Blood Divine by Greg Howard

Blood Divine by [Howard, Greg]

4 Stars

Publisher: Anakim Press

Date of publication: November 28th, 2017

Genre: LGBTQIA, Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

Cooper Causey spent a lifetime eluding the demons of his youth and suppressing the destructive power inside him. But a disconcerting voicemail lures Cooper back home to the coast of South Carolina and to Warfield—the deserted plantation where his darkness first awakened. While searching for his missing grandmother, Cooper uncovers the truth about his ancestry and becomes a pawn in an ancient war between two supernatural races. In order to protect the only man he’s ever loved, Cooper must embrace the dark power threatening to consume him and choose sides in a deadly war between the righteous and the fallen.

My review:

Cooper Causey is a love them and leave them type of guy. He is unable to form any long-lasting relationship after a disastrous one in high school that ended with the guy in a coma and Cooper blaming himself. So he took off and eventually landed in Nashville, where the story begins.

Well, it began 20 years previously, when Cooper was 8. On a dare, his older brother, his brother’s friends, and Cooper go to an abandoned, haunted manor called Warfield. While they were there, the boys get spooked, and all leave. Well, all but Cooper, who ends up crashing his bicycle into a tree and loses his glasses. He ends up seeing a ghost called Blue. Blue corners Cooper when he falls on top of his bike, holds his head and shoots energy into Cooper’s head. Then Cooper passes out.

When Cooper was with his latest one-night stand, his grandmother, Lillie Mae, calls him and leaves a cryptic voice mail. Panicking (like anyone would when their grandmother doesn’t answer the phone), he heads back to Georgetown, SC, to check on her.

What ends up happening once he gets there is something he doesn’t expect. He calls the police to report Lillie Mae missing, and the officer that shows up is none other than his deceased brother’s best friend and Cooper’s old crush, Randy. After filing the report and Randy leaves, Cooper decides to head to the one place that terrifies him. Warfield.

It is there that his world kind of gets turned upside down, and I am not going to get into it.

I loved the fantasy and paranormal aspect of this book. The author put a great spin on Biblical stories which I enjoyed reading. I also really liked the spin on vampires/witches. He didn’t release all the information on either of them at once. Instead, it was leaked, slowly, throughout the book, and that was more than enough to keep my attention.

The ending was excellent, and I loved that Cooper finally found happiness. The way it ended, though, suggested at a book 2. If so, I will be eagerly awaiting it!!

I would give Blood Divine an Adult rating. There are sexual situations. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Blood Divine. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

King’s Lament by Lilia Blanc

King's Lament by [Blanc, Lilia]

4 Stars

Publisher: Inkitt

Date of publication: December 10th, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, LGBT

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

Betrayed by his advisors, only the love of two mysterious men can rescue Inea and save his kingdom.

After the death of his father, Inea finds himself the unprepared king of a country at war. When his council forsakes him, and he’s thrown into the dungeons of his own castle, the young man manages to escape only with the help of the intriguing stranger Ansyn.

After one year in hiding, Inea, driven by desire, seeks out Ansyn and discovers that there is more to his savior than he could have ever hoped for. Joined by their new ally Kaedon, passion builds, and they find themselves in a romance that helps fuel their plan to reclaim the throne.

My review:

This book was fantastic and I loved reading it. I usually read at night, after the kids go to bed, but this book got escalated to daytime reading.

I am going, to be honest, I couldn’t stand Inea. He came across as a sheltered, spoiled kid who had no clue how to take care of himself. He was always crying over something. I wanted to reach through the book, smack him, tell him to stop crying and start working on how he was going to get his kingdom back – which he eventually did. He also was constantly getting hurt, which baffled me. You would think, with the experienced men/women around him, that he would have been better at defending himself (because they would have had some sort of lessons with him) or that they would be better at keeping him from getting hurt. But, he wasn’t. I mean, Ansym and Kaedon did eventually teach him to defend himself but still.

He did have some good, redeeming qualities. He cared about his people and wanted to get his throne back from the Queen. He loved with all of his heart. He had to have been the most kind-hearted main characters that I have read in a while. But like I said above, I couldn’t get past how he acted in the first half of the book. Drove me crazy go nuts.

