This was a very strange book, but compelling in its way. It is more horror (specifically body horror) than romance, but there were romantic elements too. The premise was never satisfactorily explained and the ending didn't entirely make sense. But the writer is talented at creating an atmosphere of helplessness and fear interspersed with moments of bravery and affection. Some found it to be quite erotic as well (I was way more "idk" than "yum" about the sex myself). There is a lot of sex, but most of it is under drugged, dub con conditions. Again, weird but compelling in its way.
So, I guess recommended for people who want something with body horror and sex, offbeat with scary and suspenseful moments, but a reasonably happy ending?
Well written and gripping, but kind of a tough read for me. Zebulon was so repressive and unforgiving that it was unpleasant to spend time there, and I kept waiting for the horrible event of Isaac and David getting caught.
I am not sure I want to read the rest of this series, because it sounds really angsty as well. Still deciding.
I read this as an online original story several years back, and remembered it as funny and endearing. So when I saw that it had been made into an audiobook, I decided to get it. Result? Still funny and endearing. I don't remember the online story well enough to know exactly what changed, but I think it has been polished up a bit, to its benefit.
I don't read a lot of contemporary romance these days, mostly because there are way too many books to read, and I am trying to reduce the potentials by cutting out categories, authors, series that aren't finished yet, books that sound too angsty or dark, etc. But once in a while a funny contemporary hits the spot.
James is an assistant helping to run an art gallery. He is good at his job and has an excellent eye for art, but he isn't so good at people. He is introverted and easily unnerved, and it becomes apparent that the people who are close to him are willing to do the work to maintain the relationship. James would generally rather hide alone in his room than deal with anyone.
Turkish is a photographer who has made a splash with his work, and sells photographs at the gallery. He is confident and friendly, willing to put himself out there, with a lot of friends.
At the beginning of the story, James can't figure out why Turkish is being so mean to him. Turkish is smitten, and trying to get James' attention by, essentially, pulling his pigtails. Turkish is willing to break down James' barriers and chase him until James is a little too rejecting, and hurts Turkish enough to give up. Then James has to decide what he wants and whether he is brave enough to do what it takes to fix things.
Most of the story is told from James' point of view, but there is an epilogue from Turkish's point of view that allows us to see James from his eyes, and it is hilarious.
** Some Spoilers **
A really excellent story in which Carlos arrives in Night Vale traumatized, fleeing from his violent stalker sort-of-ex, Robert. Cecil falls in love with him at first sight, but it takes Carlos a year to start to warm up to the idea, because of his past - and not just with Robert. Carlos is asexual, and it has been a source of pain and loneliness to him since teenager-hood. He has given up on any kind of romantic relationship. He does want acceptance and love and even affection, but sex is abhorrent to him and he knows (from trying many times) that he can't be true to himself and be in a relationship where there is any sexual activity.
Carlos comes to Night Vale both to escape Robert and because he has always been intrigued by it, in spite of its reputation for strangeness and its high mortality rate. He muses to himself that:
Hamlet might have preferred to bear familiar burdens rather than fly to risks he didn't understand, but Hamlet was a prince, not a scientist. His actions in the play made that very clear; he hadn't even attempted to take an ectoplasmic reading after the first appearance of his father's ghost.
The first half of the book is about Carlos learning to live in Night Vale, and getting to know Cecil and beginning to trust him. At first, Carlos feels responsible (as the town Scientist) for trying to save the town from every crisis and danger, but gradually he figures out that this is how Night Vale always is, and it isn’t his responsibility to ward off destruction. Then he is free to pursue what interests him and piques his curiosity.
There is essentially a time skip of nearly a year from shortly after Carlos arrives to the main events of the story. Those who follow Welcome to Night Vale podcasts will know what happened during that year - this story goes AU after that. I actually don't listen to WTNV much - I like my stories more linear and plot driven - but I really appreciate the world. It is surreal and strange things happen all the time, but it doesn't feel like there are no rules and anything goes. The author, branwyn, does a beautiful job evoking what is like there, both for outsiders like Carlos and natives like Cecil.
Carlos has the most trouble with the temporal fluidity of Night Vale. Time doesn't run consistently there, and it doesn't pass at the same rate as the outside world. He is also very disturbed by the Whispering Forest, which speaks to him in the voices of people he cares about and tries to convince him to become part of it. He has three lab assistants, the most important of whom is Nijeia, a mostly-invisible twelve year old (keeping in mind the temporal fluidity factor – she says she has been twelve for a long time).
At the end of the time skip, the romance begins, and it is really lovely. I don’t know a lot about asexuality, but I found Carlos’ expression of it to be entirely relatable. He has lost hope of finding someone who wants him for who and how he is, because it has caused only anger and resentment – and meanness – in the past. Cecil is a near perfect match for Carlos. He does love him exactly how he is and is able to meet his needs without asking for anything Carlos isn’t comfortable giving. Interestingly it is Carlos who is a bit mean and unfair during this period, because he is such a PTSD mess. Cecil gets him, though. At one point he says, “I can't tell you how much I regret the idea that I might, for one instant, have made you feel unsafe. Just the thought of it makes me feel like I've come down with a case of throat-spiders.”
In one lovely bit, Cecil suggests marking off areas on Carlos’s body where he doesn’t want to be touched. Carlos both likes the idea and is freaked out by it. He retreats, and Cecil says:
"What was I thinking? You only just woke up, and I ambushed you with advanced relationship negotiation tactics. Ugh, Cecil." He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "You go on. I'll make breakfast, and we'll finish later."
Just as the romance is developing nicely, the action part of the plot kicks in, and the second half of the story is nonstop action, suspense, and violence. It is just as well done as the romance, with themes coming to fruition and clues and hints paying off. The ending is satisfying and well-earned on everyone’s part.
Princess Peach (Super Mario Brothers) redesigned by Kirbi Fagan "Who needs saving now Mario?"
Text version here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/3204218?view_full_work=true
Illustrated version here: http://liliaford.tumblr.com/post/108690397251/mating-bite-chapter-one
I thoroughly enjoyed this fanfic (Teen Wolf, Isaac/Jackson). It has an interesting political theme - omegas are different because of their brain chemistry (more or less) but they don't fit into the very small box most people want to put them in. There's also a nice twist ending. I was definitely rooting for the Omega Rights group.
I like Teen Wolf fan fiction, but I don't actually watch the show, so the text version worked better for me.
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This was a tough read, but not because of the hardcore BDSM - that actually worked fine for me. The tough part was Dylan's family, and in particular his brother Gary. The term "sadist" has both a specific meaning in BDSM (probably more than one - I am the farthest thing from an expert) and a more general meaning in everyday language, where it tends to describe a person who likes to make other people scared and unhappy.
Gary is both, but it is his desire and talent for making people miserable that warps his whole family and badly harms many others. A friend's therapist once told her that you could spot a person with a personality disorder thusly: everyone around them acts crazy and unhappy, but they cruise through life confident and serene. This is Gary to a T. You can fault the parents, but they would have done fine with Dylan and Carmine. And Carmine is a difficult and volatile character, but she has good reason to be (and the reason is Gary). Gary is handsome and charming and very good at gas lighting people - making them believe what he wants them to believe instead of the reality they should be able to look around and see. He is very confident that he will get away with his crimes, and with good reason - he has always gotten away with things. I suspect he would have gotten away with the rapes as well if(show spoiler)
didn't have the bravery and determination to make sure he didn't.
When Gary is arrested for raping several women in the context of BDSM scenes, Dylan (who goes by Dilly at this point) realizes he has to come to terms with his own fascination with BDSM, in his case on the submissive side of the equation. He goes to a bar called The Stonewall and there he meets the owner, Dolphinia, and Vin, who gives Dylan exactly what he wants and answers some questions for him as well.
One of the things I like best about Lyn Gala's books is how the main character finds a mate who is not even close to perfect, yet is very nearly perfect for that main character. Dylan and Vin are both kind of a mess. Dylan is passive, unambitious, not honest with his family, and not good at taking care of himself. Vin has the kind of history that marks him out as bad news -(show spoiler)
Neither is really a good candidate for a healthy relationship, but they are so well suited to each other that the relationship ends up being great for each of them and working very well. Each becomes more confident and happy, and less prone to use dysfunctional coping mechanisms.
There is a lot of discussion of BDSM customs in this book. Dolphinia and Vin (and, over time, Dylan) prefer a looser, more intuitive method where safe words may or may not be used and there isn't much kink negotiation or limit setting. This makes certain SSC fans incandescent with rage, and I get that - it could be very dangerous if the dom's intuition is wrong. But again, for these specific people it works and is healthy. Vin really can read what Dylan wants and needs from his expression and body language, and they don't need or want to talk everything over.
I Kindle-borrowed this book, because I was afraid I would not be able to get through it, both because of the hardcore BDSM and the awfulness that is Gary. But I think I will buy it and read it again, though I will probably skip the parts where Gary shows up. I didn't entirely "get" the BDSM, but I fully believed that the characters loved it, and I was happy for them to get it. This author's writing style, characterization, and dialog works really well for me, and everything I have read by her has been a pleasure.
This book was pleasant and a lot of fun. It wasn't quite what I expected from the author of Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts, because it was more light-hearted and less intense. But it was funny and hot, and I had a great time. It is BDSM, but of the sweet, fun type - it might annoy true BDSM fans, but it went down easy for me, since I am not such a fan.
I was a bit concerned about how the author portrayed the Appalachian setting - I wondered if it was too stereotyped and insensitive. But I came to feel that the author knew these people and was writing with love. I suspect the weirder aspects of the culture were more her parody of how people regard "hillbillies" than a parody of the culture itself. Terry Pratchett used to say that his books parodied people's attitudes about countries (like Australia/XXXX continent) rather than the country itself, and I got the same feeling here.
In any case, the story was a fun easy read, with lots of humor and hotness, and the ending left me with a warm, happy feeling.
(image from io9 article cited below)
Like many others, I was horrified enough by the slate nominating that went on this year to pay my $40 and becoming a supporting member of Worldcon. This entitles me to vote on this year's Hugo nominees and nominate works next year.
I haven't ever done this before (even though I have been reading scifi and fantasy all my life) because I never felt like I read enough scifi and fantasy (and particularly in the year it was released) to have an educated opinion. I let more timely and voluminous readers take care it for me, and looked over the nominees and winners for reading ideas.
But this year, slates entered the picture in a big way. In some of the categories, every single slot was taken up by a slate listing. In the most egregious example, slate author John C. Wright is taking up three of the five slots for Best Novella.
Slates are extremely powerful. In normal voting everyone reads different stuff and has different tastes, so no one work will receive more than maybe 10% of the nominating votes. But slate voters agree to vote on the same five nominees for each category. This means a slate needs to come up with about 10% of the nominating votes to sweep every category. The 90% of individual voters are swamped and overwhelmed by the 10% of slate voters. Lest you think I am exaggerating, over two thirds of the slots on this year's Hugo ballot are on the Sad Puppy Slate or the Rabid Puppy Slate, or both.
I am really afraid that if these slates see any success at all, it will be slates all the way down from now on. Therefore, in order to whatever I can to discourage slates in future years, I plan to only vote for non-slate works above "no award."
While the extreme sexist and racist attitudes of some of the slate organizers sickens me, it is the damage to the Hugo awards that will be done by slates that motivated me to get involved this year. I don't want slates of progressive writers either.
