Favourite Reads of 2021

By the time this post goes live I am hoping that I have achieved my goal of reading 40 books again this year! I’m currently on 38 as I am writing this but hopefully I will have now finished! I read so many amazing books again this year. As is my tradition, I have listed the standout ones for me below. Do check these and all the others I have read this year out!


Bloodlaced

Bloodlaced (Youkai Bloodlines #1) by Courtney Maguire

 

Captivated

Captivated by A.C Thomas

 

 

Dark Summer

Dark Summer by S.J. Coles

 

Blood Stained Tea

The Yakuza Path: Blood Stained Tea by Amy Tasukada

 

Aeterna

Aeterna by Kim Bannerman

Book Review: Blood Sacrifice (Serial Investigations #8) by Rhiannon D’Averc

Blood Sacrifice

A romantic trip to Paris…
… A dead body at a famous landmark.A trip to Paris for Ram’s birthday was never going to go smoothly. From the second he spots a police presence while exploring a monument and learns there’s been a murder, he’s chomping at the bit to get involved – and when he’s recognised by a fan, he gets his chance.

With Will sucked into the investigation as well, this should a chance for them to enjoy an international reputation and solve a case for the Paris police. But as more bodies appear and the case gets more complicated, their unfamiliar surroundings could turn around and bite them.
Locked out of their hotel, with their cash stolen and an unfriendly police force shutting them out, Ram and Will might just come up against their biggest opponent yet. Are they embroiled in a conspiracy that could overtake them entirely – or are the shadows in the corners of Notre-Dame really just shadows?

Purchase: Amazon.com

Goodreads: Blood Sacrifice (Serial Investigations #8) by Rhiannon D’Averc


Review

Rating: 5 stars

When Will and Ram take a romantic trip to Paris for Ram’s birthday, work couldn’t be further from their minds and least of all that they might get caught up in a murder investigation. However, when a captain of the Parisian polices asks them to consult on a case, neither of them feel that they can turn down a chance to raise their profile with their first international case. The ritualistic murder scene was never going to be a straightforward case to solve and as the death count begins to rise, Will and Ram find themselves getting drawn in deeper. The killings are just the start and what they discover could once again put their lives in danger.

I was excited to read this eighth book in the series, and especially so because it takes our heroes away from London and their familiar surroundings. Paris is a great setting for a murder mystery, especially one with so many twists and turns. I enjoyed seeing how their investigations went down in unfamiliar territory and their interactions with the French police. I liked Captain Varon’s character, even if Will and Ram weren’t so fond of him! And I would like to see a reappearance from him in future novels.

This time the mystery takes on much darker tones and, on the surface, appears to be a ritual or satanic killing. However, it would seem that more sinister forces are at play and that this is setting the scene for something much bigger.

This is another excellent instalment to the series, and I cannot wait to find out what happens next!

Book Review: Blood Pressure (Serial Investigations #7) by Rhiannon D’Averc

Blood Pressure

Ram has spotted his dream locked room mystery case on the news – and he’ll stop at nothing to get himself involved with it. The problem is, newly-minted DCI Alex Heath isn’t too happy about it – and neither is his successor as DI…

An invitation to go home and visit family should be a happy occasion, but for Will, it’s quite the opposite. Spiralling into doubt and fear about Ram outing him to his parents, Will risks pushing him away entirely. And when he does go home, things aren’t going to be plain sailing. Will’s father is an ex-Ambassador, and he’s got many years of finding out secrets behind him.

As both are rocked by revelations about Will’s past and his present, Ram and Will have to contend with doubting policemen, ugly habits rearing their heads, and the struggle to trust one another. And there’s the question of how Harry got that black eye…

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

Goodreads:  Blood Pressure (Serial Investigations #7) by Rhiannon D’Averc


Review

Rating: 5 stars

When Will and Ram learn that Alex has a locked room case, Ram is determined to get involved. After all what PI could resist a challenge like this? However, both Alex and the new DI aren’t too keen on having their input, not that this will stop Ram from trying! But first they need to survive a visit to Will’s parents who have no idea that their son is gay, and that Ram is anything more than a friend. Events threaten to push them apart as does Will’s father when he finally learns the truth. Throwing themselves into the case might be what they both need, especially when it seems that the police may need their help after all.

I couldn’t wait to read book 7 in the series. I have loved Will and Ram since book 1 and the series just keeps getting better and better. Now that they are in a relationship, they have further difficulties to overcome. Despite some old issues threatening to come between them, what I love about this couple is that they are there for each other when it counts despite everything that is thrown at them.

The mystery is just as intriguing as ever and I enjoyed following the case and trying to work it out for myself too! Again it was full of suspense and twists that I never saw coming!

I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Pressure and cannot wait to read book 8 in the series!

New Release Blitz: The Gemini Strand by L.J.Hasbrouck

Title: The Gemini Strand

Author: L.J. Hasbrouck

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/28/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 91600

Genre: Science Fiction, sci fi, family-drama, futuristic, dystopia, gay, ace, professional assassin, cloning, Mars

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Description

Life on Mars is no fairy tale for Morgan, a scrappy adventurer who plunders Earth’s carcass in search of loot—and evidence of an elusive scientist. She hopes he can cure her father’s dementia, but instead he kidnaps her father and flees into the deceptive dreamlands of Mars. During her frantic search to locate them, Morgan begins experiencing strange hallucinations that make her think she’s losing her mind.

Meanwhile, Nil, a tormented killer struggling to repress his humanity, thinks his hallucinations are a flaw in his system. Soon his pesky emotions roar back to life, throwing a dagger into the whole “cold-blooded assassin” thing. While he pursues his next mark, a witty hacker trying to save Nil’s other victims, he battles with his disorienting visions and burgeoning emotions.

What he doesn’t realize is that he’s falling in love for the first time—and the hacker he’s falling for is also the scientist who kidnapped Morgan’s father.

Drawn together by their common target, Morgan and Nil harness their mysterious visions to find each other amidst holographic recreations of Oz, Wonderland, Neverland, Atlantis, and Camelot. Before she loses her father forever, Morgan must work with a killer and kidnapper to discover the sinister truth behind her father’s illness and her bond with Nil. And Nil is forced to decide between protecting the man he loves and helping the girl he’s inexplicably linked to.

Because they share more than disorienting hallucinations—and what they share will change everything they thought they knew about themselves.

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Review: Aeterna by Kim Bannerman

Aeterna

Vampires have conquered the living world, eradicated human society, and rule an undead empire from their underground palace of Aeterna. No longer forced to hide in the shadows, they build a luxurious metropolis of epicurean excess, savage rituals, and royal lineages, all existing in perfect eternal harmony.

Of Aeterna’s byzantine rites, the Bloodlet is the greatest: a spectacular hunt held once a century to choose which royal house will ascend the throne. But for Marcus Atreidae, the last vampire to be created before the annihilation of mankind, the Bloodlet offers a chance to explore the ruins of a dead city and learn all he can about those creatures of myth and legend: humans.

Barred from participating as punishment for his curiosity, Marcus sneaks to the surface but, when catastrophe strikes, he finds himself trapped amid the dystopian ruins with an unlikely ally — a beautiful and fearless clone named Bo. Together, they discover a web of lies that stretches all the way to Aeterna’s putrid core. Will the truth of Marcus’ own mysterious past set him free? Or will it destroy an empire?

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

Goodreads: Aeterna by Kim Bannerman


Review

Rating: 5 stars

*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*

After the cleanse of humanity by their own hands, vampires retreated below the surface to Aeterna, a city paradise that is designed to last an eternity. Every one-hundred years the Bloodlet is held to decide which family will rule over Aeterna. For most it offers power, but for Marcus it is an opportunity. He is the last vampire created and has no memories of his mortal past. The Bloodlet is his chance to go to the surface and explore the world that humans left behind. When the unthinkable happens, Marcus finds himself drawn to Bo, a human clone who, unlike the others, has memories of her past life. Together they must uncover the betrayal than runs deep through Aeterna, whilst learning of their former lives in the process.

