Tag Archives: #LGBT

Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen

wake-of-vultures

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand. And just like that, Nettie can see. But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding — at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin… if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.

I had high expectations when I saw Wake of Vultures on NetGalley. I’ve read Delilah Dawson before, and I knew she had a supernatural series under the pen name, Lila Bowen. I’m not shocked that Wake of Vultures exceeded my expectations. Although an old west novel with vampires, werewolves and cowpokes isn’t exactly my thing, I knew that whatever Delilah wrote, I’d likely enjoy.

As others have said, Wake of Vultures has a feel like an episode of Supernatural. On the old west half of the mash-up, I’d say that old-timey themes like Magnificent Seven, but what really came to mind, was Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman.

I enjoyed Wake of Vultures; plan to read Conspiracy of Ravens and the other two books in the series when they come out in 2017 & 2018. Five stars for this wonderful story.

Delilah S. Dawson writes dark, edgy books for teens and fantasy with a wicked edge for adults. The Blud series is available now and includes WICKED AS SHE WANTS, winner of the RT Book Reviews Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for 2013. SERVANTS OF THE STORM debuts August 2014, and Kirkus called the Southern Gothic Horror YA “an engaging page-turner” and “a standout, atmospheric horror tale.” April 2015 will see the launch of HIT, a YA pre-dystopia about teen assassins in a bank-owned America.

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The Shock of Survival, by Nicole Field

the-shock-of-survival

In the wake of the final battle against The Oppressor, Benedict, Ophelia and Dylan face their magical community in triumph. But that triumph rapidly loses its shine as they realise the war is not so easily left behind. Returning to, and relearning, the lives they had before proves to be more difficult than even they had anticipated.

I enjoyed The Shock of Survival. When I saw it on NetGalley, I noticed that it was from LT3, and have read a few works from this publisher in the past. Everything I’ve read thus far from LT3 have been solid stories.

The premise of the book is simple enough: Three heroes try to return to their lives after defeating The Oppressor. I’ve often wondered this about stories I’ve enjoyed. The aftermath of their heroic deeds has to change them. I mean, after you defeat the villain, aliens or evil robot with murderous AI, what do you do?

The Shock of Survival has an almost Harry Potter vibe to it with those that can wield magic, and those that cannot. After doing the great deed, our heroes have to quell yet another, albeit not earth-shattering, crisis.

The story reveals many aspects of the fight against The Oppressor, but doesn’t dwell on The Oppressor, or why so many wizards died trying to defeat him. I think if the author had revealed any more information, I might have been disappointed. We get a few glimpses of character development told in flashbacks. The relationships between the trio before and after the battle with The Oppressor are well done.

Definitely an interesting read, and I would recommend this to those that like the Harry Potter universe. Four stars!

nicole-field

Nicole writes across the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity. She lives in Melbourne with one of her partners, two cats, a whole lot of books and a bottomless cup of tea. Also likes tea, crochet and Gilmore Girls.

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A few Questions for April Daniels

april-daniels

I reviewed April Daniels upcoming #LGBT superhero novel on Tuesday, and I asked her to follow up with a little Q&A…

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I went to college. I wanted to make video games, but the part of gaming that I really was interested in was the story, and after looking at some game company websites for game writer job postings, it seemed like the easiest way to do that kind of work was to get published as an author a few times. At the time, getting a novel published seemed like it would be no sweat, just a matter of a year or two. This is not the case.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I really wouldn’t know. I write how I write, and try not to think too much about signature styles or anything. Style is something that happens naturally for most, and while you can develop it with intention, that’s an advanced level skill that I’m only now beginning to come to grips with.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I still play a lot of video games, but I’m getting old, so while I used to be able to play twitch-shooters, I’m now mostly into support classes on Overwatch and grognardy strategy games.

What does your family think of your writing?
Mom’s pretty stoked.

Describe your protagonist, Danny.
Plucky. She’s got miles and miles of pluck.

How long did it take you to write Dreadnought?
About six weeks to rough it out in late 2013. After that, there have been a total of several months work of intensive work, spaced out in fits and starts as I worked on other projects and battled various intrusions from real life and my day job.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing Dreadnought?
I don’t really learn things while writing books. Researching, sure, but once I start writing it’s because I know where I’m going.

