M/M Literature

Mackenzi Lee “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” [1]

29283884I waited for “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee (ISBN 0062382802; 513p.; Goodreads) even before it was released. Which is a mighty rare thing for a first book (or a stand alone, we’ll see), and not, say, second or third in the series. Luckily, I didn’t get disappointed either!

Henry Montague is a fine man, an heir to a fairly great estate, and a son of great disappointment to his father. He was kicked out of school for, allegedly, starting a fight. He dallies with anyone on two legs, men, and women. He’s rarely ever sober, and shows little to no interest in running the estate! His father’s last hope is a voyage across Europe on which he sends Henry out, together with a very strict guardian, his sister, and his best friend. With whom Henry is secretly in love with…

The tour starts out pretty boring at first. Their guardian keeps his word, and makes sure everyone’s in line. Henry can’t go party, he’s not allowed to drink, and he’s going crazy. Yet he’ll surely miss these simple days once adventures come uninvited. Highway men, pirates… And all due to a damned box he pocketed!

The story was very fun, and often – very funny. It was easy to read, and I’m real happy about everything in it. So I’ll give it 5 out of 5, and won’t mind a sequel if such comes to be.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Friday: Diversity, Funny Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity: Censoring

[1]; [2]

I speak of V.E. Schwab‘s Shades of Magic often, and with pleasure, for they’re truly among my very top favorite books of all times. But not all the reasons to talk about it are good.

Russian editions of Shades of Magic were censored. Queer part of the plot was redacted out, without author’s permission or knowledge. Which leads author to consider canceling the whole contract.

I don’t much follow the love lines in stories, for they’re mostly the same regurgitated things. Not in this case. Here there was no “no, you have betrayed me, I never want to see you again!” thing. Instead two adults sat down, spoke it out, considered it, and all things weighted – decided where to go on from there. The only thing that they could’ve had any issue with is of course the fact, that both these characters were men.

The story is not about queers. The story is not about homosexual love. The story is not even about love. It’s about magic, human nature, wishes, adventures, and so on. So in a world full of magic, rising dead, and portals to other worlds – here, apparently, can be no gays.

“Oh, that’d be too much!” – Said a man on his unicorn.

For next Friday I have you a very nice queer-plot book thus. Because love is love.

Categories: Fantasy Books, Friday: Diversity, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Lynn Flewelling – Shadows Return [4]

2065091The tradition continues with Nightrunner series. Every second book is far better than the previous one. So while I didn’t much like the fae realms, I did love all that happened in “Shadows Return” by Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner 4; ISBN 0553590081; 522p.; Goodreads). It had a good pace, and a great, alchemy filled story.

Seregil and Alec return to Rhimenee, hoping to create a new runner persona, since their previous alter ego had to die. Even the most clueless nobles of the city might have otherwise noticed the pattern: Cat returns when Lord Seregil returns! Odd! Yet their fate had other plans for them. Remember that prophecy by oracle? Time to put it back in motion. Seregil and Alec end up in slavers hands, and are taken to enemy lands, where fae blood, especially the kind Alec has in his veins, is highly valued. Thus, they are separated, and sold…

Seregil, away from Alec, ends up at the mercy of his former lover, the man who betrayed him, the man who had him exiled. The only joy Seregil now has is the bittersweet knowledge: he is a slave too, if gilded.

The story was really pretty great, reminded me of Anne Rice’s “Claiming Beauty” trilogy, and C.S. Pacat “Captive Prince” too. I’ll give it a firm 4 out of 5, and hope it continues with these great topics!

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

K.J. Charles – A Gentleman’s Position [3]

25893424I somehow didn’t realize third book of Society of Gentlemen by K.J. Charles is out. Something in my brain thought it’s to yet happen. But I remedied myself quickly, after a friend corrected me, and got on with finishing the trilogy with “A Gentleman’s Position” (Society of Gentlemen 3; ISBN 1101886072; 246p.; Goodreads). And I can say that this one is my favorite one. With slight Kuroshitsuji vibe of resourceful butler, here – valet…

David Cyprian, Lord Richard Vane’s valet, goes out of his way, and beyond, to keep his master’s comfort. It is why, after all, he’s the very best, and most sought after valet. It is his pride, and joy to serve such a great man as Lord Richard, so when the need comes for him to blackmail, bribe, and burglar – the man takes it as his duty, no less. After all, he’s not a gentleman himself, and, truth be told, has a thing or two he could live with staying hidden from his personal life, and the past. The only little problem is that he is in love with his master. And there’s nothing to be done about it.

