Thursday, January 1, 2015

LGBT: 2014 Favorite Books & Authors

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the best for the coming year -- health, love, happiness, and prosperity!

I am beginning my blogging year by posting a list of favorite LGBT books and authors of 2014. My reading was not as prolific in 2014 as in previous years. Fortunately, my reading experience was excellent and I recommended many wonderful books along the way. In the end, however, my choices came from the most memorable books read, reviewed, and graded A (5.0) and A-/B+ (4.75/4.5) throughout the year. Following, in no particular order, is my list of the talented authors or editors whose LGBT themed novels and short stories became my favorite reads of the year:

FAVORITE BOOKS & AUTHORS:


Scruffians! Stories of Better Sodomites by Hal Duncan
SFF Single Author Short Story Collection (2014, Lethe Press)
Hal Duncan is one of those authors whose short works always leave me craving one more story. In Scruffians!, a homoerotic collection of fantasy and mythology-based short stories with its fairies, pirates, and other adventures, Hal Duncan's writing skills, imagination and extraordinary capacity for weaving dreams can be really appreciated. I read this collection early in 2014 and needless to say, it continues to be a favorite.


Cub by Jeff Mann
YA Contemporary Romance Novel (2014, Bear Bones Books)
Jeff Mann! Now here is a favorite author whose talent seems to have no bounds. He just keeps on adding to his already magnificent backlist of winners. This, of course, is not surprising to readers familiar with Mann's works -- poetry, fiction, erotica, historical romance. With Cub, the ultimate outsider YA story, Mann adds to his already impressive repertoire by writing one of the most unique LGBT YA books I've read to date. I can't help but believe that it became a classic the moment Mann finished writing it.


Butcher's Road by Lee Thomas
Historical Thriller Novel (2014, Lethe Press)
Lee Thomas is a personal favorite and his works always seem to make it to my favorite list at the end of the year. In 2014 it was Butcher's Road, a historical, spec fic/mystery thriller that was so good it spoiled my reading momentum for a while. I just wanted more of that edge-of-my-seat, adrenaline high I get from reading Thomas's books. Butcher's Road is dark, violent, bloody, and filled with magnificent contrasts masterfully rendered by the author. A winner!


Wingmen by Ensan Case 
Historical Fiction / Romance (Reprint, 2014, Lethe Press)
Talk about a 2014 reading obsession! This World War II novel with its subtle, yearning romance, sexual tension, well-researched historical background, down-to-earth, sexy as hell fly boys and epic air battles, was it for me. I read, researched battles, read, research airplanes, read, and loved! What is there not to love about this epic historical fiction novel by Ensan Case? I gushed in my review, I'm gushing now, I know, but if you want to read a fantastic LGBT epic tale set in the Pacific during World War II, this is it.


The Unwanted by Jeffrey Ricker
YA Fantasy Novel (2014, Bold Strokes Books)
Jeffrey Ricker's mythology-based fantasy with a gay young adult as the central character is a book I would recommend to any young adult. And that's one of the many reasons it belongs right here on my list of favorites. The mythology is well integrated with family and young adult conflicts. Most importantly, young adults can relate and see themselves in Ricker's characters. I particularly love the end of this book where Ricker takes a huge risk and wins. I'm hoping for a sequel!


The Bears of Winter ed. Jerry L. Wheeler
Gay Erotic Fiction Anthology (2014, Bear Bones Books)
I adored this anthology! It is Bear erotic fiction and all of those factors are reflected in the stories. The eroticism is strong, but so is the "fiction" factor, which adds depth to the collection as a whole. Wheeler's introduction, editing, and choice of talented writers did it for me, making The Bears of Winter my favorite, most reread anthology of the year!


The Affair of the Porcelain Dog & Turnbull House by Jess Faraday
Historical Fiction/Mystery (2011/2014, Bold Strokes Books)
What a fantastic duology! I read a slew of LGBT historical mysteries this past summer and Jess Faraday's Porcelain Dog duology was a stand out. Its focus on mysteries set in London's gritty East End has a fabulous atmosphere. Combine that with Faraday's morally questionable characters and the historical facts she utilizes as background to build on the gay theme that gives depth to this duology, and you have a winner.


That Door is a Mischief by Alex Jeffers
Gay Fantasy Novel (2014, Lethe Press)
It just seems that I read this gay fantasy by Alex Jeffers at the right moment. I was struck by the beauty of his prose and imagination, yes. But, I believe that for me this story's beauty lies in Jeffers' ability to marry fantasy with reality, to let the reader see behind that magical door into life's truths. Life is beautiful and magical -- happiness and sorrow are just part of the magic. A gorgeous book!


My Favorite Uncle by Marshall Thornton
Gay Comedic Romantic Fiction Novel (2014, Wilde City Press)
I had such fun reading this book. My favorite aspect of My Favorite Uncle is the great combination of wit and depth Thornton uses to develop this generational tale. It clearly details how two different generations of gay men see, experience, and navigate the world. But, this is also a family story with all the dysfunctions that go along with that. Thornton integrates both threads with wit and a deft hand. This book is on my reread shelf!


Provoked, Beguiled, Enlightened (Enlightenment Trilogy) by Joanna Chambers
M/M Romance (2013/2014, Samhain)
The Enlightenment trilogy by Joanna Chambers is a late addition to my list of favorites as it was read in December, but it is a fabulous addition. The slow building romance filled with sexual tension, sensuality, and both inner and outer conflicts make the final outcome worth the journey. Additionally, the setting and atmosphere, as well as the well incorporated historical facts and details are a big plus to this beautiful m/m romance trilogy.

