Definitely not an m/m romance, this gay fiction story is a campy tale about a stereotypical gay twenty-something living in San Francisco. Loved the au...moreDefinitely not an m/m romance, this gay fiction story is a campy tale about a stereotypical gay twenty-something living in San Francisco. Loved the author's voice and found him at times hilarious. Fell in love with the characters...well, most of them. One scene in particular moved me to tears.
I wish the story could have contained a romance and HEA, though. (less)
I'm giving this book 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for Good Reads, not because it is perfect, but because the story is very powerful. I also am...more4.5 Stars
I'm giving this book 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for Good Reads, not because it is perfect, but because the story is very powerful. I also am thrilled that this m/m romance does not present picture-perfect, model-like characters, but characters who are real. I really appreciated that the love interest is husky, hairy, and average-looking at best. I liked that the main character was a bone-head who did not know his ass from his elbow.
Isn't that far more realistic than two guys who look like they stepped out of the pages of GQ Magazine whining about how challenging their lives are because they happen to be gay? And in most of these stories the protagonists have lots of money, don't work real jobs, and are oblivious to what real life is all about.
For these reasons, and for the sweet romance that developed gradually and beautifully, blossoming like a springtime bud into a magnificent, beautiful flower, I rated this story highly. I genuinely rooted for this couple throughout the story and was overjoyed that they overcame their challenges and found their HEA.
All of that being said, I did take issue with some editorial oversights. I thought the book desperately needed tightening. Very long, protracted conversations were repeated from one character to the next. (For example, instead of Nick simply stating that he'd had a conversation with another character, he would recount, word-for-word everything that was said even though the reader had already seen the original conversation). And the story was told in the first person narrative, which was fine, but the narrator often used impressive vocabulary that did not jive with the character who supposedly was narrating. Nick was supposed to be a really simple guy, uneducated who relied on his physical beauty, and on more than one occasion he admitted that he didn't understand words or phrases that other people said, then he'd turn around and use even bigger, more obscure words in his narration.
One thing that really surprised me was a section where Nick, out of the blue, begins conversing with a secondary character in a foreign language. Nick wasn't raised in a bilingual household and he didn't seem overly bright. Learning a second language is something that is challenging, often nearly impossible, for highly intelligent people unless they are afforded a chance to immerse themselves. Supposedly he just naturally picked it up from being around immigrants in his neighborhood. That made no sense to me.
Setting those issues aside, I loved Nick. Not at first, though. I almost abandoned the book as I discovered him to be arrogant, conceited, and extremely lazy. But over the course of the story, his character arced in a beautiful way, and much of this was due to self-discovery. When he met and began to fall in love with RC, he took a personal inventory and made the decision to change, to become a better person.
I think I've read three or four books by this author now, and this, by far, is the best. (less)
I think Sedonia Guillone is one of the most underrated m/m novelists, for I've yet to read any of her work that is not flawlessly executed. Her prose...moreI think Sedonia Guillone is one of the most underrated m/m novelists, for I've yet to read any of her work that is not flawlessly executed. Her prose is beautiful--lyrical, poetic. Her writing craft and world building skills set her apart, and I'd love to see her work get a lot more recognition than it does.
This particular story, Immortal Vow, features two supernatural characters, an "immortal" and a vampire, who fall in love. By nature, they're an unlikely couple, but the way they meet each other makes their coupling even more improbable. Yet Jesse, the immortal, is able to use his empathic abilities to see within Christian's seemingly non-existent heart.
Together they face a common enemy, an evil vampire hellbent on Christian's destruction. Noiret, the villian, is holding Jesse's sister, Hannah, hostage, and if Jesse does not hunt down Christian and behead him, Noiret has promised to torture and execute Hannah.
Though not particularly long, the story unfolds into an exciting, sensual plot which ultimately leads to a very satisfying ending. Once more, I was not disappointed with Sedonia Guillone. Five stars.(less)
I really enjoyed this sweet coming out story, which I felt dealt with a reality that often is not discussed in romantic fiction. The manner and rate a...moreI really enjoyed this sweet coming out story, which I felt dealt with a reality that often is not discussed in romantic fiction. The manner and rate at which people self-identify as gay or bisexual vary from person to person. Some of us know at a very early age. Others do not make sense of their feelings until they are teens or adults. And until they reach that point, by default they identify as straight. This is because we're raised this way, conditioned to believe that one day we will meet someone of the opposite sex, fall in love, and get married.
Most YA coming out stories depict characters who have already realized they have same-sex attractions. Their coming out is merely a matter of openly admitting this truth to those around them. In this story, though, the main character identified as heterosexual through most of the narrative. He first had to come out to himself before he was able to acknowledge his orientation to others.
In truth, the portrayal in this story is far closer to reality than most of what we read. Had someone talked to me about sexual orientation when I was sixteen, I would have insisted I was straight. Although I'd known I was attracted to boys since the onset of puberty, I did not acknowledge, even to myself, that this meant I was gay. And I know people who as adults continue to deny their identity. Often they state that they do not like "labels" or they even insist they are straight in spite of the fact that they have sex or even live with partners of the same gender.
Comments about how mean Joey was to Jimmy are extremely overblown. Yeah, he was a jerk in the beginning of the story, but by the end he'd worked through his homophobia, renounced it, and publicly stood up for his openly gay friend. Rather than presenting Joey as this larger than life hero who instantly had the courage to do the right thing, the author portrayed him like a normal teen, one who wanted to do the right thing and eventually did. It just took him a while to get to that point.
The only aspect of the story I wasn't completely pleased with was the way Jimmy repeatedly came on to Joey, openly acknowledging his attraction to him in spite of Joey's insistence he was straight. At first it seemed almost predatory, and wasn't exactly in character with who Jimmy was. He actually was shy and reserved and in all likelihood he'd have waited for Joey to make the first move. The secret crush he harbored toward Joey probably would have remained secret until Joey expressed similar feelings. Even then, I imagine Jimmy would have been cautious.
However, that being said, I do think that there are instances where a closeted guy who identifies as "straight" will openly flirt with a gay guy he finds attractive. This is what I think was being depicted here. And it was this dance that ultimately pushed Joey to a point where he had to at last be honest with himself about his identity.
Oh sweat balls! TJ Klune, I hate you. For ripping my heart from my chest and stomping on it, pulverizing it into a million pieces, reducing me to a ha...moreOh sweat balls! TJ Klune, I hate you. For ripping my heart from my chest and stomping on it, pulverizing it into a million pieces, reducing me to a hapless heap of frayed emotions, utterly spent and blubbering incoherently.
I hated this book. At first.
It was Paul, the main character. He came across so snarky, sarcastic in a mean and bitter way. In the opening pages of the first person narrative, he admits "In my head, I'm the meanest bitch who ever walked the face of the earth." I nodded, certain that I agreed with him as I teetered on the verge of marking the book DNF and moving on to something more uplifting...and nice.
And then I read a couple scenes in the story that caused me to shake my head. They seemed familiar and as I thought about them I realized I'd read (or seen) them before. One was the three-way phone conversation Paul had with his parents, and I recognized it from the play Jeffrey. It was so similar, that my face grew hot. I felt angry and embarrassed, certain it had pretty much been lifted from that phenomenal play and rewritten. And a couple other scenes reminded me of other stories, and I thought this whole thing was going to be a complete train wreck, a rip-off of other artists' creativity.
But I told myself, this author is a rock star. He has a huge following and just won a Lambda Award. And the dialogue is so damn good, and the comedy is side-splitting hysterical. So I kept reading. And I didn't see any more scenes that were uncomfortably familiar so I chalked up the similarities to either "inspirational nods" or "creative coincidences" and gave the author the benefit of the doubt.
And I'm glad I did.
Because my patience allowed me to get sucked into this un-fucking-believably amazing, funny, touching, heartfelt love story. And the build up to the one and only explicit scene in the book literally wowed me. This scene between Paul and Vince is perhaps the most beautiful piece of romantic literature I've ever read. And TJ had me laughing through my tears, like deep belly-laughing, and it pissed me off because I'd decided I didn't like this story but then I realized I loved it more than I could ever imagine.
Let me tell you why I loved it so much:
1-Tell Me It's Real is love-at-first-sight (Insta-love) done right. So many stories depicting this trope fail miserably. But the thing that worked so well here was the manner in which the main character resisted what was happening to him. He was so skeptical, in fact, that it made me root for him to be wrong.
2-There appeared to be a remarkable arc of the main character, though in reality it was probably more a peeling back of the layers of his personality. He wore his biting cynicism and negativity like a mask or shield. Love pierced through it, triumphantly, spectacularly, magnificently.
3-The secondary characters were brilliantly painted like the background details of a grand tapestry, a stunning work of art. I loved each and every one of them, some of them deliberately exaggerated yet believable for reasons I can't quite explain, but I bought them.
4-Paul (the lead) and his love interest Vince were deliciously flawed. Paul wasn't a model with abs you could bounce a quarter off of. Vince wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. They were authentic. And even Paul with his snide sarcasm felt real to me because I've seen and heard it all before. I've known people, gay men, exactly like him.
5-The pacing of this story, the flow of the narrative, carried me through. So often people characterize books as being page turners. Until you've read a narrative like this, you don't even know what that statement means. TJ Klune really puts the craft into his writing craft, and the manner in which he does it elevates the entire genre.
6-Most importantly, the story shredded my emotions. I laughed and cried at the same goddamn time. I got angry and sad and burst into fits of hysteria. And I loved every minute of it. Isn't that WHY we read? Isn't that the ultimate goal? To FEEL something.
This is a great story. And for those who complained about the main character's overuse of vagina jokes, please realize this is exactly what you'd hear if you walked into a gay bar. Gay men are generally not misogynists, but many have a strong aversion (or fascination with) girly bits. And they do joke about them in much the same way that women reference the penis.
I struggled with the narrator's snarkiness, especially in the beginning. But seriously, he was authentic. I'm telling you, Tell Me It's Real was real. It was very, very real.(less)
This was one of those books where I had to stop and ask myself, what's more important- sleep or finishing this story. The story won.
Ethan, Who Loved...moreThis was one of those books where I had to stop and ask myself, what's more important- sleep or finishing this story. The story won.
Ethan, Who Loved Carter is the story of two beautiful souls, brought together by what could be nothing less than fate or destiny. Carter is twenty-four and has lived with tourette's syndrome his whole life. Ethan, a couple years older, suffered a brain injury a decade prior.
This portrayal had me in tears throughout the story. The honesty and innocence of Ethan were such blessings to read, and the depiction seemed so authentic. And Carter, what an amazing person. Their love for each other made my heart soar.
Some of the moments in the story were tender and sweet, others humorous to where I laughed out loud. Other times I wept, both from sadness and joy. This range of emotion the story evoked served as evidence of how well this novel was crafted. A beautifully written, beautiful story.(less)
The haunting beauty of this author's lyrical prose cut through my soul. But God, the story itself is so achingly tragic. Sad. Bitterly and painfully h...moreThe haunting beauty of this author's lyrical prose cut through my soul. But God, the story itself is so achingly tragic. Sad. Bitterly and painfully heartbraking. After reading Day of the Dead, my body aches. I feel emotionally spent.
And you know, stories like this win awards. All kinds of them, because the literary people, they just love misery. If only this remarkably talented author could use his gift to write a story with a happily-ever after ending...that would really, really please me.
But I glanced at some of the other ratings, and I have to say it truly irks me that people honestly think they are supposed to rate books on whether or not they LIKED them. No, that is not the basis for rating a story. The rating should reflect the quality of the literature, not the reader's personal preferences. And with that being said, I could give this story nothing less than five stars.