Richard Vane is a powerful man, with strong morals, and great mind. Made even better by his resourceful, irreplaceable valet, he tackles even the worst of situations, such as a threat hanging above the head of his beloved friends. Someone wants to expose them, and Richard is just not having it. Especially not when he sees nothing wrong with two men in love. After all, he himself harbors less pure thoughts about his valet too…

While a little slow with action, this was a great book, made so by Cyprian’s character. He’s clever, and resourceful, something I keep mentioning in my review a lot, and I think, in some other book, he would’ve made a great villain. 4 out of 5, very firm!

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

K.J. Charles – A Seditious Affair [2]

25241403When I picked up second K.J. Charles book in Society of Gentlemen trilogy, “A Seditious Affaird” (Society of Gentlemen 2; ISBN 1101886064; 251p.; Goodreads), I thought I’ll continue my adventures with Harry and Julian. But that was not the case. We get to see what their friends were up to in the meantime.

Silas Mason, much like Harry himself is a Radical. He prints and spreads books, and other literature of revolution. Books, even the worst of their kind, are favorable to him over people, even the best of the kind. He breathes this, he lives this, this vision of England where he and a gentleman would be respected, and treated the same. And to let the steam off in the meantime, he has his Tory lover for Wednesdays, with his masochistic needs fitting Silas want for any kind of satisfaction against the gentry.

Dominic Frey is a well-born gentleman working for the law. Every Wednesday he awaits for Silas, trying to push all the bad thoughts away. What if his colleagues catch on? What if they find his Radical lover? Would he give up all he has to save the man he’s secretly nurturing feelings for? Or would he see him hang for those vile ideas? One of these nights his worst nightmare comes true, and they end up running for their lives, after which there’s nothing more to do, but share each other’s visions. They need to figure where they stand, before they end up on the gallows. One has to convince the other.

The book felt like a mix of A Charm of Magpies, and previous Society of Gentlemen book, with those little moments of peace at the richer man’s house, and escaping with their lives. I’ll give this one another 4 out of 5, it’s a very easy read!

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

K. J. Charles – A Fashionable Indulgence [1]

23834716I’m a fan of K.J. Charles, and her easy-to-read, suspension-adventure filled books. So after a short recommendation, and a long wait, I went ahead and grabbed “A Fashionable Indulgence” (Society of Gentlemen 1; ISBN 1101886021; 264p.; Goodreads). And while this was not as great as A Charm of Magpies, it didn’t disappoint either.

Harry Vane is a Radical in Regency England. He fights for reforms, democracy, and one law for all. Radical bread in general is not sweet, yet when his grandfather, who decided he needs an heir, plucks him off the streets, and drops him into Julian’s lap, in attempt to make him a true gentleman – he’s about to choke on it. If Harry wants his inheritance, he’ll have to learn to hide his views, and play along. It’s just that, Julian, unlike his grandfather, doesn’t look all that appalled by it…

Already difficult Harry’s life turns upside down when his friend gets murdered the night he wore Harry’s coat. The man was not robbed, even thou he had the wallet Harry gave him. Thus both him and Julian come to conclusions – someone tried to kill Harry, and might still be out to get him. Did someone in Society of Gentlemen found out Harry’s true nature?

This was a pretty good detective, something I rarely say. I didn’t expect the things that happened, and I enjoyed the dandy side of this society more than I expected too. I still missed the witchcraft, so 4 out of 5 it is. Not because it lacked action without magic, but because I can’t help but compare the two trilogies. The cover is great tho, isn’t it?

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

Friday Diversity // K.J. Charles // LGBTQ+

Often, at least in gay men literature, characters who identify as homosexual tend to hate themselves, no matter how society views them. It’s one reason why I really like K.J. Charles, for there’s little to absolutely no self-loathing due to sexuality there, even thou the settings of these books are often placed in times where homosexuality in any form was considered a crime.

