I love anthologies, I get to read new to me authors, and in this case, a couple of my favorites too. Everyone’s got a different take on wh...more4.25 marbles
I love anthologies, I get to read new to me authors, and in this case, a couple of my favorites too. Everyone’s got a different take on what it means to be a ninja from hell, and from the coffee-snort title to the last line, this was fun. Apparently there’s a companion volume called Butt Pirates from Space. Excuse me while I clean my keyboard.
Cleanup on Aisle Me--Shae Connor has hell-beasties erupting into a costume store: her clerk Johnny doesn’t quite believe the ninja forces can battle them, but they’re very efficient at disposing of the pieces after. Do not hold liquid while reading the ending.
Sheathing His Sword – JP Barnaby gives us ninja porn stars attempting a stealth shoot for reasons that make the producer look kind of pitiful. Cute, probably cuter if you like porn stars more than I do.
Twink Ninja Tiger, Flaxen Buns of Fury – Kage Allen plays with all the ninja tropes in every cheesy movie when he sets a twinky emissary with a serious case of “doesn’t get it” to the sacred ninja training post for inspection. Definitely do not be holding liquid. Warukatta. Or bless their hearts. Or both. Cause I’m still giggling.
Twerk It – Ally Blue pays a humorous homage to a series I think needs to be mocked more often, with her demon slaying ninja on the trail of the sex and mischief demon who’s creating issues for the purveyor of porn. I never knew there was a demon dedicated to making sure I’m dressed like an old laundry basket. :D
Hell is Where the Heart Is – Eden Winters has a demon with mommy problems- as in the Big Fucking Deal of Level 6 has Life Plans for him. Vik has to find his own solution to her demands. Which spawns other issues. HEHEHE.
Ninja Vanish – Kiernan Kelly’s second rate TV ninjas take on real ninja issues in a deal that looks like agents really are the spawn of Satan. I would like to see them dressed in their Hell Ninja suits. Loved the plotting in the end.
The Soldier and the Vagabond – Jevocas Green has a sort of yaoi story, where the POV character reads very, very young, as in too young to read this book, no relationship development, and a microscopic plot to go with the dub-con. Yes doesn’t happen until after asking is irrelevant. There is a Ninja, there is a mention of Hell, and other than that I don’t know why this story is in this book. Yes, it hit my dub-con hot button which not everyone has, but the other issues are problems.
A Ninja Walks Into a Bar – TC Blue has the longest story in the collection, running approximately 1/3 of the word count, and it’s worth every word. Dallas has been abducted to Hell by the demon Lord Nikita’s ninja, Akira, who falls for his prisoner. Dallas is darling, running at the mouth and not seeing why Hell shouldn’t conform to his wishes, which turns out to be a strength. Ki ends up rethinking everything. Nicely done.
As with all anthologies, quality will vary, but here, aside from one very questionable inclusion, it’s varying in a high, narrow range. Three of the stories are biter-bit, my favorite kind, though to tell you which three and how would be spoilery. Much fun aside from the nasty jolt in the middle. (less)
JL Merrow’s been accused of humor, and I’m happy to give her that particular shaky finger again. She’s plopped us into the head of Jez, whose cheerful...moreJL Merrow’s been accused of humor, and I’m happy to give her that particular shaky finger again. She’s plopped us into the head of Jez, whose cheerful blithering is the soundtrack to his pursuit of the hunk he’s found selling comic books. Jez has little or no governor on his mouth; what he thinks is internal dialog comes flying out into the open air, so he’s in dread fear of the truth popping up.
In a maneuver every insecure paddler in the dating pool will recognize, Jez decides that the best way to attract this vision is to be completely enamored of Rhys’ interests. We get to watch him, flailing away, inserting his foot in his mouth every few minutes, and also being on a collision course with every stationary bit of memorabilia in the vicinity. Jez is loveable in his anxiety, which a bad ex helped kick into high gear.
A sly bit of wordplay got in—Jez really is a geek, in a different sense of the word, being an industrial chemist searching for “noncarcinogenic ways to take nasty niffs out of carpet.” He’s critical of a comic book character’s lab practices, a plot point most of the “readers” wouldn’t have considered. The twisted pop references bring out the reader’s inner geek: who wouldn’t start thinking about Plants VS Zombies or giggle at a radioactive mongoose? The British flavor of the slang hasn’t been Americanized out, thank you thank you, though I did have to figure out what scrumpy is.
The story is light on plot, which is fine, what’s there is cute, and long on humorous angsting, which carries the story but does get a little wearing. The secondary characters, Tel, whose damaged book started the adventure, and Angharad, Rhys’ formidable sister, lighten the non-stop buzz of Jez’ thoughts. And of course, the sex is fun and hot.
This is a sweet creampuff of a story, light, and leaving me with a smile.
Copy received through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Every now and then one finds a little gem, with a great deal packed into a small space. The coffee-snort inducing title begins weaving the sport of ro...moreEvery now and then one finds a little gem, with a great deal packed into a small space. The coffee-snort inducing title begins weaving the sport of rowing into Dave and Archie's personal life from the very start.
