Very touching story about breaking free from the chains that hold us back and keep us down. Beautifully written characters. I liked that the story was...moreVery touching story about breaking free from the chains that hold us back and keep us down. Beautifully written characters. I liked that the story was told entirely from Aaron's point-of-view.
I believe all people have some good/bad in them, but I can appreciate the irony here that the antagonist (who preaches that the outside world is evil) is 100% evil himself- not one redeeming quality, while his son, on the other hand, is about as good as they get.
I thoroughly enjoyed following Aaron on his adventure, and wish him all the best his new world has to offer.(less)
As much as I grumble and complain about Christmas, there's something about a sweet holiday romance that never fails to melt my grinchy heart. Blame it...moreAs much as I grumble and complain about Christmas, there's something about a sweet holiday romance that never fails to melt my grinchy heart. Blame it on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton is a fun, funny, sexy, quick read about a nerdy guy who convinces his hunky roommate to teach him how to kiss.
Although I'm generally not a fan of GFY stories, these characters won me over from the start. Fielding was adorably nerdy and naive. Mick was really sweet the way he constantly looked out for Fielding, knowing Fielding was too lost in his own head at times to take good care of himself. When Fielding finally wears Mick down and these two get together, it's the perfect mix of hot and sweet, followed by just the right amount of awkward. :-)
I read this one straight through. It was just too much fun to put down! A bit of Christmas magic fed my suspension of disbelief regarding some of Mick's actions. And the cover is ADORABLE! It captures the mood of the story quite well.(less)
The odds are against Alex. He lives in the ghetto in a run-down apartment with his neglectful mom and her abusive boyfriend. He’s already flunked a grade in school and although he's only fifteen, his friends are pressuring him to join a gang and deal drugs. To make matters worse, he can’t risk having anyone find out he’s gay. This isn’t the life he wants for himself but he’s got no other options. Not until an outside force intervenes and things spiral out of his control. Alex is ripped from the life he knows and is placed in a group foster home against his will.
Alex remains guarded and distant, but takes a liking to Seb, one of the other boys in the group home. Seb seems harmless enough. He can’t speak and everyone says he’s got “special needs”. He can do simple tasks, but can’t communicate with others. Alex feels safe enough around Seb to open up to him, since Seb can’t understand what Alex says anyway. He doesn’t realize how much he needs someone to talk to until he begins revealing his secrets to Seb, who just stares at him, expressionless. But then Seb begins seeking out Alex’s company more and more, and Alex begins to feel more for Seb than brotherly love. And he starts to suspect that Seb understands more than he’s letting on...
The emotions in this story run so very deep. Alex thinks he’s a tough guy who can take care of himself, but really, he’s just a kid whose overconfidence gets him in over his head. He means well. He wants so badly to take care of the people he loves, and Sara Alva does a great job of portraying those feelings of invincibility so many teenagers have. It's painful watching Alex's internal struggle as he comes to realize his limitations and is forced to make some truly difficult decisions, but those growing pains are what shape him into the remarkable young man he is.
Sara Alva does a fantastic job of bringing her characters to life with authentic dialogue, a vivid sense of setting, and a strong internal voice. Alex and his living situation are portrayed so realistically, the story almost feels like it could be a documentary. I have no doubt that there are a devastating number of children out there just like Alex, who are growing up in "families" just like his. The hopelessness of poverty is heartbreaking. And it's impossible not to care about this problem after reading about these boys. The saddest part is knowing that given a choice, many kids would opt to stay in their abusive environments, because it's all they know. It's their life. To the author's credit, I felt so in tune with Alex that I too balked at the nice, wealthy couple who wanted to take care of him. I never once questioned any of Alex's actions. He surprised me (pleasantly) a time or two by showing his softer side, but that too felt very right for him. He's a tough kid with a tender heart.
Not only is the dialogue between characters spot on, but the silent communication that eventually develops between Alex and Seb is also thoroughly believable. In his silence, Seb speaks volumes, and he and Alex form a deep bond. I loved the special connection between these two, and I loved watching Seb slowly come out of his shell under Alex's care.
