LGBTQ+ Books

KJ Charles – An Unnatural Vice | Sins of the Cities 2

2Long overdue that I finally continue with Sins of the Cities by KJ Charles, so don’t let me digress, let’s talk about “An Unnatural Vice” (Sins of the Cities 2; ASIN B01M0HH1IH; 250p; Goodreads), second book in the trilogy. I loved the first book, but I loved this one even more. KJC, much like one of her protagonists here, is mighty capable of playing just the right strings for me, and likely – most.

Justin Lazarus is a famous seer of London. Lost a loved one? Want to talk to a dead relative? It’s him you come to. Much like this woman, of seemingly no interest. She wished to find her runaway twins, and instead of taking her meager savings to a detective, she took a drawing of them straight to Lazarus. Drawing, which Lazarus kept until the lady, whom he consoled as best he could, vaguely promising her that they’re alive and well, got back home to bring him the money she owed. For it seems, someone robbed this village woman out of her pennies. The fact she never returned didn’t surprise or concern Lazarus either. It happens. Up until he ran into journalist Nathaniel Roy, and his detective friend Mark.

Nathaniel Roy dedicated his time to expose people like Lazarus, thus the interest and crossing of paths happened naturally. The less natural was Lazarus appearing at his doorstep, cold, shivering, and seemingly worse for the wear, in need of help. For he nearly lost his life over that damned lost woman, and her runaway twins, it seems. Turns out, neither the woman, nor Mark, are the only people searching for the pair. And by far not every seeker has their well being in their hearts.

This was a very fine piece of detective work, and two mighty fine characters. I really loved the plot, and I loved the development of both it, and the people in it. Characters had substance, they filled another out well, tugging at flaws, and seeking best ways to mend what’s mendable. 5 out of 5, and I think I’ll jump straight to the third right now.

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Categories: 5-5, Books: LGBT, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

K.J. Charles – Think of England

3When tired and not feeling like choosing next book to read, I just pick whatever I have by K.J. Charles. So I just grabbed “Think of England” (ISBN 9780995799004; 239p.; Goodreads) audiobook, muted my game, and propped my ears up. Whatever I expected, I did not expect such an intense plot full of spies, blackmail, extortion, and bluffs!

A faulty shipment of guns that exploded upon use has left Captain Archie Curtis maimed, lacking fingers, with dead comrades, friends, and many questions. Not the least one is: was it an accident or has someone sabotaged them? On a quest to find answers Curtins soon finds himself in a company of a poet, Daniel da Silva, at an isolated country house party. He has full intentions to find a way to break into the office of the host, in hopes of finding any proof on either guilt or innocence.

The thick-walled house hides many secrets. Under guise of night, determined to uncover at least one of them, Curtis sneaks out of his room and towards the office. Just to run into the poet, and a whole different secret. The poet, as it turns out, is not who he seems to be. And while neither trust another enough to share their secrets, they both seem to have a common goal inside the host office. It’s firmly locked, and booby-trapped, and since there’s now two men trying to get in, they both can be sure of one thing at least: the hosts do have something to hide.

This was a great damned book! Thieves, soldiers, spies, plots, sieges and lies! Like a small-scale James Bond movie with a dash of Agatha Christie vibes. I can happily give it a 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: LGBT, Crime Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jordan L. Hawk – Widdershins | Whyborne & Griffin 1

2I love high-fantasy genre the most. But once tired from yet another world, yet another magic system, I tend to rest with books that have magic in our world, and preferably – not too modern. Thus I was recommended “Widdershins” by Jordan L. Hawk (Whyborne & Griffin 1; ISBN 0988564106; 236p.; Goodreads). A fine book of magic, occult, and homunculi-like beasts that seem to have crawled out of a Tzimisce wet dream.

Whyborne lived his life in a self-built prison. He studied, he worked, and he tried not to think too much. When he was little, his best friend, and likely the first crush, has drowned due to young Whyborne being unable to hold on to him in a stormy lake. So he buried himself under his work, in awful conditions, suffering through mockery, bullying, and lack of family connections, due to him not pursuing the career his father chose for him. Whyborne is one of the best translators around, so there’s plenty of work at any given time. Thus one can imagine, detective Griffin Flaherty, previously from some fine post in a far bigger place, barging in with a sort of a necronomicon for Whyborne to translate for some obscure case – didn’t amuse him much. He hoped to translate it, and be done with this nuisance of having to deal with another person, who isn’t his only friend – Christine.

