It’s amazing how much of 2016 is a blur. I barely remember the beginning of it — what I watched, what I read. I’ve done a lot of “Wait, that happened THIS year?” as I look back on what media made an impact on me.
Winona Ryder made a jaw-dropping comeback in Netflix’s Stranger Things, and I was blown away by Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven, but the show overall didn’t rank as one of my year-end faves. I binge-watched the first season of The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but bailed on season two. I also gave up on Jane the Virgin season three — and I dumped several of last year’s faves: Quantico, UnREAL and The 100!
Perhaps the most blasphemous development of all: I totally forgot The X-Files came back this year! The revival was so underwhelming and half-assed, with Gillian Anderson the only bright spot, that all my years of fannish nostalgia couldn’t save it.
Here’s a look back at my 2016!
Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
Beyond Surrender by Kit Rocha
The Young Blood by Erin Satie
The Get Down (Netflix)
Jessica Jones (Netflix)
Luke Cage (Netflix)
Queen Sugar (OWN)
Good Behavior (TNT)
Captain America: Civil War
Favorite Guilty Pleasures
The Exorcist (FOX)
Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party (VH1)
Peanut butter Clif bars
MVA (Most Valuable Author): Molly O’Keefe. I honestly couldn’t pick my favorite O’Keefe book of the year. She had so much great stuff come out, and I glommed it ALL. And she even got a cover shout-out in Suicide Squad!
Best TV Comeback: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The introduction of Gabriel Luna’s Ghost Rider revitalized the show after a meh third season.
Political fatigue — and then political angst — killed my appetite for books in November…but I still managed to squeeze in some BIG winners!
Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union is going to catapult this talented author to the next level, and I’m so glad I got to read an early copy! The Edge of the Blade is a gorgeous addition to Jeffe Kennedy’s fantasy series for Kensington, and I can’t wait to see where she takes the characters next! And Beyond Surrender…damn. What do I say about this series-ender that would even encompass all my feels? The team behind Kit Rocha gorgeously wrap up this chapter of their sexy dystopian saga while opening the door to a new one. I would’ve been sobbing at several points during this book if I hadn’t been devouring it in public!
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (out 3/28/17, historical romance)
Driven to Distraction by Olivia Dade (out 1/17/17, contemporary romance)
The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy (out 12/27, fantasy romance)
Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan (out 3/7/17, contemporary romance)
Bad Neighbor by Molly O’Keefe (erotic romance)
One Hot December by Tiffany Reisz (category-length erotic romance)
Beyond Surrender by Kit Rocha (out 12/13, dystopian erotic romance)
My Scandalous Duke by Theresa Romain (historical romance)
I also climbed into Judith McNaught’s backlist to read Perfect, which definitely lived up to its name.
I packed September and October with a lot of over-the-top bananapants reads and sci-fi/fantasy romances — guaranteed to whisk me away from reality for a while. Given the current political climate, we all need a break, right? But the bottom line, in anything that I really enjoy reading, is deep, believable, connection between the characters. Without that, it doesn’t matter how many bananas are in a book’s pants!
Getting Inside by Serena Bell (out 1/3/17, contemporary romance)
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (young adult, urban fantasy)
Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon (erotic sci-fi romance)
Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon (erotic sci-fi romance)
Adore You by Nicole Falls (contemporary romance)
Breathless by Beverly Jenkins (out 1/31/2017, historical romance)
Lonen’s War by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy romance)
Oria’s Gambit by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy romance)
The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy romance)
Hold by Claire Kent (sci-fi erotic romance)
Release by Claire Kent (sci-fi/fantasy romance)
Along Came Love by Tracey Livesay (contemporary romance)
Hold Me by Courtney Milan (contemporary romance)
The Beast Prince by Marian Perera (sci-fi romance)
My Scandalous Duke by Theresa Romain (out 11/15, novella, historical romance)
Seconds to Sunrise by Nico Rosso (out 1/16/17, romantic suspense)
Love the Way You Lie by Skye Warren (erotic romance)
Backlist adventures: Angel’s Wings by Anne Stuart, Ravished by Amanda Quick, Wedding? Impossible! by Karen Templeton.
