Tag Archives: Lindsay Buroker

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Book Review: Fractured Stars, by Lindsay Buroker

I purchased a copy of Lindsay Buroker‘s Fractured Stars.
Fractured Stars cover

McCall Richter finds criminals, con men, and deadbeats better than anyone else in the empire.

She’s proud of her success and that she owns her own spaceship, especially since she struggles to understand human motivations, can’t tell when people are lying to her, and is horrible at recognizing faces. Being autistic in the empire is frowned upon—and there’s a handy normalization surgery to correct it—but she’s managed to prove her worth and avoid irking the tyrannical regime.

Except for one thing.

Two years ago, she liberated the android, Scipio, from an imperial research facility where he was treated worse than a slave. He’s become her business partner and best friend, but if the empire finds out she has him, a “normalization” surgery will be the least of her worries.

When her ship is confiscated by a cyborg law enforcer needing to transport prisoners, McCall knows she and Scipio are in trouble. Worse, the enforcer’s pilot is a former bounty hunter and business competitor she beat to the prize many times in the past.

Soon, he’s snooping all over her ship and questioning her about her past.

And there’s something strange about him. He knows far more about what she’s thinking than any human should.

It’ll only be a matter of time before he discovers her secret. And then what?

my review

This was fine, I suppose. I’m really torn. I’ve liked everything I’ve read by Buroker a lot more than I liked this. On paper, I should have loved this. Late 30s/early 40s, autistic hero and heroine in space… heck yeah. Fashionista android…I’m on board. Rescue dog…yes! I should have loved this. Instead, it kind of fizzled for me. I didn’t hate it. I don’t think it was bad. But it didn’t light me up as I expected, either.

Part of the reason is that I bought and read this after reading the prequel short story Junkyard, where the heroine and her trusty android solve a mystery and save a pooch. I wanted more of the heroine/android (and dog) antics. Instead, the android and dog are basically not in the book. They make cameos, but that is all. So, the very thing I read the book for wasn’t there. Instead, we were given a pretty bland escape-the-prison-planet plot. Meh.

The writing and editing are perfectly readable. I just didn’t love it.

fractured stars photo

Other Reviews:

chipping away at the short story shelf

More Short Stories…Maybe Not So Short Ones This Time

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:

longer short stories

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.

clearing off the short story shelf banner

2021 Clearing Off the Short Story Shelf

As a personal shorthand I called anything under 100 pages a short story, even if that isn’t technically the correct term. And during my Christmas Reading Challenge I made a point of collecting all of the Christmas-themed short stories I owned, reading them, and reviewing them in a single post. I’ve done this sort of thing in the past. It’s always satisfying to sweep a large swath of my TBR away. (Especially since some of the short stories I own have been hanging out on my TBR for a LONG time, a few since 2012! That has to be around the time I got my first Kindle.)


I felt so accomplished reviewing all my Christmas short stories, that I thought I might as well do the same for non-holiday themed ones and clear away some of the clutter on my TBR; start fresh(ish) next year.

I literally just went to my Goodreads shelves, ordered the ‘books’ by length, started at the shortest one, and moved forward from there. I started around Christmas and gave myself until the New Years Eve. Anything I read during that time…or anything under 100 pages that I read during that time, I would review here with a mini-review.

I had 198 of them when I started. I swear that I think short stories breed in my Kindle. I never know how I come to own so many! Of course, not all of them can or should be read as stand-alones. Several are part of series that I intend to read all together. But I planned to read as many of the stand-alone stories and ones in series I’ve caught up with as I could between Christmas (when I started) and New years Eve. I thought it would feel like an end-of-year TBR clean up.

I started with the shortest stories (some of those being 12, 13, 14 pages). But then I focused on those that had been on the TBR the longest (2012!), and stories/novellas that had been featured on Sadie’s Spotlight. Then I just read whatever I felt like from the short story shelf.

For order’s sake, I’ve alphabetized them for you. Here are the 48 stories that I read, in alphabetical order (by author’s last name) and, below them, are the reviews:

2021 cleaning off the short story shelf


Fangs, by Sarah Andersen
This was simply super cute. There’s no progressive story, as such. It’s more a series of vignettes that show what a relationship between a vampire and werewolf couple is like. It’s irreverent and silly, but I wanted more. (Not technically under 100 pages, like the rest. But it’s a 112 page graphic novel. Short enough to include, I decided.)

A Tale of (Two) 3 Witches, by Barbra Annino & Christiana Miller
I’ve not read the rest of this series yet, but I was told I could read this as a stand-alone. So, I gave it a go. It was rushed; definitely would have been better if developed into a longer piece. But the characters seem likeable and the world seems interesting.

The Forester, by Blaine D. Arden
I really liked this. I think it builds just enough world for the shortness of it and I liked the characters a lot. I did think Ianys was forgiven far too easily for the amount of hurt he was supposed to have caused and all of his excuses felt after-the-fact.

