Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Bear on Book's Best of 2012

In which Pooh reads a ton of M/M and tries to narrow it down to his top 10 20 25 50...

Okay, I can do this. I really can.

This was a banner year for M/M books. The quality was terrific, there were many bright new names that put out books I laughed at, cried over, sat stunned with, and just enjoy like...well, a bear with a honey jar.

I really was trying to narrow it to my top twenty, then twenty-five, but I identified about sixty worthy of mention. I could cut a little, so I finally decided on fifty.

So, without further ado (because I know you really don't want all my prattles, you want to get to the goodie inside the blow-pop), here are Tom's Favorite Fifty Books of 2012. My only criteria was that they had to be published in 2012.

My favorite book of 2012 is:

To Touch the Stars by Jeremy Pack

Product Details This book has it all - heart, a fantastic storyline, believable and engaging characters, and that something that just grabbed me by the heartstrings and wouldn't let me go.

Jeremy Pack wrote his heart out with this stunning story of two men's journey over twenty years and three continents to be together. When I turned the last page, I wanted to burn every page I have ever written, because I can't hope to write anything this beautiful.

In no particular order, numbers 2 through 10 in no particular order...

  • The Island by Lisa Henry.  A slow rise of nausea and fear for the first two thirds or so of this book kept me more engaged than almost any book of the year. The tension...*shivers*
  • Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane. A life almost, almost over too soon. I ached, and this book hit way too close to home.
  • Sub Zero by Angel Martinez. Nobody build a world like Angel Martinez. But that's the easy part; she then fills it with believable characters who make me think, feel and care.
  • I Am Fallen by Scarlet Blackwell. This book was damned near perfect. A tragedy in the making, the end blew me away.
  • Who We Are by TJ Klune. Has there ever been a sequel so anticipated? And delivered so spot on? The Kid, Otter and our very own Bear - mwah! A book for the ages. The dinner party scene? Perfection.
  • The Rare Event by PD Singer. Slow building, exquisitely told, this was my runner up for book of the year. I sat there after finishing it and had to re-read it immediately. I was afraid I missed a word, a sentence.
  • King Perry by Edmond Manning. No book surprised me more this year. Edmond and I talked and he asked me to read it. I thought, why not. I had no idea where it was going, and when I heart leapt. This book filled me with hope.
  • End of the Innocence by John Goode. An important book. Vital and essential reading. Tied for runner up for best book of the year. The tragedy that is caused by hate, played out in a high school. God, it hurt to read this book but I loved every word of it.
  • Conner's Courage by SJD Peterson. The best of the Whispering Pines Ranch series, and that is no small event. This one was a surprise; it was a slow dance on a Saturday night with your favorite guy, whiskey on the rocks and the stars in an open sky, all rolled into a beautifully told story.
Numbers 11 through 25 in no particular order...
  • Jack by Adrienne Wilder. A huge surprise and a kick in the gut. A transgendered/kinda-sorta m/m story that deserves wide-spread attention. Adrienne Wilder made me forget gender while weaving a totally unexpected love story. Unconventional and worth the read.
  • Fifteen Shades of Gay (For Pay) by T. Baggins. A coming-out story that made me laugh, think, and most of all, care. This one is fantastic.
  • Velvet by Xavier Axelson. Known for his atmospheric stories, Xavier gives us a full novel in a medieval world, where being gay is deadly and angering the king more so. This was like a fairy tale for adults, and I wanted more, so much more of it. Anything by Xavier is worth reading, and this - his best.
  • (Un)Masked by Andrew Gordon and Anyta Sunday. A man whose face reflects back the person you most wish to see. A family curse. Characters that were so real they leapt off the page. Just a damned fine book.
  • Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane. A powerful story of a wasted life and love found and hearts healed. One of her best. Ever.
  • Chaser by Rick Reed. A book that makes the reader think, is attraction more than skin deep? And what if the initial attraction is for something society says is in to a heavy man. Finally, someone explores an area long untalked about.
  • The British Devil by Greg Hogben. A quasi-memoir that had me laughing my ass off. But best of all, under the laughter is a story that makes us think about serious issues. Like loving someone from another country, how unfair our laws are, and how religion can tear apart families. 
  • Yes by Lou Sylvre. A Vasquez and James story, and one that had me in tears. The beautiful sadness of nearly losing that someone you love...horrifying, told with care and respect, and a story that I wish I could write so well.
  • Missing by Drew Braxton. Imagine your worst nightmare - you are visiting someone and your lover disappears. And you can't find him. Then, turn it sideways and squint, and you have this innovative and powerful read. I adored it.
  • Tigerland by Sean Kennedy. The long awaited sequel to Tigers and Devils, this showcases the humor and love that Sean Kennedy showed in his earlier work. What happens when Dec's ex wants him back? Simon won't stand for it, that's for damned sure!
  • Hard Candy, Soft Cream by Chloe Stowe. The unexpected follow up to Hard Wood, Soft Heart, this book took my breath away. For real. It's a hard realization to come to that you may outlive your partner, and to see it from both men's views? Stunning.
  • Oceans Apart by Laura Harner. The second in a four book series about an English detective and his Arizona counterpart who flounder around an attraction while solving crimes. This time, each has another partner...or do they? I adore Miggy.
  • A Broken Light by Diane Adams. What if you spent your whole life hunting down evil, only to have your brother infected with it? And to then find the man you love may be part of it too? This was a pleasant surprise on the familiar shifter/hunter story. Well written with strong characters.
  • Light of Day by Sue Brown. The sequel to The Night Porter, one of my favorite books last year. So bittersweet, this one gives us a happy for now that I can live with. I've read these two a half dozen times...
  • Whistle Pass by DevaK. Post WWII mystery/detective/love story. Two improbable lovers meet and deal with the realities of the time. Well written, strong storyline and characters. So damned solid.
See how darned hard this stuff is???

