I think all I did in May was read. Books are really a balm when things get heavy — and who needs socialization anyway? Besides, reading Santino Hassell’s latest Five Boroughs book was just like being out in NYC for real. He so vividly captures the pulse of the diverse city I call home. As for Pintip Dunn’s breath-taking Girl on the Verge…wow. I saw so much of myself in Thai-American heroine Kanchana. Throw in Karuna Riazi and KJ Charles and I was so awash in representation and voice and just…a feeling of belonging. I think that is SO necessary in uncertain times.
An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles (LGBT historical romance)
The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea de Salle (erotic romance)
Her Secret Service Agent by Stephanie Doyle (out 7/4, category-length contemporary romance)
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (out 6/27, young adult thriller)
A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran (historical romance)
Concourse by Santino Hassell (LGBT contemporary romance)
Enemies With Benefits by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers (romantic suspense/dark romance, prologue novelette)
Baby, Come Back by Molly O’Keefe (contemporary romance/dark romance)
The Debt by Molly O’Keefe (contemporary romance/dark romance, prologue novelette)
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor (sci-fi/fantasy, novella)
The Red by Tiffany Reisz (out 7/11, erotica)
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (middle-grade fantasy)
Beyond Doubt by Kit Rocha (erotic romance, novella)
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay (mystery/horror)
As for backlist adventures, I read Linda Howard’s After the Night — and, hoo boy, it was problematic! Not something I would want to read from a new author and definitely a product of 1995.
Maybe I should call this month’s round-up “Cold Reads,” because, damn, it was kinda chilly in April! This book-loving dispatch comes to you from beneath my ancient duvet…promptly cast off in May because things quickly heated up!
Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders (erotic romance/dark romance)
Prime Minister by Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller (erotic romance)
Full Mountie by Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller (erotic romance)
An Unnatural Vice by K.J. Charles (out 6/6, LGBT historical romance)
Faking It by Christine d’Abo (out 5/8, LGBT contemporary romance)
Hidden Hearts by Olivia Dade (out 6/20, contemporary romance)
The Dukes of Vauxhall by Shana Galen, Christi Caldwell, Theresa Romain & Vanessa Kelly (out 5/9, anthology, historical romance)
The Fireman by Joe Hill (horror)
Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain (out 7/4, historical romance)
Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde (new adult contemporary romance, erotic romance)
I made up for past reading droughts in March. I feel like all I did was hide in books — in GOOD books. I mean, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give is one of the best novels of the year. Hands down. It is a game-changer. And Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near spoke to me so deeply — it’s the kind of book I always wanted from Jhumpa Lahiri; it’s about the Bengali immigrant experience but still joyful. Both of these books made me laugh and cry and run the gamut of emotion by the time I hit the last page.
The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre (paranormal romance)
The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre (paranormal romance)
Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop (urban fantasy)
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (young adult fantasy)
Insight by Santino Hassell (paranormal romance, LGBT romance)
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (science fiction)
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (out 9/12, young adult fiction, women’s fiction)
American Prince by Sierra Simone (erotic romance, BDSM romance)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (young adult, coming-of-age)
The Pawn by Skye Warren (erotic romance/dark romance)
Backlist adventures: Beauty by Robin McKinley. ‘Cause, seriously, who isn’t going to snag a McKinley book and glom it when they get the chance?
I also read Spectacle by Rachel Vincent, which is out 5/30, and I might have to write a separate blog post about why it did not work for me and why it makes the first book in the series, Menagerie, less compelling as a result. I don’t usually talk about my DNFs or disappointments, but this one keeps gnawing at me.
February is a short month and I packed it full of books! I had a couple of DNFs, but I’m not going to dwell on those. Pfft. Who needs that? Instead, let’s celebrate the fact that I scarfed down some highly anticipated books — like Lisa Kleypas’ hilarious Wallflowers sequel and the electric Beyond spin-off by Kit Rocha. Also? Gothics are coming back. I think the next few years will see a huge uptick.
Madly by Ruthie Knox (contemporary romance)
Ashwin by Kit Rocha (out 3/7, dystopian erotic romance)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (young adult fantasy)
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)
American Queen by Sierra Simone (erotic romance)
Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James (gothic mystery)
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James (gothic mystery)
Never Better by Charlotte Stein (erotic romance)
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (young adult horror/mystery)
I have officially retired the punny titles for these posts, as I think I’ve run through all the possibilities! Fortunately, I haven’t run through all the books in the world! January was all about escaping into the pages.
Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong (urban fantasy)
Hard Knocks by Ruby Lang (contemporary romance)
Wait For It by Molly O’Keefe (out 2/28, contemporary romance/erotic romance)
The Scent of Winter by Tiffany Reisz (erotic romance, novella)
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (young adult fantasy)
Pretty When You Cry by Skye Warren (dark romance/erotic romance)
Better When It Hurts by Skye Warren (dark romance/erotic romance)
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman (out 7/25, women’s fiction)
Backlist adventures: Deerskin, by Robin McKinley, The Sanctuary: Volume One bundle of three titles from Moira Rogers, and Shattered by Karen Robards.
I also reread Lisa Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy and Blue-eyed Devil, because sometimes you just need a comfort read!
According to my calculations, I read roughly 119 stories this year — not counting things I DNFed or didn’t like. Slacker! I’m a little disappointed that the number isn’t higher, but that certainly gives me a goal for 2017! Gotta do something to pass time in the bunker, right?
These are the books I got in during the last month of 2016:
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (sci-fi)
Burn It Up by Cara McKenna (contemporary romance/romantic suspense)
Sin For Me by Lisa Marie Perry (out 2/21/17, erotic romance)
The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz (out 3/28/17, women’s fiction, romance)
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (YA coming of age/romance)
The Young Blood by Erin Satie (historical romance)
Frostbitten by Charlotte Stein (paranormal erotic romance, novella)
Kulti by Mariana Zapata (contemporary sports romance)
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.