Corey, Kitty, and Sequella Review Catalyst by Fletcher DeLancey


Sequella: Wow, another sequel in the Chronicles of Alsea already. Amazing! Unfortunately it is still sitting untouched on my eReader.

Corey: What’s wrong with you? I’ve already read Catalyst, re-read Vellmar the Blade, and re-read Catalyst again. Or at least my favorite bits.

Sequella: Show-off! Real life is happening.

Kitty: And some nice alien bits there be. Also, Corey, you sound like a judgmental speed reader.

Corey: But… This is it! The novel that fills in all the adventures of Captain Ekatya Serrado and Dr. Lhyn Rivers out in the Universe while Lancer Tal and Bondlancer Salomen Opah were finding each other in the Without a Front books. And the framing is perfect: The first three days of the Alsean version of a honeymoon (“Alsean bonding break”) for Tal and Salomen in which family share stories –

Kitty: – and everyone avoids explaining to little brother Jaros why Tal’s neck looks like a treecat attacked her.

Sequella: So we get Tal and Salomen time? That makes me want to chuck real life out of the window and start reading immediately!

Corey: Right. Okay. So on one hand, all the shifting relationships amongst Ekatya, Tal, Lhyn, Lead Templar Lanaril Satran, and Lead Guard Vellmar are explored in the moment. On the other hand, Ekatya and Lhyn each share a wrenching story about their lives after the Voloth war described in the first Alsean book The Caphenon. A very early scene in which Ekatya helps Lhyn survive a PTSD-like episode lets us know she experienced something traumatic. And yes, it turns out to be VERY traumatic. Whew.

Sequella: How Sci-Fi is the book. Do we get new races? Societies?

Corey: Some of the tech aspects of FTL travel are explained (and felt), and you definitely get a dose of Space Opera political shenanigans and a military-style raid on a planet. Not so much world-building. I enjoyed the action, but my re-reads were all about the aftermath. So emotionally intense.

Sequella: Is this a book mainly about Ekatya and Lhyn, or is a new couple introduced, like it happens so often in Lesfic?

Kitty: Ahem. Dr. Wells.

Corey: Oh stop it, Kitty. You are so homosexist. Who knows who the ship’s chief surgeon is into? And there’s so much to learn about Ekatya, Lhyn, Tal. Salomen, Lanaril, and Vellmar… who needs new couples? One of my favorite moments is when Salomen points out to Tal that the Lancer doesn’t get to decide how to handle the connection between herself and Ekatya… That is something that involves all four women, including Lhyn. And the tensions between Ekatya and Lanaril are nasty intense. So awkward when your wife’s best friend makes you uncomfortable. Frankly, these books are developing into the ultimate friends-and-lovers-and-tyrees emotional mash-up. I adore it all.

Sequella: What about other kick-ass female characters?

Kitty: Dr. Wells…

Corey: Yes, Dr. Wells. But also so much more Lhyn, who is a warrior in her own way. I craved even more Lhyn. We finally get her perspective, but during such unusual and harrowing circumstances. Really, I wish I knew Ekatya and Lhyn as well as I feel I know Tal and Salomen.

Sequella: So Kitty and Corey, who of you liked the book better? Kitty, how many bookmarks did you place?

Corey: Oh, don’t get her started. Me, I highlighted 20 quotes that just made me squee and bookmarked 6 scenes for their (non-sexual) intensity. Basically, they make me cry or clutch my heart. The first time I read the book, the action sequences carried me along but I came back to re-read the emotions.

Kitty: I bookmarked two make-out scenes.

Corey: Sigh. Is that a spoiler? Bottom line, Sequella, is that life may be happening but you need to pause and go visit Alsea RIGHT NOW.

You can download a sample or purchase Catalyst by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews Point of View: How to Use the Different Point of View Types, Avoid Head-Hopping, and Choose the Best Point of View for Your Book (Goodreads Review)

I found this book to be pretty easy to understand with very accessible language. As someone who works with authors to help them make their books better, I need to have a solid understanding of different types of POV, how to identify violations, and offer suggestions for fixing problems. This book is organized in a way that makes it a valuable resource for referencing later on.