August was packed with good reads! I’m pretty proud of myself…and pretty bummed about the state of the world, since that’s what drove me to dive into a pile of books.
I’m really glad I finally got around to Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes. It definitely lives up to all the good things I’ve heard about it — and the bad guys creeped me out like whoa!
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (fantasy romance)
Between a Rock and a Hot Mess by Phyllis Bourne (contemporary romance)
Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown (contemporary LGBT romance)
A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev (contemporary romance, romantic suspense)
Perv by Dakota Gray (erotic romance)
Skin Game by Cara McKenna (erotic romance/thriller)
Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster (steampunk paranormal romance)
Her Halloween Treat by Tiffany Reisz (category-length erotic romance)
Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz (category-length erotic romance)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (young adult dystopian fantasy)
My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas (historical romance)
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (horror)
I had a major reading drought in June and a couple of DNFs. Thankfully, July picked up the slack a little. There were so many excellent reads, from Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex to Tessa Dare’s latest and the erotic goodness from Melissa Blue and Alisha Rai!
One of the best books I read in July doesn’t come out until 2017, so it’s not mentioned here. Just know that when it’s closer to release, I WILL be squeeing.
Bluest of Blue by Melissa Blue (erotic romance)
Do You Want to Start a Scandal? by Tessa Dare (out 9/27, historical romance)
The Devil’s Doorbell by Anne Calhoun, Megan Hart & more (erotic romance, anthology)
Little Secrets by Megan Hart (horror/suspense)
Hell Breaks Loose by Sophie Jordan (romantic suspense)
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (sci-fi/fantasy, superhero)
How to Say Goodbye by Amber Lin (new adult contemporary romance)
Love on My Mind by Tracey Livesay (contemporary romance)
Burn Down the Night by Molly O’Keefe (erotic romance)
Stay My Fantasy by Alisha Rai (erotic romance, novella)
Any Time You Need Me by Farrah Rochon (contemporary romance)
Her Billionaire Rancher Boss by Genevieve Turner (contemporary romance)
Backlist adventures: I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter.
I can safely say that I made up for the reading drought of prior months. So many interesting books! OMG!
Grace Draven’s Wraith Kings series continues to rock. Vanessa North’s upcoming f/f romance Roller Girl is lovely. Tiffany Reisz’s twisted The Bourbon Thief marks her as the 21st Century answer to V.C. Andrews. And, honestly, I would read a Tang Dynasty grocery list written by Jeannie Lin.
Without further ado, here are the books that gripped me in May!
Eidolon by Grace Draven (fantasy romance)
Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand (horror, novella)
The Liar’s Dice by Jeannie Lin, in Gambled Away (historical romance, novella)
Playing With Fire by Kate Meader (contemporary romance)
Roller Girl by Vanessa North (out 7/25, contemporary LGBT romance)
Seduced by Molly O’Keefe (historical romance, novella)
Tempted by Molly O’Keefe (historical romance, novella)
Redeemed by Molly O’Keefe, in Gambled Away (historical romance, novella)
Looking for a Complication by Tamsen Parker (contemporary LGBT romance, novella/short story)
Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau (out 6/28, historical mystery)
Be My Fantasy by Alisha Rai (erotic romance, novella)
The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz (out 6/28, mainstream fiction)
The Vines by Christopher Rice (horror)
One Minute to Midnight by Nico Rosso (out 7/18, romantic suspense)
Beyond Ecstasy by Kit Rocha (dystopian erotic romance)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the campaign for “the Internet’s Boyfriend” Tom Hiddleston as the new James Bond. For an actor, there’s no doubt that the opportunity to play Bond is next level. It’s a long-running, wildly successful, franchise. You go from stolid period dramas to a blockbuster paycheck. Everybody knows your name. (That was even the gist of the Chris Cornell theme song of Daniel Craig’s entrée into the series, Casino Royale). But, as a viewer, and as someone who is known to have a bit of a crush on Tom Hiddleston, I just cannot get my head around this idea.