Tuesday, December 20, 2011

LGBT 2011: Favorite Books & Authors

It is that time of the year! Time to choose favorite LGBT authors and works for 2011. But first, to all of you who love this sub-genre and stop by, whether you comment or lurk, a big thanks for your support and readership throughout the year.

As you know, I'm an eclectic reader and as such my reading preferences do not remain static. Last year my interests veered towards gay speculative fiction, however although I read spec-fic this year and continue to love it, in the end gay fiction really won the day. Of course I also read romances along with mysteries, thrillers, young adult, and a few erotic tales.

I've read some excellent LGBTQ books throughout 2011, and choosing favorite authors and their works has not been an easy task for me. I am highlighting five authors and their works by categories, however for each category under "Other Favorites" I've also listed the rest of my top choices for 2011.

ALEX JEFFERS- Gay Fiction
Alex Jeffers wrote my absolute favorite gay fiction book this year, The Abode of Bliss: Ten Stories for Adam (Tincture, 2011). This book has everything that I look for in a work of fiction and more. It has plot, purpose, characterization, excellent use of language, literary merit, depth and more, more, more. Reading the book was pleasure that I'll enjoy again and again.

As I was writing my review of this book, I remember thinking that if I re-read this novel and wrote another review a year later it would probably be totally different because there's just so much there. I know it happened when I re-read Jeffers' fantastic novella in letter form Do You Remember Tulum? (Lethe Press 2011-Kindle Ed.)When a writer has so much to offer a reader each and every time they pick up his works, there's no question as to where he belongs. This year for me that's at the top. You can read my review by clicking on the title of the book above, however I'm also going to direct you to a recent review of this book by the writer George Seaton at the Out in Print blog where he includes quotes and passages. I read it and loved it!
Other Favorites:
LEE THOMAS - Mystery/Thriller
I love mysteries and thrillers and in The German (Lethe Press, 2011-Kindle Ed.), Lee Thomas wrote a fantastic mystery and thriller with a touch of horror that just had more to say. This novel hooked me from the moment I read the prologue. I absolutely love how this new-to-me author constructed the story. His multi-layered exploration of deep rooted prejudices and fears taking place against a historical background and in a small town setting gave this thriller depth. The fact that on different levels these same prejudices and fears can be equated to those found in contemporary times makes the story plausible to an certain extent, giving the circumstances a chilling factor. There's no way I'm not reading more works by Lee Thomas if they are all of the same caliber. Excellent, I loved it!
Other Favorites:
STEVE BERMAN (Editor) - LGBTQ Anthology


I read a few LGBTQ anthologies this year, some better than others. Anthologies are a great way to find new writers. This is a proven method that works for me. The downside of anthologies is that somehow there are almost always highs and lows. Having said that, you'll understand my choice for top pick for LGBTQ Anthology editor in 2011. 
This year Steve Berman edited two anthologies that made the grade for me. In the Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up (Bold Stroke Books 2011) anthology I could tell as soon as I began reading each little story and personalized account that both the contributing writers and editor put their hearts and souls into the whole product. In fact, this book meant so much to Mr. Berman, that he started a fundraiser campaign to donate this worthwhile book to school libraries around the country. Wilde Stories 2011: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press 2011) is the second anthology. Let me tell you, this anthology includes some excellent gay spec-fic short stories. It offers everything that I love about this sub-genre. Plus, again there are excellent new-to-me writers in there that I'll be hunting down throughout next year for new releases. Kudos to Mr. Berman for gathering such excellent writers and stories for both collections.
Other Favorites:
On the romance front I'm making distinctions. A couple of my favorite authors are tough to qualify because they are either fiction with a clearly defined romance or a romance with fiction qualities.

CHARLES RICE-GONZÁLEZ - Gay Fiction/Romance
I was first introduced to Charles Rice-González's work this year when I read the From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction anthology. As a writer, he contributed one of my favorite short stories "Michael Moves to Faile Street." As co-editor, Rice-González together with Charlie Vázquez also gave the reader an excellent overall view of the gay Latino sub-culture. So it shouldn't be surprising that right after I read that book my search for gay fiction novels by some of those same Latino writers began in earnest. That's when I found this author's full-length debut novel Chulito (Magnus Books, September 2011 - Kindle Edition). I love this author's down to earth depiction of his characters, and both his understanding of the Latino culture and the way he approaches issues that affect the gay community from the gay Latino's point of view. I also love the fact that he conveys emotional connection by way of romance, love, angst, yearning, deep friendships, and more. So yes, this is an author that reached me this year and one I'll continue to look for in the future.
HARPER FOX - Gay Romance
I read quite a few gay romances in 2011, although you'll find few reviews! For some reason I had a tough time finding gay romances that really hit the spot this year.  However, there is one author who stood out for me, and that is Harper Fox. I've read a total of four books by her, two of them this year, Driftwood(Samhain Publishing, 2010) and The Salisbury Key (Samhain Publishing, 2011). They are all winners. I love her writing style and characterization, as well as the romances. I need to catch up and read The Midwinter Prince and Last Line. However, one thing I know is that I will continue to read her work. 
Other Favorites:
  • Victor J. Banis: Coming Home (MLR Press, 2010)*
  • Samantha Kane: Cherry Pie (Loose ID, 2011) 
  • Xavier Axelson: The Incident (Seven Windows Publications, 2011)
  • K.A. Mitchell: Collision Course (Samhain Publishing, Ltd, 2008)*
* (Books published prior to 2011) 


