Book Review: The Murder Next Door (2021)

The Murder Next Door by Sarah Bell

sapphic. mystery. 1912.

I don’t read a lot of historical mysteries (Agatha Christie would not be impressed), but the description was just so intriguing and I’m on a costume drama roll~ television wise at the minute. (Cable Girls, yo! More historical lgbt+ awesomeness!)

Right, so The Murder Next Door follows Louisa and Ada throughout 1912 as they try to solve the mystery of, yanno, the murder next door!

Bell’s writing and attention to detail shines throughout – very impressive for a debut! What I loved most, though, was seeing historical moments through a new perspective.

Sexology texts. All the theories she’d gathered to try to understand her lack of sexual interest. A search that only intensified when she first met Ada and realised she was falling in love but still with none of the subsequent desire attached.

I love this quote. So. Much.

It’s things like this that remind you why rep is so important. It reminds me of this timeless quote, actually:

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone. – Roald Dahl.

Bell’s on page representation is just amazing, seriously. \o/ You can really feel how much Bell cares about her characters and the nuanced and kind way she approaches them, not to mention how well she draws you into their world.

For those who like historical fiction and crime solving ladies, check this one out!

Character Art for These Violent Nights [Thorn/Kol + Lucien/Nik]

My new fantasy novel These Violent Nights now has some fantastic character art for the main couples, drawn by the wonderfully talented Libra Illustrations. (Go check out her website!) I’ve imagined these characters in my head for so long that seeing them drawn for the first time is just absolutely amazing!

Meet Thorn and Kol, and Nik and Lucien!

[Goodreads | Amazon]

Book Review: Caught Inside (2016)

Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon

❧ audiobook review

Another Joe Jameson narration and an absolute find. [Other great Jameson narrations I’ve reviewed are: An Honest ManThe Prince of ThornsThe Last Romeo and The Magnificent Sons.]

THIS BOOK IS SUCH CUTE ROMANCE, UGH. ❤❤❤ Luke and Theo are fantastic together and so adorable. They have such good chemistry, it’s insane.

This is a perfect summer romance read! Beaches and new love. And the constant surfing descriptions just made me think of Shelter.

Totally a compliment, FYI. I adored this book so much. Jamie Deacon’s writing is so evocative and lush and lovely.

*SPOILERS BELOW*

This book totally stole my heart. That said, despite how shippable Luke and Theo are, I do feel bad for Zara. She really deserved much better than everyone keeping secrets from her. Giles was such a prick at pretty much every point, although he was a good friend to Theo.

Really hard not to picture Rupert Giles:

But this Giles was decidedly less Watcherly. I got so annoyed at him throughout the book. He’s a good character, though, so there’s that.

One of the things I loved, but found myself shaking my head and laughing at, was how Luke is so DRAMATIC. He ought to get an award for epic overreactions, yet he’s written so well and so sympathetic, that even when he is a DISASTER, you end up rooting for him. I really adored Theo, too, although a lot of his decisions left me so frustrated.

Meredith is definitely a queen ❤

[Audiobook Rec] Caught Inside (2016)

I came across a great audiobook yesterday for anyone who is looking for recommendations. It’s by one of my favourite narrators, Joe Jameson, and is a contemporary lgbt+ romance.

Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

Book Review: An Honest Man (2019)

An Honest Man by Ben Fergusson

❧ audiobook review

THAT ENDING THO

IT’S PERFECTION.

I didn’t think I was going to be okay with the ending. I was really, really worried about the ending for a second there.

This book is set at the end of the Cold War, in the heart of Berlin, as Ralf and Oz fall in love.

But of course, in the end, 1989 meant neither of those things. It just meant Oz and espionage – how grand that word sounds now. And, I suppose my family, and the terrible things we did.

Angst and espionage, you say?

(I’m not sure I ever recovered from the gut-punching angst that was London Spy, but sure, I figured let’s give 1989 yearning and secrecy a try.) This is another Joe Jameson narration, and it is a truth universally acknowledged that if Joe Jameson narrates a book, I will listen to it. (If you’ve been following my reviews, he’s one of my favourite audiobook narrators so far. He voiced The Prince of ThornsThe Last Romeo and The Magnificent Sons. Three amazing books, by the way. Deffo check them out!)

This book was a wonderful historical fiction about young love and family obligations. Fergusson’s writing is lovely and I’m so glad I gave this book a chance! Oz and Ralf are wonderful characters!

