Romance Excerpt: Oceanside by Michelle Mankin

Today fabulous romance writer and all around awesome human, Michelle Mankin, is on Binge on Books to share an excerpt from her upcoming novel, Oceanside. But! Before we get to that, let’s learn a little about this release that promises some of my favorites: rock stars, kick butt female musicians, and two people who might just be simply perfect for each other after all…

Oceanside by Michelle Mankin

Release date: April 10, 2018

About the book:

Oscar night.
Rock star legend, Ashland Keys should be on top of the world, but the blond blue-eyed SoCal surfer is disillusioned with fame, done with drugs, bored with the groupies and sick of all the fake f*ckery.
A rising star, Fanny Bay is nominated for best original song in the same category as the Dirt Dogs band, but the novel redhead with the corkscrew curls and the slight Canadian accent would prefer to chart a course with a different destination.
Hollywood is not for her.
He’s full of regrets, darkness and secrets.
She’s full of hope and light and has mysteries of her own.
He’s her reserved hero.
She’s his gypsy rose.
He’s water. She’s fire. Together, they don’t make sense.
But he’s what she’s always wanted, and she just might be everything he needs.


Oscar night


“Ash,” I corrected. “My friends call me Ash.” My voice sounded gruff from the weight of the things I wanted to explore further with her. Things that I wouldn’t, couldn’t pursue. Bad timing to meet someone who so intrigued me if the test turned out the way I feared. And even if it didn’t, she was too young, too innocent. Not at all right for someone like me.

“Ash,” she repeated, my name sliding so easily between those recently wetted ruby red lips of hers. I imagined them wrapped around my shaft and knew I wouldn’t have turned her down if she had offered to do to me the things the groupie had. My cock was certainly interested in her. It didn’t care about timing or right and wrong. It was all about action.

“I’m sorry you got drawn into my mess,” she continued. “I think that under different circumstances we might have been friends. It’s difficult to find many of those in our profession. Genuine ones, I mean. But I think it’s better if we just go ahead and say goodbye right now.”

“How so?” The lust thundering through me made it difficult to focus, but I did get that she was giving me the brush off. And even though wisdom dictated that I take the hint—it was the logical thing to do after all given our differences—the alpha male in me said, ‘Fuck logic.’

“Because my stepfather wasn’t kidding around. He means what he says. You don’t want to be on his bad side. I don’t want you to be on his bad side. And that’s where you would end up if he thought you were a friend of mine.”

“Someone who steps in front of him when he’s twisting your arm and hurting you, you mean?”

Her eyes wide, she nodded.

“Well, fuck that bullshit.” My gaze grazed the red welt on her arm. “He’s the one who should be worried about getting on my bad side.”

She smiled at my vehement response and smiling she was more than just cute. She was a wrecking ball to my resolve, Prettier in person than in any of the videos I had seen of her and so enticing in that little yellow halter top with the tempting bow dangling between her shoulder blades. I imagined untying it and taking those pins out of her hair. What would those glorious red curls feel like around my…. No… I reined those thoughts back and settled for tracing her subtle curves with my gaze instead. No sex. Not with her. Not with anyone. Not for a while. Potentially not ever. I wouldn’t put anyone at risk if there was even a chance they would get infected. Ironic to be sure. Divine justice for my own irresponsible behavior over the years.

The familiar icy dread returning, I had to remind myself that no diagnosis had actually been made. I had momentarily forgotten my apprehension in her presence. That song of hers was so fucking full of hope it had me expecting a miracle. And that hope sprang from within her. She was the source. No wonder her star had risen so fast. Just a handful of minutes with her was all it had taken for me to realize it.

“I…I wasn’t expecting to run into you tonight.” Her eyes twinkled like stars emerging in the sky as the sun relinquished its hold on the day. “I had hoped to, sure, you know, since I love…your music so much.” A few more spirally crimson curls shivered free of their pins as her hands fluttered in front of her chest. “It’s just now that I’ve actually met you for real.” She gave me that utterly beguiling guileless look. “I’ll never be able to look at your picture the same way again.”

