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June book bingo!

Published July 1, 2016 by Shannon

I had a pretty good month with the shallowreader bingo. I’m so glad she’s agreed to make the cards accessible so I can play! And this time I almost filled in everything. Bwahaha. Recurring themes include books that are objectively terrible, but I read them anyway.

Naked: Some Kind of Magic by R Cooper. Werewolf cop realizes flighty half-fairy profiler is his mate. He spends six hours in audio not doing anything but suffering stoically in silence. I got extremely irritated with both characters, and even though R Cooper writes the sort of M/M I should theoretically like, her complete lack of an editor means I probably won’t read her again until she gets a better publisher than Dreamspinner.

A Child’s Grief: Nope.

June: Thomas by Grace Burrowes. I’ve read this Burrowes before, when it was called Douglas, with the competent heroine managing an estate until the hero shows up. I didn’t quite buy Thomas’s sudden elevation to baron, because he wasn’t titled in previous books, and I thought he was a bit condescending to the capable amazon heroine, but dammit I can’t stay mad at these books for long. I put this here because it was set in summer, which I thought was close enough.

Dust: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This was a book club read. I liked it more than a lot of the people in my book club did, but it sort of… ended, which I wasn’t a fan of. I put it here because of all the vivid descriptions of bombed-out London during the blitz.

Delusion: Broke, USA by Gary Rivlin. A very angry-making look at the poverty industry–payday loans, instant tax refund services, and even pawn shops. The fact that these people think they’re actually doing good for the working poor is the delusional part.

Au Revoir: Beautiful Bitch by Christina Lauren: The couple takes a trip to France. Not much happens in this novella, but I liked the first book a lot, and appreciated the glimpse into Chloe and Bennett as they got more serious about each other.

Interrupted Intimacy: Barbarian’s Touch by Ruby Dixon. Another addition to a series of books that probably in the main aren’t very good, but I love them. When the hero and heroine plan on getting intimate, the heroine’s sister is there to ruin it.

I have to add that what I love about this particular installment of the series is that Leila, our heroine, is deaf, and even though it would be easy for Ms. Dixon to tack on a deus ex machina ending that restored her hearing, she didn’t. (The books are about earth women stranded on a planet where, in order to survive, they must take on a symbiont that keeps them healthy and able to survive in the, well, icy planet’s atmosphere. It has cured brain tumors, so hearing loss shouldn’t have been a problem.) Instead, we get Leila being competent in the way disabled people seldom are, and Rokan, her mate, deciding that learning to communicate with her was his problem, not hers. I can even forgive the fact that linguistics don’t work the way they do in the book, because he was always very much in her corner, and I loved that.

Mini: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James: This one was 5 hours long on audio, hence why I put it here. It may be a slim book, but it packs a hell of a punch, and I’m still not entirely sure I have an explanation for what went on that satisfied me. I liked it a lot, though, and would like to seek out more of his work.

Gratitude: Can’t Hold Back by Serena Bell. Gratitude was actually a running theme in this book. The heroine is worried that the hero’s feelings about her are mostly gratitude over the fact that she helped relieve his war-inflicted pain. I like Serena Bell’s writing, and I enjoy this series, which is angsty but not over the top. I did think, however, that the heroine was a bit of a martyr.

Just the Tip: Lassoing the Virgin Mail Order Bride by Alexa Riley. Not all of Riley’s books work for me. This one did, though, and it’s appropriate because the hero, Cash, wonders if he can get further inside the heroine’s tight virgin body than the tip of his penis.

I’m So Sorry: Never Sweeter by Charlotte Stein: This book is one extended grovel scene. I loved it, and reviewed it here.

Beautiful All Along: Introductions by C L Stone. Gah. These books. Sang is a ridiculous Mary Sue. She has nine love interests, and end game looks like she’ll get with all of them and they’ll share her. I didn’t know I was into this until I started reading it. And I am kind of ashamed.

Gold Star: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell: They couldn’t agree on much after the end of the Revolutionary War, but people in the US seemed to agree that Lafayette was the best. As for me, the book was engaging if not terribly substantive.

Gesticulate: Revival by Stephen King. A quieter sort of horror novel than I’m used to, although it doesn’t really stick out much in my head. However, there was a lot of carnie showmanship going on from Charles Jacobs, the piece’s eventual villain.

Broken Pedistal: David by Grace Burrowes. Letty is hired to become the madam of a brothel that David owns. Of course, she’s a historical romance heroine, so her fall from grace wasn’t entirely her fault. And her brother also finds out that his wife is a terrible shrew and not just the misguided snarky woman he thought she was. It wasn’t a terribly great Burrowes, but it hit the spot when I was reading.

Solstice: Changeling by Yasmine Galenorn. The book closes on a Yule celebration. I liked it a lot, though again, this is not a terribly substantial
series. But the sister dynamics are great, and I’m enjoying watching the different ways they navigate interesting relationship dynamics.

Mary Sue: First Days by C L Stone. Because literally all the boys at Ashley Waters High want to be with Sang. Why? I have no idea. It’s bad enough she has her harem of nine.

White Man’s Burden: Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi. I put this here because there aren’t really any white characters to speak of. This isn’t a bad thing. It was lovely to read about disabled queer characters of color in space being awesome. The only sour note I found is that one of the characters is an otherkin, and I thought the rest of the crew were a little hard on our protagonist for thinking something mildly judgey about him. Because dammit, I was feeling mildly judgey, too.

With Pleasure: The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane. Paddy Hurley is definitely a hedonist, which makes him a great foil for Natalie, who’s a bit of a control freak. I loved all the female friendship in this one, and I adored the rest of the Hurley family. Also, Kate Turnbull was an excellent narrator.

For Your Own Good: Kneel, Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher: I still love that the President of the United States is kinky and poly in this book. I reviewed it here.

Shipping: Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney: There was a lot of talk both about how to transport wine out of the country in which the book was set, and about how both the main couple and the secondary couple were just perfect for each other. I reviewed it here.

Pride: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren: Both Bennett and Chloe have pride in spades. Also, they’re both kind of awful people to each other, but their awfulness was endearing.

I ended up reading this one because someone showed up in my Twitter mentions to finger wag about the author’s ethics, but since they aren’t hiding the fact that this used to be Twilight fanfic, I don’t see the problem? Especially since none of the rest of the books they’ve written appear to be.

Pretty in Pink: Friends vs. Family by C L Stone: Naturally, Sang’s favorite color is pink. Because of course it is.

Hero is a Mountain: Forgiveness and Permission by C L Stone: My favorite of Sang’s harem is the gentle giant Silas. Who is supposedly Greek, which makes me wonder if maybe I should give some of those tycoons a try.

100: Nope.

Also read: Drop of Doubt by C L Stone, where we meet Volto, who points out how fucked up everything in this setting is.
Push and Shove by C L Stone: In which one of her boys is kind of a manipulative little pill, but it had a legitimately hot scene in it, so I’ll forgive that.

PS: You’re Mine by Alexa Riley: Soldier writes letters to a schoolteacher. They meet when he’s deployed, and, well, it’s an Alexa Riley book so you can probably predict what happens. It was a cute bit of fluff.

May book bingo

Published May 31, 2016 by Shannon

Ever since I saw it on Willaful’s blog, I’ve been wanting to play Shallowreader’s reading bingo. So this month I finally did. This should reassure you that I am, in fact, still alive.

Here’s a link to the bingo card for May. Thanks again to Willaful for sending me a description of what’s in each square.

For my first time out, I didn’t fill in all the squares, but looking over Shallowreader’s blog, I realize we can’t all be Willaful, so I’m going to consider this a worthy first effort, especially since the end of the month has seen me in a bit of a reading slump. It looks as if my running theme involved food. So many books featured people I would love to invite to dinner, even if mind-blowing sex didn’t occur afterward.

Here’s how it breaks down.

Epic disaster wardrobe tragedy: ” Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon. I read all of these books, gobbling them up like Pringles. Young women are kidnapped from Earth by little green men. They try to escape. They land on a hostile planet, where the natives are blue, horned aliens. In order to survive, the women have to get implanted with symbionts that help keep the worst of the weather from effecting them, and coincidentally also let them know when someone’s around they can be fertile with. It’s one of the better setups for a fated mate story I’ve read, because the heroines (who are all uniquely awesome) deal with how fucked up having a random, nonsentient organism tell you who your mate is in different ways. Some embrace it. Some fight like hell. Some are sad they don’t get chosen, although, this being a romance series, it is not a spoiler to say everybody gets babies.

Anyway, the epic disaster wardrobe tragedy is that they all get abducted while in sleepwear, which is not known for being the only thing you should wear on an Arctic planet.

I could have put this series down under “unicorn”, too, because I don’t generally like fated mate storylines, and even though my heart cries out for good alien romances, I almost never get them, and I got both in these books.

Brunch: Misfits by Garrett Lee. This was a relatively quiet book about three men trying to negotiate a poly relationship. Two of them are an established couple, but they need that third to complete them. And the men own several restaurants that sounded divine.

Narcissism: Never Loved by Charlotte Stein. I really like Stein’s voice, but I can’t read too many of her books in a row, because I find the deep POV kind of suffocating at times. Her heroines seem to all be super awkward, and, hey, I am also super awkward, and that’s not a facet of life I necessarily want reflected back at me. Anyway, though, in this one, I thought the heroine’s brother was a narcissist. He gets the heroine into all kinds of trouble that the hero has to rescue her from, and everyone would have probably been happier with a little more empathy on the brother’s part.

Inchoate Cohesion: Playing the Game by M Q Barber. Another book about polyamory, this one the start of a multi-book series. The dom, Henry, tends to speak in a professorial manner, so I figured he would use “inchoate cohesion” in conversation.

I liked this one a lot. I think the slow burn might be a little too slow for some, but it’s definitely not the sort of book you could read and skim the sex scenes, because they all served a greater narrative function. I’m kind of hoping the next book deals more with the triad outside of the bedroom as they navigate the bounds of their relationship. (This one also could have gone under Silver Fox, because, again, that is how I’m picturing Henry.

