Order one book at a time through the library? Please. My latest binge of books has come in.
- The Mirador by Sarah Monette (The Corambis is actually mine from an earlier library book sale) – one of the more unusual fantasy series I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t call it gay fantasy, but one of the protagonists is gay.
- The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg – historical fantasy
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – a new historical fantasy title from the author of Vicious, an amazing superhero novel told by the perspective of the villain.
- Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell – Napoleonic War historical fiction
Can you guess what genre I want to write next based on this?
Lyn Gala’s Claimings series is one of my go-to comfort reads. Perhaps that’s not surprising, since it’s a hurt/comfort (in space). Lyn wrote the first after her online journal group discussion debated upon the differences between desirable Doms in reality and fantasy, and she pondered upon the traits of the perfect Dom. Someone who not only controls, but comforts and strengthens their sub.
Three weeks ago, I really needed a comfort read, and so I went straight to this story. Hiding away from the world, and running away from my own toxic thoughts, I flew through Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts in four hours. Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities followed less than twenty-four hours later. Checking them off on Goodreads, I glanced down at the Other Books in the Series section — and found two other books available for a whole 6 months! (How have I been so remiss???)
In this third installment, Ondry and Liam arrive on earth as part of the first Rownt ship to negotiate the first trade in human-owned territory. I particularly loved the new direction Liam needed to grow, learning that he tends to over-emphasize the bad and forget the good. (A lesson we should all learn.)
Since then, I’ve returned to the world at large, and I’m thankful for the Claimings series for nurturing the hope and comfort in me, and helping me gain the space I needed.
If Lyn Gala published anymore Claimings books, I’d happily pick them up.
My KJ Charles binge continued with Think of England. Or rather, concurrently. I’m a wuss when it comes to ghost hauntings, so I knew if I tried to read The Secret Casebook right before bed, I’d end up huddled under the covers, staring into the dark, imagining all kinds of sounds and movement, before lunging for my nightstand lamp when fear finally overtook me.
Think of England takes us to a new moneyed country estate in 1904, where the Armstrongs have invited ex-military officer Archie Curtis to their country party. Curtis lost his comrade and half his hand when their division’s delivered weapons blew up in their hands. The weapons’ manufacturer swore it was sabotage by their rival, Sir Hubert Armstrong, but the government refused to listen to him. Now Curtis attends the party to uncover the truth. But when Curtis sneaks into Sir Hubert’s files only to find the effete Daniel da Silver on the same mission, he discovers the plot is far bigger than he’d ever considered.
As I’ve come to expect from KJ Charles, her characters come from diverse sets not commonly encountered, this time a military officer discharged from duty due to losing half his gun hand, and an aesthete poet cum spy who suffers from the double whammy of racism from being of Portuguese descent and a Jew. (Three, if you count that he’s technically working class, but with the air and styling of a gentleman.)
The protagonist’s ingrained homophobia toward da Silva shocked me in the beginning, as in all her other books, her characters know their own attractions and have accepted them. But KJ masterfully grew Curtis from this knee-jerk disdain to understanding his strengths and accepting those eccentricities to fall utterly in love. Even when da Silva points out their class differences. (So stick with it, and she will reward you.)
Think of England is not paranormal, but classic historical. Go read it now.
After finishing A Seditious Affair, I craved more KJ Charles. Having already devoured her Charm of Magpies series, I binged on her other two novels, including this gem of short stories: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal.
Part of the fun of Sherlock Holmes is in the queer readings. Are they only bosom buddies? Are they more? (Or, like in BBC Sherlock, is Sherlock really asexual?) Fanfic writers played with this, and Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb includes a chapter examining Sherlock and other possible queer detectives in the 19th century, and if their sexuality made them better investigators.
The Secret Casebooks removes this question entirely with its prime detective Simon Feximal and former journalist Robert Caldwall. These short stories (written in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle manner) progress from their first encounter in the haunting of Robert’s derelict house, to the strangulation of his journalistic career, to him becoming Simon’s assistant, and their deepening relationship.
Oh, and did I mention that instead of murder, these two Victorian detectives investigate supernatural hauntings?
If you loved the Charm of Magpies series and Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series, or are a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, then you’ll love this book too. I will warn you, though, the ending did make my eyes mist. Go read it now.
Just for fun, since I’m learning the violin, here’s violinist Taryn Harbridge performs BBC Sherlock theme music medley: