Tag Archives: LGBT+

Poppy Flowers at the Front

Review: Poppy Flowers at the Front, by Jon Wilkins

Poppy Flowers at the FrontI accepted a review copy of Jon WilkinsPoppy Flowers at the Front through Damppebble Crime Blog Tours.

About the book1917: with her father in the British secret service and her brother Alfie in the trenches, under-age Poppy Loveday volunteers against her parents’ wishes to drive ambulances in France. We follow her adventures, racing to save wounded men driven to the Casualty Clearing Station, and back to the Base Hospital.

During one battle she finds Élodie Proux, a French nurse, at a roadside clutching a dead soldier. Poppy rescues her. Élodie becomes her dearest girl as they fall in love.

Poppy and Élodie encounter frightening adversaries at the Western Front as well as away from it during the closing weeks of World War One.

Poppy Loveday

Poppy Loveday

Élodie Proux

Élodie Proux

While it’s well known on the continent, I’ll give a quick little FYI for American readers. Poppies are worn on Remembrance Day (much like our Memorial Day) in honor of fallen soldiers. That should help in understanding the title.

There is much to appreciate about Wilkins’ Poppy Flowers at the Front. I very much liked Poppy as a character, Élodie too, though we get to know her far less than Poppy. Their young romance was very sweet and that contrasts well against the travesties of war. Wilkins’ does an excellent job making the pointlessness and devastation of war feel real, without steeping the reader in gore. And I adored Poppy’s relationship with her family.

However, I also felt the book lacked a central theme and/or plot-line. It felt very much like it picked up one random day and the reader follows until the book ends on another random day, and random things happen randomly during that time. I also might quibble with it being categorized as a “crime thriller.” That wouldn’t be the genre I’d put it in. Lastly, the version I read really needed another editing pass. All in all, however, not a bad read and not one I’d hesitate to recommend.

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Follow the rest of the tour here.

Lore and Lust

Review: Lore and Lust, by Karla Nikole

I purchased a paperback copy of Lore & Lust directly from the author, Karla Nikole, after seeing an Instagram post about having some for sale.

            
The slow burn vampire romance you didn’t know you needed…

Haruka Hirano is alive, but not quite living. Surviving but not thriving. As an elite purebred vampire in the twenty-first century, he is broken. Content in his subpar existence.

He is done with life. But life is not finished with him.

When he receives a formal request to oversee an antiquated vampire ritual at Hertsmonceux Castle, Haruka grudgingly leaves his home to meet another purebred. The vampire is not what he expects. Truly, he is unlike any vampire Haruka has ever encountered: cautious, innocent and with the warmth and gravitational pull of the sun.

Lore and Lust is an exploration of cultures, contemporary society and romance. It puts a whimsical spin on traditional vampire lore, while also creating a vivid new world where love is love. No questions asked.

I’m not sure how to rate this one. It’s a perfectly fine book. If I had to choose one adjective, I’d say it’s nice. It’s a nice book about nice people (vampires) getting together to form a nice, supportive relationship amongst their nice families/friends. The only thing missing is the inclusion of nice little babies.

And there is nothing wrong with any of that. It is a lovely, squishy, feel-good, slow-burn romance that was actually great as an election night distraction. The problem with all that nice, squishy, feel-goodness though, is that it leaves little room for tension, which combined with the third person present tense writing leaves the reader feeling distant and slightly bored. But more importantly, it isn’t what that absolutely stunning, but honestly dark and brooding cover led me to expect. In fact, I don’t feel it represents the tone of the book at all, as much as I love it. And I do; I bought the book on the strength of my love for it alone. So, how do you rate a book that’s perfectly lovely, but misrepresents itself? I don’t know. Right down the middle, I guess.

Outside of the mismatched tone and cover I only had one real complaint, the lack of significant female characters. There are only three females in the book, all relatively minor side characters. Two of them are grasping and manipulative and the third is dangerously close to being the cliched sassy, Black BFF (and I’d bet the love interest/heroine of a future book). Though Nino‘s Italian, so maybe that stereotype is somewhat ameliorated.

The editing is clean. There’s one point when Hau is sitting on the Tatami but gets up from the couch. But other than that, which might have been a misunderstanding on my part, I didn’t notice anything about the editing. Which is what you want in editing, right? And the mythos around vampires is a fresh one, which isn’t easy in a genre as well-trod as sexy vampires.

All in all, the book wasn’t what I expected, but also pointedly wasn’t bad. I’d certainly read more of Nikole’s writing and of the Lore & Lust series.

Review of Murder on the Lake of Fire (Mourning Dove Mysteries #1), by Mikel J. Wilson

I won a copy of Murder on the Lake of Fire through a giveaway the author, Mikel Wilson, ran on Instagram.

Description from Goodreads:

At twenty-three and with a notorious case under his belt, Emory Rome has already garnered fame as a talented special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His career is leapfrogging over his colleagues, but the jumping stops when he’s assigned a case he fought to avoid – an eerie murder in the Smoky Mountain hometown he had abandoned. The mysterious death of a teen ice-skater once destined for the pros is soon followed by an apparent case of spontaneous human combustion. In a small town bursting with friends and foes, Rome’s own secrets lie just beneath the surface. The rush to find the murderer before he strikes again pits him against artful private investigator Jeff Woodard. The PI is handsome, smart and seductive, and he just might be the killer Rome is seeking.

Review:

I generally enjoyed this. I wasn’t surprised by the conclusion of the mystery in any sense, but I enjoyed the journey of seeing that I was right and I liked both the main characters. I thought very occasionally that names were tossed into dialogue too often and the similes weighed a little heavily at times. But for the most part, I’m glad to have read it and look forward to the next one.


Edit: June 10, 2021 — In totally unrelated news, as I hadn’t even started Sadie’s Spotlight yet when I reviewed this book, the series was later promoed on the site.