Tags: books I enjoyed, reading
Happy new year, everyone! I know it’s a bit late, but better late then never, right?
At the beginning of the year for the past few years I have made a “books I enjoyed” post for the previous year, which is a list of the books I read during the year and particularly enjoyed. Previous posts can be found here, if you’re interested, but let’s proceed to 2015’s books. Note that I am sticking to books that I read for the first time in 2015, because I’ve probably already told you how much I like the ones I re-read, otherwise they wouldn’t be re-reads, natch.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater
Book 3 of the Raven Cycle YA series, the first two of which (The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves) I had on my list last year. These books, people, UGH. They are so good I can hardly bear it. This is what I said about them last year, and it still holds true:
Ostensibly the series is about a group of teenagers searching for the grave of a Welsh king they believe can be revived, but really it’s about forging friendships and family and falling in love for the first time and working out who you are as you grow up and how everything is so incredibly important and dramatic when you’re young. They’re killing me, in the best possible way.
The fourth and final book in the series, The Raven King, is out at the end of April and I CANNOT WAIT. But I’m also dreading it because it’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster of grand proportions. UGH. THESE BOOKS. They kill me.
The Love Lesson series, by Heidi Cullinan
Specifically, I’m talking about Love Lessons, Fever Pitch and Lonely Hearts, I have not read the free short as yet. I listened to all these in audiobook format, and I’m lumping them together because they are pretty great. As you’ll see later, I am totally there for college-set romances of any stripe, so these were right up my alley. The audiobooks were beautifully read by Iggy Toma, and aside from there being a few too many references to anime that I had no idea about in Lonely Hearts, and being a tad sappy in places in all three books, I enjoyed them a lot.
The Understatement of the Year, by Sarina Bowen
Ah, my favourite trope! Old friends harbouring some kind of unresolved issue of the romantic kind meet again years later. I would read the shit out of this trope until the end of time and never get tired of it. I’ve even written it, that’s how much I love it so. This one is totally worth the time investment, and the rest of the series I’ve read is pretty good too, for those of you who read M/F. Also, they’re college set, so BONUS.
Him, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Here’s another old-friends-with-issues-meet-again book. Told you I loved that trope. And this one was a GREAT example of it. SO GOOD, I could not stop reading it. This one is getting a sequel too, and I am there for it 100%. This one and the one above also features something else that became a theme of my books read this year: hockey. I have absolutely NFA what hockey’s about, but holy shit I love reading romances about people who play it.
Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch
I love a good urban fantasy/magical realism tale, and this series of books fits the bill perfectly. Hapless police constable Peter Grant finds out that there’s a lot more to the goings-on in London than he ever anticipated, and before he can blink he’s neck deep in it. These are so good. I’m listening to them in audiobook format, and if you are at all fan of audiobooks, I recommend these unreservedly. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does an amazing job with the narration.
Breakaway, by Avon Gale
Hockey book #3 to make the list. What can I say? I’d apologise, but I’m not sorry at all. This one is enjoyable – a young man who’s amazing at hockey but who has no social skills whatsoever gets involved with a veteran player in a rival team. Hi-jinks ensue. This is the first in a series, and I can tell you now that the second book (Save of the Game) will be making it onto my “books I enjoyed in 2016” list for sure.
The Deal, by Elle Kennedy
This book combines two of my favourite things: college setting, and hockey. And it is DELIGHTFUL. I really loved this one, I’d go so far as to say that it is a strong contender for my favourite book of the year. I just really loved the interaction between Garrett and Hannah. Definitely recommended.
Tags: real life, writing
…of the last 2 months. First, I worked myself into exhaustion and had to take 2 weeks off to recover, and then last week, a good friend and coworker died of breast cancer, after a really sudden deterioration.
It’s that last one that’s knocked me for a six. Several women in my circle have said to me that we’ve all known someone that this has happened to, and that’s true, but for me this is the first person who’s been really close to me who hasn’t made it. Breast cancer is not in my family, and maybe I am still a bit young to have known that many people with breast cancer, and so my chance of being close with someone who died from it is smaller, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have no desire to repeat this experience again. I have cried inconsolably more in the last 3 weeks than I have in the last 3 years, possibly more than in the last 3 decades. Tomorrow is the funeral, and I am speaking for a few minutes at the service. I’ve decided that since my friend was one of the jolliest, funniest people that I know, that I’ll tell a funny story involving her so I can laugh for a while, and remember her how she’d want to be remembered.
I know things will get better. Even now, they’re better than they were at the beginning of the week. It’s the nature of these things, isn’t it? We can’t crumple into a heap for too long, because the world goes on around us in ways that force our participation. So I’ll get there eventually. It might just take a little while, that’s all.
Needless to say, I’ve done absolutely no writing recently. I feel very bad for those blog visitors who look at my Coming Soon page and constantly see sweet FA. I’m not the type of writer who can write in the face of massive emotional turmoil, I’m afraid. But maybe I’ll put a few words down tonight, and a few more down tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. One foot in front of the other and all that.
Tags: real life, writing, writing progress
How it got to be almost April already, I have no idea. I tell myself I’m going to blog regularly, and then life happens, and I just don’t.
2015 is turning out to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I have a very intense and mentally draining day job, which tends to ebb and flow in terms of workload, but I can safely say that we are the busiest that we have been in years, with no sign of it slowing down. Add to that some serious health issues being dealt with by people close to me, and all I can say is thank God it’s Easter next week because I am so tired I can hardly bear it.
Having said that, I have been writing – my current WIP is around 53,000 words at the moment, so not insignificant. Given that I never plan things I’m not sure how long it’ll end up being, but at least 80,000 I’d imagine. So a while to go yet, but it’s getting there.
I hope you’re all well, and getting much more sleep than I am!
Tags: books, books I enjoyed, reading
Here it comes, my annual “books I enjoyed” post, where I outline books I particularly enjoyed the previous year. Now, this year was a little different reading wise, because I tumbled head first into the Captain America fandom, and subsequently read an absolute shitload of fanfic. However, this is not the post where I gush about 90-something year old supersoldier boyfriends, it’s the post where I discuss professionally published fiction; so, onward we go to my most memorable books of 2014.
In no particular order:
Infected: Bloodlines by Andrea Speed
The continuing adventures of Roan McKichan. If you’re a reader of M/M and you don’t know of this series by now, you either don’t read paranormal, or you’ve been living under a rock. I am very, very far behind on them, because I find them incredibly intense, and sometimes I’m simply not in the mood for that. Having said that, I think they’re excellent, and this one was heartbreaking. Absolutely, positively heartbreaking. I applaud Andrea for doing what she did with this one, because it was awful. But so incredibly realistic, it took my breath away.
Billy’s Bones by Jamie Fessenden
A therapist sees a patient who attempted suicide, just the once. Three years later, they cross paths outside of the office, and a relationship develops, complicated by traumatic amnesia and a decades-old unsolved murder. This book has some triggering themes, but it was excellent. I couldn’t put it down.
Shaking the Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus
A single father struggles to find a life for himself while taking care of his deaf son and dealing with his quirky family. I found this charming, funny and sad. While I think some people were offended by the political incorrectness of some of the book, I found it realistic – I don’t know many families without a redneck bigmouth somewhere in the tree, and I think the portrayal of the frustrations of a parent dealing with a disabled child was absolutely spot on.
Machine by KZ Snow
I have waxed lyrical about the books in this series before, twice. I love them. All of them. I am very sad there will not be more of them. In this one, Fan (who I LOVE) struggles with his bipolarity and his past. If you have not read these, and are in any way a fan of steampunk/alternative universes, I recommend them all.
Lick by Kylie Scott
A girl goes to Vegas to celebrate her 21st birthday. She wakes up the next morning with a raging hangover, a tattoo, a scorchingly hot man in her room, and a ring on her wedding finger which matches the one on his. And she has no memory of any of it. Woops! This is labelled as new adult, and it’s full of cliches but I thought it was great. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The Border by Kim Fielding
Two men on opposing sides of a war find they’re not really enemies after all. This one was lovely, and reminded me a lot of the movie Joyeux Noel, which I also liked very much and is also totally worth spending time on.
The Protector by Cooper West
In this universe, law enforcement includes bonded human/dog shifter pairs called guardsmen. The shifter of the pair is not supposed to live beyond the death of the human half, let alone bond to another handler. Until one does. This was an unusual take on paranormal law enforcement and the emotional connections of bonded pairs, and I really liked it.
