Tag Archives: other: reviews

reviews: No Holds Bard

Historical Novel Society: review by Kristen McQuinn

Excerpt and conclusion: … a delightful collection of Shakespeare tales, revised and revisited for a modern audience and with an LGBT focus. …

For me, the highlights were Julie Bozza’s “In Fair Verona,” a version of Romeo and Juliet focusing on the ghost of Mercutio influencing Lord Byron; Siobhan Dunlop’s “Imitate the Sun,” about a modern London-based troupe of all-women Shakespearean actors preparing to perform Henry IV and their behind-the-scenes dramas and insecurities; Michelle Peart’s “Lost,” [Julie Bozza’s “In a Dark House”] a continuation of Twelfth Night in the form of a conversation, mostly, between Feste and Malvolio; and Adam Fitzroy’s “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t,” a retelling of Macbeth as a modern murder case.

Each entry in the anthology deals with some aspect that is important within the LGBTQ+ community and highlights it in a way that makes it relevant to all readers. This is a terrific approach, since everyone needs more insight, understanding, and empathy into all facets of life, not just what we are familiar with already. Literature such as No Holds Bard does exactly that, while also taking an irreverent approach to the Bard himself in the process. I think Shakespeare would have approved! Definitely recommended.

No Holds Bard on Goodreads

  • Rohase Piercy gave it 4 stars and said: Well, this was fun! Such a variety of approaches to putting an LGBTQ twist on Shakespeare’s works, with twelve stories from eleven different authors. I enjoyed all of them, but I’ll tell you my four favourites: Erin Horakova’s ‘Couched In A Curious Bed’ gives us a new slant on Richard of York’s ‘difference’ and a novel ending to the Wars of the Roses in Henry VI; Julie Bozza’s ‘In Fair Verona’ features a romantic encounter between Lord Byron to Romeo & Juliet’s Mercutio – no mean feat across two centuries! Bryn Hammond gives us an ageing Shakespeare collaborating on his last play, ‘Two Noble Kinsmen’ and pouring out his heart to his character Princess Emilia as he struggles to give voice both to her sexuality and that of her two suitors in a way that will avoid the controversy caused by publication of his Sonnets; and my personal favourite is Jay Lewis Taylor’s very clever ‘After the Storm’, in which the characters from The Tempest are transported to Wales and given an alternative but parallel story narrated from the point of view of poor captive Ariel. This anthology has made me want to open my long-neglected Complete Works of Shakespeare for the first time in years – which I hope is a tribute in itself.
  • Bellbomb Bellbomb gave it 5 stars and said: … my initial decision to buy the book was because I’m an avid fan of some of the authors included in this anthology (Julie Bozza and Adam Fitzroy) and I just couldn’t get enough of their writing, and because this was from Manifold Press which you can’t go wrong with any of their publications. I’m glad I’ve found many new gems in this anthology whom I will be looking out for more of their full length novels in the future. This is one of those rare anthologies which I believe I’ll pick up to reread many times.

reviews: Call to Arms

Historical Novel Society: review by Viviane Crystal

Excerpt and conclusion: “We Live Without a Future” by Julie Bozza recounts the last days of Virginia Woolf, in which she treasures and questions her relationship with her lover and husband, dispassionately thinking she needs to free them both. … Sandra Lindsey’s “Between Friends” makes a significant statement about all these relationships: “desire and lust are easy to understand and easy to answer. Love requires more care.” … An interesting, unified but fragmented, and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.

On Top Down Under Book Reviews with Substance: 5 stars from Kazza K

Excerpt and conclusion: “We Live Without a Future” – Julie Bozza … Not much I can say except it’s beautifully written, is based on fact, and definitely captures the tense mood of the characters and the period. … This is another strong, poignant, well researched and edited anthology from Manifold Press, this time set amidst and around WWII. It follows on the back of their equally good WWI anthology “A Pride of Poppies”. … There are some standout stories but across the board each short is strong and they span several countries, years, and letters within the rainbow alphabet. I would have loved more length with most of these stories but only because they’re so good.

reviews: A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle

The Grocer Errant on Goodreads

Anna Mladen said: I don’t know what exactly I’ve been expecting from this book, but by 12% on that kindle scale I was suddenly awake and breathless to see how all of this will play out: it was like certain discourse from certain Tumblr/Twitter feeds where ‘righteous’ citizen are up in arms to lay down the law of the land. Er. Fandom world, but not only.

