Sunday, January 3, 2016

My 2015 Favorites


Wow, 180 books read last year! 

So many great stories from accomplished and new authors.  These are the stories that kept me up all night reading, with complex, interesting characters and plenty of emotion. Not all of them are 5 star reads. These are the books that stayed with me for a few days, or in the case of my favorites, more than days, maybe months! 
 
 So here goes... My list of 2015 favorites!

Contemporary Romance and New Adult
This was a tough category to pick, since this category represents the bulk of my reading. but here goes!  My favorite romances! 
 
Claiming Serenity by Eden Butler My review
I loved this story of childhood frenemies-to-lovers being forced to deal with life altering circumstances. Donovan and Layla were great from start to finish on this one and Eden Butler delivers up some great dialogue.  My first 5 star read of 2015. 

Amazon : Amazon UK : B&N : Smashwords : Kobo


Nuts by Alice Clayton My Review

I loved this light, playful romance with a touch of drama and a lovely message about working the earth and the joys of small town life.  Very heartwarming. 

Amazon : B & N : BAM! : iBooks


Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley My Review
It's no secret I love the Chaos Series by Kristen Ashley and even though I didn't rate this 5 stars, I still found myself going back and re-reading favorite parts of this one. It soothes my romantic soul.This true-love-conquers-time story has some lovely scenes, and High's daughters are terrific supporting characters.

AmazonAudible  : iBookstore : BAM! : B&NGoogle Play : KOBO



The Jack & Jill Series from Jewel E. Ann
(My reviews: End of Day, Middle of Knight)
 
There's some awesome word play in this series, from the naming of the characters to the blistering dialogue. I think I loved that the most -- the crisp and often sarcastic dialogue is just amazing and brought the humor needed to keep this from becoming too dark of a tale. Looking forward to Dawn of Forever, the series conclusion in 2016.  Amazon 
The Cedar Ridge Series by Jill Shalvis
(My Reviews: Second Chance Summer, My Kind of Wonderful)
This series is like comfort food on a dark, cold night -- you just want to curl up with it.  I love the banter between the siblings running the resort in this series, and that's what makes it special for me. Amazon 
 
Off Campus Series by Elle Kennedy
(My Reviews: The Deal, The Mistake)

This is hands-down my favorite New Adult series from 2015. With unique plots and characters that jump off the pages, I devoured this series. The women are feisty and strong, and the men are ready to be in love, only most of the time, they don't realize it until they are too far gone. What really made me a fan of the series was the writing. It's lovely and rich. The third offering, The Score, will be released early 2016.
   Amazon


The IVY Years Series by Sarina Bowen
(My Reviews: The Year We Hid Away, The Fifteenth Minute)
This is another favorite New Adult series that I finally got around to reading, and not in order. That worked out fine because each book is standalone.  I loved the story of Bridger and Scarlet and what they each had to hide.  It hit me in a personal way and that made for a great read.  In The Fifteenth Minute (love the cover !) I fell hard for the personable DJ and his relationship with the campus celebrity.  I really adore this hockey based series, and these were my two favorites this year. Amazon


Erotic Romance


The Original Sinners: White Years (5-8)
(My Reviews: The Virgin, The Queen)
I've loved this series from the start, and The White Years have been a terrific offering to fill in the holes and answer the questions from the first four books.  What I love the most about this series is how it is presented -- Tiffany Reisz shows you all the pieces of the puzzle and then meticulously puts them together how she sees fit, complete with a few good head games along the way.
I love all the characters in this series for their uniqueness and the insider view of their kinkdom. The series concluded perfectly and left me wanting to start all over again with The Siren.  Amazon

LGBTQ+ Romance
I read many LGBTQ titles this year, and these were my favorites! 

Moments in Time Series by Karen Stivali
(My review: Moment of Impact, Moment of Truth, Moment of Clarity, Moment of Silence)
I love this "falling in love for the first time" series and Collin's story is very poignant, considering his background and situation with his family. There's a lot of hope to this story (and a lot of sex!) that made it easy to get invested in Collin and Tanner's story.  

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon


Sunset Park by Santino Hassell My Review

This is a relatively new author for me. Sunset Park is the second book in the Five Boroughs series, and I adored this "opposites attract" story.  Raymond Rodriguez captured me in Sutphin Boulevard, the first book in the series, and it was great to catch up on his unlikely HEA with David. I love the authentic dialogue between the men in this series that contributes to the realism of the story. Kudos on a fabulous cover.  I'll be looking for more from this author in 2016. 

Amazon  Dreamspinner Press

 
The Deepest Blue by Christina Lee My review

This story of Dean the academic and Callum, the closeted family farmer really made an impact on me. There's a very sweet love story here, not just between men but between all of the characters in this family oriented story.  It left me feeling good about love, and that's a big plus! 
Amazon 


The Girl Next Door (Bend or Break Series) by Amy Jo Cousins
My review

I've been a fan of the Bend or Break series since the first book was released, but if I had to choose a favorite from the series, it would be this one.  While some readers had issues with this not being a M/M tale like the other books in this series, The Girl Next Door celebrates sexual exploration and bisexuality in a very meaningful and interesting way. I just loved it.  And Cash...he's just wonderful and his romance with Steph is original and touching. Love this series big time! Amazon

Novellas
Sometimes novellas can pack a big punch. These were my most memorable short reads in 2015. 

Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker  My review

Oh my, I loved, loved loved this story! For me, this was one of the best erotic romances I have read this year. Tamsen Parker blends the elements of romance, kink, religion, and community into a lovely romance that remained in  my head two weeks after reading it. i loved the characters, the view into this secret world, and mostly the way Tzipporah's and Elan's relationship developed by the end of the story.The e-book is still free, so grab a copy.  Amazon

Hard To Be Good (A Hard Ink Novella) by Laura Kaye  My review

I love this series by Laura Kaye, and this is my favorite in the bunch.  I don't know what it is about the novellas in this series, but they've made the most impact on my reading experience.  I love this story about opposites Jeremy and Charlie. The writing is smooth, the emotions finely detailed and I just loved the story of these two men accepting each other into their lives in the midst of danger. Amazon


How We Began by Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryden, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert, Goenn Cannon
My Review

Proceeds benefit the Trevor PRoject, founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
All of the stories in this anthology are so very well done.  Finding and accepting who you are is such an important part of the young adult time of life, and these stories illustrate nicely the challenges and the joys that come with being true to yourself, and I absolutely loved that about the entire content of this anthology.
Amazon

Honorable Mentions

The Magnolia Affair by T.A. Foster My review

I've been reading T.A. Foster for a while now and The Magnolia Affair is a departure from her usual contemporary love story.  With political intrigue, marital infidelity and possible criminal activity, The Magnolia Affair is unique and fresh.  I was impressed with this title from this author and I hope to see more of this caliber of writing and storytelling from T.A. Foster in the future. 



None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio My review
Gender identity was a big topic this year. None of the Above tackles both gender identity and being a teenager in the sometimes heart-breaking story of Kristin Lattimer, the girl that seems to have a perfect life until a medical diagnosis and ignorance destroy her world. Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."  This story really opened my eyes to the issue of gender identity and while I can't say I understand it all, None of the Above made it clear that it's a complicated and sensitive issue. Amazon


and drum roll please...My Top Picks



Burned by Karen Marie Moning  My review

KMM continues to be my favorite author, crafting urban fantasy with a skillful hand. We got an inside view of Chester's in Burned, and some very serious consequences of a trip to fairy for the lovely Dani Mega O'Malley.  And Burned did include my all time favorite Karen Marie Moning creation with the inclusion of Dageus in the storyline to save Christian McKeltar.  I still love this series big time, and cannot wait for Feverborn in January!  Amazon


The Slayer by Kele Moon (Untamed Hearts #2) My Review
Oh my, I loved this book. I still think about it months after reading it. Alaine and Chuito's story hit me right in the feels, and I attribute that to a great story and great writing.  There's such longing in this romance between these two characters, it just oozes off the pages.  And it's not all sunshine and puppies with these two -- there's some real danger as Chuito gets involved with the world of crime he thought he left behind. This is the book that pops into my head whenever anyone asks about my favorite read of 2015 and the mix of romance with the gritty gangster world is a fabulous ride.  I can't wait for more and I'm anxiously awaiting Tino's and Nova's stories. Amazon

So there's my recap. What were your favorites?

I'm looking forward to more great titles in 2016.

Tradermare @ Red Hot + Blue Reads 

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Wow! That's a lot of books! Nice recap and agreed - KMM is still my fave and I cannot wait until Feverborn comes out. Thanks for all the recs and reviews on things I might not have even looked at before!