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Callisto 2.0

Callisto 2.0: A novel of the future (Book 1 of the Shambhala Saga LGBTQ+ Science Fiction series) by [Susan English]

If you are a fan of futuristic science fiction, Susan English’s Callisto 2.0 is right up your alley. It follows the life of Callisto, a young female scientist who feels out of place in her own world. The only child of religious parents, she feels like her family doesn’t truly understand her. However, things change when she takes a job at a foundation that not only supports her unique field of study but also provides a community of top-notch female scientists.

As she begins her new life working on the Shambahla space station, her heart is warmed by  the kind and supportive all-female staff. This utopia seems to be all that she has ever wanted and she embraces it whole-heartedly. But like in every good story, Callisto’s has some conflict as well. Her heart is broken, she is betrayed, and faces challenges in her work.

At some point, the continuity of the entire foundation even faces outside opposition. From page to page, it becomes clear that eventually, Callisto will have to fight for this paradise which she has waited her whole life to find.

If there is one thing that makes this story believable, it is all the scientific explanations and dialogue included in it. Everything is so detailed that you could believe that these technological advancements could be made today. Clearly, the author being a physicist has played a big role in bringing this story to life. Also, the author does a good job of developing the characters.

She includes details about each character’s life, personality, and perspective; something that makes them relatable. Moreover, she weaves the characters’ lives together in a beautiful way, showing us how everyone is fairing on simultaneously, at least from the perspective of Callisto. And the writing style is light and upbeat, even when scientific principles are being discussed – something that makes the book easy to read.

While I enjoyed the story I felt that the book was a bit slow and there was a lot of buildup to the main conflict. To some level, it feels like a day-to-day account of Callisto’s life, which for the most part was great. While we do get glimpses of concerning situations after every few chapters, there’s little suspense and by the time we get to the true conflict, we are at the end of the book, which is a draw for readers looking for a sequel. In any case, this is still a stirring and thought-provoking science fiction adventure story that I heartily recommend to fans of detailed and realistic futuristic stories.

Pages: 314 | ASIN: B08MWN8YVG

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Post-Apocalyptic Brotherhood

J. Warren
J. Warren Author Interview

Tygers follows a young gay man in a dystopian society where he’s forced to fight for equality and survival against a conservative government. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Tygers started as a nightmare I had sometime in 2015. That whole first scene of a kid blowing themselves up in the middle of a wedding. So I started digging—why a wedding? What would push a suburban kid to suicide bomb a wedding? Right around that time, the media was talking a lot about the idea of “radicalization,” so I think that fed in to the book as I started excavating it.

I’ve always been a huge fan of William S. Burroughs, and especially his novel, The Wild Boys. I loved that idea of a kind-of post-apocalyptic brotherhood of young gay guys. I was re-reading the novel for the millionth time right around then and I thought, if the kid was radicalized into the bombing, then who was indoctrinating him? Duran Duran’s song, “Wild Boys” snuck in there a bit, too, as well as this idea of “extraordinary rendition.” An underground of gay abuse survivors looking out for one another and striking blows against the empire bubbled up through all those layers. Eventually all of that spilled over into Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” album and the whole thing started to gel. What if, instead of marching and fundraising for equality and understanding, a group decided to take much more direct action?

It was the Blake quote that gave it the tone I wanted—revenge being more crafty and cruel than instruction and patience.

Aaron is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Well, the book starts with the main action, the kid exploding. So what I decided to do was to make the whole book about WHY all of this happened rather than WHAT happened. I wanted the reader to see Aaron’s full journey from innocent suburban kid to suicide bomber—how he’d been manipulated and why it was so easy to manipulate him. The driving word was “radicalized”—what kind of kid would be…could be…convinced to do such a horrifying thing? It was important to me that the reader start off believing one thing about the kid and something completely different in the end.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to see some characters have a very real discussion about some of the things that we as LGBTQ+ people face every day. I also wanted to address some of the far Right conspiracy theories that were floating around at the time—mass incarceration camps for LGBTQ+ people being manufactured out in the middle of Montana, etc. That kind of thing. I also really wanted to explore that idea of direct action versus peace and understanding…what would that look like? What might Burroughs/Duran Duran’s group of young men look like if taken out of the mythical language-driven narratives they were in and placed in a more realist-based world, instead?

