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The book was really short, maybe in a way even too short. The plot was nice and catching right from the beginning, high school student new in town from an loving and adjusted family meets the school paria, the anorexic, self-imposed mute kid who everyone avoids. Jayden is a romantic at heart, believing in true and forever love, but he is in a way more immature than Liam, above all from an emotional point of view: he doesn't understand that what he feels for Liam is love, and that is funny, cause his parents not only understand it, but are also so good people that aren't against those feelings. Liam too probably understand that he is in love, but he also understand his troubled past can harm Jayden.

As I said, I loved the plot, above all cause, while dramatic, I never felt as it was impossible for these boys to find happiness, probably thank to Jayden's parents who were really perfect. And maybe that was another common feeling throughtout all the book, everything moved really fast and sometime usually overwhelming obstacles were in this case almost null. Instead of a whole story it felt like an appetizer, and I strongly suggest to the author to cultivate these two boys, not only giving them more time together after these current events (college perhaps?) but also maybe revisiting this story and make it a little longer.

And, by the way, catching cover too.

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle: Secrets and Demons

More Reviews at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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Even if I was never a huge fan of fantasy, this one was a pleasure to read. While I know the author isn't young by birth, the style was young, so that it well adapt to the purpose of the book, i.e. being a novel for young adult readers. I would have no problem to recommend this book to a young person, moreover I would probably recommend it to students, to entice them reading more. This novel will also allow them to digress with their mind, into an imaginary world that was masterfully recreated by James Elrich. And as in the best fantasy tradition, if the reader enjoyed this one, they already have 2 more books to prolong their full immersion in this world.

The recreated world is complex, but the author also managed to make it consistent, it was easy to imagine it, and again, I think that was aimed to the young adult reader, to help them focus their minds. It was also engaging, in that helped by the plot: complex like the setting, it was nevertheless speedy, not leaving dead periods with the risk of the reader being distracted.

Perhaps the reason why I enjoyed it, while I'm not a fantasy fan, is that, like the youngsters, my mind tends to wander if it's not harnessed with the story, and that didn't happened with Dreams... good job indeed.

Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (December 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623809169
ISBN-13: 978-1623809164
Amazon: Dreams of Fire and Gods, Dreams
Amazon Kindle: Dreams of Fire and Gods, Dreams



More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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Even if part of the story takes place under Christmas season, this is not “only” a seasonal romance. Rusty and Oliver, our boys, met during their last year in high school; Rusty’s life is already set ahead of him, he will go to Berkeley, he will become a lawyer and at the right moment he will married a nice girl, possibly from his same neighborhood, and they will have a white fenced house with 2.5 kids. Only that Oliver messes up everything, only being Oliver. Rusty only knows he likes Oliver more than all the other girls he went out with, and when he is at Berkeley, he misses him so much; doesn’t help that college is not really his cup of tea, and on the contrary of many boys his same age, Rusty is not able to fake it just for the thrill to have some years away from home at his parents expenses.

Coming back home to Oliver means that Rusty will have to change all his life, the only life he knows; but Oliver and his family are there to replace everything he is losing, and some more.

Truth be told, even if it wasn’t for sure nice to lose your family at only 18 years old, Rusty is way luckier than many other boys; when he was complaining his home wasn’t good enough to have Oliver over, I was thinking, but you have an home! And it has even more than 1 room, and it is all yours. Here, sincerely, Rusty proved how spoiled he was before meeting Oliver, how he was able to consider everything for given. He is not a bad guy, he has the heart in the right place, but he was raised by the white elite, and they taught him that he was one step above everyone else, especially Oliver, with his mixed cultural origins and his just a touch too brown skin. In a way, I think his parents were more upset that Oliver wasn’t a WASP than the fact he was a boy.

Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (December 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626490872
ISBN-13: 978-1626490871
Amazon: Christmas Kitsch
Amazon Kindle: Christmas Kitsch

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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I was really enthralled by this Young Adult novel cause, aside from being fast paced and full of turn of events, it was also really funny, not a “light” funny, but more a subtle irony which was probably the author’s voice, clever and loud.

Alex is an Haffling, half-human, half-fairy (no pun intended), but of course at the beginning he doesn’t know it. What he knows is that he has to protect is little sister Alice from the Social Services on account of the fact their mother, Marilyn, is a schizophrenic. Better they don’t know that Alex is seeing a little fairy, Nimby, all the time flying around him and telling him things. And to complicate his life, Alex has also a crush on Jerod, the best looking guy at school, the sport champion, who happens to be also a very nice guy who suddenly is very interested in being Alex’s friend…

Haffling is a novel right for many ages, as an old medieval romance lover, I enjoyed the part regarding Lance and Katherine, whose love, even in tragedy, preserved an almost comedy tune; as a current gay romance lover, the young love between Alex and Jerod was sweet, but nevertheless love, and actually, I found Jerod, the apparently straight boy, to be “gayer” (a little pun intended) than half-fairy Alex (again, pun intended). An adult reader will find innuendos, but a young adult reader will simply appreciate this quest towards happiness, like a videogame with hints and enigmas, with scores and spare lives: pick the characters you want to be, and follow them into their run.

Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (October 11, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623809304
ISBN-13: 978-1623809300
Amazon: Haffling
Amazon Kindle: Haffling

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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The story is very long, maybe a tad too long, especially cause, the bittersweet ending, while with hope, it left me like robbed, I spent so much time with these two guys, that I wanted to know more about their future, and hopefully, happily ever after. So my feeling was that, if I spent a little less time with them before, and a little more time after, the balance would have been perfect.

Nevertheless the love story was really moving, emotional and with a lot of angst, but you can tell the author is a romantic, cause, even with all the drama, he still give a little tiny hope to happiness for these boys. The closing reminded me of some old fashioned romance, not those of the ’70s or ’80s, but more those love story of the wartime, or soon after, when lovers had very little chances at happiness, and it wasn’t unheard of that death set them apart; sometime, when the author didn’t want to kill even the little hope in the heart of the readers, they put those open endings, giving the more romantic women to decide if they want to believe there was still hope for the lovers.

Considering this author is more famous as a graphic designer than writer (even if I remember with fondness a previous novella I read by him), I found his writing style to be mature and beautiful, sometime poetic. I did wonder if the author wasn’t somehow more near to this story than simply a writer with their characters, cause he did seem really involved in the story.

Even if it broke my heart, I truly feel as recommending this book, maybe not if you are searching for a “light” reading, then, store this for another moment, but sooner or later, give it a chance.

Publisher: Cerberus Inc. (July 9, 2013)
Amazon: Memorizing You

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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The main story is about Derrick and Justin, but this is more a choral book about college students. These are not adults, and indeed you can say that from the wrong decisions they take, mostly out of misunderstandings and too much emotional approach to life. They are cute in their mistakes, and an adult reader arrives to the point to want to cuddle them to make it better.

You can say at first there is past history between Derrick and Justin, and indeed I discovered at the end of the book it was a third chapter in a series, but truth be told, I didn’t miss the previous books, I suppose it can be good to go back and read about these two as best friends and high school students finding love, but it was also good to read about them as young adults facing the first odds of their relationship. And yes, there is a break-up and there are even other boyfriends, but that was right, it’s for sure nice and sweet to believe two boys met in high school and are forever together, but sometime I also wonder if it’s not better for them to have the chance to see that what they have together is good, better than what they can find out.

There is a lot talking about sex, and also doing it, after all these are barely legal boys just out from the shelter of their parents’ homes, but this is not an erotic romance; sex is there, but it’s not what moves the story; sometime sex is even comfort, and most of these boys take it lightly, like it was just another way to spend the time, and I found this to be truthful, they don’t have malice, like they don’t have prejudices. Strangely enough, the more “adult” about this matter is the younger of them, who decides he is not adult enough to have sex and decides to wait some more years.

Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First edition (July 5, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1481291610
ISBN-13: 978-1481291613
Amazon: Drifting
Amazon Kindle: Drifting

Series: Finding Our Way
1) Finding Our Way
2) Tormented Discovery
3) Drifting

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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Even in heaven there are trouble. After falling in love in Love by the Numbers, for Scott and Jared everything seemed easy and clear, they go to college, they graduate and then they build a family together. Only that living outside the protective shield of their family (at least Scott’s family), is not so easy after all, and they are also really young, truly more teenagers than young adult. Even if they see the truth, and what they should do, they face everything like a teenager would do, with drama, lot of it, and are not able to see the straight path (no pun intended) to the right exit. Actually there is nothing really big against them, nothing they shouldn’t be able to overcome, but at that age it seems an insurmountable mountain.

Even if sometime Jared got to me with his emotional way of approaching everything, there is also to consider he didn’t have a supporting and helping family in the background like Scott did, and so it’s understandable he needs more reassurance than another boy his same age; but while this is clear to an adult, that is not the same to a teenager like Scott, who sees the needy attitude of Jared like something he should let go. Sincerely I sided more with Jared than Scott, even if, as I said, sometime I felt like Jared was just a little bit too emotional. In a way that is even more striking, considering he is the “jock” in contraposition to the “nerd” Scott, and usually the stereotypes are exactly the opposite, strong and careless the jock, attentive and moody the nerd. Another originality in playing with stereotype was the chosen physical aspect for the two of them, with Scott being taller and sturdier than Jared, even if part of the build was in part due to a weight issue Scott had while in high school (on a side note, I found a little too much the times the author highlighted how much weight Scott lost, once was fine, twice was good, more than that was too much).

All in all a nice and somehow ingénue coming of age story, young love and big emotions and all that is around.