Note: you too can pay $40 for a supporting membership (it is more of you are attending the con) and vote on the Hugo awards (and nominate next year). Go here:
You will receive a reading packet with most of the works for free, so it helps offset the cost.
Some links related to the slate voting this year:
The most interesting part of this book for me was the treatment of werewolves in society. The system of laws was similar to apartheid or Jim Crow, where the wolves have to follow all the laws humans do and many more, but no human has to follow laws with respect to wolves. It brings to mind the famous Dred Scott case that said slaves and descendants of slaves had "no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Werewolves aren't slaves anymore, but they aren't citizens either. There are signs toward the end of the book that a civil rights movement is beginning to gather momentum, which made it easier for me to read about.
Werewolves do have some natural advantages that help them survive in this nasty and unfair world. They are naturally tough and strong - good fighters and hard to kill. Many of them make a living with sex work or fighting (or both). They take the view that since they aren't owned anymore, they always have a choice, even if it is only the choice to submit to poor treatment rather than bringing more trouble on themselves. I admired their coping mechanisms, though it was hard to read about.
Bayden is a werewolf and a natural submissive, and it makes things very hard for him when he falls for a human dominant, Axel. Everything in his experience says don't trust humans, and certainly don't give them any control over you or let them find out anything they can use against you. It is a long process for him to learn to trust, and that made sense. The book dragged for me during this part because I am not that interested in motorcycle riding, bars, or BDSM scenes.
I actually picked up this book because I am always looking for 24/7 BDSM books that I can really get. The idea kind of fascinates me, but usually I just can't relate. The best book on that score has been Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts (and its sequel). The alien culture is so different, while making so much sense on its own terms, that it worked for me. I figured this book, where one of the characters is a werewolf might work for similar reasons.
This book didn't work as well for me as Claimings, but it was less confusing and annoying than most, because I did feel that everything Axel did was in Bayden's best interests. Axel made mistakes, but he plainly wasn't being selfish or self indulgent. I still don't get why they each want and need this kind of relationship, but if I take it for granted that they do it seems like a good one. I definitely liked this book better than Duck! The world building was much better and the dom was much more competent and likable.
I am not sure if I will read more books in the series. If the civil rights aspects are emphasized I probably will, but if it is mostly motorcycles and sex scenes, probably not. Since 90% of the readership would probably prefer it the other way around, I am guessing I will be disappointed!
Really excellent, gripping steampunk flavored book. There were a few issues - the pacing got a little slow in the middle, and too fast at the end. Some of the characters were a bit two-dimensional. The plot was a little here and there toward the end. But I felt pinned to my chair with breathless anticipation, and I will have to read it again soon because I know I missed some details while whipping through the pages to see what would happen next.
I am very much looking forward to this author's next book - and steampunk isn't usually a genre I really enjoy, I think because it is based on the Victorian era, and that was a dark, grim time. This book definitely captured the dark-grim. The poor are treated like animals, upper class women are treated like pure-bred animals, justice is a laughably dim hope, everything is polluted and dirty - yeah, Victorian mood all right.
But the right writer can sell me on just about anything, and Langley Hyde is plainly the right writer.
Very good alternate reality story with a PTSD BAMF Stiles from a reality much harsher than canon and a sweet Derek from a much gentler reality.
Cover credit: by Villainette
Teen Wolf Fan Fiction
I put off reading this because it includes Stiles being a rent boy and that just doesn't appeal to me at all. However, I was convinced to read it anyway, and it turns out that occurs before the story begins and Stiles, while damaged and gun shy, is a survivor on a mission.
Peter and Stiles make a great couple in this. They are both ruthless and devious and very. very determined. Stiles has strong instincts to protect the weak and save victims. Peter doesn't, but he has strong instincts to make Stiles happy, and enjoys the plotting and scheming required to accomplish Stiles' plans. They are both brave to the point of insanity, and willing to take on absolutely anyone.
The story is good too - there is suspense and a mystery around what Deucalion is up to and what happened to the Sheriff.