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2014 YEAR-END REVIEW: Tracy

PersonalizedBannerTracy

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR: 

Think of England” by KJ Charles

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As much as I love Charles’ A Charm of Magpies series (the first book of which was my top book for last year), I didn’t go into Think of England with gonna-love-it feelings. I love historicals, especially ones with mystery/suspense, but am not part of the throngs of Downton Abbey fans, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this Edwardian tale of disabled veteran Archie trying to ferret out shady war saboteurs in the middle of a group vacay at a country estate. Little does he know that he has much in common with the outwardly very-gay poet Daniel, who has secret plans of his own…

It was a super-slow start for me, but somewhere in there, I started digging it, and then a big reveal, and then wow, Archie is sure surprised, and wow, did Archie sure fall for Daniel, and wow, that one rescue scene, and wow, and oh-my, and I-love-Pat-and-Fen, and I-can’t-stop-reading, and oh-no-he-didn’t, and YES and oh-my-god-where-is-book-2, Charles? CHARLES??

More than any other book this year, I found myself falling back to this one, to reread my favorite parts, to sigh a little bit, to shake my fist at the author when she revealed book 2 will come out in mid-2016. (2016!!!!) But even as I’m giving England the stink eye, I still whole-heartedly love this book and Archie & Daniel, and their slow progression towards each other. It is a thrilling and delightful read, and I only wish I could watch it as a Masterpiece Mystery some Sunday night, because damn, Daniel would be awesome on TV.

4.5 & 5 STAR BOOKS OF 2014:

tracy2014

Overhyped book of the year

(What’s all the fuss about?):

This is always a hard one for me. I’ll be honest and say that I’m probably contributing to the over-hype over “Think of England“. :-)

Underhyped book of the year

(Why haven’t more people read this?):

A couple come to mind. Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick, released in 2013, was a great sci-fi story, and a bit under-the-radar as it’s the author’s only release so far. I see it as more sci-fi than romance, but still an excellent story. I think JL Merrow’s Plumber’s Mate series is AWESOME (book 2 Relief Valve came out this year.) I find it less known than her other contempories, but it has one of my favorite narrators ever. Lastly, City of Soldiers by Sam Burke was also a very compelling read, but again, not a traditional romance. Burke is a really good writer, so my hope is she’ll get more attention.

Best surprise of the year

(didn’t know what to expect or the story caught you off guard or anything that just…surprised you…):

Lyn Gala’s Claimings series, which starts with Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts, and in 2014, we saw book 2, Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities come out. I think I went in thinking this series would be a light excuse for sexy times in space, but I was surprised how much I dug Gala’s world-building and her attention to creating the Rownt people. (They remind me of the Ferengi in Star Trek, but taller and sexier and purple.) It’s a really imaginative, fun series, and I’m glad I finally dove in, and now am hopeful for a third book with Liam and Ondry.

Auto-buy authors

(I’d buy anything these authors write, without a doubt):

I don’t auto-buy with many since I steer away from straight-up contemporaries, but those I tend to pre-order without thinking are:

Josh Lanyon

Jordan Castillo Price

Ginn Hale

KJ Charles

Kaje Harper

Nicole Kimberling

Astrid Amara

Lou Harper

 

My reading experience in 2014:

I don’t know how to sum up this year…

1) It was way less this year. Compared to 2012 (200+ books) and 2013 (100+ books), I got close to 60 books in this year, plus some number of fanfic. This is mostly due to working a lot at a new job, plus running the volunteer-initiative Gay Romance Northwest, pestering Jeff Bezos, and advocating for connecting queer romance to community resources. I’ll be honest and say I often look mournful at my ereader and wish I could just drop everything and read without having a stop time.

2) Revealing publicly for the first time about being asexual in a book review was probably one of the scariest and most anti-climactic things that happened this year. But even if it felt scary then, it made sense in a weird way to me, since falling in love with queer romance books has brought so much to me, including helping add perspective about all the different kinds of love stories that can exist. They have also helped teach me how important it is to stand up for all these many kinds of love stories, especially if they are less known about or less accessible.

What I’m hoping for/looking forward to in my 2015 reading journey?

One of my 2015 goals is to really focus on the 200+ stories on my ereader that are not read yet, and to try to work through them. (Stop hoarding and read them!) If I can get through 20-40 of those, that’s good progress.

For what books I’m looking forward to in 2015 (and here’s a handy list), Plumber’s Mate #3 Heat Trap by JL Merrow, KJ Charles’ novel-length The Casebook of Simon Feximal, Ill Met by Moonlight by Josh Lanyon (sequel to the 1930’s historical This Rough Magic), Not so Innocent by Dani Alexander, and Against the Grain by Charlie Cochet. (Cael/Ash’s books! Cash!) :D

I’d love to hear what books YOU are most looking forward to next year though. It sure is fun to get excited together. :-D

18 comments on “2014 YEAR-END REVIEW: Tracy

  1. katinka
    December 30, 2014

    And here’s KJ Charles yet again, ha! :D

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      I know, right? I do love her writing style though. It just feels…delicious and lively (and sometimes very tense!) I’m a little nervous because she said the villain in the Feximal book upcoming is very EVIL, and I thought the villain in the 3rd Magpie book was quite vile already. **gnaws knuckles**

      Like

  2. jentay82
    December 30, 2014

    I haven’t read ‘Think of England’ yet or the Joanna Chambers or Charles’ 3rd Magpie. But all these ‘Best of’ lists makes me feel like I should move them up. :)

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      O-M-G, you have some good reads ahead, my lady. ToE is excellent and I loved the 3rd Magpie book. I still need to read the 3rd Joanna Chambers book, but am looking forward to it. :D If you read them, I hope you enjoy!

