Contemporary Queer Romance Review: Femme by Marshall Thornton

Title: Femme by Marshall Thornton

Published by: Kenmore Books

Format: Softcover

Genre: Contemporary Queer Romance

Order at: Amazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: One empowered femme does not need to deal with one closeted straight-acting boy’s drama…even if the sex is hot. Femme is a relatively low angst romance with pro-Boi vibes with friends and family who take a long time to figure their stuff out but do get there in the end.  Read More

YA Fantasy Review: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Title: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Published by: Disney Hyperion

Format: Mobi

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A superbly fun and clever tale of a sixteen-year-old Kurt Cobain look-alike who’s life gets infinitely more interesting once he dies. For one thing, he’s a Norse demigod and there are eight other worlds he never knew existed. For another thing, that’s just the start of it. Magnus quests with his found family as he’s surrounded by magic galore, berserkers, lots of fighting,…and the promise of a cool genderqueer character in a later book in this series which, to be honest, is why I picked up this first one. Read More

YA Fantasy Review: Magic of Blood and Sea by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Title: Magic of Blood and Sea: The Assassin’s Curse; The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Published by: Saga Press

Format: Mobi

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: Just your standard, everyday, typical run away from your arranged marriage only to fall in love with your own assassin romance whilst being a pirate, escaping demons who keep ripping through the fabric of your world in order to steal the assassin of your dreams, creating cautious friendships with manticores, and being surrounded by magic of the blood and sea variety.  Read More

Bargain Book Review: The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

Hello everyone, welcome to the bargain book review! The concept is simple: to find out if those dollar store books are ever worth the purchase. So today, guest reviewer, Morgan, is going to review one such book she found in the bargain section: “The Shambling Guide to New York City” by Mur Lafferty.

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Exclusive Interview and ARC Giveaway: In Other Lands author, Sarah Rees Brennan

One time Sarah Rees Brennan wrote a story over a few months on her Livejournal, about Elliott, a bisexual red-headed irritant who loves books, who went to magic school in a magic world and immediately had a lot of bones to pick with the rules. Now that story is expanded for print as In Other Lands, and is available now for all your bickering found family, awkward slow crushes, and elven warrior matriarchy needs!

Today, we have the lovely Sarah Rees Brennan here to talk mermaids, friendships, and the importance of storytelling.

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YA Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Title: The Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Published by: Harper Teen

Format: Softcover

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Order at: Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: This novel is more cerebral than the Adam Silvera’s other work, deftly weaving a speculative universe within the confines of present day New York. It’s here, in this space, that two teenagers find each other and, in turn, find themselves. They Both Die At The End is a stellar piece of writing filled with love and friendship, joy and grief, courage and redemption, and more twists than you can throw a stick at. Whatever that means. Either way, it’s a candidate for best book of the year from me. I strongly encourage you to read it STAT.

Check out Alex interviewing Adam Silvera about They Both Die at the End and enter to win a paperback ARC!

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Release Day Interview and Giveaway: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Five years ago, Adam Silvera started a notebook that turned into They Both Die At The EndThe release date—September 5, 2017—is coincidentally the same day in which Mateo Torres and Rufus Emeterio receive their respective Death-Cast calls, with notification that within twenty-four hours they will die.

Sound devastating? 

Well, it is. But it’s also incredibly hopeful. These two boys still have one day to live. Once they find each other, Mateo and Rufus turn out to be a perfect foil for each other’s short comings, allowing each of them to … well, you are simply going to have to pick up this book and read it in order to find out for yourself. 

If you’re familiar with Silvera’s work, you’ll know this sort of sweet, funny devastation isn’t a one-off effort. 

More Happy Than Not burst onto the scene in May, 2015 and hit the New York Times Bestseller List the next month. His ambitious debut featured Aaron Soto, a kid who lives in projects in the Bronx who, in struggling with his attraction to other boys, seeks out the Leteo Institute in order to wipe his mind and start again. It’s the greatest of all do-overs and destined to fail. His sophomore effort, History Is All You Left Me, tells the story of Griffin Jennings who is grieving the loss of his love and ex-boyfriend, Theo McIntyre, while his OCD gets progressively worse.

Silvera writes to break our collective hearts. As an own voices author writing queer and latino boys from New York, he’s as authentic as authors get. But there is something in this third novel that’s a little bit different. In the author’s note in my ARC, Silvera writes about how the prior two books stemmed from personal experience but this one came from his own inexperience and in finding the courage to explore that. 

I recently got the chance to chat with Adam Silvera about his newest book.

Alex de Morra: In each of these three novels, the hero’s sexual identity is tied heavily to the story arc. In More Happy Than Not, Aaron wants to erase that part of himself and ends up erasing more than that. In History Is All You Left Me, both Theo’s death and Griffin’s queerness is immutable, as is Griffin’s sense of them as a couple. In They Both Die At The End, Mateo’s identity and his evolution towards living are slowly revealed as he lives more and more of his ‘lifetime in a day.’ Will you talk about that?

Adam Silvera: Since History was the third book I wrote, I was aching to write a narrator whose sexuality wasn’t sheltered or scary. Griffin is just happily gay. And Mateo is relatable because I didn’t come out until I was 19, but had I known that I was going to die at 18, I would’ve come to grips with it on that day. No doubt. I would kiss a guy and say I love you and embrace myself in full force. Not instantly, of course, it would be gradual, but it’s a finish line that would be important for me to cross. 

AdM: It’s interesting that you mention History was actually the third book you wrote even though it was the second one published. What led to swapping History with They Both Die? 

AS: I just knew this book needed more time and wasn’t worth presenting to any editor just yet, and I’ve spent a total of five years on this book from initial thought to final manuscript. The world and characters have grown so much.

AdM: In both Happy and They Both Die, the worlds are built off present day New York but in each case, these are changed due to the presence of a new technology corporation: Leteo Institute in Happy and Death-Cast in They Both Die. But while a name for those who went through the Leteo procedure didn’t feature, there is a name for those who have gotten the call from Death-Cast: Decker. It struck me that when these types of neologisms come up— Cylons, Replicants, Muggles, Hobbits—they are no longer considered human by some even while their humanity is at the core of the story. What does the term Decker mean?

AS: The term Decker is a sort of slang for someone whose fate is “on the deck.” And vocabulary evolving is a natural part of the world changing. The distinctions for deckers felt urgent and heartbreaking. It’s literally a word that someone can personally identify as for less than a day. 

AdM: You have a gift for writing friends that are both intensely loving and fiercely, painfully honest. Will you talk about creating these characters? 

AS: I love when my friends keep it real. When we confront each other and say uncomfortable things, even if it stirs some conflict. We’re most honest with the people we love the most because we want the best for them.

AdM: Speaking of friends…the book ones count, too! I’m so excited to see a reprisal of The Scorpius Hawthorne books. It’s also interesting to see them pop-up even though the speculative worlds of Happy and They Both Die are different ones. I had even heard a rumor you had plans to put them in History. Should we keep our eyes out for them in future books?

AS: Im so happy this Easter egg made its way back in too! And yes, the character Dhonielle in History got cut because I failed to give her the depth she needed to read as a convincing character. But Scorpius Hawthorne was invented as a fun play on Harry Potter and if I write more grounded speculative novels, I think I’ll continue to sneak in this fake saga about the demonic boy wizard. Even if it’s a one-liner.

AdM: If we had forever to talk, I’m sure I could come up with a million questions. Fortunately for us, you’ve got to get back to writing your next effort. For now, though, what question are you hoping someone asks you about this book? And what’s your answer? 

AS: I’d love for someone to ask me if they actually die at the end and I’ll tell them to read and find out.  🙂

A very special thank you to Adam Silvera for joining us today. If you want to follow his writing exploits, please follow him on twitter at @AdamSilvera as he’s likely to give a heads up on touring, writing sprints, and sneak peeks of his writing. Oh, and buy this book. All of his books. And tissues. Trust me. You’ll need tissues. 

Before you go…we also have an opportunity for you to win it below! Enter now and win an ARC of this gorgeous and devastating book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Alex claims to read more than any normal, healthy adult should though the rest of the Binge on Books team would beg to differ. You can read all of his reviews here.

