Review: Conscious Bias

46008700. sy475 ★★☆☆☆

Conscious Bias is billed as a legal thriller with f/f romance. I felt primed to read this after coming off Grace Mead’s Defense of an Other and was eager to start, but things go awry very quickly.

Calling this a thriller is just plain wrong. There is little to no tension in this story. I was propelled forward as I struggled to figure out what was going on instead of being compelled by the plot. The main character is a gifted lawyer, but she takes a backseat in the case central to the book. In the trial that is the focus of Conscious Bias, Monica Spade is not the prosecutor or even a member of the prosecutor’s team. She prepares two witnesses to testify and sits back to watch the trial. It’s interesting enough, but left Monica feeling more like a supporting character than our protagonist.

The crime that sets off the divisive trial in Apple Grove revolves around the death of Abdul Seif, an exchange student studying at the local university. There isn’t a lot of ambiguity with the crime, the reader knows that the defendant is guilty, it’s just a matter of waiting to see which side can get the system to rule in their favor. This is where Venice’s law career comes in handy, but it is hardly the saving grace of this book. The trial central to this book doesn’t start until past the halfway mark, mostly because this book is a blow-by-blow account of Monica’s every waking moment from start to finish. Silly subplots (a monkey loose in a hospital?) only add to the painful pacing.

Outside of the trial, Monica spends lots of time at the gym, where she meets Shelby. Their insta-love connection isn’t something I was in to, but that’s just a personal preference. What really killed it for me was the cringe-worthy dialogue. Shelby’s eyes were “firebombs” and her butt cheeks were “orbs.” It’s pervasive throughout the book, but peaks during the scenes in which Monica is at the gym, fantasizing about Shelby. And, that’s mostly it. For a book that’s billed as a f/f romance, there isn’t a lot going on besides fantasizing, some flirting, and getting together right at the end of the book. The sticking point for me was, again, that even though this book only spans a few weeks, they’re emphatically in love by the time they get together.

The story is further burdened by two-dimensional bad guys (sexist bosses, sleazy defense attorneys, corrupt businessmen) that fail to add and tension to the story because it is very apparent early on that the main character is always going to land on her feet because the author wants her to. I gave this book the benefit of the doubt until the very end, but there was no redemption with the rushed, senseless wrap-up. Clearly I’m in the minority here, but pick this book up at your own risk.

Continue reading “Review: Conscious Bias”

Happy Trans Day of Visibility!

Image result for trans day of visibility

I just wanted to take a moment to send some good thoughts to any readers who identify as trans or are under the trans umbrella. You deserve so much more than the hardship and discrimination you experience. This will always be a safe space for you, whether you are questioning your identity, still in the closet, or out. I see you, you are valid, and you are valued.

On this blog, I’m always trying to seek out books by LGBTQ+ authors and guys, it isn’t easy to find them. The selection of queer fiction on NetGalley is sparse compared to other genres and Edelweiss+ is largely the same. Take the time to seek out these books, because there are so many great storytellers who go unknown. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite trans authors below, along with their books that I’ve read recently.

Grace Mead 

Grace Mead (she/her) is a practicing lawyer of 17 years. She graduated from Dartmonth and has spent the time since practicing law in Louisiana. She draws on these years of expertise in her debut novel, Defense of an Other. Defense of an Other follows Matt Durant, a young lawyer recently single after a break-up with his long-time girlfriend. After several beers, Matt finds himself at a gay bar and the unexpected victim of a hate crime. In defense of himself and another man, Matt kills one of the assailants and is arrested. Defense of an Other follows Matt’s trial with all the wit and drama of a Law & Order episode, and then some. You can read the full review of Defense of an Other here. Defense of an Other is still available to request on NetGalley until July 8.

Author’s Website | Goodreads

Ana Mardoll

Ana Mardol (xie/xer) is the author of several fantasy novels and a recent favorite of mine, No Man of Woman Born. There is little debate that the fairy tales we grew up hearing are solidly rooted in worlds where there are only two genders. Mardoll breaks this tradition in No Man of Woman Born in the most wonderful way. Xer stories are beautifully written, delightfully subversive, and I treasured each one. I cannot possibly understate how much I look forward to reading xer other books. You can read the full review of No Man of Woman Born here. No Man of Woman Born is still available to request on NetGalley until April 30.

Author’s Website | Goodreads

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson (they/them) is a poet and the author of Lord of the Butterflies, the very first book reviewed on this blog. Let me first say that I am no poetry aficionado, I find lofty prose just as dull as load of others do. So please know that when I say Gibson’s collection is brilliant, it is brilliant. Their prose is incredible and before I knew it, I had read the book cover-to-cover. So many of their poems have stayed with me all these months later and I can only hope that I’ll have the opportunity to see them perform live. You can read the full review of Lord of the Butterflies here. Lord of the Butterflies is still available to request on NetGalley until April 22.

Author’s Website | Goodreads


If anyone has any books by trans authors or books that feature trans characters to recommend, please comment them below!

Looking for ways to be a better trans ally? I recommend starting here.

Review: Defense of an Other

★★★★☆

Outside a gay bar in New Orleans, a young lawyer and a man he met only hours before are confronted by a group of drunks that have targeted them for a hate crime. So begins Grace Mead’s Defense of an Other. In the first few chapters leading up to the inciting incident, plenty of the dialogue and character interactions fell flat, but after the fight that ultimately ends a man’s life, our protagonist is thrown in jail. Then the book really takes off.

Mead lays out the trial proceedings and events that follow in the riveting way I’m sure only a lawyer of 17 years could do. She presents vivid drama with none of the theatrics or hyperbole that I’ve found pervasive in other legal thrillers. Instead, reading Defense of An Other felt like sitting in the court alongside all the other spectators, reeling as the case transpires, hoping for a not guilty verdict. Continue reading “Review: Defense of an Other”