Can you believe it's March already? Welcome back for the March edition of the Read & Watch Challenge! How'd your February challenge go? (I'll update with how mine went at the end of the post.)
This month's theme is DIFFERENT. If you're new here, pop on over to this post to see how the challenge works and which themes we'll be using.
This month, I have a special treat for you. My dear agent, Sara Megibow of KT Literary, is here to give us picks for March.
One of Sara's jobs as a literary agent is to sell books to publishers, so she gets to sift through all the query letters and chapters from aspiring writers and then picks the best of the bunch to represent. So, in other words, when she gives a book recommendation, you should probably listen. She clearly has excellent taste--after all, she IS responsible for plucking Crash Into You out of the pile when I was trying to get published. ;)
Here's a little more about Sara:
Sara Megibow is a literary agent with nine years of experience in publishing. Sara specializes in working with authors in middle grade, young adult, romance, erotica, science fiction and fantasy and represents New York Times bestselling authors Roni Loren and Jason Hough and international bestselling authors Stefan Bachmann and Tiffany Reisz. Sara is LGBTQ-friendly and presents regularly at SCBWI and RWA events around the country.
So let's welcome Sara and she what she's chosen for DIFFERENT:
Sara's Book Pick
FORGED IN DESIRE by Brenda Jackson
Sara’s Thoughts: I chose FORGED IN DESIRE by Brenda Jackson to be my #Different book because I read a lot of sexy contemporary romance and small town contemporary romance but not a lot of romantic suspense. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I frequently struggle with suspension of disbelief in this sub-genre. The bad guys are coming! Danger is everywhere! And…they stop to have sex. That’s the point at which most romantic suspense books lose me. When I saw FORGED IN DESIRE at my B&N I was hopeful this book would avoid that hiccup. And it did!
“Strong Enough To Protect Her. Bold Enough To Love Her.” = that’s the tagline for FORGED IN DESIRE. And wowza – that’s the perfect description for this amazing, amazing book! I loved it! The balance between chemistry and plot was superb and I was simultaneously cheering for Margo and Lamar to beat the bad guys and to...you know…get together. Bravo!
I’ve decided that a solid dose of heart-pounding suspense goes very well with a solid dose of heart-pounding chemistry. So glad I gave romantic suspense another try and I heartily recommend FORGED IN DESIRE!
Strong enough to protect her. Bold enough to love her.
When good girl Margo Connelly becomes Lamar "Striker" Jennings's latest assignment, she knows she's in trouble. And not just because he's been hired to protect her from an underworld criminal. The reformed bad boy's appeal is breaching all her defenses, and as the threats against her increase, Margo isn't sure which is more dangerous: the gangster targeting her, or the far too alluring protector tempting her to let loose.
Though Striker's now living on the right side of the law, he's convinced his troubled past keeps Margo out of his league. But physical chemistry explodes into full-blown passion when they go on the run together. Surrendering to desire could be a deadly distraction—or finally prove that he's the only man qualified to keep her safe, and win her love.
Sara also has two bonus picks from her client list to look out for!
Juno Rushdan has a trilogy of romantic thrillers coming from Sourcebooks in 2018. I pitched A LONG WAY TO FALL (Book #1 in the series) as a sexy Jason Bourne and it’s even more high-action and high-suspense than what we find in romantic suspense. Follow Juno at: www.junorushdan.com
And, for Different, follow Don Allmon whose debut M/M elf + orc romance, GLAMOUR THIEVES, comes out this summer. Elf + Orc? Now THAT’S #Different! www.donallmon.com
Sara's Movie Pick
I recently saw Mamma Mia at The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire with my dad – it was amazing! The singing and dancing and colors and general happiness was utter joy. Good news = it comes in movie-format too (starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried). I’m calling this my #Different because it’s a play and a movie and there’s bellbottoms and zoot suits. Want love? Want to sing along to Abba? Mamma Mia it is!
Roni's Book Picks
The theme DIFFERENT could be interpreted in many different ways, but I decided to choose book recommendations that if I were suggesting the books to you in person, I would offer a disclaimer of "It's a little odd/different/out there but trust me, it's awesome!" :)
The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith
Okay, so this is a LONG ASS book and there is an ALIEN LIZARD HERO and those two things along would normally make me want to run. I don't read sci-fi stuff. I don't typically like non-human heroes. I would've never picked this book up if not for a recommendation. But it ended up being one of my favorite reads of that year. I did an extensive review on it here. But this is one that I almost don't want you to read the back cover because you're going to want to run and you shouldn't, lol. It's a romance. It's horror. It's sci-fi. It's super dark. It's compelling. I read it in five days and it's long, people. LONG. So anyway, you can't get more different than this one.
