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review 2016-08-22 14:27
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth

I honestly wish more YA LGBTQA novels were written like this, the author did an amazing job at bringing Cameron to life. Danforth shows Cameron exploring her sexuality without completely ignoring the other parts that make her who she is. Cameron spends just as much time dealing with her grief over losing both her parents, trying to get over her first crush, and working her way through all the movies at the video rental store. Too many YA LGBTQA books seem to focus exclusively on the LGBTQA part, their characters come across as flat and uninteresting because they are never fully fleshed out. Their character begins and ends with them being LGBTQA.

If I did have any issues with this book, it was with the ending. I don't want to give away too much in this review, but if the author was aiming for a hopeful, if not happy ending, it doesn't work. Too many LGBTQA youths end up living on the streets, so while the book attempts to end on a somewhat positive note with Cameron coming to grips with the death of her parents, it's ultimately a discouraging ending. Cameron, Adam, and Jane are looking forward to the future, but the chances of a happy ending are slim. Also, as a heads up to anybody planning to read this book, at approximately 3/4 of the way through, one of the kids at Promise uses the  word 'tranny'.

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review 2016-07-04 08:57
Dryland - Sara Jaffe

I could never fully immerse myself in this story. The author chose to not use quotes to mark speech, but unlike Veronica's Grave, where I first complained about this writing technique, I had no trouble following who was speaking and it wasn't due to any great skill by the author. At some point in this authors history, she must have been told when using dialogue tags, to stick to 'said'. I wish whoever gave her that piece of advice had followed that up with the usual, 'use dialogue tags sparingly' advice as well, because I wouldn't have spent the majority of the novel counting the uses of 'said'.


Being at Rich's was like being nowhere. I said, I'm not.

He said, You look like you could be.

I didn't look like anything--my jeans and my raincoat and my flannel and my henley. I said, I'm not.

He said, Right on.

I said, Are you?


Despite this giant flaw in storytelling, the story was interesting, and I wish the editor had done a better job in handling this book. I can see people picking this book up and then immediately putting it down again after reading the above exchange on the first page.


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review 2016-06-29 15:05
Complementary and Acute
Complementary and Acute - Ella Lyons

Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed this more if it had been longer. At fifty pages, the author attempts to establish a strong relationship between these girls that changes when Jac comes out as gay to her roommate, Annabelle. With most of the story devoted to covering the jealousy that Annabelle feels when Jac begins hanging out with other people, there was little time to spare in establishing their close relationship, so it came across a little heavy handed in the beginning and I figured out where the story was going before I had read the first five pages. A longer work would have, I believe, allowed more time for the story to grow and would have allowed for more subtlety in the beginning.

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review 2016-06-27 14:51
Beauty Queens
Beauty Queens - Libba Bray

There was so much that I loved about this book. I loved the humor, the commercial breaks and the little bios about each of the contestants, which I needed in order to keep each of the contestants straight in my head. However, as impressed as I was by this book, I did think it tried to tackle too many issues at once. It was pretty much trying to point out all of societies issues at once and while I do think they all deserved to be looked at and examined, it feels like the author took on too large of a task.Because she tried to tackle so much at once in this book, none of the characters got much page time, which left me trying to remember who was who and none of the characters felt fully developed to me.To compound my confusion, the characters would frequently be referred to by the states they were representing for pages at a time, leaving me to struggle to remember who Miss Colorado and Miss New Mexico were. All in all, it was an enjoyable read, which could have been enhanced by focusing on fewer characters.

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review 2016-06-17 14:04
WTF Friday: The Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles by Alana Melos
The Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles: Volume 1: Worlds 1-5 - Alana Melos,Rev. Jotham Talbot
Every once in a while, as the mood strikes me, I like to indulge in those titles that are a bit odd . . . a bit different . . . a bit bizarre . . . and a bit freaky. These are books that don't always get a lot of press, and which rarely benefit from any prominent retail shelf space.

They're often an underground of sort of literature, best shared through guilty whispers, and often with embarrassed grins. These are our WTF Friday reads!

Wonderland, Oz, and The Dark Tower. Sliders, Quantum Leap, and Stargate. Whether it's on the page or on the screen, portal fantasy is one of the oldest tropes in science fiction and fantasy. While it's often abused as a lazy sort of storytelling cheat, it works best when there's interesting puzzle or mystery behind the portal itself to be paired with unique adventures on the other side.

That said, I'm not sure you'll find adventures any more unique than those offered up by Alana Melos in her Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles series. These are fun stories, vintage pulp adventures that are as absurd as they are erotic, driven by the magical mystery of the Janus Key. Like Dr. Sam Beckett, twin siblings Dirk and Debbie find themselves leaping blindly from one alternate reality to another, never knowing where they'll end up, driven not by good deeds, but by orgasmic encounters.

Not surprisingly, the first adventure (Rump Raiding Raptors) is the weakest of the bunch. Marred by several typos, some awkward narration, and a few confusing shifts of POV, it didn't make the greatest first impression. On top of that, the idea of a dinosaur-based society, with a horny Raptor cop abusing poor Dirk, just seemed a little too silly. It was original, however, and the erotic aspects were actually very well done.

Fortunately, the quality of both the writing and the storytelling improved dramatically with The Perils of Penetrating Pixies. It felt like there was more plot to this one, and grounding it in more familiar mythologies certainly made it more accessible. The erotic scenes here were both frantic and inventive, especially with Debbie's first erotic explorations by the tiny pixies.

Riddled by the Sphinx, the third book in the series, is where things really hit their stride. This one had a very Stargate feel with its take on an alternate Egypt, and the use of a living Sphinx as the erotic protagonist was actually quite clever. It's a fun, sexy tale, but also the first one where we begin to understand the dangers Dirk and Debbie face in losing themselves to such sensual temptations. Here is where that mystery/puzzle starts becoming more prominent.

Personally, I found Savaged by Sadistic Spirits to be the most uneven of the collection, but I give Melos full credit for introducing a new, Quantum Leap like twist. The whole 70s séance scene is actually very well done, complete with leisure suits and groovy slang, and while I found the story took a while to really hit its peak, Debbie's erotic mauling by unseen spirits (taking her on the ceiling, a la Poltergeist) is as chilling as it is erotic.

With Knob Gobblin' Hobgoblins, this first collection definitely ends on a high note. This is true pulp fantasy, complete with dragons, elves, water spirits, Amazonian warriors, and hobgoblins. Once again, it's Dirk's turn to provide the orgasmic energies for their next leap, but the way it's done (and the reasons for it) are fantastically creative. Not to give anything away, but his role as something of a surrogate conduit is suitably bizarre, and I particularly liked that Melos resolved his own doubts about his supernatural sexuality.

Despite a rocky start with the first story, The Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles turned out to be everything I could have hoped for. There's solid storytelling, great world-building, over-the-top eroticism, and plenty of geeky references for readers to pick up on. Given that she's just released the 10th volume, Reamin' Demons, here's hoping there's a second omnibus on the way.


Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published April 4th 2015

Source: beauty-in-ruins.blogspot.ca/2016/06/wtf-friday-erotic-worlds-of-janus-key.html
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