Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Favorite Reads For 2015 #bookshelf #favorites

According to the GoodReads meter, this may not be the year that I've read the least, but it sure felt like it. Some weeks I went days without cracking open a book. I also reread my favorites from prior years for weeks in a row as well.

But that didn't mean I didn't come across gems to put in my treasure box. The last couple of years I tried to set a limit and the following year I would up it because just picking a few of my favorites was agonizing. This is supposed to be fun, and like every other reader, I love sharing my favorites so I've put them all down. 

If you haven't tuned in for the yearly favorites before, my picks are from this year's reading that I loved and would reread. They are my four and five stars, if I had to rate them. 

These aren't in any particular order but I did split them up between ebooks and audiobooks.

Up First, Audiobooks!

I was looking for a novella and as a Fielding fan I picked this up. I've already read this twice, once on ebook and then listened to it on audio. This story mixes contemporary with paranormal in such a way that I didn't feel removed from the present time or thought this should've been considered an alternate world. The mixture of  Aiden settling into his life and learning/coping with how to be an ex-con was--I was sucked in. His struggle with himself, trying to be more than what he was had me hooked in the first few of pages. Couple that with how to define his relationship with Luca knowing Luca had secrets, I couldn't put it down. Obviously, it's a re-read. :)

I don't read very many holiday stories because most of them are contemporary and if you follow me you know that I predominately read everything but contemporary. But I found this on audible and even though I knew I had the ebook, I bought it. There is a different narrator for each story and I thought all the narrators did very well. And what do you know, I Loved it. They all had something different to offer, either firmly set in the holiday season or set with a plot and the season was in the background. Loved them all. I saw these stories sold individually this year so you can pick and choose but I would recommend all four.

I've read a lot of Motorcycle Club books this year. I have to say that it was totally selfish on my part because one, I wanted to know what the hoopla was all about, and two, there was a lack of Urban Fantasy MC books and I was trying to devise how to take this culture and make it UF. Joanna Wylde was recommended and although I couldn't quite connect with the some of the women throughout the series (to understand why they would choose to yolk their life with someone who they suspected broke the law) they were still good stories. She was also able to make me sympathetic to some of the men. I have to admit that reading about bad boys can be addicting... and hot. Devil's Game (to my surprise) was my favorite to date. Em was raised in the MC so I could understand her choices better and I really liked her. Plus this had a bit of forbidden love vibe since Devil's Jacks were an enemy to the Reapers. Unfortunately, I won't recommend reading the series out of order because even though each book is about a different couple, there is a build up to these two primary characters in the previous books. So this can't be cherry-picked from the bunch. But, if you do read M/F romance, I think you would like the twisted journey. :D

About this time last year I began reading Rhys Ford and practically gorged myself on her work. It didn't matter if it was UF or horror or contemporary, I gobbled it all and I'm always left with a book hangover because it all is just that good. Black Dog Blues is not a romance, although there are some romantic elements. I would say Kai is a pansexual but since there are only elements of romantic attraction, I'm hoping that future books will expound upon that part. For the plot, I loved all of it. The world building, the characters, the plot and subplots, all of it stole my attention. I couldn't put it down so I went without sleep since I started it in the evening and this is about nine hours long. So worth it. I need more of Kai.

You would think that as much as I love fantasy I would adore mermen, but I've struggled to find stories in this sub genre that held my attention. I bought this on audio for a cross country driving trip and completely fell in love. Raef and his naive heart captured mine. Add in Jon and I was a goner. This had great character growth for Raef and I enjoyed every step of the journey.

Confession. I attempted to read this years ago and couldn't make it though because this hit one of my hard limits. I don't mind books that talk about past drug/alcohol abuse, but this one Vic constantly abused his medication and I really, really struggled with that even though I could see the reason why. When I came across this on audio, I thought I'd give another try after I listened to Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary. (points to next one). I think now that I've had time to adjust to this having that hard limit, the second time around I was able to concentrate on the plot and ignore the drug abuse. I loved Vic and Jacob. I went ahead and bought the other audiobooks in this series and look forward to catching up with my friends so we can dish. :D

I've had the short stories on my ereader forever and ever, you know? So many people I knew love Wild Bill and his human, Michael but I drug my feet on reading it until I came across the first five in the series as an audiobook. I totally love how Bill views Michael's mission as Michael being a serial killer. I would say this an erotic romance. This covers the first five books of the Channeling Morpheus series, and each of the five short stories has a sexual encounter but each is different so there doesn't feel as if there is any repetition. I have the other five books in the series but I really want it on audio so I can listen while I make my next blanket. :D

Pure Urban Fantasy, no romance at all. This is the first book in a trilogy that I've been eyeing for a while and took a chance on the audiobook. I loved the unique twist on templar knights and holy relics. Loved Matt and his tragic past and in the beginning I almost got mad he decided to help the knights. I was giving them rude gestures for a while, but if there was immediate trust between him and them, then part of the plot would've been ruined. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. :D

I've already listened to this several times this year. This is the perfect short story that didn't leaving me hanging on any part at the end. Plus, while on a trip I got to watch my husband become engrossed with Boone's backstory. Usually he's really loud in his commentary when we listened to anything heavy with romance. The more sugary it is, the more he talks. (this from the man who's read all the books in Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series. Just sayin'.) The last half of this he was silent. I even hit fastforward through the sex for him. Hehe! 

