Feyguard: Royal by Anthea Sharp

Feyguard; Royal by Anthea Sharp(Cover picture courtesy of Barnes & Noble.)

The adventures begun in the Feyland trilogy continue, where a high-tech computer game becomes a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie.

Rich-boy gamer Royal Lassiter lives on easy mode—until everything falls apart. Dark faeries are plotting to invade the mortal world, his controlling mom has turned home into enemy territory, and he can’t deny his irresistible attraction to newcomer Brea, despite the danger lurking in her mysterious eyes.

Forced to undertake a perilous mission for the Dark Queen of Faerie, Brea Cairgead finds living among humans and hiding her true nature as one of the fey folk a fearsome challenge—especially when her emotions prove all too vulnerable to a certain human boy. Torn between impossible loyalties, she must serve her queen… though it may cost her heart.

Can love between mortal and fey ever have a happy ending?

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from Anthea Sharp in exchange for an honest review.]

I’ve never really liked Roy as a character in Anthea Sharp’s novels, both Feyland (the original series) and Feyguard (this new spinoff series) so I’ll admit I was a little reluctant to read things from his point of view for a whole book.  It’s a testament to Anthea Sharp’s writing talent that once I actually got going, I really didn’t mind him so much.

Roy is the kind of person that hides his true self behind a facade, both at school and at home because people would disapprove.  In the case of school there’s the usual peer pressure to stay cool but at home his mum really is more of a ruthless CEO type rather than the type of mum who would approve of Roy’s forays into art.  In a situation like that, it’s easy for him to fall back on the rich playboy facade rather than expose his innermost self.  Into all this, enter Brea Cairgead, a fey girl sent by the Dark Queen to make more humans susceptible to falling into Feyland so that they may live.  She can see beyond his facade even while she creates her own, so when they start falling in love it makes for an interesting relationship dynamic.

At the same time this book isn’t just about Roy as a character.  We see Jennet and Tamlin and some of the other Feyguard as well, but it sort of continues the story of how the fey are desperate to bring unsuspecting humans into their world.  In a way I feel sorry for them since most of the mortal realm doesn’t believe in them and their very survival is in peril because of that.  However, their methods don’t lend much sympathy and in the end the fey are capricious and often quite vicious so I can’t feel too sorry for them.

This is in many ways a character driven novel, but as you can probably guess there’s also a pretty interesting plot as well.  There was nothing all that unexpected in the plot until the end, where there’s a huge twist.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it solves the problem of Roy and Brea’s fey-human attraction in a brilliant if semi-tragic way.  I’m a sucker for some portrayals of star-crossed love and this is definitely one of them.

All in all, Anthea Sharp’s second book in the Feyguard series was even better than I expected.  Roy still gave off rich playboy vibes in the beginning of the novel but by the end he’s actually a pretty nice guy.  So there you have it: magic, character development and a pretty fast-paced plot.  I certainly can’t ask for more than that.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

Discussion: Who are Book Reviews For?

One night as I travelled down the terrible depths of YouTube I came across several videos of authors ranting about reviewers and book reviews in general.  Later that same week I was given a link by a reader to a particularly incoherent rant that I won’t link to.  All of this vitriol and empty rhetoric really made me thing, though: who are book reviews for?

Well, my opinion is pretty simple:

1.  Book reviews are primarily for my own enjoyment because I like analyzing books but in general book reviews are targeted at readers.

2.  This is not to say that authors, publishers and/or editors can’t benefit from book reviews, but that those benefits aren’t intentional.

If you’re an author and expect an unpaid volunteer book reviewer like myself to write a 2000+ critique of your novel, you’re insane.  Hire yourself an editor if you need a critique that detailed.  (Also: a person can have an informed opinion about literature without having a degree in English Literature or the like.  Just like a person can be perfectly fluent in a second language without having a degree in it.)

My question for you guys this week is this: Who do you think book reviews (and other reviews) are for?  Why?

Off Topic: Gremlins and Traumatic Veterinarians

As you guys probably noticed, I didn’t post a thing on Monday and this post is pretty late today.  Well, that’s in part because little Tyrion is still settling in but also because I discovered one thing: he has ear mites.  The poor little guy was born in a garage on a farm so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised but taking him to the vet was a little unexpected.

