The Letter Q is a series of letters written from several gay authors to their younger selves. Many of these letter are affirmations, positive declarat...more The Letter Q is a series of letters written from several gay authors to their younger selves. Many of these letter are affirmations, positive declarations about who the younger person will become. This collection is edited by Sarah Moon.
Within the pages of this slim book the reader will find 64 of the most provocative, sad, enlightening, inspiring tales you may ever read. The tales vacillate from comic to tragic and all of the in-betweens. I found a little bit of wisdom to come out of ever single story, but there are some that are simply more memorable than others. This is a very wonderful book and a great approach to widening the impact of the Gay rights movement.
Every teen should read this, not just the teens who think (or know) they might be gay. The stories in here touch upon many social issues that teens are faced with from day to day - peer pressure, bullying, unrequited love, rejection, the stress of college applications and achievement, ambivalent parents, fight or flight friends, love and sex - like I said, these issues have faced us all at one point in our adolescence. Where the authors succeed is in pointing out that these are not just Queer experiences. These things are human experiences and that single point alone should blur any political differences that one orientation has between another. We're all human and as such we are all entitled to live and love and make mistakes and overcome, and, at the heart of it, that's what this book is meant to do - remind us all that we must overcome the grueling period of our teens.
I loved this book. It's perfect. I'll be passing it on to every teen I know regardless of confusing orientation. Anyone will get something out of this one.
The second book in Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series focuses on the second Fuentes brother. I kept going in the series because I was curious to...more The second book in Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series focuses on the second Fuentes brother. I kept going in the series because I was curious to see what Elkeles would do with this brother that would set him apart from his older brother, Alex, whom the first book focuses on. This one is a tad disappointing though. It differs very little from book one except for the setting and the girl. Otherwise, it's very similiar... too similiar in feel for my tastes.
Rules of Attraction follows Carlos and his exploits moving to Colorado to live near his brother. When Alex and Brittany went to college they decided on Colorado to be near her instiutionalized older sister, Shelley, who has Cerebral Palsy. In order to escape the Chicago Latino Blood gang the Fuentes' moved first to Mexico. When Carlos proved to be too much his mother shipped him out to Colorado to straighten him up. Carlos is hardheaded and a trouble maker and he immediately despises the quiet outdoorsy nature of Colorado and the residents there. He meets Kiara, a tomboy with a stutter and a penchant for mechanics. He mistakes her gay best friend, Tuck, for her boyfriend and gives her a hard time at first. Sparks fly even further when, through a series of circumstances, Carlos finds himself living with Kiara's family. The two are polar opposites but find themselves drawn to one another with each passing day.
Rules of Attraction was my least favourite of the three books. I don't really have a lot to say about it. It might be the fact that it's a middle book... it might be the fact that I felt it was too similar to book one... whatever it was I found it to be inferior. I never really connected with Carlos, though I adored Kiara. It's probably the only book where I felt like one of the brothers wasn't really worth it.
I'm still in the mood for lighter fiction. So, this week I picked up an ARC of The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen. It's not my usual fare...moreI'm still in the mood for lighter fiction. So, this week I picked up an ARC of The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen. It's not my usual fare (as you regular readers can tell). It's not Fantasy or Paranormal or Dystopian or dark or bleak... it's not depressing at all. Surprise surprise!
What this book is, however, is quirky. But in a good way. It's a delightful, oddball combination that I enjoyed quite a lot.
In Fine Art we follow Ella, demure and cautious Ella. Ella lives in Philly with her family, a robust Italian crew who owns a restaurant. Ella attends the Willing School and has a bizarre relationship with Edward Willing, an Artist who made an impact on Philadelphian society. Edward has been dead for some time but that doesn't stop Ella from conversing with him on a nightly basis through his art, and her own.
Ella's attraction to art leads her to Alex Bainbridge, one of the Phillites in her school. Ella's self-confidence is low due to an accident in her youth that left her scarred and (she believes) disfigured. There is no way a girl like her could ever be noticed by Alex Bainbridge unless it's as the other Phillites see her - a deformed freak... Particularly since he has a girlfriend, and Ella is Invisible.
This book is completely beguiling. It's such a delightful read. There's so much flavour and spice to this story that it should be bottled. The characters are all excellent... there's so many people to fall in love with, so much charm. I also appreciate any author who, in so many words, can nail my exact opinion on the book Gulliver's Travels. Fine Art deals with so many themes - family relationships, delusions, friendship, strength in one's convictions, believing in yourself... It's a perfect coming-into-your-own novel. I loved it. Art and food and Edith Wharton references.. What's not to love? If Jensen would have only referenced Egon Schiele she would have hit the last of my squee buttons. We had Klimt though. That's just as good.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy is my first venture into the books by Margot Livesey. I developed an interest in picking this book up when I discovered that...more
The Flight of Gemma Hardy is my first venture into the books by Margot Livesey. I developed an interest in picking this book up when I discovered that it was a retelling of Jane Eyre, one of my all time favourite books. I was thrilled to acquire an ARC early and dive in. Sadly to say, the book is mediocre and not great like I wanted it to be. I'm disappointed.
*There may be Jane Eyre spoilers ahead, for those who have not read Bronte. You have been warned.
Ostensibly, the book follows the Jane Eyre formula to the letter, except that it's set in Scotland during the 1960's. We follow the young orphaned Gemma from one path of life to another as she goes through awful situations again and again. She believes she's cursed. She flits from her home life with her Aunt, who despises her, to a school called Claypoole, where she is mistreated and overworked, to a position as an Au pair in the Orkneys. It is here that she meets Sinclair, the "Rochester" character in this book... and, of course, the two fall in love. What happens when Livesey "reveals" Sinclair's shame, though, is where the book started going downhill for me. This plot in Jane Eyre is one of my favourite plot twists in a book. Ever. I couldn't wait to see what someone else did with it.
Let's just say I was unimpressed with Livesey's twist and move on.
From here the book gets, well, dull. I think Livesey focused too much on this part of the story instead of the build up, and this is the part of Jane Eyre that very little time is spent on to begin with. It felt... stretched. I was a little bored. This is not the exciting part of the original book and, frankly, I found little about Gemma's trials at this point in the narrative to bond with her over. I just was waiting to see how a few more plot points were resolved, which didn't do as much for me as I had hoped they would. I was underwhelmed by everything about the ending. It just did not have the impact I wanted from it.
Such a shame, really... it doesn't do any credit to its predecessor. I was excited to see what Livesey would do to tie the culture of the 60's into the book and was disappointed. Were it not for the cars she frequently mentioned I felt like it was in a similar time period as the setting of the Bronte novel. This, to me, implies that the attempt to make the novel "different" from the other failed. And that means that this novel is unnecessary.
2 out of 5 stars. The beginning wasn't bad. However, if you have any real interest, you should just read Jane Eyre.
I've been trying to figure out how to talk about Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins without ruining it for everyone who wants to read it....more I've been trying to figure out how to talk about Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins without ruining it for everyone who wants to read it... so I'm going to do so by citing a talk I read recently by Brian Eno called A Big Theory of Culture, which I read, in tandem, with this book. I think I can get through the book much easier with referencing someone elses' wording for spoilers than by just blurting it out on my own. ... plus I am incapable of separating the two now in my brainpan. ;)
"One of the things that artists do is invent metaphors, break up metaphors, challenge them, pull them apart, put them together in new order and so on. One of the things art does also is to remind you constantly of this process that you're most of the time engaged in ÷ the process of metaphor-making."
Lola lives with two gay men and hates who she is... or, rather, where she comes from. Her biological parents were both homeless drug addicts and Lola has become obsessed with costume as a result. She constantly changes up her appearance. At 17 Lola has a 22 year old boyfriend, Max, who reads meters and sings in a punk band... and her Fathers hate him. She also has an old grudge against her on-again/off-again neighbours, the Bells... particularly the twins Calliope and Cricket. Lola used to be in love with Cricket, but when something happened between the two of them Lola turned away and viewed him with bitter resentment... and now the Bells are back.
Cricket has always been scientifically minded. Lola is creative, the polar opposite. Part of why Eno's essay/talk appeals to me much is his suggestion that these two personalities work because they are opposites. Artistic personalities are carefree and inventive, less worried about control and just live in the moment of making metaphors. Scientifically minded folks are all about process, solving minutiae, getting through steps to prove that chaos can be controlled... both are more alike than many people realize.
"I wrote to Richard Dawkins recently who had just given The Richard Dimbleby Lecture on BBC1 in which he said that England always celebrates the arts, and doesn't celebrate the sciences. I said I felt exactly the reverse was true, that people had a very poor understanding of the arts, and the reason they could happily waffle on about it was because their waffle was unchallengeable. There's such a poor conversation about it that you can say whatever crap you want to, and nobody's going to call you on it. The other thing is that everybody recognizes the power of science. We recognize the power of cloning technologies, of nuclear weapons and so on. Everybody knows that science is powerful and could be dangerous, therefore there's a whole lot of criticism on that basis. What people don't realize is that culture is powerful and could be dangerous too. As long as culture is talked about as though it's a kind of nice little add-on to make things look a bit better in this sort of brutal life we all lead, as long as it's just seen as the icing on the cake, then people won't realize that it's the medium in which we're immersed, and which is forming us, which is making us what we are and what we think."
Lola is chaos and cricket is rationally trying to harness her, meanwhile completely understanding her. Cricket is also way more dangerous than he first appears. He represents the unavoidable constant presence of CHANGE in Lola's life, and she fears that just as much as she fears herself. Lola cannot allow herself to make that mistake again. Cricket, however, is constantly at the whim of familial obligations. His sister, more or less, uses him for a constant support staff in her figure skating career. It seems that level headed Cricket cannot communicate his own needs and desires which involve the Girl next door - Lola. No one quite understands the smouldering power of him though. Both are uncelebrated in their lives and misunderstood, but for different reasons. It really doesn't matter at all, since both understand one another.
...This book appeals to me also because of the similarities/parallels to my own love life... in my previous school life I studied fine arts, figure drawing, printmaking, and painting. I am creatively minded. My beloved is a biologist. He has his degree in Entomology and spends his days looking at tiny insects under microscopes... he lives by the language of order and logic... and Stephanie Perkins named her character Cricket... whoa. seriously. whoa.
There... enough spoilers left out by going on about, essentially nothing. Squee, I did my job well.
I enjoyed this book, probably enjoyed it more than Anna and the French Kiss, if the truth be told. This book seems more... grown up?...though Lola is definitely immature at times. There are definitely more social issues discussed in this book. Lola also has her own voice, which is something I was very worried about going into it. When I read Anna I fell in love with her... and with Etienne.. and with Paris. They all had their own unique voices (though my brain automatically supplied Stephanie Perkins image from her author photos as Anna's physical counterpoint). I was worried Lola's would not differ from Anna at all. I'm pleased to say that not only did they differ, but they evolved. I felt, in no way, that Perkins was rehashing the story that we loved from the first book. Major points.
I will be reading Isla and the Happily Ever After when it releases in 2012. I pretty much can't wait, and I NEVER read strict romances. Never. You folks are in for a treat in September.
5 out of 5 stars.
*All quotes are attributed to A Big Theory of Culture by Brian Eno. I did NOT write them, nor do I claim to.
I started this book ages ago. I've been reading it slowly between other books, a story here, 3 stories there... I love many of the authors in this boo...more
I started this book ages ago. I've been reading it slowly between other books, a story here, 3 stories there... I love many of the authors in this book but short stories are so usually not my thing. I'm trying to be better about that though, because there are many authors out there who write work I genuinely want to read.
