Reacting to the Swoonies Semi-Final Nominees & Planning a TBR (Contemporary Only)

So, y’all already know I love The Swoon Awards as a concept if you were here for me complaining about the Goodreads Romance nominees and planning my contemporary nominees for The Swoon Awards nomination round. Therefore, I couldn’t help but come back to talk about my response to the semi-final contemporary nominees and my TBR. There are 30 nominees so that’s a lot! The way I’m going to talk about this is that essentially there will be three parts. First, my overall impression and the book that I wish more of y’all had read to nominate, then we’ll transition to a quick TBR, and finally, I’ll end with my current ranking of the books so we can see what five books I’ll be nominating if none of the TBR books knock one of the top five down the list! So, let’s get started.

The Swoon Awards Semi-Finals Contemporary Nominations
The Swoon Awards Semi-Finalists Contemporary Romance taken from The Swoon Awards Instagram

So I borrowed the above photo from The Swoon Awards instagram account because it was really helpful to have all 30 of the covers together. I have continually gone back and forth with my favorite contemporary romance of last year, between Reel by Kennedy Ryan and The Belle and the Beard by Kate Canterbary. Unfortunately, clearly not enough of y’all have read The Belle and the Beard because it is not a nominee, so I needed to take this opportunity to beg you to change that. That book is perfection and you deserve that joy in your life, particularly if you like messy heroines.

The best part of The Swoon Awards is that these books came from votes from people who are reading romance and are clearly involved in some aspect of romancelandia, if they’re taking part in the nomination round. But books are definitely more likely to get enough nominations if there are a lot of readers getting their hands on a particular book. I think it’s clear looking at these books that Berkley is knocking the marketing portion of book selling out of the park. Technically, they only have 8 out of 30, but that is 26% of the nominees. Avon has 6, which isn’t much less, so good on them. What is really exciting is that seven of these books (I think) are from self-published authors or super small publishers! Looking at the diversity aspect of these 30 books, I do wish that publishers were putting more marketing dollars behind BIPOC authors because I do wish there were more BIPOC authors on this list and I think we as readers could do better but I know that systemically, publishing could do better. I hope my rambling makes sense, but either way, let’s move on to the next part of this post!

So, there are twelve books I’ve not yet read and I need to have them read by January 28th to get my vote in and know for sure that I’ve been accurate. So in order of priority for me, here is my TBR:

  • Well Matched by Jen DeLuca (Audio)
  • Isn’t It Bromantic by Lyssa Kay Adams (physical)
  • Seven Days in June by Tia Williams (Audio)
  • The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun (physical)
  • Exposed by Kristen Callihan (ebook)
  • The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (Audio via Hoopla)
  • The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas (ebook via KU)
  • Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron (Audio)
  • All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata (ebook via KU)
  • Role Model by Rachel Reid (Audio via Hoopla)
  • The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams (TBD)
  • Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall (Audio)

And now for the part I’m excited to tell you about, my currently ranking for how I would rank the 18 books from this list I have read!

A Visual Representation of My Ranking of the Contemporary Nominees I’ve Read (read from left to right starting at Row 1)
Row One: Reel by Kennedy Ryan, The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey, People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon, and Act Your Age Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Row Two: Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur, Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle, The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren, All the Feels by Olivia Dade, Battle Royal by Lucy Parker, and A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria
Row Three: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese, Love at First by Kate Clayborn, The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan, With You Forever by Chloe Liese, Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan, and One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

To be honest, this ranking is one of millionths, not hundredths and definitely not stars. The only thing I can say for sure is Reel is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. But aside from a standout first book and One Last Stop being my least favorite of the ones I’ve read, I really adored all of these books. So, to put it mildly, the books I’ve not yet read have steep competition to knock some of the ones I have read out of the first five spots. We’ll see if any of them can knock off The Ex Talk or People We Meet on Vacation! It would obviously be nice to find a new favorite though.

Please tell me if I should adjust my list of TBR priorities so that I can find a new favorite! What contemporary books are you going to be voting for the final round? I can’t wait to hear!


13 responses to “Reacting to the Swoonies Semi-Final Nominees & Planning a TBR (Contemporary Only)”

  1. I really enjoyed Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, but I think of romance readers didn’t like it. The LI is kind of secondary for a lot of the story (and there’s a dreaded love triangle), but I thought it was really fun. Maybe because it was a perfect send up of GBBO?

    But I must admit that I read almost none of the books on this list. ARCs were too much for me this year, so I’ve been mostly reading backlist books. I’ll be sure to check out Reel though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was fast! I’ve hardly had a chance to see what books were nominated let alone create a reading lsit. I wish I was organised enough to be able to create a reading list from the nominees and have any hope of getting them all read before voting closes, but I know me and that just won’t happen. I am excited to see the stats after the awards close because that was so interesting to see the stats. But the awards will probably help create my 2022 reading list, I’ll just carry on being a year behind in my reading.


  3. No one is more disappointed at the lack of diversity in this category as much as I am. It became clear to me that this category was going the GR Choice Awards way with a handful of differences. My top priority read from this list is probably the Tia Williams. I’ve heard it’s really good so I’m excited!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I STILL need to finish listening to the Tia Williams!! I don’t know why I’m so scared of it. Just kidding, I’m almost positive it’s the fact that the cover gives me lit fic vibes and I am always scared of that. Lol

      But yes, I really do think marketing money has a lot to do with it. And I don’t think it reflects on the process or anything y’all can control really. It is just an unfortunate reality that publishing is still putting so much of their money behind a handful of titles and we’re lucky if/when one of those is a diverse title.


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