Merry Holidaymas, one and all! This month marks the end of my first year writing for Joyfully Jay, and what better way than to do a theme post? So let me welcome you to my Twelve Days of Kindlemas, where I go over my favorite books from this year and try to encourage you, yet again, to read them yourselves. After all, with all the stress of the season, it’s nice to curl up by the fire with a good book, a glass of eggnog and a few good men to keep you company. So, let’s dash away, dash away to the good stuff!
On the twelfth day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Sweet Summer Sweat by Clare London.
To quote Charles Dickens, “I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied (Marley). “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” Such is the fate of five young men trapped in a mysterious hotel in the middle of nowhere. Bound by the lies they told themselves and the secrets they keep, Oliver and Vincent are the ghosts of the present, of a life that will remain as it is should nothing change. Jerry is the ghost of the past, of what was and never will be again… but is it Connor, the mysterious owner of the hotel, who is the ghost of the future, showing what life could be if Scot would only give in. Or is it Scot who is the future, freeing Connor from the chains he has made for himself, and allowed others to make for him? A sweet, seductive ghost story whose archetypal characters allow for a layered and nuanced reading.
On the eleventh day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Because Faery Godmonster by Sionnach Wintergreen.
This is a story about love. Love for others, and learning to love yourself. What better message for a holiday read? Gossamer is a good soul (the sort of creature who’d happily help you decorate your tree) while Pox is a pain in the ass who wants to be taken care of. Proud, vain, with both his pride and his heart injured, he has to learn to let go of the past in order to embrace a future with friends as well as lovers at his side.
On the tenth day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens. Full of whimsy and wonder (and unicorns!) this book has yetis! Well, okay, a Sasquatch, but it’s close enough to count. This is a story about a young man finding the courage to wear his sexuality with pride rather than with shame. To tell his mother, to tell his crush, to tell the world that he knows who he is, thank you very much. This is a charming book filled with real relationships, real pain, and real unicorns.
On the ninth day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Sacred Band by Joseph D. Carriker, Jr
Rudolph can fly, and so can superheroes, as is evidenced in Sacred Band. Between hero worship and wanting to save the world, Rusty has to work to bring back hope and faith to a lost hero who, much like the toys of Misfit Island, has hidden himself away from the world. With wonderful world building, skilled writing, and razor sharp plotting this superhero story is a wonderful read. Now if only the sequel would find its way to my stocking!
On the eighth day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Cherished by Two by Morticia Knight
What’s better than one glass of eggnog? If you said two, you’re right! and for Chris two alien lovers are better than just one. This was the first book I reviewed for Joyfully Jay and has a special place in my heart. It showed how a relationship can grow, much like the Grinch’s heart, to include a third person. There’s sweetness and warmpth and a bevy of alien words that sound very Seussian … and now it’s time to go sing with the Whos!
On the seventh day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Ge-Mi by Mell Eight
Who wouldn’t want a puppy for Christmas? Or a kitten? And that’s just what this book delivers. A human-snow leopard hybrid with a long and fluffy tail meets a wolf hybrid whose tail may not be so long or so fluffy but who still wants to play. Watching them skulk about each other, growl at each other, and finally come together is just as adorable as you think it is.
On the sixth day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Blood on the Ice by Katriena Knights
Walking in a winter wonderland isn’t half as fun as skating, and these boys can certainly skate! For me, never a fan of hockey, this book was an eye-opener. Wonderfully written and feeling so very real, it completely changed my opinion on the game. I’m not a convert, yet, but the scenes were described so well and with such passion I may or may not have ended up wrapping a pair of skates for someone…
On the fifth day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Dali by E.M. Hamill
Dali is a darker book, and more complex. It’s a story about lost loves and grief, gender identity, and a person being asked to sacrifice themselves for the good of others. So many philosophical ideas are in this book that I hardly know where to start. How do you hurt someone you care for when you know it’s the right thing to do? Is what is right for one person right for another? What do you owe others when you feel like there’s nothing left of you? A hopeful book about finding oneself, about being a light, however small in the darkness of the universe, it makes a wonderful December read.
On the fourth day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Pandora by Margueritte Labbe
What is joy without pain? The sharp edges of holly leaves that draw blood as red as their berries, the cold and harsh chill of winter and the death of a year as the seasons turn. Pandora is a book filled with pain and the loss of self, of people who are used, abused, and betrayed only to find within themselves the strength to fight back. We all bleed a little, but wounds heal, even the worst of them. Yes, they leave scars behind, but a scar is only a reminder that we survived.
This book may not be to everyone’s taste, but sometimes you need the bitter to go with the sweet.
On the third day of Kindlemas, Elizabeth recommends for you Moro’s Price by M. Crane Hana
Another book of pain and suffering leavened with the sweetness of joy and love. This is a book of healing, of discovering that — having been knocked down — there is always something inside that helps you rise to you feet. Moro has lost everything, or thought he had, until Valier saves him. Their love shakes the very foundation of the universe and brings three empires to their knees. Nothing is stronger than love unless it’s forgiveness.
Two stories in two very different worlds, both with dragons — which are hardly holiday hosts, but they fly like reindeer so I’m going with it. In Never Lose Your Flames, we have a story about choices, revenge, and most of all justice, about good people winning and bad people losing. It’s about real people and hope and love. The world building is wonderful, the narrator is splendid, and the story is well worth reading.
Dim Sum Asylum has more jack frost than justice to it. Roku is a faery, Trent has ice magic, and between them they make magic! Family, the ones we’re born with and the ones we choose, figure prominently in this story, along with all sorts of wonderful food. Just the thing you need for a Chinese dinner to celebrate Christmas with!
On the first day of Kindlemas Elizabeth recommends for you Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London
A simple story about a city mouse venturing into the country, and a grumpy country mouse who only wants to stay home. Between the two of them there’s laughter and joy, friendship and life and love. It’s sweet, it’s charming, it’s the perfect sort of story to read for Christmas. Really, I demand you read this and tell me your teeth aren’t aching from how sugary this book is, not to mention the beautiful writing and the absolutely adorable couple.
I hope you all have a wonderful Holidaymas filled with good food, good drink, good books and family. May those you choose to live in your hearts make this month a merry one for you. If you’re read and enjoyed any of these stories, let me know! I’d love to hear your opinions of my list, and bonus points for cookie recipes!