Book review: "Aerie" by Jon Keys


I requested Aerie from NineStar Press, LLC on NetGalley based on the description and the fact that it is a blend of fantasy and LGBTQIA+ genres.



Askari, Dhala, and Gyam grew up as childhood friends during happier days for the Chinjoka, an Iron Age people with the ability to shapeshift, but now they must learn their place among the tribe while dealing with both a devastating plague and war with the Misiq.


Ena is a young warrior for the more savage Misiq, a tribe whose cruelty exemplifies their deity—the Angry God. The Misiq, also shifters, have declared a genocidal war against the Chinjoka, blaming them for the disease devastating both tribes. As a result, they are locked in a battle for survival. But when Ena is shown compassion by those he means to harm, he begins to question all he’s ever known.


A chance meeting changes their lives, and maybe their tribes, forever.




Aerie sort of throws you in the world with little exposition. It took me a second to understand what was happening and why it was relevant. The writing is solid enough, however, lacks the descriptions that would have enriched the experience for me as a reader and made the world easier to comprehend.


The fantasy world of Aerie is set in Iron Age, which is not something that is very common for this genre, much less LGBTQIA+ romance. However, one of my favourite indie series has a similar setting and has set the bar pretty high, and, unfortunately, Aerie didn’t live up to my expectations.


I was a bit confused about what kind of creatures the characters shifted into: perhaps, some versions of prehistoric animals and birds and dinosaurs? I would have preferred more explanations concerning the magic system and how the gods fit into it as well. The world seemed a bit undeveloped, and most things were explained as “this is how things are”, and that was it.


My biggest problem was with the feud between Chinjoka and Misiq which was a big part of the plot. The author failed to fully explain why the war had begun, skipping over details and mentioning briefly that Misiq blamed the other tribe for the plague but never clarified why or how. The use of the world “genocide” in the book which is set in Iron Age was ridiculous. I would have understood “blood feud” or “blood war” or whatever else, but inserting a contemporary term into the narrative was a mistake.


The writing was not too bad, and once I familiarized myself with the world, I began to enjoy the story. I did find that the relationships were not as well developed, as I would have preferred. I do, however, appreciate the fact that the sexuality in this world was never an issue and the only conflicts resided either in the war between tribes or within the characters themselves.


The book ends with the issues resolved for the characters but not the tribes. I am rather curious to know whether this is supposed to be a stand-alone or not, as the plot certainly can be developed into a series.


However, I did enjoy Aerie to a certain extent and I would be interested in reading a sequel if there is ever one.


Rating: 3 stars


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Book review: "Ibuki" by Kathryn Sommerlot


I have requested a copy of “Ibuki” from NetGalley. It was marked as LGBTQIA and Fantasy read, which is one of my favourite genre combinations.



Ibuki: the gift of healing through breath. Chiasa has possessed the ability since childhood and shares it with her father as they care for their Inuru community. Chiasa has never doubted the stability of her simple life. That is, until Namika, a water-gifted priestess, shows up outside the Ibuki shrine gates with information promising Chiasa’s doom.


With Namika’s help, Chiasa is determined to find the secrets behind the ritual that will claim her life, but her growing feelings toward the other woman reach beyond her control, adding to the confusion. Time is rapidly running out, and Chiasa can’t seem to sort out the lies woven through the magic of Inuru and its emperor.


Caught in a tangled web of immortality, betrayal, and desire, Chiasa must find the right people to trust if she hopes to stop the ritual—or she will pay the consequences.




“Ibuki” is a novella long story set in a semi-alternative version of Imperial Japan. The magic in this world is elemental, and only few priests and priestess possess it. It reminded me a lot of various anime series that I watched years ago. The magic system is integrated seamlessly into the narrative and I liked the depictions of the life and everyday tasks that Chiasa had to do.


However, the story lacks depth, and the narrative is rather bland, once you look past trite metaphors and cliches. Even the big twist at the end of the story was obvious from ahead and made me only roll my eyes. There was almost no tension or suspense, and the ending didn’t surprise me at all.


“Ibuki” is a sweet story if you are okay with cliches and glaring plot holes. I did not find the relationship believable but it was not the worst I read in a short story.


I love Japanese culture and language and I studied it for some time years ago. It was lovely to read a story set in Japan, however, I did have issues with the writing.


In spite of my opinions on the writing, I am thankful to the publisher for giving me an opportunity to read and review “Ibuki”.


Rating: 2.75 stars


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Book review: Space Mac by Emma Jane

Space Mac  

I requested “Space Mac” from NineStar Press, LLC on NetGalley after reading the description. The cover caught my eye and I was very eager to read it. However, I struggled with writing this review.



Cocky escort Mackenzie “Mac” Jones has just the right type of blood so that when he steals an odd silver brooch from a client, it transports him to a strange planet. Frightened and confused—and confronted by aliens—he flees and ends up bumping into a handsome humanoid male named Teevar.


But Teevar and his companions are also on the run, and Mac finds himself embroiled in the affairs of his new friends with no idea how to get back to Earth. Can Mac and Teevar survive long enough to work out their feelings for each other? And will Mac ever see home again?




I was extremely pumped to read “Space Mac” - it sounded like a queer love story in space, which is totally my jam. However, I was bitterly disappointed.


The writing is very jerky and lack expressiveness or detail. Meagre descriptions made the narration confusing. It felt as if the characters jumped from one place to another. The emotions portrayed by characters felt artificial and their actions very often were not believable. I struggled to understand why things were happening the way they were and very quickly I stopped to care. There seemed to be lots of running and fighting and conning (or trying to out-con) somebody with no real purpose to the story. The main protagonist, Mac, wanted to get back to Earth but he only ever bemoaned his lack of knowledge how to do it and didn’t really do anything until very end.


His relationship with Teevar, which seemed to be a focal point of the book description, didn’t develop as I expected it to, and felt a bit forced. It was, however, the most tolerable part of “Space Mac”, even though I did find Mac behaving like a spoiled child around Teevar. Overall, I didn’t find any of the characters likable at all.


It was a rather short book, more of a novella really, but I struggled to finish it. I could have dealt with jumpy plot if the writing had a better flow, which, sadly, was not the case. The only saving grace of “Space Mac” is its cover - it is stunning!


Nevertheless, I am grateful to the publisher for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.


Rating: 2 stars

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