Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Lacuna by N.R. Walker

Blurb: Twenty-five years ago, the hand of fate marked four newborns and sent them to the four corners of the Great Kingdoms. They were schooled and trained as rulers of their lands in preparation for the Golden Eclipse ceremony: a festival to celebrate a thousand years of peace and prosperity since the Great War.

Crow, ruler of Northlands, a skilled swordsman and expert tactician, is as reclusive and stoic as the mountains that surround him. Tancho has spent his life in strict discipline, governing the Westlands with a fair mind and gentle hand. Quiet and unassuming, yet lethal in combat, he is the embodiment of the waters he lives by.

Yet the same hand of fate unknowingly linked Tancho to Crow in ways they cannot comprehend. Ruled by the stars, the brother sun and the two sister moons above them, and marked by an alchemical sorcery as old as time, their destinies were never their own.

As the eclipse draws near and the festival begins, word comes of another threat. Invaders from unknown lands bring a war no one was prepared for, and Crow and Tancho must decide on which side of the battle line they stand.

In life or death, their destinies will see them joined either way.

Lacuna is a story about four kingdoms, each with a destined ruler who have to come together for a once in a a lifetime ceremony, and that is when the shit hits the fan for everyone involved, particularly for the stoic Crow, ruler of Northlands and the feisty ruler of the Westlands, Tancho.

Tancho and Crown are both excellent main characters. They are very charming and from the get-go, despite being forced to be together, the chemistry is there. I do loved the side characters too – the fun that they add to the story, and trust, there are a lot of funny moments. I also loved the development of their relationship over the course of the story.

Although I’ve to say that the best thing about the story is its worldbuilding. The author did an excellent job in taking us into these ‘four corners of the Great Kingdoms’ with such a refreshing interpretation of the elements – the vivid description of each kingdom are just beyond.

The pacing of the story flowed nicely and it also feels very short at 368 pages, so it was definitely a quick read for me that I was able finished it in a day.

I would’ve given this a 5 star rating if not for the hasty resolution, but I’m excited because I feel that there’s more to explore in this world and knowing N.R. Walker, she could easily spin something from this world that would be as good as this story! This is definitely something I’d recommend for those who are into fantasy-romance novels!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 366 pagesPublished October 23rd 2020 by Blue Heart Press

About The Author
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way. She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things… but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal. She’s been writing ever since.

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Manga Review: Cool Down by Akira Kabane

What a super cute story! Makoto is the son of the President of the company where Hirai works as a secretary. Makoto’s been in love with Hirai since they first met and Hirai feels the same way but their four years age gap hinders Hirai to take action towards the young boy. A company scandal resulted to Hirai getting fired but Makoto’s intervention cleared everything up leading to a promise that someday, he’ll be the one to protect the older guy.

I loved how Hirai totally waited for Makoto before finally doing it (although it was instigated by Makoto himself – very prevalent in Yaoi). The drawing isn’t that polished but they’re cute as well and the writing was simple, but overall very much enjoyable.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
ANBE Akira: かんべ あきら

Likes: Travelling, watching movies, eating.
Hates: Strong, bitter things

http://stj.sub.jp/

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Manga Review: 僕らはそれを否定できない [Bokura wa Sore o Hitei Dekinai] (Bokura #2) by Kyuugou

Blurb: In Spring of his junior high 2nd year, Saitou got in the same class as Suzuki. Receiving Saitou’s help while being bullied in first year, Suzuki smiled shyly while thinking, “what if we became friends”. Saitou is becoming more and more conscious about Suzuki and their relationship starts to change?!

In my opinion, We Can’t Deny has the best drawings out of allthe artist’ catalogue. I loved the sweetness of the story and the whole thing about Saito defending Suzuki. It was just sweet and I feel like giving Susuki a bear hug each time he gets bullied. Poor baby. Good thing, Saito’s always there for him.

Whilst I Can Tell By Your Hand got me confused about Makoto and Shin’s relationship – they are cousins because their dads are brothers – I wonder if the whole holding hands was still a bff thing. It was just odd how it was not properly established.

The storyline of this one is definitely way more solid than the first story of this series, and the art style somehow feels much refined. Will definitely recommend this one!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter https://twitter.com/coco_no2
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Manga Review: You & Me, Etc. (Bokura #1) by Kyuugou

Blurb: Iku and Keita have been buddies since childhood, and have played sports together their whole lives… until their final year in middle school, when Keita’s baseball career abruptly ended as a result of the severe injuries he sustained when saving Iku from being hit by a truck. Ever since that accident, Iku has distanced himself from both the game and his friend, presumably out of guilt. Can these two friends patch up their differences, and become something more…?

Jeez, the feels of this one! I would have liked a more detailed version of Keita’s accident and not just a recounting of Iku’s mom about it. Overall, I really did enjoy Iku and Keita’s interaction, though, I was grasping to connect well with them because although they have great interaction, they’re just far too few in between. Just the same, this was an exciting pick for me. The ending is specially wonderful! Absolutely sweet and adorable!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Paperback, 194 pagesPublished February 8th 2011 by Blu (first published November 2007)

Follow the author on twitter at https://twitter.com/coco_no2

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Book Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales From Verania, #1) by TJ Klune

Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or so he thinks.

This was from my archive whose review I’ve posted via Goodreads on June 18, 2015. I opted to just post the original here but let me add a few things because because I still remember the story and I do remember how delightful it was, and how I had to finish it right away because it was exciting, it was funny as hell obviously but more than anything, it’s also very affecting.

I just got my heart struck by the super-awesome-goodness of this book! It’s as fabulous as Gary! Super-sweet like Tiggy and as dashing and immaculately [written] like Ryan! Gawd! Sam, why you gotta be so oblivious?!? It’s the funniest book I’ve read this year and perhaps the one that moved me the most as well.

Is it so weird of me that the only thing that’s bothering me until now is when Justin haughtily told Sam that he got Ryan on all fours begging for it…like, super TMI. I didn’t need to hear that seriously….yeah, guess I’m weird like that.

Anyways, again – let me emphasize how I super-loved this one!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I cannot wait for their next adventure!!!!!!!!
Jeez, I almost forgot about Kevin. LOL

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About The Author
TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include the Green Creek series, The House on the Cerulean Sea and The Exraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important–now more than ever–to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

tjklunebooks.com

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Review: Synchronicity by Keira Andrews

Prompt: Dear Author,
I could look at him all day. But sometimes, when he thinks I’m not looking, he seems so sad…

Blurb: It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for Tyler Bourne to compete in Olympic synchronized diving with veteran Aiden Oxford. The last thing he expects is to fall head over heels for his gorgeous partner. Friendly but distant, Aiden keeps him at arm’s length, and Tyler knows his feelings are hopelessly one-sided. But as the Games begin, Tyler learns nothing is certain until the final dive.

I totally loved the prompt for this one. I always enjoy reading sports theme story only if they don’t get too technical. Keira didn’t overdo it with this shorty and both MCs are adorable! I loved the ending as well although I’m still yearning more from Aiden because the story was told through Tyler’s POV and it’d be fun to have a follow up and perhaps getting the gold in the next Olympics although Aiden’s pretty old here so a twist is in need if ever the author decided (for some reason) to ever come up with a follow up.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

You can download your copy for free:

This story was written as a part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.
Kindle Edition, 52 pages
Published July 14th 2014 (first published June 18th 2013)

About the Author
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

Book Review: Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid

Blurb: There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, reclusive mountain man, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.

I do love this author and I’ve enjoyed majority of her works but halfway through this one, I started skimming a bit because it’s just gotten repetitive. Drew’s stoic characterization isn’t really that far-fetched from the “romance novel” characters Ashley was adamantly avoiding. I was rolling my eyes over Drew’s histrionics and the whole Nietzsche fanboying was just cringe if I’m being totally honest. It’s a shame because Ashley’s character is absolutely interesting and there’s so many aspect of her characterization to really flesh out!

Also, Ashley’s brother pushing her towards Drew just doesn’t make sense to me. It feels exploitative in a way. For me, there was just not enough chemistry for me between them.

Only fun I’ve had reading this were the small bits involving Cletus. He’s funny, very likable and dreamy to boot!

I find Reid’s books usually enjoyable but this one isn’t just for me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 372 pagesPublished July 1st 2019 by Cipher-Naught (first published August 24th 2014)

Beauty and the Mustache is a full-length novel, can be read as a standalone, and is the fourth book in the ‘Knitting in the City’ series.

About Penny Reid
Penny Reid is a USA Today Best Selling Author of romantic fiction. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances she works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults (boy-8, girl-6, and girl-4 months), wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Review: Michael Turner Creations Softcover Featuring Fathom, Soulfire, and Ekos

Aspen Comics
Genre & Themes: Comics & Graphic Novels | Sci Fi & Fantasy | Teens & YA
Publication Date: June 29, 2021

This creative journey of the late Michael Turner is such a nostalgic throwback as we get a collection of his works as a result of a very successful Kickstarter which into a 720 pages of art showcasing Fathom, Soulfire and Ekos – Turner’s most beloved works.

We also get interesting introduction about each work. It feels so nostalgic because as someone like me who grew up in the 90’s – I was able to witness the development of the art. I am not a comic connoisseur in any way but I have deep appreciation of it – the artistic concept, the story, the development of characters and of course its impact to a wider audience.