Series: Love By the Numbers
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 146117631X
ISBN-13: 978-1461176312
Amazon: Life After Math (Love By the Numbers)
Amazon Kindle: Life After Math (Love By the Numbers)

Series: Love By the Numbers
1) Love By the Numbers: elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1354345.html
2) Life After Math

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A nice Christmas novella, cute and good for a Young Adult target as well as for older readers. This is basically the story of Caleb’s first love, since he was 11 years old he was in love with Christian, but as in all unrequited love story, most of the teen love stories are, Christian is unattainable: he is their high school football team hero, the golden boy, the one who will have a bright future… or maybe not? When they are at their last year of high school, Caleb, an openly gay student, activist in many LGBT organization, with his plans for the future clear in mind, realizes that Christian is just another boy, who will attend community college to stay near his family and help manage his father’s restaurant; after high school their paths will divide, but not since Christian will shoot for the stars, but cause Caleb will be the one going for great things. But even if everyone around him is trying to convince Caleb he can have way better guys than Christian, Caleb is able to see things in Christian that no one understand, Christian is a good guy, maybe not so bookish clever, but with a big heart and with genuine feelings.

Good, nice and comfy story, like most Christmas novellas, it warms your heart and gives hope for the future.

Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (November 21, 2011)
Amazon Kindle: A Picture Perfect Holiday (MLR Press Story A Day For the Holidays 2011)

Updates: http://www.goodreads.com/user/updates_rss/2156728?key=011e4dd0a1ff993d8c2322e691d6229ed9bbf74b

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This is not the first time I have the pleasure to read a Young Adult novel by Hayden Thorne, and the tastefully setting is always confirmed, story after story, novel after novel. The fantasy elements can be more or less marked, but in any case, the alternative-historical universe is always an asset.

In the main story, The Winter Garden, the story reminded me the Secret Garden, one of my favorite young adult novel when I was young. The setting is a Victorian undefined city, perhaps even London, the time is beginning of XIX century. The plot develops around two boys, to a modern concept teenagers, but for the time, practically adult; and indeed one of them, is already working with his father, behaving like a young man, drinking and talking of girls; the other instead is sheltered by his own parents due to his weak constitution and mostly spends his time in their walled garden, the same wall that the other boy climbs to meet with him and turn upside down that sheltered life.

While to an adult eyes, you can see it’s a romance between the two boys, to a reader of the same age it can be the story of a friendship lasting forever, cause no sex, not even a kiss is shared between the two boys. But that doesn’t mean the feelings are less stronger, or not real; they are so strong and real that will overcome even the realm of possible to become fantastical. That is another asset of this author, the ability to mix reality with fantasy and still maintain the story touching and moving, near to the heart of the reader. I personally was really moved by the story of these two boys, and even if they have their happily ever after, it’s bittersweet.

Amazon: The Winter Garden and Other Stories
Amazon Kindle: The Winter Garden
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 147505727X
ISBN-13: 978-1475057270

Updates: http://www.goodreads.com/user/updates_rss/2156728?key=011e4dd0a1ff993d8c2322e691d6229ed9bbf74b
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Considering I liked a lot the previous one, Love Is in the Title, there is no wonder I liked also this one; again, despite this being a short story, the feeling was of something bigger, of a whole novel concentrated in little more than 40 pages.

On the contrary of many coming of age stories, Love is in the Hallways is not a pink glasses/fairy tale perspective, there isn’t roses falling down around Luke and Cameron, and fellow students cheering at them like the next homecoming couple, there is instead ostracism from the usual suspects, and friendship from who was already best friend. Luke and Cameron don’t have an easy path in front of them, but high school is only a stage, college could be better and most important, they have the support of good friends and above all family. Happiness is possible and it’s just around the corner.

Amazon Kindle: Love Is In The Hallways
Publisher: RJ Scott (August 26, 2011)

Series:
1) Love is in the Title: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1694371.html
2) Love is in the Hallways

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I was a little scared to read Bullied, I was worried about these young boys, and indeed, for at least 1 story, my fear was right placed. But there is also a lot of hop, it gets better attitude, and even some very sweet and romantic love story.

What is probably most interesting is to see the different perspective, the best friend, the parent, the teacher, the bystander and even the bully, how they all see the same story in a different way, how they all can change the ending of the same story if they only have the courage to do so. And then there are the victims, some too scared to be able to see the light, some more lucky than others, some who have a talent that will help them to arise from the misery. Some will find love, some will find acceptance.

The strongest voices are those of the younger one, major point to Jeff Erno being able to do so. It’s probably part of the author’s own experience, and indeed some of the characters have similarity to others you can find in Erno’s longer novels, but the good thing is that, even if these are short stories, they are complete and you arrive to care for these boys, even if you are with them for the span of few pages.

This is an Young Adult imprint, and indeed there is basically no sex at all, actually there are very few “romances”, the focus is more on the tragic experience of being bullied at school and how that will influence your life forever. A good text to help understand how important is for these young men to understand that, even if no one seems able to help them, they can have the means to fight back.

Amazon: Bullied
Amazon Kindle: Bullied
Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press; 2 edition (December 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623803918
ISBN-13: 978-1623803919

Updates: http://www.goodreads.com/user/updates_rss/2156728?key=011e4dd0a1ff993d8c2322e691d6229ed9bbf74b
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On the contrary of most other readers of the previous book, Something Like Summer, I didn’t dislike Tim, actually I thought he had his reasons, and that, in a way, Ben was pushing him. While it was sad to see them split in high school, I think it was a necessary step in their growing process. And of course this allowed Ben to meet and love Jace, that, this time like the other readers, I loved and thought was the best characters of them all.

Something Like Winter is not a sequel, it’s the same story from Tim’s point of view. This is something missing in the previous book, especially when Tim and Ben part; Tim in college, his relationship with Eric, the man who will leave him an inheritance big enough to allow him independence, are all things we learned in pieces, but that we don’t really had the time to comprehend. With this novel the author wants to give us that chance; maybe he did so to make Tim a more likable candidate to Ben’s love for many fans of the previous book, but to me it was more the chance to know better someone I liked, and that I wanted to understand better.

There aren’t really new events, more or less what happens here happened in the previous book too, but the strange thing is that it felt like a completely different book. Sure I recognized the story, even if I read Something Like Summer more than 2 years ago, but nevertheless I think, even if I read it just 1 month ago, the feeling would be the same. It’s actually an interesting concept, very original, one that I think no other author did before: take the same story, same characters, same events, and write a completely different book; I didn’t think that was possible, but Jay Bell managed it. I’m not a literature student, and I don’t know if this is some known writing exercise, but it isn’t, then I think Jay Bell needs to be listed on some essays on how to invent new writing style, and if it’s, then he has to be listed for using it at perfection. I dare a new reader to the series to buy both books and reading them one after the other and tell me if it’s not true. At the time I’m writing this, Jay Bell has already released Something Like Autumn, that is Jace’s (and Ben?) story; while maybe there are some points in common with the first two books, I think Autumn will be slightly different, in both books Jace appears only in the end, and we really don’t know much about him before Ben. Meanwhile, I’m also waiting for the coming soon movie based on Summer, I suppose another record by Jay Bell, a self-published author who saw his book listed as Top Year Bestselling in Gay Fiction on Amazon and shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award (which he won the year after for Kamikaze Boys, btw).

Amazon: Something Like Winter
Amazon Kindle: Something Like Winter
Paperback: 374 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 23, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1479261726
ISBN-13: 978-1479261727

Series: Seasons
1) Something Like Summer: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1233202.html
2) Something Like Winter

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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This is not the first book I read by Jeff Erno, I have even read the previous one in this series, Dumb Jock, that is basically the story of Adam’s parents, Jeff and Brett, but Another Dumb Jock felt a completely different book, more mature and contained, and above all, more Young Adult than the previous one. Dumb Jock was about teenagers, but if I remember well, there was quite the presence of sex, so that my recommendation was to consider a target of late teenagers if not adult for that one. Another Dumb Jock is more or less at the opposite, maybe since here the characters are really young, 15 years old, and this is their first experience at love; mostly they kiss and make out, but the reader knows the second thing happened, but doesn’t read about it. That is the reason why, I wouldn’t have issue to recommend this one to a young adult reader, especially since it has a positive attitude that could be of great support to young gay and lesbian kids who want to believe that it gets better.

Adam has his own issue to come to term with the reality of having two dads. His family is a good and steady one, he is a privileged kid, with a wealthy background and plenty of possibilities in the future. He is loved and spoiled, in a word, he is a brat. Like every teenager his own age, he goes through the step when he has to rebel against authority, and he picks the only weak point of his perfect family, the lack of a mother and the presence of two father. And of course, him being a jock, strong and masculine, he finds his trouble in Jeff, his more feminine father. But when the same Adam falls in love for a boy pretty much a little replica of Jeff, he has to reconsider his prejudices on his dads’ relationship.

I think the real problem for Adam is that he was starting to realize he was too much like his father Jeff, the nerd parent, and not really like Brett, the jock. Adam thinks that is due to the fact Jeff is really the housekeeper, the one who brought them up, while Brett is always out at work, he is the cool dad who comes along only when it’s time to play. Adam wants to be like Brett, but inside he knows he is more like Jeff, and at 15 years old, he doesn’t like that.

Very good novel, as I said, it’s well plotted, planned and weighted.

Amazon: Another Dumb Jock
Amazon Kindle: Another Dumb Jock
Paperback: 218 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 22, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1469956543
ISBN-13: 978-1469956541

Series: Dumb Jock
1) Dumb Jock: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/659568.html
2) Another Dumb Jock



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

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Interesting approach to a sensitive matter, and above all a story about an ordinary teenager, because being gay doesn’t make you automatically some science lab test case.

Apparently Rafe had it easy: the only son of hippies parents, when he came out, his mother took the presidency of the local PFLAG chapter and his father started to record all his life like he was the most amazing kid in the world, and not just another ordinary teenager. After 2 years of that life, Rafe needs a break, even if that means attending an all-boys boarding school almost at the other side of the country. The lame excuse to his parents is that he would have better chances to be admitted to Harvard, the real reason is that Rafe wants to wipe out his first years as a gay nerdy teenager and starting over like a straight jock. Easier to say than do, above all when you fall in love with your jock best friend who believes you are only bi-curios and fighting with this strange attraction to your best friend.

