Tags: books I enjoyed, reading
Well, hi everyone! Trust me when I say I know how ridiculous it is to post a recap of last year’s reading highlights when it’ll be May in a week, but that’s how my life is these days, apparently.
I really want my first (and possibly only, let’s be real) post of the year to be the books I enjoyed in 2016, because that’s been my first post for years now, but I’ll just sum up the last 18 months of my life like this: the beginning of that time period sucked more than any other time in my life, so much so that I had to seek help to cope with it. Over time, things have gotten better, to the point where a couple of months ago it started to feel like I could cope without help, and that has turned out to be true. So I’m here, mostly back to normal, and very relieved about it.
I didn’t write anything substantial during that time, but I don’t particularly regret that – I enjoy writing, but I’m never going to do it for a living, because it’s not possible for me to write enough while working full time in a high-stress, mentally intense profession to make that happen. And anyway, if it comes down to a choice between publishing books regularly and my mental health and happiness, it’s not publishing that I’m going to choose. Having said that, I do feel more like writing these days, so we’ll see if I can get something finished before the end of the world, shall we? 😉
Anyway, onto 2016’s books. If you look at my 2016 Goodreads shelf, you’ll see it was the year of the series. Audiobooks help a lot with that, because there is no easier way to glom an entire series than to have someone else reading it to you. The series’ I read in 2016 that I loved, in no particular order, were:
The THIRDS series, by Charlie Cochet (audio)
Everyone knows about these books, I realise that, but if you haven’t tried any of the audiobooks, RUN, don’t walk, and get them immediately. Mark Westfield does the most incredible job. He is amazing.
The Peter Grant series, by Ben Aaronovitch (audio)
I mentioned the first book in this series in my books post last year, but now I’m up to date and they are still amazing. This is another series where the narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, is fantastic. I LOVE the way he narrates these books, it’s so good that the story is almost secondary to the way he reads it. He’s SO good. I would pay him to read me some Peter/Nightingale fanfic, in fact. I would pay him A LOT.
The Psycop series, by Jordan Castillo Price (audio)
This is another series that seems absurd to rec, because you’d have to have been living under a rock for a thousand years not to have heard of it, and to not have heard how fantastic Gomez Pugh is at narrating it. But I had to include it, even if just for how Gomez has Vic say “Fawn Windsong”. Even now I literally LOL every time I think of that.
The Infected series by Andrea Speed
By mentioning this series I turn the corner where I can no longer hide that 2016 was the year I caught up on series that everyone else has already read. Some of these are heavy going, which I think is why it took me so long to finish the series, but fuck they’re great, to put it bluntly. As a person who regularly experiences significant levels of physical pain, I can identify a lot with Roan’s relationship with both the pain itself and the drugs he takes for it, and the way he deals with people’s attitudes towards both those things. I want these in audio really badly. The fact that they’re not in audio is a fricken travesty.
The Scoring Chances series, by Avon Gale
I read the first one of this series in 2015, and it made my books I enjoyed list last year, but the rest are great too. I know absolutely fuck all about hockey but these are incredibly enjoyable.
The October Daye series, by Seanan McGuire (audio)
These are just the kind of urban fantasy that I love, and are incredibly engrossing in audio. So much so that I bought the last three on mp3 discs because they’re not available in Audible audiobook outside of the US (WHY AMAZON? FFS). There are so many characters to love here, and Seanan writes a lot of shorts to fill in the gaps in very enjoyable ways (TYBALT 😍💗😍💗😍 The Luidaeg 😍💗😍💗😍)
OK, now if you’ve read this far it’s almost over, I promise! Just a few non-series books that deserve a special mention:
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: 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: books, books I enjoyed, reading
Since 2010, one of my first blog posts of the year has been a list of the books I read in the previous year that I particularly enjoyed (see the tag “books I enjoyed“, natch). I usually go with about ten-ish, but this year I glommed one series in particular, so grouping those books together will probably skew the numbers somewhat. But let’s not get fixated on that! On to the books. These will be presented in the order I read them, because that’s how my Goodreads list is organised and I can’t be bothered changing that.
As always, don’t expect much of a review. For some of these, you should expect incoherent fangirl gushing. And a fair bit of all caps. Buy links are added for your convenience.
Fettered by Lyn Gala
A young man goes to a BDSM club because his brother’s a sadistic rapist and he wants to find out what makes him tick, and lo and behold, his life is changed forever.
