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Top 10 Books I’m looking forward to in 2017

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | | 9 Comments
Top 10 of 2016
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30TH
Top 10 Books I’m looking forward to in 2017. (This list should be comprised ONLY of books releasing in 2017)

This one was really, really fucking hard. I have a Pinterest board with more here:

2017 Pub Books I Want To Read

and I'm sure I'll be adding more later as well.

But here's the darlings that came to mind first and foremost without having to look up the pub dates. (I'm old compared to ya'll and my memory is shit, okay?)

STANDALONES:




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NEW SERIES:




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CONTINUATION OF A SERIES:




One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2)

Untitled (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

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Top Ten 2016 Day 3: Best Adult Titles I Read in 2016

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | 11 Comments
Top 10 of 2016
Best ________ of 2016 (Reader’s/Blogger’s choice. Please fill in the blank with ONE of these topics – Villains, Contemporaries, Dual POV’s, Novellas, Adult titles, New Adult titles, Love Triangles, Couples, Bad Boys or Debuts. REMEMBER: this list MUST be from books you’ve READ in 2016)

I'll admit, I didn't love the choices given for this one. It was only after realizing most of my Best Of general list was YA did I settle on making it Adult titles. There definitely wasn't enough NA titles for a full list and the best made the cut on the other lists anyways. And I'm trying to have NO duplicates on these lists. I read over 200 books this year, I figure it's only fair to spread the love.

The Holy Shit, How Did These Not Make The BEST of the Best?




White Nights, Black Paradise was hard to read and harder to review. I lingered throughout the book, because all this knowledge demands it. It sunk in and left me stuck. I know it will never leave me, forever changing how I view this incident but me as a person.

Before reading this, I knew jackshit about Jonestown, except that a “crazy” cult killed themselves and that’s where “drinking the Kool-Aid” phrase from. And I only knew that because someone explained it when an asshole used the phrase online.

I am ashamed of my former ignorance and angry this story, this context, this side isn’t the prevailing narrative.

This is the kind of book you tell people to take a deep breath and get to reading. Because they need it.



I’ve never read anything quite like Dark Matter before. And I don’t think I will again. I haven’t read Blake Couch’s previous work, but I plan to now and I’ll be watching his new releases.

I loved everything about The Bookshop on the Corner.

Except the name. It’s a bookmobile not a corner store, which gave me the wrong mental image. Same with the book cover. I want to see the van. It’s awesome. Come on, work with me here!

So I should say, everything substantial was perfect. I knew when I started the Message to Readers dedication this was going to be good. That was adorable and sweet. Don’t skip it! I LOVE Colgan’s voice/writing. Her backlog is now on my TBR list.


I’d never heard of or read Miranda Beverly-Whittemore before this and now I can’t wait to read the rest of her work. It’s exquisite storytelling and eloquent.

I was immediately sucked in with it’s slow-paced, detailed southern charm and a dreaming house. I was torn between savoring it and devouring it.

I’m trying to make this review helpful and not fan girl all over the place but it’s hard. I just want to scream how good this was. In short: everything was fucking amazing.

June is part historical mystery and contemporary family drama. The whole time I’m guessing and getting it wrong with June and Lindie’s perspectives. All the while I’m rooting for Cassie and her crew.


The Personal:


What hooked me was Cora's past. I've been in domestic violence shelters years before and my mother is currently in one. All the employees and volunteers are generally amazing. They do not get enough credit or love. We'd be dead without them. Literally.

It's hard, draining work and I've seen the toil it takes. I always felt so bad and guilty (though none of them let it stand, if voiced) because of it. Burnout is real and dangerous. Most of the...least helpful people in the shelters were the ones that clearly needed to move on.

So I was happy to see Cora's line of work and dedication, but thrilled she was real. I kinda, sorta spent the whole book picturing the burned-out counselors getting a new start like her and others going to her retreat for a break.

Thank You, Mollie Cox Bryan.
Now, let's get to the review before I start crying.


The Steamy Goodness:


I love, love Gin. And it maybe under "Steamy Goodness" but this is not a bed hopping fantasy. It's actually really sparse, especially in the beginning. Yet it feels hot all the same. Gin is not some overpowered strong female. She's clever and trained all her life basically. This is another series I binged this year up to book #13. Plus, I totally want to visit her restaurant!


Binged 5 books out of the 6 books available. I love Angel. She's got a fucked up life and made some bad choices. I know this. I grew up in this income bracket and all around me there was these kinds of issues. It's really hard to find books about people like this that do it right. I'm so glad I found this one and gave it a shot. Her progress is A+ and it's funny as shit.