      Like

  3. Kaje
    December 30, 2014

    Think of England was my top choice for Elisa’s “Best of 2014” list too.

    And thank you for coming out publically as someone on the LGBTQIA spectrum. As the parent of two genderqueer kids, I particularly and personally appreciate every adult who comes out and says it’s okay to be different, to not fit the common mold. The more that people understand the variety among us all, the more people who put value on love and identity of all kinds– sexual, non-sexual, same-sex, pan, poly, trans, intersex– the more acceptance. Each adult saying this is real, this is okay, this is something to celebrate not to hide, makes life a little bit easier for our teenagers who are just discovering who they are.

    I hope you get a bit more reading time in 2015, but I appreciate all you do in advocacy and Gay Romance Northwest.

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      Thanks, Kaje. I’ll be honest and say that’s probably one of the nicest things I’ve heard in a very long time. I really appreciate it. I’ll also be honest and say that even “coming out”, it still feels pretty difficult, and some days, it’s like you’re the winner of a really crappy lottery that you can’t take back. My working goal now is to try to focus on building “pride” and community. As someone who also has a physical disability (low vision), I find you face somewhat similar societal pressures and an overall cultural feeling of being “less than”, of being something that no one wants to be, and from there, you have to dig within and just…build and build, in spite of. I really admire teens grasping and forming these terms (and coming up with new ones.) They still have so much pressure to be something, but also have so much imagination to be something else, if that’s more fitting. My hope is that the more we see publicly of the queer spectrum, the more comfortable (and safe) they will feel.

      I’m so happy that your kids have a parent that is as open and forthright as you (and even taking a leadership stance, such as your work with the GoodReads LGBT YA group in promoting awareness and community.) I think you’re amazing, Kaje, and really appreciate all your thoughtful work.

      Like

  4. Waxapplelover
    December 30, 2014

    Amazing post. I actually heard all the hype about Think of England (and will admit to being in love with the Magpie books), so I read It with bated breath. It was slow and initially I felt let down. However, the last half of the book was simply incredible. In fact, I went back and re-read it again as soon as I got to the last page. It may be overhyped, but it is still a great book and deserves to be at the top of the review lists.

    I love JL Merrow and Pressure Head is one of my all-time favorites, so how did I miss Relief Valve? Thanks for including it; I need to add it to my TBR list.

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      Oho, go read Relief Valve. It is so good. (I love Tom! He’s my second favorite Merrow voice, next to Al in Muscling Through. She does such a good job on his narration.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sue
        January 1, 2015

        Say, what?! You liken Tom from Relef Valve to Al from Muscling Through??? I’m on that asap!

        Like

        • TracyTG
          January 1, 2015

          They have different narrative styles, but both are very realized. Tom is incredibly and sincerely charming and self-effacing. He’s hard not to like (which at first drives love interest Phil nuts because he sees everyone flirting back with Tom, although Tom doesn’t always notice because he’s just being his usual friendly self.) :-D

          Like

  5. susan
    December 30, 2014

    Tracy, you’re one of the most inspirational people I’ve met along my reading journey and I respect you greatly. Love your book choices and your reviews always leave me pondering about the book you’re discussing. i’m adding “City of Soldiers” to my TBR! Thanks!

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      Thanks, Susan. I heart you with all my hearts. <3 You really have done an amazing job this year, not just with the awesome anthology, but with everything. Thanks for inviting me to join this crazy gang of book lovers! We wouldn't have come this far without you at the helm!

      Like

  6. Ami
    December 30, 2014

    Tracy, you are my sole inspiration that also pushes me to acknowledging my own asexuality. Since you ‘came out’ in your book review, I also ended up coming out myself and I felt more comfortable at referring to my asexuality when reviewing books. I wish I could meet you face to face to tell you that myself.

    And well, seems like KJ Charles is dominating the field yet again :)

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      ***Hugs Ami*** I think you’re amazing, and was so wow-ed by you this year. I really appreciate your strength and commitment to whatever you put your mind to. <3

      KJ Charles, man. I don't know where she came from, but boy, I'm glad she's here! :D

      Like

  7. Sheri
    December 31, 2014

    Wonderful post Tracy!
    I’m so thankful that you joined the team this year, I feel blessed to have you with us. Looking forward to tackling many more books together. Wishing you a fabulous start to the new year.
    *hugs*

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      Thanks, Sheri! I feel blessed to be with you and the gang. I can’t wait to see what reading adventures come next!

      Like

  8. Barbra
    December 31, 2014

    I love JL Merrow’s Plumber’s mate series too, can’t wait for the next one.. But I’m really looking forward to the new Romano & Albright that’s been promised by LB Gregg.

    Like

    • TracyTG
      December 31, 2014

      Shut the front door, Barbra! Will there be a Romano and Albright 3 this year??? I love that series too! God, that would be rad. I’m now adding that to my hopes for 2015 list…..

      And I’m glad you like the Plumber’s Mate series too. I just think it’s stellar and reading it makes me, like…gleeful. It’s almost weird how gleeful.

      Like

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2014 by in News, Reviewer: Tracy and tagged , , , , , .

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