Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellI think that, if I was a gay man, I would be like Ethan Day ;-) No, I'm not turning into a stalker, it's only that, I believe to have a lot in common with Ethan, the love for good comedy, both in books than movies, above all. And I think that we "want" to believe in romance and happily ever after, and we want to see the good in people, or at least we try. So, I'm more than happy to guest Ethan and his list today. Enjoy!
Before settling in for my Inside Reader, I wanted to extend my thanks to Elisa for allowing me to post some of my own reviews and ramblings on her site.
For my ten list I wanted to cut through all the criteria that I hope and pray make it into every book I write: great characterization, romance, and to emotionally move the reader – whether it be with a few laughs or a few tears. Getting down to the very basic thing I want more than anything else, which is to entertain the reader. I always cross my fingers, hoping that reading one of my books is like going out on a really great date. And with any luck, have the reader ready to turn around and go out with me again.
With that thought in mind, I sat down and chose ten books (more actually as several are part of a series) which fit that criteria for me as a reader. They aren’t listed in any particular order so much as how they came to me when I sat down to write this. Let me also say that I’ve stumbled across a great many wonderful authors throughout 2009, which was a particularly good year for me, considering I was fortunate enough to have a few books of my own published. Some of those writers are on this list – to the great many that aren’t – keeping in mind the limitation of ten books – don’t hate me because you didn’t fit! : )
1) Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt – Despite not being fiction, I think one of the best lesson’s I learned as a writer from reading this book, was how important a colorful secondary cast of characters could be. I was so entertained by the southern charm of all the quirky characters that I continuously had to keep reminding myself that someone had been murdered! The movie version of course sucked-ass due to the Hollywood cliché of inserting a het-romance in some lame attempt to dial down the homosexuality, but the book is a gem and the cast of real-life characters, the envy of this writer. Who knew real people could be so interesting? : )
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Vintage (June 28, 1999)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780679751526
Amazon: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case. It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.
2) First You Fall: A Kevin Connor Mystery by Scott Sherman – I found this author after reading a review he wrote of one of my books on Amazon. I hadn’t read his book at the time I e-mailed to thank him for his kindness. It was something I soon rectified and was so happy I did. Kevin Connor is sweet, sexy, funny, and a hooker? A combination I never would have imagined would’ve worked for me had Sherman not decided to put pen to paper. What made this story so fresh was the fact that Kevin’s career path wasn't the focus of the story. Sherman created a delightfully fun, frisky, and at times laugh-out-loud funny book. A second installment should soon be available, and I for one, can’t wait to fall all over again.
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Alyson Books (June 1, 2008)
Publisher Link: http://www.alyson.com/9781593500597.html
Amazon: First You Fall
When his friend’s death is ruled a suicide, Kevin Connor—a hustler by trade, sleuth by default—sets out to prove a case of murder. It doesn’t help matters that the victim’s grown children, who disapproved of their father’s gay lifestyle, are only concerned about their inheritance. But they are not Kevin’s only problem. His high-strung mother has moved in with him—and she knows nothing about his questionable . . . job. Scott Sherman has written for Newsweek, Genre, Instinct, and The Washington Blade. He is the host of the number-one rated The Digital Photography Show on The Podcast Network.
3) Glamourpuss by Christian McLaughlin – I read this book so long ago, that I probably should have re-read it before placing it on the list. Our hero, Alex Young, is an adorable daytime soap star, outed by a tabloid rag, and subsequently thrown into one frying pan after another. Two things I do recall with complete clarity: that I laughed my ASS off while reading it and that I immediately purchased the only other book I could find by this author, Sex Toys of the Gods. Glamourpuss has it all: laughs, love, and shenanigans galore! Sex Toys was as much fun as Glamourpuss – I highly recommend both – as a matter of fact – as I sit here remembering how much I laughed, I think I’ll be re-reading them each again, post-hast! : )
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Plume (October 1, 1995)
Alex Young, the twentysomething heartthrob of the hottest Hollywood soap is still marveling at his good fortune for landing such a plum part when all hell breaks loose. A notoriously disreputable supermarket tabloid catches Alex in a steamy kiss with another man, causing Alex to wonder if the glamour of Hollywood is worth all the trouble and heartache.
