As I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts, my reading habits have changed this year. In late summer I found myself struggling to maintain my reading pace and I was DNF’ing a lot of books I might have pushed my way through in previous years. I’m not one to force myself to finish a book, DNF’ing isn’t an issue to me, but I felt even less tolerant of reads that weren’t entertaining me in some way.
However there were still plenty of books that I did enjoy, and this post is a round up of some of my favourite reads of 2020.
Normally I struggle to narrow my favourite reads down to a fairly short list, but reducing the number of books I’ve read, along with re-reading some old favourites, has actually left me feeling able to do so this year.
Former Navy SEAL turned covert agent Wes Halsted spent his days —and weeks and months —being someone else. But with his cover blown and his injuries requiring months of recuperation, he must learn how to be himself again. Only …he’d rather save his issues for another day and get to know a stressed-out, suited-up businessman instead. Tom Esbeck has everything under control. Meal plans, workout plans, project plans, five-year plans. A plan for everything and everything according to plan. Except there’s no plan for a surprise—and shirtless—encounter with the built-for-sin spy he’d crushed on years ago. But crushes —and spies —burn out fast.
“This shit is why you always kill the bad guy.” Wanted dead or alive by the law and every criminal this side of the jump gates, there’s only one place Caleb and his crew can hide: Jotunheim. All the crap in the Nine systems washes up there. With their rustbucket tugship Starkiller about to cough its last space-mile and credits scarce, raiding a few scrappers rigs is a last resort. Scrappers are hard bastards, but then so is Caleb. Stealing from the bad guys should be easy, if Caleb’s crew can get their shit together. The pressure is on. Trust is a joke. And then there’s One. New and improved but just like her old self? Or not… One says there’s a revolution brewing, and she’d know. Synthetics move among us, their strings pulled by a mad man. The Nine Systems teeters on the edge of a war it can’t see coming, and Caleb’s crew might be all that stands in its way. Sometimes it takes bad guys to kill bad guys, and if Caleb’s crew have learned anything together, it’s how to be bad.
I made a bet with my newlywed submissive wife. I told her that if she could behave herself impeccably for a week, she could wear the trousers for a day. That included being able to dominate me. The bet was almost guaranteed to be impossible to achieve, and yet somehow she did it. It looks like I’m in for a fun night, doesn’t it? If that wasn’t bad enough, Kyle has been spotted near our home. It scares me. I can feel the net closing in, and I’m still no closer to unravelling the pieces. We need to figure out what Redcliff wants, and fast. In order to do this, I’m going to have to talk to my mother-in-law, who still isn’t speaking to me. I have no idea what her problem is. She tried to kill me, not the other way around…
How can my favorite author be such a suspicious alphahole? All I wanted was an autograph, but Vandal Stokes is livid when he finds me on his property. The sketchy contract he makes me sign traps me alone with him and his gorgeous friend, Zero, for months. While we adjust to the awkwardness, Zero volunteers to be my writing mentor and assists me with my creepy research. Vandal can’t resist getting involved, and the tension between the three of us ignites. Our situation feeds into my most sinister fantasies. Two against one. Twisted games. A dark basement. No neighbors. One torrid summer could very well change my life—and me—forever. *This rough romance contains dark themes, graphic sex scenes, and kink.*
They took me, broke me, remade me in their image. I am branded by their twisted ambitions; martyred by their greed. They ground me down until I was everything they wanted and more, and at the end I thanked them for it. Jackson. Dominic. Cole. They forced me to love them, and then they cast me aside like yesterday’s trash. But they taught me to be the best. So that’s exactly what they’ll get. Because in the end… Revenge is sweeter than love. And they’ll never see me coming.
David took Lianna to destroy her… and then everything got complicated. Falling for the girl he kidnapped shouldn’t have happened. Especially not Lianna Mercier, daughter of the man he hated, and heir to a family name steeped in blood and violence. But, now she’s his entire world, and Lianna’s is burning down around her. David may have lit the match that set her life on fire, but all he wants now is to keep her safe. With their future on the line… can he even ask her to choose him after all he’s done?
What if the storybook hero becomes the villain? She is my arch enemy’s niece. I am an arrogant, controlling bastard, an excellent detective, and women are turning up dead and bound, with strange marks on their bodies. This is the least appropriate time for me to fall in lust with the enemy. Obsession is the sign of a man who is losing control. Be punctual for this appointment, Miss Moriarty. I have things I need to do. Filthy, perverted things.
In this final book of the Clandestine Magic trilogy, Beatrix Harper is poised to help her sister accomplish an audacious goal. They’re on the brink of winning back a key right for typics that wizards took away—and maybe, just maybe, getting women more rights in the bargain. But first she has to rescue Peter Blackwell, trapped in a dark-magic coma. And figure out what a former friend is plotting after nearly killing Peter and disappearing. And stay one step ahead of the vice president’s men. What her enemies have planned is worse than she realizes. Far worse.