But the more he read the book, the odder it got. Not only did spells seemingly work, for Whyborne, against his better judgement, did try one or two, the book keeps referring to a god worshiped by a ruler in Egypt who was systematically deleted from history. His tomb was discovered by Christine, untouched for all the treasures. It seemed then, that the tomb was not sealed for keeping the looters out, but rather, to keep something, or someone – inside.

This was a great adventure. Romance part wasn’t my thing in this case, too tacky, too cheesy, with too many cliche moments. But the magic was great! I hope to learn more about the book Whyborne translated in the next one, so I can give this one a fair 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity: Austin Chant – Peter Darling

33358438I always claimed that validation feels too tremendous to mean nothing. “Peter Darling” by Austin Chant (ISBN 1620049589, 164p.; Goodreads) is a good example of that. While the story itself is mediocre, it passes on a colossal message.

Peter Pan is a powerful story teller, with imagination so wild, and pain so severe – he almost tore the Neverland apart. He played his wars, fought the pirates, and lived his life free, as Peter, as a boy, until one day he remembered he had a family. A family who, truth be told, didn’t like the whole pretend games much, nor their daughter Wendy dressing up as a boy. Yet his love for them was far too great to just leave them like that, so he came back, sure they will have to accept him now, sure that he is indeed a real boy and they have to see it too. This way Peter doomed himself to a decade of living a pretend life, putting on a mask and a smile, just so his parents wouldn’t disown him or worse, put him into a mental hospital. For Wendy just cannot be Peter.

Ten years later Peter, unable to bear it no more, returns to Neverland, and as rules of this place demand – forgets having had any life outside this land at all. Now, a grown man, he still is unable to shake off the concepts of masculinity plastered on him, and tries to restore his former life here, regain power, and hopefully continue having fun with the Lost Boys, fighting those pesky pirates! But thing is, pirates flourished without him, and were perfectly able to live with no bloodshed under captain Hook’s rule. Lost Boys grew up and found there’s little fun to play a war against an enemy who isn’t really an enemy. The world has changed, but Peter is just unable to live and feel whole without his adversary. How else if not via killing the villains does one become a good man? Or, at the very least, a man?

Gender is a more complex concept than those who never had doubts about theirs would have you think. On top of having to accept yourself for who you are, you have to find your way through all the frames just ready and waiting. Peter’s actions might be hard to understand to those who were never in his or Wendy’s shoes, it’d seem cruel and silly to fight for the sake of fighting, or even make such silly gestures as claim you fight for you are a boy. But likely any transgender person will confirm: it is difficult beyond measure to allow yourself something that’s not considered normal to the gender you’re claiming to be. Trans men often avoid wearing make-up, for it lessens their word’s worth in the world, or at least it feels like it does. So while I can only give this book 4 out of 5, due to story being so-so, I still claim this is a fine message, with a fine transition out of a stereotype and into your own life.

Categories: 4-5, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holly Black – The Cruel Prince | The Folk of the Air 1

26032825Holly Black‘s book “The Cruel Prince” (The Folk of the Air 1; ISBN 0316310271; 384p.; Goodreads) was an impulse read to me. Just a book I kept seeing everywhere, and heard everyone talk about. The last time this happened, I got mighty disappointed. This time it was better. In fact, the book ended so well, I will read the next one, just to find out whether it worked or not, and how if it did.

Jude and her two sisters, then little, were taken by a fae warlord out of our world into the High Court of Faerie, all because the eldest was his legitimate daughter. Madoc, the said warlord, or rather a general, I guess, came in with no mood for compromise, for he thought his wife dead, as he found remains of what he thought was her some years back, after his home was set ablaze, and now he knew he was lied to. But who’d give up their child so easily? So he slayed all he found living in the house, and took all three girls with him: his wife, so his daughters. The girls swore to hate him forever, but as years went by, and he was nothing but kind and attentive to them, the promise grew hard to keep. And Jude wants nothing more than to have a place among the fae folk. Every day of her life is filled with bullying, ridicule, and even fear for her life. They despise humans, and she seems to be right at the end of the spectrum too. They think her a liar, for folk cannot lie. They think her already dead, rotting in her own shell, for she was born a mortal. They can glamour her into jumping out of towers, if she’s not extra careful, or eat the fae fruit, that’d drive her mad with wish to make them happy for another bite of it. With all that knowledge, her wish seems insane.