4) What Hides Inside: A Bay City Paranormal Investigation by Ally Blue – Book Two in the series, which I have to admit is as far as I’ve gotten. Book One, Oleander House, was one of the ten to twelve gay-romance books I read before deciding whether or not to submit my own manuscripts to one of the many publishers of that new-fangled, e-book thingy I’d discovered while surfing Amazon back in the fall of 2008. (You can stop pointing your finger and mocking already – it was new to me!) I loved the first book, but What Hides Inside totally blew it out of the water. Blue brilliantly set up these characters amid a Ghost Hunter-esque backdrop; the married but unhappy closeted gay man and the out of the closet hopeless romantic are the perfect pairing to be the anchor of this long running series. And bringing in the new hottie bi-guy character in the second book was wicked smart. I was completely wigged out thinking, No! She! Didn’t! I know a series is good when I have to force myself to NOT read the next book, despite really, really wanting to! I hate tough-loving myself, but I’d never get any of my own writing done otherwise.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (October 30, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://samhainpublishing.com/print/what-hides-inside-print
Amazon: What Hides Inside
For the BCPI team, facing a horror from another reality could be deadly. For Sam and Bo, facing their own secrets and lies could be far worse. Book Two in the Bay City Paranormal Investigation series. Sam Raintree’s life changed forever when he started his dream job with Bay City Paranormal Investigations. In one fateful week, he learned he was psychic, discovered he possessed the power to open interdimensional portals, and accidentally let loose a horror like he’d never imagined. He also began a relationship with his boss, Dr. Bo Broussard, a man who’d been in the closet all his life. Now, three months later, the burden of secrets has become too heavy for a fragile relationship to bear. Bo isn’t ready to come out, and Sam is tired of hiding. When Bo hires a new investigator, Dean Delapore, Sam is intrigued in spite of himself. Dean is bisexual, attractive, and very interested in Sam. During the intense investigation of South Bay High School, from which three students have mysteriously disappeared, Sam and Dean draw closer together, while Bo pushes Sam away despite their feelings for one another. When the investigation erupts and Sam comes face-to-face with his worst nightmare, he has to decide whether to fight for Bo’s love, or let him go.
5) Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin – What I wouldn’t give to live at 28 Barbary Lane – which is actually saying a lot, considering I hated the fashion of the seventies. I mean really…could they have discovered a more revolting color palette to choose from? I don’t think so! But I’d suffer it all over again to live upstairs with Michael, Mary Ann, & Mona at Mrs. Madrigal’s. This was the first book I ever read where I was able to see myself, unapologetically staring back at me from the page. The ever-hopeless romantic, trying on new men – praying one of them would fit – never giving up, no matter how many times I wound up heartbroken and alone. While I haven’t tried on quite as many guys as Mouse did, I still to this day can’t seem to drive that wishful-thinking-someday-my-prince-will-c
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 29, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061358302/Tales_of_the_City/index.aspx
Amazon: Tales of the City
For more than three decades Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. The first of six novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales is both a sparkling comedy of manners and an indelible portrait of an era that changed forever the way we live.
6) The Adrien English Mystery Series by Josh Lanyon – What do you get when you take murder, an amateur mystery-writing sleuth with a heart condition who wields his sarcastic tongue to deflect suspicion and innuendo…then mix it with a dash of romance including in a hunky cop with commitment issues, a leather fetish, who suffers from a severe case of homophobia despite being one himself? A whole lotta happy readers. I have yet to read the fifth and final book, mainly because I know I won’t have to say goodbye as long as I don’t. But this series is brilliantly written and readers are deliciously tormented and teased by the will-they/won’t-they, on again/off again relationship between Adrien and Jake.
