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2014 Book Reviews/Recommendations

If you’re a last minute shopper, here’s a round-up of my book reviews for 2014, including a few new micro reviews as I’m running out of time before the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 6.22.32 pmPut these books in the hands of your loved ones…

A reminder–If I don’t love a book, I won’t review it here.  I don’t want to waste anyone’s time on books I didn’t like, or to throw around bad karma by ripping apart someone else’s book.

Books I’ve reviewed this year, with best of awards given by me

Twisted, edited by Alison Tyler

Those Boys by Alison Tyler  **Best Novella, 2014**

Summer Loving, edited by Alison Tyler

The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, edited by Rose Caraway  **Best Anthology, 2014**–my top anthology

Zombie Erotoclypse by Tamsin Flowers  **Best paranormal, 2014**

Skirting the Issue by Alison Tyler, Sommer Marsden, and Sophia Valenti

Roll By Lynn Townsend **Best LGBT, 2014**

The Mighty Quinn by Sommer Marsden  **Best novel, 2014**

Chemical [se]X, edited by Oleander Plume  **My husband’s top antho, 2014** (runner up as best antho from me)

Alchemy xii: New Years Eve by Tamsin Flowers  **Start of something amazing for 2015**

Books I haven’t gotten around to reviewing at length, but wanted to review before the end of the year are

Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors, edited by Delilah Devlin.  If you like your erotic heroes alpha and carrying swords, you’ll love this one. My favorites included

  • “The Promise of Memory” by Regina Kammer is a sexy and poignant story set in ancient Rome.
  • “To Love a King’s Man” by Emma Jay features a strong woman who isn’t about to let love walk away from her.
  • “The Squire” by Cela Winter has our heroine pretending to be a male squire and all the awkward that happens when she falls in love with her new knight.  (If you loved Tamora Pierce’s books when you were younger, this story is for you.)

Sex and Cupcakes by Rachel Kramer Bussel.  I really enjoyed Rachel’s essays.  As a plus sized woman, I found her piece about dating a plus sized man (“My Boyfriend’s Fat”)  particularly poignant.  I also really liked “What kind of submissive are you?” because it gets to the heart of how aroused I am by a specific kink is affected by who I’m playing with, what else is going on in my life, etc.  This was my favorite non-fiction piece on sex this year.

Coming Together: For the Holidays, edited by Alessia Brio.  My story “New on the Naughty List” (excerpt here) is part of this anthology (and I have 5 pdf reviewers copies), but I want to talk about which stories I enjoyed reading the most.

  • “Holiday Hours” by Lynn Townsend is the tale about a bored convenience store clerk on Christmas and the unexpected gift she receives.
  • “Fox’s Holiday” by Leigh Ellwood was an enjoyable shapeshifter story that made me want to read beyond the end of the story–what would happen next?
  • “Accosting Santa” by Sommer Marsden is the story of a neighbor who attacks the man she sees sneaking into the yard next door and combines her trademark hilarious banter and sizzling sex.

Other Days, edited by Jessica Augustsson.  Not erotica, but if you have a speculative fiction enthusiast on your list, this is a great one.  (Yes, I’m in it).

  • My favorite story in the book is “Lessons Learned” by Jessica (which I excerpted here) in which we learn the identity of Jack the Ripper (full disclosure, I beta read the story, too).
  • “Crux of a Faded Soul” by Jennifer Silverwood is a suspenseful ghost story narrated by a someone who insists she isn’t a ghost.
  • “The Karelian Egg” by Robert Young is the story of Anna, who is tasked to go back in time and steal one of the Faberge eggs for a mysterious man holding her brother hostage.

My story Choices (excerpt here) is included.  I have pdf reviewers copies if you would like one.

I have only just begun to read Coming Together: Among the Stars, edited by Lynn Townsend, but I’m still going to tell you to buy it if you have a sci fi fan on your list who would enjoy some kick in their Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.  I’m sharing pages with Rose Caraway, Lynn, Jade A. Waters, and Malin James among others, so I know it’s going to be awesome.  I have one pdf reviewers copy available.

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If you want a reviewer’s copy of Coming Together: For the Holidays, Coming Together: Among the Stars, or Other Days, leave a comment here or email me at delilahnight at gmail

 

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Also, there’s less than a week left to read my story, “Baby it’s Hot Outside” for free.  It’s a Christmas story set here in sweltering Singapore.

Book Review: The Mighty Quinn by Sommer Marsden

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I’ll be honest.  I didn’t read a lot of erotic novels in the past because I found it really hard to sustain interest.  Even the ones I’ve liked–like The Ninety Days of Genevieve or The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty–don’t generally merit a full re-read.  I’ll go back to the sex scenes I liked best and generally skip the rest.  I feel like a lot of what I read in the late 90’s and early 2000’s was wall to wall sex with only a thin narrative thread and that turned me off.  I switched to anthologies because they gave me sex and a more fleshed out narrative (or at least the ones I’ve been drawn to have).