Close but No Cigar: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey: Tessa, Tessa, Tessa. This was so very close to getting an A grade from me. I loved the dynamic between siblings as they go on a road trip and all find love. But I hated the ending. Tessa Bailey was convincing me she had a fun contemporary voice and characters I could see existing in the real world, but the final conflict could best be explained as: “the hero is way too fucking needy and has never heard of Skype.” Also, anytime the book ends with the heroine going, “Well, my dreams weren’t nearly as important as the dude I met three days ago,” I find myself rolling my eyes. I still want the next books in the series, but I’m going to need the heroines to step it up. (I reviewed this one at The Good, the Bad, and the Unread.)

A Walk in the Park: Status Update by Annabeth Albert. I really like Annabeth Albert’s voice in M/M romance. This was a cute road trip story. One of the heroes gets dumped while he’s visiting a national park, and ends up hooking up with the other one, who is a repressed virgin still in the closet because of self-worth issues, and I ate it up with a spoon!

Abstinence: A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara: Oh, man, I hated this book. On audio, it was 37 hours of slogging through the main character’s depression and tragic past. And abstinence is really how he’d prefer to conduct his relationships, which is why people saying in all seriousness that this is “the Gay Novel” of this past decade should be punched in the throat. Ultimately, when I closed the book, I didn’t understand the point she was going for, other than maybe that life sucks and depression isn’t cured with cookies and hugs. Which I can applaud, but not for 37 tortuous hours on audiobook.

Bloom: The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand: Because of the rose in the title. Duh. I liked this one quite a lot, although the hero’s clinginess annoyed me, as did the heroine’s general spinelessness. But then, I don’t read Florand for her heroines; I read her for the food porn, which was everything I wanted.

Suck it: Ruth’s Bonded by VC Lancaster: Another alien romance I liked. In this one, the hero and heroine can’t communicate at all, because obviously not everyone has universal translators. His culture is matriarchal, which I thought was a nice twist, and she seduces him at first by sucking on his tail!

I didn’t like this one nearly as well as I liked the Ice Planet books, because there are two more in this series that I haven’t read, and I feel like not being able to ever talk to my love interest would ruin a HEA for me, but I’ll be interested to see what she does with the stories.

Little Fluffy Clouds: Relentless by Lauren Dane. Because it’s sci-fi. And there is space travel. No cheesy aliens here, but lots of interesting politics. I love that Dane’s heroines are competent and bad-ass, and this one has a great family. I didn’t care for the ending, though, which relied on the equivalent of, “You know what? We can change that. You know why? Because I’m the President. Which, you know, was something the hero could have come up with a while before he did.

That Dress: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean: I was hoping this would stick out more, because a lot of my trust circle loves her books, but this was a fairly inoffensive historical. And there was a makeover scene. I’m not writing her off, but I don’t feel any great need to keep going.

Fifteen: Climbing the Date Palm by Shira Glassman. This is the second in her Mangoverse series. I thought the first one could have been a bit longer, but this one was almost too long, as it was juggling a lot of different things at once. One of the characters is stuck in cell 15 in the dungeons, though.

I’m hoping that a few of the plot threads that she let dangle in this one will be picked up in future books. I want the world to know what a bad-ass lady Rivka is, so she won’t have to go around in disguise all the time.

So that was my month of reading. Anybody read anything good lately? Tell me in the comments!

the Reading Month for April, 2014

Published May 4, 2014 by Shannon

April was an interesting month, reading wise. I discharged all of my book club obligations early on, and I decided to spend most of the month reading books that have been languishing for a while in my TBR. Sometimes, this was successful. Sometimes not. Then there was the Readathon, which grossly inflated thenumber of books I finished for the month. Here’s how it stacks up. Links take you to full reviews.

