Today I’m reviewing Under the Midnight Sun by Lore Graham.
Blurb: The eldest son of Thunderhill’s warrior-kings, Otto Johanson lives for battle but has forsaken love since the death of his partner three years ago. Still when the Midsummer festivities bring nomadic reindeer herders back to town, Otto can’t help but notice the handsome, if sullen, Lukas.
Tension rises between them during the annual tournament, but when a terrible attack devastates Thunderhill, Otto and Lukas must put aside their burgeoning rivalry to embark on a dangerous quest that may be the town’s only hope of survival.
I’ve read one other short story by Lore, so I was excited to jump into something longer by this author!
Lore seems to have a knack for painting rich, developed worlds. I loved the myths and legends of the land. If I had to pick a favorite thing about the book, that would be it. One thing I particularly liked was that this world was accepting of all relationships, including same sex and triads, something that I always love to see in fantasy settings.
Though the world was well developed, I would have liked to see a bit more build up between Otto and Lukas. There were several places where exposition was used throughout the story to signal passages of time on the characters’ quest, which made it feel like less time passed than it actually had to me.
While this story probably didn’t quite have me on the edge of my seat, it’s rich mythos and descriptions still make for an enjoyable read. If you’re looking for lighter fantasy read with some m/m in it, you might want to give this one a try!
My rating: 3.5/5
Under the Midnight Sun releases on August 14th. You can preorder it now on Less Than Three’s website!
It is also on Goodreads if you’d like to add it to your shelf!
Disclosures: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I’m friends with the author on Slack and social media.
Content warnings (provided by the author on Goodreads):
Explicit sexual content; graphic violence (fantasy-typical); animal death.
For specifics, which may contain minor spoilers, highlight over the text below:
A few scenes of explicit sex. Several scenes involving violence, including a couple of gory moments, a minor character being maimed in battle, and some secondary character deaths. Animal death (primarily reindeer) and violence towards animal-like monsters, but (specific spoiler) the dogs do not die!
It’s been awhile! I’ve been busy getting my second book ready to submit to LT3, and then I went through a period of being very up and down, mostly down and not feeling good.
But I have still been reading!
To get back into things, I thought I’d share my reads for the month of June, in the first addition of Fiction Cove’s monthly bookchest! (I swear I thought I’d read more books this month, but according to Goodreads, I read three books).
Bookchest will be a monthly showcase of books I read for that month, with mini reviews of each one.
So, let’s get started!
Starting off the month, I finally got around to reading my ARC of Agent Bayne, the latest book in the Psycop Series by Jordan Castillo Price. After reading the previous book, Skin After Skin, I have very mixed opinions about this series and the main protag, Vic.
I’ll set that rant aside though, and say, despite the opinions I have on this series now, Agent Bayne was an enjoyable read overall. Many more intriguing elements are brought to the forefront in this installment, though I saw right through the mystery and knew from the get go who the culprit was.
Next, in mid-June, I finally revisited A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab. I started this book about a year ago, but I’m awful when it comes to sticking to reading paperbacks, and got sidetracked. I finally got it as an e-book and finished it off.
AGoS had some great character building, and as always a vivid world, and I was anxious to see what would come for Kell, Lila, and Rhy, who all get POV time in this installment, as well as a couple other characters who I won’t name! Be ready to jump into the third book if you read this one though, because it does end on a cliffhanger! (I say as I haven’t started the third one yet, by some weird miracle).
The last book I read of the month was Timekeeper, by Tara Sim (yes I was doing a lot of catch up on some older releases). I adored this book! I loved the characters, the world, and the twist I didn’t see coming! Just everything! The only reason I’m not picking up the next book right now is because I know from friends that it ends in a cliffhanger, so I’m waiting for the third book to be out before I dive back in.
That’s it for the June edition of bookchest! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments!
Today’s review is for the third and fourth installments of Kay Berrisford’s Landlocked Heart series, which will close out my month long author feature on Kay and the Landlocked Heart series.