What I learned earlier this year from Alison Tyler’s book Dark Secret Love (review here) and Lynn Townsend’s book Roll (review here) was that erotic novels have changed a lot in the past 5-10 years.  I’m so happy to find books that have a strong narrative thread and well written sex scenes.  Or maybe there wasn’t a shift and it’s that I’ve finally found the right authors and publishers?  Regardless, I am now slowly starting to dip my toe back into the world of erotic novels.

When Alison shared an excerpt from The Mighty Quinn, I immediately downloaded it to my kindle app. I have adored every short story that I’ve read by Sommer Marsden, so I was eager to read her novel.

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I have always loved chick lit, but one of my biggest issues was that the sex scenes were poorly written or fade to black/lights up on the next morning.  Sommer has managed to write something that could fit into the chick lit, romance, or erotica shelves.

The book opens with Quinn getting dumped.  As she attempts to crawl out of her post breakup funk, her neighbor/former burlesque queen Frenchy gives her a talking-to.

“I see you with your men,” she said lowly.  “You’re all poofy and swishy and like-me-like-me-like-me.”  She waved a wrinkled hand as if shooing a fly.  “That’s crap.  You need to figure out who Quinn is.  Embrace yourself.  Figure out what you want.  What makes you happy?  In life, in a job, in a man, hell, darling, in bed.  Id’ say that’s number one.  Because when you’ve had a good lay with a good man who wants you…” she grinned in the dark as if savoring a particularly delicious memory, “everything else just falls into place.”

Quinn enlists Frenchy’s aid to revamp her wardrobe, her walk, and her attitude.  After only a few days, she finds herself out to dinner with her best friend and her best friend’s drop dead gorgeous cousin Keaton.  She’s floored to discover that he likes her.

Frenchy is a brilliant character who has a low tolerance for bullshit and a high regard for high heels and hot sex.  Picturing an elderly burlesque dancer rasping out her lines never failed to give me a smile.  I wish I had a Frenchy in my life–someone who would give me a talking to when I needed that, and lessons in how to twirl a tassle when called for.

I relate to Quinn.  I have fallen prey to the same personality flaws in the past–I’ll be whatever you want me to be/like whatever you like without any regard for whether I am those things/like those things.  She goes through the kind of transformation that I always imagined going through.  That Hollywood-esque take off the glasses and everyone sees all along that she was hot shit transformation.  It’s better than any movie though, because Sommer ensures that we see Quinn struggle with it.  Fail at it.  Still babble when nervous.

The chemistry between Quinn and Keaton sizzles.  He’s an alpha male, but not in a mansplaining let-me-fix-you way that I find so grating.  We get to peek under the alpha male and see that he is just as uncertain as she is.  Does she like him for real, or will she break his heart?

The sex scenes made me squirm in my seat—in the best possible way.  But unlike those early erotic novels, I want to read the whole book again.  I want to go through the journey that gets me to those sex scenes because they’re not just hot, I’m emotionally invested in the relationship.

The Mighty Quinn is funny, compelling, and erotic.  Sommer gets an A+++

A bunch of lovely authors…

lovely blog awardThe very lovely Lace Winter nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog Award.”  I’m going to accept-and use this opportunity to heed Alison’s call to arms

What if we promoted each other in little surprise ways like this—posting covers, pimping stories, sharing the wealth. Read a book you liked? Put up the cover and a link. Discover an author you think is fabulous—give an unexpected shout out, an unplanned review.–Alison Tyler

I’m going to tell you about 15 authors I love.  If I tag you, carry on the award or not as is right for you 🙂

The rules of the award state that I must thank Lace for nominating me.  Thank you, sweetie.  But more than that, thank you for becoming a friend over the past few months.  I’m so glad to have met you–and hopefully I’ll meet you in person one of these days.

The award also says I need to share 7 things about myself my readers don’t know.  I don’t often talk about my non-writing life here, so I thought that would be fun to do.

about me

1-I suffer from pinterest addiction.  I’ve yet to try something worthy of a Pinterest FAIL blog, but my ambitions almost got the better of me with Ms. 6’s birthday party earlier this month.

IMG_9445Pinterest Success!

2-I don’t speak Mandarin.  However, both of my girls are learning it, so I’ve picked up a few words here and there.  Today when my aircon repair guy was on the phone with my landlord I could make out the words I, you, can’t, this one/that one, and because.  Which is just enough knowledge to make me panic–hearing “can’t” over and over from a repair man when my air conditioning isn’t working and it’s in the 90’s was freaking me out.  Other words in my vocabularly include the words for “I don’t want to,” which my three year old whines ALL THE TIME.

