Cheri’s Funk Reading List

As some of you already know, I’ve been feeling a bit off the past couple of months. When I’m in a funk, I reject most of the reading I should be doing for reading that I want to do. That means that reviews that I should have done are still waiting to be done. And I’m not sure when I’ll get all caught up because I’m still a bit funky.

Since my funk reading list tends to be only old favorites, I thought I’d share what made the list. There are a few other books on the list because they were selected as Books of the Month for the Mostly Lesfic Goodreads group or for Cocktail Hour.

Ok, here we go! These are not in any order because I can’t remember in what order I read them. Some of them have already been reviewed here so I provided links to the older reviews.

Open to Persuasion by Allie (CanadaBadGirl) – This is one of my favorite SVU fics. I think Allie aka CanadaBadGirl or CBG is a great storyteller and I’ve read everything she’s written in the Bad Girls fandom but I think there are other SVU fics that she’s done and she may also write for other fandoms. Not sure. This story not only has a very good depiction of a relationship between Alex and Olivia but two good cases. I highly recommend it. Andy and I also featured this one on an episode of Cocktail Hour and I reviewed it previously here. I haven’t read that review recently so who knows what I said…

My Lord by Mayt – This is a super long, super angst filled, and super good Conqueror fic. Are there some issues grammatically? Sure. Does it take away from the epic tale? Not at all. This is possibly the best Conqueror story I’ve ever read. There are a total of 7 books and some are better than others but, overall, just a great series. Be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby. Mayt has plenty of other fics available and a published series that starts out with Hesed by Maytee Aspuro Y Gonzalez

Snowbound by Queenfor4 – I came across this story awhile ago during a browsing of Calli’s Creations galleries of covers. I’m one of those people who will pick up a book because the cover grabs me… I had forgotten about it until Cari Hunter’s Snowbound was selected as the Mostly Lesfic book for May and it came up during my search. So I read it a couple of days ago. I very much enjoyed it! Megan Galagher is a homophobic mystery writer who ends up snowbound with a lesbian doctor, Randi Oakes. The unfolding of the story is good and the relationship building is good, too. I’d read it again and do recommend it. A nice Xena Uber. I also just noticed that UK reviewed the story here awhile ago so you should see what she had to say, too.

Snowbound by Cari Hunter – I just reviewed this one here.

Bonded by CBG – One of my very favorite stories in the Bad Girls fandom. CBG does angst like nobody’s business. She also has a very good grasp on the essence of the characters. A joy to read.

Biography & the sequel Plus Ca Change (or Ties That Bind) by CBG – Another favorite! AND this one has been published! You can find it under the name A Walk in the Rain by Alison Barnard. I grabbed the sample from Amazon to see if it started out differently and it appears to be exactly the same with the exception of changing the names of the characters that appeared in Bad Girls. I will, eventually, buy it to support the author but will probably wait until the next time I get the urge to read it. Shouldn’t be too long. Incognito also reviewed both of these stories here and here.

Reapers, Inc.- Brigit’s Cross by B. L. Newport – This was the April book of the month for the Mostly Lesfic group. We all agreed that it was pretty damn good. It’s the story of a newly dead woman who becomes a grim reaper. Initially, it was hard for me to get the image of Dead Like Me out of my head but as I got into it, it was definitely a good read. It’s the first in a series and you’ll probably want to pick up the second one just before you finish the first so you can move on. You’ll know if you want to continue by mid-book.

Soiled Dove by Brenda Adcock – I love westerns – especially westerns with brothels and whores. I didn’t really love this one but I didn’t dislike it either. It was ok. I enjoyed it mostly. I guess it just didn’t move me but it did give me a few hours of entertainment. I don’t not recommend it. You know what I mean?

The Road to Glory by Blayne Cooper & T. Novan – I’ve read this one before and enjoyed it but I enjoyed it even more the second time. I just love Cooper’s sense of humor and Novan’s ability to write angst and there’s lots of both here.

The Story of Me by Blayne Cooper – This short story is, in my opinion, fantastic. It’s classic Blayne Cooper. Stalkers, squirrels, and mishaps make this a very funny, well done romp.

None So Blind by LJ Maas – This is one of my very favorite romances of all time. It’s got the classic formula but Maas, I think, was a fabulous storyteller and I fell in love with both Torrey and Taylor. Yes, there are some issues – lots of flashbacks and many times when the lack of communication between the main characters makes you want to shake them violently – but I just don’t care. My dear friend, incognito, reviewed it here a long time ago so you can see what she had to say, too.

Balance of Forces: Toujour Ici by Ali Vali – I read this one for my appearance on Cocktail Hour with Andy and Ali Vali. It had been awhile since I read a book of Vali’s that I honestly enjoyed. I enjoyed this one. I don’t know if it was because it started out as an online fic – I love her old fan fic more than just about any book she’s put out – or if it’s just a good story, but I do recommend this one!

There were a few more but I can’t remember what they were. I’m still on the edges of the funk so who knows where that will take me!

Tropical Storm by Melissa Good

I read the online version of Tropical Storm a few years ago and always wanted to buy the published edition at some point to see what changes were made, if any. After buying the 2010 Author Edition, I’ve come away with mixed feelings.

