GLBT interest archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: GLBT interest


7th July, 2008
Speed reviews: part I
— Love @ 08:43 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Book Blowout, C, Classics, D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, History, Lifestyle, Mystery, Religion, Romance, Science Fiction, Sex, sexuality & gender, Speed reviews, Swedish, To Be Read, Young Adult

Since I’m sick* and way behind on reviews, I’ve realised the only way to catch up is to make them speed reviews and post a whole batch at once.

The Age of Napoleon; Alistair Horne, eng, 235 British
Interesting, but a little choppily written, and also the author assumes you know certain things and never explains them, while others he explains over and over again.
C

Cold Comfort Farm; Stella Gibbons, eng, 253 British
Funny, though I accidentally didn’t read the preface, so I wasn’t 100 % how much of it was intentional (all of it, as it turns out, and as I suspected). Flora Poste is kind of annoying, but all right all the same.
For the TBR reading challenge and as part of the BBC Big Read.
B

Rebecca; Daphne du Maurier, eng, 410 British
A re-read, not as good as I remembered it, but still lovely. Maxim is both wonderful and creepy.
C

Med uppenbar känsla för stil; Stephan Mendel-Enk, swe, 128 Swedish
Interestingly written about men and what’s considered masculine. References Morrissey at some points, mostly in connection with a man who went berserk and killed people. Lovely… not!
C

Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East; Brian Whitaker, swe, 230 British
Interesting, scary and occasionally a little bit hopeful.
C

Ingen behöver veta; Christina Wahldén, swe, 139 Swedish
About male rape and how it does exist, but people find it hard to believe. Kind of a non-ending, but then I suppose that’s sadly the case in most instances of actual male rape also.
C

Ingen grekisk gud, precis; Katarian Kieri, swe, 217 Swedish
Kind of brilliant tale of a young girl who falls for a teacher. Kind of brilliant mostly because the main character is into Morrissey, but for other reasons also. I was a bit worried where it was going to end, but it’s kind of perfect, really.
B

Sandman: The Kindly Ones; Neil Gaiman et al., eng, 335 British
I wouldn’t say Sandman is Gaiman at his best, but I do like the stories and so also in this volume. Not my favourite, though.
For the TBR reading challenge.
C

Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island; Mike Tucker, eng, 255 British
Scary monsters and kiddies with nightmares. I liked it, but not as much as other DW books.
C

Doctor Who: The Art of Destruction; Stephen Cole, eng, 256 British
Farming in Africa, golden statues and creepy aliens. Good, but not great. Doctor’s always nice, though.
C

Doctor Who: The Price of Paradise; Colin Brake, eng, 255 British
References Franz Ferdinand and other pop culture a time or two. Not the best of the DW books I’ve read—I don’t much care for Colin Brake’s style of writing it, though I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.
C

Tro, hopp och burnout; Johan Unenge, swe, 228 Swedish
YA story about a guy who’s really into cars and death metal, who ends up going on a confirmation camp. It’s a decent story, and I was happy to see it didn’t end up quite where I expected it would, but the writing style is very, very choppy and not at all my cup of tea.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
C

Vadå feminist; Lisa Gålmark, swe, 188 Swedish
Basic guide to feminism. I wasn’t too keen on the writing and didn’t like the book all that much. Mostly it made me a little annoyed with the author, though it did contain sections worth thinking about. It bothers me that there is no question mark in the title.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
D

Homofamiljer; Sara Stenholm & Cecilia Strömberg, swe, 312 Swedish
About rainbow families and different ways to get one. Interesting, especially the personal stories, but not fab.
C

*Just a cold, but a bad one. I hate colds. And I’ve run out of Kleenex, which means my nose is very, very sore from regular paper towels. Woe.


5th July, 2008
Torchwood: Something in the Water; Trevor Baxendale
— Love @ 15:20 Comments (0)
Filed under: Book Blowout, C, English, GLBT interest, Science Fiction

Torchwood: Something in the Water; Trevor Baxendale Torchwood: Something in the Water
by Trevor Baxendale
British

English
255 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 978-1-846-07437-0

First line: The Late Bob Strong.

Back cover blurb:
Dr Bob Strong’s GP surgery has been treating a lot of coughs and colds recently, far more than is normal for the time of year. Bob thinks there’s something up but he can’t think what. He seems to have caught it himself, whatever it is—he’s starting to cough badly and there are flecks of blood in his hanky.

Saskia Harden has been found on a number of occasions submerged in ponds or canals but alive and seemingly none the worse for wear. Saskia is not on any files, except in the medical records at Dr Strong’s GP practice.
But Torchwood’s priorities lie elsewhere: investigating ghostly apparitions in South Wales, they have found a dead body. It’s old and in an advanced state of decay. And it is still able to talk.

And what it is saying is ‘Water hag’…

Thoughts: This isn’t the first of the Torchwood books, but it is the first one I’ve read. I liked it well enough, even if I was freaking out a bit due to the fact that I’ve caught a cold (stupid crowded plane cabins) and was consequently hacking up my lungs as I read it. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m reading a book wherein the majority of the characters are suffering from a strange affliction which starts with a tickle in the throat and leads to massive coughing fits, complete with blood and great quantities of green phlegm being expelled, I don’t particularly want to be suffering from a bad cough myself. Not that there are times I would want to be suffering from a bad cough, but y’know, there are degrees of “do not want.”

Apart from the cough coincidence, it was pretty all right. Darker in tone than the Doctor Who books (just like the series is darker and more ‘grown-up’ than DW), but I think I actually prefer the Who books. At least some of them, and possibly not to all of the Torchwood books (time will tell).

My one biggest complaint is that there was much too little of Ianto in this. Ianto Jones is effin’ brilliant, so he deserves more page time than he got here, but what little he did get was pretty snarky, which was nice. I love snarky!Ianto. I also love Jack/Ianto, which there wasn’t much of in this particular book. I am told that there’s more of it in some of the others in the series, though, so I’m not giving up on that yet.

I’m giving this a C rating. Had it had more Jack/Ianto, or just more Ianto, I would have given it a higher rating, most likely, but as it is, a C is just the right one.


22nd June, 2008
A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day
— Love @ 16:30 Comments (2)
Filed under: A, English, GLBT interest, Here Be Dragons, Romance, Science Fiction

A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day A Strong and Sudden Thaw
by RW Day
American

For the Here Be Dragons reading challenge.

English
333 pages
Iris Print
ISBN: 978-0-9787531-1-5

First line: There’s an old scenic view about halfway up the mountain, alongside where the old highway runs.

Back cover blurb:
Dragons in Virginia?

Nearly a hundred years after the Ice changed the face of our world, the people of Moline work to reclaim the frozen land, both from the cold and from the dragons that now live in the hills outside of town—dragons that the government won’t believe exist.

David Anderson knows very little of the world outside of his family’s farm, until Callan, an assistant healer from the south, arrives in Moline and begins to teach him of a world he never knew, full of books and ideas, and history long forgotten. When Callan is found in the arms of another man—a crime in this post-Ice world—David learns a frightening truth about himself, and the difference between what is legal… and what is right.

After trouble hits the nearby town of Crawford, David and Callan discover the seeds of a plot that affects not only their home, but towns just like Moline across the world. Now they must fight to save their home, not only from the dragons, but from a government that wants them dead!

Thoughts: I loved this novel to tiny little pieces. I was a bit sceptic, because a person, whose taste in books I usually do not agree with at all, liked this a lot, and so I thought that I probably wouldn’t. For this reason, I kept pushing back reading it until I couldn’t really push it back any longer, as the end of the Here Be Dragons challenge came nearer and nearer.

I picked it up one night, read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open a second longer, slept, woke up and read the rest of it. It was that good. I will say that it took me a little while to get used to the language used. David, the main character, might by some be considered a hillbilly/redneck, and he usually doesn’t bother too much about proper grammar when speaking. Don’t let that put you off, however, because once you get used to that, the story is so worth it.

David and Callan’s relationship is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time and I simply can’t find proper words to describe why this book is awesome. Just trust me on that.

