Love the historical details in this book and Gellis' attempt to capture the medieval mindset. And I still love Alinor. I was as saddened by Simon's loLove the historical details in this book and Gellis' attempt to capture the medieval mindset. And I still love Alinor. I was as saddened by Simon's loss during this REREAD as I was the first time around. The romance between Alinor and Ian is plagued by one too many misunderstandings and lack of real communication. There is a heavy contrast here between Ian's youth and Simon's maturity. Regardless, this is my second favorite book of the Roselynde Chronicles. ...more
Rereading the Rosalynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. First read Roselynde back in the late 70's, early 80's and this reread stands the test of time.Rereading the Rosalynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. First read Roselynde back in the late 70's, early 80's and this reread stands the test of time. I still love young Alinor the Intrepid and Simon the Honorable. Fantastic details, excellent characters and a plot that kept me engaged from beginning to end. ...more
I liked this contemporary gay fiction read. It's very British, well written, and highly entertaining. It has an upstairs, downstairs flavor and a dashI liked this contemporary gay fiction read. It's very British, well written, and highly entertaining. It has an upstairs, downstairs flavor and a dash of BDSM restricted to spanking without graphic sex scenes.
I so enjoyed this book! Flappers, bootleggers, speakeasies, drinking, dancing, cross-starred lovers, and a villainous father!
"Jo guessed even then tha
I so enjoyed this book! Flappers, bootleggers, speakeasies, drinking, dancing, cross-starred lovers, and a villainous father!
"Jo guessed even then that Mother's purpose was to have a son, and she was kept from all other causes. Them included."
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale but this is not a fantasy piece, it is strictly fiction set in 1920's Manhattan. The story loosely follows the same structure as the fairy tale with twelve sisters born to a wealthy Mr. Hamilton who kept his wife pregnant in the hopes of having a son to carry on the Hamilton name until the wife died. He confines his twelve daughters to the second floor and attic severely neglecting them. The girls' one and only outlet is dancing. The four eldest daughters, Jo the "general," vivacious Lou, gorgeous Ella, and down-to-earth Doris sneak out at night and hit the Manhattan speakeasies at age fourteen until they find a home at The Kingfisher Club. After that, as the rest of the girls come of age and under Jo’s watchful eye, they dance their nights away at the only place where they feel safe and taste precious moments of freedom.
“The girls were wild for dancing, and nothing else. No hearts beat underneath those thin, bright dresses. They laughed like glass.“
I love how well Valentine integrates the fairy tale and her own version with the Hamilton daughters as 1920's flappers. It is a great story with a controlling father as the ultimate misogynist who attempts to sell his daughters to men like himself as a solution to financial troubles, and how his daughters outwit him and make their way in a world they don't recognize by daylight.
“The girls could hope that these husbands, wherever her father planned to find them, would be kinder and more liberal men than he was. But the sort of man who wanted a girl who’d never been out in the world was the sort whose wife would stay at home in bed and try to produce heirs until she died of it.“
There is a romance of sorts between the eldest daughter Jo and bootlegger turned club owner Tom, but Jo emerges as the mistress of her own destiny and throughout and to the end controls her own happiness.
"You can't expect people to give you the things you love, unless you know how to ask."
Of the sisters, Jo is the best developed character with Lou, Doris, and Ella following in importance. The rest of the sisters are sometimes distinguishable only by the dances they prefer or key characteristics. Of the secondary characters, Mr. Hamilton, Tom, and Jake, The Kingfisher Club's bartender and loyal friend make the greatest impact.
There is a certain awkwardness to the writing style or structure as a result of long paragraphs containing thoughts or commentary placed between parentheses. Although after a while I became used to this ongoing style, there was always an awareness at the back of my mind that interrupted the reading flow throughout the novel. However, the story itself is engaging and a quick read with excellent Roaring Twenties atmosphere and gritty details of Manhattan's underground speakeasies as the setting. The descriptions of dancing in seedy or glamorous clubs are gorgeous. The heartbreaking moments, Jo's sacrifices for her sisters, the sisters' escape from captivity into the real world, and the final payoff, all make for a magnificent tale by Valentine.
“She was still trying to discover how people related to each other, and how you met the world when you weren’t trying to hide something from someone. It was a lesson slow in coming.“
A novelette that’s science fiction by association.
This novelette, set in the post 1950s, brought back memories of that moment when I first heard thatA novelette that’s science fiction by association.
This novelette, set in the post 1950s, brought back memories of that moment when I first heard that man landed on the moon -- the wonder, hope and dreams. At the time, I owned a children's picture book about Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's first journey into outer space, and was already stung by the "space bug."
