rivers_bend: (women: garcia nails)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 01:41pm on 16/01/2019 under , , ,
After watching Samin Nosrat's netflix show four times through in three weeks, I asked for her book for Christmas. I am OBSESSED with it. It's an absolutely beautiful book to hold and touch and look at, and Wendy McNaughton's illustrations make me so happy. And it's also beautiful to read. Samin is as good at writing as she is at laughing delightedly, and if you've seen Salt Fat Acid Heat, you know how good she is at that.

I've loved cooking for years, since I learned how by watching Ready, Steady, Cook on the BBC every evening back in 1995, and I rarely follow recipes and am pretty good at making things from whatever is around. One of the things I cooked often in England that I DID start with a recipe for, though, was Leek and Potato Soup. I don't remember what the recipe was now, but you sweated the leeks and used low-fat milk and vegetable broth at a high broth to milk ratio. Over the years I started adding nutmeg which was good, but by and large it was warming and easy to heat up at work, and didn't have chunks of vegetables which is my biggest complaint about soups in general, but wasn't anything special.

Yesterday at the grocery, they had a gorgeous huge pile of glistening leeks, and I thought, omg I haven't had leek and potato soup in a decade, lemme just make some. But lemme use Samin's advice to do it.

Things I knew I had to change straight up:

I cooked the potatoes in water salted to where it brought to mind the sea
I took advantage of the Maillard reaction to add extra taste
who needs low-fat milk when you have whipping cream
taste everything at every step

The ingredients are as follows:

one large leek
two fist sized red potatoes
two fist sized yellow potatoes
a good knob of butter (1-2 tablespoons)
a tablespoon of finely chopped bacon (I buy the big bags of it at costco, but a piece of chopped bacon or half butter half bacon fat would do the same, or skip this ingredient if veggie obvs)
8 oz whipping/heavy/double cream (I buy the shelf stable cartons at Trader Joes so always have some in the cupboard)
1/4-1/2 cup prepared miso broth
2 ladles of potato cooking water
1-2 cups plain water to achieve desired consistency
2 heaped tablespoons full-fat greek yogurt
kosher salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste

If you've never cooked with leeks before, it's good to know they can hide dirt in all their little layers. I cut off the root end and as much of the green ends as seem tough (this will depend on how fresh they are), cut them down their length and run them under the tap, fanning open the layers until the bulk of the dirt is out. Then I slice each half in half again lengthways, chop the quarters into slices (you will be pureeing them so whatever size pleases you), throw them in a colander and run them under water again, rubbing them between my fingers so all the layers come apart. If you have cooked with leeks before, obviously do your things :D

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan (I used my cast iron skillet) and when it starts to bubble, add the bacon and well-drained leeks. Cook over a medium heat stirring well to start, and then more occasionally as the steam stops billowing. you're looking for the bacon and the smaller pieces of leek to start to brown, but you don't want too much browning as you lose the fresh taste of leeks and only have browned flavor. When they start to brown, turn off the heat and add the 8 oz of cream, stirring well. grate the nutmeg and grind the black pepper into the cream and leeks at this point while it's all still warm. While those flavors meld (salty bacon, acid from the browning, fat from the cream), do the potato thing.

Peel all potatoes and chop into even sized pieces so they will cook evenly. Add to a large pot of GENEROUSLY salted water. Samin suggested diamond crystal kosher salt, which I had never used before, but of course I got some, because she is my hero and my future wife (I wish), and it is, indeed, very different from iodized table salt and the maldon sea salt crystals I've been using for years. As mentioned, she recommends salting water that you're gonna discard (as opposed to like rice or oatmeal water) so it tastes like you remember the sea. Boil the potatoes until cooked, and before draining, ladle two scoops of the cooking water into the pan with the cream and leeks.

With the potatoes in the strainer, pour the leeks and cream into your large pot and puree with a hand blender. Or, put in your food processor or whatever you have that makes chunky things creamy. If you have a hand blender, you're gonna blend again once the potatoes are in there, so you don't have to get it totally smooth at this point.

Add the potatoes to the pot and on a low heat, mash it all together with a potato masher (or rice the potatoes into the pan if you're a ricer not a masher). Add the miso broth and a cup of water. puree again with hand blender. taste for seasoning. I added more salt at this point, but if your miso is very salty or you salted your potato water more than me, you may not have to.

stir in more water until you have a consistency you like. keep stirring every minute or so until it's hot but not bubbling. Salt again if needed. Samin really is right that salt takes away bitter. I felt like the potatoes were still a little bitter at this point (I didn't like potatoes at all until my late 20s because they taste(d) so bitter to me) so I added another pinch.

and then the stroke of genius I wouldn't have thought of without Samin's advice. I stirred in two big tablespoons of greek yogurt to finish it. It was good before, but that step took it right over the top. (I spooned out a little soup into a prep bowl and added a tiny bit of yogurt to that to test it, so I didn't ruin the whole soup if it was a bad plan, but it was NOT a bad plan). I could have cried it tasted so good.

I ate it with a thick slice of yesterday's homemade oatmeal and emmer bread, lightly toasted and slathered with butter, but it would be really good with a salad or veggies if that's your thing.

Now I'm going to go make chicken thighs that I salted yesterday and got out of the fridge an hour ago :D
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 08:18am on 07/08/2017 under
I am having a really hard time finding f/f books that I can get past the first few pages, because for some reason SO MANY of them are super stilted, or have just no sense of how words work, and my twitter feed indicates I am not alone in this, so I'm doing a reclist of the f/f books I HAVE enjoyed recently, and I encourage you to add your own recs if you have them!

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
A young/new adult book with enjoyable characters and good writing, plus I learned stuff about working in the design side of the film industry, so that was interesting!

As La Vista Turns by Kris Ripper
this is part of Ripper's Queers of La Vista series, which is alllll wonderful, so I was not surprised this f/f title was great. pining, fake dating, longing, hotness, found family (of course, this is Ripper's jam), and character growth that doesn't rely on people being needlessly cruel/annoying/dumb at the start.

Undertow by Jordan L Hawk
Part of the Wybourne and Griffen series, and ihni if it stands alone, and also one of the characters is a fish person, so if you require your f/f to also strictly be human/human this will not be your jam, but it's DELIGHTFUL. absolutely hilarious, and also terrifying in spots, and I adore both main characters beyond all reason.

A&B by JC Lillis
this is book 2 in the mechanical hearts series, though I read it first, and that was pretty okay. another young/new adult book and I absolutely loved it.

Far From Home by Lorelie Brown
An enjoyable fake marriage/not as straight as i thought story, though definitely contains disordered eating triggers.

Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton
I love this book SO MUCH. It has a long, fulfilling story of bffs turned enemies turned lovers, where the place is just as solid a character as the people, lots of family dynamics, and self-discovery.

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper
another in the Queers of La Vista series (this one is earlier in the series), and it's REALLY HOT. and really well written, because that is how Ripper does.

