Tag Archives: LGBT

A Review of The Girls in Red

Book cover for The Girls in Red by BB Wrenne. There is no image on the cover. It’s simply bright red with the title written in a wavy yellow font and the author’s name in a smaller black font. Title: The Girls in Red

Author: BB Wrenne

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 3, 2021

Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Historical

Length: 21 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author

Rating: 3 Stars


Two girls enter the woods on a journey to visit their fiances – a short story, also available as part of the collection Fabulas Part 2


Content Warning: Arranged marriages, an animal attack, and a small amount of blood.

Danger lurks everywhere in the forest.

While astute readers may have already guessed which famous fairy tale this was based on, I’m going to do my best not to give too many clues about it for anyone who prefers to be pleasantly surprised. I honestly haven’t seen this chosen for many retellings over the years, so I was excited to see how the author would reimagine what was a rather straightforward and short tale in its original form. Despite the many changes over the centuries, errands are still part of everyday life today. This includes trips to see places or visit people you might really rather not be visiting, and that mild but persistent sense of dread is as relevant now as it was many generations ago.

The ending was what lead me to choosing a three star review. After a fast-paced and atmospheric beginning and middle to this story, it suddenly ended without resolving the main conflict. There was so much more the author could have done with this, especially given the source material and how common it is for women who didn’t conform to the cultural expectations of women in the past or of this genre as a whole to still find places to thrive in the centuries and the forests in which they happen to live. If the final scene had been developed more thoroughly, I would have happily gone for a full five-star rating as I was thrilled with what I was reading up until that point.

I adored the romantic subplot. Yes, it moved forward rapidly, but the author was careful to explain why Ru and Thalia, who had known each other a very long time, were only now beginning to realize the depth of their feelings for each other. Given the era in which they lived, it made perfect sense for them to take as long as they did to talk about their feelings, much less entertain even the slightest notions of pursuing them. Slow-burn romances make perfect sense in circumstances such as these.

The Girls in Red was a thoughtful twist on a famous fairy tale.


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A Review of Neuro Noir

Book cover for Neuro Noir by Al Hess. Image on cover shows a drawing of about a dozen different eyes that all have black irises and sclera. the one in the centre is red instead!

Title: Neuro Noir

Author: Al Hess

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 1, 2022

Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery, Romance, LGBTQ+

Length: 42 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars


Prominent council member. Omniscient custodian of City Entry. Mystery book aficionado. As the oldest A.I. Steward existing within the network of Salt Lake City, Lysander has seen most everything.

When a death in the overcrowded and chaotic subway leaves fellow Steward Beatrice distraught and imploring Lysander to find a way to lessen the odds of it happening again, he’s happy to do what he does best: advise, console, and achieve solutions. But doing so means working with the human council member he absolutely, most assuredly does not have feelings for – no matter how perceptive and charming said council member is. And something about the issue in the subway is giving Lysander the itchy sort of dread he gets when reading his mysteries.

But Lysander’s life isn’t an impartial story plucked from his “to read” pile. As he closes in on the source of Beatrice’s problems, he realizes the situation is far more personal than he’s prepared for. If he isn’t careful, even the wisest and most experienced of Salt Lake’s Stewards will miss the clues, putting himself – and those he cares for – in danger.

This is a 10k word prequel novelette to the queer and cozy wasteland road trip romance, World Running Down.


Content Warning: mild profanity, threats of violence, and death

Customer service is the most important part of the job…even if you’re not exactly human.

To be perfectly honest, it took me a little while to figure Lysander out because of how different some of his thought processes were from the humans he protected on public transit and at certain entrances and exits every day. This was an excellent thing, though, because of course artificial intelligence wouldn’t react to certain stimuli like we would! Once I figured out why he was more bothered by stuff that many humans would ignore, his thoughts about his role as a Steward became much clearer to me. The process of sorting out his ideas was a rewarding one, and it endeared me to him. On a more personal note, I also enjoyed his reactions to the customer service elements of his position, especially when dealing with people who were not always necessarily kind or rational when dealing with him.

The romance was handled beautifully, and that’s something I’m saying as someone who doesn’t spend much time in that genre. I loved the way this storyline was slowly allowed to build up before it began playing a larger role in the plot. It suited the characters involved in it nicely and gave me plenty of time to understand why they were interested in each other and why they might make a good match.