Most Beautiful Words by Raine O’Tierney
This book has quite the eyebrow-raising premise – an M/M romance narrated by a 12 year old girl? Um, no. No thanks. But it needs to be given a chance, because how much Autumn loves her grandfather is charming, and as his layers and his history are revealed you get more and more sucked in; at least, I did. And the M/M side of things is highly, devastatingly romantic.
In Me an Invincible Summer by Ryan Loveless
Closeted gay man and action movie star Joe Nestra signs up to do a gay-themed movie, and the effect doing the movie has on him causes his carefully constructed life to fall down around him. Fair warning, Joe is a dick at first, but as I read on, I got more and more engrossed. By halfway through I really needed to know how it would end for Joe. It ends on a bit of a happy-for-now where his life as a whole is concerned, but I felt the treatment of him as a gay action movie star (once it was known) was realistic.
Body Option by Talya Andor
Soldier Grant Badu is partnered with a human-inside-a-machine, Trefoil Argent. Argent has an option to take a human body, but has not, for reasons unknown to Grant. Grant doesn’t want to pry, but when Argent is forced into taking his body option to complete a dangerous mission, they can no longer avoid talking about it. This was a very, very interesting story. There were certain sensitive aspects of the plot which were handled non-offensively, which I appreciated. I enjoyed it.
These are part of a 4-book young adult series called the Raven Cycle, and they are SO GOOD. I can’t even express how much I loved them. I’ve got the third one on order at the library (I am listening to them in audiobook, which I get through the library because they are outrageously priced in my country), but I’m torn about listening to it because then I will have to wait FOREVER for the fourth one to come out (later this year) and then it’s all going to end in tragedy and I will DIE. Ugh.
These were definitely the best books I read all year. Ostensibly the series is about a group of teenagers searching for the grave of a Welsh king they believe can be revived, but really it’s about forging friendships and family and falling in love for the first time and working out who you are as you grow up and how everything is so incredibly important and dramatic when you’re young. They’re killing me, in the best possible way.
OK, I’ll stop now! If you made it this far, thanks for reading my rambling, and hope you found something that sounds like it’s up your alley. Here’s to a good reading year in 2015!
Tags: free fiction, Whitewater
Well, it’s Christmas Day here in the Southern Hemisphere, so I’d like to wish all of you who celebrate a merry Christmas, and a joyful festive season to those who don’t. Here’s to a happy and healthy time for all of us.
I have a little something for you, a glimpse into the Christmas of Luke and Cam from Whitewater. I hope you enjoy it.
It started on the first of December, with the noise of something hitting the landing with what could only be described as a whump. Cam stood at the fridge with an unopened beer bottle in his hand and stared at the front door. After a moment, there was the jangle of metal and the scrape of a key in the lock. The door swung open, Luke’s keys swinging from the door knob, and after another moment Luke appeared, red-faced and sweating, and carrying what seemed like twenty shopping bags on each arm.
“What the hell is all that?”
“Dried fruit,” Luke said breathlessly, dumping all the bags along the wall with a grunt. “About a million kilos of it. I think I cut off the circulation in my arms.”
He came towards Cam. He was wearing shorts, and Cam could see a graze on his left shin, bright red against the purpling bruise around it. Luke kissed him, a quick press of lips, and Cam put an arm around him, Luke pressing his sweaty face into the crook of Cam’s neck when Cam tightened the embrace. “You’ve got a bruise on your shin.”
“Tripped up the stairs with my million kilos of fruit,” Luke said, his voice muffled by Cam’s neck. “I’ve got a case of brandy in the car. Want to help me carry it?”
The brandy wasn’t for drinking, unfortunately.
Cam knew that December was a big baking month for Luke, because he’d witnessed it the year before. But they hadn’t been living together then, so the reality of the million kilos of fruit, the sacks of flour, stacks of butter and mountains of six different kinds of sugar in a relatively small space was a little confronting. Never mind the canning equipment and cute decorative jars and bottles for sauces and flavoured vodka. But not being able to move properly around his flat had one upside: getting to watch Luke work. He was just so fucking good at all of it, and he got this look on his face when he was right into whatever he was doing that made Cam want to haul him onto the nearest flat surface and have his way with him. It was a difficult urge to resist.
