Since we did our 2016 Book of the Year picks in December, rather than a BotM for that month, we've decided to throw some love at the December titles we got a little giddy over too. Just because we can. :)
And, as always, there's a chance to win Two e-titles from our selections, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for details on how to enter.
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Cassie – The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin – “You guuuuuuuys! I loved this book. I hadn’t heard about it until it showed up for review, and I grabbed it on a whim. I’m so glad I did!
First off, this is an adorable, slow build romance involving a gender non-binary individual. Rock on, Anna Martin! Thanks for giving a non-binary character a romance that’s SWEET. The conflicts that happen in this book are not about Stan’s gender identity, which is so, so refreshing. Those discovery kinds of stories are important and meaningful and should absolutely be told, but it’s also vital to see people who’ve already done their discovering, living and loving and getting things done, and that’s Stan! Stan’s got that part sorted already, no need for it to cause drama now. Ben’s band and schedule, Stan’s work and health, they’re what drive the action outside of Ben and Stan’s developing relationship, and that’s plenty and perfect.”
Jules – The Deeper He Hurts by Lynda Aicher – “The Deeper He Hurts is many things. It will punch you in the feels—I teared up during an emotional scene between Asher and his mom—as well as make you think. The characters are intelligent and insightful, and you will absolutely be enthralled by their power exchange, and their dynamics during scenes. This book isn’t only fascinating with regard to the BDSM aspects, however. It’s also an interesting character study in guilt, grief, and loss, as well as a truly gorgeous love story.”
Ben – Neon Fever Dream by Eliot Peper – “The plot was the huge win for me. I was surprised time and time again. At the outcome of every plot twist, a good mystery will leave me completely flummoxed, while at the same time slapping my forehead with a, “Of course that happened! How could I be so stupid!” I did that at least three times while reading this book. Maybe more.
This novel gave me everything I wanted in a thriller—surprises, quick pacing, great characters, and a colorful setting—while opening my eyes to a larger world. I also deeply appreciated how Asha was more than the sum of her parts. She had incredible agency and bravery. If I had daughters, I’d want them to turn out exactly like her.”
The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper – “I was more interested in the mystery elements, which had a good level of suspense and detective work…but which also weren’t solved. However, while I admittedly had a WTF moment after I finished the book, I didn’t take those frustrations out on the rating. I did my own detective work and figured out what was going on with the series, because I’m that kinda guy.
I want to give thanks to Ripper for writing a full LGBTQ spectrum cast. I look forward to experiencing the rainbow by going back and reading the first two books, and then finishing the series. And if that isn’t a solid recommendation, I don’t know what is.”
Carrie – No Small Parts by Ally Blue – “These two men were perfect for each other. The book really follows an age old romantic theme and as such, you know exactly where the story is headed and what’s going to happen. The difference in this book, compared to others, is that Ally Blue has spent the time to get you invested in her characters to the point that knowing the storyline ahead of time doesn’t matter at all. You want—no, you need—life to get better for Nat, and for Rafael to help shoulder some of the burdens he carries. The pacing is nicely done, the storyline flows to its logical conclusion, and they all live HEA. What more could you want in a romance?
There isn’t any angst, not really, just real life situations with Nat’s dad, which have to be dealt with, and I don’t call that angst. The main characters, once established as a couple, don’t deviate from each other. The sex scenes are hot and the book ends with both men being literally and figuratively on the top of a mountain, personally and professionally. This story has brought me back to the Bluewater Bay series.”
Sight Unseen by Susan Mac Nicol – “This story takes us on an emotional journey straight from page one, when Nate awakes in the hospital after being hit by a car while he was out running. Secondary characters abound, and we meet Nate’s current boyfriend immediately, and, quite frankly, I was less than impressed with that guy. The words narcissistic asshole fit really well! But, we also meet Cody’s family, Nate’s new home nurse, Suzanne, (who rocks), and Marty, his therapist (who so deserves his own book) while he is still in the hospital. I appreciated the inclusion of Dev and Blu; their friendship to Nate and Cody, and how they get there, is important. All the secondary characters play important roles in this story, and help to underpin and push forward the story arc.”
Sammy – Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton – “What really makes this little gem shine is Eli Easton’s ability to write characters that pluck at your heartstrings, and never stop tugging. Sean and Toby are just magical together—they are nearly a decade apart in age and yet, there are times when it is the younger of the two, Toby, who steers both the fight for saving Sean and their relationship to boot. In that classic turnaround, it is delightful to watch someone as nice as Sean Miggles finally have someone who really wants to take care of him, particularly since he has been doing that job for so many in the town for so long. The slow build in their relationship is just the right pace to keep this story from becoming clichéd or from falling into an insta-love type trope that I feel would have truly damaged this lovely story. I would say the only thing that left me just a bit unsettled was the end—suffice it to say, I will never enter a library again without remembering that portion of this novella.”