I was also thrilled with the world building. Obviously, a short story isn’t going to have as much time for this as a full-length novel would, but the author did an excellent job making use of all forty-two pages to show what a city protected, maintained, and even run  to a certain extent by artificial intelligence might look like behind the scenes. It made me curious to see what World Running Down might be like, so the author did a great job of giving this reader a taste of his world here.

Neuro Noir was a wild ride that made me wish it wouldn’t end.


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Making Good Choices: A Review of Snow

Book cover for Snow by Howard Odentz. Image on cover shows a blue-washed photo of an old man with a white beard who is standing in a snowstorm. There is a hood covering part of his face and not much else can be seen. Title: Snow

Author: Howard Odentz

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 12, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Holiday, LGBTQ, Contemporary

Length: 34 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


Words to live by: Never steal from a drunk in the woods.

An epic and sudden blizzard is blanketing Mount Tom Regional High School . . . in October. A dangerous man is stalking the hallways, and three teens harbor a secret that may get everyone killed if they don’t figure out how to stop the snow and the rampage.


Content Warning: Drug and alcohol use, inebriation, bullying, violence, a little blood.

Nothing remains a secret forever.

This is one of those tales where it’s best to avoid all spoilers in advance. Yes, some readers might figure out the twist ahead of time, but I’d hope that everyone else would allow themselves to be surprised if possible. There is something to be said for that in my opinion, especially when reading an author who has taken as many creative liberties with his subject matter as Mr. Odentz has. He did an excellent job of providing a few clues early on without totally giving it all away, and I enjoyed the process of seeing if my first impressions of what I was about to read were correct.

I was disappointed by the way the ending fizzled out. The beginning and middle were so strong that I went into the final scene expecting the same sort of pacing and plot twists. There was so much more the author could have done with those pages, and I would have happily gone with a much higher rating if he’d taken his premise to its logical conclusion.

All of the main characters were bored teenagers who regularly used various substances and refused to obey authority figures. I struggled to relate to them due to how wild they were and how often they tested the boundaries of everyone around them, but I also thought they were accurate depictions of the sort of teens who make these types of life choices. Not every character is going to be lovably and cuddly, after all, and it was interesting to see how they reacted once the dangerous man arrived at their school.

Snow was a fun autumnal read.

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Top Ten Tuesday: LGBTQ+ Horror Novels

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

An opened book is sitting next to a small pumpkin on a dusty wooden table. There is an illustration of some sort of gnome or other heavily-bearded figure on the right hand side of the page. It looks like an illustration from a dark fairy tale, maybe? Behind the book and pumpkin is a black candle and some orange and black sticks sitting in black pots. The original theme for this week was “atmospheric books.”

I was utterly stumped by it, so I’m going to turn my response into a Halloween post instead. Here are ten LGBTQ+ horror novels I have not read yet because I’ve lost a lot of interest in the horror genre since 2020.

When I do read horror these days, I avoid pandemic-related themes and am much less willing to read anything gory that I was in the past. (Granted, gore was only a rare and occasional part of what I read back then, but now I can do so much less of it than even that!).

It’s been almost four years with few if any adjustments to these mental rules for myself, so this might be a permanent change to my reading habits.

1. The Luminous Dead  by Caitlin Starling

2. Carmilla: The First Vampire by Amy Chu

3. Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca

4. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

5. Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling

6. Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

7. Evergreen by Devin Greenlee

8. The Shadow of Oz by J. Michael Wright II

9. To Kill a Shadow by Katherine Quinn

10. Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

If you’ve read any of these, please feel free to tell me what you thought of them.

If you have other suggestions for Halloween and/or speculative fiction LGBTQ+ reads, I’d love to hear them, too.

Finally, if neither of those apply or if you’re in a chatty mood and want to answer multiple questions, tell me how the pandemic has (or hasn’t) changed your reading habits. I’ve spoken to several folks who had similar reactions to mine and wonder how common it is.


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Graveyard Romance: A Review of The Ghost and the Real Girl

Book cover for The Ghost and the Real Girl by Avery Carter. Image on cover shows a black and white drawing of the profile of a woman’s face. Her hair has been piled on top of her head in a Victorian-style puffy bun, and she has a scarf with a few sprigs of flowers tired around her neck. There is also an oval border around this drawing that has roses, vines, and leaves sprouting around it. Title: The Ghost and the Real Girl

Author: Avery Carter

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 31, 2022

Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ+, Romance, Historical

Length: 124 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


“There was never a good night to rob a grave, but the night of a full moon was certainly the worst…”

When Sera is hired to rob a 200 year old grave, the last thing she expects is the ghost of Lady Clementine de Quill rising up to scold her for it. Though her world is full of magical echoes from a not-so-distant past, a ghost is completely unheard of. What’s more, no one else can see or hear Clem. Sera tries everything to get rid of her– selling the items she took from her grave, bathing in saltwater, even putting herself through a religious smoke cleansing from the Church of the Wheel. Nothing works, and Sera finally resigns herself to having a ghost follow her around for the rest of her life.

Despite their differences, a partnership begins to bloom between the streetwise gravedigger and the cultured noblewoman. Just as they realize that maybe they aren’t so different after all, Clem starts to fade, flickering in and out for longer and longer stretches of time. Sera begins to realize that with each time Clem vanishes, there’s a chance that she won’t come back. There’s only one problem: she can’t imagine life without her anymore.


Who says cemeteries have to be scary places?

The romantic storyline was handled perfectly. This is something I’m saying as someone who usually steers clear of that genre, so don’t let that label dissuade you from reading this if you’re the same way. The author did an excellent job of creating two unique, realistically flawed characters and giving them a ton of time to pursue other goals in life before the slightest hint of romance filled the air. Having all of those things established ahead of time made it much easier for me to understand why these characters ended up becoming romantically interested in each other.  I loved this portion of the plot just as much as the rest of it.

There were a few spots where the pacing sagged a little due to how much character development and  world-building the author needed to do. While I appreciated it later on, I did find myself feeling a little restless in that moment when the storyline slowed down and I wasn’t sure why. Keep the slow moments in mind as you read.  I wish certain scenes had been sped up a little, but there is a payoff coming if you persevere!

I was impressed with the world building, though. It’s hard to create a complex society in a shorter work like a novella, but I was immersed in Sera and Clementine’s world by the end of the first scene. More details were released over time, of course, and I relished the opportunity to expand my understanding of where they came from and how their society had evolved in the few hundred years between Clementine’s death and Sera deciding to dig up Clementine’s grave.

The Ghost and the Real Girl made me yearn for more.


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A Review of Jathniel, the Immortal

Book cover for “Jathniel, the Immortal” by Eugene Roy. Image on cover shows an analog clock that has been stretched into a spiral so that you keep seeing the numbers 3, 6, 9, and 12 repeating themselves as the clock swirls down into an indeterminate point in the centre of the picture. Title: Jathniel, The Immortal

Author: Eugene Roy

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: April 29, 2023

Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ+, Contemporary

Length: 42 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


Angel Of Death’ Jathniel’s assignment at an elementary school shooting challenges his faith, and breaks his heart. But, like all Transitional Guides, he is supposed to be emotionally sterile. As a means of reset, Jathniel is thrust into unknown territory – life as a mortal canine, where he is granted the experience of love in its purest form, trusting and unconditional.


Content Warning: Car accident, mass shootings, death of a child, death of a pet, HIV.

Love comes in many different forms.

Jathniel’s reaction to each of his new assignments made me smile. I can’t go into a lot of detail about those moments without giving away spoilers, but I was delighted by how adaptive he was to new situation. The one where he was transformed into dog and had to adjust to a world where he understood the humans perfectly well but they weren’t able to return the favour well at all was especially fun. It truly felt like the author had tapped into dog psychology in those scenes, and I chuckled along as Jathniel adjusted to being someone’s pet instead of the powerful spirit being he had normally been.

My only piece of constructive criticism for this short story has to do with the ending. I found myself getting a little confused about one character’s transformation into someone else, and I would have benefited from a longer explanation about what was going on there. As much as I loved the rest of it, this scene did hold me back from going for a full five-star rating there.

The world building was fabulous. Did I want to dive deeper into it? Of course, but I was also satisfied with how much the author shared about what Jathniel did as an Angel of Death and why he was able to move so seamlessly from one death to the next. If Mr. Roy ever decides to write a sequel, I hope I’ll be the first person in line to read and review it. This was something I was thrilled to have stumbled up, and I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to it yet.

Jathniel, The Immortal made me yearn for more.



