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Sirius’ Best of 2013

As you can see, there are a lot of m/m books on my list, and I just included short versions of my amazon reviews for the books which were not reviewed here. I also did not put the list in order of preference – I pretty much enjoyed all these books a lot, except that the first book is pretty much my number one across all the romance I read.

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies 1) by KJ CharlesThe Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies book 1) by K. J. Charles. Magic, mystery and mayhem set in AU Victorian England. A building romance between two heroes begins in this first installment. The writing grabbed me from the first chapter and really never let go.

 

 

spook squadSpook Squad by Jordan Castillo Price. I loved this book, but for those who aren’t familiar with the series, this is Book 7 of the PsyCop series, and if you are in any way interested you should start reading from book one. [Sunita reviewed the first book, Among the Living, here] Vic and Jacob (main characters in this paranormal thriller/romance/adventure) really came a long way in this latest installment. The plot was as twisty as ever. Vic is maturing and growing as a person and as an investigator, and the way he adjusts his mindset as to certain people at the end of the story feels natural and believable. There are several pretty big surprises as the story unfolded, or I should say I was surprised, and I loved how Vic’s reactions to each of those surprises were handled. You can feel the hard-earned trust between Vic and Jacob, and I loved that such trust never wavers in this book. I am not sure if JCP has planned any more books in the series – the ending in this one is absolutely satisfying, but there are possibilities if she wants to continue. Having said that, whether she wants to continue or not, I would have felt very annoyed if at that stage of their relationship, after everything they went through, they would start showing  some typical traits of romance characters (you know, breaking up, quarreling for nothing, etc.). I subscribe to her newsletter and in the latest one she mentioned that eight book is planned and will be the last one.

TD_Disasterology_101Disasterology 101 by Taylor V. Donovan. I was really impressed with one of the main characters in this book. As I said in my review, Cedric is not the first character I have “met” in m/m romances who has OCD. Cedric however is the first character (not saying that they do not exist just that I have not read about them) who actively tries to take charge and get some semblance of normalcy in his life *before* a potential love interest comes into his life.

 

Bone Rider by J. FallyBone Rider by J. Fally (DA review by Sunita). A friend at Goodreads enthusiastically recommended this book – I would have never picked it up on my own. The authors I never heard of lately tend to be massive duds for me for the most part – but I listened to the recommendation and I am glad I did. Let me tell you – I avoid books with Russian gangsters like plague. I am from that part of the world and I am so very sick and tired that the characters of my descent seem to mostly have only one occupation in the fiction books – gangsters. Anyway, the friend told me that the characters will break through my defenses and sure enough they did. I adored Misha and Andrej and Kolya by the time I was done with the book, but this was no small feat to accomplish. And there was Riley and McLane. Outspoken, hilarious, loyal McLane created an unexpected, but so very fitting, symbiotic relationship with Riley. The story moved fast and was bursting with tension. I loved every second of it. I was a little disappointed in how one of the Army guys came out to me on page, because I felt that he was meant to be a more nuanced character than I thought he was, but that sure did not stop me from deciding that this book was one of my favorite books this year.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie BarrowsThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (DA review by Jennie). I learned about this book when I saw it on Jennie’s reading list. What is it about? The horrors of the Nazi occupation of Guernsey, yes (some of it quite graphic, but so very real), but also the triumph of human spirit and some really wonderful people who struggled hard to survive and love each other, and the many books which helped to maintain their spirits. Because of course books could not save them from what was happening, but I am of the firm belief that books can help a lot, especially when they strengthen friendships.

And I really loved how the book mixes painful and light-hearted moments; I thought the story was really successful in that. I also was very impressed that this epistolary novel achieved what very few books are able to do in this format for me. Usually a letter-style story distances the characters and events from me, but in this one they came through as alive and interesting and more importantly memorable.

The Chocolate Touch Laura FlorandThe Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand (DA review by Willaful). Sunita introduced me to these series and I loved all the books, but this one was probably my favorite so far. The first book and this book have some common characters — the female lead in this one is a younger sister of Cade, heroine in The Chocolate Thief, but you can read this book without having read the first two (although why would you, I have no idea). Trust me, I do not read a lot of m/f romance but Florand’s books just swept me away. The men in all her books that I have read are famous French chocolatiers/pastry chefs. I adored that they have well-earned confidence, even arrogance in their abilities, but at the same time they do not behave as a*holes.