FAVORITE SHORT WORKS: My favorite short works are all chosen from single author collections and anthologies read and reviewed during 2014. All collections are highly recommended in their entirety. I have chosen 10 short stories and believe me, that was not an easy task this year! Here they are, in no particular order:

"Anthology of Spoon River AIDS Walk" & "One Hundred Kisses"
Naming Ceremony: Stories by Chip Livingston (2014, Lethe Press)

"Cruel Movember" & "Persimmon, Teeth, and Boys"
Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers by Steve Berman (2014, Lethe Press)

"The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere" by John Chu" (also reviewed Tor.com edition)*
"Caress" by Eli Easton
"57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides" by Sam J Miller
"Super Bass" by Kai Ashante Wilson
Wilde Stories 2014: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction ed. Steve Berman (2014, Lethe Press)

"Werewolf" by Michael Carroll 
With: New Gay Fiction ed. Jameson Currier (2013, Chelsea Station)

"Ma tu sei pazzo?!" Tommi Avicolli Mecca

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2013 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2012 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2011 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2010 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2009 Top Reads

19 comments:

  1. Thanks, Hilcia - I loved working on "Bears of Winter" as well as "My Favorite Uncle," and I'm very proud to see two books I'm associated with making your list! Cheers!!

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    1. Cheers Mr. Wheeler! Thank you and all the writers involved in "The Bears of Winter" for providing me with hours of enjoyment in 2014. By the way, I was not aware you were involved with "My Favorite Uncle" by Mr Thornton, which proves my taste is pretty consistent. Yes? Wishing you a fantastic 2015!

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  2. Thank you, Hilcia. I know the last months have been extremely tough for you and your family. I don't quite know how to express my gratitude and admiration for your continuing to read and blog. If my little fairy story provided pleasure, maybe comfort, I am humbled.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Alex Jeffers. And thank you for writing this and all your books. I found exactly what I was searching for in your "little fairy story." Wishing you all the best in 2015!

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  3. Thank you, Hilcia! You're wonderful.

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    1. Happy New Year Mr. Thomas. Looking forward to your new book in 2015!

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  4. Thank you so much, Hilcia! I can't tell you how happy I am that you enjoyed "The Unwanted"—also, I am working right now on making your wish for a sequel come true. :)

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    1. Happy New Year Jeffrey Ricker! I loved your book and can't wait to read the sequel. Thank you for the great news. :)

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  5. Happy New Years Hils!

    As always, I await your list of best for the year. A number of your favourites are on my reading list for 2015, including Cub, That Door is Mischief, Butcher's Road, My Favourite Uncle and Red Caps - looking forward to treading them all!

    All the best to you my friend for 2015!

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    1. Happy 2015 Indie!

      I'm envious. You have some beautiful reads ahead of you. I look forward to your reviews.

      I regret that there were many LGBT books left unread in my Kindle or on my coffee table (or read and not reviewed) in 2014. I'm going to try and catch up though. "When Everything Feels Like the Movies" by Raziel Reid is at the top of my list. Thank you!

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    2. Hils,

      Reid's book won the Governor General's Literary Award for Young Adult fiction in 2014 and is on the Canada Reads 2015 long list. The list of 5 books to be debated comes out on Jan 20 - I hope Reid's book is one of them. I will be reading this one right along with you. :)

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  6. Dear Hilcia,
    Thank you for your generous review of Wingmen. I am humbled to be a art of your favorites for the year. BTW, Wingmen is now available in Audio Book form from Lethe Press and Amazon.
    Thanks again and have a great 2015. Yours Truly, Ensan Case

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    1. Mr Case, I read Wingmen in two sittings and then spent hours researching and rereading after I finished it. It brought out the geek in me and that is a sign of pure enjoyment.
      Thank you for sharing the news about the new Audio Book format.

      Happy 2015 to you!

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  7. Happy New Year Hils!!!

    Well I guess when I'll be in the mood for m/m, I know where to come for recs :)

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    1. Happy New Year Nathie!

      LOL! When you are in the mood, I have a loooong list for you my friend. :)

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  8. Hilcia, I'm glad to see you have Joanna Chambers' books there! They will be on my list as well. The others I don't know, but I'll keep an eye on them for the future...
    I hope this new year will bring you peace and happiness!
    ****

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    1. Sonia, I loved Joanna Chambers' trilogy. I'm kind of tough on M/M Romances, particularly those set in a historical period (hmm… these days on romances as a whole I think) but her books really did it for me. :)

      From the rest of my favorite books, I think you would enjoy My Favorite Uncle by Marshall Thornton (has HEA) and The Unwanted by Jeffrey Ricker (YA mythology-based fantasy with a sequel coming up).

      Happy New Year Sonia! Wishing you all the best!

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    2. Thank you for the recommendations, Hilcia.
      I've added My Favorite Uncle to my notebook of things to get lol
      Also Wingmen, you seemed so thrilled by it... ;)

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    3. I was absolutely thrilled with Wingmen. You are right about that! I didn't know if you would enjoy a book set in the middle of the war. But my friend, that is one well-done book!

      I think you will definitely like My Favorite Uncle. Enjoy both books. :)

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