ARC's, Book Reviews, Gay romance

Danced Close by Annabeth Albert


Danced Close is the sixth book in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series. All the books in this series are standalone’s or can be read as such.There are cameos from couples you see in the previous books. This one follows Kendall and Todd. Albert delivers with two really fantastic characters, a romance that really makes your heart happy, and dancing. I really enjoyed this story.

Kendall is a wedding planner. Todd works at a bakery that makes the cakes Kendall’s company uses in their weddings. The way the two fall into each other’s lives is really well done. Kendall needs a partner for dance classes as he’s getting ready for a charity event he has to go to. The charity is one that Todd cares about enough to put back on his dancing shoes.

Albert keeps taking stabs at big issues in her romances and I do think she does them well.I can tell she does her research. Kendall is genderqueer. Things are different for every genderqueer person. I think Albert really took her time in figuring out what that meant for Kendall. Characters had conversations about preferred gender pronouns with Kendall. It’s part of who Kendall is and I like that we see how it affects Kendall in different parts of his life. It made sense how much people’s reactions came up. It’s a thing that happens for genderqueer people in their daily life. I also liked that negative reactions affected Todd more than Kendall often because it’s something Kendall is used to happening. It also showed how much Todd was starting to care for Kendall.

Todd is a recovering addict. He’s also HIV Positive and I have to say I liked the poz rep here. Kendall doesn’t know a lot about what being HIV positive means. I’m always surprised when people haven’t done research into what that means for people now compared to years ago. This made me realize a lot of people don’t know, though. So I’m happy to see Kendall do that research and that it was present. Don’t think he talked about PrEP as an option for them. Would have been niced to see it mentioned but I am happy the book shows one way a relationship between someone HIV positive and HIV negative works.

There was a lot of insecurities on both of their parts. I feel like Todd didn’t think he’d ever have a successful relationship because of the things he struggled with his past. He doesn’t have a lot of confidence in himself. Plus he hadn’t had anything serious since finding out he was HIV positive.

Kendall is insecure as well when it comes to relationships. He’s freshly off a breakup that is still affecting him. Kendall doesn’t want something serious again. Kendall’s ex-boyfriend had difficulty with his the way Kendall expressed himself. It seems like Kendall just doesn’t want to fall into the same situation he was in before.

These stories always have a little angst. I felt like they hadn’t gotten far enough in their feelings for each other to react the way they did to certain things when the angst came in. Still, it made sense for their characters based on what we’d seen from them. I have to say when it came to the romance I could not help but smile. Todd and Kendall’s relationship is sugary sweet. It’s so cute and I really loved these two together. They work really well as a couple.

This story also had that epilog all these romances have. I love epilogs and also wish they were a little longer. A lot happens over the six months following the gala for Todd and Kendall. I wish we could have seen their relationship grow a bit more. Just a little more time with these really great characters. I enjoyed my time with Kendall and Todd here. As always I recommend you check out this or one of Annabeth Alberts other romances.

ARC's, LGBTQIA+, YA

Dreadnought by April Daniels

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Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

I was lucky enough to get a Netgalley Arc of April Daniels debut novel Dreadnought. Dreadnought follows Danielle Tozer. Danielle accidentally stumbles upon a superhero and villain fight and ends up gaining new powers and the body that she has always wanted.

Danielle has a lot of self-doubts that she has to contend with throughout this story for a large part of it. A large part of that is because of the way her father treats her and always has. You can see how the way Danielle thinks about herself is linked to her father pretty early. When Danielle thinks she’s stupid for something she did or isn’t good enough to be a hero. It’s because that’s the way her father treats her and what he calls her often.

Danielle has some really strong moments in this story where she stands up for herself.Really early on. She is able to stand up for herself against the legion of superheroes.When her friend starts treating her differently. Then still can’t do the same with her father. I thought it was such an interesting relationship to see play out in this. She’s really been emotionally abused by her father for years and you see how much it affects her life.

The superheroes in this story have great names. Wonder how April Daniels came up with some of them. It’s a really great assortment of characters even the ones we don’t learn much about. I do wish we had learned more about the heroes in the legion. I really liked a few of them.Magma and Doc Impossible are the best. I loved them. I want them to be my mentors, please.

Danielle has such a great hero journey in this. It follows the motions of things you see in a lot of origin story comics for heroes. Her first big time-saving people is really amazing. I was so happy for her as she was doing it. You could tell right then that she should be a hero. Not because these powers fell into her lap but because she wants to help people. It’s kind of the reasons she got her powers in the first place. She’s not a person that can walk away when someone is hurting.

She also had some great team up moments with Calamity that every hero needs to have.Patrolling and investigating. She goes one on one with someone who has powers. She consistently is learning, getting better, and saving people throughout this. All while still having that self-doubt for a large part of the story. She doesn’t allow herself to feel like she is as special as she is.

The claiming of superhero colors was such a powerful moment in the story. I recently wrote about how the claiming of one’s name can be important in a review of a different book and I felt like Danielle’s finally deciding on her superhero colors and superhero name was that moment in this story. She’s claiming who she is.

There will be a second book and I’m excited to see what challenges Danielle faces next. Also really want to see where Calamity goes after what happens at the end of the book. More people should read this book and make fanart if you can. I can’t make fanart but I want to see fanart for this book so badly. Definitely, pick it up.

 

 

 

ARC's, LGBTQIA+, Uncategorized, YA

Of Fire and Stars Review

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Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

I read it all in one night. This story gets to the action really fast which surprised me.Denna is sent off to a Kingdom to meet the man she’s been arranged to marry since she was born. This new kingdom is currently in a struggle with people who have magic. It’s preparing to persecute magic users. Denna has magic herself and must hide it from her future husband and his family. Then there is a magical murder Denna wants to solve along with the sister of the prince she is supposed to marry.

I have to say I loved Mare and Denna’s friendship and how it developed into real feelings. Denna and Mare are electric together on the page.

The mystery of who the killer is is and what is really going on with the magic is great too. Loved Denna’s slow acceptance of herself as a person with magic. It was beautifully written. It’s something that makes up who she is. Something she doesn’t want to reject but has to. So many parallels there for so many things.

There is a death in this book that surprisingly affected me. I was still thinking about it well after I finished the book.Still am right now. There is a type of side character I see killed off too often recently so that may be why. Won’t say much more because it would be a spoiler but it was a bit of a brutal way to die.

The magic in this book really jumps up toward the end. That makes sense because Denna really has to hide what she can do throughout. I just wish there was a bit more magic than we got actually. I love magic in books.

As a person who loves some of Tamora Pierce’s fantasy worlds I really gotta say this reminded me of them but way more queer. I was very happy with this book. Highly recommended. Excited to see where it goes from here and definitely hope the next book has more magic in it.

ARC's, Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+

Looking For Group by Alexis Hall

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A guy falls for a girl while playing an online MMO. The girl turns out to be a guy. The guy is mostly okay with that. After having a mini sexuality crisis moment. The guy starts the new relationship. He messes up a lot in the new relationship.He might tick you off. Eventually, things get fixed and it’s all cute and stuff, though. Yay!

That’s a simple reaction to this. Let’s go into a little more detail. There are things I loved about this and problems I can’t really get over too. At the same time, I still recommend this to people.

I loved how geeky this story was. The main character Drew is going to school for video game design. His conversations with his friends about gaming and so many other geeky things were fantastic for me. I was geeking out.

The relationship development was pretty good in my opinion. I thought the two were great together before they met at least. Drew starts to love the game again because of Kit and I liked seeing that happen. I liked how they interacted in the game and how I could see the parallel when they were together IRL. they were just really cute together. Top ten couples of the year material.

I like the in game portions of this a lot. I liked seeing them go on raids in the game. The description of the combat and the lore in the game. The issues with the world building in the game. I liked that the author thought to bring these elements into the storyIt was all pretty great.

Drew’s friends are great and annoying. His best friends comments throughout the book just annoyed me. It really made me wonder how they became friends of stay friends. Sanee just kept getting worse as the book went on. Not knowing how to react when he met Drew’s boyfriend was one of those moments.

