I'm going to make this one short. This was a miss for me. There is a lot of telling in this book and very little showing. The exposition crosses frequently into info dumping territory. The sex is not horrible but it's better in her fic. I did like her main characters quite a bit (except for when they were being info dumpy but I do have to admit that they were quite a lot like her characterizations of John and Rodney from her SGA fanfiction) and most of the supporting characters were also likeable, which is good as I assume this is intended to be a series. There were times when some of the supporting characters took busy bodying to a whole new level of inappropriate and I really just wanted to smack them for their interference/rudeness. They seriously pissed me off and the lack of response from the MC just infuriated me even more, really. Also, there was a lot of build-up towards a show-down with an antagonist that ends with more of a whimper than a bang, which was disappointing for me. Two and a half stars.
This was great! Toby and Ethan go back to Minnesota to celebrate Christmas and Ethan's sister's wedding vow renewals. Ethan is sad and jealous because he and Toby have no plans to ever get married and Toby is acting strangely. There are no big surprises here, it goes pretty much where you think it's going to go, but frankly that's exactly what I was looking for today. A sweet story with likeable characters and an established couple that genuinely feel established. Four stars!
Office sweetie Rudy takes quiet new guy Zac home for Christmas where, yep, you guessed it, everyone thinks they're dating and hand wavy circumstances force them to fake a relationship and share a bed. Which is all fine. Tropes are great and exist because we love them, right? And the premise to this story is sweet and frothy and exactly what I was in the mood for. For the most part, the story delivers on it's promise. The main characters are likeable, Rudy's family is charming and there's an adorable kitten. I will say that the dialogue occasionally suffers from a bit of a disconnect to the tone of the story, I found it a bit graphic for the set up and that took me out of the story more often than not. All in all though, this was a quick and frothy little read that was just right for the holidays. Three and a half stars.
So this was my first manga, and probably a pretty good pick for easing in to the genre. It depicts the day to day life of a 40 something gay couple in Japan, centering the narrative around the food Shiro prepares each night for boyfriend Kenji. The art is relatively simple and aesthetically pleasing and the food sounds amazing, with instructions that are detailed, yet simple enough to make me consider actually attempting some of them. The domesticity of the series is comfortable and easy to slip into. The characters themselves are a bit more problematic. Shiro, as he stands so far, is not particularly easy to like. He's kind of a jerk, actually. He's cheap, a bit of a narcissist and not the most openly emotionally available guy, even with his boyfriend. And Kenji, while sweet, is also not without his faults. He has a tendency towards jealousy that could definitely become grating. As the story goes on, though, we begin to see where some of the emotional baggage Shiro is carrying comes from, and I have pretty high hopes that the next issue will delve a little deeper into those and flesh the characters out a bit more fully. The main issue I have is in the fat shaming that pops up here and there throughout the story. I don't know if this is a cultural attitude but it was really unsettling to read. There is also a fair amount of homophobia that Shiro and Kenji deal with on a fairly daily basis, but none of it is internalized and it's great to read a story about two middle aged men who both know who they are and are happy with it. I'm definitely going to read the next volume, and hopefully we'll get more character building and a deeper look into their relationship. 3 stars for me, on this one.
This was a super fun read! The art is fantastic - gorgeous colours, detailed panels, loving characterizations! It was just really visually compelling. And Bobbi! She is so well rendered. It's really hard not to fall in love with her and her dry sarcasm, science loving, butt kicking, corgi loving, zombie stomping adventures. The story isn't without it's flaws. It's occasionally disjointed, and leaves quiet a bit to be desired in the overall diversity of it's characters. It's a real shame we won't get more because I would have loved to see a more intersectional follow up. As it stands, this is a heck of a fun ride and I have a brand new appreciation for Bobbi Morse. Four stars! (if I ever manage to figure out how to access the rating system...what the heck is wrong with this stupid system?!!)
The book starts out well with a charming curmudgeon of a protagonist, and I quite enjoyed the first half, but the story loses itself a bit right around the point where the romance picks up. A.J. is a widowed bookseller, content to spend his days at the bookstore and his nights drinking until he passes out. He's clearly still in mourning for his wife, bitter and apathetic, until something forces a change. A.J.'s passage through grief at this point feels rushed, and the passage of time flies by, skipping years at a time, and I felt a bit cheated by that. The character's are all likeable, and you get a decent feeling for the town and town life, but not enough to really immerse yourself in it. It's thin underneath the charming veneer and runs fairly heavily towards the cliched. On the plus side, it's a very quick read and the author clearly loves books and book people. I did find myself smiling more often than not, for whatever that's worth. :)
This was a re-read for me, as well as my Read With Friends square for Halloween Book Bingo 2016. I grew up on Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt, so it was a lot of fun to revisit. Michaels has a gift for atmosphere, and it's in full force here. She's got a nice, steady pace that keeps the reader turning the pages and that builds to a satisfying climax. I really appreciated that the main character, Ruth, is a career woman in her 40's. It's a refreshing change from the naive ingenue. Unfortunately, the male "heroes" are pretty dated. I suppose we have to expect that, given that the novel is almost 50 years old (yikes!) but honestly, Pat and Bruce are really kind of assholes. I mean, I really didn't like Bruce. Pat at least seemed to know his faults.
On the whole, this remains a good read. If you're in the mood for other great titles from Ms. Michaels, let me point you towards Search the Shadows and Vanish With the Rose. Or for an extra bit of fun, Shattered Silk is a sort of sequel to this one, featuring Sara's sister Karen, and taking place in the late 70's, early 80's.
So I still haven't quite finalized my reading list for Obsidian Blue and Moonlight Murder's Halloween Bingo, but I'm getting there. At least, I think I am? Anyway's, here's the tentative list so far:
Read by Candlelight -
Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan
Magical Realism -
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey
House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
Black Cat -
The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe
Diverse Authors -
The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco
Ghost/Haunted House -
The Haunting of Maddie Clare by Simone St. James
Young Adult -
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Scary Women -
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Read Along -
Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Vanishing by Wendy Webb
Creepy Crawlies -
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (I don't know if there are many bugs in this, but there's a creepy looking insect on the cover so I'm hoping that counts!)
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Locked Room -
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Dark and Stormy -
Devil May Care by Elizabeth Peters
New England -
Death at Woods Hole by Frances McNamara
Full Moon -
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Classic Horror -
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Set on Halloween -
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, a 30 something Londoner who, through a random act of kindness, finds himself caught up in an adventure in "London Below", an alternate London that operates under it's own set of behaviours and rules (physics included). This is a pretty standard quest narrative, to be honest, featuring your typical damsel in distress, wild beastie and pursuit by second tier bad guys, so nothing really new, but it does manage to entertain as the narrative is brisk and moves well. I suspect that had I been reading the book, it likely would have come away with 3 stars. A lot of the characters feel a bit thin, the women are particularly one note, lacking much complexity, and Natalie Dormer, and Sophie Okonedo in particular, deserve a lot of credit for imbuing their characters with more depth than I suspect is apparent on the page. James McAvoy makes a very appealing Richard, which is important because Richard does occasionally come off as a bit of a twit, but I would have to say that, and this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, Anthony Head and David Schofield really walk away with the production. To be fair, they do have the fun parts (Mr. Croup and Valdemar, respectively). All in all, definitely an entertaining way to spend 3 hours! Thanks BBC!