Danny’s experiences touch on larger issues, such as the nature of choice, the ramifications of how society sees us, and the pursuit of revenge. What’s your take on some of these issues?
My answer to this will go on sale January 24th on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

What was your grand plan when you first set out to write this novel?
To write the book I wish I’d had when I was 15. There wasn’t anything at that time that showed trans people in a good light. Hell there wasn’t even anything that told stories from our perspectives.

What other fiction influences your work?
I’ve been reading sci-fi and fantasy my whole life. Superhero fiction is great because it’s basically both at once. It’s hard to pick out specific features I took from other work for that reason, though believe it or not, The Black Company by Glenn Cook is probably the strongest influence.
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Dreadnought, by April Daniels

dreadnought

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl. It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

I’m gonna talk about Dreadnought, by April Daniels. When I requested it on Netgalley, I only read the first line of the description: “Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero.” Heck yeah! A superhero novel. I’ve also written a superhero novel and I wondered how April would handle writing a story that is usually the domain of comics and movies.

I started reading Dreadnought one Friday evening and read until I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. After a few scant hours of sleep, I just had to finish reading it. Dreadnought is an epic superhero novel. What’s that? You got to the second line in the description and it gave you pause? That’s understandable. What kind of superhero tale has a transgender hero?

I’m here to tell you that because Danny Tozer is transgender, Dreadnought is a five-star read. Don’t get me wrong, it’d still be a great story, but the depth of emotion contained within the pages of Dreadnought… You’ll chuckle. You’ll hold your breath. Your heart will break when you read the tribulations of Danny Tozer. You’ll root for Danny Tozer because this action packed taut tale will have you turning pages, hungry for more words.

If you like superheroes (who doesn’t with both Marvel and DC raking in the big bucks these last few years,) or you like sci-fi, you will absolutely love Dreadnought. I’ll read the second book, Sovereign when it’s available from Diversion Books this summer (hopefully before.) Read Dreadnought. Go on, pre-order it. You won’t be sorry.

april-daniels

April Daniels graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in literature, and then promptly lost her job during the 2008 stock crash and recession. After she recovered from homelessness, she completed her first manuscript by scribbling a few sentences at a time between calls while working in the customer support department for a well-known video game console. She has a number of hobbies, most of which are boring and predictable. As nostalgia for the 1990s comes into its full bloom, she has become ever more convinced that she was born two or three years too late and missed all the good stuff the first time around. Early in her writing practice, April set her narrative defaults to “lots of lesbians” and never looked back.

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An Interview with Zen DiPietro

zen-dipietro

Recently, I’ve reviewed Translucid and Fragments, by Zen DiPietro. I asked her for a brief interview, and she was kind enough to acquiesce to my request…

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
The first time I said it was when I was a kid–just a few years old. I developed an early and rabid love for books. But when I was old enough to understand how getting paid works for authors, I decided to go with a college major that involved a regular paycheck.

I enjoyed writing over the years, but stopped when I had kids. Eventually the ideas knocking around in my head got too big and really needed to come out. Eventually, I told my husband, “I’m going to write a book.” And that man didn’t even bat an eye. He ordered me a laptop and off we went. I became a full-time writer and five books later, we’re still all-in.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My heart pounds when I write the big action scenes. I really buy into it, and feel what my characters feel. That probably comes from my experience as a role-playing gamer.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read and binge-watch sci-fi. I play with my cats, play games with the kids, and work out whenever possible. I also like making things—sewing, 3D printing, graphic design, whatever. There never seems to be enough time in the day.

In one sentence, tell us all about the Dragonfire Station series.
Wow, one sentence! Okay. I won’t even cheat with a major run-on with multiple clauses.

Dragonfire Station is The Bourne Identity meets Firefly and Star Trek.

Yeah. That doesn’t seem to say a lot, but when you think about those elements, it really does.

What inspired you to write the series?
I love the excitement and mystery of a thriller, and the limitless possibilities of the universe. It made perfect sense to me to put them together. I write the stories I want to read, and there’s nothing I love more than a page-turner filled with characters who feel like people I know and care about.

