Cover Reveal for THE PRINCE AND THE PENCIL PUSHER

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a contemporary M/M romance coming soon from Kenzie Blades. THE PRINCE AND THE PENCIL PUSHER which features royals, superheroes and intrigue.

About the book:
Bad things happen when supos go unchecked. That’s why Abarra needs The Ministry: to keep tabs on royals with powers run amok. Queen Maialen has entrusted the safety of her subjects to her nephew, Prince Xabier, placing the agency in his capable hands.

Only, the Prince would rather spend his days putting his own power to good use in the vineyards than to wither away on the bureaucratic vine. Tired of policing perpetrators and babysitting bean-counters, he schemes to groom his first lieutenant (and second cousin) the Duke of Shrubs. After months spent moving chess pieces, he is poised to convince the Queen to assign his cousin to his post.

But an unlikely pawn still stands in his way: the sexy Zain Otxoa is the pushiest pencil-pusher in all of The Ministry and head of internal affairs. Prince Xabier has plotted to have him fired at least thrice. Zain’s influence over the Queen—his only saving grace—is baffling.
When a master maneuver to have Zain reassigned exposes a shocking imbroglio, Prince Xabier learns The Ministry isn’t what it seems. And Zain isn’t a pawn at all.

Interested? You can find THE PRINCE AND THE PENCIL PUSHER on Goodreads and pre-order it on Amazon ahead of it’s 9/28 release.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

They are THE EXTRAORDINARIES–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing the love for a YA LGBTQ romance that’s out today from a long-time fave author, TJ Klune. I’ve mostly reviewed Klune’s paranormal Green Creek series (WOLFSONG, RAVENSONG, and HEARTSONG) on Joyfully Jay, but THE EXTRAORDINARIES I got for myself. I fell hard for BEAR, OTTER, AND THE KID years ago, and I pick up Klune’s books whenever I can, now.

About the book:
Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

My Review:
Nick Bell is a 16 year old out-gay boy who has a fierce group of queer friends. There’s Seth, who is likely gay but never dated anyone. He’s Nick’s oldest and dearest friend–Nick expects to spend a lifetime of friendship with Seth. Then, there’s Gibby, a take no crap baby butch black girl in her senior year. Gibby is in a committed relationship with Jazz, head cheerleader of their high school. And, Nick is sort-of friends with Owen, his rich and popular ex who relishes needling Seth.

Nick’s world is a little richer by virtue of true superheroes, dubbed “the Extraordinaries,” who save people with their superpowers. Nova City, where Nick lives, is home to Shadow Star, a superhero that can pull shadows to do his bidding, as well as his arch nemesis, Pyro Storm, who uses fire to wreak havoc. Nick is unabashedly crushing on Shadow Star, and has written literally hundreds of thousands of words in fanfic celebration of a possible love between Shadow Star and everyday boy “Nate Belen”. This mission and crush has helped lift Nick from the depression he suffered when his mother was tragically killed two years ago.

Nick’s dad is a cop and his only remaining family. They have a good relationship, but Nick struggles to connect with people in general due to his ADHD and neurodiverse situation. This is likely why he cannot see that Seth is actively pining for Nick–and it’s soon clear that Nick is missing the biggest secret in Nova City: he’s actually friends with the Extraordinaries that he idolizes.

Nick’s mission is to be normal at school, allaying his father’s fears for his future, but also to join the ranks of Extraordinaries, so he can:
1. get Shadow Star to fall in love with him, and
2. protect his dad from harm.
Much of the story is Nick strategizing hare-brained plans to unlock his Extraordinary potential. His awkwardness and complete obliviousness to reality is shake your head funny, but Nick isn’t the butt of jokes. His sincerity and desperation bring a gravitas to him, even when it’s clear that most everyone can see the bigger picture while Nick’s trapped in minutia.

Nick’s anxiety, depression and ADHD are a huge part of his character’s personality, and I really enjoyed the mental rollercoaster that Nick lived in. I felt how deeply it encompassed his worldview, and how frustrating it was to struggle with these hurdles minute-by-minute and pill by pill. Nick’s impulsive nature is further rattled when his dad gets injured while protecting people from the increasingly more dangerous battles between Shadow Star and Pyro Storm.

This is the first story in a series, and I seriously could not stop turning the pages. I was charmed and intrigued throughout, only slightly discombobulated by the fanfic opening. I adored Nick, and his narration is a masterstroke of YA voice. His one-sdied love afair with Shadow Star morphs into something much greater, and more satisfactory as he gains both knowledge and perspective. Expect some boys kissing!

