Intense, Mind-Blowing Reads #list #recommendations

It’s funny/peculiar how my reading experience is like a sine wave—deep, despairing valleys of dreck, followed by periods of elevating prose, characters I can’t forget and stories that linger in my mind days after I finish the book.


I’d like to share a few I’ve read recently on my current “high”…

*Warning*: most are LGBT/gay literary fiction, but not all. I am, after all, a reader whose tastes are eclectic and catholic (small “c”).

Let’s start with my most recent.

Loving Misery (Goth Girl Book 1) by Gemma Rice: M/F, classified as erotica/romantic but add strong elements of horror and even noir to this particular mix. You may have read some of Gemma’s works by her Poppet pen name. Her writing is extraordinarily lush, intelligent, in-your-face, grab you by the short hairs and never let you go. Her characters are always quirky and unpredictable. In Loving Misery, the author tackles the world of S/M but this ain’t your granny’s nice little playroom with contracts and safe words. This is mind games taken to the nth degree with some of the most loathsome, hateful male leads you are ever likely to find (frothing at the mouth, frothing I tell you). Their target is a woman who fancies herself a Goth Girl, independent, in charge. Yeah, right.  Honey, the road to victimization begins and ends right here. 5 Stars unreserved. Read my review HERE.

The Anatomy of Perception by AJ Rose: M/M, psychological thriller. It’s not often I can’t sit down and immediately write a review, but weeks later I’m still trying to wrap my head around something so profound, writing so intimidating, perception so precise and insightful that all I can say is… this is the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up. It’s not perfect, but it is perfectly imperfect. The themes are challenging, the anatomy of those lives intersect in real time, yet it’s cut through with a pastiche of guilt and history and all the things we drag around—the anchors tethering us. I found this to be an extraordinary work. I’m still trying to catch my breath. A Galaxy of Stars

Memorizing You by Dan Skinner: M/M, memoir fiction, literary fiction. Dan has this unique ability to capture the essence of a time and place, the prose parsimonious and perceptive, elegant and intelligent. Memorizing You is a story of discovery, of becoming, of love and loss so profound I ugly cried, sobbing hysterically for what seemed like hours. Dan does what few writers can: he yanks your heart out of your chest and hands it to you on a platter, still beating. The Art of the Heart did that to me, though not quite to the extent of Memorizing You. Forget sappy, forget hormonal, forget indulgent… this book is all about emotional connection that transcends time and place. It’s a sucker punch to the heart. A Rainbow of Stars, 5 Boxes of Tissues. Read my review HERE.

The Love of Wicked Men (Episodes 1-6, Box Set) by Brandon Shire: M/M, suspense/thriller, mystery, romance. Brandon Shire is an auto-buy for me, no reservations, just jump on my Kindle, let me know when the print edition comes out. The Love of Wicked Men came out as “episodes” like the best of a mini-series, each one unwrapping the characters and the mystery with sharp, tight prose, hair-trigger dialogue, and loads of whoa I did not see that coming action. These are bad men, powerful men, men who do what they like, not for the hell of it, but because there’s always an endgame and a trail of collateral damage that takes many forms. Love Sid, hate Sid… you can’t turn your back on him. Jack is who Sid would be without the two thousand dollar threads and a degree on the wall. Erotic, sensual, compelling, thrilling, hang onto your hat action. My print edition comes tomorrow. Season 2 best be on the way, because I gotta get me more Sid. Five unreserved stars. Reviews: Ep 1, Ep2, Ep3, Ep4, Ep5

Baby’s on Fire by A.F. Henley: M/M, contemporary, romance. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. The author does a bang-up job of putting you right into the heat, the insanity of the 70’s. This is a character study, par excellence, that interweaves past and present in a masterful fashion, that taps into those lingering regrets and unrealized hopes and dreams. It turns a steely-eyed stare at second chances and how it feels to reach that stage in your life where the future foreshortens. I loved this book, unreservedly. 5 stars. Read my review HERE.

And don’t forget, if you LIKE/LOVE A BOOK, please leave a review.

It’s manna, it’s why we write…


About Nya Rawlyns

Crossing boundaries, taking no prisoners. Write what’s in your soul. It’s the bass beat, the heartbeat, the lyrics rude and true. Nya Rawlyns is the pseudonym of a writer who cut her teeth on sports-themed romantic comedy and historical romances before finding her true calling in the wilderness areas she has visited but calls “home” in that place that counts the most: the heart. She has lived in the country and on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, earned more than 1000 miles in competitive trail and endurance racing, taught Political Science to unwilling freshmen, and found an avocation in materials science. When she isn’t tending to her garden or the horses, the cats, or two pervert parakeets, she can be found day dreaming and listening to the voices in her head.
This entry was posted in Intense, Mind-Blowing Reads #list #recommendations and tagged A.F. Henley, AJ Rose, Blow your mind books, book reviews, Brandon Shire, Dan Skinner, , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Intense, Mind-Blowing Reads #list #recommendations

  1. Brandon Shire (@TheBrandonShire) says:

    Thanks so much for including me on this great list.



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