According to HolidayInsights.com August is Romance Awareness Month. Individually, August
9th is Book Lovers Day. This convergence of days feels like a match made in Frolic heaven! To
create today’s #ThrowBackThursday list, I went way back on my book list to ponder the choices I
made when I first started sharing my book opinions with the world. These are books that
genuinely speak to the things I love to read, written by authors that I will stop whatever I’m
doing to read a new release by them. These books are some of the tales that inspired, or maybe
re-ignited my love of books and reading. Not all of the books listed can be categorized as genre
romance, but, they are books I love with all my heart.
The Taker by Alma Katsu
The first book in Katsu’s Taker Trilogy debuted in 2011. The Taker is the sort of book that hits
the ground running, and honestly, it’s hard to find a spot to take a breath until maybe, a week
after you finish reading! This book is one of the most unique and darkly haunting tales of
immortality I’ve ever read. I’m sure reading this book so early in my formidable reviewing years
affected the way I look at a book’s backstory, especially as it relates to how history mingles with
more significant paranormal origin stories. Imagine being made immortal when you are limply
knocking on death’s door. Seems like a good idea, right? Especially if you are young and a little
upset that it looks like you are ending your journey when it just started. In most origin stories,
the term “immortal” is dealt with in a somewhat fast and loose manner. Yes, they are incredibly
hard to kill, but it’s not impossible. Fire, beheading, that sort of stuff typically does the trick.
Well, not in Alma Katsu’s world.
In The Taker, you encounter a solitary immortal existence. Unlike other supernatural or
paranormal tales that depict large groups or armies of immortal beings that can quickly
transform a loved one to relieve the desolate feelings of loneliness living forever can
encourage; in Katsu’s world, the immortals are exceptionally few and far between, and his or
her maker can only destroy an immortal. Now, take it a step further and imagine you piss off
your maker. This particular maker is all about playing the long game – he knows refusing to end
your immortal life is far more brutal than a swift end. Watching from afar as someone has to
endure the endless cycle of making friends, falling in love and watching your mortal “family” die
off is far more vindictive and gruesome than lobbing off a random head. The emotional trauma
that dynamic builds is nothing short of sinister.
The Taker is set in the present; however, our heroine Lanore/Lanny became immortal at the
turn of the nineteenth century. As a young girl in an isolated rural town, she fell helplessly in
love with the town’s golden boy. Young Lanore would do anything to catch the eye of her
intended beau and thusly, keep him forever. Lanore tells her story in a series of flashbacks that
are so beautifully incorporated, they read like time slips. In the present day, Lanny lands in a
small town ER in the middle of the night. The trauma of what she’s experienced leads her to
open up to the town’s lone ER doc, Luke. The seemingly fantastical tale she shares sends Lanny and Luke off on an adventure that can only be described as equal parts harrowing, and
emotionally explosive. As we uncover and learn to understand the machinations of Lanny’s
maker, well, let’s just say the twists and turns will leave you breathless. This trilogy will also
make you question the exact definitions of good and evil – all these years later, I’m still shaking
my head over the revelations it forced me to face.
The Taker definitely has a love story; in fact, it has several love stories unconventional as they
may be. It has violence and gore and snapshots of history from points of view that are
genuinely well researched. Hell, in later books we have an encounter with Edgar Allen Poe, and
we even get reanimated zombies. Somehow Katsu makes it all work beautifully. Katsu’s writing
is sublime. Her storytelling is incredibly easy to follow, especially given its intricacies. Her
character development is impressive and whoa nelly, the twist that finally gives us Lanny’s
maker is nothing short of mind-blowing. This is a trilogy I recommend to everyone that loves
To prove I’m not all dark and tortured, I’ll give you two more books that I adore that aptly
demonstrate my humorous side.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
I love to laugh. Laughing is my favorite. When I grow up, I’d like to be Tina Fey. If I had a vision
board, it would have Tina Fey front and center. Tina Fey might have a restraining order against
me…I kid, I joke. Maybe. I don’t read a ton of memoirs, but there was no way I was going to
miss out on learning about Tina Fey’s early years, her rise to celebrity, and her personal life. The
world is literally and figuratively on fire right now. When I need an escape and a good solid
laugh, nothing comforts the soul quite like re-reading stories about the vicious nerd Tina Fey
was in her youth. I love her, and her voice brings me unimaginable joy.
How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
In a brilliant coupling of paranormal and comedy that fits my personality and love of books
perfectly, I strongly recommend Sparks’ Love at Stake series. Things kick off with the leader of
the good vampires, Roman Draganesti in search of an all-night dentist to repair his broken fang.
How could such a powerful vampire break a fang, you ask? Well, when you and your scientists
are looking for ways to help your followers consume the blood they need to survive without
actually having to bite humans you might end up testing a new blow-up sex doll that’s
enhanced with “working” veins that carry synthetic blood. It happens. And to add an additional
element of humor, why not make that dentist a beautiful woman that needs rescuing because
she just witnessed a mob hit…oh, and let’s make her so blood phobic, she passes out when she
sees it. Yep, that sets the tone for this series quite nicely. Have no fear. The humor does not
distract from the more significant, somewhat sinister subplots surrounding the various HEAs
this series has to offer. Love at Stake is a paranormal series I recommend to all readers. It’s well
written, the vampire origin story is smart, the bad guys will keep you guessing, and the sexy bits
are smoking hot!
These three books are a fair assessment of my book love. Dark and haunting romance, funny
lady life story and vampires biting sex dolls – yep, that about sums me up! I can’t think of better
reading that that!