Fairy tale retold. I met Anastasia at Rainbow Con 2014. She has this way of writing that builds this beautiful picture with an economy of words. Its easy to fall into her characters. BDSM is a soft limit for me but when written correctly it is enjoyable. Everyone who knows Ana knows about the spoons and the spankings, so I had an idea what to expect. But the story was so much more. Here, Talia had to outgrow her preconceptions of what her life would be like as well as resenting that she'd been given a better one if she could only accept the gift offered to her. And Queen Vina had to break away from the box Talia put her in. The narrator just added an extra element that had me sighing. <3

I'd heard a lot of good things about this book and as you can see, I gave it a chance. The plot is character driven, purely about the romance between these two and their growth. There's a little angst but more humor and was enjoyable to listen to. I look forward to checking out the next book. :)

Jin. Jin. Jin. I know this series is about the bumps in the road of his life, of him evolving and becoming who and what he's meant to be. But for me, it is also about Crane. After Freddy MacKay's Berg, Crane is my second favorite character of all time. If you've followed the series, you know the Crane has had his own trials. In Honored Vow, I wanted to murder everybody who hurt Crane (I'm all teary eyed now just thinking about it.) Even though we got to see just a little bit of his new confidence in Crucible of Fate, I needed more of Crane and to see him happy.  So here in Forging the Future, for me half of this story was about Crane. And Just Damn. Mary-girl, if you ever wrote this story--any story--from Crane's POV, I would be all over it. Just sayin'. As for Jin and his story, loved it and finally seeing him owning who he was. The narration--awesome.

Now for the ebooks!

I've had this forever and came across it when I was browsing what I had on my ereader. Lordy, it was so much more than I expected. A great urban fantasy with two characters that I loved seeing coming together. I would definitely read more by these two authors in a UF world.

Love the cover and it was the reason I bought the book without reading the blurb. Loved the world, and the politics, the differences between the people. Even with all the plot and sub plots, this was also a character driven story. Ivy moved from this naive young man into someone who had more confidence and able to stand up for what he needed. Kris made mistakes but did his best to make up for them. There is so much more to come and I just need to find the time to sit for hours and read the next book. 

Evernight set up the sci-fi, menage world  of Plant Alpha that their authors played in. They feature three races--humans, Alphans, and the dreaded Xyrans--with variations of menage romance. (MMM, MMF, MFM) I read them all and liked them all but I found the ones with a Xyran as one of the romantic MCs my favorites because seriously, who doesn't like to read about a reformed bad guy now and again. Of the series, Nicola Cameron's  Assassin was my favorite in the gay menage grouping and for the MMF Erin M. Leaf's Broken.

I loved this world and imagery. It's one of those short stories that has all these layers that makes you think your reading a novel instead. It's also a world I where would love to revisit the Huntresses. Adored Adamina and would love another adventure with her. 

A high fantasy world with a beauty and the beast twist. Sebastian's family... at first I hated them just from how Sebastian acted and thought. Then when they were more of a part of the story, little hints and reveals broadened my perception of them until the madness of his relatives didn't seem so crazy. Great story where I rooted for the love that Sebastian swore he didn't want and enjoyed all the twists and turns from beginning to end.

I love science fiction and poly romances but haven't found many poly lesbian romances that sparked an interest. I'm a fan of Hepburn and completely tickled when Playing By The Rules came out. Loved it from beginning to end. The reveal and romance unfolded together and I was hooked from the first chapter. I don't want to say too much to give away spoilers. I highly recommend the story.

Discovered Erin M. Leaf this year and I've loved all her stories regardless of the pairings. Rock Star Baby is a parnormal mpreg story that I really enjoyed and immediately started recommending it when I finished. Well, written. Great characters. A little bit of angst, and of course, the unexpected mpreg with it's own unique backstory. I look forward to seeing what she has in store for the rest of the band members.

