Tag Archives: Queer


Book Review: Twelfth Grade Night, by Molly Horton Booth

I accepted a review copy go Twelfth Grade Night, by Molly Horton Booth, Stephanie Kate Strohm, & Jamie Green through Rockstar Book Tours. The book was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can hop over there for the tour schedule, an excerpt, author/artist information, and even a chance to enter a giveaway.

Vi came to Arden High for a fresh start and a chance to wear beanies and button-ups instead of uniform skirts. And though doing it without her twin feels like being split in half, Vi finds her stride when she stumbles (literally!) into broody and beautiful poet-slash-influencer, Orsino. Soon Vi gets roped into helping plan the school’s Twelfth Grade Night dance, and she can’t stop dreaming about slow dancing with Orsino under the fairy lights in the gym.

The problem? All Vi’s new friends assume she’s not even into guys. And before Vi can ask Orsino to the dance, he recruits Vi to help woo his crush, Olivia. Who has a crush of her own . . . on Vi.

my review

Well, I thought this was simply adorable. It touches briefly on loss and grief. But is mostly focused on finding ones self, found family, sibling and familial love, and the trials and travails of (magical) high school. I’ll admit that the magical element wasn’t explained in any way (other than a tie-in with the title). It just is and I struggled with that a little bit. But that wasn’t a huge deal.

There is a fun—if somewhat eclectic—cast, plenty of representation and diversity, and a satisfying happy for now ending. The art is lovely and the moral of the story endearing. All in all, I’ll call this one a win. (And now I’ll pass it on to my 15-year-old. Because I know she’ll love it.)

twelfth grade night photo

Other Reviews:

Twelfth Grade Night – Blog Tour

Twelfth Grade Night by Molly Horton booth, Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Jamie Green Book Tour post



the warrior's guild banner

Book Review: The Warrior’s Guild Series, by Scarlett Gale

I purchased ecopies of His Secret Illuminations and His Sacred Incantations, by Scarlett Gale. I read them back to back. So, I’m going to review them together. You can apparently buy signed copies from the author, which I wish I’d known before supporting the Zon. But oh well, hindsight is 20-20 and all.

his secret illuminations scarlett Gale

 about the book

A Sheltered Monk

By day, Lucían brews potions and illuminates manuscripts in service to the monastery that took him in as a child, wielding magic based in his faith and his purity. By night, he dreams of the world outside the cloister–a world he knows only in books and scrolls…

A Mysterious Warrior

A mercenary known as the She-Wolf hunts for a shipment of stolen manuscripts. When she needs a mage to track them down, she chooses Lucían for both his adorable blushes and his magic. She purchases his contract, hurling him headfirst into an adventure that will test both his skills and his self-control…

A Sacred Vow

Inexorably drawn to the She-Wolf’s strength, surprising kindness, and heated touches, Lucían fights temptation at every turn. His holy magic is both vital to their mission and dependent upon his purity. How can he serve both her and the Lord if he gives in to his desire? As intrigue and danger forces them closer, how can he possibly resist?

my review

I saw His Secret Illuminations recommended in a Fantasy Fans forum where someone had requested books with strong, martial women defending weaker, nerdier men. I’ve read a couple books recommended in that thread and, I have to say, this is the first one that REALLY fits what the OP was asking for and I really enjoyed it. I went right out and bought book two on finishing this one, in fact.

Having said that, I’ll acknowledge that the plot is slooooow. So slow you have to occasionally remind yourself that there is one. So slow that it’s clear that it’s really just the set design that Lucian and Glory’s burgeoning relationship plays out against. Usually I’d have a problem with that. But, honestly, I just love Lucian so much I couldn’t bring myself to care. I liked Glory too, but the book is from Lucian’s POV and he’s just a marvelous character.

And I just adored seeing so many tropes and unspoken expectations turned on their head. There’s the obvious, like Glory being significantly larger and stronger of the two. But there’s also subtler things like her being a deadly warrior, but not also being the literary equivalent of an emotionally stunted man with tits. She wears makeup and dresses, does needle point, has ‘monthlies,’ etc. She is both deadly and allowed to express traditionally female traits. This is a lot rarer than you might think. So often authors seem to think being strong means being manly and therefore a strong woman isn’t allowed to simultaneously be womanly. I really liked seeing Gale not fall into that trap.

