I haven’t done a post about what I’m reading in quite some time, so I thought I’d throw this out there and share some of my favorite recent reads, and some of my most anticipated “I can’t wait to read this!” books. You know, because I like it when I make you buy things. *evil cackles*
So, here we go…
I have to start with my favorite debut novel since Shelley Ann Clark’s HAVE MERCY. Tamsen Parker’s PERSONAL GEOGRAPHY is a lovely book, full of witty lines that made me bust out the Kindle’s highlighting function. It’s hot BDSM sex written in a way that makes it accessible for readers who don’t normally go there, and the tenderness of it just slays me sometimes. Plus, they make each other delicious meals that set my stomach growling, and they read together. THEY READ TOGETHER. It’s pretty much like Tamsen wrote this book for me. We barely knew each other when I had the good fortune of reading an early draft of this book, and I’ve only grown more fond of it since. Fair warning: there’s a helluva cliffhanger at the end, but book two (equally delicious!) will be out early in 2015, so you won’t have long to wait!
THE BOYS IN THE BOAT Research! Ah, the greatest excuse in the world to read anything. My mom picked up this book over the summer and insisted that I read it after her. It’s the story of nine working-class boys who came together in the middle of the Depression to row a boat. That’s my funny little way of describing what they did, which was take a team of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, and hone themselves into peak performance in a sport that had always been dominated by East Coast elite teams. And then they took on the Germans and the Italians under the eye of Hitler at the 1936 Olympics, and…oh, just go read it. It’s a glorious story. I’m loving this book. My favorite kind of non-fiction. Written with such presence and detail that it feels like you’re right there in the middle of the story. I pretty much rewrote the plot of LEVEL HANDS, book 4 of my Bend or Break series, to include rowing because of this book. Hell, I wrote a whole scene in book 3 of that series, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, just to set up the rowing in book 4! Note to self: Stop accepting books from mom. It wreaks havoc on the writing.
THE DREAM ALCHEMIST
The Enlightenment series by Joanna Chambers is a trilogy that was one of my favorite reads this year. “Centuries ago, a man with Bryn Llewelyn’s dreamwalking ability would have been a shaman or a priest. In this time, he’s merely exhausted, strung out on too much caffeine and too little sleep.” Can’t wait to read this one. I one-clicked on release day (today!) because Chambers books never fail to fascinate.
ROULETTE is sexy. It’s glamorous. It made me want to take up international jet-setting a meet a French playboy/businessman who will hop over on his private plane to take me out for a meal. It made me want to start smoking again. Seriously. What is it about a hot French guy with a cigarette that makes me just want to suck the nicotine right out of his mouth? Elisabeth Lane described this book perfectly in her review at Cooking Up Romance as “all the things I love about my old [Harlequin Presents], but made current and with the heat turned up.”
THE GREAT SEX OLYMPICS OF 221B This is a free read from author Eli Easton, writing under the pen name Xistential Angst. Here’s the thing: I have many friends who both read and write fan fiction on the regular, but it’s never really been my thing. In the same way that I am terrible at shopping, I am terrible at winnowing the wheat from the chaff in the fanfic universe. So I’ve only read one or two pieces, written by friends (you know who you are) until now. But I’m a fan of the Sherlock TV show, and a fan of Easton’s writing, so I downloaded this one as soon as I saw it. OH. MY. GOD. This is the hottest, HOTTEST read, with all this intense emotional stuff I wasn’t expecting but can’t imagine living without now. Sherlock and Watson get into an argument about which one of them is more expert at sex, and the “experiment” they invent to determine (scientifically) the answer to that question is pure awesome. Get it, read it, and then come find me to squeal about it! I’m still fanning myself… And if you love this Easton’s holiday novella, Blame It on the Mistletoe is also totally charming.
PRIVATE POLITICS I have been told by reviewers familiar with my West Wing obsession that Emma Barry’s books are right up my alley. So the lovely Ms. Barry and I traded books, my CALLIE for her PRIVATE POLITICS and I’m champing at the bit to dig into this one. Oh, I’m such a politics junkie, with a seriously fond spot in my heart for Washington, D.C. A political blogger? Squee! Can’t wait.
