Friday, January 1, 2021

On the Shelf: December 2020

In December, with the first draft of Pretty Little Lion turned in to my editor, I finally got to relax and tackle some things in my TBR pile...but I didn't make enough of a dent to suit my competitive streak! 2020 being what it was, I didn't really expect to top last year's reading tally of 135 books. But when my total ended up being 95—even with one last book just hours before midnight on December 31—I was pretty disappointed in myself. Ouch. I didn't even crack 100! Oh, well. Now there's 12 months ahead for me to get my peepers on more pages! 

The pages I peeped in December included some incredible historical romances, like Courtney Milan's The Duke Who Didn't, Eva Leigh's hysterical Waiting for a Scot Like You and EE Ottoman's soft and gentle The Longest Night. I also had a Zoraida Córdova lovefest. I've probably said this before, but I would read Zoraida's grocery lists. I'm such a fan. She makes every genre she steps into her own. I also really enjoyed Rosie Danan's The Intimacy Experiment, a thoughtful exploration of faith and intimacy—and sex—as a rabbi and a former adult film star fall in love.  

The Reading Rundown:

Vampires Never Get Old by Zoraida Córdova, Natalie C. Parker, Samira Ahmed, et al (anthology, young adult horror)
Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova (young adult fantasy)
The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan (out 4/6/21, contemporary romance)
When She Was Naughty by Tessa Dare (historical romance, novella)
Red Hands by Christopher Golden (horror, thriller/suspense)
Waiting for a Scot Like You by Eva Leigh (out 2/23/21, historical romance)
The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan (historical romance)
The Longest Night by EE Ottoman (historical LGBT+ romance, novella)
The Road to Rose Bend by Naima Simone (out 4/27/21, contemporary romance)
Running Away With the Bride by Sophia Singh Sasson (out 1/1/21, contemporary category-length romance)

Currently reading: The Empire Strikes Back: From a Certain Point of View by S.A. Chakraborty, Zoraida Córdova, et al.

On the TBR/wishlist:
Knit, Purl, a Baby, and a Girl by Hettie Bell
Well Matched by Jen DeLuca
Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev
Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova
The Three Mrs. Greys by Shelly Ellis
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Suleikha's Top 20 Romances of 2020

2020 was not an easy reading year—and particularly not an easy reading year for me with romance. I made a serious detour into horror and thrillers for a bit, as if those would somehow make reality a little less horrifying. Nonetheless, I found some stellar romance novels that reminded me of why love is one of the most important things we can have in troubling times. Here is a list of my Top 20 favorites of the year—in alphabetical order so you can't tell which ones were the MOST favorite. ;)  

1. Strange Love by Ann Aguirre

2. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

3. 40-Love by Olivia Dade

4. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

5. When She Was Naughty by Tessa Dare

6. Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev

7. Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

8. House Rules by Ruby Lang

9. The Hidden Moon by Jeannie Lin

10. Hate Crush by Angelina M. Lopez

11. The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan

12. Headliners by Lucy Parker

13. Messy by Katie Porter

14. Deal With the Devil by Kit Rocha

15. The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

16. Haunted by Nico Rosso

17. Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan

18. The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe

19. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

20. The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite

I also need to give out some honorable mentions. My first one's to The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller. It was released in October of 2019, but I didn't get around to it until February 2020. And then, of course, I have to rave about Alyssa Cole's brilliant thriller When No One is Watching, which had a romance in it but that wasn't the focus of the book. They were both excellently crafted page-turners, and Biller's adorkable Sam is #herogoals. And last but never least are KJ Charles' historical mysteries, Slippery Creatures and The Sugared Game, aka the Will Darling Adventures. I can't wait for more from this world!  

2021 Romances to Look Out For:

A few of these I've read, a few I haven't. And I'm so excited for all of them to hit shelves! 

Rosie Danan's The Intimacy Experiment
Jen DeLuca's Well Matched
Sonali Dev's Incense and Sensibility
Farah Heron's Accidentally Engaged
Beverly Jenkins' Wild Rain
Eva Leigh's Waiting for a Scot Like You
Kit Rocha's The Devil You Know
Tasha Suri's The Jasmine Throne

Friday, December 4, 2020

On the Shelf: Oct/Nov 2020

New feature! I used to log my monthly reads on my personal blog. I'm ending the year by moving them over here to Suleikha Land! I do my best to keep track of what I've read, what I'm reading, and what books I'm anticipating. And sometimes I remember to write up little intro paragraphs. I hope someone finds these posts valuable/entertaining. 

October saw me sinking into horror and thrillers and things that go bump in the night. I could barely focus on romance. Luckily, I rallied in November and added to my reading count substantially—especially in my most beloved genre! From Ann Aguirre's exquisite fairy tale, Bitterburn, to The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season (no relation, lol!) by Molly O'Keefe writing as Molly Fader to Jayce Ellis' sizzling office romance Learned Behaviors and two powerhouse books by Kennedy Ryan. Meanwhile, Nico Rosso's Haunted proved a welcome entry to gothic historical romance and I finally caught up with Illona Andrews' latest Hidden Legacy book. And Kate Clayborn's lovely meditation on found family and grief, Love at First, proved a gorgeous follow-up to January's Love Lettering

The Reading Rundown
Bitterburn by Ann Aguirre (fantasy romance)
Emerald Blaze by Illona Andrews (urban fantasy, paranormal romance)
Love at First by Kate Clayborn (out 2/23/21, contemporary romance)
Learned Behaviors by Jayce Ellis (contemporary LGBTQ+ romance)
The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season by Molly Fader (mainstream fiction, contemporary romance; CW for domestic violence)
Little Haunting by the Sea by Kate Johnson (contemporary romance, ghost/mystery; CW for multiple tragedies, self-harm, sexual abuse)
The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (horror)
Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (horror)
The Family Plot by Cherie Priest (horror)
Block Shot by Kennedy Ryan (contemporary romance)
Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan (contemporary romance)
Haunted by Nico Rosso (gothic historical romance)
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (thriller, horror)
The Project by Courtney Summers (out 2/2/21, thriller/suspense, mainstream fiction)
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay (horror, thriller)

Backlist adventures: Anne Stuart's steamy historicals, Reckless and Never Kiss a Rake, filled that comfort read niche for me as November got underway. They both had blond heroes named Adrian, which was a little jarring to read back-to-back, but I'm not really complaining. Then I continued the Stuartification and read Shadows at Sunset, which was a contemporary for its time but is basically a historical now. (lolsob!) I also reread a Tessa Dare favorite, A Lady By Midnight—because sometimes you just need a restorative trip to Spindle Cove.

Currently reading: The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan.

On the TBR/wish list:
How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova
Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins