Sep. 1st, 2015

jillian: old-style manual typewriter keys (Default)
My personal life overcame me, I never finished the story for the anthology, and I was subsumed into the shadows.

But! I'm dragging myself back, starting to read and write fiction again, and maybe get somewhere new — in a metaphorical sense. One of the things I'm going to try to do is post my book reviews here, as well as on Goodreads, so that'll be my next couple of posts.
jillian: A pile of books open on a table, surrounded by more stacks and shelves of books. (books)
Medium, Sweet, Extra Shot of Geek by R. Cooper.
★★★★☆
The title pretty accurately describes the story: medium length, sweet, with an extra shot of geek in the person of Tommy, the protagonist's love interest, who is pretty, buff, and has a tendency to talk a lot. It's a very introspective piece, largely stream of consciousness, with a kind of gentle lyricism that I really enjoyed.
jillian: A pile of books open on a table, surrounded by more stacks and shelves of books. (books)
Charmed and Dangerous
★★★★☆

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford
4 of 5 stars
I'm not always a fan of the interpersonal dynamics in Rhys Ford's stories, but I enjoyed them in this one. My only complaints are 1) the inconsistent use of first and last name of the antagonist at the very beginning made the action a little confusing to me, and 2) the scene-setting was dialed back a little far — definitely no weighty exposition dumps here — so that the first chapter was a little hard for me to get into.

Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale
5 of 5 stars
Ginn Hale is excellent, as always. I love the worldbuilding, and I hope she writes more in this world (assuming she hasn't, since I have yet to read the Lord of the White Hell books). The contrast between Jack and Owen — their philosophies, outlooks, and experiences — gave them a great spark, and I have a particular weakness for stories in which one partner's moral alignment is impetus for the other to become a better person.

A Queer Trade by K. J. Charles
4 of 5 stars
I really enjoy this world — I squeed when Mrs. Gold appeared — and I like these characters. The inclusion of a character of color was really nice, though I can't speak to the (relative, since this is a magical history) accuracy of the portrayal for the time period. Crispin and Ned are definitely characters I'd like to spend more time with; I'd read a spin-off novel series dedicated to them.

Magically Delicious by Nicole Kimberling
3½ of 5 stars
It was nice to spend time with Keith and Gunther again. I always enjoy Nicole Kimberling's writing style, and her characters are wonderfully real, with flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths. I'd have given this another half (or maybe even whole) star, if not for the fact that the solution to the mystery was telegraphed from the very beginning and one thread was left dangling at the end.

Everyone's Afraid of Clowns by Jordan Castillo Price
4 of 5 stars
A little Halloween ghost action for my favorite PsyCops, Victor and Jacob. It says something when the live people and the obscene philosophies they espouse — neither of which seem the least bit out of place in our current sociopolitical climate — are more horrifying than the ghosts.

The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L. Hawk
3½ of 5 stars
Jordan L. Hawk has created a very interesting world and system of magic, and I'd love to read more stories set there. My only complaint is that the characters don't feel as fleshed out as they could be; the familiars felt more like sketches than like people. Otherwise, it was an excellent story, with a surprising reveal.

The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet
2½ of 5 stars
I should start by saying that I'm not a huge fan of shifter stories or the concept of "mates," so this probably wasn't going to grab me regardless. From a technical standpoint, the pacing felt off — this ought to have been a novel rather than a short story, IMO — and to be honest, I could never get past the nagging feeling that I was reading bad Teen Wolf crack!fic with the serial numbers filed off. I've heard good things about this author, so I'll probably give her another shot, but this was by far the story I was most disappointed with in this collection.

One Hex Too Many by Lou Harper
4½ of 5 stars
Lou Harper is another new-to-me author, and I'm impressed; looks like I'll have to pick up some more of her books. This was a great story, and another world in which I'd like to spend more time. It felt like this story barely scratched the surface of who Mike and Hugh were (but not in a bad way), and I really want to see more. In fact, I'd love to see more of the whole Extramundane Crimes Division.

Josh of the Damned vs. The Bathroom of Doom by Andrea Speed
3 of 5 stars
This one just didn't work for me. I'm not sure if it's because I haven't read the other books in the series, or if it just wasn't my type of story. I didn't get a sense of who Josh or Colin were as people (well, person and vampire, respectively), I didn't care about either of them, and I didn't see any actual spark between them.

The Trouble with Hexes by Astrid Amara
5 of 5 stars
Another excellent story from Astrid Amara. The past breakup felt real without demonizing either Vincent or Tim, and still managed to leave the door open for a relatively healthy reconciliation. It was a logical whodunnit, with enough clues to be solvable, but not so many as to make it too obvious. This is another world I'd enjoy reading more about; now that Tim believes Vincent and is aware of the paranormal in the world, I think they'd work well together doing both mundane PI work and hexbreaking.

Overall this was a wonderful anthology, well worth the price, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes their m/m romance with a crunchy paranormal coating.

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Jillian MacLeod

May 2016

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