Tag Archives: #LGBT

Rebirth, by L. Fergus

The God of Evil has forgotten who she is. After defeating the Harbingers, the gods deemed Kita a threat to all existence. Stripped of her memories, she is left to languish in Angelica, a new playground city for the ultra-rich of the United Earth Empire. There, beneath the waves of an oceanic moon, Kita makes her living using her skills as an assassin to protect the pampered elite. But fate is fickle. Trouble is brewing on the frontier: first contact has been made between humanity and an alien race. Humanity has been watching Kita for a decade and knows her history. They also know that even in her diminished state, she is powerful and they want all the weapons they can muster against this new threat. Can the humans convince Kita to fight for them or will she remember who and what she is and escape to the other side?

The story of PL/Kita and her unknown past with hidden talents is nothing new in the world of literature. I’ve read most of L. Fergus’ books on Wattpad, and while Rebirth isn’t the first story in a long series, it is one of the best (Birthright is another solid read.) In a world where literature is accessible to almost anyone, there’s a lot of content out there. You can read many LGBT fantasy stories by many talented authors, and L. Fergus’ prose and attention to detail is top-notch. When some authors go into a lot of description, my brain often gets distracted, and it pulls me out of the narrative. This isn’t the case with Rebirth. There is a lot of description, but it’s presented in such a way that it feels natural reading about Kita and her world.

Rebirth gives us something I think is wonderful: We see how Kita, as PL, sees her world. We share in the wonderment. We share in the confusion. We’ve read her as a powerful God, and now we see her at the other end of the spectrum. In modern society we struggle with classism. We struggle with identity. We struggle with the basic tenants that make us part of society. We witness all these foibles as Kita discovers who she is. We follow her pratfalls as she comes to grips with her mistakes.

One of the important things that Rebirth tells us is identity. In the first chapter, Kita performs a daily ritual to make herself “normal.” She hides her true self out of fear of what society and others think of her. She hurts herself to conform to the ideals of her environment, and in doing so, she loses her identity. This commonality in the LGBT community has gone on for many years, and many wonderful people hide what they offer the world. I think it appropriate that Rebirth be published during pride month.

I enjoyed reading Rebirth, and I was glued to the page as the saying goes. Every book is not without flaws. I found some of Kita’s antics a little immature, but no worse than the antics of a celebrity or a spoiled millionaire. But still sigh-worthy. As a stand-alone, I’d rate Rebirth four and a half stars. As of the writing of this review, the book is available for purchase tomorrow, and I recommend fans of science fantasy check it out – especially since it’s free to read via Kindle Unlimited.

L. Fergus is a Wattpad featured author of science fiction, including The Fallen Angel Saga, which has more than two hundred thousand reads. The books Birthright and Rebirth have won over ten awards, including Best Overall. Like L. Fergus’ main character Kita, L. fosters teenage girls to give them a supportive place to grow up and thrive.

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Lost Boy, Found Boy by Jenn Polish

In a futuristic world, Neverland is a holomatrix, Hook is a cyborg, and Tinker Bell is an automated computer interface. Peter is desperate to save his lover from a military draft that, unbeknownst to him, Mir volunteered for because they are desperate to be able to fly. So, naturally, Peter programs an entire island—Neverland—as a refuge where Mir can fly without having to fight in a war. But he doesn’t locate Mir right away; instead, he fights for control of the island with automated interface Tinker Bell, and in his attempts to find Mir, others arrive on the island. But Peter’s single-minded focus on Mir generates repercussions for everyone.

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that I enjoy fairytale retellings. They’d also know that I try to read diverse stories and authors. I’ve had some pretty good reads with Nine Star Press in the past (check out my review of Dali), so when I saw Lost Boy, Found Boy on NetGalley, I figured I’d give it a try. While the idea of Neverland being an escapist virtual construct in a dystopian future of endless war totally jived with the Peter Pan fairytale, the execution fell flat. I think that one of the issues with the story was that the author tried to stick every possible LGBT character that they could.

Peter is a trans boy, who has a romantic interest in his enbyfriend, Mir, and they live in the “boys” section of their space ship. Tinker Bell is a sentient machine (computer program?), identifying as female, who is in a relationship with the lesbian “Wendy.” Captain Hook is a cyborg who has unrequited love for Peter.

