fantasy

Holiday Romance 2017

 

Happy holidays everyone! I’m in the midst of creating stocking stuffers full of winter seasonal cheer. Today I’m sharing holiday romances that will keep you warm as we stroll towards the Winter Solstice and indulge in festivities with loved ones, colleagues, and ourselves. Although I’m posting this now, it is by no means finished. I’ll try to add more books (published within the last five years) to future lists as I discover them. Until then, happy listening!

As always, I would love to hear about holiday romances that you’ve enjoyed! Please share them in the comment section below!

 

That Old Emerald Mountain Magic: A Christmas/Holiday (2017) by Cara Malone
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“Carmen hasn’t had snow on Christmas in ten years. Her family has grown accustomed to beaches and extravagant tropical vacations, but she still remembers the snow in Massachusetts when she was a kid. When her dad decides to book a cabin in the idyllic, snow-capped mountains of Colorado for Christmas, the rest of the family is skeptical – why trade palm trees and warm weather for a snowbound ski resort? Carmen’s in the same ‘bah humbug’ mood until she meets the impossibly optimistic, endlessly intriguing Joy and their worlds collide – quite literally – on the slopes. Joy has lived her whole life on Emerald Mountain and watched a lot of people come and go through the resort town. She has learned to expect a certain amount of impermanence here, but Carmen makes her hope for more than just a vacation romance. Can Joy help Carmen and her family rediscover the true spirit of Christmas?”  via Amazon


Eitan’s Chord: A Lesbian Fairy Trio for Chanukah
by Shira Glassman
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“Fairy magic requires fairy intimacy, so when the three Chanukah fairies—cute butch Latke, enthusiastic party girl Dreidl, and their elegant leader Menorah—decide to help an impoverished young couple, a fairy romp is in order! Eitan, a trans man, and his cis wife Abigail work retail and live on love in a studio apartment with broken blinds. If only Abigail’s beaded jewelry would sell online, they’d have a little more cash, but nobody’s biting. While they sleep, the fairies bring the miracle they’re looking for. This story features spicy behavior and is not for children.” via Amazon

 

A Christmas for Carol (2017) by Emily Sharp
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“A modern spin on a beloved Christmas classic. After the passing of her best friend, Jacqueline Marley, Elizabeth Scrooge heads up the powerhouse financial firm of Marley and Scrooge. Bitter and angry, love is the furthest thing from her mind. But then she hires a new employee. Carol Cratchit is looking forward to her new job as the personal secretary to Ms. Scrooge. Despite the simmering sexual tension which heats up between them both, Carol couldn’t ever imagine being with someone so cold and heartless. When Scrooge hires Carol to help her with a personal issue outside of work, Carol reluctantly agrees. But with each meeting, Carol begins to see past the hard exterior and sees something inside of Elizabeth that she has been longing for. For a miracle to happen this Christmas, and give the Happily Ever After both need, Elizabeth and Carol have to look into the past, focus on the present, and find the magic they both need for the future.” via Amazon

 

Winter’s Solace (2017) by Magnolia Robbins
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Katlynn Walker thought she had it all: a dream job in Silicon Valley. A beautiful California beach house. The love of her life. But her world crumbled beneath her feet the moment she found her best friend in bed with her fiancé. Desperate to escape her harsh new realities, Katlynn flees to her Massachusetts hometown of Wellesley, to spend Christmas at her sister’s cottage. Finding a new love was the last thing on her agenda, but when Katlynn reconnects with an old friend, everything she thought she knew about herself and her future is called into question. Iris’ life changed the minute her mother got sick. With her quiet, cozy world in Wellesley suddenly turned upside-down, there’s no room for more complications — especially not the resurgence of a college crush she thought she’d put out of her mind long ago. But when she finds herself spending the holidays next door to her old classmate Katlynn, Iris can’t ignore the chemistry between them. As the two women navigate their separate heartaches, will they crack under the pressures of life around them? Or can their new bond save them both? via Amazon

 

Snow Globe (2013) by Georgia Beers
Brisk Press
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“Mackenzie Campbell has no idea her life is about to fall apart. She’s bright and attractive with a good job, a comfortable home and an impending Christmas wedding she’s been planning for months. So when her girlfriend bails less than two weeks before the nuptials, Kenzie’s picture perfect Christmas world is turned upside down. Determined to hold on to at least some shred of her dignity, Kenzie snags her best friend, Allison, and flees the cold of the Northeast to take the honeymoon anyway. The Rainbow’s Edge is an enormous LGBT resort in Southern Florida, and its atmosphere of sun and fun seems to be just what Kenzie needs to help take her mind off of her lost relationship. But can a few hot dances, a mysterious suitor, and a handful of rum runners help her figure out what it is she really wants?” via georgiabeers.com

