Sirius’ Best of 2014
As you can see, my list this year is quite short. I am not sure how many books I have read (tried to keep track but failed), I have read and reviewed some great books which were published before this year, so you will not find them here. Here is the list.
This was probably the best redemption story I read last year. I was not sure how Lucas and Mark could be believably brought together considering the conflict that was set up between them, but I completely bought it. I thought Lucas was a great character, in a sense he reminded me of Jean Valjean. At times maybe he did feel a little bit too martyr-like, but at the same time this was the only way I could accept a character like him.
As I said in my review: The book also delivered a lot of social commentary, which in my opinion was integrated with the romance really well. This is no small feat, because too often I think that social commentary in romance gets chopped in favor of the happy ending, or it gets so preachy that I start to wonder where the romance went. It is understandable on the one hand, but on the other I too often find myself wishing that the writer had never attempted the social commentary in the first place. For this reader at least, this story achieved a pretty good balance, and I never felt that the social commentary was too heavy or preachy.
Highfell Grimoires by Langley Hyde
When I see “Blind eye books” publish a new title I usually buy it. This book is this writer’s first novel and I really liked it. The author thanks Mr. Dickens in the dedication, so it should come as no surprise that we have a boarding school and orphans in it. The boarding school is in the skies though and the book has a strong steampunk settings. Young Neil Franklin comes to teach in the school during hard times in his life and finds new friends, new enemies and new purpose in life. Wonderful female characters also exist in the book which is always a bonus for me.
https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/overall-b-reviews/b-reviews/review-enlightened-enlightenment-book-3-by-joanna-chambers/ (my review).
I reviewed other two books in this series last year so I am only listing the third one here and the last book in the trilogy. I think that this is the best m/m historical series I have read in the last two years. I had a slight issue with the ending, but it did not take away from how much I loved these books.
Enlightened (Enlightenment, Book 3) by Joanna Chambers
I reviewed the other two books in this series last year, so I am only listing the third one, which is the last book in the trilogy. I think that this is the best m/m historical series I have read in the last two years. I had a slight issue with the ending, but it did not take away from how much I loved these books.
The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin
I saw Willaful putting this book on her best of 2014, but I had to do it as well. I have problems finding m/f romances I enjoy for reasons I do not always understand myself, but this (together with “The Lotus Palace”) was such a gem of a story that I loved every word in this book. I lost myself in ancient China, I thought the heroines had a quiet strength about them which did not feel anachronistic to me, and I really appreciated the love story.
The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
Another wonderful m/f story that I loved. I actually loved this whole series so much. Thanks, Jane, for introducing me to this writer. I thought Corey was a wonderful heroine and I really liked the reasons for the reconciliation at the end.
Quite frankly I thought this was a stunning book. Masterpiece? No, but really good. Kaetrin recommended it to me; as you can see from her review, she liked it significantly less than I did, but she thought I might like it and boy, did I! For me personally, there were plenty of surprise revelations in the story in terms of the mythology, but as I said, I have very weak familiarity with Norse and maybe those who are better versed would be less surprised. There were undoubtedly allusions and foreshadowing that I missed. I was just having lots and lots of fun with this book so I didn’t mind.
And it does not end with a cliffhanger :)
Assimilation, love and other human oddities, by Lyn Gala (review coming soon)
For me, this is what a sequel should look like – a book which explores real, genuine issues which may have been not explored (or not explored in as much depth as they could be) in book one. I enjoyed the first book “Aliens, tails…” quite a lot, but this one was something else. I rarely see an m/m scifi romance which pays so much care and attention to the world building. Oh, there are books in the SFF genre which have great world building but where the romance is barely visible, and I love those books too, but this book blended romance and scifi so very well. Ondri and Liam continue to learn and grow in their relationship, and while learning new things about each other, they learn more about each other’s people too. The way the writer portrays the alien species is really cool. They *feel* alien and have enough distinct features and worldviews to make them different from humans, but at the same time they have enough in common with humans so as not to make the reader feel completely *alienated,* if that makes sense.
