Happy New Year 2016!

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Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year, filled with warmth, joy, and all the amazing books you can dream of!

2015 was an interesting year for me, filled with some fantastic high points. While I did struggle professionally, I also made some amazing friends and was fortunate enough to discover book blogging, which became one of the highlights of my year! So, thank you to my fellow book bloggers who were so welcoming and friendly… you’re all amazing, and I can’t wait to see what the new year brings you!

2015-achievements

I started blogging earlier this year because I was reading so much. It became a way to process the books I read, and to connect with the authors and publishers that I love and respect.

In 2015 I read:

  • 315 books (not including re-reads)
  • 84,000 pages
  • First book of the year: Ball & Chain by Abigail Roux
  • Last book of the year: Rock N Soul by Lauren Sattersby (out Jan. 18, 2016)

While I didn’t start blogging until May (and didn’t get serious about it until August), I think I did really well on the blogging front this year as well. I managed to blog consistently, and to keep up with my reviews as I read.

 

2016-goals

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for 2016. After years of contracting for the US Government overseas and traveling the world, I’m hoping to move to NYC and finally get a job in publishing like I’ve always dreamed. So here are my New Years Resolutions:

  • Read at least 200 books. (I’m not sure I can hope for 300+ again, since a job like my previous one is unlikely to fall in my lap.)
  • Buy a house with a spare room for a library.
  • Travel, always. I’ll be going to Japan, London, and RT Booklovers in Las Vegas.
  • Live a life with no regrets. Don’t look back at the end of the year and feel bad because you skipped over an opportunity.
  • Get a job I enjoy. Sounds easy, right? I suspect this will be the hardest one…

Wishing everyone a safe, warm, and very Happy New Year! I hope all of your resolutions and dreams come true!

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El’s Top 10 Books of 2015

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I read a lot of books in 2015 (more than 300 in total), so trying to pick my favorites for the year was not easy. After a lot of thought (and factoring in the number of times I re-read a book), I was able to narrow it down to my Top Ten Books of 2015.

And because it’s the end of the year, here’s one last contest. See the bottom of the post for full contest details.

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And now the list, in no particular order:

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Dream Author Teams!

top-ten-tuesday-textAs always, this weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Batman has his Robin, and the Avengers work better together than apart. Since authors are basically superheroes in my mind, it makes sense for them to team up for a book (or two), right? I mean, you have Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett combining literary forces to write Good Omens, and John Green and David Levithan co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson. In fact, a quick glance at my bookshelf shows a handful of co-written novels, including Illuminae (which I just reviewed yesterday).

Since co-writing novels seems to be “the thing” to do these days, here are five teams of authors that I’d love to see team up!

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1. Maggie Stiefvater and John Green

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Obviously they have a healthy rivalry on the race track, but Stiefvater and Green also have the young adult world wrapped around their little fingers. Apart, the authors of The Raven Cycle quartet and The Fault in Our Stars (respectively) are wildly popular. Together? Well, I’m pretty sure there would be a shortage of tissues world-wide, to say the very least!

I want a book with Stiefvater’s magical realism and Green’s crushing realism. I want a book with emotions that will feel like a punch in the chest, characters that are witty and sarcastic, and a thread of fantasy twisting down the center. If their powers combined, the YA genre wouldn’t know what hit it!

2. Anne Rice and Stephen King

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Yes, it’s obvious. But they’re two of the biggest names in horror. And I’m not talking the new horror, that’s sole purpose is to freak you out with sudden revelations and gruesome images. Rice and King are masters at the slow-build horror, the creeping chill that runs its icy fingers up your spine late at night.

King has plenty of experience dabbling in the paranormal horror genre, so I’d love to see a book from the two of them with mythical creatures. Like, Supernatural if it were actually scary!

