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Piper’s Reading Roundup: February

Hey, all! My reading picked up a bit in February. Right now I’m sitting at 26 books for the year (and 18 of those were last month). These were my favorite reads from February. Sharing the love.

In no particular order…

How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton – This was a sweet, funny, adorable read and absolutely perfect for my down mood lately. I really enjoyed it and recommend it, if you’re a fan of cute and fluff, which I most assuredly am. And I’m very happy to know there’ll be a story for Roman later this year!

Bayou des Enfants (Rougaroux Social Club, #4) by Lynn Lorenz – I’m a big fan of this series but hadn’t gotten around to reading this offering until last month. Scott and Ted are probably my favorite couple in this series, so I was really glad to revisit them and to see their family completed — even if it wasn’t exactly when or how they planned. Recommended for fans of the series. I don’t think it would stand well on its own, though, so if you haven’t read any of the previous books, I’d recommend starting at the beginning.

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 guardian, their abusive uncle. 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 this book last week, so it probably surprises no one to see it on this list. If you want my in-depth thoughts, you can find them here.

Checking Out Love by R. Cooper – This was probably my favorite read of the month. Everything about it just worked so well for me. It was short, funny, charming, and features a nerdy librarian and an equally nerdy college student with no brain-to-mouth filter. For me, it was perfect. I gushed about it all over my social media accounts the day I read it. Awesome stuff.

Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts by Lyn Gala – This was a lot of fun. Ondry, the alien in this story, is just fantastic in the way he wants to protect and tries to understand Liam, despite the differences in their cultures. I really enjoyed the story.

Taxes and TARDIS by N.R. Walker – I’m not sure why it took me so long to read this story. It matches up a blue-collar guy with a geeky accountant, and really, anyone who knows me is aware that this type of story is right up my alley. This was really cute, and I know I’ll likely read it again.

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.

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So, what did you read last month? Any standouts? I’m always looking for recs, so feel free to comment!

Piper’s Reading Roundup

My reading has gotten off to a slow start this year. I’ve only read 8 books in the entire month of January. To be fair, for the first half of the month, I was writing at full-tilt to meet our January 15th deadline. Fortunately, we got our manuscript turned in a whole day early. Now… we wait. But I have another deadline coming on March 15th to keep me occupied.  😉

Before I dig into Gavin’s story this month, these were my favorite reads from January. They weren’t necessarily published this month, just books I happened to read.

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.

A Wealth of Unsaid Words – R. Cooper

I’ve been on a bit of an R. Cooper binge over the last month or so. I realized one day I owned all her books but hadn’t read any. I remedied that with her Christmas story, Casper Gets His Wish, in December, and since then, I’ve read 3 more. This one affected me the most strongly.

It was poignant and masterfully written. As someone who’s struggled with depression all my life, I especially related to Alex, the main character, who suffers from bipolar disorder. I cried throughout most of this novella, and I highly recommend it. It’s so much more than just a holiday story, even if it revolves around the Christmas holiday.

Elements of Retrofit – N.R. Walker

I loved the start of this May/Dec series. And what can be said, really? N.R. Walker is a gifted writer and an M/M fan favorite. You can’t really go wrong. I’ve never been disappointed with a book of hers, and this was no exception. I loved Tom and Cooper and I’m looking forward to finishing the series.

Wolf’s Sacrifice – Draven St. James

I’d been looking forward to this story ever since I read Scent of a Wolf, the first book in Draven’s “Pack of Light” series. This is the story of Liam, a wolf who was blinded by experiments done to him while being held in captivity, and his mate, Sean. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading this if you haven’t read the first book, as a lot of what happens ties into events in Scent of a Wolf, but if you’re looking for a unique shifter series to try, I’d say give this one a shot! I very much enjoyed this book.

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What have you been reading since the New Year? Any favorites? I’m always looking for recs, so feel free to comment. 😀 

Piper’s Favorite Reads of 2014

Hey, everyone! This time of year you’ll see a bunch of these lists popping up, but I always love to share my favorite reads, so I’m hopping on the bandwagon. 🙂

Note: While these are the books I read and loved in 2014, not all of them were actually published this year. They might just be new-to-me, but I want to show them some love either way. These are all books I rated 5 stars. I’d include my 4-star reads, too, but we’d be here all day. 😉

Now, in no particular order:

Phoenix (Death Rose #1) – Melanie Tushmore

I really can’t praise this story enough. Set in the 80s, in the height of hard rock and glam metal, we have the story of artist, Alex, and his ultimate crush, guitarist Danny Death. We see Alex as a youth when he first encounters the band and follow him into adulthood. I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Meatworks – Jordan Castillo Price

I think my quote from earlier this year says it all:

Life in Desmond Poole’s world is dark and messy and full of self-destructive choices. He’s not your traditional romantic hero, and Meatworks is certainly not your conventional, feel-good romance. The characters are damaged and their path to love rocky. Yet that in itself is the appeal. Jordan Castillo Price breaks molds and defies formulas. Her work is always a breath of fresh air for its grittiness and realism. Meatworks is no exception. If you’re anything like me, it’ll dig its hooks in you and refuse to let go, even weeks after you reach the final page.

These characters are flawed. They’re real. And as always, JCP is a master of her craft.

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Hell & High Water (THIRDS #1) – Charlie Cochet

If you’re into M/M and you haven’t heard of Charlie’s THIRDS series, where have you been hiding? For the paranormal lovers, these books have it all. Shifters, alpha males, action, humor, smexiness, mystery. Even if you’re not a paranormal fan, you might enjoy this series. It’s definitely worth checking the first one out.

