I’ve been a fan of ‘Nathan Burgoine’s short fiction since reading his first published story “Heart” in the critically acclaimed anthology Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction. To say that I eagerly awaited the release of Light, the author’s first novel, is a bit of an understatement. As it turns out my anticipation and excitement were well founded. In Light, Mr. Burgoine brings together elements of several sub-genres including action/adventure, fantasy/urban fantasy, horror, the paranormal, suspense and romance to write an incredibly charming, funny, action-packed and by degrees sexy page-turning superhero adventure that I could not read fast enough and devoured in one sitting.
The German by Lee Thomas had been on my reading list since its release by Lethe Press in March 2011. I was finally able to get to it in late 2012 and read it in virtually one sitting. As a long-time reader of the suspense/thriller and horror fiction, over the years I’ve read my share of both well-written and utterly forgettable stories in these sub-genres. However, it’s been a long while since I’ve read a story of this calibre of excellence.
If I were to choose a theme to characterise my reading year in 2012 it would be the year of the debut and independent author. The majority of books I read either for my own pleasure or specifically for review were by first time and/or predominantly self-published authors. While self-publishing tends to get a bad rap in some reading circles, in general, my personal reading experience with self-published and independent press authors has been positive as I find that they are able to push creative boundaries not always readily achievable within the realm of more mainstream publishing. Works by several such authors have made the list of my reading best for 2012.
The list also features works by some of my favourite authors that have become staples in my reading life, they include Alex Jeffers, Erik Orrantia and Brandon Shire. Several new-to-me authors such as, Drake Braxton, Kergan Edwards-Stout, John Goode, Red Haircrow, Jeff Mann, Tom Schabarum, Lee Thomas and Arthur Wooten joined this list in 2012 and I look forward to reading their previously published and future books.
My reading best for 2012 includes a mix of novels, novellas, compilations and short stories across a variety of sub-genres and within the realms of LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction that were published in 2011 and 2012.
What happens when someone realizes the story of his life isn’t the right story? What happens when he discovers the so-called point of no return is a fairytale? What if a person could find his way back and make things right?
Each December I compile my list of favourite books read over the course of the year. Unfortunately, the trend I experienced in 2010 persisted in 2011 and my reading and reviewing time was extremely limited due to the demands of work. As a result, the number of books I did read was less than in previous years and there were a number of new releases by some of my favourite authors, as well as books by new-to-me authors of interest that I wasn’t able to get to. They include, among others, The Abode of Bliss: Ten Stories for Adam by Alex Jeffers, The Palisade and Finding Deaglan by George Seaton, The Visionary: Welcome to the Fold by the writing duo of Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine and The German by Lee Thomas. I’ve included these 2011 releases and several others in my reading list for 2012.
Even with less time to read, my reading habits remained consistent and I continued to read across sub-genres. My list of favourites for 2011 includes an eclectic mix of novels, one anthology and short stories from a cross-section of sub-genres including fantasy, horror, the suspense/thriller, erotica, contemporary, historical, indigenous and young adult literature. In addition, my list includes not only gay fiction (as in previous years) but also books and stories that feature lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer characters and themes, something I hope continue in 2012 as I broaden my reading experiences.
Always a thrill for me is the discovery of new authors and there are a number of books that made my list for 2011 written by new-to-me authors, including a debut author, all of whom I look forward to reading in the future. Also listed this year is The Equinox Convergence by Erik Orrantia, a novel that does not feature a prominent LGBTQ theme (there is a lesbian relationship involving secondary characters in the novel) I chose to include all the same because it is an excellent story by this LGBTQ award-winning author. Finally, two of the novels listed are past favourites re-read in 2011.
The Equinox Convergence is Erik Orrantia’s second book and follows on the heels of his Lambda Literary Award winning novel Normal Miguel. The seasonal equinox – a balance between equal parts of light and darkness – serves as the metaphor for this incredibly gripping mystery suspense thriller that delves into the human capacity for both good and evil and how given certain circumstances and motivations, seemingly decent people can be drawn into the depths of darkness. The fictitious rural Mexican town of Carritza located 120 kilometres north of Acapulco in the Province of Guerrero, and the neighbouring Ejido Mapolombampo the indigenous village of the Núkul Tribe and the Tribe’s adjoining traditional lands are the main settings for this story where worlds collide – that of Mexico’s drug trade and traditional indigenous life.
When I began writing this post I had the intention of listing ten of my favourite books in gay fiction for 2010. But it quickly became apparent that it would be impossible to restrict the list to only ten. Despite the fact that my reading time was more limited over 2010 due to the demands of real life and work and I read much less than in previous years, there were too many reading gems that I did read and could not omit from the year’s best.
Over the course of the year I made several wonderful discoveries in new-to-me authors, finally got around to reading books that had been sitting on my shelves for years, I received some great recommendations from online friends, some of my favourite authors released incredible stories and I gave myself permission to re-read some past favourites without guilt.
In the end, twenty books (novels, novellas, anthologies and short stories) made the final cut of my best in gay fiction for 2010 across several genres – contemporary, erotica, horror, historical, mystery, romance and young adult. Some were weighty stories, others lighter fare with happy endings, and several had unforgettable characters that continued to haunt me long after I was done reading their stories. But all the books listed as my best of 2010 in their own way dealt with the stuff of life and fed my mind, heart and soul.
President David Windsor’s former Secret Service agent, Shane Thompson, is now a permanent partner in his life, and David is determined to see Shane receive the respect he deserves as the First Gentleman. Assigned the codename “Falcon,” Shane will be taking on the traditional duties of the First Lady as David, codenamed “Condor One,” continues his administration.
But the tests of the Presidency are still looming as David faces both domestic and foreign political challenges. Just doing his job could mean extreme danger for himself and Shane, the man he loves most in the world—the man David wants to marry, despite all the press and attention it will bring them and the possible repercussions on a run for re-election.
The business of real life continued to interfere with my reading and reviewing during April and May. Too much work and lack of free time prevented me from reading as many books as I normally would over a two-month period.
On the positive side, virtually all of the books I did read fall into the category of very good to excellent reads. So the theme for Spring 2010 is quality over quantity. I’m starting to get through the backlog of reviews and hope to fall into a more regular pace of reading and reviewing for the month of June.
The Boy Can’t Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms by Gavin Atlas (Lethe Press) – Read Review
Tales From The Sexual Underground: Fact, Fiction and Stranger Than Fiction by Rick R. Reed (MLR Press) – Read Review
Virtually all the books I read this year are in the area of gay fiction (erotica, romance, horror, suspense, urban fantasy, western/cowboy, young adult, etc.), and as the year draws to an end I thought I’d put together a list of my favourite books and stories for 2009.
The two books that standout the most and I consider my #1 reads for 2009 are Amnesic Nostalgia by Zea Miller and Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction by editors Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane. These two gems rightfully take their place as part of the list of some of my most favourite books.