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All posts for the month May, 2016

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!