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A Review of Love’s Refrain – A Victorian Ghost Story

Book cover for Love’s Refrain - a Victorian Ghost Story by Stephen Glick. Image on cover shows an 1800s-style black and white photo taken of a young woman wearing a flouncy white dress and sitting on an old-fashioned couch. Her hair is arranged in a fancy, curly bun on top of her head, and her arms are gently placed beside each other on her lap. There is a man in a black suit standing facing the wall to the right of her. His head is turned so that he’s looking at her. Title: Love’s Refrain – a Victorian Ghost Story

Author: Steven Glick

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 18, 2018

Genres: LGBTQ, Paranormal, Historical

Length: 100 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


A ghost from the past. A chance meeting in the present. A terrifying séance. Charlotte Stanton’s perfect married life is turned upside down when a secret love she buried long ago hauntingly returns. Still the question remains: are the supernatural events intruding upon Charlotte’s life happening only in her mind? Is she heading down a path toward madness? Set in Boston’s Gilded Age and accompanied by period drawings and silhouettes, LOVE’S REFRAIN explores one woman’s search for love, and the power of the past to emancipate the present.


It’s never too late to make things right.

Charlotte stirred up so many different emotions in me. Sometimes I felt endless empathy for her, while in other scenes I shook my head in frustration at how naive and sheltered she was. Surely the average adult would have figured out some of the stuff that she found so confusing much faster than she did! With that being said, I appreciated how nuanced her personality was, and I’d much rather read about a realistically flawed character than someone who always made the right decision. The more I got to know her, the more I liked her. If the author ever writes a sequel, I’d sure like to follow along on more of her journey.

I would have loved to see more details included in this story. For example, we never learned how Charlotte met her husband or what killed the ghost who was haunting Charlotte. That cause of death could have been a good way to get to know the deceased and explain why she was so attached to the protagonist. I also had some questions about the ending as far as the practicalities of life Charlotte would need to face after the final scene was wrapped up. While I can’t go into detail about that without giving away spoilers, it was yet another moment in this tale when having more details would have made the storyline richer in my opinion.

Spiritualism is one of those topics that I don’t think is discussed enough in fiction, especially in paranormal stories set in the late 1800s. I was pleased to see how much attention it received here. Whether you already know a lot about this movement or nothing at all, don’t worry. The most important details will be spelled out clearly, and everything else will be a happy bonus for those of us who do have preexisting knowledge of it. Some of the most interesting scenes were the ones that explored the various responses to the spiritualist movement from different portions of society. Many different points of view were represented, and I thought the author did a good job of showing why so many people were drawn to it and what they hoped to get out of speaking to their dead loved ones.

Love’s Refrain – a Victorian Ghost Story made me smile.


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Second Chances: A Review of Building Beauty

Book cover for Building Beauty by Rachel Eliason. Image on cover shows a close-up shot of the eye, eyebrow, and skin beneath the eye of a wooden robot that’s been designed to look human. The eye has a purple-blue iris that is quite unique. Title: Building Beauty

Author: Rachel Eliason

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: September 29, 2012

Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ, Historical

Length: 33 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


In the waning days of World War One, Alejandro Faidosky is sent to serve the Tsar in a distant corner of the Russian Empire. In the industrial center of Chelyabinsk, deep in southern Siberia Alejandro discovers a factory producing “automatons”, clockwork robots. His job is to sculpt a robotic prostitute for the common soldier. “Of all the men in Mother Russia I must be the most ill equipped for this assignment” Alejandro moans to himself, but he must not let Major Dmitri know, and he must somehow build beauty.


Content Warning: Grief and prostitution.

Assumptions make the world go around.

Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that explored the difference between what certain characters thought the world should be like and how it actually was. Yes, I know I’m being vague there, but this is one of those themes that is best left for new readers to fully explore for themselves. There’s nothing like reaching the ending of a paragraph or scene and suddenly realizing what the protagonist was hinting at earlier or what the author might have been gently nudging the readers to think about with some well-placed comments about the world we live in. I enjoyed those moments and hope other readers will as well.

Alejandro was such an intelligent, cautious, and thoughtful person that I struggled to understand why he chose the unusual design he did for the robotic prostitute he was building. That decision did not fit in well with everything else I’d learned about him. It would have been understandable for him to privately dream about a robot that he found appealing, but openly revealing such information was an entirely different story for that era. I wish this had been explored in greater depth so that I could better understand why he took this risk and what he hoped to gain from it. There was so much more the author could have done with Alejandro in this regard.

This is something I’m saying as a reader who usually has a strong preference non-romantic speculative fiction, but the author blended together the fantasy and romance genres together in this tale perfectly.  The storyline genuinely needed both of them, and I loved seeing how they strengthened each other and kept the characters moving along briskly to their destinies. It was my first time reading Ms. Eliason’s work, and her creative approach to how she mixed these genres together makes me want to read more from her as soon as possible.

Building Beauty was a romantic and inventive read.


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Creating Consciousness: A Review of MARiiMO

Book cover for MARiiMO by Tyrel Pinnegar. Image on cover shows a drawing of a grey robot with blobby arms and legs and a white head. The bottom portion of the head is filled with a blue liquid, an the rest of the head is white and blank. TitleMARiiMO

Author: Tyrel Pinnegar

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: November 17, 2018

Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ+

Length: 124 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


This is the journal of Tammy Maheswaran, a reclusive roboticist living with undiagnosed autism. It documents the creation of Mariimo, a developmental robotics platform through which Tammy subconsciously externalizes her issues with isolation, anxiety, and touch. Upon the machine’s activation, Tammy gradually begins to realize that in the act of constructing Mariimo, she’s been unknowingly deconstructing herself.


Content Warning: Detailed descriptions of what it feels like to have anxiety, phantom pain from a limb amputation, and brief flashbacks to a car accident during which the main character was seriously injured.

Not everything can be planned out in advance.

I enjoyed Tammy’s character development. She told the audience almost nothing about herself when we first met her, so it was refreshing to see her slowly evolve into sharing more details about her personality and interests as the storyline progressed. I liked the process of exploring parts of her life she’d been completely silent about before. My opinion of her was fairly neutral in the beginning, but it swung over to something warm and positive  once I had a stronger understanding of how her mind worked and why she made the choices she did.

The pacing was very slow, especially during the first third of the book. While I understand that this was done on purpose due to the fact that Tammy had undiagnosed autism and was meticulous about how she created MARiiMO, I did have some trouble remaining interested as the narrator gave me so many chapters on the many different materials she used (or, in some cases, decided not to use) to make her robot come to life. I was glad I stuck through with it to the end, but the pacing was enough of a deterrent for me as a reader that it did have a negative affect on my rating. 

Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that compared the differences between how a human and a robot may react to the same unexpected event. Even Tammy’s thorough planning phase in this experiment couldn’t predict everything MARiiMO did after she was created. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I thought this subplot was one of the most realistic and well-developed ones of them all. The author pushed everything to its logical conclusion and wasn’t afraid to extrapolate even more plots twists from the tiniest wisp of earlier ideas. 

MARiiMO was a thoughtful read.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Liked About Asexual Characters

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A photograph of 18 heart-shaped sugar cookies. They are frosted with various combinations of green, yellow, orange, purple, white, and blue frostings as well as thinner frostings that have written X’s and O’s on them or left romantic messages like “hugs and kisses” or “forever” on them. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone celebrating it!

For today’s Valentine’s Day freebie, I’ll be sharing a list of books I’ve read and enjoyed about asexual characters.

I’m actually on the asexual spectrum myself, so it’s been wonderful to see such an explosion of stories about people who are like me or similar to me.

This is a complex topic that could easily take up its own blog post, but go to this link if you’re curious about the wide variety of identities that exist within the asexual spectrum.

In the meantime, here’s my list.

Book cover for “Loveless” by Alice Oseman. It is a warm purple colour and has a black and white drawing of a slim person who has straight shoulder-length hair and is wearing jeans, a sweater, and a pair of sneakers. They are standing up but their neck and head are bent over as they look at a large heart they are holding in their hands. The heart is steadily releasing dozens of tiny little hearts into the air, and the little hearts are floating up and away from the person.

1. Loveless by Alice Oseman


Book cover for Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann. The image on the cover shows a radiant dark-skinned black woman with an Afro. She’s wearing a sleeveless white blouse with ruffles near her neck and his holding both arms up in a triumphant pose as she grins and closes her eyes.

2. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann


Book cover for Finding Your Feet (Toronto Connections, #2) by Cass Lennox. Image on the cover shows a background drawing of the famous outline of Toronto that includes the CN tower. In the foreground, you can see a drawing of two people’s legs as they dance together. One has light skin and appears to be Caucasian while the other has dark skin and appears to be African.

3. Finding Your Feet (Toronto Connections, #2) by Cass Lennox


The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz book cover. Image on cover shows a steaming cup of tea in a white mug that has fancy ridges and floral patterns on it.


4. The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz (My Review)


If you’ve read any other good books about asexual characters, I’d love to hear your suggestions.


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