Speak Its Name’s Best of the Year 2011

Happy New Year!

Last year I said that it had been a bumper year for historicals and I had trouble keeping up with reviews. Well, this year it’s official. I haven’t been able to keep up with the releases at ALL. There are books out there, I know, that I haven’t seen, haven’t been advised about and even today I heard that a good friend of mine has two books coming out and I hadn’t a Scooby.

Part of this is because it’s been a busy year for me, troubles healthwise myself and troubles as my Dad has deterioated, but the GOOD part is that there are so many gay historicals coming out that it’s a flood – and one that I hope is never dammed. 😀

The genre is going from strength to strength and I couldn’t be more proud of it. It’s wonderful to see existing authors trying it out – and even more wonderful to see newly published authors who are obviously brilliant at it.

Our “best of 2012” picks are books that have been read and reviewed, not just books that came out in 2011. They are taken from the very small list of books that merited our Five Star  and Four and a Half Star ratings.

The awards (other than the Reader’s Choice) are purely subjective and you may not agree. That’s not a problem, please comment and let me know your favourites that you’ve read this year.

Speak Its Name’s Best Book of the Year

The best thing I read this year was The German by Lee Thomas. Gritty, multiple POVs, fascinating and endlessly re-readable. I can’t recommend this book enough.


bestnovel2012

A very close second was All the Beauty of the Sun by Marion Husband

Speak Its Name’s Best Cover of the Year

This was a difficult choice, purely because there was no stand out cover for me this year – don’t forget we are only choosing from the books that were reviewed – I was disappointed with the covers I came across this year, nothing seemed to pop the way the covers did from last year. However, my favourite of the bunch was Reese Dante’s design for Shadowboxing by Anne Barwell.

bestcover 2012

Runner up for me was The German by Lee Thomas.

Speak Its Name’s Best Author of the Year

This goes to Charlie Cochet, who made a spectacular debut and since then has been consistently good. Every single book of hers I’ve read I’ve been impressed with, and she writes her specialist era with such skill and clarity that you can’t help but be transported to the 1920’s and 30’s America.  Keep it up, Charlie!

  

bestauthor2012

And finally, the

Speak Its Name Readers’ Choice Award

which was done by Poll (HERE) so you can see the results were fair.

The winner is Aleksandr Voinov with his lovely, poignant novella set in WW2 “Skybound
Well done!
readers choice 2012
A Happy New Year to all the readers of the blog–thank you for supporting, for commenting and for buying the books. Let’s hope 2013 is even better.

Speak Its Name Awards 2012

Sorry to cut into the Advent Calendar which I hope you are all enjoying.

It’s awards season again and the Speak Its Name Awards will be running once more.

The Awards will be:

Best Novel

Best Cover

Best Author

and Readers’ Choice.

The first 3 are chosen by Speak Its Name, but the Readers’ Choice gives you a chance to participate. We’ve compiled the list of the books we considered to be the best reviewed in 2012 – those rated 4½ and 5 stars. There’s a few but still only a fraction of the books reviewed in the year. Note that these aren’t all books released in 2012, but merely reviewed.

The poll is below – so please go and vote if you would be so kind.

The books concerned are these below, with a link to the reviews if you need a reminder of their goodness. The only thing I ask is that you vote for the book itself, and that you have read it. Not because you’ve read other things by the author or you really love them as a person.

Many thanks and enjoy the rest of the year!

Erastes

Speak Its Name’s Best of the Year 2011

It’s been a bumper year for gay historicals, so much so that I’ve struggled to keep up with the reviews, and if it wasn’t for my small band of helpers, and Gerry Burnie who lets me crosspost some of his reviews I’d be in serious trouble. More books come out each year than I can ever review, and then add to that the back-list of books that need a review…

Anyway, things are rosy for the genre, and that’s great. More authors are trying the genre for the first time and those who try it often stick around and try it more than once.

Our “best of 2011” picks are books that have been read and reviewed, not just books that came out in 2011. They are taken from the very small list of books that merited our Five Star rating. 

The awards are purely subjective and you may not agree. That’s not a problem, please comment and let me know your favourites that you’ve read this year.

Speak Its Name’s Best Book of the Year

Resoundingly goes to Captain Harding’s Six Day War by Elliott Mackle. Atmospheric, real, with great characters, politic and complicated plot all of which is left closed enough for us to be satisfied but open enough to call for a sequel which I’ve been told is being written. If you buy one book in January, make it this one.

Honorable Mentions go to:

The Case of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday;

and

Suffer the Little Children by Tracy Rowan

Speak Its Name’s Best Cover of the Year

This was a very tough decision because the covers this year weren’t anywhere near as good as they had been in previous years. Covers overall are improving–there is less man titty on display with historicals than once there used to be–and some covers even have clothing that’s relevant to the story. However this year there was little that really stood out, although there were many “good” ones such as “Bless Us With Content” by Tinnean, “The Station” by Keira Andrews – many were generically romantic. There were some real stinkers too. I think Loose-ID came out best this year, and unsurprisingly, Torquere came out worst.

I’m going to have to do something I hated the idea of doing and that’s putting my book Mere Mortals up for best cover. I think that it’s not as bad as putting it up for best book, because the cover was entirely done by someone else–Ben Baldwin–and other than describing the characters I had no input into what he came up with. For me a cover has to tantalise and really want me to know what that cover is hinting at. Just a handsome couple of men before the background of Big Ben (or something else historical to ground it) doesn’t do that for me. Once you had read Mere Mortals you could see the entire book in the cover, but before you had read it, it was just a delicious mystery. I think with the atmospheric moodiness, the historical accurate colours and decoration of the room–it really is a stand out cover and I’m very proud to have work by this artist.

Honourable Mentions:

Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja
(Cover design by Base Art Co.
Cover photograph by Jonas Jungblut.
Author photo© Rick Lieder.)

Eromenos by Melanie McDonald (artist: Megan Chapman)

According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux (artist: Anne Cain)

The Station by Kiera Andrews (artist: April Martinez)

Lion of Kent by Aleksandr Voinov and Kate Cotoner (artist: Angela Waters)

Well done to all the artists, you have helped raise the standard of historical covers, and writers–you could do worse than commission one of these artists for your book.

Speak Its Name’s Best Author of the Year

I think that accolade has to go to Tamara Allen. She may not be the most prolific of writers but I’ve read two of hers this year–The Only Gold and If It Ain’t Love and was hugely impressed by both of them. More power to your pen, Ms Allen and I look forward to what you come up with next.

Reviewers’ favourites

I asked our reviewers to name their favourites–and here’s what they came up with. Note that they aren’t all “released this year” but “read this year.”

Sally Davis:

This is quite a difficult question because I’ve read some fabulous stories over the last 10 months or so. Alex, Donald Hardy, Lee Rowan, Erastes and Charlie have made my reading so much more enjoyable.
However, out of all the books I reviewed The Only Gold by Tamara Allen was the book I read where I was smiling almost all the way through it. It pressed all my buttons – enough historical detail to satisfy without it getting in the way of the plot OR being overwhelmed by the m/m romanciness, engaging heroes, women who were not cardboard cutout viragos and extremes of danger met with gallantry, just lovely. I have read other books I enjoyed almost as much but I think Allen has the edge when it comes to taking actual historical events and making a damn good story out of them.
Jess Faraday:
Of the books I reviewed, these are the ones I’d recommend highest.
Nan Hawthorne

1.  Lessons in Love, by Charlie Cochrane
2.  Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, by Diana Gabaldon
3.  City of Lovely Brothers, by Anel Viz
4.  Counterpoint, by Ruth Sims
5.  An East Wind Blowing, by Mel Keegan

I wish I had had seven.. but so be it.

And finally, the Speak Its Name Readers’ Choice Award which was done by Poll (here) so you can see the results were fair.
The Winner was Charlie Cochrane with her last Cambridge Fellows book “All Lessons Learned.” Well done, toots.
A Happy New Year to all the readers of the blog–thank you for supporting, for commenting and for buying the books. Let’s hope 2012 is even better.