The good Citizen in the book/play is up by the stage by this point, demanding that she’ll have representation in the play, or else. Who can deny the RL echoes of this one with the number of ‘shoutout’ we are subjected to these days….Just like 400 years ago, it seems. Eh. Wonder what that means?

There’s little I love more than seeing history intertwined with contemporary events all over again. It brings out perspective, my ears start to sting from lessons we should have known already, and the ‘original’ and monumental game-changing concerns of these days are starting to lose something of their shiny and pressing edge. Issues become once again man-made problems, and thus seem easier to overcome. One can breathe better, hope beating again in the chest.

… and on Amazon ES

A.D. gave it 5 stars and said: I had a wonderful time reading this book! 

This has been a breathless read for me.

I went through it wide-eyed, having an amazing time discovering the real-life, actual life, echoes of a 400-years-old play. The Citizens are the main character is said somewhere in the book, and one only has to venture out on Tumblr or Twitter to come upon the present time embodiment of the play shoutout for representation.

Loved it!

reviews: A Certain Persuasion

Historical Novel Society: review by Eileen Charbonneau

Conclusion: Both inspired idea and loving tribute, this welcome collection has most interesting twists. Tones vary. Some stories are sly and sexy, some warm and tender, some brooding and tragic, some laugh-out-loud funny. The original Jane Austen characters’ full-throated independence, intelligence, curiosity and bravery serve these wonderful tributes well. Reimagined, one and all discover “there are many different ways of living in this world.” I think Miss Austen would be delighted, and I highly recommend this enchanting collection.

Rainbow Awards 2017: Honorable Mention

Judge’s comments: Whew! What a long book! But I couldn’t put it down. The premise is charming, telling LGBT stories set in the early 1800’s in the style of Jane Austen. … While I enjoyed almost all of the stories, I think my favorite was by editor Julie Bozza. Most of the other stories were relatively straightforward romances, but Bozza’s contained the convoluted conflicts of Austen’s works and seemed to me the most successful of all the stories. The book was well-edited and proofed, always welcome features. I highly recommend the book to any Jane Austen fans, and really, to Dear Readers in general.

The Good, the Bad and the Unread: Grade B (Good) from Stevie

Excerpt: Pretty much every letter of the QUILTBAG is represented here, along with retellings, prequels, sequels, and stories about readers of the various novels. There are even references to Colin Firth tucked away in there. Of course, such a mixed collection is going to have some stories that appeal more than others; however, in this case none of them disappointed me. … A highly enjoyable book whether read from cover to cover in a single sitting or dipped into at will over a prolonged period.

And if you wish to read more:

Universally Civil, an article by anthology editor and contributor Julie Bozza in the online magazine of The Jane Austen Centre in Bath – a particularly supportive and friendly bunch!

Why Queer Retellings of Classic Stories Are So Necessary, an article by Lindsay King-Miller on the Vice Magazine website, which mentions the anthology.

reviews: The Fine Point of His Soul

My alternate history, The Fine Point of His Soul, received its first review on Goodreads from its proud dedicatee! It has also received terrific, thoughtful reviews on the Jessewave site – which is particularly appreciated, as their main focus is male-male romance, a theme which is only a subplot in this novel – and also from Narrelle Harris, a writer who knows how to spin a darn good yarn. It has since been awarded Discovered Diamond status!

Discovering Diamonds: Highly Recommended by Richard Tearle


Excerpts: … an excellent read. … not exactly a romp, but the action moves along at a good pace, the dialogue is suitable for the ‘romantic’ poets and the plot and settings authentic. … an intriguing mystery and very well told to boot!

Mortal Words: 4 stars from Narrelle M Harris

Excerpt and summary: Bozza … evokes the language and cadences of the time period without sounding like a pastiche – her prose has an easy, thoroughly readable flow. Through Andrew Sullivan she has a narrator who is practical but has a love of the noble and poetic, particularly explored through his friendship with Keats and the discussions he has with all the poets. Bozza writes artists who converse like artists without getting pompous or sounding like she’s simply reworking material from their own poetry or diaries. Her understanding of the poets in question and their worldviews feels extensive, and she manages to incorporate these ideas with a light touch and a sensibility for how they impact the characters, their interactions and the overall story. … the inexorable pace of it is taut and full of anticipation. … The Fine Point of His Soul is a beautifully crafted novel of Gothic horror, evoking original tales of the time period while achieving its own storytelling voice.

