It’s been a season of ups and downs, weather-wise, life-wise, and reading-wise. I found quite a few turkeys I couldn’t even finish, most of them acquired via Kindle Unlimited (don’t judge, I’m on a fixed income, and besides… it’s research, sorta).
Yowzer, when they’re bad, they’re dreadful, but not bad enough to be so-bad-it’s-good. Ergo, total losers. Those went back and I prayed I hadn’t hit that magic 10% button (this was in June before the Zon changed the rules again). I didn’t keep an exact count but I’d guesstimate nearly 60% of the KU borrows were epic fails. Short epic fails, but bleah nonetheless. And no, I’m not sharing. It’s called being politic. Also called watching my ass.
Hey, it’s tough being a reviewer nowadays.
On a better note, I found via purchases quite a few worthy tomes I can recommend for your reading lists. There were horror/thrillers, a few romances, MM literary fiction, suspense, and genre mashups which I truly adore.
1) Top of the leader board is The Goth Girl Romance Trilogy penned by the fabulous Gemma Rice who has an orgasmic way with language that will leave you breathless. The three books are Loving Misery, Loving Sadem and Loving Villains. This is horror and psychological thriller with a dollop of you call this a fucking romance, what are you nuts vibe.
And torture, did I mention torture?
Oy vey, did I ever find characters to love and to hate (lotsa hate going on, lemme tell ya). I think the term is invested. When you pick up a Gemma Rice book, prepare to be all in. And they’re cheap. Go. Go buy them. Like now is a good time.
2) Sharing the top spot is the Boystown Series, written by the incomparable Marshall Thornton. I recommended his book, My Favorite Uncle, a while back. It was up for a Lambda award this year, tres cool.
Boystown is suspense/crime fiction at its finest, 80’s Chicago seen through the lens of a noirish PI by the name of Nick Nowak and populated with an amazing cast of characters who challenge and define Nowak’s evolution during a revolutionary period in what was then the gay subculture. The series stands at 7 books, 3 of which contain a collection of novellas. The storytelling is bold and uncompromising, the writing stellar, the characters memorable. And nobody but nobody does artistic direction better.
Read my review of the series HERE.
3) Next up is Played! (Shamwell Tales #2) by JL Merrow. This is one of those delicious reads that will taunt you with intelligent prose, outrageous wit, sublime characterizations (and characters!) and laugh-out-loud/eyes tearing moments of sheer hilarity. It’s a romance, a slice of life and a character study (or two). It’s also immensely satisfying. Read my full review HERE.
4) A complete surprise was Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan. I was aware of the author’s body of work but this is the first book I’ve tried by her. It won’t be the last. Exceptionally well-written, with complex, engaging characters, this story explores the boundaries we set for ourselves and finding fulfillment when you leave yourself open to possibilities. And it’s set on a ranch, just saying…
5) And last, but definitely not least, is Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding. This was a total joy from cover to cover. Funny, sharp, poignant, delectable and sighworthy barely touch how I’d describe this read. I fell hard for Sam and Ryan, held my breath when the going got tough, and clutched my ample bosom at a romance that pulled at my heartstrings without artifice and formulaic tropes. Read my full review HERE.