So, here they are, our Top Reads in November
Ben – The Zozobra Incident by Don Travis – “I loved this book. I loved the setting and feel of being in Albuquerque. I loved our protagonist. I loved the pacing and suspense. This was a complete win for me.
About the setting: I imagine there are quite a few cultural differences between Albuquerque and the Pacific Northwest. However, even taking that into consideration, the story was hitting me more like a nineties historical than a contemporary PI novel, even though there were cell phones and a present-day car or two. Which didn’t bother me in the slightest, but I started to wonder if Albuquerque was sort of stuck in the past, with their western lingo and clothing styles. But I wouldn’t know for sure. That being said, I ate up the outdated fashion, cowboy discos, and silly old-timer expressions.”
Lindsey – Counterpoint (Song of the Fallen: Book One) by Rachel Haimowitz – “I love good high fantasy when it is written well and has a fairly unique plot which keeps my attention without becoming too confusing. And Counterpoint hit the mark back when I first read it.
The story takes place in a fictitious country where there was a past betrayal between Elves and mankind, creating enmity and dividing the county, each side having their own version of events leading to the treachery. Though humans face a larger issue, they are at war. The Surge is a war with animals, changed in body and mind and gone feral, who thirst for the blood of humans. Elfkind has stayed out of the Surge, but humans blame Elfkind for the war, and there is distrust and hatred. It is a very unique story which completely grasped my attention and wouldn’t let me go.”
Maryann – Man & Beast (The Savage Land: Book One) by Michael Jensen – “Man & Beast is a historical thriller that takes place in 1797 and ‘98. Author Michael Jensen has melded factual research with fiction to create an eerily shocking mystery. For the time period, there is much hardship, fear and bigotry, and people have to keep their secrets hidden. This was a first time read for me from this author, and I was totally entertained by the twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. This was an excellent read. I’ll give fair warning, though; there is violence in the story, and it does get gruesome.
There’s also a sneak peek at book two, Man & Monster, at the end, and I hate that I read it. I want more! So I will definitely be looking for the second book in the Savage Land series, coming in January 2017.”
Carrie – The Boyfriend Makeover by River Jaymes – “Because of the differences between these two men, it’s necessary for most of this book to be a tale of how Ky and Noah must come together and be brutally honest with each other. Ky has to get to the bottom of Noah’s self-destructive behavior, and when it is revealed, boy is it a doozy. But Ky has secrets also, and really good reasons for keeping them. It is a slow burn in the romance department. The moments these two do manage to come together are so incredibly hot they literally scorch off the page! The old adage, “you have to love yourself first and foremost before you can love someone else,” is never truer than in this book. The epilogue was sweet and promised a satisfying HEA for these two. I enjoyed the on-page time with the other couples from the series. I would have liked the whole twin sisters/Texas/step father scenario fleshed out a little more, as I feel like I still have questions that will remain unanswered as to what will happen there.
On the whole, I highly recommend this book. It was an excellent addition to the series and I hope River Jaymes decides to write another book for the Boyfriend Chronicles. Hint, hint… Logan.”
Jennifer – The Amateur: A Villainous Love Story by T.J. Land – “I don’t want to give too much away, as I feel that the story was so delightful in its reveal. One character is bigender, which I was thrilled to discover through the course of the story. If you have read T.J. Land before, this won’t come as a surprise that the author includes all members of the LGBT community in the story. This character was well developed and incredibly complex. The feelings the others had towards this person were also genuine and so beautifully written that I felt as if they were all very real people I could get to know.
Fans of T.J. Land should not miss this book. I truly hope there is a sequel because I would love to see more from the League and Mister Valiant, as well as Lion Man and the other heroes. What other shenanigans could they get themselves up to? What other threats could arise? What other ways could Eel attempt to seduce everyone? More, please!”
Cassie – Lights, Camera, Cupid!: A Bluewater Bay Anthology – “The premise of the Bluewater Bay series is that all the novels are standalones, loosely grouped around a TV Show being filmed in Bluewater Bay. Each novel covers a different couple, and is written by a different author. The fun is that you can jump in anywhere in the series order, and occasionally you catch cameos of beloved characters that you’ve spent time with before. Which, for character-loving me, is deliciously torturous. The sad part is that you don’t get to spend any significant time with those beloved characters after their book is done.
Until now! (*squeeeeeeee*)
In four of the five stories in this anthology, the authors brought back the couples from their novels, just to feed my fixation on more, More, MORE character details. L.A Witt and Z.A. Maxfield give you peeks into the continuing lives of the characters they coupled in their novels. Anne Tenino gives you insight into the first chance events that her characters experience before getting their second chance in her novel. And Amy Lane pulls back the curtain on the past and the motivations of one of her novel’s secondary characters in about the same timeline as her novel. At least, I think it’s the same timeline. I hadn’t read hers yet, but I picked it up to read right after listening to this anthology, and I’m not quite done yet. But that’s how good her short was!”
Jules – A Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote – “Let’s talk about the chemistry between these guys…Wow. They were so great together. Adorable, shy and dorky, sure…But, give them a dark closet to hide in during an innocent game of Sardines? I swear they almost burned the place down. If you don’t pick this one up for the lovely Christmas charm, then pick it up for that scene. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper sexy and fun.
I need to read more Jay Northcote. I don’t even care that he accidentally did fake boyfriends again for this year’s Christmas story! This one was even better, so roll with it I say! But, seriously, A Family for Christmas has it all. Get your fire going, maybe a kitty in your lap (there are so many sweet cats in the book, it will make you want one with you), and some tea or cocoa, and dig into this one. So, so cute and enjoyable.
Sadonna – Vivaldi in the Dark Box Set by Matthew J. Metzger – “This is the first I’ve read of Matthew J. Metzger’s work. I already had Vivaldi in the Dark, but when the box set was on offer for review, I decided I’d like to read the whole series. Let me just say that these books are quite impressive, especially for someone as young as this author. His ability to capture the heady rush of young love, the fear of realizing that all is not as it seems, the frustration of realizing you can’t fix someone, the acceptance that, for better or worse, this is it. I think he captures the impact of the depression from both the person dealing with the illness and those around them who love them. I can only think that he has had first-hand experience with this disease.
This is a bit of a harrowing series but well worth the effort. Kudos to the author for doing such a brilliant job with a difficult subject. The more books like these that are written and read by people, the more we will have a better understanding of, and empathy for, those who continue to suffer. This was really a beautifully written story told in three novels of love that doesn’t necessarily overcome, but love that perseveres and supports. Bravo!”
Sammy – Mapping the Forest by Brandon Witt – “Mapping the Forest is more than just a sweet romance of healing and rebirth; it is a refection of a community—for better or worse—with all its flaws and gifts. Yes, this group of gay men had managed to find friendship and solace with each other, but the author does not lead us into this Utopian gay world where all is right. Instead, he allows his men to grapple with real life and the issues facing a marginalized people—there is homophobia and hate in this quaint national park suburb, but there is also acceptance and the needed strength to overcome prejudice. These characters are forced to make tough decisions that seem easy but carry long, life-changing consequences, and luckily for us they have a support network to help them through the toughest of times.
Author Brandon Witt has given us a slice of Americana via a national park setting. He has allowed us to watch his family sort out their problems, move past their grieving and find a new someone to call their own. Love blooms in this novel, and it is a sturdy, deep-seated kind, despite the speed with which it was established.”
Lisa – Monster (Vertex: Book One) by Soren Summers – “Corporate intrigue and the ethical question of using humans as guinea pigs to test Vertex’s latest innovation, Paragon—a scientific breakthrough that will make mankind better, faster, stronger, virtually impervious. And dangerous—gives this novel its dark and gritty edge. Summers’ writing is perfection, every scene is brimming with action, suspense and/or curiosity piquing, and the moral dilemma of right and wrong and who the monsters truly are elevates this novel to another level of excellence in the horror genre. Of course, whenever man interferes with the natural order of life and death, nothing good can come of it, which creates the twist in this novel—once the pin is pulled from the grenade, there’s no turning back. I loved the way the author sprinkled bits of information here and there in what seemed to be an innocuous way, when what was being revealed was not only disturbing but could be downright bone-chilling as well. There are some heartbreaking and brilliantly frightening scenes in this story, too, some great human touches within the inhumanity that gives it an emotional punch I wasn’t at all expecting.”
And that does it for this month. Join us next time when we'll present our Best Books of 2016 picks!