I've set a rather modest goal of reading 30 books in 2017. I'm kind of lowballing it, but hey, anything could go wrong.
Starting now, I'll be doing monthly round-ups of my favorite reads — whether they be re-reads or new faves. These are my favorite books of January, 2017.
Stay My Fantasy is the sequel to Be My Fantasy, a novella which was... very, very, good. Just like, super good and hot and fun, and emphasis once again on hot.
Stay follows that tradition by being hot fire all the way through. It continues the story of Elizabeth and Luca, who are desperately trying to stay away from each other, or get together, depending on who you ask. Elizabeth is a kinky, subby, clever businesswoman, and Luca will sacrifice anything to fuck the shit out of her. I wanted them to bone. All the time. And they did!
If you haven't read Alisha Rai before, pick up Be My Fantasy (and then Stay My Fantasy, because you will), and then you'll have had an irresistible, bite-sized taste of her writing.
Wanted is a Georgian roadtrip romance that is full of Charles' standard so-clever-you-need-to-read-it-twice dialogue. It is doing difficult duty of tiding me over until the release of Charles' next trilogy (and succeeding).
This book is a joyous little trip, full of emotional highs and lows. For the characters. I was consistently at an emotional high from sheer satisfaction. I was hooked from Martin St. Vincent's observation that Theo must "fuck like a tomcat," and speaking of Martin, this character is a wonderful bundle of complicated feelings and honorable convictions. Charles makes his emotional complexity look effortless. As a writer, I resent this.
Sidebar, KJ Charles is damn good at writing messed-up antiheroes and the good men that bring them to heel, and this is absolutely my jam.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarers, Book 1)
Are you craving a feel-good space opera? Here it is, my friends. Becky Chambers skillfully uses made-up sci-fi words in a way that feels real and organic rather than forced. The world she's created for Long Way makes me bitter that, as far as we know, there are is no Galactic Commons waiting for humans in space. I wish there were.
I love space stories where humans are underdogs who have to fit into a greater universe. Chambers establishes her far-future humans with different backgrounds (Martian humans, spacer humans, humans devoted to a destroyed earth), and introduces a host of alien species besides, each with their own cultures.
She's really clever about pinpointing aspects of human and alien culture that differ (for example, Aandrisks don't consider babies valuable, but humans are obsessed with them). The book is ultimately about found family and a thoroughly explored cast of characters. It's long, but it's lovely.
While I can't recommend this book per se (or remember which words are plural in its title), Sins is a really fascinating read. It's the sort-of autobiography of Jack Saul, who was a gay sex worker in late 1800s London. Saul is a personal hero of mine for being a fucking badass during the Cleveland Street Scandal, but this book was actually written a few years before that.
The conceit is that it's an autobiography, but it's really a litany of erotic scenes purporting to be from Saul's life — from his first fumblings with his cousin, come on, dude, to romps with Boulton and Park.
It also comes with every content warning known to man. I can't even begin to list them. But I can't overstate its importance as both a historical document—gay Victorian erotica!!—and a (likely heavily fictionalized) biography of a gay historical figure.
This one is a re-read, and absolutely worth it. Think of England was the first KJ Charles book I read, and I did it in one sitting over the course of a night. This was a big feat for me; I'm not a fast reader at all.
This time around I took my time with this stupidly enjoyable story. I cannot stress this enough: every piece of dialogue in Think of England is a joy. You can hear the characters' inflections in your head, and each has a distinct voice.
Archie and Daniel are fantastic, funny characters who by all logic should never end up together — but of course they do, because their chemistry is wild and circumstances force them to trust each other.
Their gradually building relationship, sizzling tension, and witty back-and-forth make this book for me. I enjoyed it just as much a second time.