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: MLR Press; 2nd edition (May 9, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=FATL0001
Amazon: Fatal Shadows
Someone's out to get Los Angeles bookseller Adrien English. His best friend has been viciously murdered, now he's getting weird phone calls and sinister gifts from a mysterious "admirer." The cops think he's trying to divert suspicion from himself-with the exception of sexy and homophobic homicide detective Jake Riordan. Is Riordan really such a great detective--or does he have a few secrets of his own? Is his offer to help Adrien on the level or is he out to nail his favorite suspect -- to the wall?
7) Edward Unconditionally by Lynn Lorenz – What do I love best about this book, which is third in the Common Powers Series? Edward, of course. He has a relationship with his bulldog that’s eerily reminiscent of the relationship one of my BFF’s has with his Dachshund’s. Edward isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and has a heart as big as Texas. He is also not your typical straight-acting, uber-masculine gay man providing proof that nelly guys need love too! Edward just is. The book is sweet, funny, and determined in the best sense of the word. In Edward, Lorenz created a character who half stumbles, half barrels through life, yet always pushes forward as if a force of nature all his own. He just can’t help himself – it’s all he knows.
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC (December 14, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.loose-id.com/Common-Powers-3-Edward-Unconditionally.aspx
Amazon: Edward Unconditionally
When Jack meets Edward at a traffic stop, his world is rocked -- and not for the better. Edward is the gayest man he’s ever seen, and Spring Lake is a small town just getting comfortable with its own new gay couple, Brian Russell and Rush Weston. Unlike Edward, Rush and Brian are big, strapping, manly men. But manly isn’t what turns Jack on. It’s Edward -- everything about the younger man drives Jack wild with desire and the need to control Edward’s wild, impetuous spirit. For Edward, his attraction to “bad boys” has been his romantic downfall. His heart’s been broken so many times he’s lost count. When he meets Jack, Edward falls for the all-American by-the-book lawman, but finds his attempts rebuffed and his pride severely wounded. Jack’s straight, or at least says he is, but Edward knows that look in Jack’s eyes, he’s seen it before from other men. How can a man so right be so wrong? Edward tempts Jack beyond anyone he’s ever met and his desire for Edward builds each time he encounters the younger man, until he can no longer deny it or himself. But Edward doesn’t want sex on the side, he wants forever. He wants the fairy tale. Can Jack give Edward what he wants or will Jack’s fear of being ridiculed for his choice of a partner keep them from their Happily Ever After?
8) Love! Valour! Compassion! By Terrence McNally – Okay…so it’s a play, not a novel or short story. But it’s totally bril so it has to be included in this list. I know some people can’t get into reading plays the same way they do a book, and maybe it’s the writer in me, but I LOVE it. I get to create the sets in my mind, cast it with actors I like and basically direct the entire thing in my head while I’m reading it. Try it sometime if you haven’t already. It’s fun, damn it!! : ) Other than playing director, the story is also in my opinion, one of the best and most true depictions of gay men I’ve ever read. I can honestly say I either am or know every single one of the characters and like life – it is at times funny & sad, sexy & romantic, as well as sweet & sarcastic. If you just can’t get into reading the play, then watch the film. For me the play is better, but either way, McNally will have you running the emotional gamut, yet somehow leaving you with this incredible sense of hopefulness.
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service Inc (June 1999)
Amazon: Love! Valour! Compassion!
9) Dash & Dingo: In Search of the Tasmanian Tiger by Catt Ford & Sean Kennedy – This book really plays into my secret fantasy where Indiana Jones decides he’s through with women and while traveling through Missouri, sweeps me up into one his adventures and I live happily ever after surrounded by antiquities and Harrison Ford. Dash & Dingo doesn’t actually follow that plot line, but it does quite successfully fulfill my adventure fantasy where a charismatic, hot man runs off into the wild to save – something. Plus Dingo has a sexy Aussie accent! It was very easy for me to settle into the shoes of Dash and pretend it was me getting swept away while hopping from one continent to another. I thought Dash & Dingo was a great adventure and a whole lot of fun.
Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 28, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=55_101&products_id=1480
Amazon: Dash & Dingo
Stodgy British archivist Henry Percival-Smythe slaves away in the dusty basement of Ealing College in 1934, the only bright spot in his life his obsession with a strange Australian mammal, the thylacine. It has been hunted to the edge of extinction, and Henry would love nothing more than to help the rare creature survive. Then a human whirlwind spins through his door. Jack "Dingo" Chambers is also on the hunt for the so-called "Tasmanian Tiger," although his reasons are far more altruistic. Banding together, Dingo and the newly nicknamed Dash travel halfway around the globe in their quest to save the thylacine from becoming a footnote in the pages of biological history. While they search high and low, traverse the wilds, and fight the deadliest of all creatures—man—Dash and Dingo will face danger and discover another fierce passion within themselves: a desire for each other.
10) Mahu by Neil Plakcy – The thing I liked best about Plakcy’s detective Kimo, was also one of the things that subsequently pissed me off at the same time: his self-loathing and antiquated idea’s of what it means to be a gay man. Granted, he’s just coming out of the closet, and not exactly willingly either, but I found myself wanting to help him one minute, tease and taunt him for being so socially inept the next, before finally wishing I could smack him upside the head already! He was a totally frustrating character who I totally wanted to sleep with throughout the entire book. : ) I have a major weak spot for flawed men who have a heart of gold, and Plakcy nearly did me in with Kimo. There’s something about him that made me want to jump into the pages of the book and help him. Not with investigation, mind you – I’m fine leaving that to the professionals. I just knew that if I could only get my hands on him I’d be able to make it all better – or least have a lot fun trying.
Paperback: 317 pages
Publisher: Alyson Books (April 1, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.alyson.com/9781593500825.html
Honolulu police detective Kimo Kanapa’aka lives with a secret he barely acknowledges, even to himself. One night, he inadvertently sees someone dump a body in an alley outside a gay bar, and, because of his own inability to come to grips with his sexuality, makes a decision that threatens all that is important in his life—his career, his friendships, and his family.
About Ethan Day: “I am a gay man living in Missouri...I can hear the gasps already!! How very un-chic of me, yes I know. It was here I was born and here I have stayed.
I'm currently single but always looking for that special someone that makes my heart skip a beat...in addition to being able to put up with my neurotic ass. The worst thing about being a romance writer is finding a real life hottie that can live up to the fantasy I create in my head and subsequently thrust upon him before actually getting to know the real him. I can hear you getting all judgie...it's an occupational hazard!! To all my past and future boyfriends, my sincerest apologies...I can't help myself!
I was the youngest of four children and the only boy, so needless to say, I was spoiled rotten. I've always had an extravagant fantasy life. When I played with my Star Wars action figures as a child, I liked to make up my own stories. Naturally, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were totally meant for each other, and Princess Leia made a bitchin' wise cracking Fag Hag.
I somehow managed to survive high school living in a small racist town in Southeast Missouri and emerged unscathed, realizing life was too short to pretend to be anything other than who I was. I was the little homo that could...so damn it, I did! It was all very Lifetime Movie Network meets After School Special I assure you.
After a few stints in college, I eventually signed up for a Creative Writing course. I took the class because there were no tests. For once my scholastic laziness paid off, and I found an outlet for all the fantasies running amuck in my head. It was love at first write, and I've been doing it off and on ever since.
Now I've decided its time to un-barricade the doors and unleash my imagination onto the world. So very sorry world!! With the help of the lovely and talented team at Loose Id and MLR Press, my fantasy life is now available for public consumption. I'm desperately hoping your really, really hungry.”
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