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Best Books of the Year (So Far): Part 2

So, I’ve read a lot of books this year. More so than most. My Goodreads Challenge is sitting at 167 books (as of the end of this week), so I feel it’s time to venture into my yearly list of the best books I’ve read so far. They are all 5 star ratings.




After his sister touches a lethal Frost Flower and succumbs to Frozen Sickness, Rainor seeks out the mysterious Dragon, who purportedly holds the only cure for the fatal disease. In gratitude for saving his sister’s life, Rainor agrees to bring him fresh bread twice a week—despite the man’s insistence he wants for nothing.

As Rainor makes his deliveries, the two slowly become friends, and Rainor finds in the Dragon all the things he never found in his little village. But on his way to make his latest delivery, the unthinkable happens, and Rainor fears that if he asks for the cure he needs to live, he’ll lose the man he’s coming to love…


Captivating. That’s the only word I can think of to describe what I just read. Captivating and beautiful.

From the characterisation to the evocative storytelling, there wasn’t one thing I didn’t love. This is a true fairytale, from the setting, language and execution, to the plot and characterisation. The story is one of those timeless things where it doesn’t have to be past, present or future, because it could be any of them, so easily.

I’ll happily read this again in the future and I’ll be eagerly keeping an eye out for more stories by Bellefleur.




Alexandria, Egypt / AD 391 – When the great temple of Serapis and its library annex are destroyed by the Christian mob, the Neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia becomes concerned the Great Library might suffer the same fate. She vows to save as much of the ancient knowledge as she can, especially certain telling documents concerning the origins of Christianity. But rather than merely hiding the heretical scrolls and codices in desert caves and hoping for the best, Hypatia contrives a far more ingenious plan. She sets up an elaborate sequence of burials, each of which is governed by actual ancient linguistic and geometrical riddles which must be solved to gain access. Only one steeped in Platonic mysticism would be capable of finding and unlocking the buried secrets. Oxford, England / June, 2006 – American Rhodes scholar Lex Thomasson is sent to Alexandria to aid a mysterious Vatican group known only as “The Commission.” They require a specialist in ancient languages to solve a sequence of Greek Mystery puzzles in what soon becomes evident is Hypatia’s ancient treasure hunt. The Oxford paleographer demonstrates his unique talents by unlocking the secrets along the trail. It does not take long, however, for him to become suspicious of the Commission’s true motives, and the trail becomes a trial fraught with danger. The scene alternates between the two time periods. In both, assassins lurk and fanatics abound. And all along, religious Faith and historical Truth struggle for supremacy.


This is PERFECT! Full of realistic situations, adventure, intelligence, wit and flair when needed, it’s the perfect conspiracy theorist’s dream, a nightmare for the devoutly religious and an amazing adventure into Ancient Egypt, with a modern day tour guide with all the right keys to unlock the past.

Oh, and Herbert? Can we have another one, please? Just one more story for Lex?

A great deal of research has gone into this, to supply texture, knowledge, a wealth of realism and authenticity. It’s not overwhelming in description, info dumps or the technical terms. As someone who has studied history, forensics, archaeology and worked in a museum, although I understand all of these terms, any other reader will be able to read, follow and understand this.

I didn’t want to finish this book and yet, I did. I needed desperately to know what happened, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to be over. There was so much in here that spoke to me, as a person, a historical, an Ancient Egyptian fan, a reader and a writer. It spoke to all the academic parts of me that make me who I am and I never wanted it to end.

This was one large but entertaining read full of adventure, excitement, history and passion that touched on the very cornerstones of humanity and challenged every strongest held belief that we humans hold dear. Our faith. Whether that’s for religion or something else, this story will challenge you in all kind of ways.

If nothing else, you’ll feel and think. Because that’s what this book does. It makes you care, belief and feel for the characters and their quest. It makes you question and calculate and wonder over every small detail.

Prepare to question everything.




In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.

A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.

This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.

Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.


This is one of my new auto-buy, must-have-in-paperback authors.

What can I say about this one? It blew my mind.

Right from page one, the story grabbed me and didn’t let go even after the end.

For me, Arthur was not only the MC of the story but he was the star of the show. Not once did he never let me down, get on my nerves or have an annoying switch of personality, like some books I’ve read recently, but he was loveable and relatable.

The way Arthur grew from a meek, ill young man so sure that he would spend his life that way to becoming brave and challenging the status quo made me feel so proud. It was so naturally done, so well explored with set backs and achievements, little things that he found victory in, that I shared every joy and every loss with him.

Now, in the nature of total transparency, I have to confess…I cried. Probably not a surprise, but I did. Twice. The first was when Arthur found out the truth about the ghostly woman in white and the second time was when he first spoke to her. And…okay, a third time…that park bench moment totally got me in the feels. Hard. With a sledgehammer. And, yeah I’ll admit that I held my breath enough times to make me dizzy. But that’s the genius of the writing and I will never complain about that.

Overall, the writing was first class. The plot growth was spellbinding and intriguing, never leaving me wondering too long. The world building and historical accuracy for the time period was perfect. Utterly perfect. I normally wax lyrical about the writing and the editing and plot, but I don’t need to. This story speaks for itself. “We Met in Dreams” is the best historical fiction I’ve ever read in this genre so far. One day McAllister might write another to knock it off the top spot, but until then, this one takes the crowning glory.




Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.

His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.

Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.

Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.

Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.


Wow…the feels in this book!

Right from the beginning, I was in awe of just how captivating and intriguing this story was. From line 1 I was interested in Angus and his story, then when Saka was introduced I was practically vibrating with exciting because the two together were just gold! Pure genius!

What was so great about them together was the intense chemistry right from their first look. Every tiny interaction was laced with so much feeling and depth that it was impossible not to love them together.

I really loved the fact that this wasn’t your typical Master/Slave relationship. It didn’t go the way of a Dom/sub relationship either. It was simply a matter of Angus gaining a demon that he expected to be his magical-slave, only to find that Saka was in the same position, expecting a human-warlock-slave to help him save his world. The way they find a balance with each other is charming and contained just the right amount of give and take between the demon and warlock. What made it even better was the free exchange of appreciation, knowledge and respect.

The story itself was so unique. The world-building required was immense, but I never felt bogged down by too much information or concepts that I couldn’t understand or that were never explained.

Saka was…charming. Brilliant. Amazing. I could gush forever about this bossy demon who stole Angus’ (and my!) heart.

I’ll freely admit that I cried and I was moved multiple times. To be fair and not give too much away, I’m only going to mark that points where I couldn’t hold back any more:
“Let me die in Saka’s bed.”
“Run and don’t look back.”
“The greater tribe wanted him to live.”
“I don’t want another warlock. I want you.”
“You have a place here.”
Yup, that’s right. I cried at all five of those moments, for good reasons. But to find out why, you’ll have to read it. But you should be doing that anyway.

Powerful. Moving. Stunning.

This will be getting added to my paperback collection the minute it’s released. And I’ll be first in line to read book 2, Rogue in the Making.




Shameless vampire addict Eli lives from vampire den to vampire den, securing invites via the vampire/human social network FangFinder. This weekend, he’s signed up for his most extreme adventure yet, a seventy-two-hour party where a contract serves as his voluntary consent to anything the den members decide to do to him.

Strong and silent type Orion is the only member of his den without fangs, a dhampir who wears metal points on two fingers so he can give the human guests what they crave. He uses parties like this one to keep the savage side of his nature in check. When his fellow den members suggest he claim Eli for the weekend, Orion agrees, since the little human is just Orion’s type.

Orion isn’t Eli’s type, though—or so Eli believes. But the pleasure he experiences in the dhampir’s hands is more intense than anything he’s felt with a vampire. Beneath Eli’s bratty nature are secret pains that fuel his addiction. Might Orion be a match for him sexually and emotionally?


Wow! This was…dark, incredible, hot and fiery. I can’t wait to read more from this series. It’s too hot to handle.

As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I just had to read this. Then I saw the cover and it was so drool worthy. As an avid vampire reader, I was so looking forward to a new slant on the old theme and boy, did I get it. It packed a punch, for sure.

Now, sure, this book deals with a heck of a lot of dark material, but I never felt as though I was being bombarded with it or that they were thrown in just for effect. They were all real, properly explored and revealed and nicely integrated into the sizzling chemistry between Eli and Orion. The couple have such an interesting dynamic that the hunt, the pain play and the spanking are all natural elements of their play time.

Despite being my first by Dering, I will definitely be coming back for more. I think I’ve just become an addict to the FangFinder series.



This is the first book in a (currently) four book series, so because it’s the first, it’s the one I chose for this list. If I hadn’t loved it so much, I would never have gone on to read the rest of the series.


Mason Blackmoor just can’t compete with his brothers, much less his father. They represent the epitome of black magic, strong, dark, and wicked, and though Mason tries to live up to his respected lineage, most of the spells he casts go awry. To make matters worse, his active power has yet to kick in. While his brothers wield lightning and harness the cold, Mason sits on the sidelines, waiting for the moment when he can finally enter the magical game.

When a dead body is discovered on the football field of his high school, Mason meets Drake Carpenter, the new kid in town. Drake’s confident demeanor and quick wit rub Mason the wrong way. Drake is far too self-assured for someone without an ounce of magical blood in his body, and Mason aims to teach him a lesson—like turn him into a roach. And if he’s lucky, maybe this time Mason won’t be the one turned into an insect.

Not surprisingly, the dislike is mutual, and Drake does nothing to dispel Mason’s suspicion that the sexy boy with a southern drawl is somehow connected to the murder.

If only Mason didn’t find himself inexplicably spellbound whenever they are together, they might actually find out what danger hides in the shadows.


Wow! What an explosive first book in the series!

Right from page one, it packed a punch. The magical aspect of the story was – rejoice! – well explored and a major factor of the storyline. Far too often, I’m offered a story about a witch/warlock and there’s limited on-page magical use, conjuring, discussion and history. I got all of that here, when it was the right time, when it made sense and without any of the laborious stereotypes that might make it corny.

When it comes to characters, I loved them all! Each one was diverse, entertaining, interesting and added something to the story.

For me, the intrigue just kept building until I barely knew what was real, what I was sure of and what might happen next.

That is the genius of Flores’ writing. It’s my first book by this author and I can already tell it won’t be the last. It had action, adventure, magic, romance and a whole host of sexiness. The balance between romance, high school drama and a rampaging magical adventure was stunningly well crafted, well written and gripping from page one. What’s not to love?


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