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Book Review: ‘The Line of Beauty’ by Alan Hollinghurst

Title: The Line of Beauty

Author: Alan Hollinghurst

Length: 501 pages

Publisher: Picador

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Having read Alan Hollinghurst’s most recent novel ‘The Sparshot Affair’ and throughly enjoying it, I found out this is his most loved book and couldn’t resist when I saw it in the shop.

In the Summer of 1983, twenty-year-old Nick Guest moves into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of wealthy Feddens: Gerald, an ambitious Tory MP, his wife Rachel and their children Toby and Catherine. Innocent of politics and money, Nick is swept up into the Feddens’ world and an era of endless possibility, all the while pursuing his own private obsession with beauty.

‘The pursuit of love seemed to need the cultivation of indifference. The deep connection between them was so secret that at times it was hard to believe it existed. He wondered if anyone knew – had even a flicker of a guess, an intuition blinked away by its own absurdity.’

I’ve been trying to read more queer novels lately, whether they be young adult, general fiction, romance. I have to say, this is one of the best I’ve read in a while.

This books queer storyline is sublime. It’s starts out with the main protagonist, Nick a recent oxford graduate, trying to find love and lose his virginity. It deals with his first relationship, his first sexual experience, all with someone of lower class than himself. The latter half of the book, we find Nick in a secret relationship with one of his engaged Oxford friends, Wani. This relationship is tender, loving, complicated and realistic. It’s the heart of the book. Nick is also out in book, at a time and in a social class that wasn’t easy. This book is about his, not about his sexual orientation which is refreshing.

‘He felt there must always be hints of a secret affair, some involuntary tenderness or respect, a particular way of not noticing each other… He wondered if it ever would be known, or if they would take the secret to the grave.’

However, this book is so much more that this. It’s political storyline is so intriguing. I didn’t think I’d be interested in this side of the book, but I enjoyed it. I think it’s mainly due the fact that this book has fantastic sub characters. Gerald, the MP. Catherine, who deals with Mental Illness. Leo, Nicks first boyfriend. Wani, his secret lover.

This book, although published in 1993, is set in throughout the decade of the 80s. And it’s really a book of its time. The political storyline, with Margaret Thatcher. The gay storyline, with gay men being out in the open, used to be sexually free, now having to deal with the AIDS crisis.

This book is sophisticated. Its specific. It’s written in a very clever way, it’s detailed, quite sexually graphic and at times dense, with its political subplot and the array of characters you meet. But what is so clever that Alan Hollinghurst has done, is that we get to see the world through Nicks eyes. He’s an outsider to their world, therefore making the characters, plot and time more accessible. It’s so real, that’s all down to the talent of Alan Hollinghurst, with his excellent choice of perspective.

This book, was published over 25 years ago. It’s been made into a BBC series. I think it’s fair to say it’s on its way to becoming a modern classic. I truly feel it should be on the list of books you have to read.

Until the next review

JTH

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Goodreads Challenge

Just a short blog post today to say I’ve set up my first GoodReads book challenge which I’m very excited about, but also nervous as I want to complete it.

I’ve only gone for 40 books as I’m a slow reader and I don’t want to set the bar too high and not complete it. So expect more reviews from me this year as I aim to review everyone. The good and the bad. If you’d like to add me on Goodreads as I’ll also be writing short reviews on there, my name is jthbooks.

I’ve just finished my first book of the year which was ‘At Swim, Two Boys’ a full review will be coming soon.

So until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh

Title: The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh

Author: Jess Moore

Length: 321 pages

Publisher: NineStar Press

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5

This is a fantastic book by Jess More. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Jeremy Warsh has been in off-mode ever since his Grandpas death a couple of years ago. He set aside the shared passion, comic art, and hasn’t looked back. As an introvert from the other side of town, he fully expects to spend his boring life bagging groceries until, maybe one day, he’s promoted to store manager. Yet, his two best friend, Kasey and Stuart, are differently. They’re not afraid to demand more out of everyone. When Kasey comes out, Jeremy’s inspired. He picks up his coloured pencils and starts drawing comics again, creating a, no-nonsense, straight talking character named Penny Kind. Who speaks to him. Literally. The friend-group sets in motion Stuart’s plan for a huge homecoming prank, and if they can get Penny’s comic trending, they might be able to pull it off. Could this a stepping-stone to a future Jeremy’s only dreamed of? And after he kisses a boy at a college party, will Jeremy finally face what he’s been hiding from?

