Adrift in Starlight (Mindi Briar)

Adrift in Starlight is the first novel in the Halcyon Universe series by Mindi Briar.
Finished on: 18.6.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give away.]

Content Note: (for this review) misgendering, acemisia, eugenics; for the novel you can find CNs in the book.

Plot:
Tai is a courtesan, and they are very good at their job. That’s why they get hired by actor Xander Bose. Only he doesn’t want to hire them for himself, but for his fiancé Aisha who he feels needs a bit of loosening up. With the money Xander offers, Tai just can’t afford to say no. But they soon realize that Aisha – a career-focused historian with a touch aversion – may not be easily seduced. When Tai comes to the museum opening of the exhibition on insectoid aliens that Aisha curated, things take a very unexpected turn for both of them, though.

I really enjoyed Adrift in Starlight. It’s a quick, sweet queer romance in space that gives us a nice ending for Aisha and Tai, while hinting that there is more to come in this world. Absolutely lovely.

The book cover showing a femme blond person reaching for a Black woman in front of a pink planet.
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Time of Contempt (Andrzej Sapkowski)

Time of Contempt is the second novel in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read the English translation by David French (not the playwright).
Finished on: 29.4.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: sexualized assault/rape

Plot:
War is brewing, and Ciri is an important factor in it, by her existence alone. While Geralt is trying to figure out who sent Rience after them, Yennefer is taking Ciri to the Aretuza School of Magic on the Thanedd Island. Not only is she hoping that Ciri will be safely hidden at the school, but there is also a big conclave of sorcerers planned there that Yennefer wants to attend. But things are complicated indeed, and Ciri isn’t even sure she wants to go to school there. She’d rather catch up with Geralt.

Time of Contempt deepens the political intrigue, but also the old-white-manliness of the series that seems to get worse with each book. It’s still an entertaining read, but it makes me question the series a little (more).

The book cover showing a silver cirlce on a purple background. Within the silver circle is the silhouette of a wolf and in that silhouette we can see a tower and a large bird of prey circling it.
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Restrained Desires (Katherine McIntyre)

Restrained Desires is the third novel in the Rehoboth Pact series by Katherine McIntyre.
Finished on: 17.4.2022
[I won this book in thr LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, fatmisia

Plot:
After years of her mother chipping away at her self-esteem, Kyle is convinced that she will never find the woman who is right for her, who will find her attractive. Even despite her best friend Aubrey’s attempt to be her wing-person. The only person Aubrey would never try to set her up with? Her little sister Chelsea, straight, freshly divorced and out to have a good time, now that she’s free again. But that doesn’t keep Kyle from finding her gorgeous. When Kyle confides in Chelsea that she has announced to her family that she will bring home a girlfriend, Chelsea offers to accompany her. And when Chelsea mentions that she would like to explore her kinky side, Kyle is there to go to the BDSM club with her. As the two start to spend more and more time together, they become closer. But could they actually work as a couple?

Restrained Desires is a sweet romance that reads quickly. I expected it to be a bit more sex-driven and kinky than it is, but I can’t say I minded that it concentrated on the fake dating trope, definitely a personal favorite. In short, I really enjoyed it.

The book cover showing a woman hugging another from behind, both smiling.
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Black Canary: Breaking Silence (Alexandra Monir)

Black Canary: Breaking Silence is a novel by Alexandra Monir. It is part of the DC Icons novels.
Finished on: 16.4.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other DC Icons novels.]

Content Note: cissexism/gender plague

Plot:
Dinah Lance lives in Gotham City under the rule of the Owl Council who have made sure that the women in Gotham City don’t have a voice – figuratively, but also literally: singing is outlawed for women, and has been made physically impossible, much to Dinah’s chagrin. She dreams of singing, and of the one time she is sure she remembers hearing a girl sing when she was a child. When she and her friends Ty and Mandy try to find out more about the female singers of the past, Dinah gets in deep trouble though, drawing the attention of the Owl Council, with worse consequences only avoided through the intervention of her cop father Larry. Dinah should be keeping her head down under the circumstances, but with an old friend of her dead mother, Barbara Gordon, making an appearance, and new and very cute student Oliver Queen arriving at her school, Dinah can’t help but continue to question the way things are. And maybe she can find her voice after all.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence takes a very different approach from the other novels in the DC Icons series so far, setting its story decades in the future in an dystopian version of Gotham. While that’s interesting, a lot of it seems a little half-baked and not quite thought through, making it a little disappointing despite its obvious(ly) feminist mission.

The book cover showing a drawn blond girl with bandages across her mouth, a black canary on the shoulder of her torn leather jacket.
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The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

The Song of Achilles is the first novel by Madeline Miller. It’s a retelling of Homer‘s Iliad.
Finished on: 8.4.2022

Content Note: ableism, rape

Plot:
Patroclus is nothing like his father King Menoetius hoped, and after he accidentally kills a boy, he is exiled to Phthia, to the court of King Peleus. Peleus’ son Achilles is the star there, admired by everyone. Patroclus, on the other hand, quickly finds himself an outsider there as well. But when he catches Achilles’ attention, it’s the beginning of a love that will last a lifetime, and longer.