Each chapter begins with what I can only assume are Tinker bell’s “thoughts,” but I mostly skipped over them. It started out as a paragraph, and by the end of the story was several kindle pages. With non-human characters, I thought that perhaps the author would explore transhumanism or technological singularity, but that didn’t pan out. (ha ha, get it?)

The story was convoluted with this dystopian space war and before they could get drafted, they enlisted so that “they could fly.” The motivations and the world that they lived in were sparse, and perhaps worldbuilding would’ve improved the story. I also think that the sheer volume of LGBT characters was just too much. I think that that more than anything would be a turn off for cis and/or heteronormative readers. Which is a shame, because as LGBT characters and fiction become more prevalent, people grow more accustomed to the idea, and those that see LGBT persons as “other” become more accepting through mere exposure.

There were just too many checkmarks in the “needs improvement” column for Lost Boy, Found Boy. It’s hard to quantify my feelings on this story with a star rating. I really did not enjoy the story, and with so many issues, it should be a two-star rating, and thusly, not reviewed on this blog. My ire isn’t up enough to give it two stars, and rage-blog a two-star story like I’ve done in the past, and some of the flaws I perceived might be plusses to an LGBT reader. I think in the end, I’ll award Lost Boy, Found Boy three stars, and say that I’m disappointed at opportunities missed.

Hi hey hello! My name’s Jenn Polish (they/them pronouns, please!), and I write things! Welcome! Welcome to the strange inner workings of my nerdy, dragon-loving, superhero-oriented, lesbian fairy tale-spinning mind. I’m a New Yorker (Queens pride!!) who’s been writing about as long as I’ve been playing basketball (so, a long time). When I’m not writing, I’m teaching writing — and learning a lot about it, because my students are absolutely brilliant — at CUNY LaGuardia Community College. In addition to teaching writing, I am immensely proud to teach in the Theatre Program at LAGCC.

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Ice Kingdom, by Tiana Warner

The final adventure in the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy … Meela and Lysi have unleashed Sisiutl, legendary two-headed serpent of the Pacific Northwest. It was supposed to be an ally that would help them win the war. Instead, it has fallen under the control of King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. If Meela and Lysi can’t stop him, Adaro will use the deadly serpent to rid the oceans of mankind. With the American military using catastrophic weapons of their own to retaliate, Meela and Lysi must make peace between humans and merpeople before one race destroys the other. The journey will risk their lives and put their relationship to the test—but the vengeance that has been consuming Meela’s thoughts, day and night, might prove even more dangerous.

I saw on Twitter that the third, and final Mermaids of Eriana Kwai book had released, so I asked the author for a copy to read and review. The quality of writing from the first two books continued in Ice Kingdom.

The Good: Meela really pushed the story. She made decisions, and she lived with the consequences. Ice Kingdom, like Ice Crypt, was so compelling, that I had to finish reading it in one sitting.

The Bad: When a totalitarian regime is portrayed in literature, we come to expect certain things. We want to know that those caught under the influence of the charismatic madman are still good people, they just go along out of fear. We want to easily identify those going along for personal gain. We want to cheer on the underground resistance, we want to despise those in it for personal gain. We have a resistance in Ice Kingdom, but they’re uninteresting. We don’t see minor acts of rebellion to let us know that the people want a better world.

The Beautiful: I mentioned in my review of Ice Crypt that I felt that book two was the best, and I continue to feel that way. Ice Kingdom is a fast-paced swim toward the inevitable conclusion that we want. Adaro’s motives finally make some sense, and he loses some of the clichéd snidely whiplash-ness. I still think he’s a sub-par villain, but at least there’s something.

The Final Word: Ice Kingdom returns to a four-star rating. The conclusion of the trilogy ends as you’d think it would. Overall, the series is a great read that should appeal to young readers. Other than the violence in Ice Massacre, there’s nothing in the series to be concerned with as far as young readers are concerned. The middle book is the shining jewel in the series, and overall, the series is a great read.