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book is at least a year away. It’s kind of like what would happen if I ever got a chance to write a Gundam limited series. Gay men and mecha. It’s also about the ways a person can recontextualize themselves given the right circumstances. It’s only just starting the rounds with beta readers for edits, though, so it’s a way off. The title isn’t even final at this point.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

In a parallel 2015, Conservative forces are in control of national policy.

As a result, young gay men, pushed to the margins, must fight for equality and safety.

A bomb. A wedding.

A young man’s first love, lost.

A book that explores consequences, radicalization, and how a terrorist
might be the kid next door.

MY NAME IS ROBERT! – Book Trailer

Robert Barton was born a boy who loved to dress up as a girl. That was his only crime.

When he was 16, five high school football players and a man raped and brutalized him for hours before dumping him in a vacant lot.

The day after he is found alive, the bodies of his assailants start stacking up in the morgue.

Detective Sylvia Gomez must find this avenging angel before he or she takes out the last player and its game over!

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Express Themselves Without Fear

Brooke Skipstone
Brooke Skipstone Author Interview

Crystal’s House of Queers is an emotionally-charged romance novel that explores real world issues that young people face when discovering and unveiling their sexual identity. Why was this an important book for you to write?

All of my books are centered around important issues affecting girls and women. It has become very clear to me that despite all the progress we have made during the last several decades, we still live in a patriarchal world. According to polls, more than half of our youngest Generation Z do not define themselves as strictly heterosexual. More and more sources of entertainment reflect this change. This generation is more tolerant and accepting of all differences. However, hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are on the rise. Many of the same hate groups (primarily men) that decry the rise of non-white individuals in our country also hate gays. As the younger generation embraces a variety of sexual lifestyles, there will inevitably be more confrontation. I have known too many people who have been persecuted for their differences. We don’t need more hate in the world.

I appreciated the authenticity of your characters. What were some sources that inspired your character development?

I have known many teens like Crystal and JD, who despite their traditional academic challenges, discovered and shared other talents, including in art, music, dance, and athletics. Their needs are no more special than mine or yours. Real people are complex. Most have experienced some level of trauma in their lives. Many have difficulty coping, but most discover some resilience. I want my characters to reflect these truths.

What were some ideas that were important for you to convey in this book?

One common theme in all my books is the need for open, frank discussion of difficult topics. So much pain is caused by secrecy. Too frequently, teens and younger are forced to deal with guilt and fears and desires by themselves because adults won’t create comfortable environments where anything, anything, can be discussed. I have had readers of my latest book complain about two women kissing in front of their teenage girls. Why? Because tradition says sexuality must be private. Which has caused and continues to cause all kinds of problems for both the kids and the parents.

Another big idea in my books is the need for forgiveness, especially between parents and their children. Another is fighting for yourself and others when it is necessary. The girls in this book don’t put up with abuse or threats.

And the biggest idea in this book is the need to provide a safe place for LGBTQ individuals, where they can express themselves without fear.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is about a teenage girl in 1968 who rebels against the feminine role she is expected to play by her parents, her school, and her society. So many of the problems during this year—The Vietnam War, assassinations, student rebellions, etc—were caused by toxic masculinity. The main character, Tracy, cannot force herself to date boys. At times, she thinks she should have been a boy. She escapes her conservative parents and constant arguments about the war, civil rights, and her brother, Spencer—who wonders if he is gay—disguised as a boy for a two-week period at a wilderness camp just outside Denali Park, Alaska, where she meets other strong women, including Jackie, who chops wood and plays guitar.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Instagram

Crystal Rose woke up at three in the morning today, drenched in sweat and breathless after another sex dream with Haley Carson. Later at school in the tiny town of Clear, Alaska, Crystal saves Haley from an assault by her abusive boyfriend.

The two girls renew a love started years ago that had to stay hidden until now. But with Crystal’s grandparents in the hospital with Covid and the possibility of her drug addict parents returning from a 14-year absence, Crystal needs Haley as much as she needs Crystal.

They connect with Payton Reed, a gun-toting artist who helps them feel proud to be gay and willing to stand up to anyone. Together they struggle to make Crystal’s house safe for those who are hated for their love.

