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

The Unforgiving Minute - Sarah Granger I've given this book 5 stars because I've been obsessed with tennis since I was a small child and this is the book I've always wanted to read about it. Haha. Jokes. I've never watched a single tennis match in my life, and the one time I tried to play tennis I hit myself in the face with the racquet. But that second part is still true. I enjoyed this book hugely, despite often not understanding the tennis stuff. It's well-written and engaging and I was really rooting for the main couple. It tells the story of Ryan Betancourt, a pro-tennis underdog who makes good and ends up getting to know one of his tennis idols rather well. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Anyway, what I really liked about it is that it felt authentic but was also kind of cinematic; with a well-paced build up to a climactic and satisfying ending (no, not that kind of climactic). I'm not sure if it will stand up as well to a reread, but I can say that this is the first book I've read in ages that I didn't delete from my kindle after finishing because I really wanna read it again.
Fire Horse - Mickie B. Ashling This book. This goddamn book.
Okay, before I start on my little rant for the day, I just want to say that one of those little stars up there is for the fact that this book prompted me to google Argentinean polo players, and for that I will be forever grateful. But otherwise, it's quite perplexing and kind of infuriating.
It spans a couple of decades in the life of Preston Fawkes, son of a Texas rancher who becomes an international polo sensation. It's meant to depict the tumultuous relationship he develops with this other polo-playing guy. And a great deal of the book is dedicated to the teenage romance that seems to set the stage for everything else that happens in Preston's life. The polo thing is interesting enough, I think. I'd love to read a story about two polo players having an illicit romance while playing the international polo circuit or whatever. That's enough. That would be a great story. Instead, we get a story with all these ridiculous, dramatic occurrences and outlandish coincidences and stupid misdirections that completely detract from the point of the story. There is very little polo, and that's a disappointment, because I liked those bits best.
Then there's the issue of the bizarre dialogue and syntax. Seriously, it read like if a person who had only ever written serious academic textbooks decided to write a novel for the first time and also forgot what real conversation sounded like. This was especially irksome when Preston was a teenager. No matter how mature he was for his age, no-one talks like that. It ruined the flow for me.
I feel the worst kind of let down because there was such potential here. But why do authors feel the need to manufacture unnecessary drama, when a simple, more straightforward approach would have been a hundred times better?
Kestrel's Chance - Harper Fox

Two bitterly disappointed stars. The idea for this book is sublime - two sexy mountaineers and the potential for some delicious sexual tension and claustrophobic, high-altitude romance. But, alas, it was executed rather clumsily. The setting was still gorgeous, in true Harper Fox style, but the plot was a bit of a mess. Anyway, I'll just continue to look forward to her next full-length novel.

Slam! - J.L. Merrow

Giving a JL Merrow book one star is causing me physical pain. I mean, surely I could spare another? For old time's sake? But no. This book doesn't deserve even a pity star. Let me preface the review by saying that I've mostly enjoyed Merrow's work so far; she's one of my favourite British M/M authors, but heavens did I not enjoy this. To go from the wry, self-effacing humour of Tom in the lovely Pressure Head, to Jude was jarring. Jude is annoying, obnoxious, needy and not at all funny. I actually wanted to stab him. I could not fathom what David saw in him. I guess he might appeal to a certain type of person, but that person is not me. I also mostly disliked the supporting cast; from his boozy, desperate mum to his tough-as-old-leather best friend, I couldn't connect to them. The plot was like Jude's dad - woefully absent and the humour was like being hit repeatedly in the face with a bag full of rainbows. I just basically skimmed the last 30% or so because I hate DNFing things, but I just did not care about all the manufactured drama. I'm really sorry I couldn't appreciate this more, because I love how British the writing was in places and I remain a fan of Ms Merrow. Oh well, maybe next time.

Beyond Complicated - Mercy Celeste What the fuck did I just read? No, I don't care. Thank god it's over.
The Foxhole Court - Nora Sakavic So this book is clearly building up to something. It ends crazy abruptly. And honestly? I can't even write a review because I had absolutely no idea what was going on for 85% of it. But I still enjoyed the crap out of it. That's gotta mean something, right?
Chance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck, and Murder - Nicole Castle I was all set to give this book five stars. How could I not love it? It has strains of Natural Born Killers and The Professional, and reminded me strongly of Richard Rider's genius Stockholm Syndrome. It was so very close to being perfect. But it fell apart in the last quarter, when too many things were happening at once. This book, pared down to just Vincent and Frank, would have been sublime. It was funny in places, yes, but there was an underlying intensity that stemmed from the these two damaged MCs finding each other through the morass of their respective lives. I wanted things to be tough for them, I wanted them to suffer a little and come through all of that together, just the two them against the world. Instead, the last 20% or so was a bit of a mess. I felt like the author added all these unnecessary secondary characters and it just clogged up the narrative. I also had minor issues with inconsistent characterization (especially with Frank) but I'll leave everyone to make up their own minds about him.

