Rec: To Target the Heart (Spellster Series #2)

Title: To Target the Heart (Spellster Series #2)
Author: Aldrea Alien
Format: Kindle
Published/Free: Published. $2.99 (until the 15th of April)
Length: 598
Status: Complete book of on-going series
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Suicide attempt. Violence. Homophobia.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0834FL7QG
Summary:

How can he win with the odds stacked against him?

Prince Hamish has no interest in fulfilling his duty of marrying. Not to a woman, at least. That doesn’t stop his mother, Queen Fiona, from presenting him with every eligible noblewoman that enters their castle. He’s certain it’ll be no different with the representative of the Udynea Empire.

So when they do arrive, Hamish is relieved the imperial prince, Darshan, is not the woman everyone expected. Until the man kisses him and Hamish is confronted by the very emotions he has been forced to conceal or be punished for. Emotions he is eager to explore.

But the kiss proves to be a little too public and leads his mother to take drastic measures to ensure Hamish adheres to her family vision. The contest of arms will force Hamish to make a choice: give up his happiness for convention’s sake or send the kingdom spiralling into civil war for the right to love his own way.

Review: Entertaining read. Really liked Darshan and Hamish. Excited for what happens next!

Rec: Fallen Hero: Rebirth

Title: Fallen Hero: Rebirth
Author: Malin Rydén
Format: Online text-based Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game
Published/Free: Published
Length: 380,000
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Possible mentions of past abuse, suicide, alcoholism
Link: https://www.choiceofgames.com/user-contributed/fallen-hero-rebirth/
Summary: Become the greatest telepathic villain Los Diablos has ever known! Once you were famous; soon you will be infamous. That is, unless your old friends in the Rangers stop you first. Juggle different identities and preserve your secrets as you build new alliances and try to forget the friendships you’ve left behind.

Review: In terms of interactive fiction, Fallen Hero: Rebirth may be the best one out there. The intricate and seamless writing introduces a world where superheroes are more than simple ‘do-gooders’ and where everything may not be as it seems. The characters you can romance are fully fleshed out and are truly living and breathing in the city that you may very well destroy…

Rec: Sacrifices

Title: Sacrifices
Author: Rachel Lynn
Format: Oneshot
Published/Free: Free
Length: 12,149 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Suicide mention, violence
Link: https://www.fictionpress.com/s/2055356/1/Sacrifices
Summary: Tam has been raised to die. But when death opens new doors, he has to figure out how to live a whole new life.

Review:If characters discovering the world and quiproquos are the kind of things that you truly enjoy, I got you.

Rec: Immunity Series

Title: Immunity
Author: Epic Solemnity (Dark_Cyan_Star)
Format: Novel
Published/Free: Free
Length: 2 parts so far, Part I: 22 Chapters, Part II: 19/30 Chapters
Status: WIP, updates once or twice a week
Rating: Mature
Warnings: graphic violence, implied/referenced incest
Link: AO3 (Part I)  AO3 (Part II)
Summary: Raised in the slums, away from his scheming relatives, a prince grows up dreaming of revenge. However, blood is power, and despite his royal lineage, Ezra isn’t an Elemental. Or so he believes. When he reencounters his darkly enthralling uncle, he finds himself facing new, enigmatic possibilities and unlocked powers. He soon realizes he doesn’t want to kill his family. He wants to beat them at their own game. 

Review: The world built around this story is amazing. I love the dynamics of all the characters, and the story itself is new and refreshing. The author is a great writer and it really shows in her word choice and grammar. Although they claim the story updates once a week, they have posted more than one chapter a week many times. If you love fantasy and slow burn, this is the story for you.

Epic Solemnity (Dark_Cyan_Star)

Rec: Can’t A Guy Visit A Friend?

Title: Can’t A Guy Visit A Friend
Author: TheCaliMack
Format: Short Story
Published/Free: Free
Status: Complete
Rating: Teen/Mature (depends)
Warnings: mentions of suicide
Link: AO3 | GayAuthors.org
Summary: Miguel comes to visit his friend Tristan, but notices something is amiss when the man opens his door to him.

Intuition has never failed him before, but it never prepared him for what he’d see.

Review: I’m sharing my own work, but reviews so far mention it as moving and heartbreaking and one of the most emotional writings they have ever read. I felt honored and I thought I’d share it some more with the rest of you.

No one dies. That’s all I’m saying.

Rec: The Outlands Pentalogy: A Promise of Return

Title: The Outlands Pentalogy (3/5): A Promise of Return
Author: Rebecca Crunden
Format: Novel, part of a series
Published/Free: Published
Length: 90K words, 244 pages
Status: This is the third book in a series of five and the first with a central m/m pairing. Each book switches POV’s so it is possible to start from this book and not be totally lost. All the books in the series are finished and the last two will be published within the next few months. 
Rating: Mature
Warnings: This book is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the main character is sold to a gladiator type fighting arena and is forced to kill. So, huge warnings for gore and blood. Plus past mentions of abuse. Scenes of torture.
Link: Amazon (Available on all Amazon sites in paperback and Kindle), Goodreads
Summary: When Thom Anteros is arrested after breaking into the Building of Historical Records, he demands to be taken before the King. A laughable demand for anyone else, Thom’s request is granted and the King spares his life. Yet what’s to become of him is left in the hands of the one person Thom truly fears – Mickey Taenia, the King’s Hangman.

