SciFi/Fantasy

The Standing Stones: The Chronicles of Caymin Book 3 – Caren Werlinger

The Standing Stones - Caren WerlingerSometimes it is hard to find superlatives. The Standing Stone is an outstanding conclusion to this wonderful Celtic/Dragon lore saga. Simply brilliant world building, top class storytelling and writing that flows across the page and straight into your heart.

In book three of the The Dragonmage Saga, Caymin and Péist must find the hidden talisman that controls the dragons and destroy it, while both defeating the evil pairing that caused the dragon war a thousand years before, and helping her friends fight off the impending Viking attack led by a crazed Christian determined to wipe out the old ways.

Set in Eire in the seventh century at a time of clan wars, Christian incursion and the erosion of the druid traditions, The Chronicles of Caymin is firmly set in the legends of celtic fantasy and dragon lore.

Caren Werlinger is a great storyteller and this is a wonderful saga, up there with the best. Book three stands alone, but why deny yourself the joy of all three? The writing is crisp and exact, lyrical yet spare. The story is gripping, in this even more than the earlier episodes, and the reader is literally on the edge of their seat for most of the book.

The subtly is everywhere though, through personal quests, huge loss and dragon battles. Our main characters and many of the secondary’s grow, visably, throughtout.  Caymin suffers both physically and emotionally for the decisions she must make. Gai finds himself but loses his brother on the journey. Caymin and Péist both find a parent only to lose them all too quickly. The forest is ravaged and the Mages decimated, even the beloved badgers are not spared. Hard to remember sometimes that Caymin is 12.

Caren Werlinger BiogThe world building is first class, the time lines and personalities distinct. Even at the height of a complex battle between multiple dragons and Mages Werlinger keeps a firm hand and a clear sense of the who and what. The personalities are so strong and so well drawn we know their reactions, can guess their actions. Their emotional suffering is that of friends.

It is a joy to have such a well done series of gender neutral dragon fantasy/celtic lore. Sexual identity and gender are just not issues, for dragon or humans, and it is such a refreshing change after so many years of male/hetero-centric fantasy.

The door is left open for more. Can’t wait to see where Werlinger might take us next.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 385 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Corgyn (June 6, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072JL6GWB
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The End: Sanctuary Series Book 1 – Cheyne Curry, Roselle Graskey

The End: Sanctuary Series Book 1 - Cheyne Curry, Roselle GraskeyLieutenant Jessica Baumer and Staff Sergeant Branna Maguire are locked down in an underground “lab”, undergoing an experiment in how they cope with isolation; one because the Army felt she didn’t cope well when cut off, the other as punishment for having some issues with the abuse of authority.

When they do a routine check of the outside world they realise life as they know it has ended, and it appears they may literally be the last ones standing. As comms become available they reach out and find others who have survived, but many are contaminated and others come out into the open too soon – there are no guarantees of survival.

As the air clears they too must leave their underground shelter in order to see what is left, gather resources and find a safe place to live. The old world order has gone, now only the strong survive, but even strength is no guarantee as gangs stake out territory and commandeer the meagre resources available. Can Baumer and Maguire make it to the sanctuary they seek? Do they have the skills to survive? How will they and those they meet carve out a new existence in a brutal new world?

Edge of the seat doesn’t even come close. This, the first in a new series of dystopian novels, is stunning in its intensity and breadth of vision. T wake up one morning and the world as we know it has ended, with a barrage of nuclear, neutron and chemical weapons essentially wiping out most of the world, and be faced with the overwhelming issues of survival. Literally breath-taking.

Baumer and Maguire are intriguing and powerful characters. They form a rock-solid core to the story and are the glue that we bond with. As their journey unfolds they meet others, equally well drawn, some they join with, others they leave behind, all stay in the mind as strong characters we are likely to meet again.

The journey is both gruelling and exhilarating. Tough both physically and mentally, they encounter horrors beyond civilisation. The world has literally reverted to the middle ages and the barbaric nature of man is revealed. This isn’t for the faint hearted, don’t expect an easy ride, it contains sex and violence, but is never gratuitous.

The authors’ background is obvious throughout and gives an incredibly strong sense of realiCheyne Curryty to the military behaviour and action of our heroines. But this is so much more than a story about some military adventure; the world building and vision of what could be the reality of a post-apocalyptic world is simply brilliant.

I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want to. The only problem with it is waiting for volume two. Ms’s Curry and Graskey better be beavering away because they have impatient readers waiting. Even if you don’t normally read dystopian or fantasy of any sort, this book will intrigue and fascinate, keep you up way past your bedtime and inevitably ask the question.. how would I survive?



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bossy Pants (February 8, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06WLGFND9
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Heights of Green – Lise MacTague

Heights of Green - Lise MacTagueIn Heights of Green, Lise MacTague returns us to the lives of Jak Stowell and Torrin Ivanov. After their escape from Haefen at the end of Depths of Blue, Torrin returns them to her home planet of Nadierzda. Nadi is another fringe planet but this one is hidden from the rest of the galaxy by an asteroid belt and all off-world travelers keep even the existence of the planet a secret. Nadierzda is a planet of only women and Jak is in for the culture shock of her life.

As a female sniper in an all-male army on her home planet of Haefen, Jak constantly was on guard to never be seen as anything other than a man and a soldier. As she recovers from her ordeal escaping from Haefen, she has to learn to let herself be seen as female and that her relationship with Torrin, a crime where she comes from, is perfectly natural on Nadi.

Where survival and civil war provided the main source of conflict in the first book of the trilogy, angst regarding Jak and Torrin’s growing relationship, Jak’s internal struggles with her identity and Torrin’s type A personality when it comes to her business, all provide the dissonance between the characters for most of this second book.

Ms. MacTague once again builds a stunning world whose women run an entire planet, from politics to economics to the military and everything in between. She introduces us to new characters like Torrin’s family and business partners and the soldiers at the military base who become Jak’s friends. As the story progresses, the reader becomes more and more invested in the relationship between the sniper and the smuggler from completely different worlds.

As most second parts in a trilogy, this one ends in a cliffhanger, leaving dangling threads to be picked up and carried through to the third book. I’d suggest that you have the third book, Vortex of Crimson, at the ready. As soon as you put down Heights of Green, you will want to start reading the next one immediately. I know I am!! Lise MacTague is batting 1000 so far with the Edge of Deception trilogy. I can’t wait to keep reading!


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • First published 2015
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 18, 2015)
  • ASIN: B019KU3J5I
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Catalyst – Fletcher DeLancey

Catalyst - Fletcher DeLancey Following immediately on from Without A Front – The Warrior’s Challenge, Catalyst brings all our major players together for the Lancer’s bonding break. Set on a holiday resort island with gorgeous beaches and honeymoon cabins, Tal and Salomen are joined by their closest friends and family, including Captain Ekatya Serrado and Dr Lhyn Rivers. A happy vacation for all involved, celebrating the divine tyree bond, becomes a time for sharing recent experiences and the baring of souls.

In the two years since they defeated the Voloth everyone has changed to some degree, made tough choices, learned hard lessons. Dr Rivers, in particular, has faced tough challenges; her support of the Alseans has made her a target for right wing extremists stirring up fear of the ‘mind control’ that the telepathic Alseans could unleash on the Protectorate. As their personal stories are revealed the friends are pulled even closer by their emotional bonds.

Once again Fletcher DeLancey has produced a stunningly intricate and detailed story to add to the ongoing saga of political and actual battles, emotional growth and complex relationships between strong, intelligent characters. In some ways this is a side story, in terms of Alsea nothing happens to move the larger story arc forward. Instead we are given a lesson in the unpleasant politics of the Protectorate, the lengths individuals will go to further their own agenda, and the price others have to pay. Ultimately it all adds to the world view and will undoubtedly add to our understanding of future events, but despite being set on Alsea this is an off-world backstory.

Fletcher DeLancey bioDeLancy has achieved something not easy to accomplish in making this almost completely about the emotional growth of her major characters, yet combined it with action, adventure and horrible personal experiences. We explore the events of Serrado and Lhyn’s last two years, but all from the viewpoint of explaining the challenges they have faced internally. While Serrado has been off fighting the baddies, she has serious lessons to learn about forgiveness, and for Lhyn the preceding months have literally been both physical and mental torture, from which she must learn to move forward.

As well as our existing cast we meet two new major players who seem destined to take a major role in future tales, the feisty Dr Wells, another wonderful addition to the ‘strong women’ who take almost every major part in the epic to date, and the Machiavellian Director Sholokhov. In Sholokhov DeLancy has give us an almost perfect villainous figure to dislike and despise, and yet he appears to be on the ‘right’ side. Again two more well drawn, intriguing characters whose psyches we explore while following a thrilling plot.

Altogether a brilliant read and one that I found hard to put down. All the books in the series portray the major players with deep, complex and detailed personalities, but this one takes us to another layer of psychological exploration, while we are actually reading scenes of action adventure and a dark thriller. DeLancy once again proves herself to be an expert story-teller and a wonderful writer who has a gift for the creation of extraordinarily detailed worlds and sophisticated multidimensional characters. I want nothing more than to sit in a corner and read the whole series again – I literally cannot wait for the next instalment.


If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 427 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva (December 21, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MTXOTQC
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Depth of Blue – Lise MacTague

Depth of Blue – Lise MacTagueJak Stowell is a female sniper in an all-male army on a planet on the fringe of the galaxy that has been at war for years. Torrin Ivanov is a smuggler hoping to supply at least one side of the civil war on Haefen, with weapons, equipment and supplies. The two women’s lives are about to intersect as Jak’s latest mission is to kill the smuggler, Torrin. Unknown to all parties involved, Torrin is a woman. You see, women on Haefen cannot run businesses or own property. They practically are property on this beautiful blue planet on the outskirts of civilization.

Negotiations take a decided turn for the worse and then Jak shows up.

That’s all I’m telling you about the book…other than their flight back across to the Devonite side of the conflict provides much of the tension in the story as Torrin is attracted to Jak and also completely dependent on this “man” to protect her and get her to some semblance of safety. You just simply must read the rest to see how beautifully Lise MacTague draws you into the story in the second half of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the characters that Lise MacTague has drawn in Depths of Blue. The world building is top-notch and the back stories of the characters are told in such a way as to move the story along and not in a pedantic, expository way. I would recommend anyone who likes a good sci-fi book give this a try. The romance is a natural offshoot of the story and not forced. Keeping Jak’s cover as a male sniper in the Devonite army is another source of good tension in the story. The story builds very well to a pleasing and well thought out climax and has me already reading the second book in the trilogy.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2015
  • Publisher: Bella Books (May 24, 2015)
  • ASIN: B00Y8FREBQ
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The Portal: The Chronicles of Caymin Book 2 – Caren Werlinger

The Portal – Caren WerlingerBook 2 of the The Chronicles of Caymin: The Dragonmage Saga, this book stands alone – so if you haven’t read Book 1 (and why not, its excellent) this is still a complete story with a well built ARC. And unlike “Book 1; Rising From the Ashes” which set the scene and was almost YA, this does have lesbian characters, and a definite teaser for more to come.

Caymin and Péist return to ancient Eire from their self imposed isolation and must seek allies, find friends and somehow help end a war… or possibly two. Between the old magic, the power of the dragons and the strength of the land they must find a way for one small girl and a young dragon to achieve what a whole array of Mage and Dragons have failed to do.

This is classic fantasy at its best. The world building is excellent, the incorporation of enough reality in the depiction of the lands and creatures grounds it in a history we can recognize, while sprinkling it with dragons, talking animals and portals to dream-worlds and time travel make it imaginary and unreal. Like many fantasy writers and fans the old days of Celtic and Druid has a built in attraction, calling to something in ourselves from a time both simpler and more complex.

The characters become friends; their trials and tribulations are emotional connections to us, the reader. They draw us in and stay in our minds, becoming a reality in the way of the great storytellers. Ash’s continual growth and the development of her bond with Péist may form the core, but other characters, particularly other young Mage on their own journey, have lessons to learn and trials and tribulations to survive. Among them we can see the beginnings of a powerful group, the future protectors of the forest and the old ways from the battles ahead.

Caren Werlinger BiogCaren Werlinger is one of our best bards and with a writing style to match. Her words flow effortlessly from page to imagination in the way of the great fantasy writers. So many ‘Game of Throne’ fans out there and yet so few declare themselves fantasy readers… if you love fantasy this series is up there with Robin Hobb, Stephen R. Lawhead and Raymond E. Feist. If you havn’t tried it yet, then a great series written by one of our own, and with just a hit of a lesbian storyline in the minor plots, is an excellent place to start.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Corgyn (December 1, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01N1H19NQ
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Believing in Blue – Maggie Morton

Believing in Blue – Maggie MortonWren is a ‘normal’ 17 year old with a dysfunctional family and a big secret. Not only is she gay, she has developed sky-blue wings. Just before her graduation and 18th birthday she receives a letter from her long departed father and the adventure begins. She is not only not of this world; she is destined to save it and her home-world from the Winged Red.

This is a fast paced and at times confusing fantasy. The world creation is excellent, the world hopping feasible, and the antagonism between two halves of a world divided into red and blue is somehow believable despite being extremely stereotyped and never explained.

However, the plot is overly complex. Wren bounces back and forward between where she is, what she looks like and both who she believes and who she if about to fight for, far too often for credibility. She desperately missed her dad and almost worships him when they are reunited, in an understandable way, only to believe in an instant that everything is a lie and everyone is deceiving her. Similarly she instantly adores Sia, the lovely woman sent to teach her to fly, but completely besotted by the looks of the evil Ember the first time they meet.

I liked the concept, its well written, some of the characters are great and many if the familial relationships are well developed. But it’s just too complex to make sense. Why the red and blue at war seems fundamental to justify the whole plot. We never do find out why Wrens father left. And while trying hard not to give away the ending, a war that has been built up into ‘the end of times’ suddenly stops after we witness painful and brutal deaths, over for no more obvious reason that it started.

It sort of works, and it feels like part of the problem is trying to be a growing up story, a fantasy, an action adventure and a romance all in one. There is just too much angst and too much contradiction to give any sense of a consistent story line. Interestingly it isn’t the fantasy that overwhelms the suspension of disbelief, it is the inconsistency of an 18 year old girl.

And that’s my final observation. This is a YA book, NA at most. It might be YA/Fantasy with a light romance (no fading necessary) but it’s current classification as Lesbian Romance first and Fantasy second is misleading to say the least. The only justification for Wren’s behaviour is her immaturity in the face of overwhelming change, without that her actions make even less sense than they do.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (Sept 12, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01M0R1RZ4
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Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

Vellmar the Blade – Fletcher DeLancey

Vellmar the Blade - Fletcher DeLanceyFletcher DeLancey’s Alsea series is wonderful. Brilliant world building, well -done scifi, excellent stories and absolutely top class characters who have already become our friends.

Vellmar the Blade tells the story of Lead Guard Vellmar’s first Alsean ‘Olympics’ through the narration of a children’s bedtime story. It continues the world building by giving us more insight into Alsean society, while deepening and extending our knowledge of one of the secondary players.

DeLancey’s cast is wide and yet she manages to give them all depth, from the children listening to the protagonists visiting brother. Her writing engages us with the people, makes them real, and thus involves us in their lives. All our MC’s appear, however briefly, and we see another slice of their history and personal interactions, again adding depth to our sense of familiarity.

Fletcher DeLancey bioIn the end this is actually a parable for the children; how losing can be more noble than winning, while for us its an insight into the past, and the future, of the Lancer of Alsea.

For me these books rank up there with McCaffrey’s Pern, and I hope they will build into just such a substantial series.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 139 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (August 3, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01IPEY08K
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Finding Hekate – Kellie Doherty

Finding Hekate - Kellie DohertyMia Foley has had a life of the run since her family was murdered by the Acedians and their leader captured and branded her. She has gone from ship to ship, crew to crew, always escaping at the last moment at any cost.

But Mia’s current crew are different, they have crept inside her heart and she doesn’t quite know how. Her slow burn attraction to Cassidy, the small time trader Mia is transporting, isn’t helping Mia’s decision to run again. But then she also knows Cassidy would be safer if she did.

The world building is good, the story complex and interesting, and there is a tension throughout. Being part of a duology there are loose ends and an only partially resolved ending, but Ms Doherty definitely gives us enough good to make us want to read the next instalment.

A very good first novel and I look forward to part II.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Desert Palm Press (7 April 2016)
  • ASIN: B01DZJYEX6
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The Beast That Never Was – Caren J. Werlinger

The Beast That Never WasThis is the 6th of Caren J. Werlinger’s books I have read and once again she has stepped outside of the traditional Lesbian genres. After a series of extremely well done novels and the start of a mage/dragon lore fantasy series, The Beast That Never Was is by far the lightest and most fun of her stories to date.

This is a fairy tale, told in the style of a novel, and a romance at that, but it’s a fairy tale to the core. Set in the wild forest and with a cast of the Kings’ Huntsmen, woodchoppers, howling wolves, packs of scared torch-wielding villagers and the obligatory curse on the beautiful young woman, it has everything we expect from the best bedtime stories.

Caren Werlinger BiogWith Ms Werlingers’ excellent writing style and gorgeous prose the descriptions flow off the page. The characters are whole and deep without heavy descriptions. The tension of thwarted lesbian lovers runs alongside that of the cursed beast’s fear of discovery. And the whole is sweetened by some charming inter-relationships and the innocent love of two young women.

I don’t particularly remember loving fairy tales when I was young, although I do remember having a heavy tome of them my parents read from, but this was thoroughly enjoyable reading. All you mum’s out there, this is a perfect counter to traditional ‘prince gets the girl’ stories we grew up on. And for the rest – it is an extremely well written and charming read.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Corgyn Publishing (June 1, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01G0KP0V2
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