Review: Starting from Scratch by Jay Northcote

 Series: Housemates (book 5)

Genre: LGBT (m/m, trans* character), Romance

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Cover: Perfect.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: internalized trans*phobia

Description: Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Review: I was so excited for this book!

And I still am, because folks who are not trans* get a real look into the experiences and feelings and changes a trans* man can possibly have. I’m using ‘real’ not because I’m trans* myself (which I’m not), but because Jay Northcote himself is trans*. That’s another reason why I was and still am excited for this book. Ownvoices, fuck yeah!

Starting from Scratch starts with a little glossary so all readers can understand ‘special’ words perfectly. It makes reading the actual book very flowing because there aren’t any lengthy explanations about word meanings etc. Plus if you want to read up the meaning of a word later on, you just need to take a quick look at the glossary.

I’ve read some books with trans* MCs (not enough though) and up to this one… there never were any sexual scenes in it. I’m not saying a book has to have sex in it to be interesting (if you know me you already know it), but it was a nice change to be able to read about sex with a trans* guy. It was very informative for me as well, because there are some body changes due to testosterone that I didn’t know about (because I never read up on it and because it never was written in those trans* books I’ve read before).

I also think that writing sex like this… makes it more ‘normal’ for people? Like, they see it is ‘possible’ and not something you have to be afraid of? I’m speaking from both POVs here right now. Ben is afraid he won’t be male enough for his partner and Sid is unsure if he can be aroused and what to do with Ben andandand. And I think those are worries that non fictional people can have as well.

I love how they both talk about this though. Communication is so damn important in every relationship.

You may be wondering know why I gave 4 stars instead of 5 if I’m so happy about this book. The reason is… there is too much sex for my taste. Yes, I know I go on and on about how great it is that there is sex and then I’m like but not this much please! It’s just… it really isn’t a long book and they are having too much sex and I like my plot okay? I like to get to know the characters and read about their life.

Interestingly enough, Jay manages to make me like Ben and Sid and their dates are very cute and fun to read about. But I still would have liked to read more about that aspect of their life. Personal taste, like I said.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review: Allaha of the Mountain by Aurora Lee Thornton

 Series: Wildflowers (book 1)

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Cover: I love its medival touch.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: suicidal thoughts mention, attempted rape

Description: Allaha is a knight of the Order of Aisha, Fallen of the Mountain. She – like her fellows – is stoic and reserved, trained to fight against demons and their ilk. When she triggers a vision that kills a renown oracle, she is set on a quest to complete the prophecy.

She becomes the protector of those mentioned in the prophecy.

Tamara is a young woman of the Menori – a migrant people that travel in caravans. She is also a hamalakh, able to sense the emotions of others as well as sense falsehoods. She is sometimes wise beyond her years, but at other times her youth can cause her to draw incorrect conclusions.

Hibu, a sorcerer, is from the country of Jeongwon – a land where the nobility are worshipped as gods. He was the personal sorcerer of Prince Ji – a testament to the strength of his powers. He is ever curious and seeking new knowledge, questioning all the people they meet on their journey. He is joined by his demon familiar, Goric.

Karejakal was orphaned by the death of his entire clan – but his mastak powers gave him the ability to keep their spirits close. Still a child, Karej is a Tibu – a race of cat people that walk upright. Learning of his people from the spirits of his clan, the child has adopted Allaha as his mother.

Together, they travel the land of Magdra, seeking answers to a broken prophecy wherein they only know two things – that a darkness is coming, and that they are meant to stop it. All they need to discover now is how to do it.

Review: I loved books like this when I was younger.

And I thought I still do, but… somehow I don’t anymore. Which is sad, really. But I will try my best to give a good review anyway.

There are a lot of different characters in this story and I had some trouble because of this. It took way too long for me to be able to know that person a’s name is this and their background is that… (that may be a personal problem though!). I would have needed some kind of glossar to be honest.

Anyway, once I did know who is who I came to like the different characters – especially a certain demon. He’s by far the most interesting and funny one and I simply love his scenes. If there’s ever a side story with him as the MC, count me in!

According to goodreads you’re in for a 456 pages long ride. And at times… it felt even longer. I have to confess I skim read at times, because sometimes the story is a little bit slow and, well, boring.

But one thing is far from boring: The world-building itself. There are a lot of different cultures in this book and they are not your usual Tolkien-ones. But they are inspired by our world, I think.

Another thing that could (or should) be of interest to you is something the author told me about Allaha of the Mountain: There are a lot of LGBT characters in this story. A few you get to know now, but later on there will be an aro ace character! There are hints to them in this book, but I won’t spoiler you.

