Monthly Archives: July 2017

Review of Drip: A Gothic Bromance, by Andrew Montlack

I received a copy of Drip: A Gothic Bromance from the author, Andrew Montlack, for review.

Description from Goodreads:
J.D. and George: thick as thieves since the fourth grade. J.D., the troublemaker, the stud: the alpha. George, the sidekick, the misfit: the loser. Upon graduating college, J.D. has convinced the only job creator in rusty Middlestop to hire them. BrewCorp, the hot new coffee and retail chain, is offering a vice presidency to the employee with the boldest plan for growth, and J.D. is determined to be the guy. When not sleeping with co-workers, he hatches his pitch for a one-of-a kind data pipeline. He is unbeatable–until George grabs the promotion. Now J.D. wants answers. His quest to find them—and to deal with the monstrous truth—is the subject of indie filmmaker Andrew Montlack’s wry debut novel, which features the same biting satire that made his mockumentary, The Devil’s Filmmaker, a cult classic.

I started this book with a bit of hesitancy. No, that’s not right. The start of this book made me hesitant; that is more accurate. There is a certain subset of predominantly male, bizarro/horror authors that write books with a certain pompous, presumptuous tone that drives me up the wall. They always feel as if the author is sneering at the reader, like, “You chump, you’re reading MY work so piss off!” They’re basically what happens when trolls write, whether they’re good at it or not is irrelevant. It’s about tone, not talent.

The first chapter or two of Drip, the way certain scenes and characters were described and explained, even if the reader should reasonably be expected to know, hinted that Montlack might be such an author. I groaned and wondered at the number of Pantera and Metallica shirts he might owns. (Yes, totally spurious.) But I’ll happily report that Montlack pulled it together and an interesting and non-trollish book developed. I even liked it.

It does some interesting things with its plotting. The most notable is the unexpected hero. It’s not who you expect, who experience tells you should rise above and save the day. There is a certain narrative reader can generally expect, we’re fed it so often and unrelentingly. The meek will inherit the earth. The downtrodden will get their comeuppance. The arrogant youth, who has always gotten their own way, will one day face their own fallibility, while the person who followed the rules is shown to have walked the right path and will receive their rewards. That is not the story you receive here. One character has always had the best—he would say worked for the best—even if he had to step on others to get it, and the other has always been pathologically hesitant and unlucky, polite to a fault. Conventional plotting would balance those scales. Not Montlack.

This makes for a really interesting turn of events, a fun story. But I have to admit it’s also uncomfortable. It feels inherently unfair. In fact, while I loved the epilogue, I never did reconcile myself to the end. One character really did get a bum deal.

But the genius of it is the way it leaves you to ponder if Mr. Charisma is a bad person or not. Certainly, by the end he’s grown exponentially and can be said to be a good man. But what about previous to that? He’d spent his whole life being arrogant, self centered and rude. He has one tragedy that gives him a bit of depth, but is it enough? He did take care of his best friend. But does that count if it’s only within his own limited view of desirability. How much of it is out of any sense of loyalty and how much is just because he benefits from it? You’re never really sure and it keeps the character interesting.

Similarly, though you see much less of Mr. Beta’s personality, you see how he fell into the circumstances he does. Some of the most enlightening passages of the book come out of his mouth.

I thought the corporate vampires were a fun touch, though they did become caricatures after a while. Perhaps it’s the Gothic influence, but as I often do with vampire novels, I was left wondering why they only ever seem to hunt women. A few men got incidentally noshed on or died fighting, but every vampire victim to have a detailed death was a woman.

The writing itself is worth a read. Montlack knows how to turn a phrase and it’s pretty well edited. So, the actual reading experience is a pleasant one.

All in all, I really enjoyed it. I think I, personally, would have preferred it moved farther into either the serious or comedic category. As it is, it straddles the two in a way I found less that ideal. It’s humor kept me from taking it seriously and it’s serious bits kept me from just letting go and laughing at it. But that’s basically a personal preference sort of comment.

Review of The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters #1), by G. L. Carriger

I purchased a copy of The Sumage Solution, by G. L. Carriger.

Description from Goodreads:
NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly.

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

I really quite enjoyed this. True, I thought some of the humor—fizzy jizz, spicy cum, etc—crossed the line into stupid-funny and made me roll my eyes and cringe, instead of laugh. And the endless banter sounded exactly the same, regardless of which two characters were actually bantering, which kind of sucked. But for the vast majority of the book I was thrilled. Bryan is one of the sweetest shifter leads I’ve read in a while and Max was a good pairing for him.

I’ve not read the prequel, but I was able to follow the plot and world easily. It does seem a well developed world, though it’s just barely laid out here. I was left with a few questions, but not enough to be dissatisfied at the end.

There were a few editing mishaps. Maximilian, who goes by Max was named Mac on more than one occasion, for example. (Yeah, X and C are next to one another on the keyboard.) But it is pretty clean.

All in all, I was pleased. I’m always a little wary when M/F authors cross over into LGBTQ+ stories. But in the Carriger books I’ve read, she always had strong, positive queer characters anyhow, so she made this transition well. I’ll be looking forward to more of The San Andreas Shifters.

Review of Cutie and the Beast (Fae Out of Water #1), by E.J. Russell

I received a copy of E. J. Russell‘s Cutie and the Beast through netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Temp worker David Evans has been dreaming of Dr. Alun Kendrick ever since that one transcription job for him, because holy cats, that voice. Swoon. So when his agency offers him a position as Dr. Kendrick’s temporary office manager, David neglects to mention that he’s been permanently banished from offices. Because, forgiveness? Way easier than permission.

Alun Kendrick, former Queen’s Champion of Faerie’s Seelie Court, takes his job as a psychologist for Portland’s supernatural population extremely seriously. Secrecy is paramount: no non-supe can know of their existence. So when a gods-bedamned human shows up to replace his office manager, he intends to send the man packing. It shouldn’t be difficult—in the two hundred years since he was cursed, no human has ever failed to run screaming from his hideous face.

But cheeky David isn’t intimidated, and despite himself, Alun is drawn to David in a way that can only spell disaster: when fae consort with humans, it never ends well. And if the human has secrets of his own? The disaster might be greater than either of them could ever imagine.

Cute. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing particularly standout and stellar about it either. Both characters are likable and there are some cute side characters. The plot moves along, though it’s 100% predictable. There is very little on page sex and it ends with a happily ever after. I’ll happily read the next one, but I’m not chomping at the bit to get it.