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Book Review: Blood Flow by David A. Hill Jr.

Book Review: Blood Flow by David A. Hill Jr.

“Damn it, Dylan. No, no, no. Killing people is wrong, even if they have a Freebird ringtone.” -Hill

The links below will take you to Amazon.com. Disclosure: LiteratureLynx is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This adds no additional cost to you.

Blood Flow by David A. Hill Jr.

Cover blurb (from Amazon): “Vampire democracy sucks. Literally. When it’s one vamp, one vote, the worst monsters can swing elections by turning random people off the streets into new vampires. Dylan is one of those random people. The power players in the city want his vote, but he just wants to be left the hell alone. Most of all, he wants to stop murdering people. That’s easier than it sounds when some people are seriously asking for it. Dylan’s life as a vampire is gross, terrifying, disgusting, frustrating, sexy, painful, and that’s all just in the first night out.”

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I received a free copy of ‘Blood Flow’ in exchange for an honest review. For more information, please see my review policy page.

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What I liked:

‘Blood Flow’ isn’t your typical urban fantasy. It’s a little grittier, a little rougher. It was awesome.

The main story line is interesting, but for me, the real strength of this novel was in it’s social commentary. Discussions about vampire lineage are interspersed with “Netflix and chill.” Hill touches on internet trolls, harassment of female gamers and police racism. There’s a discussion about cultural appropriation, and misjudging someone’s ethnicity. If you want a simple supernatural story, I can see where that might be a bit much. For my reading preferences, it was ideal. There was action and gore, as you’d expect in a vampire novel, but there’s also real-life issues.

‘Blood Flow’ is also genuinely funny. The humor can be pretty dark, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also really liked the fact that Dylan just rolls with everything. He doesn’t spend half the book agonizing about losing his humanity, or fighting his new supernatural reality. It just is what it is, and he moves forward from there.

What I didn’t like:

It took me a little while to adjust to Hill’s writing style. He doesn’t mince words, and he doesn’t spend a ton of time on descriptions. The writing is choppy and staccato, which isn’t a bad thing, just something to adjust to.

I did find myself a bit confused by the last few chapters. Up until that point, the world building and supernatural elements were pretty well laid out. Towards the end of the book, things started to feel rushed and less clear. The book ends on a huge cliffhanger, and if there’s ever a sequel, I definitely want to read it.

Would I recommend this book?

Tentatively, yes. It would depend on how well I know you.

**Spoiler alert/sensitive content warning** ‘Blood Flow’ includes violence, sex (both consensual and not), and fairly gory descriptions of bodily fluids. I found it especially interesting that the non-consensual sexual encounter (a rape) is quickly followed by a scene where a partner literally says “consider this enthusiastic consent.” A warning, though: the reader is present for the sexual assault scene. I also think it’s important to point out that in the rape scene, both people involved are male. Male/male rape is a topic that should be addressed more frequently than it currently is.**

Additional thoughts:

I deeply appreciate the diversity in ‘Blood Flow.’ Not only is the main character Latino, he’s also bisexual. How often do we get to see LGBTQ+ POC characters? The majority of the supporting characters are also POC. I thought the discussions of racial issues were well done. They sounded authentic to the way people actually talk. That is, it didn’t sound like a lecture to the reader in the middle of the story. Dylan gently corrects people when they make a mistake (like assuming he isn’t Mexican).

**Spoilers** Another sub-plot involves a young black man who is murdered by police. This story line becomes folded into everything else, but I was satisfied with it’s conclusion.**

I really, really enjoyed this book. ‘Blood Flow’ won’t appeal to everyone. It’s definitely not a sparkly-vampires-in-love type of book. It doesn’t shy away from blood, trauma or social justice issues. For me, it was the perfect combination. I’d love to read more from this author, and I’d love to see a sequel.

Mini Book Review: Shadow Fall by Seressia Glass

Mini Book Review: Shadow Fall by Seressia Glass

** ‘Shadow Fall’ is book 3 of a series, and will contain spoilers for book 1 and 2**

The links below will take you to Amazon.com. Disclosure: LiteratureLynx is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This adds no additional cost to you.

Shadow Fall by Seressia Glass

Cover blurb (taken from Amazon): “Kira Solomon’s life has never been simple. Battling against the Fallen, serving the Egyptian goddess Ma’at, becoming romantically involved with a 4,000-year-old Nubian warrior—these are now everyday realities. But something is changing. Kira’s magic is becoming dangerously unpredictable, tainted by the Shadow she has been trained to destroy.

Matters grow worse when an Atlanta museum exhibit based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead turns out to have truly sinister properties. As the body count rises, even long-trusted allies start to turn against Kira. She can hardly blame them—not when the God of Chaos is stalking her dreams and the shocking truth about her origins is finally coming to light. As one of the good guys, Kira was a force to be reckoned with. But if the only way to stop a terrifying adversary is to fight Shadow with Shadow, then she’s ready to find out just how very bad she can be. . . .”

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Today’s review will be short and sweet.

‘Shadow Fall’ is the third book in the ‘Shadowchasers’ series. I wrote full reviews for book 1, ‘Shadow Blade‘ and book 2, ‘Shadow Chase’. With that in mind, a full review doesn’t seem as necessary. Instead, I’ll give you the quick overview.

