Book Review: Tapestry by Hallie Burton

In Ollas, anything that stirs the emotions is forbidden by the governors—especially music. So when Tallie Tarmelin, a farm boy from a lower-tier guild, is offered a scholarship for his talent in design, he keeps his head down and follows the rules. He’s terrified of breaking one of his society’s many laws and ruining his future. But feeling lost and alone in an unfamiliar city takes its toll, and Tallie accepts sympathy from a guildless social outcast even though he knows it could destroy his reputation.


Despite the rules against casual touching and fraternizing in public, Jonis Sinter offers Tallie comfort instead of denouncing him for an excessive emotional display, and they fast become friends. Secret friends, though, because Worran, the respectable son of a governor, has asked Tallie to be his partner.


When Worran’s mother learns of Tallie’s association with an outcast, she dispatches the militia. Worran sends Tallie a warning, and Tallie flees the city and civilization with Jonis. Surviving the wilds will take every ounce of perseverance they can muster, and the rediscovery of music might be their only solace— unless they recognize the love that’s growing between them.

First of all, I adore the cover. But aside from that, here is my real review:

Wow. Where do I even begin with a book like this? I’m not even sure what genre it would be categorized under. It has some elements of fantasy, but not like in major fantasy novels, as the magic is not real, just assumed. It’s epic in scope, and features a utopian society. Parts of me feel like it takes place in our future where a section of our country is partitioned off by some method and then they seem to regress in some ways. So… historical at the same time? I even felt a bit of steampunk in there at times. Overall it’s a wonderfully disorienting experience when you read something so refreshingly new.

Tallie and Jonis are wonderful characters that I loved throughout the novel. At many parts they tugged at my heart and I needed a few moments to compose myself before reading on. I wanted to rush through the story to get at the end, and yet at the same time I forced myself to slow down and enjoy it. I didn’t want it to end. I want more from Tallie and Jonis, yet it feels like their adventure is over at the end of the book, especially given the last line. Another story in that world would be great, and yet I don’t think it would be as enjoyable without Tallie and Jonis present.

What a wonderful experience this book was, and that’s just what it is. An experience. Hallie Burton fully immerses readers in the world she created where loving someone of the same gender is so completely normal that it’s not questioned in the slightest. No one objects to it. The things that are objected to, the things that are forbidden, are elements we take for granted, such as music and dancing. And affection. Can you imagine living in a world without those things? I can’t.

Book Review: Sock It To Me, Santa by Madison Parker

It might not be Christmas, but who doesn’t love a good holiday/winter story any time of the year?

Ryan is assigned to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It’s a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he’d be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he’s going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that’s the reason he’s putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn’t be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?d to Jamie Peterson for his class’s secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to 

This is SUCH and adorable story! And for the extreme value price, who could say no? Sock It To Me, Santa, is a cute, short holiday story that is told from Ryan’s perspective as he tries to figure out the best course of action when has to become Jamie’s Secret Santa in his advisory. Ryan is buried in his closet, and Jamie is definitely not. Ryan fears that even giving him a gift when he’s assigned to him will cause adverse effects on his reputation. And it’s not like he’s even interested in him. Or is he?

There were times in this story when I genuinely teared up. I felt so bad for both of them! I wish this story were longer or that there would be a novel length sequel, because I want to know what happens with Ryan and Jamie. I’m sure any relationship they have would be a bumpy ride, and the author, Madison Parker (who will be a guest blogger here in a few weeks!) makes them so endearing. Jamie is a sweet character who I’d love to know, and Ryan wants to do what’s right, but he worries too much about what others think of him.

You can buy this short for you Kindle on Amazon. 

New Site Events!

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, but I never got around to actually putting it in action. Soon I shall be putting the guest interview and blog page to good use! I’ve contacted some authors via Facebook or email and will be featuring some AMAZING authors that I love.

Look forward to it!

Question from a reader

I’m really very fortunate. Either because I have some pretty amazing people reading Andy Squared or… I’m biased because this question came from one of my former students and she felt comfortable asking me because she knows me. Either way, the fact that she thought of something while reading my book and needed to know makes me happy. And it’s such a fantastic question I thought I’d post it and my response here!

The only question I really had was why have Andy be unware of himeself in that way, having Ryder kiss him and then giving Andy a few days to think about it then telling Ryder? What was the point you wanted to make? [some corrections made to question]

Excellent question. Why is Andy unaware that he is gay at seventeen years old? Why didn’t he have an inkling as to his true attractions? I could have made him a teenager who did know he liked guys but struggled to hide it, but that wasn’t what I wanted.

Andy is attracted to Ryder. From the moment they meet Andy is drawn to him in a way he hasn’t been drawn to someone before, and I feel that many of us old enough to have experienced this know that feeling. That is kind of what Andy is going through in that scene. But we’ll back up even more. Not all kids know they’re gay right away. Heck, some adults don’t even always know. They might realize after the fact what has been going on all those years, but it’s like the saying, “hindsight is 20/20.” That’s the case with Andy. He knows things are not working with his girlfriends. He figures it’s because he’s bored and doesn’t like the drama. That’s what he tells himself. He also figures as a popular athlete he has an image or reputation to protect. As sad as it is, there are many, many teenagers out there who go through this exact thing.

When I wrote Andy Squared, I didn’t want to portray your stereotypical gay teenager because I wanted readers to see that there are ALL kinds of gay teens out there. Not everyone is as aware of themselves as Josh and Ryder. Not all gay teens look and act like Josh. Many could play sports like Andy.

My point is this: Gay teenagers are just like straight teenagers. They come in all shapes and sizes, all religions and ethnic backgrounds. They don’t always know what they want in life. They fight with siblings and keep secrets from their parents. They fight with friends. They struggle sometimes when they harbor a crush. They’re not always sure about their relationships.

Thank you former student for asking that question. I’m proud of you for thinking so deeply about the book! And other readers, please feel free to send me your questions as well. I’d be happy to answer.

Movie Review: This Is What Love In Action Looks Like

This is a short but well paced documentary that looks at the ex-gay group Love In Action that has an in house program for teenagers called Refuge. When a young, gay teen is sent there against his will by his parents, he blogs about it and what happens next is nothing short of outstanding. Considering the time period, social media was really just taking off. The boy, Zach, found that his friends spread the word about what was happening to him and very soon a group of people stood outside the Refuge for the entire 8 weeks he was there, trying to be “converted” to a straight teen.

The documentary focuses not just on Zach and his story, but the story of other men who went through this experience and came out with serious after effects that took years to resolve. It shows just how dangerous it can be when others take your life into their hands.

One of the people interviewed surprised me. It was the man who was a director of the Refuge, and because of the protesting, he had a change of heart. By the time the Refuge was shut down, he changed gears and began to welcome gay members into his church. This change of heart just shows how much of an impact one person can have. Because of Zach a light was shined on the Refuge and what they were doing, and as a result, lives were changed and possibly saved.

I highly recommend this documentary. It can opens viewers eyes to the damage done to teenagers who undergo this kind of “treatment,” often at the consent of their parents.