Monday, December 30, 2013

A Bear on Books Best of 2013

Best of 2013, According to a Bear…

As we get to the end of another year, I am thankful for a lot of things. Mostly, that the year is almost over and I made it to the end. As most of you who follow my silly postings know, I’ve been sick a lot this year, and am working my way through a cardiac issue (FINALLY got a diagnosis), not working, trying to write, and struggling with family and personal issues. But…I am so very thankful for my friends, for family and for the wonderful books that helped keep me distracted, amused and amazed this year.

So many great talented people published books that broke my heart, made me laugh, let me visit places I never thought I’d see, and took my breath away. I wasn’t able to review as much as I did the past two or three years due to work, writing, and health, but I kept a file going of favorites, and all I can say is thank God for my Kindle. Most of the books I want to honor this year were published in 2013, but a couple may be older ones. My list, my rules. Sue me.

So here we go…

I can’t quite pick just one book as my favorite of the year. There are three I can narrow it down to, so they get the honors as co-books of the year.

  • Billy’s Bones by Jamie Fessenden. A stunning, heart-wrenching story of love and redemption. Every page was a revelation. I hurt, I cried, and I prayed for Kevin. Just wonderful.
  •  King Mai by Edmond Manning. The second in the Lost and Found series. Edmond has a way of wrapping me around his little finger and lulling me into a nice, easy complacency then WHAM! my heart is his playtoy. Mai stole my breath away.
  •  Taking Chances by John Goode. John’s Foster High stories are the best YA series, bar none. Now, he tell us the full story of Matt and the boy behind the red door, Tyler. For every gay man out there who isn’t a manslut, who believes in love but is scared to death most times, this is your—my—story. God, I want to write like John. So controlled, tight and spellbinding.

There are seven more I want to add, to make a top ten list. Really, any of these books, plus the three I already mentioned, would make it to the short list of books I’d want to take with me to a deserted island if I were going to be stranded. In no particular order, they are:

  • Honor C by Carol Zampa. A man who tries to do the right thing. Honor isn’t dead. Impeccably written.  
  • Moving Mountains by Laura Harner. Jamie and Remy. Miggy. I lost my heart and cannot wait for the fourth and final book in the Separate Ways series.
  •  Memorizing You by Dan Skinner. Months after reading this, I still can’t discuss it without swallowing around a lump in my throat. One of the best books I’ve ever read. 
  • Aftermath by Cara Dee. What happens when a maniac holds you and several other men hostage for months? The bonds that form, the memories and the aftermath. I was glued to this book, and wanted more.
  • The General and the Horse Lord by Sarah Black. A tale of two mature men by one of my favorite authors in the genre. The writing is solid, the storyline stunning, and the characters sharply drawn. So very very very good.
  •  Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane. Yeah, I’m Amy’s biggest fan. But read this and tell me if Rusty doesn’t steal your heart. I wanted to wrap him in cotton, keep him safe and let him know he’s loved. Silly, I know, but that’s how his story affected me. 
  •  Superhero by Eli Easton. Jordan and Owen have nothing in common. Except that they’re best friends, and they can’t imagine not being in each other’s lives. One straight, one not but that doesn’t matter. Owen can’t just let Jordan not be there, so he searches his heart and discovers something…more. Top notch.

My heart is a little bigger this year, and able to hold more than ten books, so these twenty fantastic efforts found a cozy niche there also.

