The Year In Reviews
As we yet again prepare to put another year in the books—oof, bad puns—I can’t help but feel a little extra grateful and sentimental as I pay tribute to the authors and their words this year. They have made the stress and isolation of these long and challenging months a bit more bearable in the ability to escape the outside noise for a while and to spend some time with characters I grew to love. They lived adventures, endured hardships, overcame challenges, and found love in the bargain, and I’m so glad to have travelled along with them on their journeys.
This year was truly an embarrassment of riches in reading, so much so that I had a difficult time narrowing my choices down to these exceptional books. In the spirit of sharing that love, I’m offering up the chance for one reader to win an eCopy of three books among my selections. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to register for a chance to win.
May 2022 be a bit kinder and gentler, and may the year bring you and yours joy, health, and peace ❤️
His Compass by Con Riley – Everyone has those authors we’ll read blurb unseen. Con Riley is one of those authors for me. Her work, and His Compass in particular, is just that next level of gorgeous. As it comes to its inevitable moment of truth, Riley pulls off yet another emotionally charged scene that she manages never to allow to tip over into trite melodrama for the sake of angst. Nothing here is manufactured but rather, it all comes to a head naturally, in a way that, yes, was inevitable, but it’s played out to the perfect degree of tense and beautiful and romantic and fulfilling and, as is a hallmark of this author’s storytelling, ultimately heartwarming.
The Same End by Gregory Ashe – Something as organic as a man who needs kindness and compassion at its most profound level finding someone who is not only kind and compassionate, but is so because that someone is also a little broken himself, is the romantic premise of Gregory Ashe’s the Lamb and the Lion series. Watching two people learn to accept that they deserve to be loved while they’re falling in love with each other is essential to Ashe’s storytelling. The Same End is as gorgeous a book as this author has gifted his readers yet, emotionally lush, deeply introspective, and pretty perfect in every way.
A Veiled & Hallowed Eve by Hailey Turner – There is an impressive tactical flair at work throughout this series, every scene so adroitly maneuvered and each fight choreographed to such perfection that they elevate your heartrate and escalate your sense of dread while leaving you hanging on to some semblance of hope that to the victors fighting for the world’s survival will belong the spoils. For fans of Hailey Turner’s Soulbound series, the release of this seventh, and final, book was everything beautiful and bittersweet. Seeing it come to its inevitable fruition was the proverbial double-edged sword. I’d been anticipating it for years, loved the way she brought the story to a close, and am now bereft that I’ve said a fond farewell to these characters and the strange and beautiful world they inhabit.
The Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish by Joanna Chambers – I have such a soft, sentimental spot for a character who doesn’t understand how truly captivating and extraordinary they are until they see themselves through the eyes of someone who loves them, so it was just my luck that Joanna Chambers delivered not one but two such characters in The Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish. She aimed to make me love her characters as much as she so obviously does. Mission accomplished: Perry and Jonny thoroughly won me over.
Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora – Fragile Remedy is an absolutely stunning novel, bleak yet gorgeous, a dark and dystopian novel, and oh my, how I wept at the loss of a character I grew to love. Maria Ingrande Mora set these characters down in a harsh and brutal world and then made them heroes, not through heroic feats—though, in this world, fighting to exist is utterly heroic—but by showing readers their humanity and how they held on to each other even when it might have been easier and safer to let go.
Crooked Shadows by M.A. Grant – Crooked Shadows is a perfect sequel to the perfect Rare Vigilance, and all the suspense and danger are meted out flawlessly to lead readers along with Cristian and Atlas to the moment when maximum impact is delivered in a fight for their lives when they stumble into a trap meant to end them. The revelation that happens in the “To Be Continued” conclusion, after all the chaos they’ve gone through to get where they are, is dramatic perfection. M.A. Grant just keeps delivering beautiful story after beautiful story, and I can’t wait to see what she pulls out of her great big bag of imaginative tricks to impress me with next.
Trailer Park Trickster by David R. Slayton – Slayton came after me and my emotions with a vengeance and absolutely crushed it in this continuation of the Adam Binder series. Much to the benefit of this installment, and the series overall, we get chapters told from both Adam’s and Vic’s points of view, which kept the pace running full speed ahead into all sorts of gruesomeness and danger and mayhem and intrigue, and this also gives us the opportunity to get to know Vic much better since we didn’t get much of a chance to in White Trash Warlock.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun – Every single thing these characters said and did during the course of what, to them, seemed like an impossible dream—their own happily ever after—was written with such care and an abundance of sensitivity. Alison Cochrun set out to write a romance novel that destigmatizes self-care, therapy, medication, and she did so in sweeping and beautiful scenes of empathy and compassion between her leading men. It’s a love story that is honest and candid in its representation of mental health and neurodiversity, and in the end, in the Ever After, it celebrates the diversity of love.
The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros – The City Beautiful is part gaslamp fantasy and part murder mystery with strong historical roots based in the factual. It is exquisite in its storytelling, its characterizations, and the ways in which Aden Polydoros grounds his readers in the time and place, giving us the opportunity to think about and feel for the history as it unfolded and to admire the courage of those who came before us in search of an ideal that was crafted for some but not for others.
The Bone Gate by Rory Michaelson – I am at a loss to explain how perfect this book is and how much I loved it. Every single bit of the story is meted out so meticulously: the mystery, the suspense, the action, the emotion and the secrets that are revealed all worked together to wring every ounce of feeling from me and my investment in the survival of this found family. If you don’t like cliffhangers, I won’t try to change your mind about that, but the way the end of The Bone Gate made me sob into my tissue was the greatest testament to how deeply engaged I was and how Oscar, that beautiful, loving soul who has so much forgiveness for everyone becomes the hero he never believed he was or could be.
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske – What a stunning debut is Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light. Marske’s prose is nothing but lush, and I found myself chewing through the beauty of her scenery and the world she built around a magic system that was so unique. There is mystery, danger, a painful curse, and suspense in this book, but it also features a warm and heartfelt romance. I loved watching Robin and Edwin fall in love even when the going wasn’t easy, which, if we’re being honest, was much of the time.
Proper Scoundrels by Allie Therin – If there’s such a thing as a meet-disaster, then Allie Therin has written one that’s tension-laden perfection in Proper Scoundrels. Fans of the Magic in Manhattan series have plenty to celebrate in this spin-off novel that carries on with the mayhem and magic when readers are swept away to England with Sebastian de Leon and Wesley, Lord Fine, in their search for a killer wreaking havoc and dispatching of his victims in entirely wicked and frightening ways. This book came in at the eleventh hour and effortlessly propelled its way onto my list of favorite books of the year.
*Please Note: books available exclusively via Kindle Unlimited will require winner to have an Amazon US account for delivery