Reviews by Jessewave: 4 stars from LadyM

Excerpt and summary: One of the things I love about Julie Bozza’s writing is the fact that she can change her writing style from book to book to fit their tone and theme. Whether it’s a gritty police procedural, beautiful love story set in Australian Outback or, in this case, speculative fiction set in alternate 1820s, she wields the chosen style with ease and brings to life an amazing cast of characters. And here, in The Fine Point of His Soul, the style beautifully matches the story’s characters, especially the three most famous among them, romantic poets John Keats, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, their heightened emotions, doubts, fancies, loves and losses, pathos. … Bozza’s portrayal of Keats warmed my heart, but I fell head over heels with Byron (though I suspect every reader will have their own favorite). He is a proud man, sometimes hard, unreliable and insecure. He sees himself as a man of action, but the gentleman and lord in him always win. … The Fine Point of His Soul isn’t a perfect novel … [however] In Keats’s own words: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”

Keats on Goodreads

  • Bryn Hammond said: The trio of star Romantic poets, Keats, Shelley, Byron – sort of like the Three Musketeers – with each his companion or offsider (wife, servant, friend) and – if I’m going to run with the Three Musketeers – our d’Artagnan is nothing of a poet, he’s a lieutenant in the navy, who requires their help or other input – it isn’t always assistance, at least from Byron – in a secret mission, sensitive both to the Home Office and to the lieutenant’s heart. … [Recommended] If you like unlikely heroes in speculative histfic, or want to meet Bryon, Shelley and Keats. Believe me, you want to meet Keats.
  • Sanna said: Unusual, skillful incorporation of real historical figures with a fascinating narrator and fantastical gothic story.
  • Abigail Bok said: This is an odd little book, but I found considerable interest in just about every page of it. I enjoyed the characters’ companionship, their attachments and their conflicts; and their dialogue and activities seemed believable. I felt they were all people I might know. … I was especially delighted to discover an author who is writing as she pleases, without looking over her shoulder at what “readers” might want or expect. The greatest pleasure I found in the reading was its unpredictability—the fact that it was not written to some kind of formula or genre. The author followed the story where it led her. I hope to find more such works!

Readers’ Responses

Lisa Scott: The Fine Point Of His Soul is an innovative historical mystery, set in Rome in the 19th century. It is a tale of friendship and the encounter between good and evil featuring the Romantic Poets, a valiant naval lieutenant and the inscrutable figure of Iago.

Somebody has stolen important papers from the English government. The lieutenant must travel to Rome to retrieve them from the suspected thief. He enlists the help of John Keats and his friends and together they embark on a journey that will lead to disturbing and fatal events, causing them to doubt their own sanity.

I loved the premise of this enthralling novel – a fusion of true historical facts and settings with a ‘what if’ scenario. The scenario being what could Keats have got up to in the last few months of his life, after he had been quarantined aboard the Maria Crowther in the Bay of Naples.

It is a wonderfully written tale with a well-realized historical setting, very likeable characters and an intriguing original plot. In reading I was transported to the piazzas and pavements of C19th Rome and longed to be part of the ‘gang’ so I could join in with their tea drinking and plotting.

The story contains some references to literary details, which a less cultured reader (like myself) may have felt a little daunting – but not to worry, as the lieutenant is not so well read either and so the author kindly ensures that where necessary, explanations are given to the lieutenant and vicariously to the reader via Keats and his friends.

The author’s knowledge and love of Keats emanates from the pages, which makes the book all the more a joy to read.

reviews: The ‘True Love’ Solution

Thank you to everyone who’s giving my latest novel a try! I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope that makes it a lot of fun to read.

Bike Book Reviews: review by Becky

Excerpt: Jules captured my heart on page 1 of this book, what with his swinging hips and artfully styled ginger hair, how could one not fall in love? … it is a great read. 

Books Laid Bare Boys: 4 stars from Fiona

Excerpt: I enjoyed this so much – it was well written and properly researched so no distractions from the story line. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read an amusing feel good old fashioned romance (with a bit of gay sex thrown in for very good measure!)

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words: 3.75 stars from Stella

Excerpt: I discovered Julie Bozza in the Butterfly Hunter series and fell in love with her style. That’s the reason I soon jumped into the chance at reading The ‘True Love’ Solution. What I particularly like of this author is her way with words, she can always bring me into real and at the same time dreamy worlds. This is exactly what I felt with this last story.

Bayou Book Junkie: 4 stars from Jaymie

Excerpt: The writing was very good and the author is definitely talented.