Painting with Fire by Lissa Kasey – “Honestly, this story is just top notch from beginning to end. There was intense action juxtaposed by peaceful, intimate moments where you could sense the healing of wounded spirits taking place. Jessie and Charlie’s relationship was a triumph of friendship and loyalty. They fully supported one another, both in the field and in private, and given their pasts, that was a huge thing for both of them. But it is really Bastian who triumphs in this story, learning to develop trust in another person that both opened up a whole new sexual world and an internal confidence that really allowed him to live life again.
Painting with Fire is a lush, poignant story that will draw you in immediately and hold you enthralled to the last page. It is a gorgeous victory of the spirit and a testament to survival, one that should not be missed. I highly recommend it to you.
Maryann – Man & Monster by Michael Jensen – “Michael Jensen brings us a story of an American pioneer and some Native American folklore to make for an eerie, action packed, suspenseful and intriguing mystery. The 1700s and the undeveloped land are amazingly descriptive, and I was especially taken with Pakim himself. He was such a great character, elusive and mythical. This novel also poses the question, who is more dangerous, man or monster?
The first book in this fantastic series, Man & Beast, is a must read, introducing readers to John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman. I am so looking forward to the next novel from Michael Jensen.”
Sadonna – Different Names for the Same Thing by Francis Gideon – “Different Names for the Same Thing is the second really engaging story I’ve read in the last month with trans main characters. I am so happy that these stories are being written and that the characters are multi-layered with desires and wants and insecurities and fears. I like that the author did not shy away from them expressing their sexuality as well. I think the authenticity of their portrayal allows the reader to connect on an emotional level and empathize with the anxiety that everyone feels in a new relationship. I definitely recommend this story for anyone who is interested in exploring a thoughtful trans romance.”
Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton – “I actually pre-ordered this story at GRL 2015, but never had the chance to read it, so when the audio was up for review, I jumped at it. I am a huge Marie Sexton fan, and I was certainly not disappointed in the story. This is a thoroughly charming tale that pulled me in from the beginning. I loved both Ben and Jason, and watching their relationship build was very entertaining—especially Ben’s embracing the 21st century, and the fact that Jason really cared for him.”
Jennifer – From the Ashes by Xen Sanders – “While we may not have superhumans in our world (at least none that I am aware of), our history is embedded in this book. Our struggles and conflicts come to life on the pages of the novel, our social problems mirrored for us to see through a slightly different lens.
This book made me stop and think. Sure, it has some amazing battles, and the sex scenes are so hot I needed to step outside into the snow to cool off, but there is more to this book than just sex. Way, way more.
I have no doubt that this book—my first read in 2017—will make my top ten list for 2017. Very likely it would make my top five. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, and I highly recommend this book to everyone, regardless of whether or not you like superheroes or villains.”
Lisa – whatever. or how junior year became totally f$@ked by S.J. Goslee – “Obviously, no Young Adult book is going to be angst free. It wouldn’t be authentic if it were, would it? But the author does such a fantastic job of balancing those deeper moments of abject confusion and fear with just the right amount of wit so as not to allow the story to be bogged down in the emo. Mike and Rook navigating their way around their attraction to, and feelings for, each other is a blend of sweet and poignant, with a little sizzle thrown in—because hormones. The start of their relationship isn’t poetry in motion, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll get it all figured out before graduation.
whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked. has reminded me why I’ve always felt a certain affection for the YA genre. This novel doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but what it does is treat its content with due detail and respect, and its characters with a little self-deprecation but with a lot of affection too.”
The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian – “The story’s slow burn of attraction is written so well against the professional and personal distance Georgie and Lawrence attempt to maintain, each for his own reasons, and I loved the stark physical contrast of these two men. Cat Sebastian drew each scene to perfection, crafted a historical setting that grounds readers in the time period without burdening the storyline, and brings Lawrence’s home to the fore in such vivid detail—think the west wing of the Beast’s castle. There isn’t a single character introduced that appears as nothing more than set dressing, and the dialogue helps tell the story as well as the narrative does. When Georgie and Lawrence begin to give in to and act on their attraction to each other, the tension shifts from denial of their feelings to the secrets Georgie is keeping, and the fact that his intentions weren’t at all honest, not to mention legal, when he began this particular con. The conflict of conscience that leads to the novel’s touching and tense climax was really the cherry on top of the story’s sweet romantic arc.”
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And that does it for this month. Until next time, happy reading. And for more reviews and giveaways, please pop by The Novel Approach any time!
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