The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written book that finally gives Achilles and Patroclus their queer due. I absolutely enjoyed reading it.

The book cover showing a bow and arrow arranged in the shape of a heart.
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Re-Read: Fire (Kristin Cashore)

Fire is the second of the Graceling Realm novels by Kristin Cashore. It is both a prequel to and a spoiler for Graceling.
Finished on: 25.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of the Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: ableism, animal abuse, rape (mentioned)

Plot:
In the Dells, there are monsters: Animals that look quite normal, except that they are brightly colored and with the power to control the minds of others. Monsters are carnivores with a special hunger for monster meat. Fire is the last of the human monsters. She’s impossibly beautiful, has bright red hair and is jealously guarded by her childhood friend and lover Archer. Fire would have probably enough on her plate just by being herself – alternately admired and feared by everyone around her and struggling with the memories of a father who used his monsterness for cruelty – but she gets caught up in the young king’s struggle for the throne and has to worry about assassins with weirdly clouded minds.

It’s been a while that I read Fire, and much like with Graceling, I’m very happy that the book still holds up. I really loved returning to this novel as well.

The book cover showing a red-haired woman in a red dress with a bow and arrow in front of a dramatic sky.
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Talk Sweetly to Me (Courtney Milan)

Talk Sweetly is the final installment (in the form of an additional novella) in the Brothers Sinister Series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 16.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: (critical treamtent of) racism/misogynoir

Plot:
Rose Sweetly works as a computer at the astronomy department. She is happy when she gets to do math, especially in the field of astronomy, though very few people around her understand that passion. Stephen Shaughnessy is a satirical columnist for a feminist newspaper where he dispenses the wisdom only an Actual Man can share. He also lives next door to Rose and is utterly enchanted by her and her science rants. So much so that he hires her to tutor him in math. And if something more should develop, even better.

Talk Sweetly to Me was a really nice addition to the series, one that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. It combines political issues with a very nice romance in a very balanced way that I very much enjoyed.

The book cover showing a Black woman in a pink dress smiling softly.
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A Prisoner to Spring (Brigid Collins)

A Prisoner to Spring is the first book in the Winter’s Consort series by Brigid Collins.
Finished on: 15.3.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
After Chelsea got left at the altar, she swore that she would never put on a wedding dress ever again. But when her best friend Jennifer gets married and asks Chelsea to wear a wedding dress the night before – an old family tradition meant to confuse fairies who might be looking to steal the bride – Chelsea agrees to it. What could be the harm after all? Well, much to Chelsea’s surprise an actually fairy does show up and whisks her away to the Winter Queen’s court to get married. The Winter Queen is the most gorgeous person Chelsea has ever seen, but Chelsea still doesn’t want to get married. But dealing with a fairy is tricky business and Chelsea has to be very careful how to proceed.

A Prisoner to Spring is a nice, queer fairy tale (in the literal sense). It’s got a nice premise that it executes well. While I wouldn’t go so far to say that it is sensational, I really enjoyed it and I definitely want more queer/sapphic fairies in my life.

The book cover showing a woman with flowing black hair among ice-covered twigs and flowers.
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Real Life (Brandon Taylor)

Real Life is the first novel by Brandon Taylor.
Finished on: 13.3.2022

Content Note: child sexual abuse, sexualized violence, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Wallace works on his doctorate in Chemistry at a small Midwestern university. His life is spent mostly in the lab, with occasional meet-ups with his friends, most of whom are also pre-docs in Chemistry. Wallace, being the only Black person in the lab, coming from a poor background and being one of the few queer people at university, doesn’t feel like he belongs, but so far he has muddled through. But over the course of one weekend, the balance he has found in his life shifts considerably, though.

I expected Real Life to not be a happy book, but I didn’t quite anticipate just how heavy it would be (content notes in the book would have been nice). That being said, it is a sign of how well-structured and well-written it is to make you feel this weight. And it is certainly worth subjecting yourself to it.

The book cover showing black boxes on a red background, vaguely reminiscent of lab results. On top of one of the boxes is a sparrow.
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No Filter and Other Lies (Crystal Maldonado)

No Filter and Other Lies is the second novel by Crystal Maldonado.
Finished on: 4.3.2022

Plot:
Kat loves photography, and she has carefully curated her instagram to show the best of her photos. Nevertheless, her follower count remains low – much lower than her best friends’, Hari, Marcus and Luis. She suspects this might have to do with the fact that she is fat and Brown. After a fight with Hari, with whom she has been making out despite the naggling suspicion that he likes her more than she him, Kat makes a bad decision: she takes the photos of her friend Becca who is blond, thin, beautiful and not on social media and creates a fake account with them. Kat starts regretting it pretty immediately but when the account keeps raking in likes and this really cute girl, Elena, starts messaging the fake profile, Kat can’t quite give it up.

No Filter and Other Lies is cute and has a queer, fat Latina as the protagonist which is something I am completely here for. And yet, it didn’t quite make me happy.

The book cover showing a drawing of a fat Latina with a camera. Behind her a snapshots of a fat girl with pink hair, a blond girl, and a Brown guy.
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