9 Reign of Darkness (The Prince’s Assassin #2) Ariana Nash
“Know your place, Nikolas.” “Under the heel of your boot, Your Highness?” After a terrible inferno destroys the Caville palace, and with the people of Loreen turned against him, Prince Vasili is left with no choice but to flee his ancestral home, leaving Amir to proclaim himself king. But the prince’s life isn’t the only one left in ashes. King Amir has not forgotten Nikolas Yazdan—the butcher, a lord’s bastard son, and Vasili’s favorite pet. Nikolas doesn’t fear Amir, but the new king has discovered the Caville curse can be wielded like a weapon, and he has Nikolas in his crosshairs. The exotic south is Vasili’s and Niko’s only refuge. A land of pirates and thieves, of mystery and magic. A land of opportunity for a manipulative prince and his reluctant assassin. But just as Nikolas begins to believe Vasili might be worth fighting for—that Loreen can be saved with Vasili on the throne—the dark flame trapped in the royal bloodline unravels its ancient bonds. One prince must control the unrelenting power desperate for its escape. The other must die. Niko thought he knew which prince he could trust, but he’s been fooled before and as Vasili’s true motives are revealed, Niko finds himself at the mercy of Prince Vasili once more. Only this time, there is more than love at stake. The fate of the world rests on Niko discovering the truth about the flame, about the cursed Cavilles, and his place in their doomed destiny.
Prince’s Assassin series is a slow-burn enemies-to-lovers saga. A gay Game of Thrones with a hint of Witcher thrown in, there are triggers, including but not limited to: reference to past abuse, attempted rape, dubious consent, reference to incest, torture, drug use and PTSD. High heat sexual content. The Prince’s Assassin is for 18+ only.
I survived the fall of civilization, but I didn’t live… until I met him. Adam is not a good man. He’s a criminal. A warlord. Someone who takes without asking. He is guarded and cold. But that’s not all he is. He’s also a father. A leader. A battered soul who refuses to stop fighting. I’m blind, but I see the real man behind the wounded, world-weary façade, and I want him more than I’ve ever wanted anything. His touch sets my skin ablaze. He fills my house with laughter and light, and then leaves me with a gift that might bring life to a dying world. It seems our love can save… everything.
I’ll start my review by repeating the warning on the blurb – this is NOT a romance, it is a dark, erotic suspense. A story that totally captivated me and that I read in one sitting!
Callie was more than a little naive, but I won’t judge her initial choices and actions because one needs to remember that she was the victim here. She didn’t go out looking to be abducted, raped and kept as a sex slave. The fault totally lies with her captor, Damon, who lied and manipulated an innocent young woman for his own nefarious desires. How dark you find this will depend on how affected you are by non-consensual acts, it’s also a very subjective description. The hope and determination Callie fostered within herself kept this from feeling overly hopeless or black.
I loved the honesty of Callie’s responses, her silent, and very barbed, responses to Damon proved what a brave and resilient young woman she was. She chose her battles and actions wisely, she used her common sense to keep herself as safe and sane as was possible in such harrowing circumstances. I want to say Damon was pure evil, but that would be untrue. He was unbalanced, he was bad, but he did have some moments of decency. His childhood recollections/flashbacks and the way his father treated him did offer some insight into how his psyche had become so twisted and corrupt but ultimately his selfish nature had him making the wrong choices.
As this is most definitely not a romance of any shape, size or description, I would class the ending as HEA. However it is a very positive ending, one filled with hope and possibility. Go on, be brave and give this a try.
She dreams of a dark Master who claims her as his captive. Until the fantasy becomes all too real…
Callie is an innocent, her head filled with submissive ideas of a strong, sexy guy taking full control. When she connects online with a kindred spirit on an adults-only chat site, she shares all her secret abduction fantasies. They agree to meet for dinner, but when Callie arrives, it’s not her new friend Diana who is waiting for her, but the dark, sexy Master of her dreams… or is he her worst nightmare?
Warning: This Dark Obsessions novel is an edgy captive tale. Read only if you dare…
Well this has definitely been a defining year for us all. What the long term impact will be I don’t even want to guess at, but I do worry about employment opportunities for my two sons, one of whom was made redundant a few months ago, whilst the other finished college back in the summer. Both of them want to work, though are limited by having to use public transport to get there. One is ready for taking his driving test, but booking them is currently proving to be almost impossible.
However so far we are all safe and well, and I can only hope things stay that way. So despite the trials and difficulties we still face, when I think just how much worse things could be, I remain thankful for what we do have.
During 2020 I read a total of 245 books. That total is lower than previous years, in part due to reducing arc reading, in order to achieve two things. The first aim was to make a dent on the unread books on my kindle, the other was to just allow myself to enjoy what I am reading, rather than rushing through it in order to meet the next deadline. I have made a start at that TBR mountain, but then I kept buying new books to add to it!
