Like a Sparrow Through the Heart by Aggy Bird
Very enjoyable. Once again this is a free read (you can find it via the link (above). Although it is an LJ published story, there was promise of a PDF--which I couldn't find. However, I just copy and pasted the story into a word doc, then had amazon convert it for me, so I could read on my eReader. I tend to have lower expectations for free reads, because they tend to have minimal editing and no limit of what horrors can be posted.
However, once again I was delighted to find a well-written, well-edited story with a good mix of plot, romance, and humor. We follow the adventures of Flit and Talon, a sparrow and griffin shapeshifter, who accidentally meet. Talon is a bully, Flit has a penchant for fixing birds and sees Talon as a bird who needs fixing. He forces his company upon Talon, and comedy (and excitement) ensues.
Writing is really what made this story work. The mix of sensitive subjects, heartbreak, humor and action only function because the author strings them together effortlessly. What starts as an almost comedy develops into something more, then transforms once again into a third incarnation that holds its own. Exploring all these different elements like the author did helped the story work and not become cliche, which was a real possibility.
Along these same lines, the author was good at developing small instances to remind the reader that these were not just humans that live among the clouds. They do pretty much have everything we do, which kept the author from having to create her own world, but there are little word choices that are cute and birdy (eg, poppypeacock, birdfriend [instead of boyfriend], finchtoast).
Although Talon is a bit of a grump in the beginning, Flit is a lovely little bird who is small and tough. There are a variety of side characters who make an appearance, most, amusingly, just being named after their bird-type (Robin, Finch Finchly). They work to keep the story going and break up the alone time that our two main characters have with one another.
Not so much a weakness as a warning: There is violence/abuse in this story, and it follows a Beauty & the Beast motif. If this is unacceptable, then you will not enjoy this book! Flit enjoys a dominating man, which has previously landed him with abusive birdfriends, and in combination with his need to fix things, gets him into trouble (NOT that he warrants some of the things that happen to him). Talon has a temper, is aggressive and things nothing of smacking someone around. The combination leads to what could very easily be seen as an abusive relationship. I forgive it for two main reasons: 1. Flit isn't being kept there by Talon. In fact, he holds the power in the relationship via tail feather (aka, blackmail). 2. Talon is a brute, yes, but he doesn't really mean to be abusive (which sounds like denial/excusing, I know), and once things are pointed out to him, his behavior changes for the better (well, at least in Flit's case).