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Charming2020

Charmingly Euphemistic

I am currently reading mostly gay romance, mysteries, science fiction, etc.

Currently reading

The Soldier's Scoundrel
Cat Sebastian
Brobots
Trevor Barton
Dark Space
Lisa Henry

Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

Him - Elle Kennedy, Sarina Bowen

Charming and well-written, but too much angst and not enough hockey. The best part was coaching at the camp in Lake Placid.

My Roommate's a Jock? Well Crap by Wade Kelly

My Roommate's a Jock? Well, Crap! - Wade Kelly

I must give the author props - the young men sounded and acted like young men, teasing and harrassing each other and not talking about anything real.  It's just that I don't really enjoy that dynamic.  I guess I want young men to act much older and more mature - my bad. :-)

 

This was told from several different points of view.  Some of them were really creepy, like Mike.  One of them was (I think) unintentionally creepy - Ellis's mom.  I think I hated being in her head more than Mike's, and Mike was awful.  At first Ellis's mom was just really clueless and self-involved without being able to self examine at all.  But then she got weirdly controlling and obsessed with Ellis.  She

refused to let him have his phone for days on end.  The guy is 20!  But Ellis has a tearful reunion with her later, so I think she was supposed to be a normal mom.

(show spoiler)

Again, maybe just me?

Status Update by Annabeth Albert

Status Update - Annabeth Albert

 

I surprised myself by liking this one rather a lot.  Contemporaries aren't my favorite and I am really tired of the whole "in the closet" trope, and so I probably would not have read this if it weren't a group read.  But I found both of the characters relatable - Noah was stuck in a rut, but he was working on himself and trying really hard to be a good person and contribute. And I totally get why Adrian pushes him to change. It isn't just for his own happiness or the relationship - it is to keep Noah from smothering himself out of misplaced sense of duty.

I also liked that they both had jobs they cared about and were good at. I pretty much saw how the job situation would work out

with Noah becoming a staff archeologist for the gaming company

(show spoiler)

 from nearly the beginning of the book, but I appreciated that

Noah left on his own terms rather than being outed - I was kind of braced for a huge drama and relieved it was Noah's decision and not a deus ex machina.

(show spoiler)


The author did a good job with the families and coworkers too. They seemed like real people.

An Unseen Attraction by K.J. Charles

An Unseen Attraction - K.J. Charles

 

This was well written, of course, given the author.  But I found it rather dour and dull, at least until near the end. Too literary for me I think. The next one sounds much more fun, so I have preordered it.

A Matter of Time, Vol. I by Mary Calmes

A Matter of Time, Vol. 1 (#1-2) - Mary Calmes

 

 

I've been meaning to read this book forever.  It's a  - I hesitate to say classic, maybe foundational work? - in the M/M genre, and people get fanatical about it.  It gets referenced all the time.

 

On the other hand, I've picked up over the years that it has all the Mary Calmes' flaws in spades, so I knew it would probably irritate me. And I knew it ended in a cliffhanger so you have to immediately buy Vol. II. So I kept putting off reading it.  

 

Then I saw it was out as an audiobook. This seemed like.a painless way to absorb the book, so onward!  It was ... not great. I did listen to the whole thing, but I won't bother with Volume II.

 

At the beginning of the book, Jory says that he got a D in his logic class, and that only because his teacher felt sorry for him.  I'm glad that came up, because thereafter whenever he did something birdbrained I said to myself "D in Logic" and carried on.  I also decided to myself that he was an unbeknownst Veela, and that helped me make sense of the constant fawning he received from everyone. It is also how I explained to myself how Sam found Jory out and about in Chicago over and over (at least five or six times).  Drawn by Veela aura! (Dane must be a secret Veela too.  Maybe they are related!!)

 

But still - the repetition.  The endless new people who end up having nothing to do with the story.  The cursory treatment the thriller aspect received.  I wondered if this was once an online serial - maybe even fan fiction?  A good editor could have made this awesome, because there really is a lot of charm and humor in parts, and the thriller part could have been really good if it was interweaved with the story instead of dropped in like an anvil here and there.

 

I wish I had read this when I started reading M/M.  In 2010. I might have felt the magic that so many people did.  I am too picky now.

The Mermaid Murders by Josh Lanyon

The Mermaid Murders - Josh Lanyon

OK, no more serial killer mysteries by Josh Lanyon for me - or books where both MC's are law enforcement. Winter Kill didn't work for me at all, and now Mermaid Murders annoys me almost as much.

 

I think there are certain things that really bother me in a procedural type of book that I can overlook in other genres. Things like physical impossibilities - sensing when someone is looking at you, for example, or knowing a bunch of stuff you couldn't know from someone's expression or tone of voice. Procedurals are supposed to be tightly plotted and carefully constructed.

 

Also, the editing could use some help - people keep having the same conversations they already had, and forgetting things and re-figuring them out. I am guessing that happens when the author moves events around and then doesn't go back to make sure everything flows in the right order. 

I can accept Adrian English running off to be TSTL, but it irks me when an FBI agent does it. Also Jason's boss acts like a cartoon villain. I expect him to want to kill Moose and Squirrel in a minute.

 

This one has really good ratings, so I'm guessing it's me and not the book.

The Hardest Thing by James Lear

The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery - James Lear

Books with way too much sex often feel to me like nothing is happening. OK sex is happening, but it is the same thing over and over (like saying or thinking "you are my everything" repeatedly).

And this also explains why sometimes books with a ton of sex do work for me. Like this one. So much sex. The protagonist uses sex for everything. Not just passion or love but also for exercise, friendliness, networking, embarrassing someone into not telling anyone they saw him, tactical advabtage in a fight, etc. But by the same token, it isn't the same thing over and over. Each time it is serving a purpose in the story and advancing the plot and usually the characterization as well. This book is a thriller, so it isn't like there wasn't other stuff happening, but this explains why I didn't get bored by all the sex.

The Starving Years by Jordan Castillo Price

The Starving Years - Jordan Castillo Price

I am leery about dystopic novels because they bum me out, but it was JCP, so I had to. I listened to the audiobook and it took me a while, because I didn't want to listen unless I had some time to spend. I wanted to concentrate.

I really think Jordan Castillo Price is in a different league than most romance writers. Each of the characters was such an individual. The locations and situations were really vivid - and scary and grim. It is M/M/M, but it worked for me. Not too much sex, or stopping in the middle of a chase scene for sex. And they felt like good matches for each other, even though they were completely different people, each with significant weaknesses. Tim, for example, is a really good programmer, but he panics and gets distracted - so at one point he starts printing out everything he has downloaded instead of figuring out what is important first. And Javier's first reaction is to be cynical and untrusting, even when it doesn't actually make sense. Everyone is relatable without being superhuman. Definitely recommended.

One Giant Leap by Kay Simone

One Giant Leap - Kay Simone

This was just charming.  Very much in the vein of The Martian, though not that far in the future.

For everyone who reads gay romance

Excellent post:

 

And for the last ten years, as MM romance has grown, we’ve been able to believe in MM HEA because more and more, every day, it’s been possible to believe that two gay men can build a life together without being beaten, without their homes being vandalized, without the government making an about face and undoing every bit of progress in gay civil liberties.

Guess what? Not so much now. 

 

Astounding! by Kim Fielding

Astounding! - Kim Fielding

The title Astounding! refers to a (slightly subversive) pulp science fiction magazine run by one of the main characters. I enjoyed how the author evoked a pulp scifi mood and tropes in the story (also subverted!)

 

Fun and romantic.  Includes a road trip, sexually transmitted 

alien abilities

(show spoiler)

an homage to George R.R. Martin - and to Portland.

The Missing Butterfly by Megan Derr

The Missing Butterfly - Megan Derr

I picked up this audiobook on sale.  I was a bit leery of a contemporary Megan Derr novel, but I thought I'd give it a try.  My verdict is nope - only fantasy from this author from now on. I am starting to think I should just not read contemporary at all unless I have a very good reason.

 

I think The Missing Butterfly is supposed to be a modern day fairy tale of the Cinderfella sort, without any magic.  Everyone is gorgeous and talented, and several are very rich (I could see more books in this series being set up the entire time I was listening). Lots of wish fulfillment for the deserving young MC. But for me it was all frosting and no cake - no suspense or real plot or antagonist to be found.

 

One thing that bothered me:  the women characters came in exactly two flavors - the giggly gossipers who are way too involved in the male characters' love lives, and the horrible bitches.  I know Megan Derr can write good female characters, but not this time.

 

The characters were all pretty two-dimensional.  I don't mind that so much in fantasy, because they have interesting talents that come out in scary situations, and that keeps my attention. (Of course three-dimensional characters and an interesting plot is ideal, but you usually can't have everything).

 

 

Lots of people love this, so I might be casting some residual book slump shade on this book.  I suspect people who like fluffy rock star stories would have fun (though there isn't much actually rock star activity in the book). 

 

 

Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon

Winter Kill - Josh Lanyon

***beware of spoilers until I get the spoiler tags cleaned up***

 

My reading slump continues.  Even Josh Lanyon has let me down!  I don't always love Josh's books, but usually it is because one of the main characters is too much of a dick.  I can, usually, count on the mysteries to make sense and the LEO characters to be reasonably intelligent and good at their jobs.  Not here.

 

Adam is both TSTL and psychic all at the same time. There are two points at which he figures something out with no rational basis I could see.  First, he see a picture of a young women when she was a girl, standing with two older boys.  At a glance Adam determines that the picture wasn't given to her, that she stole it, and that she has a crush on one of the boys.  Second, he meets the bad guy for the first time and 

 

immediately knows he is the Roadside Ripper, because he doesn't tell them his former trucking route and he is annoyed by Adam

(show spoiler)

 

But even though Adam is apparently psychic, he is also appallingly incompetent.  Before the case starts,

 

his team manages to short out a kidnapping victim's father's car, and Adam fails to stop one of the kidnappers from shooting the father, even though he is in the back seat of the car at the time

(show spoiler)

 

He also

 

gets kidnapped by the Roadside Ripper, even though he knows (psychically!) who it is.  He just opens the door and gets coshed

(show spoiler)

 

Rob isn't psychic - just incompetent and touchy.  For example, he gets mad at Adam for 

asking someone about his son's love life.  This is apparently so insensitive that Rob is going to leave Adam behind for further interviews - even though he didn't bother to tell Adam the son has been institutionalized.

(show spoiler)

 

Josh also sets up a romance that can't work, at least not yet, and then makes it work with some really improbable behavior. 

 

So, yeah, my reading slump continues.  Rats.

 

 

In The Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

In the Middle of Somewhere - Roan Parrish

This was a bright spot in the reading slump I have going. Although it was contemporary with a certain amount of angst, it didn't get under my skin like Bear, Otter, and the Kid did. I think it was because I enjoyed spending time in Daniel's head.  Other reviewers got annoyed by him, but his voice worked for me.

 

I actually rather like messed up characters who make mistakes and struggle to figure things out - but only if (a) they have a good reason to be messed up; and (b) they are getting better over the course of the story, even if only in fits and starts.  Daniel is like that. He has trouble knowing how to behave in a relationship, and he makes mistakes, but he doesn't tell a bunch of lies or make the same mistake over and over.  He makes the effort and figures things out.

 

I very much appreciate that both Rex and Daniel are already out, because that particular internal struggle has gotten very stale for me.

 

I will definitely not read the follow-on story with Daniel's brother Colin.  I know I wouldn't like spending time in his brain!

 

 

Bear, Otter, and the Kid by T.J. Klune

Bear, Otter, and the Kid - T.J. Klune

Sigh.  I guess everyone loves this but me.I waited a long time to read it, because I am not that crazy about contemporary romance, and New Adult books tend to be too emo for me. But everyone loves it and it supposed to be funny, so.

 

Everyone who loves this book (which is practically everyone) should just skip this review, because I am just going to rant with no attempt at fairness.

 

Kinds of characters I don't like:

 

Characters who continually inflict angst on themselves by being stupid

Characters who continually inflict angst on everyone they know by being stupid

Characters who tell stupid, pointless lies

Characters who tell stupid, pointless lies to EVERYONE

Characters who stay just as messed up as they started and never figure anything out or get better or smarter

Characters who are furious at friends or lovers for things they do themselves

Characters who don't come clean when it is the obvious right and smart thing to do

 

Yeah, this one has all of that.

 

Plot and story elements I don't like:

 

Repetition 

Continuous flashbacks and flash forwards

When boring stuff is told in excruciating detail

When interesting stuff isn't told at all

Slapstick humor that doesn't even make me smile.

 

And yes, it has all this too.

 

I think part of the problem with this book for me was that I listened to the audiobook.  Every flaw was magnified because I couldn't ever skim or skip.  Every time Bear was just about to come clean with someone, something would interrupt.  This happened at least a half a dozen times and I had to be there for every word every time. A character would say "hey" and another character would say "hey yourself" - this must have happened at least ten times, and after a while it was like a screeching clang in my ear - someone would say "hey" and I would just brace myself for "hey yourself."

 

I probably would have DNFed this, except there was the promise of a dramatic courtroom scene where we would find out what the hell Bear's mom was doing and whether Otter's ex had anything to do with it - but no, no courtroom scene or any other form of resolution.

 

I am having a reading slump where everything I read is annoying me, so I am going to label this "reading slump" in case I want to come back and reconsider.  I will never like this book, but maybe it won't make me mad that I even read it.

 

I laughed so hard my stomach hurts