Read Tales for Your Monkey’s Mind by Steve Michael Reedy for free on Kindle Unlimited!

Do you guys remember me raving about how cool these books are? How they literally change your perspective on life? Well, with this weekend’s launch of book two (which is awesome, by the way), both of the books are available to download for free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited! Don’t pass up this opportunity, especially if you haven’t used up your free trial yet. =D

Click here to see them on Amazon.

And the book website, along with a page long list of its awards:   http://monkeymindtales.com/

I wouldn’t be posting about this if I truly did not like them. Happy reading!

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Quiet Shy by Brandon L. Summers

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Ok, so I know what you’re thinking, but let me explain. While this cover screams self-published-unedited-made-in-MS-Paint, I’m telling you – it’s not. It’s an ARC request I got in my email, and I won’t lie, I was going to turn it down immediately just by looking at the attached cover photo (which kind of creeped me out to be honest) but I read the description and I was like huh, that actually sounds pretty interesting. Maybe I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

And I’m kinda glad I didn’t.

Alexandria Fix hates her job as an archaeologist for a renowned institute as it keeps her away from her sensitive wife, Quiet Shy, who comes from the future of an alternate reality. The sentiment only intensifies when Alex’s life becomes entangled with the pursuits of an evil cult of robots.

First of all – an f/f couple always has my attention. We just don’t have enough of these kinds of books in the mainstream. Oh wait – we don’t have ANY of these kinds of book in the mainstream. Most authors rely on queer-specific small presses to publish f/f scifi/fantasy. There’s plenty of gay erotica out there, but just your normal, run of the mill f/f relationship with magic or spaceships? Nope.

Aaaaaaanyway, this book. I have to say, it was extremely unpredictable. When I thought one thing was going to happen, the complete opposite did. When I expected a certain event, something else took its place. The scifi is layered very strongly, a futuristic world with cool tech and robots and lasers. It left a lot on the reader to pull it all together, but I don’t mind using my imagination a bit. It makes the story partly mine, in a way.

The relationship between Alex and Shy was very sweet. Veeeerrryyyyyy sweet, bordering on cheesy. If you’re looking for a lot of ‘sweetie’ and ‘you’re so beautiful’ and ‘I love you so much’ in every conversation, then this is the book for you. There’s intimacy, though not super graphic, and plenty of talk about wanting to be intimate and how sexy their bodies are, to the point where it’s like we get it, she’s curvy and has ample breasts. I did like that their relationship was portrayed as strong and unapologetic, and they know exactly what they want. It was nice to see two women so utterly in love, without the guilt.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It was different from anything I’ve ever read before, and I think there are plenty of people out there who would love to read about a wholesome f/f relationship with robots and aliens.

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

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A modern Russian fairy-tale retelling about Baba Yaga and Vassilissa? There was no way I wasn’t going to buy this. Everything about it screamed PLEASE READ ME and I started reading it immediately.

That was three weeks ago, and I just finished it today.

The thing is, it wasn’t too long or too boring. It was just so beautifully written, so abstract, that my brain got too tired from just trying to imagine all the things this book shows us.

If you’re a writer trying to improve your prose, this book should be considered a manual.

Let me tell you, Russians LOVE to be abstract. They love metaphors that don’t actually mean anything, that can’t really be seen but envisioned, things that sound beautiful just to sound beautiful. This book did an amazing job at conveying that, and I cannot begin to describe the talent I am so insanely jealous of that can write that way.

The story itself had a very interesting premise, and was executed…fairly well. I say it like that because there were many points that felt so out of place I couldn’t help but go ‘this doesn’t make any sense!’. Not at the bizarre magics of Baba Yaga’s ‘store’. Not at the explanations of Night and night and the pieces of it. Not even, at any of the characters’ motivations or actions. I got all that.

What I didn’t get was the point of half the characters’ existences, aside from being there to move the plot that didn’t actually have anything to do with the plot. They were just…there. The random kid, the lawyers, even her father. Just…why? They felt so out of place that the whole thing became too muddled, and it didn’t start out that way. Vassa and Erg were great together. I loved the relationship between Vassa and her sisters. Babs and her henchmen? Perfect. And it should have stayed that way.

Another thing that really bothered me were the unnecessary splashes of romance. Vassa was weirdly attracted to our equivalent of Frankenstein. She’s 16 and he’s literally a giant monster-doll-thing she can’t talk to or see the face of and somehow she’s thinking of how she maybe like-likes him? And then Erg calls him her boyfriend? Where does that line of thinking come from? This isn’t Beauty and the Beast. He’s not wooing her. It was disturbing to say the least. It’s like the author wanted it to be more YA than MG and thought what better way to up the age group than add some romance. Ick.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, and I loved all the magic and description. If you’re looking for a lyrical but sassy tale of magical realism, this is the crème de la crème. Just be ready to ignore some weird stuff and not focus too much on the plot. Enjoy it for the beauty and the fun, and you won’t be disappointed.

Puss without Boots: A Puss in Boots Retelling by Shari L. Tapscott

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I have to say – what a cool cover!

And the name is intriguing to say the least. How many of us actually know the fairy-tale Puss in Boots? Growing up in Russia it was one of many French tales I enjoyed, and so I had to get this book.

It reminded me a lot of the Faerie Tale Collection Series by Jenni James. Cute and feel-good with insta-love and magic and just all those sweet and wonderful things fairy tales should be. It was gender-swapped with a few twists along the way, and I enjoyed reading it, wondering what would happen.

There were quite a few things that felt incomplete, like the point of Puss’s boots. I feel like if the author took just a little more time to think through the plot, it could have been a really great book. For a quick novella it was a fun read, but it left me wishing for more explanations, more development. A worthwhile between-books filler, well written and cute, but not quite satisfying.

The End of Oz (Dorothy must die) by Danielle Paige

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Finally! I’ve been waiting to read this book for MONTHS. To finally find out what happens to Amy and Dorothy, to the witches and the fairies, to the Nome King and of course Oz itself.

I have to say I am thoroughly satisfied with this series. It felt more like a TV show of episodes than a book series, with cliffhanger endings and little resolution, but that’s not a bad thing. I enjoyed every single one of them and the story, while over, is still open for us to imagine more.

But, back to this book. If you’ve read the others in the series, you’d be surprised to find yourself reading parts from Dorothy’s POV. It definitely raised my eyebrow. I have to say, though, I really liked her conniving ways, and wish we saw her voice in the earlier books. I’m sure it was something Paige realized too late, but I’m glad she decided to go for it anyway.

I enjoyed getting to know a whole new world. Ev felt like a sexy secret vampire lair type world below while also being a Mad Max type of world above. The imagination behind this writing is incredible. Every creature seemed thought out and beautiful and terrifying. The smallest details bring them to life. I’ve never read books that put that much thought into the scenery and its denizens while not making it feel too descriptive.

Overall, a great series, and one I’m happy to finally complete. The books are short but each one brings something to the table. I truly wish to see this made into a movie.

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

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Ok, so I know this is going to sound horrible, but I almost didn’t pick this up because of the cover. It’s really creepy and I’m taken aback every time I see it.

But, I enjoyed The Selection and the premise of this novel was everything I love in a guilty pleasure sort of way. A royal girl pretends to be a maid to avoid an arranged marriage and escapes to a place far away? Yes please.

And I loved it. I loved it so much, in fact, I’m going to pick up the next one. I loved that it broke away from the romantic couple only accepting love at the end Beauty and Beast style trope. I loved that we actually saw characters transform throughout it. And there is so much more to find out. So many intriguing details I can’t wait to sift through.

It’s a fairy-tale but without magic, which I wasn’t expecting since it was compared to The Selection. I really have nothing to criticize, it was that good for me! Now if only one came out with an F/F and I’d be in heaven.

Overall, a great book if you’re into this sort of thing like I am.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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I’m not going to lie, the main reason I got this book is because I saw a bunch of people say it had great f/f bi representation. I’m more into traditional fantasy versus modern, but I still put it on my list, and finally got the chance to read it.

And it was…good. At least that’s how I would describe my feelings after finishing it. I’ll go into more depth here.

First off, it had an amazing diverse cast. Alex’s family reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys’ Blue’s family (which was my favorite thing about that series) but they weren’t your typical white witches. The entire book seeped that Latin American vibe and I LOVED it. I felt like I was immersed in that world, and not once did I see the characters as default-white.

Speaking of the world, oh my Dios, Los Lagos was incredible. It’s no surprise this was picked up for a movie. People compare it to Alice in Wonderland but I disagree. To me it’s more like OZ. There are witches and fairies and everything is alive and filled with magic but not insane or silly magic – real and dangerous and sorrowful. They aren’t mad, they’re surviving.

So then, what, might you ask, is the problem?

There is no problem. It was written well, the bi-love-triangle-that-wasn’t-really-a-love-triangle was fairly well done, and it paced itself perfectly well and wrapped up perfectly well. I liked the characters, there were some twists I didn’t see coming, and overall I enjoyed it.

So, once again, why did it take me a month longer that it should have to finish? I kept putting it down to do other things. At first I couldn’t figure out why. And then I did.

It was that the whole thing felt like a Pixar movie. Somehow, the way it was written, with its little sweet interactions and Alex’s innocence and the darkness and evil and death being so surreal that I saw it in my head like a beautiful animated film. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. I love Pixar movies. They have that darkness while still giving us hope and love and a happy ending. This book was about family and self acceptance, and that’s wonderful, but Alex could have been 13 and it would have still been completely appropriate. Actually, I think it would have been better. Made her a stronger character.

A lot of reviewers are saying they thought it wasn’t intense enough so they didn’t feel scared for the characters, but I think it’s actually that it was too intense. Every corner was life or death, every vision a mirage, every escape deemed impossible. The explanation of ‘magic’ just wasn’t enough to make up for the sheer amount of running and fighting and bleeding and still being able to give more. It was, as I said earlier, surreal, thus taking it into a whole new territory. Still, it’s not a -bad- thing. It’s how this book was laid out and it was great. I just think many of us readers couldn’t relate to the darkness because it’s too cartoony in a way.

All in all, a great story that would make a great Pixar animated film, but I think the target audience is middle grade/teen, not young adult+.