Turner’s works are rather provocative than what I’ve been used to reading. It is his style and I think it works well with majority of his target audience. “Fathom” and “Soulfire” in particular have great art and concept but they’re not actually as mind-blowing, story-wise, which is my only gripe towards his works. In the scope of things, it really doesn’t matter much for the mere visuals of works are to die for.

Admittedly, I am more of a fan of Japanese manga back in the mid-90’s when I starter reading comics starting with the Dragon Ball, Yuyu Hakusho, Hunter X Hunter, and Naruto to name a few because they’re more accessible for me but I do love me some of his works that’s why when I opened Netgalley, and it’s featured on my Dashboard, I’ve requested for it right away. This is such a great tribute for his works which definitely withstood the test of time. It’s delightful and a very solid buy for fans.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pre-order your copy below:

The book also features Bill O’Neil (Author), Jeph Loeb (Author), J. T. Krul (Author), Geoff Johns (Author), Frank Mastromauro (Editor), Vince Hernandez (Editor), Gabe Carrasco (Editor), Peter Steigerwald (Artist), Joe Benitez (Artist).

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an impartial review.

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Book Review: The Sea (The Knight and the Necromancer #3) by A.H. Lee

Date of Publication: March 23, 2020
Publisher: Pavonine Books
Genre & Theme: Fiction & Literature, LGBT, Gay, Fantasy, Romance
ASIN: B085RBLC76

Knights and necromancers are never on the same side… are they?

Sairis has known all his life that knights are not his friends…until the last few weeks, when he somehow forgot, and tumbled into bed with one. He told Roland to leave, hurt him badly, used as many cruel words as possible. And yet Roland stubbornly refuses to leave Sairis alone, half-naked and friendless in the wilderness.

After a surreal week of shared secrets beneath the stars, they’re about to rejoin Mistala’s army as it prepares for a desperate battle with a deadly sorcerer. Sairis’s help might make the difference, but he is deeply conflicted, afraid of being trapped and stripped of his magic by Mistala’s unfriendly magicians. He’s not sure whether he’s the prince’s lover or his prize. He feels like an outlaw, trussed up across Roland’s saddle. If he could just leave them all their deaths, things would be so much easier.

Now, this third and final book in the series is actually pretty good. It is fast-paced, with a lot of twists, action-packed and just romantic moment between our main characters. It almost feels like reading a gay version of The Lord of the Rings – I mean, with the whole setting, the characters’ heroics, reflections and realizations.

I particularly enjoyed Hastafel’s character here. He’s like the character of Smeagol and Saruman combined. There’s just so many layers of him here which we literally witnessed. Another very interesting character is the Incubus Mal. He’s very likable for some reason. His “adorable” side were in display in The Border and here, we see more of that and I absolutely enjoyed it.

Overall, this is a very solid conclusion to the series. Again, it has great world-building, very interesting characters and the flow of the story is consistent from the first book up to this last part of the series. The series is very short despite its three volumes. I just wished there was more it but this is definitely something you need to add to your to-be-read list!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About the Author
A. H. Lee writes steamy fantasy with LGBTQ+ characters. Her books nearly always include a talking cat.
You can learn more at https://www.abigailhilton.com/a-h-lee

Book Review: The Border (The Knight and the Necromancer #2) by A.H. Lee

Date of Publication: March 23, 2020
Publisher: Pavonine Books
Genre & Theme: Fiction & Literature, LGBT, Gay, Fantasy, Romance
ASIN: B085RBSGV8

Roland thought necromancers were inhuman monsters. Until he met Sairis.

Roland and Sairis have escaped from a traumatic assassination attempt, solved the mystery of their attacker, and enjoyed plenty of heavy petting along the way. Roland knows that it’s too soon for love, but he feels like he’s falling head over heels.

However, in the final moments when their attacker is revealed, Sairis does something unthinkable. He transfers a brutal spell to Roland, nearly killing him, and disappears.

Roland is left reeling, struggling to cope with his injuries, and wondering whether everything Sairis said and did was a lie. Did Sairis seduce Roland only to use him as a hostage? And if not, what has happened to Sairis?

I’ve posted a very short review of the first book of this series. A review which is almost as short as its blurb and this second book is obviously just a continuation of the last chapter which ends in a cliffhanger.

This second book is more action-packed than the first one and we get to see more character development from Roland and Sairis, that also includes the progression of their relationship. I really do liked these two. They are still very engaging and quite likable here. It’s also fun that we get to discover the history of other characters. I do loved the reveals here about some of them because they definitely adds bit of spice into the story.

The pacing was on point, though, this could’ve easily been part of the first book. I mean, I don’t mind the author stretching the story. It just feel a bit anticlimactic somehow, if you get what I mean. I’d still give this a good recommendation and do make sure to get the rest of the series altogether.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Author
A. H. Lee writes steamy fantasy with LGBTQ+ characters. Her books nearly always include a talking cat.

You can learn more at https://www.abigailhilton.com/a-h-lee