Tag Archives: lgbtq

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Book Review: We All Fall Down, by Rose Szabo

I received a copy of Rose Szabo‘s We All Fall Down through Bookish First.

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In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life―work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists―not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

my review

I had a really strange experience reading this book. Whenever I was reading it, I enjoyed it. But as soon as I set it down, I was reluctant to pick it back up again. As a result, it took me an inordinately long time to finish it. And I ended up feeling so-so about it in the same way.

I love the cover; think it’s absolutely stunning. And I had so much fun reading the beginning and picking out who each character is. I thought the writing was really good, easy to follow. I thought Szabo played with the idea and ideals of gender in interesting ways and I think they tried to do the same with race (both with actual characters of color and metaphorically with the idea of ‘monsters.’) I’m just not sure they were as successful in this latter aspect.

However, I also thought the plot slow and ending too vague to be satisfying. So, all in all, not bad, but not an all-out winner either.

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Other Reviews:

ARC Review: We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo

Early Review – We All Fall Down (River City Duology, Book 1) by Rose Szabo (4/5 stars)

 

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Book Review: Raven’s Cry & Raven’s Song, by Charlie Nottingham

In May, when the SCOTUS leak first dropped, before the Supreme Court actually made their appalling ruling on Roe vs Wade, Charlie Nottingham organized a #ReadForOurRights event over on Tiktok. She and several other authors agreed to donate the proceeds from book sales that month to campaigns fighting to reestablish and/or protect women’s rights. I ordered several books from several authors during this event. (Something like 17, if I’m remembering right.) Raven’s Cry was one of them. Then, because I enjoyed Raven’s Cry I ordered Raven’s Song…then I saw the author was looking for ARC readers so I signed up, getting a copy a little early.


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Everyone has skeletons in their closet, but Rain’s are learning to open the door.

Rain’s lost everything in the last decade. Her grandmother, her brother, and her family home might be next. All she has is Graham – a powerful Fae who illegally escaped the Fae Realm and has been her best friend ever since.

Until Ezra – the sexiest Vampire she’s ever seen – commissions her for one hell of a job. Cleansing dozens of vengeful spirits from an abandoned mansion for a life changing amount of money.

All Rain wants is to focus on her budding relationship with Ezra, but the ghosts in the mansion have awoken the ones Rain has spent a decade trying to keep locked up.

But Rain isn’t the only one with secrets. Ezra has a few of his own.

my review

This was my first Charlie Nottingham books and I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I liked all of the characters, the world seems interesting, and the writing flows naturally. Focus-wise, I’d consider it much more a sweet building-of-a-polyamorous-relationship than anything else. (Which makes me laugh because it’s labeled a “Dark Paranormal Romance Reverse Harem.”) raven's cry photoI’m not suggesting the fantasy element is unimportant. But it is definitely given less page time that the romantic elements. And I found far sweeter than I did dark.

It’s also quite slow to build, both the 4-way relationship (with one of the men not even appearing until quite late in the book) and the fantasy/mystery/action element which only really ramps up toward the end of the book. None of this is said to discourage reading the book. I enjoyed the heck out of it. In fact, I finished it disappointed to discover book two wasn’t out yet. I pre-ordered it though. So, all in all, I think I’ve found a new author to follow.


Raven's song cover

Everyone has skeletons in their closet, but Rain’s are learning to open the door.

Rain’s lost everything in the last decade. Her grandmother, her brother, and her family home might be next. All she has is Graham – a powerful Fae who illegally escaped the Fae Realm and has been her best friend ever since.

Until Ezra – the sexiest Vampire she’s ever seen – commissions her for one hell of a job. Cleansing dozens of vengeful spirits from an abandoned mansion for a life changing amount of money.

All Rain wants is to focus on her budding relationship with Ezra, but the ghosts in the mansion have awoken the ones Rain has spent a decade trying to keep locked up.

But Rain isn’t the only one with secrets. Ezra has a few of his own.

my review

I enjoyed this a lot, though I’ll admit I didn’t love it quite as much as book one. The reasons are 100% personal preference sort of stuff though. Before I get to that, let me extol the virtues of the book. The writing is clean and easy to read. I adore the characters and that they believably struggle with learning to tolerate/like/love one another over time. I liked the inclusion of shards of real-life that often get glossed over during sex scenes, like washing hands after certain activities, etc. I love that we get everyone’s point of view and the mystery has kept me guessing. Over all, I’m 100% looking forward to book three. But I did have complaints, personal ones, but complaints all the same.