Yet when the time comes to either run, or seize power, Jude has no doubt she wants to stay and become something here, in the Faerie. So she becomes a spy to the King-to-be, one of the many princes in the royal family. Each one is more cruel than the next, and it fills her heart with dread to think one of them the High-King. On top of it, her work as a spy, at which she is very good, keeps revealing more and more secrets, intrigues, and gruesome plots. To the point where Jude’s not sure at all whom can she ever trust.

Author has a great writing style, the plot twists were perfect, often I didn’t even suspect one coming. I loved that Jude wanted to be a knight to set her feet in the Faerie, and not, say, find a good match of a husband to do that for her. What I didn’t like was the romance line. The whole “I treat you like dirt, because I like you” and “I almost killed you, because THEY would’ve killed you” is unpleasant to read to say the least. I hate how easily heroines, yes, heroines! forget all about the fear and horror they’ve been put through by the man who is kissing them now. I’ll give this book 3 out of 5, and will read the next one, with hopes it grows into something better. The plot outside the romance is great, and romance can improve, the way Sarah J. Maas books did (that’s personal opinion, of course).

 

Categories: 3-5, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

K.J. Charles – An Unseen Attraction | Sins of the Cities [1]

30517107Sometimes I catch myself wishing for K.J. Charles to rewrite Sherlock Holmes. The wish got the fuel added to it with the book “An Unseen Attraction” (Sins of the Cities 1; ASIN B01G0GD0E0; 247p.; Goodreads), where the detective plot-line really had me hooked!

Both Clem and Rowley prefer peace and quiet, which is likely why they soon found themselves having those common evenings together, by the fire, with tea and the lodging house cat named Cat. Rowley isn’t very talkative, and Clem has things to hide. And if that doesn’t make the foundations for sound friendship, then their common dislike of the loud drunkard neighbor does. Rowley can’t figure out why Clem won’t just kick him out, or why is he so devoted to his brother, who, it seems, gave this lodging house to Clem on an exact condition that this sorry excuse of a man gets to stay here, rent-free. Which is likely why Earl Edmund feels the need to come and haunt their doorstep soon after the man is dropped tortured and killed onto Clem’s doorstep, thus, by proxy, on earl’s.

As gloomy fog rolls over, clouding the streets in foul, obscuring sheet of stinking mist, even the daytime is dangerous, let alone the night. The dead man wasn’t the last event that got Rowley worried. Soon someone breaks into his shop, and failing to find whatever it was they needed, sets it on fire, nearly killing Rowley in the process. Whatever it is the drunkard died for, whatever for were the earl’s strange questions, Rowley has had enough.

This was one fine story. I wish there was a little more about Rowley though, since I found his character interesting, but lacking in air time. Clem was a special something though! Easy 5 out of 5 here, and let’s move on to the next, onwards!

I wish to invite you to my new favorite blog, for some tea, book themed delights, and books: Pen & Pin is that room with the fireplace and the cat named Cat in blog form.

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Dear Reader,

long time no read. How has Your year begun? What is the weather like in Your corner of the world?

Over here the mornings mope about the absence of snow, cover themselves in thick blankets of fog, and refuse to get up.

Londoners took a perverse pride in the “particulars” of yellow, blinding fog; Clem had been raised in the countryside, where you could breathe.

Our local variety is no match for an old London pea-souper, but still manages to creep into coats of any thickness and chill you to the bone.

Why not stave off the chill and dreariness with a delightful biscuit (or a plate-full of them)?

 

Categories: 5-5, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

John Patrick Kennedy – Princess Dracula [1]

33763808I started reading John Patrick Kennedy book “Princess Dracula” (Princess Dracula 1; ASIN B01MSQGCS3; 203p.; Goodreads) last year, and barely managed to finish it last night. It’s a very plot-lacking book that smells of a man not knowing he can just write a woman like she’s a person, and not an alien.

Ruxandra Dracula, daughter to Walachian prince Vlad the Impaler, has been raised in a covenant for most of her life. One of these nights he comes to collect his daughter, and Ruxandra can only pray it is so he can marry her off to someone kind and handsome, like one of the knights that came with him. Instead Dracula takes her into a cave where a ritual for demon summoning is being prepared. He offers the demon his own daughter, confident he’ll be able to control the powers given, and use them against the Ottoman Empire. But demon only laughed, for it had spiteful plans of its own.

Ruxandra craves blood. At times her own body fights her, and all too often completely overpowers her, with this need to survive, while she herself is not exactly feeling like it. But she’s a Dracula, meaning she’s stubborn and determined. Determined to not hurt people, and find a way to die eventually. Until a beautiful young man finds her in the woods. Kind and caring he inspires hope in Ruxandra’s dead heart.

Too much work was put into explaining the logic of why the female protagonist has to be naked time and again. Too little work left, thus, on the plot, which was mediocre at best. For most of the book – nothing happens. And what does happen, like the brides of Dracula take (there’s an unevolved plot-line where those “brides” are actually Ruxandra’s friends, and they’re having this strange poly-amorous relationship, it could work, it would be an interesting take of Dracula’s Brides, seeing how Ruxandra is Dracula), gets left mentioned by a word or two across whole book. So I start a year with a book I can only give 2 out of 5 to. But that doesn’t mean I won’t read further.

Categories: 2-5, Books: Dracula, Books: LGBT, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, Nosferatu Books, vampires | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

December and why is it so quiet during it?

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Because it’s my birthday, it’s my mother’s birthday, it’s Christmas Eve and Christmas, and then New Years too. So instead of writing down those two reviews that are awaiting, I sit here with my comfort books.

How are you doing? How are the holidays?

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Categories: About Msg2TheMing, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , | Leave a comment

C.S. Pacat – The Summer Palace | Captive Prince 3.5

33230173The beauty of C.S. Pacat‘s books is something to savor. Yet I swallowed “The Summer Palace” (Captive Prince 3.5; ISBN13 9780987622303; 30p.; Goodreads) in one night, not something my exhausted mind allows often these days.

The story is set after the third book, so make sure you’ve read them before heading into this one. After the gruesome battle with the regent and those loyal to him, or yet, opposing Damianos as rightful heir of Akielos, both him and Laurent took to their own kingdoms. To mend, secure their positions, and maybe set some order. Yet before doing so they agreed: when all of this is over, they will meet in an Akielon summer palace for a breath. And today is the day for that.

Laurent stood there, waiting, in Akielon garbs, his yellow hair now longer, watching the road for any signs of King Damianos and his entourage. But Damian took a shortcut, in a hurry to see his friend, his lover, and surprised both Laurent, and the scarce skeleton staff in the palace. He was in too much hurry to see him again, to talk, to rest. And discuss things, for there’s certainly still plenty of water under the bridge to sort out. Not the least or last question being what customs they’ll follow in their new palace on the border of their countries.

This was a beautiful recap of what happened, and an even more beautiful ending to it all. Also, I was right, the more Laurent trusted being safe in his surroundings, in people around, the less clothes happened. Theory confirmed, 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Books: LGBT, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity: C.S. Pacat – Green but for a Season | Captive Prince Short Stories 2.5

31814812Most of you don’t even know that I recently re-read the Captive Prince trilogy. Well, I did, and then I remembered there’s short stories I didn’t yet get to! “Green but for a Season” by C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince Short Stories 2.5; ISBN B01LB1H41E; 24p.; Goodreads) is the first one, held between the second and third books, and concentrates on Laurent’s captain, Jord.

Jord is a lowborn nobody with a well honed fighting skill. It was because of this skill that prince Auguste has noticed him back in the day, and took him into the ranks. Later, as Auguste fell in the battlefield, and red regent flags covered up the blue ones of the prince, soldiers and guards either took up the red, or were put away. Lowborns were the least wanted. So here he was, trying to make due for years. Up until prince Laurent grew a little, and realized what game his uncle was playing. Seeing the dangers, he decided to form his own Prince’s Guard, with gold starburst on blue, not red, and for that he wanted only the best of the best. And his brother surely knew who the best were. So, again, here he was, Jord, trying to make due, as Laurent called upon him, promised him this will be even harder than it was with Auguste, and asking if he’ll take up arms for him, the way he did for his brother. Jord didn’t need to be asked twice.

Today Jord is a captain, proud to serve prince Laurent, who proved true to his word. The boy protected them, and in return, they were ready to kill and die protecting him. Still, a captain’s rank to a nobody seemed a dream beyond wildest of hopes. Especially in a situation where an actual high-born nobleman was present. A nobleman who was forced to serve the prince, as the youngest son, with least prospects, other than a good betting chip, in case Regent gets fooled. And maybe, just maybe Laurent knew it before Jord did.

This was a very fine read, shining light on many things at last. 5 out of 5, not even a half point less.

Categories: 5-5, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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