The other day, I set out to read some of the short stories that have been hanging out on my Goodreads shelves (some of them for a very long time). I focused on quantity. I chose the shortest ones so that I could get as many read as possible before I lost interest. (Ah, the life of a mood reader.) I read 18. I was happy with that. I’d initially set out to read 10. Mostly, it was the repeated joy of marking one and then another and another as finished. (Ah, the life of being a list-maker…marker-off-er.)
So, I thought about it for a bit and decided to do another similar post, but this time focusing on the longer stories. You see, for the sake of logistic simplicity, I generally consider anything under 100 pages a ‘short story.’ What that generally means is that I don’t give anything with less than 100 pages a blog post of its own. But I also tend to read shorter stories when I do collective short story posts. So, the stories with 80-99 pages get inadvertently ignored.
I decided to read some of those that have been hanging out on my TBR. I aimed for six because that is a convenient row on Goodreads’ shelves. Here’s what I read:
Forked Tongues Are Fun, by Holly Ryan
Look, I wanted to like this. I did like certain aspects of it. But, even if you only consider it a starting point to the series, it lacks enough world-building to make it understandable. (Is it a spinoff with world-building somewhere else? I don’t know. I don’t care.) But the whole thing felt sketched out.
My main complaint is the sexy time, though. You know how sometimes if you have a full schedule and don’t really have time to eat, you might grab a sandwich and eat it on your way to your next appointment? (Walking while you eat is considered really rude in some cultures, BTW, which feels relevant to what I’m about to say next.) That’s how all the spice in this book felt. It was literally so squeezed in between (or during) other things that it never felt like an appreciable event on its own.
Selected for the Shifters, Sakura Black
This is porn with plot. But the whole thing is unbalanced and unfocused. Too much of the page length is dedicated to stuff that is irrelevant to the point, which is the porn (and that only happens at the end). There are two groups of men introduced before the shifters of the title show up. Frankly, there was more description given to the irrelevant second group than the eventual main group. These were perhaps meant as red herrings, but they just felt like a distraction from the story that mattered. Ultimately, the problem was that the shifter pack only shows up at the end for the sex, and the reader has no connection to them whatsoever (they barely even have names). The reader is simultaneously left wondering what happened to all of the other named male characters who apparently play no apparent role.
Once the smexy time started, I wasn’t keen on the fact that the heroine was both non-consenting but also somehow desperate for the act. (Make up your mind, authors). Plus, the dirty talk dialogue was horrendous. So cheesy.
Hunted by the Minotaur, by Sakura Black
I read another review of this series in which the reader promised it would get better after book one. So, I gave it a chance and read this second book. Okay, yes, it is better than book one. It picks up exactly where the last one ended (which makes me wonder why these are all broken up into sub-100 page novellas) and is better-paced. The sex isn’t quite a problematically wanted and non-wanted, which annoyed me in the first book (make up your mind), and I now realize that the characters that were mysteriously dropped in book one are showing up further in the series, giving them a purpose that was missing in book one.
However, I still didn’t love this. I liked it—Paisely’s snark and backbone are to be appreciated. Too bad the author keeps destroying the image with D/s BS that isn’t stitched into the plot. (This happens in both books.) At least in book one, the reader understands how Paisley knows that Alpha wants her to say “Yes, Alpha.” Here, I have no idea how, when Finn said, “Yes, what?” she knew he wanted “Yes, Master.” There was no hint before that. Plus, it doesn’t even fit the rest of her personality.
Small gripes: the dirty talk is cringy, and absolutely not on oral after anal.
It’s not horrible for Porn with Plot. But I think I’m done with this series.
With You In Spirit, by Miranda Stork
This book has been in my Kindle Cloud since January 2013. Yeah, more than a decade! (OMG, how can that be true? But Amazon says that’s when I purchased it.) It’s a good thing that I get so much satisfaction from finally marking it as read because I honestly didn’t think it was very good. It had a pretty decent plot idea. But it needed to be a novel (instead of a 96-page novella) to develop it enough. As it is, it feels rushed and sketched out (and then ends on a cliffhanger). Plus, the characters are pretty cliched, and the book needs another editing pass (and I don’t mean because of the occasional British phrasing.) All in all, this might be someone’s cup of tea. But it wasn’t mine.
All Things Wild, J.P. Uvalle
Sigh. This started off well enough, with an interesting hook. Someone leading something called the Shifter Elite was rampaging around, killing everyone who wouldn’t join his campaign and hunting the heroine particularly. But then it all just fell apart. Suddenly, Uvalle was throwing in everything but the kitchen sink with no explanation. Suddenly, there were supersoldiers who were not shifters, which made me worry that I’d misunderstood and that the Shifter Elites were actually hunting shifters, not shifters themselves. Then cyborgs. Then, a prophecied female shifter with three mates to control and save everyone. All without explanation. It was too much.
Then all of that has to be added to the three mates being given drastically different attention, one not wanting to be part of a poly group at all and her treating him like he is her true mate, and they just have to accommodate the other two. Plus, the dialogue during the spicey scenes was super cringy.
I did think Luther (the himbo) was funny. And while the editing was a little rough, the writing was perfectly readable.
Junkyard, Lindsay Buroker
I haven’t read anything by Buroker for quite a while, but I’ve enjoyed everything I have read. This was no exception. I finished this story, which is a prequel to a series, and then went and bought book one of the series.