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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Playing with Food by K. A. Merikan

Rating: 4/5

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Short Story

Themes: Merfolk, Restricted Freedom

Queer Level: Gay Main Characters

[Learn More on Goodreads]

I’m going to start by saying that it’s not often a story has me cringing or wringing my toes.

The authors were very brave to write and publish something like this. They know how to make a reader uncomfortable without turning them off of the world completely. It was like watching a train wreck, all the awful things happening in the background, within the setting itself; not at all because of the writing style. The style was fabulous. Including such a sexual interest between two imaginary creatures, too… was quite well done. Mermaids/mermen are represented in fantasy; but approaching the sexual aspects of them is always a little… fishy (please excuse the pun). Yet I feel like the authors came up with an appropriate explanation. Then there was Rhys, too, and his wandering hands; which was probably the most difficulty I had with the story because design-wise, you don’t see many characters built quite like him. Even so, I wouldn’t call it a problem. It added a literally overwhelming “creepy” to the manhandling, because, really, how do you escape from someone with that many hands?

You don’t.

There were little linguistic choices that added to the feeling of the story, too. Llawan’s inability to fully speak the language, while understanding the basics of it, brought some realism to this fantastical tale.

The only reason I’m leaving this story with a 4/5 rating is because of the abrupt ending. I’d love to see where poor little Llawan winds up. The world appears to be highly developed in its unique kind of quirkiness, definitely.

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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Gay, GLBTQ, Reviews

 

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Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Rating: 4/5

Genres: Mystery, Contemporary, Young Adult

Themes: Cheerleading, High School, Death

Queer Level: Lesbian Main Character; Lesbian & Straight Secondary Characters

[Learn More on Goodreads]

Dare Me was not what I had been expecting, though this is not a bad thing. It was described as Mean Girls meets Bring it On somewhere (another review maybe?) -and in many ways it was- but swap the silly teen drama with a darker and more sinister story. This book is far from being classified under humor. There are characters with the mean streak you’d expect from a jealous cheerleader, but it’s not so much from gossipy cattiness as it comes from a deeper bitterness… manipulation. I also assumed the story would revolve around the team and their experiences, but the focus is primarily on their coach’s personal life and how it end up affecting the girls.

So this all threw me off guard because I’d picked it up for girl drama, but Abbott made it work. Her talent shined strongest in the characters themselves because I never did end up connecting with any of them (and this is probably a good thing), but she firmly held my attention and got me reading to the end regardless. They all had their flaws, made mistakes, lied, and you end up doubting almost everyone. But instead of relating to them, there is this underlining melancholy to everything and you start to almost… I don’t know. Pity them maybe? They were interesting in the same way a train wreck is.

And then they’d throw out beautiful lines like this, “I know what that’s like… The way you can be saved without ever knowing you were in trouble.”

…On a lighter note; I love that the lesbian undertones wasn’t just in my imagination!

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in GLBTQ, Lesbian, Reviews

 

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Interview with Cody Kennedy

We are honored to have the new -and quickly rising- author Cody Kennedy speak with us today! His young adult novel Omorphi was released earlier this year and has received raving reviews (including our own here), along with a republished version of his short story, Safe. Cody is a very daring writer who bravely tackles heavy topics like bullying and abuse with such skill and empathy. There is always an empowering message for his readers.

Make sure to check out Cody’s blog and catch up on his free online series, Fairy!

Did you have to do any odd research during the writing process?

One of the plights of being an author is near-constant research. Dare I say that I am a wealth of trivia and useless information? Even when an author is confident that he or she knows his or her subject matter well, it is imperative to verify information and check for updated facts. In the case of Safe, and while I know the limitations of a public attorney’s ability to prosecute child abusers, I took the time to check procedure and mandatory reporting requirements, and “who constitutes a mandatory reporter.”

Additionally, many of our youth do not have an opportunity to leave the state or province they live in, let alone travel abroad, and I try to bring a little of the outside world to my readers by making at least one of my characters foreign to the U.S. or from a different cultural environment. In the case of Omorphi, I performed substantial research regarding Greece, its political and policing structures, and its laws regarding victims of abuse. Further, and while I also know the procedures and intent of the Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioural Therapy used to treat victims of abuse (TF-CBT), I performed research to ensure that policies and procedures hadn’t been update or changed.

Which of your characters are your personal favourites?

I have two: Christy in my recently published novel, Omorphi, and Isidore in my upcoming novel, Slaying Isidore’s Dragons because their inner strength, determination, and resiliency are incredibly admirable.

Did you listen to or get inspired by any particular songs while writing?

I am not directly inspired by music, per se, but I do ponder and play songs as I write. Omorphi’s complete playlist can be found here The Notes Behind Omorphi’s Playlist. The songs that featured prominently during my writing were Coldplay’s “Fix you” and Pink’s “F*cking Perfect.” Both represent Michael’s determination to help Christy get beyond his history of abuse and develop a positive attitude about himself.

Is there any symbolism behind the names in your book(s)?

Certainly in Omorphi. Omorphi is the Greek word for pretty and it exemplifies Christy. Christy’s full name is Christophoros Tryphon Alexis Castlios. Christophoros derives from Late Greek meaning “bearing Christ” and phero meaning “to bear or carry.” Saint Christopher is also the patron saint of travellers and Christy travels from Greece to settle in the U.S. Tryphon derives from the Greek tryphe meaning “softness or delicacy.” Alexis derives from the Greek alexo meaning “to defend or help.” Alexis is also Christy’s mother’s name (he was partially named after her) and I needed to use a name that conveyed her goodness and wasn’t gender specific. In the case of Christy’s abusive father, Vasilis Spyros Kakios Castlios, Vasilis derives from the Greek basileus meaning king, Spyros derives from the Latin spiritus meaning spirit, and Kakios derives from the Greek kake meaning evil, hence the media in the story referring to him as the king of evil spirits.

