Cindi’s Books of the Year: 2014
2014 has been an interesting year for me. The real world intruded a lot on my reading time so I wasn’t able to read as many books as I normally would in a twelve month period. I may not have read a large quantity compared to previous years, and I even got behind on some favorites, a lot of the books I did read were outstanding. I met a young loner who only wanted to be loved, though he fought that love every step of the way. Then there was the master vampire, the only one of his kind, who was lonely until he found his true mate under the most unusual of circumstances. I read romances that had me grinning from ear to ear when the stubborn men finally found their way to each other. I read a lot of horror that had me anticipating, yet fearing, what would be happening as I turned the pages. I cried over the story of two men who were attacked strictly because of who they loved. I met ghosts, rambunctious children, and I even found myself gagging when I’d never done that before while reading a book. I shed a lot of tears – some happy, a lot not. I also giggled often at the most inappropriate times. While I may not have read as many as I normally would in a year, I was very entertained by the quality of those books I did read.
Not every book on this list was rated 5 stars by me. They were chosen based on the way each one stayed with me long after I had moved on to another. At the bottom of this list, you’ll again see a special category that spotlights a book and author for special reasons. I’m especially happy with my selection this year. It was a no-brainer from the moment I picked up this person’s first book a few months ago.
Each year I have a difficult time picking favorites to add to my ‘best of’ list. 2014 was no different. Only #1 is numbered as it stood out for me for the reasons described. The others were loved equally, so it should be noted strongly that they are listed in complete random order.
Congrats to all the authors and a huge thank you for continuing to give me and others so much reading joy. I have the utmost respect for every single one of you, whether your book is on this list or not.
I also send a huge thank you to my friend and blog partner, Kazza K. Not only are you the best blog partner anyone could ever wish for, but you are also the best friend a girl could ever have. Thank you, my friend..
My #1 book of 2014 is –
Amara: The Rebirth by Zathyn Priest
Gay Paranormal Romance (Vampires), Humor, Some Violence
Published by MLR Press on April 18, 2014
If you’ve ever read any of my reviews of Zathyn Priest’s books (or his interviews on this site), you’re aware that my very first M/M book was written by Zathyn Priest. I fell in love with his writing then and I’ve loved every book he’s published since. Amara: The Rebirth only added to that love. I knew a bit about Emrys Amara before this book was released and I was hooked. I bought it the day it was published and couldn’t read it fast enough. The story of Emrys and Matthew is one of my favorite fictional love stories, ever. For that reason, Amara: The Rebirth by Zathyn Priest takes my #1 spot for books published in 2014. There are vampires, a sweet romance, a character you’ll love to hate, humor that will have you laughing out loud a few times, and two amazing main characters you will adore as soon as they are introduced.
So, congrats to Zathyn Priest for writing my favorite book published in 2014! You made me laugh. You made me cry. You even had me cringing a few times. In the end, I am so glad I read your book – and all the others before it. I look forward to everything you put out in the future.
Full review – Amara: The Rebirth Purchase Links – MLR Press, amazon.com
The rest of my favorite books of 2014 –
Wave Goodbye To Charlie by Eric Arvin
LGBT Fiction, Angst, Fantasy/Paranormal, Ghosts, Horror, Non-Romance, Violence
Published by Wilde City Press on October 8, 2014
Wave Goodbye to Charlie took me back to the very first book I ever read by this author, Woke Up In A Strange Place. No, Wave Goodbye to Charlie does not take place in the same setting or even the same world as that book. However, it’s just as brilliantly written and it takes you on a journey unlike any other. The same can also be said about the Valley books, The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men and Azrael and the Light Bringer, both of which tied for 1st place on this list last year. In all these books, and in Wave Goodbye to Charlie, the author takes you to places, and introduces you to characters, you won’t visit or meet anywhere else. Charlie is a loner, a runaway, who makes his living the only way he knows how – by hustling. He makes his home at an old abandoned carnival in town. There, he discovers that things aren’t always as they seem. In the end, he learns that the family he always thought he didn’t want or need didn’t have to be those related by blood. Charlie’s real family are those who chose him. If you read this book, keeps tissues close by because I assure you that you’ll need them.