While the vet was syringing a cleaning fluid into his ears as I held him (he was not happy in the least) he pooped on the examination table and promptly fainted.  In hindsight it’s funny but at the time he gave me quite a scare, just laying there like a limp rag with his tongue sticking out.  Apparently fainting is a normal nervous response to getting fluid syringed into ones’ ears; it’s how my RN friend told me they check for brain dead patients in the ER.  So at least I know Tyrion’s brain is working fine?  (Although he’s really not too keen on vets right now.)

On the upside though, he’s making himself right at home and the gremlins that were plaguing me seem to be gone for now.  I have consistent internet access and I think I’ve discovered what’s wrong with my printer so things are on the upside now.  And now that I have wireless internet I can finally download the books that have been sitting in my NetGalley dashboard for a little while.  Things are looking up but even if they weren’t, there are no such things are gratuitous kitten pictures:



Guest Post: The Growing LGBT Fiction Market And What It Means For Indie Authors

One of my earliest memories of the growing acceptance of People Like Me happened about 20 years ago at Barnes & Noble. There our authors were—on the shelves of a mainstream suburban bookstore, arranged just as nicely as the nearby rows of history and self-help books. I paced this special wall of GAY & LESBIAN books carefully, judging if it was some kind of bait for a trap-door. But the only person who approached me was a staff member reminding me that it was near closing.

That was my first purchase of a gay novel from a non-gay bookstore and I felt as though my receipt was a political statement. My sale counted; it would create an order for a replacement copy for another gay customer to buy, and keep our GAY & LESBIAN literature in circulation.

Looking back, it was also a turning point in how I saw myself, a validation that I’ve never forgotten. Life in The City still called, for I couldn’t imagine living as a gay man in the conservative suburb where I grew up. But the fact that I found myself represented at that mainstream bookstore gave me a little more hope for my future, that maybe The City wasn’t the only place I might eventually find acceptance. I don’t even remember fearfully looking over my shoulder on the way to the parking lot: representation without repercussion.

Much has changed in the world since then, including the term GAY & LESBIAN itself. Buying alternative books first went from in-store to online, offering privacy in the transaction but not the product. All books then still had covers, titles, and artwork that might make a reader think twice about pulling out her purchase on the train to work. But today, with e-readers, there is privacy both in the transaction and the product—that gentle, elderly lady two train seats away could be reading Emma or erotica. The e-reader offers endless options, and privacy for it all.

At one time, the friendly question, “What are you reading?” would have prompted someone to tip the book backward to show the cover. With a Nook, someone will tip the device forward and show the words. How do you judge a book, and a reader, without a cover? You don’t.

And therein lies the potential in the LGBT market—it’s not solely about the intended reader, but the read. Movies and television shows have expanded their casts to include more “diversity” not as sidekicks but as central characters, reflecting the everyday interactions many people have with LGBT folk in real life. Our stories, and lives, are in the news almost daily and our marriages are celebrated in the Sunday New York Times.

This niche market, GAY & LESBIAN, has grown to include bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, and ally voices—visibility that transcends gender, age, class, race, and sexual orientation itself. I have received responses to Gaybash from heterosexual women in their 70s as well as from gay men in their 30s and 40s. All drawn to the same book with primary characters who are gay, all finding something in the story that speaks to them.

Readers crave authenticity from fresh voices—of lived experiences, of fantasy, of tragedy, of science fiction. While there are some technical barriers to entry in the formatting of an e-book, these barriers are nothing compared to the sentinels who decided what did and did not get published, and largely still do. But sharing a personal journey has never been easier and blogs abound, just a few search words away. Though there are still biases in how traditional media covers e-books, e-publishing has expanded to the point that it’s no longer “suicide” to DIY. And with the wide reach of social media, I can’t predict precisely who my readers—and champions—will be. What fun!

This is an exciting time for indie authors, particularly those who don’t see themselves, and their lives, represented on today’s bestseller lists. The marketing of LGBTIQA e-books, whether fiction or nonfiction, proves that the hard work comes after the writing. But to tell your story, personally and honestly, and have it “out there” for others to read and absorb is a feeling of true liberation.

It’s the same feeling I had when I purchased that book so long ago at Barnes & Noble. Except now, the words are mine.


David TestDavid Collins lives and works in Chicago. Gaybash is his first novel.

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