andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards

450 books, 106 judges, all over the world, and many, many submissions, from indie publishers, from mainstream publishers and self-published authors. And, to me more important of everything, we raised $12.313,92 donated to LGBT charities:

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First of all a big thank to all the judges who helped me to arrive to this result:

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And now what all you are waiting, the 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. And the Rainbow Awards go to:


"Rainbow Pride Cheesecake" is the official pin-up boy of the Rainbow Awards especially created by Paul Richmond

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"Air de Capri" is a 1923 painting by Gerda Wegener, with Gerda herself and her husband, transgender male to female, Lili Elbe

This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at https://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/5329082.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.
andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best Lesbian Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
Cari Hunter - Alias


Alias

"Lovely read, and I usually hate first person. Stellar job."

" Once again, Hunter doesn't disappoint. If you're looking for a well-written, thrilling mystery with fully drawn characters, an exciting plot, plus a marvelous Welsh setting, this book is for you."

"A solid entry by an excellent writer. Lots of tension, mystery, romance. First-rate performance on all levels."


2.
Jeannie Levig - A Heart to Call Home


A Heart to Call Home

"Wonderfully written book with a cast of characters that you feel like you know. Not only the MC’s but the supporting players too. As I was reading I could feel the raw emotions felt by both Dakota and Jessica. The author kept me enthralled throughout the entire story. Definitely a winner."

"We romance-lovers love romance because we know we’re going to get an HEA at the end. Some people might think this makes the writer’s job easy, but in reality, it poses a difficult question: how can you write a story that’s so intense that a reader can’t possibly see how it will work out for the MCs in the end, even though the reader knows that it will? Because this intensity and uncertainty — uncertainty in the face of the certain HEA that the reader knows is coming — is what makes it a great story. This is that kind of story. The setup presents two engaging and thoroughly relatable MCs with seemingly insurmountable internal and external difficulties, then lets them muddle through them. And it works brilliantly. On top of this, there are several clever and heartwarming subplots. All in all, it’s a brilliantly written and thoroughly satisfying romance. Brava!"

"An elegant, accessible and sure-handed writing style supports a well-designed plot with multi-dimensional characters and a Sophie’s Choice of conflicting emotions and difficult decisions. This is a page-turner in the true sense of the word, and it pulls you forward on its momentum of real feelings and compelling dialog. Levig hits all the reader’s buttons and takes one along on a ride that is both sensually breath taking and smoothly heart-wrenching. The resolution is most satisfying because the author is a master storyteller."


3.
Caren J. Werlinger - When the Stars Sang


When the Stars Sang

"Absolutely loved this one. Quirky romance in a quirky setting. Loved the Island and the characters I met especially Blossom. Was completely drawn into getting to know both of the MC’s and their journey’s. This is not the first but definitely my favorite from this author. She has honed her storytelling and made it an art!"

"Heartwarming. Great characterizations and delightful storytelling here."

"This story has all the feels! I will remember this book for a long time (had a book hangover when I was done). It’s not a short read but it was very touching and engaging. Great characters. Very realistic and relateable."



Books in the top 25% rate range

4.
Geonn Cannon - Can You Hear Me


Can You Hear Me

"A bloody good story. It would make an awesome movie."

"Loved this story. From start to finish the author kept my interest in all aspects of the storyline. The characters are well written and  he makes you invested in the outcome between them. Setting was unique in certain aspects and really made me feel like I was sitting in the locations being described."

"This is a great read. I loved it right from the start and it offer not only an interesting plot but also a very unusual one. It is difficult to find books that surprise me, and this definitely surprised me in the best way possible. I appreciated how atypical this story is and how easily kept me totally engaged in the story from start to end. This may be easily one of my favourite book of 2019. Really really really good!"


5.
C.J. Murphy - Frame by frame


frame by frame

"Loved this one from start to finish. I felt drawn into the story. Loved the character and how they both struggled with coming to terms with their fears. Great supporting cast as well."

"I loved this story! Very sweet and well written."

"This novel started out with a bang: immediately the setting was so rich and the characters that inhabited it were so unique and complex that I was sucked right in. The existing relationships between Val and Laurel, Ree, and the rest of the Cool Springs denizens were subtle and engrossing, and had me so curious over the back story between them all, how they met and where they were going. I was engrossed. I loved Val: equal parts unapologetic and reclusive, she had a fragility that pulled me in but a strength that just got more and more fascinating the more I learned about her. While I feel the pacing suffers a bit toward the end when certain plot revelations were given over more to exposition than the detailed and considered encounters I had become used to, by that time, I was so in love with the characters that I was more interested in finding out how their story finished. Contrasting Laurel's internal struggles with what might be against Val's external and internal struggles with what came before was genius and very effective. Thank you for a lovely read about acceptance and love!"


Lynn Ames - Chain Reactions

Chain Reactions

"I really enjoyed this book. It was a breath of fresh air. Ms. Ames does not put out a plethora of books, but the ones she does put out are well thought out and a joy to read."

"Great storytelling. Well written characters that you got to know in depth. Loved Nora and wished I could have known her better. Settings spot on. Felt a little sluggish in some spots but overall an awesome read."

"Great book! I was deeply moved by this story and love to read about strong, intelligent female characters. I cried big ugly tears!"


6.
Jeannie Levig - A Wish Upon a Star


A Wish Upon a Star

"A wonderfully engaging love story, featuring two believable, likable middle-aged women."

"Loved this heartwarming unique story. Had some moments that made me laugh out loud too. The author nailed the autism arc spot on. I liked how Erica and Leslie figure out how to make it work and how Sienna responds to a new person in her life."

"I just really enjoyed this story, from the opening paragraph right to the very end."