  1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler: I loved this book. It was thought-provoking, and it told a fascinating family story very well.
  2. Special Delivery by Heidi Cullinan: I liked this one well enough, but I didn’t love it. I think it went on a tad too long for me, and there was a point at which the sex stopped being important to the story and simply became exhausting to read.
  3. The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenstan: I wasn’t in the right mood for this one. I didn’t think the characters were well-developed and I thought if you took away the wacky hijinks you wouldn’t have much of a story left.
  4. Exploding the Phone by Phil Lapsley: I think I meant to review this one and didn’t. A nonfiction book about the people known as phone phreaks who were among some of the first hackers. Many of them were also blind. Mostly I thought the book suffered from the author trying to get down with the kids and their far-out slang, man, and also trying too hard to convince me what he was talking about was really neat-o, and eventually I stopped taking him seriously as a writer. Still, this was something I hadn’t known anything about, and at least his portrayals of the blind phreaks were sensitive and nuanced.
  5. The Red Tree by Kaitlin R. Kiernan: Kiernan’s been an author I wanted to try because a couple of my friends are fans. I liked it until the end, which was ambiguous, and as I’ve said many times, if not here than on social media, ambiguous endings don’t impress me with authorial brilliance. They make me feel like I wasted a bunch of time. So that’s the last Kiernan book for me, I’m afraid.
  6. Unbound by Cara McKenna: I really liked the hero. The heroine didn’t quite work for me, and I didn’t quite buy the HEA, but Rob was deliciously tortured, so there’s that.
  7. Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan: Now this one I really loved. It had a lot of heart, even though the sex was kinkier than I’d have liked. Still, I never thought I’d be waiting on tenterhooks for a fisting scene.
  8. A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards: This was a treat. I loved the strangeness of the world building, and the hero was delicious in a way that works really well for me. The heroine was awesome, too, and I loved that both of them were like human spiders. So different, but very, very cool.
  9. Promises to Keep by Charles de Lint: Pretty vintage CDL. I really liked how the story centered around the importance of friendships–and friendships between women at that. It was a little too self-referential in places, but it got me on a bit of a CDL kick I’m still in the middle of.
  10. Coming Home by M J O’Shea: This was fun, and the audio was a lot better than I thought it would be. Details are a bit fuzzy as to its actual plot, but I went away from it thinking it was very sweet.
  11. The Crying Child by Barbara Michaels: I liked this one. I remember reading lots of Gothics as an early romance reader, but I haven’t read many recently. I liked that it was actually paranormal and the ending didn’t turn out to be some crazy old dude whipping off a mask and yelling, “I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”
  12. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret: Judy Blume was fun to revisit, and I liked this classic a lot as an adult.
  13. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain: A mercifully brief story about terrible people being terrible to each other. I was glad it didn’t go on longer than it did.
  14. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan: A simple story with a lot of sweetness. I actually teared up at the end, which is rare for me.
  15. Deenie by Judy Blume: I forgot how lovely the relationship between Deenie and her sister turns out to be. I also missed the themes of acceptance of people’s differences that weave through the story.
  16. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander: It started off a bit slowly, but Eilonwy came along and immediately endeared herself to me forever. I will read the rest of the series mostly for her, I’m sure.
  17. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume: This book never would have been published today. Because the romance doesn’t pan out, and also the mysterious boy is sweet rather than broody and full of man-pain. Or rather, he is all of those things, but he isn’t an asshole. But the book isn’t about him. It’s about Davy learning to not be afraid and to live life and every note is so perfect. I wish this were one of Blume’s better-known works, because it deserves to be.
  18. Dingo by Charles de Lint: I don’t actually care for CDL’s YA offerings. This one was like some of his adult fantasy, but with more info dumps about Australia and more pointless insta-love. As with CDL’s other YA offerings, I finished it but will not likely reread it.
  19. The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang: As with last month, my continuing attempts to read all of Lang’s books don’t leave me with much to say, except that Thumbelina is a much more problematic story than I’d remembered it, and I wanted to write some companion piece about how Mr. Mole might have been narrow-minded, but he was nice enough in his way and he deserved some romance.

Ten female authors, one of which is a woman of color, and five male. I read more books than that, of course, but I figure it’s fair to count each author only once. I still need to work on reading more diversely, but I’d say for sure that this month my tendency to read more women than men is still on the mark.

The month that was March, 2014

Published April 6, 2014 by Shannon

Happy April. Spring is finally beginning to peek shyly at us, and I’m writing this post on a day when the temperature is pleasant enough that I can crack open a window and enjoy the sunshine.

My urge to do anything productive in late winter is pretty nonexistent. I read a lot of books this past month, but I didn’t review most of them. For that matter, I didn’t post a whole lot in general.

This month, the books I finished were as follows:

  1. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See: I liked this one a lot more than I thought I would. Also, yay for diversity.
  2. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell: This one, on the other hand, was a giant steaming mess of a book. The plot went nowhere, and the ending wasn’t ambiguous in a “it could go either way” manner, more in a “This is a statement I am making. Admire my literary technique” sort of way.
  3. The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery: I adored this book and wanted to clutch it close to my chest and wallow in it.
  4. Ask the Passengers by A. S. King: I loved the heroine. I loved her relationship with her sister. I didn’t really dig the romance, because I wanted her to have done better.
  5. One True Thing by Piper Vaughn and M. J. O’Shea: I loved the previous book in this series and I hope they continue in this universe. The leads were both adorable and, a couple of pacing problems aside, this was a lovely fluffy treat.
  6. An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler: Adler has more confidence in my cooking skills and interest and abilities than I do myself.
  7. Riding the Bus WithMy Sister by Rachel Simon: A surprisingly compelling “memoir of people who do stuff”. There were some elements in retrospect that didn’t work for me–despite everything there was definitely an element of disabled person as inspiration that crept into the story, but in most other respects, Simon is honest about her relationship with her sister and I appreciated that.
  8. His Kind of Woman by Nona Raines: A sweet story with a few funny moments about a trans woman. I liked it and would read more by this author.
  9. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson: Funny and snarky screwball comedy for the YA set.
  10. Geek with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir: Another cute novella. The cat bits were a little too cutesy for me, but the rest of it was entertaining.
  11. The Art of Deception by Kevin D. Mitnick: This book talked a lot about social engineering, which I found fascinating. I have to admit to skimming the last part, that talked about what businesses can do to improve their security. It’s certainly made me think.
  12. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi: I hadn’t expected to enjoy this one nearly as much as I did. The Manson murders were brutal and somewhat iconic. I was fascinated by the investigation and trial aspects of the book.
  13. Bone Rider by J Fally: I got on board this delicious crack train and never looked back. I will go anywhere this author takes me.
  14. Diamond Dust by Vivian Arend: I meant to review this one butI don’t think it’s going to happen. Anyway, it has a bear shifter, which I love. It’s also got Arend’s typical snark. The heroine was somewhat hard for me to take, but the hero was lovely. Also, I loved the structure of the novel, with a prologue that takes place at the end of the story. Someone described Ms. Arend as “a great mix of crack and genuine emotion that would be perfect for you.” This does seem to be the case.
  15. The Copper King by Vivian Arend: I got an ARC of this one from the author, who also sent me Diamond Dust. I really liked this novella, about two bear shifters having fun in Vegas. Arend’s snark is in evidence, but I liked that this time her heroine is not the hypercompetent, take-no-bullshit woman her other heroines I’ve read have been. She’s sweet and shy, while at the same time not letting the hero walk all over her. I loved them both.
  16. The Green Fairy Book by Andrew Lang: I need to do a better job of writing about these stories. There weren’t really any that made a huge impression, though there were plenty I liked.