 

A Holloway Holiday (2016) by Voss Porter
Dark Hollows Press
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“Under the stress of the holidays, can Cara Spencer and Dre hold it together? Or do they need a little Holloway Holiday magic? At the behest of her brothers, Cara Spencer Holloway picks up the mantle of holiday entertaining, left behind in the wake of her parents’ untimely death, but now she’s beginning to second-guess her every decision. What if she can’t measure up to the memories? What if her brothers don’t think she’s good enough? And why in the world has her partner, Dre Martin, been acting so strangely? Join the Holloway clan as they realize all they truly need is a little holiday magic!” via Amazon

 

Mistletoe Mishap (2017) by Siri Caldwell
Brussels Sprout Press
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“Ready…set…yes! It seems like a simple challenge: who can make the other person take the Lord’s name in vain the loudest and the most often with the least clothes on before Christmas. With only twelve days to prove that all those years together do not mean she’s forgotten how to goad the love of her life into unbuttoning her own blouse, Kendra has no time to waste. If only Viv played fair… Will mental arithmetic, a little too much coffee, and mistletoe threaded through belt loops help two science professors laugh and love their way through the holidays?” via Amazon

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Categories: booklist, contemporary, fantasy, fiction, Holiday, novella, romance, seasonal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magical Herstory Tour: Sappho’s Bar and Grill

SBG cover

love history, especially women’s history, especially queer women’s history. Author and professor Bonnie J. Morris blends fiction with her vast experience collecting and writing about history. The result is an immersive, unforgettable journey. As LGBT+ History Month draws to a close (and really, it’s all year round because we’re making it everyday), this is the perfect way to celebrate.

On a cold and lonely Valentine’s Day, Women’s History professor Hannah Stern half jests that women’s history will be her date. Sappho’s is like a queer Cheers for women. Whether or not everyone knows your name yet, it’s a bar where all are welcome. Isabel, friend-owner-barkeep extraordinaire, spreads more than just good cheer with her seemingly magical cocktails. Over the course of the year, Hannah connects with famous women on holidays and special events. All it takes it a touch or a taste to trigger an encounter. She discovers far more about the women she esteems in her lectures and course assignments. 

Sappho’s Bar and Grill is a wonderful treat for readers who enjoy delving into the lives of their foremothers and recognizing the heroines among us today. Hannah’s journey through past and present provides vicarious experiences for those of us who would love just one minute with the women who have impacted our lives. 

Sappho’s Bar and Grill by Bonnie J. Morris
Bywater Books, July 2017
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Food for thought:

  1. Who would you visit that isn’t in this book?
  2. What advice would you offer via postcard?
  3. What advice do you wish you had received?
  4. Have you ever been inspired to get a tattoo (like Hannah and her Sappho tattoo)?
  5. Invite three historical women to dinner. Who and why?

 

 

Categories: fantasy, fiction, history, lgbt | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

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Something witchy this way comes! This Saturday, April 29, Western Washington University will host its first Queer Con in Bellingham, Washington. My time-off has already been spoken for, so I won’t be able to attend. In lieu of gorging myself on panels and queer comics, I curled up with Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology. Collection editor Joamette Gil will be one of the event guests.

This collection is another powerful testament to community funded campaigns. Last year, the folks behind Power & Magic Press set about making this book a reality. Thanks to its success, you can now buy a print or digital copy. Fifteen black & white short stories reflect the creative contributions of seventeen women, demigirls, and bigender people of color. A handful of stories also have content warnings in the table of contents (ToC). It’s impossible for me to claim favorites; this magical gathering is all-around amazing.

“Her Gift” by Coco Candelario, reminds me of Kiki’s Delivery Service in both spirit and style. April, spunky delivery witch, is in love with her best friend, Pam, a baker with no magical powers (not in the traditional sense, anyways; her family confections are scrumdiddlyumptious!). They live in a world of “Gifted” = witches and “Ungifted” = non-magical folks. It’s an adorable, endearing story about love and friendship.

Veronica Agarwal’s “Fluid” follows Ramona/Ramon as they navigate a world in which limitations and expectations are assigned based on gender, much like our own (“Boys can’t be witches!”). The story shows affirmation and support coming when you least expect it (and need it most). “Fluid” is accompanied by a content warning in the ToC: Gender questioning, misgendering.

Imagine, if you will, a life in which you wake up every morning in a different place and time. Welcome to “The Shop that Never Stays” by Gabrielle Robinson and Hannah Lazarte. After stumbling upon a magic shop with just the ingredients needed, our witch is tethered to it. Who know how many days, months, or even years, have passed. Until…one day… I’m one of many who get caught up in the rote of life, sometimes feeling like it won’t be any other way, until an experience or a person steps through the door and rocks life off it’s hinges.

 There are so many stories that I have not highlighted here, but only because I want you to experience it for yourself! If you happen to attend Queer Con at WWU, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology edited by Joamette Gil
Published by Power & Magic Press
Publication date: January 2017

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Categories: anthology, comics, fantasy, friendship, lgbt, romance | 1 Comment

LGBT Audiobooks 2016 Listen List

I’m just a tad late in posting all of the glorious audiobooks that I listened to in 2016 (though they did make it into my year-end-stravaganza posting). Compared with 2015, there was an aural explosion! I think this in part because I had more options as far as buying and borrowing audiobooks (Overdrive, OneClick Digital, Audible). I’ve also spent more time perusing audiobook reviews on sites such as AudioFile Magazine and participating in a fantastic Facebook group, Lesbian Audiobooks

Now when I find an interesting book, I ask myself “is there an audiobook version?” Publishers seem to produce more and more audiobook versions these days, as opposed to limiting the production to “big” names and blockbuster series. What a time to be a listener!

My taste in listening varies from one day to the next. Below you’ll find my moods and interests reflected in the covers below. I enjoy literary fiction, modern-day retellings of Shakespeare plays, memoirs, YA, fantasy adventure, contemporary romance, far-flung settings, and historical fiction.

However, if I don’t enjoy the narrator, no matter how good the storytelling, I stop listening. And that’s just me; other listeners might find the narrator is a great fit for their ears. Some new-to-me narrators that I really enjoyed in 2016 include Laural Merlington and Kate Rudd (The Language of Hoofbeats); Amielynn Abellera (As I Descended); Sarah Grace Wright (Fallen Elements); and Bahni Turpin (Here Comes the Sun). These narrators deliver immersive experiences with wonderful pacing, tone, and excellent characterization.

As for 2017? Well, I’ve already listened to a contemporary romance and a fantasy-adventure! My Audible wishlist is long and getting longer. What LGBT+ fiction and/or non-fiction audiobooks did you listen to last year?  

The book covers are linked to either a review I posted or to a related external site (like Overdrive, AudioFile, publishers, etc.).

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully LoadedSaving Montgomery SoleAs I DescendedHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-BennYou Know Me Well by David LevithanThe Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson CooperHit by a Farm by Catherine FriendThe Warrior's Path (When Women Were Warriors, #1)Being Jazz Audiobook2497445115726317327959Image result for if i was your girl audiobook207637391582434313587076937547633163705232513262325817288219421892292974125893681

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, mystery, nonfiction, paranormal, romance, suspense, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Knight to Remember – audiobook review

 

Dragons and damsels, turrets and turkey legs, colorful banners and noble knights. Holly’s life is not the fantasy adventure story she curls up with most nights at home. She’s a Boston librarian who loves her job, enjoys hanging out with her brother on his coven’s meditation nights, and on occasion ventures out to medieval fairs with her best friend, Carly. Life is pretty peachy, with the exception of her extremely toxic girlfriend of four years, Nicole. A single-minded businesswoman who schedules sex and treats Holly like a turd stuck to her shoe, there isn’t much in the way of redeemable qualities in Nicole. In fact, she’s a stain that just won’t come out, though Holly clings to the ghost of what their relationship once was. Part of her wants to gut it out with Nicole because she’s already lost enough in her life.

It takes a dark and stormy night for Holly’s life to spin on its axis. Out in the night, under cloak of darkness, two figures emerge from the thunder claps and lightning. A knight and an enormous beast battle in her backyard. In an instance, the raucous is over and Holly is left with the imposing form of the now wounded knight, Virago. As their adventure to find and slay the beast unfolds, the two women grow closer. No matter the outcome, however, they must answer the question: can people from two different worlds (literally, there’s a magic portal and everything!) establish a lasting relationship? There is a moment in the book in which Virago pitches woo that puts Heath Ledger’s Patrick Verona from 10 Things I Hate About You to shame! Is that a sword strapped to your back or are you happy to see me? 

A Knight to Remember is a fun, well-paced fantasy/adventure romance. There were times when I wondered at how Virago could put up with playing the waiting game when a monster lurked in the shadows, such as allowing herself to spend a day at the library when Holly has to work. It was still fun to see the characters interact in various places in Boston. Author Bridget Essex leaves plenty of room to expand on character relationships and all of those what nexts in Date Knight, the second installment of her “Knight Legends” series (which was just released on audio in January 2017!). Cheers!

Narrator Rose Clearwater delivers an engrossing and entertaining performance as she guides listeners through a world both ordinary and extraordinary. Her turn as the confident fish out-of-water Virago exploring an alien world (Earth) enhances the story. Listeners view the world through the knight’s eyes: everyday items to Earth-based people, like shopping malls, coffee, and seat belts become curiosities (though she quickly acclimates to her new environment). Clearwater uses a more matter-of-fact tone when Virago tells Holly that a knight does not leave their sword behind, not even to buy new clothes. Holly’s voice is full of the pauses that mark indecision and doubt. Her tone becomes more lively when she’s nervous, excited, or upset. Clearwater does a wonderful job of charting Holly’s personal journey as she takes charge of her life. And, as if listeners needed another reason to despise Nicole, Clearwater enhances those sentiments with the brisk, dismissive, and irritated tones and pacing with which she infuses Nicole’s dialogue. Even now, as I write this, I feel a surge of loathing for this woman who seems to think so little of Holly (in those few moments she does think of her). Ugh!

I look forward to hearing her narrate the continuing adventures of Holly and Virago in Date Knight!

A Knight to Remember by Bridget Essex
Narrated by Rose Clearwater (Note: In at least one place on the author’s website, Kelly Nugent is listed as the narrator and I’ve found an alternate book cover with Kelly’s name listed.)
Published by Rose and Star Press
Presented by Audible.com
Length: 7 hours, 17 minutes
ASIN: B01J2FBO6M
Released: July 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, and iTunes

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Categories: audiobooks, fantasy, fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reading Resolutions for 2017

 Oh, reading challenges. I love them, and yet, I fare better with the types of reading challenges that quantify, rather than qualify, my choices. For example, Goodreads only asks how many books I plan on finishing between January and December. That’s pretty straightforward, simple, and, in some ways, not that much of a challenge. I can set the bar at 5 books, if I wanted (I would wither away if I was only able to read five books in a year).

My excuses/reasons for failing to cross the finish line of the 2016 PopSugar challenge are many. I’m like that dog in the Pixar movie “Up”; I get distracted by every book that crosses my path. There are certainly not enough hours in the day for work, commuting, and my myriad of interests. I am also unable to read less than ten trillion books at a time. There is currently one book in my glove compartment of my car; an audiobook in my car’s disc drive and on my smartphone; Analog magazine on my phone for endless lines at the grocery store; eBooks on my Nook; and on and on.

I don’t give myself a hard time for not living up to my own reading standards. It’s supposed to be so many other things above and beyond a mere assignment. I will, however, craft mini challenges for myself that highlight voices and genres I haven’t spent much (if any) time with. And then there is the news… So long 2016!

How about you?

Categories: anthology, audiobooks, erotica, essay, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, history, Holiday, horror, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction, novella, paranormal, poetry, primary sources, retellings, romance, romantic friendships, short stories, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Curbside Wanderlust

As soon as June rolls around, I get the itch to pack up my gear and go camping or drive aimlessly down random highways. Most of the time, though, I can rely on my never-ending stash of books to satisfy my craving for adventure. I have paperback books squirreled away in my car for trips on the ferry; books on my smartphone for long queues; audiobooks on my Kindle Fire for my lengthy commute; and various books on my Nook for any time, any place. Right now I’m looking to satisfy my wanderlust vicariously via stories featuring fun road trips and camping. Not quite a substitute, but a good supply of fun, outdoorsy-based reads is worth is its weight in gasoline.

There are a lot of engrossing stories out there and it would take me much longer than the length of this post to list them all. I’ve chosen instead to highlight a few that I’m currently reading.
the trip

Robin Alexander’s The Trip is an entertaining story about a  crazy making family road trip. Jill Savoy,  is wrangled into a weeks long road trip by her grandmother and her grandmother’s best friend. Charged with maneuvering Sally, the mammoth RV and apple of her father’s eye, she tries to retain her sanity in the face of blatant matchmaking, raucous senior citizens, and surprise detours.
infinite loop.jpg

 

Meghan O’Brien’s Infinite Loop, on the other hand, is a road trip prompted by personal tragedy. The tale’s leading ladies, Regan O’Riley and Mel Raines, form an instant connection at a straight bar. Soon after meeting, a close friend of Mel’s is shot and the world turns upside down. Road trips can bring out all sides of a person and provide plenty of opportunities for Murphy’s Law to manifest.

 

camptown ladies

 

Camptown Ladies by Mari SanGiovanni continues the zany adventures of the Santora clan as they take on a seemingly Sisyphean task of sprucing up a dilapidated campground. They’re a tight knit bunch, so when something goes awry, there’s sure to be more than one pair of hands involved.

 

More stories, this time featuring outdoorsy thrills + romance + laughs

When the idea for this post germinated, I struggled to find novels that featured the great outdoors as the primary backdrop, but no as a setting for suspense novels or thrillers or crime dramas. A pile of stories with heart melting romance, raucous adventure, and friends for life, awaits you! Enjoy!

Categories: family relationships, fantasy, fiction, lgbt, librarians, romance, suspense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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