Genre: Fantasy


Friday, March 16, 2018

Cute but Needs Work: How the Cowboy Was Won by Lori Wilde

Posted by 0 Comments

Cute but Needs Work: How the Cowboy Was Won by Lori Wilde
How the Cowboy Was Won
Lori Wilde
Series: Cupid, Texas
Genre: Adult, Retellings, Romance
Publication date: March 27th, 2018
by Avon

GoodreadsPurchase
Return to New York Times Bestselling Author Lori Wilde’s beloved town of Cupid, Texas, where wedding fever is in the air . . . and two best friends discover that sometimes the perfect match is standing right in front of you . . .

Ember Alzate is a fantastic matchmaker with one big problem: she can’t find the perfect mate for herself! Alzate family legend says that when she kisses “the One” she’ll hear a mysterious humming in her head. Well, Ember’s kissed a lot of guys and she’s never heard a thing. Now, instead of searching for herself, she vows to find her best friend, Ranger Lockhart, a bride. It’s clear this smart, sexy man just needs to meet the right gal.

Ranger’s returned home to Cupid with marriage on his mind, but he’s not interested in the parade of women Ember pushes under his nose. His thoughts keep returning to his best friend—with her combustible combination of curves and sass. No one compares to Ember, but what’s it going to take to convince her she’s the woman for him?
-A copy was provided by Avon for review-

When one of my mutuals pointed out How the Cowboy Was Won was an Emma retelling, I was all aboard. I adore Jane Austen novels and I especially adore retellings of them. I don’t think I’ve seen many literary Emma retellings so it’s amusing that this year, there are two on my TBR!

So. Anyway. I have a complicated relationship with this book. There are parts of it I really liked but there were a bunch of things that rubbed me the wrong way and I haven’t seen many reviews talking about some of the things that bothered me which makes me more inclined to be critical. I want issues to be talked about. SO. ANYWAY. I am going to start with the good stuff first and break this review down into pros and cons because I am a lister.

Pros

  • The romance has a slow buildup. Not necessarily because there aren’t sparks right off the bat, but because their feelings take sometime to build up and I LOVE IT. THE SLOW BURN IS REAL, PEOPLE.
  • Supportive couple. Ember and Ranger are ridiculously supportive of one another. As friends, as a couple. I love that even when there is jealousy, it is never ever ever about their successes and they are always there for one another. There is a lot of angst in this book but like regardless, Ember and Ranger are just REALLY GOOD FRIENDS and even better romantic partners.

In general, my positive experience reading this book was centered around how the romance was written. Lori Wilde did a really good job making me feel invested in the couple and their future. However, there were a bunch of cons that did impact my overall reading experience.

Cons

  • Our first intro to Ember centers how she felt ‘other’ growing up because she inherited her mother’s fair skin and red hair instead of her father’s Native American genes. I am sorry but what? I am pretty sure that in general, being white passing has benefitted her more often that not. Also in general, I feel like the author really portrays Ember’s Native American identity in a very stereotypical way and really only uses it in this exoticized, watered down way that just felt icky and disrespectful to me. There are more books in this series and maybe things are done differently in them but since this is the only book I’ve read in the series, it is the only one I can speak to.
  • There is ableist language in this book. Especially pertaining to Ranger’s various illnesses growing up. His younger self is referred to as an ‘invalid.’ Which is problematic on a number of levels. You can read more about why the word is hurtful here.
  • So the main plot of this book is that Ember is trying to find Ranger a wife with good social skills so he can get the job he wants and not have to move to New Zealand. In comes Dawn, his research partner and this is what Ember has to say about her. “Dawn knew his world. Had great social skills. She would be an asset to any man trying to climb the academic ladder.” (note that this quote was not taken from a final version of the book, only my review copy.) Excuse me????? Dawn does not exist to only be an asset to a man who wants to climb the academic ladder. She wants to climb the ladder too and as a woman in STEM, that ladder is gonna be much harder for her to climb than a man lacking in social skills. This really irked me because it just seemed to dismissive of women in STEM.

On a larger scale, some of my cons may seem minor but these things build up and I think they are worth addressing because they are indicative of larger problems. There is good to be had in this book and the romance will be sure to win over a number of readers, but I think these issues are important to keep in mind and I hope anyone who picks the book up will do just that.