How long does it take you to write a book?
A first draft takes about two months. Then I put it aside for a while and work on something else. When I come back to it to revise, I’ve gotten some perspective. I keep putting it away and coming back to it until it goes to the editor. All told, it takes about six months, but it’s not the only thing I’m working on during that time.

What did you learn about writing and publishing between Translucid and Fragments?
Well, writing my first series was a huge learning process, and I’ve had the benefit of those lessons in writing the Dragonfire Station series. But I actually wrote Translucid and Fragments simultaneously. I wrote the first book, then went straight into the second. From there, I toggled back and forth between them when doing revisions and edits. It was a huge undertaking
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Fragments, by Zen DiPietro

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Fallon and her team need answers. But before they can storm the PAC base on Earth, they need to find supplies and deal with Fallon’s memory loss. Her strange dreams sure aren’t helping matters. If they’re memories that her brain is trying to reconstruct, her brain is just going to have to work harder at making some sense. Either way, once they arrive at Earth, all bets are off. As soon as they steal the information they need, it will be kill or be killed. Elite intelligence operations don’t issue polite warnings.

The Good: I knew I’d like Fragments since I five-starred Translucid. I asked Zen to send me Fragments when it was ready, and she complied. Yay! I immediately moved it to the top of my TBR pile. This is another action/adventure outing for Fallon and her team. Everything I liked about Translucid, I liked in Fragments.

The Bad: While the chapters weren’t as long in Fragments as they were in Translucid, they were still pretty long. About thirty to forty-five minutes per chapter. Since I only spend about an hour a night reading, I would just read for an hour and end at the nearest scene break. There were significant “flashbacks” and narrated stories contained within. These were mostly important to the story, but I got the feeling that some of these had been shoehorned in to meet an arbitrary word count. They weren’t arduous to read, and a few of them would’ve made excellent side-stories, maybe a collection of short Fallon memories.

The Beautiful: I enjoyed the continuation of the Dragonfire Station series. It was nice to read about the different aspects of the universe. Since I compared the last book with popular television shows and movies, I’ll do the same for Fragments: Firefly meets Serenity. I know the movie was based on the series, and I got a total Whedon-esque vibe while reading Fragments. Lots of time on ships heading here or there to do this or that, all while staying under the radar of the totalitarian government bent on getting Fallon and her crew.

The Final Word: While I think Fragments would make an excellent sci-fi TV series, and I could totally see Joss Whedon directing it; I liked Translucid better. Like its predecessor, Fragments wrapped up the story leaving more questions than answers, but in a good way. I read more than I normally do so I could knock out Fragments yesterday. I look forward to reading book three but dread the long wait. Overall, I’d give Fragments 4.5 stars. Both books in the series are 99 cents on Amazon, and you’d be a total doofenshmirtz not to get them both.

zen-dipietro

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Being an introvert gets in her way sometimes, as she finds it hard to make idle chitchat or stay up past 9 p.m. On the other hand, it makes it easy for her to dive down the rabbit hole of her love for books, stories, movies and games.

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Flux, by Kim Fielding

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Ennek, the son of Praesidium’s Chief, has rescued Miner from a terrible fate: suspension in a dreamless frozen state called Stasis, the punishment for traitors. As the two men flee Praesidium by sea, their adventures are only beginning. Although they may be free from the tyranny of their homeland, new difficulties await them as Miner faces the continuing consequences of his slavery and Ennek struggles with controlling his newfound powers as a wizard. In this sequel to Stasis, the fugitives encounter challenges both human and magical as they explore new lands and their deepening relationship with each other.

I saw that the sequel to Stasis was available on NetGalley, and since I liked Stasis, requesting Flux was an easy decision.

Since I already knew that the story would likely have more M/M scenes, I wasn’t uncomfortable when I read the few scenes. Like Stasis, Flux doesn’t spend a lot of time focusing on the LGBT elements, and just focuses on telling an entertaining story.

I liked Stasis just a little better than Flux. It could be that I’m a little frustrated with Miner and Ennek. They don’t seem to have learned anything from the last novel. I suppose it could be that they were still processing the events from book one.

I was glad to see more of the world that Kim Fielding created, and the ending of this story allows the trilogy to wrap up back where it started: Praesidium. I think that book three is going to be explosive, and I’m eager to read it.

My only complaints are that the villain in this book was very one-dimensional. And I can’t quite place the exact location, but somewhere in the middle, the story seemed to bog down a little. Over all, I’m still enjoying the series, and potential readers will need to read Stasis before reading Flux. Like its predecessor, Flux is a four-star read.

kim-fielding

Kim Fielding lives in California and travels as often as she can manage. A professor by day, at night she rushes into a phonebooth to change into her author costume (which involves comfy clothes instead of Spandex and is, sadly, lacking a cape). Her superpowers include the ability to write nearly anywhere, often while simultaneously doling out homework assistance to her children. Her favorite word to describe herself is “eclectic” and she finally got that third tattoo. All royalties from her novels Stasis, Flux and Equipoise are donated to Doctors Without Borders.

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Stasis, by Kim Fielding

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Praesidium is the most prosperous city-state in the world, due not only to its location at the mouth of a great bay, but also to its strict laws, stringently enforced. Ordinary criminals become bond-slaves, but the Wizard places traitors in Stasis, a dreamless frozen state. Ennek is the Chief’s younger son. He has grown up without much of a purpose, a man who cannot fulfill his true desires and who skates on the edge of the law. But he is also haunted by the plight of one man, a prisoner for whom Stasis appears to be a truly horrible fate. If Ennek is to save that prisoner, he must explore Praesidium’s deepest secrets as well as his own.

I saw this book on NetGalley and decided to give it a whirl. The description doesn’t identify this story as an M/M light romance, and the M/M romance made me uncomfortable. I’ve often said that a story should evoke a response of some kind from the reader, and ‘uncomfortable’ fits the bill nicely. If I had been prepared for this to be an M/M romance, I think I wouldn’t’ve been as uncomfortable. The romance part of it just jumped out at me.

That being said, the story and the writing is fantastic. The M/M element is there, but it isn’t in your face, and there aren’t many sex scenes or other tropes I’ve come to expect with M/M stories.

Themes of a totalitarian oligarchy and the issues of being a ‘deviant’ and the younger son of the ‘king’ trapped in living up to his potential while beseeched on all sides by well-wishers and those who would usurp the throne make this a high-intensity adventure read.

I liked the story, despite my comfort level disturbance, and this is a four-star read.

kim-fielding

Kim Fielding lives in California and travels as often as she can manage. A professor by day, at night she rushes into a phonebooth to change into her author costume (which involves comfy clothes instead of Spandex and is, sadly, lacking a cape). Her superpowers include the ability to write nearly anywhere, often while simultaneously doling out homework assistance to her children. Her favorite word to describe herself is “eclectic” and she finally got that third tattoo. All royalties from her novels Stasis, Flux and Equipoise are donated to Doctors Without Borders.

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Translucid, by Zen DiPietro

translucid

What if you woke up knowing how to do your job, but not your own name? What if you had to rely on other people to tell you who you were? What if you thought they were wrong? Emé Fallon is the security chief of Dragonfire Station, and does a damn good job of it. That’s where her competence ends. Outside of work, she has a wife she doesn’t know, a captain who seems to hate her, and a lot of questions that don’t add up. Without a past, all she has is the present, and she’ll stop at nothing to ensure she has a future.

The Good: I’m not the biggest romance fan, but the interactions between Emé and her wife left me quite satisfied. Their relationship easily asks questions about what it’s like to love someone, and how our actions can be influenced by societal norms. When romance is done well, it’s worth reading. Even the stodgiest reader will enjoy the light sci-fi romance in Translucid.

The Bad: Holy chapter length Batman! Five chapters? With scene breaks? Come on, make these chapters more digestible. I see no reason why a chapter has to be over an hour to read. Especially since there were plenty of scene breaks that could’ve easily been chapter breaks.

The Beautiful: Did I mention that this is a totally kick-ass sci-fi adventure? I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next. The ending didn’t wrap everything up completely but was written in such a way that I was satisfied with it. I’m totally looking forward to the next book in the series, Fragments, about a month away.

The Final Word: Translucid is such a great story, I’m glad I requested it on NetGalley. It’s been said before, but this is a mash up of Star Trek DS9 and Total Recall. Part science fiction, part mystery, and all adventure. I knocked out Translucid in about 48 hours. The LGBT elements are there, but they’re light, so anyone can read this story and enjoy it as much as I did. As of the writing of this review, Translucid is only $0.99 on Amazon. Get it. Right. This. Minute.

zen-dipietro

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Being an introvert gets in her way sometimes, as she finds it hard to make idle chitchat or stay up past 9 p.m. On the other hand, it makes it easy for her to dive down the rabbit hole of her love for books, stories, movies and games.

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http://www.womenofbadassery.com
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Ice Crypt, by Tiana Warner

Meela has just returned from the Massacre—the annual attempt to wipe out the mermaids threatening her people’s survival. After forming an unlikely connection with Lysi, a mermaid she was trained to kill, Meela is determined to stop the war between humans and merpeople for good. She knows of a legendary weapon that could bring peace if she uses it against King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. But her people have plans for future Massacres and refuse to help her uncover it. While Meela works in secret to unearth the Host of Eriana, Lysi is held captive under Adaro’s tyranny. Sent to the battlefront, Lysi joins forces with a band of rebels that could either bring her freedom—or have her executed for treason. Separated by the vast Pacific Ocean, Meela and Lysi must find a way to defeat King Adaro and end the war that has been keeping them apart.

I liked Ice Massacre, so getting Ice Crypt was a no-brainer when I saw it on NetGalley. Like its predecessor, Ice Crypt is a fairy tale in the style of the Brothers Grimm.

The Good: The violence I noted in the first book, Ice Massacre, is noticeably absent from Ice Crypt. Also, I complained about Meela’s lack of agency in my review of Ice Massacre. It’s good to see Meela have an active role in this new story. I felt more comfortable with the characters, and I felt the frustration they all felt. Dani’s over-the-top villainy from the first book has been toned down in this second book. Just like Ice Massacre, Ice Crypt is a thrilling read. I stayed up late on my third night of reading so I could finish it early.

The Bad: Remember the missing violence I mentioned? That’s also a bad thing. Ice Crypt lacks a certain grittiness that was in Ice Massacre. Book one had an edge-of-your-seat non-stop action that kept pushing you and pushing you to read more. Book two has a slower pace, and with the alternating points of view, the action in the non-Meela POV kept getting interrupted. I found myself groaning each time one of those chapters ended because I would have to get through Meela’s story to get back to the action. I listed this in the ‘bad’ section, but I totally grok why the author did this, and as a writer, I can appreciate it.

The Beautiful: A far as storytelling goes, Ice Crypt is far superior to Ice Massacre. The chapters are just the right length, and the two separate storylines are woven together wonderfully. All the characters that we get to know are written well. I could easily see this book as an episodic television series. While the alternating POV is nothing new, it seems to stand out in this book, and it makes a great read.

The Final Word: I rated Ice Massacre four stars, and the only ting preventing Ice Crypt from five stars is that it didn’t break my brain. There were some solid twists which make for great reading, but I wasn’t wowed by Ice Crypt like I was in Ice Massacre. I still think Ice Crypt is a better book than Ice Massacre, but you really need to read them both. Four and a half stars is my rating for Ice Crypt, and I dread the wait for the third book.

Tiana Warner

My grandma tells me I sold her my first story, The Sachmoe, for $2. I’m not sure if this makes me a born entrepreneur or just plain saucy, but my point is that I’ve been a writer for longer than I can remember. I wrote poems and short stories throughout elementary school (most of them about ponies), and wrote my first full-length novel in high school. I now spend my evenings writing about killer mermaids. I went to the University of British Columbia to study psychology and came out of it with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I’m now a technical content creator for a software company, which means when I’m not writing about kick-ass mermaids I’m writing about kick-ass technology. I currently live in Langley, BC, and am an avid supporter of animal welfare. I have a quarter horse named Bailey, a pony sidekick named Strawberry, and an extremely naughty cat named Paisley.

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