Tag Archives: short stories

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.

chipping away at the short story shelf

Chipping Away at the Short Story Self

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.

short stories

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

your book boyfriend's boyfriend short story reviews

Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend Short Story Clear Out

Sigh, I’ve been trying lately to read a significant portion of the short stories on my shelves.* I keep saying I’m not a huge fan of them. But somehow I always download more. Usually, it’s because I don’t check the page length of something and don’t realize it’s a short, but not always. And today is one of those day.

There was a huge M/M giveaway over at Prolific Works; 116 stories and books!

your book boyfriend's boyfriendThe organizers even made a check list for readers, and I just went hog wild downloading books. Do I need more books? No. Did I do it anyway because I have no self control? Yes. So much yes.

And here’s where the sigh comes in. Several of them are what I would call short stories. I was on the ball this time and checked pages lengths (for those books that had them available). So, I did this to myself knowingly. It’s just that a lot of them were from authors I know I enjoy, were prequels to interesting looking series, and/or were part of series that have been featured on Sadie’s Spotlight. (I do try and support those when I see them.)

And since I happen to have been reading and reviewing short stories in clusters anyhow, I figured I’d just go ahead and set these aside to read all together as one more ‘short story clear out.’ This one can be the ‘Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend Short Story Clear Out.’ Yeah, that’s too clunky, but I trust you get the point.

I downloaded 13 stories that I know are under 100 pages. There are a further 5 (not included in the photo) that I couldn’t find page lengths for, even after searching. Some of them may turn out to be under 100 pages and, if so, I’ll add them after the fact. But as of now, here are the stories I downloaded and intend to read:

your book boyfriend's boyfriend shorts

As an aside, what are the chances there would be two unrelated authors named Kiki?

Revenant, by Michelle Frost

The Metal and Magic series, that Revenant is a prequel of, was featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, I was glad to be able to pick up this freebie and test it out. I thought that it was a little rushed, but easily readable. I liked the characters and world. I’ll happily check out the rest of the series.

Exposed, by Jamie Luther

I liked the reversal of expected roles here and the characterization of Torran and Penn. This seems like it will be an interesting series. As a personal quibble, I hate the whole “Boy” thing. I think my associations with it just aren’t the sexy kind and I find it always pulls me out of a sexy scene. But that’s just me and my preferences.

Fireman’s Carry, by Eli Easton

I enjoyed this short/intro to the Hot Cannolis series. I liked both characters and the drama was engaging. It was enough that I’d be interested in following the series when it comes out.

Just George, by Mary Calmes

It’s been several years since I read any Mary Calmes, but I used to quip that her books were like crack—almost always formulaic and often containing problematic aspects, but hitting so many emotional buttons I liked them anyway. I didn’t find much objectionable in Just George, but in classic Calmes style, the story pressed all my “Awww” buttons and I enjoyed it.

Blood Omen, by Sheena Jolie

There was too much world-building for such a short piece, especially since it tended to be info-dumped. (I sense a lot of it was simply brought over from something long, one assumes the rest of the series.) But I liked the characters and it does seem an interesting world. I’d give the series a shot.

Gravity, by Kiki Burrelli

Meh, not bad. But, while I liked the idea behind the story, I thought the whole thing felt rushed and a bit too much of a mish-mash.

Light My Way Home, by Morgan Brice

I’ve not read the Treasure Trail series (though it was featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight), but I was able to follow this story just fine. I liked both of the characters and the world. I did think it was a little heavy on the tell vs. show and it felt a little rushed in the making-the-alternative-relationship-work department. But I enjoyed it enough to give the rest of the series a try.

To Kiss a Frog, by Elizabeth Silver

I quite enjoyed this; thought it was super cute. It also feels complete, which often isn’t the case with series prequels. I look forward to the rest of the series when it comes out.

Until His Beginning Ends, by Kiki Clark

This was a sweet story. I enjoyed the characters, the writing, and the world it introduces. I’ll be interested in following the series.

How to Date a Dragon, by Louisa Masters

Meh, it was fine. The writing was readable, etc. But, despite being a .5/prequel I was pretty confused. It definitely didn’t feel like it should be read as an introduction to the world. Plus, I just thought Hagen was annoying. I get that that was kinda his whole shtick, but I didn’t enjoy him.

Mr Fairfax, Mr West and the Meet Cute, by Anyta Sunday

I really struggled with this story in the beginning. Not because of bad writing or anything. I am one of those people who suffers strongly from second-hand embarrassment. So, reading about a guy who got himself into an embarrassing bind and then had to do increasingly embarrassing things to keep from having to admit it was difficult for me. Honestly, I almost DNFed it. But luckily it balanced out and I enjoyed the last half of it a lot. The two characters are both very sweet.

Until His Soul Awakens, by E.M. Lindsey

I quite enjoyed this in a quiet sort of way. It’s a bit of a slow burn for such a short piece. But it made the payoff that much sweeter.

Dirty Magic, by Richard Amos

Meh. I liked the idea of the world. But the writing is kind of a rambling, stream-of-consciousness mess and the solution for saving the day was come across far too easily.

Of the five downloads that I mentioned not having page lengths for, I think these four are short stories. So, I’m going to read them and add the reviews as I finish.

unknown page lengths


A House of Blood and Gold, by Raven Abernathy

This story turned out to be 131 pages long, according to my Kindle. Which I deemed long enough for it’s own post. You can find it here.

Twice Bitten, by Eliot Grayson

I enjoyed the heck out of this, which surprised me. I did not particularly enjoy The Alpha’s Warlock, with some of the same characters as in this novella. But here I liked both of the heroes, appreciated their individual struggles, thought the sex was hot, and the story felt complete, despite it being so short.

Aleric, by Taylor Rylan

Meh, I’d say it was OK, at best. The dialogue was just so stiff. It certainly didn’t tempt me to continue the series.

An Emporium of Hearts, by Hailey Turner

I thought this was very sweet. The world makes it pretty obvious the story is part of something bigger, but the little bit of story here feels complete enough to enjoy.


*As a personal shorthand I call anything under 100 pages a short story. I know there are variations, depending on length. I even wrote a post about it once. But for the puroses of this blog anything with less than 100 pages I call a short story.