There’s just a few more weeks until Reverb releases! And today, I have a little sneak peek!
Books and news from author Anna Zabo
There’s just a few more weeks until Reverb releases! And today, I have a little sneak peek!
According to GoodReads, I read 55 books this year. One of them was a DNF, though, and some of them were re-reads. Still, not a bad number, considering that I also wrote a bunch and held down my day job. Oh, and I went to a lot of hockey games.
Of that batch of books, here’s what really knocked my socks off, in no particular order!
(Do remember that these are only from the books that I personally read this past year and only my opinion. Your mileage may vary, as they say!)
Untrue by Kris Ripper
It’s not a secret that I’m a fan of Ripper’s work and I’ve espoused zir work before here, and this book and series (The Scientific Method) in particular. There’s something about Will, Hugh, and Truman that is so real. I swear these guys and all the people surrounding them could walk of the pages and exist. It’s been kind of amazing watching them grow and change over the years.
Untrue ripped my emotions apart and put them back together again. I had my heart in my throat and couldn’t breathe all that well for the first half of the book. Yes, the book is about being untrue to your partners, and the aftermath, and how Truman, but also Hugh and Will had to face their own issues together and reveal what they hide from each other so that they can have each other and their love into the future.
Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward
This book and this series have blown me away. Set (mostly) in near-future Australia, it’s a slow burn romance between Jack Reardon, a super spy sent to infiltrate an organization that’s helping terror groups, and Ethan Bade, a highly skilled assassin who blows Jack’s cover. The book alternates from Then to Now, a year later, when Ethan comes back into Jack’s life.
The rest of the novellas and Book Two continue Jack and Ethan’s story.
I think the thing that surprised me the most about these books is how much I fell for Ethan, who is supposed to be a remorseless, cold-hearted assassin, and is actually a cinnamon roll with a very battered heart of gold.
Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
This book was just FUN. The book delivers what the title promises—a grumpy fake boyfriend who is also an author and who falls in love with his best friend’s little sister while pretending to be her boyfriend so that she can spend the weekend with her friends (including her asshole ex) without feeling like a third wheel, or having them feel sorry for her. Or her ex being smug.
Just the way these two interact is fun, and the sex is hot. I keep thinking back to it and feeling warm and happy.
The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara
Kind of a different take on werewolves, wrapped in a romantic suspense. Cooper Dayton’s FBI career was ended when he was attacked by a werewolf. Now an agent at the Bureau of Special Investigations, investigating paranormal activity, he’s partnered up with Oliver Park, a werewolf and an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization to investigate a strange string of missing persons.
Cooper doesn’t trust Park at all, but can’t deny his utter attraction to the other man. This one was insta lust with a slow burn on anything happening. It’s mysterious and moody and lovely. The second book, The Wolf at Bay, delves more into Cooper’s past and strengthens the ties between Cooper and Park.
I can’t wait for the third, which promises a glimpse into Park’s past.
One-Eyed Royals by Cordelia Kingsbridge
I’m addicted to the Seven of Spades series. This is the fourth of five books in the series. You can’t read it without the others, and pretty much, there’s a ton of content warning with this series. It’s violent. There’s death. There’s addiction shown in all it’s horrible light. The MCs aren’t always the best people.
But oh man, it’s so so so good. This penultimate book sees the MCs at odds with each other all while a serial killer toys and toys and toys with them. The end is stunning and sets up for the final showdown.
If anyone spoils a Chip and a Chair for me, I will salt the earth for the decedents to the tenth generation.
Darkling by Brooklyn Ray
This is a darkly delicious New Adult paranormal romance about two members of a circle of witches who are on the cusp of both coming into their powers fully and realizing that they’re utterly in love with each other. Ryder is a fire witch, but also a necromancer. Liam is a water witch. They’re best friends who grow into lovers all while Ryder’s dark magic starts to become uncontrollable.
The only way to fix it is for Ryder to die and come back. But there’s no guarantee he will.
The second book, Undertow, continues the story of Ryder and Liam and their circle as the events in Darkling unlock a whole bunch of other stuff. I am looking forward to more books in this series!