BDSM in books often doesn’t work for me because I am such a strong-willed person that the idea of submitting to anyone – or having anyone submit to me – is unfathomable and makes me want to vom (that is not an invitation to explain the lifestyle to me, by the way. I am really not interested, life is short and I don’t care). But circumstances led me to this book, and I started it and it was fine, Miss Dolphinia showed up and that was interesting, Dylan, fine, Vin, fine, whatever, and then BAM! I HAD to know what was going to happen IMMEDIATELY. So I stayed up until ridiculous o’clock to find out, and it was worth it.
Crucifox #1: The Green-eyed Monster by Melanie Tushmore
The trials and tribulations of a British rock band as they make it big throughout the 80s and 90s, doing many idiotic things along the way.
Oh, those boys. Having been heavily involved in the Sydney rock scene in the 90s myself, this was like looking at a reflection of every idiot I ever knew who played in a band back then. Turns out that stupid boys in bands needing their heads banged together is an international phenomenon, so there you go. I enjoyed this heartily, it was very real to me, and I did want to smash their heads together many, many times, but Christ on a bike, how I loved Brandon. He is hilarious.
Cambion: Dark Around the Edges by Cari Z
Originally released as a series, it’s now available in a single volume. This book is extremely difficult to summarise in a single snappy sentence, but holy shit did it hit all my buttons. Angels, demons, main characters who can do their jobs with their eyes closed, one who’s desperate to be loved for himself, and one who loves and is desperate to hide it. Scorchingly hot sex as well. I adored it. I can’t wait for there to be more of it. I will be there ordering the season pass with bells on.
The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black
Two military men who’ve been together for 25 years try to find out where they fit, both in the world and with each other, now they’ve left the service.
This book polarises people, because one of the MCs is married, and has been cheating on his wife with the other MC for the entire span of their marriage. Part of the book deals with the marriage breakup. If that’s not a no-no for you, then this book is a masterpiece. John and Gabriel belong together, and they are fantastic. They are warriors, with so much history together, and all of that comes through. I loved this. And I have to say, I don’t generally have a preference for character age in what I read, but these two were nearing 50, and they dealt with their issues like grown-ups. That was nice to read.
Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts by Lyn Gala
A human called Liam trades with an alien called Ondry. Liam thinks they’re friends, but he discovers that Ondry wants to be a lot more.
I am leery of things set in space. The fact that I’m a scientist puts me off anything that might contain a lot of hard science, because a) fictional science is generally unbelievable and implausible, and b) ugh, boring, might as well be at work. But I had already read and liked other things by Lyn, so I picked it up, and I enjoyed it immensely. Ondry is an alien, and he acts like one. A lot of this book is these two trying to bridge that cultural gap. I loved that. I also loved the tail sex. How often can you say you’ve read a book with tail sex in it? Not very often.
Merman by KZ Snow
The vampire Clancy Marrowbone tries to stay away from Purim province, and a certain Simon Bentcross, but finds he just can’t manage it. Hijinks ensue.
This is the second book in KZ’s Mongrel series, and I have to say that I LOVE both books. LOVE THEM. They are fantastic, the world is interesting and unique, the characters are incredibly likable, I just adore everything about these books. Mongrel made it onto my “books I enjoyed in 2011” post, and I’m sure that the third book, Machine, will make it onto my “books I enjoyed in 2014” post. LOVE. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I love Fan. Every time Fan punches Simon in the mouth is a personal highlight for me.
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
AKA the Kate and Curran show. Life-sucking, sleep-depriving vortex of addictiveness.
I picked the first book in this series as an audiobook from the library for a lark. I’d been told that it was OK, but that the books got better as the series went along, and that is 100% true. The first book was fine, I enjoyed it, but it was nothing special. I picked up the second in audiobook as well, and had to muffle laughter at several points so as not to look like a lunatic while out in public. I had the third book to listen to when I went to Sydney for the Oz M/M Meet in October, and it was lucky that I had 3 hours of plane flight to occupy myself, because I could not stop listening to it. Could. Not. Stop. It was SO GOOD. And also hilarious. I snort laughed many, many times, in public, like a lunatic. When I got home I snapped all of the books up in ebook form and burned through the last three in the two days afterwards, emerging at 3am at the end of book 6 bleary-eyed and wild-haired, and had to go to work on 3 hours’ sleep and attempt to function. I will be picking up book 7 immediately upon its release WITH BELLS ON.
Hotter than Ever by Elle Kennedy
Bride who just got dumped at the altar accidentally sees her almost-brother-in-law pashing (that’s Australian for kissing, Northern Hemisphere people) his boyfriend. When she finds herself staying with the two men, she discovers they aren’t only interested in men.
