Book Review: Blood Flow by David A. Hill Jr.

Book Review: Blood Flow by David A. Hill Jr.

“Damn it, Dylan. No, no, no. Killing people is wrong, even if they have a Freebird ringtone.” -Hill

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Blood Flow by David A. Hill Jr.

Cover blurb (from Amazon): “Vampire democracy sucks. Literally. When it’s one vamp, one vote, the worst monsters can swing elections by turning random people off the streets into new vampires. Dylan is one of those random people. The power players in the city want his vote, but he just wants to be left the hell alone. Most of all, he wants to stop murdering people. That’s easier than it sounds when some people are seriously asking for it. Dylan’s life as a vampire is gross, terrifying, disgusting, frustrating, sexy, painful, and that’s all just in the first night out.”

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I received a free copy of ‘Blood Flow’ in exchange for an honest review. For more information, please see my review policy page.

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What I liked:

‘Blood Flow’ isn’t your typical urban fantasy. It’s a little grittier, a little rougher. It was awesome.

The main story line is interesting, but for me, the real strength of this novel was in it’s social commentary. Discussions about vampire lineage are interspersed with “Netflix and chill.” Hill touches on internet trolls, harassment of female gamers and police racism. There’s a discussion about cultural appropriation, and misjudging someone’s ethnicity. If you want a simple supernatural story, I can see where that might be a bit much. For my reading preferences, it was ideal. There was action and gore, as you’d expect in a vampire novel, but there’s also real-life issues.

‘Blood Flow’ is also genuinely funny. The humor can be pretty dark, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also really liked the fact that Dylan just rolls with everything. He doesn’t spend half the book agonizing about losing his humanity, or fighting his new supernatural reality. It just is what it is, and he moves forward from there.

What I didn’t like:

It took me a little while to adjust to Hill’s writing style. He doesn’t mince words, and he doesn’t spend a ton of time on descriptions. The writing is choppy and staccato, which isn’t a bad thing, just something to adjust to.

I did find myself a bit confused by the last few chapters. Up until that point, the world building and supernatural elements were pretty well laid out. Towards the end of the book, things started to feel rushed and less clear. The book ends on a huge cliffhanger, and if there’s ever a sequel, I definitely want to read it.

Would I recommend this book?

Tentatively, yes. It would depend on how well I know you.

**Spoiler alert/sensitive content warning** ‘Blood Flow’ includes violence, sex (both consensual and not), and fairly gory descriptions of bodily fluids. I found it especially interesting that the non-consensual sexual encounter (a rape) is quickly followed by a scene where a partner literally says “consider this enthusiastic consent.” A warning, though: the reader is present for the sexual assault scene. I also think it’s important to point out that in the rape scene, both people involved are male. Male/male rape is a topic that should be addressed more frequently than it currently is.**

Additional thoughts:

I deeply appreciate the diversity in ‘Blood Flow.’ Not only is the main character Latino, he’s also bisexual. How often do we get to see LGBTQ+ POC characters? The majority of the supporting characters are also POC. I thought the discussions of racial issues were well done. They sounded authentic to the way people actually talk. That is, it didn’t sound like a lecture to the reader in the middle of the story. Dylan gently corrects people when they make a mistake (like assuming he isn’t Mexican).

**Spoilers** Another sub-plot involves a young black man who is murdered by police. This story line becomes folded into everything else, but I was satisfied with it’s conclusion.**

I really, really enjoyed this book. ‘Blood Flow’ won’t appeal to everyone. It’s definitely not a sparkly-vampires-in-love type of book. It doesn’t shy away from blood, trauma or social justice issues. For me, it was the perfect combination. I’d love to read more from this author, and I’d love to see a sequel.

Mini Book Review: Shadow Fall by Seressia Glass

Mini Book Review: Shadow Fall by Seressia Glass

** ‘Shadow Fall’ is book 3 of a series, and will contain spoilers for book 1 and 2**

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Shadow Fall by Seressia Glass

Cover blurb (taken from Amazon): “Kira Solomon’s life has never been simple. Battling against the Fallen, serving the Egyptian goddess Ma’at, becoming romantically involved with a 4,000-year-old Nubian warrior—these are now everyday realities. But something is changing. Kira’s magic is becoming dangerously unpredictable, tainted by the Shadow she has been trained to destroy.

Matters grow worse when an Atlanta museum exhibit based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead turns out to have truly sinister properties. As the body count rises, even long-trusted allies start to turn against Kira. She can hardly blame them—not when the God of Chaos is stalking her dreams and the shocking truth about her origins is finally coming to light. As one of the good guys, Kira was a force to be reckoned with. But if the only way to stop a terrifying adversary is to fight Shadow with Shadow, then she’s ready to find out just how very bad she can be. . . .”

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Today’s review will be short and sweet.

‘Shadow Fall’ is the third book in the ‘Shadowchasers’ series. I wrote full reviews for book 1, ‘Shadow Blade‘ and book 2, ‘Shadow Chase’. With that in mind, a full review doesn’t seem as necessary. Instead, I’ll give you the quick overview.