Roller Girl by Vanessa North
A trans character, roller derby, and a good dog. I've read a couple hundred books since reading this one so I don't remember it hugely well, but I enjoyed it.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
young/new adult f/f steampunk/fantasy. I super loved this book. A lot of the reviews talk about hating the narrative voice, but I actually really liked it. Some definite scary bits.

Knit One Girl Two by Shira Glassman
This was cute and fluffy and short and sweet. Not a lot in the way of substance, but enjoyable.

Hunter's Way by Gerri Hall
not one for you if you don't like crime novels, because there's definitely genre-typical violence against women (including a trans woman) including a rape scene, and the killer's victims are all queer, but if you are a procedural crime thriller fan, it's well written, and the f/f story is hot and sweet. there's some dated as hell 12 year old queer politics, like, I kept wanting to shout, BISEXUALS DO EXIST, so you have to take it as it is.
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posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 03:56pm on 20/03/2017 under ,
We all had to do a project on a muscle group for kinesiology class, and it could take any form we wanted. Some people did posters, some songs, some 3D art, and one even did ballet. I, of course, wrote a story. I know a couple people wanted to see it, so I thought I'd post it here.

Once upon a time, there was a crime family by the name of Flexor. In the early days, it was run by two brothers. The eldest had a son called Brachialis, and he vowed one day his son would be head of the family. But the younger brother had two sons, Biceps Brachii and Brachioradialis. He thought it only fair that his sons would inherit the family flexing business. When his brother disagreed, he arranged an accident. He wasn’t an ENTIRELY terrible man, however, and he did raise his nephew like his own sons—except Brachialis would only ever be third in line for the throne.

Brachialis is big and strong and wise, but he never discovered the circumstances of his father’s death, so he honors his uncle and loves his cousins. Besides, he isn’t much for being the center of attention, so he’s happy to let his flamboyant cousin, Biceps Brachii, be front and center. Biceps Brachii likes to branch out, try new things, and he can do this because he knows his cousin Brachialis will always be there, squatting on the humerus and grabbing the ulna, taking care of the family business: flexing the elbow, come rain or shine, pronation or supination.

Biceps Brachii is biflexible, and especially nights when he’s been drinking Spanish wine and dancing the night away, will flex the shoulder as well as the elbow. With one head in the bicipital groove and bedded down with the supra glenoid tubercle, Biceps Brachii can only really concentrate on flexing with his forearm supinated. Fortunately, that’s one of his skills.

His little brother, Brachioradialis, has always felt himself to be a third wheel, second to his cousin and older brother. They’ve got the humerus covered, leaving him only the lateral supracondylar ridge to call home. Left behind in middle school when the older two go off to high school, Brachioradialis heads his own way. The Carpi territory could use some new blood. About this time he meets a boy called Pronator Teres. Pronator Teres has run away from his family, and is grateful when Brachioradialis takes him home. He forgets all about his Teres kin at the shoulder, and dedicates himself to the elbow joints, becoming a loyal fourth member of the Flexor family.

But what no one knows, is poor Pronator Teres is in love with his friend Brachioradialis. Just his luck, Brachioradialis is the straight brother, running directly down from the lateral epicondyle to the stylus of the radius. He's preoccupied with masturbation and beer drinking, and it never occurs to him that his best friend has been in love with him for years. He doesn’t even notice that PT has a drug habit, shooting up when no one’s looking.

Oblivious as he is, Brachioradialis doesn’t understand why his friend is always fighting with his carefree, biflexible brother, demanding pronation while Biceps Brachii just wants to have fun and supinate. Fortunately, Brachioradialis is good at keeping the peace, and always manages to return the forearm to neutral, whether PT or BB has been harder at work trying to make him spill his beer. And at least he’s got his cousin who doesn’t care who’s doing what with the forearm, he’ll always be there flexing.

They have their problems, and sometimes it’s a bumpy road, but the Flexor family sticks together, calling the elbow home, and getting the job done the best they can.
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 06:47am on 04/02/2017 under ,
Lookie here! Book post on the fourth of the month! It's amazing what you can accomplish when you only fead a few books in a month :D

It seems I read this first book the last day of December, but forgot to put it on December's book post, so.

Whiskey Business by Avon Gale
I've only read three books since this one, but I still had to go back and look what it was about, despite the fact it's literally about a dude in the whiskey business. It was well-written and fun, and I liked the characters, and it suffered more from my excessive feelings about the books I've read so far in January than it did from any issues with it itself, but it's enjoyable rather than a must read. I did really like that the character from a tiny town is totally out and his friends and neighbors are much more likely to try to matchmake him with a man than they are to have a problem with his man-loving ways. A+ on that.

January marked the beginning of Massage School, and my life becoming a whirlwind of class and massage trades and studying. I've barely found time to catch my breath, never mind a moment to read, but I did fit in a few hours. Three books I'd had on pre-order came out this month, or, at least two books and a short story, and then I discovered Seven Summer Nights which came out a bit ago but I'd missed it. It was a month of Quality over Quantity.

Books I read for the first time:
The Summer Palace by CS Pacat
A;slkdjf;asdfhas;dfj DAMEN AND LAURENT FOREVER. AND EVER. AND EVER. This made me SO HAPPY I was rocking around on my bed. If you're a captive prince fan, you are not waiting for my book list to have read this. If you're not, this is not the book to start with.

Wanted, A Gentleman by KJ Charles
This is an absolute romp. I've seen several reviews that implied it was hard to like one of the MCs, but I didn't find this at all. I'm not sure if I was doing it wrong, but I didn't find him at all an unsympathetic hero. YMMV of course. Everyone loved the other MC though. Including me. I could have taken this being longer, though I don't think it particularly suffered from being closer to novella length, and it had Charles's typical sharp writing, social commentary, and yummy sex scenes.

Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox
I'm not even sure I can put my finger on why, but this was SUCH AN INCREDIBLY GOOD BOOK. I saw several of my fave authors recommending this on twitter (KJ Charles's for example), and I have enjoyed many other Harper Fox books (though they are not always of consistent quality ime), so I picked this up. It's long. LONG. Most romance books say they will take me 2-3 hours to read, this one said it was going to take 9.5. It's REALLY satisfying. No threads get left dangling, and the whole thing is an amazing tapestry of post wwii historical, archeology, village life, ancient religion and magic, love, family, and psychology. I can't stop thinking about it. There's quite a lot of PTSD depicted, including nightmares, night terrors, flashbacks, fugue states, and descriptions of battles. There is also talk of period (1950s) psychiatric treatment including electroshock therapy as punishment and lobotomy. The ensemble cast is incredible, and because there is so much book, you really get to know everyone, even though there are many characters. Including a trans character. This one is going to stick with me for a very long time, I suspect.

Undertow by Jordan L Hawk
I was so excited to see this was coming out! Femslash! Human/not-human! A series I adore, despite a few frustrations. It delivered on all those fronts. Funny, hot, and exciting, and every inch a Widdershins book. I would think you could read it without diving into the whole series, so long as you read the synopsis of the earlier books, though I do recommend the others (especially if you're a quick reader). Not for those who squick at interspecies romance, though. Hawk doesn't shy away from Persephone's non-human features. Including tentacle-esque (though no suckers) "hair".

I re-read two favorite early-20th-century-set books this month, Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory, and Think of England by KJ Charles. I was utterly perplexed by Eleventh Hour, though, because there were two scenes I remember clearly that weren't in the book, which leads me to wonder what book they ARE in. I can't picture either scene with other characters.

I hadn't thought of these as particularly similar books, and indeed, there are definite differences, but I feel a similar soothingness about them, despite their dashing adventure plots with guns and spies and fights to the death. I think it's to do with characters that have/find a strong sense of self. I just feel very happy and empowered reading them. Good choices for the fraught-ness that comes with a radical change of life, even when the change is great.
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 09:34am on 01/01/2017 under ,
Good morning 2017, and here I am, all ready to hit post on my book list from last month. It's almost like I'm turning over a new leaf ;)

Books I read for the first time in December
Bad Behavior by KA Mitchell
This book comes with the following ~warning from the author: Warning: This book is kinky. I mean kinky. With lots of sex. It describes a fully consensual, intense D/s relationship which changes a character's life. It includes impact play and bondage along the way to a very happily ever after. every delicious word is true. This was my favorite one of the Bad in Baltimore series, but because of my kinks, not because it was the best written or anything. They all have a different vibe, which is nice, actually.
The Farther he Runs by Lynda Aicher
This series is less of a different vibe one, but it's all good, because I like the vibe of butch kinky dudes falling in love. I love this series—the books are well structured and written, and I enjoy the characters. This has lots of feelings and h/c and friends to lovers and is happily tropey.
Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey
This is the author's first m/m book, and I was not at all surprised to discover this when reading the author's words at the end. It was fine, but had no sense of queerness to it. It felt very heteronormative.
Better than Good by Lane Hayes
This also suffers an essential lack of queerness. The characters are all obsessed with gender roles but don't seem to know it. It's like that's just how the world IS. Kudos for the character who starts out thinking he's straight not going full-on GFY, and instead actually considering his sexuality, but largely I'm meh. He also cheats on his gf for a bit, which I don't really think was necessary.
To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow
I very much liked this one. I'm a fan of the author in any case, but had only read contemporary ones. This isn't a period I've read a lot of, possibly only Think of England, actually, so I can't speak to strict period accuracy, but I noticed no glaring issues on that front, and the characters are a delight. There is, perhaps, not quite as much gay angst as there might be, period-wise, but honestly, that is okay with me. Plus, as with most of Merrow's books, there is a wonderful supporting female bff character, and other women with individual personalities.
A&B by JC Lillis
This is actually the second book in the series, but I didn't know that, and I read it first. I'm glad I did, because the background characters in this are the mains from the first book, and it's set ten years later, and those ten years would have distressed me if I'd already been as invested in them as book one made me. I loved this. Girls! Falling in love! Lusting after each other! Having sex! Not on screen because it's a YA book, but it's very clear that they aren't just gals being pals. These books are hilarious, fandom-aware, sexy, clever, and fun. I'll definitely be re-reading.
How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis
The one I should have read first. Omg OMG. I literally had to stop reading a couple times to flail and squee into my fists. If RPS squicks you, this is not the book for you (and you can definitely read A&B without it if you need to), but if you have ever been in an rps fandom, or a tv fandom and rps is okay with you, this is AMAZING. A road trip from fan convention to fan convention with boys falling in love, a delightful female best friend, and I laughed so much. All the things I love about fandom.
Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle
I got this out of the library, and didn't notice until it came off holds that I'd got the audio book rather than the e-book. I'M SO GLAD I DID. It's read by the author, who is perfection, and I laughed so much. Nate, the narrator, is HILARIOUS, and the plot is one that goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, but has an undercurrent of seriousness that gives you lots of feels. I'm sure the text book is also great, but I definitely feel like I got a good deal getting the audiobook.
All in Fear by Steve Berman, KJ Charles, Roan Parrish, Kris Ripper, Avon Gale, and JA Rock
I have to admit, I didn't read the Steve Berman story, because I'm a fan of the other authors, and there is only so much horror I can stomach at a time. I used to be all about Stephen King but in my old age, I'm more of a fraidy cat. And these stories are VERY CREEPY. And in some cases murdery. Appropriate for a Halloween anthology, and well done. Very genre, and also queer, and I'm here to support that.

I also listened to A Fashionable Indulgence again, and it was again delightful :D

In the end, I read 231 new books this year (271 including re-reads). My goal for 2017 is to read fewer than 200. I know it's weird to lower your reading goal, but since I ~credit a lot of this year's reading to depression and crippling social anxiety, I'd like to make some changes in that direction. I'd also like to do some more writing. I'm starting 2017 in a new home in a new state with a new career plan, and I have lots of dreams.
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 07:46am on 29/12/2016 under ,
I have had a busy and hard last few months, and I never got around to keeping up with my book posts. I’ve been fretting and putting it off, and finally decided that there is no reason that I couldn’t give myself a break and post a modified version instead. So, with apologies, I give you a list of the books I read without commentary beyond the number of stars I gave each of them on goodreads. I’ve moved now, and got a treadmill desk, and hope to be back to my regularly scheduled posts for December and into the new year <333


Running with Scissors by LA Witt ***
Treble Maker by Annabeth Albert ***
Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino ***
Love Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert ***
All Note Long by Annabeth Albert ***
Wake Up Married (1-6) by Leta Blake ****
Far From Home by Lorelie Brown **** (CW: this book has a main character with a history of destructive ED relapsing (and ultimately finding her way)
Pansies by Alexis Hall *****
Hexmaker by Jordan L Hawk ****
Tailor Made by Josephine Miles ****
Custom Fit by Josephine Miles ****
Champagne Kisses by Lynda Aicher ***
On a Lee Shore by Elin Gregory *****
Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory ****
Served Hot by Annabeth Albert ***

Books I listened to, and enjoyed all over again.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. I love this book like air, and the audiobook made it EVEN BETTER. If you do audio, I can’t recommend this enough.
Fast Connection by Santino Hassel and Megan Erikson. Largely the readers for this were good, but there was one oft-repeated phrase that the way one of them said it drove me round the bend.
Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding. I don’t know that the audio added particularly anything over the text, but it’s a book I enjoy and it made for many lovely commutes and sessions of doing housework.