Brilliantly written and one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Full Review – Wave Goodbye To Charlie Purchase Links – Wilde City Press, amazon.com
Gay Fiction, Angst, Contemporary, Hate Crime, Paranormal
Published by Dreamspinner Press (2nd Edition) on July 14, 2014
I have read more books by Rick R. Reed in 2014 than any other author. I’ve said before that a lot of people have comfort reads they go back to again and again. I do as well, but I also have who I consider a comfort author – one whose books I know I can jump into and be entertained by regardless of my mood. That’s Rick R. Reed. I had a hard time picking out a favorite of his published in 2014 because I loved them all. I chose to go with the one that affected me the most, and that would be Bashed. Bashed tells the story of a horrific hate crime and what happens with a survivor afterward. I’ve always said that there’s no other author who brings out real issues in the gay community like this one, and Bashed proves this. Sadly, what happens in this story takes place all too often in the world today. I cried like a baby while reading this book and I have no doubt it will bring out the same emotions in other readers as well.
Full Review – Bashed Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, amazon.com
Clipped (The Clipped Saga #1) by Devon McCormack
Gay Erotica, Angels and Demons, Paranormal, Graphic Violence
Published by Wilde City Press on April 9, 2014
Clipped is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. When my blog partner read it before me, I was hesitant. She and I read in the same genre, but we don’t always read the same types of books. She enjoyed Clipped and I had this fear it might not work for me as it did for her. That fear was not warranted because once I started reading this book I couldn’t put it down. It’s graphically violent, the sex is
always often brutal, and the subject matter is controversial. There are angels and demons, characters you will love one minute and hate the next, and lots and lots of hardcore, painful sex. Clipped is not a romance so don’t go into it expecting one. What it is is an outstanding first novel by a new author in LGBT fiction. I’ve since read everything Devon McCormack has published to date and he quickly jumped onto my favorite author list.
Clipped is also my favorite erotica book of 2014 and Devon McCormack is my favorite new author of 2014.
Full Review – Clipped Purchase Links – Wilde City Press, amazon.com
Objects in the Rear View Mirror (Memoirs of the Human Wraiths, #2) by F.E. Feeley, Jr.
Gay Romance, Contemporary, Established Couple, Paranormal/Ghosts, Past Abuse, Psychological, Series
Published by Dreamspinner Press on February 5, 2014
F. E. Feeley, Jr. was recognized as my best first-time author on my books of the year for 2013 for the first book in the Memoirs of the Human Wraiths series, The Haunting of Timber Manor. Those who know my likes when it comes to books know that I’m a huge fan of stories with ghosts – whether they are good or bad doesn’t matter. I’m also a big fan of romance. In Objects in the Rear View Mirror, we have the ghosts and the couple who are just trying to find their way. When one is forced to face things from his past, it looks like their happily-ever-after might be in jeopardy. Thankfully, with love and support, they are both able to come out on the other side.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in a good ghost story, a nice romance, and an all around good story.
Full Review – Objects in the Rear View Mirror Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, amazon.com
PORN, A Novel of Extreme Horror, Sex, and Gore by Matt Shaw
Horror, Porn Industry, Graphic On-Page Violence, Non-Romance
Published by Matt Shaw on July 7, 2014
I am a big horror fan so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Matt Shaw. I had seen his name pretty much everywhere and knew I would be reading something he’d written sooner rather than later. PORN was my first experience with the warped mind of Matt Shaw. When I say warped, I mean that as the highest compliment. Disturbing is too mild of a word for this book. It sucks you into the life of a porn star and the horrific things she must endure before it’s all over. Naive at the start of her career, that naivete quickly disappears. When others harm her, she sets out for revenge. That revenge is so brutal and so disturbingly written that I will adamantly say that it won’t be for everybody. For me? Absolutely perfect. If you are a fan of horror and on-page violence doesn’t bother you, I highly recommend this book. I’ve since read a couple of others he’s written and they were equally as entertaining.