This touching and nostalgic story is about a little girl, the daughter of a rocket scientist working on those first space modules for NASA, who dreams of becoming an astronaut. Her parents encourage her despite the fact that at that time girls and women were not expected to want careers based on science, much less to harbor dreams of becoming an astronaut. I love the connection Ann Goonan makes with Walt Disney's building of Tomorrowland and to the detailed documentaries aired by Disney describing plans for future space travel.
This original story's connection to science fiction is tenuous at best, however as it was posted in honor of Tor.com's sixth birthday, I believe that it works well for that purpose. This historical event sparked the imagination of adults and children alike. Personally, I can't believe the nostalgic feelings of wonder the story brought back!...more
This is a quiet, multi-layered story that makes an impact. It focuses on family, the damage that may come of the too-high expectations parents place oThis is a quiet, multi-layered story that makes an impact. It focuses on family, the damage that may come of the too-high expectations parents place on their children while children base their "love" on meeting those expectations, love and rivalry between siblings, children caught in the middle, the effects of racism and misogyny, racial identity, love, infidelity, and so much more. It is a story that digs into each and every character and the motivation behind their actions. There are no stones left unturned and all is revealed, including what happens to Lydia.
I thought long and hard about these characters, this story, after I finished the book: about history and the high price so many people of color, immigrants, and their children have paid while reaching for the undeniably alluring and often unreachable "American dream," the price we as women have paid (and still pay) on our long journey forward, as well as the damage parents can, unknowingly and thoughtlessly, inflict on their children. This is a beautifully written, thought-provoking debut by Celeste Ng. Highly recommended....more
"Why is anyone book different from any other book? They are different, A.J. decides, because they are. We have to look inside many. We have to believe
"Why is anyone book different from any other book? They are different, A.J. decides, because they are. We have to look inside many. We have to believe. We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again."
I began the year by reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, a contemporary fiction book recommended by Christine for our Internet Book Club. The main character, a book store owner and avid reader, loves literary short stories. He references books, titles, characters and plot to describe events occurring in his life. AJ was always an introvert but once he loses his wife in a tragic accident, he further isolates himself in a world of books. A literary snob, he only places value on specific literary works and refuses to read (or buy) anything else. Then, AJ's rare copy of an early book by Edgar Allan Poe is stolen and his plans for retirement are dashed. Luckily for AJ, a little girl comes into his life and everything changes, allowing him a second chance at life and love. "No man is an island." A.J. evolves, and as a result makes a big impact in other people's lives through love, his love of books, and the bookstore.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a multi-layered story. The author keeps the reader immersed by tying events occurring in the main character(s) lives through AJ's perspective as a reader -- AJ's critique of short stories, analysis of construction and writers' abilities, personal views on content (preferences and biases).
"Maya, novels certainly have their charms, but the most elegant creation in the prose universe is a short story. Master the short story and you'll have mastered the universe."
Each chapter begins with one page highlighting the title of a short story and a short critique by AJ which includes facts pertaining to his life at that very moment. I love how the author shows A.J.'s evolution as he builds a canon of short stories for his little girl that also serves as a guide to life.
"My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart. We are not quite novels. The analogy he is looking for is almost there. We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that. In the end, we are collected works."
The author touches on issues pertinent to the book world: critiquing, giving obscure or new books/authors a fair chance, ebooks v. print books, the disappearance of brick and mortar book stores, keeping a small, independent book store afloat, dealing with publisher representatives and their seasonal book catalogues. There is a twist to do with Maya that I did not see coming. Of course, looking back, all the clues were in place and waiting to be discovered, a few niggled at the time, but I missed them. AJ as the main character is indispensable but so are the secondary characters because without them there would not be a story to tell. There are little mysteries and twists, love stories and personality conflicts, resolution and absolution.
This is a beautiful book for book lovers. But this is the thing, Zevin takes all of that and integrates it into a story about life itself with all the messy "disappointments and exhilarating moments that make life beautiful now and again." Highly recommended. ...more
There is beauty, accompanied by sorrow, in this tale. The fantasy and the reality in Alex Jeffers' world of men and fairies merge into one until the rThere is beauty, accompanied by sorrow, in this tale. The fantasy and the reality in Alex Jeffers' world of men and fairies merge into one until the reader becomes immersed in his characters' lives -- pieces of life reflecting the passing of time as they encounter the light, dark, and all the grey areas in between, including love, passion, and loss.
Key to this fantasy is the door which becomes a symbol for choices and a bridge between an ever evolving world and an unchanging one, between the person born and the one he chooses to be, the families we are born to and the ones we choose for ourselves. Most of all, at the heart of this story there is a sense of giving and coming to understand the depths and realities of love....more
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an excellent YA fiction read written in epistolary style. First published in 1999, this short coming-of-age novel iThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is an excellent YA fiction read written in epistolary style. First published in 1999, this short coming-of-age novel is as pertinent today as it was during that time. Chbosky's narrator and main character is young fifteen-year-old Charlie whose personal isolation and awkward social skills are only rivaled by his brilliant mind. The story begins when Charlie is about to start high school and finishes at the end of his freshman year. During that one year, within 213 pages, Charlie undergoes quite a few changes, (character growth) and makes some good as well as some pretty disturbing discoveries about himself. Along the way, he makes some great friends like Patrick, Sam and a few others, but Charlie's family (parents and siblings) are also there in a meaningful way.
