The Race for Second is Chase Potter’s debut novel, but you would never guess that from reading it. Had you discovered this book as a beat-up old paper...moreThe Race for Second is Chase Potter’s debut novel, but you would never guess that from reading it. Had you discovered this book as a beat-up old paperback sitting on a park bench, and had you started turning the pages right then and there, you’d likely believe these are the words of a seasoned professional. The prose is elegant and efficient, and the steering of the plot is handled with discipline. I’m almost suspicious that Chase has stacks of unpublished manuscripts littering his home, and this is in actuality his twentieth effort.
So what’s it all about? Ethan West is an American college student arriving in Germany to begin a year of studying abroad. He throws himself into the culture and is having a grand ol’ time, except when it comes to Daniel, one of his roommates. Daniel is just as standoffish as he is handsome, and despite Ethan’s best efforts, they don’t see eye to eye. Sound familiar? Probably, since in the romance genre, many relationships start out this way. It always bugs me too, because generally, you don’t dislike someone strongly as a first impression and later fall in love with them. That’s simply not realistic. Thankfully, Chase Potter delivers very good reasons for this rough start, believable reasons which are very much grounded in reality. I noticed a similar trend while reading, where I would worry the plot was about to take too lofty a turn, but now I know I should’ve had faith in Mr. Potter. The way the relationship between Ethan and Daniel plays out rings refreshingly true. I absolutely refuse to spoil any further details of it, since the suspense was absolutely wonderful.
When not exploring this relationship, the book focuses quite a bit on what it’s like to arrive in Germany and the struggles of trying to integrate. Much of this is at the beginning of the book, which did make the start feel a little slow to me, but probably because I’m an expat and much of what Ethan discovers is part of my everyday existence. That having been said, I did learn a few things, and anyone even remotely interested in Germany or travelling abroad will have much to soak in, but never overbearingly so. Chase Potter does a wonderful job of presenting Germany as it is rarely portrayed—a country populated by denizens from surrounding nations, as well as natives who are just as friendly and emotional as any American… at least once the ice is broken.
So clearly The Race for Second has much to offer. The characters are flawed and nuanced, which I always appreciate. While I solved many of the book’s mysteries long before Ethan did, what really kept me reading was my complete bewilderment of how such a story could end both realistically and in a manner satisfactory to the reader. I’m happy to report that I turned the last page with an intense feeling of contentment in my chest. And maybe a few manly tears on my cheeks. So please, give this book a try and watch out for Chase Potter. If he can pull more books like this out of his hat, I have a feeling we’ll be hearing his name quite a bit more in the future. (less)
Trying to get a feel for this book before you buy? Hate spoilers? Pull up a chair and let me break it down for you. The first thing you’ll discover ab...moreTrying to get a feel for this book before you buy? Hate spoilers? Pull up a chair and let me break it down for you. The first thing you’ll discover about Homo Action Love Story! is how sexually charged it is. Usually that sends me scurrying away from any book, since I prefer sappy and sweet, but it quickly becomes obvious that Monopoli can write long detailed sex scenes that are fun and playful. This is the sort of sex long-term partners find together—comfortable, but scorching hot at the same time. So even though I normally prefer less sex and more romance, Monopoli soon loosened me up (yeah, I know) and had me looking forward to the next tumble in bed.
Like his previous books, the essence of this one is about relationships. Dealing with separation, loyalty, unrequited love, ex-boyfriends, crushes, and even first and last times. Because the sex is more graphic this time around, Monopoli is better able to explore relationships in-depth, meaning the whole gamut of experience is there. As the novel progresses, it slowly eases into more familiar territory. If you’re worried that romance takes a back seat in this novel, don’t. There’s definitely a lot of love in this book to get you sighing and misty eyed.
The setting of Homo Action Love Story! is interesting. Set in the near future, Monopoli fast forwards our era to a time when sexual transmitted diseases are no longer a threat, homosexuality isn’t controversial, and people are a little more liberal with their bodies. This isn’t a future full of hover cars and robot maids. It’s very much like our world today, except without haters ruining all the fun. This creates the perfect playground for Monopoli to spin a wild tale. And yes, there are pirates, fashion models, and paintball pros, but each of the characters are handled with care and have depth. Likewise, every conflict has gravitas. There are no slapstick situations or resolutions in this book.
Ultimately, Homo Action Love Story! is a playful tale containing disarmingly astute commentary on what makes us tick. Sex is a force of nature in this book, but so is love. The characters set out on a journey of self-discovery, and by the time you the reader set the book down, you’ll likely have learned something about yourself as well.(less)
I can be prude when it comes to sex scenes, needing time to get to know the characters before matters progress too far. Every Time I Think of You star...moreI can be prude when it comes to sex scenes, needing time to get to know the characters before matters progress too far. Every Time I Think of You starts with a sex scene, but one so beautifully written that I wasn’t put off at all. In fact, it’s a fantasy that regularly went through my mind as I was growing up. I wonder how many other boys in the woods were having similar dreams. Regardless, the writing style is what first lured me into this book, and the characters of Everett and Reid kept me coming back for more. The relationship between the two characters develops almost instantaneously, and even though I’m a sucker for a long build, Jim Provenzano masterfully weaves the lives of two very different characters together. Everett is educated, strange and aloof, and his counterpart Reid is so earnest in his feelings that the reader can’t help but sympathize with him.
The happy couple is put through the wringer toward the end of the novel, and I have to give the author kudos for not skirting around the gruesome details. Disabilities are often treated with a manic optimism in many stories, I suppose with the intent of putting a positive spin on a difficult situation. Provenzano doesn’t avoid the shadows, allowing his characters to struggle, which feels refreshingly real and fair. He also provides a light at the end of the tunnel, so those that need their happily-ever-after should be okay by the end of the novel. I understand a sequel is in the works, which I think could be great. I finished the book still uncertain about who Everett was. Things like the Polaroid made me wonder if he was ever as dedicated as Reid. And Reid seemed to grow strongest on his own, although some of that surely came from his feelings for Everett. I’d love to see these two characters again, to discover what kind of relationship they have when the world isn’t keeping them apart.
There’s a reason this book is a 2012 Lambda Literary Award finalist, and Jim Provenzano has certainly earned the honor with this wonderful tale. Check it out yourself and see what you think. You won’t be disappointed.(less)
Had the pleasure of reading these two books from Josh Lanyon late last year, and have no choice but to join the army of zombie fanboys and girls that...moreHad the pleasure of reading these two books from Josh Lanyon late last year, and have no choice but to join the army of zombie fanboys and girls that follow Josh around everywhere. There's good reason this author is so immensely popular! I look forward to catching up with the rest of the impressive Lanyon back catalog soon.(less)
Who isn’t fascinated by prison life? I’ve watched a slew of movies and documentaries, but they always left me hungry for more detail. When I heard an...moreWho isn’t fascinated by prison life? I’ve watched a slew of movies and documentaries, but they always left me hungry for more detail. When I heard an interview with the author on BBC radio some years back, the concept of a gay man being behind bars intrigued me. Would he find it easier to cope with the sexual aspect of playing a boy to a man that protected him? I finally got around to reading this book recently, and boy was it a much needed eye opener!
I’m not much of a nonfiction guy, but Tim’s story reads like a work of fiction. The truth of prison life is even wilder than the glimpses I’ve seen on TV. What Tim went through, and what countless others go through while awaiting to be judged innocent or not, is sickening. And yet, the story also surprised with the occasional romantic moment. I only wish that the more positive and willing sexual moments were described in as much detail as the rape scenes. I understand why the author didn’t hold back with the unpleasant details, since the ugly reality needed to be exposed, but I would have liked to experience those rare and fleeting moments of beauty alongside of them.
As many other reviewers have pointed out, the book is riddled with typos, especially the second half. None of them take away from the compelling story though. It’s always clear what the author intended to say, and I didn’t find them troubling. While not always easy, I highly recommend this book to anyone curious about prison life, and the strangely homosexual/homophobic world that exists there. (less)
What you probably want to know from this review is if this book is any good. Rest assured, The Painting of Porcupine City is very, very good. Excellen...moreWhat you probably want to know from this review is if this book is any good. Rest assured, The Painting of Porcupine City is very, very good. Excellent in fact! The story is about two men, one who lacks direction in life, the other that’s well aware of his destiny and is seeking a way of getting there. One of these characters, Mateo, is so lovable that you’ll be sighing his name into your pillow at night. The other, Fletcher, is far from perfect, but it’s his journey that makes the story so interesting. If you can forgive him for being human (and you’ll need to a few times) then you’ll likely have a more sympathetic picture of him by the end.
The story focuses on relationships, platonic as well as romantic and sexual. I found the interactions between characters to be one of the great joys of the novel—the casual banter and minutiae of life making me feel I was there among close friends. Monopoli’s prose never disappoints. The lines on the page come across as loose and easy, which is a masterful deception because the book is full of carefully crafted descriptions that will knock your socks off. In fact, I went through about ten pairs of socks per sitting.
Sexy, sweet, and sometimes strange, The Painting of Porcupine City is a story not to be missed! Ben Monopoli’s second novel is a triumph, one that will leave me and countless others begging for more.(less)
This morning I woke up and thought, "I wonder how Griff is doing." Funny, since I don't know anyone named Griff, but after reading The Cranberry Hush,...moreThis morning I woke up and thought, "I wonder how Griff is doing." Funny, since I don't know anyone named Griff, but after reading The Cranberry Hush, I feel like I do. Monopoli pulled me effortlessly into the world he created, first by his lush descriptions that had my imagination working overtime, and later by the subtle wit that had me smiling and sighing in equal measure. His characters are just as seductive as his writing style, all of them so real and human that you'll swear you know someone just like them. Most of all, I felt comfortable stepping into Vince's shoes, reliving past experiences through him and getting the chance to go further than I ever did in real life. Monopoli has hit the ground running, and I can't wait until he dazzles us with another story.(less)
This book is a series of emails between Russel T. Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook. I found that disappointing at first, but most of the emails are...moreThis book is a series of emails between Russel T. Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook. I found that disappointing at first, but most of the emails are long rants from Davies about what it is like to be a writer, so it isn't far from what a proper book from him might have been like. I think writers would get the most from this book, since the interesting tidbits on Doctor Who are few and far in between.
This new edition contains 300 pages of new material, which mostly consist of Davies feeling stressed out and tired along with random chitchat between the two. There is more discussion on Doctor Who, but this is mostly Davies reporting ideas he had that we've since seen on screen.
What I found most disappointing about this book is how it only covers Series 4 of the show and on. It would have been so much more interesting to read about the process of reviving Doctor Who and bringing it back to screens. Maybe some day that story will be properly written down.(less)
I've read this series a million times and have been inspired by it for my own writing. This and Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series are brill...moreI've read this series a million times and have been inspired by it for my own writing. This and Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series are brilliant!(less)
Simply one of the best gay themed stories I've ever read. Brave and original, Orientation challenges the reader to question what love really is; somet...moreSimply one of the best gay themed stories I've ever read. Brave and original, Orientation challenges the reader to question what love really is; something physical, emotional, or spiritual? This one deserves to be one of the great gay classics.(less)