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Piper’s Favorite Reads of 2015

Because everyone else is doing it (and I usually do too), here are my favorite reads of 2015. I’d intended to save this post for January 1st or 2nd, but it feels like a good way to end the year. 😀 (Note: My list is based on when I read the book, not the year it was published.)

Rarely Pure and Never Simple – Angel Martinez

This is dystopian sci-fi at its finest. I loved the characters, the writing, the world-building and suspense, and of course, I always love a man with a lingerie fetish. 😉 Can’t wait for more in this world.

Here Without You by Mia Kerick – This was the followup to Kerick’s YA novel, Us Three. The boys are older and two of them are trying to navigate their first year of college while the other stays behind in their hometown to protect his sister from their abusive guardian. Things get pretty angsty toward the end there, but I was thrilled to see these guys a bit older and to see how their relationship had progressed. If you enjoyed the first book, I definitely recommend reading this one too.

Infected: Paris by Andrea Speed – I reviewed the book earlier this year, so it probably surprises no one to see it on this list. If you want my in-depth thoughts, you can find them here.

Axel’s Pup (Werewolves & Dragons, #1) by Kim Dare – It’s no secret I’m a Kim Dare fan. I’ve read the vast majority of her work and count some of her books as my favorites in the genre. I really enjoyed this one. Loved the world-building and the unique take on shifters and it included all of the things I love from Kim Dare — solid writing, lighter BDSM, and a strong Dom who’s besotted with his sub. Bonus was the whole motorcycle club element. Really looking forward to more in this universe.

Dragon Slayer by Isabella Carter – This book had everything I love. Great characters, UST (unresolved sexual tension), dragons, solid, engaging writing, and a believable arranged/forced marriage romance. Good stuff. (And don’t just take my word for it! It was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist, so that should tell you something too.) I can’t wait for book 2!

How to Walk Like a Man by Eli Easton – Roman… oh, Roman. I loved him to pieces! I adored How to Howl at the Moon, the first book in this series, but this book was even better. Roman is such a fantastic character and I love the world-building and lore in this universe. So good, and so different!

Sloe Ride by Rhys Ford – Well, what can I say about the magnificent Rhys Ford? She has a way with the written word that truly astounds me and fills me with admiration. I love her Sinners series, and I’d been looking forward to this story since I first read about Quinn and the other Morgans. Fabulous, as always.

Home and Away by Samantha Wayland – I have so much love for this book, and it’s another one that got added to my all-time favorites list. We have a closeted hockey player, a former figure skater, and my beloved jock-meets-nerd type of scenario. Add some UST, a pair of awesomely written kids, and secondary characters I loved, and I had not a single complaint!

Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding – After I read this book, I recommended it far and wide. It was a slow-moving, quiet story, a character study, gorgeously written, and one that will stick with me for a long time to come.

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell – I loved this book, and well, I’ve already said it all in my Goodreads review, so check that out if you want to know my reasons. Suffice it to say, if you like your contemporary romance with some grit and lots of sexual intensity, you will enjoy this book. And I loved the sequel, Sunset Park, even more! Yes, I’m a Raymond girl for life. I adored him, and I loved his relationship with David. Their chemistry is off the charts amazing. These guys. Sigh…

Breakaway by Avon Gale – I squeed all over Facebook when I finished this book. It was like sweet balm for my hockey-loving soul. I loved awkward, endearing Lane, and Jared, the other MC, and all the other secondary characters, especially Zoe and Riley. I was so happy when I read the last page I wanted to throw my gloves off and punch someone in the face! (This is the highest compliment I can think to give a fellow hockey fan.) Recommended!

Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton – This was my final read of the year, but undoubtedly one of my favorites. I shed a few tears when I read the last page, but not sad ones. In fact, this story made me incredibly happy, and really, I can’t ask for  more in a book. And, of course, Marie’s writing and characters never disappoint.

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Reawakening (Forever Dead) by Charlotte Stein – Now, I realize most readers who follow this blog might strictly read M/M, but I couldn’t leave this book out of this post because it was just that awesome. In the wake of a zombie apocalypse, June finds herself saved by two very different men and falls in love with them both. This had horror, humor, and everything I’d expect from a zombie romance, along with a couple of damaged heroes and some seriously steamy sex. I mean… I was blown away and I desperately wish we could see more of their story, though the author has no plans to write another story for these three characters. This went on my “to reread” pile the moment I finished it.

And for a non-M/M story that still fits under the GLBTQ umbrella…

Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff –  You would think that this book wouldn’t work for me. It’s a love story, but it’s told in 2nd person POV and you never know the gender of either the protagonist or the love interest. And yet… it was really beautiful.

I think the issue of Kid’s homelessness was glossed over a bit in terms of how difficult that reality would be, but I still appreciated that the author was trying to bring attention to the disproportionate amount of LGBTQ homeless youth out there. It’s said by Kid’s father that Kid “can’t decide to be straight or gay or a boy or a girl,” so I definitely do count Kid as falling under the LGBTQ acronym, even if we never know if Kid’s relationship with Scout is same-sex or otherwise. Some readers complained that not knowing removed their ability to connect with the characters, but that didn’t bother me at all. Maybe because I can relate to gender identity issues and not knowing or not wanting to claim any specific label.

A gorgeous book, and a love song to Brooklyn too.

And those were my favorite reads of 2015! Feel free to leave yours in the comments. You know I’m always looking for my next favorite. 😉

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Authors I’m Thankful For: Jordan Castillo Price

While the various authors I’ve pimped over the last few weeks make up only a mere fraction of all my favorites, you know I couldn’t end the month without sharing some JCP love!

PsyCop is one of my favorite book series ever, and Vic is one of my favorite heroes. PsyCop starts with Among the Living, which I could only describe as “perfect” the first time I read it. I’ve subsequently read it another 3 or 4 times. But as much as I adore the PsyCop series, I’d also like to pimp some of Jordan Castillo Price’s lesser known work.

First, there’s Meatworks, which I had the pleasure of beta reading. I knew then that it was one of her best books. It’s different from everything else out there, and it’s not your traditional romance. As I said in my review, JCP defies formulas and breaks molds when it comes to her writing. That’s something I greatly admire.

Then there’s The Starving Years, which I lost my mind over when I read it. It’s set in a dystopian, alternate universe and I’d consider it a thriller with romantic undertones as opposed to a romance. It was well-written, riveting, and left me with a hardcore book hangover. And what makes this book even cooler was that it started as a serial with a “choose your own adventure” type of concept. That’s right, readers had input into this story after every chapter, and it takes mad skill to to pull together a story of this caliber under that kind of pressure.

And of course I can’t leave out The Persistence of Memory, the first book in JCP’s Mnevermind series, set in alternate-reality Madison, Wisconsin. It reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is one of my favorite movies, and the story itself was totally fascinating and once again, unlike anything else I’ve seen in m/m. That’s the great thing about JCP’s stories – while they’re always written with her signature talent and style, you’re always guaranteed a unique, incomparable experience.

And lastly, I must give a little shout out to her stories in the Petit Morts collection. I LOVE a well-written short story. Sometimes I just don’t have the time or energy to invest into something longer. I want short, sweet, and quick. With JCP, you’re also going to get a fantastically written story – and having done numerous shorts myself, I know how difficult it can be to try to craft something of this length. One of my particular favorites from this collection was Wishink Well. But Moolah and Moonshine, Spanish Fly Guy, Pretty Ugly, and Hue, Tint, and Shade all deserve to be mentioned! (Note: IMO, these are best read in order.)

Happy reading, everyone! If you’ve never read JCP before and want to try out some new-to-you authors in 2016, I can give her nothing less than my highest recommendation. ♥

 

 

 

Authors I’m Thankful For: Kim Dare

Ah, Kim Dare. ♥ She’s been one of my long-time faves since I discovered m/m existed as a genre outside of fanfic. I’ve read nearly everything she’s released, but I definitely have some favorites!

First, there’s Duck!, which tops my list. It’s a retelling of the Ugly Duckling fairytale… but with BDSM and some wicked shifter lore. And sweet, sweet Ori. I love him and Raynard. And I love the next book in the series, Magpie, also and I eagerly look forward to more in this world.

Then there is her Pack Discipline series, which starts with The Mark of an Alpha. That book and The Duty of a Beta are my faves of the series, but I also loved it as a whole. Good stuff, but definitely best read in order.

Axel’s Pup is her most recent all-new release. A motorcycle club and shifters? When I saw the blurb, I said, “Yes, ma’am, sign me up!” It didn’t disappoint.

And there’s Temporary Mark, which I have a major soft spot for. I’ve read that gem about 4-5 times now. (If you’ve read her Bi Now, Gay Later, you’ll recognize cameos by Jerry and Denton. Mr. Nolan, one of the MCs of Temporary Mark, first appeared in that story.) Mr. Nolan lost his long-time submissive a couple of years ago and hasn’t been able to find someone who can fill that void, while Mark can’t seem to find a good Dom who wants to keep him. I loved watching these two guys come together and wouldn’t mind seeing a little follow-up someday.

If you like lighter BDSM, you’d probably enjoy Kim Dare. She writes everything from contemporary to paranormal and has a huge backlist. The Thrown to the Lions series was fun, as was Sun, Sea and Submission, and the Perfect Timing books, and… well, you get the idea. 😉

Check her out!

 

Authors I’m Thankful For: Andrea Speed

Anyone who follows me on social media, or heck, even this blog, won’t be surprised to see this author’s name as part of my gratitude event this month.

I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by Andrea Speed. Her Josh of the Damned shorts are hilarious and different from anything else in the genre. DMZ was 29 pages of awesome. But it’s her Infected series that well and truly captured my heart from the first page.

