has a softness and protectiveness when it comes to Kaia that made me love him even more. I will admit that I am completely intrigued by so many of the side characters in this installment and I want to know more about them. High on that list is Miane and Malachai. They definitely need their own book(s) and soon so I can know what the heck they change into! I also want to see Kaia's other cousins get books or novellas! They remind me very much of Mercy's brothers in DarkRiver and I need more mischievous and lovable rogues in my life.

Ocean Light wasn't the book I imagined it would be when I first heard who it was going to be about but it was a perfect addition to one of my all-time favorite series! I'm dying to know who it's going to be about! I want more BlackSea but I also want a WindHaven falcon book or a Rainfire book. Sadly, we have another year of waiting for the next book when I just need it in my hands already. I guess it's time for another reread, right?

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Manga Reviews: Finder Deluxe Editions, Vols. 6-8

So let's talk about m/m romance manga. These manga are frequently called Boys Love (BL) and fall into two main categories: yaoi and shounen ai. Shounen Ai is the non-explicit m/m romance manga and Yaoi is the explicit version. Both of these manga genres are aimed towards women while Bara is the BL genre that is targeted towards gay males.

The series I'm reviewing today definitely falls into the Yaoi category. Something you need to keep in mind about Yaoi is that it perpetuates some problematic tropes. That trope being that of non-consensual sex or sex with dubious consent.

So let's talk a bit about each volume. My reviews aren't going to be long and will just be a few of my thoughts about them. I will be honest. The Finder series is violent and does use the sex with dubious consent trope but it's used less and less as the series goes on. I know it's problematic but I can't help but love it a lot though.

Finder Deluxe Edition: You're My Desire, Vol. 6
(Finder Deluxe Edition #6)
Ayano Yamane
Release: April 10, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

This deluxe edition includes never-before-released material as well as a double-sided color insert and special cover treatment! Photographer Takaba Akihito takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Asami Ryuichi—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

After being held prisoner in Hong Kong, Akihito Takaba is finally brought home to Japan by his lover Ryuichi Asami. But once again, the feisty photographer escapes Asami’s grasp! It’s not long, though, before Akihito becomes ensnared in a stalking incident and sees Asami’s darker side return. Will he chase the scoop or the man he’s not quite ready to admit he’s attracted to?

I'm not going to lie. This volume was good but felt like a bit of a let down after the Naked Truth/Hong Kong arc. Akihito is finally back to Japan after his captivity in Hong Kong and he is trying to make sense of his feelings and where Asami fits in his life. Things have changed after Hong Kong for both the photographer and Asami. We know it. Asami knows it. Akihito I think knows but he isn't willing to accept it yet. 

This manga contains two loosely connected stories. One features Akihito and Asami and it's just more chapters adding to the main arc. The other is a side story about the high schoolers, Hiyama and Mizuno. To the main story, Akihito and Asami's, I would give four stars. Akihito goes after a story about a stalker and inadvertently discovers that Asami is somehow connected to it. He has some decisions to make and while he can be idiotic and prideful when it comes to Asami, I do like where the story is going and that Akihito chose to go to him of his own free will.

As for the second story about Hiyama and Mizuno, I would give it only two stars because it was all talk and very little actually happened. The most interesting part of it was, once again, the bit with Akihito and Asami. The rest was quite boring.

  3. 5 / 5 Stars

Finder Deluxe Edition: Longing For You, Vol. 7
(Finder Deluxe Edition #7)
Ayano Yamane
Release: June 12, 2018
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

This deluxe edition includes never-before-released material as well as a double-sided color insert and special cover treatment! Photographer Akihito Takaba takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Ryuichi Asami—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

Akihito is freeloading at Asami’s apartment, polishing up not only his photography skills but also his skills as a househusband. His career is on the upswing, even though he still finds himself in perilous situations and has the occasional run-in with police. So imagine Akihito’s surprise when, while out chasing a scoop, he spots Asami with another man clinging to him…in tears! Are Akihito’s days as Asami’s live-in numbered?