Luckily we had Tinuviel, Drew’s pansexual poly friend in the mix too. I loved her. She actually reminded me a little of a friend from college. When Sanee said things he shouldn’t either Sanee’s girlfriend of Tin would shut it down if they were around. Tin also helped guide Drew in his crisis moment.

I said I wondered why Sanee and Drew were friends. Then I realized Drew could be just as much of a dick as Sanee. He was such a jerk for a portion of the book. I was sitting there like you are so in the wrong right now and you don’t even understand why. Eventually, he does realize the error of his ways but it bothered me a bit too much.

I loved Kit, though. I honestly found him really relatable. Since high School, I’ve had many of friends that I met online that I was closer to than people I knew day to day. I really saw where Kit was coming from.Maybe that’s why I was so ticked at Drew when he started messing things up. This book was good. Not my favorite of the year but good.

ARC's, Book Reviews

Merlin’s Moon by Annabelle Jay

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Half-human, half-dragon Mani hatched from an egg and was adopted by Allanah, a human woman who discovered him after the death of his dragon mother. He possesses abilities he’s only beginning to understand, and every night he takes the form of a blue dragon.

When Mani’s secret is revealed, he takes refuge at the wizard Mansion. There, he encounters the Animal Guard, a group of people who share his affliction. But the members of the Animal Guard are under a curse by the sorceresses, and they need Mani’s aid to break the spell and resume their human forms. Growing romantic feelings for the wolf-boy Lup convince Mani to offer his help, but Mani’s own developing powers might destroy any chance at a relationship. The world of magic is changing, and as Mani and his friends fight to stop the evil sorceresses from using the deadly North Star, they must figure out what places they will hold when the battle is over.

This is a really interesting fantasy world. That also includes some science fiction elements at some points. I liked following Mani’s character. He struggles with being himself in a world with no one like him. Because he turns into a dragon at night his best friend can’t ever truly understand him. Then when he finds people that might be like him it’s not what he thinks it should be. I liked his arc a lot. I liked that his sexuality wasn’t a big deal. It’s just part of his character. His struggles had more to do with witches, curses, and dragon transformations. That worked out well in the story.

I loved Mani’s moms. There are two. In the first book of the Sun Dragon series, you get to see how they get together. I feel like going back to read that book because I really liked them a lot. I feel like they realized Mani as well as you could raise an adopted half dragon half wizard boy.

I thought the relationship between Mani and Lup was kind of weird. It could have been developed better. I get that they had a connection that was hard to really show. because of the way their transformations worked. It was interesting. I just think as the story went on it fell to the wayside. That may have to do more with the big twisty nature of this book, though.

There are two different time hops in this book after a big reveal or twist in the story. I felt like things moved way too fast there. i understood some characters would die during the time jump, but it didn’t work. It needed to slow dow. Certain deaths needed more time. They were central characters to the main characters and to the series I think. I felt like I was wondering what the point of going through everything before that twist was.

Mani meeting the characters he met on his journey so far and his little development of a relationship with Lup didn’t feel like it mattered then. The second time hop was too much. I honestly wished it had ended before that. This story was all over the place by the end. The twist was interesting and different than things I’ve read before. I just wished the story was still executed well after it.

ARC's, Book Reviews

Rising Son : The Chronicles of Spartak Review

 

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On the 4th of July in the year 2115, sixteen-year-old Spartak Jones, an Olympic-bound athlete, is betrayed, drugged, kidnapped and sold, the first legal slave since the Civil War, just as America splinters into a bloody power struggle between the families of the ruling elite. Fighting for survival, freedom and love, he proves to be a lethal warrior, resourceful, fearless, loyal, and not shy about his sexuality. His exploits awaken a long-dormant liberal underground and he becomes a symbol of hope, a handsome flesh and blood icon for an America that used to be and might be again—if he can endure.

Dark, twisted, dystopian, uplifting, and romantic—The Chronicles of Spartak delivers a 22nd century LGBT action hero who will make you cheer.

