…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
My favorite work wasn’t a 5 star read for me. It was four stars. Charles had a few things in this that didn’t float with me, but overall, I really dug it, and it really stuck with me after. It surprised me, it shocked me (The hair! The hair!), it was very sexy although doesn’t have a lot of steamy times in it, the MCs had great chemistry, and it left me both satisfied for what I had, and really wanting more. I really enjoyed it, and it’s one of the few books that, even with a crowded TBR pile, I can easily see myself going back and rereading. (And I have.)
So, five out of the seven are free stories, four of which are from the Love Has No Boundaries free story event. I think that’s an amazing project that has lots of excellent stories, and I really recommend it. Also I recommend it for authors. It can be a great way to get on the radar of readers.
I think some of these stuck out to me so much because they were really good, and they were free gifts to readers. I think it’s important that authors get paid for their work. (They deserve to make a living for their writing!!) But it’s a true gift when someone gives something so awesome away. It’s like a valentine, and it’s even neater when that valentine is truly an entrancing, can’t-put-it-down story that sticks with you.
(What’s all the fuss about?):
“The Magpie Lord” by KJ Charles – “What?” you ask. “Didn’t you just say that this was your favorite book this year?” I did!
The only reason why I think it might be hitting the level of “over-hype” is because I’ve noticed now when I go, “BLAH BLAH BLAH Magpie Lord LOVE IT BLAH BLAH recommended!” I start to see the pull-back from some readers, either because they don’t like crowds or pressure or what not, but I get the, “Everyone’s reading that. I don’t wanna read that now” feeling from some.
Which I understand too. I don’t like feeling pressured to like (or dislike) something just because a crowd is building. When I come upon these instances, I just recommend checking it out if they’re interested, and reading it on their own timeline, and not worrying about what other people think.
(Why haven’t more people read this?):
I have two…
The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic – This and its sequel The Raven King are not without issues, but I found this strange mash-up-New Adult-AU world-sports story-romance?-whatever to be surprising and very interesting. (Like the Foxhole character of Andrew, who is like a human-version of a live wire—extremely unpredictable and most likely will cause dangerous outcomes.)
It’s self-published, and I think because of that, Sakavic went in and did whatever the hell she wanted. Because of her strange, unpredictable yet addictive storytelling (that’s kind of like a punch in the face), I can’t wait for part 3, and I’m…a little afraid for the characters, and what they might go through next.
For the other underhyped, I would just say Rose Christo.
Looking at Christo’s work, you see her just quietly releasing new books, all self-published, with pretty much no fanfare, repeating tweets, blog tours, etc. It’s like she’s just releasing the stories in her head to the ether, with basically no expectation for a return. Even if she writes a sad, long historical, she’s not letting the idea of “marketability” get in the way of putting stories out there, especially stories that star Native Americans.
In that way, I think of Christo as one of the writers that is under-the-radar, but shouldn’t be. Gives Light should be in libraries. It should be taught in schools. It should be part of the dialogue of including and encouraging diverse characters and storylines in YA and gay romance fiction.
I think Christo probably doesn’t care that people are writing blog posts about her stories. And I think it’s that lack of caring that makes me want to push her work out there even more.
I think of her as one of the most underrated writers out there writing LGBT stories.
(didn’t know what to expect or the story caught you off guard or anything that just…surprised you…):
Dance in the Dark by Megan Derr – In 2013 I came upon Derr’s work. As a fantasy fan, it was a nice surprise to come upon such an imaginative writer with a BIG backlist to dive into. That’s like Christmas every day. I’ve read a few of her novels this year, and have really enjoyed them. Dance in the Dark, the second book in her Dance with the Devil series, is my favorite so far.
(I’d buy anything these authors write, without a doubt):
Because I steer away from most straight-up contemporaries, I don’t auto-buy with many authors, but the authors I rarely question before buying are:
Jordan Castillo Price
I would qualify my 2013 reading experience as “less”. I read over 200 books in 2012, and barely cracked a 100 in 2013. Partially, it’s probably because I was busy organizing a conference on gay romance fiction, but also because 2012 was when I really got into M/M, and I read EVERYTHING I could grab, and this year, my genre tastes started to settle more as I realized what I liked the most.
My reading this year was probably most boosted by reading challenges, especially the games in the M/M Romance Group on GoodReads. They have a lot of fun reading challenges like Team Bingo, and you’re not allowed to DNF a book (and still move forward in the game), so it’s a great way to get through an overwhelming TBR pile, and also help guide you to try new books and new authors. (And meet some new reading friends.)
There are quite a few books on this 2014 list that I’m chomping at the bit for, including A Case of Possession by KJ Charles, Release Valve by J.L. Merrow, Not So Innocent by Dani Alexander, and Champion of the Scarlet Wolf by Ginn Hale.
What I’m most looking forward to though is just seeing the genre and market grow for gay romance and LGBTQ romance as a whole. I think we’re on the edges of a big rise. I think that’s exciting, and I look forward to seeing it go off. There are so many wonderful writers, and whether or not they’re very successful in the market, I still see them as often very stigmatized for writing gay romance (and not something, say, more marketable or easy.) I want to applaud them for sticking it out, and I want to see them succeed even more when things take off (which they will.) And I will keep happily reading when that happens.
Gratefully, happily reading.