October readings | Dragons, Mysteries and Dead Things

Title: Dead Until Dark
Series: Sookie Stackhouse book 1
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Page count: 292 pages
Published: 1 May 2001

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Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre(s): Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Fiction
Page count: 360 pages
Published: 30 May 2017

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Title: Origin
Series: Scales’N’Spells 1
Author: A.J. Sherwood, Jocelynn Drake
Genre(s): Contemporary, Fantasy
Page count: 392 pages
Published: 1 October 2020

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Title: Silk & Steel
Series: Silk & Steel #1
Author: Ariana Nash, Pippa DaCosta
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, MM
Page count: 380 pages
Published: 18 January 2019

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July readings | Baseball, Roommates, FWBs, and Magic

Title: Bat Boy
Series: Easton U Pirates #1
Author: Christina Lee
Genre(s): Contemporary, MM, Sports, Romance
Page count: 218 pages
Published: 20 November 2020

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Title: First Impressions
Series: Auckland Med. #1
Author: Jay Hogan
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Mystery, Crime, MM
Page count: 351 pages
Published: 15 December 2019

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Title: Carry On
Series: Simon Snow #1
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT, Romance
Page count: 522 Pages
Published: 9 May 2017

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Title: True Mate
Series: Prosper Woods Chronicles #1
Author: Patricia Logan
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT, Romance
Page count: 202 pages
Published: 30 April 2021

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Title: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Genre(s): Poetry, Fantasy, Fiction, Mythology, Historical
Page count: 208 pages

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Title: Enthralled
Series: The Knight and the Necromancer
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, MM, Fiction, Short stories
Page count: 78 pages
Published: 12 January 2021

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Title: Roommate
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Queer, Romance, Fiction
Page count: 304 pages
Published: 12 January 2021

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Title: THE taking of Jake Livingston
Author: Ryan Douglass
Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal, Queer, Fiction
Page count: 308 pages
Published: 13 July 2021

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Title: Lux
Series: The Reckoners
Author: Brandon Sanderson, Steven Michael Bohls
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy,
Runtime: 13h55min
Published: 22 July 2021

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Title: Home Plate
Series: Eastern U Pirates #2
Author: Christina Lee
Genre(s): Contemporary, MM, Sports, Romance
Page count: 257 pages
Published: 29 January 2021

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The Necromancer’s Reckoning | S.J. Himes

Every action has consequences.
For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.
Until now.
The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.
If found guilty, Angel’s apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel’s mate, refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.
The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.
Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a grave robbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town…a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.

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How was it?

The Beacon Hills Sorcerer series is among the best books in the genre. The storytelling is smooth and smart, from Dance, Dilemma to Reckoning it’s a captivating saga that’s unfolding bit by bit and gets better each time. The characters are amazing, they keep growing and evolving, and it’s always earned. Nothing is rushed but the story is far from a slow burn.

In fact Reckoning is fast paced with plenty of action and mayhem. The “magic police”, the High Council of Sorcery, is back in town after a long absence. A Sorcerer civil war didn’t capture their attention but it seems that the growing fame and power that Angel’s latest accomplishments afforded him doesn’t sit well with them.

There always was some kind of geopolitical aspects to the series. The sphere of influence and rules for Vampires, Humans, and Practitioners have always permeated the story, but here it’s centered stage and it’s entertaining as hell. Angel, Simeon and Eroch are just badass. I pity the fools that underestimate them.

The Necromancer’s Reckoning is gripping, exciting and sweet entry to the series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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The Necromancer’s Dilemma | S.J. Himes

Even love can die without trust.

Angel’s brother, Isaac, has returned home, and the pair begin to make slow and awkward attempts back to each other. Learning how to be a brother to a grown man instead of a parental figure has Angel adjusting his behaviors and habits, and Isaac still remains a mystery. Was it merely entering adulthood that turned Isaac away from an overprotective Angel, or does Isaac carry a secret that will keep them from finally being a real family?

Daniel Macavoy, Angel’s new apprentice, is torn between his bond with Angel and the grasping machinations of his father. Dealing with a traumatized apprentice with dangerous holes in his magical education, saving Daniel may be harder than Angel first thought—especially since the biggest problem is not revenge, but guilt.

The one shining beacon in his life is Simeon, Elder vampire of Boston’s only Bloodclan. Four hundred years old and sexy as sin, Simeon is warrior and sage, patient and cunning. The strength Angel draws from Simeon’s devotion and the newborn mate-bond between them is steadfast and true…and the fount of death magic that animates the undead lord places Angel in the midst of a power struggle for control over himself, his lover, and his family.

