…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
“Meatworks” by Jordan Castillo Price
This book is…genius. When you read something like Meatworks, you realize what OUTSTOUNDING writing looks like. When an author can make a reader like a MC so unlikeable, can make a must-have-a-HEA reader be ok with a less-than-romantic story arc, can take the reader on a slow internalized journey with an oddball like Desmond yet still feel like they’ve been on an exciting roller coaster ride…yeah, that’s when you know it’s something special. Meatworks is something special. I really loved all the books I’ve rated 4.5 / 5 stars, but Meatworks was a no-brainer as my favorite book of the year.
(What’s all the fuss about?):
I would probably say “Ball & Chain” by Abigail Roux. I’ll continue to read anything and everything that has some Zane in it, but for a book that was supposed to be about, ya know, Ty & Zane, it looked suspiciously like a Sidewinder book, in my opinion. #grouchy.
And my last minute addition, “Think of England” by KJ Charles. This book is outstanding and should be remembered for it’s merit and any book-related discussion it breeds. The other ugly stuff is really, really unfortunate and I hate that it’s attached to this book at all. #unfairlyoverhyped
(Why haven’t more people read this?):
I would wish for everyone to read “Gives Light” by Rose Christo (and even moreso, book 2 “Looks Over“). I know it’s not a “sexy” choice…YA, coming-of-age, life on an Indian reservation, a mute teenager, no sex. But this is just one of the most beautifully written stories and Skylar St. Clair is one of my favorite characters EVER. I adore him.
I also wanted to shine the spotlight on “A Thing of Beauty” by Jake Jaxson and RJ Sebastian. To some this is just a picture book of the Cockyboys. Exploitation and objectification? Hardly. It’s art in the form of stunning photographic images of beautiful men, both clothed and unclothed. But it’s also a story. Yes, there are words on these pages…honest & telling ones…behind the scenes and background explanations of this unique adult film company. I really enjoyed this…more than I expected.
(didn’t know what to expect or the story caught you off guard or anything that just…surprised you…):
I came to loathe Randy in Heidi Cullian’s “Special Delivery“. He was swarmy and icky. And I was baffled when fellow readers would mention loving him. Him? And then, basically on a dare by the author herself, I gave him a chance with his book “Double Blind“. I read it during a time I was feeling really down on myself and going through a hard time personally. Randy, with his HUGE heart, this surprising capacity to LOVE, and a GENEROSITY beyond compare…well, he was like a balm to me. He was exactly what I needed. He healed me in a way.
He’s my spirit animal. *shrug*…go figure.
(I’d buy anything these authors write, without a doubt):
Some changes for me this year. A couple of my past staples have come off the list and I added a couple new ones:
Jordan Castillo Price
Ais & Santino Hassell
…and shout-outs to NR Walker, Kaje Harper, Keira Andrews, and Jordan L. Hawk.
What a difference a year makes. 2013 was just about FUN…reading, talking about books, reviewing, making friends, building community, celebrating talent, starting the blog.
2014 took quite the turn. This year was…rough. And it bled over into my reading life. I love talking about books…I can take a spirited discussion about the why’s of ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’. But when it starts turning personal, it sucks. And 2014 felt…personal. And that took the fun out of reading.
What bums me out the most is that as I look at my list of 4.5/5 star reads, I can remember how much I LOVED those books. But, it gets lost in all these other emotions.
I’m sure some of the drama w/in this genre is old and recycled for those that have been around awhile, but for me, a lot was new and it bothered me greatly. The arguments of the gender, race, sexual orientation, shoe size of who’s writing the books, who’s reading the books…and whatever Us vs Them debate that would spring up (with the revolving door of who the “us” is and who the “them” is)…got heated in ways I didn’t feel comfortable with. And all the op-ed blog posts that just went on and on about what’s problematic with this genre. It felt like I was being told all the reasons why it’s NOT OK for me to be reading what I do, almost to the point of disdain towards me, the reader, for steering the genre in some way or another. I used to fear this ridicule from outside the m/m community, but from within it? Sad.
Tired of walking on egg shells, tired of seeing the nastiness online, tired of accusations and alliances and all that jazz…I took a step back from reading. I slowed down, became a lot choosier about what I’d read and by what author (my auto-buy authors were my saviors this year!). I didn’t take as many chances on new ones (though, happy to have found Renae Kaye…and also some fun fanfic as well!) Stopped engaging on social media and stopped wanting to make the personal connections. Found my way into the CockyBoys fandom. And though I’d never been a fan of porn before, once I saw Kiss*Hug*Fuck*Love and A Thing of Beauty, I couldn’t deny that some of what I was watching was as romantic as the books I love so much.
So 2014 was a year of bruises and an oft-broken heart, but I’m still chugging along. Still reading. Still reviewing. Just not taking it all so seriously and definitely not so personal.
Special Note: This year, publishing the anthology “Another Place in Time” was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Thank you to Tamara Allen, Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles, Kaje Harper, Jordan L. Hawk, and Aleksandr Voinov for your support and generosity…and for YOUR WORDS!
If my most anticipated reads reveal anything, it’s that I’m excited to see m/m hit mainstream. So in 2015, I’ll be waiting with bated breath for “Captive Prince v3“ by CS Pacat, and the new regency trilogy “Society of Gentlemen” by KJ Charles. I think I also want to challenge myself with some more angsty reading…not just for the sake of it, but to go beyond my comfort zone and hopefully find some amazing books!
Lastly, I’ll focus less on meeting in person or interacting with online every author, reader, fan…and just…READ. I think the simplicity of that was lost for me this year…wanna find my way back.