7.
Heather Blackmore - It's Not a Date


It's Not a Date

" I had already read this one and went to refresh myself with the story and ended up rereading the whole book again. Totally enjoyed it. Loved the 2 MC’s Kade and Jen and both of their vulnerabilities. Also loved the relationship between Holly and Kade. Interesting story arc. "

"This book hit a little close to home for me… my mother suffers with dementia. The story itself was pretty good."

"Excellent romance with a convincing setting and great character development."


8.
Clare Ashton - The Goodmans


The Goodmans

"This was my 1 st Claire Ashton book and it won’t be my last. The writing is wonderful and the characters, all of them are written superbly. I felt I got to know each and everyone. She made me feel like part of the family drawing me into the story itself. The plot line was complex but each piece of the story was integral to the whole."

"The Goodmans was total „reading bliss“. I had to laugh was near tears, had „deep thoughts", the whole gamut of emotions was addressed. A rom com where you can see disaster looming and the author turns the right corner with tongue-in-cheek. The characters are revealed layer by layer and the writing was superb. The whole package of goodness is wrapped up in this book."


9.
Ruth Simkin - Dear Sophie


Dear Sophie: Life Lessons in Feminism & Medicine

"Dear Sophie is a flawless memoir that is not only a story of Dr Ruth Simkin, but a story of feminism and women in Canada and the field of medicine, skillfully woven together with valuable life lessons. I feel grateful to Dr Simkin not only for her pioneering work that improved the quality of life for so many women, but for sharing her experiences. I found this memoir not only insightful and inspiring and a bit shocking, but at times funny. I learned more than I expected. Thank you!"

"Beautiful memoir of a fascinating life. Simkin's grand-niece Sophie is a very fortunate young woman. I wish I had such a handbook to life from my own grandmother – who had almost no formal education and was gone before I realized how many questions I should have asked."


Jae - Just for Show

Just for Show

" This is a fresh take on a familiar setup. The characters are likable, and although as a romance, we all know how it’s going to end, I was never sure *how* the characters were going to get there. The writing and storytelling sparkle. Really well done."

"This story sucked me in right from the get go. I loved it all."ù

"A thoroughly enjoyable fake relationship romance. A fun read und perfectly written."


10.
Suzie Carr - The Curvy Side of Life


The Curvy Side of Life

"I enjoyed this story very much. Characters were funny and well fleshed out. Totally can relate to Faith and her journey Easy read attributed to the writing style. Only down side was it was a little wordy in some spots."

"I found this story full of angst and drama. One of those that you don’t know how it will end until it ends. The premise was solid as was the setting. It was a gripping story and an enjoyable read."


11.
Jae - Paper Love


Paper Love

"Awesome book. I loved learning a bit about Germany through this story. Well written with great main and supporting characters. Anja and Susanne fit very well together."

"This was an alright story but it was hard to get into. It did flow well and could have been great if it was a bit faster paced."

"Another on of Jae‘s great romances. Set in one of the cutest towns in Germany."


12.
Judith Branzburg - The Liberation of Ivy Bottini


Liberation of Ivy Bottini: A Memoir of Love and Activism

"I love a good Bio/memoir. I love reading about people’s lives. Having all the pics scattered throughout the book, made it seem all that more real. Like I knew Ivy and the rest of the people."

"Branzburg definitely chose the right POV (in first person) for the telling of Ivy Bottini’s story because the narrative rings true and authentic with the inimitable Bottini “voice.” The story is a fascinating, laugh-out-loud, cry-real-tears-of empathy celebration of this infamous trailblazer’s remarkable story."


13.
G. Benson - Who'd Have Thought


Who'd Have Thought

"Who'd Have Thought was a very smooth read, with characters who I easily came to care about."

"Highly recommended fake romance."


14.
S.L. Kassidy - Learning to Walk Again


Learning to Walk Again (Scarred Book 5)

" A well-written story populated with relatable characters."

15.
Wendy Hudson - Meant to be Me

Meant to Be Me

"Well written suspenseful romantic page turning story. All of the characters are well written and intense. Highly recommended."

"Beautifully written, this taut, tense novel has the appeal of a Thriller and the lure of a Romance. Hudson does a great job of convincing us of the madness of the stalker while painting the main characters as credible in their confusion and confrontation with both good and evil. Would have liked to understand more about the antoganists’s motivation, that is, to have seen a bit more digging into the psyche. Overall a talented and intriguing execution of a compelling premise."


Iza Moreau - Swamp Girl

Swamp Girl

"The moment I started this book, I was immersed. The narrator's voice is so conversational and what exposition is needed is woven fluidly (almost unnoticeably) into the narrative, which is an incredible skill. I'm giving extra points for the setting, which becomes its very own character. Whether we are in the dark, dank grit of the NYC subway, crowded into the borough where Sixteen lives and works, or sweltering in the swamp of the Florida Everglades, I was completely pulled into the location. The atmosphere created by the author is vivid and tangible, especially in the first half: grime and crime and a young woman who is street-savvy and capable but knows she's not invincible. I really connected with Sixteen here and was intrigued by the people who surrounded her. This drops off a little once we get to Florida and the action plot gets going, but this section is rife with unique side characters, and the women in the story - Sixteen, Carmen, and Dorinda - are well fleshed out, with real world problems; everyone has their own traumas and they are all given weight and importance regardless of what the other characters have gone through, but equally, the reader is given an ending push toward hope, of healing, of love, and of growth. Whether I believe a girl would hop a plane to Florida on a whim is beside the point; this story is so engaging that any leaps of faith are nicely folded in. I really enjoyed this."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure story. I loved the main character and her voice. I enjoyed the author's imagination and writing style."


16.
C.J. Murphy - Gold Star Chance


Gold Star Chance (Five Points Book 1)

"Another winner from this author. Loved the storied history of the 2 MC’s Jax and Chance. Characters are well developed. Definitely fits the romance genre."

"I really enjoyed this story. I read it, and I know I’ll read it again, just because for me it was that good."


