Tuesday, 29 December 2009

M/M Books of the Year - Part 1

Last year, I did my books of the year in two parts.  The first part was comprised of my favourite m/f books I'd read during 2008 and the second part the m/m books.  This year I've only read a handful of m/f books and many of those were re-reads!  Instead, this year I'm focusing on m/m books only and I've added more categories as my list of genres has expanded, 16 altogether.  I shall do eight today and eight tomorrow.

Before I begin, let me give you an idea of how difficult it has been to choose my favourite book in each genre.  This year I've read 123 novels, 98 novellas, 22 anthologies (188 stories altogether) and 82 short stories not in an anthology. Out of those books most of them have been either contemporary romance, mysteries or paranormal/UF.  That's a lot of books to choose from, especially since I'm being ruthless and only choosing one book per genre, although I have separated the fantasy genre into three: Fantasy, Spec Fiction and Urban Fantasy.  The books I've chosen are ones that, if I was asked to recommend a particular book in a genre, would be the book which would immediately spring to my lips.

As with last year, these books are not necessarily books which have been published during 2009 (although many of them were), but rather books that I have read this year.  They are all books I've read for the first time during 2009 - no re-reads.  I've added the links to the reviews I did for each book and you can go to the publisher for each book from the review pages.

So without further ado, here is the Well Read list of favourite m/m books for 2009:

Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy

This book about the sharp tongued, yet emotionally vulnerable Simon Murray who meets and falls in love with a famous Aussie Rules Football player, Declan, blew me away with its sympathetic look at the pressures of fame and being gay in a macho sport.  Review HERE.

The Bones of Summer by Anne Brooke

The beauty of this story was in the characterisation.  Craig's world falls apart piece by piece throughout the book as he seeks to discover the truth about his past.  His boyfriend, Paul Maloney, has his own secrets but they gradually grow to become reliant on each other.  The mystery isn't too complicated but each reveal sends a shocking punch to the gut.  Review HERE.

Ghost Star Night by Nicole Kimberling

This book worked for me because of the slightly unsettling world building, where the souls of people can be extracted by wizards.  I also liked that the three main leads were caught up unwillingly in the action of the story and yet were instrumental to the final outcome.  Review HERE.

Speculative Fiction
A Strong and Sudden Thaw by RW Day

This beautiful story, set in Virginia in the future after a sudden ice-age has swept the world, affected me deeply due mostly to the first person narrator, David.  The view of his world is a mix of wonder and innocence, alongside the ruthlessness that is needed when trying to eke out a living in a harsh environment.  I was transported into this world and reluctant to leave once the book was finished.  Review HERE.

InDescent by KZ Snow

My love for this book has much to do with the love story between ex-vampire Adin and wizard Jackson.  The paranormal aspects were well thought out and executed but it was these heroes and how they worked through the implications of their unusual relationship which kept me glued to the book.  Review HERE.

Camp Hell by Jordan Castillo Price

The fifth in the Psycop series sees Vic really start to come into his own and become more comfortable with his powers.  There's a few surprises too for Jacob.  Along the way there's the usual mix of horror, embarrassment and humour as Vic tries to balance his job and newly emerging memories of the time he was training at Camp Hell.  Marvellous.  Review HERE.

Favourite Alpha Hero: Adam Bertoni from Immortality is the Suck by AM Riley.  A delicious mix of sarcastic humour and complete cluelessness when it comes to his relationship with Peter.  I wanted to punch him and/or give him a hug on several occasions.  Review HERE.

Favourite Beta Hero: Simon Murray from Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy.  Here was another character I wanted to hug as well as shake some sense into him.  He has a sarcastic sense of humour which he uses as a barrier to avoid getting hurt emotionally.  Yet, I could identify with his fear of getting too close in case he ends up unhappy.  Fortunately, the emotionally open, Declan, as well as his friend, Fran, is on hand to get him to talk about his feelings.

Well, that's it for today.  Join me here tomorrow when I'll give you my favourite comedy, UF and historical, among others and I'll also reveal my book of the year.


