The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, is a YA (young adult) historical gay romance with a happy ending. Told in present tense, first person perspective. Monty, a young English Lord, is about to embark on his Grand Tour with his best friend and secret crush, Percy, a mixed race Peer. Along the way, they’re to drop off Percy’s sister, Felicity, at finishing school (no, not that Finishing School). But when Monty, in a fit of pique, steals something from the Duke of Bourbon, it sets off a chain of events that will see the party beset by highwaymen, pirates, and alchemists.
Monty and Percy have always been close but these last few years have seen Monty fall in love with Percy. Monty is a rake extraordinaire, flirting with and often bedding any young woman or man who takes his fancy. But with Percy it’s different. With Percy it’s love. Of course, Monty’s last affair with love saw him thrown out of school and beaten bloody by his father when it became known that his love was another boy. But Percy is worth the risk—if only Percy will realize Monty’s feelings are more than a fling. Continue reading “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue—Worth the Wait”→
Romancing the Werewolf, a novella in the Parasolverse by Gail Carriger, follows the reunion of Biffy—newly minted Alpha of his werewolf pack—and Lyall—who’s been pack Beta for hundreds of years. This is a full-on romance, with a tiny bit of a mystery—who’s leaving infants on the doorstep pack’s new home and why? But mostly it’s Biffy and Lyall navigating their ways to their new relationship.
Note: no explicit sex scenes in this one, that stuff is under the author’s G. L. Carriger name.
Also note: I read this story as part of a limited-edition and out-of-print omnibus collection, Fan Service, but Romancing the Werewolf is available as a stand-alone.
1—A Love Both Old and New
When Lyall returns from twenty years’s service to another pack, so much has changed that now neither he nor Biffy is certain the other still wants him, and neither wants to take advantage of the other. They were lovers once, but under very different circumstances. On BIffy’s part, he’s not certain his new position as leader wouldn’t constitute a breach of ethics. On Lyall’s part, he doesn’t want to complicate Biffy’s life since Biffy is still learning to be a leader. It’s totally in character for both of them, and each’s worries and not wanting to impose on the other feels natural, rather than something contrived keeping them apart at the beginning. And since this is a novella, it’s not too long before they get together. Continue reading “Romancing the Werewolf—Sweet, Fluffy, and Mildly Angsty”→
The Princess Beard, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is the third and final book in the Tales of Pelltrilogy, though it works fine as a stand-alone. The Lady Harkovrita wakes from a magical slumber in a tower to find herself with a beard and a decision—go back to her life to be married off to some jerk, or leave and find an adventure. She chooses the latter, and a new name, Morgan. On her way to becoming a pirate, she’ll become part of the weirdest crew to ever sail the seas, and save a lot of otters from a dastardly conspiracy.
There’s a whole cast of characters in this book, but I’m just going to introduce the main ones. The pirate captain, a talking parrot named Filthy Lucre who also goes by the moniker the Clean Pirate Luc. Tempest, a dryad who wants to become a lawyer before she turns into a carnivorous tree (and my favorite character in this book). Vic, a centaur misogynistic swole boy who can conjure tea and pastry and who, by the end of the book, I actually didn’t hate anymore (personal growth and all that). AndAlobartalus, an un-elfly elf who just wants to get away from the other elves and meet his hero, the Sn’archivist. All of these people, with the possible exception of Captain Luc, are trying to avoid their destinies and all of them must face said destinies head-on. Continue reading “The Princess Beard—Pirates, Parrots, and Otters”→
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, by Alexis Hall, is a mashup and mixup of Sherlock Holmes fiction and Weird fiction. The reserved expatriate ex-solider John Wyndham takes rooms with the profligate sorceress Shaharazad Haas. Shortly thereafter, one of Ms. Haas’s former lovers comes to her demanding Shaharazad find out who’s blackmailing her.
Told in the first person as the reminiscences of John Wyndham, this is the tale of his and Shaharazad’s first adventures together. Miss Eirene Viola comes to Shaharazad believing it to be she who’s sending Eirene notes threatening to expose her past to her fiancé, Miss Cora Beck, thus ending their engagement. When convinced Shharazad has nothing to do with it, Eirene plies her former lover to help. Mostly out of boredom, Shaharazad agrees. Thus does John find himself dragged all over the city of Khelathra-Ven and beyond. Continue reading “The Affair of the Mysterious Letter—Mysterious and Weird, As it Should Be”→
Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is a gothic horror novel from 1897, told in epistolary format—that is, as a series of journals, telegrams, letters, and newspaper clippings, etc. It’s the tale of those cursed to have a vampire come after them. It starts with the journal of Jonathan Harker, sent by his employer to the wilds of Eastern Europe to help Count Dracula with legal matters in purchasing property in London, England. Things go spectacularly wrong from there.