My only criticism is that the story is billed a romance, and clearly it is not. Not by any definition, really. The story is about grief in the aftermath of a romantic relationship. The characterization is perfect. The clever manner in which the story is diced up into a non-linear plot proved very effective. And the uniqueness of the alternating narrative styles (third person limited, and second person)every other chapter, is something I haven't seen before. But it definitely worked.
Overall, it's an amazing book, the first by this author I've read. It won't be the last.(less)
Some authors study very hard and painstakingly hone their word-crafting skills. Others simply seem to have a natural talent. I suspect the latter is t...moreSome authors study very hard and painstakingly hone their word-crafting skills. Others simply seem to have a natural talent. I suspect the latter is true of this author, James Erich. I've read so much mediocre prose within this genre that when an author comes along who's able to tell a story in a manner that carries the reader along so fluidly as this, I feel truly blessed and thankful to have participated merely as a reader. I feel very humbled--very small--after reading this author's writing. I too am a writer, with a fraction of this talent.
Angry, happy, bitter, celebratory, uncontrollable tears flooded my eyes as I read the final chapters of this heart-stopping novel. I just wanted to scream, KOREH! KOREH!
I can't say more, not without spoilers. But whoah...what a magnificent continuation of an already spectacular story. The world-building skills demonstrated within this book were mind-blowing.
A part of me is tempted to rush out and buy book three so I can find out what happens, but emotionally I'm torn to shreds at this point. I need some time to recover, if you will. This one is definitely going into my all-time favorites category.
When I bought this book I wasn't aware it's book five in the series, so now I'm going to have to go back and snag the first four. I really loved the s...moreWhen I bought this book I wasn't aware it's book five in the series, so now I'm going to have to go back and snag the first four. I really loved the story--great mystery. It has an Indiana Jones type feel. The main character, Ian, is a renowned archaeologist who's particularly passionate about the Mayan history and culture. When one of his admirers bequeaths him an unusual artifact, he traces the origins to the Mayans and travels to South America to decipher it's actual history. Accompanying Ian is his partner, a trucker named Mac. They've become partners in life as well as in their expeditions.
Hot sex scenes are interspersed throughout the story, and the romance is very sweet and at times comical. Overall, this seems like a great series.(less)
OMG! I have a new favorite Claire Thompson book! I absolutely loved this story. It touched my heart so deeply.
At first I wasn't sure I was doing to l...moreOMG! I have a new favorite Claire Thompson book! I absolutely loved this story. It touched my heart so deeply.
At first I wasn't sure I was doing to like it because it's one of those stories where the main characters meet under false pretenses. Reese accepts a bet from his rich friend that he can't get the nerdiest guy in his office to sleep with him within a week. The nerd is a guy named Jeff, one of the computer programmers. Although in the beginning Reese's interest in Jeff is strictly based upon his selfish monetary interests, he of course falls in love for real.
Okay, so yeah, we've all seen this trope before, but it's so beautifully written, and the two main characters are absolutely perfect for each other. I fell head over heels in love with Jeff. He was everything a gay guy should not be. He has no fashion sense. He's nerdy and has a bad haircut. He doesn't care about being classy and doesn't have a pretentious bone in his body.
Reese, on the other hand, is a playboy. He wears the flashy clothes and eats at the upper class restaurants. He has swag and he knows it. But he is swept right off his feet by Jeff, and his heart begins to beat again as he discovers what life and love are all about. It's such a beautiful story.
The villain is a complete asshole, but hey, isn't he supposed to be? He was so pathetic I kind of felt sorry for him. Hank is Reese's longtime friend, the one who made the original wager. He becomes insanely jealous when he discovers Reese has actually fallen in love with Jeff. He does everything in his power to destroy their relationship.
After reading so much mediocre romance, it's truly refreshing to find a story like this. Claire Thompson writes such beautiful, gripping prose. This one will definitely go into my "all time favorites" category. (My only criticism is that it needs a better cover. I hate those naked torso covers.)(less)
When I began reading this book, I was taken aback by the writing style. I knew within a few paragraphs that the author's native language was not Engli...moreWhen I began reading this book, I was taken aback by the writing style. I knew within a few paragraphs that the author's native language was not English. The biggest clues were verb tense and sentence structure. It read like a poor translation from Spanish where perhaps it had been translated simply by copying and pasting the entire text into Google Translate.
I collect books on my Kindle and often do not remember where I've purchased or downloaded them, and in this case, I'd forgotten that the book was a free download. When I went back to investigate, I discovered the author indeed did not speak English as his native language, and when he began posting this free story online he was only fourteen years old.
So I decided to continue reading, and I wasn't sorry. After a few pages, I got used to mentally correcting/adjusting the grammar and simply focused on the amazing story. This book is like a gay teen paranormal smorgasbord. It features an endearing protagonist named Jordan who has imprinted with the hottest guy in school, jock superstar Jace Andrews. Both Jordan and Jace are werewolves, and therefore they mate for life with the partner who shares their soul (in other words, their soul mate).
The only problem is that Jordan can't stand Jace. Jace has always bullied him from the time Jordan was a small child, and Jordan detests the idea of sharing any part of his life with this obnoxious jerk. Yet physically and sexually he's drawn to Jace. So he wages a powerful internal struggle.
The author includes a variety of unique supernatural creatures, an exciting sporting event, and a hilarious family dynamic. The cast of secondary characters is also remarkable.
Overall, I absolutely loved the 377 page story, and I'm dying for more. I'd love for someone to edit the grammar and professionally publish it. This author has amazing talent. (less)
Alex Norris's first novel, Angel, tackles a really tough topic. His main character, Lewis Blake, is a university student attending Cambridge. Lewis go...moreAlex Norris's first novel, Angel, tackles a really tough topic. His main character, Lewis Blake, is a university student attending Cambridge. Lewis goes out one evening with a group of friends and encounters a homeless woman on the street. He befriends her and learns of a mission that provides meals for the homeless. Lewis volunteers.
He feels so conflicted, tortured by guilt and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. He desperately wants to help these unfortunate people, but his volunteer efforts seem so futile and ineffective. He wants to do more, and his desire to make a real difference leads him to make some unconventional choices--some self-destructive choices.
Although I often struggle with first person narratives where the internal voice of the protagonist is cynical or sarcastic, I really sympathized with Lewis. I fully understood his dilemma and the myriad feelings that plagued him. He felt like a hypocrite because he'd been afforded so many amenities that he and those around him took for granted. As he began his volunteer work, he began to realize that it was more an exercise in assuaging his own conscience than it was a realistic way to significantly improve the lives of those less fortunate.
I think he felt unworthy, like he couldn't understand why he'd been so lucky to be given opportunities others hadn't. I think he realized that all the petty drama in his day to day life was minuscule and absurd compared to the challenges the homeless people faced. He began to question everything. What's the point in studying literature...in studying anything? What's the purpose? Where's the justice in the world? Why do some people have so much while others have nothing?
This story really moved me, touched my heart, in a way few other books ever have. It's memorable, thought-provoking, and borderline eerie in the sense that it causes the reader to look inward.
Some of Lewis's internal dialogue disturbed me...I've got to be honest. I didn't like the way he put people down for their looks or their age. But I also understood this. It's very common, especially with young gay men. Anyone over thirty is ancient and creepy, at least when viewed in a sexual context. And Lewis himself is young and slender with a beautiful face (at least that's my interpretation). So I understand his perspective.
I don't think this story is supposed to be tidy with a feel-good HEA. It's more a slice of life. Lewis matures in the course of this story. He learns some valuable lessons, and the thing I liked most about this character was that he was so beautifully flawed. At times he was vain, hypocritical, and ego-centric. Yet he was so compassionate and generous. I guess we could debate his motives, but I think the point of the story is to get us to question our own motives for our generosity (or lack thereof).
The theme of Angel was surprisingly deep, and I've got to admit it's one of the best stories I've read this year. I'm very impressed, not only by the writing, but also by the story itself. (less)