Hello, summer reading! I don’t actually have a vacation planned for this summer, but I’m piling up my summer reading anyway. Lakefront beaches and shade trees in parks, here I come! Chicago’s winters are long and harsh, our summers brief but glorious. Reading outside is one of my favorite things to do, especially if no one will notice when I fall asleep over my book…
Here are some of the books I’ve finished reading recently, or have queued up next!
ROLLER GIRL by Vanessa North ~ This book made me really happy. This f/f & trans romance is both sweet and sexy and Tina is a fantastic heroine who I’ve been rooting for throughout the entire Lake Lovelace series. But more than anything else, this book made me miss my girlfriends, my best friends. It’s a book that values female friendships and the community of women, and everything about watching Tina find derby and her crew made me happy. These women are funny and fierce and caretaking. They fight sometimes, but they also support each other, all the while appreciating and including the men in their lives. This is one of those books where you just want to step inside it so you can hang out with everyone. Plus, there’s a parking lot make out session that made me fan myself. Whooee. This one’s not out until next month, but you can pre-order it in paperback at Amazon or in all formats at Riptide.
LOCKED ROOMS by Laurie R. King ~ I started rereading the later books of this series after picking up the newest release, GARMENT OF SHADOWS. (ETA: GoS isn’t the newest release. I’m way behind on this series, apparently!) Locked Rooms is book 4, and takes place in San Francisco, with lots of flashbacks to the fire & earthquakes of 1906 in that city. King’s series matches a young, brilliant American orphan as the perfect partner for an older, retired Sherlock Holmes. I love these books. Mary Russell is a student of both theology and science, and her adventures with Sherlock Holmes are a pure pleasure to read. In Garment of Shadows, Mary wakes up with amnesia in what she shortly determines is the city of Fez in Morocco. I’m a hundred pages into the new book and loving it.
PRIME MINISTER by Ainsley Booth and Sadie Haller ~ The dirty, dirty book inspired by Canada’s electing the stupidly handsome and righteously liberal Justin Trudeau. As an ex-HR person, I was hesitant at first, because books with romance/sex in the workplace almost always set off all my “we must abide by the rules and not GET SUED FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT, DARLINGS” alarms. But the authors wrote a lovely note about the book that cleared up my worries, so now I’m diving in. I’m already past the opening scene where the PM busts the (super smart, educated, and outspoken) intern in her totally work-inappropriate yoga class clothes at the office on the weekend. I’m already fanning myself. Also, this is book 1 of the Frisky Beaver series and that series name alone makes me unutterably happy.
SPIRITWALK by Charles de Lint ~ Rereading some Canadian urban fantasy and remembering how much I enjoy Charles de Lint’s writing. This is a collection of linked stories and novellas, all revolving around Tamson House, a magical place I wish existed so I could move into one of its 200 rooms right now. Talk about an excellent place for a writing retreat! I love de Lint’s mashup of Celtic and Native American folklore and his lyrical writing. Plus, mixing bikers and pagans and poets is always a fun time. 🙂 There’s also a completely minor moment in which de Lint’s interior monologue of one character completely exposes how shitty the idea of “being friendzoned” is, long before that phrase even existed. (Spiritwalk was published in 1970.) For a 46yo book, this collection holds up terrifically well. Think I’m going to reread Moonheart, which actually precedes this one, next. The book has a more contemporary vibe to its current cover art, but this is what my paperback looks like, so I’m keeping this one!
TRUE NORTH by Tamsen Parker ~ When my CP told me she was going to give Slade from Personal Geography and Original Geography his own books, I was…not pleased. As far as I was concerned, Slade was a walking dumpster fire of awful. But Tamsen can do no wrong, and so of course Slade is completely redeemed in this book, in his own hella kinky way. And his wife Pressly’s alter ego is absolutely darling, which was a surprise to me too. Plus, we get to peek in on India and Cris, and there’s moar Rey! Whooee, a lot more Rey, and that just leaves me dying for Rey’s book, which I know is going to be the last of the series. THAT. MAN. Phew. True North comes out next month.