This is a smart read, not just a quick one. Chbosky packs in key young adult and family issues, some quite serious, in very few pages while keeping his characters young and fresh as they "discover" and process issues and ideas in their own unique way. While Charlie is the narrator through the letters he writes to "Dear Friend," all the main characters involved in Charlie's life are very well rendered. I was touched by quite a few them: Charlie, of course, Sam, Patrick and Brad, Sam, Charlie's teacher Bill (I wish all teachers were like that!), Charlie's sister and his parents. This is a highly recommended YA fiction read. If you've read it, then you know why. If you haven't, give it try!
I collected quite a few quotes:
"In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys' jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if they are happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are."
"We accept the love we think we deserve."
"I just think it's bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is."
"Bob said it was all about our parents not wanting to let go of their youth and how it kills them when they can't relate to something." Hah!
"[e]ven if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them."
I read this book for my Internet Book Club. Thanks to Mariana, Lili, Maria, Christine, and Yinx for the recommendation....more
Originally reviewed at Impressions of a Reader My Favorite Uncle by Marshall Thornton is a combination of gay comedic romantic fiction, instead of a stOriginally reviewed at Impressions of a Reader My Favorite Uncle by Marshall Thornton is a combination of gay comedic romantic fiction, instead of a straight up gay fiction story. It has a happy ending.
Take a single gay uncle used to privacy with little to no social life or contact with his closest family, throw in the unexpected arrival of a runaway nephew who on his 18th birthday signed himself out of a "gay rehabilitation" clinic where his religious parents sent him after finding him having gay sex, and there are going to be problems. Martin Dixon doesn't know anything about teenagers, he just wants peace and privacy, but going against his better judgment attempts to provide the kid with guidance. Carter wanted his uncle to be a buddy, not some old guy lecturing him about safety and a code of conduct. After feeling repressed by parents and environment, Carter ignores Martin's advice and goes wild on cruising escapades. They butt heads until each comes to the conclusion that if only the other had a boyfriend, all would be resolved. That's when the fun begins and real conflicts arise.
I first wrote some quick impressions for My Favorite Uncle immediately after finishing the book:
"I really liked this book and sincerely enjoyed the combination of humor and depth Thornton uses to engage the reader in this familial, generational tale of personal discovery and rediscovery."
I would like to add that Thornton has a knack for reeling the reader in with his characters' narrative, which becomes evident in this book soon after beginning the first chapter. Thornton utilizes two points of view that of the uncle and nephew, so the reader gains a full picture of events from both perspectives. Humorous scenes are driven by misunderstandings due to the generation gap between Uncle Martin and Carter as well as by the different lifestyles they've lead. However with the deeper, sensitive issues and resulting heartbreaking moments Thornton weaves with the humor, this novel becomes more than a cute comedic read. As Martin helps Carter navigate new waters, his own personal lifestyle comes into question and character growth (and I don’t just mean for the young nephew) becomes key to this novel’s successful conclusion. A B+ read for me, My Favorite Uncle by Marshall Thornton is a recommended read. ...more
I love books that explore generational differences through intimate relationships and the effRead original,complete review at Impressions of a Reader
I love books that explore generational differences through intimate relationships and the effects those differences may or may not have on the individuals. Stephen Greco's Now and Yesterday in-depth exploration of aging and the evolution of relationships through queer history from the 70's gay revolution to current times, partly met my personal expectations of this novel.
Through Peter's character, Greco focuses the romance aspect of his novel on struggles faced by survivors of an aging boomer generation of gay men who lost its vast majority to the AIDS epidemic, limiting choices to those looking for a meaningful relationship to a much-reduced group of contemporaries or men from a much younger generation. Additionally, because Peter's portrayal is largely anchored to the past, it affords Greco the opportunity to incorporate 70's post Stonewall queer liberation details and its resulting history through the same character.
Greco's novel touched a few unexpected chords. I love the frankness and truth that comes across through his character's musings on aging, as well as how tightly he weaves in the impact, cost and effect of recent queer history. On the other hand, I found the proffered views about the younger generation of gay men to be somewhat bogged down by retro thinking and a tendency toward generalization in their portrayals. Regardless, Now and Yesterday is unquestionably a beautiful piece of writing infused with nostalgia and multiple layers that deserve a reader's time to properly dissect and process. ...more