Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Special 20th Anniversary Edition
Why do I have the very popular Enders Game on a list of badass hidden gems? Because I just found the audiobook version of this wonderful book and it IS a gem. The 20th anniversary audiobook edition of Enders Game is an experience not to be missed. It is a full cast production audiobook of an incredible sci-fi classic. You can’t go wrong even if you’ve read the book already. If you haven’t read this book, this audiobook is the perfect way to experience the story. If you have never listened to an audiobook, the full cast production means you have different narrators for different characters. Every character comes to life and it felt like I was listening to a stage play rather than an audiobook. This is a unique choice for our BHG list but I felt it was necessary to share.
A Different Blue by Amy Harmon
I hate books that use a characters past as an excuse for his/her behavior. I am not a “poor pity me” type. Stuff happens. Some of it is horrible but if you are not dead, consider yourself lucky. Because of my dislike of victimhood (made up word alert) books, I was nervous about this book. I’m so happy I gave this wonderful story a chance. It starts slow, and it is very depressing during the first few chapters but it quickly becomes a story about hope. Extremely moving and dare I say it, inspirational, it is filled with memorable dialogue. Oh, and did I mention it also has a romance in it.
Darkhouse by Karina Halle
This series is like crack. It is nearly impossible to stop reading once you start. Picture a cross between Blair Witch Project, Supernatural, and possibly ghostbusters and you have an action packed, freaky scary book complete with some over the top sexual tension. Then there’s the mysterious clown lady. Perry and Dex are the ultimate ghost busting couple. Love them.
Touched by AJ Aalto
I’m always on the lookout for new urban fantasy series. I loved the Marnie Baranuik series. Fantastic cast of characters both human and not, an interesting vampire lore, giant zombie spiders and more. Oh, and there’s a lot of good natured ribbing between all the characters.
Tarnished by Karina Cooper
Karina Cooper’s St. Croix Chronicles is a seriously underrated steampunk gem. It has fantastic characters, a fascinating alternate version of England, intricate but believable clockwork devices, and a super shady underworld. Heroine Cherry St. Croix carries the weight of the world on her capable shoulders and balances a very fine line between proper lady and thief for hire. Book one was a fabulous introduction and book two was even better. I’m on the edge of my seat in anticipation for the third book!
After Dark by Emi Gayle
I loved this unique YA world. Emi Gayle has created a story centered around a changeling and the difficulty she faces in choosing what form she will take permanently on her 19th birthday. Mackenzie is a bit prickly but she warms up and becomes almost loveable by the end. The strength of this story is the incredibly diverse cast of character Ms. Gayle has created and the uniqueness and diversity she brings to each race. I’m very excited to learn more about the “others” that populate this supernatural world and to see what race Mac eventually chooses for herself.
In the Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind
I first learned of this book in AAR Top 100 romance poll and I’m surprised that more people don’t know about it! It’s a wonderful story part romance and part mystery, with some history thrown in the mix. It has very well developed characters that feel like real people. Everybody I’ve recommended it to has given it at least 4 stars so please pick it up when you have a chance!
The Wild Marquis by Miranda Neville
I’ve read so much historical romance set in the Regency period that it’s rare when I find a book set in a completely new environment. This was one of them. Set in the book collecting world, there were very few balls and soirees. Most of the gatherings centered around auctions or discussions about books. How refreshing! Cain and Juliana were a wonderful couple and the suspense plot was very well done and it fit perfectly with the overall story. Completely recommended if you are looking for a Regency historical that it’s out of the norm.
Sins & Needles by Karina Halle
Sins & Needles is not for everyone. How is that a start for a book review? From the beginning, Sins & Needles had me …. had me wanting more from the characters, and for the characters. The story starts with two unlikeable characters. Characters that have done wrong and had wrong done by them. Characters that are perhaps not reformed but they do want out and they do want to be happy. How is that a premise for a book? Karina Halle is somehow able to take two unlikeable characters and tell their story in a very deep way. I didn’t walk away thinking – hey, I’d love to be friends with Ellie (the main character). I actually hope to never meet anyone like Ellie. But I do understand her and feel her pain. Ms. Halle took me down the road of Ellie’s past, her parents, and her recent failed love affair and while I don’t really sympathize with Ellie, I understand her and want more of her story. I love books and authors who take me places I had no clue I even wanted to go. And that is where Sins & Needles took me.
After Hours by Cara McKenna
After Hours is categorized by Cara as erotica and it definitely is that. There are explicit and beautifully detailed sex scenes to justify this being placed into that category. Readers looking for this will not be disappointed. But After Hours is more than that, it is a romance. Yet, After Hours doesn’t neatly fit into the romance category either. It is a romance without store-bought roses; it is a romance without courting; it is romance with very detailed and dominating sex scenes. After Hours tells the story of a real life romance, it isn’t idealistic or fantastical. There is no millionaire hero that sweeps the heroine off her feet and at the end of the book, the heroine still has to go into to work to make a living. It is real life, but told in a very sexy (very sexy) way.
With or Without You by Domenica Ruta
Domenica Ruta’s book is a brutally honest portrait of her childhood, her mother, her family and of herself. Although the subject matter is ugly and disturbing, Ruta writes it in such a beautifully and addictive way. I could not put this book down. My home life was the far opposite of Ruta’s, but on the pages of this book I lived her childhood with her. I felt like crying and I did laugh out loud multiple times. Ruta has a gift for taking the reader where she wants and giving the reader an experience of a new and different life. In the end, the book is about a daughter’s love for her mother but who also has a desperate need to separate from her mother’s abuse and dysfunction in order to survive. Stories about mothers and alcohol abuse are usually not my thing, but I loved this book. If you like to read and experience something different from who you are, this book will take you there.
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