“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms…freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication…” (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, The Constitution Act, 1982)
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.
This summer’s road trip was not too far from home. In late July we headed to Toronto for about a week and then it was on to the Rez with a few side trips to Guelph, Paris (Ontario) and Fort Erie. Visiting with family and friends was our main activity, however, as always, I made time for some book shopping.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Reading Round Up. This post, however, is slightly different from my periodic summaries of the books I’ve read and reviewed in that it is focused on reading and music.
Music has always been a very important aspect of my life, including my reading life, and as with books my tastes in music are varied and eclectic. There is almost always a connection between a story that I’m reading at any given time and a particular piece of music. It is the rare occasion when no musical piece comes to mind for a particular story. One of my favourite features of LiveJournal is the ability to list a specific song or music with each post. Something I have taken full advantage of over the years when posting or linking my book reviews there.
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.
This year’s road-trip season kicked-off early on May 13 when I boarded a train from Montréal to New York City. My partner was attending a conference at the United Nations, so I though it a perfect opportunity to tag along and visit one of my favourite cities, next of course to the city I will always consider home – Montréal.
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.
September and October were steady reading months with some very good to excellent reads. Early in September I revisited (and reviewed for the first time) two of my favourite books by gay romance/erotica author Sean Michael – The Center of Earth and Sky and its sequel Painting the Desert now available only in a compilation entitled, Center (Torquere Press), and made a small dent in my reading pile with Tere Michael’s third book in the Faith, Love and Devotion series and the eagerly awaited sequel to Faith & Fidelity – Duty and Devotion (Loose Id). I also had the opportunity to review for Rainbow Reviews The Guardian Angel of South Beach by Neil Plakcy (Loosed Id) an author I’ve been wanting to read for a while, as well as reviewed for Three Dollar Bill Reviews Test of Faith by Aleksndr Voinov and Raev Gray (eXcessica Publishing). Finally, I had the pleasure of reading George Seaton’s Big Diehl: The Road Home (MLR Press) which I reviewed for Three Dillar Bill Reviews and his short story entitled Continuum (Untreed Read) for Rainbow Reviews, both of which I absolutely loved.
Given all the activity and travel over the months of July and August I’m quite surprised that I managed any reading at all. Not much actually, but certainly more than originally anticipated. Reviewing was another matter altogether as I found it extremely difficult to sit still long enough, especially on the many glorious sunny days, to actually write reviews for all the books read over the course of both months.
In all, I managed to read five books of which I reviewed three. Two books read were from new to me authors, Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy and Normal Miguel by Erik Orrantia, the latter of which I reviewed for Rainbow Reviews. I also read the first book in a new series by two of my favourite authors Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine entitled, Let Them Try, which I reviewed for Three Dollar Bill Reviews. All of the books read over these two months range within the good to very good categories and some are excellent.
With autumn just around the corner (although you wouldn’t know it with the 40° Celsius sweltering heat of this past week) and the cooler weather setting in soon I hope to fall back into my natural state of reading and reviewing more.
Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy (Dreamspinner Press)
Stuck On You by Selena Kitt (eXcessica Publishing)