Also, his description of his mum at the start straight up gives me Sex Education vibes.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m definitely going to look out for more books by Ben Fergusson in future.

OUT NOW: These Violent Nights (2021)

THESE VIOLENT NIGHTS IS OUT NOW IN EBOOK AND PAPERBACK!

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.

War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.

Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.

And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both.

But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares. 

Book Reviews: The Host (2008), Roommate (2021), Skyward (2018)

I read some really fantastic books this week. I think the one that’s going to be swirling around in my head for the next couple of days is The Host, though. It made me think and feel and wonder and angst. There were a few things I wish were done a bit differently or shortened, but overall I really truly adored it. Roommate by Sarina Bowen felt like a book to read at autumn time and I devoured it. Skyward by Joe Henderson was so brilliantly coloured and detailed and had such great representation. If you’re in search of a brilliant graphic novel, definitely pick up this one! I also read another children’s book that was wonderful, but I’m going to save that for a separate post.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

“Eight full lives and I never found anyone I would stay on a planet for, anyone I would follow when they left. I never found a partner. Why now? Why you?”

Wow. This book. I have a lot of feelings. I understand now why this is the book Stephenie Meyer picks as her favourite. There is so much that I loved about this story: dear Wanda, tough Melanie, kind Jeb, lil Jamie, angsty Jared and sweet, lovely Ian.

lil’ bit, Jared, it’s true
(gif set credit)

SPOILER WARNING

That said, I don’t think there’s even teams, because the book is pretty solidly Wanda/Ian, Jared/Melanie. But I think the gif is hilarious XD

Ian is a total pumpkin pie precious cinnamon roll gem, though. I mean:

“I held you in my hand, Wanderer. And you were so beautiful.”

And:

“You deserve a life, too, Wanda. You deserve to stay.”

“But I love her, Ian.”

He closed his eyes, and his pale lips went dead white. “But I love you,” he whispered. “Doesn’t that matter?”

“Of course it matters. So much. Can’t you see? That only makes it more . . . necessary.”

Gosh, I cried at multiple parts of this story and I’m well impressed by the sheer humanity Meyer packed into this alien tale. Bravo, Meyer, you got me. You got my EMOTIONS.

I’ve always thought that if a person wants to, he can get along with just about anybody. I like putting my theories to the test. And see, here you are, one of the nicest gals I ever met. It’s real interesting to have a soul as a friend, and it makes me feel super special that I’ve managed it.

JEB ♡

My interest in this book started when I stumbled upon an interesting interview where Stephenie Meyer talked about The Host and said, ‘If I never wrote another book, I think I’d probably choose The Host. It feels like my most important story in a lot of ways. But I very much hope that my best book is still ahead of me. (Let’s be honest, though. I’m going to be remembered for Twilight.)’ For anyone curious, the interview is here.

I always get curious about the book that an author picks as their favourite of all their work, and the fact that she picked it over Twilight is striking to me and has left me very curious to read it.

Also, the movie left me with FEELS. Jared and Melanie OTP:

And of course Ian and Wanda \o/ ❤❤❤❤

I love all these characters.😭😭😭

(Movie review.)

Roommate by Sarina Bowen

We’re like a constellation in the night sky—people associate the stars with one another, but those stars only look like a group. They’re really millions of light years apart.

This book has everything you could possibly want in a romance story: adorable couple + amazing, delicious descriptions of cooking and baking + great side characters + heartfelt romance.

I loved Roderick and Kieran so much! Precious pies, both of them. I wholeheartedly recommend this one!!

Skyward, Vol. 1: My Low-G Life by Joe Henderson

This was a seriously cool graphic novel and I’m so curious to see where it goes in future volumes. The artwork in this is breath-taking, and there’s really good representation, too. I love the central characters, and the premise of a world without gravity is intriguing (albeit highly disconcerting!). The ending left me with EMOTIONS, so I must read the next one asap.

The Outlands Pentalogy – new covers!

I’m absolutely delighted to unveil the new covers for The Outlands Pentalogy. My dear friend Heather made them (she’s a wonderful designer, for anyone looking for a book cover!). These books are dystopian/science fiction, with a dash of romance!

Behold:

The book’s map is here, for anyone curious! Add on Goodreads.