The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper ****
The Soldier and the Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian ****
Delivered Fast by Annabeth Albert ****
A Grave Talent by Laurie King *****
To Play the Fool by Laurie King ****
Can't Hide from Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge *****
Catch a Ghost by SE Jakes ****
Long Time Gone by SE Jakes ****
Daylight Again by SE Jakes ****
A Christmas Hex by Jordan Hawk ***
Not Fade Away by SE Jakes ****
Dirty Deeds by SE Jakes ****
Free Falling by SE Jakes ****
Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee *****
Bad Company by KA Mitchell ****
Bad Boyfriend by KA Mitchell ***
Bad Attitude by KA Mitchell ****
Bad Influence by KA Mitchell ****
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 12:21pm on 30/10/2016 under ,
I didn’t read nearly so many books in September, because I remembered my love for audiobooks, and got the audio versions of some of my favorite. A book I can read in four or five hours takes ten to listen to, which slows me right down. Also, I got back to writing this month. Not a ton, but more than I have in ages, and it’s been nice to spend time with that. I did find some good books last month though, in addition to getting almost to read again for the first time some old friends, because I read way too fast, so audio is a whole new thing.

Books I read for the first time:
Priddy’s Tale by Harper Fox
I was really not sure about this book when I started it, and actually started it three times before it stuck. It has a very depressing opening and then kind of an odd lonely feeling after that, and I wasn’t really feeling it. But once I was in the right mood, it was oddly amazing. If you’re horrified by cross-species sex it’s probably not your thing, because there’s definite human/merman sex. Works for me tho :D It was one of those books that I loved most after I got to the end of it, which I prefer over liking it while I’m reading it and then the ending of it makes me :/ I am not sure I’d say it’s for everyone, but if the summary doesn’t put you off, give it a try.
The Deeper he Hurts by Lynda Aicher
I love this series and can’t wait for the next one to come out. The characters in this are both quite manly-manly, and it has that OMG tension where you want them to just admit how much they love each other already. I like the found family aspect, and the continuation of the story from the first book, and it has more of a depth of character than a lot of the books I read.
Starstruck by LA Witt
This is the original Bluewater Bay book, as far as I can tell. I liked the characters, and it has a good sense of the area (which I know because I read it just before my trip to the ocean near Forks)
How to Train Your Dom in Five Easy Steps by Josephine Myles
I was NOT sure about one of the MCs in this at first, as when he was dating (or trying to date) women, he was a massive jerk. However, all his friends were like N O P E, and he fairly quickly understands the error of his ways. The sex is super hot, and I really liked the journeys the MCs took, both in themselves and with each other. Plus, I liked the writing style.
Hot Head by Damon Suede
This book was STUPIDLY hot to me. Such id fic. It’s got pining and BFFs (who grew up together from HS and are almost like brothers) to lovers, and firefighters moonlighting as camboys, and sooooooooooo much pining. It does have multiple references to 9/11 because the characters are NYFD, so be aware if that’s triggering or bothering to you. It’s also got some LOL words for male genitalia, in a very written-by-a-cis-dude stylie.
Pent Up by Damon Suede
I did my usual get more by the same author thing when Hot Head was so fire emoji, and from that standpoint was pretty disappointed by this. My ____-difference kink doesn’t really extend to wealth-difference, and I found the MCs kind of hard to relate to. It had a mystery at the core, with, imo, kind of a weird ending, and there was a fair amount of crime-genre appropriate violence. I can’t say it wasn’t a good book, but idt it was a particularly good book for me.
Caught Running by Madeline Urban and Abigail Roux
I wanted to like this so badly. I loved the military boys books they wrote together, and I’ve loved lots of Abigail Roux’s other books. But I couldn’t even finish it. I usually don’t count books I DNF, but I read 60+%, and I tried so hard. It’s about a history teacher and a HS coach who went to HS together themselves, and then get put together coaching baseball, and it’s PACKED with not only “the coach” and “the history teacher” instead of their names, the other characters are the dark haired one etc. The tension is a mess, and it meanders from POV to POV. Just say no.
Green but for a Season by CS Pacat
If you have not read the Captive Prince books, this is not the place to start, and if you have, you have probably already read this. As usual, MY HEART.
Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler
This is a sweet f/f college story that I really enjoyed. It’s the third in a series, but I didn’t feel at all like I was missing things having skipped them. The m/f couples from the first two books are good friends of the girls in this book, and it works just fine that now they are happy couples. I don’t really care how they got there. The MCs are a lesbian from a conservative family, and a non-monogamous, pan(I think she id’d as pan anyway? It’s been a while) girl. I thought the author did a good job of exploring negotiating the different experiences and desires that came from that without shaming or looking down on any kind of way of living your life.
Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton
I loved this so much I read it way too fast because I couldn’t wait to get to what was going to happen next. I’m sure I missed loads that way. Childhood BFFs who haven’t seen each other in years and tiny Welsh village life, and lesbians and family and broken hearts mended and a;lsdkfjls;df. I desperately want an audiobook, but there isn’t one. I’ll have to work on reading it slowly all by myself. I also want the BBC series. And a movie. Give me all the lesbians, basically.
Where we Left Off by Roan Parrish
The third in the Middle of Somewhere books. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for it, even though it wasn’t that long. I loved living through Leo’s life as a college freshman in NYC having come from a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else, and his balancing that with his obsession with Will and Will’s determination to not try to be anyone’s boyfriend. There was a bit of Rex and Daniel, but mostly this is Leo’s story. I love Leo, and also college stories, so this was fine with me, as much as I’d read ten million more words about Daniel and Rex.
Knit Tight by Annabeth Albert
This is one of the Portland Heat books, number 4 apparently, though it is the first one I read as my library didn’t indicate there was an order so I’ve been reading them as they came off hold. That doesn’t seem to be a problem. It is interesting in that one of the MCs is bi, and the other is bi-phobic, and it actually deals with that. It has great family stuff, and found family and community, and the struggle of trying to raise your little siblings when you’re wanting to be young free and single. Warnings for parental death and cancer.

Books I listened to on audiobook:
A Fashionable Indulgence, A Seditious Affair, and A Gentleman’s Position by KJ Charles
I largely very much enjoyed the audio books of this series. The voice actor chose to give Ash a (to me) very strange and super off-putting lisp, and I found myself grateful there wasn’t more of Lord Gabriel. Which is not exactly my usual when reading these books. On the other hand, it was almost like getting to read the whole series again for the first time, which was WONDERFUL. It’s a power I always wish I had, and this isn’t an awful approximation of that power. I also very much loved getting to ‘read’ two books at once, one on my commutes and while doing chores, and the other all cozied up in my bed. My new plan is to do as many of my re-reads as possible on audio.
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
This again, was like getting to re-read the book for the first time. I really liked the voice actor, and I thought he did a good job of capturing both the vulnerability and the facade of brusqueness of Daniel. He also did a good job of reading the sex scenes, keeping the heat from the written word. I loved listening to this book, and look forward to listening to it again.
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 02:18pm on 25/09/2016 under ,
Books I read in August.