This is another series I've read up to current (jeez, think there's a pattern here?? lol) and was even able to be a part of the tour for the latest book Belle Chasse.

The first book won me over with the depiction of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Then the character's stepped up. It's typical urban fantasy tropes but the world is well done and different.


The Weird & The Different:


It's part mystery, part horror, part psychological thriller, with romance and paranormal aspects. It's not the typical horror story but it works. It SO works. It's so human.

Ransom is such an interesting character and I love the way it’s told through his autobiography. Is he a reliable narrator? No more than most people (have you read about our memories and how our brain works?!?!) and that’s part of the fun.





Notice anything? There's all of one that isn't lily white heteronormative centered. I've really got to step up my game in this department. In that vein, here's some of the diverse adult books I have on my TBR that were published in 2016. If you have more, from any time frame to recommend, I'd love to hear them!


Shadow & Steel, Certain Dark Things, Coffee Boy, IQ, The Wangs vs. The World, The Good Enough Mother, Homegoing, Hot Flash, Jazz Moon.









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Top Ten 2016 Day 2: Best Book Covers of 2016

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | | 8 Comments


Top 10 of 2016
Best Book Covers of 2016 (MUST be a book released in 2016. Would be best if it’s a book you’ve READ in 2016, but it’s not required)

Yeah, I don't really liked the "would be best if you read it" part of the question, so I disregarded it completely. I looked back through 2016 releases I knew of and picked these regardless of reading status. But reading status is a useful way to categorize regardless so....


BOOKS I'VE READ:

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BOOKS I HAVE TO READ:

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Update: I JUST FINISHED THIS ONE ON CHRISTMAS @ 1PM AND OMFG. *LOVE*


Update: Just started this one & I'm loving the world building.


BOOKS I WILL READ:

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Review & Excerpt for Of Cinder & Bone by Kyoto M., Science-y Urban Contemporary Fantasy with DRAGONS!



Of Cinder and Bone

by Kyoko M
Date of Publication: December 23, 2016
Cover Artist: Agata Broncel

Series: Book #1
Genre: SciFi Romance/Action-Adventure
Age: Adult
Format: Ebook, 268 pgs.
Source: Free for Review
Rating: 4 Stars
Recommendable? Yes
CW: Kidnapping, Drugs, Violence
After centuries of being the most dangerous predators on the planet, dragons were hunted to extinction. That is, until Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali cracked the code to bring them back. Through their research at MIT, they resurrected the first dragon anyone has seen alive since the 15th century. There’s just one problem.

Someone stole it.

Caught between two ruthless yakuza clans who want to clone the dragon, Jack and Kamala brave the dangerous streets of Tokyo to steal their dragon back in a race against time before the world is taken over by mutated, bloodthirsty monsters that will raze it to ashes.