In the third installment of the series, Dragon Rider, things pick up pretty much where they left off. Ben and Lyle are still working at the ice cream parlor, and are very close to finishing their wedding preparations. There’s just one thing left on Ben’s agenda: his family meeting Lyle. But of course, things quickly go awry when Lyle’s sister, Cully, shows up suddenly, asking for Lyle’s help with some family matters.
What I loved about this addition to the series was that it expands and adds several new plot elements. I won’t say what so as not to spoil the fun. I also became quite fond of Cully, though at first it isn’t apparent what side she’s on.
For the forth and final installment, The Isle of Eternal Happiness, things take a bit of a darker turn as the ramifications of everything that happened in book three unfold. There were a lot of really heartbreaking moments because one character wasn’t quite himself, and both Ben and Lyle deal with some heavy doubts about if the other is better off without him.
The final volume was a wild ride of emotions and I thought it was a great conclusion to the series!
Be sure to check these books out if you like mermen, dragons, myths and prophecies, and some angst thrown in! And of course, some sweet and slightly fiery romance!
There is one minor content warning I can think of, which I’ll put under the links.
My rating: 5/5 for both!
Thanks again to Kay for the interviews, and if you haven’t checked those out, be sure to! They’re great!
Check out the Landlocked Heart series at the Less Than Three website or Amazon!
Disclosures: I am friends with the author of these books, and I might be slightly biased because MERMEN/MERPEOPLE and some FAB writing.
Content warnings (highlight over to read, contains minor spoilers): In one scene, things escalate to violence and attempted abuse, however I will say it is because one character is basically not in control of his own actions (which is not fully known at the time, though it’s hinted at and pretty obvious).
Today I’m reviewing No Rulebook For Flirting, by Laura Bailo, which I received an ARC for!
This is a super short contemp romance novella, coming in at 12k, so can easily be read in one sitting. It starts with a meet cute between the two characters when one steals a parking spot from the other at a board game convention. The two of them get off on the wrong foot but quickly move on to flirting over a game in the convention.
Though I’m not trans myself, I loved the trans rep in this story because it was there and it wasn’t a big deal. Aitor brought it up to Gabriel pretty early on, and then they moved on with things like it was no big deal. That acceptance was nice.
There is a side character, Raul, that is a bit abrasive during the story, which came off as him being queer-phobe, but [SPOILERS, click and drag over if you wish to reveal] at the very end of the story, this is played down as him just having an attitude but nothing actually against the characters for their sexuality, which left me feeling a bit conflicted about him.
All in all I thought this was a cute, sweet, and short read. If you like board games, D&D, and queer characters, consider checking it out. No Rulebook For Flirting releases on February 10th!
My Rating: 3/5
This week’s review is of A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams, by Dax Murray.
The story is a queer retelling of Swan Lake, and is available on Kindle Unlimited if you have that!
I found this story to be quite lovely. It’s queer, and it’s a fairy tale retelling, so I just had to try it!
It starts out with a bit of a dump of info about magic that was a little hard to follow, but it doesn’t linger too terribly much, so if you get confused at the start I’d recommend sticking it out. All does get explained better later!
The book centers mostly on Katya, who just seems to have come into being and has always dwelled within the forest. She comes to live with a sorcerer named Ivan, and the two of them have what seems to be a happy life together, eventually becoming lovers. During her time with Ivan, Katya also learns magic from Ivan’s books and becomes well versed herself. These details are explained in a sort of summary at the beginning of the book and the intro feels very fairy tale-like in style.
Things start to pick up when an escort is discovered making their way through Ivan and Katya’s forest, escorting the princess Yi Zhen on her way to an arranged marriage with Princen Alexis (an enby royal from the neighboring land!).
I loved the variety of rep in the story, all of which was portrayed in a positive, accepting light, from the enby Princen Alexis, who used they/them pronouns and is openly accepted in their kingdom, to Katya’s bisexuality, and the Princen’s parents being in a triad. It was absolutely delightful.