Tiana Warner

My grandma tells me I sold her my first story, The Sachmoe, for $2. I’m not sure if this makes me a born entrepreneur or just plain saucy, but my point is that I’ve been a writer for longer than I can remember. I wrote poems and short stories throughout elementary school (most of them about ponies), and wrote my first full-length novel in high school. I now spend my evenings writing about killer mermaids. I went to the University of British Columbia to study psychology and came out of it with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I’m now a technical content creator for a software company, which means when I’m not writing about kick-ass mermaids I’m writing about kick-ass technology. I currently live in Langley, BC, and am an avid supporter of animal welfare. I have a quarter horse named Bailey, a pony sidekick named Strawberry, and an extremely naughty cat named Paisley.

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Dalí, by E.M. Hamill

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction. Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife. The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again. Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

When I saw Dalí on Netgalley, I knew I had to give it a try. Netgalley has yielded me great sci-fi with fluid sexuality (Zen DiPietro’s Dragonfire Station series), and some great trans sci-fi (Dreadnought, by April Daniels), so I had no qualms checking out a fluid gender story.

Dalí, the titular character is well written, as is the story. I’ve come to expect this of LGBT sci-fi. LGBT and indie writers have always had to up their game when it comes to prose. It’s not fair, but these authors are under extra scrutiny due to methodologies and/or content. While traditionally-published works can kick along with weak story because the fans will buy anything that the author and publisher put out, this is not the case in the indie world, and especially so for those that write LGBT themes.

Sci-fi, along with fantasy has the ability for us to tackle issues with humanity under the guise of other-worldness. Racism, hatred, and bigotry are topics easily broached when the characters are aliens or elves. Star Trek was a pioneer in the late 1960s, and indies continue the noble tradition today.

Dalí tackles themes of rape, depression, sex trafficking, bigotry, hatred, eugenics, polygamy, and much more. The story is rife with action. The LGBT rights topics are there, as is a commentary on modern society, but it’s not “in your face,” or preachy. No one involved in Dalí is trying to convert us. The themes are almost an undercurrent. The sci-fi, other than setting, is pretty laid back too. The author took the popcorn sci-fi methodology, and just said that this or that is, without bogging down in the details that some sci-fi authors tend to do.

Over all, Dalí is a great sci-fi read. Those that may be skittish with LGBT-themed stories should be able to get into Dalí. Fans of LGBT works will appreciate an engrossing LGBT story that’s not focused on LGBT encounters. In a world that so often incorrectly associates LGBT with erotica, Dalí is a great read because of the story, and would fall apart if Dalí weren’t gender fluid.

I enjoyed Dalí, and at a risk of over-hyping the book, highly recommend reading this 4-star sci-fi novel.

E.M. (Elisabeth) Hamill writes adult science fiction and fantasy somewhere in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas. A nurse by day, wordsmith by night, she is happy to give her geeky imagination free reign and has sworn never to grow up and get boring. Frequently under the influence of caffeinated beverages, she also writes as Elisabeth Hamill for young adult readers in fantasy with the award-winning Songmaker series. She lives in eastern Kansas with her family, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

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Sovereign, by April Daniels

Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

It’s hard to talk about a great book like Sovereign, by April Daniels without spoiling it. The cover art is compelling, just like Dreadnought. We see the continuing adventures of Danny Tozer. The way that society reacts to her and her power continues from book one. While I feel that Sovereign is not quite as powerful as Dreadnought, they are superhero books above all others as far as I’m concerned. From a literary standpoint, Sovereign cranks up the tension and the stakes, not just with Danny Tozer, but also with the world as a whole. Danny has more to lose and more to cherish in book two, and I cannot wait for book three. Like its predecessor, Sovereign, by April Daniels is a five-star superhero read.

april-daniels

April Daniels graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in literature, and then promptly lost her job during the 2008 stock crash and recession. After she recovered from homelessness, she completed her first manuscript by scribbling a few sentences at a time between calls while working in the customer support department for a well-known video game console. She has a number of hobbies, most of which are boring and predictable. As nostalgia for the 1990s comes into its full bloom, she has become ever more convinced that she was born two or three years too late and missed all the good stuff the first time around. Early in her writing practice, April set her narrative defaults to “lots of lesbians” and never looked back.