If you’re an author, there are loads of exercises that can help develop skills, too.

I highly recommend all authors pick this up.

Nikki reviews Time of Our Lives by Jane Waterton


This book brings the reader into an all-lesbian retirement community in Austraila called OWL Haven. Here we meet a cast of characters all learning to live again after deciding to embark on some big life changes. Some are here for health reasons, some because of loneliness, others for the sense of community they so desperately need, building a family with each other they didn’t expect to find again.

Although a true ensemble piece with a multitude of characters (that can be quite funny together) most of the story centers around six women. Meg and Allie have been best friends for decades, Pat and Bella are dealing with a resurgence of cancer, while Daphne and Swallow (character’s name, not sure why) are finding unexpected love late in life. There are somewhat serious issues these women are having to deal with, their journeys coming with substantial bumps in the road. Even though most admit by this age they should probably know better than make the mistakes they do, they still manage to screw up a good thing on more than one occasion. They taught me the art of communication is something you never stop learning, even with decades of relationship experience under your belt.

This book isn’t without flaws, as some characters had responses that felt a little out of character for how they were presented throughout. Some instances made me wish Allie, Daphne and Pat would get smacked over the head a few times for their emotional immaturity and lack of self-awareness. However, these friends were all adorable together, had each others backs (even when they didn’t want them to) and made me laugh with their antics throughout. A sweet story about women in the twilight of their lives, and I’m glad I read it. Those of you I’ve heard complaining about the lack of romance storylines for women of a certain age, pick this one up as there’s plenty to warm your heart cockles.

You can download a sample or purchase Times of our Lives by clicking here.

Sunny Reviews Blurred Lines by K.D. Williamson


Blurred Lines by K.D. Williamson brings up an interesting discussion and almost makes me wonder if the double meaning of the title was intentional. The book originated as Rizzoli & Isles fan fiction and, with some editing, ended up being published as an original novel. I did not read the fan fiction version of this story, but I will admit to being a long-time fan of the TV show. I’ve even dabbled in a little R&I fan fiction writing myself. This book was recommended to me by a couple of people who really liked it and thought I would too.

I think I would have enjoyed this book a little more if I had NOT been a fan of Rizzoli & Isles. The characters were so obviously based on the TV characters that it was impossible for me to envision them any other way. Even though the physical descriptions and names were changed, they had the exact same character traits and behaviors as those on TV. In my mind, I was watching the TV show as I read – which could be a real compliment in the fan fiction world. I got really frustrated early on with the names because they weren’t the names I was used to the characters being called – especially the secondary characters. Once I got familiar with the new names, the story flowed a little smoother for me.

That said, I actually liked the story and the relationship between Kelli and Nora. Again, had I not been so familiar with Rizzoli & Isles, I think I may have really liked the characters – eventually. I thought that Kelli was a real ass in the beginning and Nora wasn’t very likable at all, but they both sort of grew on me by the end, especially when they began interacting more with each other. Kelli’s profanity was a little over done, and the subplot of Antony, the drug-addicted brother, seemed to be an unnecessary distraction to the rest of the book, but Kelli and Nora had good chemistry and it was fun to see them learn how to find their way as a couple. There were a couple of things that were alluded to that I don’t think would really make sense to a reader if they weren’t familiar with Rizzoli & Isles – Jane/Kelli’s history with Korsak/Williams and Williams’ personal relationship with Kelli’s mother (which I think happened only in the books and fan fiction, but not in the TV show.) The setting was changed from Boston to Seattle, but there was one line late in the book that threw me: Kelli and Nora are in the car and made a turn “toward Beacon Hill.” I’ve since learned that there’s a Beacon Hill area of Seattle too. Another blurred line! The setting didn’t really play a huge part in the book, so I didn’t really have a problem with that change like I did with the character names.

The part that I did have a problem with and just couldn’t get past was this: these were not original characters. As a reader and occasional writer of fan fiction, I don’t believe that a story that was written and posted for the masses to read as fan fiction should be removed from that realm and published as an original work that will then be sold for personal gain. I felt the same way about the 50 Shades books. Part of the reason fan fiction is tolerated by a lot of writers and creators who feel their work has been stolen or at least infringed upon, is that fan fic writers will not profit from their work! That’s the whole reason to put the little disclaimer at the beginning – something like: These characters are not mine and no profit will be made from their use in this work.

