Another year is almost over and that means it is time for everyone's "Best Of..." lists to come out; best movies, best books, best this, best that...
I didn't want to call my own list a "Best Of..." since I've not read every book out there but these works made an impression on me and I still think that these books should be sought out by you and enjoyed, as I think that they are all well worth your time. If some names are unfamiliar to you but my reviews pique your interest, please support these authors and check out these and their other works. You won't be sorry!
So here we go:
Asylum and Tales From The Midnight Shift, Volume 1 by Mark Allan Gunnells
I LOVED Asylum when it first came out (see how much here) and have been a fan of Gunnells ever since. It's an action packed zombie apocalypse novella that is both original in its take on the genre while remaining true to it. Tales...is a great collection of short fiction from Gunnells, ably demonstrating the author's range and skill; it would be a good starting point to introduce yourself to Gunnells' work. Again, an author to be watched.
Andrew Wolter's Much Of Madness, More Of Sin is a twisted and erotic collection by another author we should all be watching. The collection definitely called to mind Clive Barker's classic Books Of Blood series and I am excited about the forthcoming NEW WORLD MYTHOS that the Rainbow Award-winning Wolter is preparing to set upon the world. But before that tentacled horror is unleashed, do yourself a favor and pick up this collection!
Darkness Falling by Peter Crowther is mash up of science fiction and thriller with touches of weird throughout and I really enjoyed it. I was immediately reminded of King's The Tommyknockers and the film The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, in the best ways possible. It is a very good book that I do feel suffers slightly by being the first book of a duology that is now repackaged as a trilogy; the ending is abrupt and feels a little unfinished. A good start to a new series, however.
Matt Forbeck really hit the jackpot with Vegas Knights, an urban fantasy that had me hooked from early on. I gushed about how awesome I think this book is and fervently hope Forbeck returns to Vegas very, very soon!
The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar; a slightly older book but was a must read this year due to my ongoing fascination with steampunk. What can I say about this book that hasn't been said already?! The literary references, the rollicking adventure, the steampunk awesomeness...it is an amazing accomplishment and Tidhar makes it all seem so effortless!
From Macho To Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction ed. by Charles Rice-Gonzales, Charlie Vazquez is a beautiful collection of stories that describes the gay Latino experience. Each of these stories tell a tale from a Latino perspective, yet we all can relate to the emotions inside. My favorites include stories by Anthony Haro, Ben Francisco, Charlie Vazquez, Jimmie Lam...reading this book will definitely grant the reader a deeper insight into what it means to be a gay male in the Latino culture.
The Book Of Cthulhu ed. by Ross Lockhart is my first big foray into Lovecraftian/Cthulhu fiction, since up til now I'd only read a story or two. It is a collection of mostly reprint stories that highlights the gems from the last few decades in the Cthulhu Mythos treasure chest. This weighty tome came highly recommended and I'm glad that I picked it up; for a newcomer like myself, it is a great place to start discovering the influence that Lovecraft has had on speculative fiction...
A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes ed. by Joseph RG DeMarco is a great anthology that I was lucky to be introduced to by the great Steve Berman. It opens with an intro by the editor that tackles the question of whether or not the great detective was gay, then takes off from there. I've said before that I enjoy books or stories that take an existing idea and "remix" it into something new and fresh; these tales do just that. Yes, these stories look at the Holmes/Watson canon through a queer lens but they are still faithfully Sherlockian. You will find much to delight in whether you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, a well written mystery or intelligent gay fiction...
Empire State by Adam Christopher SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR. And DAMN! And WOW! I am still working on the review for this but what I can say is that this debut novel from Adam Christopher totally lives up to its hype and beyond! It is a wonder of a book, an action packed amalgam of pulp, science fiction, mystery...I am still luxuriating in the afterglow from my time in the Christopher's world, so I don't yet have the words but if you want to pick up what may well be the best debut of 2012, then jump onto the E-ticket ride that is Empire State and find out for yourself what all the buzz is about!
And that's all folks; my top 10 favorite reads of 2011! I hope that I brought some attention to books you may not have otherwise heard of and that your interest is piqued and you seek them out. 2012 will find me reading more steampunk, participating in some reading challenges and offering more themed months...until then, as always, thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and let's work on those To Be Read piles!