Yurine’s Pot, by Richard Auffrey
Meh. The writing was fine, but there was nothing new or particularly exciting here.

Loose Cannons, by Kasia Bacon
Another short but satisfying vignette of life with Ervyn and Lochan.

Playtime in Vella Dera, by Benzon Ray Barbin
This was a fine short story. It tries to do a lot in its 54 pages, maybe a little too much. I definitely felt like there was a lot of history and context lacking. But it was never quite enough that I didn’t understand what was happening, just why. But it was worth the read.

Beast, by Erin Bedford 
Super short. This is labeled as 34 pages. But the story ends at the 50% mark; the rest being a teaser for book one. So, it’s basically 17 pages long. I didn’t particularly care for the characters and there isn’t enough world to know if I might like anything else about the series. Plus, the editing is a bit dodgy, especially around punctuation.

Deliverance, by Hunter Blain
This starts out really bad—like someone trying to textually write a comic book. It just does not work…or didn’t here. But that faded out by the halfway mark (thank god). The problem is that John is just too much of a Joss Whedon-esque douche-bag to enjoy. Yes, all his assholery is put on, but it all feels like someone trying far too hard to garner a laugh or two.

The Peace of Elias, by Martin Bolton
A fine tale of horror, but I wouldn’t say there was anything exceptional about it.

Ice Cracker II and Other Short Stories, by Lindsay Buroker
It’s been several years since I read the rest of The Emperor’s Edge series. I remember little about it, but that I enjoyed the heck out of it. This collection of 3 short stories reminded me of the sarcastic characters, fun action, and why I liked the series so much.

A Note Below,  by Andrew Butcher
This was a fine short story. But there were no surprises here, nothing unexpected or exceptional.

Introducing Mr. Winterbourne, by Joanna Chambers
I enjoyed the heck out of this one. I liked both characters and really felt for the difficulties both were facing, Winterbourne especially. I’ve had this on my TBR for a while, but now look forward to finding the rest of the series.

A Case Of Spirits, K.J. Charles
This turned out to be a reread. But, since I’d never written a review, I wasn’t sure if I’d read it previously or not. As with the rest of the A Charm of Magpies series, I enjoyed this.

Remnant, by K.J. Charles & Jordan L. Hawk
A fun pairing of four characters I’ve enjoyed elsewhere. I read The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal relatively recently, but it’s been several years since I read Widdershins and I never finished the series. This reminds me to pick it back up.

Jago’s Journey: A Gryphon’s Walkabout, by Chrys Cymri
It’s been several years since I read any of the Penny White series. So, I wasn’t up to date on a lot of what was referenced in this short story and I felt the absence of that knowledge. But it stood alone tolerably well. This is a sweet little (younger) YA story of self discover.

Wraith’s Awakening, by Virna DePaul
Ends on a cliffhanger, but seems like a fun start to a series. There are hints of an interesting world and characters.

Spell Weaver,  by Megan Derr
This was a cute little Cinderella-like (Cinderfella?) story. There was enough world-building to give it all context, but not so much that the story or characters felt lost in it. I did think the villains a bit thin. But the writing was sharp and I enjoyed it.

Unfortunate Decrees and Iced Coffees, by Laura Greenwood
This was a cute little short. I’d not read the Cauldron Coffee Shop series. So, I wasn’t familiar with the characters. But it stood alone well enough and I enjoyed it.

Glass, by Alexis Hall
Beautiful, though I would expect nothing less from Hall.

Rise For Me, by Kristal Dawn Harris
Meh, it’s not bad, but it tried to do too much in too few pages. The characters gave me whiplash with their changing agendas and emotions and the happy-ending felt forced. But the writing is pretty good and it had an interesting idea.

Sammy, by Dianne Hartsock
Pretty much exactly what it says in the blurb. It’s sweet, but a little bland.

Corrupting Chris, by Santino Hassell
Basically just a sex scene, a hot one to be fair, but that’s it and it’s been too long since I’ve read any of Hassell’s work to particularly remember the characters. (I stopped after the whole hoo-ha a couple years ago.)

The Taming of a Wicked Rogue, by Samantha Holt
This was a fairly standard historical novella. Nothing stands out about it, but nothing was horrid either. The cover makes it look a lot steamier than it actually is though. It’s really quite sweet.

Resurrection Man, by Laylah Hunter
I liked the story, but it’s WAY shorter than it’s labeled. (MOST of the file being a preview for something else.) Outside of that complaint, I was intrigued enough to want more.

Tow Trucks & New Year’s Kisses, by Lila Leigh Hunter
Meh, might have been OK if it hadn’t been SO very rushed. Nothing is given time to develop and the come-ons start too suddenly to feel anything but forced.

