I snagged a month’s free subscription to Marvel Unlimited back in December, though I haven’t been making as much use of it as I have before. So far I’ve read two trade-equivalents, Deadpool vol. 5: Wedding of Deadpool by Brian Posehn and various guest writers/artists ★★, and Ms. Marvel vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson with art by Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt ★★★★½. Deadpool’s wedding was a huge issue filled with unfortunately boring short stories which added nothing to the character or the plot. I super love his wife, though, and the last issue with them in Japan, fighting anime-style monsters, was really fun. Ms. Marvel, in comparison, was AMAZING and I will LOVE IT FOREVER! Yes!!!! Kamala is such a great heroine and the writing is funny + touching + smart + insightful. Definitely recommend picking up this series if you haven’t already.
Next, I continued onward in my Whyborne & Griffin series reread, blazing through Threshold ★★★★ and Stormhaven ★★★ by Jordan L. Hawk— both excellent! I’ve reviewed them previously, and I still feel the same way except with added reread-based love for the characters and the world. Though Stormhaven is, I think, possibly the weakest of the series and especially in comparison to Threshold which was an amazing highpoint in both plot and character development. I still very much enjoyed revisiting the world of W&G and I can’t wait to move onto the fourth book. Meanwhile, I snuck in the next short story, Carousel ★★★, which like Eidolon (the previous W&G short story) is from Griffin’s POV. It’s also super creepy, featuring kidnapped/murdered children, and unfortunately the sweetness of the romance wasn’t quite able to balance out the horror aspect.
I’ve been trying to read more from my TBR this year, so next I read Bad Company by K.A. Mitchell ★★★, a contemporary m/m romance which has been on my TBR list since December 2014 when I got it free during a promotion. It’s a friends-to-lovers story…kind of. The friends haven’t been friends for 13 years, and they parted on bad terms, which means it’s REALLY more like an enemies-to-lovers story! With bonus “pretend relationship” issues and lots of misunderstandings and really uncomfortable gay chicken scenes and, basically, heaps of angst and drama. Not entirely sure I dug certain aspects of the story and writing (gay chicken? eh.) but I did like how the characters were aware that they were buttheads and that they wanted to work at getting better, together. I would read more in the series! Especially since the second book stars one of the side characters who I adored.
More TBR trawling led to Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale ★★★½, a fantasy-romance which has been on my wishlist for ages but only on my TBR since May 2015, which isn’t too bad. It’s (basically) about a guy who goes off to school in a foreign country set in a pseudo-medieval-ish totalitarian dystopia where (of course) being gay is illegal and the church is a huge scary influence, and his roommate has got a portal to hell inside him. Things are terrible but also wonderful, and roommate and guy are totally into each other but put it aside for AGES. And there is a conspiracy! But it takes backseat to the self-discovery and romance aspects, which was a little annoying sometimes because I really wanted to know wtf was going on. However, I got entirely sucked into the worldbuilding and the characters and their relationships with each other and I accidentally ended up reading it all in one day.
Definitely needs more named/important female secondary characters, though; I’m so tired of these pseudo-medieval misogynistic places that shove women entirely out of the picture for no reason. You can have a scary place with women in it! It’s not impossible! There were no women in the school (except for cooks), no women in the military/church, no women anywhere except guy’s mother and sister and somebody’s girlfriend, and they’re either in another country or in the background. Oh, and there’s prostitutes. Woohoo.
Anyway, it ends in a MASSIVE cliffhanger, which made me a tiny bit pissed off because it seemed like the sort of cliffhanger that happens when one huge book’s been split into two. But the rest of it was relatively delightful and I almost immediately bought part 2, which I’ll be reading ASAP.
So after Lord of the White Hell, I wanted a book I could really sink my teeth into. I decided to go for another TBR book: The God Eaters by Jesse Hajicek ★★★★½, a fantasy/steampunkish prison-break adventure/romance that’s literally been on my TBR for over 5 years. It starts off brutal and keeps on being brutal, and at first I wasn’t sure I’d like it as I tend to go less for grimdark and more for fluffy. But I’m SO glad I stuck with it, because it was fantastic! It’s angsty, yes, and terrible things happen1, but it’s totally balanced out by a heartfelt and wonderful romance/relationship between the two leads AND it has a happy ending! Yes! Plus the worldbuilding was very interesting: it’s kind of a riff on the wild west immediately after the government subjugated all the Native American tribes, with trains and magic and a dystopian-style government. Also there are gods! Gods who eat each other to gain power! And lots of other nifty details!
In terms of named female characters, TGE did slightly better than LofWH, as there were at least four important female characters that I can remember. However, like LofWH, TGE desperately needed tons more background female characters. I think it was explained away with a horrible sidenote about women getting their magical abilities burnt out of them as a medical procedure, and thus there wouldn’t be any women in the (magical) military/government. But it still stunk to have them absent, tbh.
However, on the whole I really loved it, and I had a major book hangover afterwards. I’m still suffering from it, as all I really want to read now is another fantasy/scifi chunkster with GLBTQ/PoC characters in the lead. (Hit me up with recs!2)
In the meantime, I filled the lack with The Best Man by L.A. Witt ★★★½, a contemporary m/m romance about two people on the road to getting over their crappy exes, and who meet each other and immediately hit it off! I entirely dug it, even with the weird plot development near the end that, while not coming out of nowhere, seemed majorly over-the-top when compared to the rest of the story’s style. The characters were what did it for me, and how much they were into each other, and how their relationship developed even with lingering trust issues and whatnot. It was super sweet and super hot, and I can forgive a weird plot bump for an otherwise fun book.
Next I slipped in a tiny children’s book, It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith ★★★. It is literally just a tiny book about how books aren’t meant to be used for anything but reading– don’t sit on them, chew them, wear them like hats, etc. It’s a good intro for kids to proper book handling, I suppose? Cute illustrations, too, except the baby gorilla doesn’t change expressions or positions or anything except for on the last page, which seems a little like a cop-out somehow.
I started and stopped a number of books, still searching for something to get over TGE with. An unsatisfactory option was Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon ★★, which has this sentence fragment in it summary: “fast, fun and dead-sexy male/male new-adult caper” and literally only two of those things are true: fast and male/male. There is no caper. It is not fun. It’s not even a little sexy and the only thing new adult-ish about it is the protag is early 20s and still in denial about his gayness. It’s basically a second-chance/friends-to-lovers story with a criminal side story in a European setting, which on the surface all seems like things I’d like. And generally Josh Lanyon’s books have good balance of angst, humor, romance and action, and I did see all that in JBE. However, the story was so boring and the characters were so flat and lifeless that I can’t even believe I finished reading it– except I paid for it, so I felt obligated to finish. (I’m basically in complete agreement with this Goodreads review, except I went a star lower with my rating.)
So this week was majorly up and down, reading-wise! This week I’m planning on reading Lord of the White Hell Part 2, Jane Kindred’s new book The Water Thief (which I got as an eARC from NetGalley!), and possibly Savage Creatures by Natalie Wilkinson.
What did you read this week?