The first books I ever read by K.J. Charles was A Charm of Magpie trilogy. Now that I’m reading another one, I’ve noticed that’s not the only peculiarity she has. Author likes her characters, the ones doomed to fall for each other, to be as different from one another as possible

Lucian is tall, blond, all the way from exotic China where his father exiled him due to his homosexual nature. To London he returns a wealthy merchant, tattooed, handsome, and mighty unusual, flashy even.

Stephan day is short, red-haired, and the only oddity about him is his magic. With a high position in, what I’d call, magical police, he still barely makes the ends meet, and in general prefers staying unnoticed.

These two end up together, prepared to maybe fight a little, but end up figuring they both loathe Lucian’s father, and they both would rather keep the last living Vaudrey alive. The rest is just beautiful, adventure filled, and well paced story.

While in Shades of Magic character orientation was a matter of fact, here – the pair can’t even hold hands in public due to outlash they would receive, the danger they’d be putting each other into.

So, when your straight friends complain about Gay Pride parades, or wonder what’s there to be proud of, when you were born this way, do remind them these little facts: straight people were never ever persecuted due to their orientation, so they can celebrate it every single day, really, and you’re proud, because you’re alive, you survived, you’re here, and you’re awesome.

Categories: Books, Books of Occult, Friday: Diversity, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles [diversity]

thesongofachilesWhen you loathe a character, you need to stop and ask yourself why: because author wrote them so bad? Or is it because they wrote them so good, that you’d wish to strangle the fictional person? I had this problem, and need of constant reminder with “The Song of Achilles” By Madeline Miller (ISBN 1408816032; 352p.; Goodreads). The book is well written, but Achilles was driving me nuts.

Achilles is a half-god. His mother is a sea nymph. His father – a powerful king. He himself is a warrior with no equal, and without his aid, the war against Troy has no chance. Patroclus is almost a complete opposite. His father is a mediocre unknown king, his mother is weak of mind, he’s barely a decent soldier himself. And when he was exiled from his father’s court for accidentally killing a guest for trying to take something away from him – he didn’t expect anything good. Instead, he found an instant friend in Achilles, who not only didn’t judge him, or mock him, but respected him, and treated him fairly. And very soon he found himself in love, hoping beyond hope…

His mother wasn’t too happy about this friendship, and lingering feeling of love underneath. But to kill Patroclus, would be to tear her son’s heart out. Instead, thus, she sends him away. To study first, just to find Patroclus there, risking it all just to find Achilles again. Then further away, into hiding, where Patroclus again shows cunning beyond his seeming capabilities. And then at war for beautiful Helena, war against Troy, where Patroclus can barely keep his own weight, but still hardly ever leaves her son’s side. And Patroclus knows this well, her resentment to him. It frightens the young man, this anger of a goddess. Who does one invoke, who does one pray to, when a god is angry at them?

The story is pretty good. Fantasy elements were in place, and there weren’t too much of them either. Love story is pretty good too, felt fair, and natural. But. Achilles got on my nerves a lot. His pride kept getting hurt in that damn war, and I kept waiting for him to hold his breath and threaten to not breathe until he’s apologized for. Patroclus, on the other hand, got wiser as time went, and they both filled each other out very well, one being a master of this, and other – of that. So I can give this book a 4 out of 5.

Diversity: M/M romance, well written, with little non-graphic sex. They were fair to each other, and cared for each other.

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

Friday: Diversity // LGBTQ+

I had a chat with one other book blogger recently, where we discussed the lack of diversity in books we’re, so to speak, served. In a sense, unless you look by yourself, for yourself – you might not come around a lot of diversity. So I started digging through my blog, just so I could mark things down: which books had people of color? Were they main characters, or merely sidekicks? What about LGBT people? Different religions? In the end it was fairly hard to find books from different, less popular countries, let alone bigger things, like gender or color.

So we came to a conclusion, or rather, she did, and I stole it, as I do, as should you with good ideas if they’re not copyrighted: maybe we should speak up a little. Education is lacking, points of view are lacking. So let’s help each other out. Let’s find the good things, the diverse things and share them. Let’s educate ourselves, for no one else will!

Schedule will be this, if all goes well: Fridays. Every other Friday we speak of a topic, then next Friday I try to read a book for the previous topic. All suggestions are very welcome.