One thing I've noticed the last few volumes is that in this new translation the language is way more casual and uses more American slang in places when compared to the old one. It doesn't take away from the story per say but it doesn't lend the same emotional depth as the first translation either.

Asami and Akihito’s relationship deepens in intensity in this volume as Akihito's work brings him into contact with Asami's and I foresee him getting into some difficult situations. In this volume, there's a shady politician, a mysterious club manager, a high-end escort club, and a missing girl factoring into the equation. I really liked the addition of the new characters in this volume and I want to know more about them especially Kuroda and his relationship with Asami. 

Akihito is finally questioning what he really wants from life and his relationship with Asami. Unfortunately, he's developed a inferiority complex when it comes to his place in Asami's life and it's going to get him in trouble. This arc is not as good as the Naked Truth story arc but it's getting there. By the end of this volume, I can say that I am totally here for it. The story is progressing well, but slowly. I'm hoping now that Akihito is starting to accept his place in Asami's life that he'll cause a few less of his own problems. 

What I love about this volume is that we are finally getting a glimpse behind the mask that Asami wears in public. He has a soft spot for Akihito and it's getting more and more apparent that he really cares for him. I really enjoyed this volume and I can't wait to see where things go with Sudo and Akihito's search for the missing girl.

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

  4 / 5 Stars

Finder Deluxe Edition: Secret Vow, Vol. 8
(Finder Deluxe Edition #8)
Ayano Yamane
Release: March 14, 2017
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

Photographer Takaba Akihito takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Asami Ryuichi—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

After Asami's subordinate Sudo betrays him, Akihito attempts to chase Sudo down, only to wind up captured and at his mercy. Sudo's fixation on Asami has only grown stronger with time, to the point of wanting him dead. But Sudo isn't the only threat: another enemy appears on the horizon, gunning for the power Asami wields!

Poor Akihito. He’s still playing the damsel in distress in this volume. But it looks like he has finally accepted his feelings for Asami. Hallelujah!

Things are heating up in this arc and it's getting good as things with Sudo and the missing Aoki come to a head! The last few chapters had me on the edge of my seat! I was so sad when I finished and there was no more pages. I just need to know what happens next after that ending!

I don't usually comment on the side stories but I have feelings about both of these. I'm a bit upset that they changed the end of the first side story from what it originally was. We know drugs are bad but this is a mature manga about a photographer and a crime lord. It felt really out of place. I definitely prefer the original ending.

The second side story was my favorite where we have Asami dressing Akihito up in a suit and taking him to dinner at a fancy restaurant before heading to Macau for some adult style gaming. My favorite part of the story is that we get to see a new side of Asami! On the surface, he seems impatient with Akihito’s child-like delight in their luxurious accommodations. But the businessman reveals an unexpected playful side to his nature. It was so good to see another side of Asami and his feelings for Akihito!

Gah! The English translations are now caught up to the Japanese volumes and we're back to waiting a long time. The wait to find out what's going on might kill me. I can't wait to get my hands on the next volume.

  4 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
Finder Deluxe Editions, Vols. 1-5

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Rose Red's Overly Ambitious 2018 Pride Month TBR

Every year during Pride I try to read as many queer/LGBTQIA+ books as I can. Last year, my Pride reading month turned into a Pride reading summer and it was glorious! I read so many amazing books like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and the Whyborne & Griffin series that quickly became favorites that I now recommend to everyone. 

I want to repeat last year's success this year so I've made a TBR of a some of the queer books on my shelves that I want to read this year for Pride. Of course, I'll be reading and reviewing some Yaoi manga this month but other than a couple rereads like Long Way everything will be new to me stuff. 

I'm not going to go through and say something about each of these because it's a long list. Realistically, I probably won't get to most of these in June but I'm hoping that I'll be able to get to all of them by the end of the summer. So here's all the queer books I want to read for Pride.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

Killing Gravity by Corey J. White

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic by F.T. Lukens

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

American Hippo by Sarah Gailey

Running with Lions by Julian Winters

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

Those are the books I want to read this month for Pride. I'm always up for more recommendations if you have them! Just leave them in the comments!

Are you reading any queer books for Pride?

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