Now that 2014 has drawn to a close and 2015 is here and upon us, I wanted to take some time this month to reflect on the best of what I read this past year. I read way more than I ever have in a single year (306 books!) and while a few of them were not ones I’d recommend, most books were compelling and engaging reads. While everything I’d recommend is either already here on the blog or still to come (I’ve some reviews already queued out into March), I’m going to highlight the 10 books I read in 2014 that I rated a whopping 5 stars.
Note: These are books I read in 2014, not necessarily published in 2014.
#6 – City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Hands down the top science fiction/fantasy title I read this year, City of Stairs, tells the story of Shira Thivani who, in the course of investigating the death of a diplomat, comes to learn more than she could have imagined about the history of her world, her country, and her family. See my full review of City of Stairs.
#5 – The River Leith by Leta Blake
When former amateur boxer, Leith, wakes up from a coma with amnesia, he starts on a difficult journey of finding himself. But there’s a similar journey to be had for those around him as they find what role they will play in Leith’s new life. See my full review of The River Leith.
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Title: The River Leith
Author: Leta Blake
Published: May 15, 2014
Publisher: Leta Blake
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is the second novel I’ve read by Leta Blake and I remain incredibly impressed with her ability to build a world around a character and just completely pull a reader into it. The relationships she writes are complicated and dynamic without ever seeming forced or overly constructed. And it’s definitely not difficult to get caught up in her books and refuse to put them down.
In The River Leith, we find a former amateur boxer, Leith, who wakes up in the hospital after a brief coma resulting from an illegal blow during a championship match. The injury is no longer life threatening, but there is a little complication – he can’t remember anything from the past three years. The only person still in his life that he remembers is his brother, Arthur. But when Zach, whom his brother tells him was his best friend, shows up in his hospital room, he finds himself more confused than he’s been since he first woke up.
I’ll admit, I read this one in one sitting. It’s not long, but there’s a lot here and it truly is an incredible story. The timing and pacing is done just right and the juxtaposition of a narration focused on Leith with Zach’s vlog entries really helps the reader to understand the perspectives of both of the main characters without awkward shifts in the narration or anything like that. I highly recommend this one. 🙂
(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Title: Training Season
Author: Leta Blake
Publication Date: November 11, 2013
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review: Matty Marcus was at the height of his figure skating career when he suffered an injury that took him off the ice and out of competition. Now, as he’s completing his recovery, it’s time to start thinking about how to get back into the game. Though he never expected that he’d be taking a house-sitting job on a Montana ranch to raise the funds to hire a new coach and start seriously training again. And he certainly didn’t expect to spend that time next to an incredibly handsome neighbor who somehow seems to know exactly what Matty needs. But as the two of them grow closer, Matty knows he will need to make a choice – even though he’s certain there’s no choice to make at all.
I really enjoyed this one. It’s an M/M romance with a well-developed and believable story (while still having its moments of heat along the way). Even though Matty seems a bit over-the-top at first, it’s to quickly connect with him and the other characters and be cheering and yelling at him as the story progresses. There’s so much about this story and its characters that is unexpected, too, that it really kept my interest and, in many ways, I really would like to know what happens next for everyone involved. (This is also one of those books that I would give a great deal to see as a film, if only more people were optioning and adapting LGBT-themed literature.)
Content Warning: A few brief BDSM scenes.
(eGalley provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)