My Best of 2019 List

The Best Of The Best

This year I read approximately 200 stories/books, although I didn’t review them all. If you have been reading my reviews, both here and on my own blog, you’ll know I like quirky–books that do things a little differently than the status quo. They still have to make sense, connect with me emotionally, and tell a good story. I gave 5 Stars, without rounding up, to these book that were published this year:

Digging Deep, Digging Deep 1, by Jay Hogan
This book gave a realistic depiction of being in a relationship with a chronically ill person with humor, honesty, and dignity whilst still managing to be a romance. The author didn’t cover over the gross or inconvenient things about illness the way most books do.

The Ghosts Between Us, The West Hills 1, by Brigham Vaughn
People handle grief differently and sometimes they fall in love at completely the wrong time with someone others might deem inappropriate. Oh well, that’s their problem.

The Story Of Us by Logan Meredith
Literally, no one agreed with me about this book featuring an older prudish, judgmental man falling in love with a young student and porn star. With breaking the fourth wall and only one point of view, some people didn’t dig it.

Best Covers

The King’s Dragon cover by Natasha Snow, The Witchstone Amulet cover by Tiferet Designs, Anhaga cover by Tiferet Designs, Hell And Gone cover by Danonza, Ramen Assassin cover by Reece Notley, Earth Fathers Are Weird cover by Lyn Gala, Clean Break cover by Natasha Snow, Healing Glass cover by Miranda from Pavelle Art, and Taji From Beyond the Rings cover by Lyn Forester

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The Best Of The Rest

Best Contemporary

Arctic Sun, Frozen Hearts 1, by Annabeth Albert
Best Behavior by Matthew J. Metzger
Heated Rivalry, Game Changers 2, by Rachel Reid
Ramen Assassin by Rhys Ford
The Other Book, Those Other Books 1, by Roe Horvat
We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

 

Best Fantasy/Paranormal/Science Fiction

Anhaga by Lisa Henry
Dead Man Stalking by T.A. Moore
Empire of Light, Voyance 1, by Alex Harrow
Healing Glass, Gifted Guilds 1, by Jackie Keswick
Space Train by David Bridger
The Shoreless Sea, Liminal Sky 3, by J. Scott Coatsworth

 

Best Holiday

A Faerie Story by Barbara Elsborg

 

Best Dark Themed/Taboo

Sick And Tragic Bastard by Rowan Massey
Please read the tags and get ready for a big, fat, ugly-crying meltdown if you have a soul. Then, read or watch the fluffiest, sweetest stories you can find for a week after.

Best Rerelease

Release, Davlova 1 and Return, Davlova 2, by Marie Sexton
This dark romance duology (pay attention to the tags) was originally released under the name A.M. Sexton. I don’t think there are any substantial changes. Expect rich, bleak, dystopian world-building.

 

Honorable Mention

The King’s Dragon, Fire And Valor 1, by W.M. Fawkes and Sam Burns
The Stone Amulet by Mason Thomas
I read so much fantasy this year. These two books stayed with me even though I rated them lower than the others. Why? Maybe I didn’t have enough coffee.

via More Best of 2019 and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Enough by Matthew J Metzger

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Jesse is a firefighter with a huge lack of self-esteem. He seems to think the only thing he has to offer is sex. His first boyfriend is a teacher named Ezra. They’ve been together for 8 months and he is meeting Ezra’s conservative, Catholic family for the first time. Then, he meets Ezra’s ex-boyfriend and things start to go really wrong.

This book is more about Jesse’s journey battling his past demons and fears while learning to trust Ezra and himself. Erza has his own family issues. If Ezra’s mom is awful, Ezra’s sister is a true horror. At least Ezra’s mom has a moment in here where she redeems herself in the hospital. I don’t want to give you more of a spoiler than that, but while the book blurb tells you the whole plot, it also doesn’t give you the depth of what you are getting into here. The family issues are not magically solved with everyone an accepting happy clappy group at the end. I found this very realistic.

One issue that is used well at the beginning as a plot point is Ezra’s ex-boyfriend Liam. He is a foil and catalyst for some of their most conflicted moments as a couple. Yet, at the end, he is just dropped. I am of two minds about that. On the one hand, he is finally relegated to where he actually belongs in regards to his importance in their lives. On the other hand…did he just give up? If so, why did he give up? Did he finally back off because Ezra actually has a boyfriend, or was it something else? Did he no longer want Ezra? That would make him the biggest douchebag of all time under the circumstances, and contradicts how Ezra describes him.

Most of this is about those moments when dating turns into love and now the couple have to rip themselves open to each other to let that someone in. Seeing behind the curtain to see if they can be a real couple that shares the good and bad is part of the battle. Jesse learning his worth is a major part of the plot, but I was not totally happy with his epiphany moment. For me, there could have been some tweaking to let the reader know Jesse understood his value as a man: not just a firefighter or because Ezra loves him, and not just because he stayed. Still, the scenes between them are sexy and meaningful. There is never a doubt that Ezra is his whole world. It’s touching when he finally sees and believes that he is Ezra’s whole world too. There is a lot of time that passes in this novella so the reader gets to see when Jesse trusts himself to be himself, and trusts what Ezra tells him. I have to say I am starting to really like this author.

The cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill. I have to say I like the color choices. The hoodie is even reminiscent of fire gear and the blackened room shows Jesse’s nightmare landscape. I did picture him a bit bulkier due to the size difference with Ezra.

Salels Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by Pride Publishing (first published May 22nd 2014)
ASINB07S7HXDXK
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Enough by Matthew J Metzger — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Best Behaviour by Matthew Metzger

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Jim does everything in his power to not have to ask his sister Sarah for help, but when it’s not enough, he ends up staying at her house until he can get back on his feet. Sarah’s husband is a reverend and his flavor of religion can’t coexist with Jim being bisexual, but it’s Sarah’s (and their mother’s) lack of support that hurts Jim emotionally. At 26, Jim has made some mistakes and at the beginning of this book still seems like he is “cutting off his nose to spite his face.” The fact that Sarah helps him at all and allows him to stay at her house, even when it may cause problems with her husband is not really given a whole lot of credit here, in my opinion. It’s definitely time for Jim to grow up. At first, his affair with the piano teacher that tutors Sarah’s children doesn’t encourage hope that is going to happen–hot and sexy though it is!

This has more heart than I expected right away, but what starts out as sexy fun ends up as a relationship. What starts out as an erotic romance, ends up to be a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of family. Fran is completely Jim’s type and has family issues of his own. Jim has finally met someone who could be good for him, but this is just good timing. I like the fact that what really motivates Jim to step up and sort himself out is his niece, not his boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong because I love Fran’s character and his place in the book is vital. I just don’t like storylines where one person “saves” the other. Fran provides support that allows Jim to more easily navigate his issues, but they are his issues to navigate.

It’s good to see a representation of the spectrum in this book. Be aware this story uses British English and vernacular, but it very easy to read and follow. I loved seeing character development in a story that has very erotic scenes as a natual part of his life and who he is. I loved that it is emotionally accessible. I am glad the author shows what can happen when a person changes their actions with someone; it changes their reactions too. Breaking cycles is difficult and it’s work. I would definitely read something by this author again.

The cover art is by Erin Dameron-Hill. I’m of two minds about the cover. It’s shows the tension and has the piano to represent Fran, but instead of showing that life is messy, it looks a bit like a horror novel. However, it’s not boring and neither is this book.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing |   Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo

Book Details: ebook, 222 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786517050
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Best Behaviour by Matthew Metzger — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words