April 2015 Reading Log

Lone Wolf (Bluewater Bay Book 4) by Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt is a male/male romance. I’d read one book previously in this series, which focuses on the creative personalities surrounding a series of werewolf books and the television series that follows (based on the two I’ve read!). This was the werewolf series author’s book, and it was great fun for me in particular because aside from the romance, it was all about fandom! And writing! The author, to relax, hangs out anonymously on a forum for his series, and is careful to never, ever read the fanfiction, except by one guy who is his chat buddy, because he just can’t stop reading it; he’s even read some of his buddy’s slash and thinks it is delicious. And then chat buddy has a novel, which has the solution to author’s problem of being horribly stuck on book eight, and then it heads directly into “this is the awesomest fantasy ever, do not pass go, but do collect your several million dollars.” I will admit to skimming over most of the erotic scenes to get to more stuff about the awesome deal the two writers got with the publisher, and the writer mentoring, and the convention, and all that. There was a romance, and some conflict, but whatever. Fandom! Fanfiction! Awesome publishing deal and vast amount of editing that works out perfectly! That’s the real fantasy.

The original author (Hunter) is a silver fox in his 40s. Chat buddy author (Kevyan) is in his mid-twenties, is Syrian/Italian, and has adorable geek glasses; a tiny bit of plot happens related to his ethnicity and name. There’s some discussion of panic attacks and near-panic attacks, if that’s an issue for you.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a first-person fantasy novel with Polish folklore for underpinnings. I really, really enjoyed it; I stayed up late two nights in a row to finish it. The heroine, who never felt she was as special as her best friend, turns out to have amazing magic, but that does not make her life easy in the least. Sometimes, it makes it worse. I felt Novik handled that trope brilliantly. It’s a pageturner not only because the narrator is so engaging, but because things keep getting worse in more and more interesting, unexpected ways. Also, I really loved the creativity and realistic feel of the magic system.

A Gentleman’s Game: A Queen & Country Novel by Greg Rucka was essentially a modern-day Bond novel. The protagonist, Tara Chace, is, well, Bondish, though unlike a Bond novel, the antagonists have some point of view sections to demonstrate that they are antagonists rather than cartoonish villains. I probably won’t read another one of these, but it kept me involved, mostly through resonance with real-world events.

The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells Mysteries Book 5) by Meg Cabot has a breezy, first-person tone. It’s set at the fictional New York College and involves a murder in the residence hall where Heather, a former teen pop star, works, linked to another mystery I won’t spoil here. This author is light reading for me; I read it while home sick. I think I might have missed book four.

Second Position by Katherine Locke is all about recovery from trauma. I read it because I recently met the author, and because I like romances about performers. It’s a New Adult romance about ballet dancers reconnecting years after a terrible car accident caused the male protagonist (Zed) to have his leg amputated and the female protagonist (Aly) to miscarry their child. Aly continues dancing professionally while dealing with anxiety, depression, and anorexia; Zed is in recovery from alcoholism and teaches music and drama to high school students. The characters were complex and satisfying, though I wanted a little less interiority and more of their lives outside of their heads. This will be a feature for most readers, I suspect. I have read very, very little New Adult, but I liked this.

Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising Book 1) by Samantha Kane is a contemporary small town male/male romance. I think it was in my TBR because the author has also written historical romance. As usual when I read small town settings, I felt almost as if I was visiting a fantasy world, but I enjoyed the characters, which to me is the whole point of reading a romance. I especially liked the way a past romance came into the story.

Kitty Goes to War (Kitty Norville Book 8) by Carrie Vaughn – I enjoyed this series quite a bit, particularly the intense volume 7, Kitty’s House of Horrors (Book 7). This entry was…okay, I think mostly in comparison with my memories of the previous volume, which would be hard to top for emotional intensity. There were some interesting issues raised about werewolf soldiers, and I wouldn’t mind reading a spinoff about them, should Vaughn ever write one.

Trust Fall by AlchemyAlice is a sweet probably pre-slash Steve and Tony story. It’s AU; Tony is there when Steve is found, and things fall out differently. Low conflict, pleasing resolution.

For fans of historical Steve and Bucky, there’s a new story in hansbekhart’s Kings County series that’s all about the Barnes family on the home front.

Domenika Marzione wrote some inventive Marvel Comics Alternate Universes. Recursive is a “Life on Mars” homage, in which Captain America is thrown back in time to the period just after Bucky’s death, when he (now) knows Bucky is a captive in Poland. Preserved takes place in the 1950s; Bucky survived but Steve was lost, except now Peggy Carter thinks Steve is The Winter Soldier, and needs Bucky to help her find him.

Team-Building Exercises by Owlet is a series of interconnected one-shots in her post-Winter Soldier universe, with a lot of mission-assists and awww-quotient, plus an appearance by Cat Eleanor.

The Mutant Games by TurtleTotem places characters from X-Men: First Class into an alternate universe version of The Hunger Games. Warning for many character deaths, as you might expect, though some might not be as dead as you think. Despite guessing the likely outcome of the story, I was gripped from beginning to end (and I wasn’t quite right about the ending).

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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