One of my biggest annoyances in sexy-time books is what I call ‘instructional sex’ or ‘instructional kink.’ It’s not that I think instruction or clear communication of boundaries and expectations is bad in any way. But you don’t have to have read many of such books before it all gets repetitive. I’ve just read explanations of various kinks or relationships or safe words/signs, etc so many times in so many books that I’m bored with it. It tends to make me skim.

And Raven’s Song has quite a lot. There are four people in the relationship, various kinks, and various interpersonal expectations. So, I felt like over half the book is ‘instructional,’ in the ‘this is how we do things’ or ‘this is how this works’ or ‘this is where my line is’ sort of ways. I thought it bogged the narrative down.

Understanding, of course, that readers were probably meant to go, ‘Aww, look how open and communicative they are all being’ and readers who enjoy that will love this book. Because I do think Nottingham did a good job with it and the characters are wonderfully communicative with one another. But I just find it boring in the extreme, since it’s all just a variation on something read before.

Similarly, the sex here didn’t light me up. I thought for having three men involved, who were all meant to be very different, all the sex felt same-same. I wouldn’t have been able to tell one man from another without names. And the descriptions themselves didn’t appeal to me. I understand that one characters has a rough bent, but I found myself pinching my knees together protectively during his sex scenes.

Note, I said knees. It wasn’t the slapping or even the degradation (though that’s not my favorite kink). I could handle that a lot more easily than just how generally indelicate his treatment of her delicate bits is. Everything is described as some sort of motoring in hard, fast, rough ways. But not in a sexy (for me) way. More like you’d push a doorbell or scrape paint—something that takes force to overcome resistance. I’m complaining, I think, more of the language in the raven's song photodescriptions than the use of kink or even the acts themselves. But it all felt very gross-motor and unappealing to me. But again, THAT IS A PERSONAL PREFERENCE sort of complaint, not a quality.

All in all, there were a few not-for-me aspects, but at least one of them I feel like has been done and shouldn’t need to be carried over into the next book and I’m eagerly awaiting further coming together of the four individuals and the mystery. I look forward to the next book.


Other Reviews:

Book Review: Raven’s Cry by Charlie Nottingham

 

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Book Review: Heathen, by Natasha Alterici

I accepted a review copy of The Complete Series Omnibus Edition of Heathen by Natasha Alterici (author/artist/colorist), Ashley A. Woods (Illustrations), Rachel Deering (Letterer) and Morgan Martinez (designer). The graphic novel was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can hop over there for author/artist information and Rockstar Book Tours‘ tour schedule.

WOMAN. WARRIOR. VIKING. HEATHEN. OUTCAST. 

THE GODS MUST PAY…

Born into a time of warfare, suffering, and subjugation of women, and exiled from her village for kissing another woman, the lesbian Viking warrior, Aydis, sets out to destroy the god-king Odin and end his oppressive reign. She is a friend to many as she is joined by mermaids, immortals, Valkyries, and the talking horse, Saga. But she is also a fearsome enemy to the demons and fantastic monsters that populate the land.

my review

I enjoyed the heck out of this, and, my goodness, could it be any more timely, with its ‘throwing off the oppressive yoke of the patriarchy’ theme? At one point, a character even explicitly says, “Each one of us is the person she is because we reject the authority of men.” And let me tell you, Odin (the representation of male authority here) does not give that oppressive authority up easily, nor the insistence that it’s actually benevolence.

I also loved the art style. I’m admittedly picky about what I like and don’t like in the graphic part of a graphic novel, but I like this a lot. I did find all the female flesh on display an odd choice. I’m not necessarily bothered by it—and sure women can enjoy it too—but all the…I’m gonna call it fan-service…has always seemed very male-gazey to me. And that just felt out of place in a graphic novel that so explicitly was addressing female liberation (sexual and otherwise) from male dictatorship and control.

I also thought the last volume felt far more rushed than the previous ones, and therefore the ending was a little anti-climactic. All in all, however, this was a winner for me.

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Other Reviews:

https://the-girl-who-reads.com/giveaway-heathen-the-complete-omnibus-by-natasha-alterici-ashley-a-woods-book-review/