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.
StarCrossed 4: In the Blink of an Eye takes us back to Salem, Massachusetts, where the town is evolving from openly making amends for its witch-burning past to something darker. While some people choose to lock their doors and pretend those who are Other don’t exist, some decide to use them to turn a profit.
For years the home of vampire Gennady Zaitsev has been a refuge to wayward supernatural boys. Taken in at the age of four, werefox Fallon Demeter has grown up with the love and caring of his blended, surrogate family. As the fragile peace enjoyed by the supernaturals begins to break down, Fallon draws the unwanted attention of a vicious enemy from Gennady’s past. Plunged into a harrowing adventure that brings his forgotten past back with horrifying clarity, Fallon becomes lost and alone in the brutal outside world.
As the buffer the supernaturals have enjoyed for so long continues to erode, Salem may no longer be their safe haven.
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.
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.
The police motto “to serve and protect” takes on all new meaning in Let Them Try.
Twenty-six years of dedicated duty as one of Baltimore’s finest should earn a man some reward. One autumn night in a dark cemetery, Officer Rick Baker is forced to reflect on his lonely, closeted life when he meets a strange young man under peculiar circumstances.
Diego is unlike anyone Rick has ever met, and Rick has to face a new reality he’d never imagined in his wildest dreams. Couple Rick’s deeply rooted need for love and companionship with Diego’s remarkable gifts, and even the threat of hell might be too tempting to resist.
Happy Canada Day! June was quite the eclectic reading month for me from contemporary romance, to horror, to political intrigue. I re-read and finally put pen to paper to review Purple Hearts by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine a contemporary romance that is simply a pearl of a short story. I also read two Amber Allure titles The Delaneys and Me by Anne Brooke an enjoyable erotic romp and Rick R. Reed’s latest horror title The Blue Moon Café a chilling werewolf tale, both of which I reviewed for Three Dollar Bill (TDB) Reviews. And for Rainbow Reviews I read and reviewed the final book in the Condor series by John Simpson, Condor and Falcon.
Courage. Patriotism. Words rendered meaningless to Erik Chavel when his brother Howard returns home from Afghanistan in a flag-draped casket. Months later, Erik finds the gentle words of Howard’s Marine buddy, Greg, soften his pain. After losing a limb in combat, Greg Simmons understands the raw sorrow of loss. Erik and Greg spend a soul-searching night together and find the unexpected in each other’s company.
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.
It is the year 2039 and the world is a better place, thanks to one man. Fresh from college, Malcolm Wilder engineered a cheap fix to fossil fuel dependence. The new energy-for-all economy brought on world peace with famine, disease and environmental degradation all but a thing of the past. As Earth and its people began to heal, creatures once thought to be the stuff of myth decided it was finally safe to reveal themselves.
A decade later, Malcolm is a corporate giant living in exotic Dubai. Malcolm’s business partner and lifelong friend, Levi Tanner, is concerned that Malcolm isn’t allowing himself to enjoy his fame and fortune. Levi finally takes Malcolm to Mortal Sins, a local hot spot that caters to those looking for something a little different in the way of adult recreation. There, he meets Suki, a demon, and other “mortal sinners.” Levi and Suki reveal themselves to him, but more importantly, reveal to Malcolm his pre-ordained destiny.
While Malcolm struggles to digest their revelations about who and what he is, he’s also dealing with the jealous tensions between Levi and Suki that have become noticeable to all and he begins to feel the weight of the sins that surround him. But, little does Malcolm know that the world still has a few problems of biblical proportions and that all hell is about to break loose. And, just when things seem their darkest, an unlikely visitor brings the world an unexpected message of hope.