Sirius’ Best of 2021 list
I am going to do the same thing as I did last year. The first book on my list is the best book with gay romance in it that I have read this year. The rest of the list I enjoyed very much, but the placement on the list does not show any differences in my enjoyment.
A Marvelous Light (The Last Binding) by Freya Marske.
I loved this book. I am getting upset when I start thinking that I may have decided not read it after I looked at the price. From my review:
“Of course even the most wonderful language would not necessarily make me fell in love with the story. As I said this one starts with the horrible murder and then the plot keeps moving and twists and turns just keep coming. I loved that the author threw me in the middle of the interesting world and did not dump all the information on this reader at once. Bits and pieces are shared as needed in the story, I thought that when the author needed to share more details about the settings, she did it at an appropriate time and place. Even a couple of dinner conversations about magic made sense to me.
I thought the building of the romance was mixed very well with action/adventure/ murder mystery storyline. I always say that I love when main characters have things to do and get to know each other when they are doing those things that the story needs them to do to move the plot along. I think this is exactly what happens here – Edwin and Robin get to know each other while they investigate what happened to Robin’s predecessor, but also I think the author managed to keep a delicate balance here.”
The whole review is here.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxswell.
When I first read this SF gay romance. I thought it was a very hard book to grade. the pacing of the first half of the book did not work for me, but even when I just finished it I thought that story as a whole and especially characters worked well. So I am not willing to change the grade, but it was still memorable and a reread material for me, hence it is here on my list of 2021 favorite books. From my review:
“Also, there is slow development of a romantic relationship and there is SLOW, marred by constant misreading of the situation between them. I of course saw the tiny sparks couple of time (and I am NOT talking about sexual relationship – I always feel that when I complain about a romance being too slow, I need to clarify that the absence of sex is not what I am complaining about. I’m happy to read the sex scenes when it completes the romance, but it’s certainly not my first interest in romance), but most of the time I felt frustration between the guys because they were reading the situation incorrectly and saying the wrong things. It was understandable giving their past, especially Jainan’s past, but it was not *fun* to read if that makes sense.
Having said that, the writing really appealed to me and thus I kept reading and somewhere around the fifty five- sixty percent the book certainly picks up if you can hang in until then, or if slow pace of the first half appealed to you. Somehow the author made me like both guys separately even if I mostly did not care about them being together initially, but when the book ended I was happy for both of them.”
My review is here.
The Darkness Outside Us by Elliot Schrefer.
This young adult SF romance gets on my list not even so much because of the romance but because of the underlying SF plot element which surprised me a great deal and I could not guess it at all and it just worked for me. Because of that same SF plot element the actual romance did not quite work for me – I liked both boys just fine, but sadly I could not explain my issue with romance since it will be really SPOILERISH same as it was in my original review.
You can see my review here.
Fortune Favors The Dead (Pentecost and Parker #1) by Stephen Spotswood
This noir mystery felt fresh, but also true to the times it was set in. I really liked two main characters, enjoyed narrator’s voice and thought the mystery itself was great. From my review:
“The case quickly becomes a wild ride for so many reasons and I enjoyed every second of it. I like that Will describes not only her strengths but also missteps she makes during the case and she is quiet honest with her audience. Lilian Pentecost relies on Will very often and did I mention that Will manages to insert humor in her narration as well when possible?
“You’re right,” Ms. Pentecost said. “However, that does not mean you shouldn’t keep your eyes and ears open on Friday. Perhaps inquire about warrants and just what questions the police have asked and see who reacts and how.” “Got it,” I said. “Ask questions. Get answers. Pay attention. I might even remember to bring a pencil and paper so I can write things down.” My sarcasm went unremarked. “Now, if our schedule is free, I’d like to grab lunch out and take a tour of some newspaper offices. See if there’s anything that wasn’t fit to print but which might be fit for us.”
There are some romantic attempts in the book – blurb mentions that Will starts falling for the daughter of the victims for example. I just want to suggest to not expect an actual romance – there is nothing tragic happening between them, but while this storyline is significant, it does not have much page space and it does NOT develop into Romance, or at least not yet.”
My review is here.
Cry Wolf (Big Bad Wolf #5) by Charlie Adhara.
I love these series so much. When I look for subgenres in m/m / gay romance werewolves and other shifters are always high up on my list, but I find good shifters stories so very rarely and in these series the author managed to write likable, interesting leads and maintain tension between them in the believable way for me. I see it so very rarely in a series that involves the same couple. If it was the end of the series, it was a great one, if not, I guess we shall see what the next one brings.
“This is book number five in this series and I have read and reviewed all the previous books, so please forgive some possibly repetitive thoughts. Yes, I think it is incredibly tricky to pull of the story about the same couple in the series where romance is supposed to be one of the main element. Yes, I had been nervous before the books three and four and especially this book because I absolutely did not see how the author would manage to create believable tension between Oliver and Cooper when they went through so much together already and seemed to resolve/ or at least negotiate all the possible differences between them and were able to keep their relationship moving forward and becoming a stronger couple.”
My review is here.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
If there was a book I did not expect to like much and where the author proved me wrong to such a degree that it ended up on my Best Of the year list this book would be it for this year. Thanks again SusanS for the recommendation.
From my review:
” I am glad the writer proved me wrong. The book (how well and how in depth it does so of course every reader determines for themselves) actually examines the show rather than just putting our characters in those settings and let them run wild. It is still a romantic comedy though, not really social commentary (although I would argue it has some of it, just by examining the show and why we as society are so obsessed over it), and Dev and Charlie were absolutely sweethearts and darlings in the best way. The heroes had their issues and Dev really was someone who was absolutely devoted to his work and struggled with issues of professionalism, so that was nice to see, and Charlie also had his fair share of struggles. They both struggle with different mental health issues. I actually thought the writer got the right kind of balance for a light hearted book and still dealt with mental health issues respectfully, but those who experienced it closer may reach a different conclusion.”
The complete review is here.
Fated Blades (Kingsmen #3) by Ilona Andrews
I know I just read this book recently, I know it is probably not the very best of Ilona Andrews. But I honestly think and feel that even “not the best of Ilona Andrews” is usually a very decent book and this one was no exception for me and it just made me so very happy.
Here is my review.