The writing is quite readable. The book is genuinely longer than it needs to be and a word, phrase, or mentality clanged as anachronistic on occasion. There is definitely a bit of what feels like modern mentalities being painted on historical peoples. But it’s fantasy, so Gale’s free to do that. It certainly makes for more pleasant circumstances. All in all, I can’t wait to jump into His Sacred Incantations.

his secret illuminations photo

about the book

A Secret Desire

Lucían left behind his cloister, his vows, and his self-denial when he joined Glory, first for a quest and then in her bed. He tells himself he should be happy, but when he looks at her strong arms, her sharp smile, and her easy dominance, he wants, wants something he can’t put a name to…

A Deadly Foe

Something dangerous lurks in the mountains above Granite Falls, something with fangs and claws and a horrible curse. No one has yet found the cause, and Lucían can’t help wondering why it all seems so familiar, and why his dreams are full of cold stone and dark magic…

A Dangerous Mission

When the source of the attacks turns out to be something from Lucían’s past, he finds himself once more embroiled in an adventure he wasn’t expecting. He’ll end this, once and for all, or die trying… But his friends from the Warrior’s Guild won’t let him do it alone!

my review

This is a hard book to review. Because I liked it. There’s no denying that. But I so liked book one and just don’t feel like this one stands up to it. And it’s hard not to let my disappointment color my objectivity and general opinion.

Like His Secret Illuminations (HSI), the writing here is fun and easy to read. It’s full of a diverse and quirky cast of characters, all of whom I like. But unlike HSI it didn’t have the glorious sexual tension to carry the long, slow plot. Instead it had all the sex instead. And while I enjoy a good sex scene (and I’ll grant that the scenes here were at least varied) I eventually started skimming them because I was bored of them. I felt like they got in the way of the plot.

Plus, while HSI was full of Lucian’s internal conflict, which grabbed and held me rapt. His Sacred Incantation has Lucian and Glory’s wholesome love. And while that’s not a bad thing, it too became super repetitive. For example, my kindle tells me the word love was used 131 times in the book. Between calling each other “my love” and telling each other that they love one another that’s a lot of love. What’s worse, my kindle also tells me the word kiss (or variations of the word—kissing, kissed, etc) was used 168 times. And that’s just kiss; it doesn’t include “pecked on the cheek” or “pressed her lips to his temple,” or any of a million other ways to describe a kiss. The book isn’t even 400 pages long. That’s an awful lot of kissing going on, like more than one every other page! I just got bored with it all. It’s sweet, but sweet won’t carry a book like internal conflict will, in my experience.

Lastly (and I’m not entirely sure how to phrase this), some of the kink-play felt too recognizably modern to fit the fantasy setting. While I’m well aware that there really isn’t anything new under the sun, humans have done it all before, when Gale brought out the kinky collars and leashes (for example) if just felt so very like this moment in time, instead of the fantasy historical time period of the rest of the book. It’s not that I didn’t think it fit Lucian and Glory’s kink, it’s that I felt like the kink being expressed in such a stereotypically recognizable way didn’t fit the the fantasy world. Like maybe Gale was trying to catch the market since that was, after all, fairly common trope in erotica for a while. It stood out from the rest of the story, the leash especially.

All in all, this is a likeable book. Despite my complaints, I liked it. I’ll probably read anything Gale puts out after this. But I simply couldn’t like it as much as HSI and that’s a shame.



Book Review of The Queen of Lies (Architects of the Grand Design #1), by Michael J. Bode

I received a free copy of The Queen of Lies, by Michael J. Bode for signing up to Queer Sci-Fi‘s mailing list.

Description from Goodreads:
Maddox is a mage with dreams of immortality and a drinking problem. Heath is a faithless priest working as an assassin for hire, paired with a sentient sword. Jessa, the last daughter in a long line of Thrycean tyrants, is a timid young woman seeking to escape her domineering mother, Satryn.

Rivern, the greatest city in the Protectorate, is a place of arcane magic and mechanical wonders that has stood for five hundred years as a bulwark against the tyrannical Stormlords of Thrycea. But Riven’s strong foundation is beginning to crack. People are dying in their sleep, the dead are walking the streets, refugees are flooding the city, and a mysterious Harbinger has returned with dire omens that could mean the end of the Protectorate.

Murder, magic and politics create a menacing tangle that the three must resolve before the Protectorate is crushed. But first they must save each other.

This took quite a long time to come together, but eventually it did and I enjoyed it. I liked a lot of the characters and I didn’t immediately figure out the mystery villain, which is always a bonus. Having said that, I never felt overly connected to anyone as we’re only ever given a shallow understanding of them. The coda felt extraneous (for a lot of it I wasn’t even sure it was connected to the primary story at all), there is quite a lot of anachronistic language, and the book really needs another editing pass. All in all, an interesting, though not perfect read.