‘I’m tired of seeing the same plain faced kid in the mirror and wondering why he’s allowed to take up so much space. I want to recognise what makes me, me.’

Jess More really is a fantastic writer. Just read that quote above, haven’t we all felt like that? Jeremy’s journey is written so delicately, subtlety and yet intricately that you truly go on a journey with him. Jess’s writing is really emotive. It’s a book that deals with, first romances, grief, friendship, family, coming out and it all blends together seamlessly. Is that not a testament to great writing?

The plot moves along nicely too. You can see where Jeremy’s story is going, but it’s such a nice ride along the way. You can’t help but want to get to finish the book to see if the prank comes off, to see how the romance blooms (this is done in such a realistic way, I love it). There was also a bit towards the end that made me really emotional. I honestly feel like I could read a second book of these characters to see where the story could continue.

Not only is this an excellent young adult book, I think it’s a really important book for young LBGTQIA+ to read. It deals with not only romance, but finding yourself. Which is important for all queer people to do. And it does in such a realistic, heartfelt and positive way. So if your a fan of young adult, m/m romances or a good book. This is definitely one for you. Comment and let me know.

I also have to thank NineStar Press and Netgalley for an ARC copy in return for an honest review. The book comes out today (26th November). Check it out guys.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review… ‘The Last Romeo’ by Justin Myers

Title: The Last Romeo

Author: Justin Myers

Length: 304 pages

Publisher: Piatkus

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5

I bought this book because the description really interested me and I have to say it did not disappoint. This is Justin Myers first novel and I sure hope he writes another one.

James is 34 and fed up. His six-year relationship with Adam has imploded, he hates his job making up celebrity gossip, and his best friend Bella has just announced she’s moving to Russia. Adrift and single in loved-up London, James need to break out of his lonely, drunken comfort zone. Encouraged by Bella, he throws himself headlong into online dating, blogging each encounter anonymously as the mysterious Romeo. After meeting a succession of weird/hot/gross men, James has fans and the validation he’s always craved. But when his wild night with a closeted Olympian goes viral and sends his Twitter-fame through the roof, James realises maybe, in the search for happy-ever-after, some things are better left unshared. Seriously, wherefore art thou Romeo…

‘I was suddenly, acutely, aware of all my competition. What if all the other men on the dating site were better than me? Eyes bluer? Taller, perhaps? More enthusiastic and spontaneous? The unseen enemy.’

First I have to say, Justin Myers is a fantastic writer. This book (and not many can) made me laugh out loud. It’s funny, witty and sharp. On the other hand ‘The Last Romeo’ is poignant, heartfelt and moving. It’s such an honest view on the dating lives on gay men in this modern world. I mean look at the quote above, we’ve all felt like this right? That’s why this book is so wonderful, because of its honesty, it’s integrity.

When I first started the book, I truly thought the plot was obvious, another gay romance story (don’t get me wrong I love them, and we need more) but this book is more than that. It’s a journey of self discovery, of finding who you truly and how doing something you love can lead to something wonderful. The plot moves along well, with a nice ending that took me by surprise. But I was really thrilled with the ending, it’s what makes this book special.

Now, I think this book should be read by everyone because it’s that good. But I really think it’s important for gay men, young gay men, single gay men to read. It’s a book that gives you hope, and an honest portrayal of our lives

Check it out guys and let me know…

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review… The Death of a Batchelor by M.A. Hinkle

Author: M.A. Hinkle

Title: Death of a Batchelor

Length: 293pages

Publisher: NineStar Press

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 out of 5

This is the first book I’ve read by this Author so I didn’t know to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. There are more books to come in this series ( Cherrywood Grove) and I’ll certainly be reading those.