  1. Oh, great choices, Jen. All of the books that I've read in this list easily top my 'best of 2009' when considering genre, especially the books by Sean and R W Day.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing what is your 'book of the year' tomorrow.

    Terrific post!

  2. Thanks Kris. There were so many great books to choose from, especially in the Contemporary and Mystery category.

    The book of the year might be a bit of a surprise. :)

  3. A Strong and Sudden Thaw remains one of my favourite books ever. And I'm making a note of your other recommendations. :)

  4. Hi Lesley
    ASAST is such a great book, isn't it? Also this year I'm planning on reading Mind Fuck which you've recommended several times.

  5. Great list!! I am loving PsyCop and just got Camp Hell for Christmas.

    I will definitely check out Tigers and Devils!

  6. Since I completely agree on the books I've read in that list, obviously I need to add the books I haven't read to my TBR list... Thanks? ;)

  7. Well, I haven't read all those and spec fiction's not really my thing but those I read I agree with. :-0 I have Immortality is the Suck in my TBR file (along with a ton of others). I really should get The Bones of Summer as I like mysteries. It's one of those things I never think of until I see it on a list like this. Look forward to tomorrow's choices.

  8. Love reading these lists. I've been hearing great things about Sean Kennedy. :D

  9. Great list, Jen. I loved the books I've read that you listed-- in fact, I bought a few of them based on your review. :)

    I have The Bones of Summer in my TBR-- I'm still holding out hope for Maloney's Law in ebook before I read TBOS, though Anne says it might be awhile (if ever) before it's available as an ebook.

    I tend to avoid fantasy and spec fic, but I might have to give the ones you listed a try.

    Can't wait to see what your book of the year is.

  10. Mandi: You should definitely read T&D. Camp Hell is just such a great book. I can't wait for the next in the Psycop series.

  11. Chris: Aw, you love it really. What would you do if you didn't come here and find all these great books to buy? ;).

    Tam: The Bones of Summer is just such a great mystery, although I'd recommend that you read Maloney's Law first.

  12. KB: T&D is a great book for those who don't read much m/m. You should definitely buy it.

    Richelle: It's a shame that Maloney's Law is taking so long to get to ebook. Once it does, I can see that it will be very popular. If you were going to choose between the two fantasy books, I'd go for A Strong and Sudden Thaw. It has got some fantasy elements, but is mainly a story about surviving in a harsh climate alongside people with strong conservative values.

  13. I'm honored to have made your list, Jen. (Well, not "I" but InDescent.) Lord knows I've yammered enough about how much this book means to me. ;-) Knowing it's highly regarded by somebody whose opinion I respect is extremely gratifying.

    You've warmed the cockles of my heart, lady. And I see I'm in some damned good company, too.

  14. Um, maybe have a retirement fund? ;)

    More seriously, you've been a great source of recommendations for me - I admit to poking through all of your Excellent and Very Good reviews for reading suggestions. :)

  15. Hi KZ
    Living in the wilds of Wisconsin, I expect you need your cockles warming from time to times :).

    Seriously though, InDescent is a great book and wouldn't be in this list if it wasn't so.

  16. Chris: Thanks sweetie. It's nice to know all my efforts are worth it :).

  17. Ooh, thanks so much, Jenre! I'm so thrilled that Bones is your favourite mystery book of 09 - that's really made my day. :))

    And I really am so sorry though about the lack of eBook for Maloney's Law - I have asked PD Publishing several times about it, but I'm afraid they just don't have the time to bring it out as an eBook and are reluctant to let another ePublisher go with it instead (though I have got one attempting to negotiate with them, but that's been going on for months now). It's very frustrating and once again I can only apologise :((

    Love & big Christmas/New Year hugs anyway!


  18. You're right. It's frigidly cold here today, so between your post and multiple cups of coffee, my cockles at least have a chance of thawing.

    P.S. By all means, do start reading Manna Francis's work.

  19. Minneapolis (not so very far from Wisconsin) is likewise bitterly cold today. *shivering*

    Hmm. The veri word is menestic. Majestic men?