Tropical Storm is about the changing relationship between Dar Roberts, cut-throat corporate raider and all around hard ass, and Kerry Stuart, techy person and all around sweetheart. Dar comes in after her company buys Kerry’s company with the intent to can all the employees and absorb their customers. Kerry cusses her out, eventually, and they try to come up with a plan to save some jobs. During that exercise, Dar comes to admire Kerry a bit and sees loads of potential in the smart, earnest woman. If you haven’t read the book or the online version, I don’t want to spoil anything for you so will leave it at that. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of adventures, engaging characters, and good humor. And several sequels, if you want to continue the ride.

It felt good to re-read this story. I tend to overlook those classic Xena ubers when looking for something to read and that’s too bad. There are lots of great, old stories out there. Hell, these are the stories that started the Xenaverse and launched the careers of many of my favorite lesbian fiction authors. The thing that didn’t feel good was having my hopes dashed that the character names that changed partway through the book and some of the other typos and missed words hadn’t been cleaned up. I know that some of the writing was tightened up because I compared the opening scene of the book to the online version that I downloaded from and it was a bit different.

Bottom line, I truly enjoy Tropical Storm in both of its incarnations. These aren’t average women, they’re women of much greater means than anyone I’ve met, but Melissa Good does a fantastic job of having these extraordinary women deal with ordinary emotions. That’s where the draw is for me. Yes, some of the action is pretty cool but, when it comes down to it, I’m in it for the emotions and Ms. Good certainly delivers.

Tropical Storm: The 2010 Author Edition (The Dar & Kerry Series)

Reprise by Estraven

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for Bad Girls fan fiction. A more recent author, Estraven, has made quite a splash over at Bad Girls Riot. After reading the review sent in by Anjoka for Exit Wounds, I decided I would read the copy of Reprise that I compiled a long while ago and never got around to reading. I read her first fic, Dark Coda, and loved it. Classic angst filled Helen and Nikki and she did them so very well.

A friend, and fellow BG enthusiast, had just read Exit Wounds and raved about it. Me being my wonderful neurotic self, couldn’t read a new Estraven without working through the one I had already said I’d read, so I loaded up Reprise, the somewhat sequel to Dark Coda, and got to it.

While she still did a great job of capturing my favorite ex-con and ex-gov, I didn’t really care about Pat Kerrigan (I never made it past the first few episodes of series 4 so I never saw her) and I didn’t really care about Helen and Nikki’s son, Calum. Don’t get me wrong, the writing and plot were still very good but I went into it thinking it would focus on my favorite pairing and was disappointed when it didn’t. Had I gone into it knowing what to expect, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more.

I still recommend it. Estraven has a great voice and a knack for capturing our Nikki and Helen. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you enjoy Canada Bad Girl’s (CBG) portrayal of Helen and Nikki, you’ll also enjoy Estraven.

Now I have to go read more of Exit Wounds. Loving it!! I’ve also got Written on the Heart loaded up but couldn’t put Exit Wounds off for another moment.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by anex

This is a very short post-FIN story that explains the origin of Gabrielle’s dragon tattoo. I haven’t finished the series yet, much to the dismay of many of my friends, so I don’t know anything about the tattoo except that it’s pretty sweet. And I like seeing Gabby’s naked back.

For a story that took less than 5 minutes to read, I found myself drawn in and connected. I like her writing style, too. You can check it out at The Xena Library. Anex also has an author page over at The Athenaeum. Looks like she tends to write short stories. I know I’ll be checking them out.

Thanks to Rio from The Xena Library for letting me know about this gem.

Exit Wounds By Estraven

Here’s a premise for you. Imagine Bag Girls series one through three, still set in Larkhall, still with Nikki Wade and Helen Stewart, still with the same incidents that occurred in the original story line (give or take a few changes) but Helen is the prisoner and Nikki is the wing governor?….piqued your interest has it?….Well you’re in luck, because somebody has written it and it’s called Exit Wounds.

It might seem a hard premise to imagine – under what circumstances would Helen Stewart find herself in jail for killing Gossard (yes that remains the same) and how would Nikki Wade end up in charge of G Wing?  It’s easy really, when you have a very capable writer like Estraven.

Exit Wounds is a much harder edged version than the original series in my opinion. The Helen and Nikki in this story are not the ‘naively idealistic’ characters they appeared to be sometimes in the original. A lot has happened to this Helen and Nikki in their personal lives and their journey towards one another, but Estraven keeps their core character and values true to the original.

A lot of effort and research has gone into this piece – evident by the facts Estraven gives us about prison practices. She also shows us, in more detail than the original, the machinations of prison life, not just from the inmate’s point of view, but also the bureaucratic obstacles Nikki has to face as Wing Governor. We know how difficult it appeared for Helen in the show, but here you get a better understanding and it makes it all the more frustrating for the reader to know what the characters have to face.

There are added plots twists to Exit Wounds with journal entry snippets, depicting Helen’s thoughts that give an insight into her psyche and are at times deeply profound and deeply touching.