We shall ignore the fact it’s nearly October…

Fallow by Jordan L Hawk
I have been a fan of the Whyborne and Griffen books for a while now, though I like some better than others. This was not one of my favorites. I spent most of the first half overwhelmingly weary of our two main characters worrying AGAIN that he isn't good enough for the other. Boys, you are married and this is your eighth adventure together, and you've declared your undying and unquenchable love for each other enough times now that I think a little more confidence in each other wouldn't go amiss. The second half is more exciting and less irksome on the get-it-together front, and I do really like that we go back to Griffin's home town and find out more about his family. Christine is, as always, wonderful, and Iskander gets a bit more of a role this time. If you're a fan of the series, definitely worth a read, but I wouldn't start with this one. (also, I wouldn't start with this one because please ftlog read them in order)

Stray Home by Edith Scott
oh my. I thought this was in the 99c sale so I did one click buy, but it turned out to be full price. Which meant I felt like I had to keep reading even though the grammar was back-button worthy from the start. It actually had a really cute story, with a puppy, and teenage sweethearts finding each other again ten years later. But the author used almost no contractions, which is a HUGE bugbear of mine, especially with a chatty first person narration. I did kind of manage to turn the prose into contractions into my head, but there were many other poor sentence choices, especially in the sex scenes, and it was hard. And not in the fun boner way. I did like that the characters had siblings and friends to help round out their personalities. Warnings for parental homophobia.

According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux
I super enjoyed this book despite a total lack of female characters. Set in the wild west, on the road with outlaws and US Marshals, there wasn't a lot of space for women, although it would have been amazing had either the outlaws or the Marshals been F/F instead. Anyway, that was not this book. It had a lot of intrigue, adventure, UST, flirting, and gun fights, and was definitely more a western with m/m romance than a m/m romance with a western setting, and I'd love to see a movie of it. Warning for lots of (genre appropriate) gun violence, and more pistol whipping than a man should likely survive, but praise be for a refreshing lack of sexualized violence, and in fact a point made that non-con is violence and not sex.

Treasure by Kim Fielding
I am trying to read a book of short stories where men are brought together by pets, or the odd wild bird/squirrel/etc. Some of the stories are okay, some are terrible, and a few are pretty good. One of the good ones was by Kim Fielding, so I thought I'd see if she'd written anything else. She's written lots, it turns out, but most of it is books in series, and I'm not into spending the money on a series right now. This one was a stand alone, and affordable. And it was delightful. Set in a semi-fantasy world, one that's a lot like ours except instead of horses they have dragons to pull wagons, and imps and sprites and such wander the villages, which is about my level of fantasy. The narrator gets a great character arc, and his love interest is charming and lovely as well as swashbuckling. Fairly short, but very satisfying.

Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding
This book really appealed to something in me in a way where I felt like my life was different while I was reading it. I can't really explain why this book in particular, or even if it was something it the writing style or the story, but it was good for me. The story does have the trope of a relationship being predicated on a lie/secret, which usually is a big nope to me, but somehow wasn't this time. The coming together of a character who is living with brain damage but an incredible support network, and a character with no support network at all who can pretty much turn his hand to whatever, it just felt really whole.

Housekeeping by Kim Fielding
This was lightweight, and did not so much send me after more books by this author as the first two did. Fine, but definitely didn't make me feel like my life was different. Maybe because I loathe housework of all kinds except cooking, the premise felt too ridiculous lol.

Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford
I was disappointed that this went back to the original narrator of the series, after the last one which I liked so much better for having a different POV. It did a good job of tying up all the threads that had been running through the series, but the mystery that had haunted the narrator all the way through had a solution that more pissed me off than anything else. I can't help wishing there were sequels to some of her other books I've loved rather than so many of these.

Pricks and Pragmatism by JL Merrow
I went on rather a crazed Merrow kick this month, buying a next book as soon as I'd finished one. There's a Britishness about her writing that feels extremely homey to me, and makes me want to roll around in her words. I don't miss everything about living in England, but Merrow’s books tend to speak to a lot of what I do miss. I'm not, as a rule, that fond of rent-boy trope in and of itself, but the title is very appropriate, and college boy avoiding rent bills by finding hot, well-off men to shag is a doable angst level for me. It was a sweet story, and enjoyable, if a bit predictable. I wanted to smoosh the characters faces together and scream NOW KISS at them a few times, but they got there in the end. Not earth shattering, but very competent.

Muscling Through by JL Merrow
I liked the opposites attract love story in this—an Oxbridge lecturer and an all brawn/no brains working man—because it didn't shy away from class prejudices or make the academic find that this other person was brilliant, just uneducated. Al doesn't make connections and come to conclusions the way a lot of people do, and that leads to some sometimes comic misunderstandings, and also some hurt. But it was treated as difference rather than a failing on Al’s part. This also reminded me in some ways of my favorite book from my 20’s, One on One by Tabitha King, though it's really nothing like it. Idk. Just one of those books that make me smile.

Hard Tail by JL Merrow
A bike shop AU style story that I enjoyed for sweet bumbling characters who took a while to get it together, rather than despite them. Does contain an abusive (ex)partner.

Slam by JL Merrow
This is a slapsticky sort of story with serious threads running through it. Diverse characters, in race, age, mobility, gender, and temperment with great blood and found family elements, a dash of ridiculousness, and a lot of heart, this book was really fun.

Caught, Played, Out aka The Shamwell Tales by JL Merrow
Three separate love stories that take place in the same town, these have the most similar village tone of the plumber series, I think. A good cast of characters—friends, family, and village regulars—from primary school kids to world war veterans and everyone in between, give a good sense of place, and I was rooting for the couples.

Brass Rags by JL Merrow
This is a short. And it’s bad. So so so bad. So bad that I burst into a roar of uncontrolled laughter at one point when it took a turn for totally unexpected regency(?esque? Georgian? I can’t remember which era of waistcoated servents tbh) watersports. It was like that blindfold SPN fill you decided to write at 4am after coming home drunk and you wake up the next morning and wonder what the hell you posted.

Superior by Jessica Lack
This was a super delightful YA novella about the apprentices of a superhero and a supervillain who fall in love. It seems to be a bit of a theme in YA lately and I, for one, intend to read every single one. <3___<3

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper
The second in Ripper’s Queers of La Vista series, and I enjoyed it even more than the first one. It was not at all about the characters I thought it was going to be about, but this turned out to be just fine. I loved Jaq and Hannah, and Jaq’s dad, and their friends, and just. The super hot f/f sex. I loved that too. This series is set in a world where queerness is totally normal, but in a way where it’s totally THIS world, not a near future, or a dream world. Just this world where people find a queer community and interact with that community, and it gives them strength and friends and family, JUST LIKE REALLY HAPPENS, when you’re lucky enough to have people to find. I love that. Also women who like and have sex and there’s no shame in that, and no shame in people who don’t want to have sex, and people inhabit a range of sexualities and genders and yeah. These books have soap-opera-inspired titles, and the tone of them reflects that, but it’s the soap operas I want to see on my TV, for sure.

His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace
The second part of His Royal Secret, which I read last month, this definitely should not be read on its own. A very enjoyable, exciting, and sometimes heart-clenching conclusion to the story.

