Another month of mostly M/M, but I’m doing good with making time for other genres. I did not manage to get back on track with my manga read-withs, so manga was not one of them. And this month sees me busy with other things, so I don’t know. I have a serious backlog of comics and manga and I don’t have a plan for cutting into it, but I hope to knock out at least four each month. It shouldn’t be hard since I can do that in an evening, but somehow there’s still a chance I’ll fall short.
As I mentioned last month, there was drama surrounding one of my faves and I said I had to look into it, so I did. You can read about that here. When I posted it, I felt like that was all I had to say about it until sometime far down the line, but I’m still thinking about and [insert expletive]. The fallout is widespread. Businesses and careers and, therefore, lives ruined. I get the initial desire to fashion a persona for pseudonym–it’s nothing new–but they took it too far. Crossing over into #ownvoices territory on top of all the other lies and manipulation just made it 100 times worse. I know it did for a lot of people, but knowing what I know didn’t change how I felt about his writing. The titles of his that I read this month, like the ones before it, still left me wanting more. But will I get it? I’m pretty adamant about not doing things that bring about a sense of guilt, so if the opportunity to answer that question arises, I know I’ll take the action that keeps me guilt-free. Thankfully, guilt has always been pretty cut-and-dry for me, so there will be no dwelling or vacillating. Anyway, now, onto the good stuff.
Not even half a day after I saw L.J. Hayward’s Where Death Meets the Devil twice in my rarely scrolled GoodReads feed did Lucy reply to the “Shelved: March 2018” tweet and ask if I had read it. I hadn’t, but thought it was weird since I don’t think I’d heard of it before that day. It’s possible I did since I do follow Riptide Publishing on Tumblr, but, these days, I might visit Tumblr once a week, if that. Lucy said it reminded her of In the Company of Shadows a bit. And to that I said I definitely had to read it. So, I did. I loved the espionage and the double crossing and the ulterior motives, and while I liked the characters, it took too long for me to care about them. By the time I almost did, the book was over. Oddly enough, the mains had good chemistry, but… I don’t know, individually, they were missing something. I didn’t see the ICoS–I want to say at all–but if I can compare Ethan with some parts of Hsin, then, maybe a little. But, actually, it reminded me of M. Chandler’s Shadow of the Templar series, which, even though some parts–or characters, rather–drove me crazy, I enjoyed it a great deal. I will say, though, I’m glad there are two more books slated for the now-series, because I do like the world and Hayward’s way of bringing you into it. So, perhaps I will get to know the characters better as it continues.
N.R. Walker has been pretty good to me. One of the reasons I enjoy reading Walker is because she’s an Aussie, but she occasionally writes stories set in the States. And when she does, I like to–as if it were a game–take note of how well she does with the lingo. I don’t know if she spent time here, knows someone from here, or researches really well, but she was pretty good and has only gotten better over the years. Sometimes it’s like finding a four-leafed clover when I encounter bin instead of trash, trashcan, or wastepaper basket. Or maybe vest instead of tank or tank top. Or jumper instead of sweater. This time around I read the Thomas Elkin series and really liked the balance in the May/December romance. Tom and Cooper really suited each other and had chemistry that you could see without the author trying to convince you of it by constantly and explicitly stating it in the narration and dialogue.
There was one part in the third book where–post fellatio–a playful exchanged turned serious. Tom’s knees locked up and he needed help getting up and Cooper made a joke about it–as he was known to do–and then left the room. When he came back, Tom, half playful, half sulking, said, “If you don’t mind not looking so fucking cute when I’m mad at you, thanks.” Cooper snuggled up to him and told him not to be mad. Tom, feeling like a moment of truth, told Cooper, that he might not have such a problem with it if Cooper didn’t make fun of it. I’m pretty sure Cooper’s heart broke a little when he told Tom that he didn’t mean it. Tom said he knew, but Cooper was still worried and said, “I don’t. I don’t mean anything by it. Don’t be mad. I’m fucking cute, remember?” There are a lot of things I liked about this series and there were a lot of exchanges that illustrated the type of people they were and the type of relationship they had, but this one was my absolute favorite. Watching them seamlessly slip from sexy times to playful times to serious times and back and forth and around again was fun and it’s what made the story as engaging as it was. It only worked because Cooper was more than the usual silly/cute or insecure/cute May. He was, among many other things, driven, confident, caring, perceptive, inquisitive, charming, and sincere. Pair that with a traditionalist December who let himself explore new things and you’ve got a good story that I wouldn’t mind returning to.
I started a new J.P. Oliver series, Fighting Love. I passed on the first book, Fighting for You, when it showed up in my inbox, but the second book, Through Thick and Thin, is a friends-to-lovers-eternal-pining deal and I’m always down for that. So, even though the books in Oliver’s series can usually be appreciated separately, I have to start from the beginning. So, I did, and the story was what I’ve come to expect. But what I did not expect was to see a character from a completely different story by a completely different author from a completely different medium. “The law is reason free from passion.” As soon as I read that line I had to pause. I was not in the least prepared to see Enid “ovester” Wexler from Legally Blonde starring as “the best friend” in my Saturday afternoon M/M novel. When Luke asked Enid and Adam how they met, and Enid revealed Elle’s first day in Professor Stromwell’s class as their origin story, I was waiting for the “just kidding” or like, the mention of an inside joke, but nope. Oliver totally swiped a character and a scene from one of my favorite films. I don’t know how I feel about that.
I listened to Anika Noni Rose’s reading of what’s currently available in audio for Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper series–Shadowshaper and Shadowhouse Fall. Both Rose and Older are names I’ve encountered before, but never paid enough attention to to call myself familiar with. Still can’t say as much, but I really enjoyed the tangle of coming of age, acceptance, friendship, family bonds, culture, heritage, mysticism, and suspense that was Shadowshaper and the sometimes frustrating, but always intriguing maturation of the cast in the follow up Shadowhouse Fall. For the most part, I’m pretty good at knowing which books I should read and which ones I should listen to and I’m glad my streak remains. Rose’s ability to roll in and out of accents; the slight shifts in pitch, timbre, and drawl that allowed her to change voices; and her occasional crooning made for a very enjoyable experience. I can say, without a doubt, that I am so looking forward to the release of the third book. In the meantime, I’ll probably check out Older’s other offerings.
I started another series by Lucy Lennox: Made Marian. I believe it’s related to something I’ve already read by her, but I can’t remember what. The first book, Borrowing Blue, was a decent story, but kind of a mess in its delivery; Lennox was trying too hard to give the MCs chemistry. Her writing has improved as I’d seen in the Forever Wilde series, so I kept reading and then moved on to Taming Teddy and Jumping Jude which make up the first half of the series about the Marian brothers. She eased up more and more on the forced chemistry, so I didn’t feel like I was gritting my way through the second book and barely noticed it in the third. I’ll likely see the series to the end. I think I’ll enjoy it, but I also want to witness the progression of her writing.
Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology was great and I’m always happy when he reads his books. There was also Hayden Scott’s Refraction which I’ve had in my possession for over a year, maybe two. It was a quick and delightful read about super villains, super heroes, and an interesting courtshipthat was excessively hilarious on occasion. An all around good time.
Actually, as far as reads go, I think April was an all around good time as well.
As I said above, I’m going to be busy this month, so May’s recap will probably be pretty short. And depending on how much I accomplish, the months that follow could end up the same. But who knows? Until then…