2019 was the Year of the Book for me and all is merry and bright. New fabulous authors, great finds, perfect recommendations, fun series, five star reads, crazybananas alien romance FOR DAYS. This year made me so happy.
This post also combines my last two Friday Favorites of the year. December 20: favorite releases of 2019 and December 27: Favorite Reads of 2019.
Number Of Books I Read: 250
Um. In my defense, I was left unsupervised. With lots and lots of books. And I work part time from home. And I tend to devour entire alien romance series (which usually have shorter, 40-50K word books) on my Kindle. My reading shot up by a LOT after I got my Kindle.
Number of Re-Reads: I refuse to count
This is definitely all #becauseofbookstagram. Taking the photos for my feed is deadly because I end up reading all of the old favorites I’m photographing and my TBR is over in the corner eyeing me like:
Genre I Read The Most From: Romance!
I let my horror reads go this year and only read like, two new Stephen Kings? I dunno, I was in a fluff mood this year so fluff is what I read.
Best Books I Read In 2019:
The Billionaire’s Wake-Up Call Girl, Annika Martin
The Madness of Viscount Atherbourne, Elisa Braden
Never Sweeter, Charlotte Stein (this is a redeemed bully romance and not for the faint of heart. CONTENT WARNING.)
Taming Chaos, Anna Carven
Bound to the Battle God, Ruby Dixon
The Naughty Princess Club, Tara Sivec
The Scandalous, Dissolute, No Good Mr. Wright, Tessa Dare
Queen’s Ransom, Isabel Wroth
Favourite new author I discovered in 2019:
It’s a tie between Tara Sivec and Anna Carven. Fortunately one writes hilarious contemporary romance and one writes steamy, emotional alien romance. So they fulfill two different niches in my life.
Book I can’t believe I waited until 2019 to finally read:
The Madness of Viscount Atherborne (Elisa Braden). A well executed revenge plot, along with a marriage of convenience which turns into flaming hot love is ALWAYS a win for SE, and I love historical romance too. This one was published in 2015. What on earth took me so long?
OTP of the year:
Purity and He’Rokvskaa from Hunting Purity, by Tracey Lauren. I found this book because we were making fun of the cover on bookstagram (RUN, PURITY, RUN!) and then ended up getting it because I love Tracey Lauren and the blurb was intriguing. Then the craziness of the plot combined with the adorably-clueless-about-feelings-gladiator getting hit over the head with the Feelings Stick won me over. They started out rough (He’ro is honestly hunting to kill her, this is an arena) but Purity wins him over through sheer cuteness and that makes them my 2019 One True Pairing.
Book that stomped all over every emotion ever:
Queen’s Ransom, Isabel Wroth. If you have even a passing interest in the Greek myth of the Minotaur re-imagined as a romance, this is definitely the book you’re looking for.
Book(s) that I wanted to throw against the wall the hardest:
We have another tie between A Masked Deception, by Mary Balogh and Potent Pleasures, by Eloisa James. (And this is a HUGE shame because I love both of these author’s later books!) These short novels are each author’s older debut/first efforts and they lean hard into the tropes of the time. This means there are MULTIPLE misunderstandings which could have been cleared up by ONE HONEST CONVERSATION, aka one of my least favorite plot devices ever, omfg people just communicate already you’re giving me a stress headache with all these stupid unspoken words!!
THEN, ohhhhoho then, these misunderstandings lead to terrible overreactions on the part of both heroes. Seriously, by the end of Potent Pleasures I hoped the heroine would actually die in childbirth as the text was clearly threatening she might and this is NOT A GOOD reaction to a romance! The utterly fucking irrational hero deserved to suffer after all of his undeserved mistrust, blame, slut-shaming (LITERAL SLUT SHAMING, NOT OKAY) and rejection of the heroine. Neither hero responded to their misunderstanding with anything approaching trust, or acceptance, or love, and I just…
December 13 is Favorite New to Me Authors in 2019
Prepare, friends. Prepare to be bombarded with alien romance recs because that’s 98.5% of the favorite new authors I found in 2019. I can’t recommend Ruby Dixon again because technically I discovered her in 2018. Which is why I so-casually snuck her into the beginning of this post. JUST GO READ ICE PLANET BARBARIANS, you can thank me later.
