Archive | Fantasy RSS feed for this section

Romance Picks for LGBTQ Pride Month: Chef’s Choice, Mortal Follies, and the Green Creek Series

31 May

Chef’s Choice
by TJ Alexander

I had written previously about Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander.  If, like me, you were a fan of the sweet romance between bisexual chef Simone and nonbinary kitchen manager Ray than you will want to check out Alexander’s second novel, Chef’s Choice, which features Simone’s charming roommate, Luna O’Shea.  Luna gave up college in order to fund her transition, and is currently working as a personal assistant, that is until she is fired.  She therefore jumps at the chance that French transman, Jean-Pierre, provides her to be paid to pretend to be his girlfriend and compete in a cooking challenge that will allow him to inherit his Grandfather’s culinary empire.  Of course romance fans know that often pretend relationships have a way of becoming real ones; the fun is always how they develop along the way.  Alexander puts some daunting challenges to overcome including differing cultural and economic backgrounds that have impacted Luna and Jean-Pierre’s world views, along with the fact that neither has the kitchen skills to whip up an elaborate multi-course meal.  This is delightful treat for foodie romance fans.

Mortal Follies
by Alexis Hall

Alexis Hall is one of my favorite romance authors. I’ve written several posts about his works in the past. His stories tend to be sweet and funny sometimes mixing in a bit of mystery or fantasy; Mortal Follies includes a bit of all of these. Set in Bath in 1814, Maelys Mitchelmore is at a society ball when the unthinkable happens, her dress begins to disintegrate by some magical force. Lady Georgianna Landrake, nicknamed the Duke of Annadale, comes to her rescue and loans Maelys her cloak, but may have managed to steal her heart in the process. Maelys seeks out Lady Landrake’s further assistance when the curse that has been placed on her continues to unfold. Will they be able to find the culprit in time? One unique addition that helps shape the story is that it is narrated by the mischievous fairy Robin Goodfellow, who hides in the background telling us the story as it unfolds (banished from Oberon’s court he has taken up writing to support himself). Another enjoyable element is the friendship between Maelys, her cousin, and Miss Bickle, her best friend. Fans of Julia Quinn’s gossipy regency romance Bridgerton series and Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse, that mixes period society drama with fantasy elements, will enjoy this fun romp.

Wolfsong and Ravensong
by TJ Klune
I had previously enjoyed and blogged about TJ Klune’s three recent stand alone adult novels The House in the Cerulean Sea, Under the Whispering Door, and In the Lives of Puppets so I was curious when I saw the Green Creek series he had written, was now being republished in new hardcover editions. Each of the novels in the four book series deals with a different gay or bisexual member of a pack of werewolves in Green Creek, Oregon. The first book, Wolfsong, focuses on Ox a human boy who befriends the eccentric family that moves in near his house in the forest. He becomes particularly close friends with the youngest pack member and then as they reach adulthood their feelings evolve into something more. The second book, Ravensong, follows my favorite character in the series, Gordo, a witch whose magical tattoos including one of a raven sometimes seem to move about his body. The second novel is interesting in that it not only builds from the first novel, but it also has parts that take place during the first novel as well as flash backs. It gives an interesting depth to see incidents from different points of view. Although both are self-contained they are definitely more powerful when read as a larger whole. Both books deal with issues of consent, destiny, generational trauma, and self-determination while navigating pack dynamics. The novels have more sex and violence than his stand-alone works of fiction so if you are looking for gentler reads these might not be your jam, but for those looking for a complex mix of fantasy, bildungsroman, romance, and horror Wolfsong and Ravensong have a harmony that will resonate. The next two in the series Heartsong and Brothersong continue the adventures.

I received advanced reader copies of Mortal Follies, Chef’s Choice, Wolfsong, and Ravensong from NetGalley and the publishers to provide you with honest reviews.

If you enjoy LGBTQ romances, consider joining us for June’s Romance Book Club featuring Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly about the first nonbinary competitor on a national cooking show finding love with a fellow contestant. For those who like to cook themselves, you can take an in person or virtual cooking class and learn to make some Pride Month treats. Our Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion in June will also have LGBTQ representation for Pride Month with a LAMBDA Award Nominee, The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart. And consider participating in our Read Out Loud and Proud! Banned Books Read-a-thon!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

Two Horror Novellas that Make a Splash: The Salt Grows Heavy and Rolling in the Deep

3 May

The Salt Grows Heavy
by Cassandra Khaw

After reading the lush writing of Cassandra Khaw in their novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth, which I previously blogged about after reading it with the Library’s Science Fiction an Fantasy Book Discussion Group last Halloween, I was curious to check out more of their work. I had the opportunity to read an early copy of the Salt Grows Heavy, provided by Netgalley and the publisher in order to provide an honest review. The book had the beautiful evocative language and graphic horror elements that I expected from Khaw’s previous work, but the story itself was a very unique feminist take on the Little Mermaid story. In this story a mermaid is captured and forced to marry a prince, who cuts out her tongue so she cannot speak. Her daughters though bring vengeance unto the kingdom with their insatiable appetites and the story begins with the Mermaid and an immortal Plague Doctor fleeing the ruins and encountering figures from the Doctor’s past. The story merges horror with a fairytale love story; it is a bit like the beautiful corpse flowers that attract flies instead of butterflies, so smell like rotting meat, managing to be both gorgeous and repulsive in equal measures. This novella would make a perfect read to curl up with during a summer thunderstorm.

Rolling in the Deep
by Mira Grant

Mira Grant is the pen name of Seanan McGuire, whose Incryptid series I had blogged about previously. McGuire’s works tend to be much more urban fantasy while the works she writes under Mira Grant tend to be darker and more horror oriented. Unlike the Incryptid series where a happy ending is likely to be found in every book, I knew that in Rolling in the Deep, no one was safe. I enjoyed listening to it as a digital audiobook that clocks in at just over three hours, so a perfect length for getting some weekend chores done. Teri Schnaubelt, who narrates, does a great job of building suspense and bringing the story to life. The novella uses the setup that it is telling the story of found footage, similar to the Blair Witch series of films, of the ship the Atargatis, which was filming a documentary about mermaids for the Imagine Network. There is a troupe of mermaid performers on board, but those on the expedition soon learn that the bathypelagic zone in the Mariana Trench may be home to something way more dangerous than the heroine of a fairy tale. We learn at the beginning that all hands were lost, but the story still had enough twists to keep me engaged and I especially liked the big reveal at the end. Although short, the characters featured are still compelling and diverse with one of the ship’s crew having a hearing impairment and a mermaid performer who uses a wheel chair when not in the water. Rolling in the Deep serves as the prequel for Grant’s novel, Into the Drowning Deep which is set seven years later when Victoria Stewart sets out with a new crew to learn what happened to her missing sister, Anne, who was a reporter for the Imagine Network.

Want more sirens? Come join us on Thursday, May 25 for this month’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion where we will discuss Nghi Vo’s Siren Queen, a dark fantasy, about an actress who rises above her working-class background by portraying a monstrous mermaid on the Silver Screen.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

%d bloggers like this: