Ally is reading

This week’s reading. I’ve got a bit behind, but today I have Conspiracy Theory by Elle Keaton, Echoes of the Storm by Char Newcomb and Work for It by Talia Hibbert!

Conspiracy Theory by Elle Keaton
Cover. Conspiracy Theory by Elle Keaton.

This is the first in a complete trilogy following the same couple in all the books and I like this first one best, because I am a sucker for UST and there is soooo much of it. I am also a sucker for police stories, so it hit all my hot buttons.

It’s a contemporary, set on the islands off the west coast of the USA, which seems a bit wild-westy to my English self, and which I loved. Matt and Niall are both sympathetic characters and I found the mystery really engaging. So a big yay from me all round.

Echoes of the Storm by Charlene Newcomb
Cover: Echoes of the Storm by Charlene Newcomb

This has complicated relationships and spaceships. I put it forward for your consideration on that basis!

Jack’s lover has betrayed the resistance and he’s now on the run across space and has become an unlikely rallying point for survivors to begin the fight to win their planet back. The slow-burn romance with the space-pirate captain is perfect and there are battles and spies and ace rep. It’s perfect and you should read it!

Work For It by Talia Hibbert
Cover: Work For It, Talia Hibbert

I really, really liked this. There’s so much angst. Soooo much. And it’s all from a really deep painful place inside each man that hits where it hurts. Olu suffers from depression and that is painted very realistically, with no magic-lovespell curing it. Griff is stuck in his small village and doesn’t think he’s worth anyone’s time. It’s slow-burn, well paced and heart-wrenching and the happy ever after is perfect. Also it’s set on a farm, which is my catnip.

And that’s it for this time!


This week’s reading! You can also follow me on Goodreads for these as I’m trying to be better as saying something about what I’ve been reading on there.

Stray Fears by Gregory Ashe
Cover of Stray Fears by Gregory Ashe

I am not normally a seasonal fiction person, but I made an exception for this, because a) Gregory Ashe and b) the seasonal touch is very light. I love the spookiness of it, which echoes the weird magic of his Hollow Folk series whilst being a completely different universe. As usual the characters are real people, flawed in some ways and wonderful in others. The paranormal aspects are completely my bag and very well imagined. Five stars.

Restored by Joanna Chambers
Cover of Restored, Joanna Chambers

Restored takes Kit Redford, gentleman’s club owner, glimpses of whom have been woven in and out of the Enlightenment series since the beginning, and gives him to us whole. He’s always struck me as a brittle character with an interesting back-story and this is an extremely satisfying culmination of years of wondering what formed him. The MCs are mature, which these days is a big draw for me as I’m knocking on a bit too. It’s easily read as a stand-alone, but if you’ve read the earlier books in the Enlightenment universe this will be particularly engaging. Again, five stars.

His Name was Wren by Rob Winters
Cover, His Name was Wren by Rob Winters

I don’t know why I picked this up, but I’m so pleased I did. It’s labelled as YA, but I think it stands anywhere you want to put it, despite the MCs being children. It’s got a perfect balance of history and sff that landed in my sweet spot with a big thump. The characters are very well drawn and the flip between 1944 and the present was done beautifully. I loved the visiting aliens, their personalities and their tech, but it’s the children who really make the story beautiful. It’s a story about humanity and I really think you should read it!

That’s it for this week! I’m going to try and make this a weekly thing, because we’re all desperate for reading recs, right?


This week I’m doing a lot of reading of things to avoid thinking about real life. Because you know, real life sucks quite dramatically at the moment. To fair that’s my normal M.O. too, but it feels very much like I’m hiding at the moment!

The Lost Ship of the Tucker Rebellion by Marie Sexton and Cari Z, which is a queer space opera romp of the finest kind, with a romantic sub-plot that’s very satisfying. There’s a sarcastic AI, space wreckage, a destroyed earth, searching for a home; all the good tropes. I wanted it to be longer, but I always want books with a ‘finding a new home’ trope to be longer, because finding the home is the beginning of a new story as well as the end of the current one. Anyway…five stars, will read again!

Innocence by Suki Fleet. This was a surprise like for me. I don’t read a lot of contemporary and when I do it has to have a lot of angst for me to stay engaged. This has loads of angst and I loved it. Two broken people with secrets from each others past find each other. It’s an age gap romance and I was slightly freaked by the fact that the younger MC is only eighteen and the older one is twenty-nine. They both feel like babies to my fifty-year-old self though and the younger one is very mature, so I got past that quite quickly. The story is lovely, evocative of the English countryside I love. I’m really pleased I read it and I will read it again.

