A Beacon In The Dark - ZairaA,  crimsonswirls DNF. The heart of the story has promise, but the writing is just too awkward for me to struggle with anymore. And the Merlin here is just about the biggest woobie that ever woobied a woob.
Spook Squad - Jordan Castillo Price A great addition to the Psycop series. This one took a few assumptions Vic (and by extension, we the readers) had, and turned them on their heads quite unexpectedly. So that's always fun.
Patient Z - Becky Black My search for m/m zombie books continues. This one was, unfortunately, disappointing.-Boring, formulaic, "romance" between two cardboard-cutout main characters who basically have no other options besides each other.-Unscary zombies that barely had a presence in the story. They were just... stage dressing.-Overbearing gender politics that left me feeling kinda blah at times.i.e., All heterosexual men are aggressive potential rapists. And lots of women characters who are CURRENTLY rad and kickass, and were totes just waiting for the apocalypse to happen, so that they could shake off the shackles of their secretary- and manicurist-hood and become totally rockin', zombie-killin gals! (Along with their trusty, kickass and rad pet gays.) Nothing I could really point my finger at and declare WRONG, just an overall vaguely lingering bad aftertaste.There were some interesting ideas here about the zombie virus, and resulting zombie behavior. I also dug the survivors' "encampment."
Autophobia - Lydia Thorne This short story is offered for free on Fictionpress.Blurb: A plague is destroying humanity and in the aftermath, two desperate men try to survive.-----After reading this story, I promptly went and looked up the definition for "autophobia." I found that it could mean both a fear of isolation, and a fear of self. Which is kind of cool and relevant in this case, however you want to apply it. Bittersweet, scary, and powerful. Full of bleakness and desperation and realism and creeping, shambling horror. I wish this was so much longer!The ending is a *leetle* vague for my taste, but overall I am totally picking up what this story threw down.
Fighter - PlaneJane Confession: I tried to watch The Eagle, but I was so bored my eyes glazed over early on. I kept watching, of course. Because Channing Tatum. But I couldn't tell you much about it. :|Happily, this lovely AU is almost completely divorced from the source material, so no prior knowledge is really necessary. Of course you never know how many little insider references you're missing in cases like this, but I really only felt the loss when it came to a lack of physical descriptions. This was a thoroughly enjoyable story! Slow, subtle, layered character development. Believable, fairly realistic plot development. Delicious angst that made my heart pang sweetly in a few places, without wallowing in it.The ending fell down for me a bit. It wasn't bad, but I don't think it lived up to its potential. And after all that lovely, lovely UST, I would have enjoyed a *leetle* more focus on teh sexytiems. (But if I had to choose between this and oversexed dreck, I'd vote for this all the way.) That's just me being nitpicky, though. I've paid for many, many books that I didn't enjoy half as much as this one.
When You Were Pixels (Syntax #0.1) - Julio-Alexi Genao This has everything that makes a great short: It's intriguing without being overly obscure, hot without being pwp, hinting at an expanded world without feeling amiss. Every word here is a carefully honed little dagger to the heart and brain, not a single one superfluous or out of place. MOAR, PLEASE. NAOW, PLEASE.
Hainted - Jordan L. Hawk Kinda Supernatural meets Poppy Z. Brite... Which pretty much sounds like it could have been made to order just for me. Unfortunately, it just didn't do it for me in so many ways:-Magickal shenanigans of the wand-waving, goddess-invoking variety.-Main characters who take one tumble, and suddenly it's "baby" and "sweetheart" and referring to each other as boyfriends without ever having actually discussed it.-One-dimensional, mustache-twirling baddies-Haints: Are they ghosts? Are they zombies? It was never quite clear for me. They had corporeal bodies, but when they were killed they just... dissolved? Yeah, I dunno.The story was interesting enough, but overall this one just wasn't for me. I might revisit the author some time in the future, though.
Everything living tries to get back to the soil - Domashita Romero,  serenity_winner Two men reconnect after many years, to watch as the magic that stitches the world together unravels.Disturbing and beautiful. I can't stop thinking about this one.