Connect with Alex on Twitter: @Alex_deMorra

Guest Review: Romantic Thrillers: Playing with Fire by G.J. Phoenix

 

A too-good-to-be-true job opportunity. A mystery of life and death proportions. Help sought from the most unlikely of places. All of these are what makes the beginning of a thriller. Then, person meets person, and sparks fly. You just found yourself in a romantic thriller, let the magic begin.

I think my love of romantic thrillers began when a friend gave me Iris Johansen’s Wind Dancer series. In typical romantic thriller way, it snuck up on me. Starting with a historical, Wind Dancer moved from the Italian Renaissance to Revolutionary France straight to modern times. I didn’t realize just how much I loved it until I immediately went online and tracked down the rest of Johansen’s work. By the time I finished the Eve Duncan series, I was a goner. Tess Gerritsen, JD Robb, Catherine Coulter, and so many others became staple in my TBR pile.

Most people know Gerritsen as the momma of Rizzoli and Isles. I recently read Playing with Fire, released in 2015. This book was dark, twisty, and all kinds of thrilling goodness. When Julia finds an unpublished waltz in an old book of sheet music at a sketchy antique dealer in Italy, I had no idea how dark Gerritsen was going to go.

Then Julia goes home to loving husband, Rob, and adorable toddler Lily and things got pitch black. (trigger warning: animal violence almost made me put the book to the side, but this author is usually worth it, so I kept going).

Julia plays the waltz she found, and her daughter instantly changes from a beloved doll to … well, Annabel. As she fights for herself, her family and mostly her child; Julia flies back to Italy determined to find out why the music transformed her baby into a demon. Or did it? Playing with Fire is two stories which are eventually brought together in the end. Told at the same time, is the heartbreaking story of Lorenzo and Laura, who meet and fall in love just as World War II turns their homeland into a place of nightmares. Gerritsen, a musician herself, writes about other musicians with passion, insight, and understanding that really can’t be faked. She even composed the waltz Julia found and had it recorded. You can listen to it on her website!

Both of these stories are told at a fast clip, you will get paper cuts from turning pages to keep up. Seriously, Tess Gerritsen makes you feel like you’re sitting next to the characters on a roller coaster and the next plummet will either be epic, or everyone’s going to die. The ending isn’t typical for most romance readers, but I still really enjoyed it. The combination of mystery, horror, historical, and romance is a strong one and will definitely place Playing with Fire on my favorite Gerritsen list.


About G.J. Phoenix: As a child, I got to ride the lightening and a dreamer was born. I stood on the top of the world, and traveled to the lowest point that can support life. I got to swim with dolphins and sharks, some of which were on dry land. I didn’t shoot the Sheriff but I definitely knifed the deputy–he looked at me funny. My life has taken me to many exotic places, and I was honored to meet some truly amazing people. I learned about God and religion through the stories people were kind enough to share with me, and the books I read.

The truth is, in one way or another, most of my books are based on real people, facing hellish problems, involving intriguing legends or myths, and finding solutions through the power of hope.

I’m G.J. Nice to meet you. Please spend some time and get to know me as well as my family-the characters in my books. My newest romantic thriller, God Remains, third installment of my Ethiopian Chronicles series, is due in stores before the end of the year.  Let’s see if the prince of Ethiopia can steal the heart of the queen of thieves. Cheers!

Connect with G.J. Phoenix: Website  |  Books  |  Book Trailer  | Twitter  |  Facebook


 

Fantasy Review: The Glamour Thieves by Don Allmon

The Glamour Thieves by Don Allmon

Published by: Riptide Publishing

Format: eARC

Genre: Queer SF/Fantasy

Order at: Publisher  |  Amazon  |   B&N  |  Kobo

Reviewed by: Edwin

What to Expect:  A fast-paced, well-written SF/Fantasy heist story, packed with action and sex.

Check out Don Allmon’s guest post “One Handed Writing” to learn all about what drove him to write The Glamour Thieves. Hint: it’s not what you think it is. 