Despite the dark, angsty, muscle covers Amanda Milo has a deep sense of fun and manages to work a lot of hilarity into each of her books. I particularly loved it when the rescued human women banded together to maintain that humans physiologically need chocolate and caffeine to survive and not one of them dropped a beat when it came to this story. My heroes.
The Warriors of Luxiria series ticks every alien romance box for me and sometimes all I really want is to know exactly what’s coming and enjoy the romance along the way. (The alien romance boxes for those of you interested are: Fated Mates™, the alien females have been wiped out by a Mysteriously Convenient Plague™ so these ones need to breed, being abducted by the bad aliens, names with a ‘ in them, MINE, MINE, MINE, Translation implant needed? no problem!, Honorable Warriors Cherish Their Mates, Human Females Smell Amazing™, and Strange Features (For Her Pleasure) on Alien Penises™.)
The alien instinct series had just a few missteps for me, but overall were solid 4, 4.5 star reads. I’m really loving her new Perished Woods fantasy series, too.
Ugh these are heart-wrenching and beautiful. Hard times ahead, but there is always a happy ending. And I like that instead of fighting against their feelings all the damn time the heroines appreciate the scary tough yet tender warriors fate has given them. YES. Anna Carven has a gift for both prose and world-building, making it lyrical and very visual. This series is a treat.
(Obviously I was in a major Ruby Dixon slump and so 2019 was the year of ALL OF THE ALIEN ROMANCE AUTHORS I should already have known about anyway.)
So damn funny, and definitely NSFW. Girl power dialed up to eleven. Definitely go read these.
Super steamy historical. I mean filthy hot. I had no idea that kind of steam could even be worked into a historical without it seeming forced/going stale after a while but Grace Callaway proved me wrong! Book after book, too. I’m impressed with her skill, not to mention her creativity and obvious painstaking research.
The Dead Lands fantasy series is freaking fantastic. I’m eagerly awaiting The Midsummer Bride, along with all of Kati Wilde’s other fans. Fantasy romance is kinda hard to find in the first place, so it’s a huge gift to find creative, sweet, steamy, lovely fantasy romance.
Alright, friends. Let’s get to some numbery maths for the year. I’m still at the point where I genuinely enjoy blogging (LET IT NEVER END) and I have a lot of fun breaking my year down in stats.
Visitors in 2018: 2,320
Top 5 Posts from 2019:
15 Gorgeous Literary Tattoos (This is DIRECTLY caused by pinning this post to Pinterest. I stuck it up and then months later it just…took off? And was shared like crazy and ended up with over 500 views. The takeaway; cross post stuff. Sometimes it helps.)
16 Parenting Sites/Magazines that Will Pay You to Write for Them (3rd year in a row this has been in the top two and I’m not surprised. Freelancing is HARD. I wish my readers sincere good luck.)
The 5 Types of Query Letter Rejections (It is nice to know what’s coming, I agree. As the Dread Pirate Westley says: ‘get used to disappointment’.)
The Basics of Romance, for Your Author Toolbox (So much fun to write, yet I was also forced to brush up on my basics to write it, which is always the best combination for a post.)
A Modern Slang Dictionary for Writers (Another fun one to write, and it’s ALREADY OUT OF DATE, internet please, slow down, what the actual hell is a yeet, anyway.)
New favourite book blog/Bookstagram I discovered in 2019:
My new favorite romance blog is Ezrah’s at Eye Heart Romance. She had a pretty dang awesome year, herself, which is so cool. She always has a good, thought-provoking take in her posts and reviews. A post of hers I’m loving right now is Thank You, Romancelandia. Her Read a Romance Blog series is awesome, as well.
Favourite post I wrote in 2019:
I still maintain that combining gifs and listicles is the best thing ever and these particular gifs speak right to my soul.
Post I wish had gotten a little more love:
Tis a very silly post, and these specific/slightly weird tropes are dear to my heart.
Top two searches that led users right to me in 2019:
https://www.sewhitebooks.com/ (SERIOUSLY HOW AM I GENERATING SUCH ACCURATE SEARCH TERMS when I literally do nothing to promote my website, this is the second year in a row and ??)
amazon (Again. Please, yet again, don’t take any legal action, Amazon. I have no idea why the two are related, I’m just grateful to get any readers.)
RIP to shower organizer pole super white (For the first two years of this blog this term led people right to me and I really do not get why, but it’s gone this year so RIP.)
