Sunday, December 31, 2017

Favorite books and TV shows of 2017

I haven't done one of these in a while. Here are my favorite books and TV shows of 2017. You might be wondering why there aren't any movies listed. That's because I really didn't go see any, other than Wonder Woman, which rocked. Most of what came and went in the theaters this year just didn't interest me. I do want to see Call Me by Your Name and The Post, but I'll probably catch those on DVD. 

If you're interested in any of these books, click the image to purchase on Amazon. The photos for the TV shows link to that show's Facebook page, where you can find a wealth of info. 


The Beyond series and the Gideon's Warriors series by Kit Rocha - I've had the first book in this series on my Kindle for YEARS. Finally got around to reading it this year and I was hooked. So hooked, I snarfed down the entire nine book series plus a bunch of novellas and the spin-off series in a matter of months. Dystopian, erotic, well-plotted, and well-written, with richly developed characters and a twisty story line. Book 1 (Beyond Shame) is FREE!

The Executive Office series by Tal Bauer - What happens when the head of the POTUS's Secret Service detail falls in love with the always-thought-he-was-straight president? Forbidden love blooms... but there's a hell of a conspiracy unwinding around the new president, a conspiracy led by a group of men who want to literally destroy the world and rebuild it to their desires. My hat's off to the author for the complex plotting, numerous twists, and the depth of emotion between the characters. If you love political thrillers, grab this one now. Yes, it's gay erotic romance... but it's so much more than that. 

The Russian Obsession (Foreign Affairs, #3) by Nikki Navarre - Great leads, complex plotting, tons of exciting action and exotic locales. And of course, some major steam!!!! This series is a true treat for me, and I hope there are more books coming. Book 1 in this series is only 99 cents! 

The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin - Think vampires crossed with zombies and add in a whole bunch of surprises. Cronin's writing is top-notch, a lovely blend of fine prose and propulsive plot twists and turns.

Menace & Grievous (The Scarlet Scars series) by JM Darhower - I really enjoyed the character of Lorenzo Gambini (introduced in "Target on Our Backs," the last book in the Monster in His Eyes series), so I just HAD to read the books about him. He's a complicated character -- definitely a sociopath, but a charming one, and he does have a moral code of sorts. Above all, he's frickin' funny! And despite his considerable flaws (which are understandable, given his seriously horrible backstory), he has a real soft spot for Morgan Meyers (aka "Scarlet") and decides to help her when no one else will. Scarlet is mixed up with the Russian mob, but just how exactly isn't clear for quite some time. I really like how the author weaves in that part of the story and keeps you guessing about what's really going on. Lorenzo Gambini is Darhower's best creation yet.

Leverage (The Mistaken #2) by Nancy S. Thompson - This follow-up to Thompson's "The Mistaken" is both an absorbing mystery and an excellent character study of the three leads -- Connor, Hannah, and Ty. Ty and Hannah, the leads of "The Mistaken," think they've left the past behind them, but they're wrong. Thompson skillfully weaves a complex tale with many layers and surprises for the characters and for readers of the first book. If you enjoyed "The Mistaken," you'll definitely love "Leverage."

Maldeamores and Malententido by Mara White -  Very well written story of two first cousins who fall in love but feel they can't be together. Belen and Lucky are well drawn, and I felt for both of them. 

Auto 2 by David Wailing - Utterly brilliant. I love Wailing's writing, and this book was no exception. Wailing's Auto series, set slightly in the future, is one that never fails to surprise. I highly recommend reading all his books because he plants fun little Easter eggs for readers who've read beyond the Auto series, including a hell of a nice twist at the end of this one. I can't wait for Auto 3!

Teach Me Dirty by Jade West - I decided to give this one a go despite my reservations about the subject (a romance between a teacher and a student -- she is 18, so it's not thoroughly icky, but still). This turned out to be a highly emotional, beautifully written romance about two people who absolutely should not work on paper, but who were meant to be together anyway. 

The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15) by JR Ward - I cannot believe how much story was packed into this one! I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but it looks like major changes are coming that will affect everyone involved. As always, JR Ward has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. The story took a couple turns I didn't see coming at all. Fifteen books in, and I still love this series. 


