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.

The Year In Review! Books

2013 was a great year for reading. Despite being busy at the beginning of the year at my new teaching job, and this fall starting grad school, I read a lot.

And by a lot I mean a RIDICULOUS amount of books. My goal on the Goodreads site was for 100 books. The same I’ve had for the last several years. Usually I beat the record by a few. Maybe a dozen at most. But this year I read 141 books.

Umm…when did I have time? Seriously? There was so much work I did, including an editing FRENZY of Meeting Chance in three days due to deadlines outside of the control of my editor.

So, let me take a look back, and take a trip down memory lane.

First book of the year: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Ahh! I remember this now! Wow, how long ago this was. I started the book on January 1 and finished it the next day. I started reading it because of the movie, and I was curious to see how the two matched up. I read the book first, and then received free tickets to see the preview of the film. Both excellent, even if different. What a great start to the year!

Last book of the year: Gardens Where No One Will See by T.C. Mill

An interesting story with a m/m romance at the center of the fantasy story. It was short and I think it would have been better as a longer novel, but still worth the read.

Adult books read: 53 (not including more mature manga)

Favorite: Letters from a Murder by John Matthews. I reviewed it here as well. I just really enjoyed it, despite there being no LGBT content, which is my typical fair. Either way, I can’t wait for a sequel because the characters are phenomenal.

Teen books read: 23 (although this might be a bit subjective, as some books might be considered younger readers)

Favorite: Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry. My students and I were waiting for this book since last year, and it did not disappoint. The last book in the Benny Imura series and it goes out with a bang. I was literally screaming and cheering at one point it was so crazy.

Children’s books read: 20

Favorite: 43 Old Cemetery Road: The Phantom of the Post Office by Kate Klise. I loved this book. As the fourth installment of the series, it was not only my favorite of the bunch, but my favorite children’s book of the year. Old and new characters, all of them great, and this book is all about writing letters and enjoying writing. Perfect!

Manga read: 44 (unless I miscounted by one)

Favorite: This is almost impossible, like the others. But I enjoyed every single Sailor Moon volume I read. I think of them, the best is Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon volume 12. Sure, it’s the last one, but it was great because I got to see some forms of the senshi that aren’t available in the anime. I also enjoyed seeing how things ended between Usagi and Mamoru, and the beginning of Chibi Usa. Ahh…my childhood.

Graphic Novels read: 5

Favorite: Even though there were only five, it was still really hard to choose. Each of them had their merit. Possibly Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. I enjoyed the art and the way the narrator “draws” her own story. I also know that my students read it quite a few times each.

LGBT books read (adult and teen): 50

Favorites: I had to split it between adults and teens, and even then it’s pretty impossible to choose. Most of them were excellent. For adults, I think I’d have to say For Want of a Fiend by Barbara Ann Wright. It’s the sequel to The Pyramid Waltz, and I was waiting for it since I finished the first book! A review can be found on my site here.

For teens, another tough decision, but I’m going with Night Creatures by Jeremy Jordan King. I also reviewed this book on my site. And like the last book, it’s a sequel to a series I love. Technically it’s more New Adult than teen, but whatever. It’s still a great book that follows my favorite supporting character from the first book as the main character in this one.

Nonfiction books read: 7

Favorite: This might sound surprising, but this one is actually tough for me. I enjoyed all the nonfiction books I read, even if there weren’t many, and they were all vastly different. That said, I think the one that stuck with me the longest is Compact Houses: 50 Creative Floor Plans for Well-Designed Small Homes. I know, it probably sounds strange, but I actually did enjoy the book and read it cover to cover. I was given a copy to review on NetGalley and I became obsessed with it. I even found what I hope will be my future home in that book, and for that reason I must obtain a physical copy. The book has beautiful homes, each one unique. Not only are they compact in size, but they have wonderful, green features to make the housing more affordable. I learned a lot about lighting and space-saving designs as well, and have decided that my future home will have a central atrium and built in bookshelves.

 

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. 

Movie Review: The Curiosity of Chance

Sometimes Netflix really hits the nail on the head when it comes to recommending movies for me, and sometimes it really misses. In the case of The Curiosity of Chance, it was a complete hit! I wasn’t sure how I would like it at first, but in the end, I adored the film.

Tired of dealing with the homophobic school bully, out-of-the-closet teen Chance Marquis (Tad Hilgenbrinck) enlists two disparate friends — a flashy drag queen and the hunky school jock — to help him crush his tormentor in this offbeat comedy set in the 1980s.
The film is foreign, taking place and filmed in Belgian, but it is in English, so for those who steer clear of foreign films, please, don’t miss this one. It’s quirky, fun, humorous, with a side of serious at times.
Chance is a great character. Though it’s the 1980s, he knows who he is and doesn’t seem to care what others think. He’s going to do what he wants, dress how he wants, and forget everyone else. When he enters his international high school, he befriends the strange camerman and a girl with an attitude. The popular football (soccer) star has it out for him, though, and things get worse when he’s assigned to write an article about the team.
He finds another friend, though hesitant at first, in his neighbor, Levi, whom I adored. Though Levi turns from him for a while, he does come back after Chance’s words ring true.
The film is about self-discovery, expression, and acceptance. I cannot recommend it highly enough if you’re looking for a fun movie with a positive – and maybe surprising (though I was hoping for it!) outcome.

Andy Squared Review! And an interview!

They gracious blogger over at Rapacious Reading was kind enough to read and review Andy Squared. Here’s just a fraction of what she has to say:

The writing is wonderful (especially in the more physical scenes…tasteful yet steamy!), the dialogue feels genuine, and the characters and their motivations are believable.

To read more, head on over to Rapacious Reading. While you’re there, check out her other reviews. She has quite the eclectic taste and I’m sure there’s something there for everyone!

If you’re interested in reading about why and how I write what I do, check out my interview with Bold Strokes Books!  

While you’re at it, why don’t you check out and sign up for the newsletter through BSB? This month I’m not only interviewed with other authors, but there is a special sneak peek of Andy Squared that hasn’t been seen before! Check it out!

Book Review: Boys of Summer, edited by Steve Berman

Boys of Summer is the perfect collection of short stories for a hot summer day. After reading it – particularly the last story, “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorry, Blood for Joy,” I had the strongest urge to go swimming in the ocean.

Sadly, a pool had to suffice.

Each story looks at different aspects of summer: vacationing, working, reminiscing on school. You name it. But the one thing they all have in common? Cute gay boys looking for love.

“Bark If You Like Boys” by Sam Cameron features some characters that may be familiar to readers if they have read the authors book Mystery of the Tempest. Denny Anderson, one of the twins, has a short role.

I loved the first story in the collection, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Swamp Thing.” It reminded me of being in Maine with my family. I liked both characters, Shane and Chase, and wish there was a full-length novel with their story. Chase is socially awkward in a way because of his love for amphibians, and Shane desperately wants to fit in. Who doesn’t know that feeling? In the end, as unlikely as it may seem, the two hit it off and discover they have other things in common.

The book is a fast read because of the short nature of the stories. It’s just enough to read one while sitting in the hot summer sun, sip on iced tea, and then go for a dip in the pool or inside to cool off before reading another one. Or you can just read them in one go.

Boys of Summer is available for sale through the Bold Strokes Books website or through Amazon.

Avengers: In which I will ATTEMPT a review but… basically just spazz…

I finally saw the Avengers movie on Sunday. And then again on Monday.

It was amazing.

So amazing, in fact, it has taken over the top spot in my favorite movies. Yes, that’s right, Transformers, move over. Bumblebee, I still love you, but Hawkeye was just too amazing… too… HAWKEYE! for me to keep Transformers up there.

For those that haven’t seen it, why not?! There is so much humor in it. The one-lines are HILARIOUS. Thor is hysterical. The banter between Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America is incredible, and the fight between Thor and Hulk is just legendary.

And then you have Hawkeye being all incredible with his amazing bow and awesome arrows and SHOOTING OVER HIS SHOULDER WITHOUT LOOKING.

Have I mentioned I love Hawkeye?

And let’s not forget Black Widow. She’s kickass. I typically do not like female characters because of how they’re portrayed, but she was fantastic. I liked that she had a bit of a softer side when it came to Hawkeye, but at the same time was a strong, fierce woman. And she tricks Loki, the trickster god. What’s NOT to love about that?

If you do go, stay through the entire credits. The final scene is a riot, even if no words are spoken. And of course there is a teaser for a sequel in there. Can I say I want it right now? Because… I want it right now.

Okay, so we have Captain America, Thor, Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk… and Captain America 2, Thor 2, and Iron Man 3 in the works. Can I get a Hawkeye movie, please? 😀