Book Review: The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic

rules and regulationsThe Rules & Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic
by F. T. Lukens
Urban Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance / LGBT
287 pages
Published 2017

I loved this book. The wit is dry, the action easy to follow, the confusion of the main character absolutely warranted (Mermaids? in Lake Michigan?!), and it’s just wonderful. And it stars a bisexual teenage BOY. Male bisexuality could use more visibility, so this made me really happy. I picked this book for the M/M for Pride; I was really excited to find the main character is bisexual! It was a great surprise.

Bridger (an unusual name, but it fits him) is a senior in high school with a crush on his next door neighbor. He plans to go to school far away – Florida – where he can just BE himself instead of having to come out. But for that he needs money; so he answers an ad for an assistant doing….well he’s not sure exactly what. When he finally demands answers, he learns the truth about the world of myth and magic, and things snowball from there.

He wrestles with keeping it secret from his friends – because really, who would believe he saw mermaids in Lake Michigan? At the same time, he’s trying to wrap his head around his attraction to Leo, star football player, who just might like him back, and how to tell his mom he’s bisexual.

I loved Bridger, and his best friend, Astrid, who will kick the butt of anyone who looks wrong at Bridger, and Leo was an absolute dreamboat. I also want to know more about Pavel and his companions! I really really hope the author writes more books in this world, because I want to read them!

From the cover of The Rules & Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic:

Desperate to pay for college, Bridger Whitt is willing to overlook the peculiarities of his new job – entering via the roof, the weird stacks of old books and even older scrolls, the seemingly incorporeal voices he hears from time to time – but it’s pretty hard to ignore being pulled under Lake Michigan by . . . mermaids? Worse yet, this happens in front of his new crush, Leo, the dreamy football star who just moved to town.


When he discovers his eccentric employer Pavel Chudinov is an intermediary between the human world and its myths, Bridger is plunged into a world of pixies, werewolves, and Sasquatch. The realm of myths and magic is growing increasingly unstable, and it is up to Bridger to ascertain the cause of the chaos, eliminate the problem, and help his boss keep the real world from finding the world of myths.

Friday 56 – The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic

rules and regulationsThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

This week’s quote is from The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F. T. Lukens. It’s a great little urban fantasy starring a bisexual teenage boy.

Leo circled back and splashed Bridger. Then he swam away, laughing as he kicked enthusiastically and doused Bridger with lake water.

Bridger wiped the droplets from his face. “Oh, I see how it is. Splashing then running. Very brave there, Leo.”

Leo stood in the water to his shoulders and beckoned to Bridger with a sly smile. “I’m right here. Why don’t you come get me?”

That was flirting. Wasn’t it? That had to be flirting. Right?

“Oh,” Bridger said flushing, warming internally at the thought of Leo flirting with him. “It is on. It is so on.”

Book Review: Ship It

ship itShip It
by Britta Lundin
Young Adult
375 pages
Published 2018

Claire’s an obsessed jerk. Let me just get that out ahead of everything else. Claire is one of two viewpoints in this book, and I won’t even call her a protagonist, because Forest, the male viewpoint character, is FAR more sympathetic. Yeah, he’s a touch homophobic at the beginning of the book, but he learns. Claire, on the other hand, has one goal that she’s obsessed with and Will. Not. Let. It. Go. Single-minded determination can be a great thing, but Claire doesn’t see or understand the harm she’s doing in pursuing her goal. The few times she does see, she doesn’t seem to care. Sure, she’s sixteen, but holy crap, girl. Maybe, when people tell you a thing can’t happen, you should stop and ask them why instead of stubbornly insisting it CAN happen if only they’ll let it.

Let me back up slightly. Claire is a superfan of a show called Demon Heart. In the show, a demon hunter and a demon-with-a-heart play off each other in what the fans see as a romantic manner. This comes as a huge surprise to at least one of the stars of the show, Forest Reed, who plays the demon hunter. Forest has a rather disastrous interaction with Claire at a Q&A (he’s an asshole about her question, which is about the two characters being gay) and the show decides, in order to salvage things, to have Claire travel with them to the next few public appearances, since she’s a big name in the fandom. Forest sees this as a job he has to put up with for a paycheck. Claire sees this as a chance to make her ship real, and goes to – well – ridiculous lengths to convince the showrunners and stars.

Ultimately, Claire is right that representation is incredibly important. And she’s probably even right that showrunners and stars should take risks with their careers to bring that representation to screen. But she’s such an asshole about it that I can’t even cheer her on. She’s even kind of a jerk to Tess, the cute fanartist she meets at the first convention (and keeps running into at the ensuing cons).

Claire aside, I actually enjoyed the book. There were a couple of twists at the end that I very much enjoyed.

One bit I did NOT enjoy was Tess identifying as pan “because bi means two.” That definition of bisexual – that it’s binary, only attracted to men and women – is biphobic and has NEVER been true. Bisexual means attracted to your own gender and others. That first definition tries to make bisexuals seem transphobic, and I’m frustrated that it persists. So it’s disappointing to see the statement made in the book go unchallenged.

There’s also an anxiety-inducing scene late in the book that I can’t say much about because it’s a major plot twist, but if you have issues with intimidating men, maayyyybe skip this one.

There is quite a bit of representation in the book, between Tess, the pansexual black girl, Claire, a questioning/queer white girl, and Forest, who is definitely questioning his sexuality, and learning about gender and sexuality representation issues from Claire. Oh, also Caty, a studio assistant, who is bisexual. (But who clarifies, unnecessarily, that she’s attracted to boys and girls.)

So I’m quite torn on this book. I liked it, but it has issues.

From the cover of Ship It:

Claire is a sixteen-year-old fangirl obsessed with the show Demon Heart. Forest is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay. Claire is devastated. After all, every last word of her super-popular fanfic revolves around the romance between Forest’s character and his male co-lead. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not.

Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community – as well as with their fans – they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of the publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colorful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into? Ship It is a funny, tender, and honest look at all the feels that come with being a fan. 

Library Loot Wednesday

now i riseI only checked out one book this week; I read And I Darken on the recommendation of a friend, and immediately upon finishing, I logged into my local library’s catalog to see if they had the second book as an ebook.  They did not, but my old library did! So I downloaded Now I Rise and kept right on reading. Unfortunately, they did not have the third book, Bright We Burn, on a platform compatible with my Kindle. They had it on “cloudlibrary,” but not Overdrive. And Cloud Library doesn’t work with Kindle Paperwhites, which is a huge drawback! So I’m currently waiting for a hard copy of Bright We Burn to make its way to me, and then I’ll write up a series review of the entire trilogy, which is a gender-swapped Vlad Dracul saga. The first two books, so far, have been excellent, with gay and what looks like asexual, or possibly demisexual, rep.

Update: aromantic, not asexual or demisexual, and you can read my review of the entire trilogy here!

TTT – Most Anticipated Releases of 2019 (Second Half)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is your most anticipated releases of the second half of 2019. (My first half anticipated releases are listed here, and my most anticipated LGBT+ releases I listed last week.) There is a linkup on Artsy Reader’s page so you can see what everyone else is looking forward to as well!

dragon republicWell first, I screwed up and had this one on my first half release list, and it’s coming out in August, so it belongs here. The Dragon Republic is the sequel to The Poppy War, which was an amazing blend of fantasy and military fiction. People who were lucky enough to get ARCs have been raving about it, so I’m definitely looking forward to that!

the deepContinuing my primal/predatory mermaids kick, The Deep should be coming out in November. The mermaids in The Deep are descended from pregnant black women that were thrown off of slave ships. It’s an interesting premise, based off of a song. I cannot wait to read it.

the testamentsThe Testaments is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale that we never knew we were getting. I don’t know if it was the success of the show, or the current state of politics that inspired Margaret Atwood, but either way, I will be reading this. I hope it doesn’t destroy me. It should be out in September.

house of salt and sorrowsHouse of Salt and Sorrows, due out in August, looks to be a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and I’m rather interested.

the storm crowThe Storm Crow is the beginning of a series focused on magical, elemental crows. I’m intrigued. Out in July.

the rage of dragonsThe Rage of Dragons looks to be an interesting world, where women can call down dragons and men can…become dragons? Maybe? I’m not sure, but I want to read it! Due out in July.

the starless seaI think I’ll be reading The Starless Sea around Christmas time – it comes out in November – because a love story set in a secret underground magical library that spans time and space sounds AMAZING.

Spin the dawnSpin the Dawn has made a huge splash among my Twitter friends, and it looks right up my alley. I can’t wait for July! (And that cover – WOW.)

fireborneAnd I haven’t seen much buzz about this one, but Fireborne looks really interesting. It’s billed as “Aegon Targaryen and Hermione Granger with dragons” and if that’s not an attention-catching sentence, I don’t know what is! (October)

slaySlay combines online gaming and racial tension, with a black woman programmer, and I am here for this. (September)

color outside the linesComing in at eleven – because I can never keep these things to just ten – is Color Outside The Lines, a YA anthology about interracial and LGBTQ+ relationships. It will be another holiday read, since it’s out in November.

Book Review: Her Royal Highness

her royal highnessHer Royal Highness
by Rachel Hawkins
Young Adult/Romance/LGBT
274 pages
Published May 2019

This is the sequel to Royals, which I reviewed a little while back. At the time, I wasn’t terribly enthused by Princess Flora, and that actually stuck through this book. I do, however, really like Millie. And I LOVE Rachel Hawkins. This woman writes sweet, fluffy romances that you know will have a happy ending, and makes them a joy to read. To see that approach with LGBT representation – lesbian and bisexual, in this specific case – is fantastic. Give us more! Hawkins still has several characters she could write stories about in this world, including the most eligible bachelor, Prince Sebastian. (Flora’s brother.) She could also write a prequel about the other Prince, since the first book was the romance between the Prince Alex’s fiancée’s sister and one of Sebastian’s best friends. Prince Alex and his fiancée were already a thing when the series opened. Daisy and Miles, the couple from the first book, do make an appearance in this one as well, as do Seb and the rest of the “Royal Wreckers.” (His posse of noble scoundrels.)

I liked that Millie explicitly likes both “lads and lasses, in the general sense” in the book; it’s not just implied. Far too often we’re just left to wonder, when a character dated or was married to one gender, but is shown loving a different gender, whether it’s because they discovered the new gender is their actual preference, or because they are bi/pan. Plenty of homosexuals were married to an opposite-gender partner before coming out. So it’s really nice to see explicitly bisexual rep!

I may have liked the side characters more than I liked Princess Flora. Lady Sakshi Worthington, especially, was great, and I may have been cheering more for her romance than for Millie and Flora!

My dislike of Flora aside, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, fun read, and Hawkins had better get working on the next story. I NEED Seb’s book!

From the cover of Her Royal Highness:

She’s her friend.
She’s her enemy.
She’s her . . . crush?

Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. Heartbroken and ready for a change of pace, Millie decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie is thrilled when she is accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling Highlands of Scotland.

The only problem: Millie’s roommate, Flora, is a total princess.

She’s also the actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can’t stand each other, but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Princess Flora could  be a new chapter in her love life, but Millie knows the chances of happily-ever-after are slim. After all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?