I loved Ansym. He is a badass. He could play the violin like a pro and used that talent to stir up a small amount of civil unrest about the Queen’s rule He was also a trained assassin and I wouldn’t want to be on his bad side. Nope, no way. What he does to his enemies (thinking about the boy, Dae, here) is something I wouldn’t wish on my most hated enemy.

He doesn’t show a soft side in the book until he meets Kaedon. At first, what was between them was just sex but you could just see Ansym falling in love with him. I loved watching his walls come down and seeing him fall for someone. Then Inea was added into the mix and seeing him try to battle his feelings for Kaedon and Inea was heartbreaking. When you find out why then you can understand why he was afraid of falling in love.

I do wish that Kaedon did come clean to Inea and Ansym a little earlier in the book. It could have saved Inea an injury/heartbreak and Ansym heartbreak if he did. But on the other hand, I can see why he didn’t.

The sex between all three men was crazy hot. I thought the first time between Kaedon and Ansym was hot but the threesome between Inea, Ansym, and Kaedon was burning and every sex scene after that was just as hot.

Ansym and Kaedon’s ages were a big surprise. For some reason, my mental image of Ansym was of an older man. It was fueled by how he talked about himself and how the others in the party treated him. So, yeah, I was surprised when he finally revealed his age.

The end of the book was pretty routine and the main storyline (plus the other storylines) got wrapped up in a pretty dramatic way. Giving away a small spoiler here but the last battle scene was fantastic and the way it ended. Let’s just say that I felt very, very satisfied after reading it. I like it when a book makes me feel like that.

I would give King’s Lament an Adult rating. There are explicit sexual situations. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread King’s Lament. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Juliana (Juliana: Book 1) by Vanda

Juliana - An LGBT Historical Fiction: Book 1 (Juliana Series) by [Vanda]

5 Stars

Publisher: New Sands Studio Press

Date of publication: May 28th, 2016

Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA

Series: Juliana

JulianaBook 1

Olympus Nights on the Square—Book 2

Paris, Adrift—Book 3

Heaven is to Your Left—Book 4

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

She went looking for fame, and found her true self, instead.

New York City, 1941. Alice “Al” Huffman and her childhood friends are fresh off the potato farms of Long Island and bound for Broadway. Al’s plans for stage success are abruptly put on hold when she’s told she has no talent. As she gets a job to pay for acting classes, Al settles into a normal life with her friends and a boyfriend. It all changes when she meets Juliana.

A singer on the brink of stardom, Juliana is everything Al isn’t: glamorous, talented, and queer. The farm girl is quickly enthralled, experiencing thoughts and feelings she never realized were possible. Al finds herself slipping between two worlds: the gay underground and the “normal” world of her childhood friends. It’s a balancing act she can handle until the two worlds begin to collide
In a city bursting with change, can Alice find what she was looking for all along?

My review:

This book fooled me. I honestly thought, by reading the blurb, that it was going to just be a book on what it was like to be gay/lesbian during the early to mid-1940s. Which it does in a stunning way. But, this book also about a young girl finding herself and falling in love in a time that was turbulent. And I loved it.

I absolutely loved Alice (Al). Her transformation from this naive little country girl too, what one character called her, a New York girl was amazing. Her acceptance of the gay/lesbian scene and later on, of her own sexuality was brutally honest for that time period. Also brutally honest was how people perceived gays/lesbians during that time. Several scenes (Al finding out that Danny was having an affair with Max, Al being told about Shirl’s beating and rape, meeting Andy and the heartbreaking end to Al and Aggie’s friendship) outlined that.

Her relationship with Juliana was bittersweet. Al was in love with Juliana and Juliana, well, she considered Al one of her conquests. Al was warned about Juliana from several people (Max, Victoria, Shirl) but still sought her out. Even Juliana warned Al about falling for her. Of course, Al doesn’t listen to anyone and ends up losing her heart.

The sex scenes were very tastefully done and the author always ended the chapter before it got too graphic.

The end of the book was great and I loved the twist at the very end. I also loved that with the way the book ended, you knew that there would be a Volume 2. That is something that I cannot wait to read!!!

The afterwords from the author were great. She explained why she wrote the book, why she chose the 1940’s, went into the gay scene in the late 1920s-1930s in Greenwich Village, what it was like in the 1940s for gays/lesbians, and gave a detailed account from a woman who had homosexual friends in the 1940s. She also included a glossary of sorts of terms for gay/lesbian in the 1940’s….which answered a few questions I had while reading.  Take for instance the term “beard“. In that time period, it was used to describe a woman who posed as a girlfriend or wife for a gay man so his homosexuality was not revealed. She also included a complete list of references that she used while writing the book and a guide if a book club would discuss it.

I would give Juliana an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Juliana. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

SkyWhisperers by Natasja Hellenthal

SkyWhisperers: A Lesbian Dystopian Fantasy novel by [Hellenthal, Natasja]

4 Stars

Publisher: Beyond Books Press

Date of publication: January 29th, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTIA, Romance, Young Adult

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

With the disappearing of the winds, the magic held by the once-mighty, immortal Sky Whisperers was shattered. Their influence over the natural world lost. Now only the small powers are left to Xenthia and her people, helping to sustain life–what little remains. For the world of Lorian is hot, dry and dying.                

Unaware of her involvement in this, crippled and one-eyed Nemsa, leads a small, miserable life in a mountain village, close to where she was found as a baby, twenty-five years before. When one day she meets the alluring Xenthia it becomes clear that her path lies far above and beyond all she is familiar with.      

But what is expected of her? How can she trust what she has been told? And how can Nemsa even hope to stand up against the supremacy of a powerful, vengeful, and ambitious Sun Whisperer? Will the love and courage in her heart be enough?

Magic is at work, a fatal sickness is spreading among mortals and immortals alike, the sun is brutally beating down, and the fate of all hangs in the balance. And if Nemsa is to fulfill her destiny and save the world, she must find her way through it all . . .

Follow Nemsa and Xenthia in this Epic, Dystopian, YA Interracial Lesbian Fantasy tale of courage, true love, redemption, and hope.

My review:

SkyWhisperers starts 25 years past a catastrophic event that shakes the land of Lorian. The wind is gone, and when the wind disappeared, the land just stopped producing. There were barely any crops because of the relentless sun beating down. Animals started dying off, and the ones that did survive came out at night. Same with the birds. The rain was uncommon, and fires were rampant. In more recent years, a terrible sickness started cutting through the remaining human population. It was hell on earth.

Nemsa is a crippled outcast in her village. She is shunned because the villagers hold her accountable for the winds stopping. The day after they stopped, she was found lying on a path by her adoptive mother. She was treated horribly by those villagers when she was younger, but she got over it, and it made her into the woman I met in this book.

Nemsa is wandering some old ruins by her town when she meets Xenthia, a Sky Whisperer. There was almost an instant attraction between Nemsa and Xenthia (who Nemsa calls Blue), but neither is willing to act on it. If a Sky Whisperer becomes emotionally attached to a mortal, they lose their immortality and powers, and that is something that Xenthia does NOT want to do. So their attraction is held too long, stares at each other and longing.

Nemsa goes with Xenthia to the Upper Sky Dome (where the Sky Whisperers live) after finding out who her parents are. Her father was a Sky Whisperer and her mother a mortal. He lost his powers because he fell in love with her mother. Unfortunately, she didn’t return his love, and that enraged him. So he visited her and raped her….which caused her to get pregnant with Nemsa. Then, which was the kicker here, he found out when she was in labor, got very angry when she refused to be with him, lashed out with the powers he had left, killed her and severely injured Nemsa in the process (hence her blind eye and bad leg). Xenthia wanted her to go to Upper Sky to see if A) she could be a Sky Whisperer and B) to go and vanquish her father….who had imprisoned the 4 Guardians of the World and in turn, stopped the winds.

I loved the transformation that Nesma went through in this book. She went from a scared, disabled girl to a woman who had to be strong enough to defeat a madman and save the world. It was terrific, and I loved it!!

I didn’t care for Xenthia for the first half of the book. She was leading Nesma, but at the same time, she wasn’t. It is hard to explain, and you need to read the book to understand what I am trying to explain. The sex scenes, when it finally did happen, were tastefully written. Nothing explicit. More of just the feelings between these two women as they finally realize they are in love with each other.

On that note, I also liked that the author made same-sex relationships the norm in Upper Sky Dome. Nesma was amazed when she found that out. The reason why the Guardians are the only ones who can procreate, and they fostered same-sex in their children. Not saying that there were heterosexual relationships, there were, but same-sex relationships were preferred.

