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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Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales is a collection of queer fairy tale retellings written by queer authors. The stories are all based on well-known tales: Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Snow Queen, Cinderella, and others we all know. Some of the retellings are pure fantasy, while others border more on magical-realism.
As any of you who read my reviews know, I love me my fairy tale and folklore retellings. When I saw this collection recommended to me on Scribd, I was so happy. Now, I realize I gave this book 3 stars, but that’s only because I didn’t like every single story that was in it. But the ones I did like, I really really liked.
I think my favorite stories were the ones based on Jack and the Beanstalk, The Princess and the Frog, Sleeping Beauty, and I really liked the story based on The Red Shoes – it was so sweet, and definitely one of my favorite fairy tales in general.
The ones I didn’t like I think I didn’t like either because I wasn’t a fan of the author’s writing style, or because some of them dealt with sex in their story in a way that just wasn’t for me. However, they will definitely be for someone else, which is why I urge everyone to check out this book!
I don’t think there’s much more to say about this book, except that it was a super fun read, and, again, I love me some fairy tale retellings. And, in my opinion, reading queer fairy tales is the best thing to do during Pride month! I recommend this book to everyone, but especially those who want a bit of fantasy and love mingled in their life.
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Magic’s Pawn, the first novel in the Last Herald Mage trilogy, is about a young man named Vanyel, who is sent away from his home to live with his Herald-Mage aunt after not meeting his lord father’s expectations. In his new home, Vanyel learns things about the world and himself that he had shut away – he learns about magic and the gifts of himself and others, and most importantly, he learns about love and how to live and grow strong after heartbreak and trauma.
This was my first Mercedes Lackey novel; I had originally bought A Scandal in Battersea to read first, but then Magic’s Pawn caught my eye – perhaps it was the magic, perhaps it was the love story, who knows, but I am very happy I read this one first. And during Pride Month too, which makes it even better.
I think Vanyel is supposed to be a sort of annoying character at first – he carries himself with arrogance to hide his insecurities. However, the way that Lackey wrote his character really just made me sympathize with him all the more. Really, Lackey wrote all of her characters well, even the annoying ones, and the evil ones. Again, with Vanyel, by the end of the story you can’t help but like him. He’s just trying his darndest in the end and, really, aren’t we all?
Because the book is so character-driven, there isn’t as much depth in the world-building. However, what there is of the world-building was written very well. We readers get a sense of the places that Vanyel is, for lack of a better term, flung into. But in truth, what makes the places are indeed the people that live there. Vanyel’s childhood home seems barren and rugged, just like the personality of his unforgiving father; Haven, the home of the Herald-Mages, welcoming and with a curious nature that all of its inhabitants have; and others, though I don’t want to spoil the book by saying more about them.
One final thing that I want to talk about is the way Lackey writes her characters dealing with their emotions. In short, they deal with them in a very realistic, very human way, that I think all readers can and will appreciate. Vanyel, especially, deals with emotions of hurt and despair, as well as insecurities that any of us might find ourselves dealing with. He just has to deal with them longer, and, on top of that, with magic consuming him on all sides. Lackey has him, and others, deal with these emotions in healthy ways, and in loving ways.
Overall, Vanyel is very relatable as a character, and his story here is wonderfully and emotionally compelling. I think I would have loved this book when I was 9 years old and just getting into Lord of the Rings – I am happy to have found this book now though!
I recommend to everyone, and especially to those who want some emotional, raw, and real emotions and love from lgbt+ and mlm characters this Pride Month.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Magic’s Promise.
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The Prince and the Dressmaker is about two young individuals: Frances, a seamstress with dreams of becoming a designer, and Sebastian, a prince who feels more comfortable as a girl. The two meet and give each other the opportunity to make more of themselves, and perhaps find themselves in the process.
This is an amazing graphic novel, and such a cute story! I loved Wang’s art style – very fluid and colorful, but also putting so much expression into the characters. I thought that Frances and Sebastian were particularly adorable. And, of course, the dresses were stunning. I am so jealous of the prince’s wardrobe!
I think I can relate to Frances a lot, especially now in my life where I am trying to find out what I want to be doing and who I want there with me.
The story went in a bit of a different direction than I was expecting, though I’m not sure what I was expecting to begin with. It’s just such a lovely story about two young people trying to find their place in the world, but also trying to find their real selves. I think everyone needs a story like this: something that gives hope, that reminds one of all the love there is to give. I was very pleased with the ending as well – we need more happy endings.
And last, but not least, is the queer representation. I’m not sure if Sebastian is meant to be trans or not, but either way, portraying men wearing dresses in such a positive way is so important.
I can’t wait to pick up some more of Jen Wang’s work!
I recommend this book to everyone who wants a bit of hope and love in their life.
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I have reviewed all the books in this list, so feel free to go read those before you read this post. All of these books are written with queer characters, and many are written by queer authors. For this list, I will be talking about why I love the lgbtq+ aspects of each book, and why you simply must read them. Most of these are fantasy, but that’s only because I really love to read fantasy. There are definitely queer books in other genres that I need to check out (my list is huge, but I will get to them!). Many of these books are also by and about people of color.
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
This graphic novel is a sweet fantasy story about a witch named Nova who helps her friend and romantic interest, Tam, a werewolf, overcome evil magics that threaten them. Tam is Chinese-American and non-binary, and Nova is also Chinese American and queer. What I love about this book is it lets younger audiences and characters explore love and friendship and identity in all ways, and has all identities and love appear normal, as it should be.
The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel M. Lavery
This book of short stories is not only great for its unique and oftentimes strange fairytale retellings, but also for the representation of queer characters. Lavery doesn’t write queer characters in terms of sexuality necessarily, but what he does do is fiddle with “traditional” gender roles, for example, writing young boys in the role of daughter when the child of a king, for it seems that a daughter has more significance and power.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
One of my favorite books I read this year, it is about a mermaid (here called wajinru) named Yetu, who holds the entire history of her people inside of her. The wajinru are descendants of African slaves who were thrown overboard from ships, and Yetu keeps those memories for her people. The story is about Yetu dealing with this responsibility, but also finding her own identity, including finding someone to love, who happens to be a queer woman of color.
The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang
This novella takes place in a world where one is born and lives until a certain age without an identifying gender. Once they reach that certain age, characters choose to be a man, woman, or neither, which can sometimes involve surgery, as it does often now. Akeha is a transgender queer man who must battle against his mother, the leader of the Protectorate, and reconcile with his sister Mokoya, who has the gift of foresight. This novella has echoes of Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian cultures, and is filled with hints of Asian philosophies such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and others.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Making Theo a lesbian in the Netflix series was no mistake, for her character in the original novel was indeed a lesbian too. Jackson doesn’t say so outright, given that this book was written in the late 1950s, but there is every indication. The gender of Theo’s partner, whom she left behind in the city, is not specified, and her (sometimes) interest in Eleanor is indicative of her queerness. Also read this book for the spooks!
The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller
We have all wanted the love story of Achilles and Patroclus, and Miller has given it to us. Told from the perspective of Patroclus, we get to see what their love and friendship was like, from first meeting to their death. Miller takes a love story only mentioned so briefly in the ancient world, and expands it into a great tale.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Like Mooncakes, this is a story about the friendship and love between two young people, this time two teenage boys of Mexican descent. They each discover who they are and what they want out of life, learning from each other along the way. This was one of my favorite books of 2017, and I recommend it to everyone.
A few LGBTQ+ books I want to read next (in no particular order):
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
I will also take any and all recommendations!!