17.
Chris Paynter - Just a Touch Away


Just a Touch Away

"Nice easy flowing romance with well written characters. Loved the lake setting. This author continues to delivery awesome romance to the genre."

18.
Caren J. Werlinger - A Bittersweet Garden


A Bittersweet Garden

"The interwoven threads of all the characters, both past and present, are just about pitch-perfect."

"This book drew me deeply into its world so much so that I felt I was having the dreams the protagonist was having and feeling the misty rain and sparkling sunshine as she walked and rode around this new-but-familiar bit of Ireland.  It even made me want to watch the movie that’s central to it to immerse myself further into this world.  The weaving of the generations-old Irish ancestry, the fae realms, the slow and natural evolution of romance, the deep family ties, the finding one’s true self, connecting to the earth, all those elements made for an amazing journey that will stay with me."

"Well-paced, well-plotted and well-written. Imagery is vibrant, and off-sets the retreaded plot."


19.
Susan Stocker - Kiss Your Elbow (An Embellished Memoire of Growing Up in the 50's and 60's)


Kiss Your Elbow: An Embellished Memoire about Growing Up Gay in the 50's and 60's

"This was a fantastic memoir. It was funny, poignant and relatable. I didn't want to stop reading it and I honestly am not a fan of Memoirs! Can't wait for book number two to continue the story!"

"Loved this story from start to finish. Great storytelling style. Felt like I was literally along for the ride. Had me smiling and relating. Great character portrayals. "


Jae - Not the Marrying Kind

Not the Marrying Kind (Fair Oaks Book 2)

"The writing and characters pulled me in right away."

"The story was well written, and I felt more sorry for Sasha than I did Ash, but I did like their circle of friends."


20.
Sandra de Helen - Desire Returns for a Visit


Desire Returns for a Visit: Intimate Poems about Lesbian Love

"The poetry in this book was a bit hit and miss for me but as I was judging it overall, I give it an outstanding rate."

"The author wrote with lyrical, beautiful sentences that painted pictures in my mind. Her choices in style and presentation were fabulous."


Sallyanne Monti - Light at the End of the Tunnel, A Memoir

Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Memoir

"I enjoyed the writing and the basic premise used to tell this story."

"This memoir had me from the beginning--the family expectations and the questioning of Sallyanne's sexual attratction from the very beginning had me think this was bisexual, until I got deeper into the book.  Fascinating she buried her growing attraction to woman when she married, came to the fore with one little keystroke of fate. Wonderfully written, it's a loving tribute to herself, and a beautiful love story of her relationship with another woman."


Chris Zett - Irregular Heartbeat

Irregular Heartbeat

"The mark of a great story is when the storyteller, in this case the writer, disappears from the readers awareness as she becomes completely immersed in the story itself."

Renée Vivien (translator Samantha Pious) - A Crown of Violets

A Crown of Violets

"I loved the fact that this book gave both the French and then the English translation for each poem—I found it very interesting. I liked the poems as well."

"Beautiful explorations of the complexities of a full spectrum female love — joyful, tortured, expectant, unrequited. Brave and unabashed. Also, the translation sparkles, bringing the verse dancing to life on the page. Absolutely wonderful."


21.
Kellie Doherty - Sunkissed Feather and Severed Ties


Sunkissed Feathers and Severed Ties (Broken Chronicles Book 1)

"This book had me sucked in from the moment the necklace went around her neck. Sometimes in these types of stories the characters names can get on my nerves a bit, but I loved the story overall. I’ll more than likely buy more of this series."

"When I started reading the book I was worried it would be difficult to follow it due to the all world created and how many infos seemed needed to understand how their society worked, but the author was able to balance well the infos needed within an exciting plot. This book definitely left me with the curiosity to see what's come next. And that's pretty much the best thing that can happens when you start a new series."


22.
Helen Jayne - Hestia: sapphic soulmates


Hestia: Sapphic Soulmates

"I liked this book but it left a little bit to be desired for me. I felt it could have been so much more. I wanted it to be so much more."

23.
Rae D. Magdon - Fur and Fangs (Vol 1-10)


Fur and Fangs: Volume 1-10

"This was a cute, fun, thoughtful read. The writing flows wonderfully, and the author does a marvelous job with representation and diversity. I enjoyed it immensely."

"Old fashion romance with a paranormal arc. Usually not my favorite genre but this one held my interest. Riley and Izzy work well as a couple, both with baggage to be fleshed out."


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andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best Bisexual Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
Jan Steckel - Like Flesh Covers Bone


Like Flesh Covers Bone

"This was an excellent collection of poetry. Each theme was explored through several kinds of styles and feelings. Emotions ranged from heartfelt to somber to angry, among others—and all of the poems thoughtful and invoked great imagery. The poems were witty and insightful. The collection was thoughtful and critical of the current dilemmas we face."

"Poetry is sometimes hard to judge—you either get it or you don’t. Some of these were very dark, but I can honestly say I liked them."

"Overall, I thought her poetry strong and dynamic. Her words build on current events and deep social issues. It wasn’t a fluffy read but felt very relevant to things happening now and made me think that this author is a warrior with words."

"Steckel is brilliant.  Not all the poems have the same power, but those that do really dazzle."


2.
E. Davies – Tremble


Tremble (Significant Brothers Book 6)

"I absolutely loved this book! It was engaging from the start and I connected with each MC. The story flowed and was flawless. It was effortless to read and I enjoy not having to work at understanding the book. The descriptions of the setting were done beautifully and I could picture in my mind perfectly. The story was angsty and the characters somewhat broken but they still hadn’t lost the hope of having their HEA."

3.
Jude Lucens - Behind These Doors (Radical Proposals #1)


Behind These Doors: Radical Proposals Book 1

"An unusual love story set in the Edwardian era. Lucien Saxby, a journalist is attracted to Aubry Fanshawe, an aristocrat who in turn is involved in a polyamorous affair with a married couple, Rupert and Henrietta Hernedale. A complicated situation, never mind that Lucien also has dalliances with Ben, a married man with four children. Somehow, they all make this work, and there is deep love and affection here. The backdrop of women's suffrage adds historical and political interest as Lucien is forced by his editor to cover the escalating unrest when women march in London's streets and men in power are forced to listen to their grievances. The story is beautifully written, superb narrative and intelligent dialogue go a long way to draw the reader into a time when same sex love could lead to scandal and in some cases imprisonment. When family felt it had the right to interfere in once's personal affairs and young men of substance were presumed to be marriage fodder, or what on earth was wrong with him? I liked Behind these Doors very much and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romance and perhaps is looking for something different in the genre. One little niggle - the over abundant use of colons spoiled for me what in every other way was flawless story-telling."

"I really enjoyed this historical story set in turn-of-the-century London, about love growing between a gay journalist and a bisexual, poly aristocrat. From the characters to the emotionally complex relationships to the grounding in historical context, class differences, and the women's movement, the parts of this story melded seamlessly into a great read. The main characters each have their flaws, their reactive points and self-doubts. I appreciated that falling in love didn't have to mean devaluing older relationships. With strong female characters as well, this was a book I will come back to and I'm delighted to see it is the first in a series."



Books in the top 25% rate range

4.
M. Rose Flores - The End


The End

"I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written, fast-paced Zombie horror YA book and would recommend it to readers who enjoy YA post-apocalyptic books."

"This book is a fine example of a fresh take on zombie stories. Her writing style keeps readers engaged and the story is well worth the read. "


E. Davies - Miracle

Miracle (Men of Hidden Creek Season 3 Book 1)

"A cute Christmas story. The plot took a bit to develop but that’s ok. I could tell that it was a continuation of a series that I hadn’t read but I was still able to follow along."

"I'm always thrilled to read a romance with a character comfortable with his bisexuality."


5.
E.J. Russell - Demon on the Down-Low (Supernatural Selection #3)


Demon on the Down-Low (Supernatural Selection Book 3)

"It was a thrill to read this book because it was very well written and exciting. A true page-turner. It was a plus to see characters from the previous book revisited within this new story and it was a bit sad to see everything come to an end. I need to read more of this author’s work."

"I fell instantly in love with Hamish, an Australian Kangaroo shifter who's gruff personality was on point throughout the entire novel. Hamish had depth, he was real to me. And then there was Zeke, who was conflicted, frenetic and utterly adorable. Zeke, being the good demon he is, just wants to please everyone. There were moments in this story where I laughed out loud. There were also a few spots where the description of hell sent shivers down my spine. Well done EJ Russell, it's not easy to disturb me! This was cute, fun, sexy and Russell had you rooting for the demon the entire time. This whole series is just joy. Highly Recommend."


6.
Lexi Ander - Caledonia Destiny


Caledonia Destiny (Blessed Bane Book 1)

"Caledonia Destiny hooked me from page one. I did have an inkling of how things would transpire, but the author twisted the end in such a unique way, I was still surprised at the resolution. The setting was very well balanced, enough description to ground the reader without going overboard. There were a few places where character remarks clouded the setting, but they were few and my mind readily dismissed them. The characters’ depth and growth was masterfully handled. The emotions and reactions felt real, when a book brings me to tears, the loss of Roi, I know I’ve connected to well developed characters. The style is probably my favorite part of the book. I’ve read others that use period spelling, but only in speech. The choice to do so, to research not only changes in spelling but in terminology, was what truly pulled me into Ewen and Roi’s world. The writing style immersed me in this world, compelled me to remain. In summary, this was an excellently composed story, one that draws a reader in so completely that they must blink to remember where they really are. "

"All the beautiful writing I expect from a Lexi Ander book with worldbuilding skills on par with my favorite fantasy romances. The blend of history, magic, action and romance is wonderfully compelling. Really enjoyable to read."


Meredith Katz - How Saeter Robbed the Underworld

How Saeter Robbed the Underworld

"How Saeter Robbed the Underworld was such a fun, sweet read. The Norse-esque setting was immersive, the characters were natural and interesting, the romance was yummy, and I found Katz's writing style to be highly polished. A true pleasure to read!"

" A story that is simultaneously familiar and thoroughly unique. Truly a well-spun yarn. Very difficult to put down, and left me with a huge grin. Very well done, author!"


7.
Debbie McGowan - The Great Village Bun Fight


The Great Village Bun Fight

"This book was fun and a great joy to read. At times it had me laughing out loud. I loved the writing style, use of language and imagination."

L.A. Witt - The Torches We Carry

The Torches We Carry

"Witt’s story of two men who come together after breaking up for a couple of decades is unusual in the realm of m/m romance. Where another author might have opted for a big misunderstanding to have separated the two, Witt chose to have the breakup hinge on the men’s reluctance to commit to being together because it was the more difficult choice. Instead, they shied away from the hard work a genuine relationship requires, broke up, and formed easier, but less important, liaisons. What they realize finally is that love can’t be shunted aside and a puny substitute put in its place. Both characters are vividly drawn to show how easy it is to mislead ourselves into taking the easy path through life and then being dissatisfied when it doesn’t fulfill us. Working their way out of the trapped lives they created, realizing where they went wrong, and struggling to become whole, happy men is a journey real and immediate to many people. Witt makes it bearable with characters that readers will identify with and love. All in all, this book was a joy to read. It makes readers think about life and love long after the last page is turned."