The first coincidence is that Dracula’s ship crashes into the beach of the town where Jonathan’s fiancé Mina is staying, along with her friend Lucy. The next coincidence is that all Lucy’s would-be fiancés are friends. The chosen fiancé Arthur Holmwood asks Dr. John Seward (I know, Jonathan and John, but it’s not too hard to keep them separate) to look in on a sick Lucy. Seward, not being a medical doctor himself, calls on his old mentor. Seward just happens to have been the favorite student of doctor and metaphysisist Professor Abraham van Helsing, who just so happens to have the knowledge of—and an open enough mind to believe in—vampires. And the initial property Dracula bought, the dilapidated Carfax Abbey, just happens to be behind the sanitarium Seward runs. Also, Seward just happens to take a special interest in a zoophagous patient, Renfield, who just happens to have a connection to Dracula. And all this in the first third of the book. Continue reading “Dracula—the Book—A Slow Start but Worth the Effort”→
Reticence is the last in the CustardProtocol series by Gail Carriger. A supernatural Steampunk romantic romp about the world, told with all the wit and humor characteristic of Ms. Carriger’s works. The Spotted Custard has hired a lady doctor, in light of all the scuffles the crew gets into, and in light of its lady captain’s delicate condition. Said doctor, a young woman named Arsenic, immediately catches the attention of Percy, the airship’s navigator and resident curmudgeon. Of course, before Percy can figure out how to flirt, the ship is immediately off on another adventure.
Percy hates adventure and yet, as a member of the crew of the Spotted Custard, finds himself frequently a party to them. First there’s captain and friend Rue’s wedding to inventor and engineer—and Percy’s intellectual rival—Quesnel. Then off to Egypt to visit Rue’s mother and paw (her other father, Lord Akeldama, walked her down the aisle but due to various complicated reason, Rue’s two other parents couldn’t be there in person), where Rue’s mother has an assignment for them—find out what’s up with the fox-shifters in Japan. So off to the floating Paper City of Edo it is. Continue reading “Reticence—Percy In Love”→
The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! is a graphic novel by Clint McElroy, Griffen McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and artist Carey Pietsch, based on the Dungeons and Dragons podcast The Adventure Zone by the McElroy boys. It continues the adventures of Magnus, Merle, and Taako from the first graphic novel adaptation, Here There Be Gerblins.
1—The Continuing Plot
In this outing, we find out the mission of the Bureau of Balance. But before the boys can settle into their new life, they’re called on for a new mission, to the city of Rockport where a BoB agent had found an artifact but was killed before he could return it to the Bureau. So Magnus, Merle, and Taako are tasked with getting to the train the dead BoB agent had hidden the artifact on and getting it before anyone else discovers its existence. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and the boys end up on the train, with a small cast of suspects and (later) some monsters to deal with. Continue reading “The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!—The Adventures Continue”→
No Country for Old Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is continuing the Tales of Pell from the first book, Kill the Farmboy. In this book, we follow another group of not-exactly adventurers, this time on a quest to save the Skyr and the gnomes that are being blown up.
1—A New Set of Heroes
It takes a while to gather our heroes and set up the story, but between the puns, the umlauts, and the firebombs, it’s never dull. We begin with Onni and Offi, twin gnome brothers who couldn’t be more different, as their home comes under attack by smelly halflings. We shortly thereafter meet Kirsi, a young gnome woman who’s spent her life hiding the fact that she’s a bristle witch who can only curse people—not very gnomeric. They start out just wanting to get to a refugee shelter alive. Continue reading “No Country for Old Gnomes—Unexpected Friends”→
The Devil You Know, by Mike Carey, follows the first-person perspective adventures of exorcist Felix Castor. Felix—Fix to his friends—hasn’t been doing his job lately. After a botched exorcism on his best friend Rafi leaves Rafi intertwined with a demon, Fix looses the will to do what he was born to do. But when his dear friend and landlady Pen needs some rent money badly, Fix reluctantly takes on a job—a job that turns out to be much more than a simple ghost.
The worldbuilding is done well, woven into the narrative, never too much at once but always building your understanding of the world Fix inhabits. The dead have risen in sufficient numbers that people can’t just ignore them anymore so there’s plenty of work for the few people with the talent to be exorcists. Besides your garden variety ghosts, there’s zombies—where a dead person re-inhabits their dead body—and loup-garou—where a ghost inhabits an animal and reshapes its flesh into their lost human image. Continue reading “The Devil You Know—Ghosts, Demons, and the Exorcist Caught in the Middle”→
Deadpool 2 is a little hard to describe succinctly. Wade Wilson, Deadpool, is a super non-hero who finds himself suicidal after the death of the love of his life, but due to his mutant healing ability, he can’t die. The movie is funnier than it sounds. Also, like its predecessor, NOT for kids. Graphic violence and sex jokes abound.
1—They Kill Vanessa, Goddamnit
I liked Vanessa, she was well developed and fun. Even the beginning credits call out how cruel it was to kill her just as she and Wade were about to start a family. That doesn’t mean she’s absent from the movie—Wade keeps seeing her as he almost dies—but I still miss her. Continue reading “Deadpool 2—Family and Lots of Death”→