I read a lot of free books and most of them are awful. I don't review them all, because who has time for that amount of negativity? I review the good ones--when I find them--and tend to leave the bad ones. Unless they're extra-special awful or, like this one, full of mind-blowing wtfuckery. It could be one of those "so bad you have to read it for yourself" books, you decide.
LOVER FOR PAY: The Escort & The Teacher by A.J. Blake
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I surprised myself by actually finishing this story. It was kind of like a trainwreck, I guess, hard to look away because omg the fuckery.
The plot doesn't make a lot of sense (like the escort has been escorting for two years to save money for a new house, but at $1000-$10,000 per "date" he still only has $25,000 save up? Until the teacher pays him $30,000? but he has regulars? Like okay, he's supporting his younger siblings, but he's got a day job, too, one he says pays pretty good...?)
And the characterization is incredibly unrealistic. They're madly in love after one date and three nights of sex, two of which were paid for... sure, okay. Even for instalove that was super fast and totally not to my taste.
So if it was just on those two things alone, I'd have DNF'd this one.
But the precious, precious fuckery.
"You didn't cum yet," he almost stuttered over his words, working himself up weakly and without hesitation, he sucked London's cock after getting rid of the condom, sucking both tired and hungrily until the rain of London's seed was released, and relief was theirs to relish in.
"He'd also taken it upon himself to dress nicely, or as nicely as he presumed was nice enough."
"He laid there as Marbell gathered his thoughts pushing in and out of his night lover."
("night lover" is used several times within ten pages, then is never seen again)
"After ridding all his clothes besides the tank top he was wearing, Marbell brought his attention to London's cock, sucking as though he could not pry himself away from it."
"Glad to have the twenty-one-year old with him of course, Marbell wanted this time they had together to be enjoyable, but with the saddened expression going on about London's face, he was no longer sure of it."
The characters are often referred to as "the teacher" "the tattooed boy" "the teenager" (not one of the mc's, relax, it's not that kind of bad), which I guess is just a style thing, but read really odd. The book is also in badly written omniscient third, which is fun.
But the precious, precious fuckery...
"The pound of his heart struck his chest harder."
"London came back onto the bed, stealing Marbell's mouth once more as he pushed the vibrator into the teacher after coating it lightly with lube, and he pushed it as far as it was meant to go."
"What rest across one half of Marbell's chest was something London hadn't expected. It was a long healed burn scar that started at the top of his left breast, and stretched all the way down to his belly button. The scar was about five or eight or nine inches wide, covering a large canvas of his torso."
"London then straddled the teacher, slickening his own entry before letting Marbell's hard cock plummet into him."
"His wavy fringe was swooped off to the side, and he was dressed as though just having gotten off work, but with the anger shown clear from the rutted glare of his brow, the standard softness of his face was replaced by a strict scowl."
and last but certainly not least:
"He hooked his arms around Marbell's waste [...]"
It's free, thank the hairy gods.
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The Android and the Thief by Wendy Rathbone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I've been a sci-fi reader since forever, and I'm always on the lookout for good sci-fi books in m/m romance. This really wasn't it, for world-building reasons.
First, what I really liked about the story--both characters as described sounded ace to me, which was intriguing. Then Khim's asexuality was later described as a psychological problem, which kind of soured me. I guess they weren't meant to be ace, so my fault in reading them that way.
The other thing I really loved was the synesthesia Khim experienced under the anesthetic when he was fitted for his metal arm. It was amazing and delighted me and I was a little disappointed that it was just an effect of the drug and not a permanent scrambling of his brain from the accident. That would have been so cool!
What I didn't like. The world building or incredible lack thereof. Four thousand years in future, a colonized galaxy, and there's no finer meal than steak and baked potatoes? Humanity has colonized numerous planets and not found anything to eat other than Earth food? Scratch that, American food. Because the society is only slightly different from early 21st century USA. Roombas do the vacuuming. Jeans and hoodies are casual clothes. Tuxedos are formal wear.
Who the military is fighting is never really clear, it seems to be a never ending conflict with unspecified enemies that has no negative impact on daily life.
Women--there are no women in this world. The military has no women, the vat-grown humans are all male, the sex slaves are all male, the brothel patrons are all male, any figure in authority is male. Only three women are ever mentioned, all sub-ordinates to an Italian crime boss. Yeah. Four thousand years from now... did I mention the world building is pretty much non-existent?
And when Khim is described as having "won the genetic lottery" by being blond with blue eyes... eek.
As for the relationship, I only felt like there was any kind of connection between them after their escape. Maybe that was my fault for reading them as ace, I don't know.
To sum up, this was not a bad book (though I found it problematic in places apart from the lack of world-building), but it was a long, long way from the book I hoped it would be.
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Pre-order Beneath the Layers from NineStar Press!
for my short "After the Dance" and seven other tales
Available April 17
Pre-order City of Dreams from Less Than Three Press!
Available April 18
So it's MARCH and this is my first post of 2017! I know no one's noticed, which is such a relief--I would hate to think I've let anyone down!
ANALYSIS: I love to bitch about bad writing, and someone suggested that this was a good way to turn off readers. Is my blog for readers? ::listens to the crickets:: Well...no. As I slowly immerse myself into the m/m writing community--like deathly slow, because it's made up of people; which aren't really my thing, generally speaking--I was also feeling like I couldn't review books anymore because what if I hurt someone right in the ego? I mean, I don't hate everything I read, obviously. But it's the stuff I don't like that I really want to bitch about. Not the stories that just aren't to my taste, those are fine. It's the stories that have no editing; stiff, unnatural dialogue; utterly implausible human behaviour. Or fail technically with paragraphs of boring descriptions and pages and pages of telling at the expense of the story. Am I writing for other writers to maybe learn what not to do? Not really...
CONCLUSION: I was writing to bitch because I like to bitch about bad writing. No ulterior motives. It's fun! So this is officially no longer a blog (suggestive of regular updates). It's my RAVINGS! And now and then I'll mention some news ::tosses glitter in the air::. Oh, and pretty pictures.
Abercrombie Zombie by K.Z. Snow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Drat, the computer ate my review.
The "I didn't save it elsewhere" version:
The romance does not involve the titular zombie, which was kind of a relief. But since it was a romance, there wasn't enough about the titular zombie. Also, bi doesn't seem to be a thing in this story which makes the non-POV love interest kind of... a dick. But hey, love is blind, and it was first person (which was handled well), so I could see it enough to keep reading.
Good way to kill a couple hours, not sorry I paid for it, but won't be reading it again.
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As some of you already know, I have some pre-made ebook covers that I sell really cheap ($25). Are they super unique? Not really. Are they better than you can make yourself? Probably. And I personally won't use the same image on someone else's cover.
So if you've got a sci-fi epic and your cover is some earthly clouds in a solid colour KDP template, looking like a collection of angsty poetry (yup, seen it), I might have something slightly more science fiction-y for you!
New covers are added regularly! Sci-fi not your bag? Check out other genres on my pre-made covers page!
Cabaret Rollo Rouge continues to look for a home after six months with Carina. Their rejection was very nice, though, along the lines of it not being what they're looking for but being certain another publisher would like it. Testing that theory...
MEANWHILE, I sold another short story for another anthology, and the publisher/editor asked to see more of my work, so I sent them The Lure of Port Stephen. Waiting, naturally. Writing is waiting.
ALSO I am writing an mpreg story that at least attempts to be plausible, because reasons. You all likely know by now how little patience I have for writers who wave their hand and say, "It doesn't have to make sense, IT'S FANTASY!" or worse, "IT'S FICTION!" No, my dears, that's what we call "lazy writing."
I want to mention some works-in-progress, mostly as impetus to finish them -- Fair Hearts, a m/m fairytale story drawing loosely on Snow White, and Morning Star, same only the inspiration is Aladdin. Once I finish Diplomacy Squared, I will be working on these with imaginary deadlines-for-submission, as that seems to be a motivator for me. Let's see how much I can get done before the end of 2016!
Save of the Game by Avon Gale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars, because I would have liked to see the relationship/exploration between the the m/c's happen less in a bubble--they seemed very much apart from the rest of their world and then when they emerged it was "Oh, by the way, the whole team knows you're together".
And I would have liked more scenes to show how much Ethan loved the hockey camp stuff that turns out to be the final solution, because it felt a little contrived.
But mostly, the story made me smiley happy, and that means this is another Avon Gale story that I will read again and again, and that's definitely worth 4 stars.
Also, this line -- “I’m sleeping with a man I barely know. Hurry. Tell me shit before we turn into an independent film.”
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*NOTE* This is book two of a series, but it totally stands alone. Best kind of series, imo.
So I bought approx. 20 print books and 100 digital ones this summer. And I have to say...if I read about one more character looking in the mirror to describe themselves I will puke. All over the Internet. This has got to be not only the laziest writing ever, but also highly implausible. How often do you look in the mirror and notice your "tresses" (ugh, another word that should be banned from writers' vocabularies) or your bone structure or your eye colour? Like, maybe you'll think, "Christ, my hair looks like a rat's nest" or "Eek! Is that another grey hair??" but do you really think about the cut, texture, and style of it? SERIOUSLY?
Everything about this situation was so surreal. She considered the possibility she was dreaming within a coma again as she turned on the water for a quick shower. He had a good quality shampoo and conditioner--not surprising with his abundant, if ill-cut, hair--and a body wash that smelled vaguely familiar. He'd probably used it to wash off the blood from her wound last night. If this was a dream, it was the most richly detailed one she'd ever had. One she probably wouldn’t wake up from, assuming that it had started after she’d been shot.
She used his towels and stared at the dress he'd said she was supposed to wear. It looked on the hanger like a black scarf with bits of red tulle on it. Was he serious? Her mind drew a picture of his face, what she'd seen of it, complete with smirk. She sighed. When he had sat beside her, stroked her cheek, she'd felt... not attraction, things were too weird for that. Alarmed was a word that came to mind, but also reassured. She nodded into the mirror. He had a magnificent confidence that was reassuring, in spite of everything. He had, after all, practically kidnapped her... she caught her reflection, wrapped in thick towels and blowing her hair dry. Yeah, poor Carmen, so ill-used. "A gilded cage is still a cage," she muttered to her reflection.
She used his brush, seeing no other. It was clean, with only a few stray hairs caught in it. They looked and felt like any other human hair she'd seen. He had set out a new toothbrush for her, who else, and she used it, while rummaging through the drawers and cabinets of his bathroom. There was nothing there to suggest he had lots of female visitors, or indeed any. Yet she'd definitely got the impression he knew his way around women.
She pulled the dress on, like a body stocking. And that's how it fit -- if she'd had panties, she couldn't have worn them with this dress. A tuft of red tulle in the center of the neckline pretended to provide modesty, while calling attention to the cleavage it wasn't covering. She cracked the door. "Carabas? This isn't a dress -- it's a fetish outfit!"
She looked at herself in the mirror. It wasn't really that bad, though certainly nothing she'd ever worn before. A basic black strapless sheath dress in clingy jersey, it was the red ribbon and tulle accents that gave it a costume-y look. She wondered if he knew her shoe size, too.
See kids? That's what people do in front of mirrors.
First the good news. Starstruck was released on September 12, but I was suffering from a surfeit of company at the time and sadly failed to properly mark the occasion. So better a late blog announcement than none at all, yay!
Got it? Good!
The other news is, I'll be back to city life and a full size bathroom and 24/7 internet on October 15. I may be one of the few people who actually feels more productive with the internet available all the time. Although I did get two novellas written, and half of two more. (Finish things, dammit!)
And finally on a very sad note, for all the crybaby feels and yes, I am a poor widdle pookie--I sent Cabaret Rollo Rouge off to Carina in answer to a specific call for m/m paranormal etc... Carina is the digital imprint of the illustrious Harlequin, famous for paperback romances for, like, almost ever. They said a response, either yea or nay, would be forthcoming within twelve weeks. Welcome to fourteen weeks and no response. It is "in progress" which means... nothing. For all I know the submission never made it past the submittable website. FOURTEEN WEEKS!
There ought to be a law against torturing writers that way. Besides, I could totes sell that story to...someone. Heck, I could self pub it and make $$. It's an awesome story. (I hate it, I hate everything I write, even when I love it.) I even did a great cover for it, if someone wants to pay me for both the story and the cover art (yes, I know, I should hit the comedy circuit.)