It’s an A grade. I can’t give it anything else. This is the first book in quite a while where the characters stayed with me for at least a couple of days after I turned the last page, and I immediately wanted to go back and read it again.

The one biggest thing I wasn’t super thrilled about (yeah, there were a few things like that) was the ending. It doesn’t feel at all finished and lots of things are left unresolved. Still, it doesn’t feel like a bad thing, exactly, but more like an opening for a sequel (which I understand is being written/has been written and is waiting for publication).

Edit: It appears that Iris Print, the publisher of this book, has closed down without telling its authors, and that a couple of them has had trouble getting in touch with the publisher and RW Day had a royalty cheque bounce. While I do want a lot of people to read it, I don’t exactly feel comfortable recommending anyone buying it, with things being what they are at present. You can read more about it here, at the author’s website.


17th May, 2008
Från en annan planet; Tamara Bach
— Love @ 18:13 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Från en annan planet; Tamara Bach Från en annan planet
by Tamara Bach
Original title: Marsmädchen
German

Swedish
168 pages
Berghs
ISBN: 91-502-1541-8

First line: Mitt namn är Miriam.

Back cover blurb:
“Laura och jag bredvid varandra på väg mot klassrummet. Steg, andas in, steg, andas ut. Lagom takt. Ska jag säga nåt? Hålla tyst? Andas. Där framme är dörren och jag kan inte göra nåt utom att gå, andas gå. Och jag vågar inte se på henne.”

Om Miriam 15 år, som bor i en småstad där det aldrig händer något. Men när Laura börjar i hennes klass förändras allt. Miriam har äntligen hittat en vän, och vänskapen övergår till kärlek.

Very short synopsis in English: Miriam is fifteen and lives in a small town. Laura is new in her class and they become friends, and maybe more.

Thoughts: This is the first lesbian-related YA novel I’ve read and properly liked. Still can’t remember one with a decently upbeat ending, though. Everyone always moves away. Or dies.

Either way, read it if you find it. I think it’s called Girl from Mars in English.

A B rating.


13th May, 2008
Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm
— Love @ 18:06 Comments (1)
Filed under: D, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm Drakvinter
by Elvira Birgitta Holm
Title translated to English: Dragon Winter
Swedish

Swedish
186 pages
Bonnier Carlsen
ISBN: 91-638-3847-8

First line: Hjälp!

Back cover blurb:
Plötsligt slog Madeleine armarna om Bim, drog in henne i famnen så att hennes ansikte pressades mot Madeleines hals, hon kunde känna Madeleines bröst mot sina nyckelben, doften av mandel från Madeleines hud.
Bim ville slita sig loss, hon ville stå kvar, nej, hon visste inte vad hon ville. De stod där orörliga.

Akta dig för vargarna, hade Madeleine sagt. Men Bim hade inte kunnat göra någonting för att skydda henne.

Very short synopsis in English: Bim is thirteen and kind of lonely. Madeleine, who used to be her enemy, suddenly takes a special interest and things change. Especially after that fateful New Year’s Eve.

Thoughts: This was kind of boring, to be honest, so it doesn’t get more than a D grade.


12th May, 2008
Bananflugornas herre; Fredrik Eklund
— Love @ 18:05 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish

Bananflugornas herre; Fredrik Eklund Bananflugornas herre
by Fredrik Eklund
Title translated to English: Lord of the Fruitflies
Swedish

Swedish
152 pages
Debutantförlaget
ISBN: 91-974438-4-0

First line: “Ever thought of doing movies?”

Back cover blurb:
“Ever thought of doing movies?”

Jag stirrade på skärmen utan att förstå. Avsändaren var Male Eagles. Om mamma eller pappa hade ringt på mobilen och sagt att middagen var klar. Om Joel hade velat gå ut och dricka öl. Om staden bara hade visat mig en enda glimt av vad jag förväntade mig i livet. Då hade jag aldrig gjort porr.

Bananflugornas herre tar oss med på en resa in det förbjudna tillsammans med en sökande och stolt huvudperson. En som vill befria sig från omgivningens konventioner, visa sina fjädrar för hela världen, finna sanningen på sitt sätt. Det är en bok om att skapa sig själv, om utanförskap och homosexualitet, om modet att välja.

Very short synopsis in English: A novel about a young Swedish man, on a journey, both physical and mental, to start doing gay porn in the US.

Thougths: I started this fairly late at night and realised immediately I wouldn’t put it down until I’d finished it. Luckily, it was a pretty short novel, so the impact it had on my sleep was minimal. Minimal is also the impact it has had on me since I finished it. It’s only a week ago as I write this, but I can’t remember the name of the main character no matter how hard I try (it might possibly be Jonas).

It was decent enough, I don’t deny that, but it’s not a book you remember very well after and none of the characters were once I fell completely in love with. Still, it earns a C. Could have been better, but could also have been so much worse.


12th May, 2008
Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson
— Love @ 17:44 Comments (2)
Filed under: C, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson Bögslungan
by Per Alexandersson
Swedish

Swedish
136 p
LL-förlaget
ISBN: 978-91-7053-187-3

First line: Max ligger helt utmattad i sin säng, med huvudet djupt i kudden.

Back cover blurb:
Det är veckan innan nian slutar. Nu händer allt. Bråk ställs på sin spets och kompisar blir fiender. Det gäller att inte bära väskan på fel sätt, ha på sig fel kläder eller säga något klumpigt. Minsta felsteg och du går från cool till mobbad. När Max äntligen får en tjej blir han lycklig, men är han verkligen kär i henne?

Max blir livrädd när han börjar tänka för mycket på Niklas. Är han bög?!

Very short synopsis in English: It’s one week until the end of ninth grade and it’s never been as important to fit in as it is now. Max fights with his best friend, gets a girlfriend and starts to have strange feelings for Niklas, the bullied kid in school.

Thoughts: This was the winner in a contest held by LL-förlaget, a publisher specialising in books that are easy to read, for those who perhaps aren’t that good at reading (yet). The reason I read it was because it came up when I did a search on ‘homosexuality’ in the library database. It was so new, apparently, that they hadn’t even had time to put in in the ‘Just in’ case.

It’s a pretty cute story, but nothing terribly special, so the rating is a C one.


6th May, 2008
Hästen från Porten; Carina Burman
— Love @ 15:40 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, GLBT interest, Historical, Mystery, Swedish

Hästen från Porten; Carina Burman Hästen från Porten
by Carina Burman
Swedish

Swedish
354 pages
Albert Bonniers Förlag
ISBN: 978-91-0-011729-0

First line: För andra gången kom jag till Philadelphia.

Back cover blurb:
Han hette Djinn. Åtminstone var det så hon kallade honom, succéförfattarinnan Euthanasia Bondeson, när de möttes i den syriska öknen.
Det fanns varken lugn eller inspiration där i hettan, där sanden letade sig in överallt och städerna mest bestod av ruiner. Återigen måste Euthanasia Bondeson utreda ett försvinnande. Sökandet leder henne till den myllrande storstaden Konstantinopel, på gränsen mellan väst och öst.
I ökensol och bland mörka gränder möter Euthanasia mystiska resenärer, tvetydiga poliser och tillmötesgående haremsdamer. Det är mars 1853, och den nyfikna författarinnans svärmeri för antiken måste stå tillbaka för den alltmer påträngande politiken. Under andningspauserna mellan överfall och utredningar gör hon även förvånande fynd inom erotiken—men ingenting förbryllar så som Djinn, den vackraste arabhästen av dem alla.

Very short synopsis in English: Euthanasia Bondeson, amateur detective and writer of fiction, has left Europe for the Middle East. In the Syrian desert, she meets Djinn, the most gorgeous of horses, who soon thereafter disappears. Stolen, as far as anyone can tell, but why and by whom? Miss Bondeson’s investigations take her back to the border between East and West, to Constantinople, where she suddenly finds herself involved in political intrigue.