  20. Ottawa, FAR from Wisconsin and Minnesota is also freaking cold. -32C with the wind today. Oh how lovely. NOT!

  21. Hi Anne
    Don't be sorry about the lack of ebook for Maloney's Law. It's hardly your fault, dear. We shall just have to be patient :).

    KZ, Chris & Tam: You're discussing the weather? I thought I was the Brit in this gang? I obviously can't compete as our minuscule -4C is nothing compared to the Arctic wastes of the North American continent ;).

  22. Canadians are weather obsessed. I've been known to WATCH the weather channel for more than the 3 minutes it takes to get the forecast. LOL It was -2 here yesterday, HUGE change.

  23. Tam: I've given up caring about the weather, although the recent snowfall caused quite a lot of excitement all round :).

  24. Minnesotans are obsessed with the weather, too. It freaks out people from other places who visit.

  25. Chris: What freaks people out? The weather or the fact that you talk about the weather?

    Don't you have all those covered walkways in Minneapolis so that people don't have to venture out into the extreme cold?

  26. Probably both!

    Yes, we have skyways, but they are only downtown. We have the dubious honor of inventing both the skyway and the indoor shopping mall. :/

    Wow. My veri word is binge. Suggestion?

  27. Enjoyed reading your list - most of these I've read based on your recs though I haven't gotten to Tigers & Devils yet but I have a long weekend coming up ...

    I highly recommend reading Manna Francis work - I have bought all her books even though I can read them for free online, the world building is A1 but the characters are what keep me reading and re-reading. Don't wait - read these next!

  28. Great choices, Jen. I've not read all of them yet but they all sound wonderful.

  29. Thank you very much for the honours, Jen. It's very rewarding that so many people like this book and these characters who were living 24/7 in my head for over a year, and who still pop in from time to time. Like Simon letting me know he loves getting beta hero, and he intends to lord it over Declan at every oppportunity ;)

  30. I've only read 3 from your list: A Strong and Sudden Thaw (got the Iris Print paperback version last year), Bones of Summer (LOVED it) and Tiger and Devils (loved it too!!), but they're definitely top picks for me as well. :D

  31. Chris: Binge, huh? Well we're all certainly going to be doing that tomorrow ;).

  32. Hi Peggy
    OK, I've given in and ordered Mind Fuck from TBD :). I'll look forward to reading it when it arrives in the New Year.

    Enjoy T&D, I am unable to restrain myself in my pimpage of that book. It's just too good a read :).

  33. Lily: Thanks :) I'm sure you'll get around to reading them next year.

    Sean: Your characters talk to you in your head, huh?

    *Backs away from the crazy author who is obviously suffering from heat stroke caused by summer in Perth*

    Actually if Simon had seen what I'd written about him being repressed and emotionally vulnerable he may not want to show off his beta male award quite so much :).

  34. It's weird but Simon does actually, every now and again. He tells me little tidbits about what's going on in their life, as if he's threatening me to try write a sequel.

    He's grown up now a little. I think he would take what you said on board and admit to it. Then hit you over the head with said award. And then have to come over and apologise later because Fran made him.

  35. Sean: Can I persuade you to write a sequel too?
    *bats eyelashes*

    Lol, that's so true and then I'd have to accept the apology or face Fran coming round to see me to find out why I haven't forgiven him *shudders*.

  36. Simon has to supply more information. He's still being mum about some things.

    And if Fran brings Lisa, you'll *really* be in trouble.

  37. Sean: Now I am scared. Two fictional characters coming to 'sort me out'. Eek!

  38. Jen - Maybe Kris can cut this off right at the source. ;)

  39. I know I'm very late visiting and commenting but....amazing list Jenre! I've already added two books to my TBR list, including Ghost Star Night (I love a good fantasy novel), and am jumping to read the PsyCop books! Oh, and I've bookmarked you so I can come back and lurk *grin*

  40. Hi Orannia
    Glad you like the list and if you like fantasy you'll love Ghost Star Night.

    There's no need to lurk, you can comment here any time you like :).


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