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2013 YEAR-END REVIEW: Tracy

PersonalizedBannerTracy

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR: 

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles –

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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.)

4.5 & 5 STAR BOOKS OF 2013:

TracyFaves

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.

Overhyped book of the year

(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.

Underhyped book of the year

(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.

This year, I read Looks Over, the sequel to the excellent YA novel Gives Light. Like book 1, Looks Over was a quiet book, but very quality.

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.

Best surprise of the year

(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.

Auto-buy authors

(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:

Josh Lanyon

Jordan Castillo Price

Tamara Allen

Lou Harper

Nicole Kimberling

Ginn Hale

Astrid Amara

Kaje Harper

My reading experience in 2013:

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.)

What I’m hoping for/looking forward to in my 2014 reading journey?

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.

29 comments on “2013 YEAR-END REVIEW: Tracy

  1. syleegurl
    December 30, 2013

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I haven’t read ANY of the LHNB shorts yet!!! I know, I know!!! I need to get on it…esp since there are so many great ones!

    And I agree…Tamara Allen is so so good. Last year she would have made my auto-buy author list for sure! (I didn’t read anything of hers this year…)

    Like

    • Jenni
      December 30, 2013

      Oh my gosh, Susan, there are so many great LHNB stories! And they’re free! You must read some sooooon. :-)

      Like

      • syleegurl
        December 30, 2013

        I really want to read Kaje Harper’s and Cari Z’s and Kim Fielding’s! (I have a whole GR bookshelf for them, but I’ve been too lame/distracted to start reading them!!!!)

        Like

        • Jenni
          December 30, 2013

          I wouldn’t call you lame or distracted, just slightly busy. ;-) I think you’ll love them. I remember Kim Fielding and Cari Z’s being especially good…

          Like

        • Tracy
          December 30, 2013

          They’re all great reads. That’s what so impressive about that story event. The authors put out really good work (for free.) It’s a pretty amazing gift. :-)

          Like

          • katinka
            December 31, 2013

            I think you will enjoy Treasure, Susan!

            Like

    • Tracy
      December 30, 2013

      Tamara Allen is another one for the underhyped/underrated list. Her stuff is really special, especially for readers who like historicals.

      Like

      • Ami
        December 30, 2013

        I tried Downtime before but I couldn’t connect with her writing or maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, since I don’t like historicals in the first place. BUT in January, I will have my 2nd personal historical MM challenge, and her “If It Ain’t Love” is lining up on my list (I figure I will start with the short one ;p)

        Like

        • Jenni
          December 30, 2013

          Apologies for butting in…Ami, If it Ain’t Love is perfect. Can’t wait to see what you think! :)

          Like

          • Ami
            December 30, 2013

            I can’t wait to start my personal historical MM challenge!! I have books lining up. But I won’t start reading them until Jan 1st.

            Like

        • Tracy
          December 31, 2013

          I hope If it ain’t love works for you. :-) (And I’m looking forward to your second historicals challenge. May you have many good reads!)

          Like

  2. Jenni
    December 30, 2013

    In addition to my favorite m/m writers, I’m starting to have a real brain crush on you. (I say that utterly platonically!) Every time I read one of your reviews–or something special like this–I have the urge to grab a bucket of popcorn and shake my head in agreement at everything you say. :-D Great year-end recap! And now I must go add some of your books to my TBR! Excluding The Magpie Lord, ahem. ;-D

    Like

    • Tracy
      December 30, 2013

      Thanks, Jenni! I’m glad you liked it. I hope if you try some of them, that they work for you. A lot of them are fun reads. :-D

      Like

  3. ilhem3606
    December 30, 2013

    I like your definition of what a favorite book is, I hadn’t thought about it like that.
    Also, I agree about Rose Christo, and I plan on exploring more of her work in 2014.

    Great list, Tracy.:)

    Like

    • Tracy
      December 30, 2013

      Thanks, Ilhem! Yeah, Rose Christo is pretty amazing for being completely self-published. She’s her own self-powering machine, just writing and putting stuff out there.