I smiled a lot when Ondry tried to figure out whether humans are rational beings through the linguistic concepts and it was very interesting to see how reader’s focus as to what matter most to Rownts shifted with Liam’s. Very fun book, highly recommended.
I’ve read The Jade Temptress from your list and it made my list too. I have The Year We Fell Down and the first book in the Joanna Chambers trilogy in the TBR pile though, so it’s great to hear they made your list!
I was not all that impressed with the first half of Mark of Cain, but it improved as time and text went on. I wound up liking it (and reading a novella by the same author), but not as much as you did.
Absolutely agree about Jeannie Lin’s books. I haven’t read the Lyn Gala book you list or its predecessor, but I read Turbulence and Drift this year and liked both — Turbulence a little more than Drift, even though Drift wrapped up the storyline and Turbulence ended in a cliffhanger. She is a great writer of SF/romance, and I appreciate that she writes stuff that interrogates gender stereotypes whether she’s writing m/m or m/f. (And hey, maybe someday she’ll write f/f.)
@lawless: I really enjoyed most of Lyn Gala’s works that I tried. I like what she writes, but I also like that she tries different things if that makes sense, she does not limit herself to one theme or to same characters or just to m/m or m/f (while I did not put “Drift” as my top favorite, I really liked it).
I could not really put Ginn Hale’s “Champion of the Scarlet Wolf” on this list, because I have not reviewed it yet (next year!), and the second part is out on 12/31 (shhh, just got an email from Weightless Books that it is available to download early since I preordered), but the first part was probably my number one m/m book that I read last year and I am pretty sure the second part won’t disappoint me either.
I also finally started “Infected” series and while I am more cautious to say that I will love the series since I only read three books so far, but so far I really like what I have read.
Jeannie Lin is fantastic, as I said she is one of the *very* few authors whose m/f works I enjoy. Have you read her steampunk yet? Waiting on my kindle, hopefully I can get to it soon.
@Janine: You have to read Joanna Chambers, you just have to :). I think it was a great historical.
You’ve convinced me to pick up the Joanna Chambers ones :-)
I really liked Mark of Cain and Highfell Grimoires. I loved Enlightened! That’s how you end a trilogy and leave the reader satisfied. It was perfect.
@Kim W: What was your favorite m/m book this year if you could choose one? Our tastes seem to overlap a lot, so I am very curious :).
Christine Maria Rose, I hope you enjoy Joanna Chambers’ series.
I like Kate Sherwood and will check out Mark of Cain.
@Sandra: If you find her writing agreeable overall and you enjoy redemption stories, there is a good chance you may like it.
@Sirius: I was looking for a rec and saw this comment from back in December so I thought I would reply. My favorite of 2014 was The Rifter series or The Captive Prince books or the Something Like Summer series by Jay Bell. For a standalone, I really loved The Family We Make by Kaje Harper.
I’m in a reading slump. I moved almost my entire TBR pile off my Kindle. Many had been sitting there so long that my tastes have changed and I decided not to feel bad about not reading them. Once they were out of sight, they were out of mind and the guilt is gone. I’m reading a lot of fan fiction right now which is surprisingly entertaining. That’s set the bar for a good or bad book now. If I’m reading a traditional book and start to think how much I would rather read something in the Marvel Universe, I know the traditional book is meh.
Thanks Kim.I loved Rifter of course . I refuse to start “Captive Prince” till last volume will see the light of the day. I enjoyed Kaje Harper enough it did not make my top favorites but it was close enough. You know it is funny – lots of my book buddies went back to slashfanfiction. I used to love it in my Harry Potter days but just cannot make myself to go back.
@Sirius: I didn’t realize Captive Prince was so unfinished or I probably wouldn’t have started it. I finished the second book and really just sat there stunned with how good it was. I get the impression there is a lot of work going on to release/market the first ones so we won’t see the third for a good long time.
I’m on a Marvel Universe kick right now in fan fiction. I’m amazed at how really good some of these stories are. It’s kind of fun to read something so different and so easy to DNF if I’m not enjoying it.