asexual · book review · Books · mogai · Uncategorized

Book Review: Perfect Rhythm by Jae

This past week, October 22-28, was asexual awareness week.

Asexual Awareness Week is an international campaign that seeks to educate about asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and grey-asexual experiences and to create materials that are accessible to our community and our allies around the world.

Asexuality is not a widely known orientation so when I realized Holly Drummond in Perfect Rhythm identifies as ace, I was absolutely thrilled. And a little worried.

 

51hkkc5gpul-_sy346_Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri hometown.

In her childhood home, she meets small-town nurse Holly Drummond, who isn’t impressed by Leo’s fame at all. That isn’t the only thing that makes Holly different from other women. She’s also asexual. For her, dating is a minefield of expectations that she has decided to avoid.

Can the tentative friendship between a burned-out pop star and a woman not interested in sex develop into something more despite their diverse expectations?

A lesbian romance about seeking the perfect rhythm between two very different people—and finding happiness where they least expect it.

Thankfully, I didn’t need to be. Jae is a fantastic writer and I’m so glad I grabbed this book. I saw a promo for in on Tumblr and the mention of a lesbian from my home state of Missouri piqued my interest. Granted, I’d never read contemporary f/f before and I wasn’t certain what to expect.

What I got was a lovely, blossoming relationship between two amazing women. When I first started I braced myself, unsure if I’d be able to connect with Leo Blake, the main protagonist. I needn’t have worried. She is wonderfully down to earth and relatable for a pop star. She’s stubborn and full of pride but not so much that she won’t admit mistakes or try her best to rectify things that have gone wrong.

While I love Leo, Holly was the one I really connected with for obvious reasons. I really appreciated how Jae handled Holly’s asexuality, including being frank about how pressured we can feel in relationships.

So many parts of this book hit home for me and not just the setting. It was refreshing to read a story where the asexual character wasn’t ‘fixed’ by having sex or ever pressured into the act at all. I also greatly appreciated the content warning before the chapter that had a sex scene in it.

All the characters were wonderfully fleshed out and made the whole journey with Leo and Holly that much more interesting. I loved having plenty of time to get to know them. I know a lot of people call this a ‘slow burn’ romance, but it is still fast-paced by my standards. xD

Overall, I delighted in reading this book. It was thoughtful, funny and moving.

book review · Books · gay romance · lgbt · mogai

Book Review: Seer’s Stone by Holly Evans

October is my month to read and plan for NaNoWriMo. It’s a good way for me to get through my TBR pile … if it quit growing. Anyway, I decided to kick the month off with the brand new release Seers Stone by Holly Evans. Part of the Ink Born world, it is full of fun and magic.  Here is the official blurb:

My name’s Kaitlyn Felis, and I’m a treasure-hunting alchemist.
51nauuwe29lI was given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for a mysterious elf called Fein Thyrin. Not only did he give me my dream alchemy lab, one that came with a beautiful part-nymph assistant (she’ll be the end of me, in the best possible way) he’s also hired me as his personal treasure-hunter. To say I was excited is a drastic understatement.

First on my treasure-hunting list? The Seers Stone – it’s a thing of legends, and I’m going to be the first hunter to get my hands on it.

Seers Stone stars Kaitlyn Felis, a fun, feisty, flirty heroine who I quickly fell in love with. Her companion will’o-the-whisp, Wispy, is adorable and adds just the right touch of humor when things are getting a bit dicey. And they do indeed get dicey at points. Kaitlyn might be an alchemist but she also craves adventure and treasure hunting is the perfect outlet for that. While most of the time I find characters like her grating, she was amazingly well grounded and not above calling herself out on her own bullshit. Something I’ve come to love about Holly’s writing is the fact that her protagonists are allowed to make mistakes and be assholes, but they also acknowledge where they went wrong when the time comes.

I will also say that typically I don’t care for characters who sleep around. Mostly because of personal reasons. I’m demisexual and the thought of sleeping with someone I’ve just met is both baffling and terrifying. But this felt so much different. Kaitlyn is all about adventure and trying new things, and sex is just another component of that. It helped that encounters didn’t feel forced and the scenes were sweet and emotion-focused rather than your typical blow-by-blow erotica (don’t get me wrong, I love those too, when in the right place).

It was great to see Tyn again as well as a couple other familiar faces. As always Evans took us to some spectacular places as well as some rather creepy/depressing areas. It’s nice to see such a well-rounded world. Yes, there is wonderful beautiful magic, but there is also a rather dismal and terrifying underbelly as well. And magic definitely has its cost.

