Reference Post: 2016 Releases with Asexual Characters

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Following up on my previous post about Asexuality in fiction, I wanted to list upcoming releases with Ace (asexual, gray-ace, demisexual, aromantic, etc) main characters. Please note that for the purpose of this post I am using “Ace” to mean anyone under the asexual umbrella, though I recognize that aromantic is a distinct orientation.

This is just a reference list to keep track, and is not to be taken as a complete “master” list. If you know of an upcoming novel that features an ace main character, please drop a comment and let me know (and link if possible)! Doesn’t have to be a romance, just as long as one of the main characters falls under the ace umbrella.

Where possible, I have linked to Goodreads (GR) or other relevant post.

In order of (estimated) release date:

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Review: Lucky Linus, by Gene Gant (Rating: 2.5/5)

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Lucky Linus, by Gene Gant
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press/Dreamspinner Press (July 24, 2015)
Page Count: 96
Genre: Gay (M/M) YA Romance

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Warnings: Mentions of child abuse, rape, and child pornography.

*I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

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Summary: Fourteen-year-old Linus Lightman is understandably reluctant to trust his newest foster family, the Nelson’s, after he’s bounced through the system since being taken from his neglectful mother. He’s certain they will reject him when they find out he’s gay, and getting to know them will only lead to hurt later. Trying to cope, he builds a friendship with Kevin Mapleton, and it quickly grows into romance, despite Linus’s fears. Then a video of Linus and Kevin having sex is posted online, and Linus knows from past experience exactly what’s going to happen. This sort of scandal will cost him his new home and Kevin’s love, snatching away his fragile hopes of belonging.

My Thoughts: As an adult who enjoys reading YA literature, I sometimes struggle to appreciate a novel written for teens in the way that an actual teenager would. There are two types of books in the YA genre: books that talk to teenagers as though they’re on the verge of adulthood, and books that talk to teenagers as though they’re barely out of childhood. Neither of these is better or worse; the YA genre spans a pretty large age group, after all. But I think “Lucky Linus” is the latter, although the subject matter is definitely for the former.

This is a novel about a young man who’s been put in foster care since he was a child, and who has experienced some pretty bad things since then. These bad experiences (read: physical and sexual abuse) have led him to automatically distrust any foster family he is placed with, especially the nice ones– because he knows they won’t keep him. And Linus has potential to be a brilliantly complex character, one who has struggled with some horrific situations and come out on top.

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Review: Beneath the Scales, by Aurora Peppermint (Rating: 3/5)

Beneath the Scales, by Aurora Peppermint
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (July 9, 2015)
Page Count: 150 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Fantasy Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5

* I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. * 

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Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Summary: Martus struggles to make ends meet for himself and his young sister, Elsaben, often turning to stealing what they need. She has a lot of magical potential, but they can’t afford her training or books. While in town one day, a dragon attack leaves everyone running for cover, but Elsaben ends up in the wrong place and is carried away by the dragon. Martus swears to get her back, and is prepared for any dangers he may face on his way to the dragon’s cave. What he isn’t prepared for is Hal, a boy his own age who doesn’t mean to cause destruction and chaos in his dragon form.

My Thoughts: This was a solid effort for a first novel by teenage writer Aurora Peppermint. There’s a lot of potential here, and she does an excellent job of world-building and establishing interesting characters. And possibly I would have enjoyed this novel more if I had been a teenager, but I did struggle in a lot of places to stay invested in the story.

Beneath the Scales is a short novel about learning to see past stereotypes and trying to become a better person. I really enjoyed seeing Martus’ growth, as he transitions from anger and revenge to dislike and distrust, and then finally to grudging acceptance and eventual friendship. And I like that none of the characters are remotely perfect; everyone makes mistakes, even tiny Elsaben, and that’s acknowledged and used for the characters to learn from.

