It has been almost nine months since I’ve posted a book review on this site. An illness in spring 2014 followed by a long recovery and other family issues forced an unexpected hiatus from reviewing for the remainder of the year. Needless to say, 2014 was a difficult year and one that I am glad is over.
While I did manage some personal reading over 2014, I did not read enough to compile a fulsome best of list, as I have previously done at the beginning of each new year. Still, I did not want to pass up the opportunity to mention two books released in 2014 that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.
The first is the long-awaited second anthology by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction. In Foolish Hearts Lambert and Cochrane once again bring together an exceptional collection of short stories featuring contributions from well-established authors and newer writers of gay fiction, including from several alumni of their first anthology Fool for Love.
The second is The Unwanted by Jeffery Ricker, an action-packed gay young adult fantasy set against the backdrop of the ancient Greek mythological world.
This post marks what I hope to be a fresh start as I resume reading and reviewing for 2015. There were a number of books released last year that are still on my reading list and that I hope to get to in the coming year. I look forward to reading both past and new releases from beloved authors and as always, hope to discover new authors and works. With this, my first review of 2015 is for the sixth book in one of my favourite series, 151 Days: Tales From Foster High by John Goode.
On a more personal note, I would like to thank the authors that submitted books for review for their patience, understanding and their well wishes. I hope to be reading and reviewing your submissions in the coming year. I would also like to wish everyone a healthy and happy 2015.
I’ve mentioned many times of my love for the anthology Fool or Love: New Gay Fiction and one of the reasons is that this compilation of short stories introduced me to several wonderful writers, one of whom is author, editor and graphic designer Jeffrey Ricker.
A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Jeffrey is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
His first novel, Detours was published in 2011 by Bold Strokes Books, and on the occasion of the recent release of his second novel The Unwanted, Jeffrey was kind enough to accept an invitation to answer some questions here at Indie Reviews.
The Unwanted, Jeffrey Ricker’s second novel, is an extremely well written, action-packed gay young adult fantasy set against the backdrop of the ancient Greek mythological world. In it, the author unfolds the story of Jamie Thomas a sixteen-year-old high school junior whose life is turned upside down by the return of a mother he thought was dead, and who is now seeking his help to save her tribe – The Amazons. Mixing action, danger and romance, Mr. Ricker chronicles Jamie’s more personal journey of coming to terms with the relationships in his life to write a page-turning young adult adventure story that has depth and underlying meaning, and one that I could not put down.
As a lover of short fiction, I’ve read my share of short story compilations over the years, some more memorable than others. But there is one anthology that always stands out and remains one of my favourites – Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction by editors Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, released by Cleis Press in 2009.
In January 2014, Lambert and Cochrane released their second anthology Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, the follow-up to Fool for Love. Once again, they have brought together an exceptional collection of seventeen short stories featuring contributions from well-established authors and newer writers of gay fiction, including from several alumni of their first anthology.
Foolish Hearts offers a diverse mix of stories and themes, including: the thrill of young love; the bitter sweetness of unfulfilled love; second chances at love; and how through love we often find ourselves. Much has happened in the United States in the advance of LGBTQ rights over the last five years. And as art often reflects real life another prominent theme for a number of the stories is same-sex marriage. But, there is also a distinct international flavour to the anthology as the stories and their characters come from all parts of the globe in celebration of gay romance, love and life.
Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up by editor Steve Berman is an excellent collection of thirteen short stories for and about LGBTQ teens and young adults. The anthology offers a diversity of life experiences and covers a spectrum of issues that LGBTQ youth face in living as out, from first crushes, falling in love and relationships, to forming supportive networks, standing up to homophobia and other discrimination, and planning for their future.
Is romance over in this age of online cruising and anonymous hook-ups? For anyone who believes that love has left the building, here is an exhilarating collection of new gay fiction designed to reignite your belief in the power of romance. Follow the travails of a dog walker enchanted with his new client; check out the restaurant owner who catches the eye of his most loyal customer; don’t miss the blind date fix-up, as they stumble upon romance and a chance at real love. Featuring new work from well-known gay writers, these stories will make you remember what joy romance can bring to your life.