Overall, this was a fun, fast-paced read and I’m very much looking forward to more of Kaitlyn.

 

Limited Print Edition of Masquerade

Get your very own limited edition print copy of Masquerade.

$10.00

book review · Books · lgbt

Book Review: Blood & Ink by Holly Evans

51n2bwvpdrilIt has been quite a while since I’ve read urban fantasy yet this past month I’ve seemingly been on a UF kick.  While it’s not high on my list of go-to genre’s (mostly due to lack of MOGAI representation) I have enjoyed it in the past. Which is what makes Evans’ book all that much more fun to me.

When I picked up Stolen Ink a few weeks ago, I had no idea what to expect and found myself completely wrapped up in the story and characters. I read nearly the entire thing in one sitting. Thankfully, I’d had the forethought to buy the second at the same time as the first. I delved right in as soon as I had a spare moment. And again the story and characters held me captivated from start to finish. I even took my Kindle to the pool with me so I could keep reading. Evans was kind enough to indulge my Twitter flailing.

All flailing aside, this book was excellent for several reasons. I appreciated the added world building that I missed in book one. Learning more about the magic system was fascinating and I love her take on the fae and Sidhe. There were only a few little things that tripped me up here and there such as repetitive phrases, but overall nothing serious. The characters are lifelike, well written, and believable. The plot buzzes along but doesn’t leave you grasping for context or missing pertinent details.

Mostly I enjoyed getting to know Dacian better. While at times he gets pissy and aggressive, it’s never without reason and I love that he’s allowed to make mistakes and be totally human, selfish and then own up and deal with consequences. It is also nice to see side characters be fully realized with their own motivations and for Dacian to have to adjust his perceptions as he learns things.

Keirn is such a sweetheart and I feel so much for him. I’m looking forward very much to learning more about him in the next book.

The next book, Ink Bound, comes out August 4th! You’re going to want to pre-order this one, I promise you. I’m so glad I did. I can hardly stand the wait after finishing Blood & Ink.

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book review

Book Review: Spectered Isle by KJ Charles

Disclaimer: I was given a free advanced readers copy of the novel Spectered Isle in exchange for an honest review.

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The newest Green Men series is set in 1920s England. The Great War is over, the Twenties are roaring in, the Bright Young Things hold ever more extravagant parties. It seems as though the world has changed for good. But some far older forces are still at work, and some wars never end. The Green Men series covers a motley crew of occult experts, jobbing ghost-hunters, and walking military experiments as they fight supernatural and human threats, save the land, and fall in love.

I’ve enjoyed many of Charles’ novels including their Charm of Magpies Series. This novel almost feels a bit grittier in some ways. Saul is such a tortured soul who is determined to keep slogging along. From the first chapter, I developed respect for him and how he faced his struggles. The revelations on his background later in the book aren’t a complete surprise but they make sense.

Randolph Glyde took me a little longer to warm up to, but by the end of the book, I absolutely adored him and his rather sardonic take on everything. The two of them are excellent compliments to each other while maintaining their individuality. I really appreciated how their relationship grew. It never felt rushed, instead, it was very organic and at times heartbreaking as they each worked to overcome their particular insecurities.

At the beginning, the ‘accidental’ meetings become almost amusing though the undercurrent of attraction is always present. I really appreciated how Charles’ developed both the characters and then allowed them to come together without sex/intimacy being an instant cure-all for their self-doubts.

I also appreciate that the sex is never gratuitous or superfluous. Emotions are just as involved in the scene. The scenes themselves never stretch on too long but are very satisfying. The focus is not on the sex but on the characters, where it should be.

I also appreciated that these two men talked to each other. At one point Randolph takes Saul out to dinner and while the conversation isn’t written out you get the sense that they talked about a great many things. And this isn’t the only time this happens. They talk frankly and openly a number of times. It was so very refreshing to see two men—lonely, emotionally damaged men—actually talk about and admit how they felt. Even going so far as to admit being afraid (gasp).

In short, this novel was everything I’ve come to expect from Charles. Fascinating characters driving along an intriguing plot that is never short of surprises and emotional revelations. I thoroughly recommend this novel and all her others.

You can find KJ Charles here.

You can pre-order Spectered Isle here:

Amazon

Kobo

All preorder links will be here

Goodreads

book review · Books · gay romance

Book Review: Ice in Sunlight

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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“I think I’m supposed to be dead.”

