• Reviews

    Review: To Summon Nightmares by J.K. Pendragon (2014)

    “With the last sound, his mouth became unstopped like a bottle, and it was as if all sound hissed from the room. The candles blew out, the darkness expanded to envelop all. And then the darkness receded. The candles flickered back to light, and the sound came back into the room.

    In the middle of the circle stood a man.”

    To Summon Nightmares, J.K. Pendragon

    Rating: ★★★½
    Genre: Paranormal, contemporary, romance
    Categories: M/M, trans, demons

    Content Warnings (highlight to read): Transphobia. Graphic descriptions of dysphoria, self-harm attempts. References to torture, child abuse.

    Description: A gothic-horror contemporary story set in rural Ireland. Cohen, a Jewish trans writer, finds himself unexpectedly involved in the life of Niall—a gorgeous man suspected of murder, on the run from a haunting past involving demon summoning, and possessing incredible magic powers. There’s a secret organization and a very unpleasant ex-boyfriend involved. And all Cohen wanted was a quiet place to write…

    “When he inherits an old house in the country, Cohen sees it as a perfect opportunity to escape the press and work on his new book. What he doesn’t count on is becoming embroiled in a small town murder mystery and falling for the primary suspect, a man whose reality makes Cohen’s fantasy books seem like child’s play…”

  • Reviews

    Review: To Summon Nightmares

    5/5 stars. Buy at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Less Than Three Press (Ebook) (Print)

    To Summon Nightmares by J.K. Pendragon was pretty much everything I wanted to read when I started it a few days ago and then it just kept right on being everything I wanted at all times. I came home and rambled about it excitedly to my wife every evening (and, sometimes, texted her on my lunch break too). 

    It’s a paranormal story: Two boys, Jacky and Niall, are lovers. Still teenagers, they struggle with how to deal with Jacky’s abusive father and ultimately decide the best option is to summon a demon. Needless to say, the situation gets more than out of hand. Some years and a point of view shift later, we meet Cohen Brandwein, a popular author and internet vlog celebrity, who is moving to his aunt’s old house in a countryside town to try to get away from the stress of the media’s negative reaction to his coming out as trans. Little does he realize that he’s walking right into the middle of a horrifying set of serial murders, nor that the prime suspect is a hunky, self-admitted witch named Niall…

    I loved both Niall and Cohen. Niall’s bravery and determination to do the right thing while agonizing over his sense of responsibility and lingering love is very tangible, but he’s kept from being a tortured love interest by both his sort of strange sense of being slightly off after everything that happened and also his blushing excitability (I was completely charmed by his being one of Cohen’s fans and trying to play off how starstruck he was). And Cohen was a delight as a point of view character. He was the perfect mix of reasonable but not gullible, clever and understandably dubious, risk-taking but with clear limits. He came to life in so many little ways—his decision to walk into town to get gas for his new car, and ending up sweaty and wheezing and Regretting yet still committed to this mission because dammit he started it was just. I feel you, dude, I feel you. It was a delight to get to read about him navigating through a mix of dealing with his family, his new neighbours, a new crush and, you know, horrible murders. And he and Niall were really sweet together.

    Add to that a deeply enjoyable plot with a complex entanglement of risks and sacrifices all woven together with a really strong narrative voice, and Pendragon sold me not only on this but on picking up everything else of theirs. The only thing I found an odd choice (and even then, didn’t dislike, and it certainly doesn’t impact my rating) was having a complete point of view switch. I found myself wanting to get back into Niall’s head more, having already been there once, to get the full picture from both sides. That said, I still loved everything we got.

    It’s been a few years since Pendragon wrote this, but I sincerely hope they do a sequel someday, because I will read it in a heartbeat. I want to see how Niall adjusts to his own [spoiler], and, of course, how Cohen reacts to [much bigger spoiler]. Because damn, that ending!

  • Reviews

    Review: An Offering of Plums by J. Emery (2018)

    Rating: ★★★★★
    Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
    Categories: M/NB, demons
    Content Warnings: N/A
    Buy it at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Description: When Tristan follows his boyfriend Mathias to Guardian Hill, he doesn’t expect to be made a sacrifice to the demon that dwells there. He certainly doesn’t expect to survive the experience with the demon’s help, but the fact that he does keeps drawing him back to that hill…

  • aveline’s reviews

    reviews | my to-read list | review policy

    Below you’ll find a list of reviews & recs from Aveline Reynard, specifically queer speculative fiction: in other words, books that have some kind of science fiction & fantasy element and prominently feature LGBTQIA+ characters. Occasionally I’ll read slightly outside of this, but that’s the vast majority of what I’m interested in reading. 

    Check out my review policy for answers to questions like: How do I score my reviews? What do I warn for/how do I tag reviews? What do I particularly like or dislike? How do authors submit a book for me to review?

    For book suggestions, please feel free to DM or mention me on Twitter! If you want to see if the book’s on my radar already, click here for my to-read list.


    Please note that this is a work-in-progress! Some books I’ve read and rated but haven’t cleaned up a full review for the site; others should be coming soon. Review are organized first by Rating, then by Title.

    Title Author Rating
    Peter Darling Austin Chant ★★★★★
    Swordspoint Ellen Kushner ★★★★★
    A Charm of Magpies (series) K.J. Charles ★★★★½
    Kirith Kirin Jim Grimsley ★★★★½
    Spellbound Allie Therin ★★★★½
    The Raven Cycle (series) Maggie Stiefvater ★★★★
    This Is How You Lose The Time War Max Gladstone ★★★★
    Darkling Brooklyn Ray ★★★½
    Junk Mage Elliot Cooper ★★★½
    Timekeeper Tara Sim ★★★½
    To Summon Nightmares J.K. Pendragon ★★★½
    Willful Machines Tim Floreen ★★★
    The Bone Key Sarah Monette ★★★★★
    Captive Prince (series) C.S. Pacat ★★★★★
    Caroline’s Heart Austin Chant ★★★★★
    Champion of the Scarlet Wolf (series) Ginn Hale ★★★★★
    Doctrine of Labyrinths (series) Sarah Monette ★★★★½
    The Fire’s Stone Tanya Huff ★★★★½
    Hexbreaker Jordan L. Hawk ★★★★½
    Privilege of the Sword Ellen Kushner ★★★★½
    Six of Crows (series) Leigh Bardugo ★★★★½
    The Foxhole Court/All For The Game (series) Nora Sakavic ★★★★
    The Last Herald-Mage (series)
    Mercedes Lackey ★★★★
    Lord of the White Hell (series) Ginn Hale ★★★★
  • meredith’s reviews

    Unless mentioned in that review, all the reviews I write are for books with queer content. Regarding the rating range below, I usually review books I consider 3 star or above (I tend to DNF books I’m not enjoying in some way and am less likely to review ones I don’t enjoy). 

    Title Author Rating
    Young Avengers (2014) Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie ★★★★★
    Young Avengers: The Children’s Crusade (2011) Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung ★★★★
    Young Avengers: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 (2006) Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung ★★★★
    The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1) K.J. Charles ★★★★★
    Once Upon a Haunted Moor (Tyack and Frayne Mysteries #1) Harper Fox ★★★★
    Here There Be Gerblins (The Adventure Zone #1) The McElroy family & Carey Pietsch ★★★★
    Beyond the Pale (The Last Rune #1) Mark Anthony ★★
    An Offering of Plums J. Emery ★★★★★
    Stormhaven (Whyborne & Griffin #3) Jordan L. Hawk ★★★★★
    Possibilities (A King’s Council #1) Nicole Field ★★★½
    Anchor Points (Hawkeye: Kate Bishop #1) Kelly Thompson ★★★½
    The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain #1) Margaret Killjoy ★★★★
    Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin #2) Jordan L. Hawk ★★★★½
    The Goblin Emperor Katherine Addison ★★★★★
    Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin #1) Jordan L. Hawk ★★★¾
    Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Creekwood #1) Becky Albertalli ★★★★½
    Peter Darling Austin Chant ★★★★★
    The Merro Tree Katie Waitman ★★★★★
    To Summon Nightmares J.K. Pendragon ★★★★★
    Letters for Lucardo Otava Heikkilä ★★★★★
    Hexbreaker (Hexworld #1) Jordan L. Hawk ★★★★★
    Long Macchiatos and Monsters Alison Evans ★★★★½
    The Bone Key Sarah Monette ★★★★★
    A Tree of Bones (Hexslinger #3) Gemma Files ★★★★★
    A Rope of Thorns (Hexslinger #2) Gemma Files ★★★★½
    A Book of Tongues (Hexslinger #1) Gemma Files ★★★★
    A Distant Soil – The Gathering Colleen Doran ★★★★
    Style Chelsea Cameron ★★★★
    Ash Malinda Lo ★★★★½
    The Manny Files Christian Burch ★★★★★
    The Second Mango (Mangoverse #1) Shira Glassman ★★★★½
    Glitterland (Spires #1) Alexis Hall ★★★★★
    The Unintentional Time Traveler Everett Maroon ★★★★



    A list of works I’d recommend, but which I haven’t written a full review for 

    Ravenhearth by Lotus Oakes (Fantasy/Romance)
    In a world covered in a deadly miasma, humans survive under the protection of the Keepers, powerful and mysterious mages. In Ash’s village, one person is selected every 10 years to go to the castle of Ravenhearth and become the Keeper’s companion. Ash, a young orphan who dreams of learning magic, chooses this fate for himself, but his heart soon grows conflicted when he meets Giles, Ravenhearth’s butler…
    My comment: I was lucky enough to get to pre-read this one, and I adored it! Ash is a really delightful point of view character, and I loved the chemistry and tension in the developing romance. The cast as a whole is really solid, and I ended up falling in love with a bunch of side characters along the way.

    Simon’s Cat by Lotus Oakes (Fantasy/Romance)
    When Simon’s father dies, he leaves his oldest brother the business, his middle brother the house, and Simon, the youngest, his beloved Pet, Cat. While his brothers quarrel about what to do with the remains of their father’s estate, all Simon wants is for his family to go back to the way it was. He’s sure money will help. And clever Cat has an idea of how to get it.
    My comment: A delightful retelling of Puss in Boots in a fantasy/futuristic setting. I LOVED Cat as a character, and I thought Simon was a sweetheart. It’s full of action, adventure, and trickery.

    Feast for a King by Kosmic (Sci-fi/horror webcomic)
    This world has gone terribly wrong. Worms—monsters who take many forms, but at their core are wriggling horrors—have taken over and humans are at risk, though fighting back. To the amnesiac human who wakes in an area that had been sealed off due to being full of worms and finds themself in an arena with corpses being eaten all around them, there’s no understanding what’s gone on. Monsters are everywhere, some friendly, most not. And the human who shows up to rescue them might not be the best sort, either. But to fully understand what’s going on, we’ll have to go further back…
    My comment: I was introduced to FFAK within the last month and read everything like I was starving. The webcomic is written free-form without scripts and is an engaging, terrifying, delightful read full of exactly the types of monsters I like and a lot of complex political and emotional byplay. The story shifts between time periods and locations but is always building forward and I highly advise just putting your questions on the back-burner and letting the story answer them as it develops. Warning: nsfw for sex, nudity, and gore. The author has a full list of warnings on the webpage.