May 2020 — Netgalley Reads

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Dragon Consultant by Mell Eight

A cutesy novella — it is barely 100 pages long — that features two very hot guys secretly crushing on each other and a bucketful of dragon-lings! It was a very quick read for me and I had no problems connecting with the protagonists.

I would say that the lead couple does fall for each other too quickly. Deciding to take on a family of 5-6 kids isn’t a spur of the moment kinda thing, so maybe the story should have ended with them trying to date first, instead of just moving in.

Another thing that bugged me was that the POVs alternate between the two guys. So, readers get a lot of the same info from both sources. Maybe cut back on the repetition and use that word count to develop the relationship from an insta-love kind of thing to something more substantial?

That said, I’m really interested in finding out what these characters — and their kids — do next!

P.S. there are experiments being done on kids, so if reading that will bother you, you may wanna skip this one.

Cover of the book, Scarlet Gaze
by Foster Bridget Cassidy

Scarlet Gaze by Foster Bridget Cassidy

What I Liked

The system of magic because it sets itself apart from other similar books about youngsters going to an educational institution to learn it.

What I Didn’t Like

There wasn’t much of magic to see. It takes quite a lot of time for anything magical to happen.

The romance is cringe-worthy and forms the central plot of the story. Everything else, including the magic and urban fantasy elements exist only to further the romance. Moreover, it was very Stockholmish for me to like. The protagonist’s main squeeze lies and manipulates at every turn. Even knowing that summoning a demon killed almost got him killed the first time, the main character blindly gives in to every whim of his partner. And why is there so much of sex?

The unlikeliness of it all. How can a Headmaster let his buddingly evil son into a school of magic when they know he’ll summon a demon the next chance he gets? Why let him room with a student who will be studying magic? Why is the protagonist’s bestie about to risk his career for someone he just met several months ago? How is the protagonist giving up everything and going against his parents after meeting the guy who he knows will betray him? Where’s the character development? Where’s the challenge if the first person the protag runs into IS the one he’s searching for?

As evident, this wasn’t a good read for me!

Cover of the book, 55 Slightly Sinister Stories by Racha Mourtada

55 Slightly Sinister Stories: 55 Stories. 55 Words Each. No More. No Less. by Racha Mourtada, Lynn Atme 

The author sticks to 55 words to weave magical microfiction. Some of them make you laugh, others make you cringe. I liked them all. Accompanying the stories is an illustration — simple but suitably matched. The titles are quirky, such as Frankenstein Revisited, Bun in the Oven, Backseat Driver — don’t worry, you have to be there to find out what makes them quirky.

A short read that was made infinitely easier because of how the book is put together. If you’re offering an ASCM file, it should be formatted for easy reading #justsayin

Cover of the book, Happily Ever After & Everything In Between by Debbie Tung

Happily Ever After & Everything In Between by Debbie Tung

The art is so cute that you’ll find yourself flipping through until you realize the book has ended. This book includes various scenes that are familiar to married couples and presents them in a fun way.

The only reason I’m not rating it higher is because I had already seen many of the illustrations — or ones like them — before. It could also be that I’ve gone through them, which is why they were so familiar lol

That said, this is a cute, short read!

The cover of the book, Men to Avoid in Art and Life by Nicole Tersigni

Men to Avoid in Art and Life by Nicole Tersigni

Mansplainers, concern trolls, “comedians”, sexperts, and patronizers, beware. Those aren’t just the dregs of the male society; they’re also the names of the chapters in this funny short read. Classical art combined with the wit of a modern woman and captioned with those chapter names, what more could I have asked of this book?

The preface is a hoot. There’s also a glossary at the end that identifies the paintings reproduced in this book.

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Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know by Ian Haydn Smith, Kristelle Rodeia

Find my review here.

Cover of the book, NanoMorphosis by Marla L. Anderson

NanoMorphosis by Marla L. Anderson

What I Liked

The writing and the plot have a very vintage sci-fi feel to them — may be Heinlein or Simak. Since I enjoy reading the work of both those authors, I found this one to be an entertaining book too.

The worldbuilding is detailed and it describes the eternal fight between religion and technology well. Even the Bad Guy’s meteoric rise to power as the head of the most powerful religious organization is plausible — mostly.

What I Didn’t Like

Cookie cutter Bad Guy who rapes a woman after drugging her into paralysis and then infects her with nanobots. Finally, he kills her, and dumps her dismembered corpse down the garbage chute. Now, these are two separate things for me. Firstly, the Bad Guy is bad for classic villainy reasons — he has been rejected by the whole world. Very cliche and overdone.

Secondly, the rape scene is just a gateway to a whole lot of problematic writing. Even though most of it happens off-screen, readers get an eyeful of the violence involved. Why was it even needed in the book? Couldn’t the villain have proved how bad he was in some other way?

And the problem isn’t just limited to the villain’s character. We find the whole text peppered with cruelty towards females or female-like aliens. The protagonist — if we can call him that — is a horndog. He cannot come across a woman without wanting to do her. What separates him from a not-so minor other bad guy who likes to fuck helpless aliens and is an all-around huge rapist?

Now, let us look at the female characters. When we meet the trio of main characters, they are all experts in their field. Two guys — the Bad one and our protagonist — and a female scientist. They’re vying for the same position. Needless to say, our horndog protag wins the honor.

The next time we see the female scientist — I know, cringy to keep adding female every time but it’s needed for clarification — she’s married to the hero and has turned into a nagging shrew. Also, her husband keeps her at an arm’s length and she lets him? And he behaves like a toddler, i.e., throws tantrums when dealing with diplomats who could shut down his life’s mission, and she deals with the fallout.

But that’s not all. In the process of turning part-alien, she’s physically raped by the minor bad guy, is mentally incapacitated so the Bad Guy can rape her, and has sex with the protag when he’s in a drugged sleep. He thinks it was a dream because, god forbid, we think he raped a simian female alien who’s relearning everything, including how to walk.

And if you think that the plot might have required all that mistreatment of its female characters, she spends the second half of the book utterly naked — of which there’s literally no need. Even when dressed to impress the judiciary council when they return to Earth, her outfit leaves little to imagination.

So, while I found the book interesting, I had issues with the message it left me with.

And that’s how my May went with Netgalley reads. How was yours? P.S. find reviews from other months here.

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