S.M. James - Not Gonna Lie

Not Gonna Lie: LGBTQ Enemies to Lovers Romance (The lovehim Series)

Everyone has their secrets. Last year Digi walked out on Webcon, on his fans, and on Gram. Now he’s back determined to give what they had a real shot, but Gram is more prickly than ever, not willing to risk his heart again. Despite trying to stay out of the spotlight, the anonymous Public Service Announcements draw Digi back in. As the secrets of the internet’s top celebrities are leaked to the world, it’s only a matter of time before Digi and Gram are next. To get through it, they have to set their rivalry aside. Will Digi handle the pressure of the bright lights long enough to find who is tearing their world apart? Or will the threat of full exposure be too much for him to handle?

8.
Freddy MacKay - Waiting on the Rain


Waiting on the Rain

"A beautiful story of friendship and family with character as wonderful and as diverse as the Thailand setting. Jira and Bon are such a cute couple, and Areeya and Fon (OMG, I loved Fon!) really bring that relationship to live by interwining it within their own."

Johnny Miles - Café y Chocolate

Café y Chocolate

"When it comes to the descriptions of the hurricane, the writing's pretty damn good. The calamity and the aftermath are shown well, apparently by the author's personal experience. The conflict between an easy life and a hard one that Sereno struggles with is relatable and understandable. Sometimes the harder choice is the more rewarding one. The story is very sensual, regards to both the sexuality and awakening the senses. The setting of Puerto Rico feels real, tangible and concrete. The bisexual aspect was handled rather nicely, but the unsafe sex threw me a bit. Beyond those few nitpicks, this one was surprisingly good. Certainly left me thinking about disaster areas and the very real problems people there face."

L.A. Witt - Rank & File

Rank & File (Anchor Point Book 4)

"I thought it was totally readable — fast and fun, just a solid read."

9.
Casey Wolfe - A Mage's Power


A Mage's Power (The Inquisition Trilogy Book 1)

"This is an *engaging* book from the get-go, with strong pacing and a deep, intuitive understanding of storytelling as well the genre's hooks. Outstanding book."

10.
Kyell Gold - Ty Game


Ty Game by Kyell Gold

"Wow, this was a great book. The characters are fun, light-hearted, sweet, and still realistic, though being something other than human. The dialogue, the progress of the plot, the atmosphere--it all feels normal, like it could happen to any old human. There are cute pictures too. Sure, there's some needless shit going on, like all the random hook-ups with chicks, the games one after the other, and the leading lady's job stuff. But despite the on-occasion slow pacing, overall the story flows organically, with ease. The ending surprised me a bit and wasn't entirely satisfactory but worked well, I suppose."

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andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best Transgender Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
Katherine Wyvern - A Muse to Live For


A Muse to Live For

"A beautifully written romance with characters you can't help loving. Nathaniel is a brilliant artist suffering from depression and unable to paint until one night he sees Gabrielle under a street lamp. The world sees her as a whore, Nathaniel considers her his muse and knows he not only must paint her, he must love her. Even when he discovers that Gabrielle is in fact, Gabriel, his love does not waver. Rescuing him from a life of poverty and abuse becomes Nathaniel's goal in life. Together, and with the help of an old friend of Nathaniel's, they escape to Europe. Nathaniel's paintings of only Gabrielle are a small sensation in the art world. Could it be that at last Gabriel has found a way to live his life as he wishes, or will the artist tire of his muse and return him to the seedy streets of London? As I said, beautifully written with prose and dialogue that will alternately chill and delight you. Excellent."

"A beautiful and unusual love story, with a character who is not so much trans as truly androgynous.  It seems as though it could be genuinely historical – though the 'historical footnote' and book/author quoted at the end turn up no internet search hits.  It's a credit to the author that I did try to find out if that book was real."

"This was such a beautiful read, a wonderful romance about a sad young painter and the lady of the night who becomes his muse. Wyvern's story is a work of art about the creation of art, one that perfectly evokes an era, reading like a rediscovered Victorian manuscript that she has simply given a polish for a contemporary audience."


2.
Dorian Graves - Bones and Bourbon


Bones and Bourbon

"This is a great story that wraps you up in its story. The author does a wonderful job in creating a world that we know, but is completely new. The characters are charming, relatable and intelligent. If you are looking for a fun read this is it."

"Graves takes the reader on an unimaginable and creative quest with killer unicorns, huldras and furaribis. The story's landscape is surreal and otherworldly just like Alice's tumble through the rabbit hole. If you're looking for action, adventure and a story about the Fae that is completely different, you have to put this on your reading list. Remarkable!"


3.
Mia Kerick - The Princess of Baker Street


The Princess of Baker Street

"I found this book compelling from the first age and I could not put it down until I'd finished. It's not an easy light fluffy read, I had tears streaming down my face. I really felt for the characters and for real people I've known who at times have been Eric and his friend. Thankfully all the characters get the correct ending for their stories. Note: I read the book without reading the blurb. I see the first paragraph in the blurb would imply this is primarily the story of a trans girl and readers expecting that may be disappointed. Although some of her story does emerge told through Eric's point of view, the book is not her story. The story is more about how other people in school react to her, firstly as a boy who doesn't conform to gender expectations and later as an out trans girl. I'd say this book is primarily about bullying and surviving school through that adolescent period. It sits well with other books that combine LGBT themes and bullying, such as James Howe's Misfits series. The bullying is severe and there is a suicide attempt. And it is Eric's story of survival both at school and at home, where he suffers neglect. It is a story that is very real, I can imagine there are kids living something similar in every school. Eric's thirteen years of age and navigating his way through life at a tricky age. From his point of view, all other kids around him could potentially ruin his life. He tries to fit in and avoid drawing attention to himself. To fit in and not be bullied. He's an average kid. Part of survival means not associating with the kid who doesn't fit in. I would recommend this book to young readers in general. I'd be happy for my children to read it. However, I would say it is targeted at general readers not specifically trans youth."


Books in the top 25% rate range

4.
Mia Kerick - All Boy


All Boy

"An intriguing story with well-developed characters that takes a realistic and touching look at issues involving friendship, bullying and identity."