We get some solid leads on the direction of the next story by well-placed clues about previous Extraordinaries that have disappeared, and the startling occurrences that shield Nick when Shadow Star and Pyro Storm are involved in battle. It’s a coming of age story, in many ways, but it’s also a coming to terms story, with Nick being a (lovable) petulant teen, confused why his dad now insists that Nick “leave the door open” when Seth visits his room. He clearly doesn’t get that they are only best pals! He’s also mortified by his dad’s “protection” demos involving items like bananas and vague threats of talks with his service pistol handy. There is so much awesomeness packed in this story, I can’t believe my iPad didn’t explode with cape-wearing kittens and chocolates filled with rainbow ganache.

I’d honestly read this story over and over, and highly recommend it to YA readers, and fans of superhero or LGBTQ stories. Like every Klune book I’ve ever read, I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Interested? You can find THE EXTRAORDINARIES on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

You can catch up with TJ on his website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

A New Beginning: YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary LGBTQ YA graphic novel from the writing team of Alex Sanchez, Julie Maroh and the DC Universe. YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN is a creative re-imagining of Aqualad’s origin story, falling for a boy while growing up in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

About the book:
Jake Hyde doesn’t swim––not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe.

There’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future—not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.

But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?

My Review:
Jake Hyde is an African American high school senior growing up in land-locked Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. His best friend, and next-door neighbor, Maria has a deep and unrequited crush for Jake. Jake suspects this, and tries to maintain some distance, because he really cares for Maria but he’s pretty sure that he’s got his own crush…on Kenny Liu, a green-haired swimmer at school. Kenny is out and proud, fighting back against bullies Jake doesn’t really want to tangle with.

Jake has no knowledge of his father, and his overprotective mom works long hours as a nurse, so he spends a lot of time bonding with Maria’s father. Jake has secretly applied to Miami University to study marine biology, his real passion. This is antithetical to Maria’s plans to attend the Univ of New Mexico together–and to stay far from the ocean–his mom’s dearest wish.
The essential conflicts are clearly elaborated in the limited writing format of the graphic novel, and well-supported by the evocative illustration. It’s easy to read the youthful yearning of Jake, Maria and Kenny. Their expressions and body language translate the story without confusion The bullies are ever present, and Jake is about to discover the true nature of the odd markings on his arms.

I enjoyed the story, which has a predictable, yet affirming, coming-out story. For me, knowing that this was a coming-out story, as well as an origin story, meant the plot needed to encompass a lot of changes in a little time. Jake has to navigate the difficult conversations with Maria, Kenny, and his mom about his plans, his attractions and the startling powers he’s discovering by accident. I felt the combined written story and illustration did manage to support the many points of intersection between youth, sexuality, coming of age, and development of Aqualad’s powers.

I read a preview copy and couldn’t stop turning the pages. I enjoyed the artwork, felt it conveyed all the descriptions a traditional novel would describe. It’s a compelling story, and I appreciated the inclusive character drawings. Kenny’s Asian-American, and Maria has Mexican descent. The youthful struggles Jake experiences are only magnified by the increased inadvertent development of his water-bending powers. The secret of his paternity is a heavy burden to carry, and I liked how that solidified his resolve to make better choices. He’s able to best his bullies, using good sense and a little bit of humor. The resolution demonstrates Jake’s willingness to do the right thing, taking his place in the DC superhero pantheon. He’s true to himself in all the ways possible.

Interested? You can find YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever graphic novels are sold. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Author:
Alex Sanchez has published eight novels, including the American Library Association “Best Book for Young Adults” Rainbow Boys and the Lambda Award-winning So Hard to Say. His novel Bait won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Book Award and the Florida Book Award Gold Medal for Young Adult Literature. An immigrant from Mexico, Alex received his master’s in guidance and counseling and worked for many years as a youth and family counselor. Now when not writing, he tours the country talking with teens, librarians, and educators about books, diversity, and acceptance. He lives in Penfield, New York.

You can find Alex on his website, twitter, Facebook.

About the Illustrator:
Julie Maroh is a cartoonist, illustrator, feminist, and LGBTQ+ activist from Northern France. They wrote and illustrated the graphic novel Blue is the Warmest Color, about the life and love of two young lesbians, which was adapted into the award-winning film of the same name.