3. Garrett Leigh and Heidi Cullinan

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In the M/M romance genre, there are no authors that I trust more than Leigh and Cullinan when it comes to writing beautiful, realistic characters. Leigh’s Misfits is at the top of my recommendations list, and Cullinan’s Love Lessons series is RITA nominated and achingly perfect.

If these authors paired up to write a novel, I hope it would be as poignant and heart-breaking as everything else they’ve written, with characters who leap off the pages and romances that are as close to perfect as any I’ve ever read.

4. Anna Zabo and A.J. Rose

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Two of the most amazing BDSM authors in the M/M genre, Zabo and Rose are both on my to-re-read list. Zabo wrote Takeover and Just Business (one of my favorite books of the year so far!), about the power dynamics in the boardroom and the bedroom. Rose wrote the Power Exchange trilogy, about a cop investigating a series of BDSM-related murders who finds himself attracted to the lifestyle.

If these two authors paired up, I would be camping out to buy their books. They both write excellent, realistic BDSM romances. The power exchanges are gorgeous, the characters are interesting, and the books themselves are a blast to read over and over!

5. Neil Gaiman and Anyone

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Is this cheating? Meh, I don’t care! Neil Gaiman is a phenomenal and incredibly versatile author. He writes short stories that make you laugh, children’s books that inspire, and novels that have you gasping for breath. While most of his previous collaborations are with artists (particularly Dave McKean, who is brilliant!), he’s teamed up with a few authors in the past.

Gaiman has a really unique voice, and I think that could be combined with several authors with amazing results. Imagine him writing a historical magic novel with Susanna Clarke or Zen Cho, or an urban fantasy with Maggie Stiefvater? I’d even love to see a collaboration between him and his wife, Amanda Palmer. YES PLEASE!


Who are your dream team authors?

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Just Read / Currently Reading / About to Read

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In a desperate attempt to procrastinate on cleaning my home*, here are the three books that surround me right now.

(* I washed my dishes. That counts, right?!)

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The book I just finished reading:

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I finished Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli last night before falling asleep. And I started it yesterday morning during breakfast, so that shows how much I loved it! Review to come soon, but it was hilarious and fun and the characters were a blast to read!

The book I am currently reading:

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Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. I wish I had a digital copy of this, because it’s a pain to carry a 600 page hardback around, but I guess I’ll work on my bicep curls while reading it. It’s a science fiction intrigue/thriller told via “confidential” transcripts and files, with two teenagers at the heart of everything. So far, it’s fantastic!

The book I am about to start reading:

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I just read the second book in this series, so when I saw Double Up on sale this weekend (it’s only 99 cents, go grab your copy now!), I couldn’t resist. Both books are stand-alones, but I really love Vanessa North’s writing, and can’t wait to see what happens to these characters (who also make an appearance in book two, Rough Road [click for my review].)


So, what are you reading this weekend?

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR List!

top-ten-tuesday-text This weekly meme is hosted by Broke and Bookish.

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Summer might be the season of reading on the beach, but for me fall is all about curling up with a hot drink, a good book, and watching the leaves turn colors.This week’s Top Ten list is to talk about your Fall To-Be-Read List, and my TBR is a grab-back of LBGT romance, YA, crime thriller, and more!

So here are the books that I’m most looking forward to this autumn! Are any of these on your list?


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Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 29, Pre-Order from Author’s Website

Are you sick of me talking about this book yet? Yes? Too bad! Because I’m going to be waxing poetic about this novel for at least the next year (ie, until the second book comes out). It’s a fantasy, it’s a YA story, it’s an action, it’s a heist novel… it’s absolutely phenomenal.

You don’t have to read her Grisha Trilogy to understand this at all, but I’d definitely recommend checking out that series while you wait for Six of Crows to come out. You won’t regret it, I promise!

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

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The Anatomy of Curiosity, by Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton, and Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: October 1, Pre-Order on Amazon.com

I still have half a year to wait until Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King is released, but at least there’s this fantastic collection of stories to tide me over, from some of the most creative voices in YA literature!

