Spoiler Free Review: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Title: Certain Dark Things

Author: Silvia Moreno Garcia

Pub. Date: September 7th 2021

Genre: Paranormal/Horror Noir

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 272 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

Originally published in 2016, Certain Dark Things was given a new cover and re-released last month. There’s been a recent resurgence of Vampires across all media and I for one was excited to see a story set in a Dystopian Mexico City. We meet Atl who is a descendant of Aztec blood drinkers as she’s on the run from rival vampires. She meets Domingo, a young garbage collector who has been living in the city streets for years. He is instantly mesmerized by her beauty and willing to let her feed off him to survive. Atl never hides her true nature and makes sure Domingo knows what he’s getting himself into. What she doesn’t count on is actually getting attached to Domingo and developing feelings for him. This world is gritty and violent, the vampires all self preserve by any means necessary while living alongside mortals. This is a short quick read that is very atmospheric and will please readers who enjoy neo-noir. Our main character is on the run all throughout this story with other vampires, criminals and cops on her trail. The body count is high with very little focus on the romance and an emphasis on the chase itself. If you happen to be a fan of animal companions, Atl has a genetically modified dog who is super overprotective of Atl and is described as being large in size with tattoos on the side of its face. All in all giving Atl a bad a** look and swag!

I’ve honestly enjoyed seeing the growth in writing while reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s books, each story speaks to the talent and unwillingness by this author to be boxed into any one specific genre. This story was a 3.5 star read for me which is still a solid rating, it’s just not my favorite of what I’ve read so far. I’ve heard it said that noir fic is known to focus more on the setting and that’s definitely the case here. The plot is very straight forward (more telling/less showing) which I didn’t mind but personally would’ve loved to see a little more world building to compensate. I would’ve gladly read a 400 page book set in this world which already had me invested in its characters. I’ve been making way through all of SMG’s book, Certain Dark Things (being one of her earlier works) has left me in awe of how much growth we get to see in each of the books that follow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a highly underrated author who will continue to break genre barriers! the one thing I can always count on is that I never know what to expect from this author but it’s guaranteed to be a solid read. 


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Review: Docile by K.M. Szpara

Title: DOCILE

Author: K.M. Szpara

Pub. Date: March 3rd 2020

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi/Dystopia/LGBTQIAP+

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 496 Pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLES | AMAZON

🖤ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤

Having heard so much about this Dystopian Sci-Fi & its heavier themes I was driven to request a eGalley from Tor. Thankfully the Book Gods delivered & I found myself flipping through digital pages faster than I have any book in quite some time. We get introduced to this society where the elite have found a way to settle debt & that is through a system of what can only be called sex slavery. Whether you owe mortgage payments, student loans, or bills there is a way to settle your debt & avoid being dragged away by the police. Marriage is down because debt is transferrable, therefore families with shared surnames are rare. We meet our MC Elisha whose parents have incurred enough debt to no longer be able to evade the authorities. His mother has settled some debt when she signed up & completed 10 years as a Docile. She’s never been the same since her time as a Docile because of the drug taken while under contract. Dociline is the invention of one of the MOST elite families & is promoted in order to make Dociles more submissive. Elisha decides he is going to take over the family debt & sign up to be a Docile. He plans on excerising his right to decline Dociline. Elisha had no idea he’d be signing to be Alexander Bishop the III’s Docile, the very man working on the next version of the drug Dociline. Nonetheless they enter a life long contract & Alexander sets out to prove that he can get Elisha to be a well behaved submissive. There are some very dark & heavy themes that play out in this book like consensual non-consent, rape, PTSD, verbal & physical abuse, attempted suicide & torture. This is a Sci-fi with BDSM featuring a male/male partnership of sorts.

Elisha Wilder – We don’t get much time with Elisha before he sets off to be a Docile so it’s pretty hard to form a picture of him other than he was very inexperienced. Elisha is Gay & at the time of signing up to be a Docile has not kissed or had sex with anyone. I had this feeling the entire time that Elisha was in way over his head & I honestly wanted to protect him. Elisha is very naive & experiences so much trauma it legit broke my heart.