  • Running with George by Charles Lunsford. A man who lost his partner of years finds love again.
  •  Judging Jude by Havan Fellows. Strong characters, fantastic writing, had me from the first word.
  •  Strength of the Pack by Kendall McKenna. One of the best shifter stories I have ever read. 
  •  KC, at Bat by Tom Mendicino. A young man falls for a jock, and has a realization at the end that blows him away. The start of a series, I think. I hope...
  • The Celestine Room by Jared Rackler. Vampires, sensual writing, great story.
  •  Denying Yourself by Silvia Violet. Unhappy werewolves who find love. Sigh.
  •  Red Sunset by Rowena Sudbury. Rowena writes such beautiful stories. This follow-up steals my heart.
  •  The Last Day of Summer by JF Smith. The boys of summer. Be still my heart.
  •  The Mormon Victorian Society by Johnny Townsend. A series of shorts about Mormons. So goddamned touching I choked up throughout the book.
  •  If the Stars Fall by Diane Adams. The last of the Making of a Man series, and the one that took my breath away.
  •  Old Loyalty, New Love by Mary Calmes. Mary always delivers characters I love, and she shot me in the heart with Roman.
  •  Out of the Blackness by Carter Quinn. A horribly abused young man slowly opens himself to love. I was afraid to breathe sometimes reading this stunner.
  •  Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre. Luki and Sonny on my Kindle, and my life is good. Some of the best writing I’ve ever read.
  •  500 Miles by Parker Williams. Broken soldier, his best friend’s younger brother. Love, plain and simple.
  •  Racing for the Sun by Amy Lane. Intense, hard-edged. One of my favorite Amy books.
  •  Dog Tagged by James Brock. A love story set against the backdrop of DADT. What happens when the man you love might die and no one can know you love him?
  •  Plan B by SJD Peterson. Gay-for-you story that grabs your heart and runs with it.
  •  Forever Promised by Amy Lane. The finale of the Promise Rock series. Deacon, Jon and Mikhail. Comfort food for my soul.
  •  The Great Wall by Z. Allora. An amazing story of love, in a totally unexpected setting. Rockers in China. Z rocks this one.
  •  The Park at Sunrise by Lee Brazil. Quietly stunning. Three friends who love each other lose one. Can the other two go on?

There are just too many fine, solid books to leave off my list. So, here’s thirty more, some not published this year but I read them in 2013. New to me equals new! Again, these are in no particular order.

  • Damaged Angels by Larry Benjamin.
  • Still, by Mary Calmes.
  • I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier! by Crystal Rose.
  • YES, SIR by Ellis Carrington.
  • Half Moon Chambers by Harper Fox.
  • The House of Silence by J.A. Jaken.
  • Safety Net by Keiko Kirin.
  • My Cowboy Heart by Z.A. Maxfield.
  • Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker.
  • Song on the Sand by Ruth Sims.
  • Hunt and Pray by Cindy Sutherland.
  • Dex in Blue by Amy Lane.
  • Beyond Duty by SJD Peterson.
  • Ethan in Gold by Amy Lane.
  • Light and Shadow by GL Roberts.
  • Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane.
  • Chase the Storm by V.M. Waitt.
  • Stealing Ganymede by J. Warren.
  • The Brothers Grime: Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield.
  • An Ordinary Boy by Brian Centrone.
  • Black Dog by Cat Grant.
  • Reach for the Moon by Val Kovalin.
  • Power Exchange by AJ Rose.
  • Safeword by AJ Rose.
  • Feral by Alexa Land.
  • Touch & Geaux by Abigail Roux.
  • Pup by SJD Peterson.
  • Rough Canvas 6: Nature of Desire by Joey W. Hill.
  • Social Skills by Sara Alva.
  • Sinner’s Gin by Rhys Ford.

There are three books I pulled back off the archive on my Kindle and re-read. They are too good to just have once. Very different in nature—cowboys, high school kids, wolf shifters—but all three leap off the page at me. Especially the first; I read it twice over Christmas just because…

  • One Marriage and Three Weddings by Jenna Hilary Sinclair. This...this is a slow dance to love, plain and simple. Two cowboys who decide they want to be it for each other after both being married, and how their lived play out. Magnificent.
  • Wrestling with Desire by D.H. Starr. Two young high school students who find each other and their bumpy ride to love.
  • A Werewolf’s Soldier by Kayley Scott. War, werewolves, and love. All parts done so well, it's magic.

I wish all of you a very Happy New Year. May 2014 bring you peace, happiness and prosperity. My love and thoughts are with everyone.