This is billed as an EXTREME HORROR NOVEL, with extreme violence of a sexual nature. Keep that in mind before reading this book.
Full Review – PORN Purchase Link – amazon.com
Tequila Mockingbird (Sinners #3), Rhys Ford
Gay Romance, Mystery/Suspense, Series
Published by Dreamspinner Press on June 27, 2014
My love of the Sinners series is well known. I read Sinner’s Gin (#1 in the series) in February of 2013 and have been addicted to the series ever since. With each new book, I’m convinced it will never compare to the one before it. I’ve been proven wrong with each new book in the series. In Tequila Mockingbird, we get Connor’s story. If you’re familiar with the series you know that Connor is the eldest of the Morgan clan and is supposedly straight. Once he meets the adopted son of a murder victim, the reader is shown that things aren’t always as they appear. Forest, the man who turns his world upside down, quickly became one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. He’s had a difficult life, but – unlike Miki in Sinner’s Gin – is desperate for love. He embraces the Morgan clan and the affection showered on him by Brigid, the mother. I adored Forest and Connor together. It was nice seeing the big, bad brother’s softer side. Tequila Mockingbird is a nice love story with a bit of mystery thrown in.
Full Review – Tequila Mockingbird Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, amazon.com
A Gay Romance (A Gay Series #1) by Gina Rogers & Kyle Adams
Gay Romance, Humor, Satire
Published by MLR Press on April 18, 2014
Even typing this has me giggling over this story. A Gay Romance takes every single gay stereotype and shoves it in your face, front and center. It’s not meant to be taken seriously and those who got a bit miffed over parts of it should seriously look up the word satire. It tells the story of a mystery (that’s not really a mystery) and has some of the most hilarious characters you’ll ever see. From Kory to Ram Rage and every character in between, I assure you that you’ll be laughing your ass off before you’re done with this book. The terms used throughout – gaping passage to paradise, winkling pink eye, love chute, pleated prizebox, gaping grotto, pink cock tube... I could go on and on. Instead, I want to go back and read this story again. 😉
I love a book that makes me laugh throughout, and A Gay Romance had me laughing out loud from the very first page.
“If you have a twelve-inch pecker, you don’t have to lie about a single damn thing in life…”
Full Review – A Gay Romance Purchase Links – MLR Press, amazon.com
Gay Romance, Humor, Paranormal/Ghost, Mystery
Published by Dreamspinner Press on March 17, 2014
If you were to ask me what the perfect book would be I would say it has to have a kid in it, a bit of romance, a ghost, and more than a little humor. Spirit had every single one of those things. How often does that happen? In my case, hardly ever. From the hilarious little Timmy, his Uncle Jason, the other uncle Sam, to the ghost in the basement who may or may not be little Timmy’s missing father, this makes for another excellent book by John Inman. I laughed, I got teary a couple of times, and I said “I knew it!” when I got to the end.
Timmy accepted with stoic resignation, although I did hear him mumble something about chicken poop and peckerheads.
“Mommy only makes me take a bath once a month.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Nice try, Timmy. Get in the tub.”
He glowered and snatched the pj’s out of my hand. “Don’t watch. I know you like boys.”
Full Review – Spirit Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, amazon.com
Short Ride To Hell (The Brantley Colton Mysteries #1), Rodd Clark
LGBT (B) Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Non-Con Sexual Situations, Violence, Serial Killer, Series
Published by Beau Coup Publishing on August 31, 2014
We meet Brantley Colton as he is mourning the loss of someone very dear to him. She was taken away in a brutal fashion and Colton has made it his mission to find the killer and bring him to justice, regardless of how that justice is meted out. Short Ride to Hell is three stories in one. We have the serial killer whose crimes are so horrific the reader will have a difficult time getting through some of them. There’s Brantley Colton, and lastly, we have a FBI agent who is not only trailing the killer, but Colton as well.
The mystery is extremely well written and you will be rushing through the pages to see how it will be resolved. You’ll have sympathy for Colton, even when he doesn’t always go about things the right way. The violence is brutal and a lot is on-page, so keep that in mind if you are interested in reading this book. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the second Brantley Colton story and I have to say it’s every bit as good as this one. I’m a huge fan of a good mystery and well written characters and this has both.