Ink - Sarah Goodwin,  Victoria Moule No. Nope. I just can't do it. I've apparently reached an upper limit on the amount of tear-soaked woobie angst I can tolerate. Factor, in the, incessant, comma, abuse, and I have to put this book down for the sake of my sanity.
After The Fall - Sarah Goodwin The basic premise of the book is completely outlandish and improbable. But the enjoyable writing and skilled framing of the story actually helped it to carve out 3 stars.
Aiden's Luck - Con Riley Better than the Saving Sean, not quite as good as After Ben.I'd like a Marco of my very own, please.
Saving Sean - Con Riley Not a bad book on its own merit, but kind of a letdown the first book in this series. The plot went in circles a lot, and the climax wasn't very climactic.
After Ben - Con Riley After Ben was a beautiful, painful, and engrossing read. More than just the story of a man who loses one lover and finds another, this is also a story about grief, acceptance, forgiveness, and regret. It's about learning from a past you can't change, and applying those lessons to a present (and future) that you can. This book had a lot of depth and subtlety, much more than I expected it to, and being surprised thusly is always a rare and wonderful experience. Maybe that's why I keep my expectations low. ;)I especially identified with and enjoyed the parts dealing with forum-dwelling and internet relationships... I can relate. Boy, can I relate... and everything here rang 100% true, including the surreal experience of meeting a stranger that you know intimately, yet don't know at all. The sex between the (present) MCs, when they finally get there, was incredibly intimate and quite hot, though I could have done without all the flashback-lovin' between Theo and his late partner.This book is full of sadness and angst, but never gets bogged down in melodrama. The writing style was easy and enjoyable, quite skilled, though I feel the author still has some honing to do. At times I was knocked out of the story by the repetitive overuse of a phrase, or a lack of focus. I was most put out and disbelieving over Theo's blindness about Morgan's past, in the face of ANVIL-SIZED clues. I'll definitely read more by Con Riley.
Twin Effect - Ann Somerville This story was kind of.... strange. Interesting concept, and it was well written (as Somerville always is,) but it just left something to be desired for me.
The Only Way Out Is In - Lyn Gala This story kept me up well past my bedtime! Great setup with compelling inhabitants. Jacqs is an interesting, complex character. The author did a great job of writing someone along the Jayne model, while also toning down that played-for-laughs caricature and showing us someone quite well-realized in his own right. I think I read that the author is expanding this into a work for professional release? Maybe? I hope so! There's a lot more about this world that I'd like to dig into. Gotta say though, my eyes glazed over when we started detailing into the 72 different classifications of wooblysexual, and how each and every character in this world formally registers their chosen classification into their Permanent Records. Kind of a tension-killer to me.
Brothers of the Wild North Sea - Harper Fox Awesome, Awesome, AwesomeThe warrior-monk and the Viking... does it get much cooler than that? (Answer: sometimes, but not often.) Caius, the incongruous monk, who pacified and tamed Fenrir's warrior heart. And Fenrir... oh, Fenrir. *fluttery sigh* The Viking, the wolf, who roused conflicted Brother Caius into a righteous warrior for his brethren. How kickass they were. How strong and beautiful they were together. If you've read Harper Fox before, you know that she is so very good at weaving a rich locational tapestry. This historical is just as lush and immersive, intense and seemingly authentic. Just beautiful.My annoyances are minor, but here's what took it down to 4 stars for me:-It veers toward the melodrama at times. Not grievously so, but I did sometimes feel emotionally manipulated sometimes. But it was so skillfully written that I was still a puddle off goo, even when I saw it happening.-Some of the characters sometimes felt too modern in their thinking to me. I don't really know what the mindset was during that time, so that's a completely unqualified observation.-It flirts with the supernatural/mystical/woo-woo in unexpected ways, which felt out of place to me. Especially the ending, which was kind of a deus ex machina.Even with those niggles, Brothers of the Wild North Sea is one of my favorite Harper Fox books to date. I sincerely hope she decides to do more historicals.