So... we better ourselves, apparently.
Enthralled has many stories with themes I love - ghosts, vampires, the undead, the supernatural. Make sense because it is, after all, a paranormal themed anthology. There are some stories in this book that I loved utterly and some, well.. some that I didn't finish (those were few). A large part of these stories are very worth reading though. I personally loved Giovanni's Farewell by Claudia Gray, Bridge by Jeri Smith-Ready, and IV League by Margaret Stohl.
4 out of 5 stars. I'm going to try to read more anthologies in the new year.
Nicole Peeler books are always a treat, and Eye of the Tempest proves no exception to the rule. As per usual I purchased it the day it came out, read...more
Nicole Peeler books are always a treat, and Eye of the Tempest proves no exception to the rule. As per usual I purchased it the day it came out, read it as fast as possible..which was slow for me this week (too much life going on). However, I will now proceed to whinge until the next book is out. What can I say? Peeler is always good.
In Eye of the Tempest Jane True has discovered something interesting about her home town of Rockabill Maine. The town is the center of an ancient power that attracts all forms of the Supernatural, which surprises nobody who has been reading the series (but apparently is a huge reveal to Jane). In trying to locate the source of the power Jane and company must discover four keys hidden all over Rockabill... and the first one immediately renders two of the party useless (not dead just... useless... in all means of the word). Jane must persist with a new ally she only half trusts in order to find the power, and the chosen one, before the war begins.
I'm so happy with this series. I have a hard time finding anything wrong with it. The characters are all so much fun to pal around with for 300+ pages and the humour is spot on cheeky. This might have been the first book that I felt was a set up book in the series - a middle book... but I'm not mad at it. Transitional books are fine for what they are if they are done this well. This is definitely the book that sets you up for the next few in the series... it's book 4... that makes sense. It's time.
Fans of Anyan will not be disappointed in this book... and I'm glad that Peeler is moving the two towards each other. Also, she had a line about Jane launching her vagina at him... which, if you recall from my review of Tempest's Legacy, was something really wanted to read.
My wish, for the record.
"In fact if Jane can figure out a way to launch herself vagina-first at Anyan I think that could potentially make my life."
Peeler's line, for the record.
"I didn't want her to think that I was abandoning her - hos before bros and all that - but I did want to ascertain that she'd be well away before I launched my vagoo at Anyan's face."
Page 39 in Eye of the Tempest.
...right... I'm claiming that line. It's mine. Completely...even if it's unintended for me. :)
I feel like I need to preface this review with a caveat - I adored the first 250 pages of Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts. Utterly adored it. The last...moreI feel like I need to preface this review with a caveat - I adored the first 250 pages of Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts. Utterly adored it. The last third of it, however, was not as good. Allow me...
Sarah Beauhall works as a Blacksmith doing whatever odd job she can get. Stints in the Renaissance Faires have attracted admiration of her swords craft which, in turn, has landed her a job in the movies. Working as a prop manager she attends to all of the weaponry needed for a medieval period drama type piece. When the main actor's sword gets cracked Sarah has to repair it, gaining the attention of one of the Extras - Rolph. Rolph claims to be a Dwarf. He also claims that the sword Sarah is reforging is the legendary Fafnir's Bane from an old Nordic tale. Sarah thinks he's insane, and writes him off.
But things begin to happen to test Sarah's conviction. Runes surface from the skin on her leg and more and more things begin to go wrong. Her relationship with her girlfriend, Katie, falls into jeopardy and the only thing Sarah can do is believe the unbelievable... but is she strong enough to accept everything based on faith?
Like I said, I adored the first two thirds of this book. The dialogue is snappy and the characters are fun to run around with. Sarah's journey makes for an interesting character to read... She's gay and hates herself for it. She was raised in a very religious household and can't seem to get over the notion that anyone who is gay is "unnatural" or an "abomination". This undermines her own self-esteem to such a degree that it threatens her inter-personal relationships with everyone, least of all her girlfriend. This twist on the Urban Fantasy/Damsel-in-Distress romance is dynamic and fresh.
