Wandered over here from GR. They need to get their shit together, man.

Deeds of Their Past - Mike Carss 2.5 stars rounded up.

I love/hate reading books with few ratings and reviews. It means that I can read with no preconceptions and no expectations, but it also means that I could be completely wasting my time. Now, I don't mean to say that this book was a waste of time, but it didn't rock my world.

It's a story about two men on the run who have to work together to survive. And for the most part it is a very... straightforward kind of book. Adversities arise and the heroes overcome them. The thing is, both men are supposed to be quite well trained in their fields but they kind of bumble along, doing stupid thing after stupid thing and getting out of fixes by the skin of their teeth and an enormous amount of good luck. This quote is pretty much the gist of the novel:

"he couldn't believe how such a simple error could mean their doom"

Er, really? 'Cause after all stupid shit you guys did, I can absolutely believe it.

Don't read it for the romance, because that is very understated and there are no love scenes to speak of. In any event, it's quite readable and was only like $2 on Amazon.
Fracture - Adam Ryle "And Colin felt what he had felt for many years, that everyone was odd, that the world was a sick place."
That pretty much sums up how I feel about this book. Colin is my spirit animal. But that makes me a terrible, terrible person.

So this book has been described variously as "creepy" and "creepy", and that's pretty accurate, actually. It tells the story of Colin, a very introverted man who has (in my opinion) sociopathic tendencies. So yes, he burns down his house so he can build a duplex and spy on his tenant and yes, he does some genuinely awful stuff which I will not mention but is very bad. But despite the creepy, I found myself seriously empathizing with this guy. Colin is a horrible person, but he's also very insecure and all he really wants is to be loved. He is both naive and self-aware. Generous and ridiculous. A lot of a pervert and a bit of a prude.

The writing is spare and this suits the pared-down life that Colin lives. It's quite a short book, but reads as though it's much longer. I must admit, it was rather an uncomfortable read, I kept putting it down and having WTF moments because this guy is just so unbelievable. He, of course, is not the only character in the book. His tenant (and romantic interest) is a young (male) college student, Alek, who is also very strange and a little bit damaged (but I won't say why as it gives too much away).

Now all of that sounds like a set up for some lovely, angsty story-telling, but it really isn't. It's not at all a 'dark erotic romance'. The language is not purple enough. Which is kind of refreshing. However, I do wish the sex scenes (or at least the first one) was more descriptive because I think that it would provide a great deal of insight into (a virgin at 33) Colin's weird dichotomous psyche. As it is, the most we ever get is a "they made love". Huh.

Then there's the ending. Fair warning, oh lovers of happy endings: you will not get one. But even from very early on you aren't expecting one.

All that said, I enjoyed this book quite a lot. But I'm sitting here typing this with a kind of sick feeling; like I need to go take a bath (but I'm covering up my damn mirror first).
The Adorned - John Tristan I'll keep this short because I want to go and read some of Tristan's other stuff: That was lovely. Very well written and completely compelling. I don't think there's much of a plot to speak of, more just a series of events. But it's so evocative and lush that I didn't really notice. Best fantasy M/M that I've read in a long time.
Inheritance (Dominion, #1) - Lissa Kasey This is one of those books where I feel like I should have lots of issues with it, but I actually really enjoyed it. I don't really understand why everyone loves main character, Seiran, so much though. He reads a bit like a magical, slutty Jory in that respect. But otherwise, it was fast-paced and compelling. Looking forward to the rest of the series. Maybe Seijory will grow on me.
Love Lessons - Heidi Cullinan What a goddamn awesome cover.
The Islanders - Christopher Priest

Reads like a slightly less crazy City of Saints and Madmen. Thoroughly enjoyed.

The Raven King - Nora Sakavic I confess, I still have very little idea bout what's going on in this book. We learn a little more about the characters and this only fractionally explains their motivations. It's both confusing and compelling. And I eagerly await the next book.
Skippy Dies - Paul Murray This is the funniest/most horrific book I've read in ages. I spent the first 65% of the book laughing like a mad person at the hilarious antics of the Irish Catholic schoolboys who populate this book. Then I spent the next 10% being genuinely appalled. And then I laughed a little bit guiltily up to the end, while still being appalled. It's a remarkably well-written and clever novel. But really, I feel like there are two novels. The first, superficial novel is the funny one. The one where schoolboys bet on which teacher will be the first to have a nervous breakdown and fourteen-year-olds brag about how many bitches they've had. And the second, more disturbing novel, is the one in which the minefield of adolescence is poorly navigated, where adults make horrible choices and no-one gets what they deserve. It was disturbing. But also awesome.
The Twelve - Justin Cronin That is how you write a motherfucking vampire novel.
Lake on the Mountain: A Dan Sharp Mystery - Jeffrey Round I enjoyed the writing in this book far more than the content. I know this, because even as the plot was getting pretty random, I still had to stop now and then to admire a phrase. It tells the story of Dan, a gay private investigator with a difficult past, a teenaged son and chip on his shoulder. I liked Dan, he was suitably complex. I did, however, have an issue with the 'mystery'. The premise of a mysterious death on a yacht during a gay wedding is kind of awesome. It has that claustrophobic, closed-room mystery potential that is so fun to read about. This ends up not actually being the main point of the story, the whole yacht incident is glossed over and resolved in a very unsatisfying way. It leads the way to another, tangentially related mystery, but by I this point I felt like I'd been duped a little bit. There's also some completely unrelated stuff that happens that serve no purpose to further the plot or tell us anything new about the protagonist. That said, I'll probably read the sequel when it comes out.
The Brothers Grime: Jack - Z.A. Maxfield 3.75 stars
The Boy Avengers - Karl Flinders I've been wracking my brain trying to figure how to write a review extolling the virtues of a book filled with loving descriptions of pederasty without coming off like a creep. And I just can't. I'm not sure it's possible. So I'm not going to try. I'll just write what I think, and if that makes me a creep, then so be it.