Merrow gets quite a lot of the technicalities of rowing in very naturally, and many terms definitely lend themselves to a sly second meaning. Dave, the coxswain, or cox, has to keep from showing his desire for big, handsome Archie, whose position, stroke, puts them face to face every time they go out on the river. Even for those of us who know nothing of the sport, she makes us feel the breezes and see the veins standing out on the rowers' forearms. She also makes us feel Dave's anxiety over being the tiny one among giants—he commands them but won't risk people comparing his legs to theirs.
The race is very exciting; though the explanation of what they are trying to accomplish slows the pace of the story for a moment, it's essential because otherwise only the knowledgeable would understand what's going on, it's a game of overtaking rather than straight out speed. It's easy to imagine the desire coming off both men as a little jet engine pushing them down the river with every stroke, they both want to impress but neither is sure of the other's interest.
When they do come together, it's very sweet, so much is said in a few words.
"I'm the cox. You're supposed to watch me.”
“None of them watch you like I do.”
They have a lot to celebrate; touchy Dave and solid Archie are going to be a wonderful pair, and that gives us reason to celebrate too.
Barry's back for another round of misadventures in love – we first met this adorable but romantically inept man in Eden Winters' The Match Before Chri...moreBarry's back for another round of misadventures in love – we first met this adorable but romantically inept man in Eden Winters' The Match Before Christmas, where he found his delectable Adam. It's Valentine's Day, Barry's wild to make Adam feel loved and appreciated, but without a clue of his own, every suggestion he takes has the possibility to go wrong, and in Fanning the Flames, it does.
It's not for lack of trying – there's so much trying that Adam would feel overwhelmed if Barry's planning all came off. We don't see a lot of Adam in this story, aside from his descent into misery, poor thing, but you just know he's a great person if someone as good-hearted as Barry wants to please him so badly. Comic writing is hard to pull off, but Ms Winters does it well, with her characters at cross-purposes until all of a sudden they're on the same page. It's Adam's philosophy that guides Barry at last, and gives us the great big Aw! moment.
There are a lot of secondary characters, most of them introduced in the first story, but they all have their parts to play here. They appear with enough detail to know who they are without having read the first book, though I wouldn't recommend passing up that treat. One or two seem like they should have their own story – we can hope.
Some holiday-themed stories are best enjoyed in their season, but the humor and sweetness of this story make it welcome all year round. (less)
Oh, poor Barry. All he wants is someone fabulous to be with, now, always, at the holidays, and he's having so much luck finding that wonderful man tha...moreOh, poor Barry. All he wants is someone fabulous to be with, now, always, at the holidays, and he's having so much luck finding that wonderful man that he tries an internet dating site. Blinded by the hype, Barry sets off on one dating misadventure after the next. There are so many toads that want to be kissed.
Anyone who's spent any time in the dating pool will relate to Barry's awful evenings -- there are some LOL moments, and face covering moments, and when hope has nearly died of experience, someone who beats Barry's revised expectations (it's gotten all the way down to 'someone he can stand to spend a second date with') emails him. And after that, it's hopeful and all you can do is hold your breath that it isn't Barry who screws it all up this time.
This story taps right into our collective dating experience and our hopes, and fulfills them, even for those of us still waiting for the fateful email of love. It's a Christmas story only because that's such a potent deadline -- this one is a sweet year-round re-read.(less)
This was good enough that I'm glad to have it in hardback -- Bryson bounces around from topic to topic, leaving tidbits of information behind in vastl...moreThis was good enough that I'm glad to have it in hardback -- Bryson bounces around from topic to topic, leaving tidbits of information behind in vastly entertaining style. Little depth, huge breadth, it's a great book when you want to get an overview, but aren't sure of what. Because he covers it all, sooner or later. A writer friend has wrenched it out of my hand and declared it to be "full of plot bunnies."(less)
HT Murray has provided another look at Cal and Ian, who had to work so hard to get together in Go Fish. That was cute, and had some surprising, and, y...moreHT Murray has provided another look at Cal and Ian, who had to work so hard to get together in Go Fish. That was cute, and had some surprising, and, you'd think, unsexy elements to it, but it worked out great. Now the guys are back.
I love an 'established couple' story, because the story doesn't always have to be some potential couple-shattering event. Sometimes, it's all about the moment. Sticky Fingers is all about the moment, a sweet, salty, sexy, loving, teasing, happy moment that made me smile and be glad to spend the money and the time.
This was a fun and funny look at a couple of guys who can't quite get it together. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, in entertaining fashion...moreThis was a fun and funny look at a couple of guys who can't quite get it together. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, in entertaining fashion, until finally, it goes right. The ick factor of one of the disasters makes this a four rather than a 5 (4.5 isn't a choice) but it is a sweet light story and I'd definitely read more by this author.(less)