What is probably the best thing of this novel is that, even if things are not easy for Rafe, and he is doing a huge mess-up of his life, the overall tone of the story is not dramatic; while reading it, I know Rafe was in for a huge disappointment, that he really couldn’t deny being gay simply because he was adopting a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, but even like that, I was sure Rafe was strong enough to move over to that. The strength in Rafe derived by his family, that strange, odd, embarrassing family that nevertheless loved him unconditionally.

Other than the family there is also the school and the teaching staff, in particular the English teacher, who didn’t force Rafe out of the closet (even if Rafe is insisting he is not back in the closet), but used a writing therapy, letting Rafe think about his past life, the mistakes he did, but also the good experiences he had when he was openly gay and not afraid of it. I sort of like this part better, I think the author wanted to point out important moment of Rafe’s life, life-changing steps, and instead of having those somewhat boring Q&A session at the end of the book (that most of the time I don’t read) he put the marker all along the novel, to let you stop and think about it at the same time when Rafe had to do that.

Openly Straight is a nice, warm and comforting YA novel, recommended to young and not so young readers.

Amazon: Openly Straight
Amazon Kindle: Openly Straight
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (May 28, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545509890
ISBN-13: 978-0545509893



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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I was a little scared to read this book, there was that “when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels” that was like a Damocles’ sword pending above us, even more when I realized the author was using flashback, and sooner or later the moment I dreaded had to come. But at least I knew that wasn’t the end for Nate and Adam, when the novel starts, present time, they are together, and apparently Nate is managing to have a life after the tragedy, he is not beaten down and unable to fight back. Nate’s biggest trouble is that Adam’s job is taking him far from him, far from the Texan small town they met and fell in love to the big city, New York, with all the temptations and possibilities and no Nate.

That is probably where we really realize we are reading about teenager and not adult; at that age it’s not enough to tell I love you, it’s not enough to see you on a screen, or to have phone sex. You need you boyfriend near you, otherwise anything, or everyone, is able to put in question your security, that little safe nest you built, maybe to be able to cope what happened, because forgetting is not an option. And while Nate clearly needs reassurance, Adam has probably underestimated the problem, while on the other hand, being actually the one who never once questioned their love.

It’s not easy to say who was wrong and who was right because, actually, they both did wrongs and rights. Those are teenagers to you, ladies and sirs.

If I have to be sincere, I had a disappointment upon finishing this novel, the feeling that this was a trilogy of which I just read the central book. I do have the strong wish to read how Nate and Adam met and how their love evolved and how they came out to their families: some of these tidbits we have in the current novel, but they are just flashes, while I would like to read the whole story. But above all, I think I would love to read of Adam and Nate after this novel, of their adult selves, their life as a committed, long-term couple, the challenges but also the rewards. In this current novel, Nate is mostly the main character, Adam is afar, distant; we don’t really see his point of view if not in the end, when he basically rebels and snaps out; in a following story I think we could have the chance to know him better, and basically to read the story from his point of view.

Amazon: Don't Let Me Go
Amazon Kindle: Don't Let Me Go
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kensington (January 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758269277
ISBN-13: 978-0758269270



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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I think the most valuable asset of this YA novel by Madison Parker is that she didn’t shy away from making her characters very true, and as such, not always perfect or likable.

Take the main character, Lucas; he is a nice boy, studious and passionate about music, and he is gay; but he is also flamboyant, exaggerated without wanting to be, feminine, as other boys and girls, and even some adults (probably even his parents) said, he is a “sissy”. Lucas is not flashing it, he was always like that; when he was just a toddler, he liked pretty things, sparkly jewelry, his mother’s make-up. And he liked music, classical music but also pop-music, Cindy Lauper, and everything that was able to express out his joy of life. But now that he is a teenager, being a sissy makes him the misfit at school, the one other people make fun of, and even his parents, while accepting, would like for him to man it up a little. But that is not Lucas’s nature, and that is torturing him.

In his growing journey, Lucas will meet three very different boys: Dominic, the only other openly gay boy at school, flamboyant as Lucas, but also bitchy, pushing and sometime even dangerous; Dominic will be Lucas’s first experience as gay boy in a relationship, and someone who will teach Lucas that he has to be very careful with his heart.

At the same time Lucas will meet Alex; Alex is an interesting character, and allow me to digress a little from the story. While I have read YA novels about gay, lesbian and even transgender kids, I think I have never read about a bisexual boy; or better, yes I read about teenagers who while always dating and loving girls, meet another boy and fall in love, but it was more black&white, like for everything else at that age. Or you like girls or you like boys, for a teenager I think it’s difficult to comfortably living with the concept that you like both; at that age you need confirmation, assurance, it can be tragic and troubling discovering you like boys, but once you accept that, at least you have a firm point, I’m gay. I think Alex, while being in love with another girl, is basically a bisexual man. Alex is comfortable with Lucas, has no problem to give him his first kiss, but it’s more to give Lucas confidence in himself than for a sexual reason; Alex is not in love with Lucas, but I suppose that, if his heart was free, he could be feel attraction for him; or maybe he does, but one thing is attraction and the other thing is love. Alex is a very positive character, someone who would be good to meet for a boy like Lucas in the fragile period that is your teenage hood.

Finally meet Zach, Lucas’s true and unrequited love, the handsome but very private boy writing wonderful love poems. Lucas’s brother’s swim teammate, someone who Lucas admitted from afar for a long period. Zach would be the perfect boyfriend, but even if he was gay, he is totally unreachable for Lucas, Zach is part of the “cool guys” team, a team Lucas will be never part of. But then, little by little, Lucas will find out that behind the cool appearance, Zach is not only an ordinary boy, but even someone who maybe has not had an easy upbringing, someone who needs to be loved and accepted, someone who will never hurt Lucas like other boys did.

Very, very nice YA novels, little warning to the very young readers, the story got its good share of sex scenes, so maybe I would recommend it to slightly older boys and girls.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3701

Amazon: Play Me, I'm Yours
Amazon Kindle: Play Me, I'm Yours
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (April 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623809193
ISBN-13: 978-1623809195

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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This was quite interesting story, especially since it was set for once in an European country, German, and not the US. Interesting since, you realize that being young is the same, whatever you are in a big US city or a small European town.

I liked the story because it was sweet and simple, and very, very romantic. Marcel and Tim are in school together, but they are on the opposite side of it: Marcel from an ordinary family, living in a complex building, he has only his brain as support for a better future; his family is supporting, even of him being gay, but they are not well-off like Nicholas’s parents. Nicholas is Marcel’s nemesis, another clever boy who wants to be the only star of their high school; to reach his target, Nicholas is using Tim, another misfit like Marcel, but for different reasons: Tim is struggling in learning like other students, and for that he is considered to be “dumb”. When Tim physically attacks Marcel, on a twist of events, they are put together as tutor and pupil, Marcel will have to help Tim pass his middle term tests, otherwise he will be expelled.

The love story between the two is pure romance, sometime even too good to be true: support from their families, from friends, even from totally strangers; but I don’t know, I was expecting for this novel to be more dramatic, and so it was a pleasant surprise to instead not having drama at all. Maybe if I have to find a fault in these guys, is that sometime they were speaking more like in an old fashioned romance novel than instead like two high school boys.

But in the end, I like my old fashioned romance novels, and so I liked these two, they were destined to be happy together and the fact we knew that since the beginning it was not a demerit from my point of view.

Amazon Kindle: Perception: A German Love Story
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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This is another of those college boys story where the author could have used the cuteness factor and instead she decided to give it a more intense layer.

Connor is a supershy, little nerdy boy who is literally thrown into college; from the overprotecting, and sometime overbearing environment of his house, where his mother was lord and master, Connor is suddenly free to manage his own life... If he is able to have a life at all. When he is picked to be the tutor of two jocks, for sure he wasn't expecting to find love.

Jared is a boy who has to live up to a dream and an example, that of his father who died just the year before, but not without providing for his family. His father like football, and so of course Jared is playing football, his father married and had three kids, and so of course Jared has a girlfriend and is seeing his future life as a family man. But falling in love for Connor was not in that picture.

I like the author didn't make it easy for these boys to be together and make the choice they did. Love is not the answer to all, and being out and proud is a nice concept, but then you have to compare it with the option to stay in the closet and not having any trouble at all.

I also like the author didn't make of these two boys two little men, these are 18 years old boys who sometime still need their momma; they can make stupid choice, but the good thing is that they are young enough to correct them.

Amazon Kindle: Social Skills
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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Some of the themes in this novel were familiar, a nerd/jock romance in high school, if you are familiar with Jeff Erno’s coming of age stories you know what I’m talking about, but on the contrary of Erno’s novels, here there is no reference to a budding D/s relationship, and while of course nerd John is not as physical strong as Nick, and Nick has money wherelse John is poor, they remain in any case ordinary high school guys, with a love story that resembles 92010 or Gossip Girls. Aside from that, I’m really starting to realize that boys and girls in the US emancipate a lot earlier than their fellow Europeans, and Nick and John are more little young adult than boys.

Another point where this novel differed from other similar ones, is that Nick is bisexual; he is in love with John, and he decides to be exclusive, but nevertheless he remains 100% interested in both boys and girls, or better in 1 boy, John, and many girls. Nick is a womanizer, and he likes sex, like any other teenagers, but he is also a sensitive boy, and able to recognize when he has a good thing in his hands, see John. I liked that the author didn’t try to make him a gay teenager in the closet, and in a way, I liked he recognized bisexuals; I know that, to many, it’s a strange concept, or you like boys or you like girls, but if you shift the focus on the feelings, the gender of your beloved shouldn’t matter.

Final point the heat level, that, truth be told, is medium-low. There is a lot of talk about sex, as it should be considering these are teenagers, and indeed they are having plenty of that, but the novel is not really graphic. Truth be told is less explicit than some other YA novels I read aimed to teenagers. Not surprisingly, this story was picked for its second release by an Erotic Romance publisher but for its YA line.

http://www.buddingmoonpress.com/books/Surviving-Elite-High.aspx

Amazon Kindle: Surviving Elite High
Publisher: Budding Moon Press (February 8, 2013)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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This story surprised me because, well, I was expecting to have to suffer more for these boys to be together. Nick and Angelo grew up together, both gays and misfits, and everyone was expecting for them to get together; and instead Nick ran away with the first guy showing a real interest in him, leaving Angelo, big bro, the one who, maybe, was only waiting for Nick to be old enough.