Engaging Secrets: 4 feathers from Gretchen

Gretchen seems to have found it a rather unexpected book – weird and quirky! – but concludes: Overall there were things I didn’t like but mostly I enjoyed this book very much. It’s different and well written with complex characters.

Romantic Fanatic Book Blog: 4 stars from Brave One

Brave One particularly enjoyed the ‘sweet love story’, the humour, and Jules’ family dynamics.

The Novel Approach: 3 stars from Jules

While the ‘love triangle’ aspect of the tale did not suit, Jules still found a lot of things to like about it. Archie, Leonard, and the strength of the opening chapters and the final chapter saved this one for me.

Oh My Shelves: 2 stars from Tamika

Introduction and conclusion: I am frustrated by how this book went. I loved the premise of the story, but the execution was not good. It was a strong beginning, Jules wanted the whole romantic notion of being in love. He wanted the happily ever after, he is a true romantic at heart. … [But] That’s not how a true romantic should act in my opinion. I lost my connection with the story. My favorite thing about this book was Archie. I love seeing supportive parents in novels. I didn’t lose hope with this author, I’ll continue to read her work. This just wasn’t for me.

Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews: 4.5 stars from Mark

Beware of spoilers if you click through to this review!

Conclusion: This book has no big angst factor, no biting your nails, no heart breaking break-ups, big tear jerking making up or reunion scenes and no broken characters.  It is light on the erotic but thoroughly entertaining as it focuses more on the characters, and what wonderful characters they are too. I was in immersed in this book from the beginning and thanks to Julie’s wonderful writing was introduced to another set of vibrant, lovable characters.

Mortal Words: 4 stars from Narrelle M Harris

Conclusion: All up, The ‘True Love’ Solution is a light, fun, gentle, sweet read that dances its sprightly way to a lovely and satisfying conclusion. It’s a perfect pick-me-up if life has seemed a bit dark lately, and a cheerful confection if life’s good and you want to celebrate True Love, even if it does wobble off course sometimes.

Readers’ Responses

Tess on Goodreads gave it 4 stars and said: This was a delightful, sweet and very British romance. One thing I really loved was Jules’ relationship with his father, Archie. Probably one of the best father/son relationships I’ve seen in gay romance.

Ije on Goodreads gave it 5 stars and said: I needed to read something like this. Something that has a strong loving family, a character who loves to read romances and adores authors. … This is a lovely story which is touching, gentle, beautiful in its simplicity but very realistic.  And it is going onto my list of exquisite reads for 2016!

Keela on Goodreads gave it 5 stars and said: It was solidly adorable. I will definitely be reading from Julie Bozza again.

Sharon on Goodreads gave it 5 stars and said: I rarely award five stars but this book had it all: good story, well written, good editing.

reviews: A Pride of Poppies

Rainbow Awards 2015: Honorable Mention

Judges’ comments: Consistently good short stories. … An excellent anthology of World War 1 stories all told with a remarkable eye for authenticity and a great deal of love and compassion. … Wonderful read!

The Book Breeze: review by Ace Katzenbooks

Conclusion: A good collection of stories, and an excellent reminder that even when things are tough, we can remember that for LGBT people a hundred years ago, they were much more dangerous.

Prism Book Alliance: 4 stars from Feliz

Conclusion: This anthology is, in my eyes, a must for readers interested in the WWI – era as well as for fans of the contributing authors. (who might even discover new favorites, like I did.) It’s high-quality writing throughout, not to be consumed as a whole, but best enjoyed one story at a time.

Historical Novel Society: review by Christoph Fischer

Conclusion: Entertaining, emotional and thought provoking this not only fills a gap in WWI literature, it is also a very moving and stimulating read with plenty of original ideas. 

Very highly recommended.

Editors’ Choice, and Shortlisted for the HNS Indie Award 2016

Long and Short Reviews: 4 stars from Astilbe

Excerpt and conclusion: They say that tough times bring out a person’s true colors. If this is true, I want to meet all of these characters. … a beautiful collection that I’d recommend to anyone who has even the slightest interest in World War I or GLBTQI fiction.

Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews: 4 stars from Sally and Mark

Comments about individual stories: A lovely but bittersweet story of wanting to be normal and fitting in. (No Man’s Land) … Oh this was beautiful! Absolutely beautiful!! (I Remember) … I particularly loved the gentle innocence of both young men and the very practical steps they took independently to try to find out what was what, and the misunderstandings that this engendered. (Inside) … For such a short story the author has packed in a lot of emotional wallop and a lot of sharply drawn secondary characters, including a number of period appropriate but benign women, unusual and refreshing for M/M. (A Rooted Sorrow) … This story blew me away. My historical knowledge is so rooted in European history that it’s always a joy to be shown another country and another way of life, in this case in Cambodia, then under French rule. (Anh Sang)

Adventurous Hearts: review by Narrelle M Harris

Excerpt: … a superb collection of stories that give voices to those who were silenced by the mainstream at the time. … a damned fine read which will break your heart, fill it with hope and remind you that love will find a way to grow, even under the harshest conditions.

