Release day review: THRALL

Thrall Graphic 1

Happy Thursday, book friends!

Today we’re celebrating THRALL, the brand new collaboration between two of this blog’s individual favorite authors, Avon Gale and Roan Parrish.

Here’s what it’s about…

Happy couple Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra have begun to garner national attention for their quirky New Orleans true-crime podcast, Shadowcast. When Lucy’s brother Harker disappears while researching the popular new dating app Thrall, they’re thrown into a real-life mystery. Aided by their social media expert, Arthur, and Harker’s professor, Van Helsing, they follow the trail, hoping to find Harker before it’s too late.

When their investigation crosses the path of a possible serial killer, the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur. And as they race against the app’s countdown clock, so does the line between friendship and love. What starts as a flirtatious rivalry between computer-savvy Arthur and techno-averse Van Helsing becomes much more, and Mina and Lucy’s relationship is tested in the fires of social media.

As they get down to the wire, the group discovers that nothing on their screens is as it seems—including their enemy.

And here’s what we thought…

A hearty 4 stars * * * * 🙂 to this alternately sweet and scary, vampire-free take on Bram Stoker’s classic (which, FYI, we have not read). We loved the established relationship between Mina and Lucy, and how they were always trying to support one another in healthy ways, even if that meant saying the difficult things.

The romance of Arthur and Van, on the other hand, came off as sort of quick and shallow; at times, it was almost distracting from the (quite good) mystery of Harker’s whereabouts.

There was also A Thing with cats – you’ll see – that we did not understand at all, but as a whole, THRALL was a fun and sharp read that we’re happy to recommend to fellow fans of queer suspense-y books.

Representation…

~Black, lesbian, bisexual, gay, interracial, immigrant (Amsterdam)

Content notes…

~Horror themes, mention of dead animals, professor/student roleplay, minor knife violence

CLICK HERE to purchase on Amazon or HERE for other vendors!

CLICK HERE to enter a back catalog giveaway!

 

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THE HEIGHTS release blitz w/ giveaway!

Hey book friends!

Today we’re celebrating a new release from Toronto-based author Amy Aislin. THE HEIGHTS is a self-published m/m contemporary novel featuring a professional dancer, a grumpy woodworker, and the child kidnapping mystery that has haunted their small town for two decades.

Check out this beautiful autumnish teaser image, then read the excerpt and head over to the giveaway!

teaser1

Preview #2…

“That’s also the most I’ve heard you talk since we met.”

He removed his stick from the fire and let his burned marshmallow cool. “I talk.”

“Not much.” Quinn assembled a second s’more and ate it in short order. “But that’s okay. You talk when it matters.”

Nat froze with the marshmallow halfway to his mouth.

Aloof. Uncommunicative. Grumpy. Words that had been used to describe him at various times in his life by people who hadn’t made an effort to get to know who he really was.

Quinn had him pegged in only a couple of weeks?

He ate his marshmallow, chewing slowly, half an eye on Quinn. Quinn, who was adorable and sweet and charming but who Nat had judged as flaky and immature. Turned out he was smart and exceptionally astute.

Quinn assembled yet another s’more, his foot tapping in tune to whatever song played in his head. Jesus, did he never sit still? The fingers of one hand drummed on his thigh as if playing a mental piano even as he attempted to eat a s’more one-handed.

He was like a coiled spring, tightly wound. What did Quinn do to expel all that energy besides dance? Soccer? Running? Hockey?

Sex?

Nope. Not going there.

Except now that his brain had gone there, it didn’t want to go anywhere but there.

***

Thanks to A Novel Take PR for allowing us to participate in this release tour. CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway for a really cool THE HEIGHTS prize pack!

Review: ROOMIES by Christina Lauren

roomies

Published: December 5, 2017 by Gallery Books.

Blurb:

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a bigtime musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

Rating: 4.25 stars

Thoughts:

This was fun, charming, and just about everything I could want in a romantic comedy. There were a few dropped or shallow plot points – like when Holland goes running down a flight of stairs the morning after breaking her arm – but overall, I liked it a bunch and will definitely be reading more Christina Lauren books.

This book has: A wacky plot tempered by two relatively calm MCs, a Black gay side character married to a white dude, and a representation of toxic friendship that was as appreciated as it was infuriating.

Bonus quote because hello, pretty prose:

“…the richness of the music gives me that odd sense of deja vu, of something far away that’s suddenly so close again, and I’m smothered by it in this way that makes me turn my face to the ceiling, trying to inhale it, swallow more.”

CW: Brief instance of body shaming, ableist vocabulary, assumed heterosexuality.

THRALL cover reveal!

Happy hump day, reader friends! We’re so excited today to bring you the very first look at the cover for Avon Gale + Roan Parrish’s (queer, of course) contemporary Dracula re-tellling, THRALL…

Thrall_6x9HiRes

THRALL will be released September 27 by Philtre Press. Read on for the blurb and a brief excerpt…

***

Happy couple Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra have begun
to garner national attention for their quirky New Orleans true-crime podcast, Shadowcast. When
Lucy’s brother Harker disappears while researching the popular new dating app Thrall, they’re
thrown into a real-life mystery. Aided by their social media expert, Arthur, and Harker’s
professor, Van Helsing, they follow the trail, hoping to find Harker before it’s too late.
 
When their investigation crosses the path of a possible serial killer, the line between fantasy and
reality begins to blur. And as they race against the app’s countdown clock, so does the line
between friendship and love. What starts as a flirtatious rivalry between computer-savvy Arthur
and techno-averse Van Helsing becomes much more, and Mina and Lucy’s relationship is
tested in the fires of social media.
 
As they get down to the wire, the group discovers that nothing on their screens is as it
seems—including their enemy.

***

A. Van Helsing

I…no. You know you’re young enough to be one of my graduate students? Though much better dressed. But if your flirting is sincere, then I welcome it. I can’t deny that I felt something between us this morning.

Arthur Quincey

I, uh, definitely felt something

Ugh, sorry, that was a terrible joke—you should be impressed, I never get this nervous. but seriously, so did I. It’s definitely sincere.

A. Van Helsing

I am also nervous. I…I suppose I don’t quite know what to say next. I’ve never attempted to flirt on a—what is this, chat?

Arthur Quincey

OMG, Gus. (I’m…look, that name reminds me of the musical Cats, which I loathe so can I call you Van?)

It’s kind of hot you just said you were nervous btw (and yeah, it’s chat)

A. Van Helsing

I got the feeling you were calling me Professor on purpose, no? Yes, I suppose I can suffer through Van, if you must.

Ah, well, I’m very gratified you think so.

Arthur Quincey

Yeah, because I like it. The professor thing is totally a turn-on. And I like the idea of making you like that name, Van. Just because no one else has.

 

Quick review: WORTH FIGHTING FOR by Wendy Qualls

qualls

Published: August 14, 2018 by Lyrical Shine

Blurb:

In college, an “are you sure you’re gay?” experiment with his (female) best friend left Sterling Harper married with a baby on the way. Eleven years later, his life is flipped upside-down—his wife has died, his “little boy” is transitioning to her new life as a girl, Alexa, and his embittered in-laws have proven too transphobic to babysit for the summer like they’d planned. They’re fighting for custody of Alexa, though, so Sterling can’t afford to give them more ammunition. If only there were a nice, conservative, trans-preteen-friendly nanny available on short notice . . .

Jericho Johnston doesn’t do “conservative,” but Alexa takes to him immediately. He’s got a teaching job lined up for the fall, a killer smile, and loads of charisma . . . but he is not going back in the proverbial closet. It doesn’t take long for the two men to go from comrades-in-arms against their rarified community to two men in love. This kicks off the looming custody battle with Sterling’s bigoted in-laws, though, and the idea of two gay men raising a trans daughter isn’t going over well with anyone. Now, with so much to lose, Sterling and Jericho must fight harder than ever—for themselves, for Alexa, and for their future.

Rating: 4.5 enthusiastic stars

Thoughts:

Can I be blunt?

There are like…practically no queer fiction books about raising a trans child. As in, this is the only one I can name. If you have a different rec, feel free to send it my way.

Given that lack, I’d probably have enjoyed WORTH FIGHTING FOR even if the characters had been just alright, and the rep had been merely acceptable…but the cast was great, and the marginalizations were depicted with care and respect (IMO), so I’m basically a big Wendy Qualls fan now and will be reading her backlist ASAP.

*

This book has: a multi-lingual gay Black man with very dark skin + a widowed white single dad of an AMAB 10 yo child on the autism spectrum. Side characters include a Black adult trans woman, two Black adults who work with neuroatypical kids, and various queer men of undetermined ethnicity.

Content notes: pervasive misgendering and deadnaming (challenged), discussion of class differences, intolerance disguised as religion, mentions of white privilege and racial inequality.

Dislcaimer: I received an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest and fair feedback.

 

Release day blitz: SYNCOPATION by Anna Zabo!

 

9781488089350

Today we’re celebrating the story behind the gorgeous cover above; happy book birthday to the first in the Twisted Wishes series, Anna Zabo’s SYNCOPATION!

Synopsis:

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

About The Author:

Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks.They can be easily plied with coffee.

To purchase:

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Carina Press

Google Play

iBooks

Kobo

Amazon

We here at SFS can’t wait to read and review this kinky rock star story with aromantic and pansexual rep!

EXPOSED anthology blitz + giveaway!

Today we’re celebrating the release of a fun queer bookish-themed anthology, EXPOSED, curated and published by author Karen Stivali.

new exposed cover

About:

Hot. Naked. Guys. Reading.
When the sexiest Top 30 Under 30 men agree to pose naked for the “Expose Yourself To A Good Book” charity calendar, their hot bodies aren’t the only thing that gets EXPOSED. Nine brand new romances with M/F, M/M, F/F and menage pairings from bestselling and award winning authors, there’s something for everyone in this limited release anthology.

Contributions:

Annabeth Albert
LEVEL UP

When Landon, a genius physicist, is picked for a charity calendar, he must deal with an inconvenient attraction to Bailey, his rising-star photographer. Can he slay enough demons from his past to ensure a future together with him?

Karen Booth
WISHING

Jobless and painfully single, Samantha agrees to drive musician Duncan to a photo shoot. He’s in town for only five days, so sexy, and she’s eager for a no-strings fling. But Duncan shoots straight for the heart, making her unsure how she’ll ever survive his goodbye.

Amy Jo Cousins
KATE LIKES GIRLS

Garden center manager Kate Rhee is on a mission. No more hook ups with women or second-guessing her recent break up with an unavailable man. Too bad the foxy, pink-haired bar owner she meets at a naked calendar photo shoot has sworn off girlfriends. Because Kate isn’t doing casual. She can totally resist that temptation. Totally.

Robin Covington
GHOST

Oliver Burns publicly bragged he’d sign the reclusive artist “G”- creator of the First Nations graphic novel, Ghost Warriors – to his comic publishing company. But that gets tough when “G” is Gareth Rain – the man he pulled a post-one-night-stand runner on years ago and the man he’s never forgotten.

Vanessa North
RIGGED

For Kaitlyn, seeing her best friend Gordon naked is no big deal—until watching Sean tie him up changes everything.

Tamsen Parker
THROWN OFF TRACK

Teague has been License to Game’s bassist for over a decade, during which time he’s slept with almost everyone in his path. But it’s always felt like going through the motions. Until he sees his bandmate Christian naked at a charity photoshoot and suddenly, he knows what it is to want.

Roan Parrish
NATURAL ENEMIES

When buttoned-up botanist Stefan Albemarle meets freewheeling urban gardener Milo Rios, it’s hatred at first sight. But hatred quickly turns to lust as Milo shows him how exquisite it can feel to lose control. When opposites attract, love blooms in unexpected places.

Tiffany Reisz
THE WATERMARK

Jason “Still” Waters’ life looks perfect from the outside—money, fame, and the words “World Champion Bull-Rider” after his name. But Jason has a secret, one he never planned on telling anybody…until he meets Simone. She’s the kinky girl of his dreams…and his conservative family’s worst nightmare.

Karen Stivali
LEGAL BRIEFS

When organizing a naked charity calendar puts Rose’s tenure bid in jeopardy, the last person she wants help from is Michael, the gorgeous, arrogant lawyer she butted heads with during his shoot. He’ll defend her for free, but if their secrets come out they could both pay with their hearts.

Purchase:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

And, of course, you can *e n t e r  t o  w i n* one of 3 backlist eBooks by any of the EXPOSED AUTHORS simply by clicking…

HERE!

Annnddd we’re back…with CURVED HORIZON!

*taps mic*

Hey friends! Did you know it’s pretty hard to maintain even a tiny blog when your laptop dies AND your internet is too spotty to consistently work from your iPad? Blessedly, both issues are finally resolved, and we’re gasping back to life here at SFS with one of our most hotly-anticipated sequels of 2018…

curved horizons

That’s right, it’s Taylor Brooke‘s CURVED HORIZON, the sequel to FORTITUDE SMASHED, and it’s available right now from our favorite small publisher, Interlude Press!

Curved Horizon picks up a few weeks after the conclusion of Fortitude Smashed with Daisy Yuen and Chelsea Cavanaugh, whose Camellia Clocks are drawing close to timing out. Navigating the ins-and-outs of love is hard enough as strangers destined to be soul mates and proves even more complicated when Daisy shares dark, ugly secrets that linger in her and Aiden’s pasts.

Meanwhile, Shannon and Aiden continue to explore their own, new relationship. Fall brings them an unforgettable one-year anniversary, but when Shannon suffers a life-threatening accident on the job, Chelsea, Daisy, and Aiden must find a way to let go of the past to make room for their future.

***

About The Author

Headshot 2018

After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup artist, Taylor Brooke turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she’s traveling, hiking or reading. She writes Queer books for teens and adults. She is the author of Fortitude Smashed (Interlude Press ’17) and is represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary Services.

***

You can pick up the CURVED HORIZON eBook today at most online book retailers, and/or click the ugly-but-functional link below to enter a giveaway which includes physical copies and an Interlude gift card!

->>> HERE BE RAFFLECOPTER

 

A visit from F.T. Lukens (w/ giveaway)!

lukenstour

Today we’re so pleased to be featuring the newest adorable YA novel from Interlude Press. It’s called The Rules and Regulations of Mediating Myths and Magic, and we here at SFS thought it was awesome! We’ll post a proper review soon, but in the meantime, here’s what the author has to say about what inspires her…

***

Hi everyone! This is F.T. Lukens, author of The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic, and today I would like to talk about my upcoming release and some of the books that have inspired me over the years.

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic is a young adult urban fantasy novel that features Bridger, a bisexual protagonist who is struggling with changes in his life that come with being a senior in high school. Bridger answers a job ad and finds himself immersed in a new world of cryptids and myths. Bridger’s journey borders on the absurd and he finds himself fleeing a rampaging unicorn and dodging acidic troll spit.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read it when I was a pre-teen and it has stuck with me since. I think it was the first time that I found true comedy and humor in a novel. I’ve always admired Douglas Adams’ ability to flip plot points and situations on their head and not only find the hilarity, but also keep the plot seamless, moving, and relatable. I also love his other works like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Which has now been made into a tv show that is spectacular and weird. It also stars Elijah Wood, so I highly recommend.

Another book that has stuck with me in terms of comedy and absurdity is Lamb by Christopher Moore. It’s the gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal, and it chronicles the missing years between Christ’s birth and his ministry. The story is irreverent and humorous but also heartfelt. The synopsis says it best: Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more – except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala – and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is Terry Pratchett’s and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. Aziraphale and Crowley are just brilliant characters. And the plot and the story telling is amazing. It takes ridiculousness to a whole other level but it is relatable. Who hasn’t made a mistake? Of course, it wasn’t as bad as accidentally switching the antichrist with another child. And who doesn’t hate traffic? Thanks, Crowley.

But anyway, Bridger’s story, though containing lake mermaids and sasquatch, is set amid a high school back drop and features challenges that all teens go through. I hope readers find the joy of a mix of comedy and urban fantasy in The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic like I found in the above stories.

****

Be sure to check out RULES & REGS on Goodreads and at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and don’t forget to enter F.T.’s tour-wide giveaway HERE!

Release day spotlight: PERMANENT INK

Happy book birthday to this kinky opener in what is sure to be a fun and solidly written series, Art & Soul!

PermanentInk_1575x4200HR

About:

At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.

Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.

Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

Quick ‘n’ dirty review:

It’s a “yes” for us here at SFS, with a definite interest in the books to follow. This one was hot and well-paced, with a good portrayal of friendships and just enough tension to keep things interesting. We would perhaps have enjoyed a little bit more depth to the scenes where the guys weren’t at work and weren’t having sex, but PERMANENT INK still comes in easily at 4.25 of 5 stars.

Where to buy:

Riptide Publishing

Amazon

Barnes & Noble