Top five countries my readers came from this year:
- The United States (S’up.)
- The United Kingdom (Cheers!)
- Canada (I just discovered The Red Green Show this year and WHERE HAS THIS MAGIC BEEN ALL MY LIFE, I blame you all for not telling me about Red sooner.)
- India (Hi!)
- Australia (How are you doing after those awful firestorms? I hope you’re all okay!)
Reasons my readers continue to be the Actual Best™:
You are sophisticated and demand good content, as evidenced by my popular posts featuring SUPER ACADEMIC word wordery, and highbrow discussions about sex.
My gifs don’t scare you.
No one is ever afraid to add something useful or helpful in the comments, which, keep doing that! Just like that.
For that matter: your comments are always about the actual article which never happens on the internet. You’ve made this a peaceful, calm corner of the (honestly) very scary interwebnet and I hope you feel the same sense of safety when you come check out one of my posts.
December 6: Favorite Book Covers of 2019
Disclaimer: I haven’t even read these. Most of them are anticipated releases and part of a series. I’m a bookworm. I read books. BUT NOT THESE ONES, apparently?
Even though I haven’t read them, I love the covers. Insert shrug emoji here, because life is just this funny place where kids across the country can buy the exact same book at their Scholastic book fair in 1999 and I can like books purely based on their cover in 2019 and this is how it is.
Darkdawn, Jay Kristoff
I’m not emotionally ready for the trauma which is Darkdawn. Also, I haven’t bought it yet. But look at Mia on this cover. Look at my gorgeous little murder star baby and her bloody, dripping hands. The UK cover is included because they’re both kickass and that one is so much more intricate.
Rise of the Magicks, Nora Roberts
Read the first one, loved it, and never read the other two! Shame on SE. Dishonor on you, your cow, your ancestors, and you again. Anyway I love the tree of life Celtic shield and the flame effects on this cover.
The Wallflower Wager, Tessa Dare
Wait, I have read this one. It’s the only one on the list. Priorities: straight. Anyway I love the soft pink color scheme and that exact foreplay position. It’s a lot of fun.
Fix it Up, Tessa Bailey
I’m loving the comeback of these illustrated/cartoon covers on romance books. Super cute.
It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group day! Connect. Comment. Comment back. Enjoy the support and know that together we’re rocking the neurotic writing world.
December 4 question – Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream?
Hello future author-self! Thanks for joining me today. What can you tell me about our books?
Hi past self. First of all, I can tell you to WRITE HARDER. Get those words out. You’ll wish you’d gotten in the writing time, so make your wishes come true and write now. Seriously love, you need to get into a routine. (I’m you, though, so I know you don’t.)
Yeah, that was going to be a hard sell from the beginning and you knew it. I mean, we knew it. I mean…whatever. You know what I mean. This is weird.
Let’s get to the good stuff; how are we doing? How is the writing life going?
So good. It’s looking great over here. That one you’re stuck on? We figure out an awesome way to propel the plot past that blocky bit. I can’t tell you what it is, because you’re going to come up with it after a long daydream session.
Well thank Austen! That one’s been giving me trouble for months.
Yep. Don’t worry. You’ve got this.
Aside from this fantastic news, how is the rest of it? Selling any books, future me?
Fair enough. Still, are we happy? Living the dream?
Yes. It’s safe to say we are. Another nice review came in recently and we heard from a beta reader who really enjoyed this next book. And it felt pretty damn good, I don’t mind spoiling that for you. Don’t give up hope. Good things are coming. Maybe not that agent/book deal we’ve been working on, but you’re still getting readers lost in a story.
You know I’ve gotta ask….the tea?
Still hot and sweet
The useless notebook collection?
Nice and empty.
Yaaas. You know the way to my heart. Blanket fort?
Getting bigger. The toddler approves.
Nefarious, as usual.
Ahhh. The future sounds bright.
The awesome co-hosts for the December 4 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, Fundy Blue, and Tyrean Martinson! Don’t forget to go over and wish them a happy IWSG day.
November 29: Favorites Books that Make You Thankful to be a Reader
Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers. I hope you’re enjoying a day full of good food and good family. I’m sending you big digital hugs, wherever you are.