2.5 Stars
2.5 Hot Espressos

To Be Savored, Not Devoured: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

To Be Savored, Not Devoured: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Posted by on 02/20/2018 • 2 Comments

Tess of the Road is not an easy book to read. At 544 pages it is long and those pages don’t fly by. In the traditional sense at least. Here is the thing about Tess though, it is a long book, it is winded and yet, I wouldn’t really have it any other way. The slowness can at times be exhausting but the book isn’t really about a big adventure that Tess takes. It’s about Tess’s character arc and her trauma. This book would NOT work if it was a speedy read you could flip through. It is a painful read but there is so //much// that Tess has internalized that it makes no sense if we could uncover her and her experience in a mere handful pages.

Tess is not…

Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

Posted by on 02/07/2018 • 0 Comments

I love middle grade novels and I love discovering new ones. As far as I can see, The Unicorn Quest is shaping up to be a major middle grade release this year and it synopsis sounded up right up my alley. The vaguely Narnia vibes along with unicorns sounded like it would be an enthralling read.

Here is what I can tell you. The Unicorn Quest is an adventure of the best kind. We get sucked into a new world from the get-go and like the MC, we kind of have to assimilate to the new world we find ourselves in. This is great because we experience the world alongside the MC which allows us to form a special bond with her but it also means that it takes…

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Posted by on 11/08/2017 • 11 Comments

I think there is this general conception that for a fantasy novel to be truly good, it needs to have about a 1,000,000 pages and at 304 pages, Beasts Made of Night is not a particularly long book. Do not and I repeat do NOT let that fool you. Tochi Onyebuchi packs a fucking punch in those 304 pages. World building? You got it. Adventure? You got it. A mother-fucking rebellion? YOU GOT IT. Beasts Made of Night isn’t just a great novel for fantasy readers but also for people too vary of the genre because of its reputation for long-winded novels that take lifetimes to get through.

Onyebuchi has a background in screenwriting and honestly, the high stakes and the quick pace of the novel really reflect this. For some people,…

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Posted by on 10/27/2017 • 2 Comments

Hey everyone! Welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. If you’re a fan of complex heroes & anti-heroes, this book should 110% be on your TBR. Today, we have Julie Dao on the blog talking about what she learned while writing FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS.

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is about a villain’s rise to power – or at least, Xifeng would be considered a villain in any other book where she wasn’t the star. Here, she is a dark and ambitious antiheroine who will let nothing stand in her way on the path to the throne!

As a result, the most common question I get is: was it hard writing such…

Jane, Unlimited by Kristen Cashore: 10 Awesome Umbrellas

Jane, Unlimited by Kristen Cashore: 10 Awesome Umbrellas

Posted by on 10/03/2017 • 5 Comments

Welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for Jane, Unlimited! In Jane, Unlimited, the MC is obsessed with making umbrellas and so I was inspired to do a post dedicated to some of the super cute umbrellas out there.

10 Awesome Umbrellas You Will Want to Own

1.

This cute one from Kate Spade. Those eyes are throwin all the shade at the rain for you.

2. 

I found this one for all your subtle rainbow needs. Also, can you imagine twirling that in the rain??? It seems like so much fun.

3. 

This one will let you embrace your inner Wednesday Addams and I think that’s fucking important.

4. 

I would highly suggest not looking at the prize tag on this one because there is a chance it’ll give you a heart attack. BUT….

Not the Persuasion Retelling My Heart Desires: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Not the Persuasion Retelling My Heart Desires: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Posted by on 08/24/2017 • 1 Comment

I’ve always regarded Persuasion as my favorite Jane Austen novel so when I heard about The One That Got Away, I was immediately intrigued. There is something about the angst of a second chance romance that always draws me in and I love seeing the various takes on the classic novel. I dove into The One That Got Away expecting to enjoy it and I am not sure I did? I am also not sure I didn’t.

Retellings don’t have to follow the original storyline word for word but in my opinion a good retelling is at least very aware of the word for word storyline and has a fun take on that story. I felt like The One That Got Away didn’t really do that? It’s biggest tribute to the novel was essentially…

The Princess Bride Meets The Emperor’s New Groove: The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry

The Princess Bride Meets The Emperor’s New Groove: The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry

Posted by on 07/27/2017 • 0 Comments

I feel like aesthetics for middle grade novels are fairly uncommon but The Emperor’s Ostrich is so laugh-out loud hilarious and really just lends itself to aesthetics. It’s got adventure, an unexpected romance (b/w a cow and an ostrich) & magic.

As the title of this post suggests, I believe that this book can best be described as The Princess Bride meets The Emperor’s New Groove. What happens when a spoilt man-child is on the verge of getting control of an entire empire? Why of course, he must be taught a lesson! Magic, mayhem and adventure ensue and a young dairy maid might be the answer to all. Basically, this book will make you LOL and draw you in for a ride. READ IT or give it to people who read middle grade. Seriously.