What’s Kim Reading Now?: The Sisters Brothers

This is the second novel I’ve read in recent weeks in which the protagonist is a sympathetic killer, the first being The Night Inspector. And like The Night Inspector, Patrick DeWitt’s book takes place in the mid 19th century. But The Sisters Brothers is set in Oregon and California during the Gold Rush, and while the protagonist in The Night Inspector was a Union sharpshooter, Eli Sisters and his brother Charlie are, essentially, hitmen.

The Sisters Brothers is funny despite the considerable death and mayhem. It’s black humor, I suppose, which I’ve always liked. Eli has an odd sense of melancholy and sweetness despite his profession. And I think this book gives an accurate sense of the desperate way of life that was common in that time and place. It was a quick read, one I gobbled avidly.

What’s Kim Reading Now?: Trying to Grow

One of my latest reads is something a bit off the beaten track: Trying to Grow by Firdaus Kanga. It’s set in Bombay several decades ago and is the semiautobiographical story of a boy with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), who is also gay. It’s not a romance, although the protagonist does fall in love. But it is funny and bittersweet, and it certainly offers a unique perspective. Give it a try if you’d like to try something different.

What’s Kim Reading Now: The Night Inspector

One of my latest reads wasn’t m/m and wasn’t romance–although there was a brief, unexpected scene with two men, and although a romantic relationship helps drive the story.

The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch is set in New York City right after the Civil War. The protagonist, WIlliam Bartholomew, was a Union sharpshooter who had half his face blown away in the war and now wears a mask in public. He’s a complex and fascinating character, somehow both coldblooded and sympathetic. He befriends Herman Melville, who’d achieved fame with Moby-Dick and other books but by 1867 had seen his literary light fade.

The writing is not easy to read. It’s complex and many-layered, written much in the style of the mid 19th century. The scenes often jump time from 1867 to the Civil War or to Bartholomew’s youth. And what’s described is often very ugly. But the writing is nevertheless beautiful, and it truly drew me into the story and setting.

What’s Kim Reading Now: Psycop #1-4

Nowadays most of my reading is confined to audiobooks. That way I can multitask: listening to a good book while doing my daily 5K walk. And I’m not complaining, because there are some terrific audiobooks out there!

Recently I listened to the first 4 books in Jordan Castillo Price’s Psycops series. These books are fantastic–funny, suspenseful, hot. I absolutely love the awkward, neurotic protagonist, Victor Bayne. The other characters are great too. And Gomez Pugh narrates really, really well. He’s become one of my favorite narrators, as a matter of fact.

Thanks to this series, I’ve found it easy to get in at least 10 thousand steps per day. So Psycop is good for your health! I just hope the 5th book releases soon on audio.

What’s Kim Reading Now? Hell & High Water by Charlie Cochet

I should probably be honest and call this feature What’s Kim Listening to Now, because lately most of my books have been audio. Not that I’m complaining. Listening to books gives me the incentive to do my daily 5K walk.

My most recent listen was Charlie Cochet’s Hell & High Water, and I really enjoyed it. Charlie has done a fantastic job of world-building in this series, and she’s a real master of getting details right. Her characters are easy to fall in love with. And the writing is exciting and often funny as well. Dex and Sloane make a couple I’m really rooting for. I liked the narration, too. It kept me stepping quickly.

I’ll be looking forward to listening to the next book in the series soon.

What’s Kim Reading Now?: Claw

Okay, I’m cheating. Sort of. Usually I highlight other people’s books in this feature. But I have a new release today. And it still sort of counts because the new release is Claw, book three in the Gothika series, and it also contains novellas by Eli Easton and Jamie Fessenden.

Can I pause a moment to squee at being in the company of such talented writers–and wonderful people to boot?ClawLG

So this volume has a shifter theme. My story is “Transformation,” and it takes places in Oregon in the 1880s. I’m calling the genre Pioneer Gothic. Here’s a little tease from my tale:

Orris’s legs gave out, and he sank to his knees. He stopped his desperate scrabbling for the gun and simply froze. Even his lungs stopped working.

The animal stepped closer, very slowly. Not as if it were frightened, but rather as if it enjoyed stalking him, the way Cook’s cat liked to play with mice in the pantry. Soon it was near enough that Orris could make out the dim outline of its body. It looked like a large dog, he thought. Heavy, with a thick ruff of fur at its neck. In one large leap, it could be on him.

But it didn’t leap—at least not yet. It stared at him and Orris stared back, and although he could sense little else of the animal, its eyes gave the impression of keen intelligence.

“Imagine when Daniel hears I’ve been eaten by a wild beast,” Orris whispered. “Won’t he be jealous. This beats a whole slew of handsome French garret-mates .”

The animal—was it a coyote?—cocked its head slightly, which brought a burst of hysterical laughter from Orris. “Are you having second thoughts? Maybe a sorry thing like me will give you indigestion. I suppose you’d rather have a nice supper of tender lamb.”