Thoughts: I’ve been waiting for this book. I would’ve got it the second it was published, if I hadn’t made that month one of the two of my embargo on book buying. The moment the embargo was lifted, however, I made it down to the bookshop to procure it. Of course, they didn’t have it in, so I had them place a special order and the week after I popped ’round to pick it up (at a discounted price, I might add).

I then proceeded to read it in one sitting. Now, it’s not as good as my favourite in the series (Babylons gator, now out in English as The Streets of Babylon, which is set in London, 1853 and has molly houses and all sorts of other good stuff), but it’s still more than just okay. An old favourite of mine, from the first book, is back, which was nice, and even though this installment is not quite as queer as the previous two, it still has its moments.

Now, I’m not sure if it was intentional, or if it’s just my mind going places it shouldn’t, but I get disturbing “sailor and his goat”-vibes à la Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander from a certain character. Probably it’s just my mind. I certainly hope so. (Talk about omnisexual, though.)

What else? There is a wonderful moment of not-so-subtle mocking of Jan Guillou’s Arn books (which I don’t ever plan on reading—yuck!) that had me laughing out loud.

To conclude: yes, good book! (a B rating, methinks), but not quite queer enough (though certainly queerer than I was lead to expect by other reviews) and if the author ever finds out about my sailor and his goat”-vibes, I shall be most cross. I’m just sayin’.


24th February, 2008
Postcards from No Man’s Land; Aidan Chambers
— Love @ 20:34 Comments (4)
Filed under: A, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Postcards from No Man's Land; Aidan Chambers Postcards from No Man’s Land
by Aidan Chambers
British

For the Young Adult reading challenge.

English
312 pages
Speak
ISBN: 0-14-240145-5

First line: Not knowing his way around, he set off back the way he had come.

Back cover blurb:
Jacob’s plan is to go to Amsterdam to honour his grandfather who died during World War II. He hopes to go, set flowers on his grandfather’s tombstone, and explore the city. But nothing goes as planned. Jacob isn’t prepared for love — or to face questions about his sexuality. Most of all he isn’t prepared to hear what Geertrui, the woman who nursed his grandfather during the war, has to say about their relationship. Geertrui has always been known as Jacob’s grandfather’s kind and generous nurse. But it seems that in the midst of terrible danger, Geertrui and Jacob’s grandfather’s time together blossomed into something more than a girl caring for a wounded soldier. And like Jacob, Geertrui was not prepared. Geertrui and Jacob lived worlds apart, but their voices blend together to tell one story — a story that transcends time and place and war.

Thoughts: This year I’ve revisited a lot of books I’ve read previously, but only in Swedish. This is another one of those. Aidan Chambers, I think, has to be one of my favourite authors of fiction for young adults. He deals with some of my favourite topics (if you hadn’t clued into the fact that I like gay-themed stories, then I might as well just come out and say it now. I like gay-themed stories! Young adult ones more than others), but in a quiet sort of way that I absolutely adore. Sometimes I wish he’d be more obvious and outspoken, but if I really think about it, I think I like it best the way it is now. It’s all there if you look for it (and you don’t have to look all that hard), but it’s not glaringly in-your-face either, which I have to say is nice. I like a bit of subtlety now and again.

Like I said, I hadn’t read this book in English before and doing it brought a new dimension or two that I hadn’t noticed before. In the Swedish translation, it wasn’t always so obvious that all the Dutch characters, when speaking English, were not using their mother tongue and that they had a Dutch accent (this was also the case with A Countess Below Stairs. I’d never known, before, that Anna’s accent was so noticeable, simply because it was lost in translation).

It was also a couple of years since I last read Postcards, which, again, brought a fresh perspective. The first time I read it, I wasn’t sold on the gay theme yet (that is not to say that I minded it, though). The second time, I had started to read more gay lit in general, so that part of the story appealed to me more than before, and this time, I have new experiences and views that I hadn’t on the previous occasions, and that made me appreciate the story even more.

“[…] Love is not finite. It is not that we each have a limited supply of it that we can only give to one person at a time. Or that we have one kind of love that can only be given to one person in the whole of our lives. It’s a ridiculous thing to think so. I love Ton. I sleep with him when we both want it. Or when one of us needs it, even if the other doesn’t want it then. I love Simone—“
“Simone?” Jacob said.
“She was here the other morning when you left. She called out to you. She lives two streets away. Ton and Simone know each other. They were friends before I met them. We’ve talked about it. Ton never sleeps with women. That’s the way he is. Simone only sleeps with me. That’s the way she is. I sleep with them both. That’s the way I am. They both want to sleep with me. That’s how we are. That’s how we want it. If we didn’t, or if any one of us didn’t, then, okay, that’s it. All the stuff about gender. Male, female, queer, bi, feminist, new man, whatever — it’s meaningless. As out of date as marriage forever. I’m tired of hearing about it. We’re beyond that now.”

I was in a relationship at one time that went really bad, because the other party needed more than I could give, and while at the time I was terribly upset and depressed about it, in hindsight, I think that’s acceptable. That is, I think such a situation is acceptable if everyone involved is totally honest about what’s going on and the thing is talked about. In my situation, it wasn’t really, so there were hard feelings, a lot of anger on my side, and hurt feelings also.

Now I’m in a new situation, where the person I’ve fallen for is on another continent entirely and with another person at the same time as they are with me. I’ve never had an issue with this, because all along, between me and them, there’s been complete honesty and I’ve never been lied to. And this other person, my person, if you will, is okay with the fact that I might at some point want to find someone a little closer to me geographically. I might not find such a person, and if I did, they might not be okay with the situation I’m in, in which case I’m going to have to make decisions based on that. But that’s just how I feel. Everyone’s different, and different things are right for different people.

“[…] I’m not sure I’m — I dunno — strong enough. Brave enough. Not like you and Daan.”
Ton gave a little huffing laugh. “Bravery it isn’t! It’s just how we believe life should be. Not for everyone. But for us. And people who think like us. We’re learning how to live it while we live it. What else is worth doing?”

I’m pretty sure that told you more than you ever wanted to know about me, but can I help it that the book touched me so? ;D

I don’t like all of it, though. The character of Hille annoys me, and Geertrui’s parts of the story, while essential, did not move me quite as much as the present-day story of Jacob, Ton and Daan. In the end, though, the great parts of it completely outweigh the not so good and thus I’m still quite enamoured of the book. Much like Jacob fell in love with Amsterdam.

[…] the day (smiling to himself) he fell in love with the city. For I have, he thought, haven’t I? It’s just like falling for a person. Not wanting to be parted from it, wanting to know everything about it, liking it as it is, the bad as well as the good, the not so pretty as well as the beautiful, its noises and smells and colors and shapes and oddities. Liking its difference from everywhere else. And its history as well as its present. And its mystery, for there was so much he did not understand. And the people who had begun to show him how to see it, Daan and Ton.

Oh dear, I think this might be my longest thoughts on a book so far. I’d better start wrapping up by giving a rating. This is a tricky one. I’m not sure it reaches quite the heights of an A, but on the other hand a B doesn’t feel quite like enough. What shall it be, what shall it be? The deciding factor, I think, will have to be that I have, after all, read it not only once, or twice, but actually three times now, so obviously I like it a lot. An A then. And you should read it too. Just sayin’.


24th February, 2008
Standish; Erastes
— Love @ 13:38 Comments (2)
Filed under: Back to History, D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, Romance

Standish; Erastes Standish
by Erastes
British

For the Back to History reading challenge.

English
215 pages
P.D. Publishing Inc.
ISBN: 1-933720-09-3

First line: The candle guttered, and Ambrose looked up at it with a frown, the long blond hair falling away from the sides of his face.

Back cover blurb:
A great house. A family dispossessed. A sensitive young man. A powerful landowner. An epic love that springs up between two men. Set in the post-Napoleonic years of the 1820’s, Standish is a tale of two men — one man discovering his sexuality and the other struggling to overcome his traumatic past.

Ambrose Standish, a studious and fragile young man, has dreams of regaining the great house his grandfather lost in a card game. When Rafe Goshawk returns from the continent to claim the estate, their meeting sets them on a path of desire and betrayal which threatens to tear both of their worlds apart.

Painting a picture of homosexuality in Georgian England, Standish is a love story of how the decisions of two men affect their journey through Europe and through life.

Thoughts: From the moment I came across this book on Amazon.co.uk, I knew I had to read it. The story sounded amazing and I just love historical gay romance, there’s no denying that. Unfortunately, I was in for quite a disappointment.

I started reading it in January, got about a third of the way through during my first sitting with it, and then I put it down and did not pick it up again until now. I kept trying to persuade myself that if I read only one chapter a day, I would finish it in less than a month, but there just was no way of doing it. I wanted so badly to love the story, and I just couldn’t do it. I had such a hard time with the language and the way it was written — they didn’t appeal to me at all.

Finally, I picked it up again and found that if I just skimmed certain bits, it was tolerable. And so I finished the remaining two-thirds in a second sitting. I even, towards the end, found myself almost enjoying it. A part of the reason for this was, I dare say, the character of Padraig Fleury who appeared in the second half of the novel.

In the end, I didn’t like it even half as much as I had hoped to going in, but on the other hand, I did like it more than I thought I would after the first third. Even though it’s nowhere near the best book I’ve ever read, I am glad I decided to stick with it and read the entire thing. I have rarely been so close to making a book a DNF (did not finish), though. If it weren’t for the fact that I had it on my (no changes allowed) list of books for the Back to History challenge, or the fact that I had paid money for it and didn’t much like the idea of that being wasted, I don’t think I would have finished.

However, apart from all that I have outlined above, there was another thing that particularly bothered me. At one point Ambrose reads Dracula. Which is, y’know, cool and all. Except Standish is set in 1821 and Dracula wasn’t published until 1897, so unless there was time travel that I completely missed, that’s a big mistake on the part of the author, and that loses them a lot of respect from me.

I should think it obvious that the rating is not going to be a great one, but in the end, solely thanks to Fleury, it does manage a D, rather than an F. I realise we are only at the end of February and that much of the reading year remains, but I will be much surprised if this does not end up being “Disappointment of the Year.”


23rd February, 2008
Den hemlösa sexualiteten: en antologi
— Love @ 13:21 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, GLBT interest, Religion, Swedish, To Be Read

Den hemlösa sexualiteten: en antologi Den hemlösa sexualiteten: en antologi
by a number of different authors
Swedish & American

For the A-Z and To Be Read reading challenges.

Swedish
286 pages
Bokförlaget Libris
ISBN: 91-7195-402-3

First line: n/a

Back cover blurb:
Homosexualitet är en av de mest brännande frågorna i kyrkorna i dag. Ämnet väcker starka känslor. Många tycker att det är svårt att ta till orda, andra tycks redan vara klara med frågan.
Antologin Den hemlösa sexualiteten vill medverka till ett konstruktivt och nyanserat samtal i kyrkan om homosexualitet. Om kristen tro innebär att man ställer hela livet i relation till Gud och evangeliet, då är homosexualitet också en teologisk angelägenhet för kyrkan. Det väcker frågor om:

  • Vad säger Bibeln om homosexualitet?
  • Vilken syn har kristna på sex och samlevnad?
  • Hur ska kyrkorna reagera inför de orättvisor som homosexuella drabbas av?
  • På vilka villkor kan homosexuella välkomnas i församlingen?
  • Kan partnerskap välsignas i kyrkan?

Författarna till Den hemlösa sexualiteten tar upp dessa och andra frågor. Utgångspunkten är klassisk kristen tro i förening med lyhördhet och respekt inför de homosexuellas situation. Frågorna blir belysta ur fyra olika perspektiv — bibliska, etiska, kulturella och pastorala. De 18 författarna representerar olika kristna traditioner.
Boken ger inga färdiga svar, men läsaren får hjälp att själv orientera sig i frågorna utifrån en kristen livsvärld.

Thoughts: This is another book I got in the 2006 book sale and that has been in my TBR-pile ever since. Unlike Profile of a Criminal Mind it is actually included on my list for the TBR-challenge, so I can strike one off there now. Yay!

Another thing that differs compared with Profile… is that I really liked that one, and I didn’t particularly like this. I have to admit that when I bought it, I thought it was a different sort of book than it turned out to be. I initially thought that it was a collection of essays by Christians who were positive when it came to homosexuality, perhaps homosexual themselves, and how they managed to make their beliefs and their sexualities match. That was not the case, however. Rather, the approach in the book is more along the lines of “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Interesting, yes, but also a little prone to making me angry. I will not touch on that too much, but I will mention one thing in particular: it drives me absolutely nuts that people so often seem to think that bisexuality always means a complete lack of ability to be monogamous. Seriously, people, homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality are on a completely different scale than monogamy vs. polygamy/polyamory. You can be heterosexual and polyamorous, or you can be bisexual and monogamous. Just because a person has the ability to be attracted to persons of both genders1, doesn’t mean that they want to be with people of both genders at the same time. (Sorry for rambling, but that really is a pet peeve of mine.)

I’ve mentioned it before, but I find rating non-fiction quite difficult. A book can be well-written and well-argued, but if I personally don’t agree with the views expressed in the book, that will obviously colour the grade I give it. Keep that in mind when I now dole out a D to Den hemlösa sexualiteten.

1. Or is attracted to people with a complete disregard of gender. I am being consciously simplistic here.


5th February, 2008
Dream Boy; Jim Grimsley
— Love @ 20:39 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fiction, GLBT interest

Dream Boy; Jim Grimsley Dream Boy
by Jim Grimsley
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
195 pages
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0-684-82992-4

First line: On Sunday in the new church, Preacher John Roberts tells about the disciple Jesus loved whose name was also John, how at the Last Supper John lay his head tenderly on Jesus’s breast.

Back cover blurb: n/a

Thoughts: I really hate when there’s no back cover blurb on a book, because that means I have to try to sum it up in my own words and I cannot tell you enough how much I really suck at that. But here goes:

Dream Boy is the story of Nathan, a teen who’s just moved with his parents to a new town in rural USA (where is not exactly clear. Or it might be, but I am too ignorant of small town American geography to get it. ETA: North Carolina, apparently). Nathan and his parents live in a farm house on a farm owned by another family. Tony, who is the farmer’s son, really appeals to Nathan and apparently Nathan really appeals to Tony as well, as they strike up a sort of relationship, which is very, very much “don’t show, don’t tell” and Tony especially feels guilty about some of the things they do, and will avoid Nathan for periods of time when it gets too much for him. In the background of the story is Nathan’s struggle to keep certain memories under lock and key, because they are too painful to dwell on. As the story progresses, he finds these memories harder to keep from coming to the surface, as his dad is starting to pay more attention to him again.

See? I’m absolutely crap at it!

Either way, this book was absolutely terrible. Not that it wasn’t good, because it was, but in that I haven’t felt so physically ill from a book in a loooong time. The ending is very, very ambiguous and left me wondering if Nathan was or wasn’t (what, I won’t say, as that would be too much of a spoiler). I’m guessing he probably was, but I couldn’t tell for sure.

My copy of this book is a used one and on the front cover is written “This book belongs to is Aleeia Summers age 10”, but were it up to me, I would not in a million years have let this ten-year-old read this book. I’m not usually very restrictive like that, but this book has themes of sexual molestation and there is a very brutal and fairly graphic rape at one point in the story, and I just don’t think that’s for a ten-year-old to read! It made me utterly, utterly uncomfortable and sickened, and the thought of someone so young reading that… ::shudders::

On to the rating, then! It was a good book, fairly easy and quick to read, even though certain themes made me absolutely sick to my stomach. There were lighter bits in it as well, but the overall feel of the book was a rather depressing one. Possibly it was a happy ending, but it was quite confusing, so it might not have been. I’m giving the book a B, because I think it really deserves it. I know at least one person I will more or less force to read this (if he hasn’t already, that is), because I want someone else’s take on it as well.


22nd January, 2008
Duktig pojke; Inger Edelfeldt
— Love @ 15:20 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, A-Z Reading Challenge, Decades '08, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Duktig pojke; Inger Edelfeldt Duktig pojke
by Inger Edelfeldt
Swedish

For the Decades ’08 (first published 1977) and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
208 pages
Rabén & Sjögren
ISBN: 91-29-64869-6

First line:
Han var ett väldigt snällt barn, annars var det väl ingenting som skilde honom från andra barn; jag menar, ingenting som märktes.

Back cover blurb:
“Är det här nåt slags modenyck, Jim?” grälade min far. “Nåt sånt här Davy Boogie-trams? Det trodde jag verkligen du var för intelligent för att gå på!”
Ja, sådär har det alltid varit. Jag hade alltid varit en “duktig pojke”. Alla utom jag själv visste precis vem jag var och hur jag borde utforma mitt liv. Min framtid skulle bli en tvångströja av krav och normer, som jag inte vågade frigöra mig ifrån. Min mörka hemlighet — min kärlek — skulle alltid förbli just en mörk hemlighet.
Det trodde jag, tills jag mötte Mats…

Thoughts: I’ll start off this review with the rating, for a change, since I’m giving the book an A and there’s no doubt in my mind that it deserves it. I mean, it’s my sixth re-read of it — obviously I like it a lot!

I really wish I could share it with all of you, but as far as I’m aware it’s only been translated into German (maybe Spanish), and that was a while ago, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s out of print now.

Basically, it’s a coming-of-age story about Jim, who grows up feeling different from the people around him. To cover up his isolation and make it bearable, he throws himself into his schoolwork and excels at it — he’s en duktig pojke (a good boy). Then, the summer he turns fifteen, he figures out the secret he’s kept locked away inside — he’s gay. From then on, he throws himself into his schoolwork even more, desperate to not let the secret out. And then, in the last week of high school, he meets Mats and things start to change.

Mats is… well, Mats! But that means all sorts of wonderful things and I am seriously in love with this character. I’d managed to forget this time exactly how much, so when he appeared on the page again I was just as swept away as the first time around. He’s snarky, and sweet, and he hand paints the frames of his spectacles — what’s not to like? ;)

Another important character is Jim’s mother. Each chapter in the book starts with a paragraph or two written from her point of view and previously they have always made me feel sorry for her. I’m not sure exactly what’s changed, but this time around her self-pity just made me want to strangle her.

In the end, though, it’s still a great book and I still have to finish it in one sitting. There’s just no way that I can sit down, read a couple of chapters, then put the book down and go on my merry business doing something else. If I start it, I have to finish it then and there, with the consequence that I only got about five and a half hours of sleep last night. It was so worth it, though.


15th January, 2008
Boy Meets Boy; David Levithan
— Love @ 21:00 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, GLBT interest, Humour, Romance, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Boy Meets Boy Boy Meets Boy
by David Levithan
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
185 pages
Random House
ISBN: 0-375-83299-8

First line: 9 P.M. on a November Saturday.

Back cover blurb:
Love is never easy. Especially if you’re Paul. He’s a sophomore at a high school like no other—and these are his friends:
Infinite Darlene, the homecoming queen and star quarterback
Joni, Paul’s best friend who may not be his best friend anymore
Tony, his other best friend, who can’t leave the house unless his parents think he’s going on a date… with a girl
Kyle, the ex-boyfriend who won’t go away
Rip, the school bookie, who sets the odds…
And Noah, The Boy. The one who changes everything.

Thoughts: I don’t quite know what to say about this book. I liked it well enough—it was short, sweet and quite funny—but I feel a complaint coming on, and one that’s going to make you roll your eyes at me. Remember how I often gripe about the bleak and depressing nature of a lot of gay-related stories? Well, I’m just about to take issue with one being too upbeat and positive. There seems to be no way to win!

The thing is, though, that while the town that Paul lives in is quite fun to read about and rather cute, it’s too perfect. It would be great if there were a town like his, but I think we’re a long way from that, still. Sadly enough.

Let’s face it, though: we don’t always ask for complete realism from short YA novels. In other words, I’m giving it a C rating, because it’s what I think it deserves. A little more realism (with the same basic plot/romance) and it’d have been a B or a C, depending on the language and characters. No one really clicked with me, like other literary characters have in the past, but if I had to pick one that moved me more than the others, I would pick Tony. He seemed the most realistic to me.


30th December, 2007
Lord John and the Hand of Devils; Diana Gabaldon
— Love @ 20:07 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, English, GLBT interest, Historical, Mystery, Personal challenges

Lord John and the Hand of Devils; Diana Gabaldon Lord John and the Hand of Devils
by Diana Gabaldon
American

For the End of Year Mini Challenge.

English
317 pages
Century
ISBN: 978-0-7126-8065-3

First line: Lord John Grey jerked his eyes away from the door.

Back cover blurb:
Diana Gabaldon, the New York Times bestselling author of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, delivers three tales of war, intrigue and espionage featuring the unforgettable Lord John Grey. In the heart of the eighteenth century, Lord John’s world is one of mystery and menace; where allies have the power to destroy him with a single blow. As he ventures into an ominous unknown, his companions are haunted soldiers, sinister family secrets and lingering memories of a fiery-haired Scot named James Fraser.

In The Hellfire Club, Lord John is drawn by an attractive stranger in the doorway of a gentlemen’s club, where he witnesses the shocking murder of a young diplomat. Vowing to avenge the death, he is lead into a maze of political treachery and a debauched underground society, the notorious Hellfire Club.

In The Succubus, Grey’s assignment to a regiment in Germany finds him caught between two threats: the advancing French and Austrian armies and the menace of a mysterious ‘night-hag’ who spreads fear and death among the troops.

In The Haunted Soldier, Lord John is called to testify in the case of an exploding battlefield cannon and is forced to confront his own ghosts. Knee-deep in a morass of gunpowder, treason and plot, he is haunted by a dead lieutenant and followed by a man with no face.

Thoughts: Lord John is back! And he’s still the Lord John I’ve come to love. Poor, poor man, though—he never seems to get a moments peace. Still, I suppose that is one of the things that makes me like the stories about him, because they are filled of adventure and mystery and other fantastic things. Mind you, I still am not fawning over Gabaldon’s writing. Her language isn’t fantastic, but she does get her point across and, of course, her characters are marvellous people, which is what’s made me stick around for so long.

One of the stories in this volume, I’d read before (it’s included in one of my two copies of Lord John and the Private Matter and, to be honest, the reason I have two copies of that book in the first place), but the two others were new to me, and I quite enjoyed them all.

This volume receives a B rating and it’s a well-deserved one.

Apparently, there is another Lord John novel in the works and you won’t hear me complaining about it! (Well, that is to say, unless I make a remark or two that it’s taking a little long…)


30th December, 2007
A Son Called Gabriel; Damian McNicholl
— Love @ 03:09 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Personal challenges

A Son Called Gabriel; Damian McNicholl A Son Called Gabriel
by Damian McNicholl
Irish

For the End of Year Mini Challenge.

English
346 pages
CDS Books
ISBN: 1-59315-231-0

First line: The choice was school or the big stick and seemed easy to make.

Back cover blurb:
Set in the hills of Northern Ireland in the 1960’s and 70’s, A Son Called Gabriel is a deeply felt and often funny coming-of-age novel that is ultimately unforgettable.
Gabriel Harkin, the eldest of four children in a working-class family, struggles through a loving yet often brutal childhood. It’s a turbulent time in Ulster, and in the staunchly Catholic community to which Gabriel belongs, the rigid code for belief and behavior is clear. As Gabriel begins to suspect that he’s not like other boys, he tries desperately to lock away his feelings, and his fears. But secrets have a way of being discovered, and Gabriel learns that his might not be the only one in the Harkin family.

Thoughts: It took me a while to finish this book because it wasn’t one of those that immediately grabs you and keeps your attention focused on it, and it alone, until you’ve turned the last page. It was good, though, in a quiet and slightly bleak sort of way.

Everyone was very, very Catholic, even if the main character had issues with religion at points, and one of the better bits was actually uttered by one of many, many priests featured in the story. In any other book, I would not have approved of what he said, but in this particular tome his voice felt like one of reason and one of acceptance and almost tolerance. Funny what a little bit of perspective can do, isn’t it?

Speaking of religion, I don’t know the reason behind it, but for some reason my copy of the book arrived with a business card, telling me that everyone breaks at least one of the Christian Ten Commandments pretty much every day and urging me to read the Bible daily, stuck in it. Weird that. Especially since the message was printed in reverse and you had to hold it up in front of a mirror to be able to read it properly (I was able to read it even without the mirror—I’m not stupid, or blind (yet)—but a mirror certainly made it easier).

Anyway, I digress. The final rating of the book is a C. It was good, I do think so, but it wasn’t great and it wasn’t brilliant and it got me down a little, because there did not seem to be any chance at all of the main character for accepting himself for who he was.


29th December, 2007
The Night Watch; Sarah Waters
— Love @ 13:10 Comments (0)
Filed under: D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, Personal challenges

The Night Watch; Sarah Waters The Night Watch
by Sarah Waters
British

For the End of Year Mini Challenge.

English
506 pages
Virago Press
ISBN: 978-1-84408-241-4

First line: So this, said Kay to herself, is the sort of person you’ve become: a person whose clocks and wrist-watches have stopped, and who tells the time, instead, by the particular kind of cripple arriving at her landlord’s door.

Back cover blurb:
The Night Watch is the extraordinary story of four Londoners: Kay, who wanders the streets in mannish clothes, restless and searching… Helen, who harbours a troubling secret… Viv, glamour girl, recklessly loyal to her soldier love… and Duncan, an apparent innocent, struggling with demons of his own.

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit liaisons and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, this is an astonishing novel.

Thoughts: I borrowed this book from the library in the spring, but never got more than a few pages in. I found it quite cheap in an online book store a while back, so decided to get it and try again. I’ve seen it read all over the places and people have really liked it, plus I’ve read all the other books by Waters.

However, while I did finish it this time around, I just did not like it. It’s told backwards, almost, and I found it really hard to get invested in the characters. Every time I had managed to start to care, even a little bit, and was curious as to what would happen to them next, the story jumped back in time and it was like starting all over again.

I’m giving this novel a D rating, because no matter how much I might have wanted to like it—love it, even—I just couldn’t. I’m not sure I’ll read any more Waters, if she does write something new. All her books have had, to me, tedious passages that I struggled to get through to get at the good bits, but it seems that each new story from her has more and more of these. I’m sorry, Miss Waters, but I think we’re through.


18th December, 2007
Ut ur skuggan; Jessica Kolterjahn
— Love @ 13:54 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, C, GLBT interest, Historical, Swedish

Ut ur skuggan; Jessica Kolterjahn Ut ur skuggan
by Jessica Kolterjahn
Swedish

Swedish
257 pages
Månpocket
ISBN: 978-91-7001-533-5

First line: Minne: Jag spelade piano.

Back cover blurb:
Jag fotograferar. Det är det enda som känns som om det är mitt eget. Allt annat är någon annans. Någon annans val.

Agnes växer upp i en rik överklassfamilj i Stockholm under 1920- och 30-talen. Hemmet är kyligt och kärlekslöst och Agnes liv präglas av längtan. Hon längtar efter ett eget liv, efter att få göra något meningsfullt, efter att bli älskad.

Först när hon får en kamera av sin morfar börjar hon känna sig hel. Genom den upptäcker hon världen på ett nytt sätt och får en egen identitet.

Steg för steg bryter Agnes sin isolering. Hon umgås med spännande människor i ett Stockholm som sjuder av jazz, politiska motsättningar och sexuell frigörelse. Hon får uppleva kärleken – både den förbjudna och den socialt accepterade.

Agnes väljer att gå sin egen väg, men till slut inser hon att hon aldrig kan glömma sitt livs stora kärlek.

Thoughts: A couple of years ago I read a book by Marika Kolterjahn, who is married to Jessica ditto (I think it’s quite neat with an author couple, I must admit). That was a young adult tale of a girl discovering her sexuality. This novel deals with more or less the same topic, but is written for adults and, in my opinion, the better of the two. There was something here, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, that kept me reading until I’d turned the last page, which ended more or less where I felt the story should end.

On the whole, a good book, and one well deserving a B rating.


12th December, 2007
Leave Myself Behind; Bart Yates
— Love @ 21:33 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, English, Fiction, GLBT interest

Leave Myself Behind; Bart Yates Leave Myself Behind
by Bart Yates
American

English
262 pages
Kensington Fiction
ISBN: 0-75820349-7

First line: I’ve never wanted a different mother.

Back cover blurb:
Meet seventeen-year-old Noah York, the hilariously profane, searingly honest, completely engaging narrator of Bart Yates’s astonishing debut novel. With a mouth like a truck driver and eyes that see through the lies of the world, Noah is heading into a life that’s only getting more complicated by the day.

His dead father is fading into a snapshot memory. His mother, the famous psycho-poet, has relocated them from Chicago to a rural New England town that looks like an advertisement for small-town America—a bad advertisement. He can’t seem to start a sentence without using the “f”-word. And now, the very house he lives in is coming apart at the seams—literally—torn down bit by bit as he and his mother renovate the old Victorian. But deep within the walls lie secrets from a previous life—mason jars stuffed with bits of clothing, scraps of writing, old photographs—disturbing clues to the mysterious existence of a woman who disappeared decades before. While his mother grows more obsessed and unsettled by the discovery of these homemade reliquaries, Noah fights his own troubling obsession with the boy next door, the enigmatic J.D. It is J.D. who begins to quietly anchor Noah to his new life. J.D., who is hiding terrible, haunting pain behind an easy smile and a carefree attitude.

Thoughts: This book has been compared to Catcher in the Rye and, while it’s been a couple of years since I read that, I can see the similarities.

I really fell for Noah, not in the sense that I am head over heels in love with him, but in the way that he is the one who grabbed my attention and pulled me into the novel. I think he’s my favourite main character of late—his voice is just that great.

I know it’s soon—I gave one out just the other day— but it’s time for another A rating.


10th December, 2007
Now & Then; William Corlett
— Love @ 15:52 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, English, GLBT interest, Historical

Now & Then; William Corlett Now & Then
by William Corlett
British

English
346 pages
Abacus Fiction
ISBN: 0-349-10775-0

First line: The room he died in smelt of Dettol and bonfire smoke.

Back cover blurb:
Now, Christopher Metcalfe returns to his family home in Kent after the death of his father. Sorting through a box of memorabilia from his days at public school, Chris is suddenly confronted by the face that has haunted him for thirty years.

Then, as a callow fifth former enduring the excesses of a school system designed to run an Empire that no longer existed, a most extraordinary thing happened amid the thrashings and cross-country runs: he was seduced by Stephen Walker, a prefect two years his senior with whom he went on to share a brief but intensely passionate affair. Now, again, alone, approaching the age of fifty, Christopher is painfully aware of the price he paid for letting go, and resolves to find Stephen, and discover what became of the only person he has ever loved.

Thoughts: I started reading this at a couple of minutes to ten one night, intending to put it down and go to sleep after half an hour or so. Three o’clock in the morning, on the dot, I closed the covers after having finished the whole thing.

I haven’t been this captured by a book in quite some time. I simply adored it. If you can recall, one of the issues I had with While England Sleeps was that I felt that the language didn’t really fit—wasn’t British enough, if you will—but I had no such problem with this novel. It’s written by an Englishman, and you can really tell. The language is lovely and British and I’m sorry, but for some types of stories, you have to have that to make it work. (I probably sound like such a language snob now.)

Either way, I really, really loved this book. It has a good mix of moments of happiness, of gloom and of angst, the language is wonderful and it’s part set in a public school. There’s no way the rating is going to be anything other than an A. Go read it—now!


5th December, 2007
While England Sleeps; David Leavitt
— Love @ 18:25 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, English, GLBT interest, Historical

While England Sleeps; David Leavitt While England Sleeps
by David Leavitt
American

English
309 pages
Abacus Fiction
ISBN: 0-349-10953-2

First line: In the early 1950s, history and politics conspired to create a circumstance in which it was impossible for me to ply my chosen trade—namely, writing.

Back cover blurb:
At a meeting of republican sympathisers in London, Brian Botsford, a young middle-class writer and Cambridge graduate, meets Edward Phelan, an idealistic self-educated London Underground worker. They share a mutual attraction. Across the divisions of class they begin an affair in secrecy.
But Edward possesses ‘an unproblematic capacity to accept’ Brian and the love that dare not speak its name, whereas Brian is more cautious and under family pressure agrees to be set up with a suitable young woman. Pushed to the point of crisis, Edward threatens to volunteer to fight Franco in Spain.
In While England Sleeps, David Leavitt, highly praised for his precisely observed portrayal of the complexity of intimate relationships, depicts the violent drama of war and forbidden love in a historical novel of great resonance and breadth.

Thoughts: I’ve read one other book by Leavitt (The Lost Language of Cranes) and since I really liked that, I was prepared to be swept off my feet by this one, especially given that it’s set in 1930’s England with commies and queers. Really, I thought, there was no way I could not like it. Well, as it turns out, I was wrong.

At first, I really struggled with it. I found the language a little irritating and not at all fitting the story (I guess I had a bit of a problem with how this American author wrote a British middle-class man, even if said man had lived in the US for decades), so I put it down and I didn’t touch it for a little over a week. Then I started again and I suddenly found myself dragged in and not bothered by the language much at all.

Of course, though, being a story of commies (though not as much as I’d thought) and queers, it was doom, doom, DOOM all the way through. I wonder why I ever think it’s going to turn out differently?

Like I said, it won me around a little by the end, but not enough to earn it more than a C.


30th November, 2007
The World of Normal Boys; KM Soehnlein
— Love @ 13:06 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, English, Fiction, GLBT interest

The World of Normal Boys; KM Soehnlein The World of Normal Boys
by KM Soehnlein
American

English
282 pages
Kensington Books
ISBN: 0-965-14638-3

First line: Maybe this is the moment when his teenage years begin.

Back cover blurb:
The time is the late 1970s – an age of gas shortages, head shops, and Saturday Night Fever. The place, suburban New Jersey. At a time when the teenagers around him are coming of age, Robin MacKenzie is coming undone. While “normal boys” are into cars, sports, and bullying their classmates, Robin enjoys day trips to New York City with his elegant mother, spinning fantastic tales for her amusement in an intimate ritual he has come to love. He dutifully plays the role of the good son for his meat-and-potatoes father, even as his own mind is a jumble of sexual confusion and painful self-doubt. But everything changes in one, horrifying instant when a tragic accident wakes his family from their middle-American dream and plunges them into a spiral of slow destruction.

Thoughts: The language in this book was beautiful, but bleak and depressing, and there was a constant feeling of impending doom. I found it hard, sometimes, to keep reading, because I was sure that disaster was waiting just around the corner. Keep reading I did, though, because putting the book down was even harder than not going on.

The World of Normal Boys receives a well-deserved B.


21st November, 2007
Mitt brinnande hjärta; Tasso Stafilidis
— Love @ 15:16 Comments (0)
Filed under: Biographies, C, GLBT interest, Swedish

Mitt brinnande hjärta; Tasso Stafilidis Mitt brinnande hjärta
by Tasso Stafilidis
Swedish

Swedish
234 pages
Normal förlag
ISBN: 91-855505-13-7

First line: Det är tidig höst på Fredriksdalsskolan i Helsingborg.

Back cover blurb:
Mitt brinnande hjärta är Tasso Stafilidis personliga resa genom politiken och teatern. Det är en självutlämnande bok om rättsröta och rättspatos, men också om svikna ideal och slitig vardaglig kamp för förändring. Tasso Stafilidis berättar om hatbrev och mordhot, priset han fått betala för att vara öppet homosexuell och riksdagsledamot.

Mitt brinnande hjärta ger också en unik inblick bakom kulisserna i vänsterpartiet och striden om det kommunistiska arvet. En strid som innebar att Tasso, som tagit avstånd från kommunismen redan som 15-åring, förlorade sin riksdagsplats och till slut lämnade partiet helt och hållet efter 22 år.

I boken får vi också läsa om den rapport som Tasso Stafilidis skrev om homosexuellas situation i Iran, med uppgifter om den svenska ambassaden i Teheran som tidigare inte framkommit.

Thoughts: I have to admit I am a little disappointed in this book. It’s going to sound weird, especially since the biggest reason I wanted to read it in the first place was that it was written by the first openly gay member of the Swedish parliament, but it focused almost exclusively on gay issues. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but Stafilidis complains time and time again that people always zeroed in on the LGBT-issues that he worked with, as if they were the only things he was involved in, when in fact he did so many other things as well. My question, then, is why he doesn’t spend more time telling us about these other things. He mentions them, yes, but not nearly as much as his GLBT-work.

Still, the book is interesting, and I would’ve been willing to overlook the above-mentioned issue and give it a higher grade, had the language been better. As it was, it just didn’t engage me very much, and so it’s a C.


16th November, 2007
So Hard to Say; Alex Sanchez
— Love @ 23:35 Comments (1)
Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

So Hard to Say; Alex Sanchez So Hard to Say
by Alex Sanchez
MexicanAmerican

English
232 pages
Simon Pulse
ISBN: 1-4169-1189-8

First line: My name is (drum roll, please) María Xiomara Iris Juárez Hidalgo, but nobody calls me María.

Back cover blurb:
When Frederick shows up at school, Xio is thrilled. The new boy is shy, cute and definitely good boyfriend material. Before long, she pulls him into her lively circle of friends.

Frederick knows he should be flattered by Xio’s attention. After all, she’s popular, pretty, and a lot of fun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Victor, the captain of the soccer team, instead?

Thoughts: When I got this book, I thought the main characters were older than they ended up being. Xio and Frederick are both thirteen, which is a little younger than I normally like reading about. Because the story is aimed at a little bit younger audience than the books I usually go for, it was a quick read and I finished it in one sitting, even though I hadn’t intended to. Not because it was fantastic, but because there didn’t really seem to be a point to put it down and go to sleep, since there was so little left of it. Kind of regretted it the next morning, though, since I was quite tired after too little sleep. Alas, such is the life of a book lover…

This book gets a C rating. My younger self would probably have wanted to give it a higher grade, but younger self is no longer around, so doesn’t actually have a say in things at the moment.


14th November, 2007
Rainbow Boys; Alex Sanchez
— Love @ 19:45 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

Rainbow Boys; Alex Sanchez Rainbow Boys
by Alex Sanchez
MexicanAmerican

English
262 pages
Simon Pulse
ISBN: 0-689-85770-5

First line: Jason Carrillo walked around the block a third time, working up his courage to go into the brownstone.

Back cover blurb:
High school’s hard enough as it is without falling in love with your best friend–who’s crushing on the most popular guy in school. Or feeling like your parents would throw you out if they knew you were gay. Or being afraid of who you are…

Thoughts: I’ve been meaning to get my hands on this book for quite some time, especially after two of my friends read and enjoyed it at around the same time last summer. Personally, I liked it well enough. It’s your typical high school novel with a coming out theme, basically. No harm in that, of course, but it’s been done a lot of times before and for me to fall head over heels in love with it, the language would have had to be better. It’s not terrible, I just don’t think it’s earned more than a C rating from me, so that’s what it’s going to get.


13th November, 2007
Paper Moon; Marion Husband
— Love @ 21:43 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, English, GLBT interest, Historical

Paper Moon; Marion Husband Paper Moon
by Marion Husband
British

English
332 pages
Accent Press
ISBN: 1-905170-14-9

First line: The robe the man had given her to change into was dark blue silk, printed with storks and Japanese gardens and tiny bridges on which pigtailed men crossed shimmering streams.

Back cover blurb:
The passionate love affair between Spitfire pilot Bobby Harris and photographer’s model Nina Tate lasts through the turmoil of World War II, but is tested when his plain is shot down. Disfigured and wanting to hide from the world, Bobby retreats from Bohemian Soho to the empty house his grandfather has left him, a house haunted by the secrets of his childhood. Here the mysteries of his past are gradually unravelled.

Thoughts: This is the sequel to The Boy I Love and you can forget the issues I had with that book ending on a too depressing note. Turns out that, even though they are not the main characters this time around, my favourite people from that book still had story left for them and by the time I’d turned the last page, things were settled more to my liking.

It’s another B rating. It was easy enough to lose myself in (I couldn’t wait to get home from work so I could continue reading) and I’ll probably end up re-reading it at some point.


12th November, 2007
Faghag; Linda Leopold
— Love @ 21:15 Comments (0)
Filed under: F, GLBT interest, Sex, sexuality & gender, Swedish

Faghag; Linda Leopold Faghag
by Linda Leopold
Swedish

Swedish
263 pages
Atlas
ISBN: 978-91-7389-318-3

First line: Året är 1985.

Back cover blurb:
“Man lär känna en och sen lär man känna en till. Sen upptäcker man att den tredje också är supertrevlig. Och sen börjar man liksom samla på dem.”

Faghag är en reportagebok om det speciella förhållandet mellan heterosexuella kvinnor och homosexuella män. Den utspelar sig i Berlin, New York, Göteborg, San Fransisco, Stockholm, Paris och Falun, på allt från sexklubbar till ålderdomshem, bland kvinnor som förenas i kärleken till bögar.
En del faghags föredrar att shoppa och dricka cocktails med sina gaybästisar, andra kämpar politiskt för dem. Några nöjer sig med att beundra bögarna på avstånd, likt de unga tjejerna i Faghagklubben som sitter hemma och skriver homoerotiska noveller.
Faghag handlar om symbiotisk vänskap, politisk kamp och en gemensam dröm om en värld bortom regnbågen.

Thoughts: I really did not like this book. It’s interesting, to be sure, and before I read it, I thought I’d like it a lot. But I don’t. I don’t know if it’s the language, or the author’s attitude, but we just didn’t click, this book and I. Well… except one part of one chapter, but that wasn’t enough to make me want to give it a better rating than an F.


12th November, 2007
The Boy I Love; Marion Husband
— Love @ 14:03 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, English, GLBT interest, Historical

The Boy I Love; Marion Husband The Boy I Love
by Marion Husband
British

English
276 pages
Accent Press
ISBN: 1-905170-00-9

First line: Hiding in Adam’s pantry, Paul remembered how he was once forced to eat marmalade at school, a whole pot of marmalade, Jenkins twisting his arms up his back as Nichols held his nose and clattered the spoon past his teeth.

Back cover blurb:
A tangled web of love and betrayal develops when war hero Paul returns from the trenches. He finds himself torn between desire and duty, his lover Adam awaits but so too does Margot, the pregnant fiancée of his dead brother. Set in a time when homosexuality was still illegal, Paul has to decide where his loyalty and his heart lie.

Thoughts: At first I found the story a little confusing, as there are frequent, though very short, flashbacks. You get used to them after a while though, and they are interesting in the way that they don’t give everything away at once.

Don’t read this if you want a happy ending, because you won’t get it here. I’m a little tired now, of books with a homosexual theme that end on a depressing note. I’ve read too many of them lately — I want a happy ending for a gay character, damn it! But I guess there’s no change in sight any time soon, since EM Forster lamented the lack of happy endings as early as at the beginning of the 20th century. But I digress.

Despite the somewhat mopey feeling I was left with, I quite liked it. A B is in order, I think.


10th November, 2007
Geography Club; Brent Hartinger
— Love @ 02:58 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

Geography Club; Brent Hartinger Geography Club
by Brent Hartinger
American

English
226 pages
Harper Tempest
ISBN: 0-06-001223-4

First line: I was deep behind enemy lines, in the very heart of the opposing camp.

Back cover blurb:
I knew that any wrong action, however slight, could reveal my true identity…

Russel is still going on dates with girls. Kevin would do anything to prevent his teammates on the baseball team from finding out. Min and Terese tell everyone they’re just really good friends. But after a while, the truth’s too hard to hide — at least from each other — so they form the “Geography Club.” Nobody else will come. Why would they want to? Their secret should be safe.

Thoughts: A short and sweet, though occasionally also depressing, tale of high school and how hard it can be if you are not perceived as ‘normal’, or you have to fake it to fit in. I liked it well enough, though the language sometimes felt a little too simple to me (not to mention the net speak that plagued the first chapter or two), so it receives a B.


9th November, 2007
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade; Diana Gabaldon
— Love @ 23:21 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, GLBT interest, Historical, Mystery

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade; Diana Gabaldon Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
by Diana Gabaldon
American

English
504 pages
Century
ISBN: 978-1-844-13201-0

First line: To the best of Lord John Grey’s knowledge, stepmothers as depicted in fiction tended to be venal, evil, cunning, homicidal, and occasionally cannibalistic.

Back cover blurb:
It’s 1758 and Europe is in turmoil — the Seven Years War is taking hold and London is ripe with deceit. The enigmatic Lord John Grey, a nobleman and high-ranking officer in His Majesty’s Army, pursues a clandestine love affair and a deadly family secret.

Grey’s father, the Duke of Pardloe, shot himself just days before he was to be accused of being a Jacobite traitor. Now, seventeen years on, the family name has been redeemed; but an impending marriage revives the scandal. Lord John knows that as Whitehall whispers, rumours all too often lead their victims to the wails of Newgate prison — and to the gallows.

From barracks and parade grounds to the bloody battlefields of Prussia, Grey faces danger and forbidden passions in his search for the truth. But it is in the stony fells of the Lake District that he finds the man who may hold the key to his quest: the enigmatic Jacobite prisoner Jamie Fraser.

Eighteenth-century Europe is brought startlingly to life in this compelling adventure mystery.

Thoughts: I’m not sure if I actually like Diana Gabaldon’s writing or not. I like some of her characters exceedingly well, but the writing itself? It’s so hard to decide, and so hard, sometimes, to separate the two. Either way, Lord John is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters and I was very pleased to have him back.

Poor man, though; Gabaldon treats him abominably ill throughout the course of the book. He does get a few happy moments in the middle somewhere, but there aren’t many of them. I know I can be an angst whore, but sometimes enough is just enough. And I wish the sex scenes were more appealingly written.

All in all, this gets a B. I’ll most likely go back for a re-read later on. It is Lord John we’re talking about here, after all!


6th November, 2007
Brothers; Ted van Lieshout
— Love @ 11:34 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, English, Fiction, GLBT interest, Young Adult

Brothers; Ted van Lieshout Brothers
by Ted van Lieshout
Original title: Gebr
Dutch

English
155 pages
Collins Flamingo
ISBN: 0-00-711231-9

First line: This isn’t the beginning.

Back cover blurb:
Can you still be a brother when your brother is dead? Luke often wonders. His brother Marius has died, leaving Luke alone with their parents. When their mother decides to burn Marius’s belongings in a ceremonial bonfire, Luke saves his brother’s diary and makes it his own by writing in it. And so begins a dialogue between the brothers, the dead and the living, from which truths emerge, truths of life and death and love.

Thoughts: The language in this book isn’t spectacular, but I don’t know how much of that is from the translation, and how much is from the original. Despite this, I found myself captured for the moment and I have to admit I shed more than a few tears. Then again, I always have been a total sap when it comes to certain things.

I’m going to have to go with a C here. It’s a decent book and I don’t begrudge it the hour or two I spent reading it, but it’s far from being a favourite and the story and characters didn’t really stay with me long after I finished it.