Sorry, that was my little rant for the day. It really is a good book if you can overlook my niggles. It's well-written and ridiculous and compassionate. Overall, I enjoyed it tremendously and will happily read any forthcoming works from this author.
Zombielicious - Timothy McGivney What an insane bastard of a book. Let me put it this way: If Chuck Palahniuk and Max Brooks had a baby, and then Dennis Cooper decided to novelize that baby's life, and then Quentin Tarantino made a film based on that novel; this is what you would get. And I would watch the shit out of that film.
Fifteen Shades of Gay (For Pay) - T. Baggins Honestly, I woud have never read this book if it weren't for Tiya's glowing review. From the goofy author pseudonym and the spoofish title, to the weird cover; I just couldn't take it seriously and had no real desire to go there. But I did. And I was pleasantly surprised. It had a depth I clearly wasn't expecting and dealt with some weighty issues with good grace. I had a few niggles, but then again, I always do. Specifically Andrew's surprisingly easy acceptance of his sexuality; given the years of issues he had, I would have expected a bit more resistance. I guess it seemed too easy. Ultimately, I enjoyed it quite a lot and wish I hadn't been so shallow and read it sooner.
Kieran & Drew - L.A. Gilbert So, I slunk off during my lunch hour to the tiny office at the end of my ward to read the last 20% or so of this book. And here a nurse found me crying over my kindle and asked me what the matter was. I couldn't very well tell her that the gay romance between these two teenage boys is so sweet it is totally making me lose my shit. So, I mumbled something about allergies.
Atom Heart John Beloved - Luke Hartwell Atom Heart John Beloved or The Super Kinky Secret Sex Lives of Small Town American Teenagers. Okay, I'm being glib. I actually don't know how I feel about this book. I'm giving it four stars, not because I think it's particularly good, but because it's given me some things to think about and I pretty much ate it up in one sitting. Impulsive me bought the book because I really liked the title and it was listed as GLBT (I had no idea what it was about otherwise), and I'm not sorry I did, but I feel fairly conflicted.

It's a coming of age story, at its core , which is by turns amazingly naive and shockingly dirty (yes, there's an awful lot of coming). Narrated by John, the world's most narcissistic teenager, self-centered in a way that only a beautiful adolescent can be. It deals mostly with his relationship with his gay best friend and his struggle to fit in to an ultra-religious community. I didn't like John as a person, his vanity and hypocrisy were galling, but he also sometimes flashed us a little bit of his humanity. It's a book essentially full of contradictions and this kind of makes sense in the context of being a confused but cocky teenager, but it's not easy to read. The narrative is a little all over the place for example, at one point, in the middle of having gay sex for the first time, the narrator goes into this long exposition on how he's half Hispanic, and I was just like wtf?, and some things are never resolved in a satisfying way. It also deals with some heavy themes of abuse and exploitation that left a very bad taste in my mouth.

So, again, I won't say I enjoyed it, there were too many flaws and also some hetero sex, but I'm giving it four stars anyway.
Plan B - S.J.D. Peterson Firstly, look at that flippin' awesome cover photo. It's gorgeous. It's almost the entire reason I read this book. But big buff jock and twinky guy is one of my guilty pleasure tropes, so there's also that.
Anyway, liked the subject matter, but the execution left a bit to be desired. The first-person thing (which I usually don't mind) did not work well here. Gay-for-you stories are better told from the closeted guy's side, I think. Here we have only twinky theatre major's perspective and it feels very limiting. The back-and-forthing also got a bit stale. Overall, I will say that it was pretty entertaining and I'm not sorry I read it, but really I just feel kind of meh about it.
Stalker - R.D. Hero I wasn't going to give this book this many stars. There was a coercive and rapey element to the sex that made me seriously uncomfortable, and if Abel had been a girl, I would've never been able to finish it (let alone enjoy the crap out of it). But see, I decided that if I'm going to be a terrible human being, I might as well go all the way. Five stars, bitches.
Half Moon Chambers - Harper Fox Okay, that was lovely and all, but Harper Fox really, really needs to write a sequel starring Jacky.
A Hidden Magic - Angela Benedetti 3.8

That cover does nothing for this book. It's ambiguous in the worst way, because this is actually a very awesome urban fantasy story about a team of humans or "Sentinels", who protect the mortal realm from things that go bump in the night. It's not particularly original or sexy, but it was consistently engaging and the characters were compelling. I am very much going to read the rest of the series.
American Love Songs - Ashlyn Kane I don't quite want to give it four stars, but it certainly deserves more than 3, so 3.48, I think. This was a nice story; well-written, but it just hasn't quite inspired me to write a proper review. So that's all you're getting, folks.

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