As this is a bookish blog I really do need to get on with a bookish post, covering favourite reads and other irrelevant facts from 2020. So here goes…
Irrelevant Fact #1 – this was the year that I discovered the delights of re-reading books.
I’m not sure what happened in your corner of the world, but towards the end of March, England went into a lockdown. We queued to get into supermarkets, and once in we carefully followed the one way system – well most of us did. We wore our masks, we sanitised our hands and we prayed for toilet paper, hand soap, antibacterial cleaner and pasta to appear back on the shelves. Those that could work from home did so, whilst all none essential business and shops had to close.
Despite seemingly having more time to read, I actually found myself struggling to settle into books that would normally have wowed me. Ignoring the huge backlog of unread books on my kindle, I found myself digging out books I read 4 or 5 years ago. I was surprised by both how much plot I had forgotten and also by how much I enjoyed those re-reads. My intention in 2021 is to try and re-read at least one book each month. Mind you my intention for the last two years has been to reduce my TBR list, not add to it, and look how well that’s gone, or rather not gone!
Irrelevant Fact #2 – this was the year that I learnt how to use Microsoft Teams for teaching students.
As a teacher I had to learn how to do remote lessons, which was a very steep learning curve. Not all students had easy access to a computer/the internet, so work packs that could be supported by youtube videos or other means had to be created. For once those usually dreaded mobile phones actually became a godsend. Trying to teach a student via a phone call proved just how much I rely on visual cues and props to teach lessons!
After some initial teething problems, I’m now pretty decent at teaching students who aren’t in the same room as me. I guess teachers in the outback, who have been teaching this way for decades, are laughing at the rest of us, who feel like we’ve discovered fire and the wheel all in one sparkly package.
Irrelevant Fact #3 – I expanded my blogging horizons by joining some book blog memes
The extra time during lockdown allowed me to discover the joy of the bookish blog meme. At one point I joined a blog meme almost every day. However returning to work has meant trimming this back to three a week. Some of those posts could take an hour or two to write, especially if I had to do some research of books I’ve read in the past.
I do enjoy my Monday round up post, as it gives me time to reflect on my reading week and month. Friday’s blog hop always has a great question to make you think! I want to find a couple more memes that can be completed fairly quickly, as they seem a great way to connect with other bloggers, as well as readers. I love that feel of being part of the book community.
Irrelevant Fact #4 – I didn’t exceed my Goodreads reading target this year.
The last few years I’ve exceeded my reading target on Goodreads, indeed I have usually upped my target at some point during the year. This year I’ve made a huge effort to cut back on arc reading, stepping down from quite a number of arc teams. Along with that huge backlog of purchased books I need to read, it was also because I would often find myself with 3, 4 or even 5 books landing on my kindle at the same time, meaning I often needed to read 2 books in 3 days.
My reading enjoyment became indirectly proportional to the number of arcs I had to read. I also found that some authors were churning out books on a more regular basis, and I just wasn’t enjoying them as much. Whether it was because the quality had reduced, or the none stop pressure had a subconscious effect, I couldn’t say, but stepping back has been nothing but beneficial. Especially since I completely lost my reading mojo over the summer – which is often when I do get ahead on my reading challenge. I’m now reading a maximum of three books a week, rather than five or more, and feeling so much happier for it.
Irrelevant Fact #5 – For the first time ever I can actually do a ‘Top 10 books I’ve read this year’.
Normally I struggle to narrow my favourite reads down to a fairly short list, but reducing the number of books I’ve read, along with re-reading some old favourites, has actually left me feeling able to do so this year. Whilst many of these were released in 2020 some are older books, but they were all on my reading list this year. In no particular order they are –
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a wonderful place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be, reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! Everyone is welcome. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn over at The Book Date.
I hope you had a peaceful and merry christmas if you celebrate, a good holiday if you’ve had one and wishing you a much better 2021 than this year has proved to be for most. Once again it’s a weekly and monthly round up post, I’ll be doing my year review separately. Along with some beta reading, I completed almost fourteen books and DNF’d a couple of others in December. I say almost fourteen because I stalled at about 65% on one of my longer reads, though I’ve heard the ending is fantastic, so I will probably finish this before the first of January. Whilst most of these books were originally arcs, I already had many of them on pre-order or bought them anyway.
Books Read in December
Future Reading Plans
I want to extend the range of genres I currently read. I’m easing myself into that by returning to an old favourite, Science Fiction. I then plan to finish Deadly Dreams before doing a re-read of Sin & Spirit in preparation for completing the series. I originally planned to do this over the summer, but totally lost my reading mojo, so am hoping to achieve this goal over the next week or so.
How did your December reading go? What are your plans as we head towards the New Year?