This story is in 1st person perspective from both Xenthia and Nesma’s perspective. This is the one time that I will say that I liked it. Usually, jumping from character to character in a book drives me nuts, but it worked here.

The rest of the story was fantastic, but I am not going to go into it. There is a twist almost at the end of the book that I did see coming, but when it was revealed, it still took my breath away.

I would give SkyWhisperers an Older Teen rating. There is sex. There is mild language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread SkyWhisperers. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan

Just Juliet: An LGBT Love Story by [Reagan, Charlotte]

Publisher: Inkitt

Date of publication: September 17th, 2016

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, LGBTQIA

Goodreads synopsis:

The coming out story that will completely change the way you look at love, now available for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Juliet represents the road less traveled. Will Lena take it?

Lena Newman is 17, her best friend’s a cheerleader, her boyfriend’s a football player, and as far as everyone is concerned, her life is sorted. But that’s before she befriends the new girl. Juliet is confident, slightly damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and a lesbian. 

Lena realizes that her interest goes beyond just friendship. She sets off on a path of self-discovery where the loyalty of those closest to her will be tested.

My review:

This book should be THE book a teenager reads if they are questioning their sexuality or want to come out to loved ones. It showcases the good, the bad, and the ugly without glossing anything over. Take, for instance, Scott’s coming out to his parents. For me, that is the worst case scenario. It is the bad and the ugly all rolled into one, and I was in tears reading it. Not to get preachy but you loved your child before he/she was born why should that change because of who THEY love or what gender they identify with? I am in the minority but if my son or my daughters came up to me and said “Hey, Mom, I am gay/bisexual/trans,”I wouldn’t be throwing them out. I wouldn’t be screaming at them “I didn’t raise a faggot or a dyke” or assaulting their SO’s (like Scott’s father did to Lakyn). Like I said above, they are your children. You carried them in your body and molded them into who they are. I can’t understand WHY anyone would choose to act like that to their flesh and blood. Strike that, I do, and it is called IGNORANCE and FEAR.

Ok now that I went off that tangent let’s continue with the review.

Juliet’s father, for me, was the best case scenario. He knew his daughter was a lesbian and could care less. Juliet did explain why he was so tolerant, but you need to read the book to find out why (I know, I’m a shit).

I didn’t connect with Lena, at first. I don’t know why, she didn’t jive with me, at first. It was that while she was very attracted to Juliet, she didn’t know how to express herself to her. But once she did, and oh boy was that scene funny, she got more likable, and by the end of the book, I loved her. Her coming out scene to her parents was bittersweet, especially after Scott told her about how his parents reacted.

Juliet, I loved. She was that girl that everyone stopped to look at because she commanded attention. She didn’t take anything from anyone (the scene at the football game stands out in my mind the most). She was out, proud, and I loved it. While she was more experienced than Lena, she slowed it way down and to it at Lena’s pace.

The secondary characters made the book too. Lakyn, Scott, Lacey. Lacey had me in tears laughing at points in the book. Lena couldn’t have asked for a better best friend.

The ending was great. It wasn’t a HEA per se, but it was close to it.

How many stars will I give Just Juliet? 5

Why? It is just a really well-written book that explores all sides of coming out to parents and friends. It is also a book about first love.

Will I reread? Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends? Yes

Age Range: Teen

Why: No sex but some scenes of making out, language.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

**Here**Bender by Gene Gant


Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Date of publication: June 16th, 2016

Where you can find Bender: Amazon

Book synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old Mace Danner is a college freshman—and a male prostitute. He specializes as a submissive-for-hire to dominant clients. Mace has never experienced any erotic longings, but his profession satisfies much darker needs. He believes he deserves the abuse because he was responsible for the death of his brother. When ill-treatment at the hands of customers isn’t penance enough, Mace turns to the bottle, hoping to drink away the demons still plaguing him.

RA Dex Hammel doesn’t like the road he sees Mace going down, and he offers his help before it’s too late. There’s no denying the chemistry between the two young men, but a lingering lack of physical desire continues to confuse and upset Mace. He seems set on destroying himself, and Dex might not be able to save him.

My review:

I am going to be nice about this: If you don’t like LGBTQIA books or lifestyle, stop here and hit the back button. I will not publish any rude remarks.

This book made me ugly cry while I was reading it. I wanted to reach through my Kindle and hug Mace and tell him that it was alright and that everything was going to be OK.

