a calculated risk

Read A Calculated Risk by Cari Hunter

Detective Jo Shaw has it all worked out. She’s good at her job, she has loads of mates, and she likes being single. She doesn’t need complications, but an emergency call to the stabbing of a young woman brings plenty of those. Jo has to risk her career to save the woman’s life, and a bad night gets worse when the trauma surgeon turns out to be Isla Munro, Jo’s only real love, who walked out on her fifteen years ago and never came back.

With the victim’s children missing and the husband the prime suspect, Jo’s investigation is stonewalled by a community living in fear. As one dead end leads to another, she and Isla are forced to put their differences aside and work together. But the case is far more dangerous than Jo realizes, and her determination to sort the truth from the lies may put her own life on the line.

Big twist and likeable characters (after a disastrous start from our cop protagonist) in this queer crime novel. It doesn’t reinvent the genre: it does everything we want it to do, but it does it well, with some romance on the side. well done.

where the dead sleep

Read Where the Dead Sleep by Joshua Moehling

When an early morning call brings Deputy Ben Packard to the scene of a home invasion, he finds Bill Sandersen shot in his bed. Bill was a well-liked local who chased easy money his whole life, leaving bad debts and broken hearts in his wake. Everyone Packard talks to has a story about Bill, but no one has a clear motive for wanting him dead. The business partner. The ex-wife. The current wife. The high-stakes poker buddies. Any of them–or none of them–could be guilty.
As the investigation begins, tragedy strikes the Sheriff’s department, forcing Packard to make a difficult choice about his future: step down as acting Sheriff and pursue the quiet life he came to Sandy Lake in search of, or subject himself to the scrutiny of an election for the full-time role of Sheriff, a job he’s not sure he wants.

I got Where the dead sleep because it was part of the Lambda Literary shortlist, without realizing that it’s book 2 of a series of which I read the first book. I realized that when I saw my own review of Book 1 on The Storygraph from a while ago (when I still said ACAB):…

wild geese

Read Wild Geese by Soula Emmanuel

Wild Geese tells the story of Phoebe Forde, an Irish trans woman living in Scandinavia with her anxious dog, Dolly. Overeducated and underpaid, Phoebe is finally settling into her new life when she unexpectedly reconnects with her first and only girlfriend from before her transition, igniting memories she thought she’d left behind.

Wild Geese is a novel about my ex a trans woman who accidentally rekindles an old flame with the ex she had pre-transition. Together, they walk through Copenhagen, the city where Phoebe, the protagonist, moved from Dublin. Her ex visits for the first time. They spend the weekend together, dissecting their old life and their…

biography of x

Read Biography of X by Catherine Lacey

From one of our fiercest stylists, a roaring epic chronicling the life, times, and secrets of a notorious artist.

When X—an iconoclastic artist, writer, and polarizing shape-shifter—falls dead in her office, her widow, wild with grief and refusing everyone’s good advice, hurls herself into writing a biography of the woman she deified. Though X was recognized as a crucial creative force of her era, she kept a tight grip on her life story. Not even CM, her wife, knew where X had been born, and in her quest to find out, she opens a Pandora’s box of secrets, betrayals, and destruction. All the while, she immerses herself in the history of the Southern Territory, a fascist theocracy that split from the rest of the country after World War II, as it is finally, in the present day, forced into an uneasy reunification.

Who knew reading the biography of a dull and supremely unlikeable person, who doesn’t even exist, would be so gripping. I was definitely more taken with the world-building than I was with the characters. I don’t mind a boring narrator, I even think this one was pretty cool in how she was boring – it’s…

Big Swiss

Read Big Swiss by Jen Beagin

Greta lives with her friend Sabine in an ancient Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. The house, built in 1737, is unrenovated, uninsulated, and full of bees. Greta spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss, since she’s tall, stoic, and originally from Switzerland. Greta is fascinated by Big Swiss’s refreshing attitude toward trauma. They both have dark histories, but Big Swiss chooses to remain unattached to her suffering while Greta continues to be tortured by her past.

One day, Greta recognizes Big Swiss’s voice at the dog park. In a panic, she introduces herself with a fake name and they quickly become enmeshed. Although Big Swiss is unaware of Greta’s true identity, Greta has never been more herself with anyone. Her attraction to Big Swiss overrides her guilt, and she’ll do anything to sustain the relationship…

Big Swiss is the unlikeable story of an unlikeable woman who commits identity fraud to sleep with another unlikeable woman, and then other bad things happen. It’s good, but in a repulsive way. I found myself muttering « urgh » to myself every few pages, and yet going to the next page to know what was going…


Read Bellies by Nicola Dinan

It begins as your typical boy meets boy. While out with friends at a university drag night, Tom buys Ming a drink. Confident and witty, a charming young playwright, Ming is the perfect antidote to Tom’s awkward energy, and their connection is instant. Tom finds himself deeply and desperately drawn into Ming’s orbit, and on the cusp of graduation, he’s already mapped out their future together. But, shortly after they move to London to start their next chapter, Ming announces her intention to transition.

From London to Kuala Lumpur, New York to Cologne, we follow Tom and Ming as they face shifts in their relationship in the wake of Ming’s transition. Through a spiral of unforeseen crises – some personal, some professional, some life-altering – Tom and Ming are forced to confront the vastly different shapes their lives have taken since graduating, and each must answer the essential question: is it worth losing a part of yourself to become who you are?

This novel is told in two points of views, Tom and Ming’s. The narrator isn’t always clearly identified from the start, so it sometimes took me a paragraph or two to realize that a new person was talking. I liked the way that the same thing was shown from two very, very different points of…

all night pharmacy

Read All Night Pharmacy by Ruth Madievsky

On the night of her high school graduation, a young woman follows her older sister Debbie to Salvation, a Los Angeles bar patronized by energy healers, aspiring actors, and all-around misfits. After the two share a bag of unidentified pills, the evening turns into a haze of sensual and risky interactions—nothing unusual for two sisters bound in an incredibly toxic relationship. Our unnamed narrator has always been under the spell of the alluring and rebellious Debbie and, despite her own hesitations, she has always said yes to nights like these. That is, until Debbie disappears.

Falling deeper into the life she cultivated with her sister, our narrator gets a job as an emergency room secretary where she steals pills to sell on the side. Cue Sasha, a Jewish refugee from the former Soviet Union who arrives at the hospital claiming to be a psychic tasked with acting as the narrator’s spiritual guide. The nature of this relationship evolves and blurs, a kaleidoscope of friendship, sex, mysticism, and ambiguous power dynamics.

This book was not what I wanted to read and it took me a while to get into it. But once I had, oh boy! New Year’s came and went with all the fanfare of a menstrual cycle. This novel was a wild ride. I don’t know what it is with me reading about toxic…