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.


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