Roan… what can I say about Roan McKichan? He’s an amazing character. He’s snarky as hell, which I appreciate. He loves obscure bands. He loves to read. He’s brave, and he’s a bad-ass. When he loves, he loves whole-heartedly, and he’s incredibly loyal to those who’ve earned his trust, and he inspires the same kind of loyalty in return. Hell, I even have a tattoo for Roan – and he’s the only individual character I have ink for so far! (The Leo symbol, as seen below.) My other book related tattoo is a nod to a couple of different characters from the Harry Potter series.

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Beyond Andrea’s writing, which is masterful, in my opinion – a mix of humor and snark and grittiness – it’s the characters that really make this series. I may be a Roan fangirl, but I also have a lot of love for Dylan and Paris and Holden and Scott (and the other hockey players).

I’ve reread all the books in this series. I’ll reread them again. While at its heart, this is an urban fantasy mystery series, don’t let that fool you into thinking you won’t sometimes get gut-punched straight in the feels. Book two sort of ruined my life for a while, I’m not even going to lie.

I highly recommend all of Andrea Speed’s stuff, but especially the Infected series, which ranks as one of my favorites not only in the m/m genre, but in every genre. Everyone should experience the glory that is Roan.

 

Authors I’m Thankful For: Megan Derr

Happy December, y’all! 😀

Today I’m celebrating Megan Derr! If you’re into m/m fantasy, you’ve doubtless heard of this author. And if you haven’t, well, you definitely need to check her out!

I regularly reread Megan’s stories because they make me happy, and I always love her characters. I have a special place in my heart for her Jewel Bonds series, which begins with An Admirer. I’ve reread them all more than once. Of Last Resort is also amazing, as are her The Lost Gods and Dance with the Devil series, and then there’s Tournament of Losers, which I was fortunate enough to read early. (And it was written for me, which makes my heart get all squishy!)

I’ve also worked with Megan as part of Less Than Three Press, one of my publishers, and she (and the others) have always been so awesome and helpful. They agreed to take on the Project Fierce Chicago anthology when I approached them about doing something to support the charity. Not only were they willing to organize it, but they’ve also donated all proceeds, including what they would have earned as the publisher (minus fees charged to them by vendors), to Project Fierce, for which I will always be grateful.

Much love to Megan, who’s not only an extremely talented author but an awesome and generous person as well. ♥

Authors I’m Thankful For: Kim Fielding

Hey, all! Happy Thanksgiving to my readers who are in the U.S. 😀 Today I’m making the entire meal at home for the first time. It’ll just be me, my husband, our son, and my father-in-law for dinner, and then later in the day, I’ll be stopping by to see my parents who are mid-move and couldn’t host at their place like they normally would have. Since they’re going to a friend’s place for the day, I decided to do something small here. Hopefully all the food comes out okay. 😛 Wherever you are, and whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not, I hope your day is filled with good food and great company. ♥

Earlier this week I started up “Authors I’m Thankful For.” I was only going to do one a week between now and the end of the month, but I decided I wanted to showcase as many authors as possible, so I’m going with Tuesdays and Thursdays instead.

Up today is Kim Fielding. If you follow me on any social media, you’ve probably seen me gushing about Kim. I don’t keep the fact that I’m a fangirl a secret. Kim writes beautifully, and I never have any complaints about her craft, but I think what strikes me most about Kim’s writing is her characters. They just come alive for me–I cry with and for them, I cheer for them, I hope, suffer, and rejoice with them. To me, they feel real.

Kim has written three of my favorite books in the m/m genre: Brute, Speechless, and Rattlesnake.

These are all incredibly different books, but they share the common thread of overcoming odds, whether external or internal, and forming relationships that better both partners. Her heroes aren’t perfect. They might not be the best looking guys. But if you’re like me, they’ll tug your heartstrings, and you’ll want to reread their stories again and again.

If you haven’t tried Kim yet, you really should. I couldn’t recommend her more highly.

Authors I’m Thankful For: Avril Ashton

So, on a more positive note than my last blog post, every Tuesday and Thursday between now and the end of the month, I plan to post about an author I’m grateful for. This is just me spreading the love, since I’m as much a reader as I am a writer. And of course, after December 1st, I’ll also be posting the books I loved most in November, and as I did last year, I’ll be listing my favorite new (or new-to-me) holiday reads in another post as I dive into the seasonal offerings this year, so be on the lookout for those!

First up is Avril Ashton. Avril writes both het and gay romance. She has a gritty style, she writes smoking hot sex scenes, and her bad boys are unlike any others. These aren’t guys who are just tragically misunderstood. No. They will shoot you, kill you, pistol-whip you, and all around f*ck your shit up if push comes to shove. And I love them!

I particularly recommend her Run This Town series, but I’m also a huge fan of the Brooklyn Sinners series (Syren, anyone?). Characters intermingle between these two series, and you’ll have a richer appreciation if you read them all, but the Run This Town Series can certainly be read on its own also.

Start with (Watch Me) Break You and join the rest of us who are hooked on Avril’s boys! (Though I have to confess, (Watch Me) Unmask You is probably my fave of the series so far. ;D)

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