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Reviews: “Carnival: Decatur” and “Carnival: Chattanooga”, by Zoe Lynne (Rating: 2/5)

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* I received an advanced copy of Carnival: Chattanooga in exchange for a fair an honest review *

My airport reads today were the first two books in Zoe Lynne’s “Carnival” series, titled Decatur and Chattanooga. I was offered a complementary copy of the first book in order to understand the second for review, and have decided to combine both books into one post.

Cover Artist: Allison Cassatta

Cover Artist: Allison Cassatta

Carnival: Decatur, by Zoe Lynne
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (August 28, 2014)
Page Count: 202 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Young Adult Romance

Rating: 2 out of 5

This was a novel with a lot of potential, but it unfortunately did not live up to it. Zoe Lynne takes a great idea– four kids trying to come to terms with their sexualities and the attraction to their best friends, with the carnival as a backdrop– and bogs it down until it’s too bloated to be easily read.

My biggest issue with this novel was the prose. Lynne constantly chose to use twenty words when five would do. Descriptions were thrown in for no apparent reason, such as the repeated descriptions of Tate’s skin color (okay, we get it, he has mocha skin and is super hot!) and the brands of clothing being worn by the boys.

There was also the sub-plot of three of the four boys having magical powers. It was an interesting premise, but had no relevance to the plot other than to act as a cheat for the author. Why write an emotional coming-out scene with solid drama and angst, when one of the characters can read minds?

A proof-reader might have really helped here… someone to cut a lot of the flowery prose to a manageable level. Also, there were several inconsistencies in the writing that could have been prevented with a basic editing. For example, there were two separate scenes (one halfway through the novel, and the other at the end) where Rand tells Danny what his powers are; why does Danny act surprised/confused the second time, when Rand has already told him this!

Overall, this novel could use a solid round of editing and revising and become something truly fantastic. The characters were great, the setting of the carnival was unique and interesting… but this novel is just not very readable in its current state.

Cover Artist: Allison Cassatta

Cover Artist: Allison Cassatta

Carnival: Chattanooga, by Zoe Lynne
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (July 2, 2015)
Page Count: 204 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Young Adult Romance

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

I actually liked this novel even less than book one! Chattanooga picks up right where Decatur left off, with Donny and Jesse on their way to the next carnival site, along with Jesse’s sick father. Possibly this book suffers from “middle book syndrome”, where the middle book in a series serves more as filler and back-story, but I won’t know until book three comes out.

The plot of this novel was just not very interesting. Unlike Book One, which was an introduction to the characters and the relationship between Donny and Jesse (as well as the powers that the boys have), this book just dragged along. There were two new characters, Dax and Chad (who was mentioned in Book One), but neither was really worth my time, to be honest.

Dax is the weak point of this novel, for sure. He’s a thoroughly unlikable character; at various times he is whiny, spoiled, selfish, cruel, and immature… and his constant desire to break up Donny and Jesse was not malicious or antagonistic so much as just annoying.

The only training he’d had consisted of pointing and words Dax mostly didn’t hear at the time. He’d been too interested in the lowdown on Donny and Jesse to pay attention to Leo. They were more interesting, anyway. And if Leo had told him where exactly Dax would be working and what exactly he would be doing, he’d missed, like… all of it. He was clueless. Totally. Freakin’. Clueless.

Yeah, Dax, I feel ya… I’m clueless too as to why you were even written in to this story.

There were two attempts at plot in this novel: Dax having run away from home for being bullied in school, and Jesse worrying about his father being sick. Dax being the poorly-written character that he was, I had no interest in his plot. Jesse’s sick father was an excuse to introduce Chad, who just so happens to have the power to heal!

I could go on and on, but this novel simply needs a ton of editing and revising, just like it’s predecessor. It was boring. Unlike the first book, which had a lot of potential, I really struggled to read this one. The redeeming point was Donny, who was struggling to come out and accept his sexuality; I wish there had been more of this plot, and more of Jesse working with him instead of being stubborn.

One last thing: I really dislike books where every character is gay! Seriously, the only straight people in this book were Bridgette (who was just as annoying as Dax), and Jesse’s dad (who was too sick to speak for the entire novel). Or maybe the carnival is just a magical beacon for gay men?

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