Far From You by Tess Sharpe #bookreview #YA #mystery #LGBT

Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared. 

I read this for my book club.  For that month’s selection, we had to read books recommended by other members – which is scary for me.  I’m always afraid I’ll wind up with a romance.  This one contains some romance, but it’s not the primary focus.  And I’m okay with that.

My heart went out to Sophie.  No one believes she’s still clean, and her parents force her back into rehab.  All the while, she’s grieving deeply for her nearly lifelong best friend and counting the days until she’s released so she can find the killer.  Her frustration is palpable, and she has few friends to lean on for help.

Most chapters rotate between the present and earlier in Sophie’s life, but it wasn’t difficult to keep up – and I listened to the audiobook (which is narrated by the author, who does a wonderful job).  The shifts allow the gradual reveal of backstory and secrets that bring to light multiple suspects.  I guessed who the culprit was, but there’s another component to the story that came as a suprise.

This isn’t my usual genre, but it’s a gripping read and emotional at times.  If you’re looking for a YA mystery, this is one I recommend.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee #bookreview #YA #LGBT

In this funny and frothy novella that picks up where the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue leaves off, freshly minted couple Monty and Percy fumble through their first time together.

Monty’s epic grand tour may be over, but now that he and Percy are finally a couple, he realizes there is something more nerve-wracking than being chased across Europe: getting together with the person you love.

Will the romantic allure of Santorini make his first time with Percy magical, or will all the anticipation and build-up completely spoil the mood? 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was one of my favorite reads (listens?) last year.  Monty, in all his narcisscistic glory, stole my heart, and Percy is just adorable.  How I’ve missed these boys.  And what a treat it was to read this novella.  The whole situation is awkward, comedic, sweet, and utterly perfect for the tone of their relationship.  I laughed so many times – such a pleasure to read.  This will hold me over  until the release of The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks.

#BadMoonRising: Demon’s Life by Shari Sakurai #horror #LGBT #paranormal

During Bad Moon Rising, we’ve had a lot of discussion about being vampires and werewolves – pros, cons, hair, no hair, sparkling, etc.  In the featured book (scheduled for release November 4th) by today’s author, vampires are an endangered species.  Wonder why?  Welcome Shari Sakurai!

Would you rather walk through a haunted graveyard at midnight or spend the night in a haunted, abandoned house?

I’d say definitely a haunted graveyard. Abandoned houses tend to be home to massive spiders and I’m way more scared of them than ghosts!

Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf? 

Vampire! Of all the supernatural species, they are the ones that hold most fascination for me so I would be interested in experiencing for myself what it would be like to actually become one.

Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?

I grew up watching X-Files so I’d love to be a part of the team!

If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in the same setting, where would you choose?

Nagasaki, Japan. The prequel to my novel Demon’s Blood is set in Nagasaki so it would be amazing to be able to write it whilst living in the city!

What is your favorite cover of all your books?  Why?

It’s so difficult to choose, but I would say Demon’s Blood. When I had all the covers for my novels re-designed I was especially pleased with how that one turned out. It just really illustrates the plot of the novel so well.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Too many! Mostly unfinished ones though. They are all stored in folders and I hope to be able to finish them all one day, in particular my fantasy novel which has been sitting in drafts for over ten years!

Out of respect for the relationship we once had I will spare your life. However, if you try to obstruct me again then I will kill you.

Vampires are now an endangered species. Possessed by the demon Kurai, Kokawa Taku has sworn to eradicate all those whom he deems inferior.

Determined to free Taku from the demon’s corruption Thane seeks help from Taku’s sire, Takata Koji. Thane’s search for answers takes him to Hong Kong where he learns the devastating truth. That in order to save Taku, Thane may have to kill him.

Refusing to accept this, Thane makes a decision that places the fate of all vampires in the balance. However Thane is unaware of the betrayal around him and that his actions will either save Taku or destroy him.

Pre-Order Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XQ7BZ4P

Bio

Shari Sakurai is a British author of paranormal, horror, science fiction and fantasy novels that almost always feature a LGBT protagonist and/or antagonist. She has always loved to write and it is her escape from the sometimes stressful modern life!

Aside from writing, Shari enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to (loud!) music, going to rock concerts and learning more about other societies and cultures. Japanese culture is of particular interest to her and she often incorporates Japanese themes and influences into her work.

Shari loves a challenge and has taken part and won the National Novel Writing Month challenge ten times!

Social Media:

Website: http://www.sharisakurai.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharisakurai
Twitter: @ShariSakurai

#BadMoonRising: LV48 (Cassie Tam Files #3) by Matt Doyle #thriller #LGBT #paranormal

Welcome to the first day of Bad Moon Rising!  If you love reading creepy, spine-tingling tales that make your heart race and have you looking over your shoulder, you’ve come to the right place.  A different indie author will be featured here every day throughout the month of October, so make sure to check back daily – sharing is appreciated!

Although I haven’t gotten to this book yet (in spite of having a copy for several months), I’ve read the first two books in the Cassie Tam Files series, and Cassie is one intelligent, confident, and snarky protagonist.  Trust me when I say she finds herself in some life-threatening situations.  Welcome Matt Doyle!

Would you rather be abducted by aliens or a serial killer?

Hmm…as much as I’d love to see what alien life entails and view the universe from a different angle, I think I’d have to go with serial killer. The thing is, aliens are an unknown quantity, while serial killers are humans. If it’s a choice of a species that’s capable of interstellar travel and abduction or a human, which one are you most likely to be able to escape? So, yeah. I’ll go with serial killer because I’m fairly confident that I’d have a shot at getting out of it alive, if not entirely unscathed.

Would you rather be locked in a haunted insane asylum or lost in the woods with a killer on the loose?

Haunted insane asylum definitely, especially if the person locking me in is supplying some equipment. I have a big interest in hauntings, and would love to have the opportunity to investigate one. Again, there’s a degree of survival probability comparisons here too. Ghosts, on a whole, don’t kill you. Figuring out whether a haunted asylum is actually haunted would be fun, and if it was, it’d be scary but cool.

Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?

It’s terrible, but I picked this question because it’s so hard. I loved both the X-Files and Ghostbusters growing up. The more time I spent thinking about it, the harder I found it to choose too. Then, I found the solution…in 2014, IDW Publishing ran a comic series called The X-Files: Conspiracy: Ghostbusters. It followed the Lone Gunmen as they investigated the Ghostbusters. So, it’s a cop out, but I choose both! I’ll be an active Ghostbuster that acts a liaison with the X-Files team.

What is your favorite cover of all your books?  Why?

Crikey, that’s a tough one. I’m going to say LV48, because of all the covers for The Cassie Tam Files, that has been my favourite so far. Natasha Snow does the covers for NineStar Press, and she’s so good. The figure on the front is spot on for the Light Vampire outfit in the book, and the colour effect fits really well with the LV tech abilities. It fits thematically with the other books in the series too, which is a real bonus as it creates some consistency. Outside that, I do want to mention the cover for The Spark Form Chronicles: Collected Edition too. The cover was done by a very talented artist called ValyceNegative, and it captures the feel of the card game in the story really well.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A different type of writing. When I’m not writing/researching for books, I basically spend my time working on my website. The site is a hub for my creative work, and mostly runs as a pop culture blog. I do a lot of anime, comic, and video game reviews. I have a few companies that I work with who supply me review copies of releases too, so they always take priority. Which means spending great deals of time binge watching Blu-rays and DVDs while making copious notes. Then, once the posts are written, edited and queued up, I have to work on SEO and timed social media posts. There’s a lot to get done. Outside that, I love working on cosplay, and I’ll be branching out into video content soon too. Because, you know, who needs rest, right? If I manage to get a break between all that, then I enjoy drinking tea. And sometimes sleeping.

What are you working on now?

The fourth Cassie Tam book is currently going through editing with NineStar Press, and the fifth and final book is with them to review as well. So, those are kinda in the home stretch at the moment, and will bring the series to a close. With those now there, I’ve got another project on the go.

I’m currently working on a sci-fi horror novel. I’ve been so focused on The Cassie Tam Files for the last few years, that I haven’t had the opportunity to write anything else. So, this one is a standalone rather than a series. I’m basically at the stage of doing a lot of research for different things and trying to get the creature design to the best it can be. Basically though, expect space, death, and a sense of building tension. I may well work on both the screenplay and video game adaption at the same time too, as I’ve done both before (for different projects, obviously), and would love to get back into the swing of them.

 

LV48 [The Cassie Tam Files 3]

Sci-Fi / Mystery / Lesbian

New Hopeland City may be the birthplace of Tech Shifter gear, but it isn’t the only place that likes to blend technology with folklore. Now, a new nightmare is stalking the streets…

When PI Cassie Tam is attacked on the way home one night, she expects the police to get involved. What she doesn’t expect is to be forced into acting as bait to lure out a lunatic in a tech-suit that’s literally out for blood. But past actions have consequences, and doing so may be the only way she can get a clean slate from the city’s law makers.

If only that didn’t mean having to face down a wannabe vampire.

NineStar Press – Amazon – Kobo – iTunesSmashwords – Barnes & Noble

Author Bio

Matt Doyle is a UK based author, cosplayer and pop culture blogger. Matt identifies as pansexual / genderfluid, and specialises in hybrid genre stories with a sci-fi grounding and diverse characters. Over the years, Matt has worked in a number of industries, including spending ten years as a professional wrestler, and appearing in multiple national print magazines for various cosplay projects.

 

Website – Twitter – Instagram – Pinterest – Facebook – LinkedIn

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee #bookreview #YA #LGBT

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

I’ve had this book in my TBR for a while, and when I had to be in the car for an extended period, I took advantage of the audio book.  And I wonder why I waited so long to get to this fabulous novel.

Christian Coulson is an outstanding narrator and a perfect voice for Monty.  Monty himself is a mess – narcissistic, oblivious, and generally a danger to himself and others with his actions, but he does it in such a charming way, you can’t help but go along with him.  And Percy – such a sweet, gentle soul who deserves some sort of award for sticking by Monty for so long.  Their Grand Tour is one dangerous situation after another, mostly due to Monty’s poor decisions, but an exciting, nerve-wracking adventure for the reader.  He has so many quotable lines, I could fill a notebook with them.

This is an easy five stars for me, and I only regret it took me this long to read the novel.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction with a heavy dose of humor and adventure, and brash, self-destructive MCs with a good heart, here it is.  It’s a wildly entertaining ride.

 

What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera #bookreview #YA #LGBT

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

The category for one of my book clubs was to choose a book from a genre I don’t usually read.  For me, that’s a YA romance.

I’d read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and adored Simon’s voice, so another Albertalli book was an easy selection for me.  Ben and Arthur are just as charismatic and super nerdy in their own ways.  After their meet cute, they finally locate each other in an amusing way.  I laughed over some of their conversations and first dates – yes, plural – that were awkward and disastrous.  The friendships are done so well, and one of my favorite things about the book, as are the characters’ relationships with their parents.

Yes, it was a bit predictable, but I was so pleased with the ending.  No spoilers here.  What If It’s Us is heartwarming and amusing with characters you’ll fall in love with, and a pleasure to read.

 

 

The Fox, the Dog, and the King (Cassie Tam Files #2) by Matt Doyle #bookreview #LBGT #thriller

New Hopeland City may have been built to be the centerpiece of the technological age, but some remnants of the old world still linger. The tools of the trade have changed, but the corruption remains the same, even in the criminal underworld …

When PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori try to make up for their recent busy schedules with a night out at the theatre to watch the Tech Shift performer Kitsune, the last thing they expected was for Cassie to get a job offer. But some people are never off the clock, and by the end of the evening, Cassie has been drawn into a mundane but highly paid missing pet case. Unfortunately, in New Hopeland City, even something as simple as little lost dog can lead you down some dark paths.

Until now, Cassie wasn’t aware that there even was a rabbit hole, let alone how far down it goes. 

I read the first book in this series earlier this year, and immediately became a fan of Cassie Tam.  She’s a confident, successful woman in her PI business, but when it comes to romantic relationships – that’s where she’s challenged.

In this book, Cassie is struggling to find her footing with new girlfriend, Lori, and  balance their relationship with her workload.  She’s still charmingly awkward, and while she may not say exactly the right things, she honestly means well.  With encouragement from Lori, she’s also learning to be friends with her ex-girlfriend.

Upon realizing Cassie’s new case involves dog fighting, as an animal lover, I was a bit leery of how much detail would be given and wondered if I might have to skip some pages.  No worries – the fighting happens ‘off-screen’, and my heart was spared.

While the first book in this series focuses more on the fascinating tech and world-building, I felt like I got to know Cassie better in this new novel, and her snark is still one of my favorite qualities.  Action, mystery, twists, and a touch of romance make The Fox the Dog, and the King another intriguing addition to this light sci-fi series.  I wouldn’t saying reading the books in order is a necessity, but it would help with understanding more about the world-building and Cassie’s backstory.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author.