Looking for Group by Alexis Hall
I was both SUPER looking forward to this coming out, and a little wary of it, because I know next to nothing about MMORPG and how they work, and I’d heard that it might be difficult to follow in that case. Which turned out to be both true and not true. I read about two chapters before I remembered someone saying that there was a glossary at the end, so I hightailed it over there and read the whole thing through. Which was actually a pretty good time to do it. I’d learned enough about what I didn’t know that there was some context for the definitions, which was really helpful, but I hadn’t gotten overwhelmingly confused by the story yet. I don’t think I’d have made it much farther without the glossary, but I’m not sure I would have learned anything from the glossary if I’d started out with it. ANYWAY. Computer gamer lingo or not, this was a lovely book. It was comforting and familiar to someone who’s spent so much time in fandom, and to someone who came out in college, and to an introvert who’s made friends with extroverts. If all you’ve read of Hall’s is For Real, this is DEFINITELY not that. And to me—despite my fanatical love of For Real—that’s a very good thing.

Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy
I got the sample of this and loved the writing, and then waited ages and ages for it to come off holds in the library. It was worth the wait. It’s REALLY long. Which means a lot of time for angsty stuff to happen, and two steps forward, one step back, and to get really immersed in their world. One of the characters is a football player (Australian Rules), and the other runs a queer film festival, and I feel like I know a LOT more about Melbourne and the arts scene and sports than I did before. The relationships between the two men and their friends is as important as the relationship between them, which we know is my kryptonite, so I loved that. It’s a story about communication and friendship and change and growth as well as love. There is a sequel, but this felt so satisfying that—in a move most unlike me—I haven’t wanted to seek it out yet. I like where everyone is at the end of this, and it was a hell of a ride getting there, and I didn’t want to upset that. I’m sure I will read it someday, but I’m gonna live with this story first. I did read a short POV swap story, When You Run You Eventually Have To Stop, which was just kind of like watching a deleted scene on an already overlong hollywood movie.

The Harder he Falls by Linda Aicher
I waited for a million years for this to come off holds too, and then missed the email telling me that it had, so I nearly didn’t get to read it before the library took it away again. I’m so glad I caught it. Very well written, well structured—to the point that when I got the second book in the series in September, I read it and took notes based on Romancing the Beat to help me figure out how to structure my own story I’m re-working right now—and the characters are interesting. Set in Portland in a world populated by kinky ex-military men who now run an extreme sport adventure company, the premise had me like, I gotta see what this is about. There’s a lot of guilt and baggage and stuff to work through for the characters, and the ways kink played into that storyline interested me a lot. It’s not all SSC play, but SSC is very much addressed, and it’s the safe and sane that isn’t always adhered to (because a character keeps his medical issues to himself) rather than the consent. I had absolutely no patience to be on hold for the second book, so I bought it. I may end up buying this one too, because I wouldn’t be surprised if I want to re-read it.

I had a fair few DNF books this month as well, but I didn’t keep track of them, because I only made it through a few pages.
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 08:45pm on 03/08/2016 under ,
July has had some lovely weather, so I've spent a lot of time reading in my hammock. Which is pretty much heaven. If I can't be floating in water, lying in my hammock is my dream location. The advantage it has over water is that there's no danger to my kindle (or to paper) there. This month was back to reading a lot of books.

Books I read for the first time:
First Class Package by Jay Northcote
this is a short little story, cute and fluffy, with a somewhat ridiculous plot, but sweet characters.

Coming Home by Jay Northcote
another cute short by Northcote, free on most booksellers and smashwords, and it made me smile.

Down and Dirty by Rhys Ford
The fifth book in the Cole McGinnis series, and the first with a new POV character. As I mentioned in my review of the first four last month, I struggled a little to connect with Cole or to see why his bf was in love with him, but it's easier with Bobby (cole's bff), and his new lover (Cole's brother). I do think the rest of the series is important to really understand what's going on here, but I was glad for the change in POV.

Helping Hand, Like a Lover, and Practice Makes Perfect by Jay Northcote
This series features roommates in two adjacent student houses in a UK University town (I forget which one), and is filled with tropes in that way that makes a fangirl smile. The first one features roomates who watch porn and give each other the titular helping hand, and surely that's not queer, right? (spoiler: it's queer). The second is delightfully tropey and minimally angsty hooker fic, and the third features a neuro a-typical lad trading math tutoring for sex tutoring from the boy next door, with lots of mutual pining. Not overwhelmingly amazing, but a delightful day's reading.

Why Love Matters by Jay Northcote
this is a charity offering, with proceeds going to LGBT charities in the UK and the US, and is a short with a premise that manages to be both fairly ludicrous and kind of adorable. It's mostly about sitting through a cuddle therapy class, which I really wasn't sure was going to work, but yeah. It did.

Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North
I feel like I read a lot of books this month about people in the closet for various reasons, and this was small town religion closeting. Not really my thing, but then I really liked where it went. One of those stories that it seemed like there was no way there could be a compromise that would actually work for both characters, and I was actually afraid for a bit there couldn't be a HEA I could live with, but I loved how it worked out. One of the characters has a bad stutter, which I thought would annoy me written out, but it actually didn't at all, and it is always nice to read about gay men who aren't perfect specimens in every way.

Because It's True by Mari Carr
I didn't realize this was the third in a series when I read it, and just spent the whole time wondering why it was such a mess. I was not even a little bit curious enough to seek out the first two parts.

Fast Connection by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson
I was looking forward to this so much, even moreso after re-reading the first in the series last month. I really enjoy how these authors write together—they have complimentary strengths, and the finished product feels like they enjoy each other. I was not a fan of one of the mains in this when he was a minor character in the first book, but I had complete faith that I'd change my mind, and change my mind, I did. I loved this. One thing I've learned I love in my year and a half of reading is a romance where the pairing characters are surrounded by friends and family who feel real and who impact the story and their characters, and this is a great example of that. It's such a different reading experience, and is the main reason I'll find a book re-readable.

Sticks and Stones, Fish and Chips, Divide and Conquer, Armed and Dangerous, Stars and Stripes, Touch and Geaux, Ball and Chain, Crash and Burn by Abigail Roux (and Madeline Urban through Divide and Conquer)
I also had to go back and re-read Cut and Run (which is the name of the series) because there was too long a wait from the library for book two. The too long a wait thing persisted (anything longer than 30 seconds was too long, it turned out) so I ended up buying the whole series, and the whole adjunct Sidewinder series too. Before I discovered gay romances, I spent my youth and 20s reading crime/thriller/mystery books. These are books from my youth that also happen to be gay romances. I couldn't stop. This series is totally found family porn, with military BFFs who have ups and downs over the course of the series, and the FBI agent boyfriend gets adopted by the gang. So many feels. I was pleased that the relationship tension could be sustained over nine books without needless relationship angst. We get time to meet bio families as well as found families, go from New York to DC to the Appalachians to Scotland to Texas and then on a cross-country road trip. There's even an ace and a demisexual character. They're a little bit pastede on, but it is still nice to see romance writers acknowledging all kinds of queer variations. This series was funny and hot and exciting, and I can't regret buying it, because I'll almost certainly be re-reading.

Part and Parcel by Abigail Roux
I'm a total idiot, and I didn't realize that this series was part of the cut and run series until I was a couple of chapters into this book, at which point I realized with a jolt that it was very clearly set AFTER some of the cut and run books I hadn't read yet. So I stopped reading, bought the rest of the cut and run books, bought the sidewinder books, and set to doing it all in the right order. Which was good, because this turned out to have big spoilers for later cut and run books. Nick and Kelly, the lovers in this, are part of the BFF crew above, and there's a lot to navigate because of their decades of history together. They deal with PTSD, state secrets, violence, repressed feelings, and long-distance relationship problems. On the one hand I can see why technically this is a different series, because of the POV characters, but neither series is really complete without the other idt.

Blow Down by JL Merrow
The latest in the psychic plumber series I read earlier in the year, I've been looking forward to this for a while. I was a little disappointed with it, but I'm not sure if it wasn't quite as good as the previous ones or if it's because I read it in the middle of the cut and run books, and it is such a different style so it was harder to get into it. It still has the light wry British voice I so enjoyed in the first ones, and that village setting. And the notion of a psychic plumber remains delightful.

His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace
This was a rec from twitter (thank you @no_detective), and I really enjoyed it. I'm not hugely into the Royal AU trope, but I do like a good one, and this was a good mix of familiar British royal family and unique family dynamics. Another of the books that featured a strong closeted storyline, this one the expected fame and fortune (and royal lineage) reasons. I liked the contrast between the Prince and the political reporter, and the sneaking around was used well for added hotness. This is the first book, but the sequel will be out soon, which is good, because while the ending isn't a cliff hanger exactly, you're definitely left wanting more. WARNINGS for graphic descriptions of self harm and severe social anxiety in a secondary character.

Roller Girl by Vanessa North
Roller derby is a great backdrop for found family, and this makes use of that. Also it's hot. And a book with a trans main character that treats her as a woman and a lesbian and an athlete, and also deals what felt sensitively and appropriately with trans specific issues like dead naming and misgendering. Technically the third in this series, but I took her at her word that they could be read in any order. I did like the side characters who it seems are the mains in some of the other books.

Gays of Our Lives by Kris Ripper
This is part of a series, so has rich side characters, which we've established I really like. One of the mains has MS, and so it deals with being sexual and sexy when your body doesn't cooperate with your self image, which isn't something I've seen a lot of. I was a little disappointed in the fact that it seemed to promise more of a power dynamics kink content than we got, but I'm a big fan of explicit sex scenes and super kinky kink, and I don't think there was less than the story needed, just less than would have been my preference. I really liked the characters, the way it dealt with having a progressive illness, and found family and community. I'm very eager for the book about some of the women in this story to come out.

Trowchester Blues, Blue Eyed Stranger, and Blue Steel Chain by Alex Beecroft
this was maybe not a good series to read when I was already feeling anxious. The first book contains graphic aftermath of child murder with PTSD, the second has a character suffering crippling anxiety and self doubt with self-destructive tendencies and near catatonia, and the third has murderous-level partner abuse, cheating, sustained violence, non-con, and stalking (none of these between the end pairing). So uplifting :/ On the plus side, the first has a lovely dose of ~older (in their 40s) men who've been around the block and find love despite being nominally on the opposite sides of the law. The second has a black man obsessed with viking era history who does historical reenactment and brings his father's Sudanese culture into play, and it addresses the patently false notion that only white people have a role in history. And the third book is a romance with a wholly asexual (homoromantic) character, and it's made explicit that he is NOT ace because he was abused. He is ace AND he was abused. Issues that can come up when a sexual person is dating an asexual person are addressed and worked through. All together, none of the characters were your typical run-of-the-mill romantic heroes, and I do always love reading about people whose experiences/bodies/lives/etc. fall outside that narrow ~norm. Maybe next time with a whole lot less trauma tho.

Second Chance Iowa by Spencer Spears
I got this one on the last day of the 99c sale, and it was a lot lighter than the trowchester series, which was just what I needed. On the other hand, it's pretty light in all senses. I read it a couple days ago, and already had to go back and refresh my memory as to what it was about. Second chance trope has that established relationship thing I love, but it also has that mfeo couples who spend years apart which I hate. I'm never sure which side it's gonna fall on, yet I keep reading it. This one was pretty in the middle.

And then I got a bee in my bonnet to re-read the three main Magpie books by KJ Charles, so I did. And then it was August.
rivers_bend: (books)
posted by [personal profile] rivers_bend at 11:39am on 05/07/2016 under ,
Books I read in June

I did not start June well on the recording what I was reading front, because I started off June WONDERFULLY on the going on vacation and not bringing my laptop and lying around and reading by the pool and the ocean front, which meant that I didn't get around to doing my June book reviews until 4th of July weekend. Ooops.

Anyway, I did do quite a bit of reading in June, so here we go.

Books I read for the first time:

Manties in a Twist by J A Rock
The third in the subs club books, this one was not my favorite, and not just because of the title. I found it harder to believe that the couple in this one was actually working. In retrospect, I think it was because the narrator of this book had been painted as flaky by the narrators of the first two books, and it was actually a really interesting commentary on unreliable narrators, but it left me feeling like I was going to end up not getting an HEA, so I was anxious the whole time I was reading. There was also some aspect of your kink is not my kink, but that, too, turned out to be interesting and fun, and a good read on what makes something sexy. Not so id-fic-y as the first two, but still a good book.

Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford
Yet another Rhys Ford book set in a Northern California where it always rains. A lot, heavily, and with thunder and lightning. Having grown up in drought-ridden Northern California, I get hung up on how weird this is. Idk, she seems to have a thing. But I enjoyed the characters, and the mystery plotline, and the writing. The wealthy bookstore owner/reformed petty criminal biker with a kid couple is a fun opposites attract center, and I like the people in their world. Like the other books of hers I'd read, I found it both hot and funny.

Dangerous Ground, Old Poison, Blood Heat, Dead Run, and Kick Start by Josh Lanyon
This series was good enough that I kept getting the next one when I finished the last, but I think that says more about my completionest ways than it does about how much I enjoyed them. They don't really have particularly satisfying endings, but then the next one starts months or more later, one of them had a surprise amnesia plotline (hate hate hate hate), and I spent a fair amount of time wanting to crack the couple's heads together. The last one was my favorite, when we got to meet one of the character's family and got some background. They gave me something to read on the beach, but I was luke warm about them.

But my Boyfriend is by KA Mitchell
This is the fourth one in the 'Florida Books' series, though it is actually set in Texas. It deals with the aftermath of a homophobic attack, internalized homophobia, and family drama. I had been looking forward to it coming off hold at the library, because I wanted to hear this story after reading the earlier books, and it didn't disappoint.

24/7 by JA Rock
The fourth in the subs club book series, and a very different (to me anyway) vibe from the first three. Though there is a lot of kink and sex, as with the other ones, it is much more a book about dealing with grief. Dealing with it in often unhealthy ways, not just for yourself, but for the people around you. Very good, but very heavy. Warnings for talk of suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts.

Right Back Where by CE Kilgore
I had to go back and read the summary of this again, because even the cover didn't give me any clue what book it was. Which I think says something. It was cute? Ish? Fluffy in a hmmm way (and this from someone who lives for fluff) and then BAM! A horrible violence at the end. I think this might have been the book that made me tweet about a need for books that don't have gay bashings in. I liked the idea of it more than the execution.

Cut and Run by Abigail Roux and Madeline Urban
I really enjoyed most things about this book. It had a good mix of romance and crime thriller, I liked the voices, and it had a good frisson of enemies to lovers. But it did annoy the hell out of me that although the killer murdered both men and women, the only deaths we got up close and personal with were female characters, and although the women were not explicitly targeted for their sex lives, there was that air of women being punished for sexual activity/thoughts that is so prominent in the crime genre. It had a feel of an episode of Criminal Minds but with explicit gay sex. A few years ago, I probably would not have even noticed these niggles, but I'm super sick of women dying for entertainment now. Having said that, I am also waiting with bated breath for the next one to come up in my library holds. so. :/

Almost but Not Quite by Amy Spector
I have no idea what to say about this. Even reading the summary on GR, I had no idea at all what book this was, and I had to dredge through the memory banks to come up with the answer. I gave it two stars, which basically means in my ratings system that it wasn't grammatically offensive but the story was pretty meh. I'm not really into the rich man takes homeless lad off the streets and gives him a new life and they fall in love trope, which is most likely part of the problem. If you are, it's probably worth another star.

Play Hard by JT Fox
this was awful. So awful. I read it waiting for my plane in the Savannah airport and I was grumbling to myself about the fact I was still reading it. This is what I get for persisting in trying the free books on Amazon. Not that it really even counts as a book. It was basically a prologue for a longer story I have no desire to read. It was just as smug and insufferable as its characters.

Dirty Kiss, Dirty Secret, Dirty Laundry, and Dirty Deeds by Rhys Ford
This series (there are two more I hadn't gotten off my holds list by the end of June, but the narrator changes in book five, so this is a good place to review as a bunch anyway) is an older one by Rhys Ford than some of the others I've been reading, and imo it shows. We all improve as we go along, which is a great thing, obviously, but same as I don't read a lot of my early fic efforts again, I won't be going back to these I don't think. The hints of humour are there, and I really enjoy the secondary characters and the overarching detective plots, but I can't for the life of me figure out why the love interest is in love with the narrator, and while I am repeatedly told that the narrator is in crazy love with the love interest, I never feel like I see it except that they have a LOT of sex. This author has a little bit of a problem with love-at-first-sight-itis anyway, but usually I can feel it. Here, not so much. The fifth book (which I will review next month) switches over to the POV of this narrator's BFF and his love life, and it's much more compelling.

Spy Stuff by Matthew Metzger
I love love loved this. A book about a trans boy in a new school, making friends and falling in love and coming out and making a life for himself. I've seen a bit of crit about it being "too idealized", in that most of the people in the book are pretty awesome, but I say fuck that. a) queer people are allowed (and should be encouraged) to write worlds better than the ones we've lived in; why shouldn't we write fix-it fic for our own lives, and b) the world is changing, and yes if you look at the news it seems like it's all for the worse, but in a lot of younger circles, it's for the better. As my pop-star hero Olly Alexander is always saying, the young people now know so much more about gender and sexuality, and they're cool with it. ANYWAY. I thought this book was great. It seems we much more often get stories about trans girls/women, so it was nice to get a story about a trans boy. And it was well written and sweet and touching and sexy and just lovely. The characters are 15/16, so if you're in the age of consent being 18 mindset that might ping for you, but the burgeoning sexuality and sexual exploration felt age appropriate to me.

Cross & Crown by Abigail Roux
I read the short where these two got together last month, and got the impression from it that this one would kind of pick up where that left off, but this starts a while later. Which is good. I love me some established relationship 'fic', and this hit all those buttons. They've done the falling in love and negotiating a lot of what that means for them, and the romance plot of this is more about why and how they stay together. With added bonus that they were BFFs for years before they fell in love, so lots of great history. I also really enjoyed the police procedural aspects of this story, which had a little bit of the Da Vinci Code meets National Treasure about it, in a good way.

The Only One Who Knows by Cat Grant
ngl, I spent some time reading this imagining that it was written by Supergirl's boss. She's sitting at her desk musing about quivering members and snapping at people to go away and leave her alone. (not that this book has quivering members, or crimson cloaks or similar. It's pretty good on that front.) All that aside, this book falls into the category of military men banging that I seem to have fallen into lately? Much more out of that being what seems to be available from the library or in the cheap/free amazon books than because I'm seeking it out. This one had interesting shifting power dynamics as the characters change ranks over the course of the story, and also have different needs in the bedroom over time. It did promise pain kink and then spectacularly fail to deliver, and I could have done with more power play, but if a little vanilla for me (when I thought I was getting kink), the sex was otherwise well done. I probably would have enjoyed this more as a movie, as actual military stuff is pretty boring to me in books, but it did have me googling stuff about how the Navy works, and what the drop zone is for jumping out of planes, so I was clearly at least a little interested :)

Wireless by LA Witt
I got this ages and ages ago as the free book of the day from Amazon, and then it got shifted out of the first pages of my kindle and out of my memory until recently. It's set in a future hellscape where all physical contact has been outlawed, and you get sexual satisfaction (to keep you sane) from VR and electrodes. Some people, of course, aren't into this, so there is an illegal and dangerous underground sex club scene. It's another one that I think I might have liked a bit more as a movie than a book. It needed the atmosphere that I just can't create in my head. And I've just realized that my lack of visual imagination might be why I generally am not into fantasy fiction. Hmmm. Anyway. There's some good stuff if you have an exhibitionist kink, and while I'd say it has a more hopeful than happy ending, that's because of the whole hellscape thing, and it still felt satisfying.

Bound by Honor by SE Jakes
I wanted to like this book more than I did, but I can't really put my finger on what fell flat for me. I think that the initial premise didn't really work, so everything leading from that had me a bit hmmm. The characters get together to honor a promise made to a man who died a year ago, and it's not that I don't buy such a thing could happen, I just... didn't really buy it in this case. It also leads to pushing the line of dubcon a bit close for me. There were some hot scenes later in the book once they'd worked themselves out, and I liked that the characters found each other, but I'd have liked more if the journey felt more real life.

Books I re-read:

Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
The next one in this series comes out next week, so I thought I'd give this a re-read in the run-up to that. Very enjoyable a second time, and one of those books where I definitely was like... how is this angsty bit so short? It was a HUNDRED YEARS the first time, when I didn't know what was going to happen! (I like it when it's short lol) I really love the characters in this, and though it focuses on a minor character from this book, I can't wait for the sequel. This book does feature a character with debilitating social anxiety, so beware if that might be triggery for you.

And that's it for June! I've already read seven books for July, so should get started on that review list lol


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