THE SECRET PLACE Tana French is a brilliant mystery novelist. Her mystery, The Likeness, was the book that satisfied my twenty years of craving to read another Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. Book 3 in her Dublin Murder Squad series, Faithful Place, blew me away with its brilliance about the impossibility of ever really leaving your childhood behind. She’s a deeply psychological writer and I’ve had her new release sitting next to my bed since my birthday. Diving in now…
SEMPER FI When Heidi Cullinan had an emotional meltdown on Twitter while reading Andrews’ A Forbidden Rumspringa, an Amish m/m romance novel, I knew I had to read it. After reading (and loving) AFR, I one-clicked SEMPER FI in a heartbeat when it came out. I’m a huge WWII history buff, and this story hits me right in my weak spots. There was a point in the book where I thought, “Wait, she’s not really going to upend my expectation of the HEA with this book, is she? IS SHE?!” and I may have put the book down for a bit, just to let my anxiety levels subside a little. Terrific story. 🙂
WINTER RAIN This is the second volume of romance short stories to benefit RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). Terrific stories for a terrific cause. My girl Tamsen Parker has a short story in here, as do many other fabulous authors, including Alexis Hall (superheroes!), Serena Bell (outdoors smex), Delphine Dryden (giggling lesbians! Wait, I was doing most of the giggling, I think), and more.
PROSPERITY I could just wallow in Alexis Hall’s language all day. The word play, the rhythms, the nonstop creation of a new world that hums with vitality. PROSPERITY alone adds dozens of new words to my vocabulary that I’m convinced should be adopted by society in general. There are a slew of follow-up stories coming in the Prosperity world, and I can’t wait to read them all. For a great review of this book that gives you insight into the gloriousness of the language, check out Beverley’s post at Prism Book Alliance.
ONE KISS WITH A ROCK STAR When I finished Amber Lin and Shari Slade’s first volume in this series, Three Nights with a Rock Star, I immediately started pestering them. “I love Krist! I need Krist’s book. Is it done yet? Can I read it?” They, no doubt, took to avoiding social media in order to escape my barrage of harassment about my favorite bisexual, filthy hero, Krist Mellas. He’s hot, he’s a mess, he’s trying, always, to do the right thing, and fucking it up spectacularly, before finding his way at last.
IN BED WITH THE TRANSFORMING ALIEN ROBOT When your friends write something, you read it. Just cuz. And maybe you open the Word doc with a lifted eyebrow and a willingness to laugh a little at the oddball short story they just finished writing on a whim. Then, ten pages later, you realize you have totally been sucked in to a story story about a car robot alien who refers to the heroine’s abstinence from sexual frolicking and then blushes when he confesses to having engaged in some accidental voyeurism. I mean, read this: “Given our size difference, I probably looked like the human version of a bichon frisé, hoping for a biscuit from its owner. I definitely had the wild tail-wagging thing going on.” Now tell me this isn’t fun! This story made me smile so hard.
ANOTHER PLACE IN TIME Another charity anthology! The fabulous Susan Lee has assembled a collection of excellent m/m historical romance stories, with pretty much my dream line-up. Tamara Allen, Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles, Jordan L. Hawk, Aleksandr Voinov, and Kaje Harper. If you are jonesing for the next book from any/all of these authors (my permanent state of being), these gorgeous short stories will tide you over nicely. KJ Charles’ story in particular includes the hottest card game EVER. Whooee.
BURY YOUR DEAD Louise Penny is another one of my favorite mystery novelists. I hated one of the characters in her first book, Still Life, so much that I didn’t pick up another Penny book for a year or two. Then I dipped my toe in again, was immediately hooked, and am now trying to work my way through all of the Inspector Gamache books as slowly as possible in order to put off the day when I run out. Quietly emotional, with moments of great humor and wit, these books are consistently fantastic.
JOYLAND I’m a Stephen King fangirl. I don’t know how that man always manages to zero in on the creepiest things that you would never think to put at the top of your Creeps Me the Fuck Out list, but he does it. Joyland’s hardcore carnies and college kids working for the summer are fascinating, but there is just something about the idea of a carnival in Stephen King’s hands…*shivers* I’m on page 72 and I can’t wait to see where he’s going to take me.
That’s it! My bedside table, metaphorical and literal. But my Kindle always has room for more! Read any great books lately? Tell me, tell me! I turned in the ms. for THE GIRL NEXT DOOR yesterday, so I can reeeeeeead!