Dominic Richard is probably the most vulnerable out of three male leads, but being damaged does not make him any less a strong lead. His hard work on overcoming the obstacles of his childhood, his constant, constant work on improving himself made me respect him so much, and his romance with Jaime was just so very swoonworthy. The sexual tension was great, but what I loved the most was the tenderness and mutual respect these two seemed to have for each other. And I loved seeing the older Coreys again, especially James and his project.

navigating earlyNavigating Early by Clare Vanderpool.

I am an adult, but I love me some middle grade and YA books. I especially like those that do not talk down to kids and teens. This one really does not. The blurb summarizes the story well – two boys who feel like outsiders in their boarding school go on a mysterious quest to find Pi, who was lost in the imaginary story one of the boys hears from the numbers he loves (the real story is much better than my summary, I swear).

The find some really lost souls, and to a degree they also find themselves on this trip. The writing is very beautiful; I cannot really know whether middle grade kids will love it, and when I read the book six months ago I was not sure if I want to give it to an 8.5 year old girl, or if she would be a little too young for it. But since she devours books and their complexity level keeps increasing, I think this will be one of my presents to her.

haunted heart josh lanyon

The Haunted Heart: Winter by Josh Lanyon (joint DA review with Sunita). This was my favorite book by Lanyon after his return from sabbatical.

 

 

 

 

cover2Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. This was one of the most unusual gay YA books I have read last year, but one of the most memorable ones as well.

 

 

 

 

Suicide Watch by Kelley YorkSuicide Watch by Kelley York (DA review by John). I have had this book for a while, but I only recently worked up the nerve to read it. I did cry when I read it, but this book is not your usual angsty m/m fare. I really liked York’s writing and I was very surprised at how well she managed to tell a genuinely sweet love story set against such sad subject.

Sirius

Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.

21 Comments

  1. cs
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 11:47:28

    I think JCP is writing the final installment of Psycop series – and said would release short stories as well. I wasn’t all that impressed with the newest installment unfortunately. I did enjoy The Haunted Heart by Josh Lanyon and Disasterology 101 by Taylor V. Donovan.

    I would try “Bone Rider” but not if it is M/M/M?

    Thanks for your list may try out some of the M/M titles I haven’t read.

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  2. Sirius
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 11:50:10

    @cs: “Bone rider” is kind of, sort of m/m/m. Cannot say more without spoilers, really. If you want me to email you with spoiler, let me know.

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  3. cleo
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 12:02:14

    I think this is the first DA best of list so far this year where I actually read a couple of the books. I also loved The Magpie Lord and I’m pretty sure I bought it based on your review. I liked but didn’t love Spook Squad – although I did love Vic’s character growth and all the plot twists. I’m really curious about Bone Rider, but I’m still undecided.

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  4. Sirius
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 12:09:06

    @cleo: I am always very pleased when I hear that another person loved “The Magpie Lord”.

    Oh cs, yes, I saw that JCP is writing the final book, thank you.

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  5. Susan
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 16:41:51

    @cleo: Same here. I’ve read or own (TBR) almost all of these (except Suicide Watch and Navigating Early).

    I’m going to be very sorry to see the PsyCop series end. Did I imagine it, or did she say she might do a spinoff series (full-length, not shorts), maybe with Crash? I’m not sure he’d hold my attention the way Vic/Jake have, but he’s had an interesting journey so far, too.

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  6. NBLibGirl
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 18:39:04

    Thanks for a really different list. Of the ones I’ve read, I agree and for the rest . . . let’s just say my wallet is not so happy . . . ;-)

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  7. cs
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 19:27:43

    @Sirius: That would be appreciated :) M/M/M is not something I read. I mean I have read M/M/M in the past and enjoyed a few. So maybe this can be added to list…I don’t know but email away (can you get it off my comment? Or do you need me to comment with it?)