Book Review for Blog Tour: Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire (2020)

Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire
Part of the Bloodlaced blog tour

“Are you a man or a woman?” she asked, her nose millimeters from mine. The same question I’d been asked a million times before. I only ever had one answer.

“I am Asagi.”

I really like how very different this book is from others in the vampire genre. If I was to compare it to any of the ones I’ve read, I’d probably say it fits in with Shari Sakurai’s Demon’s Blood series in that both are set in historical Japan and follow the characters’ struggles around vampirism. Bloodlaced is a nuanced character study and a good bit of the book occurs before the fantasy element comes in. The story focuses heavily on the effects of imbalanced relationships, and especially how these relationships impact those without a say in their circumstances.

There are some spoilers herein.

The story begins with Asagi and Tsukito, two household slaves, the day they are sold to a new master (who is a complete arsehole, let’s be clear). It’s a horrible, brutal place where both are abused. And no matter how hard Asagi works to keep Tsukito safe, things get very dark and bleak for the pair. Eventually, Asagi is bought by a new master, Mahiro.

I was unsure of Mahiro at the start, although Asagi certainly wasn’t:

Like a fool, I’d fallen in love with the moon, and once again it was out of my reach.

To be sure, Mahiro is nothing like Asagi’s previous master and encourages opinions and respect amongst members of the household. And so Asagi quickly falls in love with Mahiro. Asagi also makes friends with Kira, who hides a secret about her relationship with Mahiro and is, awkwardly, madly in love with him. So the closer Asagi and Mahiro become, the more jealous she gets.

Asagi soon learns that Mahiro is a blood-drinking immortal. Though Asagi’s reaction is bad at first, soon they grow closer and become deeply attached to each other. But the joy doesn’t last long. An unfortunate series of events leads to Mahiro turning Asagi into a creature just like him. Something Asagi isn’t remotely delighted about. Worse, the longer they’re together, the more Asagi realises that Mahiro is not an equal, nor views himself as such, and resentment builds slowly on Asagi’s side.

He was still my master. I might not have been bound in chains, but I had become a slave of another kind, bound by blood and time.

I was so glad Asagi realised this and didn’t excuse Mahiro’s views simply because he was kinder than some. (I was worrying, guys. WORRYING.) As time goes on, Asagi begins to push back and I was rooting so hard for Asagi to find Tsukito and get the happy ending that was denied to both of them.

The ending was straight up AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. I wasn’t expecting any of the final twists, but overall I really liked how how everything came together in the end. A very impressive start to a new series!

Really excited to read what happens next!

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review as part of the Bloodlaced Blog Tour.

If you like Bella Forrest, P. C. Cast, AJ Tipton, or Anne Rice, you will love this beautiful dark paranormal fantasy romance.

Publisher: City Owl Press (September 29, 2020)
Releases on: September 29, 2020
Genre: LGBTQIA Dark Historical Paranormal Romance
Language: English
ISBN 9781648980152

Buy Links:


Amazon: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1Amz
Amazon Paperback: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1AmzPrt
B&N: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1BN
Kobo: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1Kobo
iBooks: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1iBooks
GoodReads: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1GR
City Owl: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1CO

About the Author:

Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.

Website: https://www.courtneymaguirewrites.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CourtneyMaguireWrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PretentiousAho
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/courtneymaguirewrites/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Courtney-Maguire/e/B082S34S7W

Book Review: Lie With Me by Philippe Besson, Translated by Molly Ringwald (2019)

Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

No matter how much you want to respect someone’s freedom (even when you consider it selfish), you still have your own pain, anger, and melancholy to contend with.

I was not prepared for this story AT ALL.

I first picked up Lie With Me because I love Molly Ringwald – and Molly Ringwald surely has great taste in LGBT French novellas?! And, she totally does. Lie With Me is a beautiful, tragic, raw novella that’s left me quite unsure what to do with myself. I just want to reach into the book and wrap my arms around Thomas, Philippe and Lucas.

He says I’m a boy of books, from somewhere else.

The story follows Philippe and Thomas in a small French village in the 1980s. They start a quiet, hidden away relationship. The story’s quite short (only about 160 pages), so to avoid spoiling anything I’m just going to say that this is a stunning piece of literature. Truly. But be prepared to cry your eyes out.

It’s a curious notion, love: difficult to identify and define. There are so many degrees and variations.

100% recommend.