In an unassuming corner of Brooklyn, a young woman learns to be ladylike, to love context, and to speak her mind from a very curious sort of tutor.

In a faraway land convulsed by war, a young soldier hears the desert’s curious hum as he disarms bombs with the person he doesn’t know how to love.

In a place so shriveled by drought that any drowning is a curiosity, a young writer tries again and again to tread water beneath the surface of a vast and unusual sea.

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Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: October 6, Pre-Order from Author’s Website

I’ve never read a book by Rainbow Rowell. I know, gasp, right? But I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about this book. Is it fanfiction? Is it canon? Is it canon of a fanfiction of a canon? WHO KNOWS?! But it sounds delightful!

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters

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How to Be a Normal Person, by TJ Klune
Release Date: October 16, Pre-Order from Dreamspinner Press

I fell in love with TJ’s writing with the Bear, Otter, and the Kid trilogy. His characters are funny, quirky, and utterly real, and his newest book is about what normal really means. Plus, an asexual romance? Sign me up!

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

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Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith
Release Date: October 20, Pre-Order on Amazon

If you’ve been living under a rock lately, you may not know that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for JK Rowling. Yes, that JK Rowling. And while she may not be writing wizards and spells anymore, there’s definitely magic in these delightful crime/thriller novels. They’re BRILLIANTLY written, with tons of on-the-edge-of-your-seat tension.

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

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The World as He Sees It, by A.M. Arthur
Release Date: October 20, Pre-Order from Samhain Publishing

I will read everything that A.M. Arthur puts out. Her romances are so organic and beautiful that I can’t help but fall in love with every character she writes. I’m so excited for this book too, because Tristan (who first appeared as a secondary character in The Truth as He Knows It is fascinating.

Gabe lives a double life. As Gabriel Henson, he works multiple jobs to support his remorseless, alcoholic mother. As Tony Ryder, he does internet porn for extra cash and regular safe sex without complications.

Yet when he encounters a scared young man freaking out in a night club, he’s compelled to reach out. Ever since then, the memory of that young man has haunted him.

Tristan Lavelle lives his life thirty minutes at a time. After a traumatic brain injury three years ago, he gets through his day recording his life in spiral notebooks and sticky note reminders.

A month after Tristan’s embarrassingly public meltdown, another chance meeting with Gabe sparks a warm, emotionally fulfilling email relationship. Both men crave more, but fear of the next step stands between them.

Until Tristan gets the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that could improve his memory—if the side effects don’t kill him. But for Tristan, the possibility of a real life with Gabe is worth any risk…

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Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Release Date: October 20, Pre-Order from Random House

(I love this cover so much, wow! Click for full size!!)

This may very well be one of the biggest books of the year, if the early buzz is anything to go by. Told in a mixed-media style of pictures, censored documents, and transcripts, it looks to be a story that’s both entertaining and visually stunning.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

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What We Left Behind, by Robin Talley
Release Date: October 27, Pre-Order on Harlequin.com

This year looks to be an amazing one for LGBTQIA+ novels, especially ones aimed towards young adults. When I first read the summary for this book, I knew I needed it in my life. It’s a coming of age story about identity, finding yourself, and understanding the limits of love.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, theirs is bound to stay rock-solid.

The reality of being apart, though, is very different than they expected. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, meets a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen won’t understand Toni’s new world, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in this puzzle. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begin to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

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A Seditious Affair, by K.J. Charles
Release Date: December 15, Pre-Order on Amazon.com

KJ Charles knows how to write history, and she knows how to write m/m romance. Her Magpie series was unbelievably perfect in every way, and the first book in her Society of Gentlemen series blew me away. I’m eagerly waiting the second book in the series, about two men in very different social and economic classes, who find a common thread to bind them together.

Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.

A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.

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Please note this book was chosen prior to the revelation of author’s identity and actions. Please read this statement from Riptide Publishing for more information. [Dreamspinner Press no longer sells any titles by this author.]

