Tuesday, 16 June 2015

#LGBTReadathon Wrap-Up

Last month, from the 25th to the 31st, the lovely Faye of A Daydreamer’s Thoughts hosted the #LGBTReadaton. I have to admit that I didn’t plan on participating until the night before when everyone was getting really excited and I actually looked at my shelves and saw loads of unread LGBT novels – bam! An Instagram TBR and I was officially taking part!

I’m really pleased that I managed to read three novels for the readathon along with my usual review books. Here’s what I read during the week and what I thought of them:

Shadowplay, Laura Lam

396|Strange Chemistry|17th December 2013|UK e-book|purchased

The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great musician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus – the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting...

A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.

A year after reading and loving Pantomime, I finally picked the second book in the series. I was surprised at how effortlessly I fell back into Micah’s world and reconnected with his story.

Shadowplay picks up immediately where Pantomime left off with Micah and Drystan fleeing the circus and looking for a safe place to lay low. I was a little vague on the details at first, but Laura Lam puts in subtle reminders and it quickly came back to me. With Micah and Drystan away from the circus, the pace of the novel is a little slower and much more mystery-focused that the first book – but none of those are bad things! Safely ensconced in the theatre with Maske they begin learning magic tricks and illusions to help Maske do what he loves without breaking an agreement and to allow the boys to make some money to flee Ellada.

Their learning magic introduced us to some new characters while allowing us to get to know Ellada and its people a little better, and Drystan as well. I loved how all of the relationships developed and changed over the course of the novel until they became a hodge-podge family. But it was Micah himself that learnt the most about himself. Ellada’s history of Alders and Chimer brought more questions than answers in regards to Micah’s destiny, but it did take him a little closer to answers about himself. I was in two minds about how Micah being intersex was being explained away by the possibility of him being a Chimera. I felt like that was making Micah ‘other’ again which is what he was trying to escape from when he left Gene behind. I didn’t like that Micah was being given a supernatural/magical explanation. Later Anisa went on to say that Micah being intersex isn’t necessarily the result of being a Chimera; then I was just confused! But I got over it and carried on enjoying the book.

I adore Micah’s world and with all of the mystery and revelations of Shadowplay, I can’t wait for Masquerade to hit the shelves next year.

Everything Leads to You, Nina Lacour

307|Dutton|15th May 2014|US hardback|purchased

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of – and behind – the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance and true romance.

Everything Leads to You is an ode to falling in love, making movies and the art of knowing someone.

When it comes to movies, the casting and filming processes are pretty much common knowledge, but the sets that our favourite movies tells their stories against are rarely given a second thought. Emi is an intern for a production studio and she helps to source props and spaces for sets. I had never even really considered what goes into building sets but I was fascinated. The passion, the vision, the perseverance and the patience that go into building every single space was so, so wonderful to read about. I couldn’t help but be in love with what Emi was doing.

And Emi couldn’t help but fall in love with Ava. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship begin with something so unexpected and movie-romantic, and it was even better to see it becoming less movie-like and more realistic. Though Emi is getting over a recently broken heart, she’s in love with love and couldn’t help herself falling for Ava. Ava has a Romantic story and it was cool to see Emi falling in love with her, and the idea and possibilities of her. It was refreshing that Emi wasn’t just coming out or struggling over her sexuality; she’s just a girl falling in love and getting over a broken heart.

Everything Leads to You is a lovely, lovely book and I immediately ordered Nina Lacour’s previous two novels when I finished this.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz

359|Simon and Schuster|1st March 2013|US paperback|purchased

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Sri’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Aris has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other – and the power of their friendship – can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

I’ve only ever heard praise of the beautiful writing, the touching friendship and overall warmth of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and I couldn’t agree more.

Ari is struggling. Ever since his dad returned from the Vietnam War they’ve lost their ability to communicate and the dark cloud of Ari’s brother being in prison is constantly looming over Ari and his parents refuse to talk about it. Neither Ari nor his dad is good with words and though Ari is aching for a connection, they don’t know how to reach out to one another. I really enjoy parental conflict when it’s like this; there’s not the usual conflict of having horrible parents or constant fighting and pulling away – they want to be a part of each other’s lives. Both Ari and Dante’s parents are wonderfully present in this novel and they are rounded and developed, have bearing on the story and the presence you would expect parents to have in the lives of their fifteen year old. Though it’s getting better, it still baffles me that this isn’t the norm.

Dante is the opposite. He worships his parents and they get along easily and openly; they’re friends. And Dante befriends Ari too, and Ari needs it. Dante teaches Ari to swim. Dante feeds Ari’s mind with poetry and literature. Dante gives Ari a focus outside of himself and his family. It’s a beautiful friendship to watch unfold, and even more beautiful in the way it has evolved by the end of the novel – I was in tears. I even re-read the last two pages another two times because it’s just so perfect! I mean, even though I knew it was an LGBT novel, it was so breath-taking to see Ari’s realisation of his feelings as he didn’t even think them in his own narration! Very unexpected and clever.

I could wax lyrical about this beautiful novel for days, but instead I’m just going to stop here, implore you to read it and go and re-read the ending. Again.   


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