I really liked Everything I Know — and that's saying something after it had made me feel physically ill for the first few chapters. I'm a teacher myse...moreI really liked Everything I Know — and that's saying something after it had made me feel physically ill for the first few chapters. I'm a teacher myself and some things that happened in this story must certainly be every teacher's nightmare.
I admire the way Josh Lanyon writes his characters so real, flawed and multidimensional. Some of them behave badly, almost unforgivably so, in this story. It's human to screw up, we all do it sometime, and it's such a blessing if you find a person who's still willing to care for you and give you another chance after he has seen you in your absolute worst behavior. I always enjoy witnessing how Josh Lanyon's characters fall, get up and grow during his books.
There are lots of things that I loved about this story. I enjoyed the way the secondary characters were drawn sharp-eyed with colorful crayons. I especially loved Connor's friend and co-worker, Pip. I also adored the way Lanyon used the quote from Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten throughout the book. I thought that reflecting the story with that quote was brilliant. All in all the story left me pondering over some fundamental things about teaching, pedagogics, education and economy.
But the main thought the book left me with is about taking chances. Maybe it's true that in the end we only regret the chances we didn't take? I wish I had as much courage as the main characters in this story have.
A sweet, romantic novella with unexpected main couple? Maybe. For me this was so much more. I highly recommend it. Only — be aware of wonder! :-)
In this much-awaited novel journalist Griff Hadley arrives to Long Island to investigate the kidnapping and disappearance of 4-year-old Brian Arlingto...moreIn this much-awaited novel journalist Griff Hadley arrives to Long Island to investigate the kidnapping and disappearance of 4-year-old Brian Arlington who now have been missing for twenty years. And what a brilliant mystery it turns out to be! Its twists and turns kept surprising the reader all the way to the very end of the story! And it’s almost scary how well Josh Lanyon writes the story in a way that Griff's feelings, his doubts and fears, his expectations and uncertainties, his confusion and his determination resonates so strongly with the reader.
I enjoyed hugely Griff's company and the fascinating, unique atmosphere of the beautiful Arlington estate. Lanyon’s poetical description of the Winden House and its surrondings is a lovely homage to Griff’s dear talisman, The Great Gatsby. Overall I loved the nostalgic, yet dynamic tone of this book — the story sparkles ‘old charm’ and it deals with thought-provoking themes that’ll never get old-fashioned: trust, commitment, hopes and dreams, being true to oneself.
I think I fell in love with Griff the second he parked his vintage beauty, Karmann Ghia, at the star-shaped courtyard of the Winden House the first time. He seemed so small, flawed, lonely and foreign in the middle of the overwhelming world of rich. And how unlikely match Pierce Mather, slick and powerful family lawyer, would make for him. I couldn’t help but to enjoy the tricky dynamics between these two men right from the awkward and icy first meet!
I enjoyed tremendously the pacing of this story. How we at first are allowed to slowly, deliberately observe the Arlington estate and the more or less odd and hostile family and staff members, and how the emotions raise and the speed picks up while the mystery itself gets more and more complicated. There were also so many delightful details to savour! For example I loved the enchanting color of Pierce’s eyes, his sexy suits, the scent of his spicy cologne and the things he did with his fountain pen when he was impatient or nervous.
The story made me cry at one point, but mostly it made me smile contently and to bite my nails with anticipation. Stranger on the Shore also has some of the most touching sex scenes I've ever read. They are powerful, aptly funny and wildly sexy, but also so sweet, sincere, bare and full of longing — like finding your way home at last. I’ve always found Josh Lanyon’s sex scenes the most satisfying ones in this genre. They are perfectly timed within the plot and we always learn a lot about the characters during these intimate moments. They are never about mechanics of sex, but always about unguarded, sincere thoughts and feelings.
Stranger on the Shore has great secondary characters, Pierce’s sister being one of my favorites. I also adored the fact that when the mystery finally started to unravel I myself started to remember all the small details and clues that were planned throughout the story for the reader to find — the details that only now began to make sense to me! What a cool, pleasing feeling that is! And how skillfully Josh Lanyon made it happen.
I wholeheartedly recommend Stranger on the Shore to anyone who enjoys reading quality writing. In many ways this book is a lot like its theme song Stranger on the Shore by Acker Bilk: beautiful, mysterious, soothing, even gentle and a bit melancholic, but nevertheless full of hope and joy and love. This is definitely something I'll be reading over and over again. Reading a book like this leaves my heart full of affection and thankfulness towards the person who created something this lovely. Stranger on the Shore left me with all that and with the feeling of total, complete satisfaction.(less)
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)