I’m assuming this week’s prompt means those books which you close slowly while you sit staring into the distance thinking, “damnit that was SO good. So good.” When this unique feeling occurs, I’m very thankful. This week I’m focusing on romances. Sorry, SciFi, but the sweet-squeezy, drunk heart feeling which leads to a nice book hangover is more prevalent for me in romance. (That’s definitely one of the base reasons for why I both read extensively and write in the genre.) These make the list for the aforementioned hangover, for being incredibly adorable, funny, sexy, satisfying, and all-around awesome.
At the Stroke of Midnight (really the whole Naughty Princess Club), Tara Sivec
Literally laugh out loud funny. My whole family (including my in-laws) were eyeballing me wondering what on earth my Kindle was doing to me and there is NO WAY I WAS GOING TO TRY EXPLAINING because dirty talk.
Favorite line; ““I would pick him over anyone. He gave me everything you never could and never will because you are a pathetic excuse for a man. He gave me understanding and he gave me confidence and you know what else he gave me? ORGASMS!” I shout.
“Oh, Jesus,” Ariel mutters from next to me.
“You couldn’t find my clit with a flashlight and Google Maps!” ―
The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright, Tessa Dare
The perfectly paced novella from the Queen of adorable historical.
Favorite line; “Devilish men should not be allowed to hold kittens, babies, or bouquets of wildflowers. There ought to be an Act of Parliament.”
The Hating Game, Sally Thorne
Yes I know I won’t shut up about this book but it was SO DAMN GOOD. Ugh, I finished with tears in my eyes and they were tears of happiness because I cared about Lucy and Josh that much. Yeah.
Favorite Line; “I love him so much it’s like a thread piercing me. Punching holes. Dragging through. Stitching love into me. I’ll never be able to untangle myself from this feeling.”
Dustwalker and Make Me Burn, Tiffany Roberts
Dustwalker gave me major The Notebook vibes, which is something strange to say about a post-apocalyptic romance between an android and a human AND YET. There it is. Let’s just say I ugly cried at the end of each of them because love is a beautiful, painful miracle.
Demon From the Dark and Sweet Ruin, Kresley Cole
Pretty much the entire Immortals After Dark series has given me a book hangover and I don’t know how Kresley Cole does it. She gets me to LOVE tropes I usually won’t touch with a ten foot glove. I think it’s black magic and you know, I don’t even care. Bespell away, Kresley.
Favorite line; “We’re watching your mate,” Sian said. “Well done. She’s horrifyingly lovely.”
Barbarian’s Redemption and Gail’s Family, Ruby Dixon
Yep, the whole series again. Every book has been either four or five stars for me. But if we’re being picky (and we are, for this list) Bek and Elly’s story gave me the biggest hangover while Gail had me sobbing with relief by the end of her novella. A novella made me cry! Ruby is a magical unicorn author and I’m so thankful #bookstagram directed me to her.
November 22 is: Favorite Character Team Ups
From The Lord of the Rings Universe
Frodo Baggins & Samwise Gamgee: ultimate team-up goals. Full stop.
Meriadoc Brandybuck & Peregrin Took: a partnership forged in the Shire which only grew stronger through adversity and separation and eventually saved the whole Shire.
Legolas Greenleaf & Gimli son of Gloin: the unlikely friendship which persisted even after death.
From The Discworld
Esmeralda (Granny) Weatherwax & Gytha (Nanny) Ogg: seventy years of tag-teaming witchcraft and taking care of the people of Lancre. They also save the world from vampires, fairies, and misapplied stories.
Sir Samuel Vimes & Carrot Ironfoundersson: the ultimate buddy cop duo TELL ME I’M WRONG.
From Jane Austen’s Books
Marianne & Elinor Dashwood: These two love and support each other firmly, from opposite (and opposing) ends of the personality spectrum. #sisterhoodgoals
Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas: Again, showing us that differing personalities can still make the best friends and that recycling boyfriends isn’t as much of a modern pursuit as we might assume.
From every other literary universe at random
Calvin & Hobbes: I can’t imagine Calvin (the little shit) with anyone other than his loyal, constant, gently sarcastic tiger friend.
Tarma shena Tale’Sedrin & Kethryveris the Sorceress: two badass warrior goddesses whose skills compliment each other perfectly and who made life a LOT better for everyone they met. Apart from the bad guys, of course.
We’re roughly halfway through the gauntlet that is National Novel Writing Month, so now is definitely the appropriate time to hear about some of the methods that authors use to unwind. A little self-care, a little stopping to smell the roses, and your writing productivity will thank you.
