While the voting continues in our Readers’ Choice Awards 2016, we thought we would take this opportunity to share with you our personal favourites for 2016. It’s always such a difficult choice with so many wonderful books and narrowing it down always seems such an impossible task but it is a task that we have now completed with a lot of soul searching.
Now it’s the turn of the only cock in the roost, Mark. Take a look and see what or who impressed Mark the most as he reveals his 2016 favourites……….
Book of The Year 2016
Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean
Detective Sergeant James Henderson’s remarkable gut instincts have put him on a three-year fast track to becoming an inspector. But the advancement of his career has come at a cost. Gay, posh and eager to prove himself in the Metropolitan Police, James has allowed himself few chances for romance.
But when the murder of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte lands in his lap, all that changes. His investigation leads him to a circle of irresistibly charming men. And though he knows better, James finds himself enticed into their company.
Soon his desire for photographer Ben Morgan challenges him to find a way into the other man’s lifestyle of one-night stands and carefree promiscuity. At the same time his single murder case multiplies into a cruel pattern of violence and depravity.
But as the bodies pile up and shocking secrets come to light, James finds both his tumultuous private life and coveted career threatened by a bitter legacy.
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“So after all the years I have been doing our Readers’ Choice Awards I have never read a book that has left such a long standing impression on me, especially when it is from a debut author. Yes, I’m still raving about THIS BOOK! It pushed every single button for me, the writing, the plot, the story, the characters, the balance between murder / mystery and romance. It was one of those rare books that I could hardly fault. I read a lot of great books in 2016 but THIS BOOK just had that something special that lifted it above all the rest.”
Favourite Author in 2016
Haley Walsh tried acting, but decided the actor’s life was not for her. Instead, she became a successful graphic designer in Los Angeles, her hometown. After fifteen years of burning money in the ’80s and early ’90s, she retired from the graphics industry and turned her interests toward writing. She became a freelance newspaper reporter, wrote articles for quirky magazines, published award-winning short stories, and now writes an acclaimed gay mystery series, the Skyler Foxe Mysteries. She’s lived all her life in southern California, sampling wines and chomping chocolate. Yeah, it’s a living.
“Haley Walsh has kept me totally entertained and enthralled in 2016 with her Skyler Foxe mystery series on audio. I have possibly been a late starter on this series but once I discovered Skyler and his boyfriend Keith there was no stopping me. This series of books has everything, great characters, great stories which have had me laughing, crying and exasperated all the way. The audio series is still not yet complete so I’m now waiting with bated breath for the next instalment”
Favourite Debut Author 2016
Dal Maclean comes from the North of Scotland. Her background is in journalism, and she has an undying passion for history, the more gossipy and scandalous the better. Dal has lived in Asia and worked all over the world, but home is now the UK. She dislikes the Tragic Gay trope, but loves imperfect characters and genuine emotional conflict in romantic fiction. As an author, and a reader, she believes it’s worth a bit of work to reach a happy ending. Agatha Christie, English gardens and ill-advised cocktails are three fatal weaknesses, though not usually at the same time.
“Dal rocked my world in 2016 with her debut novel Bitter Legacy, so although I read a number of Debut authors in 2016, who were all excellent too, Dal just put the cherry on the cake. I so hope and look forward to reading more books from Dal in 2017.”
Favourite Series with a Book Published in 2016
A Gay Amish Romance Series by Keira Andrews
“I guess some might say I’m cheating a little on this but I couldn’t let the opportunity go. Keira Andrews’ Gay Amish romance series has been out for some time but I’m always a little slow in getting around to things. Once I started I just couldn’t stop, these books, Isaac and David the MCs, just captured my heart. It has been such an emotional journey with these guys, fighting against all odds to find their happiness. There wasn’t one book that left me reaching for the tissues at the end, crying like a baby. So when I saw the Christmas short come out at the end of last year, I whooped with joy especially with the announcement at the back there will be another Isaac and David story being released this year. Yes, I’m buying tissues in bulk before I start.”
Favourite Character Couple in 2016
Cody and Nate
“There have been a number of character couples that have made a lasting impression on me this year, as you’ve already guessed, Skyler and Keith from Haley Walsh’s Foxe Mysteries, Isaac and David from Keira Andrews’ Gay Amish Romance series.
But after looking back through what I have read in 2016 there is a couple that took hold of my heart in one book and have never really let go. Nate and Cody, teenagers in the 80s and having to deal with all the prejudices of this time. Yes, the eighties we remember fondly but it wasn’t all fun. Cody coming from a underprivileged background and Nate from a more affluent one, find a love and bond that is stronger than any obstacles that are thrown their way. I was a teenager in the 80s, so I could relate to all these feelings and emotional turmoil these boys were going through.”
Favourite Book Cover of 2016
Blood Divine by Greg Howard
Cooper Causey spent a lifetime eluding the demons of his youth and suppressing the destructive power inside him. But a disconcerting voicemail lures Cooper back home to the coast of South Carolina and to Warfield—the deserted plantation where his darkness first awakened. While searching for his missing grandmother, Cooper uncovers the truth about his ancestry and becomes a pawn in an ancient war between two supernatural races. In order to protect the only man he’s ever loved, Cooper must embrace the dark power threatening to consume him and choose sides in a deadly war between the righteous and the fallen.
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“I’m with Freya on this one. I never read the book but out of all the book covers I saw last year nothing really caught my eye or spoke to me like this cover does. Its atmospheric feeling, the colour contrast and play with light. It leads the viewer down an avenue of dark trees to the house lit up at the end which gives me all kinds of thoughts as to what may be waiting for me in that house. Will it be good or bad? I guess I’ll have to take Freya’s advice and read the book. If I had seen this book in paper form in a bookstore than it would have definitely landed in my shopping basket for the cover alone.
Favourite Read of 2016 NOT Published in 2016
In The Privacy of Their Home by R.A. Padmos
Dylan’s life is regulated and precise, and as a gay man in the England of the 1960s it’s also necessarily secretive; the law regarding homosexuality may have changed, but unfortunately society’s attitudes are slow to catch up. Meeting Max – younger and less inhibited – is a shock to Dylan’s system; suddenly his world, which has been black and white, explodes into vivid colour. But loving Max is not without difficulty; Max is an artist, talented and ambitious, and there’s no way someone as ordinary as Dylan can hold on to him for long … or is there?
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“This book was beautiful! Absolutely exquisite! A book that will make you feel sad and happy all at the same time. It doesn't take very long to read but there is so much wonderful writing and emotion all crafted together in 123 pages it took my breath away and left me thinking about the story for days after. If a book gets me thinking about it days after I have read it then it deserves the highest accolades I can give. Published in 2015 and I first read it last year, this book would have been a contender for my Book of The Year 2016 had it been published in 2016”
Audiobook of The Year 2016
Last Line by Harper Fox
Narrator: David Thorpe
John Griffin and Michael South - agents in the renegade counterterrorism agency Last Line, and closer than brothers. It's a fast-lane life of danger and excitement. John loves every minute of it, but he's facing one big problem now: his feelings for Mike have flared up from friendship into a passion he can no longer hide. And Mike, although the bravest and best of partners, doesn't feel the same.
Their one sexual encounter leaves them baffled and alienated from one another. Mike is a haunted man, shaken by flashbacks to his past life as an MI5 agent and a mission in Russia that went terribly wrong. He's been left with a need for violence between the sheets, and John isn't prepared to hurt him.
Not everyone has Mike's best interests at heart. Their ruthless boss hires a ghost from Mike's past to help track down a Russian war criminal who's planted a nuclear device in the heart of London. Anzhel Mattvei knows all of Mike's dark secrets, and soon regains his former sexual thralldom over him, leaving Mike locked in battle for his will and his soul. Anzhel has turned Mike into a human detonation device. Only John's love can pull him back from the brink - and save millions of lives in the fallout zone.
“I listen to a lot of audiobooks and love them but this one impressed the most out of all the ones I listened too that were published in 2016. First up I would say this book in places, well quite a few places really, is not for the squeamish or faint of heart among us. If fluffy kittens, puppies and unicorns are more your thing then this book could be a little upsetting. But any book that can have an effect on me while reading is a winner. This one definitely had me wincing and cringing at times for sure along with the excellent narration from David Thorpe. So this one gets my vote for 2016.”
Narrator of The Year 2016
Joel is a UK transplant, growing up with an American parents in a British commonwealth. He is often cast for his unique ability to deliver native, authentic combinations of both American and British sounds. His wit and comedic timing also appeal to producers. He has developed a strong body of work for young audience, historical, fantasy, new-adult, romance and m/m fiction.
His author’s have praised him as “a narrator among narrators, a man whose ability to create different characters rests on the power of his voice and his impeccable delivery”, and a “true delight…" "legendary, and his professionalism, good humor, and charm make him a dream to work with”, "Anyone else would only be second best”.
Joel records under two names, for mainstream and children’s fiction as Joel Froomkin, and for m/m and adult material under Joel Leslie and has consistent access to home studio for all production needs.
“Joel has kept me entertained for hours listening to his narration of the Skyler Foxe mysteries. He brings the characters alive for me in a way that is almost magic, it’s like listening to friends coming out of the speakers in my car. Although the audio series is not yet complete, I’m reluctant to start reading the remaining books in print from as for me Joel Leslie is Skyler Foxe!”