Are there any details you pulled from real life experiences?

*chuckles* I’ll preface this answer by saying that I write fiction. That said, many of the events in my stories are influenced by the bright, insightful, and wonderful youths I know as well as my young childhood. Many of my experiences and feelings appear in all of my stories including my free read Fairy.

Who would be your dream cast for your main characters if you ever landed a movie/show deal?

For Omorphi, it out be Nico Tortorella as Michael, Andrej Pejic as Christy, and Darren Criss as Jake. And if it were within my power to pick the studio, it would be Universal Studios.

Are there any special Easter eggs hidden away in your book(s) or little secrets that were never fully revealed?

*smiles* Next question, please.

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on Tharros the sequel to Omorphi. Once that is complete, I will polish Slaying Isidore’s Dragons for submission, and next year I plan to expand Safe. In the interim, I hope to complete a Christmas story for Michael and Christy.

Do you have any advice for young wordsmiths to be?

Don’t get it right, get it written. Your imagination is priceless. It is the most loyal BFF you will ever have. Explore it, cultivate it, own it. It is far more important for you to put your imagination to paper than it is to be perfect. Don’t be afraid and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Many teachers and experienced authors will help you perfect your story. Bonus advice: Wear sunscreen. At least SPF50.

Is there anything extra you would like to say to your readers?

Go forth and multiply! On a serious note, an author isn’t an author without readers and without all of you I am nothing. Thank you a thousand-fold for reading my books.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in GLBTQ, Interviews

 

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Blackmail by Lady T.L. Jennings

Rating: 5/5

Genres: Fiction, Erotica, Short Story

Themes: Blackmail, Romance

Queer Level: Gay Main Characters

[Learn More on Goodreads]

I will begin at the end: That last line left me smiling and [affectionately] thinking ‘Frederick, you little…’; because, honestly, that was one of the best, cutest, and simultaneously naughtiest implication in a tie-up I’ve read in quite some time. It’s not often a story leaves me laughing long after I’m done with it, and I spent the next several days pestering Serith to read it every chance I got.

To be honest, when I first picked this up, I found the flowery language and style a little overbearing; but once I grew accustomed to it, I understand why the choice was made. I do feel that Frederick, as the story is in his point of view, was a little removed from the descriptive nature of the settings; making them sound more third-person than first. However, the poetic descriptions illustrate the refined and not-so-refined aspects of the Victorian world where the main characters live. I hesitate to call them all protagonists, as Vincent certainly has an antagonistic streak, albeit a charming one.

My favourite character was easily Micah. He was a nice, softer edition to the strong personality of Vincent and the flustered nature of Frederick.

There is a lot happening throughout this story. Each detail pertains to the plot in some way, shape, or form that makes the wrap-up completely satisfying. All answers given, no room for questions—and plenty of space for speculation as to what happens afterward. Could be seen as having a happy ending, in a sense; or could be twisted as a sadder one if so desired. I, personally, prefer to believe in the happy end.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Gay, GLBTQ, Reviews

 

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Every Day by David Levithan

Rating: 5/5

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy

Themes: High School, Supernatural

Queer Level: Bisexual & Queer Main Character; Straight, Gay, Lesbian & Transgender Secondary Characters

[Learn More on Goodreads]

It’s books like this that make the great hunt for the perfect read soooo worth it. Because this was absolutely perfect. And that word is only reserved for the worthy. I loved every moment -every line- written in. I hadn’t even hit a hundred pages before I knew this would rank in my favourite reads.

Who doesn’t love pondering over philosophical questions like, “what would it be like to live as someone else for a day?” or, “would you still love me if I looked like (fill in a variety of physical descriptions here)?” It’s about time a talented writer like Levithan saw potential in these thoughts and ran with the idea. The results are so unique and fascinating. The story started fresh, and continued on intriguing, and then turned complicated and all the more captivating for it. There wasn’t a dull moment.

This beauty in this book is that it gets you walking in many different people’s shoes (…pun only slightly intended). It keeps things fresh and you empathize with different lifestyles; every chapter is a new day in a new situation. So many characters are covered but it was rendered so carefully that it was easy to keep track. There is so much for the reader to relate to or learn from. Despite the all the differences, it also highlights how much we all have in common. Very powerful work.

Though… Before delving in, I read a few negative reviews that oddly made the experience better: they were frustrated at the lack of information given. Those readers wanted the science -the details- of how and why the body swapping was happening. I suggest letting go of the desire for answers now before picking it up; we only know as much as the main character learns about this lifestyle, and there is a lot of ignorance (yet a great deal is discovered). The focus is on the story and getting hung up on this kind of thing will drag it down. Don’t let it!

The reference to the song Running up that Hill was really nice. The characters sing the lyrics, “And if I only could make a deal with God” …but the next part that was left out adds an Easter egg to the story: “And get him to swap our places”. You could practically feel how this concept could have been inspired from these words. Very cool.

Seriously impressed and already looking forward to reading it again someday in the future.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Bisexual, Gay, GLBTQ, Lesbian, Queer, Reviews, Transgender

 

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