Bites From Our Backlist– More Than They Appear Edition

Posted May 14, 2020 by stuckint in Bites From Our Backlist, Features / 0 Comments

Hi everyone and welcome back to another Bites From Out Backlist where we share reviews of books whose release dates have already passed us by.

Hollow by Rhonda Parrish

Bites From Our Backlist– More Than They Appear EditionHollow by Rhonda Parrish
on March 24, 2020
Goodreads
four-stars

A car accident shattered sixteen-year-old Morgan's family. Now her brother’s dead, her mom's paralyzed in more ways than one, her dad lives at work and her seven-year-old sister Amy tries too freaking hard to salvage everything. What’s more, high school is its own special kind of hell, where her ex-boyfriend delights in spreading rumors that shred her reputation and make her feel like a loser.
When she finds an old camera in a creepy abandoned hospital, it seems like her luck is finally changing. And it is changing--from bad to worse. Because of course it is. Each time Morgan photographs one of her classmates they become corrupted versions of themselves. It's like the camera steals their goodness, their essence, and leaves them hollow.
Then her sister uses the camera to take a selfie.
No matter what the cost, Morgan will find a way to reverse the effects of the cursed camera and save Amy, before her already-fractured family completely self-destructs.

Quick Take: Morgan is struggling following the feather of her younger brother in a tragic car accident that she blames for herself. When she discovers a camera with the ability to strip it’s subjects of their humanity Morgan’s life becomes a lot more complicated.

What I Loved: This book was so campus and fun. It seriously gave me RL Stine vibes (Say Cheese and Die anyone?). Morgan what a likeable, relatable character and had a lot more depth than I was anticipating for such a short novel. The book also treated a lot issues I wasn’t expecting including: sexual assault, domestic violence, death of a child, and depression.

What I Didn’t Love: Outside of Morgan, a lot of the characters felt a little flat and one dimensional with virtually no growth on the page. Since it was such a short book it didn’t bother me too much but it was still noticeable.

The Unsuitable by Molly Pohlig

Bites From Our Backlist– More Than They Appear EditionThe Unsuitable by Molly Pohlig
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on April 14, 2020
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-stars

A fierce blend of Gothic ghost story and Victorian novel of manners that’s also pitch perfect for our current cultural moment
Iseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her neck. Iseult’s father parades a host of unsuitable candidates before her, the majority of whom Iseult wastes no time frightening away. When at last her father finds a suitor desperate enough to take Iseult off his hands—a man whose medical treatments have turned his skin silver—a true comedy of errors ensues. As history’s least conventional courtship progresses into talk of marriage, Iseult’s mother becomes increasingly volatile and uncontrollable, and Iseult is forced to resort to extreme, often violent, measures to keep her in check.
As the day of the wedding nears, Iseult must decide whether (and how) to set the course of her life, with increasing interference from both her mother and father, tipping her ever closer to madness, and to an inevitable, devastating final act.

Quick Take: I would essentially describe this book as if Jane Austen wrote a horror novel. It’s as much about Iseult finding a husband as it is about her mental health struggles, particular her belief that her mother is alive and well in a growth on her neck. When her father promises her to a man whose skin genetically composed to be silver things get dark and quick.

What I Loved: There is so much body horror in this book and I adored it. I was not expecting it to get so violent or to end the way that it did but definitely kept me entertained as I tried to figure out whether Iseult was going completely crazy through the entire novel. Iseult goes to extremes to keep her mother (and at times her father) in line.

What I Didn’t Love: While I found Iseult’s trysts with numerous potential husband’s throughout the novel intriguing and, at times, darkly comedic, I was not expecting it to be as slow as it was. I really would have loved some more development between Iseult and silver skinned betrothed.

Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

Bites From Our Backlist– More Than They Appear EditionIncendiary (Hollow Crown, #1) by Zoraida Córdova
on April 28, 2020
Goodreads

I am Renata Convida.I have lived a hundred stolen lives.Now I live my own.
Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King's Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata's ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King's Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred--or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned "hollow" during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez's top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.
But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom--and end the war that has cost her everything.

Quick Take: Set in 15th century Spain the story follows Renata who is part of a rebel group trying to overthrow the government and protect a class targeted minorities known as the Moira. When the commander of the rebel group and Ranata’s dear friend Dez gets captured by the Sangrado Prince.

What I Loved: There is a lot to like here. Cordova creates an immersive world with rich prose and I enjoyed the infusion of Spanish culture throughout the story. I also thought the magic system was intriguing especially the idea of taking people’s memories and the consequences it had for both the users and those who the magic touched. I think there was a lot to unpack around social and political commentary and I will be interested to see how Cordova carries these themes throughout the trilogy.

What I Didn’t Love: At times the plot got confusing only because there was some mystery running through the book that resulted in a reveal at the end and so we, along with the narrator, we’re not privy to certain details and frequently I felt as if I had missed some thing important even though a lot of it was explained by the end of the book. It’s a little thing but it did detract some from my enjoyment of the book.

What About You?

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

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