Highly recommended for anyone looking for a good mystery and who aren’t put off by on-page violence.
Full Review – Short Ride To Hell Purchase Link – amazon.com
Summer Symphony by Brandon Shire
LGBT Fiction, Contemporary, Angst, Age Difference, Loss
Published by TPG Books on October 1, 2014
There are so many reasons why Summer Symphony is one of my favorite books of 2014. The first of which is Brandon Shire’s writing. I’ve read several by him and have been blown away by the sheer beauty of his words. Only those who have read his books will understand what I mean. The second reason is because the book is about grief and was written so realistically that I’m still feeling it long after I finished it (in early October). As a person who has dealt with grief so severe I wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out of it, I felt for Martin in this story. Not many authors can write the all-consuming pain where you, the reader, are feeling it like this. The third reason I loved this book so much is because it wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
To quote my review on this site –
“Brandon Shire is a brilliant storyteller and Summer Symphony proves this. This is not going to be for everybody, but it’s an outstanding work of fiction. If you’re willing to put aside expectations of what you hope will happen and accept what you know is probably going to happen, you will thoroughly enjoy this book.”
Full Review – Summer Symphony Purchase Link – amazon.com
Love Comes Home (Senses #3) by Andrew Grey
Gay Romance, Contemporary, Disability, Family
Published by Dreamspinner Press on March 7, 2014
The Senses series by Andrew Grey is one of my all-time favorite series, with Love Comes Home (#1) being one of my favorite books of all-time. With each story, the reader is taken into the world of a character (usually a child) who has a disability or an illness. In Love Comes Home, that character is Davey. Davey is your typical ten-year-old boy. He plays baseball and does what little boys do. Then one day the unimaginable happens – Davey’s vision starts to fail. This begins a new journey for not only Davey but his father Greg as well. Greg is at a loss and has no idea how to help his son to have a normal life once his vision is completely gone. When he meets Tom, things start to change for both Greg and Davey. Tom, who is romantically interested in Greg, also takes immediately to Davey and offers to help him and his father in any way he can. He introduces beep baseball and the lives of father and son change drastically for the better. While things will never be as they once were, they can continue to live, only in a much different manner than before.
Love Comes Home is a beautiful story about family, on top of being a nice romance. As a mother of a former baseball star, I enjoyed learning about beep baseball. Baseball was my son’s whole world for thirteen years of his life. I couldn’t imagine how it would’ve been had that been taken away from him. Knowing beep baseball is available makes this mother proud for all those who are sight impaired who are able to continue playing the sport they love.
Full Review – Love Comes Home Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, amazon.com
Djinn: An Extreme Horror Novel by Sam West
Extreme Horror, Graphic Violence, Gore, Hardcore Splatterpunk, Paranormal – Not Suitable for Sensitive Readers
Published by Sam West on July 31, 2014
I am a big horror fan. I have read some of the most disturbing books you can imagine and never so much as flinched. From slasher books to the most hardcore gore imaginable, I’ve read it and probably enjoyed it. But nothing, nothing, prepared me for this book. There’s disturbing and there’s Sam West disturbing. For the first time in my life a book grossed me out to the point of gagging. I actually had to put my Kindle down for a bit and walk away. If it was so disturbing, why did it make my best books of 2014 list? One, it’s a well-written horror novel with a very interesting story behind it. Two, it did something no other book (and I’ve read thousands) has ever done – it had me scared to turn the pages because I was scared of what Pam (the main character) would be willing to do to have all her dreams come true. This is billed as an extreme horror novel and hardcore splatterpunk. If you don’t know what splatterpunk is, it’s probably a good bet it won’t be for you. This book will only be for a select few. Trust me on that one. Do not pick this book up to read unless you are willing to read anything and everything. Nothing is off limits here. Putting aside the other stuff, this is an excellent book about a woman who is given the chance to have everything her heart desires – for a price. She must complete specific tasks before it will happen. The ending was unexpected and perfect.