Odds and Ends: review by Kizzia

Excerpt: …  I can, hand on heart, say that I didn’t find one story that didn’t move me or make me think about some aspect of living at a LGBTQIA person during the war that I hadn’t considered before. This is something that, given my deep and abiding interest in WWI, you should know is no idle praise …

Reviews by Amos Lassen: review by Amos

Conclusion: This is an anthology in which every story is an excellent read and a look at an age that none of us experienced personally.

On Top Down Under: 5 stars from Kazza K

Overview: A Pride of Poppies is a quality anthology. There isn’t one story I didn’t enjoy. The editing is superb and the writing exceedingly good to sublime. … I could not believe the depth and breadth of storytelling in each and every individual story.

Poppies on Amazon:

  • Jo gave it 5 stars and said: A interesting collection of stories – they demonstrate the power of the short story – capturing a mood, a moment in a few words, sometimes surprising always thought provoking.

reviews: Mitch Rebecki Gets a Life

There’s no denying that Mitch hasn’t been quite as enthusiastically received as his creator might wish, but I’m very glad and grateful for the thoughtful responses that have been coming in from readers and reviewers.

Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance: 4 stars from Mark

Introduction: I feel the most important thing to say upfront about this book is that it’s not a traditional M/M romance. It’s there but really only plays a very minor background role in the overall story. Knowing this beforehand then you can sit back and enjoy the story for what it is; a story about investigative journalism and how Mitch has a nose for digging up the dirt on people no matter where he lands up. This is what intrigued me and I have now read a number of books where the MC(s) are gay but that’s it; they just are.

Mark also kindly asked me to do a guest post, so I wrote about the ‘fish out of water’ theme. Do drop by and share the love with Sinfully!

Boys In Our Books: 2 stars from Susan

Excerpt: There were still flashes of the Bozza writing that I really enjoy. But the story as a whole and the way that it was put together really did not work for me.

Love Bytes: 3.5 stars from Dan

Excerpt and conclusion: This was an interesting read and take on a reporter’s life. … I enjoyed the book. It was well edited and I would say the writing is above average. It was an interesting afternoon’s read.

Rainbow Awards 2015: Honorable Mention

Judge’s comments: Enjoyable story with interesting characters. Loved the different perspective on Australia and Australians, and the ending was realistic, rather than cliché.

Mitch on Goodreads:

Currently 18 ratings, 10 text reviews, and an average of 3.50 stars.

  • Ije gave it 5 stars, and said: If I had to describe this story I would call it ‘slice of life’ – ‘a story telling technique that presents a seemingly arbitrary sample of a character’s life.’ Although I don’t think this sample of Mitch’s life could be described as arbitrary. Another way of describing this would be to borrow from my mentor Viv Thomas and describe this as a story of a ‘second choice life.’ A slice of second choice life. … This is a great book, kind of philosophical and a really refreshing change from my usual magic, murder, mayhem and mates.
  • Seventhdevil gave it 4 stars, and said: Overall I wish the book was longer, and fingers crossed there’ll be a sequel.

reviews: The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy

Readers on Amazon:

Phase58 gave it 5 stars on Amazon UK and said: I didn’t want to finish this book cause that meant leaving Dave and Nicholas and their wonderful world. Even big bad mining companies couldn’t dissuade them from doing what was right. I loved this, it brought Australia into my living room and all its wonders along with it. Well written, no typos and great Aussie words like doona and Akubra and another word which I can’t remember which is basically a spork lol. The tale of two completely different worlds and how they join together seamlessly. I refuse to give the story away, just read the book and enjoy it as much as i did.

Readers on Goodreads:

Neet gave it 5 stars and said: What a wonderful trilogy of novels (including a short story by Julie Bozza). I took my time reading this beautifully written novel not wanting it to end. … David & Nicholas story is one that is funny, romantic, heartbreaking, and just plain enjoyable. I enjoyed reading about this couple and their wonderful friends and relatives. I hated for it to end, but plan to read again and again. It’s highly recommended and a good read!!!