Countdown to a New Year, December 31: Amy Jo Cousins

Countdown to a New Year, December 31: Amy Jo Cousins

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!**

2017 has been one damn rough year.

From the personal to the political, this year has been pretty much nonstop stress and anger and sadness for me, and I didn’t actually read a ton of new books this year. In these kinds of situations, I tend to do a lot of comfort rereading instead, especially of mystery and SFF novels, and let me tell you…my bookcase got a workout. But when I picked up a new book this year, I made some stellar choices, so I’m here to tell you about my favorite reads of 2017.

Let Us Dream by Alyssa Cole makes 1917 Harlem come alive, with the politicians and nightclub owners, the prostitutes and church ladies, the immigrants and the police, the number runners and the hairdressers, all moving in and out of each other’s orbits in a tight-knit world of labor and corruption and gossip and kindness. Bertha is magnificent. She is fierce and demanding and controlling and care-taking. And Amir is angry and judgmental and kind and sexy as hell. I just loved the both of them, and the secondary characters too. This is the kind of book where, after I finished it, I wanted to turn right back to page one and start all over again. It’s fantastic. (Alyssa’s Civil War series that starts with An Extraordinary Union is also recommended, but brace yourself. I was so tense reading it, I almost gnawed my own hand off.)

My number one goal for 2018 is to get Hillary Clinton to read Hamilton’s Battalion by Sarah Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole (yes, Alyssa again!). This collection of novellas set during and after the American Revolutionary war is magnificent, bringing us one of the angriest heroines it has ever been my absolute pleasure to read, along with so many missing pieces of American history: Jewish soldiers fighting in the hope of creating a nation where they will be welcome, LGBTQ folks, people of color, and bit about cheese that really ought to be in the history books. I did the literal LOL thing, and then pages later I would find myself crying, because there’s a lot of truth, painful honesty, and compassion in this book.

Yoon Ha Lee has blogged about how he didn’t intend to write about being trans in a book, because that would touch too close to home, but realizing he’d done it anyway with Ninefox Gambit. He’s also written a brilliant military sf book about math, sacrifice, loyalty, manipulation, madness, and revolution. I found it intensely apropos to current events and brilliantly written. Oddly enough, I particularly recommend this book to Tolstoy fans, especially those who read SFF too.

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson is a gorgeous story of love and magic, gods and math, wending through time and a world where men dance and war while women study. Beautiful writing, really intriguing worldbuilding, with a gorgeous and risky m/m romance, I was full of stress reading this one because I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a romance novel or a SFF novel with strong romantic elements. The HEA did not seem guaranteed, which leads to Much Anxiety. But it is indeed a romance novel, and a beautiful one.

The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres is a historical romance set in the Spanish Caribbean. The opening scene of this book hooked me in an instant, as the heroine plots to get herself into a big enough scandal to convince her fiancé to end their engagement, while the heroine’s aunt calmly ignores her every provocation. Add a conflicted but admiring hero, excellent secondary characters, a saturated sense of place, a sharp awareness of class issues, and a terrifically witty narrative voice, and this delightful book became one of my favorite historical romances of the year. 

I am a huge fan of the holiday novella and this past year of reading gave me two of my favorites: The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish and Suleikha Snyder’s story in the Silver Belles anthology, “A Taste of Blessings.” Suleikha’s story is set during the Indian holiday of Durga Puja and is full of large community gatherings, much food, and gossiping aunties. I was so happy to find it in an anthology of stories featuring characters over forty. Roan’s Corbin Wale is a fey loner who is very gently invited to share meals and friends and more by a magical baker (yes, magical) whose return to the small town where his mother lives is complicated by many feelings about his own failures and possible futures. A fairytale with a clear eye for the real world, The Remaking of Corbin Wale was a pure pleasure.

When I’m stressed (and 2017 was pretty much nonstop stress, as previously discussed), I reread more than pick up new books. This year, I did a lot of rereading, including a week-long binge of everything KJ Charles has ever written. (Happy sighs. That was awesome.) Spectred Isle by KJ Charles kicks off her latest series, the Green Men, and ties in to her Simon Feximal stories. Post WWI, a small handful of remaining occultists and arcanists are left from the wreckage of the battlefield to protect England from ever-growing magical threats. The two men who feature in Spectred Isle are wounded and jaded and pretty damn miserable, until they meet each other, figure out they’re better off working together than yelling at each other, and save the world. Not a bad day’s work.