“No reason to settle for a photograph, Fanny. You have your things to do tonight, and I’ve got mine. But afterward, there are a lot of parties. I’m sure we can manage to bump into each other again. Maybe talk some more.” Unwise, Ashland. But yet doing the ‘whoever and whatever the fuck I wanted’ rock star entitlement thing was a hard habit to crush. I might not be able to take this where I wanted with her spread out on thesheets beneath me, but I wasn’t ready for whatever the hell this was to end yet, either. So shouldn’t I leave myself an opening? Acontingency plan? I had been walking around like a zombie. But what if the diagnosis wasn’t what I feared? What if I received favorable news? What then? Who then? As I continued to stare into those starlit eyes of hers, I felt something shift and lock into place that was startlingly certain. Her. If I had a future on the other side of this, I wanted that future to include her.

“There is a reason.” She shook her head. “Samuel Lesowski. My stepfather. You two didn’t exactly hit it off.”

“You’re an adult. He doesn’t have to know everything you do, does he?”

“No.” Her face brightening, she shook her head excitedly and more curls escaped.

“What do you say then? How about this? You be just you and I’ll be just me. A girl from Beverly Hills and a guy from the beach. None of the other stuff. It’s not important. I’ve got a hurdle I have to clear next week, but afterward I can come back to LA. We could meet somewhere.”

“I don’t know.” She captured and wrapped one of her curls around her finger while blinking uncertainly at me through the thick fringe of her crimson lashes.

“There’s a coffeehouse,” I plowed over her reservations. “The Cosmic Cup in Manhattan Beach. It’s by the water. Quiet. Close enough to where you live, but a fair enough distance from the bullshit of LA. How about Wednesday at ten o’clock?”


“But nothing. You wrote that song, ‘Tomorrow Today’, right? Make every moment count. I believe that. We can’t control time, but who says we can’t manipulate it. We bumped into each other tonight for a reason. Don’t you think we owe ourselves a chance to find out what that reason is?”

Pre-order it now:…/1127888699

About Michelle: 

Michelle Mankin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Records series of novels.

Rock Stars. Romance. Redemption.

Love Evolution, Love Revolution, and Love Resolution are a BRUTAL STRENGTH centered trilogy, combining the plot underpinnings of Shakespeare with the drama, excitement, and indisputable sexiness of the rock ‘n roll industry.

Things take a bit of an edgier, once upon a time turn with the TEMPEST series. These pierced, tatted, and troubled Seattle rockers are young and on the cusp of making it big, but with serious obstacles to overcome that may prevent them from ever getting there.

Rock stars, myths, and legends collide with paranormal romance in a totally mesmerizing way in the MAGIC series.

Catch the perfect wave with irresistible surfers in the ROCK STARS, SURF AND SECOND CHANCES series.

Romance and self-discovery, the FINDING ME series is a Tempest spin off with a more experienced but familiar cast of characters.

ROCK F*CK CLUB. One woman, ten rock stars. Is a woman’s sexuality hers to define or does a double standard remain? 

When Michelle is not prowling the streets of her Texas town listening to her rock or NOLA funk music much too loud, she is putting her daydreams down on paper or traveling the world with her family and friends, sometimes for real, and sometimes just for pretend.


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Fantasy Review: Roar by Cora Carmack

Roar by Cora Carmack

Published by: Tor Teen

Format: Ebook and Audiobook

Genre: Romance/Fantasy

Order at: Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Madison

What to Expect: An unlikely hero, conflicted villains, and a lot of secrets.


Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.


I stumbled upon this book when looking for an audiobook for a long car ride. Following a week of the flu, this book has become my constant companion. I highly recommend for sick days and long car rides. First and foremost I love our heroine. Aurora is an unlikely heir. She doesn’t show a lick of magic to protect her kingdom and she is forced into hiding by her mother for the fear that someone may find out her secret. She is then arranged to marry with a brooding and dark prince named Cassius from the kingdom of Locke. Don’t get heart eyes on me yet. Carmack does an amazing job at stringing you along to trust this prince and then shatters your heart within the first few chapters. I am one of those readers who will always love the first romantic interest. It’s like I have some loyalty to them. This book was the exception.

Without giving too much away Aurora finds herself in the black market of magic and teams up with a group of magical hunters. What do they hunt? Storms. Aurora cleverly devises a plan to leave with them under the guise of her new identity, Roar. Roar is bold, unafraid, and relatable. The hunters are suspicious of her. This is not a “buddy buddy perfect friendship” kind of book. The relationships are complicated and they should be. Though this is set in a fictional world I found myself relating to a lot of the characters for their human flaws.

What you might not like/doesn’t work for you: There is nothing I truly disliked. If I had to pick one thing I wish when Aurora transitioned to Roar there was a bit more awkwardness to it. Sometimes she felt so strong. She was sheltered for years. There is a description in the book that her servants were changed out so often they only knew what herbs to put in her bath. I think in the beginning when she trusted Cassius that showed this naive girl. But I wish it carried a bit more into that transition. It’s not a huge thing because there were awkward and naive moments throughout.

What you will love: The story is completely original. If you are looking for some high fantasy that you feel like you haven’t read before, this is it!The world the author built was quite lush and dynamic.

Madison is our newest reviewer here at Binge on Books! When not working on her own first novel, she loves reading YA & Fantasy and listening to podcasts.

You can get in touch with her on Twitter: @MPMarkerWrites

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Romance Review: From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

Published by: Self-published

Format: Kindle Unlimited Ebook

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Tropes and Themes: ice-skating romance, enemies-to-lovers, slow slow slooooow burn

Order at: Amazon 

Reviewed by: Judith

What to Expect: Slow burn queen, Mariana Zapata, is back with a brand new enemies-to-lovers look into the world of competitive figure skating. You can expect: snarky come-backs, one liners that will make you go, “oooooh”, a big boisterous close knit family, a tough as nails heroine, and the most insufferably hot hero you will ever meet.  Read More

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Fantasy Review: The Tree by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

The Tree by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Published by: Night Shade Books

Format: eArc

Genre: Fantasy

Order at: Amazon | B & N | Kobo

Reviewed by: Edwin

What to Expect:  A unique portal fantasy/urban fantasy hybrid with a sprawling, wonderfully diverse cast, an exciting plot, and a remarkable amount of emotional resonance. Read More

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New Adult Review: Abroad, Book 2 by Liz Jacobs

Abroad: Book Two by Liz Jacobs

Published by: Brain Mill Press

Format: epub

Genre: New adult

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B & N | Kobo

Reviewed by: Edwin

What to Expect:  Friendship, family – found and blood – the wonders and challenges of coming out, and young people finding their places in the world. A perfect new adult experience. Read More

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Buddy Review: Alex and Edwin talk Apocalypse Alley by Don Allmon

Apocalypse Alley by Don Allmon

Published by: Riptide

Format: eARC

Genre: Fantasy

Release date: February 26, 2018

Order at: Publisher

Reviewed by: Alex & Edwin

What to Expect: Death Race 2000 meets Mad Max in The Matrix. Featuring a hacker, a supersoldier with side servings of the Daddiest orc in history and a terrifying cyborg assassin. Read More

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Science Fiction Review: Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells

Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells

Published by: Angry Robot

Format: eARC

Genre: Science fiction

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N 

Reviewed by: Edwin

What to Expect: Science fiction Wild West biker witches and lesbian unionists fomenting a proletarian revolution against an evil corporation. What’s not to like?

(Note: review contains spoilers for Book 1 of the series, Hunger Makes the Wolf (reviewed here, and some general discussion of plot elements in the first ¼ of this book) Read More

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Edwin’s Recent Reading Roundup: Book 1 Bonanza

Over the past few months, I’ve read a number of “book ones” in multi-book series that I really enjoyed.  Here are four I’d like to highlight, all of which either have a sequel out already (in the case of the first two) or out in the next few weeks (in the case of the last two). No waiting for months before bingeing right on to the next book!

Cold Iron by Stina Leicht

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N 

The first book in what looks like it’s going to be the epic fantasy trilogy I’ve been wanting for a long time.  I primarily read epic fantasy as a teenager, and I love the sweep of it. The nation-shaking plots, the battles, the magic, the heroic effort to defeat evil.  Great stuff.  But bundled into that is a lot of reactionary pining for feudalism and how replacing a Bad King with a Good King fixes everything.

Cold Iron upends those tired tropes, and gives us an epic fantasy with a revolutionary mindset.  Our two lead characters are royal siblings, yes, but the empire they’re heirs to is kind of crappy and oppressive; at the very best the status quo is deeply flawed.  The book is not the story of how the Good Queen fixes the status quo & makes it a paradise, it’s about how the status quo collapses.  And that is altogether a very different (I’d argue more interesting) story. Throw in plenty of women characters with agency, major supporting characters who are queer, a much less prominent role for the military than is normal in fantasy societies, and a gripping plot and you have something really special.  

