May 07, 2018

Matthew S. Cox: "A Beginner's Guide to Fangs"

Title: A Beginner's Guide to Fangs [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Vampire Innocent (2nd of ?? books)
Author: Matthew S. Cox [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2017
Age: 16+ [NA]
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Never a dull moment. Funny and quirky, but at the same time, deeper and more introspective than Book 1.
Cons: Fragmented in a series of vignettes that, more often than not, are only held together by the main character.
WARNING! Some explicit sex.
Will appeal to: Those who like a sassy but family-focused heroine caught between two worlds. Those who like vampires with a dose of fun.

Blurb: Two weeks after waking up as a vampire, Sarah’s doing okay, if you don’t count wicked mood swings, crushing guilt, and a pervasive sense of existential dread. On the upside, her family is adjusting to the new normal of supernatural in stride and she’s even testing the waters with a new guy. However, something’s changed with her best friend Ashley, who’s not acting at all like herself. To make matters worse, someone’s stalking Sarah. Formal entry into vampire society sends her down a dangerous path, right into the middle of a war between elders - that her sire started. All Sarah wants is some semblance of a normal unlife, but she finds herself stuck between two groups of angry vampires itching to spill blood…And they don’t care if it’s from her innocent family. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I was offered a review copy by the author, having previously reviewed other books by him and a couple of collections where two of his short stories were featured. This didn't affect my opinion about this novel.

As a whole, I did like this second installment of Sarah's story better than the first. On the one hand, this one is funnier (and much less gory), with a good dose of humour and witty remarks. On the other, what I thought A Nighttime of Forever lacked, ABGTF makes up for. Amidst the funny (and sometimes salacious) exchanges and situations, there's a lot more space for introspection and relationships, whether they involve family, friends/acquaintances or romantic interests. While Sarah's parents are still partly in denial (though they do their best to adjust), she muses on her situation - especially with regards to them and her siblings - and experiments a series of mood swings that apparently are the result of her new unlife coupled with the inherently messy phase of adolescence. Also, Sarah tries to navigate the vampire scene and the dating one, plus strikes an unlikely, but heartwarming friendship with the vampire equivalent of an outcast. And finally, she fights like a champ (though it's probably a bit of a stretch that, only two weeks into her undeath AND despite being an Innocent, she can hold her own so fiercely against much older and more experienced vampires). [...]


While Book 1 mainly dealt with Sarah's first reaction to waking up a vampire, her family and friends coming to terms with it, and her attempt to find closure (so to speak) with the incident that put her in that spot, this second installment is multifaceted and multiflavoured, which is both its strength and its weakness. We follow Sarah in a series of disjointed situations involving her family, her boyfriend, her friends, her enemies, her sire, her peers - you name it. While this add to variety and keeps boredom at large, sometimes it makes you feel like you're reading a series of short stories with the same lead, instead of a novel. Some characters are dropped for a whole lot of pages, then take center stage until they're kind of swept under the rug again. While Sarah is going on dates, her friends apparently don't even talk to her on the phone - while she's with them, we lose track of her love interest completely. And so on. Not one of the most jarring thing you can experience in a novel, but it was able to pull me out of the story at times.


Now, this is a "me" thing, and it won't probably mean much to most readers - especially since this is a NA series. When I accepted the first installment for review, I knew it didn't involve romance, if not (let's say) obliquely. And for romance, I ALSO mean sex. Or - in this case - I MAINLY mean sex. Because in this sequel, not only there's a lot of talk on the subject (things like getting aroused, etc.), but also a very explicit scene that, me being me, I was a bit uncomfortable with. It's a personal preference (or lack thereof), and as I say, it won't probably be an issue for anyone who decides to take a chance on this series knowing it's aimed at a more mature audience - but it detracted from my personal enjoyment (though I AM, definitely, mature audience enough...). I'm NOT saying that explicit sex in books is necessarily inappropriate - only that it's a bit awkward FOR ME to read it. I only mentioned it because there are other people like me out there, and (mainly) because it partly explains my rating. Then again, if you like vampires but feel a little jaded with their scene, this is a fresh take on them that I wholeheartedly recommend.

(P.S.: did you notice? my headings were all song titles this time 😊).

Note: I shelved this series as Afterlife because Sarah did actually die before she came back as a vampire, while for instance, the main character in the Thirst series by Christopher Pike doesn't. There are different takes on the vampire mythology, though technically they should all be undead...