Alexander Bishop III – Son to one of the MOST elite families & a Scientist who is always working on the next version of Dociline. Alex has some very big shoes to fill with his father at the helm of huge corporation. He’s a bachelor expected to marry soon if he is to be taken seriously. At the very least, he is to take on a companion or Docile to be seen in social circles with. The pressure is something that drives him to do things that don’t really match up with his authentic self. Regardless, Alex easily becomes my least favorite fictional character.

My experience with Docile at best can be described as a non-stop page turner I could NOT turn away from. Considering our MC has declined Dociline for personal reasons, we then have to see his rapid decline into total submission. This is to say that we see him broken down bit by bit until he’s this empty vessel. Elisha endures so much humiliation, torture & outright rape that it legit hurts your soul. Towards the midway point (as with almost any Dystopian story) we do get introduced to the opposition. By then however, Elisha is so far gone in submission that he’s absolutly petrified at the very notion of accepting help. He isn’t even aware that he needs the help being extended & at that, those offering also have questionable tactics. I truly felt Elisha was utterly alone all throughout & was hoping he’d get to take back his power by the end. Although we do get a version of this, the ending still left me feeling very uncomfortable. Overall, I’d say this book was unlike anything I’ve ever read & I’d probably give any future works a shot. If you’re looking for a compulsive read & are in the right headspace (please check out the content warnings), this is one Sc-Fi that will leave quite the impression.


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Spoiler Free Review: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèli Clark

Title: The Black God’s Drums

Author: P. Djèli Clark

Pub. Date: August 21st. 2018

Genre: Sci-Fi/Steampunk/Fantasy/Novella

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 110

Content Warnings: Death, Slavery, War themes, racism

Buddy Read: Mel from Meltotheany

GOODREADS | BARNES AND NOBLE | AMAZON 

🖤 ARC received in exchange for an honest review 🖤

    

Black God’s Drums takes place in a alternate New Orleans in the late 1800’s, two decades since a slave uprising against the Confederates which led to their freedom. The slaves & “Free Coloured Militias” joined forces against the Confederates in a all out war that resulted in New Orleans getting assistance from Haitian, British, and French airships. From this a Truce was signed & New Orleans was made a neutral and open port. Our MC Jaqueline aka Creeper roams the docks picking pockets in order to feed herself.

Image from Pinterest, not my own

Creeper is also blessed & chosen by the Goddess Oya, ruler of the winds. Oya is one of many Orisha aka Black Gods known to live among the people although they can’t be seen. Oya makes her presence known to Creeper in her own language & living in alignment with her sister God is key to living a less chaotic life. I love reading anything about the Orishas & seeing them come to life on the page really enhanced my reading experience. They weren’t in the background, one God/Goddess can recognize when another human comes with another Orisha link and since the Orishas themselves have history, it doesn’t always make for a pleasant experience. One thing is for certain though, the Orishas want to help these people and they don’t want to see New Orleans succumb to terror & war at the hands of the Confederates or any other group of people who can’t accept emancipation.

Always silently sneaking in & out of places, trading in secrets for her survival, Creeper does stumble across some information that put New Orleans in danger. Her path crosses with Ann-Marie, a female lesbian Captain with a disability who Creeper thinks would be interested in buying said secret. Ann-Marie is a Privateer who ships cargo…well she also has a side job helping “General Tubman” smuggling slaves out and helping with the war against the Confederates. This makes Ann-Marie the ideal person to sell this secret to. Of course Ann-Marie is far from naive & decides she’s going to need to hear it from the horses mouth. Thus begins Creeper & Ann-Marie’s journey to uncover the threat hanging over New Orleans.

The Characters we meet along the way made me wish so hard for this to be turned into a full length novel! How can I get so attached to them in so little time?!?! Maybe because just like New Orleans, they come full of personality & life 🖤 I giggled a few times when we met the Nuns who know EVERYTHING & do a bit more than pray for New Orleans. We get a bit of alchemy in the mix that left me giving these characters a nod cause I really didn’t know what to expect.

My only grievance if that, would be that this book really deserves to be a full length novel 🖤 Clark fleshed out these characters so well they are still fresh in my mind a month after having read the last page. The world building had me in its clutches cause who doesn’t love airships, lesbian captains, Black Gods/Godesses and a all black main cast of characters?!?! I need more 🤗 & cannot stress enough how important it is to get these Own Voices diverse stories  🖤


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July Wrap Up

Hello Bookworms! It’s the start of the weekend for me & on the agenda is getting some reviews posted here on the blog. I had one of the MOST fun reading months in July & pretty much picked up one book after another with no brakes. I also participated in  #Smutathon & read some awesome Contemporary titles, special thanks goes to Melanie for keeping us on track with them buddy reads haha! ❤ I also found myself reading books that I’d typically pick up in the Fall & I think that’s just my subconscious prepping for the season of warm sweaters, colorful leaves, and hot tea *bring it* In the month of July I truly tried to read whatever my heart desired seeing as the rest of the year is pretty booked with new ARCS & releases I have on deck to review. Looking down at my collage of book covers I’m smiling seeing the variety so this is one happily satisfied bookworm!

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart 3 STARS I really enjoyed this tale of two sisters switching places however I ended up being interested & invested in one sister more than the other. There were some pacing issues however, the ending is soOo promising of what’s to come & I am definitely going to p/u the sequel to this duology.

The King Of Bourbon Street by Thea De Salle– 4.5 STARS✨ (RTC) This is the first Naughty read on Lair Of Books & I could NOT be more happier with it! well…I could have been hype as all hell had it been a plus sized gal up on the cover but more to come on that in my review. This was steamy & all around AMAZING with body positivity (except for the cover) & LGBTQIAP+ Rep. I look forward to continuing on with the rest of this series 😉

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory 4 STARSA Contemporary with important topics woven into the story. I LOVE the female MC however I wasn’t fond of the male interest, his attitude towards women left much to be desired. 

Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu ✨5 STARS✨ (Mini RTC) This has to be the cutest web comic turned Graphic Novel EVER! well it’s the first I’ve read & has me officially HOOKED! I debated on whether to give this 4 stars cause I really wanted more of the romance but then again the friendships REALLY are AMAZING! Bitty stole my heart with his pie baking skills & I just need more of his college experience & Vlogs 💓

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton5 STARS✨ (RTC) A Pleasant & unexpected surprise this was! I thought I’d be creeped the heck out by Strange Grace but instead I ended up being entranced by this dark and beautifully written Polyamorous read. More thoughts to come in my review next week 🖤

Scream All Night by Derek Milman4 STARS✨ Quirky, odd, sad, and a times very funny all rolled into one is what I described this one as in my review. Scream All Night feature a MC who has had to emancipate himself at the age of 12 in order to get away from an abusive father. Now 17, Dario returns to the castle/studio where the worse of his memories still reside in order to be present for his father’s last wishes. This one read very different that anything I’ve ever read & it worked, I was engaged all throughout & enamored by Moldavia studios and its inhabitants 🖤

Josh and Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren4 STARS✨ (RTC)  There’s so much to love in this story! from the Korean culture we get from Josh to the fierce independence we see in Hazel. I had SO MUCH fun reading this & found myself falling in love with their love story, easily one of the best I’ve read!  More thoughts to come next week 🖤

The Black God’s Drum by P. Djèlí Clark 5 STARS✨ (RTC) I just need this to be made into a full length novel cause it absolutely left me wanting more from this world. Most intriguing is how I managed to get so interested & invested in these characters in such a short period of time since this is a novella but I did! If you enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone for its Orisha aspects then this is a MUST read 😉

I think it’s safe to say now that you’ll be seeing quite a few reviews start to trickle out here on Lair Of Books 😂 they are for the most part ARCS that are set to be published in September. Since I was on a roll with my reading, everything else pretty much took a back seat & that includes TV & Netflix. I did however go on a date with hubby & we watched…

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Paul Rudd & Evangeline Lilly were the PERFECT duo on the screen! Where Scott/Ant-Man fell short, Hope/The Wasp more than made up. Action packed scenes infused with the ol’ Wasp humor, enhanced suits, and old friends = a VERY good time!  I rated this one 5 STARS!

 

 


Hope you’re all having a FAB August! It’s setting up to be an exciting month for me with my first vacation in over 10 years! LOOOOOONG overdue but oh how sweet it will feel taking that ride on the Hogwarts Express?!?! 😱😱😱 I know I’m a bit late with this wrap-up so instead I’ll end this by asking, what books are on your night stand? 💓


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