Pretty Boy Dead was Joseph Hansen's very first mystery novel, first published in 1968 as Known Homosexual written under the name James Colton. Nine ye...morePretty Boy Dead was Joseph Hansen's very first mystery novel, first published in 1968 as Known Homosexual written under the name James Colton. Nine years later the book re-surfaced briefly as Stranger to Himself. It's a story about a young black man Steve who's in a major crossroads in his life. He is confused, miserable and really struggling when, to top it all, his lover is murdered and he becomes the main suspect.
After reading Hansen's Dave Brandstetter series I didn't quite know what to expect from a book he wrote earlier in his career. I'm ashamed to say that I at least didn't expect to find anything this mesmerizing, this... POWERFUL. How wrong I was! Pretty Boy Dead is wonderful. Not light-and-romantic-wonderful, but heart-wrenching-and-powerful-wonderful. It's a perfect example of Hansen's masterful writing skills. It has the same honesty, humanity, wit and sharp-eyed description than made me love Hansen's Dave Brandstetter Mysteries.
The structure of the story is excellent and it has so many layers in it that I'll be pondering over this book for a long time. It'll make a great re-read, too. It has lots and lots of brilliantly, vividly drawn characters and I loved the way the mystery started to reveal itself slowly, but mercilessly.
It was extremely painful to read at times, but I couldn't help but to hopelessly fall in love with it nevertheless. (And this is actually very cool, because when you read the book you'll see that many of the characters fall in love or do other, more conscious things even though they should know better. The circumstances just kind of 'force' them to act certain way, the way they are used to act — or at least they think that there is no other way to solve the situation.)
Hansen manages to tell a story that really makes the reader mull over life. He tells about life's tragedies and joys intervened with each other, lives linked to one another and the consequences of it all. I also like the fact that there seemed to be mysteries inside mysteries. I'm not sure if this makes any sense, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone by telling more about the story. But this I will tell: Pretty Boy Dead made me think of the different paths we choose (or, in some cases, are forced to take) when trying to survive in life. Because, somehow, this story really makes me mull over choosing.
I highly recommend this book. It truly shook me — in a good way. (less)
What a wild, fun and bold thing to do — to write an Adrien English book Choose Your Own Adventure style. When I first heard about this I thought it wa...moreWhat a wild, fun and bold thing to do — to write an Adrien English book Choose Your Own Adventure style. When I first heard about this I thought it was a great idea. An inventive idea. But only after reading the book back and forth (quite literally!) I realize in fact how brilliant and entertaining the outcome really is.
Reading Stranger Things Have Happened is lot like opening a present — or rather like opening a huge pile of presents at a surprise party thrown for you. You have absolutely no idea what you’ll find behind the wrappers! Only thing you know is that you are enjoying yourself immensely and that you are loving every whimsical surprise waiting for you. And when it’s time to choose which gift to open next… that’s when the fun really starts. And you feel giddy and humbled and in awe that Josh Lanyon has arranged this cool party for you!
So many readers love Adrien and Jake (well… Adrien, anyway) and I’m no exception. Reading this book was a wonderful way to revisit them. To get to know them all over again, with an extra spice and twist. I was astonished how the reading experience felt so much like a private game or adventure with the characters. I’ve never really read CYOA books before and somehow I didn’t expect it to have this strong effect on me. And I didn’t expect to laugh out loud so much. This book definitely makes a wonderful re-read.
Everyone who has read Josh Lanyon books knows how he delivers solid quality writing every time he releases a new book. His writing is smart, witty, intelligent, impressive, thought-provoking. Stranger Things Have Happened is all that and more. It seems to me that this book has some kind of special spark to it. Maybe it’s an extra dose of joy? A sweet feel of homecoming? A slightly wider smile on author’s face while planning all the various storylines? In any case this is a book not to be missed. It’s truly a treat. It’s delightful. It’s sexy. It’s deliciously unpredictable. And it comes with awesome illustrations.
I highly recommend it to everyone who has… oh dear. I highly recommend it to everyone! (less)
This story tastes like real life -- sweet and sour. Both main characters Ford and Dan are far from perfect. It isn't easy for them to be together, qui...moreThis story tastes like real life -- sweet and sour. Both main characters Ford and Dan are far from perfect. It isn't easy for them to be together, quite the contrary. Life as a couple is often uncomfortable, frightening and confusing. But being separated is so much worse.
Comfort and Joy is a beautiful story with some dark undertones. I loved it all. It gave me exactly what the title promises: comfort and joy. And it'll make a wonderful re-read!(less)
What a delightful, feel-good story! It was funny, romantic, smart and sensual. It left me with a wonderful laid-back, happy feeling that tells me it'l...moreWhat a delightful, feel-good story! It was funny, romantic, smart and sensual. It left me with a wonderful laid-back, happy feeling that tells me it'll be a wonderful re-read — one of those favorite stories I keep in mind for emergencies and for the times I really want to pamper myself.
How I Met Your Father is like sweet sea breeze on your warm skin, the white sand under your bare feet and the dazzling turquoise horizon. Reading it felt like watching the orange sun dropping slowly into the ocean and thousands of stars starting to twinkle over the lullaby of waves. What more can anyone ask for?
This story lived up and beyond my wildest expectations. After reading it I felt totally wrenched and smoothened at the same time. Josh Lanyon's books...moreThis story lived up and beyond my wildest expectations. After reading it I felt totally wrenched and smoothened at the same time. Josh Lanyon's books always make me emotional, but rarely has he put me through as rough ride as Tim and Luke's stories "In a Dark Wood" and "The Parting Glass". I feel like I'll have to learn to breath normally all over again after all the hype, misery, relief, shock, panic and euphoria this story made me experience.
I absolutely don't want to write any spoilers, so I'll only say this: I couldn't possibly have enjoyed it more. I cried and I laughed and I highlighted so many great lines that my The Parting Glass ebook pages look alarmingly like a yellow-white-striped zebra. This was the most intense reading experience I have had for a long time — maybe never. Or at least never after Adrien and Jake.
The thing is that I'm IN AWE of Josh Lanyon's ability to mix grief and humor. Trouble and delight. Loss and hope. There is no one else who can write it quite like he can. Reading through The Parting Glass was like walking along a beach scattered with lovely sea shells. If Lanyon's sentences were those sea shells I would have my pockets and hands full of the them by now — I want to pick them, carry them home, keep them and I want to look at them and admire them knowing that whenever I do, they'll give me joy.
This story was about love, forgiveness, respect and courage — and how sometimes the most difficult task of all is to forgive ourselves, to love ourselves.
The Parting Glass will be such a wonderful re-read. And re-re-read. And re-re-re-read. And — oh well, you got the picture.
In Plain Sight is intense, even scary at times and definitely heart-wrenching to read. Josh Lanyon writes my favorite short stories and reading this p...moreIn Plain Sight is intense, even scary at times and definitely heart-wrenching to read. Josh Lanyon writes my favorite short stories and reading this particular one felt a lot like a roller coaster ride. Or rather like a bungee jump: first the fear for the characters, then the huge adrenaline rush finally followed by euphoria.
I'm not a big fan of what-if-thinking, but In Plain Sight made me mull over the fact how seemingly small things and fleeting moments can make all the difference in life. And what about all the unexpected things that seem to happen for a reason? As always Josh Lanyon delivers a mature, smart, soulful story that made me see my own life in a slightly different light than before.
A story doesn't have to be long to be a remarkable one -- In Plain Sight is a perfect example of that. It's an excellent story written by a brilliant author. I wholeheartedly recommend it.(less)
Memorizing You reminded me of how precious all the small, ordinary things in everyday life are. It left me crying, yes, but after I had pondered over...moreMemorizing You reminded me of how precious all the small, ordinary things in everyday life are. It left me crying, yes, but after I had pondered over the story and the characters for a while, I had to turn my thoughts into my own life and the things worth of memorizing in it. And I remembered details from the past that I had long-forgotten — dear, important details.