For my "A Nighttime of Forever" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my review of Matthew S. Cox's book "Nine Candles of Deepest Black" (YA) click here.
For more Afterlife books click here.


  1. Don't worry, Roberta, I assure you that as a once 14-year-old (15?) who was just starting blogging and could tell when the author even IMPLIED sex that I was uncomfortable with... and made it totally clear it was inappropriate.

    Let's just say I cringe every time I think of that book like I do with my other posts. (I'll have you know I'm much more comfortable with it now, though I'm not reading any smexy books, I promise! I did get a review request for a "steamy" book the other day... Elena had a good laugh out of that one. 🤣)

    So in a nice little nutshell, IT'S OKAY, ROBERTA. WE STILL LOVE YOU.

    I'm glad A Beginner's Guide to Fangs is funny though - I like the title and was HOPING it would be funny (my eyes perk at funny titles, don't mind me). Not too keen on the novel sounding like a bunch of short stories rather than a novel though... 😅

    1. LOL, I'm so relieved people can love my old little self despite all her quirkiness. Or maybe right because of it?...

      Of course, marketing a "hot" book to a 14/15 year old blogger was just inappropriate. But there are so many authors who don't read our policies, so maybe it wasn't even intentional?

      Of course, it's not always an age thing. I just...would rather not go there. But the story as a whole was entertaining and fresh. My comment about a bunch of short stories might lead someone astray's just that there wasn't a single thread (or a couple, as it often happens in books), but a lot of them, and only a few were connected somehow.

    2. I mean, it was Graceling, but YA always has implied sex but doesn't directly say it with the explicitness that smexy novels have. *shrugs* They usually scurry around it but as a 14/15-year-old, I HAD THE BIRDS AND BEES TALK. At school, not from parents, but well. I'm sometimes a sharper tool in the shed.

    3. Quote: "YA always has implied sex but doesn't directly say it".
      That's one of the many reasons why I love YA. I don't know what it says about me, but oh well.

      Quote: "as a 14/15-year-old, I HAD THE BIRDS AND BEES TALK".
      LOL, I thought that was for MG kids...

  2. I haven't heard of this, but that's the point of your blog, right? <3

    I'm still mostly avoiding vampire books. After Twilight I jumped on that train and rode it for awhile. It was an obsession until it wasn't. I just haven't been in the mood for one!

    L @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. Haha, yes, that's the point. Also, this series is self-pubbed, though the author has many other ones in the works via Curiosity Quills Press. He decided to take a different route and experiment a little with this one.

      I know many readers have been burned out by the vampire trend. But it sounds like vamps are having a comeback now...I read somewhere that publishers are on the hunt for vampire books again. I'm not a fan of creatures in books - I only read the ones that sound promising as a whole, and more often than not, they're not straight-up fantasy - so I don't suffer from vampire burn-out, and I don't mind a vamp now and then, if there's more to the book than the vamps themselves. This particular series has a great family dynamic going for it, and the main character tries to adjust to her condition, plus have a "normal" life, which is an interesting (and funny) angle.

    2. I love books with wonderful family dynamics! It's one of the reasons I love the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. I want to BE in that family, lol.

      I think the last vampire book I read was Risen, but meh... Vampire Academy will ALWAYS be a go-to for me, though. I love the world Mead created and the characters are phenomenal. The movie wasn't too bad, but left out a lot of important information.

    3. I suppose that, when vampires were all the rage, a lot of books about them came out that were forgettable - or copycats. At least now the authors who center their books around vampires try to start fresh...

  3. I appreciate your honest and thorough review. I like the sound of the humor and wit, but I am totally with you on the explicit sex. When it gets to the point where it makes me uncomfortable, I skim or skip. For me, the best sex scenes are the ones that don’t need all the detail, less is more.

    1. I thought I was weird...what with being an adult and all, you know. It's nice to know that I'm not!

  4. "You sexy thing"

    lol I read so much sex that it doesn't even phase me now. But I don't necessarily read it or even pay attention to it though - if that makes sense. It's more about the relationship or plot for me. I like a good sex scene but they are rare lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. I get what you're saying. Usually, if one does pay a lot of attention to it, they read erotica, plain and simple.

      Since I don't usually read book where sex is an item, it's easy to make me uncomfortable LOL. This specific scene I'm talking is a bit explicit for ME - but I suppose it wouldn't even factor in for people who read (adult) romance.


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