VampBard’s Best Of 2015
I’ve been blogging about books with That’s What I’m Talking About for six or seven years. I think I’ve had a fabulous reading year, even though I’ve read fewer books than in years past. I thought about why the books seem better, and I think it’s because I read primarily ‘known’ authors. I guess that means I didn’t take too many risks this year in my reading. I continued series and authors that I knew held my interest.
Here’s the good stuff (in no particular order):
The Compass Series by Tamsen Parker
I am a big BDSM reader, in case you haven’t noticed. What I liked about the Compass series (Craving Flight, Personal Geography, and Intimate Geography) was the fact they seemed so *real*. I connected with the characters, and felt they were people I could head out for drinks with. The BDSM elements were treated with respect, and approached from a different angle than most other titles on the market, which was refreshing.
This year, I started off reviewing titles in this series with the second book, Heir of the Dog, and moved through other titles through the year including: Lie Down with Dogs, Old Dog New Tricks, and a spin-off Stone Cold Fox. These paranormal stories marry the human and fey world, and seriously? One of the best examples of this type of fusion with stellar world-building I’ve seen in a long time.
The Fowler Sisters by Monica Murphy
I read the first title in this series, Owning Violet, last year. Wrapping up the other two titles—Stealing Rose and Taming Lily—this year was a great treat. What I liked about this series was that the GIRLS were the rich ones, not the dudes. I love me a billionaire story, and the Fowler sisters have it going on! Each story was distinct and had a different flavor, based largely on the sister the story was about, and her, um, proclivities.
I read two titles by Ms. Lake this year. The first was Soul Enslaved, the third Sons of Wrath book. These are my paranormal alpha-male crack. I can’t put ‘em down, and everyone should one-click the series to-date and binge read.
But, we learned Ms. Lake has the dark, gritty urban fantasy side, too. Ricochet was REAL. It felt like it was happening in my back yard. Okay, Detroit is nearby. I know how things roll there for reasons. Superbly well-done.
I wanted to write about Ms. Lake’s two titles in ONE section because I think she definitely shows her diversity as an author with these two books. While she does tend toward the dark side (It’s better, there’s cookies!), these two titles couldn’t be more different. In a good way ☺
In this third book of Ms. Walker’s Barnes Brothers series, we see how vulnerable a guy can be when he’s got to move on. Seriously. This is a book I’d like to hand out to a few people I know as a lifehack. If you haven’t read this series, use those holiday gift cards to pick ‘em up. Ms. Walker brings all the feels, all the time.
Kiss Across Deserts by Tracy Cooper-Posey
In the fourth book of the Kiss Across Time series, Ms. Posey does something a little different from the previous books, which focused on Brody, Veris, and Taylor. While these beloved characters play prominently in the plot, they’re actually not the main focus. We meet Alex and Rafael, and the plot thickens.
I also did some reading with my students over the past year, and if you dig YA literature (or know someone who does), I HIGHLY recommend these titles I did NOT review for the blog:
Eventide by Christine Allen-Riley
I read this book over the summer with my students. I tried to stay just a little ahead of them so I could be surprised right along with them. It’s pretty clean (only a couple F-Bombs), and my students want it to be a movie a LOT! They identified with main character Devin, and loved the fae/Sidhe aspect. Their predictions as we read jumped all over the place because Ms. Allen-Riley kept them guessing. She also came to visit with my classes this summer, and I think our favorite question was, “What is an asshat?”
The teens in this story are realistic—if they weren’t, my students wouldn’t have been so engaged—and the kids themselves cited it as one of the reasons they can’t wait to read the next book in the Iron Falls series.
Instead of reading a whole Shakespearean play this year, I opted to hit mythology heavily, then do overviews for Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. We read Such Sweet Sorrow instead. Even though we did an overview (including watching SparkNote videos and reading through SparkNotes online), Ms. Trout did a fabulous job of filling in the backstory of the ‘real’ plays. Again, my students want this to be a movie, and while some had previously read one or the other of the Shakespearean plays, they really liked the way things were woven together, and the Norse mythology aspect. I had fabulous engagement with students during discussion, and we also had a ton of fun predicting what would happen next… and we were rarely correct.
My students (and I) were super sad when we got to the end. We wanted more adventures in the Afterjord with Romeo, Juliet, and Hamlet.