This isn't much of a review, but it's difficult to come up with higher praise than this. Thank you, Dan Skinner.(less)
I totally fell in love with the intelligent complexity and the emotional sensibility of this story. It's scary, funny, touching and thought-provoking...moreI totally fell in love with the intelligent complexity and the emotional sensibility of this story. It's scary, funny, touching and thought-provoking at the same time.
Flynn Ambrose has lost the love of his life and the aftermath of it is not pretty — it's excruciating. Flynn has never loved anyone else like he loves Alan whom he has grown up with and whom he literally shared his whole young life with. He feels lost and hopeless and simply... done after Alan's sudden death. Flynn doesn't have anything in his life to look forward to anymore. And he can't imagine ever being happy again. But who knows — maybe a not so ordinary mirror and even more intriguing new neighbor are about to change his miserable fate for good?
Josh Lanyon brilliantly combines the horror of a ghost story and the horror of a personal tragedy in this novel. I'm in awe how those two mix and mingle throughout the book. He really is the master of subtle and smart writing. Lanyon has planted so many wonderful details and themes in the story that it sticks with the reader for a long time and rereading it will be a pleasurable experience. One can honestly say that the new series couldn't have started more brightly, more satisfyingly.
Josh, Flynn and Kirk, you can haunt my heart any time you like!
This was my first book from Ben Monopoli and I fell head over heels in love with his writing. And that’s saying something considering that I felt like...moreThis was my first book from Ben Monopoli and I fell head over heels in love with his writing. And that’s saying something considering that I felt like my heart was a spray paint can the author was squeezing in his hand throughout the whole story!
The Painting of Porcupine City is a gripping novel about longing, obsession, love and fate. It’s a story about relationships and turning points. A story about new, colorful beginnings. And it’s delivered in a smart, vibrant, wistful and extremely visual way. I think I haven’t highlighted this many lines since reading Mary Renault’s The Charioteer — and that is another love story altogether.
I wouldn’t be an art teacher if there wasn’t a tiny street artist living inside me. What I really liked about this story was the fact that it felt as fresh and unfettered as urban art. It managed to surprise me with the scenes and the ways I didn’t expect. It had depth and beauty and passion. It had as many different layers as graffiti has. And like great street art, it made me think. It made me stop rushing, it made me mull over its message, and it made me look around and to appreciate what I saw.
I love how the author played with the truth, the facts and the fiction. That is one of the reasons the story will stay with me for a long time. And I’ll make sure that I’ll read everything this author has ever written — as soon as possible. But let me paint these words first... clang, clang, clang, fffssshhht... MONOPOLI IS BRILLIANT. And that is a Fact.
I feel bad I can't draw manga. Blood Red Butterfly is such a visual story and the rhythm is so delicious that I would love to see the whole novella il...moreI feel bad I can't draw manga. Blood Red Butterfly is such a visual story and the rhythm is so delicious that I would love to see the whole novella illustrated — or even better, animated. Josh Lanyon is giving the reader so many wonderful details about everything! I especially love the way Kai is described: his untroubled, slender figure and his bitten black fingernails. There is something utterly charming about that... and very complex too!
It's almost unbelievable how only in less than 90 pages Kai and Ryo became so alive to me. I guess I'll never stop being amazed how Josh Lanyon manages to do that only with a handful of pages. What a remarkable skill he has.
I loved the atmosphere of this story and the fresh, vibrant feel of it. I also liked the juxtapositions in it: honour and dishonour, fake and real, success and failure, love and hate... Torres' character brought a nice third dimension to it and I'm sure I didn't catch all the nuances during the first read. Blood Red Butterfly certainly deserves to be re-read as soon as possible.
Another thing I loved about the story was the constantly changing dynamics between the main couple Ryo and Kai. The way Kai seemed to be at Ryo's mercy during the first chapter while under Ryo's interrogation and how their roles kept changing after that when the story continued. The power play between them was utterly intriguing. They had some hostile, downright aggressive encounters with each other and those were the points I (surprisingly) enjoyed the most. Thinking about it now, I suppose those were the moments that made the story very cinematic, very dramatic. Overall I liked the pacing with the fast and slow scenes taking turns quite rapidly.
And I have to say that the sex scenes were... refreshing and very energetic. The story had unquestionably the best use for the little word "Oh" that I've ever witnessed... anywhere. ;)
I'm no yaoi expert, but to me this story was a successful hybrid of vivid beauty and some darker, murky tones. I was so pleased that it all sounded like Josh Lanyon himself with only a slight, exotic and daring difference to the writing — like a lingo (I hope this is a correct choice of word). And I bet the author had a lot of fun with some of the most vibrant moments and the most lively word choices! I certainly did enjoy reading them! Also the apparent amount of the research the author has done on Japanese culture makes me humble.
Thank you for challenging yourself and us readers, Josh! I loved it. You are more than welcome to challenge me again any time you like. (less)
This is a story about Vince and Griff who are both trying to find their place in the world and about a kiss that ought to solve everything. This is a...moreThis is a story about Vince and Griff who are both trying to find their place in the world and about a kiss that ought to solve everything. This is a story about friendship, love and life. As we know, life is a series of difficult questions that rarely have easy answers to them. Sometimes, when looking for those answers, you feel both happy and sad at the same time. And that's how this book made me feel. Immensely happy and desperately sad. But the feeling that remained when the last page was read was quiet, serene, hopeful happiness.
I read a quote somewhere that life is about using the whole box of crayons. What Vince and Griff are learning to do during this story is just that, I think. They pick up the crayons they haven't used before and color over the lines, too. I was impressed by the everyday things, everyday beauty Ben Monopoli captured with his writing and the smart, insightful way he drew his characters. I love the fresh feel of his writing and all the delicate details in it. This author always keeps me on my toes, because I can never predict how the story will end.
The story has such unexpected beauty in it that I guess it was no surprise that I sobbed my way through the very last pages. The Cranberry Hush left me thinking about the things that truly matter in life and how our happiness depends on the people around us. And the fact that in the end of our lives we'll only regret the chances we didn't dare to take, right? I highly recommend this book. It will make a difference. It will change the way you look at the world around you.
And yes, that kiss changes everything — but not the way you would have expected. (view spoiler)[Because this is not a fairy tale. (hide spoiler)]
John, the narrator of this story is not likable. He is selfish and downright arrogant at times. But he is young, a bit lost and I fell in love with hi...moreJohn, the narrator of this story is not likable. He is selfish and downright arrogant at times. But he is young, a bit lost and I fell in love with him in no time. His voice is unique and powerful with its engaging and straightforward, even humorous logic. John's story is twisted, interesting, very believable in the middle of complicated, tough circumstances. The author deals with the difficult themes ((view spoiler)[incest, rape, abuse, cheating and in the middle of it all the hypocrisy of church (hide spoiler)]) through John's eyes with such frankness that it's heartbreaking and illuminating at the same time.
Throughout the story John explores his sexuality. But although there are plenty of sex scenes, they aren't there just for the sake of sex. In fact most of those scenes are about something else altogether. Close to the end of the book there is a beautiful scene that stays with me even though I've finished reading the book a few days ago. In that emotional scene sex turns into confession and absolution. And when I think back now, it seems that for me the book was mostly about unconditional love.
Atom Heart John Beloved is also a story about growing up. It's a story about friendship and love between two boys, John and Nathan. It's a story about how these two boys discover the true colors of the world around them. Some of those colors are dark and murky, but some are bright and clear. It has a healthy amount of doubt in it, but a large portion of hope too. It's a story of surviving. Don't approach this book thinking that it's a romance, but don't let the dark themes scare you away either. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
I also love the mystic title Atom Heart John Beloved that only makes sense after one has read the book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I've found a wonderful, new-to-me author! Actually, I didn't do the finding on my own though, because the Butterfly Hunter was recommended to me by fr...moreI've found a wonderful, new-to-me author! Actually, I didn't do the finding on my own though, because the Butterfly Hunter was recommended to me by friends whose taste in books I can trust completely. They did promise me a lovely, beautiful story, but for some reason everybody forgot to tell me that the book is also exquisitely sexy!
Butterfly Hunter is a delicate, poetical, powerful and delightful story. It left me with an extremely content feeling and as soon as I finished reading it, I bought the sequel. And I suspect I'll eventually buy every single book Julie Bozza has ever written.
Mmm... Robust, developed, savory, supple, generous, well-balanced, velvety, lingering... Could I have another glass of this Josh Lanyon story, please?...moreMmm... Robust, developed, savory, supple, generous, well-balanced, velvety, lingering... Could I have another glass of this Josh Lanyon story, please? I loved the way the book was obviously written with all senses wide open. And it always makes me humble when I can clearly see that quite a bit of research has been done while writing the story.
It was fascinating how the main character, Austin, saw the world around him through wine tasting terms and how those terms fit so perfectly for describing intimacy, kisses and sex! And why not — Austin was very passionate about wine after all.
A Vintage Affair had many intriguing secondary characters in it, the plot was deliciously complex and the description of Southern life was lively. Austin's observations, thoughts and feelings are transferred very effectively straight to the reader. Maybe it's Austin's extraordinary sensitivity for smells and tastes that makes us readers especially sensitive for his actions and mixed emotions in turn? Anyway, it all worked very well.
Although I didn't like the (view spoiler)[threesome scene (hide spoiler)], I think that I got the idea why it had to be in the story and I definitely liked the way it made me (and Austin) feel: taken aback, miserable, lonely. Its effect was very powerful.
The story was beautifully written — it's always a pleasure to spend time with a Josh Lanyon book, because he has such a lovely voice. I recommend that you'll have a bottle of nice red wine at hand to go with this delicious story. Cheers! Santé! Skål! Kippis! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I fell for this extremely endearing story of a twenty-three year old Ford, who reminds me of a lost puppy. In a way this is such a simple story, but i...moreI fell for this extremely endearing story of a twenty-three year old Ford, who reminds me of a lost puppy. In a way this is such a simple story, but it holds a huge amount of emotions in it. The story happens during a short couple of hours, but it includes a promise of many great things to come.
This sweet story gave me hope and it left me wondering what kind of lives have these two men lived through to get to this exact point of Ford's heart trouble. What made Jacob to act so kind towards Ford? Why was Ford panicking about the things he did? It's always such a joy to read a new Josh Lanyon story -- and this one was particularly heart-warming.
And furthermore -- how in the world can only 21 pages tell a complete story of two lifetimes without putting it all into words?! I only got a glimpse of these two men meeting briefly, but I feel like I have been shown a slide show of their lives from childhood to old age.
I would prescribe a dosage of this to anyone with a heart -- and a need for quality literature. To be taken as often as necessary. :)(less)
I was supposed to do some (a lot actually) working during the weekend, but instead I ended up reading about two gorgeous guys, Nikolai and Henri, swif...moreI was supposed to do some (a lot actually) working during the weekend, but instead I ended up reading about two gorgeous guys, Nikolai and Henri, swiftly falling for each other and having incredibly hot sex — again and again. I might just hire Mr. Voinov for my personal relaxation guru, because... Man, this is so working for me! :) And I couldn't have cared less about my work (what work?!) that was left undone.
I enjoyed the way the whole world seemed to be the setting for this story. And I enjoyed the comparison between the corporate war in which Nikolai was fighting and the actual wars Nikolai's father Vadim had been in. Vadim was definitely one of the brightest stars of this story — not quite healed, but wise and strong altogether. The interaction between the two generations, Nikolai and Vadim, was interesting to observe.
The thing is that I like to be surprised while reading a story. Henri and Nikolai certainly managed to surprise me frequently! Henri with his words and Nikolai with his actions. And this is exactly why I find Aleksandr Voinov's work so refreshing and intriguing: I never know what he's going to write next.
There were some truly memorable and shockingly straight (or should I say gay?) lines said by Henri in this book. Those are definitely the pages I'll revisit soon again. But for some reason, this random thought of Nikolai's stuck with me after finishing the story: Why was it that all cities were the same at night? I can't explain why, but this sounds extremely comforting to me.
I indeed own you a sincere Thank you, Aleksandr Voinov. Not just for the lovely reading experience, but also for the unexpected weekend off.
I was touched by this story about brave men in the extreme circumstances. I couldn’t even start writing this review right after I finished reading, be...moreI was touched by this story about brave men in the extreme circumstances. I couldn’t even start writing this review right after I finished reading, because the powerful, yet subtle story left me pondering on the characters and actions of Felix and Baldur. I loved the names the author had chosen to these men. Merely those two words describe them so accurately: the other one really is the lucky one while the other means bold, brave and good.
I think that the word love isn’t mentioned in this story at all, but the presence of love is strongly there. It’s in the will to die for someone and in the desire for "friendship as deep as destiny". Felix was willing to do anything for Baldur. And he was willing to have Baldur to do anything to him. Is there bigger love and devotion than that? I was also left quite wordless at Wischinsky’s fate and decisions. No doubt Wischinsky’s character is going to haunt me for a long time.
In this story the actions of men speak louder than words. The most precious moments were the moments when not much was said between these two men. When they match their stride while walking side by side for the first time: "It’s almost like a conversation, walking together to the barracks." And when Baldur is gently brushing the keys of his piano: "Unplayed sound is like unspoken words." The lenient silence speaks for itself.
I also treasured the small, wonderful details related to birds and flying: How Baldur’s eyebrows looked like wings to Felix and how in the the basket of food were ”some eggs with the occasional feather still clinging to them”. And when Felix was afraid for Baldur, his heart was "rattling like a badly maintained engine".
In the Edda Baldr’s death lead to the destruction of gods. I the Skybound Baldur’s death would mean the end of the world for Felix. I keep thinking about the bullet that Baldur so nearly escaped in the beginning of the story and which Felix later pulled from his seat. It reminds me of the invincible Baldur in ”In the Days of Giants” by Abbie Farwell Brown: "Each arrow overshot his head". This one bullet in the palm of Felix’s hand was a gift, a treasure for him. It was everything he feared the most and at the same time it was a symbol of a second chance. In a way it was the new beginning for both of them. The beginning of their story.
Circumstances around these two men might have been complicated, but their feelings and longing for each other were very simple. I was moved by the fact that so little was more than enough for them: just the knowledge that the other one knew your name, a stolen glance, a hand against neck, a gentle kiss. It makes me think about the things that really are important in life, the things we so easily forget when the life goes on, hurrieldy day after day, and when nothing very dramatic makes it halt.
In the end Felix really got to live the adventure story he liked so much as a boy. There definitely were heros and heroic deeds in Skybound, but I like to think that the true adventure was ahead of him. Adventure filled with freedom and love — and maybe Paris…
I would not have liked this story to be longer. And I would not have removed a word from it. It is a perfect story as it is. I recommend it wholeheartedly. (less)
Wow. This book is fierce! Not by any means an easy read, but oh, so gratifying. The story is extremely emotive and thought provoking — very capturing...moreWow. This book is fierce! Not by any means an easy read, but oh, so gratifying. The story is extremely emotive and thought provoking — very capturing with troubled, strong, mysterious, compelling characters.
I always enjoy hugely reading a Harper Fox book and this one wasn't an exception. Yet it had some elements in it that I wasn't expecting at all and that made me enjoy the reading experience even more. :)
To say it shortly: I'm hungry for more Michael, John, Quin and Anzhel! (less)