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
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)
"Ma tu sei pazzo?!" Tommi Avicolli Mecca
2013 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2012 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2011 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2010 Favorite LGBT Books & Authors
2009 Top Reads