Good Behavior (TNT) - A woman stealing from a hotel room overhears a guy hiring a hit man to kill his wife, and she decides to try to stop the hit -- by hooking up with the hit man to get the details! Their one-night stand leads to so much more, despite her attempt to stop the hit. The hit man is a hottie from Argentina and actually a nice guy at heart, and the two of them end up in a Bonnie & Clyde kind of relationship. I absolutely LOVE this show -- the producers call it "poetic noir," and that's the perfect description.

Queen of the South (USA) - A woman whose boyfriend tries to rip off a Mexican drug cartel ends up on the run after her boyfriend is killed, and she soon finds herself wrapped up in a war between the drug lord and his estranged wife, who's the mastermind behind the operation. I really love this show too -- lots of twists and turns, and it helps me brush up on my Spanish! Based on the amazing book by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Animal Kingdom (TNT) - A teenage boy's mom dies of a drug overdose and he's taken in by her estranged mother. Once he gets to know his family, he realizes that his grandmother is the brains behind a criminal enterprise involving her sons, and she's trying to decide whether to involve him in the family business. Lots of hot guys on this show, and Ellen Barkin is phenomenal as the head of the family!

Vikings (History) - Oh, this show! Hot Viking warriors? Check! Badass Viking shield maidens? Check! Double-crosses, betrayals, audaciousness galore? Check, check, check! And Jonathan Rhys-Meyers joins the cast in Season 5!

Outlander (STARZ) - Jamie Fraser, you had me at "Sassenach." Hot Highlanders? Bloody battles? Gorgeous costumes? I'm so there! Based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon

The Walking Dead (AMC) - I will always thank my sister for insisting I give this show a chance. I binged the whole first season in two days. Best reasons to watch? Tons of strong female characters and powerhouse acting from the entire cast. If you've been put off by the zombies, forget that. It's not a show about zombies. The central question of the show is: What decisions will you make -- and who will you become -- when pushed to your limits? 

Halt & Catch Fire (AMC) - No one watched this  show except me, I think, so thank you, AMC, for keeping it on the air for several seasons and giving it a proper ending. If you ever worked in the tech industry (or still do), watch it! You will not be disappointed. And if you haven't worked in the tech industry, watch it anyway. Phenomenal acting and writing all around. Bonus: Lee Pace is in it! Computer software was never so sexy. 

The Fall (Netflix) - Gillian Anderson plays Stella Gibson, a police detective who's chasing a brilliant serial killer, Paul Spector, (played by Jamie Dornan) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The show is so much more than that though -- Gibson is a woman with power in a world that doesn't want to give her any, and Spector is both disturbed and fascinated by her, a fascination that eventually leads to his downfall -- and nearly Stella's. 

Broadchurch (BBC) - Poignant, harrowing, and hands-down amazing all around. Beautifully acted and written, with a story line that will keep you glued to your seat through all three seasons. David Tennant and Oliva Colman are amazing, and I can see why Jodie Whittaker was chosen to be the first female Dr. Who. 

This Is Us (NBC) - I thought this show was going to be a glorified wad of Hallmark treacle. It's so not. With a cast this good and well-written story lines that are emotional without being sentimental goo, this is a show I look forward to every week. Even when I know it's going to make me cry. 

Supernatural (The CW) - Thirteen seasons in, and I still love this show. Top-notch acting from Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, who play monster-hunting brothers Dean and Sam Winchester, keeps this show compelling, and the writers haven't run out of ideas yet. 

Gomorrah (Sundance) - This fantastic Italian mobster series is pure Shakespearean tragedy. Fantastically acted and written, and partially based on the phenomenal book by Roberto Saviano about the Neopolian Camorra, this series surprised me again and again. 

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) - Why aren't you watching this already? Set in a women's prison and loaded with great characters, it's a delicious mix of hilarity and tragedy all rolled into one. 

Lucifer (Fox) - Witty and naughty all at once, Lucifer is both a fun buddy cop show and a will-they-or-won't-they dance between Lucifer and Chloe Decker, the police detective he "consults" with. Tom Ellis (Lucifer) is the reason to watch -- but stick around for the fine supporting cast and the fun stories.