I’ve also been deep in An Archive of Our Own (AO3) again. If you haven’t found it yet, it’s a huge collection of fan fiction collected and collated by series, by pairing and by a huge number of cross-referenced tags. At the moment I’m read-reading all the Vorkosigan-universe stuff and it’s immensely satisfying to hide in someone else’s mind for a while.

That’s it! I’m trying to log things on Goodreads a bit more–you can see my current reads here.

Taking Stock in the NYT

I am so happy this morning that I have been doing more good-crying. Taking Stock has a wonderful write-up by Olivia Waite in the New York Times Book Review today. In case you don’t have a subscription or are over your free reads this month, she says…

Book cover of Taking Stock
Taking Stock

…small-town found-family solace is also the bedrock of our fourth and final romance, TAKING STOCK (JMS Books, 280 pp., e-book, $3.99), a queer 1970s romance by A. L. Lester set in rural England. Fans of Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles will find this book quieter but no less pleasing. Phil is a stockbroker in disgrace after his ex-boyfriend frames him for insider trading; when he retreats to a country cottage he is soon smitten by Laurie, a former runaway turned farmer just beginning to put his life together after a stroke. It’s rare to see chronic disability handled with such precision in romance — the author’s own experience certainly informs the text — and this book is open about how Laurie’s frustration makes him vulnerable as he relearns the limits of his body’s capabilities. But it is no savior narrative: Phil’s own past has enough pain in it that it feels like any rescuing is entirely mutual. It’s a delicate story, clearly told. It’s restrained but earnest; the focus on farm life (spring-fed ponds and sheep shearing!), and on rebuilding and rebirth, offers an earthy kind of hope, for whenever you feel like the world is falling to pieces around you.

I can’t really articulate how chuffed I am by this. The other three books Olivia reviews are by authors I admire immensely and it’s wonderful, and rather shocking, to be written about on the same page as both them and Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought Taking Stock. I really hope you enjoy it.

non-wolf queer shifters

Today I’ve got five of my favourite non-standard shifter stories for you. I’m partial to an occasional were-person story but I’m a hard no for mpreg and most kinds of alpha/beta/omega dynamics. Instead, these are five quirky, sweet recommendations for you that I really rate.

Werecockroach by Polenth Blake

Rin moves into a new flat on the day the aliens arrive. Their new flatmates are laid-back Sanjay and conspiracy theorist Pete. It doesn’t take long to notice some oddities about the pair, like hoarding cardboard and hissing at people when they’re angry. Something strange is going on, but it’s not all due to the aliens.

Gay werecockroaches. What more could you want in a story? I loved this. Oh, and aliens. Who wear hats.

Sharing a Pond by Alex Whitehall

Brent shows up on Corey and Shane’s doorstep in the dead of winter needing a place to stay—and hopeful his mates will provide it, and not mind he’s a frog shifter.

Trans polyamorous frog shifters for the win. This book was just what I needed the day I read it, charming, touching and funny, with a bit of angst. The characters communicate, there’s explicit negotiation of consent and a lovely happy ending.

Love, Marriage and a Baby Carriage by C. S. Poe

WaddleCon is the go-to event of the year when looking for your life partner, but Theodore isn’t comfortable with the game they’ve turned dating into, nor does the convention provide for the gay community.

I didn’t know I needed penguin shifters in my life until I read this book. And now I do. It’s a short sweet story that leaves a smile.

Elevator Pitch by Ofelia Grand

Bjorn Ritter only wants one thing—to live his life away from nosey, demanding bears. And Cecil Baxter might be a bat, but he grew up away from shifter communities and he’s doing his best to continue to keep his distance.

A really sweet, funny story about two misfits finding love in a broken elevator.

9 Willow Street by Nell Iris

Heartbroken after the death of his beloved Nana, Hannes, the family outsider, finally allows himself to grieve. The legal battle over Nana’s quirky old house — the only place he’s ever felt accepted and loved — is over, and he moves in and finds a sense of peace. And a rabbit.

This is a short, sweet, fun and sexy read and there’s now a short, free sequel here!

Add your favourite non-wolf shifter stories in the comments or email me and I’ll append them!