Before going into the book the reader should know it is very dark. This is a book with murder, kidnappings, some dismemberment,and of course legalized slavery. One thing I wish I knew going into to it is that the main character is sexually assaulted and there is a history of sexual assault in his past. Spartak’s attitudes toward sex is colored by that experience,but not in a way I expected. He’s able to compartmentalize in a way a lot of people aren’t able to. It’s a testament to how strong his will is and to the will of all the Downers to survive truly.

It was really interesting seeing a world where the big divide is completely social class and not race at all.It was one of the first things I noticed and was pointed out by a character later in the book. The middle class has collapsed. The upper class or Barronials have more power than ever. Influence in the government and laws. The world is also in a state where the government is heavily influenced by religious extremist as well. Separation of church and state not really a thing here. A world where voting is even more restrictive than ever before.

It makes you think about the world today and if it’s possible for some of the things that happen in the book’s 2115 to happen in our future. A lot of it isn’t completely far-fetched honestly. I understand how the author could come up with Spartak’s world from ours. Some of it is happening in the world. The attitudes of the Barronials toward everyone else was something I definitely see in politics now.

Spartak is a really compelling protagonist. He goes through so much for the survival of his family . His own survival as well, but I really feel like it’s for his family foremost. He’s very loyal. He is extremely athletic. He’s an Olympic level athlete. He’s also bisexual, which isn’t a big deal for the most part in 2115. There are high up Barronials that are queer without it being seen as a problem. That was one thing I liked about this 2115.

Then there is Zinc. He goes through interesting changes throughout the story. I honestly feel like he’s a different person by the end of the book. I had some issues with some of his behavior. There are a lot of pressures on him, but his actions at one point was a bit much. Overall I like his character, though. He’s able to get things done when he needs to.

This book definitely makes you think and gives you a lot of moral questions. Even the characters you are rooting for like Spartak, Zinc, and Sonia do things that are a bit extreme at times.Problematic things honestly. You have to questions what would really make this society better.

As much as I liked this book it wasn’t perfect. One problem being the quickness for one character to forgive another a couple of times in the book.Another has to do with the language of servitude and eros that I definitely am not going into right now.Still I’d recommend the book and say you should see if those things are issues for yourself. I’m solidly rating this a 4 star out of 5. The book is really intellectual, fast paced, has a lot of action, good characters, and I really appreciated the way a young queer athlete and a slave becomes a symbol for a revolution.

This was an ARC I received from Netgalley. The books’s release date is May 2nd, 2016.

 

 

ARC's, Book Reviews

Homesick At Space Camp by Francis Gideon

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This was a really cute sci-fi romance novella. It’s about a guy on a space station on the planet Zaffre. He’s left Earth after losing his mother and he may be doing a bit of a running away from his problems there. Loved Eastyn’s development, which felt like a lot for such a short novella. Eastyn listens to a radio station that he often calls into. He slowly starts to fall for the Dj who ends up being AI.

I wasn’t completely feeling the story from the beginning. It took me a while to get to that midway point, but when I did I started speeding through it.  It is a romance. I didn’t know how I felt about the main character Eastyn’s and Milo’s budding relationship at first. I haven’t finished any story that involved someone falling in love with an AI or any kind of robot/droid/cyborg thing before now. So this was a first for me.

I think about midway through I really started to like Milo a lot. Then I started to really root for the pair as a couple.I was hoping they could find a body for Milo and go from there.The whole time I was kind of waiting for something to go wrong, but I was really happy with how it worked out in the end.

Eastyn’s and Milo’s first date is adorable. I really thought it was kind of a funny situation. I liked the subtle humor that was present in the story.Milo’s lack of body was the really big issue between them and I felt like Eastyn didn’t even mind that as much as he could have. He was happy talking to Milo.  Music is a big element. It’s often what the two bonded around. I really enjoyed that because it was relatable.

Also definitely, have to mention that Eastyn is pansexual and has a discussion about it with his Sister and her girlfriend at one point. Really liked that the story had a lot of variation there. They talked about bisexuality as well. Either Zaffre is a very queer planet or people are just a lot more open with their sexuality in this future. Either way, I loved it.

**This eBook was provided by NetGalley. Expected release date – February 24th, 2016. **