No Hiding or Judgement

McKenzie Stark
McKenzie Stark Author Interview

Divide & Conquer follows a young woman who’s forced to stay at an academy for delinquents and meets someone that will change her life forever. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My inspiration to write this story was strongly built on a number of different reasons. I, myself, am a part of the LGBTQ+ community and the idea to showcase a story that both dives into the world that I feel is not talked about nearly enough, while obtaining and showing challenges that any ordinary person could experience was something I strongly believed in creating.

Your characters were intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I found that in developing my characters motivations and ideals, that I connected with some part of myself in a way. I wanted to take Freya’s grief and show that sometimes even in your darkest moments, there is always something that can pull you from the realm that lies between grief and recovery. That is where Lexa comes into play. She may have been the hot new roommate, but it’s her straightforwardness and own experience from her past that helped lead Freya back into the light. Of course the rest of the delinquents were a huge impact as well. Sometimes all you need in the world is for someone to take your hand and say, “Everything’s going to be okay,” and so long as they were together, everything was.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

One of the main themes is that the story resolve around the LGBTQ + community, and being able to explore apart of myself in such a fun and creative way was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. There was no hiding or judgement, but for that of my characters who welcomed each other with open hands.

Another important theme would be guilt and grief, both in which played a huge role in this story, as those two emotions shaped Freya into the woman she later became.

And lastly, the thing that transpired between the pages and flowed from the words whole writing this story was forgiveness. I wanted to show that everyone is worth being forgiven and that everyone is capable of giving forgiveness because it’s not who you use to be, or what you’ve done in the past that defines you. It’s what you do with the experiences you’ve been dealt with that truly shape you as a person.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I just released a new LGBTQ+ novel, titled “Untangled Devotion”, this novel revolved around a woman who ran away from her entire life because of reasons I will leave unsaid as to not spoil it; but, having returned to face those issues head on, including a lost love she left behind. It’s full of unbreakable bonds, comedy, friendship, love, and a twist that will leave you hanging onto your seats.

But that’s not all! I have another LGBTQ + novel that I am hoping to release sometime the beginning of next year. That’s going without saying that I have multiple none LGBTQ + novels planned to release this year, some of which consist of Vikings, vampires, or even demonic beings.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Where does friendship come to a rest and love commence?

At just 18, Freya Sawyer’s life was anything but perfect, with the weight of the world on her shoulders, she ran with the wrong crowd and got pulled into a vicious cycle. That all changed when one night forced her into a court ordered stay at Arkadia Academy for troubled delinquents.

Lexa Forester just so happens to be her new brooding and sexy roommate. Together they dance around their attraction for each other until there is nothing else standing in their way of falling heart first into what could either be the best or the worst thing for them.

Each other.

Together they can conquer the world and change the unraveling past that they both desperately latch onto to survive. Can true love prevail or will they scare away from the only thing that’s ever made them feel alive?

Find out in this steamy and thrill filled lesbian friends to lovers romance.

Crystal’s House of Queers

Crystal's House of Queers by [Brooke Skipstone]

Crystal’s House Of Queers by Brooke Skipstone is a charismatic LGBTQ romance novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Crystal is a young woman who has survived a tragic childhood. She soon discovers that she likes women when she starts having dreams about her close friend Haley. Although the story goes into details about Crystal’s sexual attraction to Haley, the author focuses more on the underlying love that she possesses for her. I love that Crystal values Haley for more than her looks unlike Haley’s former jerk of a boyfriend Dyaln.

Brooke Skipstone shines a light on the many personal struggles that come with finding sexual identity and coming to terms with liking someone of the same sex. Crystal is an authentic, but fictional, representation of real world issues. She struggled with maintaining a friendship with her crush, which I feel is by far the toughest scenario in this story. Telling someone you love them with so much fear in the back of your brain takes a lot of strength. This also includes telling family and friends that you have feelings for others of the same sex. All of this is told in such a compelling and impassioned way that makes your heart ache and soar with all the highs and lows.

What I enjoyed the most about reading this observant novel is witnessing Crystal slowly begin to become more confident in herself. She is a great representation of lesbian love in fiction. I also enjoyed the setting of the plot and the merging of other LGBTQ characters. The intensity of the character’s emotions kept me engaged and wanting to read more. I would recommend Crystal’s House Of Queers to anyone looking for an emotional yet invigorating lesbian romance novel.

Pages: 313 | ASIN: B091MDH28L

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The Social Implications

Kyra Anderson
Kyra Anderson Author Interview

The Significant is a thrilling sci-fi romance novel with thoughtful commentary on society. Was this intentional or did this happen organically while writing?

Some of the social commentary was intentional, but with the setup of a society that no longer speaks face-to-face and interacts more with technology than people ended up having a lot more nuances that made for more organic social commentary as I was writing it and realized how deeply such a society would affect people.

The relationship between the characters in the novel felt organic and authentic. What were some ideas that guided the development of their relationship?

I wanted to be sure that all the characters had a strong interpersonal relationship with one another since it was so difficult in that society to have close friends, so the friendships or relationships that did occur between characters would be authentic within their setting and their world. I also wanted each relationship to be deep and profound, so I tried to make each relationship nuanced.

I enjoyed the world you’ve built in this story. What were some sources that informed the backstory of your book?

I really love books and movies and while the theme of computers taking over the world because they think humans are incapable of governing themselves is not a new theme, I tried to extrapolate how far technology could be taken on a brand new world built by automated machines and computers. And then I spent a lot of time people watching and going back through my psychology and sociology studies from university to determine how people would likely behave with technology so engrained in their lives. It was mostly a lot of thought exercises and trying to take a more realistic approach to the social implications that could come from such a world.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next new book I’m working on is the first in a series of science fiction/space opera novels. The first one will be available in Fall 2022.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

The beloved leader of a planet…
A non-citizen fugitive…
And a secret love that could kill them both.

Kailynn Evada was born on the most powerful planet in the Altereye System, but was raised in the non-citizen district of Trid. She always dreamed of revolution and changing the injustices of the planet Tiao. But when her brother’s plot to destroy the A.I. that runs the planet falls apart, Kailynn finds herself struggling to save his life.

Armed with false citizenship and determination to save her brother from execution, Kailynn finds work in the capital city, Anon, as a Significant—a person paid to act as a friend to clients.

When a secret request for Significant companionship comes in, the pay drives Kailynn to accept the job. However, she soon discovers that her client is the most powerful person in the planetary system—Elite Isa, leader of the Elite Syndicate of Tiao who is genetically altered for perfection and forbidden from intimate relationships. The undeniable attraction between the two leads to a secret love that could kill them both.

Divide & Conquer

Divide & Conquer by [McKenzie Stark]

McKenzie Stark’s Divide and Conquer is a beautiful story of love and healing. It follows the life of teenager Freya Sawyer after the tragic death of her father. Overwhelmed by grief, she goes down a destructive path that eventually lands her in Arkadia Academy – a school full of delinquents.

But while she is originally irritated by this turn of events, joining the academy marks the start of her journey of healing, self-actualization, and love. She meets new friends, revisits long-abandoned talents, and finds love in the most unexpected of places. By the time the story ends, you can’t help but be proud of how far she has come.

Like in many love stories, Freya is challenged by betrayals and outright abandonment. However, she keeps going forward and eventually pulls herself together to build a meaningful life– a strong marker of how much she has learned to love herself. In this regard, the author does a good job in avoiding the cliché narrative of a heartbroken protagonist whose entire life falls apart at the loss of a romantic interest.

It is also quite heart warming how the author addresses the issue of Freya’s grief, how it has affected her decisions and how her healing correlates with a better sense of self. Coupled with how she ties this all up with Freya’s use of art for expression, this creates a holistic view of who Freya is and who she is capable of becoming.

Author McKenzie Stark has written an emotionally-charged romance novel with a solid plot and a riveting premise. While I enjoyed this novel, I thought the switch in perspectives sometimes made it hard to follow. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if it kept one perspective throughout the book. The author infuses their own voice into the story, guiding readers and telling us what will happen.

Divide and Conquer is an impassioned romance novel that is punctuated by suspenseful moments and filled with intriguing characters. Recommended for readers who want to read a rousing and sentimental love story between two alluring characters.

Pages: 289 | ASIN: B08R6PR5RT

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