This was a fun read. I came across Ruby Dixon through her Motorcycle Club books. I liked her writing style and when I saw this series I gave it a go. I always worry about het books were the female needs to be rescued, but here Dixon mixed the accident and their self-reliance pretty well. There is a bit of insta-lust/love which I don't mind. The girls are feisty and not push overs. I have to admit that I loved the "barbarians". They are much more anthropomorphic than what the cover shows, plus their internal thoughts were freakin' hilarious. I bought the next couple of books in the series without even reading the blurb. (On a side note: the disparity of male to female ratio on the ice planet had me aching for an M/M romance between the barbarians. Hint, hint, if Ruby ever reads this blog. :D )

A half-elf half-fey counselor and pack alpha. The first book in the Leader Murders series, I liked it a lot but this one I loved. Everything that was hinted at in the first book is built upon and broadened here. I love the plot, the mystery behind the murders, and the council gives me the creeps. Timothy was great and good lord, Herman's pup. I didn't know if I wanted to strangle him or cuddle him. I can't wait for the next book in the series. 

I sort of gorged myself on R. Cooper's Beings series this year. They are all so different and the heart of each book had a different tone, as if a different personality wrote the story. Am I even making sense? It was like the character wrote the story and was a totally separate entity than the author. Okay now I know I'm not making sense. Anyway, I found the different voices of the books fascinating. Little Wolf was my favorite of series. My second favorite was the short story in The Firebird and Other Stories anthology, The Warrior's Sacrifice.

I want more. Admittedly when I picked this up I was worried about all the characters being centaurs. Not shifters. Would I be able to empathize? Consider any of the characters in a romantic light? Oh God, hell yes. I fell in love Tarsus and eventually with Varan too. The culture and plot was well done and I was addicted to the world so much so that I really hope Owens will write more in this world. Loved it.

*Disclaimer: I beta read this* I adored this book. Mates who meet, didn't like each other, and so they went their separate ways. Spoiled Avery had a ton of growing to do and Dylan had fears to overcome. There's a mystery to the plot that is wrapped up in the second book, so this ends with unfinished business but not a cliffhanger. Also thinking about getting the audiobook after listening to the sample. Loved the narrator.

Dark urban fantasy from a policeman's point of view. This stuck around with me for days afterwards. Ace carries around this pall of not quite depression but his burdens definitely give him a darkness you just can't help but want to help him with. Definitely a re-read.

This is one of those short stories that doesn't read like one. There some great storytelling within the pages with a unique world and culture that is told with an economy of words that painted this brilliant picture. Loved it from beginning to end and it was free. :)

If you're looking for something different in shifter stories, try Wolf, WY. I kept holding my breath because I wasn't sure how different it would be. The characters were so different from each other and yet complimented each other. Great read with an intensity that I didn't expect. Can't wait to see what is next in this series. 

Megan Derr is one of my go-to authors. I don't read the blurbs anymore. I just buy and read. I've never been disappointed and everyday I wish she had a back list that I haven't read. The High King's Golden Tongue is an expanded short story. I think the original was like 12k and this version is over 100k. I adore the expanded version with all of it's depth and a deeper look into secondary characters. Prince Allen just rocks because he doesn't quit and Sarrica is all bluster. And there will be more in the this world. Just fucking, yay! *fist pump*

Love this sci-fi world, alien vampires, and hybrid humans. Loved the first book last year and when it was released on audio I snatched it up. If this one goes to audio (fingers crossed) I'll get it too even though I've already read it. I'm trying to be patient, waiting for the next book in the series. I don't want to be a stalker, but I might have to resort to some recon if I don't hear any news through the grapevine. 

Dude. I don't know what to say that won't give away spoilers. Gar/Will's journey to finding hope, to understanding what he'd become, adjusting to what he could be... such a really good story with heartbreak. When I finished the book all I could think was, "That can't be the end of the story." I tweeted Andrew, ready to beg for more. No begging necessary, he has a sequel planned. :)

Such a great anthology, a really dense read on some of the stories. I didn't read a couple because they are attached to series that I haven't read yet and didn't want to be spoiled. But everything I read was really, really good.

New to me author and for my first look at their work, I'm excited to read more. This is a high fantasy, paranormal, poly romance. I didn't guess all the twists and turns but it did make me question my guesses a couple of times.

It has been such a long time since I read Mercy. There are so many feels going on with these characters. Everything is doled out in increments and when you think you  know all there is to know, yep, just don't hold your breath because more is coming. Such a great emotional read with family drama and even some humor as the tears are twisted out of you. Highly recommended.

I had such a difficult time with How to Howl at the Moon. Lance just tweeked my nose and I kept thinking that if his behavior mimicked a Border Collie then the breed and I would never get along. LOL! I finished the story and enjoyed, but I was really looking forward to Roman's story. God, did I ever love Roman. Equal parts heartbreaking and so freakin' funny. Roman's excitement and reactions to discovering new things about being human were completely endearing and adorable. Loved it.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. I enjoyed sharing this year's favorites. Do you have any recommendations?

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful list! I totally agreed with you on the books I've read and added a lot to my tbr pile. Happy New Year!