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“They’re gone,” Jack whispered. “I don’t…I don’t understand. They were right here, Kam. What did I miss?”
She squeezed his hand. “Jack, this isn’t your fault. Maybe something went wrong and their health destabilized while we were out.”
“All that work,” he said hoarsely. “Years’ worth. Just like that. Gone.”
He shook his head again. “I shouldn’t have dragged you into this.”
“You didn’t drag me into anything. I chose this. I chose you.” She caught his chin and made him face her. Fierce brown eyes blazed at him. “And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
“This kind of thing can end a career. Let me take the blame. Please.”
“It’s my career to end. We tell them together. End of story.”
He shut his eyes at her words, shuddering slightly. “I’m so sorry.”
“We’ll find our way again. I promise.” She stroked the side of his face before turning towards the increasingly uneasy spectators around them.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Jack said after clearing his throat. “I’m afraid that something’s happened. Our hatchlings have flat-lined. They’re…they’re gone.”
A frigid hush fell over the room. The lead reporter stepped forward. “They’re dead?”
Kamala nodded grimly. “Stillborn. We’re not sure how, but we’ve tried everything to resuscitate them and nothing has worked. I’m afraid we’ve lost them.”
Edie’s hands rose to her mouth, and her eyes fell on her son. “Oh, honey.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the reporter moaned. “I got pulled off a hot lead at the Mayor’s office for this crap and you’re telling me the whole thing’s off? Get a defibrillator and bring the little bastards back to life.”
“Watch it,” Jack said very quietly.
“No, you watch it, pal. Everyone’s been talking you up like you’re gonna save the world and yet here we are with nothing to show for it.”
Jack stepped forward, gritting his teeth. “No one put a gun to your head and told you to come here. That’s three years of my life lying on that table over there, dead. Cry me a fucking river.”
Kamala gripped his arm. “Jack.”
The reporter snorted, not backing down even though Jack practically towered over him. “This was just a publicity stunt, wasn’t it? Something to get MIT some attention, since that’s where all the washed up scientists go to spin their wheels and pretend like they’re making a difference. What’s the matter? The real world too much for you?”
“The real world?” Jack laughed bitterly. “You’re about to find out how real the world can get.”
“Jack!”
“No, let him go, sweetheart. This’ll look good on the front page. I can see the headline now: ‘Failed Scientist Socks Award-Winning Reporter for Hurting His Feelings.’”
Jack grabbed two handfuls of the guy’s shirt and a couple of people darted between them, shouting for them to cool off and separate.
Crack.
Jack froze.
Crrrraaaaaaack.
He craned his neck slowly towards the table.
The furthest egg to the left had a fracture running down the length of it.
Crick-crack.
The egg wiggled once, twice. The fracture widened.
Jack and Kamala stumbled towards the table together, their eyes transfixed on the tremors going through the lone egg. A moment later, a tiny green snout poked through a hole in the top and embryonic fluid oozed outward.
Jack snatched up a box of gloves and handed it to Kamala, snapping a pair on, and then reached a shaking hand towards the creature. He lifted the small piece of shell that the dragon had stuck on his snout and watched slack-jawed as it sneezed and pushed its glistening, spindly limbs out. It was the size of a large gecko. The scales were leafy-green over most of its body, with paler shades along its belly, and dark green splotches along its spine. It had four limbs like a normal lizard, but two thin yellow membrous wings stuck out from its shoulders. Its head bore similarities to a bird, with a triangular head with bright eyes, its pupils thin slits like a snake. Each foot ended in pinpricks of claws and it had a set of needle-like teeth just barely poking out of its gums.
“Kamala?”
“Yes?”
“You’re seeing this, right?”
“I am.”
Jack let out a thready, borderline manic giggle as the young dragon wobbled on its legs and let out a needy chirp, its yellow eyes focusing on the two of them after a moment. Jack cupped one hand and brought it forward slowly, his deep voice soothing.
“Hey there, buddy. Welcome to the party. Nice timing.”
The dragon chirped a couple more times and sniffed his fingers one by one. It nipped them, coughed, and then crawled clumsily into his arms. Kamala handed him a small towel and cleaned the little reptile off, smiling as it nuzzled its head against her touch.
“She’s beautiful, Jack,” she whispered. “What should we call her?”
“Pete.”
She choked on laugh. “You’re such a sap. Hello, Pete. Welcome to MIT.”



About the Author:

Kyoko M is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. Her debut novel, The Black Parade, has been ranked #5 in Amazon's Bestselling Occult novels. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.

Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads


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Of Cinder & Bone opens with Jack and Kamala in the lab working on making a hybrid – dragon DNA spliced with a komodo dragon. They’ve been working together for a year and the deadline is rapidly approaching. I love it when contemporary fantasy brings the science and melds it well with magic.

Not only are they colleagues but close friends. It’s awesome to see. They’ve got great banter. Jack is secretly in love with Kamala but isn’t a creepy jerk about it. Eventually, he lets that cat out of the bag, but you’ll have to read to find out what happens.

Kamala’s BFF and roommate Faye is an interesting supporting character. She’s a fellow grad student in a completely different field. Her and Jack have a teasing, grudgingly friends relationship. Faye enjoys baiting him and Jack can’t help but rise to the occasion.

They have an interesting dynamic going on. With the events after coming home from Japan, it’s going to get even better to watch. Bring the popcorn.

I wondered why they picked dragons of all things to “bring back” instead of known real animals. It seemed especially fishy given their activist goals of righting the wrongs of extinct animals and rebuilding the natural state of affairs humans fucked up.

Soon enough it becomes clear that dragons were real and hunted to extinction. This is the only different between our world and that Of Cinder & Bone. Thus far anyways.

It’s not until the very end though that Jack divulges the deep personal reasons for wanting to make dragons a contemporary animal. I had an automatic “aw” moment when he spilled the beans but then thought Bigfoot would be a better choice for that reasoning. Now it’s hard to take him seriously for it. Sorry Jack :/

Once they get to Japan, it’s very urban romance with lots of action, violence, kidnapping, and they’re running nonstop. Pete the New Dragon is a wonderful dragon and had me reacting stronger than when a dog is involved. LEAVE HER ALONE DAMNIT. Thankfully, Jack and Kamala are good people and treat her right. Now, if only they can get her back…

After getting back to the USA, you’ll notice there’s still many pages to go. Every reader knows this dread. It continues to wrap up the characters and loose ends. So far so good, but then the TO BE CONTINUED…knocks the damn wind out of you and you realize there wasn’t enough pages. The author, Kyoko M., starts her notes at the end begging for forgiveness and I’ll have to allow it. For now. Because I need the next one.