First off, this book is batshit insane. Seriously, it is unbelievably obscene. It takes a special kind of psychotic courage to write a book about schoolboys running around raping each other and 11-year-old boys soliciting the advances of 69-year-old men. It takes a special kind of genius to make said book funny and engaging. It has the same can't-look-away appeal of crime scene photos or stories of people being eaten by crocodiles. Everything that happens in this book is horrible. Everything. And I'm ashamed of myself for having so thoroughly enjoyed it. It's just that it's so well-written and clever, and awful. So, so awful, guys. But so good.
Every Move He Makes - Barbara Elsborg

The premise of this book reminded me a lot of the Chimera Affair and also of Close Protection; and I five-starred the face off of those books. So naturally I was super keen to read this one. And I hate to say it, but I'm kinda disappointed. It just fell a bit flat for me. My feeling is that the MCs lacked chemistry, their relationship felt a bit forced and around the 85% marked it kind of careened into sappytown. The action bits were fun, and seriously, who doesn't love a good secret-agent romp? Ultimately, though, it wasn't enough to keep me riveted.

On an unrelated note; why do all the guys on M/M covers look like complete douchebags?

Above All - Jane Elliot * I apologize in advance for any inadvertent squeeing that may occur in this review.

That was amazing. Seriously, I'm sitting here with this big smile on my face and I feel like I could just float away on the awesomeness. This was a wonderful book about a cantankerous engineer who ends up taking care of a homeless PTSD survivor after running him over. It's a very well-written and easy to read book. I started having anxiety about finishing very early on because I kind of wanted it to go on forever. The strength of this book lies in the brilliant characterization of Jasper, the engineer; a 40-something genius who is really a big child on the inside. He is seriously funny and ridiculous. A bit like Brain (from Pinky and the Brain) meets House (from House M.D.). Brian, the other half the romantic entanglement, is less well-defined in my head, but he was still a great character. The romance was very beautifully done; it was an extremely slow-burn kind of thing and the sex doesn't happen until after 90%. And here's the thing, the sex was decidedly unsexy, but it was written so honestly and compassionately that it's probably one of the greatest things I've ever read. I really liked that we're given this situation where two men in their forties are fumbling around like teenagers, the whole thing was just so sweet and endearing. Okay, that's all I've got to say about that. I'm just going to sit here and and enjoy the afterglow of this book a little bit longer.
Starfish and Coffee - Kele Moon This was a sweet, super sexy, beachy read about love and forgiveness and overcoming differences, and I was really enjoying it. Like four-and-a-half stars enjoying it, up until the very end. Here I mean that at 98%, there was some ridiculous last-minute secondary character drama that was so completely unnecessary that I just didn't know what to do with it. It was as if the author was trying (not very hard) to wrap everything up in a nice HEA bow, but all I wanted to do was strangle someone with said bow. I've bitched about it before and I'll probably bitch about it again (soon), but I will never understand why authors decide to pile on these totally redundant crises and dramas in books that are already swimming in it. Sometimes simpler really is better.
Spiretown - Lia Black 3.5 stars rounded up for being free.
This was a cool little alternative-earth book about an America where magic exists and mages are considered too dangerous to roam around freely, so they get rounded up and chucked in ghettoes. Enforcing all of this are the Templars, an elite brand of police who deal with magic-users. The romance is of the enemies-to-lovers/gay-for-you variety, when Collin; a heterosexual Templar commander is forced into close-quaters with Logan; a powerful/sexy mage.
Things I liked: it was engaging, it was hot, the actions sequences are deliciously gory and I loved the tropes.
This I disliked: the whole book has a kind of superficial feel; as if the characters, situations and concepts are only lightly brushed on and everything happens way too fast.
The other thing (and I may be mistaken here) is that even though the setting and plot are different, a lot of the concepts and terminology seemed to be plucked straight from the awesome video game Dragon Age and for some reason this really bothered me. But still, an enjoyable read overall.

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