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: Fourth Point of Contact (Legends of Lobe den Herren Book 1)

Title: Fourth Point of Contact (Legends of Lobe den Herren Book 1)
Author: AJ Sherwood
Format: Kindle; Paperback
Published/Free: $3.99; $13.99
Length: 335
Status: Ongoing series
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Death
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Fourth-Point-Contact-Legends-Herren-ebook/dp/B07JJZR6H9/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=3866HGLRLJ0XZ&keywords=fourth+point+of+contact+aj+sherwood&qid=1560636918&s=gateway&sprefix=the+fourth+point+%2Caps%2C158&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1
Summary:

“Renjimantoro.”

Ren’s head snapped up, as Brahms only used his full name when being completely serious.

Those dark blue eyes met his levelly, penetratingly, as if he could see every thought going through Ren’s head. And he likely could. The man was exceptionally good at seeing through people. “Come with me.”

Oh hell. He really had no defenses against that plea. Brahms rarely asked anything of him, and every time he had, it turned out to be for Ren’s own good. “You realize that if I go, your reputation is never going to recover. People assume I’ve seduced you over to my side as it is.”

Brahms just stared at him.

“Right, you don’t care. Of course you don’t, silly me, why am I worrying about it?” Relief filled him, making him a little giddy with it, and he had the strangest urge to giggle. Which wasn’t manly, he stamped that out immediately, but still a grin took over his face. “Alright, alright, I’ll go home with you.”

Not once in the past five years has Castle Warden Sho Renjimantoro regretted following his best friend to Aart. How can he regret it when he finds open acceptance regarding his sexuality from everyone around him (even if they don’t understand it), and he gets to be with the man most important to him?

No, finding someone in this country is a fantasy best forgotten.

General Arman Brahms, finally home from deployment, has waited over two years to show Ren he’s wrong, that fantasies can come true. Unfortunately, his plans get put on hold to help Ren solve the crisis unfolding in the castle.

Someone is doing their level best to make sure the engagement of Prince Charles and Princess Alexandria of Scovia falls through—by fair means or foul. In addition, they’re trying to make Ren deemed incompetent and dismissed from his position. While hunting for the perpetrator, Ren and Arman do everything in their power to protect those they’re sworn to before the irredeemable occurs.

And along the way, prove that even an ordinary life can become extraordinary.

Review: A nice entertaining read. Really liked Arman and Ren. Excited to see what happens next!

Rec : Léonie – French short story

Title: Léonie
Author: Anouchka Labonne
Format: Short story
Published/Free: Published – Éditions Voy’el
Length: 14.5K words
Status: Finished
Rating: Mature
Warnings: French!, Wartime, Non-con, Death
Link: 
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/fr/fr/ebook/leonie-7
Kindle: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B07CCGCXV3/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_c_7X.0AbZ7NQGXD
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/fr/book/l%C3%A9onie/id1372435748?mt=11

Summary: Fuyant Paris et l’Occupant, Léonie se réfugie à la campagne pour cacher sa véritable identité. Mais lorsque les Allemands s’installent dans la région, sa sécurité est plus que jamais menacée.

Review: I wrote it, so you tell me!

Rec: Baby Love

Title: Baby Love (original title: Comme les autres)
Author: Vincent Garenq
Format: Movie
Published/Free: Published
Length: 1h27
Status: Complete
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Very mild nudity (no genitalia shown), implied sex (as in, one sex scene similar to the Sims), homophobic remarks, misogynistic remarks, casual transphobia
Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1093352/
Summary: They were the perfect loving couple, well, almost. Emmanuel, a pediatrician, wanted a child but Philippe, a lawyer, didn’t. One day, however, Emmanuel decides to take the plunge, at the risk of losing Philippe. But how do become a father when you are gay?

Review: The story takes place (and the film itself was done) before 2013, in a France without same sex marriage nor right to adoption by same sex partners. Seeing how much we have now compared to a few years ago warmed my heart. But the complications arising from the relationships in the film are still relevant problems today in that country especially, as the legality of surrogacy is being discussed. 

I laughed a lot watching this film (maybe because I identified with none of the characters and could appreciate the irony of some situations), and I was also surprised by the ending. What had seemed like a boring plot to me still brought me a pleasant experience. Though I wish some of the main character’s actions had been denounced as unhealthy, instead of being shown usual homophobia throughout the film (which is realistic but a few remarks are enough to keep realism in the movie I think…), I appreciate that none of the characters is portrayed as a ~villain~ or a ~good person~. I would also have appreciated more romantic scenes between Emmanuel and Philippe, but the storyline isn’t so much about slash than the struggle of a single homosexual man to become a father. 

For anyone interested in the subject of single and/or homosexual parents and their hurdles, I would recommend this movie. Although the original is in French, I believe portuguese, german, spanish, greek, hungarian, italian, russian and english subtitles are available.

Rec: Blue on Black

Title: Blue on Black
Author: Carole Cummings 
Format: Novel
Published/Free: Published
Length: 380 pages
Status: Complete 
Rating: Mature 
Warnings: non-con (not between main pairing), mind control, violence, slavery through debts
Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25654472-blue-on-black
Summary: Bas is a Directorate Tracker on the trail of Baron Petra Stanslo, a megalomaniac and ruler of a little desert barony on the edge of nowhere. Techs tend to die and disappear around Baron Stanslo, and the latest one is Kimolija Adani–Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy’s ever had the privilege of calling their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor. A dead man Bas has definitely not fallen in love with through his diaries and work.