It was also difficult to resist dried cherries that had been soaked in brandy for a few days. The sound of Luke’s hand smacking down on his knuckles was almost more shocking than the sting of it, and Cam snatched his hand back. “Ow! Just a couple!”
“It was a couple yesterday, and the day before. Keep out of them.” Luke pointed at him, eyebrows drawn, the look in his eyes stern. The effect was ruined just a little by the fact he had a piece of shortbread shaped like a Christmas tree tucked into his palm, and a slight smear of royal icing on his finger. “If I end up not having enough cherries for all of the cakes you’ll be in the doghouse, make no mistake.”
Cam grinned at him, and waggled his eyebrows. “At least then you’ll catch up on your sleep.”
Luke rolled his eyes, glancing over to the living room area before going back to his shortbread, a slight blush on his cheeks and a small smile on his face. Behind him, Cam heard some sniggering, but he ignored it. “Anyway, seems to me that you’d make this whole Christmas thing easier for yourself if you just bought people DVDs. Or socks.”
“Oh, hey, enough of that,” Terry said, right next to his ear, just before a palm slapped the back of his head. “Don’t go putting ideas into the boy’s head. I need more spicy tomato chutney. I’ll die without it.”
“And his strawberry and lime vodka is the nectar of the gods. He didn’t make that one last year. You just wait till you try it.” Aidan leaned across him to filtch one of the shortbreads before following Terry to the door, lifting a hand to wave goodbye. “See you round, mates.”
“Can’t help but notice you didn’t slap his hand,” Cam said as the door closed behind them.
Luke’s slight smile was back. “There are plenty of biscuits at the moment. And he’s a lot less annoying than you.” He put his piping bag down and stepped back from the bench, taking a deep breath. “Right. They’re done, and this round of cakes still has an hour to go.” He paused, picking up a small glass bowl next to his elbow, idly stirring the substance in the bottom of it. “Made too much ganache for the macarons,” he said blandly, but when he looked at Cam, his eyes were practically smouldering. Cam’s stomach flipped. “What do you think we could do with it?” His gaze flicked downwards, then travelled slowly up Cam’s chest. “It’d be a shame for it to go to waste.”
Cam reckoned he would have made a great fireman, if the speed with which he carried Luke—and the ganache—to the bedroom was any indication at all.
Luke and his friends always did their Christmas on the twenty-fourth, before they scattered to Sydney’s four winds to see family on Christmas day. Cam took over the cooking for that, planning a tapas-style menu that could for the most part be prepared ahead and served cold to suit the heat of the December days and avoid turning the flat into a hot box. They sat amongst piles of wrapping paper and gifts, eating with their fingers and drinking strawberry and lime vodka and egg nog that was more brandy than nog. A Southerly came up in the afternoon and blew some of the heat out of the day, and when the sun went down they left the lights off so the Christmas beetles wouldn’t batter themselves to death against the screen door trying to get in. Luke’s eyes shone in the glow of the fairy lights on the tree, his smile the brightest thing in the room, as far as Cam was concerned.
The more Luke drank, the fuzzier around the edges he got, and the more he leaned on Cam for support. By the time the others showed themselves out he was tucked up in the vee of Cam’s legs as Cam sat with his back against the lounge, his left leg crooked and supporting Luke’s lower back as Luke curled up with his right shoulder against Cam’s chest and his face tucked into Cam’s neck. Luke had his legs curled up as tightly as they would go, and Cam’s right hand rested on his knee, holding Luke’s left hand, their fingers intertwined. Cam stroked Luke’s side with his left hand over and over; Luke smelled like strawberries and cinnamon and nutmeg, and when he sighed, like brandy, and Cam breathed it all in, letting himself relax and bask in Luke’s warmth, even while his arse was slowly going numb against the hard floor. If asked he probably would have said Luke was asleep, but eventually Luke shifted slightly, the scruff of his beard rough against Cam’s collarbone as he said softly, “Midnight. It’s Christmas day. Merry Christmas, Cam.”
Cam smiled and put a hand up into Luke’s hair, tugging his face up for a kiss. “Merry Christmas, Luke.”