The things I like about this series remain true. The cast is diverse and the Egyptian mythology is awesome. Kira and Khefar’s relationship continues to grow, and I’m happy with the arc of their love story.

‘Shadow Fall’ introduces some new supporting characters, including Turkish pterodactyl-like creatures and a pack of were-hyenas. I enjoyed both of these additions, but I did miss some of the old characters. This installment focuses a lot on Kira facing her own demons. Part of that struggle is the removal of her previous support systems. I understand that choice from a storytelling standpoint, but I missed Anansi (my favorite supporting character from ‘Shadow Blade’ and ‘Shadow Chase’).

Gender and power play interesting roles in this book. Women fill almost every leadership position. The were-hyenas take this to an extreme that we don’t often see in literature. In real life, hyenas have an uncommon matriarchal system. The females control status and resources, leaving the males to endure frequent abuse. **Sensitive content warning: in the context of the book, this translates to a backstory about female rapists and abusers. I appreciate the fact that Glass was willing to discuss this.**

I liked this addition to the series, but it sounds like I’ll be waiting a while for the next one. ‘Shadow Fall’ was published in 2011, and there is still no release date for book 4, ‘Shadow Hunt.’

LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels

LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels

LGBTQ+ Pride Month is upon us, and I’m in the mood for a graphic novel. Here are a few titles that caught my eye:

The links below will take you to Amazon.com. Disclosure: LiteratureLynx is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This adds no additional cost to you.

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver.

Cover Blurb (from Amazon): “E.K. Weaver’s critically-acclaimed road trip romance comic is collected here in this award-winning, commercially-successful omnibus edition. Less Than Epic tells the story of Amal (just out of the closet and freshly disowned by his parents) and TJ (a mysterious and eccentric vagrant) and their journey across the continental United States.”

Thoughts: I have a weakness for travel writing in general, but road-trip stories are my favorite. You know that saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”? I freaking hate that saying. However, for road-trip stories, I’ll make an exception.

Kim & Kim Vol 1 by Magdalene Visaggio

Cover Blurb (from Amazon): “Kim & Kim are twentysomething besties out to make a name for themselves in the wild world of inter-dimensional cowboy law enforcement. In a massive “screw you” to their parents and the authorities, they decide to hijack some high stakes bounty ― and end up in way over their heads. A day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm, it puts queer women and trans women front and center, with a story that embraces the absurd alongside realistic pathos.”

Thoughts: Inter-dimensional cowboy law enforcement already has me thinking about ‘Firefly,’ which I absolutely love. Add in diverse characters and an 80’s pop-punk vibe, and I absolutely can’t say no.

Intro to Alien Invasion by Owen King

Cover blurb (from Amazon): “Stacey, a brilliant, overachieving astrobiology major at Fenton College, had planned on just another lonely Spring Break on campus. But when a hurricane batters the small college town, downing power lines and knocking out cell phone reception, Stacey and her friends are stranded with no way to communicate with the outside world at the worst possible moment: in the midst of an alien invasion.

As space insects begin to burrow into students and staff, transforming them into slobbering, babbling monsters, a conglomeration of misfits must band together to prevent the infestation from spreading. Meanwhile, Stacey’s long-stifled romantic feelings for her friend Charlotte begin to surface, while the professor she had admired and respected becomes the students’ worst enemy.”

Thoughts: The world needs more college fiction, and science fiction needs more LGBTQ+ representation. Win-win. Plus, how freaking cute are those illustrations?

Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce

Cover Blurb (from Amazon):Wuvable Oaf is the first-ever collection of the acclaimed self-published comic book series by cartoonist Ed Luce. Oaf is a large, hirsute, scary-looking ex-wrestler who lives in San Francisco with his adorable kitties and listens to a lot of Morrissey. The book follows Oaf ’s search for love in the big city, especially his pursuit of Eiffel, the lead singer of the black metal/queercore/ progressive disco grindcore band Ejaculoid. Luce weaves between the friends, associates, enemies, ex-lovers and pasts of both men into the story of their courtship. A romantic comedy at its core, Wuvable Oaf recalls elements of comics as diverse as Scott Pilgrim, Love and Rockets, and Archie, set against the background of San Francisco’s queer community and music scene.”

Thoughts: Gay ex-wrestler with kittens. Need I say more?

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Looking for more resources?

Check out my book lists featuring trans or non-binary characters. I have one list of books geared towards adults, and a separate list for kids and teens.

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Relevant LiteratureLynx reviews:

a + e 4ever– a graphic novel that tackles sex, friendship and gender labels

Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter– a collection of essays about what it means to be a family

The Thieves of Nottica– a steampunk sci-fi featuring an array of LGBTQ+ characters and themes

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If you’re looking for fiction or poetry, Wikipedia’s list of LGBT writers is actually pretty extensive.

If you’re looking for more graphic novel suggestions, try one of these lists:

LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

10 LGBT Graphic Novels and Comics to Add to Your Summer Reading List

The Best LGBT Graphic Novels You Missed

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Have any other suggestions for me? Leave them in the comments!

Happy reading!