I'm always eager to pick up a baseball book and even though I've been interested in several and still plan to revReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I'm always eager to pick up a baseball book and even though I've been interested in several and still plan to review a few of them, it has been a while since I've picked up a book from DSP's young adult imprint. From what I gather in the acknowledgements, this is Will Parkinson's debut novel. Sometimes it's a gamble picking books to read by a new author or an author I've never read, but that's another part of reviewing that I like. Reviewing gives me the opportunity to read new authors and it feels like I get to enjoy more of the perks, like finding a surprise that's worth it. Often, it's different though and while I like some of those books I also don't like some of them. I'm afraid to say that this book fell into the latter camp for me. While it wasn't a total disappointment, I just didn't connect with the book.
Taylor is a gay sophomore in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin high school. His best friend Benny is straight and the only person alive who knows his secret. They're best friends and always have been and Benny is a rather special guy that is wise beyond his years, intelligent and loyal. Pitch opens on the day that a new student starts at Taylor's school. Jackson walks into Taylor's homeroom, looking nervous and totally sexy and Taylor immediately wants to draw him. What follows over the next year is an intense unrequited love that just doesn't seem to go away, no matter how hard Taylor tries and Benny cautions. No matter how much Taylor is told that Jackson is disgusted by his little boy crush from Jackson's cheerleader girlfriend, Taylor just can't seem to stay away.
It isn't until he and Benny gain some perspective on their problems during the next summer, camp counseling for abused kids, that Taylor starts to grow up. He still has feelings for Jackson, but he's less likely now to follow him around like a lost puppy. So when a kid from a neighboring school asks him out during their Halloween dance, Taylor decides to take him up on it. He really starts to like Kevin, but he is prey unknowingly walking into Kevin's trap. It takes some extremely tough decisions and way too much heartbreak and drama to realize that much of what he thought before wasn't true, about most of the people he knew.
There are two aspects of this novella that I had a difficult time with. The first are the characters. This, especially, is subjective. Part of what oftentimes makes a young adult novel good are the bad choices of the characters. More often than not young adult stories have a moral and it can walk a fine line in the hands of the author between preachy and poignant. The style of this story went a bit over the top and that just wasn't something that I was really looking for. For high school students, who I freely admit can be some of the cruelest humans on Earth, many of the actions of these characters went beyond immature and foolhardy. I would have appreciated the characters and their decisions (even the bad ones) more if their actions had been more subtle and less ascribed to their particular archetype. Kevin's actions in particular required me to suspend disbelief a few times.
As I said before, those decisions and your own feelings about them are more subjective than usual. My other problem with this story was in the writing. I applaud this author for writing and writing and sharing their work. But like many new authors I think that there were some fundamental writing problems that this author needs to work on. Mostly it will just take continued writing, so even though this book wasn't for me, I sincerely hope that this author keeps up with it. Part of the novice prose problems were dialogue and restraint. In a way, the second has quite a bit to do with the first. This book didn't fall into too bad of a habit of telling rather than showing, but there is importance in letting the characters express themselves in their own ways instead of being a vehicle to express the author's view. I'm not talking about preaching about issues or anything like that here. I simply mean the difference between the characters' observations and personality and the author's. Almost continually there were times while reading this that I stopped and thought that a character wouldn't say or think that. The dialogue, in a similar way, oftentimes sounded familiar for all the characters and didn't seem to represent the individual characters. Restraint is important because readers don't need all the information. It's a partnership, you know? The readers picks up on the clues the author leaves and pieces them together and in that way one small action tells you more about the character than a whole page of narration.
Ultimately, this book just wasn't for me because of the more dramatic plot twists. I have seen a couple of 5-star reviews around so I'll be interested to see if any other readers/reviewers feel the way I do, or if this turns out to be a reader favorite. I've been a part of the more unpopular opinion before!...more
Sam is an artist and a beach bum with very loose morals. He lives for the next man in his bed, soonReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
Sam is an artist and a beach bum with very loose morals. He lives for the next man in his bed, soon discarded and looking for another, easily sleeping through the men at the beach and always looking for more. He's fine with his life, in fact he revels in it and is frankly honest about his life. He admits that he's really an asshole that doesn't care more than the casual fuck with a hot man. And he isn't modest about his insatiable bedroom talents.