Both Nick and Angelo are from eclectic families, not bad, but maybe not steady and safe like a sheltering environment is supposed to be. Angelo, the older and more grounded, played the big brother role, but truth be told he wasn’t so much experienced and sure than Nick. Or strong. And when Nick decides to leave, obviously following a fake star, Angelo let him go. Now Nick is back, and Angelo is sure that he doesn’t want for him to have a chance to go away again. Like Angelo, also the reader was probably expecting a fight, maybe a little denial, but Nick surprised both, Angelo and the reader, taking the lead and seducing Angelo in the shower the very first day of his coming back.

From that moment on, I was waiting for the bomb to explode, and indeed there are some firecrackers, but nothing really destroying; Angelo and Nick are indeed made for each other, and once they both admit it, it’s only a question to find the right equilibrium. More than the story of how they got together, this is a series of vignette on their life as a couple. Some of what are probably the passions of the authors (yaoi manga and co.) are turned into the main characters, but it’s more to play than anything else. So far so good.

What I really like is the intimacy Nick and Angelo have with each other, how they are able to reach a deepness in their relationship so soon and so fast thank to their past history. In a way, I even understood Angelo’s passion for jocks, a type completely different from Nick: since it was impossible for him to fall in love with someone so different from Nick, it wasn’t like he was really betraying Nick, he was only passing the time waiting for Nick to come back.

http://www.stormmoonpress.com/books/After-the-First-Taste-of-Love.aspx

Amazon Kindle: After the First Taste of Love (Nick and Angelo)
Publisher: Storm Moon Press LLC (November 16, 2012)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle


Cover Art by Yana Goya

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A story about an 18 years old boy and his appointed guardian, 5 years older, it could have been way more sexy, but the author decided/managed to make it almost innocent; don’t get me wrong, the two boys will enjoy their sexual relationship but the only think the reader will read is “And then I had no idea how we'd slept together so many nights and kept this from happening.” What “this” is, an adult reader will know, a Young Adult reader can imagine.

The story is quite simple and at the same time extraordinary: Gareth always thought he was different, but he was linking that feeling with him being gay and with his situation as foster kid. The only real strange thing happening in his life is the presence of his protector, a slightly older boy who is a constant since he was 5 years old. This boy appears only at night, to embrace Gareth and make him feel safe even if the world around him is crushing and unwelcoming.

Aranth, and the reason of his presence, will be unveiled to Gareth when his “quest” on this world will reach the end, and something bigger is awaiting him. Gareth and Aranth’s story, while dealing with sci-fi elements, and aliens and other planets, is somewhat ordinary and simple, nothing like a big sci/fi/adventure/thriller plot, so much that they even find the time to rescue a puppy.

I think this was a choice of the author, to write a story that was easy enough for a Young Adult reader to enjoy without too much hassle and bustle.

http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=3594

Amazon: Silent One
Amazon Kindle: Silent One
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Prizm (June 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1610403231
ISBN-13: 978-1610403238

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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After the very long ride to read this book, I feel like worn out, an hole was forming in my heart and the author suddenly filled it in a rush, so strongly that it let me hurting. This novel is good… disturbingly good. John Parker is an eighteen years old straight teenager who decides to give himself up for sex to his best friend Nathan; Nathan is gay and in love with John, and John is thinking he can be Nathan’s sex toy, while at the same time having a girlfriend and some other heterosexual adventures on the side. While with all the women he is the dominant lover, with Nathan he is always the submissive; strange as it’s, John is able to have sex with a man only if that man is Nathan, and only if Nathan is in command.

At first the author, through John’s own words, let you have an imagine of John that is not exactly good; he seemed quite conceited, convinced he is like a God gift for girls and guys, sex on legs like he said of himself. I didn’t like much John, especially since, even if he is always very nice with Nathan, he was also cheating on him with his girlfriend Mary, and cheating Mary with Nathan, but above all he was cheating both of them with other non-important flings. And while at the beginning John was only having sex with women other than with Nathan, then he starts also with other boys, and then he starts doing “dirty” things with these boys once he understands Nathan is not up to the same game he is. Again I approached this side of John in a negative way, I was thinking how unfair he was with Nathan, how stupid and selfish he was… but then I started to see something different, John was trying to degrade himself, he was trying to find a way to prove he was no good, that he wasn’t indeed that God gift everyone was thinking, Nathan first in line. He had to prove to Nathan he was not worthy of his love, not for him but for Nathan’s good. He was so in love with Nathan, that he was ready to destroy himself for him.

There is "consensual" rape on the page and non consensual sex behind the page; this novel is not pretty and cute as it could seem at first, it’s dark and disturbing, and as I said, I was addicted to it like Nathan was addicted to John, but a hole was in my heart, a scaring hole from the fear I was having these two guys weren’t destined to an happily ever after. But don’t worry, the author managed also to scare away that thought like he managed to put it there. It will not be easy for Nathan and John, and I don’t think the end of the novel is the end of their trouble, but at least they have a beginning. We will see where it will lead them, and I hope the author will share with us that.

Amazon: Atom Heart John Beloved
Amazon Kindle: Atom Heart John Beloved
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (June 30, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1478142928
ISBN-13: 978-1478142928



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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Trust Me is the Gay Young Adult story we would like to see in real world, meaning that it will give hope to a lot of bullied teenagers to see there is a prince charming also for you, and that the happily ever after is possible even if you are a misfit.

True, there are a lot of awful things happening to Shawn, terrible things no kid should face, gay or not; and unfortunately for Shawn, he finds support on his religion for all the wrong way. Like the imprinting he had for all his life taught him, if something bad happened to you, it’s probably the punishment for some sort of sin you committed. Shawn is a strong guy, despite his diminutive body, and it’s his strength that allows him to overcome everything, from the bullies at school to the sexual abuses when he was only a kid. Despite all this, Shawn is a kind and gentle soul, always ready to see the good in people, always questioning his own actions, but never those of who is around him and say to love him.

Bobby and Shawn have a lot in common, both with divorced parents, and both, likely them, with supporting step-parents; actually, Shawn’s stepfather and Bobby’s stepmother are almost better than the real parents, and they are able to understand and help the children where the real parent wasn’t. That is probably what will save both Bobby and Shawn, what will allow them an happily ever after instead of the tragedy that could have so easily struck them.

Other than a love story between teenagers, Trust Me is also a story about acceptance, and about how important is the family for two guys to feel safe and loved. I’m not sure why the author chose to set this story in the ’80, unfortunately I don’t think the time has changed much, and the same problem Bobby and Shawn are facing in those years, are still the same today. Society didn’t change, obstacles are still there, and the only help these guys can find is in their own family, in the love that family has to show to them, always and without condition.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=1999

Amazon: Trust Me
Amazon Kindle: Trust Me
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1615815805
ISBN-13: 978-1615815807

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle


Cover art by Paul Richmond
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A nice novella, mix of diary and tale, following the afternoon before the prom of 17 years old Chris; aside for being the last prom before going away from home to College, it’s also the day Chris is ready to admit he is gay and in love with Josh.

In the hour before the traditional photo with Chris in his nineties ready for the prom, Chris remembers how he met Josh the previous summer, how he suddenly realized why he was never attracted to girls, how Josh was able, with patience and love, to conquer Chris.

It’s also a tale of doubts and fears, despite being able to accept Josh’s love, Chris was not able to come out at school, fearing the same fate another guy suffered the previous year. Chris is aware that, even if he is in a privileged situation, good student, loving and supporting family, a future ready for him, the world can be cruel, and everything can crash down if he is not careful.

I also like that the author didn’t make of these two guys some sort of careless heroes; when Chris’s father found out about Chris’s breaking the rules to meet with Josh, both Chris than Josh were scared to face the adult; that is, even if in love, Chris and Josh are only two teenagers, and the adult world and judgment is still something scaring and imposing.

http://www.xoxopublishing.com/Products/index.php?route=product/product&filter_name=dear+diary&product_id=98

Amazon Kindle: Dear Diary
Publisher: http://xoxopublishing.com (June 16, 2011)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle
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An interesting Young Adult mystery / thriller, not specifically “gay” but with a plot that turns around the important issue of teenagers and bullying, and the drama it could generate. Eric Matthews, the main character is not gay, but he is investigating on the death of another teenager, Sean Brody, who was. That is the reason why this novel is perfect for every teenager, gay or not, and it can even teach something about acceptance and avoiding living with regrets it would impossible to make right.

Eric, Sean and Chris were best friends until high school; that was the time Sean came out to Eric and Chris and Chris convinced Eric to ban Sean from their lives. At the beginning I wanted to believe the evil kid was Chris, and that Eric was trying to make it right, but that is not the truth. Eric was really mean with Sean, and doesn’t matter if he was a good kid, if he was a good student, good son and that he really didn’t believe he was doing something wrong making fun of Sean, Eric didn’t realize how hurt he could do, and how someone less strong than Sean could have reacted to that cruel teasing. Not knowing the dangerousness of your actions doesn’t make you less guilty, ignorance makes you as guilty as if you was doing it with purpose.

I think the main point of this novel is that Sean is dead, and doesn’t matter what Eric can or will do, Sean will not come back and Eric will always live with the regret that he could do something, but he didn’t, at least not until it was too late to save Sean.

The reader knows Eric didn’t kill Sean, and he will learn the true at the same pace of Eric, clue by clue while Eric is regaining his memory after the accident that caused his amnesia. With the accident Eric lost his memory but gained something else, a special gift that is helping him see things through a different perspective, helping him understand what is good and bad, and above all, who is good and bad. The gift can be something medicine can explain, or can be a miracle, but the author decided to played it down, to atone as much as possible its strangeness, so that, it is useful to the plot, but doesn’t distract the reader too much from the main point. And the main point is not who killed Sean, but more if Sean’s death can change Eric, if he can be better, and if he can do something useful of his life, in the memory of Sean but also for his own good.

