It’s time for the third and final post in my 2017 reading highlights. At this point I will explain that for the past couple of years I’ve been keeping a list of all the books I read, assigning them a rank out of 10. So far my top ranking is 9.
Favourites for the year!
A ranking of 9/10 means I adored the book all round — story, writing, characters etc. It means the book resonated with me and I keep thinking about it and will almost certainly re-read, maybe more than once. A 9/10 generally means it is pretty well written, or at least there’s something I love about the writing, although it may not necessarily be perfect from a craft perspective.
In 2017, I rated the following 12 books and series as 9/10:
- Spindrift — Amy Rae Durreson
- Stygian — Santino Hassell
- Spirit — John Inman
- Spectred Isle (The Green Men book 1) — KJ Charles
- Sins of the Cities (series of three) — KJ Charles
- The Community (series of three) – Santino Hassell
- Wolfsong — TJ Klune
- Bear, Otter, and the Kid (series of four) — TJ Klune
- House of Cards — Garrett Leigh
- Preacher, Prophet, Beast (Tyack & Frayne book 7) — Harper Fox
- Locked in Silence (Pelican Bay book 1) — Sloane Kennedy
- Murder in Pastel — Josh Lanyon
The above list will likely explain why I focused on TJ Klune, Santino Hassell and KJ Charles in my first highlights post, and then spotlighted three “spooky house” stories in my second highlights post.
Here are a few thoughts on the remaining novels in the above list.
House of Cards by Garrett Leigh is one of the multi-author Porthkennack series, which spans both contemporary and historical m/m romances set in the fictitious village of Porthkennack in Cornwall. For starters, I’m instantly attracted to anything set in a Cornish village, and I love all the Garrett Leigh books I’ve read; she writes about broken characters wonderfully well.
Here, a tattoo artist flees a toxic relationship and finds himself staying with a friend (another tattoo artist) in Porthkennack. In addition to the gorgeous setting, it’s all the small details I love: the beloved old-style tattoo machine, the chicken rescue activities, the smuggling(!), the fascinating secondary characters. I’ll be reading this one again soon, so I can dive into the next one by Ms Leigh (Junkyard Heart).
Preacher, Prophet, Beast by Harper Fox is the seventh in her Tyack and Frayne series. It’s also the only novel-length installment and takes our heroes and their daughter to some interesting and horrifying places, centred as usual around paranormal happenings in Cornwall, and specifically their new family home on Bodmin Moor.
This is a wonderful series that takes Gideon (a policeman) and Lee (a psychic) from their first meeting (in the brilliant Once Upon a Haunted Moor) through dating, marriage, fatherhood… and in this installment they’ve been married for three years. It’s a series (mostly longish novellas) I will re-read over and over again.
Locked in Silence is the first in a new series from the extremely prolific Sloane Kennedy. It’s very different in style from her popular Protectors and Barretti Security series — and a level above, I think. This one is more grounded in reality. More poignant, as both men have been wrongfully accused and vilified for different transgressions.
The premise is not earth shattering: a concert violinist returns to his home town broken and in disgrace, only to discover his childhood nemesis suffered a tragedy that broke him and ensured he’s never left… But the journey is layered and complex, with all the feels. I hope Ms Kennedy returns to Pelican Bay soon.
Finally, Murder in Pastel is a republication of one of Josh Lanyon’s early works (originally under another pseudonym, apparently). I’m a big fan of Ms Lanyon, whose novels usually revolve around some form of crime to be solved. This one is a whodunnit set in a seaside art colony in California, and involves the usual cast of eccentric characters.
The viewpoint character is a young mystery writer and son of a renowned painter who disappeared a decade ago, along with his masterpiece painting — so, in addition to the person who inevitably gets murdered, there’s a cold case to solve too. It’s kind of timeless, the way it’s written, and it’s probably now one of my favourite Josh Lanyon novels. (The Adrien English series would come first.)
Also worth mentioning
In my personal ranking system, a rating of 8/10 means it’s above average in terms of my enjoyment, and I logged 45 of these. I’m not gonna list them all, but here are some particularly worth mentioning:
- Hailey Turner’s Metahuman Files is kind of x-men meets military adventure series (3 books)
- Undaunted by Devin Harnois is a secondary world quest fantasy with vampires and werewolves(!)
- Anna Butler’s Taking Shield series is excellent award-winning military science fiction set in the far-distant future (4 books so far, more to come)
- NR Walker’s two-part Imago series is set in Australia with butterflies, her Thomas Elkin series is a three-part May-December romance featuring architects, and Switched is a fabulous standalone novel about a man who discovers he was switched at birth
- Leta Blake’s Slow Heat is a sophisticated take on the MPreg non-shifter genre (if you can get past the whole MPreg thing)
- Aqua Follies by Liv Rancourt brings 1950s rock n roll to life in a gritty romance with jazz and synchronised swimming
- Amelia Faulkner’s incredible Inheritance series features ancient gods and psychic powers in San Diego
- Silver Scars by Posey Roberts is about two scarred men who meet through a work secondment
- Renae Kaye’s The Blinding Light set in Western Australia is about a guy who takes on a housekeeping job for a blind man
And that, my friends, is the end of my annual reading highlights. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve been very patient.
If you read in the m/m genre, I hope you’ve found a few interesting ones to try. There are certainly heaps of speculative fiction titles listed — both urban paranormal series, classic science fiction and some fantasy.
Thanks for reading this post! I wish you all another fabulous year of wonderful books.