About DC’s YA Graphic Novels:
DC’s young adult graphic novels introduce DC’s most iconic Super Heroes to a new generation of fans with stories told by some of the most successful authors from the young adult publishing space. The YA titles are standalone stories, not part of DC’s ongoing continuity, and completely accessible to new readers who have no previous knowledge of DC characters.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Super Sequel NOT YOUR VILLAIN–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new YA LGBTQ-friendly superhero novel from CB Lee. NOT YOUR VILLAIN is the second book in her Sidekick Squad series and is a fantastic follow-up to NOT YOUR SIDEKICK. Both books are set in the US, a little over a century into the future, when superheros and villains take center-stage in the world…and Bells is a master of his future.

Check out the excerpt and be sure to enter the $25 GC and book giveaway below!

About the book:
Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants and, if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges.

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

How about a little taste?

Captain Orion walks into view, dragging a machine on a cart behind her. “I don’t like that smirk he’s giving you. Shame we couldn’t get the audio on that feed to work. Step aside, let me get a look at him.”

Bells has only seen Orion in holovids and during that one, frenzied encounter at Abby’s house. It’s startling how different she looks now from the shiny, polished hero who graced comic book covers. Her hair is tied in a messy ponytail; her bangs fall limp across her forehead. She’s wearing her usual blue-and-white supersuit, but Bells has never seen it this dirty or in such a state of disrepair; there’s a patch ripped in the leggings, and her knee is poking out. Orion’s cape trails behind her; the edge is frayed and riddled with dirt. The cart she dragged in rolls onto it, causing her to stumble. Orion yanks her cape free of the cart, straightens up, and glares at Bells, as if she’s daring him to laugh.

Bells recognizes the machinery sitting on the cart; it’s one they used at the training center to measure the power levels of meta-humans.

He remembers the last time he was tested. All the other students had taken care not to use their powers all day so they could get an “at rest” rating and be sure that the League could see their full potential. He kept his Barry shift on all day, so that by the time he was measured, he’d be so tired out he’d get a low rating.

What does Orion want with me?

The former hero looks down her nose at Bells. “Well. The famous, talented Chameleon. The League was all about you. The next me, perhaps. Or maybe that was just what they were filling your head with. Did they promise you glory? Greatness?”

“Free lunch,” Bells says. “And travel. To the training center for three summers. Got to see a lot of places. I liked Baja, but the last one was pretty cool. The North is awfully pretty. Lots of trees. Huge, like giants. And last year I got to go to the beach all the time, so—win.”

“I don’t think you understand the gravity of your situation, Barry.” Orion grins like a feral cat. “I’ve got your file right here.”

Orion flips through the thick sheaf of papers. Bells takes a deep breath when he spots the word Broussard, followed by a photo of the restaurant and even a picture of him and Simon as kids. The file must have been important for Orion to print them on actual paper. Or maybe Orion can’t connect to the Net anymore.

How long has she been on the lam? What was she proposing to Stone? The League obviously doesn’t know where she is, since they still claimed she was in Corrections.

Even if she doesn’t have the League behind her, she’s still dangerous, especially if she knows who he really is.

My Review:
Bells has grown up in Andover, a smallish town in the Nevada desert, several hundred miles from what remained of Los Angeles, after the Disasters and World War III are just stories in history books. Nearly 100 years ago, when humanity was still fighting to survive, there was a series of large solar flares that caused cataclysmic events, and generated the first generation of meta-humans, humans with super powers, of any type.

Bells is a black transboy with the power to alter his appearance, and that of anyone or anything he touches. He’s dealing with the meta-human stuff pretty well for a kid whose parents run a black market agribusiness. Oh, and who also has a long-time crush on his best friend Emma. In the beginning he keeps his identity as “Chameleon” one of the newly inducted member of the Heroes League of Heroes. Unfortunately, Jess, who has an undetected super power recognizes that Bells has been made a pawn in the game of heroes vs. villains. Jess noticed that the “villains” that Chameleon was impersonating on a series of “training missions” all had characteristics of her good pal, Bells, and Jess reveals the bigger plot that surrounds a group of missing villains, and Captain Orion, leader of the Heroes League.

This story overlaps NOT YOUR SIDEKICK and picks up with Jess, Bells, and their other pals trying to rescue Jess’ girlfriend Abby’s parents from captivity. Abby has a super power, but she’s been given a serum by Captain Orion to negate her mechanopath abilities.

Just as Bells is getting a handle on his powers and his feelings for Emma, life gets in the way. Ema finds her own boyfriend, and Chameleon’s activity in rescuing Abby’s mom leads to him being listed as Public Enemy ! by the Heroes League. That said, he finds some comfort in pals that didn’t have strong enough powers to make it into the League–and his mission to unmask the REAL villains of this world (think grown-ups in the government) brings some results. To a degree. If nothing else, Jess’ superhero parents take their mission seriously, and superheroes and villains are uniting to defeat the actual bad guys and bring justice to those who need it.

