I have the privilege of reading and listening to so many books each year and it’s always fun to look back at the year in books. There were a few selections that really stood out for me this year. Books that are memorable for all the right reasons. I consider myself a hard-core contemporary reader, so to have three fantasy selections, plus a futuristic/sci-fi book on my list this year was impressive to me.


The Voyages of True Blood Cay by Suanne Laqueur

I discovered the writing of Suanne Laqueur last year and she quickly became a favorite after only a few words. The Voyages of True Blood Cay is a unique book in that the character of Javier, from the Venery series, is an author that has been writing this book for years. While this high fantasy book can be read on its own, it is especially rewarding if you have read the Venery series. A truly unique book from concept to execution.

A Scarcity of Condors by Suanne Laqueur

This book is the third in the Venery series and follows along the journey of these incredible characters. It was easily my most anticipated book of the year as the characters in this series are so real, I find myself thinking of them at times. I even rearranged my reading schedule to fit this book in earlier in the month (review coming soon). The book is a story of the horrors inflicted on people, their struggles to persevere, the desperate acts made in the name of love, and bonds of family. This author can take what appears to be a simple sentence and change my perspective and that is an incredible gift. Where The Voyages of True Blood Cay was one the first books I read this year, A Scarcity of Condors was one of the last, and I cannot think of any better way to begin and end a year in reading than with the words of Suanne Laqueur.

Don’t Fight the Spark by Kasia Bacon

I fell hard for all the words of Kasia Bacon when she started writing about two stubborn elves. Don’t Fight the Spark starts a new series within the Order Universe, but also crosses over with previous books. Everything works in this story, from the pacing, to the tension, to the intrigue of all the characters and the world they inhabit, as well as the title itself. Bacon is a fantastic fantasy writer that never fails to deliver and always leaves me intrigued for the next book. This book was recently released on audio, and narrator, Michael Fox, does a fabulous job giving voice to the characters and elevating an already amazing story.

Second Song by Edie Danford

Second Song hit all the most perfect notes for me and I liked everything about it. The book is poignant, and lyrical, and melancholy, and hopeful, with a strong atmosphere of Sage’s life in Vermont. The relationship between Sage and Antonio is sparked so high right from the beginning, but it’s a slow burn, and an aching story of true love forged out of tragedy. It’s a special book.

Everybody in the Place by Suki Fleet

This is a short story by Suki Fleet and a book of any length by this author is truly an indulgence. Her writing fits me perfectly and no matter what length the piece is, I am captivated by the first page. It’s a friends to lovers story where the raw and honest emotions of the bond between Alfie and Benji carries through while still remaining soft and sweet. This is a perfectly paced short story and is exactly how a story of this length should be written.

Digging Deep by Jay Hogan

This was an all-around great book where the characters were all excellent and extremely well written. It’s the story of Drake and Caleb, and their path to finding love despite the debilitating effects of Drake’s Crohn’s disease. Hogan did a great job showing what Drake had to deal with on a daily basis, both when he is feeling okay and when he has flare ups. The men have amazing chemistry together right from the start, even under the less than ideal circumstances of their first meeting and watching Caleb try and win Drake over was highly entertaining. The character development during the course of the book is detailed and layered and their ending is perfectly romantic.

Stars by Tal Bauer

This book is intense for many reasons, but the ultimate reason is the writing that author Tal Bauer has infused into every scene. Stars picks up after Ascendent in The Executive Power series, which is a spin off from The Executive Office series. The love story between Sasha and Sergey is already solid and there is never a doubt that these two will be together for as long as they both shall live. However, a mission in space threatens everything. The gore factor in this book is high and while that aspect may not have been my favorite at times, the realism is exceptional. After following Sasha through so many of the books in this series, it was amazing to watch him rise up yet again.

Silk and Steel series by Ariana Nash (audio by Cornell Collins)

I had not been familiar with this author or this series, but when I saw the description, it really seemed like my type of book and it was a true winner for me. The story was everything I hoped it would be and then even a little more. The Silk and Steel series is a trilogy that takes Prince Lysander and Eroan through an incredible journey and is tale of true enemies becoming not only lovers, but true mates. The twists and turns are vast as we have a dragon and an elf assassin on a harrowing quest to fight so much evil. The author does not let up for a moment with these characters and their lives are dark and brutal. I have finished the third book in the series, but the review has not yet been posted. It’s an exceptional and fantastic tale that was made ever more intense by the vocals of Cornell Collins and if you are looking for a truly intense and legendary event, definitely listen to the entire series in audio.

Once again, I would like to take a few lines to thank Jay for hosting the blog and giving me a place here at Joyfully Jay. It’s a gift to be entrusted with review copies and being able to have a vast array of choices is something I continue to be grateful for. Cheers to more great books in 2020!


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