      Like

  4. Ami
    December 30, 2013

    I agree with you regarding favorite book, Tracy. When I make my own favorite list, I contemplate on the 4-stars read too, knowing that while they’re not perfect, there are some that I know I really enjoy and would love to do re-read. But then when I compare them to my 5 stars read, I still love my 5 stars read more — mainly because I don’t give 5 stars a lot.

    I promise Tina that I will read Rose Christo next year, since she also loves Gives Light series. And maybe insert Nora Sakavic too. So many good authors are flying under the radar because they are self-publishing…

    Like

    • Tracy
      December 30, 2013

      You’re right about self-published authors flying under the radar. (And their works aren’t perfect. A lot of them have typos, etc.) I think some of them really have interesting stories that stand out beyond that, and they’re very *different* from the norm, which can be a refreshing change. If you check out Gives Light and Foxhole Court, I hope it works for you.

      Like

      • Ami
        December 30, 2013

        Since I read a lot of fanfics, I figure I can do with typos or grammar errors and such. Some of my favorites in 2012 were actually free fic (Art Criticism by BlueGhostGhost is a 5-stars read!). So I figure I can give leeways towards self-published book.

        Like

        • Tracy
          December 31, 2013

          I’m the same way. It’s easy to forgive some small errors if everything else is going pretty good. :-)

          Like

  5. LegeArtis
    December 30, 2013

    A hundred times yes for Nora Sakavic and Rose Christo.
    I read the Place Where They Cried and immediately went to check her backlist. Emotionally heartbreaking and powerful stories…
    Andrew is my fav too, I have this feeling of impending doom about third book…so that’s one of the books I’m looking forward in 2014.
    Great list Tracy :)
    Happy Holidays!

    Like

    • Tracy
      December 30, 2013

      Thank you! I LOVE Andrew. He really grew on me as a character. (There’s so much tension around him since you don’t know how he’s going to react to anything.) I’m a little worried about book 3 too. I’m hoping the author will spare us poor readers and give them a good ending. We’ll see… (and hope…)

      Like

  6. Sheri
    December 30, 2013

    I was gifted ‘Gives Light’ from a dear friend this holiday season…and I simply can’t wait to read it.
    Fabulous list!
    Looking forward to a wonderful New Year.

    Like

    • Tracy
      December 30, 2013

      Thanks, Sheri! I hope you enjoy it. Gives Light is a very quiet read and reflective, but I found it very good. (In my review, I compared it to a walk in the woods. It’s that kind of story.)

      Like

  7. s0ph1ar0s3
    December 30, 2013

    I hadn’t heard of the Magpie Lord. Love Kaje Harper books. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • Tracy
      December 31, 2013

      Oh, Magpie Lore is GREAT if you like historicals and paranormals. Super fun book. :D

      Like

  8. shelley
    December 31, 2013

    I love your wrap up Tracy.
    You tempt me with Rose Cristo just for the type of writer that she is. Her no fuss approach certainly appeals to me.
    I’ve had Downtime on my kindle for about a year and I know I’ll kick myself (again) for leaving it there.
    I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of the LHNB shorts either.
    Book 3 of The Foxhole court! Gah!I’m wringing my hands over that one. My wish for this year is to see that series get some serious recognition. Sakavic needs credit for such an original work.
    One of my favorite things this year was watching the amount of readers on GR explore this genre for the first time. I get so excited for them and so excited for the authors too. I agree, 2014 is going to be an amazing growth year for the genre.

    Like

    • Tracy
      January 1, 2014

      Gives Light is great, but it is YA, which I know from your wrap-up post, is not your fave genre. :-) It’s a good read though.

      I loved Downtime. You may dig it if you like historicals.

      GAH, I can’t wait until the next Foxhole book comes out. ARGH-WAITING.

      Like

  9. katinka
    December 31, 2013

    I’m so impressed that you organized the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up and will do so again in 2014.

    Tempted to do a road-trip through the US and attend as many meet ups as possible. Maybe that guy from Special Delivery has room for one more in his truck. Considering that three is not a crowd to him..*snort-laughs*

    Wait, how did my mind wander from meet ups to threesomes?

    Great post, Tracy!

    Like

    • Tracy
      January 1, 2014

      You’re probably mentally preparing for the Special Delivery read. :-)

      Give me a heads-up if you think you can come to GRNW 2014. It would be great to have people from the blog there.

      Like

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