Full Review – Djinn: An Extreme Horror Novel Purchase Link – amazon.com
Published by DarkFuse on July 17, 2014
What would you do if your perfect life was turned upside down in an instant? Happily married to the woman of your dreams, everything is going beautifully until suddenly it’s … not. This is what happens to the main character in Deceiver, Matt. Matt’s wife is murdered while on a business trip in another town. Mired by grief, he begins going through her things, most notably the suitcase returned to him after her death. What he finds inside has him seeing a different side of the woman he loved. This begins an even bigger downward spiral as he must come to terms with the fact that he had been living a lie. They say sometimes ignorance is bliss. This is proven when Matt discovers that his wife might not have been remotely close to being the person he always thought her to be.
This is an outstanding horror novella with a unique twist at the end (you won’t see it coming).
Full Review – Deceiver Purchase Link – amazon.com
How to Train Your Dom in Five Easy Steps by Josephine Myles
Gay/Bi Erotic Romance, BDSM, Contemporary, Humor, Fisting, Humiliation, Kink, Spanking
Published by Samhain Publishing on September 23, 2014
I gave this book “5 Sir Bastard Stars” and you’d have to read it to get why. What do you get when you have an experienced pain slut (his words, not mine) sub, a so-called straight Dom wannabe, and five *ahem!* lessons on how to be a good Dom? You get one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. There’s pain, all kinds of kinky goodness, a bit of humor, and two very different men who find their way to each other. The lessons start out mild and quickly move on to some pretty kinky situations. What happens when the lessons come to an end and feelings get involved? Remember that so-called straight Dom wannabe? Yeah, about that. Maybe not so straight after all. 😉
I went into this book expecting a bit of BDSM, your typical D/s situations, and a touch of romance. What I got instead was anything but typical. Outstanding book that definitely deserves to be recognized as a favorite of 2014.
Full Review – How to Train Your Dom in Five Easy Steps Purchase Links – Samhain Publishing, amazon.com
Sentimental Favorite –
Queer Dirty Laundry by Jason Lloyd
Non-Fiction, Friendship, Humor, Some Serious Situations
Published by Gringe Publishing on June 14, 2014
I had the pleasure of discovering Jason Lloyd when On Top Down Under was asked to be part of his one-year celebration of his first book, Salty Aftertaste. I admit to being hesitant about reading non-fiction because 99.9% of what I read takes place in fictional worlds. I took a chance and I’m so glad I did. Not only was that book entertaining, but it introduced me to a small group of pretty amazing people. When I got to the last page, I felt as if I had an entire new group of crazy (I mean that in a good way) friends. When our 2nd blog anniversary was coming up, Jason kindly accepted our invitation to be part of it. Not only did we get Jason, but we got his best friend Kevin as well. These guys gave me the most entertaining interview I’ve ever been part of. Before our celebration, I read Jason’s follow-up book to Salty Aftertaste, Queer Dirty Laundry. Queer Dirty Laundry takes place on a trip that Jason and Kevin go on to visit friends. During the travels, Jason and Kevin share things with each other that until that point had probably not been shared with many, if anyone. You’re a fly on the wall during the private conversations of these men as they discuss things most would keep to themselves. While it contains the typical Jason and Kevin humor, there are also very serious moments. Would you appreciate Queer Dirty Laundry if you haven’t read the book before it? Probably not, but by the time I started reading it, I had already discovered these wonderfully hilarious people and had already been brought into their lives.
So, to Jason and Kevin and your *cough* DJ friend – and others – thank you for allowing me into your world and for becoming honorary members of the Cindi and Kazza K crazy club. 😉
Full Review – Queer Dirty Laundry NSFW Interview – Jason Lloyd & Kevin Purchase Link – amazon.com
Thank you Cindi, you are too kind to offer such a great review, glad to see my work has not gone unnoticed. Love all your reviews and trust all your judgments, you know how to pick them. Thank you again.
You’re very welcome, Rodd. You got me sucked into Colton Brantley’s world on the first page and I am so excited to read the next in the series. Thank YOU for writing such an amazing book. 🙂
I love, love, love your list. There is some great depth and breadth in what you read every year and this year is no different, you can see it in the books you picked.
