Reading Recommendations for the Holidays (2017) — Books I Love, and Hope You Will, Too
I love to read. Books are my boon companions and the chance to visit worlds that aren't my own. However, I tank at writing reviews, because I know exactly how much work goes into writing a book, so I can't be objective about it. Nonetheless, I like putting readers together with books they might like, so here are my reading recommendations for the holidays. Most are for series, so you should have plenty of reading ahead. I'll be happy to send send virtual snacks, a nice pillow, and a soft blanket.
Note: The inline links are for Amazon, but I've also provided a few links for Kobo, Nook, iTunes, and Google Play, so you can choose your favorite retailer. Several of the Amazon books are available for free in the Kindle Unlimited program.
Another note: Amazon just announced that all Kindle Worlds books are now available in the Kindle Unlimited program. So if you happen to receive a shiny new ereader that comes with a free trial of KU, see how you like my paranormal romance, In Graves Below (Magic, NM).
If you like your space opera, science fiction, and fantasy books adventurous…
I discovered Anna Hackett through her Phoenix Adventures science fiction romance (SFR) series (see this box set to get started), but I'm addicted to her Hell Squad series. It's near-future, post-apocalyptic (caused by an alien invasion), where the romance in each book helps counter the grim elements of fighting a desperate war. The series is eleven books and counting, starting with Marcus (which is free!), on through the latest, Devlin, which is on the top of the virtual Mount Everest that is my to-be-read pile. Anna also has a new Galactic Gladiators series, which is also near the top of my TBR pile.
Lindsay Buroker‘s flagship series is the fast-paced, entertaining, and highly addicting Emperor's Edge fantasy series. Her newest, the Fallen Empire series, is action-adventure science fiction, along Lindsay's signature sense of humor and a slow-burn romance across the series. It starts with Star Nomad (free!) and continues through seven more books to End Game (also on my TBR pile). The great covers are by the talented Tom Edwards. Lindsay also writes the excellent Dragon Blood fantasy/steampunk series.
Late-breaking news: Lindsay just started a new Heritage of Power fantasy series, set in the Dragon Blood universe. The first book in the series, Dragon Storm, is out just in time for holiday reading, and the second book, Revelations, will be along soon. • Amazon
Veronica Scott‘s Sectors series is grand-scale, themed adventure, and romance that never disappoints. Her male main characters are warriors, but never alpha-holes, and the female main characters can hold their own. You can read them in any order, but start with Escape From Zulaire (free!), then enjoy The Wreck of the Nebula Dream, a futuristic Titanic-style disaster. Her latest, The Fated Stars: The Sectors SF Romance Series, continues her exploration of empaths. And lucky us, she's just begun a new series, starting with Aydarr: Badari Warriors, which is set in the Sectors universe.
By the way, both Veronica Scott and I have stories in the limited edition Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 science fiction romance anthology. Get your copy now while it's still available, because it's last day in this universe is 31 January 2018.
BONUS: Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 is on sale this month for only 99¢!
New to me this year is author Jess Anastasi, and her Valiant Knox series. Strong world building and strong characters. Start with Escape Velocity, and if you like it, there are three more books for your reading pleasure. ~ Amazon ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ Nook ~ Google Play
Carysa Locke (pen name for Carysa Locke and MaLea Holt) writes the Telepathic Space Pirates series that starts with a novella, Pirate Bound (only 99¢!) and continues with Pirate Nemesis. Book 2 in the series, Pirate Consort, is up for preorder, with a Feb. 2018 release. I'm anticipating good things for the next in the series.
I love Eve Silver's Northern Wastes series (more, please!), and she has new covers for them. Eve skillfully blends science fiction, action, great characters, and romance in a perfect mix. Start with Driven, and don't miss the newest release, Frozen, a novella that takes place between Driven and Hidden.
If you like your science fiction and paranormal romance steamy to hot…
Susan Hayes‘s The Drift cyborg series is unapologetic, steamy ménage romance set in a universe where cyborgs are rediscovering their humanity. Start with Double Down (free!). She's also released some fun new shorter works in the new Intergalactic Dating Agency series, starting with Joran: Star-Crossed Alien Mail Order Brides.