Speak Its Name Awards 2011

Sorry to cut into the Advent Calendar which I hope you are all enjoying.

We will be reviving the Speak Its Name Awards this year and introducing a new category, the Readers’ Choice.

The Awards will be:

Best Novel

Best Cover

Best Author

and Readers’ Choice.

The first 3 are chosen by Speak Its Name, but the Readers’ Choice gives you a chance to participate. We’ve compiled the list of the top books rated 4,4½, and 5 stars. There’s a few but still only a fraction of the books reviewed in the year.

The poll is HERE – so please go and vote if you would be so kind.

The books concerned are these below, with a link to the reviews if you need a reminder of their goodness. The only thing I ask is that you vote for the book itself, and that you have read it. Not that you’ve reader other things by the author or you really love them as a person.

Many thanks and enjoy the rest of the year!

Captain Harding’s 6 Day War by Elliott Mackle

By Honor Betrayed by Alex Beecroft

Well Traveled by Margaret Mills and Tedy Ward

Placing Out by P.A. Brown

Violet Thunder by Kate Cotoner

This Rough Magic by Josh Lanyon

Muffled Drum by Erastes

The Puppet Master by Kate Cotoner

Kindred Hearts by G.S. Wiley

The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday

Wingmen by Ensan Case

Bound Forever by Ava March

Missouri by Christine Wunnicke

Suffer the Little Children by Tracy Rowan

Eromenos by Melanie McDonald

Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja

Home is the Sailor by Lee Rowan

Sal Mineo: a biography by Michael Gregg Michaud

The Nobleman and the Spy by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Midnight Dude by Various

Beloved Pilgrim by Nan Hawthorne

Earth and Sun, Cedar and Sage by Margaret Mills and Tedy Ward

Kindred Hearts by Rowan Speedwell

The Last Tallyho by Richard Newhafer

The Painting by FK Wallace

Algerian Nights by Graeme Roland

Game of Chance by Kate Roman

Willing Flesh by J S Cook (Inspector Raft Mysteries #1)

Perfect Score by Susan Roebuck

Dulce et Decorum Est by JL Merrow

Mere Mortals by Erastes

Lion of Kent by Aleksandr Voinov and Kate Cotoner

Young Man in Paris by Sophia Deri-Bowen

Raised by Wolves 2 Matelots by WA Hoffman

The Wanderer by Jan Irving

Arson! The Dakota Series 1 by Cap Iversen

Living the Spirit: a Gay American Indian Anthology, compiled by Gay American Indians, Will Roscoe

Precious Jade by Fyn Alexander

Sam’s Hill by Jack Ricardo

Home Station on the Prairie Series-1 and 2 by Kara Larson

Walking in Two Worlds by Terry O’Reilly

Comstock by Aaron Michaels

Home Fires Burning by Charlie Cochrane

Pioneers by Lynn Lorenz

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

A Faint Wash of Lavender by Lucius Parhelion

Silver Lining by Lucius Parhelion

The Soldier of Raetia: Valerian’s Legion by Heather Domin

The Only Gold by Tamara Allen

House of Mirrors by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Icy Pavements by Lee Wyndham

According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux

All Lessons Learned by Charlie Cochrane

The Evening Crowd at Kirmser’s by Ricardo J. Brown

His Client by Ava March

The Praise Singer by Mary Renault

Round Up of the Best of the Year

Before you all start to dissolve in left-over mince pies and get cracking on those racy New Year parties, we thought we would follow the good old End of Year Tradition and do a round up of 2009 and our best reads.

We are also announcing our favourite author of the year, our best book of the year, and the best cover of the year.

So here we go. In no particular order – as these are all books that we considered good enough to get the (as you can see!) extremely rare five star accolade from Speak Its Name. Well done everyone. ETA: I should add that these aren’t the BEST books released this year – merely the best of the ones we reviewed.

Erastes

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: