I read a lot of LGBT+ short fiction, and a lot of these are hit or miss (many, many misses). But Coffee Boy was absolutely a hit for me. I haven’t read a lot of fiction that features a transgender protagonist, so I don’t know if I’m the proper authority as to whether this character was written well. However, I enjoyed this character – Kieran – very much. I also enjoyed his dynamic with the main love interest, Seth. You’ve got two, stubborn, queer men fighting all the sexual tension.
This is definitely a coming-of-age story as well, and it was interesting to read it through a transgender/queer perspective (that is a weird way to put it, but I’m not sure how else to at the moment). I really like how this story also shows that you can come of age at any time in your life.
I don’t have much more to say, except that this was a really sweet story, very well-written, and full of dynamic main characters.
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I feel like I have not needed books so much in a long time as I have needed them this year. It’s been a tough, though happy, year – I’m in a period of transition, and lots of waiting for things to happen. But reading many of the books I did has gotten me through the time. I wanted to share with all of you the books that helped me, the ones I enjoyed so fully and made my heart feel warm.
This year I read 40 books for the GoodReads yearly reading challenge, which is a little more than my normal average of about 20-30 books. I wanted to share with you the ones I loved the most, my top 5 I think, maybe with a special mention or two. Now, the ones I loved the most do not necessarily have a 5-star rating from me – some of them have 4 or 5 stars.
The first one I want to mention is The Haunting of Aveling Jones by Phil Hickes. This was the perfect ghost story for me this year: it had an inquisitive bookworm for a main character, a haunted house, a stormy sea where ghosts and deaths repeat themselves. So spooky and fun, Hickes really found the perfect style and atmosphere for a great haunting tale.
Next is Widdershins from the Wyborne and Griffin mystery series by Jordan Hawk. First, let me just say, what an author! Hawk has written so, so many books, probably hundreds as far as I can tell! In addition, he is a trans author who writes mostly lgbt fiction, and it’s all GOOD from what I have read so far. But I digress. Widdershins, the first book in the Wyborne and Griffin series, is probably one of my favorite mlm romances ever, and definitely one of my favorite paranormal romances ever. My friend and I, who are both classicists (she is an archaeologist and I am a philologist), joke that I am like Wyborne, who is a philologist of ancient languages, and she is like Christine who is an archaeologist. It’s so up my alley, and up the alleys of any classicist and paranormal lover. It’s so well-written and fun as well. I could gush over this book forever, and I know I’m rambling, but it’s just so good!!
I read so much lgbt fiction this year, especially mlm fantasy, and Widdershins was only one of them. I think I read at least 10, but I will only mention a few.
The next one I want to mention is Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey. Not only is the lgbt representation wonderful in this book, but the world-building and characters are absolutely amazing. I also like that she makes the main character grow so much into himself – he’s very unlikeable in the beginning, but grows to be a compassionate and real person. I’m actually kind of afraid to read the rest of the books in this trilogy for fear that they don’t live up to the standard that this one set for me. I am going to read them at some point though!
The last lgbt book I want to mention that I absolutely loved was Seven Tears At High Tide by C.B. Lee. Not only does this story have folklore, the sea, and good lgbt representation (bi characters!), but it is such a wholesome and sweet story, I found myself tearing up multiple times just because the story was so lovely. I love going back and rereading sections of the book that have our two protagonists together being cute. I really want to check out C.B. Lee’s other books. I know she (pretty sure she) has written an lgbt Treasure Island retelling, which sounds really intriguing.
And last, but not least, is the most recent book I’ve read, In The Company Of Witches by Auralee Wallace. This is just the coziest book ever. It has everything I could want in a book: mystery, cute towns with b&bs, witches and magic, ghosts, and just the most loving, if not totally crazy, family. This is a book you read cozied up under a blanket with a hot drink on a cold evening. I really need more books like this.
I just want to list some honorable mentions for books I really enjoyed this year, without getting into detail about them – just know I loved them a lot, and you all should very much check them out.
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann
The Faerie Hounds of York by Arden Powell
The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (This one actually got me through the beginning of winter in Winnipeg)
The Hobbits of Tolkien by David Day
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
And those are all the books I loved this year! I can’t wait to find out what next year will bring, both in terms of books and in terms of where my life is headed. I’m hoping the transitional periods end soon, but until then, I have many books on my tbr to keep me occupied!
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, a happy New Year, and a good start to 2022!
The Faerie Hounds of York is a story about a man, Loxley, who is under a faerie curse. He is found in a faerie ring by Thorncress, a man who is no stranger to faerie himself. They go on a journey to find the lift for the curse, and on the way, develop feelings for one another.
This was such a beautiful book. The way Powell writes the characters, who are so gentle with each other; the way they write the atmosphere, both earthly and unearthly, tethering it to the natural world, and even the weather. Absolutely gorgeous.
I have been searching for a while for a book that was like Emily Tesh’s Silver in the Wood, and The Faerie Hounds of York definitely filled that space for me. This book, however, added more about faerie folklore and about Faerie itself, which makes this book doubly wonderful for me. And the way Powell portrays the powers of Faerie is stunning – they write Faerie as an extension of death, which very much captures the folklore elements that definitely should be in a faerie story. It is cold and harsh, but oh so enticing – this is the atmosphere of The Faerie Hounds of York.
I really have nothing bad to say about this book. It was a lovely, if sad, read, though even the sadness had a loving feel to it. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a tender, desperate love story, and who want to read about a Faerie land that pulls you in sharply.
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Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee is about Kevin, a teenager living in Southern California, who just wants to be happy and know love. When he makes a wish after crying seven tears into the Sea, he gets more than he bargained for when a selkie named Morgan declares that he is in love with him.
This was such a wholesome and heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching at times too; to say that I cried many times would be putting it mildly. I am happy to say that I don’t have a single negative thing to say about this story. So, I will focus on my favorite aspects of the book.
I loved the way the romance between Kevin and Morgan was written. It was simple, honest, and so tender – that in itself was enough to make me cry, happily of course.
I loved the relationship of the two boys to their families. They were definitely the way children are with their parents, but it felt so healthy and full of love. And the siblings reminded me of how I am with my own sister. The portrayals of siblings were so delightful.
I liked the way Lee wrote about bisexuality and how Kevin dealt with coming out, but also showing how bisexuality looks in normal life, as when Kevin struggles to date like any awkward teen. I don’t see a lot of books with bisexual characters, which is a shame, but this one was done so well.
And finally, I loved the folklore. Selkies are one of my favorite creatures in mythology. I grew up watching The Secret of Roan Inish and reading tales of selkies. I loved this modern portrayal of this mythological creature, how Lee incorporated migratory patterns of seals, the marine biology aspects, the little old wives tales of the sea that people still think of today.
This whole story feels like a tale you’d tell sitting by a fire, or listening to the sea. It’s such a sweet story, and fills my heart with joy. And, being from Southern California myself, it made me long for the sea. I recommend this book to those who long for the sea and want something lovely for their hearts.
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In Stormhaven, the third installment in the Whyborne & Griffin series, the pair are tasked with solving another mystery back in their hometown of Widdershins. This time, however, the aspects of the case hit far too close to home for either of them.
As usual, Hawk does not disappoint. I love the story, the characters, the setting, all of it! I especially liked the imagery of the sea, as that was quite the theme in this book. The story was wonderfully compelling – though, thankfully, I wasn’t nervous about Whyborne and Griffin possibly getting separated or breaking up; this time, I was worried they’d both go insane (they do not, I am happy to say).
We get to meet Griffin’s parents as well, and that brings its own trials and tribulations. But Whyborne and Griffin are always there for each other, and their love continues to make me so very happy.
Christine is also there, though because of the circumstances, her skillset is not used as much. Hopefully she is doing more in the books to come.
That’s about all I have to say about this book. It was brilliant, and I am looking forward to reading more!
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In this sequel to Widdershins, Whyborne and Griffin are hired to look into another case, this time by Whyborne’s father. So, the two men and their friend, Christine, head to the town of Threshold to investigate supposedly paranormal disturbances in the town’s mine. However, even this investigation has its twists and turns.
Once again, Jordan L. Hawk does not disappoint. I absolutely loved the second book of this series – either as much or maybe more than the first! As I said for the first one, the characters are brilliant, and the story is compelling. Actually, I might argue that the story is more compelling this time around! The writing, of course, is excellent.
I think my favorite part about this particular story is that it feels like the original Star Trek meets the Twilight Zone meets Sherlock Holmes (three of my favorite pieces of literature and media!). All that was missing was Rod Serling narrating the twists, but Whyborne filled that role very well.
And, of course, the romance between Whyborne and Griffin was just to die for. I am so excited to keep reading this series, and I’m so happy there are many more books in it to come!
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This first book in the SPECTR series is about Caleb, whose brother’s recently deceased corpse was hijacked by what they think is a demon. But, when an amateur investigation goes awry, Caleb finds himself sharing his body with a drakul (vampire) named Gray. Now the agents of SPECTR, especially John Starkweather, need to find out what is going on, and who the real murdering demon actually is. In the meantime, John and Caleb find they are both attracted to the other, despite their mutual hatred for each other’s situation.
So of course I started this other series by Jordan L. Hawk because he is an amazing writer and I am going to keep reading his work forever! I will say, I still like the Widdershins series best, but this was a fun read. The characters are quirky, and again Hawk’s worldbuilding is really very good. I like the fact that Hawk makes all of the paranormal aspects of his books very matter-of-fact and practical, very normal for the world of his books. This book is no exception. I really want to read more of this series so that I can see if the paranormal aspects are expanded upon – maybe a bit more history of Gray the drakul?
Not much more to say about this book I think. It’s a super fun, quick read, a bit spicy at points, just downright enjoyable.
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The Magpie Lord, the first book in K.J. Charles’ series, is about the reluctant Lord Crane who is the target of a malicious and magical murderer. Stephen Day, a practitioner of magic, is hired to help Crane discover who is trying to murder him and why. Their search takes them to Crane’s ancestral home, where the two discover more about magic and Crane’s ancestry, as well as possible feelings for one another.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was the perfect balance of paranormal, murder mystery, and romance. Charles is really good at writing atmospheric settings, and I could feel the cold and the dread of Crane’s ancestral home as Stephen and Crane tried to, well, not die.
I liked the way magic is portrayed, and I hope that the magic is explored even further in the next books of this series.
I like the characters. They are simple, but they have a lot of determination and emotion, especially when it comes to one another. The side characters were also well-written, though I do hope we see more of them in the following books.
And the romance, the romance! The lust definitely was not much of a slow burn, but I think the love was. It was completely worth it though, and you could see the characters’ devotion to each other by the end.
The only thing I really would criticize (Spoilers) is the fact that the murderers were people we really didn’t know throughout the story. I think it would have been just a bit cooler if it was someone we knew. But even so, this did not take too much away from the goodness that was this book.
I’m really excited to read the next books in the series!
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Widdershins is the first novel in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin mystery series. This book revolves around Whyborne, a museum philologist who is recruited by ex-Pinkerton detective Griffin Flaherty to solve a murder that turns out to be much more involved in the supernatural than either had foreseen. In the course of their time together they form a wonderful romance. Together with their Egyptologist friend, Dr. Christine Putnam, they endeavor to solve a gruesome mystery.
When I say this book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, I mean THE ENTIRE TIME. The mystery and paranormal had me on the edge of my seat – eager to understand the evil that our heroes were fighting and whether they would make it out alive (I had read the last pages of this book so fast at that point) – and the romance between Whyborne and Griffin also compelled me so much that I feared so much for their safety at the end. Suffice to say, I became quite attached to these two goofballs.
And boy were they goofballs. Hawk could not have written them any better – I kept wanting to knock their heads together and at the same time hug them. I’m sure Christine also felt the same way.
Christine is a great character too: a doctor of archaeology in a time when women could barely do such things, she is strong and independent, but also fiercely protective of her friends. I am very excited to see more of her in the next books of this series.
The supernatural side of the mystery was an interesting choice. I have no idea whether it is based of actual ancient Egyptian mythology and folklore, but its complexity and involvement with death on many levels was very intriguing – definitely one of the reasons I kept reading this book!
I really have no criticisms for this book whatsoever. I loved the characters, as I said above, the book was very well-written, and I loved the setting and background of the mystery. Apart from the romance, what drew me to read this book was the fact that the main character is a philologist of ancient languages – much like myself! – and has to use his skills in language to defeat an ancient, supernatural entity. I hope the other books in this series use philology and ancient history as much as this book did. I know me and my classicist friends love books like these!
This is also a great book/series to start right now during Pride Month (or really any time because it’s so good!), as it is a M/M romance written by a very talented trans author.
I recommend this book to all classicists, and to those who like being kept on the edge of their seats.
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A Matter of Disagreement is about two scholarly gentleman, Lord Ashcroft (Andrea) and the Marquis (Gregory), who have been rivals in research for some time in a world where magic and machinery are coming together. However, when they actually meet face to face, they realize that what they feel for each other is more attraction than rivalry, and a relationship starts to bloom, very, very slowly.
This novella was a nice short read for me, and has a very sweet plot with two endearing characters. Definitely a worthwhile read for those who like the enemies-to-lovers trope. I think what drew me in to this story, besides the romance, was the fact that both of these characters are passionate about learning. In addition, the time that this book is set is very renaissance in nature, when science and knowledge were at the height of discovery. And, being a scholar myself, I am all too familiar with the struggles a researching academic, like Andrea, goes through (all that’s missing is a handsome marquis to be my patron!).
This was a delightful queer/mlm romance, and with a main character who is trans! I very much appreciated the way that the character explains his transition from childhood to adulthood, and how he talks about the science, magic, and medicine behind it.
The reason I gave this book 3 stars, though, is that there were some things that didn’t wholly sit right with me in my reading.
First are the spelling and grammar mistakes. I read this book on Scribd, so I don’t know if the mistakes are due to an uploading or transcription error, or if the mistakes were there to begin with. Either way, the numerous errors made the text a bit hard to read at times, as I would be too focused on the mistakes than on the story. However, it wasn’t so big a deal that I didn’t end up enjoying the book as a whole.
Second is the world-building. I didn’t expect much of it in so short a book, but I think I would have liked to know more about this world that is combining magic with machinery (a nod to an industrial age). If E.E. Ottoman has written another book that focuses on the magic and machinery aspect of this world, I would absolutely need to check it out. I’d also like a more extended view into the transition that the trans character went through, though it was enough for this length of book.
There are a few other things as well – a sort of abrupt sex scene, not as much insight into some other characters, etc. – that I could have had done in other ways, but it really didn’t hold as much bearing over the overall story.
All of that said, this was a fun and quick read, and I recommend to those who want a short and sweet romance.
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