Kazza K’s Books of the Year: 2015
Welcome to my Books of the Year for 2015.
Here we are at the end of another year of reading for On Top Down Under Book Reviews. Quality not quantity has certainly been my mantra this year – because, no matter what, it’s one hell of a mantra.
For anyone new on here my particular genre of choice is called “MM” however, I choose to call it gay romance, erotica, fiction, or lit. I step outside, and I definitely read variations of romance, there’s usually a het romance on my Books of the Year because I enjoy that too.
Thank you to fellow readers who follow our blog. It’s great when you comment, talk to us, or simply lurk/ look around. It’s nice that you have faith in my reviews, our reviews, and support OTDU. It staggers me when I look at just how many people do check out our reviews, interviews, giveaways and occasional post. It staggers me when I receive emails from readers saying they love the honesty of a particular review/ reviews that I have written, that there is much love of the graphics, the pics, or the mix of the blog’s reviews in general. It means a lot… cheers!
A huge thank you to the authors who pour their heart and soul into writing something that I love. It really is a wonderful gift to be able to create. For me, I’ve always seen the creation of written words as a combination of imagination and passion… with maybe a dash of crazy tossed in for interests sake, hmm, maybe that’s me 🙂 It’s fun to be able to live a thousand adventures and lives, to cry, to laugh, to yell, to experience love and joy, and work for that ending – no matter what that may be. Books brings people together. I would not have my blog partner without the help of a particular book. I have never had any designs on writing but I admire the craft, and I love reading… hence this blog. My reviews are lengthy and the social media, pictures, GIFS and memes take me hours to organise. It’s my way of showing others how I feel about your words. Your book.
I could not imagine On Top Down Under Book Reviews without the best blog partner in the world, Cindi. We are more than blog partners, we are family. It is so comfortable and fun for me to be able to have in-depth book discussions with her. We don’t read the same books most of the time, but we still talk about what we’re reading, what we like and don’t like, and we dissect things together. We definitely share a passion for the written word and not everyone quite gets that brand of crazy. Nothing wrong with loving fictional characters 🙂 Just ask me or Cindi and we’ll share that fact with you. Thank you, Cindi <3
And, of course, a big shout out to the people who have contributed as guest reviewers – Trisha, Jay, Paul, Judy and Josh. Thank you for the time you have given the books and our blog.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever you do or don’t celebrate, and may 2016 find you well and be kind to you all 🙂
On to my Books of the Year: 2015. For the first time I can’t separate the #1 Book. I’ve tried, they’re different books, but they’re both deserving and I can’t split them. Every time I thought I could I felt uncomfortable about doing so. So equal first it is.
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More Than Most, Sloan Parker. Sloan Parker Press.
Contemporary Ménage/Gay Romance, Mystery, Series
Review Borderline NSFW
What can I say? I love me some Richard Marshall. He was mine the whole way through More so I was scared witless going into his book. Looking forward to it because, you know how you just love some fictional characters? Richard is one of those characters for me. However, I had great trepidation that Richard might be somehow different when it was his voice narrating. That the love he shared with Luke and Matthew might somehow have altered. I held my breath, dove on in, and was thrilled to bits with how my three guys were going. How Luke had come out of his shell and how Matthew was maturing and believing in himself more. Most of all, I was thrilled how Richard was still this awesome guy who liked to protect those he loved. How he communicated, even though things around his business were incredibly tight and tense. There’s also an intriguing mystery that’s part of the overall read. I can’t thank Sloan Parker enough for looking after my guys, handling them with care, and making Richard even better, making More Than Most so damn good.
The Butcher’s Sons, Scott Alexander Hess. Lethe Press.
Historical Lit-Fic/Queer Fic
This book came to my attention when it was part of our blog anniversary giveaways. The synopsis sounded intriguing and the writing surpassed my already high expectations. Darkly lyrical, The Butcher’s sons transports the reader to 1930s Hell’s Kitchen with style. You can smell the air, feel the heat, and you become part of an Irish-American family at a time when the Mob and racketeering were gaining a foothold in depression-era America. The story is principally about three brothers and their father who live above and run a butcher shop. One brother who sees violence as a way out, one who sees education and a beautiful woman as his ticket out, and one who falls for his oldest, violent brother’s good friend, making their same-sex relationship dangerous on multiple levels. The Butcher’s Sons is quality writing through-and-through and anyone who loves a good historical, who likes that era, as well as good lit-fic, should pick this book up. Masterful writing.
Reaping Havoc, A J Rose. The Grim Writer Press.
New Adult Gay Romance, Contemporary, Para/Supernatural Themes
Such a quirky synopsis had me picking this book out on Amazon and, boy, was I thrilled with my choice. My second A J Rose book blew me out of the water with the macabre but beautiful story of love amongst death. Mitch is a reaper, he tethers the souls of the recently deceased to transport to a door leading to the afterlife. Being a reaper means he’ll also live to three hundred. Pretty interesting and all, but, and there’s always a but, he can’t allow himself to fall in love. It’s complicated enough with the rules about reapers and love, but to see someone you love age and die while you stay looking twenty four for a long time? Yeah, it doesn’t sit well with him, until someone with a sad backstory and a soul of their own attached comes into his life adding some genuine possibilities. Really well written, something different with wonderfully endearing MCs, Mitch and Nate, made this one hell of a terrific read.
Quillon’s Covert, Joseph Lance Tonlet & Louis Stevens. JLT Publishing
Gay Romance, Taboo – Incest – Contemporary
This hasn’t been released yet, two days to go, but I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC. I hate doing this but I’m giving warnings, the book contains biological father-son incest. Now you may think, wha-? No! But I’ll tell you that it’s truly romantic, well written, humorous and touching. Besides, it’s pure escapist fiction. If you’re on here you’re an adult so you know how you feel about this taboo, but if you’re wavering on the side of reading it, I say give it a go. There’s great care and affection afforded the main characters. Martin snr and Marty jnr take a ‘boys’ trip to the family retreat of Quillon’s Covert for two weeks every year. They can bond in a relaxed manner and shoot the shit. However, as Marty ages, things become more complex, or not. I say ‘or not’ because the authors, while not holding back, do not make it complicated at all… which is not an easy feat given the topic. It’s a ballsy effort by Joseph Lance Tonlet and Louis Stevens to make this book happen. I know how… toey people can get about incest, cheating, and taboo. I loved it, it will be a re-read for me, sooner rather than later, and I could not leave it off my Books of the Year because I loved Martin, Marty and their story.
Hard, Cheryl McIntyre. Self Published.
Het Erotic Romance
Cheryl McIntyre knows how to write interesting, emotional and sexy books. She’s an author I want to read more and more of. Interesting, as she’s primarily a writer of heterosexual romance and when I read romance it’s mostly gay or bi romance. For me to include Hard on here tells you a great deal about how good this book is, and it is very good. Holland and Jensen are two broken people. Holland has lost everything that she held near and dear to her, she’s fractured and then rebooted as someone who is totally and utterly numb inside and out. Jensen sees this and is drawn to her. Wants to photograph her, have sex with her, and bring some spark out in Holland that no longer seems possible. Hard is erotic writing that has a great story which is both heartbreaking and hopeful. It brings a few tears to your eyes, okay it made me cry, but it’s worth every drop shed.
Sedition, Alicia Cameron. Forbidden Fiction.
Gay Dystopian/Fantasy Slavefic, Series
This is book #2 in the Demoted series and, in my opinion, the best one of the series. I loved Succession but Sedition is really an emotional breakout book. Where Subjection was building and had the main characters somewhat more detached, Sedition makes Sascha and Cashiel shine – together and individually. Where I didn’t particularly gel with Cashiel a whole lot in Subjection, I loved him in Sedition. Loved. Him. Cash’s growth took off and never stopped from the beginning of this book and carried on right through Succession, book #3. Once again this is a darker read. The series is graphic and not for the faint of heart, slavery is never cheery, just bear that in mind before reading, but I never felt like anything was gratuitous, it just was. It’s all part of this dystopian fantasy world that Alicia Cameron has gone to great lengths to create. Wonderfully dark and erotic reading.
Bane, Amelia C Gormley. Riptide Publishing.
Gay Dark Dystopian Romance, Religion, Contagion, Non-Con, Dubcon in Series
This is a knockout series. Strain, book #1, was on my BOTY last year and Bane is, I believe, the last in the Strain trilogy and every bit as good as, if not different to, Strain. Another dystopian read, another dark series, another well written book with fantastic world building and layered characters. Bane brings together Rhys and Darius from Strain and mixes/pairs them with Nico and Zach from Juggernaut, book #2, taking them on a dangerous, but necessary, journey to stop a sadist and to hopefully help get some closure on a strain that has decimated most of the world’s population. To also help the Jugs – a (once) military unit. Politics, religion, non-con, dub-con, some social commentary, and more, litter these books and the author doesn’t miss a beat in tying up all the threads of an intricately woven plot that started in book #1. Fantastic end to a wonderful trilogy.
Infected Thoughts, 5amwriterman. Self Published
Gay Psychological Erotic Fic
This book was released last year… but I didn’t read it until February this year. Had I read it last year it would have been on my Books of the Year then, so I’m making an exception and adding it to my list this year. I loved this book. Maybe loved isn’t the right word because it’s isn’t an easy read. It isn’t cheery or warm and fuzzy. It’s dark and there’s not much happiness to be had but, heck, this is such a good read. Fractured. Scattered. Darkly erotic. Psychologically disturbing. Raw and real. Infected Thoughts isn’t perfect but it’s the kind of novella that keeps you up late reading because you have to know what’s going to happen – you have to know what is happening. Then you don’t sleep because you’re thinking about it. Intelligent indie writing that makes you want to find more gems like Infected Thoughts.
The Merchant of Death, Lisa Henry and J A Rock.
Gay Romance, Contemporary, Mystery, Part of Trilogy
Book number #2 of the Playing the Fool trilogy is definitely fun, touching and interesting. I loved Mac, the straight-laced donut and coffee deprived FBI agent, from the beginning. Henry was an interesting “fool” to Mac’s play-by-the-rules character. These MCs are the epitome of opposites attract – Mac, the FBI agent and Henry, the flimflam man. If you like more plot driven writing with some humour and action, not so much sex on page, then this is a terrific series to pick up. This book is on my BOTY list because I believe it’s the best book in this trilogy. While it’s a very worthy book in its own right, I believe it does need to be read as part of the trilogy because of ongoing arcs. The Merchant of Death allowed the character’s guard down. Henry was more real in this instalment, which I really needed to see. There was also just a little kink that appealed thrown in to make it even more interesting. Some well deserved ‘Mac n Cheese’ love from me.
Knowing How He Feels About You, Eric Gober. Wayward Ink Publishing.
Gay Retro Fic/Romance, Part of an Anthology
Review (Third Story) Review Links to NSFW Tumblr
This story is part of an anthology – Three is Not A Crowd. I believe Wayward Ink releases quite a few novellas from their anthologies individually and if they do release this one, grab a copy. The anthology as a whole is quite a good one, but Knowing How He Feels About You stood out for me. Set in the eighties, it’s about three male cheerleaders from Wichita going to Arizona to cheer on their football team. This story is humorous, camp, sassy and charming. Chad, the narrator, is engaging and there is a real sense of time, from fashion to music to attitudes, throughout. The title is really perfect for the story. No sex, for those who like to know, just quality storytelling from a very good author.
A Pride of Poppies – Various Authors. See review or Cover. Manifold Press.
Historical – LGBTQIA+ WWI Anthology, Various Authors
One of the best anthologies I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Every single story is well crafted, well edited, and fascinating. Some stories were so good I’d love to see them longer but there is not one story that misses a beat. Set during WWI, the book concentrates on England and those left behind, or the battlefields of Europe, except for Anh Sang which is set in French Indochina. There are some wonderful authors in this anthology, quite a few were new to me. If you like a good LGBT historical, you like queer fiction of a literary quality, then this anthology covers all the letters and is beautifully written. Oh yes, the proceeds of sales go to The Royal British Legion..