Looks like I have 3 men and 13 women. One POC author that Iknow of. Still a thing I need to improve on.

So that was March. For April, I have only one book club obligation, which I’ll review later, and then I can read whatever the hell I want. I plan to take full advantage of this.

The month that was February, 2014

Published March 9, 2014 by Shannon

Oh, you guys, I’m so glad February is over. I hate this time of year, where even in Washington, which missed all the crazy winter shenanigans that afflicted the rest of the country, the cold and lack of sunlight left me feeling like I didn’t want to do much of anything.

I did read a fair bit though. Links lead to full reviews.

  1. Your Hate Mail Will be Graded by John Scalzi: Interesting collection of essays I would have loved more if I hadn’t mainlined them in one sitting.
  2. Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan: I loved this book. I thought the romance was sexy and for once I understood what everyone was getting out of the BDSM play. Of course, I fangirl Heidi Cullinan hardcore, so I’m pretty much going to say that about anything she writes.
  3. The J. Alfred Prufrock Murders by Corinne Holt Sawyer: A charming mystery involving old people solving crimes that actually went to a couple of places I didn’t expect. Recommended for fans of The Golden Girls. Also our pick for the Book Hoarders podcast.
  4. Marked by Kit Rocha, Vivian Arend and Lauren Dane: An anthology which pretty much was a hit all the way around. In retrospect, I am waiting eagerly to not have so many books in the hopper so I can read more of all of these authors.
  5. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan: A charming young adult novel about growing up and falling in love. I wish the audiobook production hadn’t been distractingly bad, because despite that, I enjoyed the story of Paul and Noah and their fun and quirky group of friends.
  6. Dreams of Dark and Light by Tanith Lee: A mixed bag of an anthology. What I loved I want more of. But there were too many evil seductresses running around for my taste.
  7. Shell Shocked by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks: So far this book, with its disabled hero who literally GETS CARRIED AROUND EVERYWHERE is my candidate for the worst book I’ve read in 2014.
  8. Heat of the Moment by Elle Kennedy: A fun little erotic romance novella. I didn’t quite understand what kept the hero and heroine apart for so long, and I was a little annoyed that the black moment got resolved by the heroine apologizing profusely for being “unreasonable”, which I didn’t think she had been. I guess women be nags, though, amirite?
  9. One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy: My other candidate for worst book of the year. It might not have made the cut except for the end where the heroine literally said something about how secretly she knew the hero wanted her to save him. Blech. That’s not sexy. It is an actively harmful narrative and I do not approve.
  10. Beautifully Unique Sparkle Ponies by Chris Cluwe: Another book that probably didn’t want to be read in a single sitting. I liked it, but would have liked a bit more continuity and a few less abstract poems.
  11. Heat of Passion by Elle Kennedy: Again, a pleasant little diversion. Again, I felt like the final conflict was resolved by “The woman was wrong again and has to admit that.” The next book looks to feature a psychic, and the blurb indicates that she is wrong, too. I think I’ll pass.
  12. The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Hayden Elgin: I thought this had some really practical advice. It was slightly dated, but the advice was still useful. I wish I’d actually done the journaling she suggests, but this one might merit a closer reread.
  13. The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang: Another interesting collection of fairy tales. I particularly liked that a few of the stories were from classical mythology.

    Not a bad reading month. And my author breakdown is 11 female authors to 4 male.