Through it all, Angel is beleaguered by the unwanted attention of a troll-hybrid, the adventures of a dragon in the city, and a serial killer has decided to hunt the back alleys and midnight streets of Boston.

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How was it?

The Necromancer’s Dance sets up these characters and the world they live in so well that it’s easy to get back into it. The focus might be a bit more on Angelus and Simeon but all of the side characters grow along with them. It doesn’t feel as contained as other books in the genre feel. It’s like a TV show with a comprehensive cast but they all get their moments in the spotlight.

Since Angel now consults for the police,  there’s also a mystery woven into the story. It’s attention grabbing and allows for a broader understanding of Simeon and Angelus’ bond while giving us more information on the people around the couple. I throughly enjoyed the story, it has sweet and comedic moments, as well as great action sequences and character moments, some that had me going “funk yeah get him!”

This series is slowly becoming a favorite. All of the characters are compelling, they each have their strength and weaknesses, they have baggage, a history and it comes across throughout the two books. Also because of who Angel and Simeon are, a Necromancer and an elder vampire, so can see how their bond might become a problem, because that’s never been done, and also what it implies for the balance of power in that world.

The Necromancer’s Dilemma is a good read that’s made even better when reading right after The Necromancer’s Dance. I think it could be read as a stand alone, since the story on its own is great but for the full effect the two blend into each other perfectly. Of all the books in the series I probably remember this one the most because it also feature a favorite character of mine, a little creature that I garante that you’ll fall in love with as well.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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Carry On | Rainbow Rowell

Carry On (Simon Snow 1) by Rainbow Rowell published 9 May 2017

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

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How was it?

The way I found my way to this book series was so random. I saw a post on instagram about book three: Any Way the Wind Blows coming out, the cover made me think they might queer characters and someone in the comments confirmed it so here I am.

To anyone who wants to read this, hold on! It gets better. The beginning is not very engaging, just enough to keep me reading. It’s a lot of reminiscing that sort of teach you about this world and its characters but it’s not that effective, yet I still picked up a few things. The book becomes a tad more interesting when Baz shows up.

If I didn’t know it was a queer book Simon’s obsession with Baz would have clued me in. It seemed innocent at first but it steadily got obvious just as the story started to get better because Baz made his appearance. The dynamic between Simon and Baz is one of the most entertaining things about this book, I learned more about this magical world through their interactions than the “recap” I had slog through in the first few chapters. It might sound like I prefer Baz to Simon, which is not true but the slow and rough start told through Simon’s eyes did not help. He also annoyed me at times, for example when you get a message from the the other side you tell it!

Besides that I enjoyed a lot of the characters, Penny among them of course, even Agatha and the mage. I even came to like the weird way the spells are constructed but the cute romantic scenes between Basilton and Simon made a huge difference in my experience of this book. It’s full of banter and a ton of double entendra, a whole that needs to be field? Seriously? maybe it’s my filthy mind reading into things but they are there.

If you grew up reading and/or watching Harry Potter you might inadvertently compare this book to Rowling’s series. I did that at the beginning but it was more to make sense of Simon Snow’s world in comparison to something similar that I know. I wouldn’t call the series a Harry Potter Fan fiction because I shed that idea from my mind once I got familiar enough with Simon’s world. However I’ll admit that there’s a bunch of similarities and yet I don’t think they’re the same. Nevertheless an easy way to describe this book would be “Harry Potter but a lot gayer, without queerbating or subtle homophobia” or “What if Harry dated Drago?”

Since I got book two and three as well before reading the first I’ll be read the rest but I probably won’t rush.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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First Impressions | Jay Hogan

First Impressions (Auckland Med. 1) by Jay Hogan published 15 December 2019
Michael:
Two years ago I made a mistake, a big one. Then I added a couple more just for good measure. I screwed up my life, but I survived. Now, I have the opportunity for a fresh start. Two years in New Zealand. Away from the LA gossip, a chance to breathe, to rebuild my life. But I’m taking my new set of rules with me.
I don’t do relationships.
I don’t do commitment.
I don’t do white picket fences.
And I especially don’t do arrogant, holier-than-thou, smoking hot K9 officers who walk into my ER and rock my world.

Josh:
One thing for certain, Dr. Michael Oliver is an arrogant, untrustworthy player, and I barely survived the last one of those. He might be gorgeous, but my daughter takes number one priority. I won’t risk her being hurt, again. I’m a solo dad, a K9 cop and a son to pain-in-the-ass parents.
I don’t have time for games.
I don’t have time for taking chances.
I don’t have time for more complications in my life.
And I sure as hell don’t have time for the infuriating Dr. Michael Oliver, however damn sexy he is. 

