Wednesday, January 1, 2014

LGBT: 2013 Favorite Reads & Authors

Happy New Year everyone!! It's time to take a look back at the LGBT books that made the past year memorable. Overall, 2013 was a great reading year for me. As always, my list of favorite reads is based on books read and reviewed during the year, and graded A (5.0) or A-/B+ (4.5). This time around, however, I've included 2013 releases, as well as a few previously released books that are too good to ignore. These are the stories that spoke to me throughout the year.

Desire: Tales of New Orleans by William Sterling Walker
Gay Fiction: (2012, Chelsea Station Editions)
William Sterling Walker's collection of short stories set in a pre-Katrina New Orleans is one of those books where everything, from the characters to the setting and from the writing to the subject matter, comes together perfectly into one unforgettable package. Walker's ability to make time, place, and characters come alive is uncanny. I've re-read passages, single, and various stories from this collection repeatedly after my first go round -- Desire, Aubade, Menuetto, Fin de Siècle -- and keep the book handy. I cannot recommend this collection enough.

Red-Inked Retablos by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Creative Non-Fiction: (2013, The University of Arizona Press)
In Red-Inked Retablos, Rigoberto Gonzalez invites readers to contemplation and activism. He speaks with authority and passion from the many viewpoints that make up his life experiences -- the Latino, the gay man, the writer, the teacher, the activist -- but, most importantly he speaks from the heart. I read this book in February 2013 and referred to it several times throughout the year. A memorable and highly recommended read.

In His Secret Life by Mel Bossa 
Bisexual/Gay Romance: (2013, Bold Strokes Books)
Mel Bossa writes beautiful romances filled with conflicted gay and bisexual males in pursuit of understanding, self-awareness, and love. I love her LGBT romances, and in 2013 she did it again with In His Secret Life where Bossa again displays her talents for creating three dimensional characters and a complex, memorable romance by tackling a controversial love affair between a married bisexual man and single gay man further complicated by family ties.

Boystown #5: Murder Book by Marshall Thornton
Mystery: (2013, MLR Press)
Set in Chicago at the beginning of the 1980's, the Nick Nowack Mystery series by Marshall Thornton is gritty and makes an impact on the reader with more than just the great mysteries. Throughout the series, it is Nick's personal life -- sexual exploits and romantic interests -- that slowly become the ongoing source of tension for the reader. Thornton takes the readers back to the 80's and keeps them there with his no nonsense writing style and magnificent central character. Time for Secrets #4 (2012, MLR Press) and Murder Book #5 are both favorite reads, but I highly recommend the entire series!

Death by Silver by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold
Fantasy: (2013, Lethe Press)
Scott & Griswold's world-building is a combination of high magic and Victorian morals in a quasi-recognizable London. Death by Silver is an excellent blend of fantasy and mystery with steampunk elements. The romance in the making between the two main characters and their inner conflicts, however, give this novel a perfect emotional touch, as do the secondary characters and gray areas that these two authors explore throughout the story.

Dust Devil on a Quiet Street by Richard Bowes 
Fantasy/Speculative Fiction: (2013, Lethe Press)
In 2013, I read three books by Richard Bowes including his collection of fairy tales The Queen, The Cambion and Seven Others (2013, Aqueduct Press) and When Angels Fight (2013, Fairwood Press). I reviewed two of the three books, but enjoyed and recommend them all. Dust Devil on a Quiet Street is a fantastic compilation of short stories that are organically blended into one book or one story. Bowes' knowledge and love of New York City and the intimacy of thought found in his narrative are fantastic. This book is categorized as a fantasy, yet I am still fascinated by the fact that at times it is impossible to tell where truth ends and fiction begins. Richard Bowes is that talented.

Light by 'Nathan Burgoine
SFF/Romance/Suspense: (2013, Bold Strokes Books)
We all need heroes in our lives, even reluctant heroes who hide their light are welcome! Burgoine is a multi-talented author who successfully creates short stories within different LGBT sub-genres such as speculative fiction, romance and gay fiction. His debut full-length novel Light makes it to my list of favorite reads as one of the most enjoyable books read in 2013. This action/adventure, superhero, romance suspense yarn is tough to place into one of those little boxes or categories, what is not difficult to do is love it. It is fun, entertaining, and absorbing with a memorable central character and a grounded, focused central gay theme. Light now resides on my "reread" shelf.

