2020 Book #43 – Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Title: Neon Gods
Author: Katee Robert
Date finished: 6/1/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Pages in book: 318
Stand alone or series: Dark Olympus series book #1
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

He was supposed to be a myth.
But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell…he was, quite simply, mine.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth…a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve heard a lot about this author from a couple of the podcasts that I listen to so I was excited to get the chance to read this new release. And not only that but it features stories around modern day Greek gods – which certainly peaks my interest. I thought the plot line was really interesting, especially with it being based on the various gods and their power struggles. The author did a good job of world building without making it overly complicated. I found it interesting that Amazon categorized this one as erotic fantasy – it was certainly steam but there was so much else going on in the book beyond the sex journey of the characters that I wouldn’t necessarily agree on it being in the erotica category. While I found the plot interesting, there were a few pieces of it that didn’t sit quite right with me. Specifically some pieces of the sexual evolution of the characters, it felt weird to have that as almost a sub plot while there was already so much else going on. And I thought it was weird that there was so much of the lore of Greek gods in there but no one expected that Hades and Persephone might end up together. That one I know I’m just reading too much into it but I couldn’t get it to make sense to me. I liked the book a lot and would recommend it, but I think there was some potential for it to be better and it just fell a tad short in certain areas for me personally.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #77 – The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

Title: The Code for Love and Heartbreak
Author: Jillian Cantor
Date finished: 10/25/20
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Pages in book: 215
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In this contemporary romcom retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma by USA TODAY bestselling author Jillian Cantor, there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

When math genius Emma and her coding club co-president, George, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born.

George disapproves of Emma’s idea of creating a matchmaking app, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other, and Emma’s own feelings defy any algorithm?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I was very interested in reading this book based on the description, and I haven’t read as much young adult lately. This book was the perfect amount of nerdy for me, I loved Emma’s character. I was a little worried it might end up being too angsty (young adult can be hit or miss for me), and while it was a little angst-ridden it was just a reasonable amount for me. I think part of the reason it worked so well is that Emma’s character is doesn’t connect to her emotions in the same way as others. She seemed like she might be autistic since she was very literal, didn’t really understand social interactions, and had trouble identifying emotions in others. I thought the author’s portrayal of her was really well done and genuine. I loved all the nerd talk with coding (which I’m not familiar with the terminology on but could still get in the spirit) and the competitiveness of the competition. The romance plot line was a bit of a miss for me but I know it was kind of following along the lines of a classic plot line.  It just felt confusing with the switch on who liked who all the time. The other characters in the book didn’t feel as fleshed out to me as they could have but I did really like to varied cast of characters. It was a cute read and I enjoyed it though I wouldn’t say it was my favorite. I’d still recommend it though – it was a good book!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book # 117 – Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

41l0bsfq7yl-_sx309_bo1204203200_Title: Vinegar Girl
Author: Anne Tyler
Date finished: 12/14/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: June 1, 2016
Pages in book: 240
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.
Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.
When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Kate Battista, a 29 year old woman who has gotten herself into something of a rut. After getting expelled from college, she moves back home with her father and her much younger sister Bunny. Kate ends up getting a job at a local preschool as an assistant and between that, taking care of her father’s household, and basically parenting Bunny, all of a sudden she realizes she’s 29 and has been stuck in the same routine for years. Really what wakes her up is a ridiculous idea that her father comes up with – for Kate to marry his research assistant, Pyotr, to keep him in the country. Pyotr’s visa is about to expire and Kate’ father is desperate to find a way to keep him so they can finish an important research project. At first Kate rejects this idea, thinking she deserves better, but as she spends more time considering Pyotr’s offer and the freedom it would afford her, Kate realizes this might be just the change she needs in her life.
Overall I liked this book. It was interesting how the book turned out, it didn’t end how I expected but I really enjoyed the ending. This book is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and since I haven’t read that one previously, I’d really love to read it now especially to see how parallel the story lines are. I did find Kate to be a hard character to connect with, I didn’t really understand why she put up with a lot of the things that she puts up with in the book but everything seems to work out ok in the end for her. Her cast of supporting characters (her father, Bunny, her aunt, etc) all seemed very self-absorbed and were only interested in what Kate was able to provide for them. It made for an interesting story though and I can feel Shakespeare’s influence in it even if I haven’t read this exact comedy of his before. This was an interesting book and was a fairly quick read, I would recommend it!

The bottom line: This was an interesting read, it was definitely different than my normal book choice. I think it would have been better if I had already read The Taming of the Shrew and could connect the stories. It was still a good read though, I would recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #4 – Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

61YzHNAgO-LTitle: Mirror Mirror
Author: Gregory Maguire
Date finished: 1/11/16
Genre: Fiction, Fairy tale retelling, historical fiction
Publisher: ReganBooks
Publication Date: September 28, 2004
Pages in book: 280
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author who re-imagined a darker, more dangerous Land of Oz in his New York Times bestselling series The Wicked Years, offers a brilliant reinvention of the timeless Snow White fairy tale: Mirror Mirror. Setting his story amid the cultural, political and artistic whirlwind of Renaissance Italy—and casting the notorious Lucrezia Borgia as the Evil Queen—Maguire and Mirror Mirror will enthrall a wide array of book lovers ranging from adult fans of Harry Potter to readers of the sophisticated stories of Angela Carter.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (January). Also, this book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Retelling” square, since this was a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale. I have been wanting to try reading something by Gregory Maguire for a while now since he has some popular books out and also because I loved loved loved Wicked the Musical (is based on his book Wicked). So I was pretty excited when this one was picked for book club. And while I’m still looking forward to reading the Wicked series, this retelling of Snow White just didn’t hit the spot for me.
This books tells the story of Bianca de Nevada, who lives at her home of Montefiore with her father Don Vicente. Vicente is sent on what is basically a wild goose chase by Cesare Borgia (real person) and Cesare’s sister, Lucrezia, promises to look after young Bianca. Bianca is only seven years old when her father leaves on his quest. Much of the political text of this book is based on what actually happened, which adds an interesting twist to the classic fairy tale.
Overall I feel weird about this book. It was really interesting and I liked pieces of it but it was a pretty dark story, more like Grimm’s fairy tales than the ones I’m used to. Also there was a lot of weird sexual stuff going on, lots of incest. Its hard for me to say that I liked or didn’t like this one, really it was interesting but it made me feel weird and also sad is the summation of how I felt about the book.

The bottom line: If you’re into dark fairy tales then you’d probably enjoy this. It was a little too freaky for my tastes but I have to admit it was a creative and interesting retelling of Snow White’s story. Seemed less like a fairy tale and more just like a regular fantasy novel.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page