How about you? Who were your favorite LGBT authors of 2011? How about your favorite books? 

11 comments:

  1. Seriously, you're already starting your recaps, Hils!? The pressure you're putting on the others!! LOL.

    Haven't read much LGBT this year, so no real favorites...

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  2. Ah yes it IS that time of year to compile the year's favourites - and a most excellent list it is Hils!

    "When a writer has so much to offer a reader each and every time they pick up his works, there's no question as to where he belongs. This year for me that's at the top."

    This couldn't be truer for me as well in regrads to Mr. Jeffers writing - you must read Safe As Houses. It's intersting that you mention George Seaton's review of Abode of Bliss, he is another author whose writing I absolutely love. And, yes Steve Berman's Speaking Out was also a favourite for 2011 (I'm still in the process of compiling my favourites for the year).

    You've listed some wonderful books Hils and many are on my reading list for 2012.

    Thank you,

    Indie

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  3. This is really interesting, I don't think I have ever consciously read LGBT books, but these sounds like good stories. :)

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  4. Nath, lol! It IS that time. There are almost 2 weeks left to the year. *g* You kill me. :)

    No LGBT this year? I know you're reading a lot of YA this year. I have a few recommendations for you in that category.

    Hi Indie! Yes, I'm so glad we agree on Jeffers. I have all his other books in my possession already and will read them, of course. :) I have Seaton's work as well. I'm glad that you also enjoyed Speaking Out. That was a wonderful YA anthology. Oh and I hope you have The German in your list of 2012 reads, I think you'll really love that one. Looking forward to your list of favorites!

    Alex! I know these are not usually your types of reads, but yes these are excellent reads. Since you read and enjoy YA, from this list I would recommend to you the Speaking Out anthology edited by Steve Berman and the Contemp/YA family story The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay.

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  5. PS: Alex, I forgot to point out that from previous lists, I would recommend one of my favorite writers, Steve Kluger: Almost Like Being In Love, Last Days of Summer. I'll be reading his YA novel My Most Excellent Year in January, but that's another one that has been recommended widely. :) (This author got Nath to read LGBT novels! LOL!)

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  6. "Oh and I hope you have The German in your list of 2012 reads, I think you'll really love that one."

    Yep, The German is definitely on my reading list. :)

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  7. Hilcia, how cool is your list! Lol, well, as for me, as you know I've participated in an m/m challenge, I still have one book to go so I haven't done any summaries or conclusions yet.
    But from all the books I've read, one pops up, there's one I still haven't forgotten and it is, without a doubt, the best LGBT book I've read this year. It's [i]The Archer's Heart[/i] by Astrid Amara. It has romance, angst, adventure, politics and intrigue and the best charcterization I've seen in the whole year, in terms of writing. I totally recommend it.
    Have a nice christmas!!

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  8. I am flattered.

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  9. Indie, great! I'll look forward to your thoughts on that book.

    Sonia, I hope you have a Merry Christmas too! I've been following your MM Romance Challenge minis. *g* And... I'm not surprised that you chose The Archer's Heart by Amara. I've heard SO many great things about that book! It has been in my TBR since 2009, can you believe that? I definitely need to read it. Thanks for the recommendation! :)

    Steve Berman, thank you for putting together those anthologies. I now have some excellent new-to-me writers whose works I'll be hunting down. :) Seriously though, they are both worth reading from beginning to end. Thanks!

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  10. hey, what if you read a great book next week? To me, the recap time is after January first! LOL. I plan to continue reading, cos I'm so close to my goal!!

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  11. LOL, Nath! There are less than 2 weeks left to the year. I'm not planning on reading any new releases from now till then... I'm DONE! I'm just reading old "tbr" reads and holiday books. Plus, I'll be enjoying the holidays (my vacation)... LOLOL! Seriously, look around the web... it's that time. *g*

    Anyway, I want to be done with all the recaping (except for #'s) by January 1st. I just want to begin the year fresh and new with 2012 stuff. :D

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