"I'm not a big fan of YA, but All Boy is exceptionally well written and had me engrossed from beginning to end. Jayden and Callie are excellent characters, so warm and understanding of each others complex differences. Highly recommended."


5.
Carla Grant - Uncommon Girls


Uncommon Girls

"I give this memoir a score of 40. I hesitate to give a perfect score, but the book is captivating from page one and continues powerfully till the end. The basic story is a mother learning her son is trans and their journeys (they are separate ones in many regards) as he becomes she. I appreciated the POV of the mother, since so many accounts are through the eyes of the trans person. And I liked that the mother was a complex, intelligent, well-meaning, and terribly flawed individual. Grant tells the story not only of her trans daughter but also how that overwhelming aspect of her life still had to compete with plenty of other parts, her alcoholism, her remarriage, other children, rescue dogs, her daughter's self-harm, and multiple mental health issues. As if the story wasn't complex enough, we learn early on that the trans daughter is also on the autism spectrum, adding multiple additional stresses. It's all fascinating and at times even funny. Grant uses a variety of clever literary techniques to keep the reader interested. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's excellent."

"Wow, this was not what I expected, and I almost gave up on it in the early going (what with the focus on mom's dating misadventures), but then it came to Eliot's written proposal to wear high heels to school . . . and suddenly I found myself loving this kid. On the surface, it really does seems like it is going to be too much - an autistic child who identifies as transgender, with a recovering alcoholic single parent telling their story - but it is actually beautiful and funny and heartwarming, even as they deal with the challenges of Canadian education and healthcare. Mom's whole "fluid concept of womanhood" is perfect, and Ella is . . . well, I am going to go all out and call her a hero. She is amazing."


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andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best LGBTA Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
Anna Butler - Day of Wrath (Taking Shield #5)


Day of Wrath (Taking Shield Book 5)

"Coming into a series with the 5th book is always a challenge, especially with high tech space opera, but I still found myself drawn into this almost from the start. So much drama, tension, and mystery, with a covert romance that was actually more intense for being restricted to stolen moments in the shadows."

"This is the last book in an impressive scifi/space opera series, and it ticks all the boxes for a great book: Plot, Emotional Investment (Conflict, Angst, Romance), Character, Resolution and wonderful writing. One point off for a difficult, opening sequence that was hard to follow as it crammed too much information into an already complex story. Otherwise exceptional!"

"Wow, that one blew me away. Not a comfortable story, and one that is still resonating with me days after finishing it, but well worth your time as long as you're not just in it for the HEA. Excellent bi main characters and complex family and friend relationships in a realistic, exciting, devastating, and thoughtful SciFi space saga. Start with book 1 and read in order."


2.
Chris Tebbetts - Me Myself & Him


Me Myself & Him

"Fresh and creative approach to Coming of Age trope through use of parrallel stories and a Narrator point-of-view that is clever, engaging and very funny. Tebbetts has a laser-sharp ear for realism together with a heart for the sentimental. The author’s craft is well-honed and on top of that, it’s a page-turner!"

"I so wanted to share this with some of my students. Chris is a fantastic character and the split in timelines never feels contrived or hackneyed. Awesome read."


Amy Klobuchar; Edited by In This Together Media - Nevertheless, We Persisted

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage

"Each story is powerful, well-written and offers it message without being preachy. It's especially powerful that the stories are from a mix of ages, races, and sexualities. Within its pages is a place for all."

3.
Stefani Deoul - Zero Sum Game


Zero Sum Game (A Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure)

"There is nothing I haven’t loved about this book. When there are a lot of characters I can find myself lost in trying to figure out who is who, or what not but the author made an awesome job in giving every character a clear voice, so much so that even the most peripheral ones where easy to understand ad remember. Another thing that I really loved about this book is the way the author was able to give a voice to the adolescent stage of life, it is clear from the start that we are looking at a group of teenagers, without it being demeaning or becoming a caricature. Now I want to read the first book in this series and this is actually the best compliment any reader could give to an author, being curios till the point to wanting to know about what they wrote before and becoming such a fan that ones want to wait patiently for the next book."

"There’s a zany brilliance about Stefani Deoul’s writing that makes this second book in the Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure a pleasure to read. Although the story revolves around a small group of nerdy, needy and semi-nihilistic teen brainiacs who solve mysteries by virtue of their encyclopedic knowledge of video games, game theory and teenage angst, the superior writing keeps one going even when the subject matter is somewhat arcane to all but the most dedicated of millennials. Deoul’s use of the first-person POV is perfect, striking the exact right balance amongst the competing mood swings associated with young adult blasé, bedevilment and botheration."


R. Zamora Linmark - The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

"I have never read a story written quite like The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart. Part haiku, part list, part prose, part conversations with Oscar Wilde... loved it. The setting and characters were natural, realistic, and the story was poignantly relatable. A work of art!"

"Absolutely charming first love story with the writings (and life) of Oscar Wilde as its blueprint and alter ego. The writer’s fresh and tender approach to gender, love, irony and lust makes this book read almost like a long poem. Moves along at a great pace, comes complete with a second-string of good friends, and credibly resonates with all the pathos, comedy and poetry of first love. The author knows his craft and certainly knows a great deal about Oscar Wilde. Highly recommended."


Chad Sell - The Cardboard Kingdom

The Cardboard Kingdom

"I loved it. These beautifully illustrated snippets of the everyday summer lives of kids with an amazing imagination made me laugh, cry, growl, and root for them. What starts with only a couple of kids roleplaying together grows into a true whirlwind adventure between a great many friends. Great costumes, fantastical masks, and brave plots prove that these kids have more in common than they initially think. They support each other in such wonderful ways, I was happy to read the whole thing in one sitting. There are characters for everyone: the boy who dresses up like a girl, the vocal girl who is told she's too loud for a good girl, the reformed bully, the prince and his rogue best friend, the bookish boy without friends, and so on. Something and someone for everyone to relate to. I was blown away by how much could be told with just a few pages and images. Couldn't recommend this higher."

"I loved this colourful, kid-friendly graphic novel. The stories are inventive, and will hold the interest of a young reader while opening their eyes to plethora of ideas and possibilities."

"I’ve never read a graphic novel before. I quite enjoyed the experience. I liked all the little individual stories that made up the kid’s summer holidays. Made me wish I had had a group of neighbourhood friends like that when I was growing up… it would have been fun."

Emily Skrutskie - Hullmetal Girls

Hullmetal Girls

"This is an excellent contribution to the scifi-genre with young adult characters. The world-building is outstanding. The plot captivating. The book is LGBTI-friendly without being itself LGBTI fiction at all."

"Emily Skrutskie's Hullmetal GIrls is inclusive, diverse, delightful scifi that's refreshingly grrl power in a traditionally male-dominated genre. The characterizations ring true, and the gender and sexual identities of the characters are coincidental rather than fetishized or focused upon. It's simply one more aspect of who they are. The classic tropes utilized in the telling of this tale are no less enjoyable for being tropes. Overall, I deeply enjoyed this story and would definitely read more in this universe."


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andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best Asexual Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
R.A. Steffan - The Complete Lion Mistress Collection


The Complete Lion Mistress Collection: A WhyChoose Fantasy Romance

"A completely immersive read with excellent world-building and great attention to detail: the corrupt society, the viciousness of people's actions, the compassion of new friends and the love found between our 3 heroes and also Favian's adopted family. The characters were well fleshed out: their future motivations clear, based upon past events and their current situations. I adored Kathrael, such an unconventional but completely believable heroine who well deserved her HEA."

"This trilogy was beyond good. It delved into a mystical medieval time, with fantastic world building. The characters were strong, their voices unique, and the story intriguing and satisfying at the end. Incredible trilogy. Characters are so deep and world building is amazing."

"R.A. Steffan does it again with another wonderful story, once again populated by dynamic characters and (very exciting) a reverse harem relationship. It mixes fantasy with romance, but is much darker in tone than the Horse Mistress stories, although that darkness makes it more powerful."

"This was an excellent polyamorous romance story, with beautiful characters and dynamics that I greatly enjoyed, set in a fascinating and engaging world. I loved it!"


2.
Jae - Perfect Rhythm


Perfect Rhythm

" I love stories where the main characters start out in a place of opposition. The characters here, like in so many of Jae’s books, are really well drawn, three-dimensional, and so, so likeable. It’s a good, meaty plot as well. Fantastic book."

"I found myself pulled into the novel—the characters where believable. I really liked how the story flowed from beginning to end."


Ava Kelly - Havesskadi

Havesskadi

"Fabulous world building and mythology, I would like to more about the red dragon and how the anasketts corrupted her. The settings were full of imagery and atmosphere, particularly the castle and I really liked the writing style - no massive info dumps here. I really wanted to rate this book higher because I enjoyed the story, but I kept coming back to the fact that almost half the story was about 2 characters who hardly talk to each other and hid things from each other, with little character development at this point and I was left feeling disappointed at the end. I would've liked to see Arkeva and Orsie discovering new things together outside the castle."

3.
Sam Burns - Strike Up the Band


Strike Up the Band (Wilde Love Book 3)

"This book was an absolute joy to read. When I'm judging for these awards, I try to keep a little outside of the story so that I can make notes on my reading experience. It was impossible with this story: it grabbed me immediately and sucked me right in. I was invested in the characters so quickly it was a shock, but a welcome one. I didn't want to stop reading. The writing is top notch, both lyrical and uncomplicated; the plot proceeds so seamlessly, everything that occurs is organic, and the pacing is perfect; there is nothing forced or contrived about any of the characters or events. Elsi and Alex are unique and well-developed characters, Jake's grief and self-realizations are thoughtfully explored, and Brian's juxtaposition of self-chastisement and self-confidence is just beautiful. His kindness and his willingness to roll with what everyone else needs, entangled with the fragility of desperately needing to fit in, to do what's right, is lovely. The look into the world of touring and recording, of the almost... loss of control over one's own life/identity while in the entertainment business, was interesting and never overpowering the real reason we are here: the exploration of family, of healing, and of self. Full marks."

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andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best Lesbian Debut Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
C.J. Murphy - Frame by frame


frame by frame

"Loved this one from start to finish. I felt drawn into the story. Loved the character and how they both struggled with coming to terms with their fears. Great supporting cast as well."

"I loved this story! Very sweet and well written."

"This novel started out with a bang: immediately the setting was so rich and the characters that inhabited it were so unique and complex that I was sucked right in. The existing relationships between Val and Laurel, Ree, and the rest of the Cool Springs denizens were subtle and engrossing, and had me so curious over the back story between them all, how they met and where they were going. I was engrossed. I loved Val: equal parts unapologetic and reclusive, she had a fragility that pulled me in but a strength that just got more and more fascinating the more I learned about her. While I feel the pacing suffers a bit toward the end when certain plot revelations were given over more to exposition than the detailed and considered encounters I had become used to, by that time, I was so in love with the characters that I was more interested in finding out how their story finished. Contrasting Laurel's internal struggles with what might be against Val's external and internal struggles with what came before was genius and very effective. Thank you for a lovely read about acceptance and love!"


2.
Susan Stocker - Kiss Your Elbow (An Embellished Memoire of Growing Up in the 50's and 60's)


Kiss Your Elbow: An Embellished Memoire about Growing Up Gay in the 50's and 60's

"This was a fantastic memoir. It was funny, poignant and relatable. I didn't want to stop reading it and I honestly am not a fan of Memoirs! Can't wait for book number two to continue the story!"

"Loved this story from start to finish. Great storytelling style. Felt like I was literally along for the ride. Had me smiling and relating. Great character portrayals. "


3.
Chris Zett - Irregular Heartbeat


Irregular Heartbeat

"The mark of a great story is when the storyteller, in this case the writer, disappears from the readers awareness as she becomes completely immersed in the story itself."


Books in the top 25% rate range

4.
Helen Jayne - Hestia: sapphic soulmates


Hestia: Sapphic Soulmates

"I liked this book but it left a little bit to be desired for me. I felt it could have been so much more. I wanted it to be so much more."

5.
Gail Newman - Sunlight in the Shadows


Sunlight in the Shadows

"Wonderful story with a multitude of well written characters. Loved the interplay between them all."

Cheryl Espinosa-Jones - An Ocean Between Them

An Ocean Between Them

"This was a truly well written book. Watching the character growth, I truly connected into and identified with the struggles from both main characters. What bumped it to a 10 for me was actually a small moment. Sal stops her thoughts, recalls her therapy work, and rewrites her internal monologue. That level of thought, of attention to detail, put these characters and the depths shown in their development on a whole other level for me. The plot was well planned and executed, though there were moments where things were a little predictable. The settings were well described, though I had to go back and check where they were, getting a little lost in the locations. The only criticism I’d have is the perspective switch. I wish the headers explained time as well as who we were following. It took me a minute to realize we’d jumped into the past with Chloe’a sections. It is however something one can guess and so I didn’t dock much for it. Honestly, this book was hard for me. I lost my co-parent last year and I wasn’t sure if I could handle a book on this topic, especially as I face the anniversary of her death. The fact that I connected so solidly with it, as someone going through grief, speaks to the caliber of writing."

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andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best Gay Debut Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
Xia Xia Lake - Shinigami


Shinigami: Takamagahara Monogatari Book 2

"Reading the author’s introduction, I found the premise of this story intriguing. I’m not familiar with Noh theatre or the storylines this story was based on. At the same time, the prose was so clear and sparkling that I was drawn in, in no time. It’s a beautifully structured story — the slowest of slow burns, but gorgeous through and through. Truly a delight."

"I have never felt the attraction for this type of story but I must admit, the author's writing style is one that engulfed all my senses and left me wanting more. It was a sweet story packed with a lot of feels. I wouldn't mind reading the next book for this one was a HFN."

"I enjoyed this book very much because it was so different up until the end.  I ultimately finished the last paragraph disappointed and asking "what just happened?" Love how the author built a fictional world using Japanese folklore combined with historical facts."


2.
Stephan Knox - Anáil Dhragain (Dragon's Breath)


Anáil Dhragain: (Dragon's Breath) (The Pendhragains Book 1)

"This was a very good book. Thank you for the opportunity to read it."

"A story with a good pace, interesting characters, and plenty of twists to keep me entertained to the end."


3.
MD Neu - The Calling


The Calling

"This book, by far, was the best read. The emotional connection between the characters and story were paced very well and the story, as a whole, was awesome. I hated to see this end with no word if there will be more."

"I enjoyed this interesting twist on vampires, and particularly liked the idea of the choice of light or dark. The final showdown rocked, and had me turning pages.  The characters are interesting, although they feel a little emotionally detached at times, yet this does mesh with the perspective of the MC narrator. "


Maz Maddox - Heartache & Hoofbeats

Heartache & Hoofbeats: Stallion Ridge 1

"A thoroughly enjoyable read all around. Very imaginative worldbuilding. I loved the writing style, well-paced, funny and quirky, it fit the Setting and subject of the book just perfectly. Can't wait to pic up the next # !"

"Pleasant surprise! I would never trust a western with centaurs, lamias, mermaids and other mythological beings, but I really liked this, to the point of pushing me to look for the sequel."


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andrew potter

2018-2019 Rainbow Awards: Best Bisexual Debut Book

And the Rainbow Award goes to...



1.
Jude Lucens - Behind These Doors (Radical Proposals #1)


Behind These Doors: Radical Proposals Book 1

"An unusual love story set in the Edwardian era. Lucien Saxby, a journalist is attracted to Aubry Fanshawe, an aristocrat who in turn is involved in a polyamorous affair with a married couple, Rupert and Henrietta Hernedale. A complicated situation, never mind that Lucien also has dalliances with Ben, a married man with four children. Somehow, they all make this work, and there is deep love and affection here. The backdrop of women's suffrage adds historical and political interest as Lucien is forced by his editor to cover the escalating unrest when women march in London's streets and men in power are forced to listen to their grievances. The story is beautifully written, superb narrative and intelligent dialogue go a long way to draw the reader into a time when same sex love could lead to scandal and in some cases imprisonment. When family felt it had the right to interfere in once's personal affairs and young men of substance were presumed to be marriage fodder, or what on earth was wrong with him? I liked Behind these Doors very much and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romance and perhaps is looking for something different in the genre. One little niggle - the over abundant use of colons spoiled for me what in every other way was flawless story-telling."

"I really enjoyed this historical story set in turn-of-the-century London, about love growing between a gay journalist and a bisexual, poly aristocrat. From the characters to the emotionally complex relationships to the grounding in historical context, class differences, and the women's movement, the parts of this story melded seamlessly into a great read. The main characters each have their flaws, their reactive points and self-doubts. I appreciated that falling in love didn't have to mean devaluing older relationships. With strong female characters as well, this was a book I will come back to and I'm delighted to see it is the first in a series."


2.
M. Rose Flores - The End


The End

"I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written, fast-paced Zombie horror YA book and would recommend it to readers who enjoy YA post-apocalyptic books."

"This book is a fine example of a fresh take on zombie stories. Her writing style keeps readers engaged and the story is well worth the read. "


3.
Ariana Nash - Silk & Steel


Silk and Steel 2: Iron & Fire

Alliances are forged and broken, friendships shattered, and despite the odds stacked against them, two hearts collide in this explosive sequel to Silk & Steel.

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