My problem came in with the latter part of the book where Sarah has galvanized herself to accept the quest. Throughout the book we have shifting narratives from first person (Sarah) to third person (anyone who is not Sarah). The third person shifts become confusing in the later part of the book... and somewhat unnecessary. Pitts could just have easily turned all of the third person to first person... or vice versa. I'm not sure that he is a strong enough writer to pull off both with a degree of success... and this book proved it. The first chunk is largely Sarah's part and very engaging.. the rest... meh. Also, the battle scenes were overlong. I grew bored reading them, and began to skim.
I was all interested to see where Sarah went.. so the possibility of reading the sequel Honeyed Words appeals to me on some level. The fact that I didn't even finish this book, however, speaks volumes as for my interest. I think Pitts strength lies in character driven stories... but he sucks at the dismount, to put it bluntly. Maybe in a few weeks I'll see if my curiosity demands it but I don't typically read sequels if the end of the first book was driving me crazy. I would only be reading it for Sarah's relationship. Frankly.
3 out of 5 stars. I really did love the beginning. That alone is worth the read.
It took me a while to get through Pale Demon by Kim Harrison. I blame the Holidays more than the book. I quite enjoyed it, mostly. The last third seem...moreIt took me a while to get through Pale Demon by Kim Harrison. I blame the Holidays more than the book. I quite enjoyed it, mostly. The last third seemed to drag a touch... but again, the Holidays.
We pick up book #9 in The Hollows series where Black Magic Sanction left off. Rachel has been shunned by the coven. She has a mere few days to revoke the shunning, but she must get to San Francisco in order to do it. In tandem, Trent Kalamack has a special Elven quest he has to perform, and he must get to Seattle to accomplish his task. Much to Rachel's annoyance she finds herself on a 2000+ mile road trip with Trent... and Jenks... and Ivy... All in one car... all stressed out to the max... all getting on each other's nerves.
One of the things that continues to plague me about this series is the relationship that Harrison hints at between Rachel and Trent. I know that sexual tension helps to imply conflict, but it irritates me that they might end up together. I have never liked Trent from the get go, and the fact that Rachel vacillates on her feelings to him bothers me. He's not a good man. He does some vile things on a regular basis. He has screwed over Rachel countless of times, and no matter what noble deeds he has done to redeem himself it is still tough to watch the two of them dance around a sexual attraction. It's frustrating, and I'd rather her end up with other people than Trent (Ivy please? Please! I'd prefer her... though it won't happen, or someone new). Still, I think that's the direction that Harrison is going in, and my gorge is up over it.
4 out of 5 stars, for the drag... but still a damned good book.
I read Hex Hall a while back. It was fun, and just what I wanted on vacation. This week I turned my attention to the recently released sequel, Demongl...moreI read Hex Hall a while back. It was fun, and just what I wanted on vacation. This week I turned my attention to the recently released sequel, Demonglass. I'm pleasantly happy to pass on that the second book is just as good as the first.
Sophie Mercer is a demon, one of two. When her demon powers went awry she stopped using them and has decided to have them removed. Her Father, the head of the Prodigium Council, makes her a deal... come to England to stay with him for the summer and decide if she wants to go through the removal. Sophie accepts his offer and flies to England with Jenna and Cal in tow, but there is more waiting for her than Sophie expected. A pair of demon teens are staying with dear old dad, and the Eye is still after Sophie... which means Archer Cross is still after Sophie.
The Hex Hall series is becoming a very regular "must have" book experience. They're fun, they're light... they get the job done for all things magicky. At this point I wonder how many books Hawkins has in her bag of tricks... she can go on for ages or cut us off at 3 or 4, and I don't think I'd mind either way. More misadventures in the wise cracking world of Sophie and co. are always welcome.
For the record, I have had an ARC of this book since last December. In January I tried to read it and was met with bitter disappointment. I was very c...moreFor the record, I have had an ARC of this book since last December. In January I tried to read it and was met with bitter disappointment. I was very confused and none of the new cast of characters did anything for me upon introduction. It felt like I was in a badly plotted play where people are awkwardly getting brought in through the first act. I chalked it up as bad timing, vowed to reread Nightshade when the mood struck me, and set Wolfsbane aside.
... last week I acquired an ARC of Bloodrose, the third book in the series, and suddenly I wanted to read it again.. It was time.
In Wolfsbane Cremer picks up immediately following the ending events in Nightshade. Calla is with a new crew of people in an unknown location. The Searchers are human, and the enemy. All Calla has ever known is that these humans are dangerous. But time with them begins to prove that perspective is everything when it comes to the enemy.
Call it Stockholm Syndrome but Calla begins to bond with her captors, particularly when she sees how they treat her and Shay. She discovers things about the history of the Guardians, in particular knowledge which has been forbidden previously. During this time Shay begins to unravel the mystery of what it means to be the Scion, and what his role will be in the coming battle.
My thoughts can be boiled down to this one simple thing - Wow, am I glad I gave this book a second chance. Wow.
I generally have a 75 page limit when books are not doing it for me and this book was abandoned in January when I found myself struggling to get there. I was disappointed and mad at Andrea Cremer for ruining, what I thought, was such a great series. Well... a few choice reviewers nudging me to give Wolfsbane another try (and a well time ARC) can do wonders. I'm so glad that I gave this book a second chance. It is one of those series that went from B-list to A with the sequel... though I do strongly advocate reading the two together. The beginning of Wolfsbane is a touch confusing if you don't have the mythos from Nightshade fresh in your brain. I think that was about 95% of my problem, the rest being impatience. The first 100 pages are a tad slow. However, would I have stuck through another 30 pages the book would have picked right up. Lesson learned. With a vengeance.
Still, rereading this has brought me full force back into Cremer fandom... and I feel a trifle douchey for doubting her in the first place. This book is so worth pushing through the beginning... the ending is... WOW. Yeah, worth it, to say the least. I am so glad I gave it another shot.
One slightly spoilery thing, that won't ruin anything at all for you folks is this... It's very interesting to see the division of loyalties between Calla and Ren's packs after the events of Nightshade... I think you will all be pleasantly surprised.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray was the perfect book to read as a follow up to City of Fallen Angels... not too hard, not too soft... wait, strike that, v...moreBeauty Queens by Libba Bray was the perfect book to read as a follow up to City of Fallen Angels... not too hard, not too soft... wait, strike that, very soft. Very fun...it's satire after all.
A plane of contestants from the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant has gone down in the ocean, the inhabitants washing up on an island paradise. They are all determined to maintain the pageant perfection, spurred on by the spunky Taylor Renee Krystal Hawkins...from Texas, of course! Adina Greenberg, the pageant hopeful who joined to take the organization down, is dubious with this course of action. She thinks they need to prioritize things like food gathering, hut building, and finding fresh sources of water... not Taylor's platform of perfecting dance moves, the elbow-arm-smile wave, and imminent body hair removal. Elsewhere on the island there is a fortress built by The Corporation, a commercial giant responsible for...well, damn near everything in this book... and they are determined to kill the girls for financial gain. Trouble in paradise has become more than a mere turn of phrase.
Libba Bray clearly had fun writing this one... it shows. The narrative is set up in a steeplechase format with story interspersed. Bray also adds profiles, commercial scripted dialogues, notations, product placement, classified files, applications, and other various sillies. Bray pretty much spends the whole book making fun of...well, damn near everything... from Fabio to boybands to international terrorism to female socialization to James Bond to Supervillians to...yeah, pretty much everything. It's Parody! It's Lord of the Flies meets glamazons! It's silly as all hell, and it's so much fun.