It came a step closer. Orris smelled it: wet fur, pine sap, and something else he couldn’t name. The scent of the wilderness, perhaps.

And then a strange thing happened. Well, stranger. While Orris’s heart still raced, he realized that the terror had fled, and what he was feeling now was… excitement. He was nearly giddy with it, actually, like the first time Daniel had interrupted their studies with a kiss and then dragged Orris willingly to his bedroom.

Why would a man feel excited when he was about to be killed?

Orris had no real answer for that. Maybe the animal could hypnotize its prey with its gaze, or maybe Orris had simply lost his sanity. In any case, he took a deep breath and tilted his head to the side.

“All right, then,” he said.

The animal’s muscles bunched. But just before it leapt, a strident bark burst from the darkness behind it. Orris startled, and the animal yelped with surprise before whirling around.

Good Lord. There were two of them.

The new one was snarling, but as it moved closer to the lantern, its attention seemed focused less on Orris than on the first beast. The new one growled, and the first yipped slightly before hunching its shoulders and dropping its gaze. Without another glance at Orris, the first animal trotted away. But the other one—the new one—it did not yet leave. It looked at Orris, but without menace. And there was something so compelling about it that Orris had to stop himself from crawling forward to meet it.

“You’re beautiful,” Orris rasped. He couldn’t see enough detail to support such an assertion, but there was something about those glowing eyes, the confident set of the large body, that suggested power and… majesty, even.

The animal blinked at him. It stretched its head forward, and Orris thought it would close the space between them. But then it snarled—fast and sharp—before spinning around and bounding away into the blackness.

So now you want to run out and buy the book, right? You won’t be sorry! You can get it at Dreamspinner, Amazon, ARe, or your favorite bookseller. And you can choose between the print version (look at that delicious cover!) or ebook.



What’s Kim Reading Now?: Amy Lane’ s Johnnies series

I don’t have much time to read nowadays. I have a lot of things currently in the editing process and I’m heading toward the end of the semester. But I do a 3.25 mile walk every day, and while I walk, I listen to audiobooks. Which make the walk way more interesting and give me incentive to get out the door and start moving.

I just finished listening to Amy Lane’s Johnnies series. The first 3 books plus Super Sock Man are narrated by Sean Crisden, and the last is narrated by Gomez Pugh. This was slightly disorienting, but only for a few minutes. Both narrators do a great job. And the books are lovely–angsty, funny, sweet, sexy. My favorite is Dex in Blue, but I enjoyed them all. They really made the miles fly by. Some days I even walked extra just to hear a little more. So I guess I can thank Amy and her boys for improved health.

What’s Kim Reading Now: Prisoner 374214 by Angel Martinez

As many of you are aware, each year the Goodreads m/m romance group does an event in which members post prompts, which authors claim. The authors then write stories for those prompts, and the stories are posted for free. There have been some really terrific ones. Two of my free novellas–Guarded and Treasure–came from this event. I’m currently working on a third.

One of my favorite stories from this event is two years old. It’s Prisoner 374214 by Angel Martinez, and I’ve reread it many times. The writing is terrific. The plot begins bleak but ends hopeful, and in between is a lot of delicious hurt-comfort. You can read it for free here.

What’s Kim Reading Now: How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton

Okay, full disclosure–Eli Easton is a friend. In fact, we were roomies at a recent workshop and she’s sitting in the room with me this very minute. But I’m also a huge fan of her work and I wouldn’t rec it if I didn’t love it.

How to Howl at the Moon is a shifter book in which one MC shifts into a border collie. The other MC is oblivious to this important fact.

I read about half of this book while squished on a transcontinental flight and the other half sitting poolside, cool drink at hand. It fit the bill perfectly for both settings: it was engaging, fun, and sweet. I loved the characters and the plot was just right–just the right amount of tension. The take on shifters is fresh. And Eli Easton wrote it, which means it’s well-written too. And funny! I’ll be looking forward to more in the series.


What’s Kim Reading Now?: Belonging ‘Verse books

I have a two-fer for you this week–two books set in the same universe but written by different authors. They are Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz and Counterpunch by Aleksandr Voinov.

The world-building is terrific. The books are set in a world pretty much identical to ours–except that slavery wasn’t abolished in the US in the 19th century. In fact, slavery has spread in scope and across the world. In Anchored, the protagonist is a man who was born a slave and was bought by a corporation to be a journalist and TV newsman. But the corporation also rents him to a high bidder for evenings and weekends. This book takes place in New York. The protagonist in Counterpunch was born free and was a policeman, but was sentenced to slavery after he killed a politician’s daughter. That one’s set in the UK.

You could easily read either of these without reading the other–they have little in common apart from the shared universe.

There are some very brutal scenes in these books, especially Anchored. But there’s also real tenderness. And in both books, the writing is fantastic.