Reading highlights from 2015

Well. Another year of obsessive reading. In fact MORE obsessive reading than the previous year. Did I say I was going to ease back?

In the past year, I read 128 new novels/novellas, again mainly in the m/m romance genre. This is more than twice as many books as 2014.

It was a year when I madly one-clicked based on Amazon algorithms and recommendations, a year when my obsession with certain series saw me blowing off work on more than one occasion, a year when I probably didn’t get enough sleep. On one particular Saturday night I didn’t actually sleep at all.

Although I didn’t blog monthly about books as I did in 2014, I did keep a record of everything I read and re-read, which is enabling me to write this round-up of another year in reading…

Five favourite reads of 2015

carrytheoceanCarry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan — This book saw me murmuring aloud ‘This is amazing’ from pretty much the first page. A true celebration of humanity, Carry the Ocean brings us the stories of two young men who are wide of the mean. One has autism, the other severe depression and anxiety. Through friendship and love and acceptance of each other, they find independence and happiness. This is such a beautiful and insightful and important book. I reviewed it at length last month.

floodWaiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall — This is a gorgeous gentle m/m romance (novella), which I loved for many reasons, not least the literary prose and the fact that one of the main characters is an environmental engineer. It takes place over one day as flood waters rise in an Oxford street, while people run around laying sandbags. It covers topics like game theory and book restoration and just feels so real. I always planned to review it properly, but didn’t get around to it. Sorry.

crossroadsCrossroads by Riley Hart — Two straight men move into houses next door to each other, become mates and fall in love. Sounds far-fetched, right? But oh my it works. I love the way their relationship unfolds — it feels so very natural, and the challenges they face as they come to terms with their own self-identities and the reactions of their respective families. I just want to keep re-reading it! (And I absolutely love the cover for this one.)

captive princeCaptive Prince/Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat — A prince is betrayed and sold as a slave to the prince of a neighbouring and hostile nation. These character-driven fantasy books encompass international politics, court conspiracies, reluctant alliances, army maneuvering — all wrapped up in the complex and slowly developing relationship between the two princes. In my view, these need to be read and considered together. I love the characterisation and am hanging out for book 3, which is due out in February. (Thank all the gods.) I reviewed these at length for the Australian Women Writers Challenge in September.

The best man by L.A. Witt — I’m not sure exactly why, but this is another book I just want to keep re-reading. Jon’s ex-boyfriend has gone straight and wants Jon to be the best man at his wedding. Naturally he’s having trouble dealing with this — and moving past the relationship. He meets bartender Liam for his first post-relationship hook-up, but then they keep hooking up and end up dating. Except Liam’s noxious ex isn’t quite out of the picture and creates havoc… I guess I just like Jon and Liam together.

Favourite authors of 2015

Harper Fox — In 2014, it was all about Harper Fox, whose books I still love. Thank heavens she published a few more in 2015, including Last Line 2 (a slice of supernatural and espionage), Guardians of the Haunted Moor (Tyack and Frayne mystery #5), and Marty and the Pilot. (I re-read several others too!)

Josh Lanyon — After reading a few Lanyon books in 2014, I started working through his backlist in 2015. I read a total of nine, with my favourites being Strange Fortune (fantasy quest) and Winter Kill (serial killers in Oregon). Josh Lanyon’s crime novels in particular are really good.

Alexis Hall — In addition to Waiting for the flood, I read and loved For Real (world weary sub meets eager young dom) and the acclaimed Glitterland. I’m a huge fan of Alexis Hall’s literary writing, although I haven’t read the acclaimed Prosperity series yet.

Mercy Celeste — I first stumbled upon the fabulous Light from the Dark (autistic reclusive genius who can’t talk gets bodyguard), which prompted me to read Behind Iron Lace, Out of the Blues and Let it go (among others). One of my favourite indie author discoveries for the year. Her books are fairly angst-ridden, especially Let it go.

Heidi Cullinan — Another great discovery. I read 11 Cullinan novels, including the afore-mentioned, wonderful Carry the Ocean. Other highlights were Nowhere Ranch and the ‘Special Delivery’ series. It should be mentioned that Carry the Ocean is on a different plane to the others, which are still great, albeit rather kinky!

Riley Hart — Another of my big finds for the year. In addition to Crossroads, I enjoyed the Blackcreek series (especially #1 Collide) and the ‘Broken Pieces’ series (tasteful m/m/m and some kink).

N.R. Walker — An Australian author! I reviewed Walker’s ‘Red Dirt Heart’ series for the AWW Challenge, plus read the first two of her ‘Cronin’s Key’ (urban fantasy) series as well.

L.A. Witt — In addition to The best man, I read and enjoyed several others (six in total), including Conduct Unbecoming (forbidden love between officer and enlisted marine on Okinawa) Changing Plans (Hawaii!) and What he left behind (more tasteful m/m/m).

Alexa Land — Land’s ‘Firsts and Forever’ series (10 books and counting) is wonderfully fun and just kept sucking me in, one after the other. Her paranormal series (Tinder Chronicles and Feral) is not bad either.