That all changes when he meets a beautiful blind man holding a sign for a taxi on the side of the road. Thinking to pick him up and hit on him, he ends up giving him a ride, unable to admit once the man assumes he's a taxi driver that he isn't, and declines the payment. In suspicion, the man calls the cops on him and reports it as a kidnapping. The misunderstanding (well, sort of) leads to future meetings between the two as Sam can't get Blind Blondie out of his head.
This is really quite a cute story that started off with just enough animosity and a strange circumstance that it really drew me in. I wanted to find out what happened between these two, one man blind and dealing with his vulnerability in a world where he inhabits such a beautiful body that means very little to him, and another that is obsessed with that body and unwilling to look deeper until it actually smacks him in the face. The transition between that animosity and the other extreme, a loving relationship, is done well and uses the length of the story to draw it out. This made the pacing of the story work well for me, and though I thought it moved rather quickly (scenes transitioned sometimes very quickly with some almost imperceptible bits of narration), it worked best for the plot and what needed to happen for a successful resolution.
My only problem with the story was the ending, and it's purely subjective. It's a bit of an easy device to bring change in the characters and an HEA, but I would have liked to see less. For me, less in a short story is almost always more, and a more realistic look at how Sam was changing without this type of quasi-deus ex machine to show it would have been more satisfying for me.
This is a good story for readers who like to see the enemies to lovers trope and it is satisfying to watch Sam and Kieran's abrasive interactions. The POV is consistently Sam's, and I would have liked to have gotten to know Kieran better, but there really wasn't much time. What is there is satisfying enough for me.
I admit, I was a bit worried to read this book. I loved Stanley in the past books (or at least, I knew I would onReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I admit, I was a bit worried to read this book. I loved Stanley in the past books (or at least, I knew I would once we got to know him better), but I loved How to Raise an Honest Rabbit so, so, so much, along with Jeremy, that I wasn't sure if this book could live up to my feelings about that one. In a way it did, but in some ways it didn't.
Stanley is an old party boy -- or at least, that's how he feels. Never has he had a real relationship, just quick fucks in clubs and one night stands. His "relationship" with Craw is a perfect example of this. Just sex, no strings. But when Stanley is shoved aside when Craw meets the love of his life, Ben, something changes in Stanley. He's sad, and suddenly his life doesn't seem so fabulous anymore. Could it be that he really wants something more?
In a style reminiscent of a How To Guide, Stanley decides to make over his life. First, he has to get rid of the men and focus on himself. And what better way to do that than by learning to knit? He knows, technically, how to knit, but not do anything more than garter stitch. And he's worked for years at a knitting store! Plus, knitting is permanent, and as the rhythm and care that goes into his projects starts to translate into his own life, he realizes just what hand-knitted items mean. They're personal, and so by knitting, Stanley finds that he's not quite as settled in his life as he thought. Knitting brings about new friends, a new life, and a new man -- who seems to go against all the rules of his old life.
This story sees the return of Stanley, Craw's past monthly arrangement in town whom we first met in the first Knitting book, The Winter Mating Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters. He's flamboyant and seems carefree, he's outrageously funny and a self-proclaimed slut who will bend over for just about anyone. He likes sex, it's just that until now, in his mid-thirties, he hasn't even considered what life might be like trying to get to know someone before he lets them screw him. It's a novel idea, and one that takes hold in his brief bout of manless depression just when he meets Johnny, the new deliveryman. It is important to read these stories in order, because of the way the characters are intertwined and how events happen in time. Because of that, we (the reader) know Johnny from the past book as Gianni, the man who saved Jeremy's life and allowed him to escape the mob. We also know his backstory, and the events that led to him turning state's evidence and now living in the area under the protection of WITSEC. Stanley, however, is not only blind to "Johnny's" past, but the whole relationship thing is new to him anyway.
I like Stanley in this book, he has real gumption and we get to see him really surprise himself. The change in his life and then his subsequent new relationship with Johnny teaches him a lot about himself, his past, and what is important to him. Watching him stumble through a series of revelations most go through in their twenties (he's a late bloomer!), paired with his humor and lack of filter, makes for an almost slapstick like prose. Stanley is almost always inserting his foot into his mouth, either by words or actions. He's flailing, trying to find solid ground since he jumped in feet first. Not only is that fun to watch, but it is also good because he learns how strong he is, and that was satisfying to read.
The problems I had stemmed mostly from the fact that this book had to be absolutely spectacular to live up to my feelings of the previous book. But, I did find the mob/mafia sub-plot to be somewhat strange. While it all made sense, and didn't bother me by itself, I found it left a lot less room for Stanley and Johnny to really get to know each other on page, and I missed that.
One thing that I love about this series, and this book carried on with this from the previous ones, was all the detail of knitting, yarn and production. I love reading about that, as a knitter, and reading these stories, this one especially, made me itch to pick up the needles. It is all about the joy of knitting, and what knitting really means. And I'm not sure that a non-knitter really understands, or might even find that sentiment hokey in these books. Watching Stanley in particular learn to knit was fun and carefree and I was always looking forward to what he was knitting next :)
Fans of this author and this series will definitely want to read this book, and I found it a really worthy addition to the others in the series. It might just make you want to learn to knit! Plus, if you haven't read any of Amy Lane's knitting novellas, you should check them out and remember that I said you should read them in the correct order.
I have meant to read this story since its release in the summer of 2011. In fact, I had told Barry in New OrleansReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have meant to read this story since its release in the summer of 2011. In fact, I had told Barry in New Orleans that I'd read it and review it for it and I just never got around to it. Well, it must have been the universe telling me to get on with it, because I won the book in paperback along with some other books and prizes at the Comedy Hour event at GRL. And I knew that now that I had it in paperback, I really wanted to read it as soon as possible. So as I went through my massive bag of paperbacks I brought home, I picked it out first and started to read it. I was enthralled, immediately, into the story and voice of Micah, who things just never seem to go right for.
This is a difficult story to summarize. At it's heart, it is the story of Micah Malone -- in many ways typical gay young man, but also with a (somewhat/at times) atypical storyline. Micah tends to be quite melodramatic and campy, but that's what you gotta love about him. He has a very original voice and his film and TV obsession is shown through obscure references throughout the story. The book is very voice and narrative focused, which in Micah's life is all screenplay based, so we're first introduced to him and his circle of friends with a Dramatis Personae. The story follows Micah has he trudges through life at a young age -- college, friendships, sex and relationships. The focus isn't romance, though some does come into the story in the last half, but instead Micah himself, that that is what made the novel so successful for me. Not only does the format of the writing echo his personality so perfectly (untraditional, and often like a screenplay), but it isn't tied to the typical romance "rules". It threw me a curveball or two, and I loved that.
This book made me a fan of Barry Brennessel for life, even though I've read a few of this other things. No matter if the next three things I read of his I don't like, I'll always take a chance and read something he's written, because he proved to me with Tinseltown that he is a phenomenal author. Also, quite a funny one. This book had me doubled over laughing. I'd recommend this to anyone, as long as you know not to expect romance right away....more
If I had my way, Amy would keep writing this series FOREVER. I'm not kidding, sexy men who knit + Amy LReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
If I had my way, Amy would keep writing this series FOREVER. I'm not kidding, sexy men who knit + Amy Lane's writing sans angst = the best thing ever and totally meant just for me. That's how I feel. I love this series because if you ask me, not nearly enough people knit, especially men. Reading about them, therefore, is like a fantasy come true. And I love these men. The first story, The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters has always been one of my favorites of Amy's shorts, but this sequel, where we get to know a lot more about Jeremy and Aiden though we met them in that first story, far surpasses it, In my opinion. I think because there's a real history at play here and Jeremy is such a compelling character. I love him and seeing him really work for the life he wants to live and the relationship that he finally decides he deserves and can handle is really rewarding. Of course, Aiden is special in his own way as well.
All we knew about Jeremy from the first story was that Crawford had found him on the streets and offered him a job, and that he used to be a con man. There are two things in particular that make this story special, and they go hand in hand. First, Jeremy's voice is (as I talked to Laura the other day) very Steinbeck-ian in diction and phrasing. He has a unique voice that shows his rather colorful past, yet neglected childhood and it really just made me want to cuddle him. Second, he spends the first third of the story, roughly, taking us back in time and giving his life story. It gives us quite a bit of time to see the backstory, not only of Jeremy's childhood, but also of the history of the wool mill and the other characters. In a way it feels like a prequel, and that allows us to see much of what we witnessed in the first story (the relationship between Craw and Ben) through other, fresh eyes.
The heart of the story is really about Jeremy and his evolution into a productive member of society. Raised as a chameleon by his father with the only reputable goal money and winning, he has an ingrained and slightly skewed perception of the world around him. Getting put in jail after a rather close and terrible incident when he was younger sorted him out some, but the real work comes once he has a chance to prove himself. He has to hold a job, make money, and learn to be responsible to others. But, shedding his past is very difficult, no matter how much support he has in terms of his new family and Aidan, who represents everything good and pure in the world that Jer is afraid to touch in case he sullies it. Yet, like the yarn they cultivate, spin, dye and knit, each member of the motley family offers security and a slow-paced reassurance to Jeremy that allows him to take baby steps. This character progression is really what makes this book so wonderful. The story is full of little details that represent the big issues, showing Jeremy in a very clear light that in itself is poignant.
Everyone (it seems) knows about my aversion to angst, no matter how much I try to get through some books. And I admit freely that many of Amy's books scare the fuckin daylights out of me, just because I hate putting myself through some of the shit she inflicts on her characters. But when he writes a sweet story, I am so there. The addition of knitting and yarn production (which I actually know a lot about, strangely) only made this book in particular totally wonderful to me. I absolutely cannot wait for the next story, Knitter in His Natural Habitat....more
In lieu of a typical review that I might write, I'm going to just post some of my favorite quotes from this book.Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
In lieu of a typical review that I might write, I'm going to just post some of my favorite quotes from this book. Sarah Black is one of my very favorite authors, across the board. Her books always move me -- I don't know if she can write a book that isn't really exploring a part of our lives. I feel refreshed yet tired after finishing one, as if I've just had a long and hard workout. And I try not to read too many of her books around the same time, or I'll just go crazy. I may love it at the time, but I won't be able to get into any other books afterwards and I feel particularly exposed, like the book opened me up to everything wonderful in the world, but also everything hard and scary, and sometimes being that open is frightening.
I am almost too nervous to review her books sometimes. They move me so much and they're so personal that I want everyone else to experience them blind. I don't want my feelings to impact yours because, above all, the experience of reading her books is most important to me, and I hope that all of you feel that way as well.
So, I'll just share some of my favorite quotes from The Legend of the Apache Kid and hope that they'll make you want to read the book. Because you should.. you really should. Now, I need to read Lawless.
Go to the review at my blog to finish and see the quotes. They formatting doesn't work as well here....more
Josh is completely smitten with his downstair neighbors Rai and Evan. It doesn't help that every time he spends tReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Josh is completely smitten with his downstair neighbors Rai and Evan. It doesn't help that every time he spends time with his best friend Denise (who lives one floor below the men) he can hear them having kinky, noisy sex that pounds the walls. He longs for a piece of what they have -- a great relationship, unspoken communication -- and the daily reminder of the two hot men becomes the focal point of his fantasies after a disappointing relationship history. To his surprise, when he befriends the two and gets to know them better, he can relate to both on difference levels. They become good friends until a rather hilarious accident forces Josh to temporarily live with the two men.
They quickly move on from friendship and find that they have an insanely strong sexual connection and spend the next few weeks exploring each other and the new way they relate to one another. Along the way, Josh finds he has growing feelings for the men, and waiting for them to kick him out of their bed and go back to their regular lives, all the while knowing that he'll be changed person when the other shoe finally drops, leaving him hopelessly in love with two men who already have a future without him.
I think that Josephine Myles made a very important choice with this story, whether it was purposeful or not. There is a lot of supply in the m/m market now, which means that what is different stands out. That leads to a lot of genre mashing and while that can work well for a story and certainly stands out, there is something to be said for character driven stories that really look at and develop one particular issue. In the case of m/m/m menage in particular, most of the ones I read these days aren't really about the relationship between the three men, at least not front and center. But The Hot Floor does focus on those issues in such a relationship that would crop up in the real world -- jealousy, prior history, and the different dynamics of trust among more than a two-person couple -- and that is why it worked so well for me.
Josh is an endearing character and though he doubts it at every turn, I could see why both Evan and Rai were attracted to him and could easily fall for him, even when it goes against their rules. He's completely unaware of what he offers in a relationship or friendship, consistently afraid to trust when anything but a definitive proposal keeps him feeling like the outsider in an already existing relationship. Past relationships as well as family history make it difficult for him to trust, especially to show others his true self. His blush becomes a bit of a trademark he does it so often, when just a thought of talking dirty makes him stammer over his words. The fact that everything he experiences with Evan and Rai is so new makes the experiences more meaningful, and I got the sense that it wasn't simply what he could offer their relationship that made him such a great third (and then more than that) but that they both offer something very special for Josh as well. The added security of being welcomed into an already existing relationship helped him focus on other things (like his trust issues).
The focus of the story is really on Josh's neuroses, in particular those issues of trust and his fear of opening up to another man. The great thing about him falling for Evan and Rai is that the arrangement starts out as friendship and then solely as fun sex. The "rules" the two have in place of not sleeping with a friend or neighbor give Josh structure and boundaries, even though they're eventually broken. I loved that we really get to see the lighter side of their lives, especially with Rai around, who constantly had me cracking up in laughter. It is important for there to be something that the "third" can bring to the relationship and I found that I rather liked the fact that even though Josh had things to bring to the table that made a menage relationship work, the original relationship between Rai and Evan was great and had no need of being "fixed". It wasn't a case of him "saving" their relationship, which when I thought about it, seems to be more often the case in menage.
I was surprised and delighted to see that the story didn't devolve into typical romance plot faults. I kept growing nervous about their faulty building, but was happy to see how the situation resolved. For the most part, however, I simply liked that the story spent time with the three of them, often happy and showing the lighter side of a beginning relationship without getting bogged down in what doesn't work and then fixing it. They simply work well together, and the difficulties involved in their relationship were internal and organic to the characters.
I can't wait to read this again. So far it is my favorite of this author's books, and it was a real delight to read. I can't wait to read what she publishes next!...more
As is, seems much like a prequel to a much more indepth future story. As it stands, it could use a bit more development to feel like a self-c3.5 stars
As is, seems much like a prequel to a much more indepth future story. As it stands, it could use a bit more development to feel like a self-containted story, but otherwise really solid characters and story. It feels settled, as if the author has really sat with these characters and is invested in them, so I'd be happy to read more if the author continued this with another story or novel. A novel would work quite well because there's a lot set up in this short....more
A miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine MyA miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine Myles wrote a wonderful review that caught my interest after Chris directed me there, and became my personal cheerleader -- saying, "read it now! read it now!". I found myself very lucky then, to be one of the recipients of the GoodReads giveaway and received my paperback copy from Edmond in the mail last week, along with a beautiful note and a yummy, gooey, finger-licking, savorlicious nut roll, that I promply ate on the way back from the mail-box. I mean, hey, I got a free book! But I also got free candy! Well, not candy ;)
So I found myself with a beautiful copy of a book that has probably gotten more 5 star reviews than I've seen before, memory full of sweet and salty goodness, and a personal cheerleader goading me on. How could I refuse?
This is a unique book to review, and I won't re-hash the blurb for you, because there's really no point. There's so much to say about it, yet the beauty of it is in the mystery. I constantly found myself with my pen marking favorite passages to enjoy later (I love marking up books! real books! it's been so long!), but unable to share them, because like an inside joke, no one but fellow Found King and Queen readers would understand them. Point 1 for Edmond Manning -- by reading, I've become complicit in the events of the book.
Because the real story is in the mystery of figuring out the story for yourself and your own personal journey with the characters, the story is a bit hard to describe to those who haven't yet read the book. I was talking to a friend who is also reading this book right now and the only way I could find to describe the story was this: "its... light-hearted on the surface but profound underneath, but it's like a great adventure. It... reminds me, at it's heart... of Max, in Where the Wild Things Are... It's like a great children's adventure for adults." There's a sense of wonder in the adventure, which sounds a bit hokey in summary, but through the character of San Francisco in the novel is laid out in a way that entices the senses.
I do want to talk to potential readers here, because I might not have picked this story up if not for Chris, my personal cheerleader, telling me not to be afraid of the Bittersweet label on this book. The only similarity this book as to Bittersweet books is the fact that there's no HEA. I don't think that's too much of a spoiler to give away as it is pretty well known. However, while this book is wildly romantic, it is also not technically a "romance." I'd rather think of it as gay fiction. It is a beautiful story that left me with a huge smile on my face and warmth in my heart, and no matter how hokey it sounds I'll growl it out like a wild bear :)
All I can say is that I think everyone should read this book, and I'm so happy that I have my very own paperback copy to read whenever I want. I imagine that this book will stay with me for a long time, and having it there to comfort me on a bad day, or remind me of all the good and wonder in the world when I really need it....more
I have to admit that this was one of the books that I read back in May when I decidedReview posted as part of Lou Harper week at The Armchair Reader.
I have to admit that this was one of the books that I read back in May when I decided to review Lou Harper's backlist that I read immediately because I already had it and then promptly forgot to review it. I had an oopsie moment this week when I started to write the review because I've read so many college themed stories in the past few months that I wanted to be sure I completely remembered everything. And that's kindof a big deal when you think back to how well you remember books that you've read because how much you remember the book and how you felt about it says what impact it makes on you. So when I opened the book again for a little refresher read, it immediately came storming back to me.
I wrote a review yesterday for Hanging Loose where I talked quite a bit about my happiness that that book took the plot completely through the romance, instead of stopping early on in their relationship. Of course, there is an exception to every rule -- no author or book is the same. But, I've read quite a few books that just take the story up to the honeymoon phase and then leave things at that, and my disappointment when at that point the book often feels unfinished. Academic Pursuits is the one major exception to that, in that this book is really about self-discovery over the romance and your feelings about this book will most likely depend entirely on how you like Jamie. We first meet him while he's initiating Hollins, another straight frat boy, into the joys of gay sex, something he's grown quite the reputation for. But Jamie isn't really that great at reading situations or people, which shows in his ignorance of how some people at his college view his promiscuity. And the promiscuity really suits Jamie just fine. He loves sex and he's rather charming and good looking, and he certainly makes no mistake about what sex with him entails. In fact, he often makes sure that he's not leading a guy along. He makes no excuses because he's rather happy with his life and the way he lives it. It isn't really until he meets Roger that those perceptions start to change. At first, all he knows about Roger is that the man seems to hate him, which is a shame because the artist is really pretty sexy. It isn't until the two run into each other enough to finally really start getting to know the other, when they can break down the facade they both see in the other.
I really kindof liked Jamie because he's so at home in his skin. He makes no secret of his sexual liaisons nor his intentions. He isn't playing anyone. He just likes sex and has no need to settle down. Nor has he met anyone yet that he feels that way about. I totally got that. But that also means that he has sex with multiple partners, even after he's met Roger. So for those who really like their main characters to stick with each other and to have a pretty pure romance plot, this might not be your book. For most of the book, he and Roger aren't together. The course of their romance on-page is in the barely getting to know you's, and then later in the book Jamie's change in perception about his feelings for Roger, what that means for him, and his understanding about Roger's perception of him. This really is a book of self-discovery. Jamie is spending his college years having casual sex and it is only with serious feelings for someone that he starts to understand how others might have viewed him, and also how he wants to change. Not really because his behavior was bad, but because it just doesn't suit him anymore.
I'll let you discover the details yourself, but there's a lot else in this book to like, like his cousin/roommate Jo who is totally awesome, and his own matchmaking efforts for her and for some of his conquests. And you know, for a guy in college, his sexual portrayal is pretty spot-on, you know? The whole reputation as a seducer of straight frat boys might put a funny spin on the situation, but I liked that this was a pretty accurate portrayal of college life.
So, don't miss out on this one folks. It's pretty short at 29k words and it's a fun read. And I didn't even feel like I needed a sequel!...more
I ended up being a bit disappointed by this one. Though I liked Rook, who was funny, I just didn't connect with the charac2.75 stars (rounded up to 3)
I ended up being a bit disappointed by this one. Though I liked Rook, who was funny, I just didn't connect with the characters. Which is a bit funny considering I went into the story figuring it would be a steamy m/m/m/m romp and it ended up having much less (and less steamy) sex than I expected. It was also a bit short to get to know the characters well. It feels like the setup to a much longer story so I assume the series will follow these same characters.
I'll check out the next book though, and see if I get to like the characters better....more
There really isn't much to say other than the giant smile this book put on my face. It may not be for everyone, butWhat an absolute delight of a book!
There really isn't much to say other than the giant smile this book put on my face. It may not be for everyone, but it has naughty toys and starry-eyed love stories, romantic adventures and unapologetic eccentricities!
Sarah Black's books always make me so happy and her writing is some of the most disarmingly romantic prose out there. Her books read like they took no effort to write and are so organic.. That makes no sense but it is as if they have a personality all on their own, that care fuck-all about what anybody thinks. They're just who they are....more
Sarah Black really advances with each book she writes. This just blew me away, and in the end, it leaves a really heavy impression about war and how iSarah Black really advances with each book she writes. This just blew me away, and in the end, it leaves a really heavy impression about war and how it changes us, both individually and as a country. I loved it.
Though this was Lou Harper's first published book and the first one I ever bought of hers, itReview posted for Lou Harper week at The Armchair Reader.
Though this was Lou Harper's first published book and the first one I ever bought of hers, it lingered in my vast online library for just under two years before I decided to start reading her backlist. You could say I caught the bug to read all of her books after reading and falling in love with Harvey and Gabe (and Denton too) in Spirit Sanguine, and that unexpected review of such a wonderful book is what made me decide to go back and read this one. It didn't hurt, of course, that I'd only heard good things about it.
What I found when I read it (and this was the first one I went back and read), was not only that Lou had started out with some pretty good characterization under her belt but that I really liked her style. I get really upset when I so often read books that end preemptively, just when things are getting good. The best ones are where the couple plods along and you don't just get to see the honeymoon phase but what their lives are like as an actual couple and how they deal with that. That's what makes a real romance in my opinion, and I've found that the more romance I read over the years that I really need that in a contemporary romance where the central plot is the romance. That's what I really liked about this book -- it didn't seem to follow a typical romance plot structure, which meant that it kept me on my toes.
Hanging Loose starts with Nate, a new transplant to LA. He's unfamiliar with the way the city runs, the weather, navigating public transit, which leaves him on Venice Beach and night without a jacket and miserable. He's approached by Jez, and while initially wary, agrees to his invitation to stay at his home. The two get to know each other and eventually come to a roommate agreement. What follows is is a pretty standard GFY, or maybe more accurately OFY story (more on that in a bit). Nate is straight and Jez is openly gay. They become pretty good friends as Nate settles in and they come up with a routine. Nate starts to make friends, one of which is the old man Jez bakes for and spends time watching over. But Jez is mysterious in a few ways. One is the attraction between the two, which Nate takes a while to understand and Jez is of course, wary of, being that Nate has until now apparently not been attracted to men. The rest is Jez's romantic history and his family history and the tales of Old Hollywood passed down from his grandmother Adelle.
Lou mentioned in her interview with me earlier this week about the reason she first wanted to write and publish this story:
I started writing Hanging Loose after reading a GFY story I didn’t find convincing. To me, the core of the story is that sexuality is complex and there are many shades between straight and gay. Following the character’s journey coming to terms with his own nature and desires was what I wanted to explore.
That's always been a problem for me as well, that a GFY story done right needs a depth of character study to keep the realism instead of knocking me out of the story. But I didn't know her feelings yet when I started reading Hanging Loose, so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was a really interesting dynamic between Jez and Nate as they first get to know one another. Right away, just in the first few pages when Nate meets Jez, he feels a little tingle of connection between them:
“I’m straight,” I blurted out at last. There was a tiny voice deep down telling me I was full of shit. I gagged it. I felt myself blushing in embarrassment as soon as the words left my lips. I didn’t even know why I just assumed he was gay…
“I won’t hold it against you,” he said, smiling…
That dynamic made it more plausible later for Nate's sexuality to be more fluid than originally expected and I liked how Lou made that issue ultimately intersect with Jez and his history and his own secrets that he's keeping from Nate, who in a way becomes the aggressor the future into the book you read.
This is really a "Loved It" book for me -- I was with it and totally engaged through the whole read -- so I don't have any criticism at all. For a novice writer this book was simply wonderful. There's a lot more that I really loved about this book, but in effort not to spoiler you about some pretty significant pieces of the book, I'll mostly leave those alone to say that I thought the last 35% or so of the book was where the characters really shined… when everything is finally out in the open. One of the relationships I love the most in the book is Nate's friendship with Arthur, which was ultimately what tipped this book up in the 5 star rating for me. I thought it was portrayed beautifully and aligned well with Nate's development.
So, by all means do I recommend this one. Going back and reading this book wasn't just something that I had always wanted to do but really it cemented Lou's talent in my mind and made her forever an author that I'll cheer on and get excited about....more
All in all a great anthology. This is a good book to read if you're in the mood for all different genres -- from magic and fantasy to paranormal to coAll in all a great anthology. This is a good book to read if you're in the mood for all different genres -- from magic and fantasy to paranormal to contemporary, from sweet, light and funny to fantasies with fairy tale elements and one that is even a bit darker in tone.
Quality Assurance by Sasha L. Miller (3.5 stars) - A cute story about an office romance between a vampire and a human. The best part of this story was the vampire, Quinn; so different from most self-assured and often exceedingly arrogant vampires in fiction, Quinn is shy and self-depreciating, trying to make his way on his own away from his obnoxious and prying family. Perfect Angel by Rachelle Cochran (4 stars) - Another cute story, this time about a Royal Scribe angel in love with and recently banished from the kingdom for his relationship with the Crown Prince, after said prince denies their relationship. Brokenhearted and betrayed, he is sent by the king to work for a demon -- a blatant insult in it's own right from an angel and also personal, since Kalyana has bitter memories of demons from his past. Yet Viscount Avanindra Dasmaya is different than any demon Kalyana has ever met. The Prince, the Thief, and the Shadow Emperor by M.J. Willow (5 stars) - My favorite story in the collection, about a newly mastered battle mage on his way home to see his family, being accosted and bested by what seems at first to be an ordinary highwayman in the middle of a dark and unnatural forest. But, the highwayman has powers that don't make any sense and he also looks suspiciously like the Crown Prince. Pas Comme Ca by Sophie Hung (4.75 stars) - Very good story about two neighbors in London who slowly fall in love over a year. One is an artist taking a year abroad before going home to France, and the other is studying Macroeconomics and trying to deal with the loss of his entire family and the dreams he had of being a concert pianist. More Than A Hero by May Ridge (3 stars) - Two rival superheroes, one on top of his game and the other trying to edge his way into a territory and make a name for himself. Pretty good story, but I didn't really like Comet very much and the ending didn't feel very resolved. The Simple Method by Remington Ward (3.75 stars) - A genius undergraduate scientist has a crush on an english major jock who he also went to high school with. After a freak explosion from one of his experiments, they're forced to room with one another. A really sweet story and I loved Coney and his naive nature. The Games by Ashley Shaw (4 stars) - A darker tale of magic and politics. Two friends and lovers are traveling the world and decide to visit a famous magical city to hopefully learn more about the magic they possess. Only when they get there they are arrested for their use of magic and ordered by the Queen to participate in "The Games" a barbaric and gladiator-like battle between two mages for the enjoyment of the nobles. Looking for More by Megan Derr (4.25 stars) - Milo has been in love with his next-door neighbor for a long time. Lewis is confident, sexy, successful, and charismatic, all things that Milo thinks he isn't. Yet, in a way they are friends -- although it only seems to be when Lewis needs something from his "geek" neighbor, and this time the favor almost breaks Milo's heart: Lewis needs help trying to seduce his crush, a geek who works in the IT department at his firm. ...more
Probably my favorite feel-good story of the year. This made me smile from the first page and I'm still smiling now, after finishing the book. Even theProbably my favorite feel-good story of the year. This made me smile from the first page and I'm still smiling now, after finishing the book. Even the people around me want to read this now (and they don't read m/m) because I couldn't stop reading hilarious little bits aloud to them.
This is a unique story and Al has a way of seeing the world that is innocent and beautiful and direct. This is probably also one of the best romantic pairings I've read in a long while.
I'll be keeping this book on my Kindle for any time I need a little pick-me-up!...more
Splattered is the story of man who has just emerged from a Fine Arts doctoral program as Dr. Dick Livingston, real name Richard, though that doesn’t sSplattered is the story of man who has just emerged from a Fine Arts doctoral program as Dr. Dick Livingston, real name Richard, though that doesn’t sound as sexy as Dick (well, at least when you’re thinking with one…). Dick works as a buyer for a gallery, scouting talent and meeting artists. On a trip down the California coast, Dick meets Dan, an artist with an unusual medium — not only does he paint with his cock but with his whole body, and he welcomes Dr. Dick to join him on the massive canvas for the first painting of the series that will come to be known as the “Come Series.” With as much messy fun as they have creating art with a performance that is the literal definition of “doing the dirty,” there are sure to become very, very rich.
As soon as I read the blurb for this story, I knew I had to read it. Nothing could be hotter than two sexy guys slathered in paint, rolling around… ahem… you get the picture. This story certainly lived up to what I was expecting — it is funny and sexy. There really isn’t much time to get to know the characters since it is a very quick read, but I still felt like I got a pretty good picture of them in so short a time. There is also very little time for much plot, and most of this story is filled up with the one main sex scene with just enough information to put in in context and round out the characters. For the amount of time allowed in the short length, this was done very well, though I would have loved to get to know Dan better (the POV of the story is Dr. Dick’s).