Paranormal Romance review: Blood Guard by Megan Erickson

Blood Guard by Megan Erickson

Published by: Loveswept

Format: ePub

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: Plucky heroine falls for hot, hardass vampire when she’s supposed to be ‘destined’ for his brother…but, you know… hardass vampire is right heretomorrow may never come, and instant gratification is so instant.

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Contemporary YA Fiction review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published by: Balzer + Bray

Format: mobi

Genre: YA

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A stunning debut that neither flinches from telling one story of why the Black Lives Matter movement matters nor does it preach while doing so. This book is every bit as good as you’ve been told it is. Read More

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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

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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

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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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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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Edwin’s Recent Reading Roundup, week of August 7: Paranormal Romance

Edwin’s Recent Reading Roundup: Paranormal Romance

Life has been hectic the last few weeks, so I haven’t had time for reviews, but I have, of course, still been reading! And I’ve read some good stuff that’s worth highlighting…


Black Magic Glitterbomb by Sage C Holloway

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N 

This novella grabbed me with the blurb and didn’t let go until I reached the very satisfying conclusion.  I mean, the blurb tells us the book is about a mediocre dark mage who steals the coffee makers of his defeated enemies and accidentally rescues a clueless blond twentysomething while defeating said enemies.  And then the sentence of the book proper is “I liked to relax over a cup of coffee and the bodies of my enemies.”  How can you not want to keep reading?

The book continues in this vein, with dark mage Benji and rescued cutie Kit quickly being confronted with magical assault from enemies as varied as magical tentacles and evil cupcakes (yes, evil cupcakes).  The humour is charming, the developing relationship between Benji and Kit is sweet, and the interaction between them and Benji’s collection of friends and frenemies (including a kindly blood mage, the worst married couple in existence, and a too eager apprentice) rollicking good fun.  The book took me about an hour to read, and I can’t think of a better hour I spent the last couple of weeks.  Recommended (and currently less than a buck!).


The Sumage Solution by G L Carriger

Get it now: Amazon | B&N | Kobo 

G L Carriger is the contemporary PNR pen name for Gail Carriger, author of the excellent Parasol Protectorate series of Victorian PNR novels.  The Sumage Solution is the first in a series about a pack of (mostly) queer werewolves who have recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area (The reasons for the relocation are set out in Carriger’s earlier short story, Marine Biology).  The central romance is between the pack’s Beta (and brother of the Alpha), Bryan, AKA “Biff,” and Max, who is essentially a magical bureaucrat.

Max is also a sumage, essentially an anti-mage: instead of casting magic he inhibits its use.  Coming from a prominent magical family, he’s something of a disappointment to them (being gay didn’t help either).  Much of the action in the book is Max dealing with the baggage of his family background, both in terms of the emotional toll his rejection took on him, and in terms of some mysterious magical artefacts his father left behind.  He and Bryan did not initially get on well, but eventually become friends and then more.  Bryan is a total sweetie, and does an interesting take on the “beta” trope: he’s not his alpha’s enforcer, rather he’s the pack’s domestic heart.  A big, hairy biker who also makes sure his pack eats their greens and is an EMT in his day job.  Dream man, basically.  

The romance between the two of them moves quite quickly but is believable, and includes some surprisingly hot sex scenes.  The paranormal plot is interesting (and seems to be a continuation, 100-odd years later, of the Parasol Protectorate universe), and keeps the action moving.  I could have done with a bit more time on the details of the magic system (there seem to be 3 different types of mages and sumages, and it’s not entirely clear what each does), but this is a minor quibble.  Throw in enough humour to make you smile fairly frequently and you have a thoroughly enjoyable weekend read.


Cutie and the Beast by E J Russell

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon  | B&N | Kobo 

This is the first in a new contemporary PNR series featuring 3 princes of faerie.  The prince in this book is Dr Alun Kendrick, therapist to the supernatural population of Portland.  He has also been cursed to have hideous appearance. His love interest is David Evans, his cute young temp receptionist.  

At one level, this is essentially a friends-to-lovers romance.  Alun resents the presence of a human, David, in his office, and is also waiting for David to reject him because of his looks.  Slowly, both Alun and his patients start to appreciate David’s sunny friendliness, and a relationship begins to build.  This element of the story works really well.  The chemistry between Alun and David is palpable, and David’s general sweetness and naiveté (without being an idiot) make him a really appealing character.  Similarly, the banter between the main couples and the well-drawn support characters is great.

Less successful is the paranormal world building.  It’s not entirely clear how all the elements – faeries, vampires, dragons, shifters – fit together, and there doesn’t appear to be a governing cosmology to the world.  You don’t need to tell the reader all of this, but it does all need to hang together consistently, and this element of Cutie and the Beast doesn’t quite get there.  Regardless, the appealing relationship at its core make this book well worth a read.


Edwin gets grumpy if his SF/F reading doesn’t feature happy queer main characters.  Aside from that, he reads and writes for a living (though not fiction), so of course his hobby is reading, and now writing about what he reads. Why do anything else? Connect with Edwin on Twitter.

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New Binge Worthy Book: Sara recs Blue on Black by Carole Cummings

Blue on Black by Carole Cummings

Published by: DSP Publication

Format: eBook, paperback

Genre: science fiction (maybe? closer to fantasy?), steampunk (maybe?)

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Sara Beth as part of her column, Binge Worthy Books

What to Expect: This book basically defies whatever genre you might want to file it under, so whatever you’re expecting, probably best to let that go, and settle into a fantastic read filled with mystery, cleverly rendered tech, and just a titch of romance. Read More

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