I love the multicultural cast, and the world is beautifully rendered. All to locales jump off the page, and Bells’ plight, in life, love and activity, is a sympathetic one. I love his sweetness, and his commitment to do the right thing even when it’s really, really difficult. It seems as if Bells’ perserverance wins him both the respect and validation he sought when he hungered to be a hero, and I was happy for that. I wonder who will lead us to eventual victory in book three. It feels like Jess’ sister Claudia is a strong candidate. This is an excellent book series for teens who are identified, or questioning, in the LGBT spectrum, as the relationships are all affirming and fluid. Bells is trans, Jess is bi, but seriously dating a girl, Emma has two moms, and there are many other examples of queer life, too. This world posits that nothing is unusual about those connections, and that felt pretty super, too.

Interested? You can find NOT YOUR VILLAIN on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Book Depository, and Indiebound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 GC to Interlude Press, or one of FIVE e-books of NOT YOUR VILLAIN.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber, and pinniped enthusiast from Southern California. A first-generation Asian American, she is passionate about working in communities of color and empowering youth to be inspired to write characters and stories of their own. Lee’s debut novel Seven Tears at High Tide was published by Duet Books in 2015 and named a finalist in the Bisexual Books Awards. This summer, C.B. was named to Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.

You can find C B online on her website, Goodreads, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

A Great Beginning With NOT YOUR SIDEKICK–Review & Giveaway!

nys_tour_fbHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a YA LGBTQ-friendly superhero novel that kicks off a three book series from CB Lee. NOT YOUR SIDEKICK is set in the US, a little over a century into the future, when superheros and villains take center-stage in the world…and Jess isn’t very super.

Check out the excerpt and be sure to enter the $25 GC and book giveaway below!

nys-front-900px-tumblrAbout the book:
Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain.

On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

How about a little taste?

His eyes glowing, he stands in the doorway. Master Mischief’s mechanical armor clanks as he steps into the room. The faded “M M” logo is blistered in purple paint on his chest.

Jess’ brain stutters. Has he figured out her parents’ secret identity? Is this is a kidnapping? A ruse to draw her parents out? She steps back and grabs for the pepper spray in her backpack, but that’ll be little help. Mischief is blocking the only exit.

He’s not an A-class villain, but Jess has never met any villain in the flesh. Despite all the funny T-shirts and silly videos of Mischief, and despite Jess’ arguments that some of what he does isn’t villainous at all, it’s hard to shake off years and years of seeing villains do terrible and destructive things in the news.

And now a villain stands in front of her; his electronic suit crackles with power.

Mischief can manipulate tech, but what is he’s doing here, in the heart of Monroe Industries? He’s certainly in his element. Anything electronic that isn’t too complicated, he can manipulate and control for a limited time. Jess has seen him direct cars to rebel against their owners and reprogram traffic lights and signs and computers.

Jess swallows and stands her ground. He’s silly. He mostly does harmless pranks. He’s ridiculous, not scary.

But it’s one thing to casually joke about villains and another to see one in person.

“I know we were deliberately vague in the job listing and interview, but I hope you understand why we needed the utmost discretion,” Mischief says. The voice is a little different than what she remembers, but that could be her imagination. It’s more electronic—is that a thing?

“Master Mischief?” Jess asks.

Mischief tilts his head; he almost fills the doorframe. But Mischief is quite a few inches shorter than Mistress Mischief, and the difference is always exaggerated in the comics.

He looks taller than Jess, and the suit—she can see black fabric at the knees under the metal armor, as if it doesn’t quite fit. And the logo is old, too; this version of the suit hasn’t been seen for at least a year. “What’s going on here?” Jess asks. “Why do you have Master Mischief’s mecha-suit?”

“Ah, I see you figured that out. I’m M, by the way. Nice to meet you.”

“Who are you?” Jess demands. “Do you actually work for Monroe Industries?”

“I’m not Master Mischief, that’s for sure. But yes, he works for Monroe Industries, and I do too. I was his assistant—am his assistant. He’s busy at the moment, and I’m running his lab in the interim.” M folds his arms and tilts his head and lights flicker without a discernible pattern on his helmet’s front panel. “You can laugh now. Villains need jobs too.”

Jess doesn’t laugh. It makes sense, actually. Mischief’s power of technological manipulation would be incredibly handy here; if his meta-powers weren’t low-level he’d be a formidable and almost unstoppable villain. As it is, he can’t use his powers for longer than probably twenty minutes at the most before he has to recharge, just like her parents. “If you’re his assistant, why don’t you have your own suit? What do you do exactly? And is this internship with Monroe Industries or with you and Master Mischief?”

M shakes his head, and makes a noise that almost sounds like a laugh before it is garbled into electronic static.

“I’m wearing an old prototype of his suit because we’ve been incredibly busy working on other projects. New mecha-suits aren’t a priority right now. And yes, you will be working for Monroe Industries, in a subsidiary with special interests. If that’s something you’re still interested in?” M asks.

“This isn’t a kidnapping, is it?”

The panel on M’s helmet blinks various shades of orange, and he throws up his hands. “No, no, absolutely not,” M says. “We wouldn’t kidnap you, do you—do you want to leave?”

My Review:
Jess has grown up in Andover, a smallish town in the Nevada desert, several hundred miles from what remained of Los Angeles, after the Disasters and World War III are just stories in history books. Nearly 100 years ago, when humanity was still fighting to survive, there was a series of large solar flares that caused cataclysmic events, and generated the first generation of meta-humans, humans with super posers, of any type.

Some, like Jess’ father and elder sister Claudia, could fly, some, like Jess’ mother, had super strength. But the degree of “super”-ness wasn’t consistent. Like, Jess’ father can fly for about an hour before he needs to rest and recharge his strength, while Claudia can fly for several hours without fatigue. Jess’ parents were refugees from Asian countries who emigrated to the North American Collective years ago–and were welcomed due to their meta-human status.

Jess, well, she can’t to anything super. She’s tried, and tried to determine if she has any recognizable power, but she’s sure that’s not the case, and with her 17th birthday looming, she’s sure none will surface. Being a Meta-Human and training to help others is Jess’ ambition, and without any trace of powers that seems impossible to occur. So, she decides to give up wishing for powers and look for a job. She’s hired as an intern at Monroe Industries, where they make MonRobots–personal helpers in the home, like Roombas with Artificial Intelligence–so they serve as housepets, too. Only the very wealthy can afford actual pets in these times.

Jess has two close friends, Emma and Bells–who is trans–and she has a crush on the beautiful Abby. Though Jess identifies as bisexual, she’s never dated anyone, and has been attracted to Abby for two years…in secret. Imagine her delight/dismay when it turns out Abby is also interning at Monroe. While working with the mecha-girl, “M” who is her supervisor and an assistant to the C-class villian Mister Mischief, Jess gains a new insight into the hero/villain feuds that loom within the North American Collective–the governmental agency covering the populace within what remains of the US. Jess now notices all the superhero fights seem choreographed, and the villains/heroes seem…off. Plus, she’s noticing inconsistencies in her NAC-monitored e-textbooks and NAC-controlled holonews. Villains are seemingly missing, but never reported captured or incarcerated. Where are they? Jess had already wondered, as her parents had a duty to defend Andover from the nefarious shenanigans of Mister and Mistress Mischief–but no one had seen the fiendish duo in months…

While Jess works for M, she also develops a closeness with both M and Abby, and that’s a lot more delightful. They make a great team, and spend hours building a friendship, though Jess fears letting her attraction become known and chasing Abby away. Little does she suspect Abby and M are very much the same. Also, Jess enjoys the idea that she may be helping her parents’ nemesis’ as she feels very much left out of the super loop. It soon becomes apparent, however, that the “Heroes” arent’ doing very heroic things, and there’s a vast conspiracy in the NAC–using the heroes–to destabilize power in adjacent parts of the world. It’s also clear that the “villains” might be prisoners of the system, and subject to inhumane experimentation. This is a nightmare scenario, and it seems Jess’ sister Claudia might be in the mix.

This was an engaging read. Jess is an ordinary girl, wishing to be “more” and she strives to find how she could be helpful, useful, to humanity. Her friendships with Emma and Bells are sweet, and her growing relationship with Abby proceeds cautiously. Expect some kissing and not much else. That said, there’s all the emotional highs and lows of crushes, and first love. Plus, there’s the whole superhero intrigue, and a government plot that’s up to the kids to unravel and reveal. I really enjoyed the world-building here, and this dystopian futurescape was really well-described and considered. The romance is a significant part of the story, but the same importance and careful attention is given to the mystery and the adventure. Jess learns that she does have some powers, and that she’s not destined to be a sidekick, but an equal in a real partnership–with Abby. I also loved that Jess is Chinese-and-Vietnamese, and her compelling experiences as “other”–not being Asian enough/white enough…which is an unique conundrum that I generally enjoy exploring.

The book ends with a comfortable resolution; not all the plot threads are tied tight, but what remains is clearly the larger plot arcs regarding the government conspiracies regarding meta-human tracking and imprisonment. Years of testing have resulted in serums that can enhance or remove a meta-humans powers, and the stage is set for some real family drama–and battles–to come. It’s billed as a three book series, and I can’t wait to read the next installment. Due to the “superhero” aspect of the plot, expect some charming comic-type art within the book, as well.

Interested? You can find NOT YOUR SIDEKICK on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance, Smashwords, Book Depository, and Indiebound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 GC to Interlude Press, or one of FIVE e-books of NOT YOUR SIDEKICK.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber, and pinniped enthusiast from Southern California. A first-generation Asian American, she is passionate about working in communities of color and empowering youth to be inspired to write characters and stories of their own. Lee’s debut novel Seven Tears at High Tide was published by Duet Books in 2015 and named a finalist in the Bisexual Books Awards. This summer, C.B. was named to Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.

You can find C B online on her website, Goodreads, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Super Heroes? Not So Fast My Friends! Reviews & Giveaway!

Superheores banner
Hi there! Today I’m reviewing two novellas about men with superpowers. Or, are they? In FLYBOY’S FIRST MIADVENTURE we learn this hero can fly. Sorta. Mostly he excels at crash landings. And CC, A MAN OF UNUSUAL TALENT? Well, ain’t nobody gonna believe what he can do. At least he’s sweet. These two “average Miltons” star in their own romances, and I had a fun time reading their misadventures.

Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the gift card giveaway!

Man of Unusual Talent_1400About the books:
A MAN OF UNUSUAL TALENT:
Collin Crane is a man of unusual talent. Really unusual. Too weird for the Guinness Book unusual. On the fifty-year plan to a doctoral degree in physics, and a quiet quest to understand his own oddities, Collin clings to obscurity. This superhero has learned the hard way that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Enter Mathias Giraud, football hero, local cop, and CC’s secret fantasy since high school. Mat’s a simple man with a hero complex fostered by comic books and Marvel movies. Saving the world is his fantasy, but since his roots are firmly planted in Morrisonville and reality, he’ll settle for protecting and serving. Until he clashes with CC at the local convenience store and is reminded of his own high school crush.

When marshmallows are involved, the course of true love is bound to get sticky.

A delicious nibble…

Mathias squirmed on the seat. Had to piss. He cast a glance at his partner. Dillon was such a hard-nose. “Hey…how about you pull into that gas station over there? I got to take a leak.”

Dillon’s lip curled, but he swung the patrol car into the convenience store parking lot. “I told you not to get the grande coffee at Mabel’s. Good thing it’s dead tonight.”

“Want anything while I’m in there?” Mat paused with his hand on the door latch, cocking his head at Dillon. Guy wasn’t so bad…just a walking encyclopedia of procedure and a nitpicker. He gave out more jaywalking and broken taillight tickets than any cop on the force.

“No eating in the squad car.” Dillon turned to face him, lips narrow and tight, radiating disapproval.

“You know…if you weren’t my brother…” Mat shoved the door open with unnecessary force. The captain was punishing him…all because he’d missed last Sunday’s dinner with the family. Well, Pop should learn to separate work from personal. Riding with Dillon for a week was going to be torture. If Pop…Captain Giraud, head of Morrisonville’s twenty-five man police force…made good on his threat to force his grandsons to ride together for a month they’d be lucky if the both of them survived.

Shaking his head, Mat slammed the cruiser door as forcefully as he’d opened it. A poster on one of the convenience store’s huge plate glass windows boasted of sixty-four ounce sodas in refillable Hulk, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Thor cups. Mm. I need to go see that new movie. “I’m getting a soda,” he called over his shoulder to Dillon as he opened the door. “Can I get the restroom key?”

His gaze automatically surveyed the interior, noting it was deserted except for the cashier…a cute little guy named CC he vaguely remembered from high school…and two hoodie-wearing teens. “Everything okay tonight, CC?” he asked. Not that he expected a negative answer; it was just that Collin Crane looked a little freaked. The two kids weren’t any bigger than Collin and weren’t familiar to Mat, so he figured they weren’t troublemakers. Generally he’d had dealings with most of the town’s rowdy teens.

“Yeah, fine, these two were just getting gas. Thanks for coming in, fellas.” CC stepped back, grabbed the restroom key off the hook, and tossed it to Mat.

Mat caught the keys, watching the boys leave without speaking. “Seriously, CC. Those kids giving you trouble? I can talk to them.” Something about the smaller man…regret probably, for ignoring the way the kid was bullied in high school…made him feel a little protective. It was weird, but Mat had learned a lot since he’d turned his back on bullying when he was a kid. Then he’d thought it was enough that he didn’t participate when Jake and Thorn and the others messed with the younger kids. Now…social guilt? Whatever. He was a better person at thirty than he had been at fifteen.

CC looked up, cheeks flushed a little, lower lip trembling. “No…it’s okay. They just wanted gas.”

“Okay. I’ve gotta go, but I want a Thor cup when I get back.” He nodded and walked toward the narrow hall lined with empty boxes which led to the restroom.

“You a fan of The Avengers?” CC called after him.

Mat paused and glanced back over his shoulder, letting his smile widen. “I’m a huge fan of Thor…that is one well put together man.” He was still chuckling over CC’s strangled response when he closed the restroom door.

My Review:

This is such a cute story. Really. Mat was a jock in high school, a football player and an all-around good ol’ boy. Collin “CC” Crane  was a waifish geek, and routinely harassed by the jocks, including Mat’s own cousin, until he pulled the town’s most epic prank–filling the boys bathroom, full, with marshmallows. Thing is, it wasn’t a prank, per se.

Mat’s returned to his hometown to work on the police force–just like all his family, even his ball-busting grandad–but he’s got a semi-secret. He’s gay. And, he’s attracted to the lean and graceful CC. Mat’s family knows his sexuality, but they’ve asked him to keep things quiet. Mat’s willing to risk a lot to spend time with the man who smells like sugar and kisses like nobody’s business. Cradling slender CC in his arms makes Mat feel like the hero he always dreamed of being.

For his part, CC’s sure Mat’s setting him up, or dating him is destined to become an EPIC mistake, but he can’t help wishing his high school crush fantasies are coming true. With his secret superpower just *itching* to reveal itself, CC’s at a loss to explain the sudden appearance of puffy deliciousness wherever he goes.

This is a sweet and tender tale, with a bit of steam and a cop on the warpath–when his boyfriend is in peril. I dug that the bully tried to make amends, and also that Mat was absolutely smitten with shy, sweet CC. I ate this novella up.

Interested? You can find A Man of Unusual Talent on Goodreads, Smashwords, AllRomance, and Amazon.

Flyboys First_1400FLYBOY’S FIRST MISADVENTURE:
Secrets? Oh yeah, Dean Wades has a doozy. When he goes up, he doesn’t necessarily come back down. Okay, that’s not true. Dean’s a master at falling, it’s the landing that could use improvement—a lot of improvement. After thirteen years of attempting to conquer this gravity defying mystery, he can no longer live with not knowing what he is anymore. So he heads cross-country to see the two people who just might be able to give him the answers he seeks…his folks.

Easygoing Gavin Trevor is always willing to help his family, even when they have ulterior motives…like forcing him to make up with his annoying older brother. When a simple task at his parent’s house puts him in a position of danger, he’ll need a lot more than luck to avoid a serious injury—he’ll need his very own superhero.

And the fates collide, well sort of. It may not be love at first sight—Gavin was unconscious in Dean’s arms for their initial introduction…but perhaps these two men can make it a relationship at first flight?

A threat against Gavin’s family throws a wrench in their plans, and while Dean gladly offers his amateur talent to help the mission, Gavin doesn’t want to put his rescuer’s life in jeopardy by risking exposure of the greatest secret ever.

This proves to be a rescue adventure for the books. Or is that a rescue misadventure?

A tasty morsel…

He attempted to roll the green-eyed man with the dreamy voice off him, but only succeeded in flipping them over so he was now stuck on top. What the fuck? He glanced down their bodies and noticed a cord of some kind wrapped repeatedly around their midsections and legs. No wonder his legs had stopped obeying him. A quick look up showed him numerous clothes line poles with no actual line attached to them.

Well, that was probably because it was all bound around their bodies…and tight too. In the middle of their airborne Cirque du Soleil auditions, their bodies managed to rearrange themselves so the clothesline wrapped them up in the missionary position. With them being damn near close to the same height they lined up quite perfectly with each other.

And that thought made Dean’s cock jump and want to do a few flying lessons of its own.

Dean saw the fog lift from his captive’s eyes as they narrowed with suspicion. His voice was steely this time, not whimsical and light with confusion. “What is happening?”

When all else failed, there was one surefire way to handle what appeared to be an unhandleable situation—channel his snarky best friend Tia.

So he put on a lopsided smile and shrugged as he tried to loosen their bonds somewhat. “You know how Mondays are…run out of coffee, get an extra dose of paperwork at the evil day job, end up in a neighbor’s backyard tied to a charming and well-meaning stranger…” He forced a chuckle out for good measure.

The man’s intense voice didn’t cut him any slack. “Today’s Sunday.”

My Review:
Oh the drama! This is a fun, but harrowing, tale of amateur heroes making a big ol’ mess and also saving the day.

Dean and his snarky BFF Tia are traveling to Florida to visit his parents and determine if they can help him with his dubious superpower. See, Dean can fly. Not well, mind, but he can fly. It’s landing that’s his problem. He falls. A lot.

En route to his folks’ retirement community home, Dean rescues Gavin, who had bashed his head on the gutter and was tumbling off a tall ladder to the cement sidewalk. In the process Dean revealed his secret flying skills and now he’s sure Gavin will blow his cover. Gavin, who’s got a bit of a hero complex due to his bossy cop of a big brother, has no problem blowing, ahem, something of Dean’s, but his cover it is not. Wink. Wink.

In usual big bro fashion, Gavin’s brother, Melvin, assumes that Gavin had been attacked when he sees the bloody gutter and overturned ladder. He stages a siege on Gavin’s life just when Gavin and Dean were getting much better acquainted.

This is a quick little short that seemed ultra-fluffy and took me in a whole different direction when Melvin gets caught in a bad situation and Gavin calls on Dean and Tia to help. Expect blood. And serious bad stuff going down. And domestic violence. And a dramatic rescue that is 87% crazy and 13% dumb luck.

I enjoyed this Most Excellent Misadventure, which seems to be the beginning of a possible series of books for Gavin and Dean. Yay! They are a cute couple and Tia and Melvin seem to be getting on like an Arizona brush fire. Hot and fierce.

Interested? You can find Flyboy’s First Misadventure on Goodreads, AllRomance, Smashwords, Amazon.

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Meet the authors:
LEE BRAZIL
Somewhere in a small town in up-state New York are a librarian and a second grade teacher to whom I owe my life. That might be a touch dramatic, but it’s nevertheless one hundred percent true. Because they taught me the joy of reading, of escaping into worlds crafted of words. Have you ever been nine years old and sure of nothing so much as that you don’t belong? Looked at the world from behind glasses, and wondered why you don’t fit? Someone hands you a book, and then you turn the page and see… There you are, running from Injun Joe in a dark graveyard; there you are fencing with Athos; there you are…beneath the deep blue sea- marveling at exotic creatures with Captain Nemo.

I found myself between the pages of books, and that is why I write now. It’s why I taught English and literature for so many years, and it’s why my house contains more pounds of books than furniture.

If I’d had my way, I’d have been a fencer…or a starship captain, or a lawyer, or a detective solving crimes. But instead, I am a writer, and I’ve come to realize that’s the best thing in the world to be, because as a writer, I can be all those things and more. If I hadn’t learned to value the stories between the pages, who knows what would have happened? Certainly not college…teaching…or writing.

Where to find Lee online:
Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Newsletter

HAVAN FELLOWS:
I annoy, love, respect, scare, seduce, hurt, anger, infatuate, frustrate, flatter, envy, amuse and tolerate everyone. I just do it better in writing thanks to a little thing called…edits.

Okay no, seriously…I’m a simpleminded person who enjoys the escape from real life through a book. I write with the group Story Orgy and hope to continue doing so for a long time. I also am privileged to be with the Pulp Friction writers, creating intermingling books in a world all our own.

I recently took the drastic step of quitting my EDJ (evil day job) and am now living in the gorgeous desert in Arizona making a go at this writing stuff full time…and I can’t see me regretting this decision ever.

Just like every other red-blooded human—I get a little bouncy when I get mail (any kind too…email, comments, private messages…you wanna do it, do it with me *winks*). So feel free to drop me a line—whether it’s on my blog, twitter, Pinterest, or you track me down on FaceBook or Google +…it’s easy to catch someone who wants to be caught.

I specialize in writing boyxboy though I read almost everything…and I fancy myself as slightly funny every once in a while. 🙂

Find Havan online on her blog, Facebook Page, twitter, Pinterest.

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