The shoe metaphor is beautifully done and I love the way it's subtly carried throughout the book. It's a fitting symbol for Alex's journey. Silent is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Although the characters are young adults, it doesn't read like your typical YA story. It's powerful enough to move audiences of all ages, and I highly recommend it for all fans of down-on-their-luck-but-lucky-to-have-found-each-other love stories.(less)
What I loved: - How much Matt and Tyler struggled to overcome past guilt and self-loathing before admitting their feelings for one another. Given their...moreWhat I loved: - How much Matt and Tyler struggled to overcome past guilt and self-loathing before admitting their feelings for one another. Given their pasts, it would have been unrealistic for them to fall in love and have everything be sunshine and roses. - The fathers' talks with their sons. So touching. - Matchmaking moms. :-) - The date from hell (and Tyler's parting speech). It was hard to read because it was so awful for the characters, but I enjoyed hating every moment of it. - The Wallace brothers and how, growing up, they were always together and turning heads. I loved that imagery. - The (non)ending.
What I hated: - Matt's bitchy friend. But I think we were supposed to hate her, so that's okay. - I sometimes got confused about whose point-of-view I was reading. My brain always wanted to default to Tyler (probably because I knew him from previous books). I don't know if that's because Matt's voice wasn't different enough, or just because I have terrible short-term memory. (less)
Devastated. It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. That was my initial reaction after finishing the book. My emotions were running high. I was so wrapped up in these characters, I couldn't let them go. I cried myself to sleep. And that was after the happy ending! Well, sort-of-happy.
Memorizing You takes place during an era when coming out was a lot riskier than it is today. David comes to realize at a young age that he feels about boys the way all the other guys feel about girls. He doesn't understand how or why he's like this, and there's no one he can talk to about it. He tries to change, to fit in, but it just doesn't work.
And then he meets Ryan. I loved the early dynamic between these two. One tells the other in confidence that he's gay, but the other is not ready to admit the same in return. Yet we get the sense that they both know—it just goes unspoken. There is no pressure and no judgement between them. Their friendship and mutual affection grow until, one day, there's just no more denying it. They're in love.
What really touched me was the way David's family handled their relationship. The word "gay" was never used. David and Ryan were just "David and Ryan". The smiles, the way they took care of each other, the way they were happy whenever they were together and sad whenever they were apart, spoke volumes. Their families noticed, their friends noticed. And for the most part, they found acceptance.
I commend the author for making everything feel so right for its time. The story wouldn't have played out the way it did had it happened today. People today would be more willing to voice their opinions openly, not just about homosexuality, but about divorce and domestic violence as well.
The late sixties, for many, were a time of "peace, love, and understanding," and we see the effects of that mentality here. Of course, not everyone is so understanding, and David and Ryan suffer a terrible loss. The tragedy that occurs left me thoroughly grief-stricken. Hence the crying myself to sleep, even after reading the epilogue, which, although it was meant to ease the ache, wasn't quite enough to heal my shattered heart.
It's a compliment to the author that these characters affected me so. (less)
Superhero begins with the main character, Jordan Carson, telling us about the two things he wants most in the world: 1) to become a DC comic book artist, and 2) to win the heart of his best friend, Owen. In a scene that manages to be incredibly sweet and funny, while realistically depicting two young boys at play (oh, the morbidity!), Jordan takes us back to second grade when he and Owen first meet and henceforth become inseparable.
Wherever he’d come from, I liked Owen. And I wanted Owen to like me. So I, at the ripe age of seven, set out on my very first seduction.
See, I have this cool aunt on my mom’s side who lives in California, Aunt Beth. She makes lots of money at her job in computer games. Every birthday and Christmas she showers me with toys. Get what I mean by lucky? By second grade I had what was probably the biggest, baddest collection of action figures and Matchbox cars east of the Mississippi. Every day I’d bring some of my stuff in my bag and flaunt it in front of Owen, acting like I was perfectly happy to play with all that shiny stuff by myself.
For a couple of days I took notice of which toys Owen looked at the most. He liked the Matchbox cars, and he particularly liked the ambulance. So one day I brought in my fire engine, ambulance, all my cop cars, and a couple of cool racers I had. At lunch time, I sat alone in the play area, unpacked them all and began zipping them around. Owen came over and sat next to me.
“You have really neat cars,” Owen said, watching them yearningly.
“Thanks.” I shrugged. I kept zipping the ambulance around, up and down my legs making a siren sound. I opened the back and took out the little roller cot with the victim on it. I was going for the maximum drool factor.
“Hey, I need help!” Owen suddenly said. He took one of my racers in each hand and ran them toward each other. When he banged them together, he slowed down and was careful not to actually hurt them, which was mighty fine elementary school manners.
I smiled into his blue eyes. Those eyes stared back into mine for a few seconds, then went comically wide with a vacant glaze.
“Help! Help! We need an ambulance!” he said in a high voice. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he shook all over.
I put my hand over my mouth and faked a hissing sound. “Dispatch 9-1-1, please send an ambulance to Jefferson Prince Elementary School. Yes, it’s awful. There’s been a terrible accident. Body parts everywhere. I think... I think I see a glove on the monkey bars—with a finger in it! Please, hurry!”
We then move forward in time, stopping to witness a few defining moments, and end up in their high school years, where the remainder of the story takes place.
Jordan is a lovable character with whom I immediately connected. The use of first person was a perfect choice here, as Jordan is an engaging storyteller, and being inside his head made me feel like his confidante. I felt the passion he had for his art and the close bond he shared with his best friend. I loved that they partnered to create the Pin Man and Pencil Boy comic book, with Jordan illustrating and Owen writing the storyboard. (My son created a hilarious comic strip about a crab-man when he was in middle school, so I easily identified with Jordan and Owen's passion for their hobby, and the pride they took in their work). The way they stuck with it over the years showed how special it was to them. The one comic book issue that was detailed in the story was really creative and funny. It would be awesome to actually see the comic. C'mon, all you fan-artists out there!
The comic was a fitting metaphor for the relationship between Jordan and Owen as well. Owen, the school's star wrestler, was Jordan's idol, his hero. With his strength and commanding presence, Owen protected Jordan from the bullies over the years. But as any great dynamic duo, Owen was nothing without his sidekick. Though Jordan may not have realized it, he had a lot to offer Owen in return. Jordan has more emotional strength, whereas Owen has more physical strength. They have great chemistry and compliment one another well. It's heart-warming to see the way each feels comfortable enough to lean on the other when the need arises; it's a beautiful friendship.
Regarding the romance, Jordan was in tune with his feelings from an early age, whereas things were never so black and white for Owen. Was he straight? Bi? Gay? Owen's confusion felt genuine, and I like that it is a gray area for him. Parts of the story are told from Owen's point of view, so we get a real sense of the unique conflicts both Jordan and Owen experience as they navigate inevitable growing pains, reflect on who they are and what they truly want, and work to keep their friendship intact after Jordan reveals his unrequited love. It broke my heart to see Jordan pining for Owen, to see him settle for being "just friends" even though it hurt like crazy, because he loved Owen too much to let go. And it hurt to see Owen hide behind his fear. Oh, how these boys work for their happy ending!
I loved every minute of this emotionally charged story. One of Harmony Ink's best titles to date! And I have a serious case of cover love! The cover art fits the story perfectly.(less)
What I love most about this story is how well Todd's coming out is portrayed. The reader knows Todd is gay, even though Todd hasn't figured that out yet. I felt his sincerity in the beginning when he denies being "a queer". Even though the actual timeline is short, it felt as though the realization came to Todd gradually. As he reflects on past events, he begins to see past experiences through a different lens and comes to understand his true sexual identity. As Todd interacts with Gabe and some of the other people he meets in the novel, his step-father's ugly, hateful words continually pop into his head, making his sexual confusion all the move believable (and heart wrenching). I felt his pain and confusion, and rooted for him all the way on his path towards self-realization and self-acceptance. It was so very well done!
Gabe is a wonderful companion for Todd. He is a few years older, and his emotional maturity and stability, not to mention his compassion, are just what Todd needs. Gabe has his own past demons, which help to explain not only his reasons for helping Todd, but also his hesitancy to pursue a relationship with him. Ultimately, each of these men brings out the best in the other, and even though they haven't known each other long, their connection feels genuine.
The novel has a fairy tale feel to it. Boy with nothing but the clothes on his back, down on his luck and in a desperate situation, meets a wealthy man who takes him in and helps make all of boy's dreams come true. But I love fairy tales, so it worked for me! The sexual tension and anticipation of Todd and Gabe finally getting together had me glued to the pages. It was a highly enjoyable read.
I'd also like to add that the cover is gorgeous. The inclusion of the Arctic Woolly Bear Moth (Gynaephora groenlandica) is a beautiful touch!(less)
I've read a few stories that feature transgender characters, and I've learned from each one. I used to have a hard time understanding why someone would physically transition, but throughout this story, I never once doubted it was the right decision for Sage. After reading this story, I have a much better understanding of the struggles trans people face. Even though Sage was not the point-of-view character, this very much felt like her story. Although we see her through Logan's eyes, it's easy to imagine the range of emotions she feels as Logan cycles through periods of acceptance and rejection.
Logan's biggest fear is that if people find out he's dating Sage, they'll think he's gay. He can't deal with that. He remembers his reaction to learning her secret. He called her a faggot, too. In actuality, neither one of them is gay. I think that's a common misperception regarding trans people (and their partners). The novel addresses this and a lot of other issues as well. I found it all very thought-provoking and enlightening.
I only wish the ending had been happier. I would call it "hopeful" rather than "happy". (view spoiler)[I'd like to think she'll find her way back to Logan, but in any case, (hide spoiler)] I hope with all my heart that she finds acceptance, love, and happiness.
I highly recommend this novel for all audiences.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I found it easy to relate to Rafe. Who hasn't thought about getting away from it all and making a fresh start somewhere new? Rafe knows he's fortunate to have family and friends who accept him for who he is. He knows he's lucky to live in a community where he can be openly gay without fear of harassment. But he's also feeling smothered by the label, as if it's the only thing people see when they look at him. He wants his sexuality to be a non-issue, so he decides to move to a private boarding school on the other side of the country and reinvent himself. He doesn't want to be straight. He just wants to not be gay for a while, so people will get to know the real him.
His plan seems to be working. He makes new friends right away. On his first day, he's invited to join in a pickup game of touch football, and manages to do all right. That seems to be all it takes to be accepted into the jock crowd, and he loves the feeling of being "one of the guys". The trouble is, as time goes by, he finds that in order to fit in, he has to deny the truth more and more, and one little white lie compounds into major heartache. I loved the progression from Rafe being in a position early on where he seems to have gotten everything he's wanted to one where he slowly discovers the flaw in his plan. Ironically, he does what he does so that people will look past the label and get to know the real him, but the "him" they get to know isn't the real him.
Throughout his experiment, Rafe keeps a journal, in which he reflects upon who he is, where he came from, and why he's doing what he's doing. With some careful prodding from his English teacher, he slowly realizes what the label "gay" means to him. Rafe learns a lot about himself over the course of the semester, and he comes to appreciate his family and friends in a new light as well.
So what is the lesson to be learned here? Just be yourself? It's not that simple. Had Rafe not hidden the fact that he was gay, would he ever have gotten close to Ben? Is he better or worse off for that? This is a story worthy of further reflection once that last page has been turned. The message seems to be "embrace the gay". You can't be a whole, healthy, happy person if you deny that part of who you are. But at the same time, the message seems to be "quit making such a big deal about it." A person shouldn't be defined by his/her sexuality alone. In an ideal world, people won't have to "come out"; being gay will just be another attribute.
The blurb says this book will appeal to both gay and straight kids, and I whole-heartedly agree. The book's main theme is about the power of labels. Anyone can relate to that. It offers a poignant look at how we perceive not only other people in our lives, but also how we perceive ourselves.(less)
I absolutely adored this book. I read it in one day because I could not put it down. Danny was a strong, beautiful, effeminate, proud gay man who was...moreI absolutely adored this book. I read it in one day because I could not put it down. Danny was a strong, beautiful, effeminate, proud gay man who was more than happy to entertain straight but curious/questioning Lance. Lance was very sweet, and showed Danny in so many ways how much he cared for him, despite the fact that neither wanted to vocalize their feelings and Lance was unwilling to come out of the closet. My heart broke for them as they went their separate ways, but thankfully, their love stood the test of time, and I was very pleased with the ending (for the secondary characters too!).
I will most definitely reread this one! LOVED IT!(less)
There are quite a few things I really liked about this story. The main characters, Justin and Derrick, were both likable despite their person...more3.5 stars
There are quite a few things I really liked about this story. The main characters, Justin and Derrick, were both likable despite their personal flaws. The story is told from alternating points of view, and each of the boys had a unique voice that made it easy to keep track of whose head I was in at any given moment. I also liked the way their relationship developed slowly. They were friends, then best friends, then confidants, and finally lovers. The progression felt realistic and satisfying.
The major problem I had with the book was that it is in dire need of professional editing. I'm hoping the author will re-release a second edition that has been properly edited, because overall, the story was enjoyable with memorable characters.
And the cover art is lovely. I believe the author did the illustrations himself. :-) (less)
This story is centered around a group of five college students: Dashel, Ashley, Sarah, Tony, and Wilder.
Dashel knows he is terminally ill but hasn't told anyone at school. His condition is the same one that claimed the life of his father, and when Dashel's symptoms worsen, he knows his days are numbered. Although we get alternating points-of-view, and rich character development, Dashel is the nucleus of the story. The other characters are all connected to him in some way. Ashley is Dashel's roommate and close friend. They're both considered outcasts in their fraternity; Dashel is openly gay and Ash is an albino. Tony is also a member of the fraternity. He's the "big man on campus" but harbors his own big secret and finds himself drawn to Dashel. Sarah is close to Dash, and although she loves him, she's accepted that they'll never be more than friends. And Wilder is a manipulator on a power trip who has his eye on Tony.
Throughout the story, we follow Dashel as he ultimately makes peace with his fate, and we see how that affects the people around him. There's a definite mystical quality to his journey as he turns to nature for comfort and understanding. He's particularly drawn to a large old tree on campus that he affectionately refers to as Old Lady. Dash finds such solace at the end of his journey that I found myself in tears, not from sadness (well, not just from sadness), but from the beauty of it.
Eric Arvin has done a masterful job at creating vivid characters that completely suck you into their surroundings and make you a part of their journey. The prose is beautifully crafted, particularly descriptions of setting. And those final few paragraphs--so powerful, so moving. I want to be thinking those thoughts in my final moments. (less)
After experiencing several inexplicably creepy events on his family's new homestead (complete with creepy barn and creepy woods), Caleb realizes there's something to the stories he's heard about the place being haunted. I was on the edge of my seat (and wrapped tightly under a blanket) throughout most of the book as I pieced together what happened to Toby all those years ago. It was a delicious mystery that turned out to be an achingly beautiful tale of love and loss.
As Caleb and his friends uncover more and more of the truth regarding the 60-year-old mystery, they are forced to face their present-day fears and open up to each other in a way that causes them to form closer bonds of friendship, family, and love.
Although what happened to Toby (the ghost) is tragic, he is able to touch each of these boys in a very special way, and in the end, find his own peace. This is a remarkable tale beautifully told.(less)