It was her last chance:
Amber Bierce had nothing left except her sister and two tickets on Earth’s first colony-ship. She entered her Sleeper with a five-year contract and the promise of a better life, but awakened in wreckage on an unknown world. For the survivors, there is no rescue, no way home and no hope until they are found by Meoraq—a holy warrior more deadly than any hungering beast on this hostile new world…but whose eyes show a different sort of hunger when he looks at her.
It was his last year of freedom:
Uyane Meoraq is a Sword of Sheul, God’s own instrument of judgment, victor of hundreds of trials, with a conqueror’s rights over all men. Or at least he was until his father’s death. Now, without divine intervention, he will be forced to assume stewardship over House Uyane and lose the life he has always known. At the legendary temple of Xi’Matezh, Meoraq hopes to find the deliverance he seeks, but the humans he encounters on his pilgrimage may prove too great a test even for him…especially the one called Amber, behind whose monstrous appearance burns a woman’s heart unlike any he has ever known.
From R. Lee Smith, author of Heat and Cottonwood, comes an epic new story of desire, darkness and the dawn that comes after The Last Hour of Gann.
WARNING: This book contains graphic violence, strong sexual content and explicit language. It is intended for mature readers only.
I read this one a while back, but it has a serial killer hero. Yes, the hero is a serial killer. And it works. (I've been heard it compared to Dexter, but I haven't seen that show so I can't say for sure.) Here's the review I did back when I read it.
Her needs are dark. His are dangerous.
Charlie MacNiall has been bringing his beautiful king shepherd to the vet clinic where Ranay Killian works for the better part of a year. She doesn't realize he's been slowly wooing her. She certainly has no idea that he picked her deliberately--that she is to become his. A broken heart and a desperate desire to be dominated make her the perfect victim.
His perfect victim.
Charlie fixes Ranay, testing her emotional limits while pushing her sexual boundaries past anything she'd imagined possible. Pain is their shared pleasure...until Charlie disappears and Ranay is all but destroyed.
The FBI says the man she loves is a serial killer. Ranay can't deny there's a darkness in Charlie, a monstrous hunger that drives him to the brink. She even believes he could kill. But Charlie's hunger is what bonds them--it's the foundation of their love. Would he actually kill her?
I could say, "And now for something completely different." But really, we're already out there, aren't we? ;) So next isn't a romance, it's a horror book. But for anyone who has ever been in an IKEA, you'll be able to relate and laugh. I thought this was such a clever idea for a story. And the paperback looks like an IKEA catalog with the drawings of furniture (and eventually torture devices) within the pages. :) Here's my full review.
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom. It’s “a treat for fans of The Evil Dead or Zombieland, complete with affordable solutions for better living.”—Kirkus Reviews.
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
Charlotte Stein romances
If you're looking for straight up romance pick, anything by Charlotte Stein will serve you well. Charlotte writes really quirky erotic romances that often have a forbidden element in them and have BETA HEROES (now that's different, right?). Her author voice is also very unique. These are sexy and funny almost always have awesomely awkward characters. If you're not sure where to start, I recommend Sheltered (awkward virgin heroine) or Forbidden (priest hero).
Roni's Watch Picks
If you want a creepy ass show to watch, this one fits the bill. Weird and spooky and strange, Channel Zero: Candle Cove from the SyFy channel kept me entertained. If you don't like scary, skip this one.
What I'll be Reading and Watching This Month:
This one is a little different for me because I don't read a lot of what's labeled "women's fiction", which always struck me as kind of an odd genre delineation. What does that even mean? But, I've heard this recommended in a few different places and the premise intrigues me.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over—she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…
One Day at a Time on Netflix
I've only watched the first episode, but I thought it was really cute. I remember the original show from the 70s that it's based on, but this is a different take (see how I worked in the theme word? ;) ). Here's the summary from Wikipedia:
This Netflix-original comedy-drama is inspired by Norman Lear's 1975 series of the same name. This time around, the series follows the life of Penelope, a newly single Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family, as they navigate the ups and downs of life. Now a nurse, Penelope is raising two strong-willed children. When faced with challenges, Penelope turns to her "old-school" mother, and her building manager, who has become an invaluable confidant. The series offers a contemporary take on what life looks like in both good and bad times, and how loved ones can help make it all worthwhile.
Update from February:
I was such a fail at the challenge in Feb. However, I have a good excuse. :) This month was RITA judging, which is when romance writers get a stack of 5-7 books that we have to read in about 6 weeks and judge for the RITA contest. I can't publicly post about those books, so it doesn't show that I've read them, but I've been busy reading those and didn't get a chance to read my challenge books.
I also only got to watch an episode or two of Gilmore Girls. It's been a crazy busy month. Hopefully, y'all were more successful at the challenge this month than I was, lol.
All right, that's what I've got for you for this month's challenge. I'd love to hear what you plan to read and watch for the theme DIFFERENT! :)