Out in the Blue, by Kelly Jensen
I liked this a lot more than I expected. Maybe because I’m 44 and just starting to feel my age, so I can relate. But I liked both characters, that they had emotionally intelligent conversations, and I thought this was sweet.

Jacinto’s Voyage, by Daniel A. Kaine
This was OK; would have been significantly better if it had been longer and allowed to develop more. My main issue was that Dane was so obsessed with bedding Jace (from the moment they met), and thought about it or tried so many times, in so many questionable ways and situations, that he felt predatory to me. I sense that wasn’t how Kaine meant him to come across, but it was. So, in the end, when he finally did get Jace in his bed, it didn’t feel like the culmination of a romance, so much as a groomer finally getting his victim. Ick.

For The Glory Set Before Them, by Matt Karlov
I found this story thought provoking and emotive. I’ll be checking out more of Karlov’s work.

Kogitsune, by Xia Xia Lake
I thought this was very sweet. I liked the characters and the writing style.

The Forest God’s Favor, by A.T. Lander
Meh, mostly just not my thing. This is flat out erotic romance. So, sex is the point. The little bit of plot is basically just there to give the sex context. Which is fine. Erotica is what erotica is. But I’m not a huge fan of one party being made out to be especially sexy because of how small, youthful, child-like they are. That is just SO not my kink. But mostly I just thought this was predictable and pedestrian.

Creation, by Bjørn Larssen
Interesting and thought provoking, with a dry wit. But it also eventually got tedious.

Prisoner 374215, by Angel Martinez
Really lovely—as odd as it may seem to call a story of torture lovely. Martinez pack a whole wallop into a few short pages.

A Real Boy, by J.L. Merrow
I didn’t care for the story itself, but I thought all the fairy-tale cameos clever.

Good Breeding, by J.L. Merrow
I didn’t much care for it in the beginning, but Merrow brought me around by the end.

Hawthorn, by Stephanie Mirro
Amusing—I appreciated Emily’s sarcasm—but it’s just a taste of something. There’s enough world-building to feel like there should have been more to the story. Maybe there’s more to come.

Wolf’s Heart, by Lynn Nodima
Meh. It was fine, but contributes nothing new to the genre. We’ve all read similar things before. Oh, and so steeped in the patriarchy. If not told, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell which was father and which was mate/husband. Basically the troublesome girls is passed from father to husband and acts the same towards both and is treated the same by both (like a stubborn child).

I Left the Room Burning, by Beth O’Brien
I don’t consider myself to have any skill at reviewing poetry. So I’m reduced to ‘did I like it or not.’ But I’ll say I liked the juddering, staggering story the poems told when strung together and my favorite one was the title poem I Left the Room Burning.

Fire Thief, by Jordan Castillo Price
Basically just a brief hookup in a bar, but a surprisingly interesting one.

Baehrly Beginning, by Elizabeth A. Reeves
This was cute, but barely the beginning of anything (pun intended). Editing is a little rough.

How (Not) to Play With Magic, by Elizabeth A. Reeves
Meh. Cute, but just a taste of something, not really enough to decide on the series as a whole. I liked Cindy fine, but really disliked the twins. I didn’t find them impish and cute, just selfish and arrogant.

Tea and Sympathetic Magic, by Tansy Rayner Roberts
This was a completely mad cap and ridiculous adventure, but in the most endearing way. I’d be well up for reading more.

The Lost Weekend, by Andrea Speed
It’s been years since I read the beginning of the Infected series. So, I don’t remember much beyond crying my eyes out. But I liked this little short.

Pretty Monsters, by Andrea Speed
Super cute and enjoyable. At only 15 pages there isn’t much to it. But I enjoyed all 15 of them.

Guardian, by Jordan Taylor
Just marvelous. Romantic, but not a romance in the standard sense—really hits you in the feels.

The Fourth Law of Kanaloa, by Johan Twiss
I enjoyed the character and the story. However, I thought some of the dialogue got cheesy and the romance felt artificial. Plus, the ‘come be my magical queen’ was super cliched. But mostly I liked the story.

We See You, by Miki & Garrett Ward
This was an OK story, though I wasn’t blown away. I liked the characters and the idea. But I was confused about some things that were unexplained or just confusing. How did five kids with powers gather? Was this common in the world, or an aberration? Did I understand that they had divine assistance or not? That sort of thing. Also, I thought the sexual aspects felt out of place. Both because the characters were 17 (I’m not much bothered by this, but I know some will be) and because it just didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the story. All in all, this was pretty middle of the road for me.

Man In the Mirror, by A.E. Wasp
A cute story about a husband dealing with some body issues. Very clearly part of another series, as there is some very clear history mentioned but not delved into. The tense gets shaky the farther into the story one gets, but its still a nice read.