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Top 10 2016 Day 1: Best Books I’ve Read in 2016 in 5 Categories

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | | 8 Comments


I'm throwing my hat in for this event. It's hosted by several awesome bloggers from Fiktshun, Tales of a Ravenous Reader, Two Chicks on Books, and Dark Faerie Tales.

You can find out all the details on their sites but basically create a post for each day on this schedule:


  • MONDAY, DECEMBER 26TH
    Best Books I’ve Read in 2016 (Doesn’t have to be released in 2016, just a book you’ve read in 2016)
  • TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27TH
    Best Book Covers of 2016 (MUST be a book released in 2016. Would be best if it’s a book you’ve READ in 2016, but it’s not required)
  • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28TH
    Best ________ of 2016 (Reader’s/Blogger’s choice. Please fill in the blank with ONE of these topics – Villains, Contemporaries, Dual POV’s, Novellas, Adult titles, New Adult titles, Love Triangles, Couples, Bad Boys or Debuts. REMEMBER: this list MUST be from books you’ve READ in 2016)
  • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29TH
    Best Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends of 2016 (MUST be from a book released in 2016 and from a book you’ve READ in 2016)
  • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30TH
    Top 10 Books I’m looking forward to in 2017. (This list should be comprised ONLY of books releasing in 2017)
Since I'm terrible (so far) at making my own schedule for topic posts I figured this would be a good way to make me do it. I mean, I want to but I need a way to hold myself accountable. Plus, linky jumping and some giveaways! It's like a quadruple win.

I read such a variety it was really hard to pick. I broke it down into categories. Yet, you'll find out on Wednesday how many I facepalmed when I realized I'd forgotten them when making this post.

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Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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The Jakkattu Vector by PK Tyler


The words, I don't have the words for a snappy paragraph summary. Just fan-fucking-tastic all around. FYI: PK Tyler has been called the Margret Atwood of Sci-fi and comes with none of the problematic shit.


Rosewater by Tade Thompson


Aliens. Sensitives. Government Agencies. Nigeria. Present narrative with flash backs. Perfect blend of WTF and OMFG. Sounds really weird, Impossible to talk about without spoiling.



Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Because duh. For absolutely everything. Also, I love her so, so much. If you don't follow her on Twitter you should.

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YA Historical

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco



Oh boy, oh boy oh boy. It opens with our feminine coroner in training opening up a cadaver. Sherlock & Holmes dynamic where romance is cannon. VERY well done with treatment of the victims. Didn't see the murderer coming.


Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee


Friendship is Magic! Plus, friends becoming more than :D Gorgeous writing. Read it all, including all the author's notes. So many quotables.


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NA Contemporary:

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The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis


Pansexual Latinx bookstore clerk with the hots for the new lesbian Latinx clerk. Deals with college, majors, coming out, masturbation, and steamy scenes. Lots of literary references to squeal over.


Gravity by Juliann Rich


Cuss-y, sporty "vulgar" ski jumping lesbians. Deals with the gender and income disparity and barriers in this sport. The Hook Up comes back and lies go *boom*, can they salvage a real relationship from the wreckage? LOVE this ending.

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YA Contemporary:

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Here's the Thing by Emily O’Beirne


Aussie high schooler moves back after living in NY. What happened between her and Prim? And what's the dancer girl's story? Fantastic narrator voice and progressive. Brings up refugees and Australia's human rights failures.


Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley


A+ mental health representation. Good. Cute. Funny. Heartbreaking. Told in alternative perspectives by Solomon and Lisa. Progressive As Fuck.


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Best Dragons: Because of course this is a category all its own

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His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik


Alternative historical fantasy with an social justice activist dragon pulling his damn white boy partner along the way to do the right thing. Aerial and ship battles. Journey around the world. Naomi's writing. PERFECTION.I actually binged the whole damn series this year.




Mark of the Dragon by J.W. Troemner


Urban paranormal contemporary. This short tale packs a wallop with a fight-y Asian dragon shifter and her curvy, hispanic partner as they survive living on the streets.. Both into women, both live to the end.




I can't wait to start hopping around to everyone's list. In fact, I was late publishing this one because I already started reading posts from the blogs I follow.  What do you think of my picks?



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