I started this review along the lines of when I was younger… and I truly think I would have loved it when I was younger. But somehow… it was too much and not enough for me now. Maybe I just can’t concentrate on fantasy this long anymore, who knows?

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

(ranting) Review: A beast’s belle by J. Gambardella

 Series: Beast and Belle Series (book 1)

Genre: Erotica

Rating: dnf 28%

Cover: I’m kinda wondering why her dress isn’t yellow, but the cover’s still pretty.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: sexual harassment, maybe more

Description: A Beast’s Belle is a fairy tale retold – echoing the ground-breaking BDSM Beauty books by Anne Rice.

The novel offers a twist on a classic story; Isabel is the daughter of a widowed inventor and tinkerer, but leaves home to join the indentured staff of a manor. Upon arriving, she explores the rigid structure of domestic servitude and discipline in the manor, and eventually grows fascinated with the Master of the house, a feral man with curious proclivities and voracious appetites. Isabel tries to find her way in a new life at the manor, but quickly finds herself bound up with the Master of the house and engrossed in the lifestyle and ritual the manor’s occupants share.

Review: Prepare yourself for a rant.

I want to start with a quote. This quote was part of the (probably) automatically sent email I received after my request to receive this arc on NG was fulfilled.

“If after reading all or part of the book you find the material was very different than you what expected or the genre was not to your liking, the Author would appreciate you not review the book as opposed to posting a review that would not be fair to the Author.”

Like… YOU DO NOT ASK A REVIEWER TO NOT PUBLISH THEIR REVIEW IF IT’S GOING TO BE A “BAD” REVIEWS. Never ever. Nope.
And the wording… like… I expected this ARC to be good, otherwise I would not have requested it. Surprisingly I do not request arcs I hope will be not enjoyable to me. Strange concept, I know. Very strange. But that’s how I roll.

Anyway. Let’s get to the book itself. You may have guessed that I did not like it – dnfing a book is a great indicator for this kind of thing.
First I didn’t enjoy the language. Too many adjectives (I like adjectives, just not… fucking everywhere). And then… the wording. There are some scenes where the mc does something to herself (you know what kind of things I’m talking about) and instead of using ‚her‘ the word ‚the‘ is used. Like she touched the clit and not her clit (not a direct quote, but near enough).

But I could have struggled on if at least the characters were likeable, mainly the MC. Which… she is not.
There is one special scene where I was like „fuck this“. Belle is in the woods, where she often is when she wants to masturbate. She does this a lot – that is not my problem, although those scenes weren’t interesting in the least – which is my problem. That’s not what I’m talking about, though.

As I was saying, she is masturbating. In the woods. The very public and not private property woods. And guess what? She is seen. Oh no. How could he have done that? Way to ignore someones private… wait. She is nowhere private.

To be fair, there is the possibility that he followed her to the public woods (he harasses her at some point and does probably again. Although I wouldn’t know because I didn’t read any further).

But my point remains.

She tries to have her alone time at a public place and some guy who sees her is the villain. That’s not how you can see things like that.

Summing it up… there wasn’t anything that was enjoyable for me and with the e-mail thing… not a happy experience.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (not too sure in this case if they really wanted an honest review to be honest). Thank you (?) .

Review: An Invitation by Jay Northcote

 Series: Standalone (but originally published in the Juicy Bits anthology from Dreamspinner Press)

Genre: LGBT (m/m), Erotica

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Cover: Nothing special.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: None

Description: “I should put you over my knee and spank you for teasing me…”

Jake’s new boss, Cal Mackenzie, is hotter than hell. Fortified by a little liquid bravery on a work night out, Jake makes his move and finds out that Cal is interested too. To Jake’s dismay, Cal makes it clear that nothing is going to happen as long as they work together. Fortunately for both of them, this is just a temp job and there’s only a week left in the contract.

Cal admonishes Jake to behave while he waits, but as the week drags on, Jake can’t resist flirting and teasing. When Friday finally arrives, Cal shows Jake what happens to people who can’t follow his rules. Jake learns a surprisingly enjoyable lesson over Cal’s knee—one that he won’t forget in a hurry.

Review: When will I ever learn to NOT read anything by Jay Northcote when in public?!

Probably never…

This is a nice, sexy read without much plot. But I still got a feeling for the characters, which was unexpected to be honest. And I really enjoyed how there is no real life power imbalance – because Cal makes Jake wait until after he has stopped working for him.

