I do one of these posts once or twice a year, it seems, saying the same things. But they remain true. So, I’ll continue doing so into the future, no doubt.
I am not a huge fan of short stories. It would be an exaggeration to say that I never knowingly and purposefully downloaded them, but it is a rarity. More often, if I download a short story, it is for one of two reasons. One, it’s part of a larger series that I intend to read all together. These cause me no consternation. Or two, I forgot to check the page length when I grabbed a freebie and thought it was a book as opposed to a story. (For logistic simplicity, here on the blog, I consider anything less than 100 pages a short story and anything over a novel.)
Without fail, I am disappointed in these second circumstances. I invariably plop the stories on my short story shelf and largely forget them. (Yes, just deleting them would be smarter. But I have some internal resistance to doing so.) Then, there comes a point when I think, “I need to knock some of these out and clear my shelves.” This usually happens after I’ve had cause to be reordering shelves on Goodreads and, therefore, notice all the short stories that have added up.
Well, this time, it was the Stuff Your Kindle event. I downloaded a ton of books (as I always do) and then spent days on Goodreads making sure they were on the right shelves; each has a listed page length (adding, if not, if I can find one), making sure series names are correlated, etc. Stuff Your Kindle is always a whole organizational thing for me. I love it, but there is labor involved.
As I do every year, I picked up a few books that don’t make the 100-page limit for the blog, and I added them to the ever-growing short story pile. Then, since I was between books anyhow, I decided to read some of them rather than pick out a longer book for the night. I was aiming for 10 and chose them simply by looking for the shortest ones that were not part of a larger series (prequels or bonus stories).
So, here’s what I read (in no particular order), along with a brief review. But keep in mind, as I mentioned, short stories are not a genre I truly lean toward. Also, as a side note, I know some of these have gotten new covers since I picked them up. (One even had a title change.) But I’m too lazy to change them. So, you get whatever is currently listed as the cover on Goodreads.
Witchmark, by Meredith Medina
Meh. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road prequel to a larger story. Nothing particularly grabbed my attention. But nothing really put me off, either.
Miss January, by Kelsie Calloway
Bad, even by erotica standards. Dude was 14 years older than her and had her 18th birthday circled on his calendar as he fantasized about her since she was like 15 (while he was in prison). He was possessive and overly committed from the moment they encountered each other and it just left him feeling super stalker creepy.
And it had lines like this: “That’s right, baby girl, take all of me deep inside of you. Feel my love muscle throbbing for you,” he growls as he breaks past the thin barrier of my virginity.
An Angel in My Teacup, by Kate Moseman
Sweet, but too rushed at the end. I did think Justinian was adorable, though.
Hot and Dangerous, by Rebecca York
Meh, not enough of any of the things it’s trying to be. Plus, I’m just fundamentally against the use of ‘making love’ to describe having sex with a man you’ve literally—LITERALLY—just met and had sex with (while fleeing terrorists) before even exchanging basic information. The language didn’t fit the tone of the story. But this had been in my Kindle cloud since 2013, and I’m thrilled to mark it as read.
Fall: Scheherazade Retold, by Demelza Carlton
This was a cute little Yule/Christmas short story (and I didn’t even have it in my Christmas reading challenge). There’s not a lot to it. But it’s sweet, and it was nice to read about a man who wasn’t all alpha-y, as is all the rage at the moment.
Her Donut Shifters, by Mia Harlan
Jesus Christ! That has to be the single stupidest thing I have ever read. Even if I tell myself it’s purposefully absurd, I can’t get over how ridiculous (and not in a good way) it was.
His Curious Mate, by Charli Mac
Much sweeter than I expected, considering it starts as a one-night stand and moves on to a D/S dynamic. But, honestly (once I got over him calling her a whore, which she liked and I know is a whole kink thing, but it’s not at all my kink thing, and I dislike it), I thought this was surprisingly sweet.
Turned, by Michelle Fox
Meh, I didn’t much care for this. If it was going for romance, it missed the mark by a mile. They had sex, sure, but there was no romance. Worse, I found Malachi skeevy. I didn’t like or even trust him on Dawn’s behalf.
Any Way the Wind Blows, Seanan McGuire
Short and sparse but with a fun tone. I enjoyed it.
A Strip of Velvet, Rien Gray
I liked the first half significantly more than the second. There was an eery quality to it that I appreciate a lot. The second half lost a lot of what made the first half interesting. But all in all, I enjoyed this.
How to Keep an Author (Alive), by A.J. Sherwood
I thought this was cute. Some of the important bits disappointingly happened off-page. But my general takeaway is enjoyably cuddly.
The Demon You Know, by Julie Kenner
This short story has been floating around in my Kindle cloud since 2014! I kept not reading it because it’s part of a series. Turns out that it stood alone just fine. It’s a just short little taster, but I enjoyed it well enough.
My Last Husband, by Alexis Hall
I found this hiding out in my Calibre. Who knows how long I’ve had it or even where I got it. But it’s old-school Hall, and I adored it. He always manages to do so much with so little.
The Last Sacrifice, by V.T. Bonds
This was nothing more than a bad acid trip followed by a gang rape. No, thank you. Not interested in anything further from this series.
How White Men Assist in Smuggling Chinamen Across the Border in Puget Sound Country, by Edith Maude Eaton/Mahlon T. Wing
Originally published (I think) 1904. It’s full of the language and casual racism of the time. But otherwise, an interesting, if short, story matching the title exactly.
Monster’s Find, by Leann Ryans
Meh, basically just one extended sex scene. She was in heat and unable to decline the sex, though I wouldn’t go far as to call it dub-con. He was as respectful as he could be in the circumstances while admittedly manipulating the circumstances to ensure she needed him too badly to refuse his ‘help.’ If you want a short spice-only read, it’s not a bad one.
The River and the World Remade, by E. Lily Yu
I admit that I am not generally a lover of short stories. But sometimes, I read one and am just amazed by how much an author can do with so little. Yu does that here. This story is only a dozen or so pages long, but it packs a punch.
Tea and Tentacle Porn, by Chloe Archer
I didn’t care for this. Even as I agreed with what the characters were saying, I found the story too didactic and moralistic. Plus, it’s a story about an author writing gay tentacle porn. I’d have rather had the tentacle porn itself. I was mostly bored, and, honestly, it felt more like a self-insert author advertisement for the larger series than anything else. meh