The story itself was quite interesting as well. I loved the descriptions, especially of the world’s magic.
The only real minus for me was a few grammatical/editing errors here and there that pulled me out of the narrative (one of which was a wrong pronoun).
All in all, this was worth the read, and I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a sweet, queer fairy tale retelling with a variety of characters!
My rating: 4/5
This week I’m reviewing another book by Lyssa Dering, an older title called Breaking Hell’s Rules.
The story centers on Reth, a genderqueer demon who takes souls for one of the head demons in hell and has body hopped over the centuries, and Jude, the boyfriend of the the abusive Tyler who Reth decides to hop into at the beginning of the story.
What I really liked about this story, same as with How to Love a Monster was the romance between the two characters. Dering has a gift for chemistry and making me feel the connection between the two characters, making me fall as hard and fast for them as they do each other! I also loved Reth and their genderqueer-ness.
Jude is a mystery to Reth from the moment they meet, and the two are faced with some obstacles as Jude is at first disbelieving that Reth isn’t his abusive boyfriend Tyler, and then as Reth realizes that there is more than meets the eye to Jude.
I thought Lyssa’s take on demons and angels was interesting, especially on that of angels. It was different from the normal angel mythos one usually sees.
A few warnings for the book: There is mention of recent psychical abuse, and since Jude at first thinks Reth is Tyler, refers to them as ‘he’ for a better part of the book in his POV, until the conversation comes up about their preferred pronouns, then Jude immediately starts using they/them (I thought it was handled well thought and it was nice that Jude was accepting of Reth’s pronouns). Be forewarned, there is also side character that isn’t completely respectful of Reth’s pronouns, which may be bothersome for some readers.
All in all I thought Breaking Hell’s Rules was a clever, sweet love story that is worth a read if you’re looking for a short, sweet, queer demons and angels story.
My rating: 4 /5
Check out Breaking Hell’s Rules over on Goodreads! And if you have Kindle Unlimited it is available on there!
I recently read How to Love a Monster by Lyssa Dering, which was released August 12, 2017, and the halloween short that takes place after it, titled Halloween in Wish City, which was released on October 16, 2017.
I knew of this book right at its release date, but was at first weary of it due to thinking it might be a bit dark for me based on the description, and also because I’m not typically a fan of first person present tense. I’d tried reading the opening of the book and wasn’t a fan at the time it released.
Two things influenced my decision to go back and give this book a shot, one being I have kindle unlimited right now, and the other being that I’m in the middle of a very, very slow read through of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and I’m not hating the present tense that much. So, I thought I’d give HTLAM a try because I was intrigued by the premise.
Boy, am I glad I did.
From the moment the two characters, Sera and Fiend meet, I was absolutely hooked. This book sucked me in and didn’t let go. Even after I finished it, I was craving more, probably as bad as Fiend craves brains!
Lyssa masterfully wove a romantic story with a mix of kink, horror, and angst that gripped me right until the end. I loved two main characters and their dynamic. The writing was incredibly immersive, leading me to understand fully the reason why one would choose first person present tense. When done right, it really does suck you into the story.
The short story, Halloween in Wish City takes place not long after the events of HTLAM, and should be read after it to avoid spoilers. I really liked this extra glimpse into the characters lives after the end of HTLAM. It was silly, romantic, and added a little bit of new information to the story, which was a nice bonus.
If you’re looking for a romantic, m/m story with a bit of kink and a dash of horror, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a try!
How to Love a Monster – 5/5
Halloween in Wish City – 5/5
The next volume of the Wish City series, How to Tame a God, is due out in February! I’m excited for this one, which will delve more into the character Wish, who was a secondary character in the first book, and new character, named Lake.
Check out the Wish City books over on Amazon, which are free if you have Kindle Unlimited, but reasonably priced if you don’t!