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.
It’s 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark’s addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that’s how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.
Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original—witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn’t let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.
Each step of Adam’s journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it’s Adam’s lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn’t right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.
Ray Tolliver has bad timing. Cold feet? It doesn’t get much worse than accepting you’re gay twenty minutes before your wedding to a woman, yet that’s just what happens.
Join Ray as he recounts in his blog the hilarious and touching events that lead him on a journey toward true love. Although he originally starts looking for love in all the wrong places, will he eventually find another man who wants more than just quick sex? A man who appreciates romance, hearts, and flowers? Or will he find that self-acceptance and bliss do not always go hand-in-hand?
And what of Alice, Ray’s lovely, jilted fiancée? Will she find it in her heart to forgive the man who left her at the altar?
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.
Someone – or something – is killing Seattle’s gay men.
A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.
Someone – or something – is falling in love with Thad Matthews.
Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places – a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Café. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?
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.
“I wanted to write about people who were not just out, but out there, people who lived their sexual lives in ways most of us could only imagine … and for whom the flavor vanilla had absolutely no appeal. I interviewed porn stars, prostitutes, self-proclaimed sex pigs, and delved into bizarre sexual practices. It was eye-opening, arousing, and a lot of fun (but never, never good clean fun). I also include here my favorite dirty stories. They all explore a side of life that exists not in the twilight zone, but in my favorite destination … the sexual underground.” ~ Rick R. Reed ~
Tales From The Sexual Underground: Fact, Fiction and Stranger Than Fiction by Rick R. Reed is a daring and provocative collection of forty-three short non-fiction essays and fictional stories that explore the fringe of gay male sex – “fetishes, porn, misdirected affection, misguided objects of affection, polymorphous perversion or just plain perversion.” Both the title of the book and much of its substance are borne of a weekly column Mr. Reed wrote for a Chicago entertainment magazine called Nightspots. These non-fiction essays are complemented by the author’s favorite fictional dirty stories and the collection represents some of the author’s best writing to date.
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.
Burl is horny as hell and he’s just gotta have it! His boyfriend AJ is dead-to-the-world, resonantly snoring and absolutely no help at all. So Burl sets out to find someone who will assist him with his predicament. His unyielding quest for the three Rs: rutting, rimming, and ramming takes Burl from Pennsylvania across New York State, where, along the way he meets up with a series of interesting although progressively unpredictable and even dangerous characters – bears, trannies, and seriously disturbed psychos that have Burl more than clicking his heels and heading for the safety of home.