Sunset Park, by Santino Hassell
Release Date: December ?, no pre-order yet

This is the second book in Hassell’s Five Boroughs series. This is another author that I will read EVERYTHING they publish, because Hassell co-wrote one of the most heart-wrenching and emotionally-compromising series I’ve ever read (In the Company of Shadows), and the first book in this series, Sutphin Boulevard, was stunning.

Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Bonus Pick: Part & Parcel (Sidewinder #3), by Abigail Roux. I think it’s due out in November, but there’s no information on it yet. I love the entire Cut & Run universe, so I’m really looking forward to this book!

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Recap: Faves of August (and Most Anticipated of September)

August was an amazing month for new books! I read forty books in the last month (well, eight of those were novellas), and found what was probably my favorite book of 2015. But September also looks to be a really amazing month for new releases! So here are my faves of August, and the books I can’t wait to read in September.

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(And for those of you blinking in shock over the number of books I read, keep in mind that I live literally in the middle of nowhere, and have a job that often involves several hours of downtime (followed by an hour or two of horrible stressful insanity).)

Click below to check out my list!

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Recap: The Best Books of July

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July was an amazing month for new books! I tried to diversify my to-read list, and hopefully I was successful. Here are my top picks for July:

(Click on the bolded title below to read the review.)

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Bound With Passion, by Megan Mulry (Rating: 4/5): a ménage romance (M/F/M) set in Regency England, this novel was hot and sexy and all about the romance! Lady Georgiana agrees to marry her best friend so he can claim his inheritance… but he’s already in a relationship with another man!

A Story of Now, by Emily O’Beirne (Rating: 4/5): this lesbian romance follows Claire and Mia, two university students in Australia as they learn more about themselves and each other. Really beautiful, and the second book in the series is out at the end of the year!

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1), by Rachel Caine (Rating: 4.5/5): the first in a new YA series, set in an alternate timeline where the Library of Alexandria never burned and owning a book is illegal. Eventually it will be an M/F romance.

Focus on Me, by Megan Erickson (Rating: 4/5): an absolutely brilliant M/M romance that deals with mental illness and acceptance. Riley, a former model suffering from depression and anorexia, and Colin, a man who can’t seem to succeed at anything he attempts, are strangers who end up on a road trip together.

Risk it All, by Megan Derr (Rating: 4/5): a short M/M story set in Derr’s urban-fantasy universe, this is a perfect example of guilty pleasure reading! Kipling is a werewolf who murdered his alpha, and is now on the run. But then he meets Tori, a human who has secrets of his own, and the attraction is overwhelming.

About a Girl, by Sarah McCarry (Rating: 4.5/5): this is the third in a trilogy, and centers around Tally, a young woman trying to figure out where she comes from. It’s an F/F and M/F romance with a transgender character, and weaves Greek mythology alongside the everyday. Absolutely beautiful!

Making a Comeback, by Julie Blair (Rating: 4/5): a lesbian romance with two women who bond over music and a love of jazz. Liz lost her wife a few months ago, and lost her interest in music at the same time. When she meets Jac, a jazz critic, she learns that loss isn’t the end of the world.

Soul of Smoke, by Caitlyn McFarland (Rating: 4/5): Such a fun urban fantasy novel! It’s an M/F romance with dragons in modern day, which Kai discovers when she accidentally stumbles on a battle between two rival dragon clans. When she ends up accidentally bonded to Rhys, she realizes that she’s gotten in over her head.

Breaking, by Barbara Elsborg (Rating: 4.5/5): Assassins, attempted murder, and a delicious mystery weave together to form this fantastic M/M crime thriller. Archer is a (retired) assassin-for-hire, and Conrad is a powerful London barrister who was hospitalized after a hit-and-run. The two alpha males find themselves fighting each other–and their attraction to each other– as they try to stay alive.

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