Cathal Kinnery is an arrogant, over educated jerk, and Damon Eglamore is not afraid to tell him so. But Damon married Cathal’s best friend, so they have an uneasy truce. Then she passes away. Now they’re stuck together in close quarters, trying to honour her memory without shouting at each other all time. At first, they have no idea how to move forward. Damon is a chef, but all his favourite recipes remind him of his late wife. Cathal would love to start tomcatting around town again, except for that annoying promise he made to his best friend about looking after Damon. Then Damon’s son comes to them for help, convinced the only way to win over his first crush is a gender-bending Shakespeare production. After that, Cathal talks Damon into taking up baking as a new way to use his talents. Next thing they know, they’ve begun a new life working as a team instead of jumping down each other’s throats. But can they trust each other long enough to make it last, or will they fall into old bad habits again?

‘ The naked grief on Damon’s face was too much like what he saw in the middle of the night, when he tried to fall asleep but made the mistake of remembering who decorated the guest bedroom he slept in, picked out the watercolour of a unicorn that hung over his bed and the duvet set covered in gamboling kittens.’

The first half of this book deals with loss and grief, in which I think, is a very real and honest way. You see the three main characters coming to terms with their loss, each in their own way and you really feel for them. Isn’t this not a testament to great writing?

The second half of the book, turns into a sweet, romantic love story. After dealing with grief in the first half of the book you wouldn’t think the love story is coming, but it’s written in such real and honest way that it’s totally believable. Again, is this not a testament to great writing?

It’s a sweet and subtle romance, so there aren’t any twist and turns or shocks in the plot. But it moves along nicely enough to keep you interested and it’s filled with a bit of intrigue to see if Cathal and Damon fall in love.

The characters and the writing in ‘Death of a Batchelor’ are great representations of they LGBT community. Its not a big deal that anyone is gay, it’s just the telling of a good old romance for the modern times.

I have to say thank you to Netgalley and NineStar Press for giving an advice copy of this book for an honest review. The paperback is out now and the ebook comes out October 29th.

So, if you like LGBT fiction or a good romance or a book to make you chuckle this is the book for you. Comment and let me know if you like the sound of this book or plan to read it.

Until the next review

JTH

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Some News! And reviews to come…

I have joined Netgalley. This is such an exciting thing for me! I hope to be given books to review and recommend. It’s such a exciting opportunity. I can’t wait. I’ve requested a few books so far, and I’ve been lucky enough to get an advanced readers copy of Death of a Batchelor by M.A. Hinkle

Reviews to come soon…

Death of a Batchelor by M.A. Hinkle

Sweater and Cigarettes by Mika Fox

Salt to the Sea by Rita Sepetys

The Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies

Honesty by Seth King

Until next time

JTH

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Review… Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Author: Cheryl Strayed

Title: Wild

Length: 311pages

Publisher: Atlantic Books

I first came across this book when I saw Cheryl interviewed by Oprah on TV, with Oprah announcing that was she reinstating her book club because this book was so good. I mean, how could I not read it. ‘I love this book. I want to shout it from the mountaintop.’ – Oprah Winfrey.

At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family grew apart and her marriage soon crumbled. With seemingly nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred Miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through to California and Oregon, and into Washington State – and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a long on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet. Wild is a brutal memoir of survival, grief and redemption – a searing portrayal of life at its lowest ebb and its highest ebb.

How wild it was. To let it be.

Cheryl Strayed is one of the best writers around. I don’t usually read non-fiction but I had to give this ago. It truly takes you on a journey this book. Although Cheryl is telling her story about how she’s making this journey alone you’ll feel like you’re right there with her.

You’ll be hooked from the first page, Cheryl weaves the book with passages from the hike to her memories of her life before and Mother. Both as enthralling as the other.

Cheryl’s writing is like nobody else’s. The way Cheryl recalls the loss of her mother is brutal, harrowing, heartfelt and loving. You’ll love with both women. Then they way Cheryl describes the journey of her hike is breathtaking, you’ll feel like you’re really there with the epic scenery conveyed and the gruesome detail of what she endured.

I’ve always felt a connection to this book, even more this year when I unfortunately lost my mother. As I’m sure you can imagine it means even more to me now. Cheryl is writing from the heart and it’ll get you in your heart. Grab the tissues, you’ll need them.

So, if you’re like me and looking to give a non fiction memoir ago. Make it this one, you won’t regret it.

Until the next review.

JTH