Glove Save and A Beauty – K.R. Collins

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I caught up with the previous books in this series recently in anticipation of this one’s release day and I have to say I thought this was a worthy addition to the series, despite it being about Gabrielle instead of Sophie. In fact, I think adding this shorter book before we read the next chapter in Sophie’s journey will keep the series fresher.

When I was little I was a huge hockey fan. Despite growing up in the UK I was lucky enough to grow up in a town with a team in the top league in the country and I could be found at the rink for every home game. However I wasn’t allowed to play. I desperately wanted to be a goaltender. Reading this is a small glimpse into all the things I enjoy about keeping goal in any sport. The writing on the psyche of those of that choose to stand in front of a puck for a living is great. It’s detailed enough to allow understanding but not so detailed that non-fans will be put off.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the decision to present the narrative in a non-chronological order, but actually that works too. For me it increased the understanding as to why Gabrielle is the way she is. The pressure on her is different than that on Sophie – which is hinted at in Sophie’s books, but it’s nice to have that explored further. There isn’t as much hockey action in this book – which is probably why it’s shorter, so non sports fans may prefer this instalment.

My only real gripe is with the front cover – this is a book about a goaltender – put a goaltenders mask on the front cover. They’re unique and interesting – Gabrielle’s is even described in the book.

Fans of the series should enjoy this, as should any hockey fans, sports fans and people that enjoy queer fiction. I think you could read this as a standalone – whilst it’s definitely strengthened by having read the other books, they aren’t necessary to enjoy this one.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Love in the Shadows – Maggie Doolin

Rating: 3 out of 5.
3.5 stars

A solid novella set in Ireland following Meg from her final year of high school through to the vote on the marriage equality act in 2015. I often find that when I’m reading a novella I wish it was longer – but this one is done well in that it covers the subject manner in just the right amount of detail, but provides a clear narrative so there’s nothing else to wish for.

We open with Meg at high school, where she’s undertaking her Leaving year. She realises that she has a crush on her high school English teacher – leading her to explore how she feels about girls in general. Whilst enjoy isn’t the right word because there’s a lot of introspection on the topic of boys and feelings, I thought this section was done really well.

As the book centres on Meg we follow her through leaving school, to her first job as an English teacher herself. She’s had the opportunity to explore her sexuality at college, but running into someone from her past causes her to look at the realities of being a lesbian in Ireland, working at a Catholic school. Again the feelings side of this is explored really well.

The parts of the book I liked the most were the interactions. I felt they gave a realistic depiction of how it must have felt living in Ireland during this time period (I hope anyway).

It does have a happy ending and I’d recommend to anyone looking for an interesting narrative spanning a large number of years and how a couple grows, whether together or not.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Canopy – Liz Faraim

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This one is a hard one to review – I couldn’t put it down, I read it one setting. It’s very well written, especially for a debut author. The subject matter is dealt with sensitively. It’s just over a four star book for me. Yet it’s hard for me to say I enjoyed it. It’s a tough read and perhaps that’s it for me, I appreciated rather than enjoyed, but it didn’t take anything away from the book – I’m fact I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

Viv is ex-army, studying at College and making a living bar tendering. Whilst she’s not completely estranged from her family she is very much a loner – her friendship with another vet Jared being her anchor in a storm. She struggles with PTSD.

She meets Angela, a cop, a vet from the Navy and they begin a complicated relationship, with elements of polyamory.

Viv stumbles on something criminal that brings a lot of issues into her life and shakes things up in ways she’d never have expected.

The topics of abuse from the past, relationship ethics, PTSD, intermittent violence, sex trafficking and some homophobia all mean this isn’t a light read, yet there is something about the way Viv is written that just keeps you reading, wanting to know where this is going to go.

The romance between Viv and Ang isn’t the headline for this book. Viv’s life in general, her friendships and her making her way through life are very much front and centre.

Despite the somewhat darker tone of the book and therefore my review, I’d encourage you to give this a go – just don’t expect an easy light hearted read, or a neatly tied up ending.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lockset – Brenda Murphy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series for a number of different reasons, so it pains me to say that this one just didn’t really hit the spot for me.

It has so many great things going for it, number one being the diversity the series brings. I enjoy the fact that Murphy wraps in diversity in a number of different ways and I hope this continues throughout the series and sets examples to others as to how to do this well.

I also like a book that includes a pet heavily so Rudy the dog was a nice incorporation for me.

I liked the small element of mystery that was threaded through the storyline with regards to Eun’s father. It was a nice addition to the romance and helped solidify the feelings Eun had regarding her father and the situation she finds herself in.

I have to agree with the other reviews, towards the end I was missing any relationship development and felt it had just been replaced with unnecessary sex scenes. I wanted something else instead to show intimacy between the MCs. I also wasn’t completely sure why we were introduced to Morgan’s ex suddenly at this point of the narrative either, unless this was a setup for her inclusion in future instalments.

I want to discuss a couple of small spoilers so I’m putting these behind the spoiler tag.

***Spoiler Start***

I didn’t enjoy the number of times other characters seemed to want to put down the relationship between Morgan and Eun, mentioning a date Morgan had been on that clearly hadn’t meaner much to her. One mention to add tension would make sense, but it seemed to be a running theme.

I actually had a point where I had to put my Kindle down and wanted to yell at the MCs. Later in the book they say to each other that they have to keep up good communication – I just wanted to scream that they don’t communicate well!! This was a bit of a theme in the first book too so I’m hoping that the MCs in the third instalment don’t have the same issue.

***Spoiler Finished***

Whilst I’m disappointed, I’d say there is still lots about this book to enjoy and I’d definitely recommend people give this series a try. I’m really just hoping the third book is about Yvonne.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Becoming Human – Holly Grey

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Fantasy books aren’t normally my thing, but I’m determined to continue branching out and this piqued my interest. It’s a very sweet book with lots of fantasy elements threaded through human interactions, good and bad.

Jack is called into acton protecting Marin, an animal in human form on a month long road trip to deliver Marin safely to a meeting of leaders. Marin is described as the most important leader in the world, and essentially the story tells both their journey in literal terms as they try to stay safe, and their journey in getting to know each other in the strangest of circumstances.

I loved all the interactions with things humans consider to be normality and Marin learning about them. This brought both some sweet and humorous moments. The book has its violent moments, but because they are enmeshed in the fantasy world they didn’t read as particularly harrowing to me, but it is something to be aware of.

There isn’t much romance in the book, it’s very slow burn. It’s more day to day interactions, sweet conversations and how they protect each other from the world.

I liked how all of the secondary characters were written. They were well placed, either to complement the road trip protection aspect, enhance us getting to know Marin and where she is from, or to appreciate Jack’s past.

I found the ending to be a little underwhelming, but I can understand why it was done like this. I still had many questions and would just have liked an extra chapter or two to finish things off.

I can’t really comment as to how this compares to other fantasy books, but I really appreciated the writing and enjoyed the narrative. I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys queer fantasy stories.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.