3-For all that I’m an expat and have traveled all over the place now, the truth is that I never flew on an airplane before I was 20 years old.  I was TERRIFIED the first time.  Now it’s old hat.

4-I told my husband I was buying the new Taylor Swift album for Ms. 6’s birthday, but mostly I bought it for me.  He saw right through it.  Kind of the same way he saw through it when I  bought tickets “for her” to Taylor Swift concert earlier this year.

5-I spent my childhood wanting to be Kristy from The Baby-Sitter’s Club book series.

6-If I had a better voice and less stage fright I would love to be a Broadway star.

7-I picked a bad partner the first time I had sex.  He invited me to his room to WATCH ANIME and I was naive enough to think that’s what it meant.  When I realized he had other ideas I decided “eh, why not?” and we had sex.  After it was over, we realize that I’d bled.  My reaction was to sigh because I didn’t have a pad in my purse.  HIS response was to say “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to bleed--I could’ve put a trash bag down or something so you wouldn’t stain my sheets.”  Like I said–I did not pick a good partner.  But I did get a good story out of it, so there’s that?

Now we get to the good stuff–I’m going to tell you about some of my favorite authors.

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1–My very first story acceptance was from Rachel Kramer Bussel.  She has a new collection of essays out called Sex and Cupcakes.  It’s currently sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to get through this insane week so I can dive in.

2–The next editor to accept my work was Alison Tyler.  If you’ve read my blog you know I LOVE her work.  She has a number of recent releases–including a story in Filthy Housewives, edited by Violet Blue.  My favorite novellas from Alison are Those Girls and Those Boys–Sandy is one of my favorite fictional Doms.

3-I have to say that Sandy is ONE of my favorite fictional Doms because I just got a sneak peek at Tamsin Flowers‘ new project Alchemy xii, and given the chance, I don’t know if I could pick between Alison’s Sandy and Tamsin’s Harry.  I’ll post a review a little closer to the release date.  Tamsin also wrote Zombie Erotoclypse, which contains “Peeping Zom”-which contains the only Paul Revere reference I’ve ever seen in an erotica story.  I have a degree in History, so I think we should all take a page from Tamsin’s book and throw in clever lines like that one.  If you like your zombie erotica aurally, check out Rose Caraway reading “Red Hot Zombie Cock” on the Kiss Me Quick Podcast.

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4-Speaking of Rose Caraway, have you read The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica?  It’s my current pick for best erotica anthology this year.

5-Pillow Talk is a collaborative effort brought to us by Tamsin Flowers, Malin James and Jade A. Waters.  It’s so great to see a conversation between fellow erotica authors on topics like how their writing has evolved to be more selective about which details to include in a story and which to leave to a reader’s imagination.

6-Malin James‘ blog should be required reading for anyone interested in sex.  Her recent post “Ownership: On Sexuality & Feminine Relations” really resonated with me.

7-Jade A. Waters is a new author to me, but I’m looking forward to reading more of her work, including her story in the upcoming Lynn Townsend anthology Among the Stars.  I really enjoy hearing her opinions in Pillow Talk and on Twitter.

8-Lynn Townsend caught my attention with “Full Frontal Neighbor” in  The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica.  I subsequently read her novel Roll, which I loved.  I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of Blues in early 2015.  Lynn recently edited her first anthology and Among the Stars is going to be so awesome.

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9-I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sommer Marsden.  I started reading Sommer’s work because she came so highly recommended by Alison.  I quickly became a huge fan of her clever twist endings.  Her new book is The Mighty Quinn, also on my kindle.  (Have I mentioned how crazy this week is? CRAZY busy).  I also loved her story “The New Girl” in Skirting the Issue  , “Appetizer” in The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, and I’m looking forward to seeing her story in Coming Together: For the Holidays.

10-Janine Ashbless grabbed my attention with her story “Three Legs in the Evening” in The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica because I’m a Greek Mythology fangirl.  One of my daughter has a middle name pulled from Greek Mythology.  I’m super excited to read her new release Cover Him with Darkness.

11-Delilah Devlin edits some seriously hot anthologies with alpha males.  I  loved her antho Cowboy Lust, .  I’m currently reading Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors .  If you prefer Firemen, she also just released Five Alarm Alphas .

12-I’m a sucker for erotic fairy tales, and Kristina Wright has edited A Princess Bound,  Fairy Tale Lust, and Lustfully Ever After.

13-Lace Winter (who tagged me for this post) is not yet a published author, but I’m certain she will be soon.  She’s been posting excerpts from her WIP, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing.

14-I know Sophia Valenti‘s work from Alison’s anthologies, and her story “A Lesson in Lust” in Skirting the Issue is one of my favorite F/F stories.

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I’m going to leave  #15 empty—tell me who I should be reading that I haven’t discovered yet.