I’ve read a lot of published books that were based on the Xena characters. While they have the physical traits of Xena and Gabrielle, I’ve never really felt like I was watching a Xena episode while reading a book. If I read a book that I think would make a good movie, I often visualize an actress who I think fits the character. So, I do realize that there can be some gray areas (maybe not 50 shades, but still gray) in writing and creating characters. I also know that some very accomplished writers of lesbian fiction got their start in writing and adapting Xena fan fiction into published novels. But, in my opinion, that still doesn’t make it right to use someone else’s characters without their permission and/or the legal authorization to do so.

I think it’s great that fan fiction writers are being recognized as talented, publishable writers. I just wish that the publishers and editors and others who recognize this would encourage them to write purely original stories. I have no idea if the 50 Shades books were changed dramatically or held fast to the original characters. I’ve not read any of the books nor seen the any of the movies (original or adapted.) The Blurred Lines characters were given new names and new physical descriptions, but there is no question in my mind that these characters are still Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. Ms. Williamson tells a good story and is not a bad writer at all. I hope in the future she will use those talents to create new, original characters that stand on their own and do not blur the lines between fan fiction and a truly original novel.

You can purchase or download a sample of Blurred Lines by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews Departure from the Script by Jae


I’m late to the party a lot. It can take me years to finally read a book on my TBR list but, if I hear enough good things about it from folks I trust, I’ll get to it.

The Hollywood Series by Jae has been on that list for a mighty long time. It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of Jae’s historical fiction. I’ve read Backwards to Oregon more times than I can count – the sequels nearly as many times. Second Nature and the Portland Police Bureau series is another favorite. So I was pretty hopeful that I’d find another set of books to immerse myself in for a good long while.

Departure from the script is a quick read that focuses on Amanda Clark, aspiring actress, and photographer Michelle Osinski. They meet under less than ideal circumstances but quickly become close. As it happens in most romances, emotional and physical attractions happen fast!

The story, itself, was interesting. Even though the book is novella length, very unlike Jae, I felt connected to the characters. We don’t get a load of background on either of the leads but what we do get gives us a great idea of their histories and personalities. We even get to spend some time with the families as we really get to understand what’s important to each of them. I very much liked Amanda and Michelle.

The writing was good and the dialogue felt natural. These women felt like real folks and it’s always a joy to read a romance that has believable situations and genuine characters. There were no misunderstandings or exaggerated angst – I had not a single instance of wanting to shake the hell out of someone. I don’t think I had any bullshit moments, either. I think the only thing that got a sigh from me was the number of times physically and/or emotionally close moments were disturbed. Even the characters mention it at least once. But, honestly, I liked them and the story so much, it was very bearable.

If you’re a fan of Jae’s romances and haven’t read this one yet, you’ll probably enjoy it very much.

You can download a sample or purchase Departure from the Script by clicking here.

Sequella, Corey, and Kitty Review Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge by Fletcher DeLancey


Kitty: It’s a three-way!

Corey: A review, Kitty. A three-way review.

Sequella: A sequel! Finally! About time after that damn cliffhanger.

Corey: Do we even need to do a synopsis? I cannot imagine anyone jumping into this book without first reading Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge. But let the record show I sobbed with both happiness and angst almost immediately after tapping open Chapter 1.

Kitty: Oh please let me provide the synopsis! I bookmarked exactly —

Corey: Kitty! You will not give away the number of sexy times in the book. Let the readers discover that on their own.

Sequella: I think Kitty is still sitting in the co-pilot seat waiting for the Lancer.

Kitty: But… neck ridges… and… other ridges…

Corey: Just hush your mouth. Sequella, thoughts on the end to the cliffhanger?

Sequella: Just for the record, cliffhangers should be outlawed and it would have been no problem to end The Producer’s Challenge two or three chapters before it. However, the cliffhanger was a great way to shove the happy couple and me off cloud nine and start kicking some ass. (Them, not me. I was just cheering from the sidelines).

Corey: We’ll be of that generation that says “Remember when we had to wait an entire month for the sequel? Young readers these days get instant gratification, the spoiled brats.” Even then, it was only a download away from our e-readers once released. Did you go through a few recovery steps, Sequella, trying to deal with your reading addiction?

Sequella: Are you asking me how much time I spent on the Chronicles of Alsea website looking for updates or how often I googled Lancer Tal only to come up empty handed?

Corey: Ha! I just kept re-reading the completed books and cursing in Alsean. Anyway, The Caphenon was action-oriented, and Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge got down to both politics and romance. Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge seemed to bring back the action in a fierce way.

Sequella: The sword fighting was awesome!

Corey: Yes! And so much more intimate than the Voloth attacking the entire planet in The Caphenon. I really personalized my hatred of the bad guys in this book.

Kitty: Not ALL of the action centered around hate and swords.

Corey: Yes, Kitty. Now, let’s get down to other important questions. In an earlier review, I declared my caste to be scholar. Sequella, I am guessing you are a crafter?

Sequella: Of course. The caste system is something I like very much about Alsea. I like guessing castes for all people that are never directly mentioned but also part of Alsea. What about the Lancer’s cook or the people flying the public transports?

Kitty: I would be a religious scholar, because I love hearing all those women scream “Oh Fahla” when —

Corey: — when they pray. Ahem. Speaking of which… You know I love me some Lead Templar Lanaril. Who are you most eager for DeLancey to feature in future Alsean books?

Sequella: Ahhh…my favorite question, because that means MORE sequels. Lanaril is definitely someone deserving another story. Also, there is already a hint of another Lhyn and Ekatya story happening between the end of The Caphenon and the end of The Warrior’s Challenge. And the one I am most anxiously waiting for is Vellmar! She is a sword throwing Xena lookalike in my head.

Kitty: Colonel Razine. Someone with such perfect mental control who’s done such dark things for the right reasons, makes me shiver. So much promise for more intrigue with that one, and can you imagine if she ever did let herself give up some control… in the right situation, away from the job… Purr.

Sequella: What did you think about the end of the book? Too shiny and overdone?

Corey: Nope. In fact, I appreciated the time spent with Jaros in the aftermath, as well as with the rest of the Hol-Opah family/community. And Micah’s revelations, too. I was loving the eight whole chapters of reading in the final section; the opposite of a cliffhanger. Very satisfying, particularly because I am expecting many more Chronicles to come.

Sequella: Absolutely! So we agree we all liked it? I got the “stop-reading-rest-your-eyes” warning from my reading app five times. That’s how hard is was for me to put the book down and participate in real life.

Corey: Oh yes! I read so steadily that I had to stop and charge my e-reader even though it advertises “A single charge can last up to six weeks (based on a half hour of reading per day)…” You do the math on how much I read in one day. Kitty, what did you think? Kitty?

Kitty: Leave me alone. I’m checking out my bookmarks.

Sequella: And, last but not least, some survival tips for the looong wait until the next sequel:
1. Reread, starting with The Caphenon. There will be smaller things that you didn’t discover on your first hasty OMG-it’s-so-good read.
2. Check the Ylva site for any announcements about upcoming sequels or maybe a short story in one of their anthologies. You never know, there might be something for your inner Kitty McSaucerton in the next Slippery Folds anthology.
3. Make sure at least one of your friends also read the Alsea books. It’s nice to have someone with whom to discuss your addiction.
4. Read Fletcher’s Star Trek: Voyager fanfiction. It’s perfectly fine to never have watched the TV show. And I can promise you, Lancer Tal is in there waiting to be discovered. She is different from the improved version in the published books, but it’s still nice to visit with her.
5. Are you a writer yourself? Write Alsea fanfiction! This will help you AND us! Make sure you include some nipple clamps for Kitty’s enjoyment.

Corey: Okay, you went there. I’m just going to sit over here, blushing.

Kitty: Purrrrrrrrrr.

You can download a sample or purchase a copy of Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge by clicking here.