A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra
This was wonderfully beautiful and hopeful book. It’s also, at time, raw and heartbreaking, but in a gentle way. Jude’s writing is almost dreamlike. Soft and calming. This is very much a New Adult book about two young men on the cusp of the rest of their lives and how they find love and acceptance with each other.
It’s also a book that deals heavily with the reality of living with a mental illness and how that affects, your relationships, and your life. It’s real and raw, but hopeful, so hopeful, and full of light. Reid isn’t his illness, but it’s a part of who he is, and Joaquim accepts that fully, even though it’s hard sometimes. There’s no stigma here. No platitudes, either. And that, by itself is a breath of fresh air.
If you want to see what else I read this year, my Goodreads list is here.
Hi all! It’s my birthday week, so I’m giving you a present! I’ve been sitting on this cover for a while now, but since the buy links for Reverb are starting to appear, I figure NOW is the time to show the cover to you!
When I saw this, I literally squeaked. This is so very Mish. Let me know what you think!
Reverb will be out May 6th, 2019! It’s m/f, and a take on the bodyguard trope. Mish is a pansexual cis woman. David is a queer trans man.
Not all the vendors have links yet, but right now you can pre-order here:
As I walked to work today after voting, I ended up thinking about the singular they, since I was thinking about how the outcome of this US election will impact me as a non-binary person.
This is how my brain works sometimes. Tangents. I use they/them pronouns most of the time. The thing with the singular they is that there are folks who say its incorrect. That it’s two hard. That they don’t know whether to use themself or themselves or whatnot.
Here’s the thing: we already know how to conjugate a singular pronoun that uses “are”.
It’s you. No, no, not you as a person, you as a pronoun.
Look, this ability to handle a singular/plural pronoun is built into our language.
Once upon a time, like German has today, English used to have two forms of you, a singular/familiar version and a plural/formal version. In the 17th century, the familiar/singular version dropped out of use in English, and now we have only one you: the plural/formal one. We use it for everything. Plural. Singular. Everything.
Said to a group of people: You take care of yourselves!
Said to a single person: You take care of yourself!
See that? That right there? Do the same thing for they. Themselves for a group of people. Themself for a single person. It’s just like you.
Said to a group of people: You are going upstairs, right?
Said to a single person: You are going upstairs, right?
Same thing for they.
Oh, you want to know what the singular/familiar you in English was? It was thou.
Art thou surprised? We do tend to think of it more as a formal version since we often only see it in relation to god in religious texts now.
Anyway. Singular they: if it’s good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for thou.
Oh, and go vote. Vote as if your sibling, child, spouse, friend is trans. or a PoC. As if you need to fight for their civil rights. BECAUSE YOU DO.
I haven’t done a post on books I’ve read and loved in a while. Last one was… wow. Almost a year ago!
So let’s dive in, shall we?
I’ve read a lot of romantic suspense lately. I completely blame Layla Reyne for hooking me on that subgenre!
I really enjoyed the Bad Behavior series by Cari Z and LA Witt. The third book GUTTED ME in places, but the fourth book was a lovely epilogue to everything. The way these two come together and their personal lives become entwined… and how they support each other was just wonderful. Both have a lot weighing on them, even outside the romantic suspense plot of dirty cops and not knowing who to trust.
I also really enjoyed Mary Calmes’s Marshals series, starting with All Kinds of Tied Down. It’s really over the top at times and meanders once and a while, but man…man. It’s such a fun fast ride! And features one of the creepiest, best villains ever. Poor poor Miro Jones. He goes through the wringer.
And then there’s the Seven of Spades series by Cordelia Kingsbridge. This one isn’t finished yet, and if you follow me on twitter, you’ve seen me raving about this. It’s just SO GOOD. Gritty, sexy, raw. UGH. I could go on for DAYS about it.
It features Levi Abrams, a gay Jewish detective who’s deadly, controlled, and pretty much always angry at the world and Dominic Russo, a huge Italian bounty hunter who’s easy going and well loved…except he has his own demons, too.
And it also features a serial killer who takes a very personal interested in Levi. And man, I have my theories as to who it is…as does everyone.
Three of the five books are out. If you want to join me in the agonizing wait between books, please do.
And because I can’t stop with the romantic suspense, I also recently read Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward on my flight home from Spain. It’s the story of a super spy, Jack Readon, and a super assassin, Ethan Blade, who end up teaming up in unlikely circumstances in the Australian outback. You’re never quite sure if Ethan is on Jack’s side or playing his own angle. The book is told from alternating chapters of Past and Now and it’s SO WELL DONE I ache all over thinking about it. And Ethan… Ethan is charming and deadly and I want to know more. There’s a coda out as well, and a novella.
Because romance is often so VERY VERY white, I’ve been working on reading and promoting more authors of color. So here’s who I’ve read since August of last year. I need to read more. Lots more. But this was a start.
His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington. Now, I know Robin. I edited Robin’s first book way back when in a previous life. I adore her writing. And, in retrospect, I really did enjoy this book quite a bit. I was conflicted at the time, mostly because the publisher screwed up and put out a blurb that didn’t describe the book correctly. And I felt quite a bit of a letdown from that. Which isn’t Robin’s fault. So go read this one. It’s a fun m/m take on the Marriage of Convenience trope between a black football player and a Russian dancer.
A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra. Oh, this was a beautiful and lushly written new adult book about two young men finding each other and their place in the world. It deals with mental illness and doesn’t shy away from the reality. But there’s so much hope written into Reid and Joaquim‘s story. Very recommend.
Goddess Tricked by Skylar Blue. A little out of my normal reading habits, yes. I picked this book up because the cover was captivating. Now, this is very much an erotic paranormal romance, with emphasis on the erotic and on voyeurism. It’s also m/f. It’s pretty much the story of Carly, a Spark or magic user, trying to make it through the night of a Blood Moon (a full moon in conjunction with a solar eclipse) without being mated to anyone. It was a fun read and the world building was interesting.
Love’s Changes by LaQuette. This was SO GOOD, guys. M/M contemporary romance. Took a little to get into, but so very worth it! And I want the sequel. Ugh. This is one of those books that looks at an established relationship on the rocks and how these men go about reconnecting and staying committed to each other. Bryan and Justice have been married for some time, but the stress of a near fatal shooting (Bryan in an NYPD cop) and the fact that Bryan is still hiding his relationship bring things to a head with Justice. Bryan has to face his own fears to keep Justice in his life. He gets a little help from Justice’s family, too.
The Preacher’s Promise by Piper Huguley. This is another book that’s outside my normal reading zone, given that it’s m/f and an inspirational. But way back when, I met Piper at a convention and LOVED that cover. I mean LOOK AT IT. So I picked the book up.
It’s so well done. And covers a period of history my white ass knows nothing about. The MCs shine through this marriage of convenience book, as does what slavery did to (and continues to do) to black people. Also how well-meaning white folk are still racist, despite their well-meaning-ness. The love that Amanda, an Oberlin College-trained woman, and Virgil, a blacksmith who becomes a town’s mayor develop for each other shines through, as does their faith in God.
I highly recommend picking this one up. Seriously. Well-written and if you’re like me and so very white and northern, it’ll open your eyes.
Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jakie Lau. This was such a fun fun fun book about a fake dating situation between Will, a SFF author who is grumpy but also sweet and kind, and his best friend’s little sister, Naomi, who is bubbly, sexy, and outgoing. Naomi needs a date during a holiday couples getaway, since her ex and his new girlfriend will also be there. Will reluctantly says yes. Both Will and Naomi discover that changing for someone else isn’t necessarily the best plan, and sometimes you can fall for someone very different from yourself.
Kris will probably be somewhat taken aback by me giving zir an entire section, but… really, the last category of reads is books by Kris Ripper. I waxed on about the Scientific Method Universe books in last year’s update, and all of that holds.
This year, at the head of the year, I read all four (so far) of Ripper’s New Years series books, which are spin-offs to the main SMU books. They take place at the beach house Hugh and Truman bought, so we get to see Hugh, Tru, and Will, but each book is told from the POV of another character that we’ve seen in SMU. They’re all standalone, but I do think it helps to have read the SMU books.
Also, we catch glimpses of Hugh, Tru, and Will, which culminate in Ripper’s most recent release, Untrue. This is book 9 in the SMU series. And Oh MY GOD. It was the hardest, best book of them all. Truman does the unfathomable and cheats on Hugh. The result rips into all three men and uncovers their flaws and strengths and gives them a space to either break apart…or grow into something stronger and better than what they had before. This book caused me not to be able to breathe for about half of it. I also had to read it in one sitting. But in the end, oh, the end, everything was fine. Just like Hugh predicted. The jerkface.
(I love Hugh. So much. So so so much.)
Anyway, that’s a look at some of what I’ve read in the past year. Reading fills the well, and it’s been very full recently.
I mentioned a bit ago that I received back the rights for my short story CTRL Me from Riptide publishing. It had been in the anthology Rules to Live By.
I gave the book a quick edit and updated a few things (like the Consol Energy center is not called that anymore…), added some more explicit consent, and took out some gender binary language, and released it on Amazon.
It also has a lovely cover by Garrett Leigh, which I think captures the spirit of the story well.
Tom likes rope. He really really likes rope.
If you own Rules to Live By, it’s basically the same story, so there’s no need to rebuy if you don’t wish to. This one’s also in KU, since it’s kind of a nice sample of my kinkier contemporary writing. I do want to write more with Gabe and Tom… I just haven’t found quite the right story yet. But yes, I foresee more with them.
They might also meet some of the other kinky folk who live in Pittsburgh….
In the meantime, I’m starting work on Twisted Wishes #3, Reverb, which is Mish’s book! Look for that in 2019!
Do you want to see the cover for Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2)? Yes? Well here it is!
What do you think? I really love it!
What’s Counterpoint about? Here’s the blurb!
Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.
When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.
Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.
Goodreads (My review has some content warnings behind a spoiler tag)
There’s D/s elements in this one and bondage, but nothing else. Also part of the story deals with anxiety.
Rep: Dom is gay, while Adrian is pansexual.
Technically, Dom should have a few more tattoos than depicted on the cover, but getting the exact cover model from stock is hard and the one there is significant to the story, so I’m really pleased!
Syncopation, book one of Twisted Wishes, is out in the wild!
Ray is gay. Zavier is pansexual, aromantic, and kinky.
This one was so much fun to write, and I hope you like the initial tour with Ray and Zavier, and Mish and Dom.
For those that loved Dom in Syncopation, in September, the series continues with Dom’s book, Counterpoint. I do have plans for a book with Mish, too and the proposal is in with Carina. Keep your fingers crossed for that one!
So, if you didn’t know, there was an upheaval at Riptide Publishing due to their former editor in chief making sexual statements and racist statements to authors.
Their statement about the resignation is here: http://riptidepublishing.com/SL-statement
As a result, Riptide allowed authors to authors to ask for their rights back.
Their pledge going forward is here: https://www.riptidepublishing.com/reform
What does this mean for me? Well, my agent and I canceled the contracts I’d signed to write in a new multi-author series with Riptide. I may take one of the characters (a non-binary high-tech worker) and write another book with them, since I was really looking forward to developing a character close to who I am.
I’ve received the rights back to my story CTRL Me, which had been in the anthology Rules to Live By. I plan to add on to that story and republish it later this year.
I’ve left my book Outside the Lines at Riptide, since it’s part of a house series I can’t republish it, so if I were to pull it, it would go out of print. It’s only been in print a couple of months.
It’s a book I feel strongly about, and fought to have published as a polyam romance between a married m/f couple and a gay man (rather than as an m/m/m romance, which is what I was asked to change the book to at one point). I wanted to show that HEAs are possible for everyone, even people in non-standard relationships, and that you can have a committed relationship with someone without sexual attraction, too. These types of relationships are the reality for a bunch of folks.
So it’s staying at Riptide for the time being. This was a hard decision for me, but I think it’s the right one for this book.