5 New Gay Romance Novels to Watch Out For

The Perils of Intimacy by Rick R. Reed (1 May 2017)
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Jimmy and Marc make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness and clean-cut cuteness radiate out of him like light. Marc, although a bit older, complements Jimmy with his humor and his openness to love.

But between them, a dark secret lurks, one with the power to destroy.

See, when Marc believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.

Marc has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings, long bleached dreadlocks, and facial hair. He was painfully skinny—and a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a different person—a lying, conniving thief who robbed Marc blind during their one-night stand.

Marc doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone horribly wrong with this fresh-faced, smiling twentysomething… but Jimmy knows. As they begin a dance of love and attraction, will Jimmy be brave enough to reveal the truth? And if he does, will Marc be able to forgive him? Can he see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers will depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.

Liar, Liar by TA Moore (12 May 2017)
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Just another day at the office.

For some people that means spreadsheets, and for others it’s stitching endless hems. For Jacob Archer a day at the office is stealing proprietary information from a bioengineering firm for a paranoid software billionaire. He’s a liar and a thief, parlaying a glib tongue and a facile conscience into a lucrative career. He just has one rule—never get involved with a mark.

Well, had one rule. To be fair, though, Simon Ramsey is dark, dangerous, and has shoulders like a Greek statue. Besides, it’s not as though Jacob’s even really stealing from Simon… just his boss and his brother-in-law. Simon didn’t buy that excuse either after he caught Jacob breaking into the company’s computer network.

That would have been that—one messy breakup, one ticket to Bali booked—but it turns out that the stolen information is worth more than Jacob thought. With his life—and his ribs—threatened, Jacob needs Simon to help him out. Or maybe he just needs Simon.

Off Campus: Volume 1 (Bend or Break) by Amy Jo Cousins (27 May 2017)
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Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide. With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that. But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed. Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging. Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break. Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.

Shadow Fray by Bradley Lloyd (30 May 2017)
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Family is worth fighting for—and family doesn’t always mean blood.

No one knows what calamity poisoned the earth and decimated the human population, but living close to the toxic ground means illness and death. Justin is determined to keep his twin sister and younger brother from that fate—no matter what he has to do. To earn enough to keep his family safe in a high-rise, Justin enlists in a deadly sport called Shadow Fray. He quickly finds himself in over his head, especially when he is scheduled to face the most dangerous player.

Hale—who competes as Black Jim—knows he won’t be on top forever, despite his skills. He fights for a better life for his daughter, but his time is running out as Shadow Fray becomes increasingly lethal. Something about the newest fighter intrigues him, but does he dare defy his masters to investigate? Justin and Hale will clash in the ring, while beyond it the powerful elite and the crumbling world seem determined to keep them apart. If they can find common ground, they might have a chance to fight for their futures.

Caught! (The Shamwell Tales) by JL Merrow (5 Jun 2017)
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Bow ties are cool . . . but secrets, not so much.

Behind Robert Emeny’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But then he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils.

Sean Grant works in pest control, lives on a council estate, and rides a motorbike. Robert is an ex–public schoolboy from a posh family who drives a classic car. On the face of it, they shouldn’t have anything in common. Yet Robert can’t resist Sean’s roguish grin, and passion sparks between them even after an excruciatingly embarrassing first date.

Too bad the past Robert’s hiding from is about to come looking for him. His increasingly ludicrous efforts to keep his secrets are pushing Sean away—but telling the truth could make Sean leave him for good.

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Astonishing the Gods by Ben Okri

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If you enjoy reading books with a spiritual – mystical twist, abounding in poetic lyricism, symbolism and references to myth, this is the perfect book for you. In Ben Okri’s modern fable Astonishing the Gods (1999), inspired by his poetry anthology Mental fight (1999), a young man, possibly at a tumultuous pivot point in his life, sets out on an existential quest in search for visibility. He arrives at an imaginary island where he explores an infinite possibility of worlds, while harnessing his inner mental-elemental energies. This is a story which resembles an actual meditative quest, paradoxically lacking the minimalism that characterizes an actual meditative journey. However, tapping into the vast power of man’s visual brain, Ben Okri manages to decipher a journey into the recesses of the mind in its most compassionate simplicity, all the while Astonishing the Gods…

Ben Okri is a Nigerian-British post-colonial author. He was born in 1959, in Minna in West Central Nigeria. Okri grew up in London from the age of two, but returned to Nigeria with his family in 1968, when he was exposed to the Nigerian Civil War. In 1978 Okri moved back to London in order to study comparative literature in Essex (his degree was not conferred because of lack of funding). “After a brief homeless period, he got a flat and wrote his way to some form of modest stability’’ link: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/style/homes_and_gardens/time_place/article1441266.ece

Ben Okri has won the Booker Prize for Fiction for The Famished Road (1991), a Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and a Premio Palmi award. He has also been made an honorary Vice-President of the English Centre for the Internional PEN and a member of the board of the Royal National Theatre. Some of his latest books include Starbook (2008), A Time for New Dreams (2011), In Arcadia (2015), A Way of Being Free (2015) Apart from Shakespeare, Aesop’s Fables, and William Blake, Ben Okri was significantly influenced by Yoruba folklore, and particularly his mother’s storytelling: “If my mother wanted to make a point, she wouldn’t correct me, she’d tell me a story.” (Sethi, “Ben Okri novelist as dream weaver”, link: http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/ben-okri-novelist-as-dream-weaver ). His first-hand experiences of civil war in Nigeria are said to have inspired many of his works. (Sethi, “Ben Okri novelist as dream weaver”)

I grew up in a tradition where there are simply more dimensions to reality: legends and myths and ancestors and spirits and death … Which brings the question: what is reality? Everyone’s reality is different. For different perceptions of reality we need a different language. We like to think that the world is rational and precise and exactly how we see it, but something erupts in our reality which makes us sense that there’s more to the fabric of life. I’m fascinated by the mysterious element that runs through our lives. Everyone is looking out of the world through their emotion and history. Nobody has an absolute reality. (Sethi, “Ben Okri novelist as dream weaver”)

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

 

Brilliant Book Titles #116

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
‘The Black Door’ explores the evolving relationship between successive British prime ministers and the intelligence agencies, from Asquith’s Secret Service Bureau to Cameron’s National Security Council.

At the beginning of the 20th Century the British intelligence system was underfunded and lacked influence in government. But as the new millennium dawned, intelligence had become so integral to policy that it was used to make the case for war. Now, covert action is incorporated seamlessly into government policy, and the Prime Minister is kept constantly updated by intelligence agencies.

But how did intelligence come to influence our government so completely?

‘The Black Door’ explores the murkier corridors of No. 10 Downing Street, chronicling the relationships between intelligence agencies and the Prime Ministers of the last century. From Churchill’s code-breakers feeding information to the Soviets to Eden’s attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, from Wilson’s paranoia of an MI5-led coup d’état to Thatcher’s covert wars in Central America, Aldrich and Cormac entertain and enlighten as they explain how our government came to rely on intelligence to the extent that it does today.

Brilliant Book Titles #115

Regular readers will know I love a good subtitle!

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You can reserve a copy from South Dublin Libraries’ online catalogue here.

Blurb:
Dating has never been easy. The road to true love has always been rutted with heartbreak, but do we have it any easier today?

How did Victorians ‘come out’? How did love blossom in war-torn Europe? And why did 80s video-dating never take off?

Bursting with little-known facts and tantalizing tales of lovelorn men and besotted women, Nichi Hodgson’s intriguing history of amorous relationships, from enamoured Georgians to frenziedly swiping millennials (and everyone in between) may leave you grateful that you live – and love – today.

Barkskins by Annie Proulx

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Real vintage Proulx , spanning centuries and telling the story of the destruction of the forests and ecosystem of Canada and north America.

Using a device she used in Accordion Crimes  she follows two families across the centuries.  It’s not an easy read and it’s very sad although it does end on a slightly hopeful note for the world we inhabit. It is very well researched as you would expect and very interesting culturally both European and Native American. It took me a while to read because of the breadth and sheer  numbers of characters but I was glad I persevered.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 New Literary Fictions to Watch Out For

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The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain by Don Waters (22 May 2017)
Master storyteller Don Waters returns to the desert in his third book set in the American Southwest. With the gothic sensibility of Flannery O Connor and emotional delicacy of Raymond Carver, these nine contemporary stories deftly explore the lives of characters losing or clinging to a fleeting faith and struggling to find something meaningful to believe in beneath overpowering desert skies.
Soldiers, seekers, priests, prisoners, and surfers pursue their fate amid bizarre, sometimes overwhelming circumstances. In La Luz de Jesus, a gutless Los Angeles screenwriter, a believer in nothing but the god of Hollywood, must reorient after he encounters a group of penitents in New Mexico s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The decorated soldier in Espanola faces more chaos back home than he did during his tour in Iraq. And The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain pairs a trustee prison inmate and a wild mustang horse, both wards of the state of Nevada, as they fumble toward a spiritual truth.
These stories capture the spirit of a region and its people. Once again Waters assembles an unconventional cast of characters, capturing their foibles and imperfections, and always rendering them with compassion as these modern-day martyrs and spiritually haunted survivors strive for some kind of redemption.
Ingenious, sometimes forbidding, often absurd, and altogether original, The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain is a stirring tribute to the lives, loves, and hopes of the faithful and the dispossessed.

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A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates (1 Jun 2017)
Two families. Two faces of America. An act of violence with far-reaching consequences.

Gus Voorhees is a pioneer in the advancement of women’s reproductive rights and a controversial abortion provider in the American Midwest. One morning as he arrives at his clinic, he is ambushed by a hardline Christian, Luther Dunphy, and shot dead.

The killing leaves in its wake two fatherless families: the Voorheeses, who are affluent, highly educated, secular and pro-choice, and the Dunphys, their opposite on all counts.
When the daughters of the two families, Naomi Voorhees and Dawn Dunphy, glimpse each other at the trial of Luther Dunphy, their initial response is mutual hatred. But their lives are tangled together forever by what has happened, and throughout the years to come and the events that follow, neither can quite forget the other.

A heart-rending reckoning with some of the most incendiary issues that divide us in our troubled times – religious extremism; abortion; gun violence; capital punishment – this is a novel Joyce Carol Oates was born to write. To read it is to encounter the full spectrum of humanity – its ugliness, misery, beauty and hope.

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Perennials by Mandy Berman (6 Jun 2017)
The quintessential summer read: a sharp, poignant coming-of-age novel about the magic of camp and the enduring power of female friendship, for readers of Stephanie Danler, Anton DiSclafani, Jennifer Close, and Curtis Sittenfeld
At what point does childhood end and adulthood begin? Mandy Berman’s evocative debut novel captures, through the lens of summer camp, a place that only appears to be untouched by the passing of time, both the thrills and pain of growing up.
Rachel Rivkin and Fiona Larkin used to treasure their summers together as campers at Camp Marigold. Now, reunited as counselors after their first year of college, their relationship is more complicated. Rebellious Rachel, a street-smart city kid raised by a single mother, has been losing patience with her best friend’s insecurities; Fiona, the middle child of a not-so-perfect suburban family, envies Rachel’s popularity with their campers and fellow counselors. For the first time, the two friends start keeping secrets from each other. Through them, as well as from the perspectives of their fellow counselors, campers, and families, we witness the tensions of the turbulent summer build to a tragic event, which forces Rachel and Fiona to confront their pasts–and the adults they’re becoming.
A seductive blast of nostalgia, a striking portrait of adolescent longing, and a tribute to both the complicated nature and the enduring power of female friendship, Perennials will speak to everyone who still remembers that bittersweet moment when innocence is lost forever.

Advance praise for Perennials
“Mandy Berman has remade the American summer camp narrative, ditching the usual cliches and getting in close with her characters and their various states of emotional and economic precariousness. Perennials is a sharp, crushingly observant, and empathetic debut, full of wit and tragedy, and good for all seasons.”–Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts and The Ask

“Mandy Berman explores an old trope: the magic of summer camp, a place separate from the rest of your life where you can become a slightly different version of yourself, a place where friendships run impossibly deep and romance and sex are innocent. But what happens when that divide begins to crumble, and real life, in all its moral ambiguity, finds its way to the heart of a halcyon summer? Lucid, psychologically nuanced, and great fun to read, Perennials has taken an old subject and made it new.”–Rufi Thorpe, author of Dear Fang, With Love and The Girls from Corona del Mar

“Snappy and irresistible, Berman’s debut novel, Perennials, takes readers back to summer camp, where her characters’ first friendships and treasons play out in sharp dialogue and playful, generous prose. Berman fearlessly renders youth and adulthood alike, in sentences you’ll want to savor.”–Kristopher Jansma, author of Why We Came to the City

“Do you remember that youthful summer when ‘everything changed’? Mandy Berman sure does and her wonderful novel is a snapshot of that time and the group of young women who are irrevocably changed by it. Perennials manages to be warm and loving and still wallop you with moments of shock and pain. What an exciting debut.”–Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and The Changeling

“Berman’s debut, a winning, keenly observed, and clear-eyed novel set in a summer camp, captures the age when fierce attachments forged over years begin to unravel, passionate female friendships give way to sex, and identity seems to shift with the tides.”–Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls

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How to Survive a Summer by Nick White (6 Jun 2017)
Camp Levi is designed to ‘cure’ young teenage boys of their budding homosexuality. Will Dillard spent a summer at Levi as a teenager, and has since tried to erase that experience from his mind. But when a fellow student alerts him that a slasher movie based on the camp is being released, he is forced to confront his troubled history and possible culpability in the death of a fellow camper. As past and present are woven together, Will returns to the abandoned campgrounds to solve the mysteries of that pivotal summer, and to reclaim his story from those who have stolen it.

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The Answers by Catherine Lacey (6 Jun 2017)
Huffington Post‘s 33 Titles To Add To Your Shelf in 2017
Elle‘s 25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017
Buzzfeed‘s 32 Most Exciting Books Coming Out in 2017
Chicago Reader‘s Books We Can’t Wait To Read In 2017

An urgent, propulsive novel about a woman learning to negotiate her ailment and its various aftereffects via the simulacrum of a perfect romantic relationship

In Catherine Lacey’s ambitious second novel we are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief from a New Agey treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, PAKing for short. And, remarkably, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive and Mary is dead broke. So she scours Craigslist for fast-cash jobs and finds herself applying for the “Girlfriend Experiment,” the brainchild of an eccentric actor, Kurt Sky, who is determined to find the perfect relationship–even if that means paying different women to fulfill distinctive roles. Mary is hired as the “Emotional Girlfriend”–certainly better than the “Anger Girlfriend” or the “Maternal Girlfriend”–and is pulled into Kurt’s ego-driven and messy attempt at human connection.

Told in her signature spiraling prose, The Answers is full of the singular yet universal insights readers have come to expect from Lacey. It is a gorgeous hybrid of the plot- and the idea-driven novel that will leave you reeling.

 

Pippa: Simple Tips to Live Beautifully by Pippa O’Connor

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Pippa O’Connor’s easy style and approach-ability has won her a huge and loyal following. Now Pippa shares her top tips and insights for how to live well, look good and feel great. Drawing on her own experiences as a model, businesswoman and busy mother, Pippa reveals how to look fabulous without spending a fortune. Whether it’s how to get ready in 10 minutes, wardrobe essentials for every woman, or being the hostess with the most-est (without slaving in the kitchen!), Pippa’s engaging mix of stories and practical advice shows that everyone can be stylish. Stuffed with tricks, inspiration and beauty secrets, this is a book for everyone, aged 16 or 60, who wants to discover their own personal style and to build the confidence to celebrate it.

Review: 2 very disappointing Stars

I want to start off by saying this book would be aimed at me. My age, my interests and I like beautiful pictures in books. I love beauty and I love to read what the next best thing in the beauty world is. I buy too much make up and creams. My husband says nothing because at 35 I still look like I could be in my 20’s! Fact: I grew up with a great mother who encouraged us and told us always to look after our face, skin and teeth. These are the areas that will always give away a woman’s age!

I was excited to see what Pippa’s tips and tricks would be like. Disappointing doesn’t even cut it.  ‘Simple Tips To Live Beautifully’ is the name of this book, but really Pippa was born with great looks and looks after herself, that’s it! This book could have been, half the size and yes, her pictures were beautiful but a book this size and price needs to have more than just pretty pictures. I could have written a better book and it probably would have had less typos! I know, I know I can’t talk, I can barely spell, but I don’t get paid for my reviews so I think I can have a few wrong spellings here and there. She had by my count more than 20!! At one point L’Oréal was spelt wrong. Eek, how embarrassing!

In conclusion this was so disappointing and if I had bought it instead of getting it from the library I would want my money back.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #114

bourbon-creams
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Handsome Frank Rossi took Matty Gilbie away from her working class roots in Bermondsey, East London and promised her fame and fortune. In America, the Cockney Canary would become a movie star. As his wife, she would be half of a power couple, fêted and adored by all. But the Wall Street Crash of 1929 puts paid to all that, and as Frank becomes more violent and unstable, Matty flees in the dead of night.

Once home in Bermondsey, she goes into hiding and starts desperately looking for work. But only Peak Freans, the hated biscuit factory, is hiring staff. Then, as a secret from her past comes back to haunt her, Matty learns that Frank is on the move, determined to find her and get her back.

Brilliant Book Titles #113

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
A revelatory work of intimate investigative journalism: William Burroughs for the Breaking Bad generation.

Luke Williams was a freelance journalist researching addiction to crystal methamphetamine when the worst possible thing happened ― he became addicted to it himself. Over the next three months, he descended into psychosis.

This dark, raw story charts Williams’ recovery from crystal-meth addiction, and his investigation into its usage and prevalence today. It also traces the history of methamphetamine: from its legal usage in the early 20th century, to its contemporary status as one of the most feared drugs in the world.

 

All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan

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All we shall know tells the story of Melody Shee, a 33 year old married woman locked in a childless and angry marriage. Upon discovering that her husband has been visiting prostitutes, she responds by becoming pregnant by a 17-year-old Traveller boy whom she has been teaching and is living as a kind of outcast. She befriends Mary Crothery, a Traveller girl whom she adopts as a kind of alter ego, who possesses the gift of second sight.

The book follows the pattern of her pregnancy and brings her into the world of halting sites with its network of family feuds and wars.

The book is interspersed with memories: of screaming rows with her estranged husband and the uncontrollable torrents of abuse unleashed between them; and memories of her childhood friend Breedie Flynn and how she betrayed her. In more ways than one she is a woman who has lost the run of herself.

The book is very well written-and does explore new territory-dealing with traveller issues & written from a woman’s viewpoint. Nevertheless I found it a difficult read – the protagonist is quite simply a horrible person and the moral consequences of her actions – seducing a boy of 16 over the course of a year – are not really examined in any depth.

Still worth a read!

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.