K.J. Charles — This hugely popular m/m author is inexplicably a bit hit and miss for me. But I’m loving her Regency m/m series ‘The Society of Gentleman’.

Keira Andrews — Right at the end of the year I picked up Semper Fi (post WW2 historical about former army comrades in love) and Kick at the darkness (more or less a zombie apocalypse romp plus werewolf that sounds ridiculous, but was loads of fun).

Other books I loved in 2015 (not covered in author list)

  • Karen Joy Fowler — We are all completely beside ourselves (critically acclaimed novel about family, animal wellfare, ethics & psychology)
  • Juliet Mariller — Dreamer’s Pool (straight fantasy, reviewed for AWW)
  • Liv Rancourt — The secret of obedience (see my review)
  • Megan Erickson — Trust the Focus and Focus on me (boys on road trips with plenty of angst)
  • Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy — Him (boys and hockey!)
  • Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn — Vespertine (celibate priest reunites with recovering drug addict rock star… heart-wrenching)
  • Santino Hassell – Sutphin Boulevard (deals with alcoholism… gut-wrenching)
  • Elin Gregory — On a lee shore (historical romp with pirates!)
  • Amy Lane – Clear Water (environmental scientists at work!)
  • R.G. Alexander — Curious (best friends to lovers with a bit of kink)

Tempted to try m/m?

If you’re a little bit intrigued by my recent reading adventures and wondering where to start on your m/m journey, here are my recommendations:

  • Everyone should read Carry the Ocean (Heidi Cullinan) just because it’s amazing. It’s much bigger than the love story.
  • If exquisiteness of writing and a more literary style is your thing, try either Waiting for the flood or Glitterland by Alexis Hall.
  • If you love lyricism, place and imagery, try Scrap Metal by Harper Fox. Or the popular Tyack and Frayne (supernatural/crime) series, commencing with Once upon a haunted moor.
  • If you like mainstream crime/mystery with a side of romance, and not very explicit sex scenes, try Josh Lanyon’s Winter Kill or Stranger on the shore.
  • If you love romance series with hilarity, a fair bit of depth and a large cast of characters, try Alexa Land’s Firsts and Forever series, starting with Way off plan.
  • If you like historical romance, try Think of England or A fashionable indulgence by K.J. Charles. Or Joanna Chambers’ Enlightenment series, starting with Provoked.

Other good books to start with would be

  • Crossroads (Riley Hart)
  • Smoky Mountain Dreams (Leta Blake) — it’s long at over 400p, but so worth it. One of my favourites from 2014.

All right, time to stop… Thus ends my overview of 2015 reading. My mission for 2016 will be to read a bit more diversely, especially in the fantasy genre. I also spent far too much time reading in 2015 and I really do need to pull myself back. (Oh, the irony!)

I intend to sign up for the Australian Women Writers challenge again too. Although I only posted three reviews last year, they covered seven books, so I’m going consider that as meeting my quota of four books reviewed. I’m also pretty sure I already know what the first two AWW reviews for 2016 are going to be!

7 comments

  1. Wow, looks like you’ve read a ton of stuff this past year. I totally get the need to diversify one’s reading more, but if there’s a particular subgenre or two that really grabs us, I don’t know if there’s anything wrong with indulging it while our interest remains high.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I only read 123 books this year (to your 128). πŸ˜‰ Most of mine were m/m, and while there was some overlap in our lists, I’ve actually only read one of the books on your five favorites list, and only a couple on your also-ran list. And given how many terrific books I’ve read this year, I think that speaks well of the m/m genre as a whole. Hope your 2016 goes just as well!
    (And thanks again for the shout-out!)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t do a top ten post this year. Not sure why. Here’s a quick one, just for you πŸ™‚ (And the only order to this is chronological, more or less as they appear on my Pinterest page.)
        1. Semper Fi by Kiera Andrews
        2. Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins
        3. Jackdaw by KJ Charles
        4. For Real by Alexis Hall (though I did like Waiting for the Flood, too.)
        5. Channeling Morpheus (5 novella set) + Sweet Oblivion (5 novella set) by Jordan C Price
        6. The Scientific Method series (ALL OF THEM) by Kris Ripper
        7. Whistling in the Dark by Tamara Allen
        8. The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton
        9. Full Exposure by Amy Jo Cousins (free novella for the DRITC project)
        10. A tie between Junk by Josephine Myles and Served Fast by Annabeth Albert.
        There. Your own private top ten list. May mine cost you as much money as yours will cost me.
        πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh thank you!! I quite liked Off campus… lukewarm on Jackdaw… have only read one JCP book, so far (Magic Mansion on your rec)… the first Kris Ripper is on my kindle but I haven’t got to it yet (not sure why? I think I’m worried they will take over my life)… haven’t read any of the others other than those mentioned in my list, although I read a couple others of Annabeth Albert’s.

          So yes, more than a few there to explore. What fun!

          Of my top 5 – please read Crossroads and tell me what you think. And Carry the Ocean, of course. πŸ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

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