    The search terms that brought people to my humble abode this month:

    1. Flight into Fantasy in conflict: Not that I know of.
    2. How many chapters does Reaper’s Property have?: I wouldn’t know. Too many?
    3. Alex Haley fantasy: I don’t know about that, but I do know Avery Brooks narrates the audiobook version of Roots. Oh, Commander Sisko, declaim at me some more! (Please note: As much as I loved Sisko, my heart belongs to uptight, honorable Odo, and Rene Auberjonois
      narrates the Pendergast books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and he is literally the only reason those books are on my TBR pile.) Ahem, where was I?

    4. The Final Hour of Gann: It can’t come soon enough.

    Let’s hope March is a lot more pleasant for everyone than February!

    How are you all? Surviving the Winterpocalypse of 2014? Reading anything good lately?

The month that was January, 2014

Published February 2, 2014 by Shannon

January was not an exceptionally great month of reading in terms of the number of books I read, but most of them were actually pretty good. All links go to actual reviews.

  1. THE PEACH KEEPER by Sarah Addison Allen: A typical Southern-set story full of charm and whimsy and the kind of magical realism I like, which adds charm to the story without it being too ambiguous. Every book Sarah Addison Allen writes is a treasure, and I wish there were more. Luckily for me, Lost Lake dropped on Audible on the 21st of January, so now it can be mine and I can have another Sarah Addison Allen book to read when I’m feeling melancholy and lonely and I need something sweet and lovely and comforting to bring me into a better place.
  2. Going Up by Amy Lane: Mindless fluff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I keep telling myself I’m going to try one of Lane’s longer, more angsty stories, but I think her short works are so perfect as little bits of brain candy that give me happy feels that I don’t want to ruin it. We’ll see.
  3. Whipping Girl by Julia Serrano: I did write about this book as I was reading it, but never wrote up an official review. For me, it was helpful as a primer on trans issues, and I valued the author’s personal story. If you want to be a good trans ally, you could do a whole hell of a lot worse than read this.
  4. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett: Fun and in places very sweet. It’s likely to be the Christmas book I come back to when it’s a more appropriate time of year to read it.
  5. Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde: OK, I didn’t finish this one, but I tried. I was expecting grade A so-bad-it’s-good professionally published crackfic. What I got was the story of an interesting if not always likable heroine who unfortunately ends up with some dude in a motorcycle club whose members all try too hard to prove their manliness. (Hat tip to Hapax for the suggestion. Also I totally didn’t put this into the monthly wrap-up post just so I could link to that youtube video. Why would you even say that?)
  6. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick: It took me a while to get into this one, but in the end, even if I didn’t connect very well with the main character, I loved how the book subverted some of my expectations. (No romance arc! No manic pixie dream girl! An ending that didn’t tie everything neatly together!)
  7. Tonight, My Love by Tracie Sommers: OK, so there’s being pleasantly surprised when a book doesn’t go where you think it will. Then there’s being offered some wrocky mountain oysters without knowing they’re not actually shellfish. I did not see that end coming, and there’s no way I can ever think of the rest of this serviceable and rather pleasant bit of PWP without remembering how awful the end was. Good one, Sommers. You sure did fool me.
  8. Plain Kate by Erin Bow: I see why this book got such high praise, but I never quite connected with it. I’d read other things by this author, but this one was just… meh.
  9. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: I totally hate-read this one, you guys, which goes to show that no one should ever listen to me when I go off on a virtuous tear about how I’ll never hate-read. Really, the book wasn’t awful, and I was sufficiently entertained throughout, but after I stopped reading, my brain re-engaged and I kept hitting pitfalls of logic and psychology. Plus, after a while, I was actively praying that Ender would be wrong about something. Anything. Even just the lunch menu at battle school. But he never was.
  10. The Steerswoman’s Road by Rosemary Kirstein: I loved this. You can get the first book in this omnibus on your Kindle. I hope the second one comes available soon, because people need to read it with me so we can flail together about how amazing it was.
  11. The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang: The first of Lang’s collections of fairy tales. I don’t know what pithy things I can say about this one, except that it’s usually entertaining.

So. Ten books I actually finished. Of those ten, six were written by women, and four by men. I figured that the majority of the authors I read were women, but I guess there are more men on my radar than I realized. Sadly, they all seem to be white, unless people have access to author photos I don’t.

This also seems to be the time to do a trawl through WordPress’s site statistics and figure out what people searched for to find this humble corner of the Interwebs. Here’s a smattering of the terms people used to get here. (I share the ones I think are amusing or WTF-tastic. Mostly people just find me by searching for “Flight into Fantasy” or for a book I reviewed, often in the vain hope that I will link to a pirated copy.)

  • Torture porn book: I hope they found it. I also don’t want to read it.
  • What interests most people to read Sherman Alexie’s short stories: I don’t know. Possibly the fact that the ones I read were about a First Nations dude navel-gazing rather than yet another white dude?
  • Raven Cycle Fanfiction: Does this exist? Are there Ronan/Gansey angst-filled id vortex stories of pain and hopeless love? (by which I mean Ronan/Gansey pr0n.) I hope so!
  • real jeans heroines fantacy pussy: I don’t even know. I’m just going to leave that one there.
  • Recently porn: Not on this site. But again, see the point I made about the fanfic above.
  • Vagina work: I hope it gets equal pay to penis work is all I’m saying.

Well, that’s a rap for January. Hope it’s been a good month for you, and may the recently porn you purchased with your vagina work bring you all the Sherman Alexie torture porn books you can read!

September reads

Published September 7, 2012 by Shannon

It’s September.

Where the hell did August go? I did nothing substantial, but still, it’s gone.

So. Here’s what I read this month. I read a prodigious amount. the winners were the King, the Lamott, and the first March. All, coincidentally, books I haven’t reviewed. Bad bloger. No cookie!

  • 1. Bound by Deception by Ava March (A) Loved Oliver. Thought Vincent was a bit of a douche, but a sympathetic one. Was gratified to read on the author’s blog that Oliver is one of her favorite characters. I feel like it shows.
  • 2. The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll (B) Really liked the heroine and the idea. Was amused by emo hero.
  • 3. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (B): Loved the heroine and her family. Not sure I’m quite on team Nicholas, but maybe in the next book.
  • 4. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach (B): Fascinating and surprisingly funny.
  • 5. Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs (B): Nice start to a series. A bit too many characters who are set up for their own books, but whatever. I’ll read the next one.
  • 6. Bound to Him by Ava March (B): Still adore Oliver. Not quite as captivating as the first book, but that is like saying one of my favorite kinds of chocolate isn’t as tasty as other chocolate.
  • 7. Last Dragon Standing by G A Aiken (B): Least favorite of the books so far. There wasn’t much romance, and I wanted a stronger sense of commitment from the characters, but I still have book 5 and there will be a new book next month and you better believe I will own it.
  • 8. Cowgirl Up and Ride by Lorelei James (B): This is where I think the series starts to hit its stride.
  • 9. Mystery Man by Kristen Ashley (C) Meh. I wouldn’t have put up with Hawk as long as she did.
  • 10. Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James (B) I loved the hero. Even when he was being a moron. This book doesn’t stand alone very well, though, and it’s been years since I read the first one.
  • 11. Rapture in Death by J D Robb (C) This one I could catch up on. I didn’t hate Roarke either, wich surprised me, because I disagree with the entire romance-loving world that he is all that and a bag of chips. That said, I had the mystery pretty well pegged, so I was a little bored in parts. Still bought the next one, though.
  • 12. tied Up, Tied Down by Lorelei James (B): Oh, Cade. Such a sweetheart.
  • 13. Alien Revealed by Lilly Cain (D): I hated the hero. The heroine used to be on the record as the worst spy I’d read about in a book, but she’s been unseated now.
  • 14. Her Ladyship’s Companion by Evangeline Collins (B) I feel like she pulled her punches a bit with this one, but I still loved it. Mmm, Gideon.
  • 15. rough, Raw and Ready by Lorelei James (B+): Favorite so far of the series. I want more M/M/F action from her. Sadly, I want a lot of things that don’t appear to come to pass. Also, I find myself reluctant to keep going, even though Colt and India’s story is next and I know I’ll like it. Weird, huh?
  • 16. What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell (B): Some of the essays were fascinating. Some felt like they meandered and never came to a point.
  • 17. Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley (C) Would have been a D but I love Tex. I want lots of books about Tex and his hatred of Nixon.
  • 18. Angel Bound by Jana Downs (D): Silly cracky pr0n with angels with ridiculous names.
  • 19. Seven Nights to Forever by Evangeline Collins (B): I adored this hero. Oh, James. <3 But given how easily the endings were wrapped up, I feel like the characters were self-sacrificing martyrs to no real purpose except manufactured angst. But again. She writes angst well, so I won't complain.
  • 20. Firelight by Kristen Callihan ( C) Wanted to love this book. There were things I adored. But I felt oddly disconnected.
  • 21. Veiled Desires by Alisha Rai ( C+) Fun erotic romance. Forgetable, but pleasant.
  • 22. Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry (C) I wanted to like this one more than I did, since I loved the first books in this series. I think it was my mood that made this not the right book for me.
  • 23. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott (A): I need to review this one. I’m not a parent, but this felt like a true account of motherhood. Lamott is such a fabulous writer, both funny and confessional.
  • 24. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reece (B): I’m not much of a cook, but I loved the premise of this book. I still won’t be making my own cheese, but it’s nice to know i could if I wanted to.
  • 25. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (B) Darker than I thought it would be. I need to read more of her work.
  • 26. Everything is Wrong With You: The modern Woman’s Guide to Finding Self-Confidence through Self-loathing by Wendy Molyneux (C) It was cute and fun. I thought she tried a little too hard with some of the jokes, but I still giggled a lot.
  • 27. Lessons in Indiscretion by Karen Ericson (B) This was a fun short story. No depth, really, but fun and sexy.
  • 28. The Green Mile by Stephen King (A) Loved this one. Oh, John Coffey, you will always make me cry.

Monthly reads for July

Published August 2, 2012 by Shannon

July was a busy reading month for me. Mostly because I ended up having two weeks of no Internet and little else to do. Here’s how it all stacks up. Links go to reviews.