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Better Than New – Charley Descoteaux

This was such a gem. It was a free short story, part of the Love’s Landscapes offerings, and dealt with a disabled hero and some hurt/comfort. I loved it from start to finish, and I highly recommend it.

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Static – LA Witt

This book meant so much to me for such personal reasons that I left a comment on LA Witt’s Facebook wall to thank her mere moments after finishing it. It’s labeled as a shifter book, but it’s really so much more, and addresses gender identity issues in a way I’d never read before.

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The Border – Kim Fielding

It’s no secret that I love Kim Fielding’s writing. She wrote a couple of my favorite books in the entire genre — Brute and Speechless — and her stories are never lacking in emotional depth and the sort of prose I can only hope to aspire to. This little novelette packed so much story into so few pages. It earned a spot on my favorites shelf, and I’m sure I’ll reread it again and again.

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Life After Death (Infected #3) – Andrea Speed

Another not-so-secret love of mine is Speed’s Infected series… but it took me a long, long time before I worked up the courage to start this book. If you’ve read the previous books in that series, you might know why. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into details, but I will say that my emotional journey with this book — and the entire series — will stay with me for a long time to come. Forever, in fact, since I have a tattoo in honor of the main character, Roan.

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As He Watches – Finn Marlowe

This is another freebie, part of the Love Has No Boundaries stories offered from the M/M Romance Group in 2013. I have a bit of a fetish about men in lingerie, and this book hits that spot in such a good way. It’s BDSM, there’s some humiliation, and it’s hot as almighty hell. I’ve already read it twice.

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Protection – SA Reid/T. Baggins

This book wrecked me. WRECKED. I only downloaded it originally because it was free on Amazon, but boy, am I glad I did. I only had the vaguest idea what it was about before it started, which was both a curse and a blessing. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but if I had, I might not have taken a chance on reading it, and that would be tragedy. This book was amazing, and definitely a standout among the books I’ve read this year.

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Tequila Mockingbird – Rhys Ford

What can I say about Rhys Ford? She is amazing in every single way and has a mastery of the language I doubt I’ll ever possess. Her Sinners series is one of my faves. Love, sex, mystery, music, and characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Read her books!

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That Last Thing He Needs – JH Knight

This was a great story that reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows, Shameless. This is the story of Tommy O’Shea, who is struggling to raise his seven siblings without any help from his drug and alcohol abusing parents. At its heart, this story was about family — the one you’re born into, and the one you build for yourself. I loved these characters and I’m so happy to have had a chance to be part of their world for a while.

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Of Last Resort (Princes of the Blood #1) – Megan Derr

Megan Derr is one of my longtime favorite authors in M/M. I reread her stories constantly. Her Princes of the Blood series started earlier this year with Of Last Resort, which I absolutely loved. We have a plain hero rejected by his fiance when he decides to undergo the “Blooding” to try to become a Prince of the Blood. No one expects him to survive, but of course, Raffé surprises everyone, himself included. If you’re a fantasy fan, definitely check this out. The other books are just as good.

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 Sixty Five Hours – N.R. Walker

This is yet another free read, and it is fantastic. We have humor, enemies-to-lovers, hot sexy-times, and Walker’s engaging style and strong characters. Really, what more could you ask for?

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Mark Cooper versus America – Lisa Henry & JA Rock

Yay for more lingerie! Love, love, love this book. So hilarious, so well-written, so frickin’ hot! Go forth and read it!

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The Other Guy – Cary Atwell

This is a book I don’t even remember why I purchased. Something about the cover drew me in, maybe, and it sat on my Kindle for ages until I was on vacation earlier this year. Man, did I regret not reading it sooner. It was amazing. Funny, engaging, friends-to-lovers, which is one of my all-time favorite tropes. I enthusiastically recommend it, especially to those of you who like “fade to black” or non-explicit sex scenes.

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(Watch Me) Break You – Avril Ashton

Avril’s stories are often dark and gritty, but man, when her characters fall, they fall hard. The emotions are intense, the sex is always scorching, and you can rely on her for a happy ending despite the odds. Plus, she includes all sorts of interracial/multicultural relationships. This is why she’s one of my faves, and this book did not disappoint. It contained all of my favorite things about Avril’s writing, plus ventured places she hadn’t gone before, which I appreciate.

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Then the Stars Fall – Brandon Witt

This was a family-focused story that also deals with grief and the prejudices involved with being an openly gay man in a small, conservative town. There were kids and pets and lots of vivid secondary characters, plus a slow-burn romance, which I tend to adore, as I love sexual tension. It was lovely. I even bought the paperback and asked Brandon to sign it at GRL, I loved it so much. And it’s another one for the readers who prefer non-explicit stories.

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Brothers of the Wild North Sea – Harper Fox

Wow. I would probably call this my second favorite read of the year. I can’t describe how much I loved this book. The history, the magic, the enemies-to-lovers romance in the truest sense of the term. Harper Fox is a brilliant author with such immense talent I can’t help but feel awed when I read her stories. They are really a gift. This book was gorgeous, and nothing else I say can do it justice.

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Second Skin – Genna Donaghy

This book was fun and different and has gotten a lot less attention than it deserves, in my opinion. I loved everything about it, the characters, the story line. Everything.

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Bone Rider – J. Fally

Brilliant! This was easily my favorite book of the year. I loved it so much. Humor, action, romance. Simply awesome. Some people might not be fans of all the different POVs, but I thought it really worked. It couldn’t have been told any other way. I will buy anything else J. Fally releases without question based on my love for this book. It really felt like watching a movie, a la Die Hard. I gushed about it everywhere.

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And those were my favorite reads this year! I might add to this list if I read something amazing between now and New Year’s Eve, but for now, these were the books I enjoyed reading most.

What were yours? Any books to recommend?

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