Amazon: Sleeping Angel
Amazon Kindle: Sleeping Angel
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160282214X
ISBN-13: 978-1602822146

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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It’s a slow placed travel that we are doing with this series by Carole Cummings. And not really since the main characters are actually doing a real and self-discovering travel, but also since, book after book, Carole Cummings is also building their relationship, but she is doing that by little steps, not rushing it, taking and giving time to the readers to adapt to this evolution. In this points you really realize this is a Young Adult novel, it’s like the author is telling to this young mind, guys, you have time, don’t rush into anything you are not ready for.

Said that, where, if I remember well, in the first book there was really no romantic relationship between Wil and Dallin, or at least nothing that was open and fully acknowledge, in book two they shared some intimate moments that make it clear they are heading towards a love story.

As always, I’m concentrating on the “romance” more than on other aspects of the story, but truth be told, this is really a Coming of Age story, with Wil doing his own travel, from being a boy to being a man, but also from being barely aware of his power and destiny to little by little taking his own destiny in hand (and right in the last sentence I think there is a good metaphor on this point). Also Dallin is doing his own travel, but it’s more a self-discovery travel, all inside himself: Will is moving from one step to another, Dallin is more trying to understand the step in which he is already on.

The Aisling series is a quite complex world building, but it’s not heavy setting; the author is playing more with the characters and their evolution than the world around them. It’s not a big bum bang plot, and that is probably why, even if mainly aimed to a YA target, also an adult reader will appreciate it, actually I think they will find something that a teenager will probably not focus on. This novel is like some of those eye trick paintings that, according to who is looking at them, will communicate different perceptions.

http://www.prizmbooks.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=72

Amazon: Aisling, Book Two: Dream
Amazon Kindle: Aisling, Book Two: Dream
Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: Prizm (June 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1610402413
ISBN-13: 978-1610402415

Series: The Aisling
1) Guardian: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1329302.html
2) Dream

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle


Cover Art by Rose Lenoir
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Like most of his previous novels (if not all), this new story by Jeff Erno is centred around young adult character on the edge of adulthood. But in a way this story is more mature, still about love, and still with the opposition in characters Jeff Erno likes, a young sweet man, a submissive, and a little adult in the making, a dominant. But this time, even if hinted, the submissive/dominant relationship is not the key of the story, but only a supporting element.

Harold and Jacob were two lover in the ’60. The time was not good for them to be in love, Harold had ambition that were not reconcilable with a gay lover, and so he broke up with Jacob. That was the huge mistake of his life, a mistake that now, 40 years later, is still regretting, even more after reading of Jacob’s death to AIDS years before. Then a man, a doctor, someone who tells him was Jacob’s friend, comes with an offer: if Harold is willing to give up all his money to the doctor, he will transfer Harold’s consciousness into the body of a young man, Jesse, a boy that is in vegetative coma and that has no chance to awaken. Harold is not killing Jesse, Jesse is already dead, Harold is only using his body, a little like if he was having a 100% transplant of all his organs other that the consciousness.

This is Harold’s second chance, and when he awakens in Jesse’s body, he discovers the boy was best friend with Philip, Jacob’s nephew and his spitting image. Not only that Philip is gay as it was his uncle, and he is in love with Jesse. Harold understands that is really his second chance and that this time he has all the right aces to be a good man and do the right thing, something he was not willing to do before.

It’s strange, but I was sad for Jesse; true, Harold is making “good use” of his body, and he is behaving in a right way, but Jesse, from what we learn, was really a good boy, someone that had all the right to fully live and love. While I was glad that Harold had his second chance, at the same time I was regretting the same chance was not given to Jesse. Harold is an adult, and he is living his life like an adult would do in the body of a teenager; more or less he is taking all the right decisions since he knows the consequences, and Jesse will never have the chance to wrong and make it better through experience. But, all right, I think that is the concept of the novel, and what it makes it interesting.

Philip is another of the cute and pretty boy by Jeff Erno; on comparison to other similar character, Philip is more pretty, he is someone who could have been a leader on his own way, but the illness (he has cancer in remission) made him a more subdue character, someone Jesse, the stronger of the two, has always protected. Philip loves Jesse, and how he could not? His is a little hero worship, Philip has not really known anything different, for him Jesse is the best he can achieve… actually he is lucky that is really like that, Philip is one of those lucky persons who will meet and love their soul mates forever and only.

There is a little less sex, or better the story is less centred around sex, than other novel by Jeff Erno, but in any case these two young men are sexually active. What is probably nice is that Harold is respecting Philip (and Jesse’s age) and he is not immediately moving their relationship on a physical level, he gives time to both of them to adjust, exactly how it would be right to do if you had 18 years old (but that not always 18 years old do!)

Amazon: Second Chances
Amazon Kindle: Second Chances
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Camel Press (January 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603818766
ISBN-13: 978-1603818766

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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I should probably start this alerting reader that this is a Young Adult novel, more on the end side of the teen years than the start one, but in any case right for a YA target; this is the reason why, even if the characters are 18 and ready to start with their adult life, the mood of the story is “innocent”, fresh and clean. For example, they talk about sex, some of the characters is “rumoured” to have sex, but actually there is no sex at all in the story.

The first point of view is that of Serena, 18 years old and with a huge guilty sense: she was the perfect daughter, with good rates at school and with a bright future in front of her, a scholarship and all; but when her brother needs her, when he told her he was gay, she freaked out, and didn’t support him. Her parents had a similar attitude, they didn’t disown their son, but they also wanted to put an indifferent face, maybe hoping that was a phase. The boy was probably starving for support, for a friendly shoulder and he searched it in a community centre for LGBT youth, the same center out of which he was killed in a gay bashing.

Now Serena, and her family, need to cope with it and it changed completely their life. Serena is preparing for college but at the same time is searching for absolution; since her brother cannot give it, she searches it in Brodie, the gay kid at school. Brodie is in the closet and no one other than Serena guessed his secret. Brodie is young and cute, he wants to be an artist but he comes from a very conservative family. At the beginning of the novel he meets Lance, 2 years older and in college and they start a relationship with the help and support of Serena. As I said before the concept of “relationship” is very innocent, basically Brodie and Lance are boyfriend and their bond is deepened by their decision to take part to a dance contest.

There are all the usual milestone for a gay teenager in the novel: coming out to friends and family, trying to understand what they want to be in the future, facing the challenge of being alone against the world… but in Mesmerized all these issues are faced and coped, and Brodie and Lance are heading together towards the horizon, crowned by a wonderful rainbow. Mesmerized wants to make people aware it’s not easy, but also that it’s not impossible, and even if you are gay, and young, and alone, you have the same chance of you best girlfriend to find a boyfriend and be happy.

http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Mesmerized-%252d-by-David%252dMatthew-Barnes

Amazon: Mesmerized
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (November 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602821917
ISBN-13: 978-1602821910



Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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Cody, or as its author wanted to title it, and as he did in the reprint edition, Clicking Beat on the Brink of Nada, is at the same time one of the most easy and most difficult novel I have read. Easy because you fall in love for all the characters, Trotsky, Cody, Mark, Freddy, Christian, Flipping, Sarah, all of them so real and simple that they can be your high school mate, your neighbour, your brother; easy because, despite being written in an almost immaculate style (if not perfect at all), it’s not boring or pedantic, and it calls both to young adult than adult readers. Difficult because it’s one of the saddest novel I have ever read, but it’s a strange type of “sad”, I’m not crying, as often do when I’m moved by a novel, it’s more like clamp around the heart, a feeling I think will remain long after I put down this book.

I knew this was not an happily ever after novel, I was not expecting it, but the range of reviews run from nice to awesome, so I had to read it. And really I’m happy, it was worth the experience; plus for most of the book, even if knowing, I had not the feeling of imminent drama, the mood was really in line with the story, they were teenagers we were talking about, and as teenagers they behaved. In some point slightly funny, in some other very romantic and sometime even a little bit sexy, I really forgot that I was supposed to wait for a tragedy to strike.

Trotsky is in love with Cody, but Cody is straight. This is not an unrequited love, since even if Trotsky is not able to realize his love for Cody, they nevertheless build a strong relationship, something that is for sure more than friendship. Plus Cody is really the epitome of best friend, someone that will be always there when you need you most, and that will arrive to do everything to bring you comfort. Something that I like of Cody is that I think he was confident of his sexuality, and so not “threatened” by the fact that someone could be gay; even before Trotsky, Cody had a bond with Christian, who is openly gay, and he doesn’t question him or Flipping, Christian’s friend and maybe lover. The bond between Trotsky and Cody is strong, a bond probably stronger than love.

Trotsky will find love in the arms of Mark, his little brother’s best friend. Mark is 14 years old against Trotsky 17, but he is way more experienced on a sexual level. It’s Mark that seduces Trotsky, and it’s at the same time an healing and learning sex. Healing because it allows Trotsky to balance his relationship with Cody, learning because it gives him a piece of him that was essential for his growing, something he would not be able to find with Cody. Both Cody than Mark are essential to Trotsky’s development into a man and I agree with another reviewer who was hoping for Keith Hale to write a novel about an adult Trotsky; sadly I don’t think it’s in the stars and to whom wants to know what happened to Trotsky, I think the only way is to imagine, he is maybe a poet, he is maybe a teacher, he is maybe an activist… in a way or the other I think he made his own all the teachings he received from Christian, Mark, Freddy, Cody and all the wonderful soul he met the year when he was seventeen.

Amazon: Clicking Beat on the Brink of Nada
Amazon Kindle: Clicking Beat on the Brink of Nada
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (February 19, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 141965991X
ISBN-13: 978-1419659911

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I was a little hesitant to read this novel since, well, I’m not really into heavy sci-fi stuffs, and not only the title, but also the blurb, implied this was that type of novel; plus I think I have read somewhere this is supposed to be only first book in a series… so, yes, I was biased. But the author was really quick in making me changing idea, almost from chapter one. True, Jeremey and Julian find themselves involved in a pretty heavy and dangerous situation (that btw it’s more dark fantasy than sci-fi, involving immortals and demons), but the heaviness of the situation doesn’t translate in the novel; maybe it’s the young age of the main characters, 18 and 22 years old, or maybe the young age of the author ;-), but in the end, this novel was pretty easy to read and I was more interested, and involved, in the budding love story between Jer and Julian than in the dangers looming outside. One other thing that I think it helped, but that at the beginning made me wonder a little on the author, is the writing style: there are almost no description, most of the sentences are dialogue between the characters, and yes, even if at the beginning it was a little disconcerting, since it quickened the reading quite a lot, and didn’t give to the reader almost time to breath, in the end it made the reading experience more way simple than expected.

Coming back to the plot, in the prologue the author explained how Jer and Julian find themselves alone against the bad world; at first, when Jer’s father and Julian’s mother are still alive, Jer was almost annoyed by 13 years old Julian, especially when he had to babysit him. But the night they remained alone, when both of their parents are killed in an accident, Jer only thought is that he has to take care of Julian; so, his role of protector is something he feels way before the current time, when unwilling turned into an Immortal, it’s asked to let Julian go, almost as if Julian is a weight he cannot bear. As when he was 17 years old, Jer doesn’t listen from that ear, and he decides to embark in a run with Julian. As I said, most of the novel is about Jer and Julian’s relationship, how they discover their bound is more than friendship or what two brothers should feel for each other. Truth be told, Jer and Julian were already pretty “physical” with each other, probably more than ordinary brothers or even male teenagers; sure this is mostly due from being alone in the world, for having only each other, and 13 years old Julian probably still needed the physical comfort.

But we soon find out Julian is gay, and if you think about it, a 13 years old guy is probably already aware of his sexual impulses, and I think Julian’s crush on Jer began even before their parents’s death. Anyway it would be a little hard (no pun intended) for Jer to admit that he can be interested in Julian, not only since Julian is a boy but also since Jer sees him like a kid, and he thinks he should treat him like a brother. Of course Jer is only 22 years old, with a strong sexual urge due to his mutation, and Julian is willing and ready, and well, you can imagine what it will happen. Also this, the whole situation between Julian and Jer, very cute and romantic, and also funny, contributes to the lightness of the story.

So yes, if you, like me, are discouraged when faced with a sci-fi plot, in this case don’t worry, actually the background plot of dangers and dark enemies is just the right level (and after all, not so dangerous), and in the end, this is more romance than expected. One warning, I will tag this novel as Coming of Age due to the young age of the characters, but this is not really a Young Adult novel, there is quite a bit of sex, as expected in my opinion if you consider these are young men with very healthy and normal sexual urges.

Amazon Kindle: Symbiota Sapiens

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Unlike most of the books I received to review, I actually asked a copy of this one; why? Well since I wanted to understand a little all this talking about Twilight and Co and I didn’t want to read THAT series. Young adult and het romance together were a little too much for me, so when I heard about a gay vampire teenager series, I thought, good, this I can read. I was not at all discouraged by the not-so-positive reviews I read around mostly because my idea was that who was writing them was not a teenager and you have not to forget this is a book that not only it’s classified by the same publisher as “young adult”, it was even released in a special line, K-Teen, that is targeting a young adult reader. So when I read comment like, everything seems too “youngish”, my reaction is “geez, have you or not read the book details? This is a Young Adult book! You should give positive point to the author to have been able to meet the target!”. Also since Michael Griffo is the pen-name of an author of a previous Gay Romance targeting a more adult reader, and having read that romance, I can tell you that he can be very, very adult-like if he wants.

Going back in track and talking about the story, even if the book is almost 500 pages long, it took me only 2 nights reading it since it flowed like water. The vampire theme is good, and with a twist that makes it original among so many trite similar novels, but all in all it was not even so predominant: I had the feeling the plot centered more around the romance between Michael and Ronan than not on the paranormal nature of Ronan. The novel had very much the feeling of a high-school romance and the issues that Michael and Ronan initially faced were more that of two young boys being in love and not being sure of each other feelings. Even the “evil” plot that is endangering their relationship seems more the plotting of jealous high-school mates than that of real dangerous villains.

True, to some readers all above could sound like the novel doesn’t have “deepness”, but again, I would like to highlight the real target of this book, i.e. teenagers; the average teenager wants enough complexity to be engaged but not too much to be “bothered”, the pace has to be fast and light. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the quality has to be low since the target is Young Adult, I’m saying that the “tricks” to attract a Young Adult are different. Me from my side enjoyed quite a lot that the fire between Michael and Ronan ignited easily and without much obstacles, I don’t particular enjoy when the drama of first love is diluted for long. And another point I enjoyed was that that same love was also “sexy” and physical; even if they are both teenagers, these are young men and as such they have strong sexual impulses; again don’t get me wrong, this is far from being an erotic romance, but at the same time, the two boys will be able to enjoy themselves and their young age.

http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/finditem.cfm?itemid=18732

Amazon: Unnatural (Archangel Academy)
Amazon Kindle: Unnatural (Archangel Academy)
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758253389
ISBN-13: 978-0758253385

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I went back to read this novel by Mark Roeder since, having read Masked Destiny, I learned some info about one of the character, Brendan Brewer, that let me think it was a nice and sweet love story; in a way it’s and there is also a bit of “fairytale” feeling that makes it light, and on the contrary of Masked Destiny, there isn’t any paranormal event, making it an ordinary, and in this case ordinary is nice, coming of age story.

Brendan is the most popular kid at high school, quarterback of the football team, handsome and friendly, for a very wealthy family that allow him to have a nice car and all the last fashion available, Brendan is even more fascinating since he seems unaware of his good looks and fortune. Brendan has also a secret, but not really something that is causing him trouble: he is gay, and in his openness and yes, lucky youth, he has already realized it and decided it’s fine. Sure, Brendan is aware he cannot come out at school that it’s not easy, but more or less, he is fine.

Not the same for Casper; he is the poorest kid at school, and even worst, he is abused at home; his older brother has more than once abused him and he is still doing that. Most night Casper sleeps under the open sky to avoid being alone in the same room with his brother. In his young mind, Casper associates being gay with being abused, and so, when Brendan makes a move with him, Casper is scared to death.

But as I said, Brendan is such a nice boy that Casper in the end is able to trust him; their newfound happiness is destroyed by Brendan’s family and but the dramatic decision they take on their son’s fate. Again Brendan will prove to be strong and with a self-consciousness that is rare in such a young man; he will maintain the promise he did to Casper to protect him, whatever it will take.

I preferred the first part of the story, until Brendan and Casper are trying to find their path in life alone; I found the last part, when Brendan and Casper go to live with Ethan and Nathan (from Someone Is Watching) a little too similar to what I guess is Ethan and Nathan’s own story, almost a repetition. All in all, I think that, even if Casper is cuter and the one who needs more protection, even from the reader point of view, I think the best character was Brendan, I most of all loved how he is so open with his feelings and ready to love despite all the trouble it implies.

Amazon: A Better Place
Amazon Kindle: A Better Place
Paperback: 394 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 31, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 145657390X
ISBN-13: 978-1456573904

Series: Gay Youth Chronicles
1) Outfield Menace
2) Snow Angel
3) The Soccer Field Is Empty
4) Someone Is Watching
5) A Better Place

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I remember Kathryn Shay from the time I was reading het romances, I think I probably read one or two too, so when I saw this novel by her, it picked my interest. I was curious to see how someone who is used to write straight relationship would face the task to move to gay relationship. In a way she didn’t, The Perfect Family, as the same title suggests, is a family story more than a love story, and if we want to search for a romance, the one who is fully developed is that between Maggie, the mother, and Mike, the father; Jamie, the teenager who comes out to his family, has a “high school” relationship with Luke… maybe it’s love, maybe it’s something that will shade away in time, but in this moment it’s the main reason why all the balances in this perfect family is apparently not working.

There are very nice and complex characters; Mike, for example, is a very conservative catholic man, who struggles to accept the idea his own son is gay, but for a simple reason: he does believe homosexuality is a sexual orientation and not a lifestyle choice (his own wife is a psychologist and she is very ready to correct him if he had any different idea), but his church is telling him that, if one is gay, and he is not able to “fight” it, then he should be chaste; Mike, that is sexually active, more, he sometime needs sex as escape (of course always with his wife), cannot accept Jamie will be able to be celibate, and so, the obvious conclusion is he will be a sinner and though condemned to hell. I struggle to accept that a wise and good man like Mike could have such archaic ideas. On the other hand, Mike is probably one of the best husband, and father, I have read about, and so I wanted for him to find a way to do the right thing.

Then there is Maggie; as a psychologist she is probably more ready than other mothers to hear the confession of her teenager son, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier for her. Maggie is almost in the middle, her mother role “pushes” her to be worried, and to be scared, for her son’s future; her psychologist role is trying to convince the mother that everything is fine, that there is nothing wrong with her son, that she should concentrate on him and her husband, trying to not destroy their family with her fears.

In a way I also liked the contraposition between Maggie and Mike, and yes, I also think Maggie failed in dealing with Mike, but in her failing I found a more realistic, and likeable, character. Mike was wrong in a lot of things, but Maggie should have tried to be more open with him, to share more of her worries, and above all the actions she was undertaking to help their son.

The Catholic Church is not a winner but neither a loser in this novel, above all since we have the chance to see different sides of it; there is the conservative wing of Father Pete and Mike’s church; there is the more understanding attitude of the catholic lobby of Dignity, also represented by Mike’s parents; there is the very liberal Unitarian Church that is attending Maggie. All in all, all sides involved will have goods and bads, an in a way, the common understanding is that anyone needs to believe, the God is always the same, only the churches worshipping are different.

http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Perfect-Family%2C-The-%252d-by-Kathryn-Shay

Amazon: The Perfect Family
Amazon Kindle: The Perfect Family
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160282181X
ISBN-13: 978-1602821811

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People warned me about this novel telling me it was way more “explicit” then the previous one, Wrestling with Desire, where Derek and Scott were high school students and the novel had more the flavour of a Young Adult.

And indeed when I started the book, Derek and Scott were planning their moving together to Boston University, sharing a dorm room together and starting their life as a couple. Of course they were also planning to move on a higher step in their relationship, i.e. having sex. Strange things is that, as soon as they were “free”, suddenly Derek and Scott decided to slow down; actually it was more Scott that not only wanted to be careful and not just come out, but also when they were alone, he wanted to do things step by step, being really sure that what they were starting was something both of them wanted.

I had contrasting feeling on Scott’s attitude; I was unhappy for Derek, that had to restrain himself, but in the end it prevailed the feeling that Scott was right, that he was behaving as the more conscious between the two of them. Scott was not denying Derek or their relationship; he was simply taking his time and planning everything at the right moment. Pushing him to do something before he was really convinced was wrong, and in the long shot would have probably caused him to regret his choices.

I really liked the college theme of the novel, and also the distinct contrast between high school and college. It gives hope to young students that there is hope and many chances for them. High school is like a small town, with the goods and bads of a small town, but college is like a metropolis: it can be dangerous, but there is also more freedom, and like in a metropolis there are places you should avoid, but also places where you can be yourself, and being safe in doing so.

Even if there is sex, Wrestling with Love is not so far from its prequel, Wrestling with Desire, and all in all, it can be considered a Coming of Age novel as well.

http://ai-press.net/2011/02/14/now-available-wrestling-with-lov/

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Amazon: Wrestling With Love
Amazon Kindle: Wrestling With Love
Paperback: 382 pages
Publisher: Ai Press (February 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983374732
ISBN-13: 978-0983374732

Series:
1) Wrestling with Desire: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1211288.html
2) Wrestling with Love

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Maybe since the boys are grown and so, in a way, the are more engaging, maybe since I like my romance, and in this sequel to Desert Sons there is plenty of it, I think I liked even more Into This World We’re Thrown than its prequel.

Ryan and Scott are boyfriends and as such they have sworn to each other to come clean with their respective families; Ryan’s revelation goes pretty smoothly, and instead Scott has to face some more issue. Then there is the problem that Scott is still in high school, and that he fears to come out at school. Most of the first part of the book is focused so much on Scott that I was almost thinking Ryan was a supporting character in this second novel; but then, Ryan’s grandmother’s death brings forward all Ryan’s fears, the same fears that had him trying to commit suicide more than one time, the same fears that had his grandmother exiling him in Yucca Valley.

I liked that, even if it was not a bed of roses for these two guys, their issues were, more or less, ordinary issues of teenager boys. True, Ryan is depressed, but how many boys are the same at that age? Maybe, that depression is not read in the right way, and can escalate to something worse, for this reason I liked the author gave Ryan the chance to be followed by a good doctor, someone who was able to understand a boy and his issue.

Than there is Scott, sometime behaving like he was older than his age, but in the end being a young man, with the sexual impulses of a teenager. Scott is in love with Ryan, and he understands Ryan’s issues, but he is not a saint, and when the chance to have some relief presents itself on a gold plate… well he is not able to deny it to himself.

But Ryan and Scott are in love, and mostly they have the support of who loves them; not all the teenager can say the same, and so these two have plenty of chances to an happily ever after, and they will be able to catch it.

Amazon: Into This World We're Thrown
Amazon Kindle: Into This World We're Thrown
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: iUniverse (January 30, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0595214681
ISBN-13: 978-0595214686

Series: Desert Sons
1) Desert Sons: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1335223.html
2) Into This World We're Thrown

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Changing Jamie is a Young Adult novel that has a lot to teach also to young adult is no more. It faces an issue, HIV in teenagers that I think most people prefer to ignore since it’s an ugly side of life; moreover, it unveils a practice, that among the bug-chasers and the gift givers that only to think about it make me shiver: underage kids have unprotected sex with HIV-positive men with the exact intent to be infected; of course these kids are depressed, or traumatized, and with a low-level of self-esteem; they probably believe no one loves them, and they believe probably they would be accepted at least by whom has their same illness. Thinking that such practice is described in a Young Adult novel is scaring, but it’s done in a way that wants to teach those kids that is not the way to be loved or accepted, it’s only a way to destroy your life forever, even more than what you believe is in that moment.

The bug-chaser is Billy and as a counterpart the story is told by Jamie, that is, more or less, a very ordinary teenager; Jamie is gay but he is not out; of course he has a crush on the most popular guy at school and of course he has the chance to tutor him, so that they finally exchange more than few words at once. Jamie’s story is sweet and romantic, a first love story with an happily for now end that will make you smile even if, just some pages before you were wondering on the inconsiderate act Billy did, maybe only since his parents were not enough worried of their son’s future.

There is a little bit of the usual routine about gay teenagers in high school, bullied kids and all, but that is not the main theme; for once, and as it should be, the school is mostly accepting, more even supporting, and Jamie and Dylan (Jamie’s dream date) have also the support of the respective families. On the family level, there are also three different approaches on being parents: the indifference of Billy’s parents, the supportiveness of Jamie’s mother and in the end, the lost chance’s attitude of Dylan’s father, who would like something different for his son, but than in the end will accept what his son wants.

All in all, Changing Jamie was a surprisingly balanced novel; it’s not cute or pretty, but it’s not even as sad as it could have slipped due to the matter.

http://www.prizmbooks.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=11&products_id=23

Amazon: Changing Jamie
Amazon Kindle: Changing Jamie
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Prizm Books (June 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603703519
ISBN-13: 978-1603703512

Reading List:

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I’m always a little worried when I read a Young Adult / Coming of Age novel, since I really care for these young men and I don’t want anything bad to happen to them. That is maybe the reason why, most time than not, I check the last pages to be sure the above young men are all fine at the end of the novel. In The Mariposa Club it’s even more a chance since there are four of them: Lib, Trini, Isaac and Maui, the narrative voice. They are all 17 years old at their last year in high school and surprise, surprise, they are out at school and to their families, with different outcome but still out.

Lib apparently has no trouble at all, he has a loving family, good grades at school and probably a brilliant future in politics; Trini, more transgender than gay actually, is the one with the worst family background, basically his parents kicked him out and he is living with an old aunt; Isaac comes from a middle class family, his father has not really accepted him being gay, but he is coping, more or less; and finally Mauricio “Maui”, without mother but with, probably, the best of all above parent, a father that, even if he doesn’t understand his son, is always ready to support him, despite all.

Sure these foursome has not it easy at school, but all in all their story is the story of ordinary teenagers, with family trouble, school trouble, boyfriends trouble… their biggest problem is to find a way to be remember in the school yearbook and so they decide to establish the first LGBT club in their high school, The Mariposa Club. In their naiveté, since they need at least five members, they enlist Maddy, the “obvious” lesbian girl, that is not lesbian at all, but that will gladly help just for the fun to go against the system.

On a more personal level, Maui has a little crush on Isaac and some family issues to overcome: his older sister is going away to college and she asks to Maui to stay at home taking care of their father, when Maui’s biggest dream is to run away to college as soon as he graduates. Again, the feeling is of very typical teenager trouble, trouble that seem huge at that age, but that actually are nothing in an older perspective. It was refreshing, for once, to read of gay guys that can live their teen year more or less undisturbed, dreaming of boyfriends and of the wonderful future attending them; sure some of them feel trapped, some of them will try to shorten the way, but in the end, all of them will find their way towards those dreams.

http://lethepressbooks.com/tincture.htm#gonzalez-the_mariposa_club

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Amazon: The Mariposa Club
Amazon Kindle: The Mariposa Club
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Tincture (October 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590213505
ISBN-13: 978-1590213506

Reading List:

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I believe this is one of the first stories by this author and in many ways you can see it: the novel is innocent, naïve, like it was not tainted by the ugly life, and the comparison is right on the spot since this is a story about teenagers and their first love experience. I will not say that is unrealistic, since many time people proved to me there is still hope and happiness somewhere in the world, even if it’s not the common experience, but in Love by the Numbers the power of love is able to overcome any trouble and drama.

Scott is a lucky guy; true he is a little overweight, and also quite shy, he is the classical wallflower at school, but other than that he has a loving family that fully support him and respect his being gay, so much they are the first to push him to go out and find a boyfriend. Scott is so lucky that he has not even to do that, the math teacher practically send Scott’s dream date at home with him, he needs to tutor Jared, the local baseball celebrity, in math otherwise the other guy will fail that course.

Even if Jared is the butterfly of the school, he proves to be a good guy right from the first moment, and he seems to really like spending time alone with Scott. Every time Scott highlights how different they are, how Jared is the perfect boy, a wise Jared makes clear he would give everything away for living in a supporting family like Scott. And even if Scott has not a perfect body, Jared is able to see beyond the body right to the heart of Scott.

I found both Scott than Jared a little too emotional, but maybe both of them had their issue to overcome, Jared a little more serious than Scott, since Jared was right on the spot about Scott, he has really nothing to worry about, fat and shyness are both issue he can easily overcome. And maybe Scott’s sensibility is something he has inherited by his own parents, both of them wonderful parents, but sometime a little too much wonderful, treating their 18 years old son like someone way younger; that could be explained with the fact that Scott is an only son, and very much loved, and so, well, maybe he is a little spoiled.

This is the story of the first love for both guys, and so it’s sweet and innocent, and the author decided to not look further into their life: if they have a chance to be together, if their life will be simple or complicated, this is something that is out from this contest, this is the story of a first love, and as such, real life stay out.

Amazon Kindle: Love by the Numbers

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Mark A. Roeder is in my reading list since a very long time; I actually bought this novel, Masked Destiny, more than 2 years ago, but I haven’t read it yet for a very simple reason: I was afraid. Aside for two novel set in the ’50 (Outfield Menace and Snow Angel), all these novels turn around a group of gay guys in Verona, a small town in rural America, between the ’80 and the first years of the XXI century; the first two of these boys, Mark Bailey and Taylor Potter from The Soccer Field Is Empty, met a tragic fate in their own story, and I was really afraid all the following stories had the same path. I was wrong, plenty wrong, and in a way, Masked Destiny was a good choice since I had another point of view also on Mark and Taylor’s story, story that maybe I will finally have the courage to read sooner or later.

The writing style of the novel is something I believe is common to this author: each chapter is a first point of view from one of the two narrative voices, Oliver and Skye. The most interesting aspect of this writing style choice is that Oliver and Skye are not together, and so basically they are telling us their parallel lives, giving each of them a different insight, and details the other cannot know. While Oliver is a nice character, a nerdy 14 years old with a big heart, the most interesting character is for sure Skye: he is vain, conceited, but nevertheless a good boy. Skye is overly worried about his body, he is well aware that is a stupid thing, not really important, but nevertheless he worries. The main comparison parameter in Skye’s search for a boyfriend is the other guy’s look, and he was even willing to make exception on morality, if the look was good enough. Lucky for his own good, he doesn’t arrive to the limit, but almost.

The novel is pretty complex and indeed, for a small country town, there are a lot of crimes happening in Verona, not all of them related to the gay factor; but that is probably the main expedient of the author to build his plots: most of the supporting characters arrive from previous stories, like same-sex married couple (? I need to read this story…) Ethan and Nathan, or football coach Brendan Brewer and his boyfriend, or teenager couple Nick (Ethan and Nathan’s son) and Sean. The paranormal element that was non-existent I suppose in the first novels, it’s now one of the main themes and for the reader who followed the series it will be not a surprise like it was for me; but the author managed to intertwined it in the story, making it almost “likely”.

I’m not regretting my choice to start the series more or less in the middle, to me it worked since it enticed me to go back to the stories of the supporting character I liked the best, but for sure it generated some spoilers the more traditional reader maybe would like to avoid: to me it was good since I’m that reader who read the last pages of a book to be sure, but I know that is not the same for others.

Amazon: Masked Destiny
Amazon Kindle: Masked Destiny
Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (August 19, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0595329586
ISBN-13: 978-0595329588

Series: Gay Youth Chronicles
1) Outfield Menace
2) Snow Angel
3) The Soccer Field Is Empty
4) Someone Is Watching
5) A Better Place: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1389827.html
6) The Summer of My Discontent
7) Disastrous Dates & Dream Boys
8) Just Making Out by
9) Someone Is Killing the Gay Boys of Verona
10) Keeper of Secrets
11) Masked Destiny

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

reviews_and_ramblings: (Default)
Car Trouble by J.M. Snyder

Another short story in the Working Man series. Terrence is a more than forty years old Afro American business man that one day heard a strange sound in his new mercedes. Since his baby feels not well he immediately take her to a garage. Here he finds Jimmy, blond young guy with a penchant for older man...

Obviously the baby is forgotten for a little bit while the daddy plays with the hot mechanic.

Really there is nothing more other than Terrence is a pretty interesting man, very vain and selfconscious that maybe is lucky to find a man like Jimmy who likes to be direct. And I have also my glimpse to a possible happily ever after, so I'm satisfy.

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29&products_id=275

Buy Here

Amazon Kindle: Car Trouble
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (May 1, 2011)

Easily Addicted (Working Man) by J.M. Snyder

Zach and Trevor meet at work during a lunch break. Trevor is a smoker and is spending his break indulging in his vice. And Zach immediately fancies him and tries to approach him. But Trevor is just out of a bad relationship and the forward attitude of Zach finds him unready. But rethinking to the opportunity he has so easily refused, Trevor is not more sure he has made the right decision and he is waiting for a second chance.

J.M. Snyder doesn't tell us how many years old are both Zach and Trevor, but I have the feeling they are somewhere between 25 and 30. No more college student, but not still adult. Young. And Zach gives me the impression he is young and somewhat innocent. He is open and friendly, very selfconsciousness. He knows to be handsome and probably he is not used to be denied.

The story is very short, less than 30 pages, but I have liked it a lot. Zach is a wonderful character, he could be easily decipted like a spoilt brat, but he is so nice that you can't find him nasty. And Zach seems to be the classical good boy, the person you dream to find to spend the rest of your life.

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=184

Amazon Kindle: Easily Addicted
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (December 16, 2010)

Lunch Break by J.M. Snyder

Nick works in a grocery to save money for his tuition. He is a simple guy with dreams of his own and when he sees Kevin one day at lunch break, he thinks that one of his dreams comes true: Kevin is a ten years older African-American man, who practices with a lawyer. He is refined and classy, and beautiful. 

Nick can't believe when Kevin asks him out. But obviously he has no intention to refuse this great opportunity.

The Working Man series by J.M. Snyder are short but very interesting stories. Short but complete, you have in less than 25 pages an entire story that let you fill what it's not said with your imagination.

In this case Nick is so sweet and Kevin so selfconscious and tender, that I'd like very much to read a whole story with these two characters.

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29&products_id=301

Buy Here

Amazon Kindle: Lunch Break
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (June 18, 2011)

Makin’ Copies (Working Man) by J.M. Snyder

A drunk joke during Friday Night Christmas Party could cost to Johnson his work: he has photocopied his butt (and all the other jewels around) with the office printer and has left the proves to find to Mr. Sanford, the boss.

But lucky for Johnson, Mr. Sanford has admired the "proves" and now he wants a first hand experience and not only a photocopied one.

What will Johnson do? Even if Mr. Sanford his an handsome men, he is also twice his age....

A very short, less than 15 pages, but very nice office affair which leaves you with a stupid smile face and a thought: but why when you find a nut thing during Christmas Party, it doesn't become a new begin like this one?

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=221

Amazon Kindle: Makin' Copies
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (March 5, 2011)

On the Job by J.M. Snyder

Another short story in the Working Man series by J.M. Snyder.

Charles is a service tech for a cable company who accept to go on a call for a new install since the customer is particularly trouble. But when he arrives to the designed site he discovers that Billy, the customer, is a very handsome young man, and also a flirty twinkie. Charles seems not able to take off Billy's hands from him, and he quite manages to do the work before Billy jumps to his bones.

As all the Working Man series, also this one is a very little one, less than 25 pages, but as always is well plotted and the characters are deepens and originals. It's very funny to see Billy's open seduction and he is a mix of boldness and naiveete. Charles has no game till the beginning in trying to deny him something.

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29&products_id=313

Buy Here

Amazon Kindle: On the Job
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (July 3, 2011)

Opening Day at the County Fair by J.M. Snyder

Jesse is a 20 years old country boy. He lives in the middle of nowhere and the only divagation to his routine is the annual county fair. But now for him the county fair is work, no more a child to run all around, he has to spent 6 days selling vegetables.

But this year something is changing, and has the name and the face of Davis (from jefferson davis I suppose): a pale and handsome guy of his same age, son of a contractor who previously lives in the same county and now returns only for the fair. But this year he has sent his son instead, and Jesse and Davis will spend this six days in ways more interesting than work.

I like this very very short tale. It's less then 30 pages but J.M. Snyder has decipted a complete world in few words. You can feel the heat of the day and the dirty of the road. Jesse's secret desires, the liberty he found in the arms of Davis, the joy to have another six days and maybe no more, but it is still joy, because are STILL six days and not ONLY six days... what different perspectives has youth.

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=27&products_id=141

Amazon Kindle: Opening Day at the County Fair
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (October 15, 2010)

Pleasure Cruise (Working Man) by J.M. Snyder

Andy is a young college student who has the nut idea to join two friends on a "normal" cruise during winter break. And cause it's a normal cruise, most of the people on the ship are couple and the others are not interested in three young guy, one of them gay.

So when Andy spots the cute Hispanic bartender, Carlos, he thinks to have found a way to spend two weeks on the ship. But Carlos is not very fond of Andy's friends and the first night they meet it doesn't end in a good way for Andy. But there is always breakfast time (in bed...).

Another short story, less than 25 pages, this one is "pure" pleasure. Andy and Carlos are two young men who want to have funny without commitment and broken heart, and what better place than a cruise ship to do that? in a confined space is very simple to find a way to meet.

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=220

Amazon Kindle: Pleasure Cruise
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (February 27, 2011)

Summer Kisses and Ice Cream Dreams by J.M. Snyder

Ahi ahi ahi J.M. Snyder, you are a teaser... Summer Kisses and Ice Cream Dreams is a very very short tale about how sweet could be a summer fling. Like in a old comedy of the '50 (even if I think it's a contemporary setting) Sean and Andrew fall in love in front of a sundae and Andrew woos Sean sending him messages through a friend (I last did this when I was 12 years old...).

And because it's a old comedy style, you will read only of tender kisses and walking hand in hand: no sex allows in a sweet tale, and then too hot things could melt the ice cream...

All right, joke apart, if you want to take a break from all the iper sexy M/M story I have read lately, try this tale by J.M. Snyder: maybe for the first time in months I have read something I will have no problem to reccomend also to a underage reader... 

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=28&products_id=156

Amazon Kindle: Summer Kisses and Ice Cream Dreams
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (October 29, 2010)

http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8&products_id=334&zenid=0ugnpbi3a3rqrn11t4ra5tm4h3 (Contains the stories: At Your Service Cafe de l'Amour Car Trouble Closing Time Easily Addicted Lunch Break Makin' Copies On the Job Opening Day at the County Fair Order Up Pleasure Cruise Speed Trap Summer Kisses and Ice Cream Dreams Tech Support )

Amazon: Working Men
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (August 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1463763107
ISBN-13: 978-1463763107

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading+list&view=elisa.rolle

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This is an amateur blog, where I discuss my reading, what I like and sometimes my personal life. I do not endorse anyone or charge fees of any kind for the books I review. I do not accept money as a result of this blog.
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