Estraven builds the emotional element between this Helen and Nikki brilliantly, it’s allowed to simmer and grow at a natural pace, and as mentioned, she captures their personality and characters wonderfully.

Apart from the in-depth characterizations and descriptiveness in this story, the other most remarkable thing about it, is that once you become immersed in it, you actually forget the show and start to believe this was actually the original. That’s quite a feat to pull off, with a show as popular as Bad Girls was and still is in the fan fic world.

And it shows just how gifted Estraven is as a writer that she succeeds in convincing you that this is how it should have been.

This review really doesn’t do Exit Wounds justice, so don’t miss out on reading this story!

Exit Wounds can be found by clicking on the link, which is the Bad Girls Riot site, and finding the story under the Potted Plants thread.

Same Old Lang Syne by Lyn27

Anybody that is familiar with the Dan Fogelberg song “Same Old Lang Syne” (and if you’re not I would suggest seeking out a version on You Tube) will know it tells a story in the lyrics of regret when two ex-lovers meet many years later. Remembering what once was, what could have been and, maybe, what should have been. How things don’t always turn out how you expected. It’s emotionally poignant in an almost understated way, and Lyn27 uses the song’s premise as a backdrop to great effect in this Nikki and Helen Bad Girls story.Same Old Lang Syne is about regret, sacrifice and, above all, hope. Hope given to one ex-con, by the woman she had loved, who still keeps that hope alive every Christmas, birthday and other significant ‘anniversaries’. Nikki holds on to that hope like a life raft.

But why would she, if she has Helen in her life? The answer is simple. She doesn’t have Helen.

That’s because in Lyn27’s story, Helen married Thomas Waugh. A man who didn’t turn out to be the man she thought and a man she didn’t really love. So why did Helen marry him? We already know that Helen Stewart was a very principled character and couldn’t marry Sean for the same reason, so why would she even consider this path? Why would she be so willing to sacrifice her love for Nikki and walk away?

I’m not going to give the plot away! That’s for you to find out. But suffice it to say, a chance meeting Christmas Eve between Nikki and Helen sets in motion a glimmer of hope for Helen, that the biggest regret she has, can finally be mended.

Lyn27’s characterizations of Nikki and Helen are wonderfully executed, and this story feels like a play; one you could imagine sitting in a theatre watching, as the acts are played out. It’s not a long story, only 9 (longish) chapters in all, but it feels ‘big’. The dialogue is excellent and the emotional level is just right. As always with Lyn27, it’s evident she loves writing for these two characters and with every story she pens, her ability to do so gets stronger, and she delivers a very polished piece here.

A highly recommended read, in my opinion! You can read Same Old Lang Syne, on the Bad Girls Riot board, under the Chateau Larkhall section. You need to register for the board but it’s well worth it!

Written on the Heart by Estraven

When it comes to Bad Girls fan fiction, Estraven is a writer you just have to read to believe. Yes – she’s that good! And with two new stories posted within the past few months, she’s given us plenty of proof.“Written on the Heart” is a story that Estraven wrote per a request for the Help Haiti blog and it offers the reader a twist on the original Bad Girls storyline, and what a twist it is … what would happen if Trish was the one in HMP Larkhall?

A character often written as violent, heartless or worse, Estraven offers us a softer Trisha. Imprisoned wrongfully and unable to cope, we watch as she slowly starts to self-destruct under the pressure of prison life. We meet Claire Walker, Trisha’s lawyer and friend of Helen Stewart, Wing Governor of G-Wing, both of whom believe that Trisha was wrongly convicted. And then we meet Nikki Wade, tattoo artist, former lover and always friend to Trisha; she’ll do anything to help Trish, but has a wee bit of a problem working alongside a screw – namely Helen Stewart.

Nevertheless, an alliance is formed, and while the occasional spark of temper flies between the head-strong tattoo artist and the by-the-book wing governor, other things, shall we say, begin to ignite as well. The characterizations of Helen and Nikki are spot-on and the interaction between the two characters is downright perfect! The reader will find themselves reading page after page of dialogue that is so well written, you will think you’re listening to their conversations instead of reading them.

Some of the other usual suspects appear in ‘Written on the Heart’ – namely Shell Dockley, Bodybag, Sean (the prawn) Parr and of course, the bastard Fenner, and Estraven has written each and every one perfectly, but she also introduces a new character, Jane. And although her name may be simple, the character is anything but. A strong and brooding loner, we meet her in Larkhall where she offers Trisha protection, and slowly, a friendship is born. While not a character that appeared in the original series, Estraven has written Jane so wonderfully that you’ll find yourself pulling for her, just as you do for Nikki and Helen. Not an easy task!

Of course, while the story contains lots of great characters and pages of wonderful dialogue – it wouldn’t be complete without a little romance. Did I say little? How about slow … as in simmer … because that’s what Estraven gives us. The attraction between the two main characters, namely Nikki and Helen, happens slowly, and the reader will find themselves sitting back with a smile on their face as they watch the characters fall in love – whether they like it or not.

I dare not say more about the storyline of the wonderful piece of fan fiction that is “Written on the Heart,” because I feel the reader needs to discover that for themselves, but I will say that you will be hard-pressed to find a better author than Estraven.