Nikki reviews Girls in Ice Houses by Linda Morganstein

Maxie Wolfe is a paparazzo with seemingly questionable morals and a lack of empathy for those celebrities her photographs affect. She has mountainous attachment issues, stemming from her childhood with an artistic megalomaniacal mother. As described in the novel, Maxie is the result of an experiment in motherhood, which is a very sad way to think about oneself, though very accurate for their dynamic. Maxie buries her emotional baggage under a thick veneer of apathy, and for much of the first half, Maxie’s issues and flaws make her extremely difficult to relate to or empathize with. Honestly I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to finish it through the middle third, but I am glad I did.

Maxie spends much of her time navigating a reluctant friendship with Fisher, a woman she meets in unlikely circumstances, resulting in them both requiring anger management classes. At one point, Fisher convinces Maxie to join her on a trip to her family’s home in the midwest, and Maxie’s reticence towards relationships of all sorts continues to be tested.

I had some issues with the story, as too much emphasis was on cryptic dialogue that started to become annoying, but this was hiding a depth of connections that would otherwise be ruined, so I sort of get why that was necessary. Additionally, the middle dragged on and as a reader, you never quite know why many things are happening until towards the end. As for that, the lengths to which circumstances are connected felt excessively complicated. I can imagine some would have given up at this point, as I almost did. The end of the novel, though not tying up everything completely, did result in a satisfyingly full arc for Maxie. I didn’t expect to like Maxie at all, but by the end I was pleasantly surprised by her once I eventually navigated her difficult past. I can imagine some will be turned off by her, of course, but if you push through, I think you’d agree that she’s worth the trouble, no matter what her mother thinks.

You can download a sample or purchase Girls in Ice Houses by clicking here.

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)

Thy Neighbor’s Wife by Georgia Beers

This was my third Georgia Beers book and my appreciation for her writing style and ability to tell a story has only grown stronger. In this offering, Alex meets Jennifer on the day she and her husband, Eric, are signing the papers to buy the house next door for their new summer home. Eric is a successful lawyer in his father’s firm and Jennifer doesn’t work. In a nutshell, they are a rich, young, and good looking couple who seem to have it all. Alex is a writer and former teacher who was given her home by an aunt and lives at the lake with her little dog year round.

Jennifer spends the vast majority of the summer without Eric, who seems to have more work than he can handle and spends his nights close to the office in another town. Alex and Jennifer spend nearly all their time together, learning about each other, getting to be friends, and discovering a physical attraction.

It was an easy read and I connected pretty quickly with the characters and, as usual, the more minor characters were just as nicely written. There’s some background information given about both of our main characters that helps us to understand some of the decisions that they’ve made and some of the hesitation in making new ones. Here’s the only thing that threw off my reading flow – Jennifer’s eyes kept changing from blue to green. I know, it’s not a big deal, but I’m one of those readers that get thrown off by inconsistencies like that. The toddler in the book also changed from being 3 years old to being 2 – again, not a big deal. I figure if that was the worst that I can come up with, it was pretty damn good.

I plan to eventually get all of Ms. Beers’ books. She’s become one of my very favorite romance writers.

Turning the Page by Georgia Beers

I had only read one Georgia Beers book prior to this (Starting from Scratch – it’s reviewed here) and I have to say that I liked this one just as much. I know it’s an older book – copyrighted in 2001 – but the ebook was release a few months ago and I just got it. I have such a hard time reading paper books now… You’d never believe how much my reading has increased since moving to ebook!

Anyway, the story is an interesting love triangle involving Melanie Larson, Taylor Rhodes, and Taylor’s widower dad, Ben. Melanie recently resigned from her high-powered marketing position in Chicago, where she had no life whatsoever outside of work. At 33, she decided that it was time to reevaluate what she was doing with herself. So it’s perfect timing when her favorite uncle calls and asks her to check out the bookstore that he gave to his daughter, Samantha, and her soon-to-be ex-husband. So Melanie packs up and heads to Rochester. It’s at Samantha’s rented carriage house that Melanie meets Ben and Taylor and immediately likes them both.

That’s all you’ll get out of me on the plot. I liked the main characters very much and they were easy to connect to and to understand. Beers has a way with drawing the reader in and made me feel like I was in the same room as the characters, watching the scenes unfold. There’s nothing particularly spectacular or shocking that happens but I truly enjoyed getting to know the characters and was happy to be with them for the ride.