My favourite reads of 2013

It’s the end of the year, and I don’t have any new releases on my immediate radar until January. That seems like a perfect time to post my top 3 (or 4, as it is) of 2013.

Tied at 3rd place are the two hottest reads of the year. I’m talking solar eruptions, here:

Shock & Awe by Abi Roux

I’d been waiting for this one with bated breath since the short had been posted. And, man, was it ever worth it. I already know this is going to be one of those books that fall open on their own at certain spots, because I read the hell out of them. Pure feel-good, hot-as-hell joy.

Market Garden Capture & Surrender by Aleks Voinov and L.A. Witt

All the Market Garden books are hot, and I have a very soft (to say nothing of weak-kneed) spot for all of them. But this one takes it a step further, by adding an emotional depth to the heat that took me by surprise. I already read it twice, and it keeps getting better. The heat coming off the pages is incinerating, but it’s more than that. It’s a deeply emotional roller-coaster ride, well written, with characters that feel as alive as if they lived next door. Definitely the best Market Garden yet.

My personal number two:

Glitterland by Alexis Hall

A lot of hype surrounded the release of this novel, and, honestly, I picked it up expecting to be disappointed. Well, I wasn’t. Au contraire. As Darian would say: “That was proper special”.

Ash is class, and sophistication, and a self-absorbed dick, so damaged by privilege and a mental illness which de-constructs every assumption he ever had about himself that, ultimately, he is only able to retain his dignity by sacrificing someone else’s. But not so damaged that he doesn’t realise the omnishambles he’s made of his one-in-a-lifetime chance at happiness, and surprisingly pertinacious given the right incentive.

Darian is under-educated, straightforward joy with a shallow love for accoutrements of all kinds and a deep love for Ash.
Hopelessly out-everythinged by Ash, he nevertheless proves to be the better man by managing to keep his maltreated dignity intact just by being himself. In the end, it’s up to Darian’s handsome heart to save Ash’s sophisticated ass. And that was a privilege to watch.

This is a sly novel, in a good way.
It seduces with its lush, witty voice, and the sheer erudition of a narrator who casually references Plato’s cave parable while being fucked through spilled ink on his desk.
It pulls you into the peach blossom foam of its poetry, and you sink back with a superior little smile, so titillated by the champagne prickle of sparkling sarcasm, that you don’t notice its lethal edge until you pull your hands out and stare incredulously at the blood welling up from all those little nicks the blade of sarcasm leaves on human flesh.

A bold, bright, exceedingly well-told story with an underlying warmth that defies its often scathing tone.

At the top of my list:

Unhinge the Universe by Aleks Voinov and L.A. Witt

That was a bloody brilliant read. It dares you, balls out, to fall for an SS officer towards the end of WWII, and succeeds. A beautifully paced enemies-to-lovers story that is painstakingly researched and expertly crafted. I want to read it again and again.

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