Eve Langlais has a delightfully sarcastic sense of humor that runs through all her books (for example, her Cyborgs: More than Machines SFR series and the totally snarkalicious Welcome to Hell paranormal romance series). Her new Space Gypsy Chronicles series is a little darker, but still funny. Start with Pirate, and don't blame me if it makes you stay up past your bedtime. All have on-the-page sex scenes that further the story, as opposed to plot-stopping interludes. Oh, and if paranormal romance is your catnip, she has a half-dozen fabulous shifter series (e.g., Kodiak Point).
You may not know that Lindsay Buroker also writes science fiction romance under the pen name Ruby Lionsdrake. Expect her usual adventurous, funny, and non-angsty style, but spicier with the on-the-page sex scenes. Her Mandrake Company series starts with Mercenary Instinct (only 99¢) and continues through The Tracker's Dilemma: Mandrake Company Book 7. This last year, Lindsay-as-Ruby also wrote the Star Guardians series that starts with Orion: Star Guardians, Book 1 and continues through Zakota: Star Guardians, Book 5. I don't know how she writes so fast, but we lucky readers are grateful that she does.
*Mina Carter writes science fiction romance and paranormal romance. Her Not Dead Enough started a darker paranormal romance series in 2015. I'm including it here because I want her to write more books in the series, dammit! She's been busy writing for the Magic and Mayhem and the Paranormal Dating Agency Kindle Worlds series, a dragon series, and solo publishing some books to which she got the rights back, so maybe I'll cut her some slack.
One of my all-time favorite science fiction/paranormal series is Nalini Singh‘s Psy-Changling series. She deftly illuminates a large story arc with individual romances, and it's one of the few series where I'll gladly pay the full publisher's price. If I'm ever stranded somewhere that I can't write, I'm re-reading the whole series again. Start with Slave to Sensation if you're new to the series. The latest in the series are Allegiance of Honor and Silver Silence. She also writes the darker Guild-Hunter fantasy romance series and contemporary romances.
Fabulous author and friend S.E. Smith has started a new paranormal romance series, The Seven Kingdoms. She has two books out in the series so far, The Dragon's Treasure, book 1, and The Sea King's Lady, book 2. Susan is wonderfully inventive with both characters you want to win and world building.
The Dragon's Treasure: Amazon ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ Nook ~ Google Play
By the way, Susan also has a story in the science fiction romance anthology, Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 , which is all the more reason to scoop it up while you still can.
My take-me-away indulgence is reading paranormal romance shifter and magic stories where the males are not alpha jerks and the females aren't whiny rescues, they're all just good people who deserve their HEAs.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, I can recommend Terry Bolryder and Zoe Chant. Both authors are prolific, and the shorter stories are just the right length for waiting for your car to be repaired or spending a relaxing evening. Fair warning: The sex is definitely on the page, and Bolryder's stories occasionally have more than two people in the bed, if you catch my drift. They're not erotica, but they are hot.
Give the Gift of Books
My Central Galactic Concordance space opera-adventure-romance series are all in paperbacks, which I think (and I may be biased in this opinion) make nifty holiday gifts.
If you're an independent author…
I am occasionally asked advice on the independent author life, and I occasionally wax eloquent on the topic, because I Haz Opinonz*. I'm an adherent of the “rising tide floats all boats” theory of business. If indie authors learn from each other and produce quality products that our readers like, we and our readers all benefit. Here are some useful books I've read recently that helped me, and may help you.
Susan Kaye Quinn is a highly successful indie author, and she shares her expertise in two “Career Author” books: Indie Author Survival Guide (2nd Ed.) and For Love or Money. Between them, they're an excellent mix of specific, practical advice and inspirational, energetic motivation.
James Scott Bell's Write Your Novel from the Middle has practical structural advice for fiction novels. I'm a fan of practical, and Bell's advice resonates.
And while we're talking practical advice, buy David Ball's short book, Backwards and Forwards, for an approach to plotting that makes everything hang together beautifully. He wrote it for stage play directors, but the structural analysis works for plotting any story, and will enrich yours.
I'm a fairly prosaic person, so The War of Art is about as metaphysical as I can stand on creativity and how to think about it. If you're suddenly finding your muse has gone radio silent and your GAFF** meter is flatlined, this book might help.
Productivity is the bête noire of most authors, because even the most prolific of us have too many stories and not enough time. Some authors have boosted their productivity (not to mention health) by dictating their first drafts instead of sitting at a keyboard. Dragonspeak software for the PC, a decent headset, and Scott Baker's The Writer's Guide to Training Your Dragon will get you started. Full disclosure: I'm just starting down this path, trying to make my brain move from typing to verbalizing. Wish me luck!