Corwen’s emotions are a frozen wasteland after years of enslavement and abuse. When he’s finally rescued, freedom isn’t enough to thaw the wintry landscape of his heart.

Slowly, his new compatriots teach him that physical intimacy is a sacred gift, that pleasure can be shared without pain. With endless patience, they offer him a different way of being.

In order to be whole, Corwen must surrender the self-loathing he wears like armor. Can he learn to see himself the way his new companions do? Or will he hide from love forever in the icy vault that shields his deepest soul?

Ice in Sunlight is a full-length M/M fantasy tale. It is intended for mature readers only due to adult themes and content.

This is one of the few times I will post a review for a book I did not finish. While I personally did not care for the book I know the style and subject matter are something many might find compelling. Please do not let my personal opinion sway you from picking this book up, there are still many reasons to read it.

While I find Julia’s writing style pleasurable to read and the prose clear and evocative, from page one I found it impossible to connect with Corwen. I appreciated that Julia showed Corwen struggling to cope with the horrible things that had been done to him without having to actually show the abuse itself. His reaction to the changing situation is proof enough.

That being said, after six chapters of listening to Corwen’s derision at being shown kindness and many references to his daydreams of dying I could no longer handle his attitude. It might have helped if there was a break from his constant melancholy. I would have appreciated another viewpoint, such as from Amir, to give me a respite from Corwen’s depression and show me why the trio felt compelled to help him beyond the seemingly altruistic motives.

I finally closed the book on chapter six. I have enough dealing with my own self-loathing, depression and post trauma issues and would rather not read a whole book dealing with someone else’s. Unfortunately, Corwen was not someone with whom I could relate. Corwen has no redeeming qualities outside of his pining after Elias, he’s cruel and manipulative and knows he is. It is what has kept him alive this long. I really wanted to like him, but after spending half a book with him, I was done. I suppose it is a good thing Amir and the others have more patience since I no longer cared whether this frosty young man ever thawed or not.

 

Tomorrow join me on Queer Sci-Fi for an interview with author and editor Ryan Vance.

Please consider supporting me on Patreon.

 

 

 

 

book review · Books

Queer Lit Book Review: Lord Mouse

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I’ve been reading a lot of great books lately but it’s been a rare thing to find a book that hits all my literary kinks.

I’ve been searching for well crafted fantasy with queer characters for so long I almost decided to write something myself. Then I happened upon a review by Just Love that sounded promising.

Boy did it deliver.

Lord Mouse is everything I’ve been lusting after in a fantasy novel. The main character is Mouse, a tiny little badass thief and assassin, and no he doesn’t have a heart of gold but he does pride himself on a job well done. If you can afford him. He’s never failed a job and when he gets a chance at a challenging job that pays more coin than he’s ever seen he’s not about to turn it down.

And that’s exactly what gets him into trouble.

Thomas does a fantastic job at throwing you right into Mouse’s world and a dark, dirty, gritty world it is. Thomas takes you from the cruel criminal underbelly, up the rungs of the social ladder in a way that feels natural, but not too easy. Mouse has to work for his contacts and information and sometimes it’s a blade and sometimes it’s a bed.

As an asexual I’m not a big fan of casual hook-ups but the sex scenes were never gratuitous and were mostly fade-to-black moments. This was something I appreciated. The story was about Mouse’s character growth, not about sexual escapades.

It was also very refreshing to read a book where being gay wasn’t something to angst over. It was just treated as part of who he is, which in my opinion, is as it should be.

I loved getting to know Mouse but I sincerely wish the story had been longer and I think it should have been. The first act is spent getting Mouse into position to do this big rescue mission and then we spend the next act of the book with him trying to escape. I did enjoy it very much, but I felt the last third was rushed and would have liked to have seen Garron and Mouse get to know each other better before the end. The big reveal at the end could have packed a lot more punch had we had a chance to get to know Garron better.

Ideally the rescue could have happened by the end of the first act and the second act could have had a longer build up to the finale. I feel that a longer second act would have helped with the rushed feel to their relationship and the finale. I would have happily read 80-100K words of these two.

I was also disappointed with the copy editing and found a few instances where a side character’s name was misspelled from one page to the next, which wouldn’t have been a big deal but it threw me out of the story for a moment as I tried to figure out who was being mentioned.

Overall, these issues were minor and I thoroughly enjoyed the story and am eager to read anything else Thomas writes.