I could not run this blog without you, the best blog partner and sister (from another mother) I have ever had 🙂 Besides, without you, where would the naughty pics go?! Gees, lol
Thank you, Kazza. I stepped out of my reading box a bit during 2014 and went back to my first love… horror. I still read the romance and humor (that I can’t get enough of), but it was nice reading outside of my normal genre for a bit. I read some pretty outstanding books this year. I couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone else. And the naughty pics? I’ve said this before, but it totally bears repeating…. some friends lend an ear. MY friend? She sends naughty pics (AND lends the ear… lol). How many folks can say that? Bahahaha!… Read more »
I think zathyn priest is a super writer. I haven’t read Matt Shaw but I have to get some of his now and Short Ride to Hell too. Love your list cindi
Thanks, Jana. I highly recommend every book on this list. They are all amazing.
I’m stunned. A big congratulations to everyone else, too!
Thank you SO much, Cindi. This is completely unexpected, and you have no idea how much I appreciate it. I’m not really sure what to say, I’m that speechless at the moment. A million times ‘thank you’ xxx
You’re very welcome, Zathyn. Thank you for writing such amazing stories. Your short story opened my eyes to the genre way back when and I’ve enjoyed everything you’ve written since. Thank you also for always being so kind. You accept my fan-girling with grace. 🙂
Thank you so very much
You’re welcome, Andrew. Your Senses series is one of my all-time favorites.
Thank you! And congrats to all the other authors. It’s been a year of great books. *Adds to tbr list.*
You’re welcome, Brandon. I was strongly affected by Summer Symphony. Outstanding book.
It has been a year of great books. 🙂
I’m digging these lists you’ve put together. I’ve read 3 of the writers on your list Cindi and I’ve actually read Clipped, such a kinky book with an excellent plot. Oh yeah, and such big cocks. Thanks for the lists, ladies 😉
Thanks for stopping by, Jay. Yes, Clipped is a very kinky book with an excellent plot. And of course you mention the big cocks. 😀 I think I know the 3 authors you’ve read from this list. I must stalk your site. Oh wait… I don’t need an excuse to do that. *grin*
Great eclectic mix of books there Cindi, so many paranormal ones I’ve never hear of. Thanks so much for putting that together
Thanks, Paul. I’m big on ghosts and monsters and all things that go bump in the night. I got very lucky with the books this year.
More books for my to read list. I look forward to you compiling these book lists. Thanks so much and Merry Christmas. 😀
Thanks, DS and Merry Christmas to you as well. 🙂
Thank you so much for including Clipped on your list, Cindi! Enough with the nice words, though, you’re making me blush. 😉 So glad you enjoyed that book, and I can’t wait until I can send you the sequel!
You’re welcome, Devon. After reading Clipped, I doubt you still have the ability to blush. To make others do it? Oh, hell yeah. 😉 In all seriousness, I loved the book and I will be anxiously awaiting the sequel. *taps foot*
My list is mix of yours and Kazza’s favorites and a gazillion more since I am simply incapable of making a list of top ten. Or twenty. 😐 It was a crazy year. One thing I noticed comparing to last year is that my tastes in mm genre were leaning more toward books that are not by-formula traditional romances: I have Wave Goodbye to Charlie as well, Prosperity by Alexis Hall, Meatworks bu JCP, Return on Investment by Voinov, The King’s Men by Nora Sakavic… and Lanyon. Always in the mood for Lanyon. 😉 Both Kazza and you did a… Read more »
Thanks, Lege. It’s always very difficult to do the end of the year lists because Kazza and I both read so many great books. While I’m still a huge romance fan, I did find myself stepping outside of that quite a bit this year to read horror and thrillers. I love Wave Goodbye to Charlie, as I have Eric’s Arvin’s other books. Reading your faves had me saying “I’ve read that author. Oh, and Kazza read that one…” 😀 She and I read in the same genre, but tend to venture toward different types of books. That’s one of the… Read more »