I was drawn to reading Aeterna as it offers a different kind of vampire story. Humans have been eradicated, but the undead have found a way to survive. The ingenuity and new world captured my interest, and it certainly did not disappoint. Every detail has been meticulously thought out, which crafts a fully functioning way of life and society.

Our guide through Aeterna, Marcus, is a very likeable and well-developed main character. He lacks the ambition of the majority of his family, and instead craves knowledge and to understand where he came from. His loss of memories was interesting, and I was just as curious as he was to learn more of his past. His origins were fitting of his character and gave a further understanding of what continues to drive him. I enjoyed the developing romance between Marcus and Bo. It was just enough to make it believable and did not distract from the main plot of the story.

If you are looking for a different kind of vampire story, I absolutely recommend Aeterna, and cannot wait to read more books in the series.

New Release Blitz: The Chief by J Calamy

Title: The Chief

Series: Under Red Sky, Book Two

Author: J Calamy

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/30/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 93200

Genre: Contemporary Thriller, LGBTQIA+, action/adventure, criminals, consulate, military, foreign service, genderfluid, gender-questioning, bisexual, pansexual, PTSD/post-traumatic stress, Cognitive Disability, TBI survivor, Over 40

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Description

Legendary counter-terrorism agent Natalie Chevalier is finally retiring. The first nonbinary Regional Security Chief in DSS history, Nat’s last post lands her on the gorgeous sapphire isle of Sri Lanka. All she wants is a few peaceful months before she retires, and an anonymous hookup with a gorgeous, bisexual surfer is the perfect start. Until Nat learns that he is her final assignment.

Alessandro Benitez travels the world buying gems, surfing, and raising his teenage brother Max. His is a charmed, luxurious life made possible by his position laundering money for Red Sky, the biggest crime syndicate in Southeast Asia. When Alex meets Nat, their scorching encounter leaves him questioning not only his precarious career choice, but also whether his life has been as charmed as he’d thought.

Tasked to spy on him and persuade him to defect by any means necessary, Nat struggles to follow orders as her relationship with Alex heats up, blurring the line between professional and personal. She can’t deny how much she wants to be with him, but helping him means treason and erasing her ceiling-shattering career.

While Red Sky destroys itself from within, Alex becomes trapped in a nightmare as everyone he knows either defects or turns up dead. His loyalty to the elusive boss of Red Sky is absolute, but he’s desperate to escape before he or his brother gets caught in the crossfire. As his world crumbles around him, Alex realizes Nat is the only person he can trust. While Nat’s feelings for Alex grow more complicated, the CIA’s desperate methods to bring down Red Sky call into question everything she once thought she stood for. Now she must expose her dirty boss and get Alex safely out of Red Sky before her reputation and her heart suffer the consequences.

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Monthly Reading List

I cannot believe we are approaching the end of the year! November seems to have just flown by!

I’m still trying to catch up with my reading list, so only two books have been added this month so far. I will add more if I have the time. I am getting more up-to-date now and hope to re-open review submissions in the New Year!

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The seed of evil has been planted …

What will happen when its roots take hold?

Ékleipsis: The Abyss is the second short story collection by the award-winning author.

Tales of depravation and insanity are woven together with unrelenting style and depth, scrutinizing human nature’s degeneration when compromised by tragic, vicious circumstances.

These complex, wretched individuals and the irremediable conditions they are desperate to claw out of—or into—invoke the unfathomable question: What devastation are we truly capable of when left with no way out but down . . . into the obscurity of the abyss?

 

The Shivering Ground

The Shivering Ground blends future and past, earth and otherworldliness, in a magnetic collection that shimmers with art, philosophy, dance, film, and music at its heart.

A haunting medieval song in the mouth of a guard, an 1800s greatcoat on the shoulders of a playwright experiencing a quantum love affair, alien worlds both elsewhere and in the ruined water at our feet: these stories startle us with the richness and emptiness of what we absolutely know and simultaneously cannot pin into place.

In the tender emotions, hidden ecological or relational choices, and the sheer weight of a compelling voice, readers “hear” each story, endlessly together and apart.