This one’s for the epistolary fans! Zen Cho is a delightful writer, witty and kind and full of sparkling insight. The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo is recorded in the journal entries and letters of Jade Yeo, who writes articles about dress hemlines for women’s magazines and one scandalously scathing book review for a literary mag, Zen Cho’s book sings with the wittiness of Austen or KJ Charles. I love Jade’s blunt honesty and also her utter obliviousness to the lovely man who’s absolutely fallen for her.

Devin Harnois’s Rainbow Islands exists because of a tumblr post where the replies to a homophobic comment about gays and lesbians dying out if they were all sent to separate islands became the outline of a killer dystopian LGBTQ adventure novel. If I hadn’t seen that original tumblr post, I might have found the worldbuilding a little too precious, but because I had read it, the entire story was just nonstop fun.

The best nonfiction book I read this year (and one of the best I’ve ever read) is The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. We do a terrible job in this country of teaching ourselves our own history, and Rothstein’s book rewrote the past one hundred years for me, showing me how our nation’s racial segregation was codified by hundreds of laws and explicit government regulations. This book will radically change your understanding of how segregation happened and how our attempts to stop it in the future did nothing to address the calculated damage done by 20th century laws creating and enforcing systemic racial oppression.

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman is a sweet, funny, Jewish f/f romance about two artists, a painter and the yarn dyer who is inspired by the painter’s color palette. This novella is a super charming, closed-door romance about two delightful women who navigate the early days of a relationship with caution and care for each other’s sore spots. It’s just lovely. 

One of the proudest bits of 2017, for me, has been my involvement in the Rogue anthologies. Kicked off on Twitter by Emma Barry’s brainstorming about a couple admitting they were in love amidst a constitutional crisis involving the president, the Rogue anthologies became the place for us to fight all our fears by writing about our hopes for those battling on the side of equality and compassion and science and the power of government service to do good and not evil, while guaranteeing nonstop HEAs. (WHICH WE ALL NEED. IT’S NOT JUST ME. THROW US A FRIGGING BONE, 2017.) I have loved reading all of my anthology-mates’ stories, but Kris Ripper’s story in Rogue Affair has a special place in my heart. A widowed female president and her bodyguard, a younger trans man, fall in love so gradually and with such care for each other, my heart was made happy.

I don’t generally do well with serials, as my impatience knows no bounds and I am easily frustrated by cliffhangers and waiting. But I started reading Mia West’s post-Roman Empire Into the Fire series when all the books were already out and collected into multi-book volumes, plus I’ve loved her Tell Me When time travel erotica series (don’t get me started about the volume that made me cry my eyes out, which was not what I expected from time travel erotica!) and her Grizzly Rim shifter books. Her writing just clicks with me. I’m still working my way through this one, rewarding myself with a new volume when I’ve accomplished something particularly onerous, and I love reading about the developing relationship between the ex-Roman soldier and the powerful blacksmith who are traveling together across the wasteland of a fallen empire.

Maybe my favorite book of 2017, period, Peter Darling by Austin Chant is magic. It’s about the loyalty of fairies and adventure, the dangers of rage and forgetting, swirling frock coats and fabulous boots, and the seductive lure of imagining yourself as the hero, even as you figure out that you might be the bad guy. It’s funny, and heartbreaking, and always, always full of hope, with a HEA that made my heart happy. “”That’s the trick of growing up. Nothing stays the same.” Hook sounded oddly sympathetic. “You see the faults in everything. Including yourself.””

Okay, so it turns out, I read even more great books in 2017 than I’d remembered. Here’s hoping 2018 reading will be done for reasons of pleasure and not mental health protection! Help me kick off the year right by telling me your favorite reads of 2017? Thank you!


Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series again. Amy Jo is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

Connect with Amy JoWebsite


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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 29: Erin Finnegan

Countdown to a New Year, December 29: Erin Finnegan

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!**

THINGS I LEARNED IN 2017 THAT EVERYONE ELSE ALREADY KNEW

I’m a believer in lifelong learning. I witness it every day as the caretaker of my elderly father, who is currently teaching himself how to code.

Inspired by this, maybe, I tried to assess what I learned this year. Specifically, what did I learn about books?

One lesson stood out. It ends up, I was just catching up on what so many others already knew: Young Adult fiction is awesome, even for those of us who haven’t been teenagers in awhile.

When Young Adult began its steep ascent in publishing, I didn’t think I’d be a fan. Too much dystopia, too many stories about kids asking the questions I’d already answered for myself, and didn’t care to revisit.

Was I ever wrong. If 2017 showed me anything, it was that YA isn’t just a genre for high school students and Hollywood scouts. The very best of the genre serve as a bellwether for change, as an index for where literature and culture are headed. It can push old boundaries, and teach us lessons about both ourselves and others, and hint at how the next generation of thought leaders will shape the world.

And the best in this genre in 2017 wasn’t just the best YA of the year, it was some of the very best of the year’s fiction.

Case in point: Angie Thomas’ brilliant The Hate You Give. Along with a lot of other readers, it was my book of the year not only because it entertained, but because it made me stop, go back, re-read, and think. The characters are so vivid, the dialogue so on-point, and the story fleshed out in the realist of realism: so-called bad guys sometimes do honorable things, and good guys sometimes lapse. Not every story is clear-cut.

I was sickened but not surprised to hear that a Texas school district banned THUG. In this current political climate, it may have been inevitable. They couldn’t be more wrong. This isn’t a book you keep out of kids’ hands. This is a book that belongs in every high school library in this country.

Young Adult books may tell us about community and our place in it, but they are so often at their core coming of age novels. And I learned this year that coming of age doesn’t have to be an instruction manual. It can be relevant long past your teen years.

Coming of age should be about introspection, about learning something about yourself, and when its done well—whether combined with fantasy or romance or action/adventure—it has the power to connect with anyone, of any age.

My favorite example of 2017 (and there were several) was the book that was so ballsy as to spoil it’s ending in the title: Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End. Ultimately, it makes sense, because dying isn’t the point of this well-written novel—it’s about how you use the time you have.

YA can also be just plain fun, and in this world of daily (sometimes hourly) WTF-ery, we can use a little laughter.  Sound good? Try F.T. Lukens’ The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic. A friend accurately described this wonderfully weird and wild ride as being “a literary version of the waiting room in Beetlejuice.” It’s fast, it’s wild, it had me laughing out loud—while still making a point about being true to yourself, no matter how daunting that may be.


Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and PR flack who now spends a lot of time thinking about and occasionally writing books in her home outside Los Angeles. Her novel Luchador (Interlude Press, 2016) was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016 and was named the best independently-published romance of 2016 by Foreword Reviews. She is also the author of Sotto Voce (2014) and Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille, part of the Interlude Press anthology, If the Fates Allow.

Connect with Erin on her website: http://www.erin-finnegan.com/


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Countdown to a New Year, December 28: Jude Sierra

Countdown to a New Year, December 28: Jude Sierra

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!**

When I reflect on 2017, it’s hard not to think of all of the things that have been weighing on us. As a country. As a community. In my life, as an educator and as a mother. Of the number of times I have cried and thought, how am I going to raise children in this world?

Do I want to walk into 2018 with these fears and worries? In a perfect world, I could blithely say I’d let them go. But I doubt the world will do the same just because an arbitrary date passes on a calendar. I many ways, I think we’re walking into harder days. And yet, in this struggle, there is tremendous potential.

The truth is that the only thing in my life I can control is me. My actions. My responses, my capacity to give love, understanding, understanding, and faith. Not my faith in a god or religion, but in people. In goodness, in strength and resilience, in the will to overcome.

Many of these things are moments that come from wellness practice in my own life. Every moment of my life – particularly a year such as this, with the additional strain of finishing my Masters and going right into a PhD – is geared toward making sure I am doing my best to manage my mental illness. To be successful, a good mother, a writer and student, a teacher and a human all at once.

I don’t know how much of a true or lasting impact I can have within our LGBT romance community – I write slow like a turtle, so I’m off and on people’s radars. But I am there from time to time, and I have a voice. I’ve spent this year crafting a story from my heart. I wrote A Tiny Piece of Something Greater while writing my thesis. I wrote a character, Reid, who lives with the same mental illness I do (cyclothemia). I wrote a story about a boy overcoming, managing, falling in love, and surviving. Learning through mistakes and missteps to thrive. I wrote things in that book that were so honest they cracked me open – I cried through the whole process of writing this book. I had anxiety attacks. I couldn’t sleep. I slept like a baby because of the catharsis. I wrote a beautiful story about resilience and spent a year practicing (or trying) to practice Reid’s fight and success. Not just because I was writing it, but because the world today calls for it.

2017 has been a really good year for *finally* seeing good MI representation in books. There’s been some fantastic #ownvoices stuff, but also, authors without mental illness doing their research. Getting sensitivity readers. Asking questions. And so importantly, not using MI as a plot device to move something else forward without understanding what our lives and struggles are. I am not a plot device. And while A Tiny Piece of Something Greater won’t be out until May of 2018, I think that there are takeaways from writing that book and getting ready to share it that dovetail with so much else happening this year that I’m going to pack up in little boxes and take with me. That I hope we can all take together.

We are resilient.

We are fighters.

We have experienced success.

We’re fighting through missteps.

We are waking up.

We are awake.


Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook


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Countdown to a New Year, December 27: Jay from Joyfully Jay

Countdown to a New Year, December 27: Jay, Owner of Joyfully Jay

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!**

Thanks so much to Judith for inviting me to stop by today! I am so excited to be included in this event!

This is a fun time of year as a blogger because I am thinking about the fabulous books I have read this year, as well as looking forward to new ones to read in the coming year. I have already shared my Best of 2017 on my blog, Joyfully Jay, so you can check that out here (along with Best of 2017 lists from many of my reviewers). So I thought today it might be fun to look ahead to some books I am anticipating for next year. These are all sequels to stories I have loved and I can’t wait for the next installments.

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell (January 16) – I went totally crazy for the first book in this series, Illegal Contact. There is a nice opposites attract vibe, as well as a fun insider look into the life of a professional athlete. Plus I totally loved the vibe of the story and the two guys together. We meet Simeon in that first book and he is one of the MCs in the second story. I am definitely intrigued by him and can’t wait to check it out!

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian (July 15) – Sebastian’s debut book, The Soldier’s Scandal, just blew me away (me and everyone else it seems) and the series as a whole was just fabulous. I wondered if she could repeat the feat with her newest series, Seducing the Sedgewicks, and its first book It Takes Two to Tumble. So I am happy to say I went crazy for this one too and found it a delightful historical with a great dynamic between the MCs. The Sedgewick men are really fascinating and I am highly looking forward to Hartley’s story coming next.

Agent Bayne by Jordan Castillo Price (January 2018) – I get excited every time I hear there is a new story coming in Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCops world. This is one of my favorite series in the genre and I adore Vic and Jacob beyond reason and I love the blend of romance, suspense, and paranormal. I was lucky enough to hear the author read an excerpt from the book at GRL this year, and it just whet my appetite for more (you can check the excerpt out here on her blog). So I am dying to follow along for this latest adventure.

Ravensong (July 2018) and A Wish Upon the Stars (March 2018) by T.J. Klune – I am a huge T.J. Klune fan and these series highlight how well the author can move from comedy to dramatic intensity so well. Ravensong is the sequel to the fabulous Wolfsong, a shifter story that sucked me in and left me emotionally wrung out but totally happy at the end. I loved Klune’s unique take on the common shifter trope and I am looking forward to getting back into this world. A Wish Upon the Stars is the fourth book in Klune’s Tales from Verania series, a completely hysterical fantasy featuring an apprentice wizard, his best friends (a hornless unicorn and a half giant), and his dreamy knight commander boyfriend. I am currently listening to book 2 in this series, A Destiny of Dragons, in audio, and it is laugh out loud in the grocery story funny. I can’t wait for more in this fabulous series.

Breaker of Chains by Jordan L. Hawk – Hawk is perhaps best known for her phenomenal Whyborne & Griffin series (and I am an enormous fan). But her urban fantasy/paranormal SPECTR series is another one of my favorites, so much so that I read the first six books in the serial in about three days. Once I started, I could not put it down! Not only that, but while I was visiting Charleston this summer I gave myself the SPECTR tour of the city and visited a bunch of spots that are featured in the books. We are now on to the second season and I love the suspense and paranormal elements here, but particularly the fascinating dynamic between the three main characters, John, Gray, and Caleb. They have such a unique relationship and I can’t wait for the next step on their journey.

Arden St. Ives series, book 3 by Alexis Hall (February 2018) – I just finished the second installment of this series, How to Blow it with a Billionaire, and was once again blown away by this story that combines a fabulously quirky and humorous narrator with his reserved billionaire not quite boyfriend. The ending of this second book leaves us hanging and I am DYING to see how it all resolves. These books are full of both intensity and playfulness and I can not wait to read the conclusion.

So there you have it, seven sequels that I am looking forward to for 2018. If you haven’t had a chance to check out these series, I can highly recommend them all. And I’d love to hear what you are looking forward to reading next year!


Jay is a wife, mom, blogger, and cat wrangler. She is an avid reader and lover of beaches, lazy days, and all things chocolate and peanut butter. Jay loves m/m romance and has been reading the genre for about 8 years. She averages about 4 books a week and loves to talk about them with readers.

You can find Jay over at her blog, Joyfully Jay.  We review all subgenres of GLBT romance, focusing primarily on male/male stories. Joyfully Jay runs about 20 reviews per week, as well as hosting daily guest posts from a variety of authors.  

Jay also hangs out on Twitter or Facebook and always loves meeting fellow readers!


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Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore

The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

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Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Feeder by Patrick Weekes

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Release by Patrick Ness

And She Was by Jessica Verdi

Miles Away From You by A.B. Rutledge 

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Countdown to a New Year, December 26: J.R. Gray

Countdown to a New Year, December 26: J.R. Gray

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!**

This year was hard. I feel like I’m overreacting when I say it was, because I know there are so many people who experienced far worse. I’m usually the suffer in silence type, and I don’t like to talk about my feelings.

Writing for me had always been easy, until it wasn’t. I’ve written since I was a child, as a therapy for myself. It was a way to get my emotions out. Throughout the years I have put different parts of myself into each character I’ve written. It has been wonderful. Then shit got crappy last year. I was living in a place I wasn’t a huge fan of and I had so much hope for the election but it all went to hell. There was a lot of false hope throughout this past year as well. Ups followed by huge downs, including my basic rights threatened. I didn’t know how to get through it. This wasn’t my typical write through feelings I’m experiencing on a personal level. These were feelings I had on a global level. It was fear for the future.

On top of being depressed, and dealing with stresses from my life, (normal stuff with kids and family most people deal with) I was completely uninspired. It was a task to get through my day. I had nothing left to create. Every time I got online it was opening the valve and letting what was going on in the world, things I care deeply about, affect me more. I called, and fought and reblogged, so my voice would get heard, but the stress of worrying what could happen if some of those things got passed was exhausting and it added to my depression and lack of creativity.

I’ve also always suffered with imposters syndrome, which got bad this past year. I had a lot of talks with myself about why I’m still doing this, and I thought a lot about quitting. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of pay, and when I wrote as a kind of therapy why not publish it and share it? But if I had to force myself to sit down and do this writing thing again, was it worth it? I went back and forth on this a lot. I missed it at times. I missed creating, but I still had nothing to create.

So for NaNo this year I knew I had to decide if I could still do this. I didn’t tell anyone that was my plan, but I wanted to see for myself. Since I’ve done double NaNo in the past, 100,000 words in a month, 50,000 words was doable. So I picked a book that was so close to my heart. One I’ve been needing to write for a long time, that I thought might help me get through a lot of the things I’ve been feeling.

I’ve discovered the more I create, the more creative I feel. The more I’m writing, the more ideas I have. The more new plot bunnies I have. It was hard to get back into the groove of writing. I had lost all of my stamina for it. It was a drag to get 500 words out. Let alone the 2k-5k I used to do every single day. I’m still not there, but because of this epic writing group I have, it’s getting a lot better. I have been holding myself accountable and using Pacemaker to keep track. It’s a work in progress and I’m a work in progress. But I love what I do and I want to keep putting out books I need and needed. I have plans for Queer YA. I’m on track to have four books out in 2018 and it feels good to be out of my funk.


When not staying up all night writing, J.R Gray can be found basking in the warm glow of the Miami sun, or at the gym where it’s half assumed Gray is a permanent resident. A dominant, pilot, and sword fighting enthusiast, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. Gray frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns, to jot down nonsense. The bane of Gray’s existence are commas, and even though it’s been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder.

If Gray wasn’t writing…well, that’s not possible. The build up of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave or possibly a mental institution where the tales would end up on the walls in crayon and finger paint.

J.R. Gray is Gender Queer and prefers He/Him/His pronouns.

Forsaken is J.R. Gray’s next book which will release at the end of February 2018.

About Forsaken: Titus has lived and breathed religion his entire life, tucked away from the rest of the world in a compound in northern Wyoming. He’s destined to be the next leader of the church, deemed so by the Profit.
God spoke and with His word He created. But God made a mistake. Titus isn’t worthy. He was born sick and it’s solidified when he rescues the most beautiful man he’s ever seen.
Torn between fidelity to his faith or his soul, Titus must reconcile the two parts of himself before he’s discovered hiding among the chosen.
Learn more about Gray and his books on Jrgraybooks.com.

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The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

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Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Feeder by Patrick Weekes

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Release by Patrick Ness

And She Was by Jessica Verdi

Miles Away From You by A.B. Rutledge 

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Countdown to a New Year, December 24: Cat Sebastian

Countdown to a New Year, December 24: Cat Sebastian

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!**

Cat Sebastian’s End of Year Post

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying this year has been resoundingly terrible on many levels. A bright spot has been the books. It seems like more than the usual number of stellar, inclusive, romances came out this year: Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You. Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union. Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. KJ Charles’ An Unnatural Vice. Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, and Courtney Milan’s Hamilton’s Battalion. Those are pretty much my favorite books this year. The thing is that they’ve all rightfully gotten a fair bit of attention and nobody needs my advice to read them (just in case: go read them). What follows are some books that might have skipped your notice but which staved off my existential dread for a few hours and made me feel hopeful about the future. (Some came out before 2017, but if I read them this year, I’m just going with it.)

I read Harper Fox’s Seven Summer Nights more times than I ought to admit (okay, it was five times. Hush.). The prose is lyrical; the characters are beautifully drawn and complete. There’s a bit of magic and a stray dog. I cried twenty million buckets of tears.

Kris Ripper’s Gays of Our Lives has a prickly character who learns that the people around him really care about him and want to help him. If “difficult loner finds community” is your catnip, you’ll probably like this book. It’s also really satisfying for me to see a disabled character get a HEA despite not being a cheerful ray of sunshine.    

Romantic suspense ordinarily stresses me out, but Layla Reyne’s Whiskey & Irish trilogy was light on fear and instead wonderfully character driven and emotional. I didn’t start this series until the third book came out and then I glommed like my life depended on it.

A vital part of my self-care is reading about Sherlock Holmes; in particular I require stories about Watson and Holmes being either in love or queerplatonically happy together. To this end, I read about eleventy million words of Holmes/Watson fanfic. It isn’t a romance (at all) but Lyndsey Faye’s The Whole Art of Detection is compatible with a queerplatonic reading (the author confirmed this, so put that in your pipe and smoke it, OKAY) and I loved every minute of it. Will your life be enriched by a chapter from Holmes’ point of view in which he misses Watson and worries that Watson doesn’t have his muffler? Yes, yes it will.

Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is the post-colonial feminist regency-set fantasy romance the world needs. It’s what I wished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell had been. It’s alternately hilarious and sad. The entire world may disagree with me, but I’m positive there’s a lowkey gay dragon shifter secondary romance in there.

Other books that have delighted and distracted me this year: Anna Zabo’s Outside the Lines (poly relationship, very satisfying, I am in love with Lydia), Jordan Hawk’s entire Hexworld series (shifters and magicians in 1890s New York but it’s actually about structural oppression; it’s tender and dark and optimistic all at once), Liz Jacobs’ Abroad, Austin Chant’s Peter Darling, and I could go on. So many good books this awful year! Happy holidays!  


Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird-watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.


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Sparrow by Sarah Moon

Three Sides of A Heart anthology 

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

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Meet Cute Anthology

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson

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Countdown to a New Year, December 22: CB Lee

Countdown to a New Year, December 22: CB Lee

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!**

2017 seems to at once have passed by in the blink of an eye and also to have dragged on, day by day, at a snail’s pace. Much of this is due to how I’ve woken up each morning to some new horror enacted by those in power and the fear that everyday, things are getting worse.

And yet this year I also saw everyday people who spoke out against injustice, people who took comfort in each other and what brings them joy, people who encouraged others to take care of themselves, people who looked after one another.

The book community is an amazing one– readers and writers and bloggers and people in publishing and people creating endlessly and the feeling of excitement and support and hope for things to get better– in publishing and in our world at large. It is in books and in this community that has gotten me through 2017 and gives me strength for 2018 and beyond.

A few things that helped me this year and I hope helps you:

Do something everyday that brings you joy. Whether it’s eating your favorite candy or rereading a favorite book, or even sitting and doing nothing for awhile. For the longest time I would always guilt myself about how little I’d gotten done that day, or how behind I am in my work or that I don’t need this extra piece of chocolate. I would also feel guilty about celebrating any achievements or accomplishments, especially in this year of bleak news, but it is so easy to get burnt out in the day-to-day barrage of calling reps and trying to navigate the day that celebrating any joy and sharing it can brighten not just your day, but a friend or a stranger’s.  I love seeing moments of joy in others, too, and definitely seeing amazing book news for friends have brightened my day so many times this year.

You don’t have to do it alone. One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. For me, I know I am that worst at this, because I always thought it was a mark of personal failure if you didn’t know how to do something or couldn’t figure it out on your own. But whatever endeavor you’re going through, whether it’s writing a book or trying to tell a friend something important, asking someone for help or even just chatting about what you’re going through can be a huge support.

Turn mountains into molehills. One of the biggest things I learned while writing novels is that setting out to do one can be a huge, daunting task. “Just write a book,” I’ll tell myself, and it seems like this massive undertaking– and it is. But setting a huge goal like that can make it difficult to even start; what I’ve learned is that setting small goals like “write a romantic scene” or “write a discovery scene” or “let’s do some backstory on Emma here” are tasks that are bite-size and a clear sense of when you’ve accomplished them.  

Wishing you all the best in 2018!


CB Lee is a hiking enthusiast and the author of Not Your Sidekick and Not Your Villain. She likes cozy socks and you can find her on twitter at @author_cblee, Instagram at @cblee_cblee or visit her at http://cb-lee.com.


Enter to win one of 3 prize packs of books! 

Prize Pack #4:

Sparrow by Sarah Moon

Three Sides of A Heart anthology 

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

Prize Pack 5:

Meet Cute Anthology

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson

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Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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Meet My Summer Book Boyfriends

Everywhere I look, there’s a new hot summer book boyfriend just waiting to meet me–err, I mean

About like irritated. Good title reduced, pleased – biggest.

YOU! Yes, you.

Well, Anne Eliot recently came out with this awesome promotion where all her hot summer book boys are on sale and I thought every one of us could appreciate and benefit from a list of some hot summer reads featuring hot summer boys for cheap! None of the books below is more than 3.99 on Amazon, most are currently 99 cents, and a few are even free as of the time I’m posting. We’ve read and reviewed a few but not all. So please, delve into these at your own risk! (but seriously, where’s the risk?! Cheap books featuring cute boys never hurt anybody. Just sayin’.)

Meet the boys!

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