ROSEANNA by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö ~ Someone (can’t remember who! please poke me if it was you!) recommended the Martin Beck series to me and I’m so glad they did. It’s fascinating to immerse yourself in another era (1960s Sweden) and this police procedural/mystery sucked me in with a world that existed pre-indoor smoking bans, cell phones, and the internet. This is not a glamorous world. The best quality a police officer can possess is patience, and grinding it out while you have the flu is more valuable than being a great shot. (Martin Beck, the detective inspector who is the main character is a terrible shot and rarely carries his gun.) The book starts with the discovery of a body and there are long, quiet times where the police are getting nowhere with the investigation, but when the action hits its climax near the end, I was holding my breath with anxiety. The writing is spare, almost Hemingway-esque in its plainness, and holds up terrifically well fifty years later.
Plus, I pulled up a map of Sweden on my laptop & kept adding stops to a driving route as the characters traveled from one city to another, so now I feel like I’ve taking a mini-tour of the country. Terrific book. I’ll be reading the rest of the series for sure.
MIXED SIGNALS is book 3 in Alyssa Cole’s post-apocalyptic trilogy where all the power has gone out. I love the diversity of this series, with Black, Asian, and LGBTQ characters. I loved the heroine of book 1 because she made me cackle with her smart alec internal monologues, and because her hair got legitimately ratty during the apocalypse. (I still think of that TV show of the past few years where everyone’s in survival mode and using bows and arrows, but looking like they first spent an hour flat-ironing their hair every morning. Argh.) Book 2 is m/m romance, with one of my favorite characters, an introspective and philosophical astrophysicist dude who almost broke my damn heart. I’m very much looking forward to wrapping things up with book 3. And the whole trilogy is on sale for 99 cents for each book right now! No idea how long the sale price will last.
LAGOON by Nnedi Okorafor ~ I fucking loved Okorafor’s Nebula Award-winning novella BINTI for its fascinating human and alien cultures, mind-stretching mathematics, super cool spaceships, and its heroine so very far from home. Lagoon is an alien first contact story that upends the usual movie/TV/book assumption that if aliens visit Earth, they’ll obviously land in the U.S. When a spaceship lands in the waters outside Lagos, Nigeria, “It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction.” Yup. Sold. I’ve been reading some excellent SFF lately, and I can’t wait to start this one.
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE by Theresa Romain ~ Romain is both witty and funny as hell, and I was hooked on this book at the opening paragraphs, when the hero eyes a painting on which he is working and decides the canvas looks “as if a chicken had been killed on it…He dragged his brush over one corner of the canvas and regarded it again. Now it looked as if someone had killed a chicken on it, then tried to clean up the evidence.” Plus, the heroine is a widow who curses and makes dirty jokes. Love it. All three of the books in this trilogy are only 99 cents until the end of June. Go wild with your Amazon rebate money!
SAILING TO SARANTIUM by Guy Gavriel Kay is a reread. Kay’s newest book just released this month and I’m dying to dive into it. But he’s an author who deserves a wallow, so I’m going to reread the two Sarantium books first. They take place 500 years before the events of Children of Earth and Sky, the new book. Kay’s books are usually found in the SFF section of bookstores, but they’re more alt history than fantasy usually, lyrical and intensely anchored in the physicality of their settings, I read Kay and assume that at some point in the book I am going to cry. Balancing the intensity of his characters’ emotions, tragedies and triumphs are some of the best adventure and battle tales I’ve ever read. Terrific stuff. Sailing to Sarantium was on sale for $3.99 when I wrote this, which is hella cheap for a Kay book.
DOWNTOWN DEVIL by Cara Makenna ~ The first book in this series is still selling for $11.99, but Downtown Devil is priced at $3.99 as of right now. No idea how long that price is going to last, but I snapped it up in an instant because McKenna is an autobuy author for me. I’ll buy her books without reading the blurb. This one’s m/m/f ménage and one of my favorite reviewers said it was her favorite McKenna ever. That’s a damn high bar to set, so I’m very much looking forward to this one.
It’s late, so I’m going to stop here. More summer reading next month probably! What are you guys reading? I got an embarrassing amount of money back in the Apple settlement, so rec me your favorites!