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Glamour Thieves Release Guest Post: One-Handed Writing by Don Allmon

 


The idea for my debut novel started that time when I tripped over my dog’s leash and fell and broke the scaphoid bone in my right hand which made it hard to write and hard to do other things arguably more important than writing so I sat around daydreaming about sex a lot and made up this story about an orc trucker who picks up an elf hitchhiker while driving through post-apocalyptic America and they had a lot of really rough sex like you’d imagine an orc trucker would have.

What? Tell me you don’t tell yourself comfort-stories at night when you’re lying in bed and can’t sleep.

And this other time I was whining about being out of ideas, and a friend of mine asked me what I wanted to read but couldn’t because no one was writing it. (That’s good advice there, btw.)

I said, “I want to read ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ except Marion is a guy named Michael and everything else is the same.”

I thought about it some more and said, “And I want to read ‘Supernatural’ except that part at the end of each episode where they sit on the car and drink beer and get weepy? Instead of that, they get drunk and fuck. On the car. Every episode. Oh and they ain’t brothers because that would be weird, but everything else is the same.”

“So write that,” she said.

“No, that would be silly.”

So nighttimes I told myself the trucker/hitchhiker story because I’m an insomniac and I had to wear that cast for six weeks and that made it worse. I’d embellish it up each time to keep it fresh, adding bits here and there, and I started wondering what that elf was doing hitchhiking in the middle of a desert. I decided he was on the run from the mob because he was a grifter and he’d conned the wrong guy. No, “mob” was too Don Corleone and kids these days don’t even know. So ninjas. Ninjas chased him out of town, but he didn’t have a car, so: hitchhiking.

Daytimes I wondered if not-Sam and not-Dean weren’t going to be brothers, then what were they? Old friends with benefits. And if they weren’t brothers who’s the dead mom? Some manic pixie dream girl who brings them both together then dies (except she can’t be manic or pixie or a dream). And they can’t be monster hunters because that’s everyone these days. And they can’t be private investigators because that’s everyone else. So what are they? Dean was always forging the worst IDs, so….

Failed grifters. Thieves.

Like that elf on the run looking for an orc with a car.

Didn’t take long for that orc trucker to become a retired car thief, that truck to become a Corvette, and that manic pixie dream girl to become the leader of their gang (still dead though). And yeah it was silly but no more silly than Nazis trying to recover the Ark of the Covenant or two monster hunters with an adorable angelic sidekick. And my hand was freaking broken so I couldn’t write anything “serious” anyway, so if I wasted six weeks on this, that was okay. (Yes, there are lessons there.)

So I pecked it out one-handed (left-handed), and six weeks later my hand wasn’t broken anymore, and that story didn’t feel quite so silly anymore. It felt kind of real. Three months later it felt like THE GLAMOUR THIEVES.

And if you choose to read it one-handed, I hope it’s for a good reason and not because you tripped over your dog.


Meet Don Allmon:

In his night job, Don Allmon writes science fiction, fantasy, and romance. In his day job, he’s an IT drone. He holds an MA in English literature from the University of Kansas where he wrote his thesis on medieval werewolf stories. He’s a fan of role-playing and board games. He has lived all over from New York to San Francisco, but currently lives on the prairies of Kansas. His debut novel, THE GLAMOUR THIEVES is the first in a cyberpunk/fantasy/romance trilogy. It is currently available for pre-purchase through your favorite e-tailers and releases on August 28.


About Glamour Thieves:

JT is an orc on the way up. He’s got his own boutique robotics shop, high-end clientele, and deep-pocketed investors. He’s even mentoring an orc teen who reminds him a bit too much of himself back in the day.  

Then Austin shows up, and the elf’s got the same hard body and silver tongue as he did two years ago when they used to be friends and might have been more. He’s also got a stolen car to bribe JT to saying yes to one last scheme: stealing the virtual intelligence called Blue Unicorn.

Soon JT’s up to his tusks in trouble, and it ain’t just zombies and Chinese triads threatening to tear his new life apart. Austin wants a second chance with JT—this time as more than just a friend—and even the Blue Unicorn is trying to play matchmaker. 

Order the book now: Publisher | Amazon


 

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