The best epic fantasy that I read last year, and I’m excited to read the second book, Blackthorne, which is out now.

Soul’s Blood by Stephen Graham King

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

You don’t see much queer space opera out there, and that’s what I thought I was getting when I picked up Soul’s Blood.  And it is what we start with, but it becomes apparent that that is not the book’s primary focus.  Our major characters are Keene and Lexa-Blue, along with Lexa-Blue’s sentient ship, Maverick Heart, better known as Vrick.  They’re interstellar ‘troubleshooters,’ taking on jobs of varying levels of legality to pay their way.  The book opens with a nice little heist scene, but quickly morphs into what consumes the rest of the book: a political technothriller.  One of Keene’s ex-boyfriends is CEO/King of a corporate state, and needs help resolving an escalating conflict with the genetically modified not-quite-human nation which shares his planet.   

What ensues is surprisingly character-driven, which works well because the characters are excellent.  Keene is a cocky smuggler, yes, but he also wears his heart on his sleeve, and Lexa-Blue is a riot as a hypercompetent, gives-no-fucks badass.  Arguably my favourite character, though, is Vrick. Centuries old, the product of banned technology, and a loyal friend to Keene and Lexa-Blue, he’s a marvellous creation.  This good characterisation is backed up with interesting worldbuilding and a fast moving plot.  I might have wished for the book to be a bit longer to spool out some of the relationship developments, but there are worse sins than leaving one wanting more.

Gatecrasher, Book 2 in the Maverick Heart series is out now and is, if anything, even better than Soul’s Blood.

Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

I read this on the recommendation of KJ Charles, who in addition to writing great books gives good recs, so I wasn’t surprised that I really enjoyed Hunger Makes the Wolf, but I was surprised to be really blown away by it.  The basic setup is two young women on an outlying mining planet in an interstellar civilization.  One is in an outlaw motorcycle gang, the other is the niece of the gang’s leader and ends up with a prominent role in the miners’ union.  Both are altered by something weird about their planet to have ‘witchy’ powers, and are set in conflict with the big nasty corporation which runs the mining operations on the planet (and also control all interstellar travel, so we’re talking big corporation).

The setup itself is cool enough: magic SF outlaw bikers in the neo-Wild West (there is also an alien(?) I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to find sexy but totally do)! How is that not going to be awesome? But that’s not what impressed me so much.  The special thing about this book is its unrepentant howl of working class anger at pretty much everyone who exploits workers.  The church, the rich, corporate interests, all of it.  And a pretty obvious contempt for ineffectual liberal incrementalism, too. So the book is enormous amounts of fun as a science fantasy adventure, and also a big fuck you to our complacent liberal present.  

Highly recommended, and very much looking forward to book 2, Blood Binds The Pack, which is out on 1 February.

The Root by Na’amen G Tilahun

Get it now: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

An unclassifiable and high quality portal fantasy/urban fantasy mashup.

A portal fantasy/urban fantasy of the highest quality. Our two leads are Erik, a former child star in San Francisco whose career has been destroyed by a scandal involving his ex-boyfriend, and Lil, basically an apprentice mage/archivist in the parallel city of ‘Zebub, where humans are an underclass to god-like beings. Both are black, an unfortunately rare situation in fantasy writing.  Both are also excellent characters.  Erik quickly discovers that he is descended from the blood of gods (or angels. Or something more than human), which gives him special powers. He’s introduced to a number of other people who share such powers, and is drawn into a fight between two factions of these children of angels.  Meanwhile, in Zebub, Lil starts off incredibly timid, but finds an enormous amount of strength & bravery as she’s drawn into a mystery of something which threatens the whole of her reality.  The plot is convoluted – in a way I enjoyed – and there are many point of view characters, so it’s hard to give more detail than that. 

Aside from the extremely creative worldbuilding and rock solid prose, there are a number of other things that made this one of the best books I read last year. I really like that Erik’s powers are related to his anger: it’s rare for queer characters in media to be allowed to be angry, for that anger to be justified, and for it to be powerful.  Erik is granted all of those things. I like that the angels are ugly; completely inhuman (and in line with some old testament descriptions).  And the diversity of the book is wonderful.  Erik’s not-quite-love-interest is Asian. A number of his friends and colleagues are queer. Powerful women with real agency abound.  It’s a fantasy where anyone can see themselves, find themselves in it, and that is a precious thing.

Book 2, The Tree, is out on January 23, and is the next book on my TBR pile.

Edwin gets grumpy if his SF/F reading doesn’t feature happy queer main characters.  Aside from that, he reads and writes for a living (though not fiction), so of course his hobby is reading, and now writing about what he reads. Why do anything else?

Connect with Edwin on Twitter: @gaybookgeek

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Countdown to a New Year, December 31: Judith of Binge on Books

Countdown to a New Year, December 31: Judith of Binge on Books

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

Outweighing the Negatives

It has been a hard year.

Full stop.

I am one of those people who generally prefers to ignore the negative and just focus on the positive but it has been hard, y’all. Hard in so many psyche-impacting ways: politically, personally, professionally, emotionally. I’ve had my womanhood and my person attacked on several fronts, my intellect and my dreams called into question. The mudslinging has been unparalleled and the overt hate has been overwhelming.

We can all agree that 2017 was a doozy; it had so many downs that at times, I was worried that we – the book community – would never be able to bounce back. That the core of what makes us a strong and forward thinking bunch was gone for good. But we’re a resilient and all-inclusive group. Full of dreamers and doers, thinkers and thoses who find hope in the smallest of gestures. We are a rag tag motley of writers, publishers, publicists, agents, and readers that just want to see ourselves in books and in turn, allow others to see themselves. For all our differences, we’re a community that I am so grateful to be a part of.

Yes, it’s been hard but on the flipside, it’s also been a stellar year full of magical, life-changing reads and the achievement of several personal milestones. So, instead of focusing about all the bad, let’s chat about all the amazing things that happened in 2017! It’s time to outweigh the negative.

On the Books Front:

If you read some phenomenal books this year, raise your hand! At this end, I read so many fantastic reads that narrowing it down to a handful is tough but there are a few that stand out as extra special:

1. Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by MacKenzi Lee: a bisexual historical caper set in England and the Continent. LOVE IT. There are duels, mad chases, lavish parties, pirates, and so much more all packed into this one book!

2. Fence by C.S. Pacat: I’ve been in love with C.S. Pacat’s writing since her seminal Captive Prince series. Fence is a queer YA comic featuring two protags who love to hate each other but man, can they fence.

3. Idlewild by Jude Sierra: while it did not come out in 2017, I certainly did read it then and am counting it as a knock out 2017 read. Superb writing and the nuanced characterization of two men learning to love…it’s so spot on.

4. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: astounding fantasy YA set in the world of faerie! There is a human protagonist, a whole faerie court, and a not love story. You must read it!

On the Personal Front:

2017 rocked my world on the personal front:

1. HEA USA Today: at the end of 2016, I had the opportunity to start up a column on HEA USA Today called Rainbow Trends. That column focused on specific tropes and trends in queer romance and was a chance for me to explore them on a national forum. In 2017, Rainbow Trends is still going strong and in addition I was able to interview and promote some of my favorite diverse authors on HEA USA Today.

2. TeenVogue: if you had told me a year ago that I would be a frequent contributor to Teen Vogue by the end of 2017, I would have laughed. Seriously, laughed in your face. And yet, here I am, a frequent contributor to Teen Vogue! Talk about an amazing gig – I currently pen a queer books column for the mag and get queer books to the people who need them, teens. It has been humbling to say the least and I thank my lucky stars daily that I have this chance.

3. The Mary Sue: Starting in January 2018, I’ll be reviewing queer geeky reads for The Mary Sue! I am a book pusher, no qualms about it and this next column I’ll be penning will feature a wealth of queer reads with a slightly geeky bent. I. Cannot. Wait.

4. The release of Sight Unseen anthology: pushing the publishing envelope has always been my goal with Open Ink Press, the small pub I created in 2016. Through it I want to give authors an opportunity to take risks with their writing and craft stories that aren’t status quo. Sight Unseen is an amazing addition to this vision–the premise is simple: give authors a chance to write and publish anonymously and in turn, free them from the constraint of reader or publisher expectation. The stories Emma Barry, Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, and J.A. Rock created for the anthology went beyond my wildest expectations and were lauded on many fronts.

5. Book friendships: And finally, this year has given me an opportunity to grow and nurture so many book friendships with authors, agents, publishers, and of course, readers. It is so worthwhile to be able to talk books with a group of smart, well-versed people and I cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store.

Some promises to myself (not resolutions):

1. Ask for help when I need it. If you know me personally in any capacity, you’ll know that I love to work myself to a state of overwhelm. Seriously. Living on 2-3 hours of sleep and trying to accomplish practically EVERYTHING is a clear indicator that I am not very good at asking for help from others. This year I am promising to do that…at least a little bit.

2. Treat myself with kindness. So rarely do we allow ourselves to be kind to ourselves. We have to be kind to others, to those who do us a bad turn, to those who are jerks, to those we really want to punch in the face. We have to be kind in the face of petty slights and stupid crap but we hardly ever find time to forgive ourselves and treat ourselves kindly. Well, screw that! This year I’m treating myself with kindness. I’m not going to beat myself up all the time about dumb stuff. I’m not going to expect perfection because that’s not plausible and frankly, it is a little boring.

3. Make myself and my wants a priority. Fin.

Judith is the owner and curator of the book review site Binge on Books, as well as the boutique press Open Ink and the literary PR agency, A Novel Take PR. You can also find Judith on HEA USA Today with her LGBTQ romance column Rainbow Trends, and on Teen Vogue talking her favorites in queer YA and New Adult.

Connect with Judith: @bingeonbooks

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Countdown to a New Year, December 30: Layla Reyne

Countdown to a New Year, December 30: Layla Reyne

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

Reading Outside the Box

My first year published was crazy. Awesome, but crazy. A lot of writing, a lot of editing, and a lot of promo for the four releases I put out, including my debut, Single Malt. That said, I still managed to squeeze in some reading here and there. Since I was writing either romantic suspense for the Whiskey Verse or sports romance for my Changing Lanes duology, I focused my reading outside those genres. I got cozy again with paranormal/fantasy romance and dipped my toe (then my whole body) into historical romance. Here are just a few of my favorite outside the box reads from 2017!

Paranormal / Fantasy Romance

Peter Darling by Austin Chant – I am admittedly late to this party, but I come bearing champagne for a marvelous read! I was never a fan of Peter Pan, so I’d hesitated reading this retelling, but I’m so glad I took the chance. This book was lyrical, magical, romantic, and thought-provoking. Everything I could want, and now I can’t wait for the rumored sequel.

The Community Series by Santino Hassell – This one’s a little bit of a cheat for me given the suspense element, but the psychic aspect is definitely paranormal. While each book featured a different main couple, I appreciated how well each story built on the last, continued to expand The Community world, and furthered the overarching plot. All that while still maintaining the steamy heat and gritty New York atmosphere we expect from Santino’s books.

Wolfsong by TJ Klune – This coming-of-age story involving a human among a pack of shifter wolves was exciting, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I don’t read many shifter romances, or many coming of age stories, but everything about this book—from the writing, to the characters, to the plot, to the fated mates (two alphas: one wolf, one human)—was just lovely. (Technically, a 2016 release.)

Historical Romance

Sins of the Cities Series by KJ Charles – Last year, I read and loved KJ’s Society of Gentlemen series, my first real foray into historical romance. I had no idea what I’d been missing! Sins of the Cities carried on what I love best about KJ’s books—great plotting, a mystery that keeps me engaged, and swoon worthy heroes. I mean, Justin Lazarus… His redemption arc put him firmly among my top ten romantic leads.

The Turners Series by Cat Sebastian – If KJ’s books were the lure that got me interested in historical romance, Cat’s stories reeled me the rest of the way in. The Lawrence Browne Affair is hands down my favorite book of 2017, and Cat’s writing, her characters, and her deft handling of modern topics in a historical context is marvelous. It Takes Two to Tumble, Cat’s latest, promises more of the same!

The Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers – The push and pull tension in this opposites-attract romance remained high throughout the three-book series. Watching David and Murdo fall in love, try to resist, then ultimately realize they couldn’t live without each other, all while set against the Scottish ton and country backdrop, was page-turning catnip. I couldn’t put it down! (Technically, a re-pub.)

About Layla Reyne: 

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its San Francisco, Kiss of Death, and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She was a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

Her next release is a contemporary m/m romance called Relay, out on 1/8/18.

Enter to win one of 3 prize packs of books! 

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The Thousandth Floor and The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

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Neighborhood Girls by Jessie Ann Foley

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Ringer by Lauren Oliver

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Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Nothing by Annie Barrows

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

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