Okay, and the next twenty-five all could be anywhere above too. It's THAT hard to choose. So...numbers 26 through 50, in no particular order.
  • Frog by Mary Calmes. A cowboy in love, a family in need and San Francisco. Can all three merge together? Mary Calmes does this so damned well, giving us memorable men who need each other.
  • Stranger in Translation by Charles Raines. A ghost story or not? I'm not so sure, and that's what makes this unforgettable tale so good - it's totally off the wall and engaging.
  • Geoff's Teddy by Havan Fellows. A bear of a man who isn't gay - or might he be? - and the guy who falls for big ol' bears. A story made in heaven and after my own heart!
  • Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander. A fun and sexy story about a straight guy who suddenly finds having it all isn't quite so satisfying without a certain redheaded guy. Totally came from nowhere and is one of the most fun things I read this year.
  • Out in the Field by Kate McMurray. A baseball tale that just might happen. One player on the way up, and another ending his career find love. Hit all the right boxes for me - sports, romance, HEA.
  • Purly Gates by Vastine Bondurant. The unexpected love between a gangster and a mystery man on the beach. Simply told, quiet and respectful and oh-so-good. A pleasure, guilty or not.
  • A Hole in God's Pocket by KZ Snow. A gay Amish man and a not-so-sure ex-monk. KZ Snow writes like an angel, and this stunning book resonated with me for weeks afterwords. Really, one of the year's best.
  • Water Waltz by Harley B. James. A crazy tale of devils and demons and men. Easily one of the most creative books of the year.
  • The Rebuilding Year by Kaje Harper. A hunky straight ex-fireman. A hunky straight groundkeeper. One house. Tension, and self-discovery. And so beautifully told, as only Kaje Harper can, with grace and style and care.
  • It's Simple, Simon by Lee Brazil. The great re-imagining of fairy tales is hard to do, but Lee Brazil knocks this one out of the ball park. Complete, wonderfully imagined and fun. And sexy.
  • Beggars and Choosers by Mia Kerick. Two wounded young men begin a quiet dance of respect, friendship and, eventually, love. I LOVED this book.
  • Something Like Winter by Jay Bell. Telling Something Like Summer from Tim's POV was risky. And it paid off so very well. And gives us more of Tim and Benjamin. So good.
  • Love Comes Silently by Andrew Grey. A deaf man, a kid with cancer, and what do you have? One of the best imagined, quietly heartfelt books of the year. Amazing.
  • Another Dumb Jock by Jeff Erno. Twenty years later, we see the old story of jock meets nerd repeat. And it's timeless, and Jeff Erno tells it with the straightforward heart-on-his-sleeve that makes all his works so memorable.
  • Daddio by Mickie Ashling. Continuing the story of Lil and Grier and their new little family, I was spell bound by how much I cared. Third in a wonderful series.
  • An Immovable Solitude by S.A. McAuley. The story of a relationship that dissolves before our very eyes, and how it may possibly be salvaged and rebuilt. Stunning.
  • Stars and Stripes (Cut and Run) by Abigail Roux. The sixth in the series, and in my opinion, the most fun and engaging. I love Ty and Zane, and this one shows them at their best.
  • The Mountain by Ally Blue. What happens when an agoraphobiac falls for a man who lives down the mountain? Deft handling, interesting and engaging characters make this story shine.
  • Let It Go by Mercy Celeste. Two antagonistic jerks are forced by a judge to live together and cooperate. Of course it leads to love. But it's a rocky road, and Mercy Celeste drags our hearts around a bit first. Darn her.
  • Paradox by Chris Quinton. Telling the story of two men across centuries, this book grabbed me from the first page and pulled me in. I read it in one sitting and wanted more. Chris Quinton is the best at laying out impossible situations and making me care. Bravo.
  • Bonds of Earth by G N Chevalier. Set after WWI, this story of a broken man and the former massage therapist who falls for him is timeless. And told so damned well. The prose was some of the best I read all year.
  • Of Dark and Bright by Kate Sherwood. The further tales of the unlikely trio of Jeff, Evan and Dan. I fell for all three men, and still can't decide how they would work without each other. I think I am secretly in love with Jeff. No, Dan. Or maybe it's Evan. Damn!
  • Inherit the Sky by Ariel Tachna. A man with nothing going right in his life moves to New South Wales where his mother inherited a ranch. And promptly falls for the foreman. Sweeping story, beautifully told.
  • The Starving Years by Jordan Castillo Price. In a world where hunger has been eradicated, three men become privy to a secret that could take it all down. And oh, they all fall for each other. Told with a twist, fun and thoughtful as only Jordan Castillo Price can do it.
  • Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov. Incredibly thought-provoking short about two men who discover themselves in a one-night stand that grows into more. What's so fantastic is how the characters grow and discover so much about themselves during sex. Amazing.
And that's fifty.

* Addendum * I forgot to add JP Barnaby's Aaron. Somewhere between my handwritten list and typing, I left it out. It's a crime I did - this story about a broken and abused teen's slow re-entry into living broke my heart. Not to be forgotten.

Holy Hell - I know!!! I had another ten that easily could have made the list.

And you know, that's what makes this genre go good. The depth, the talent and the diversity.

I can't wait for 2013.

Thank you all for checking in.



  1. THank you so much for adding Conner to this list. Very impressive list and I totally agree it says a lot for our little genre the amount of talent on your list. I'm humbled to be included. THank you ~HUGS~

  2. Great list Tom! There are quite a few here that I haven't read but will certainly do so after your recommendations <3

  3. Tom, it is such an honor to have been included in this list. You are an inspiration to me--one of the men whose courage made my life possible, and for whom "To Touch the Stars" was written. it means so much to me to know it touched you. With all my heart, thank you!

  4. Tom, now I know what to do with all of those gift cards I hope to get for Christmas!! We have SO many LOVES in common on here!! Thanks for the list!! Have a great 2013

  5. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! It's so wonderful to be acknowledged by someone you genuinely like. It feels like a new friend saying, "I like you back." Thanks for thinking of me, Tom.

  6. WOW, Tom, Paradox made your Top 50! *huge grin* I'm so chuffed! Thank you, m'dear.

    Have a happy and peaceful holiday, and a creative and successful New Year!


  7. Tom, Thanks so much for including Velvet in your best of 2012 list :) You're the best!! Bear Hugs, X

  8. Hi Tom!

    I've read seven books on your list and, not surprisingly, totally agree with your assessment of them. Great list, Tom. Now I know what others to read.

  9. Happy holidays, Tom! I so appreciate your including CHASER on your list. Big hugs to you; can't wait to see you in Atlanta.

  10. I'm honored, Tom, you big ol' handsome devil. ;-) Thank you, and have a wonderful holiday season!

  11. Wow, I'm thrilled and humbled to be included in such amazing and talented company :) Thank you so much, Tom! Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy holiday season, and I hope I'll see you in Atlanta in October :D

  12. I'm deeply honored that you included SUB ZERO in your top ten, Tom - thank you so very much! Don't worry, the boys won't get swelled heads. Emma will keep them in line.

    And, oh, my, all these lovely stories to add to my list of must reads...

  13. Thank you so much for your kind words--I'm glad that The Rare Event provided you with so much reading pleasure. This is an amazing collection of stories to be part of.

  14. Awesome list, and I'm gobsmacked that I've got so many of them! Great Blog Tom, have a fabulous happy and healthy 2013, and keep writing!

  15. I didn't read 50 books in the last year! WOW!

  16. Thank you for your Facebook post about making your list. <3

  17. Can't wait to start working my way through this list!

  18. Oh - there are books on that list that I haven't read so far. material to make my TBR-list longer :)

    I think someone should add "Second Chances" to it, so I do it.

    I know, I know, you can't add your own book but I think it belongs in this is in mine for the best..50..are 50 enough???

    I don't think so.

  19. Thank you for including Water Waltz in your list. :) I'm flattered!

  20. Okay Bear Man...I'm a little late to the party, but I found one book conspicuously absent from your best of 2012 list. I just happened by your blog to see if you had reviewed "When Love Is Not Enough" by Wade Kelly. I just finished this book....I don't know where I have been that I missed this jewel until now. I was so glad to see that you gave it a glowing review in 2011. It truly was a phenomenal book and I look forward to a lot more from Mr. Kelly in the future. But I digress.

    Okay...I get the humility bit and all, but in MY humble opinion, your book "Second Chances" was hands down THE BEST book of 2012. I know you can't say it, so I will. And yes, I read a lot of the books on your list (went through about 300 last year) and they were great books, but yours was better. So humility be damned....lets just say it. :-}


  21. Love getting lists so I can find new authors! Thanks for sharing this!

  22. Tom, do you have a link to 'Missing' by Drew Braxton?
    I can't find it on Goodreads or Amazon...

    ETA: After Googling I discovered it's Drake Braxton, not Drew. Got it now.

  23. Thank you for this. What an effort!

    I've read a lot of them but you've pointed me to a few authors I haven't read before, and now will.