For almost three years, Bas has tried to find a way into Stanslo’s Bridge, and when he finally makes it, shock is too small a word for what—or, rather, whom—he finds there.

Review: I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I’ve read Cumming’s other works before, specifically her Wolf’s Own series, and though I didn’t mind it, I certainly didn’t love the books. Maybe it’s the subject matter and the genre that caught my attention. It’s a Wild West Punk with psychics, and my god I did not know I needed that in my life until now.  

The romance is slow, and the plot is convoluted, and Cummings does an excellent job of weaving it all together. I love reading about Bas contending with his feelings for Kimo, whatever they might be, while dealing with Stanslo’s particular brand of insanity. Not to mention that everyone seems to have their own agendas, and he’s not sure who to trust. On that note, the secondary characters really stood and I would have loved to read a number of backstories about any of them. Even the most villainous of character were fascinating in their own right, even if sometimes that fascination is laced with disgust. 

I really enjoyed the worldbuild, and how it’s revealed bit by bit, rather than in episodes of massive info dumps. It felt natural, the way the information is given to the readers. Not to mention Bas is a hilarious character in his own head, whose love for being a hero battles constantly with his survival instincts and common sense. 

That said, the story doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the violence either, which might not be to everyone’s taste. And admittedly, the slow start can be a bit of a slog to get through, and Cummings is not kind with explanations but it’s worth it for the story that unfolds. 

Rec: Visioner (The Shifter War Book 2)

Title: Visioner (The Shifter War Book 2)
Author: K K Ness 
Format: Novel
Published/Free: Published ($2.99)
Length: 214 pages 
Status: Ongoing Series 
Rating: Teen 
Warnings: Violence and Death 
Link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077SLKNB2/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
Summary: Sequel to Messenger, Book One of The Shifter War

As the first ever human custodian, Danil is sworn to protect the strange new magic threading across the deadlands. But the armies of Roldaer are stirring, and when an assassin nearly takes his life, Danil sets out to win the aid of the Amasian High Council.

With Hafryn by his side, Danil discovers that allies are rarely what they seem. Intrigue and betrayal haunt their steps, and soon Danil and Hafryn must use all their wits to stay alive. Meanwhile, a fearsome magic that has not been unleashed since the blackest days of the Great War is reawakened. 

Using such magic could see Danil save the deadlands, or destroy it.

Review: I loved this one too! Can’t wait for the next book!

Rec: Messenger (The Shifter War Book 1)

Title: Messenger (The Shifter War Book 1)  
Author: K K Ness 
Format: Novella 
Published/Free: Published ($.99) 
Length: 150 pages 
Status: Ongoing Series 
Rating: Teen 
Warnings: Violence and Death 
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Messenger-Shifter-War-Book-1-ebook/dp/B06XKMH6YK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513694176&sr=1-3&keywords=kk+ness  
Summary: For centuries, the deadlands have separated the kingdoms of Roldaer and Amas, enforcing an uneasy truce. But the deadlands hold their own secrets. 
 
Danil is a deadlands scavenger, his days spent scouring a barren land for ancient battlefield relics and mage-crystals. When the brutal magi of Roldaer take over his village, Danil becomes the key to unleashing a powerful enemy set on plunging both kingdoms into war. 
 
Desperate and on the run, he finds unexpected aid from the Amasian shapeshifters. Among them is Hafryn, an irreverent shifter who fights the magi with sword, tooth and claw. But safety with the shifters cannot last. As the magi set their plans into motion, Danil will have to embark on a terrifying mission to a broken citadel where an ancient enemy awaits. Failure to stop the magi may cost him far more than his life, and Danil discovers that courage and determination may not be enough… 

Review: I loved this! Very well written and left me wanting more! 

Rec: A Game of Wings and Marks

Title: A Game of Wings and Marks
Author: Rebecca Crunden
Format: Standalone novel
Published/Free: Published // Free if you have Kindle Unlimited.
Length: 76K~, 240 pages
Status: Finished
Rating: Mature
Warnings: mentions of past abuse, fight scenes, sex scenes
Link: Amazon // Goodreads
Summary: When Octavia Coal goes to the mountains to clear her head, she doesn’t expect to find an angel in trouble.

He tells her his name is Tamiel and he’s one of the Irin – the army of angels tasked with keeping demons from overwhelming humanity. But Tamiel broke a sacred law – he fell in love with a human – and now he’s being hunted by the same angels he once served.

With nowhere else to go, Octavia and Tamiel – along with Jack, the human in question, and her brother Caleb – appeal directly to Zev, the Demon of Games. A trickster of unparalleled power, Zev gives nothing for free, and the gift he offers Octavia to keep Tamiel alive comes with a confusing catch: He makes her the Healer of Raphael, archangel and Commander of the Irin.

Suddenly a target for both angels and demons, Octavia quickly learns that the only way to survive is to play the game better than they do.

The only problem is, she doesn’t know whose game she’s playing …

Review: This book’s central focus is a m/f pairing, but the m/m pairing are a huge part of the story and are a driving force of most of the plotline. 

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.