Best Gay Stories 2013 ed. Steve Berman
Anthology--Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction: (2013, Lethe Press)
Best Gay Stories 2013 is undoubtedly my favorite anthology of the year. Steve Berman compiled 20 amazing fiction and creative non-fiction pieces by 20 equally fantastic authors, some already well known to me and others not at all. I read many collections and anthologies during a single year and was greatly surprised to read one excellent piece after another in this anthology, each with a different theme highly relevant to today's gay man -- young and not so young -- some embracing recent history and others dealing with the here and now.

Favorite Short Stories: I chose the following short stories from favorite single author collections and anthologies rated A (5.0) and A-/B+ (4.5).  I'm sort of cheating since the books, as well as the short stories, are highly recommended in their entirety.

"Things I Can't Tell My Father"
"Ice Water"
The Silent Hustler by Sean Meriwether (2009, Lethe Press)

"Between Us"
The Rest of Us: Stories by Guy Mark Foster (2013, Lethe Press)

"Light and Dark" by Damon Shaw
"The Third State" by Lee Thomas
"The Origin of the Fiend" by Hal Duncan
The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy! ed. by Tom Cardamone (2013, Northwest Press) 

"Sic Him Hellhound! Kill! Kill!" by Hal Duncan
"A Strange Form of Life" by Laird Barron
Wilde Stories 2013: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction ed. Steve Berman (2013, Lethe Press)


  1. Good list Hilcia! I'm kind of out of the loop on m/m books lately but a couple of these look really good. I definitely want to read the Best Gay Stories 2013. I love a good m/m anthology.

    Who wrote Things I Can't Tell My Father?

    1. Hi Tracy! Hey, I understand! I took a break from m/m romance for a few years too… but, I've maintained my interest in LGBT by exploring other sub-genres, and I'm loving them!

      Things I Can't Tell my Father is a short story in "The Silent Hustler by Sean Meriwether. That's a fantastic read! I hope you get to it. And, Best Gay Stories 2013 is fabulous. :)

  2. Happy New Year, Hils!

    I'm bookmarking this list for recs :-) I can see Lethe Press was a hit for you over 2013 - I've to say I've always been impressed by the quality of their books as well.


    1. Happy New Year, Li!

      All of these books are worth reading!

      RE: Lethe Press. That quality you mention is what keeps me going back to get their catalogue repeatedly -- I love the writers that I find there and because it's a small press you're almost always guaranteed a great book. I go to other great publishers too (see above), Bold Strokes Books, Chelsea Station, Kensington, etc…

  3. Happy New Year Hils! I'm curious, how many LGBT books did you read? :P Cos I only read one, lucky though, I did enjoy it!

    1. Happy New Year, Nath!

      How many LGBT books did I read in 2013? When I counted the ones I recorded it came up to a total of 83. I read some really great ones this year too… it was tough to choose my top reads, so I went with the ones that stayed with me throughout the year. ;P

      What's the title of the book you read?

    2. Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan. It's kind of a New Adult m/m. It was cute and highly enjoyable :)

    3. Oh yes! I remember seen that book around (very nice cover, btw). :) And, I saw it at Breezing Through with your "Best Of" list! I will check it out.

  4. I love LGBT books, but haven't read any of these so I think I'm bookmarking this page too :) Thanks for the recs & happy 2014!

    1. Hello Cayce. Happy New Year!

      I'm glad you've found some new LGBT books to read. I'm always looking for new recommendations. I checked out your site and see that you're interested in YA? I don't usually read mainstream YA, but love it within the LGBT genre. I will be checking out your site for recommendations in 2014!

  5. Great list Hils!

    We both agree on the Burgoine’s Light and the Marshall Thornton's Nick Nowak Mysteries series - they made my list of favourites for 2013 as well.

    The Silent Hustler and Wilde Stories 2013 are already in my purchased TBR (I actually have two copies of Wilde Stories - I forgot I owned the book and bought it twice - LOL) and I promise I will read Mel Bossa this year - I've had several of her books sitting on the shelf for a number of years.

    Now, The Lavendar Menace (I've heard good things) The Rest of Us and Red-Inked Retablos sound like their right up my alley, in particular the Gonzalez book. Just added them to my list!

    Thank you. :)

    1. Happy New Year, Indie!

      I think you're going to love The Silent Hustler and Wilde Stories 2013, maybe Best Gay Stories 2013? I loved that anthology! I'm so glad that you want to try The Lavendar Menance, The Rest of Us and yes to Red-Inked Retablos by Rigoberto Gonzalez! That is such an interesting book. He's such an interesting man. I think you'll really like it.

      Mel Bossa! Yes! And, my new project is to get you to read Desire: Tales of New Orleans! LOL! I just think you'll love that book.

      I loved your own list of favorites and am going to hit the purchase button on a few as well!


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