The things I like about this series remain true. The cast is diverse and the Egyptian mythology is awesome. Kira and Khefar’s relationship continues to grow, and I’m happy with the arc of their love story.

‘Shadow Fall’ introduces some new supporting characters, including Turkish pterodactyl-like creatures and a pack of were-hyenas. I enjoyed both of these additions, but I did miss some of the old characters. This installment focuses a lot on Kira facing her own demons. Part of that struggle is the removal of her previous support systems. I understand that choice from a storytelling standpoint, but I missed Anansi (my favorite supporting character from ‘Shadow Blade’ and ‘Shadow Chase’).

Gender and power play interesting roles in this book. Women fill almost every leadership position. The were-hyenas take this to an extreme that we don’t often see in literature. In real life, hyenas have an uncommon matriarchal system. The females control status and resources, leaving the males to endure frequent abuse. **Sensitive content warning: in the context of the book, this translates to a backstory about female rapists and abusers. I appreciate the fact that Glass was willing to discuss this.**

I liked this addition to the series, but it sounds like I’ll be waiting a while for the next one. ‘Shadow Fall’ was published in 2011, and there is still no release date for book 4, ‘Shadow Hunt.’

Book Review: The Thieves of Nottica by Ash Gray

Book Review: The Thieves of Nottica by Ash Gray

“‘What if humans can’t change… what if humans are doomed to stay just they way they are, bullyin’ everyone else?'” -Gray

The links below will take you to Amazon.com. Disclosure: LiteratureLynx is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This adds no additional cost to you.

The Thieves of Nottica by Ash Gray

The Thieves of Nottica: airships, welding goggles, and really big mechanical frogs by [Gray, Ash]

Cover blurb: “In a world where humans are evil, invading aliens and robots are slaves, Rigg is the youngest member of the Keymasters, a band of professional thieves who use their skills to defy an overbearing government known as the Hand. It is a world full of pollution, intrusive surveillance cameras, and injustice, where any who “give the finger to the Hand” are punished with death. The Keymasters are hired to steal a highly sought after treasure, but when one of their number is lost during the job, they find themselves the tools in a power play for said treasure — a mysterious lockbox that no one can open. To ultimately survive in the end, the Keymasters must battle their way through mechanical monsters, airships, and politics, literally going through shit (they travel through a sewage pipe) to make it out alive.” (taken from Amazon)

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If you (like me) are looking for more diversity in the SF/F genre, I think I’ve found something you’ll be interested in. ‘The Thieves of Nottica’ is a dystopian action/adventure story and the main characters are all female (or non-binary), non-white, non-heterosexual, and they each have their own physical and psychological challenges.

Um… HELL YES!

Generally, steam-punk isn’t really my thing, but after learning a little more about the characters, I was willing to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.

I don’t even know where to start. There are so many pieces I want to talk about, but I also don’t want to spoil anything.

Let’s start with the characters themselves. As I mentioned above, they are not the “typical” fantasy heroines, which was so, so refreshing. Each of the main characters is multi-dimensional, and throughout the book the Keymasters confront different prejudices and struggles.

**Minor spoilers about character development: As an example: Rigg, the main character, is a bisexual shape-shifting demon. Morganith, another Keymaster, is an intersexual alcoholic with a mechanical arm. The characters were unlike anything else I’ve read, in the best possible way.**

This is a very philosophy-heavy book. At different points in the story, the characters discuss gender and sexual fluidity, classism, racism, colonization, oppression and religion. It sounds like a lot, but it’s all built into the story in a way that makes sense, and feels authentic. In between those discussions, though, we have some shotgun-wielding, buzz-saw-staff bad-assery. I was happy with the pace of the book, but if you’re expecting 100% action, this book might feel unsatisfying.

The climactic conclusion played out much differently than I thought it would. It was equal parts frustrating and thought-provoking. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll simply say that the resolution felt true to character.

**Sensitive content warning: As always, I like to give a heads up about what to expect: sexual assault and rape do play a part in this story. Given the context and the world-building, I thought it was a legitimate addition. As readers, we don’t experience those events as they happen, but they’re relevant to the characters’ backgrounds. Gray does include a couple of “live” sex scenes, but they aren’t super long or drawn out, and those encounters are all totally consensual.**

It took me a little while to get into the groove with this book. It took a couple of chapters for me to really get hooked, but after that the story moves right along. This was the first e-book I’ve ever read, so I had to take frequent breaks, but if my eyes could have handled it, I think this would have been a one or two-sitting read.

I’d recommend ‘The Thieves of Nottica’ for anyone who enjoys SF/F or steampunk. Even if you aren’t in search of diversity, the story holds up on it’s own. If you are looking for diversity, though, ‘The Thieves of Nottica’ truly delivers.

Bonus: After reading ‘The Thieves of Nottica’, I had a chance to talk to the author a little bit, and get some behind-the-scenes insights. That interview will be up on Friday, April 7th. I also wanted to make it clear that despite contact with the author, I was not compensated in any way to write this review, monetarily or otherwise.

Currently, the book is available on Kindle Unlimited, or you can buy a physical copy.