YA Recommendations hosted on Women and Words

The other day – Tuesday really – I was approached by Jove Belle over at Women and Words to for a blog post on young adult fiction for middle school age girls coming out.

Now, I’ve read a lot of LGBT fiction, but it’s actually hard to find age appropriate lesbian fiction for middle school! I mean, there are tons of books out there, but so many have mature themes that not all readers are ready for.

But, thankfully I do have some books that fit the bill, and I was happy to provide a short list of six books for the website. And now I’m on the hunt for more books! I’d love to do a follow up guest blog!

You can read my recommendations over at Women and Words.

Book Review: Slash and Burn by Valerie Bronwen

The Angels and Demons Literary Weekend brings former New Orleans resident Winter Lovelace back to town from her gig as writer-in-residence at a prestigious women’s college in upstate New York. Winter desperately needs a break from the book she is struggling to finish, and hopes that this weekend will inspire her and trigger her creativity.

 But while waiting for a friend in a hotel courtyard, a body lands at her feet, and Winter is dragged into a baffling mystery quite against her will. The victim is a notorious “m/m romance” author who is also a homophobe, and the list of people who wanted her dead is quite extensive. Winter herself is considered a suspect! 

 To make matters worse, Winter’s ex shows up to cover the story for a local news station…an ex Winter had hoped she’d never see again.

Move over Stephanie Plum! (Okay, I probably shouldn’t say that as I’ve never read a Janet Evanovich book, but whatever, still move over) There’s a new detective (sort of, accidentally) in town! In this first novel by Valerie Bronwen, Tracy Norris comes to life on the page as a teacher and mystery writer of a best-selling series about Laura Lassiter. She’s also a best-selling lesbian romance author on the side under the penname Winter Lovelace. When she goes to New Orleans for a writing convention, little does she know she’s about to have a body land at her feet. Literally.

I loved this story. I wish there was another one right now because I wouldn’t even be writing this review now, I’d just immediately dig into it. Tracy is an unforgettable narrator with a sharp sense of humor. I found myself quite frequently either laughing or biting my lip from being too loud. I may have even snorted a few times.

Anyone who has ever been deeply involved in a fandom needs to read this book. There’s always that ONE PERSON who thinks they are the god of that world, and in this book you have Antinous Renault. From the first page I wanted to punch her face, and reading more about her just made me think of all the people I’d encountered in my various fandoms over the years.

Who needs to read this book? Quite frankly, everyone. Like mystery? Read it. Like reading about authors and their struggles? Read it. Like lesbian authors? Read it. Like m/m romance? Read it. Have no idea how crazy some writers can be? Read it. Ever in a fandom with the BNF that everyone loathed? Read it.

I can’t wait for the next Valerie Bronwen book. You can bet it will be preordered the minute there is a release date!

This book can be ordered from Bold Stokes Books right here.

Book Review: Sometime Yesterday by Yvonne Heidt

About the book: Successful artist Natalie Chambers impulsively buys a Victorian house  overlooking the Pacific Ocean after her divorce. Immediately, her dreams  are haunted by Sarah and Beth, two lovers from the past and the Dark  Man who controlled their lives. When she begins to look for explanations  for the things going bump in the night, the only answer she can get  from the locals is that several previous owners had fled screaming into  the night.

Landscaper Van Easton hasn’t had a serious  relationship since her partner died. Content to let women and alcohol  distract her from her pain, she is surprised at the intensity of emotion  that bubbles to the surface after she meets Natalie. Contracted to  restore the gardens at Natalie’s house, she refuses to believe that the  mansion is haunted. Until the ghostly Dark Man follows her home.

It  appears he will stop at nothing to keep the new lovers apart, and the  violence continues to escalate. Can they solve the mystery that will set  Beth and Sarah free and banish the evil presence in the house? Or will  the evil echoes of the past destroy them as well?

This book has quite the emotional ride and a lot of twists and turns to satisfy just about all readers. It’s a mystery just as much as it is paranormal and horror. I really enjoyed all of the characters, from the two main women – Natalie and Van – to Mary, Natalie’s mother (ESPECIALLY her mother), and Van’s father.

Though the love blossoming between Natalie and Van is beautiful, it is not without its hitches, and I liked that about it. There were moments when I wanted to smack Van upside the head for jumping to conclusions. Likewise, I wanted to do the same to Natalie sometimes! Without the paranormal elements, the story and romance was very believable. I could feel the desire between the women through the pages of the book.

With the paranormal elements, it’s a fantastic read. I was on the edge of my seat, especially towards the end, when the haunting starts to escalate. And when the “key” and other secrets are revealed a literally gasped, “Oh, shit!” because I did not see them coming! I don’t want to say to much because I want readers to have the same reaction.

As a final note, though he is a minor character, I loved Van’s grandfather. It saddened me that he has Alzheimer’s, but his way of describing it moved me to tears and I had to pause. It really puts the disease in another perspective if you think of it as your loved one visiting moments in life that they loved so much they wanted to visit them twice.

You can purchase Sometime Yesterday by Yvonne Heidt from Bold Strokes Books or Amazon.

Book Review: The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Ann Wright

I hope you have some time to read, because you’re not going to want to put this one down.

About the book: To most, Princess Katya Nar Umbriel is a rogue and a layabout; she parties, she hunts and she breaks women’s hearts. But when the festival lights go down and the palace slumbers, Katya chases traitors to the crown and protects the kingdom’s greatest secret: the royal Umbriels are part Fiend. When Katya thwarts an attempt to expose the king’s monstrous side, she uncovers a plot to let the Fiends out to play.
Starbride has no interest in being a courtier. Ignoring her mother’s order to snare an influential spouse, she comes to court only to study law. But a flirtatious rake of a princess proves hard to resist, and Starbride is pulled into a world of secrets that leaves little room for honesty or love, a world neither woman may survive.

I can only say that this book was incredible. The characters were complex and well-written. The dialogue was fantastic and often humorous. Each character brought something new to the book and was very distinct. Not a single one felt forced or unreal to me. By the end of the book I was so caught up in their world that I found myself wish I lived in it.

It’s not just the main characters, Katya and Starbride, that are well-written, though. Each secondary character became larger than life and had a huge stake in the book as well. I could easily see each one having his or her own book because I wanted to know that much more about them.

Wright creates an interesting world where magic is harnessed through pyramids, and Fiends lie sleeping just below the kingdom, controlled only by the humans in charge. In this world, love knows no bounds, be it gender or ethnicity. Starbride is from Allusia, another country, and it is visible in her looks. While some of the other courtiers scorn her, she does find some friends. And, of course, the Princess.

I loved Brother Brutal. I want to know more about his chapterhouse and how he seeks enlightenment through fighting. And Pennynail is such an intriguing character! Communicating only through gestures, he does not talk, and it seems the only person who knows his true identity is Crowe. It makes me wonder just who or what Pennynail is. I also have to admit a fondness for Lord Hugo and Countess Nadia.

If you enjoy fantasy with romantic elements, this is one book you will not want to miss out on. Finding the identity of the true enemy will leave you guessing until the last page. Wright weaves together a wonderful tale full of peril, intrigue, romance, and magic.

This book will be released on September 18, 2012. You can preorder the book from Bold Strokes Books or Amazon.