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review 2018-04-04 01:50
A perfectly written mystery by queer author Caleb Roehrig; brings gay characters to the the main stage, and shows off natural talent for creating suspense and compelling story
White Rabbit - Caleb Roehrig

I tried to get an early copy of ‘White Rabbit’ months ago, and if I’d been able to I would have been able to tell everyone to go and preorder this book! I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty mystery from Caleb Roehrig, and read the whole thing this last weekend, devouring his sophomore novel about Rufus Holt, and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night, and a cast of colorful teenage characters.

Seventeen year old, gay Rufus is the main character and he's just now coming to terms with the breakup of his relationship with Sebastian, when they end up having to spend the night as super sleuths; Rufus receives a call from his sister April asking for help, which starts the ball rolling. They drive out to a cottage in the middle of nowhere where she’s been at a now-abandoned party, to find her covered in blood and next to her dead boyfriend Fox Whitney. Rufus doesn't believe April could have committed any crime (nor does his stepmom Isabel, who pays him to find out who did), and he and Sebastian spend the night uncovering clues, and discovering their peers’ unsavory behavior (isn't it always that way?).

We find out about the relationship between Rufus and Sebastian, and their shared past, through memories, and the romantic storyline between the two of them is very subtle and so well-written; Roehrig’s language and written dialogue is so natural, this arc fits within the mystery so perfectly. And when it comes to the actual mystery itself, it’s without holes. Follow along with the details and clues because you want to understand the boys’ thinking, and then when it all blows open at the end, hopefully other readers will be as surprised as I was.

I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what comes next for Caleb, because this was so cleverly written, and is such compulsive reading, and I can see him writing both for teens and adults. There’s also wit and smarts about him that I feel can shine through even further (check out his Twitter feed), and I bet there’s an even more complex or even funny read coming next.

PS. And next time, I REALLY would love that early copy so I can review it and can tell everyone to go order their book!

 

 

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review 2018-03-09 00:02
The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1
The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 (Volume 1) - G. L. Carriger

I wanted to love this book. In theory I really should have loved this book. But I just...didn't. I suspect part of this is due to the fact this was my introduction to Carriger's universe, and the world-building just isn't there. I spent the front chunk of the book feeling like I was missing a lot, and trying to decode what I can tell is an elaborate world filled with critters and magics. I will say I was intrigued enough I'm interested in going back and trying her first series.

 

It wasn't just the world-building though. It was the way everyone talked. If you like puns and innuendos this will amuse you to no end. If, however, you find that sort of thing annoying this will drive you crazy. It's sort of like the book equivalent of someone waggling their eyebrows and saying, "that's what she said" for 300 pages. Toss in some instalove and I just couldn't stand it whenever the main characters talked (or had an interior monologue, which is often). It's hard to cheer for a romance when you're cringing through every verbal exchange. I also felt like the pacing was a bit weird. The characters jump right into the sex early on, and the later chapters set that aside and go for a more serious plot line and leave the sexy romping behind. I'd have preferred to have more plot throughout, and the sex scenes interspersed more evenly rather than back to back (no pun intended) before pretty much vanishing. Again, maybe that's just my preference.

 

For me the issues were writing craft ones more than anything. (Pacing, world-building, dialogue, etc.) The pieces were there, they just weren't put together well. For example, we get some good character development, but it comes late in the book and gets undercut but snarky one-liners. It means that if you read between the lines, or over certain things, you can have a very different interpretation of this story. You can fill in blanks and make it great, if your imagination so desires, but that isn't really what is on the page. This is not going to bother a lot of people, and that's fine. For me it read a lot like fanfic, which again, isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the end it just wasn't to my taste. I really like the idea of a gay werewolf story with a diverse cast, I just didn't like the way this one was put together.

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review 2018-03-01 00:44
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages - Saundra Mitchell

I've never been a big fan of short stories, so a collection has to be really special in order to entice me to pick it up. I'm also not usually terribly fond of historical fiction. What I *am* a big fan of is excellent queer representation in my books, especially those written for teens. When I saw Anna-Marie McLemore was in this collection that tipped the scales for me, and I dove in. I'm so very glad I did. Not only did I discover some new authors I'm interested in reading, but this book made my heart very happy.

 

While most of the stories are straight up historical fiction, some range into magical realism and pure fantasy. Each of them takes on a different time period and flavor, and explores a different teen experience. I was happy to see many different facets of the queer community represented - while most of the stories have gay and lesbian characters there are also trans characters, bisexuals, and an asexual. Including a wider spectrum of inclusion made this collection extra special to me.

 

All of the stories are fairly short, and the writing was good throughout (and occasionally exceptional). Anthologies are always going to be a little lopsided (you're going to like some pieces more than others), but this one had far more gems than not. There was really only one story I didn't care for, and the rest I either loved or liked, which is pretty impressive given there are seventeen. My favorites were:
Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee
Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake
Three Witches by Tessa Gratton
The Inferno and the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson
Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia

 

There was a lot in here to love, and I can't wait to recommend this book far and wide. I wish this collection had existed when I was younger - I am ever so thankful it exists now.

 

Gratitude to Harper Collins for providing me with a review copy.

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text 2018-02-02 18:44
A Queer Trade KJ Charles 99 cents!
A Queer Trade - K.J. Charles

Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Crispin needs to get them back before anyone finds out what he's been doing, or what his magic can do.

Crispin tracks his quarry down to waste paper dealer Ned Hall. He needs help, and Ned can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the waste-man and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

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review 2018-01-23 23:11
Godsgrave: Nevernight Chronicles #2
Godsgrave: Book 2 of the Nevernight Chronicle - Jay Kristoff

If you've read Nevernight then you have an idea of what to expect from this book. (And if you haven't, then you should really go do that.) As with the first book, the language remains florid and snarky. As soon as I began reading I found myself grinning - it was so fun to revisit this particular voice. There's plenty of all the things you have come to expect from this series: blood, action, sex, sarcasm, sneaking through shadows, and intricate plans that always seem to have wrenches thrown into them. You know, assassin stuff. Then this book also surprised me by digging into new depths I didn't expect. Issues of slavery and social injustice. Examinations of sexual orientation and identity. Weighty stuff sandwiched in between the ill conceived plans and vengeance. It was a nice surprise.

 

The world and characters continue to be intriguing and well developed. If the first book had a dash of Hogwarts (as the initiates trained in the Red Church) then this one has a healthy dose of Hunger Games. The central focus of this book is on the gladiator arena, which makes for plenty of drama, battles, and high stakes. When the whole idea going in is for Mia to be the last one standing, and you start getting to know the other gladiators, well, it leads to pretty fertile emotional territory for both Mia and the reader. The only reason I'm not giving this book 5 stars is because it has a bit of a middle book syndrome - it sets up a lot of threads for the conclusion of the trilogy, which makes the ending of this volume a bit less satisfying. I can't wait to read the third installment. This series has become a solid favorite.

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