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Unknown Horizons, by CJ Birch

The moment Lieutenant Alison Ash steps aboard the Persephone, she knows her life will never be the same. She will never again watch the sun rise over the asteroid belt, never again see Earth from a handheld telescope, and never again see her family. In less than three weeks, the ship will dock at the Posterus and begin the most important journey humankind has ever undertaken. More important than discovering fire, creating language, or even abandoning Earth to live confined in biospheres among the asteroid belt over 100 years ago. What Ash doesn’t expect is that by keeping her recent memory loss a secret she is jeopardizing not only the Persephone’s mission but humankind’s launch of the first ever generational ship. Nor does she anticipate her attraction to Captain Jordan Kellow, but both will change her life forever.

When I saw Unknown Horizons on NetGalley, I figured I’d give it a go. When you start a book with the ending, it has to be epic to pull it off. Unknown Horizons didn’t manage to pull that off. It’s still a fun read, but the ending left me scratching my head. The protagonist wasn’t likeable at all, but I think that was done by the author intentionally. Upon further reflection, many of the characters were unlikable. But, it somehow seemed to work as a story. There’s plenty of conflict to move the story along, and the science fiction tropes are fun. Unknown Horizons is a fast read, and I’d like to check out the sequel. I saw that it’s on Wattpad, but I’m an e-reader kind of guy, so I’ll wait until it’s available in that format.

I waffled between 3.5 stars and 4 stars for Unknown Horizons. The narrative is definitely different, almost fractured. In the end, I’m rating it 3.5 stars. Perhaps after reading the second story, I’ll revise my star rating up. CJ Birch is a talented debut sci-fi author, and I’ll be checking out more of her stuff as it becomes available.

CJ Birch has a number of degrees, certificates, and diplomas from various establishments (some more reputable than others), all of which have nothing to do with what she does for a living. After spending a few years ruling out jobs, she finally settled into video editing for a company in Toronto, which is essentially an excuse to get paid for watching movies all day. Of all the jobs CJ Birch has had, the 45 minutes she spent bartending is probably the most memorable (for reasons that don’t include nominations for employee of the month). A lover of words, coffee (the really strong kind that seeps from your pores announcing, by smell alone, your obsession) and sarcasm. She doesn’t have any pets, but she does have a rather vicious Ficus that has a habit of shedding all over the hardwood, usually right before company comes.

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Coalescence, by Zen DiPietro

coalescence

Fallon’s back, and ready to settle things with Blackout once and for all. If she and her team can’t take control, the PAC will splinter and galactic war will decimate the populace. Can one little rebellion save an empire? Avian Unit–and their friends–are sure as hell going to try.

 

 

The Good: I knew that I’d like Coalescence since I enjoyed Fragments and Translucid. Fallon’s pansexual relationships with Raptor and Wren are an interesting look into fluid sexuality. The chapters in Coalescence were a bit on the longer side, but not nearly as bad as Translucid.

The Bad: Some of the villainous acts committed by Blackout against the PAC seemed rather counter-intuitive. Parts left me scratching my head. It seemed as if the villains were the villains just to push the story along. The fall of the PAC that would incite galactic war wasn’t fully explained, and I didn’t feel as if I cared about the completion of Avian Unit’s mission other than to stop the bad guys from doing bad things. I guess I just wasn’t invested in the galaxy.

The Beautiful: Like Fragments and Translucid, there was a lot of action with enough going on that I just had to keep reading. I found some of the ancillary characters rapidly becoming my favorites, including a certain lizard doctor.

The Final Word: If you’ve read books one and two, then you will not be disappointed with this third book. If you’d a fan of Firefly, Deep Space Nine or The Expanse, you’ll totally grok this series. With the short story, The Cost of Business being free, and all three parts of the trilogy free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, you simply cannot go wrong reading this series. Even the nine bucks is an easy sale. Get the series and read it. I look forward to more from Zen DiPietro in the future. Like the previous two stories, Coalescence is 4.5 stars.

zen-dipietro

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Being an introvert gets in her way sometimes, as she finds it hard to make idle chitchat or stay up past 9 p.m. On the other hand, it makes it easy for her to dive down the rabbit hole of her love for books, stories, movies and games.

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