Favorites for the month: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and the Halle Shifters books by Dana Marie Bell. Worst was Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley.

  • 1. His Client by Ava March (B): Not my favorite of March’s, but I adore her books and her version of Regency England.
  • 2. From Afar by Ava March (C):I don’t remember much about this one, to be honest. There were vampires and it was the Regency period, but I don’t think she should do more like this one… though I’ll read it if she does.
  • 3. How the Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long (C) I think other books she’s written will work better for me.)
  • 4. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Graham Smith (C): Meh. The silly premise didn’t carry this one as far as I wish it had.
  • 5. Persuasion by Jane Austen (B+): Again I say, Darcy who?
  • 6. Wild Card by Moira Rogers (B) My favorite of this trilogy with a fun premise.
  • 7. Blacklands by Belinda Bauer: (C): Not nearly as full of literary excellence as I thought it should have been.
  • 8. Forgotten Faces by Vivian Dean: (C): I liked the story but wasn’t particularly engaged with the characters. That said I want to read more of her books.
  • 9. Calling the Bluff by Moira Rogers (C)My favorite hero of the set was Oliver.
  • 10. Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione (B): I thought I reviewed this one, but it doesn’t appear that I did. Whatever. Wraith’s book. It was fun. I need to get back to reading more of her books.
  • 11. Ante Up by Moira Rogers (B) My favorite heroine and a nice way to end the series.
  • 12. The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden (B+) 50 Shades of Sheldon Cooper. I loved it. I will love it more if she has a backlist.
  • 13. Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley (D) Stupid repetitive sniping disguised as flirty banter and a hero I hated plus awful writing. Sadly for me, I succumbed and have liked other Ashley offerings, so I suspect she will be hit and miss for me.
  • 14. Bear Necessities by Dana Marie Bell (B+): It was like Dana Marie Bell plucked out all the things I love in paranormal romance and wrote a book to my exact specifications. Then she wrote a sequel. Dana Marie Bell and Ava March are now competing for my happy fangirl heart. Review to come.
  • 15. The Wallflower by Dana Marie Bell (B) Not as good as Bear Necessities, but it was a fun and funny paranormal short story.
  • 16. Cynful by Dana Marie Bell (A): Just as good as the first in this series, but we all know that I have a thing for sexy guys named Julian, plus he was a shaman and OMG I want more of these people. Review to come.
  • 17. Law Man by Kristen Ashley (C): This time I hated the heroine, and thought that the hero really was adorable and way more patient than I’d have been. Also the writing tics didn’t bother me nearly so much in this one.
  • 18. Sweet Dreams by Dana Marie Bell (C): I don’t really remember this one very well. I guess I just prefer the longer books this author writes.
  • 19. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (C): I think this one gets a few points knocked down because I took so long to read it. Also, Claire got on my nerves. Review to come.
  • 20. The Harlot by the Side of the Road by Jonathan Kirsch (B): I like reading about the dirty and obscure stuff in the Bible. I see reviews that question Kirsch’s scholarship, but being an agnostic I didn’t know enough to notice.
  • 21. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (A): I loved this book. It’s about two fucked up people who are married to each other. It’s funny and gritty and I never saw where the mystery was going. Review to come.
  • 22. Goodnight Tweetheart by Theresa Medeiros (B+): As a frequent tweeter, there was no way I wasn’t going to like this book. It’s more chick lit than romance, and it’s quite funny and surprisingly poignant.
  • 23. Wuthering High by Cara Lockwood (C): I loved the main character’s voice. I was eager to read the sequel, because it was reading like Harry Potter for girls combined with classic lit. then I realized we were going to have a love triangle between our plucky girl, a nice normal boy and… a fictional character. Literally. And I just can’t deal with that. Basically, this book encouraged me to continue my lifelong streak of not ever reading Wuthering Heights in case the real Heathclyffe turns out to be a broody Edward Cullen knock-off crossed with a little Christopher Dollanganger for added fun.
  • 24. Wild Man by Kristen Ashley (B): My favorite Ashley so far. It was still a shade too long, but I loved both Tessa and Brock, and really liked the complicated family dynamics.
  • 25. Tyler by C. H. Admirand (C-) Oh God, this book had so much crack in one place. Review to come. I’ll just tell you all now… the fillies here are fractious.
  • 26. Long Hard Ride by Lorelei James (B): I DNFed this book once a few years ago, but after Tyler, I wanted to keep the contemporary western crack alive and had a much better experience with this one. Sadly, my mom admits that she’s read these books… and given that they are explicit, I now know more about my mom’s potential kinks than I wanted. (Mom, please don’t read this blog!)
  • 27. Awful First Dates by Sarah Z. Wexler(C): It did what it set out to do. I was entertained, but I can’t even pick out the highlights.
  • 28. Rode Hard, Put Up Wet by Lorelei James (B): I thought the secondary romance between artist Carter and Macey, daughter of the primary hero, was more interesting. And I sure hope Trevor’s penis isn’t going to get a walk-on in every book.
  • 29. Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton (C+) I want to be Miss Price when I grow up.