Book Review: Souvenir Boys by David-Matthew Barnes

This collection of previously published and award-winning poems explores the themes of seduction, obsession, lust, desire, and unrequited love.

I’ve read David-Matthew Barnes before and I enjoy his young adult and adult fiction. This is the first poetry I’ve read of his, and I must say I enjoyed it. Each of the poems in this collection is very personal and tells a story. They’re written with different styles, and though they all have similar themes, it’s never redundant.

A few of the poems stood out to me and I highlighted them in the book. “Paper Boy” really resonated with me because I was a paper girl when I was younger, and I felt much the same way. The poem really captures that feeling of being alone and free and contemplating the future. I was twelve when I had my first paper route, and I remember biking along dreaming up what my life would be like, especially since I was “sophisticated” and had a job.

“Souvenir Boy,” where the title I assume comes from, stood out to me because of the last lines “Although we’ve come close, there are more than hot white seconds between us – there lies a lost country or two.”

“Look for Homer” felt so much like a fantasy to me, I wondered if this really happened. I got lost in the poem and placed myself there on Mylopotas Beach, and at the end I was sorry for the poem to end, and sorry for the poet to leave.

“Dear Mr. Sanchez” might be my favorite. I really loved the style this one was written in. As a letter, it’s so effective in getting the meaning across and translating the poets emotions to the readers. I’ve reread it several times and have started my own poem using this form now.

“Celebrity Skin” felt like another fantasy to me, and I wanted to drop the book and email the poet right away and ask if it was real and if it were, who the person in question was. It was deliciously scandalous, like something you’d read in a novel.

This book is currently only available as an ebook and can be purchased on Amazon here. Though I would like it to be known that I would purchase a print copy if this were to become available.

Book Review: Wonderland by David-Matthew Barnes

From Bold Strokes Books:

After her mother loses her battle to cancer, fifteen-year-old Destiny Moore moves from Chicago to Avalon Cove, a mysterious island in South Carolina. There, she starts a new life working part-time as a magician’s assistant and living with her eccentric uncle Fred and his hottie husband, Clark. Destiny is soon befriended by two outcasts, Tasha Gordon and Topher McGentry. She accepts their invitation to accompany them to a place called Wonderland, a former boarding house owned by the enigmatic Adrianna Marveaux. It’s there that Destiny meets and falls in love with Dominic, Tasha becomes enamored with Juliet, and Topher gives his heart to Pablo. When Destiny uncovers the reason she and her friends have really been brought to Wonderland, she’s faced with the most crucial choice of her life.

I have been waiting for this book since the author announced it would be coming out. I was intrigued by the concept and it did not disappoint. There are moments when there are Alice in Wonderland elements, however, it is not that at all. There is more romance and magic involved. Quite a few twists and turns as well.

The character I enjoyed the most was Topher. Not only is his name interesting, but I liked his character and how he begins to stand up for himself in the face of his bullies. I would have liked to have seen more of the story but from his point of view.

The only issue I had with the book was towards the end. I felt that it wrapped up so quickly! I wanted more! Adrianna tells Topher and Tasha what to expect, but I didn’t want that at all. I wanted to see, from their perspectives, what happens in order for them to save their soul mates. I wish it had been more difficult for Destiny, too. I felt that it was almost too easy for her at the end.

Aside from this, I did enjoy the novel. Perhaps a sequel with Topher in the lead roll?

This book will be release in February from Bold Strokes Books. You can purchase the book at Amazon or Bold Strokes Books.

People You Should Know

Today I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed by David-Matthew Barnes (*faints*) and Frankie Hernandez for the blogtalk radio show People You Should Know. It was my first phone interview and it was such an incredible experience! I enjoyed talking to them about my writing and my book, Andy Squared, and I cannot thank them enough for inviting me to be on the show!

The rest of the show was incredible, too. I got to listen in to the end of the first guest while I was waiting, and I ended up going back after work on my drive home to listen to the broadcast. Truly fascinating discussion about working on Broadway and being a dresser. I didn’t know what that was until the interview with Kimberly Faye Greenberg.

If you missed the show, check it out! You can listen to previous broadcasts, but don’t worry! You just missed the first one! Check out the On Demand episodes and look for episode one. I am the second guest!

Also, thanks to my boss at my dayjob for allowing me to have the twenty minutes to myself to take the interview, and thanks to a coworker for taking my students for that time until I was finished!

Book Review: The Jetsetters by David-Matthew Barnes

Originally I was not going to post adult book reviews on this site, but I’ve decided the heck with that. I’ll just label the books as adult and put them under a different recommended reads page! So with that, here we go.

Justin and Diego are great characters, and let me tell you, that opening paragraph of chapter one almost killed me. I knew from the start that I was in for an emotional ride and it did not let me down. I’ve also come to realize that I suck at relationships BECAUSE of books. I expect them to be like THIS relationship, between Justin and Diego.

The attraction between the characters might be instantaneous, but it feels so realistic. It is a phsyical attraction, but they both have that feeling that everything is just right. And why can’t that happen? Their fears and lives are also real, and I felt for them the entire time I read the book. (Okay, so it took me less than a day to read, but I still felt for them.)

The secondary characters are phenomenal, too. By the end of the book I loved Mary Jane. She has some great one-lines towards the end that I even highlighted them on my Kindle! And Nina. What’s not to love-hate about her? Or Darla?
My only gripe with the book is that it wasn’t longer. I wanted to know more about what happened to Justin and Diego. While I have no doubt that they are back together and committed 100%, I still wanted to see it. And cherish it with them. And then cry because that’s what I want in a relationship to.

Barnes does an amazing job with this book. The music is wonderfully chosen and fits the tone (yes, I went and found the songs as they came up in the book), and I wish Diego was a real person so I could hear him sing his song for Justin.

Now, excuse me while I go stare at my ceiling and pray for a love like theirs.

This book will be released on September 18, 2012. You can preorder it from Bold Strokes Books or Amazon.

Book Review: Swimming to Chicago by David-Matthew Barnes

I’m having a hard time writing a review for this because I want to do it justice, yet I’m afraid my words won’t be sufficient. There were so many beautiful pieces of imagery that stuck out and followed the characters throughout the book that it really is a remarkable piece. Though tragedy strikes the characters, they get through it, together.

First, the pink and white sandals, flowers, and everything else that seems to follow Jillian around. It shows a sense of innocence, and yet her actions are far from. But at the same time, she is innocent because she isn’t completely aware of her actions and what chaos they will cause.

Then there is the way the characters are brought together, particularly Alex and Robby, as well as John and Martha. Alex loses his mother, and in walks Robby. He’s clearly a fragile person who has suffered at the hands of others, and Alex, fresh from his grief over finding his mother having committed suicide, he clings to Robby. Here is someone he can protect and keep safe, unlike his mother. Likewise, John, having just lost his wife, it isn’t surprising when he falls for Martha, a woman who is in a terrible relationship and looking for some way out.

While some may not believe the relationships, especially Alex and Robby, I thought it was very real. In times of grief, people do what they can to protect themselves. Alex was angry that he couldn’t help his mother, but he can help Robby, or so he thinks.

I thought their relationship was beautiful. I just wish more had been told from their point of view.

Really well done, but as I said before, my words fail to express how beautiful this novel was.

Swimming to Chicago is available for sale Bold Strokes Books and Amazon in paperback and e-book form.

Book Review: Mesmerized by David-Matthew Barnes

First off, whoa. I hope you’re ready for an emotional ride with this book. It packs a punch that will leave you breathless, giddy, and full of hope.

If I wasn’t already fairly close to my siblings, this book would have me reaching out to them in a heartbeat. In fact, even though we are close, I almost put the book down to go hang out with them.

Serena is a high school senior who, before the start of the book, loses her brother to a hate crime. He is brutally murdered and left in the gutter because he’s gay. At the start of the book, Serena knows virtually nothing about who he was, and her parents are stuck in a catatonic state.

Through a series of events that can only be described as fate, Serena befriends hot boy Brodie and they meet Lance. Because of these meetings, Serena starts to learn more about the brother she had, and wishes more than anything she could have him back to talk to him.

My heart broke throughout the book for Serena and her family. Seeing her suffering from the loss was painful, but at the same time, watching the love of Brodie and Lance unfold through her eyes was beautiful. I could feel how intense it was by the words the author uses to describe their looks, their movements, and every other last detail.

Secrets are revealed throught the book, and I won’t ruin them here, but let’s just say I stayed up very late to finish it. I just couldn’t go to sleep without knowing what happened. In the end, Serena finds the courage to confront her brother’s killer with the help of her brother’s best friend, boyfriend, and her mother.

Also, the ending scenes with The Showdown? I would pay seriously good money to see this as a movie because of that scene. Barnes chose the PERFECT song for the dance sequence, and it was running through my head throughout it. So beautiful.

Do yourself a favor. Get this book. Read it. And then go hang out with your siblings and get to know who they REALLY are.

Mesmerized is available for purchase on the Bold Strokes Books website, or through Amazon.