These are all tried and tested ways that writers relax. They’re reliable things to try if the breakneck pace of NaNoWriMo is wearing down your physical and mental health. They’re also science based*, so attempt them with confidence.
*If you can’t trust dodgy pseudo-science articles on the web, what can you trust in these days of alternate facts?
1.Let the Little Things Go
Go ahead and research murder methods, weapons, poisoning, stab wounds, how much blood is contained in the human body, blood spatter patterns, reliable body disposal procedures, and the rate at which a corpse decomposes. Stop wondering if it’s true that your Google search history is the first thing the cops alway check. It is. But that’s OK. You’re letting go of those little worries.
2. Read For Pleasure
Eventually you do have to stop typing for the day and perhaps get ready for bed. Reading books full of people running around doing angst-ridden stressful things, making bad choices, getting tangled up in love triangles and cutting into your already limited sleeping time to do it is a surefire way to chill out. Chill. Out.
3. Research Marketing & Your Career
Get on social media during your infrequent breaks and experience the pleasure of immediately being bombarded with 100 different ways you should be marketing your books, but aren’t. 50 of them are not much of a platform anymore, you missed the train on 25 of them (Wat? Facebook algorithims? That’s…a type of animal, right? It’s not?) and the last 25 are already full TO THE BRIM with other poor, desperate writers. Plus they all cost too much. Ahhh. So relaxing.
4. Get Plenty of Rest
Lie in bed trying to convince yourself that the ideas your almost-asleep brain just came up with are not worth getting out of your nice warm cocoon for a pen. You’ll remember them. Think hard about your chances of surviving pets, puddles, sudden armchairs out of the dark, and legos.
5. Use the Time You Can’t Be Writing to Talk to your Imaginary Friends
Although you aren’t physically writing, you can be working through your novel in your mind. Enact pretend scenes full of drama, passion, shouting, witty comebacks, and possibly some sex, with multiple unreal people. In the shower. Causing your family to suffer no worry whatsoever.
6. Start Drinking
TEA. I meant tea. And water. It’s important to stay hydrated. Water conducts electricity, and your brain is made of electrical pathways and if you’re hydrated those synapses conduct better. I’m pretty sure this was in a science study somewhere. If it wasn’t, it should have been because that just makes sense.
Maybe I need to go drink some water.
Featured image stocksnap.io & Josh Byers
November 8th favorite is: Inspiring Characters
Matilda, (Roald Dahl)
Matilda inspires me to believe that my habit of disappearing into my room for hours at a time to read and emerging only after my family has forgotten I exist is a worthy, nay, even noble life decision.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, (Jane Austen)
As a fellow socially awkward introvert, Mr. Darcy is honestly my #partygoals. We can triumph over large groups, we can survive a village assembly with resting bitch face intact, and we can become enduring romantic literary heroes with a name like ‘Fitzwilliam’. Anything is possible.
Jane Eyre, (Charlotte Bronte)
When her fiancé turns out to have some hidden issues along with his controlling tendencies, Jane picks up her dignity and nopes right the fuck out. To disappear with zero funds in 1847 England and not starve to death unremarked on the side of the road takes some serious grit and courage and I salute her for it.
Luna Lovegood, (JK Rowling)
Luna reminds me that it’s possible to pick yourself up over and over after life smacks you down, to live on your own terms marching to your own made-up song (wearing your Spectrespecs), and give not even a second of thought to what other people think of you for it. She may be the most inspiring person on this list.
Mark Watney, (Andy Weir)
Mark motivates me to remember there is always, always some sort of answer, even if it seems unusual at first take. Also, that sarcasm is never out of place even when you’re stranded billions of miles away from any other humans who might hear it.
Nanny Ogg, (Terry Pratchett)
Nanny is relentlessly cheerful, wonderfully crude, continually prepared for a free drink, always ready with a double entendre, and has zero judgement to pass on anyone. And she knows all the words to ‘The Hedgehog Can Never be Buggered’. All of us could use a little more Nanny in our daily personality, is what I’m saying.
Tolliver Groat, (Terry Pratchett)
Because Mr. Groat is a man who walks in where physicians fear to tread, mostly because of the explosion risk. He creates his own natural health regimen and amazingly somehow survives it, which gives me hope.