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How was it?

I wanted to read this book for a while, a friend of mine even gifted it to me since she saw it on my wish lis, but I didn’t have time to sit and read it. Instead I turned to the audiobook when I saw that Gary Furlong was narrating it because I’ve only experienced his work on the Soulbound series so I was curious, and he totally delivers.

As for the story, there’s a gentle mix of genres that works. There’s a mystery crime element in it, which I liked, that could have been the main theme / focus of the book. But Michael being who is he, meaning that he does all that he can to help then kind of lets it go, and Josh’s lack of direct involvement with the investigation makes the mystery crime thriller aspects of the story more of a set-up for their relationship and characterization than the focus.
We also really get to know the characters through their actions more than anything else. Going back to the way Michael handles the crime and investigation that follows says a lot about about him. It’s that very attitude that is how he got himself in a tight spot in the past. Not being able to cope with the feeling of not having done everything that he could have with the information available to him. The story is field with little acts like this that gives you a clear idea of who these men are.

Speaking of the main characters, I love Josh and Michael’s rich history. They’ve both been through some though things and it makes them more interesting to me in particular when we see how they’re dealing with their past. There’s also an emphasis on each them as individuals that I appreciate, because too often in books when there’s a romantic pairing they kind of become one, or defined by each other and have little to no individuality. The fact that they start of as friends with benefits, which is so hot in this book, helps. The strong secondary characters do that as well, painting a good picture of what Josh and Michael’s individual lives are like apart from each other.

There’s a bit of angst in this story, enough to flirt with my threshold but it didn’t get to a point that it annoyed me too much. Giving how serious most of the events Josh and Michael went through the author does a great job at not rushing things for the most part, asking real questions about a viability of their relationship.

The Auckland Med series starts off strong, the characters are great, the story feels real and not looked at through rose-tinted glasses. I’m hungry for grittier, down to earth mm romance novels and this book delivers.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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The Necromancer’s Dance | S.J. Himes

In a world where magic is real and evil walks amongst humanity, a young sorcerer is beset upon by enemies, both old and new. Angelus Salvatore is the only necromancer in all of Boston, and his name is whispered warily by the undead and fellow sorcerers alike. He and his brother Isaac are the lone survivors of an attack by an army of the undead, in which Angel used a spell so powerful it forever marked his place in history. Now, years later, Angel struggles to balance his career as a teacher of the higher magical arts, his role as big brother, and a tenuous relationship with an Elder vampire from the local clan. When his brother’s boyfriend is used as a pawn in a mysterious plot to draw Angel out, Angel is once again pulled back into the old hostilities that fueled the Blood Wars and led to his family’s death.

Leaning on others for help is something Angel cannot do, and while he searches for clues into who may be targeting him and his brother, Angel finds his heart steadily growing occupied with Simeon, Elder and vampire. Dealing with death magic and vampires on a daily basis may leave Angel jaded when it comes to life and staying that way, but the more time he spends fending off the ancient vampire’s attention and affections, the more he realizes he wants to give in.

Can Angel find out who wants him dead, and keep his heart safe in the process? How can he fall for a vampire, when his whole family was torn apart by an army of the undead?

Death stalks the streets of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill….and there is no one more suited to battle against death than a necromancer.

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How was it?

The Necromancer’s Dance is one these books that are so engrossing that when you come up for air you realize that you’ve covered two third of the book not sure how you got there. I’m not talking about zombie reading* but being so completely into the story that you don’t notice time passing.

Lately I’ve been gravitating to Urban fantasy books and this book scratch that hitch. The world is compelling, very easy to understand, and it’s chuck full of complex characters. They feel real because sorcery and magical creatures aside, they could be people we know since their problems and struggles are relatable.

The story is a bit dark but there is some levity. Whether it comes from Angel himself, who’s snarky and a bit of smartass, or some of the situations he finds himself in. The story is not gloomy but there are a few gruesome scenes in it.

The romance could have been a tad too cheesy but S.J. Himes make it work. Simeon is the sweet to Angel’s sour, they are adorable together. It looks like love at first sight because the story picks up at the beginning of their romance, but the author does a great job at making their history as “colleagues”, acquaintances felt.

The Necromancer’s Dance is a captivating book, one that you’ll probably read more than once, and love a little more every time. It’s definitely a series to watch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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