Mace is an escort who specializes in BDSM as a submissive. He lets men and women abuse his body. Because he feels this is the only way he can atone for his brother’s death, which Mace believes that he caused. The hurt in those paragraphs came off the pages in waves and hurt my heart.

This is the first book I have read where the main character is asexual. Asexual means that some people do not have sexual feelings. Some asexuals will have sex to please their partners and to feel close to them, but they don’t have the feelings. I had heard of asexuals before but have never read a story featuring one. So it was fascinating to me.

The relationship between Dex and Mace was perfect. It was the first stepping block to getting Mace better. I loved Dex’s character. He was everything a boyfriend should be and then some!!

How many stars will I give Bender? 5

Why? This was a beautifully written book about loss and sexuality. The author packed a lot in the 86 pages and I did want more.

Will I reread? Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends? Yes

Age Range: Adult

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving by [Roehrig, Caleb]

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Expected date of publication: October 4th, 2016

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, LGBTQIA, Contemporary, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | IndieBound | Indigo | Kobo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. All eyes are on Flynn—he must know something. After all, he was—is—her boyfriend. They were together the night before she disappeared.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. As he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

All I have to say about this book is (and I am stealing this from the great George Takei)… “Oh, My.” I read this book within 1 day. From the first chapter, where I met Flynn and January, it gets its hooks into me and doesn’t let go. I stayed up late to finish this book and never did that.

I was irritated with Flynn during the first half of the book. He wasn’t exactly forthcoming with the police about January’s state of mind the last time he saw her. But he started to grow on me by the 3rd chapter. By the middle of the book, I was gasping in surprise over what was being revealed about him and January.

While we were on the subject of January, I felt bad for her and then irritated with her. She lived in a dysfunctional household. Her mother, who used to be her best friend, is no longer emotionally available. Her stepfather is concerned with how her disappearance will look on his campaign run. And her stepbrother gave me the creeps in his scenes. No wonder she lied about everything to everyone, including Flynn.

I thought I had this book figured out, and then a huge twist came up and stirred everything up. Settled back down, I was hit with another twist, just as big. I didn’t see either of these coming, and they both took the breath out of me (love it when a book does that).

3 Things I liked about Last Seen Leaving:

  1. Plot
  2. Flynn
  3. The plot twists

3 Things I disliked about Last Seen Leaving:

  1. The cops
  2. January (see above)
  3. January’s family

I would recommend Last Seen Leaving to anyone over 16. There are mild sexual situations, strong language, and mild violence.

If you enjoyed reading Last Seen Leaving, you will enjoy reading these books:

Born to Run (North Oak: Book 1) by Ann Hunter

Born to Run (North Oak Book 1) by [Hunter, Ann]

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: March 1st, 2015

Genre: Horses, Young Adult, LGBT, Coming of Age

Series: North Oak

Born to Run—Book 1

Yearling—Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory—Book 3 (review here)

To Bottle Lightning—Book 4 (review here)

Far Turn—Book 5 (review here)

Dark Horse—Book 6

Against the Odds—Book 7

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Experience the glamorous, fast-paced world of horse racing in the young adult series North Oak.

Running away from the scene of a murder is not how Alexandra pictured spending her thirteenth birthday.

Then again, she wasn’t expecting to be swept into a world of high stakes racing and multi-million dollar horse flesh a few days later either.

Alexandra Anderson is on the run from the law. When the thirteen-year-old orphan can run no further, she collapses at the gates of the prestigious racing and breeding farm, North Oak. Horse racing strikes a deep chord in her. She hears a higher calling in the jingle jangle of bit and stirrup and in the thunder of hooves in the turn for home. It tells her she has a place in the world. But when the racing headlines find her on the front of every sports page, she realizes North Oak is no longer a safe haven… or is it?

This is a fantastic book for tween/teen readers, even younger!! When I was reading it, I immediately flashed back to The Black Stallion series (one of my all-time favorite horse books!!!).

Alex’s story isn’t an easy one to read. She had been abandoned in the foster care system. Which treated her badly. She ended up doing something that could change her life. I wanted to cry when it was revealed how she had been treated where she was.

There are some twists in the book, but the major plot twist was the one that came at the end. Not going to reveal it.

If you enjoyed reading Born to Run, you will enjoy reading these books: