Thursday, February 1, 2024

On the Shelf: January 2024

I think I used books as my January hibernation cave—because I read 26 in 31 days, and it feels like I barely left the apartment in all that time. I suspect February's round-up will constitute fewer books only because my 3-month Kindle Unlimited trial is going to run out. 😂 Maybe that'll force me to actually work on my own stories. 

As usual, I consumed a ton (ha!) of historical romance, but this was a great month for contemporary and paranormal romance, too. Mickey Chambers Shakes It Up by Charish Reid got a lot of love last year, and you can add my heart-eyes to the count. Jen Devon's sophomore outing, Right Where We Left Us, is a fantastic follow-up to Bend Towards the Sun and I need Mal and Frankie's story ASAP. (That was my 26th read. I finished it just before midnight on Jan. 31.) I've heard a lot about Heather Guerre, and after whipping through her BDSM office romance and two of her PNRs, I totally get why people rave. Between Guerre and my return to Kelley Armstrong's backlist, I kind of want to kick my own kinky and wolfy books under the bed to commune with the dust bunnies. I'm sure I'll get over my feelings of inadequacy with sufficient therapy.   

And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Silver Nitrate. She might just be my favorite author writing today, because I have yet to be disappointed. This latest gem made me want to constantly look up things about the Mexican film industry and Mexican horror films. I don't know about watching the films, because I'm a scaredy cat sometimes, but there's always the aforementioned therapy to help with that, right?

The Reading Rundown
You Can Follow Me by Jo Brenner (dark romance, m/m/m/f polyam romance)
Charlotte and the Seductive Spymaster by Grace Callaway (historical romance)
Right Where We Left Us by Jen Devon (out 6/18/24, contemporary romance)
Preferential Treatment by Heather Guerre (BDSM romance, femdom, contemporary romance)
Cold Hearted by Heather Guerre (paranormal romance)
Once Bitten by Heather Guerre (paranormal romance)
Mickey Chambers Shakes It Up by Charish Reid (contemporary romance)
Hurt For Me by Heather Levy (romantic suspense, suspense/thriller)
Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (horror, speculative fiction)
Slaying the Shifter Prince by Clare Sager (paranormal romance, romantasy)
Please Don't Go Girl by Naima Simone (contemporary romance)
The Hellion and the Hero by Emily Sullivan (historical romance)

Backlist titles & rereads: I kicked off with rereads of A Woman Scorned by Liz Carlyle, Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas, and Anne Calhoun's Uncommon Passion. I plugged a gap in last year's Blue Blood Conspiracy glom with Bec McMaster's The Mech Who Loved Me. Then we had a whole round of Grace Callaway love on Twitter, so I reread Olivia and the Masked Duke and Pippa and the Prince of Secrets before tackling the newest book in the series. Still on the Callaway Express, I went back to the unread Regarding the Duke, which ended up being my favorite of all the Callaways I've read lately. Did I stop there? No. I had to tear through two other books in that Game of Dukes series: The Duke Identity and a reread of Enter the Duke. I also devoured Wild Fire by Anne Stuart, which felt like a callback to her classic Black Ice—in that she engaged with issues of consent in this one, almost to directly speak to the hinkiness in Black Ice. I finished the month with rereads from Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld: Personal Demon, the prequel novella "Chaotic," Waking the Witch, and Spellbound. 

Currently reading: Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong.

On the TBR/wish list
Isabel and the Rogue by Liana de la Rosa
'Til Heist Do Us Part by Sara Desai
Blood Betrayal by Ausma Zehanat Khan
A Song to Drown Rivers by Ann Liang
The Curious Secrets of Yesterday by Namrata Patel

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Suleikha's Top 20 Romance Books of 2023

For all that the bulk of my reading in 2023 was comprised of historical romances, it's mostly contemporary ones that topped the list of my favorite new releases of the year. Perhaps because the comfort that comes from backlist historicals is a different animal than reading current things geared toward a market I also write for? Or do I just not read enough new historicals? Beats me! At any rate, I sifted through the 187 books I devoured and narrowed down 20 that really embodied, for me, the breadth of what our genre has to offer.

Obligatory disclaimer: I know—or have professional connections with—several authors listed below, but I try my best to be objective when evaluating what works and doesn't work for me as a reader.  

You can check out my 2022 Top 20 round-up here.

We'll Never Have Paris by Adriana Anders

2. Pas de Don't by Chloe Angyal

3. Chick Magnet by Emma Barry

4. Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller

5. The Art of Scandal by Regina Black

6. Shucked by Kate Canterbary

7. A Thief in the Night by KJ Charles

8. Never Meant to Stay by Trisha Das

9. Ana María and the Fox by Liana De la Rosa

10. To Have and to Heist by Sara Desai

11. Desire in His Blood by Zoey Draven

12. Whisky Business by Elliot Fletcher

13. The Counterfeit Scoundrel by Lorraine Heath

14. Jana Goes Wild by Farah Heron

15. Forever Your Rogue by Erin Langston

16. A Rogue's Rules for Seduction by Eva Leigh

17. Love, Death & Lanterns by Jeannie Lin

18. Full Moon Over Freedom by Angelina Lopez

19. Technically Yours by Denise Williams

20. Role Playing by Cathy Yardley

2024 books to look out for: Wild Life by Opal Wei, When Grumpy Met Sunshine by my bestie Charlotte Stein, 'Til Heist Do Us Part by Sara Desai, Isabel and the Rogue by Liana De la Rosa, and The Stranger I Wed by Harper St. George.

Monday, January 1, 2024

On the Shelf: December 2023

As much as I wanted to hit 200 books by December 31, I'm satisfied with a very respectable 187—23 of which I consumed in this last month of the year. Heck, I think I finished Rilzy Adams' fun and sexy novella, Boo Thang, in the last few hours of the year. As I'm sure you'll notice, I was pretty much still obsessed with historical romances on my way out the door—but the contemporaries I slipped in, like the aforementioned Adams, Trisha Das' Never Meant to Stay, and Kate Canterbary's Shucked, more than held their own. The Das book was actually a great lead-in for my viewing of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, Karan Johar's big-screen blockbuster that also deals with culture clashes within families, and I bet it would make a great movie too!

I'm also still on the hunt for good gothic romances, so A Dreadful Splendor, a 2022 release I missedreally hit that spot for me. It's a page-turner of a house-based mystery with a slow burn love story threaded throughout.

I'm putting together a separate post with my round-up of favorite 2023 romance releases, so stay tuned for that! 

The Reading Rundown
Boo Thang by Rilzy Adams (contemporary romance, erotic romance)
You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron (young adult horror, thriller)
Liar's Beach by Katie Cotugno (young adult thriller/suspense)
Shucked by Kate Canterbary (contemporary romance)
Never Meant to Stay by Trisha Das (contemporary romance)
Prince of Scandal by Nicola Davidson (erotic historical romance)
An Earl, His Valet, and Their Wife by Nicola Davidson (erotic historical romance, polyam romance)
What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall (thriller, suspense)
A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myers (historical mystery, gothic romance)
Keep You Both by Kathryn Nolan (contemporary polyam romance, erotic romance)
Charlotte Illes is Not a Detective by Katie Siegel (mystery, cozy mystery)
The Stranger I Wed by Harper St. George (out 4/23/24, historical romance)

Backlist titles and rereads: Yes, I am one of the last people on the planet to read Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert—and what a joy it was! Hibbert's books always leave me with a smile on my face. Then I went even further back in time to Anne Mallory's Three Nights of Sin, One Night is Never Enough, and For the Earl's Pleasure. I may have read the first two before at some point, but the latter was new to me. And probably the best take on ghost sex I've read this year. lol. (I've read at least six books with non-corporeal copulation. Don't judge me.) As the month came to a close, I fit in a few more historical rereads from my own collection: No True Gentleman by Liz Carlyle, A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long, A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare; Secrets of a Summer Night, It Happened One Autumn, and A Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. Since I was well entrenched in that space, and physically in the space of San Diego's Meet Cute Bookshop (such a great store!), I bought JAL's The Legend of Lyon Redmond, which I somehow never read before this.

Currently reading: Mickey Chambers Shakes it Up by Charish Reid.

On the TBR/wish list
Isabel and the Rogue by Liana de la Rosa
'Til Heist Do Us Part by Sara Desai
The House of Last Resort by Christopher Golden
Blood Betrayal by Ausma Zehanat Khan
The Curious Secrets of Yesterday by Namrata Patel