    I love the Psycop series and will be so sad when it ends :(

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  8. Sirius
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 19:53:37

    @cs: I just emailed you.

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  9. Sirius
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 19:55:17

    @NBLibGirl: Yeah my wallet is not happy with me either after reading other reviewers’ lists ;).

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  10. Sunita
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 21:07:43

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Chocolate books, even if it was hard on your wallet. ;)

    I finally read The Magpie Lord and liked it quite a bit, so thanks for that recommendation in return!

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  11. Melinda
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 21:14:15

    I wonder if you would like “What Love Means to You People” by Nancy Kay Shapiro? It’s a beautifully written book–probably classifies as lit fic, but it’s really a M/M romance–got pretty good reviews when it was published. I liked it a lot even though I don’t read much M/M. It was released in the mid-2000′s so before the e-book era (and before M/M fiction achieved any mainstream appeal), but it’s now available on Kindle and Nook and I’d love to see other folks discover it!

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  12. Sirius
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 21:19:41

    @Sunita: This was the best m/f romance recommendation this year for me :). I liked the first two a lot, but “The chocolate touch” had become a comfort reread. Funny, Dominic is the most damaged out of three leads (IMO) – nowhere near the level of a lot of m/m leads are as we both know, but still he had traumas in his past, does it mean that I am too used to m/m characters by now even if I scoff at the extremes? Does it mean anything at all? :). Have to think about that.

    Hah, glad you liked Magpies :)

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  13. Sirius
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 21:21:16

    @Melinda: I just checked – it had been sleeping in my TBR LOL. Thanks for the reminder, I had been wondering what m/m book I should review next ;).

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  14. Angie
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 23:37:49

    I absolutely loved GUERNSEY and THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH. Both such intimate and sweet reads.

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  15. ShellBell
    Dec 28, 2013 @ 02:45:25

    I’ve only read 4 books on your list – all of them m/m. I read, and absolutely loved, Disasterology 101 by Taylor V Donovan; The Bone Rider by J Fally; Spook Squad by Jordan Castillo Price: and The Haunted Heart: Winter by Josh Lanyon.

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  16. Luce
    Dec 28, 2013 @ 12:58:53

    Very cool list! I’ve only read Two Boys Kissing (full disclosure: David Leviathan is an auto-buy for me) and Disasterology 101 (which I was mostly lukewarm about.)

    Both of the Magpies books are in my nook as well as Bone Rider. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about the A Charm of Magpies novels and someone in DA (I want to say Sunita but I’m not sure) totally sold me on Bone Rider from their review.

    I’m intrigued by Laura Florand’s chocolate series and Navigating Early. The rest of the books aren’t my cup of tea. That said, thank you for the recs!

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  17. Sirius
    Dec 28, 2013 @ 18:32:08

    @Luce: Yep, Sunita reviewed “Bone rider” here. Glad you liked the other books you listed :).

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  18. Sirius
    Dec 28, 2013 @ 18:34:47

    @Angie: Glad somebody else loved Guernsey as much as I did :). I was wondering whether this book impressed me more than it really should have, you know? But I really really liked it.

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  19. Wahoo Suze
    Dec 28, 2013 @ 23:30:22

    I LOVED Bonerider! It kept me up until 3 because I HAD to finish it, which doesn’t happen for me very often anymore.

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  20. Sirius
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 10:53:02

    Wahoo Suze, Bone rider was a very exciting and memorable book for me as well.

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  21. NBLibGirl
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 00:28:32

    People have been raving about Magpie Lord for several months and finally succumbed thanks to Xmas gift cards and this list and, why oh why did I wait? The free coda at author’s website is very cute and the sequel is due in only a few weeks . . . Lanyon is always fabulous. Nice to see him on so many lists. (His collection of holiday shorts has been compiled and is available and fabulous too: Merry Christmas, Darling.) But the real surprise was Bone Rider. Would likely not have tried it based on plot summary alone . . . and what a wonderful treat. Thanks to Sirius and Sunita for recommending! Angst and true love are all well and good, but a writer/book that can make you laugh, too? That’s special, and Bone Rider had it in spades for me. Off to watch an alien’s invasion movie . . .

    ReplyReply

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