If you’re looking for a nice, sexy read for your break at work, this is it. Or maybe better wait until you’re home… just saying.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you

Leipziger Buchmesse 2017

Just a quick heads up from a tired blogger: I’ll be at Leipziger Buchmesse/ Leipzig Book Fair on Friday and Saturday.

I never attended that one (only the one in Frankfurt), so I’m very excited. Well, I would be excited if that were my 10th time as well, so… Anyway. I won’t write any reviews this weekend (duh), but I will probably tweet sometimes/a lot. Feel free to follow me if you’re interested!

I try to write at least a few reviews next week. And of course I will write something about the Book Fair.

See you soon!

 

Review: What they always tell us by Martin Wilson

 Series: Standalone

Genre: LGBT (m/m), Romance

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Cover: I really like it.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: mention of suicide attempt, child neglect mention

Description: JAMES AND ALEX have barely anything in common anymore – least of all their experiences in high school, where James is a popular senior and Alex is suddenly an outcast. But at home, there is Henry, the precocious 10-year-old across the street, who eagerly befriends them both. And when Alex takes up running, there is James’s friend Nathen, who unites the brothers in moving and unexpected ways.

Review: Why can’t there be more?!

There is no real end and at the same time it’s a very fitting end, if that makes any sense at all. But let’s start at the beginning.

I love how we get to read about both brothers’ life separately. Alex may be the mc, but James has his own life and he keeps living it after his brother’s failed suicide attempt. Their relationship changes because of this, but it comes back to being very sweet (unexpectedly sweet) and leaves a warm feeling inside you.

There is some romance in this novel, but it’s not the main focus. No, this is a story about recovery. And it’s a good one, a hopeful one. I still liked the pairing very much.

I enjoyed how the writing reads like the characters’ age. It’s not often done and when it is done, it can easily be overdone.

So you may ask why I’m only giving 4 stars if I enjoyed the characters, the story, the message, the writing… It’s all those girl bashing. Being female does not mean being weak. Yes I know a lot of males (and quite some females as well) see it that way, but guess what?

You can have characters being sexist and then have other characters telling them off for this! It’s not hard to do, you know? And if a character is sexist in his thoughts, you can make him change his mind. I’m sorry (no, I’m not), but this is really hitting a sore point with me and I’m not willing to overlook it because I like the book.

You should still read it.

Merken

Review: Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’Beirne

 Series: Future Leaders (book 1)

Genre: LGBT (f/f, bisexual), Romance, YA

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Cover: Somehow I really love those little leafs…

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: none

Description: “Finn’s solid. Not in body, but in being. She’s gravity and kindness and all those good things that anchor.”

“Willa’s confusing. Sometimes she’s this sweet, sensitive soul. Other times she’s like a flaming arrow you hope isn’t coming for you.”

Finn and Willa have been picked as team leaders in the future leader camp game. The usually confident Finn doesn’t know what’s throwing her more, the fact she’s leading a team of highly unenthusiastic overachievers or coming up against fierce, competitive Willa. And Willa doesn’t know which is harder, leaving her responsibilities behind to pursue her goals or opening up to someone.

Soon they both realise that the hardest thing of all is balancing their clashing ideals with their unexpected connection. And finding a way to win, of course.

Review: Is Emily O’Beirne even capable of writing a book I do not like?

If you follow my blog/my reviews you know that she is one of my favourite authors. But it’s not like I’m blindly liking her books – they just are really good and each one has a different story and I just love her books, okay?!

Ahem.

Future Leaders of Nowhere has a very interesting idea behind it. What makes one a leader? And what makes one a good leader? I think this question may be more important now than it was a few years ago. There are quite a few elections this year in europe for example and people are really confused and afraid (which is not a good combination, let me tell you).

So the game that’s played in this novel is really interesting and important. I would love to take part in it myself. But of course not only the story is interesting.

There is quite a diverse racial cast in Future Leaders of Nowhere and each character has their own personality. I really hope we will be able to read more about them in the second installment. But I really can’t wait to read more about Finn and Willa.  I enjoyed how both girls are this fierce human beings with their own thoughts and ideals instead of one being the doer and the other doing what she is told.

Their romance itself is a slow building one, full of confusion and longing and I really felt for them. Those romances are the best, aren’t they? Of course there is some drama that’s keeping them from their happiness, but it doesn’t feel forced but realistic and… it simply had to happen.

Speaking of drama: Not only is one of the characters ON PAGE bisexual, but the drama is not because of that identity! It was really refreshing to not read about a character being anxious because their partner is bi and how they of course will be missing the other gender because of that – which is plain bullshit but a lot of people believe that bullshit. I would have been very confused if Emily O’Beirne would have written something like that though.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.