Infuriated by Thom’s refusal to reveal the whereabouts of Nate and Catherine, the Hangman sends Thom to one of the worst places in the Kingdom – the slave markets of Muntenia. It is there that Thom is bought for the Red Arena: a barbaric, gladiator-type competition where the children of convicts and other unlucky souls are forced to fight to the death.

Twenty wins is release. One loss is death.

With the help of Charles Thoreau, a fellow captive, Thom begins not only to survive, but to thrive. A master of words becomes a master of death, and Thom’s prowess in the arena frightens even him.

But death isn’t the only thing haunting Thom. As the days go by, he dreams of his brother, and the promise he cannot forget.

I will return.

Rec: Artistic Process

Title: Artistic Process
Author: Red-Vaporeon
Format: Webcomic
Published/Free: Free
Length: So far 17 pages
Status: Wip
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Smoking of cigarettes and weed
Link: red-vaporeon-draws.tumblr.com
Summary: It’s a story about teens in highschool that lead with things like hyper-masculinity, being disabled, being lgbt, and racism. We follow the characters as they individually deal with their struggles and start expressing themselves in new ways, and slowly accepting themselves.

Rec: The Viper’s Scheme

Title: The Viper’s Scheme
Author: TheDancingCrow
Format: Novel
Published/Free: Free
Length: 162k so far
Status: WIP
Rating: Mature
Warnings: slavery, rape, abuse
Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/5540954/chapters/12782114
Summary: Sylves Tevenra is a powerful mage, said to have been born with the ability to subdue humanity’s mortal enemies once and for all. Esares is the demon who was sent to kill him and has been paying the price ever since. And then there is Anereth Laverien, who Esares knows is unkind and treacherous, but who is the only person his master would trust with his treasured slave.

Esares holds the key to his master’s destruction, but he will have to decide whether using it would bring him and his people closer to freedom, or merely turn him into another dangerous man’s pawn.

Review: Came for the power imbalance, stayed for the characters and worldbuilding. Could be your thing if you like hurt/comfort, fantasy and slow paced stories and have an interest in slavefics. You’ll find a lot of focus on the two main characters and the gradual progression of their relationship as well as on the power dynamics, with the main plot (the planned murder of the “Chosen One” Sylves) moving along much more slowly.

Chapters 2&3 where Esares is with Sylves are the darkest (at least of yet) and where the rape warning is especially important. One thing that got me is that at a glance Sylves has many more traits of a good person than Anereth, but his dehumanisation of slaves is where that all falls apart and he reveals himself a villain. Whereas we know Anereth has an ulterior motive for being nice to Esares yet it’s clear he at least approaches him like a person and not (only) a possession. Esares himself has been pushed nearly to breaking point but remains beautifully angry at his predicament and the oppression of his people, and continually struggles with being grateful to Anereth for things he knows shouldn’t elicit gratitude.

An engaging story with nuanced characters and a very slow burn! Be aware it’s a WIP.

Rec: ENTROPIA

Title: Entropia
Author: Ink-Mix Studio
Format: Webcomic
Published/Free: Free
Length: 5/10 chapters
Status: Wip
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Abuse, Violence
Link: https://tapastic.com/series/Entropia
Summary: Taavi is a hybrid slave that lives in a society divided by political and racial aspects. Living among the winged and being a victim of prejudice because of his impure blood, Taavi finds himself involved in a circle of conquest and defeat that fate reserved for him since the day he was born.

Review: Self-Rec. The story may be interesting for those who like medieval fantasy.

Rec: A Land so Wild and Savage

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Title: A Land So Wild and Savage
Author: doctornerdington
Format: Novel
Published/Free: Free
Length: 82,000 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Minor character deaths, violence, gore, colonialism.
Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/7273582/chapters/16516078
Summary: In 1845, the HMS Erebus under the command of Captain James Sholto departed England on a voyage of discovery to find a Northwest Passage through the perilous arctic waters separating the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was never heard from again. Five years later, Captain John Watson of the Investigator sets sail to recover the Erebus and determine the fate of Sholto and his men. Naturalist Sherlock Holmes takes a berth on a scientific mission to catalogue arctic fauna. What they find could strike a killing blow at the very heart of the British Empire.

Review: It’s not necessary to be a fan of the BBC Sherlock series, or to even know anything about it, to enjoy this excellent novel based on the real-life events of the Franklin Expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. It wouldn’t hurt, however, to listen to the Stan Rogers song a few times.

The story is told through letters, journals, newspaper accounts, and Inuit oral tradition. Each voice rings true – feeling both appropriate to the time and to the characters. Each element, from the arctic environment to mid-nineteenth century feminist thought is thoroughly researched and they blend together to create a feeling of a Britain at the height of its power and also in the throes of massive change.  And then there is the land and sea of Nunavut, which is described in such loving detail that it almost becomes a character itself.  

The love story “traces one warm line” through a narrative about human survival in one of the harshest environments on earth.  For me, the most intriguing theme of A Land So Wild and Savage is the struggle of the characters to maintain their humanity in a place that strips life down to the bare necessities.  Some fail, some adjust, and some thrive.

A Land So Wild and Savage has wit, beauty, pathos, and a burn so slow, it’s almost glacial.