Today’s topic is LGBTQ+, and the books are V.E. SchwabShades of Magic trilogy [1]; [2]; [3]:

x_shadesofmagic

Shades of Magic is a wonderful fantasy trilogy of three Londons. Grey one is dull, without any magic in it. White one is where magic bites back, eating the very life-force of the world, people. And the Red one is wonderful, full of beautiful, peaceful magic. There’s two main heroes here, Delilah Bard, who comes from Grey London and dreams of adventure. And Kell, who is basically adopted by the royal family, and considers their legitimate son Rhy – his brother. He’s the key to Delilah’s adventure, for she soon finds a way to get him to take her away from the Grey London, into his, Red.

Rhy gets a time to shine in third book, even thou there’s plenty of him in other ones too. He’s a delightful man of tan skin, beautiful eyes, easy flirt, and charming character, with a lot of strong emotions that seemed very true, and honest. And while his bed was warmed by lovers of both genders, his heart secretly belongs to only one: Alucard Emery. Alucard is a captain of a ship Delilah Bard finds herself in while on an adventure to, basically, find more adventures.

While Alucard was beaten by his brothers and thrown out of the home by his father due to where he spent the night (Rhy’s bed), homophobia here is a matter of isolated incidents and oddities of distant lands. Little if any pay attention to Rhy’s orientation, and the worst thing that came out of it was a consequence to Alucard not explaining why he left, for Kell swore to beat him to a pulp for breaking his brother’s heart.

SPOILERS:

Everything solves in the end, and we get a happy ending for everyone, including Rhy and Alucard. Alucard comes back with solid proof of his love, and Rhy, being a smart young man, finds a way to work his love into his life.

SPOILERS END:

These are truly delightful books. No one’s perfect, and yet the logic these characters show is so very refreshing. There’s no love triangles, there’s no abandoning of dreams for love, but rather true, and honest reaching for the stars, not letting go of anything, not compromising. They’re captivating and wonderful, and everyone should read them!

Categories: LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

V.E. Schwab – A Conjuring of Light [3]

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabMy journey through Londons ends, and I must say, I’m fairly content about it. With “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic 3; ISBN 0765387468; 624p.; Goodreads) Shades of Magic trilogy ends. Some things were left untold, and it felt natural, for they were the things Red London didn’t speak about. Other things received their dots where dots were needed. And since there’s spoilers further on, my advice is to not read unless you’ve read the previous book. Know that I loved this book.

We’re all familiar with the concept of AI becoming self-aware, and what could that mean to us, to our world. In our “grey” world, if not per se London, this concept is the most interesting among theoretically possible ones, for having no magic means we advanced in other things. Red London, on the other hand, has full-on magic…

Once, due to a mistake, or worship, a spell became self-aware outside the will of the caster. And now this creature, believing self to be a God, for hey, they DID worship it where it’s from, is wrecking havoc on Kell’s home. And, of course, he’s prepared to kill it or die trying.

They say two heads are better than one, so how about four? Kell, Lila, Alucard, and their prisoner, sail out into the ocean, in search of the blackest market of all the black damn markets. If you need it – they have it. If you want it – bargain for it. And they’re nothing if not in need of weapons able to fight a divine power, where revered creatures as Antari don’t stand a chance to compete. Just imagine these four in close ship quarters for a week… Rhy, in the meantime, stays behind to defend London until they return, with a promise to Kell that he won’t get into TOO much trouble until he’s back. But that’s easier said than done, for there’s a monster outside alright, but what about the traitors on the inside?

I love how no one went out for a stroll in Black London, and the myth, more or less, stayed a myth, or at least a forbidden place no one wants to think about, like the ajar closet door at night. I like that prince was so utterly in love with his man, that he listened, and understood, and made things possible, as kings do. I like that Delilah stayed her own woman, with her own agenda, her own mind, even with all the stuff about Kell, and that it was him who got to consider that hey, maybe I’m not actually rooted into one spot after all (I hate those damn stories where girl stays behind, and doesn’t go to some uni, just because her new found love was too dumb to get in anywhere, and had to stay in some miserable hometown of theirs). I love that everything ended so well, and that the end, if firm, is not solid, and if need be – there could be a book 4, but if there never is – reader is content with absolutely everything. It’s a very right, and very good ending to have. So I give it 5 out of 5, something I have never done to an entire series before (I think, I might have done that to Harry Potter, but I can’t recall anymore), and will add it to my favorite list when I’m not too lazy about it.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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