This is part of Elle Kennedy’s Out of Uniform series, which don’t really need to be read in order, based on my experience. In short, this is an absolutely scorchingly hot book about the formation of a threesome. SCORCHINGLY HOT. I enjoyed it immensely. I read one of the others in the series as well (Feeling Hot), which I also enjoyed (and not just for the voyeuristic M/M scene either), so at some point I will be reading the rest of them.
Pretty Poison by Kari Gregg
Noah’s a wolf who is permanently disabled by an accident when he was young. Wade is the alpha who claims him as his mate.
Wow, did this book hit all my shifter buttons! The tough “weak” character, the outwardly tough alpha who is secretly awash with insecurities and kindness…this was great. Again it had non-human characters who didn’t just act like humans, and scorchingly hot sex scenes again. There is a sex scene that involves knotting that practically singed my eyebrows off, it was that hot. Holy crap. Highly enjoyable. I loved it.
And that concludes the summary of my 2013 reading journey. Here’s to some equally good books in 2014!
Tags: books, books I enjoyed, reading
What better use for a rainy new year’s day (note to NZ: it’s summer, for god’s sake!) than to spend some time listing a few books that I particularly enjoyed this year. These are in no particular order, and just in case they seem like the kind of books you’d enjoy too, I’ve provided buy links for you. Be prepared for some not-very-insightful comments about each of them; there’s a reason why I don’t review anything.
The Table for Two series, by Scarlet Blackwell: Just Desserts, Second Helpings, and The Last Supper.
A famous chef starts a relationship with the food critic who slags him off in the press. Oh, how I adored these books. A lot of whether you like this series will depend on how much you like Luc, but I LOVED him. Highly recommended.
Mongrel, by KZ Snow
A young snake oil salesman meets the king of the half-breeds. Hijinks ensue. Unusual steampunk setting, great character in the form of the bipolar Fanule Perfidor, and Clancy Marrowbone the vampire is also worthy of much love. Very enjoyable.
Guardian of the Dead, by Karen Healy
YA paranormal set in New Zealand, using Maori mythology to great effect. Heroine is a chubby girl who doesn’t save the world on her own and gets the hot boy. Hot boy can’t fight for shit and is an ugly crier. I’m sold.
Spin Out, by James Buchanan
The story of Deputy Joe and Kabe continues. Those boys need their heads knocked together quite a lot of the time, but we love them anyway.
Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison
A dragon shifter hunts down the girl who stole from him, and all hell breaks loose. I LOVED this. I think it’s probably my favourite of the books I read this year. It does suffer a little from the Nalini Singh school of manly masculine men of manliness, but I could overlook that because Dragos is a fantastic hero, and hilarious, and the worldbuilding is great. Highly recommended.
Come Unto These Yellow Sands, by Josh Lanyon
It seems that every time I do one of these lists, at least one book of Josh Lanyon’s creeps onto it. What can I say, I’m a fan. I know that some people are saying that Josh’s characters are kind of blending into one now, but I still find enough distinction between them to make me happy. This one includes an ex-junkie poet and the local police chief, and a murder. 🙂 I loved Chief Max, and how they called each other Chief and Teach. The scene where Max searches Swift’s house was intense.
Whitetail Rock, by Anne Tenino
You don’t even have to buy this one, because it’s being given away as a freebie at ARe. As the only person of colour in the small town where he was raised by his adoptive parents, Nik has issues. Jurgen, the blond, beefy motorcycle cop, doesn’t give a shit about Nik’s issues, he just wants him. This was funny, sweet and incredibly hot. Do yourselves a favour and go and grab a copy, because it is totally worth it.
Simple Gifts, by LG Gregg
A man runs into his old crush — the brother of his best friend — at the family Christmas party. This was funny, sad, and lovely. The origami motif and the way that wrapped up was really great.
So there you go, the ten books I most enjoyed reading this year. I’m sure there are a few good ones I missed, so feel free to recommend me some for 2012.
Tags: books, books I enjoyed, reading
I keep a list of books I read at Goodreads, but it’s just a list, I don’t review there. I don’t actually think I’m very good at reviewing, so I don’t do it in any sort of official way, although you can be pretty sure that if a book makes it on to Goodreads I liked it, because I don’t bother to finish the ones that aren’t doing it for me, and I don’t note the ones I don’t finish down. However, since there’s half an hour left of 2010, I thought I’d jot down some relatively spoiler-free thoughts on the books I read this year that I particularly enjoyed. You shouldn’t expect anything deep and meaningful though.