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Book Review: The Back Passage by James Lear

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backpassage

The Back Passage by James Lear
Published May 5th 2006 by Cleis Press
Format: Kindle ebook
Length: 199 pages / 1317 KB
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Gay Erotica, LGBT
Reading Level: Erotica – Adults Only
Goodreads | Amazon

Agatha Christie, move over! Hard-core sex and scandal meet in this brilliantly funny whodunit.

A seaside village, an English country house, a family of wealthy eccentrics and their equally peculiar servants, a determined detective — all the ingredients are here for a cozy Agatha Christie-style whodunit. But wait — Edward “Mitch” Mitchell is no Hercule Poirot, and The Back Passage is no Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Mitch is a handsome, insatiable 22-year-old hunk who never lets a clue stand in the way of a steamy encounter, whether it’s with the local constabulary, the house secretary, or his school chum and fellow athlete Boy Morgan, who becomes his Watson when they’re not busy boffing each other.

When Reg Walworth is found dead in a cabinet, Sir James Eagle has his servant Weeks immediately arrested as the killer. But Mitch’s observant eye pegs more plausible possibilities: polysexual chauffeur Hibbert, queenly pervert Leonard Eagle, missing scion Rex, sadistic copper Kennington, even Sir James Eagle himself. Blackmail, police corruption, a dizzying network of spyholes and secret passages, watersports, and a nonstop queer orgy backstairs and everyplace else mark this hilariously hard-core mystery by a major new talent.

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A LGBT Reading List

Since I got a Kindle for the sole reason of being able to read less available books, I thought it would be nice if I posted a reading list. I actually just finished my first book on the Kindle and while I still prefer paper books, it wasn’t so bad. As long as I watch how much I spend on ebooks, I think this should work out just fine. Plus, I’m self-aware enough to get a vicious little thrill knowing that me buying one of these ebooks is supporting the less popular genres and subjects rather than buying some explosive best seller. I love the underdog.

Coming soon from my Kindle, a list of LGBT books.

scarletwhite wolfScarlet and the White Wolf by Kirby Crow
Status: Finished; review coming soon.

Scarlet of Lysia is an honest peddler, a young merchant traveling the wild, undefended roads to support his aging parents. Liall, called the Wolf of Omara, is the handsome, world-weary chieftain of a tribe of bandits blocking a mountain road that Scarlet needs to cross. When Liall jokingly demands a carnal toll for the privilege, Scarlet refuses and an inventive battle of wills ensues, with disastrous results. Scarlet is convinced that Liall is a worthless, immoral rogue, but when the hostile countryside explodes into violence and Liall unexpectedly fights to save the lives of Scarlet’s family, Scarlet is forced to admit that the Wolf is not the worst ally he could have, but what price will proud Scarlet ultimately have to pay for Liall’s friendship? (Gay Little Red Riding Hood! Ouch! I think my childhood just flinched.)

vintageVintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
Status: On Kindle; not started.

A lonely boy walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road. Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face youthful dreams and childish fears. With its cast of offbeat friends, antiques, and Ouija boards, Vintage is not your typical romance but does offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love.

unnaturalUnnatural by Michael Griffo
Status: Not Bought.

Michael Howard and Ronan Glynn-Rowley meet at Archangel Academy, an all-boys school in Eden, a rural town in north western England. Both are outcasts and decried as unnatural, Michael because he’s gay, and Ronan because he’s a hybrid vampire. But when Ronan, afraid to reveal his true self to Michael, turns him into a vampire against his will, both become drawn into a dangerous new world, where traditional vampires plot to destroy hybrids, and where fellow students, teachers, even their own families have unexpected secrets… (Gay vampires! How can I resist?)

riseofheroesRise of Heroes by Hayden Thorne
Status: Not Bought. I’m annoyed because this ebook isn’t available but book 2 and book 3 of the series is. Why would the first book of series not be available as an ebook but later books are? Fail Amazon!

Strange things are happening in Vintage City, and high school goth boy Eric seems to be right in the middle of them. There’s a new villain in town, one with super powers, and he’s wreaking havoc on the town, and on Eric’s life. The new super hero who springs up to defend Vintage City is almost as bad, making Eric all hot and bothered, enough so that he almost misses the love that’s right between his nose. Peter is Eric’s best friend, and even if he does seem to be hiding something most of the time, he finds a way to show Eric how he feels in between attacks on trains and banks and malls. The two boys decide to start dating, much to the chagrin of their other best buddy, Althea, who has a terrible crush on Peter, and a secret or two of her own to keep. As the fight between the villain, known as the Devil’s Trill, and superhero Magnifiman picks up, Eric’s relationship with Peter almost ends before it begins when Eric finds out about Peter’s special talents, which might just rank Peter as a superhero in his own right. When the Trill takes an interest in Eric, too, Peter and Althea, along with Magnifiman and Eric’s normal, middle-class family all have to work together to keep Eric, and their city, safe. Can they figure out the super villain’s plan in time?

heartsenseHeart Sense by K.L. Richardsson
Status: Not Bought.

The only son of a traveling merchant, Katjin spends his summer in the clan lands with his grandparents. He wishes his father, his apa, would take him along, but despite the promises that someday he’ll get to go, Katjin is left behind while his apa heads away on business that seems more and more suspicious the older Kat becomes. During one such summer, Katjin finds Mikael, a lost young man, who draws Kat to him by answering his song. In a world where the Empire brands all people as either ‘paths, people with psychic talent, or as non-‘paths, Mikael is remarkable in that he has no brand. Fearing that the Calvary, who are arriving to recruit new members, will find Mikael in their clan and bring the Empire’s fury down upon them, the clan sends Kat and Mikael to hide away until it is safe – along with his cousin Soren to keep them both safe. Knowing the best way to keep Mikael from being taken is to make him a member of the clan, Soren and Katjin plan a blood bonding ceremony, but they have no idea what kind of trouble they’ve started with their actions. Katjin learns soon enough that he won’t be able to escape his bond with Mikael, and that danger lurks around every corner. Danger that he never knew existed. Can he keep Mikael safe long enough to figure out exactly what their future holds?

I’ve decided to do reviews of these books, mostly because the idea of excluding a book because of subject matter makes me twitch. So, expect reviews for LGBT books to start showing up here. I’ll probably only get one or two ebooks a month to stay in budget, so they will only appear every once and a while. These should get me thought spring. I’ve challenged myself to see how many LGBT books I can read this year and how they stack up against main stream books. It will be interesting to see how male/male relationships contrast to female/male relationships in young adult and fantasy books.

Happy reading, everybody!

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Book Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Published September 20th 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology, LGBT
Reading Level: Older Teen
ISBN 1408816032 (ISBN13: 9781408816035)
Goodreads | Amazon

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

I added The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller to my TBR pile when The Books Smugglers reviewed it earlier this year. I will freely admit that I wanted to read it mostly based on its LGBT theme and only slightly because I enjoy tales set in ancient history. I seek out LGBT books because I like reading about alternative forms of lifestyle, different forms of love, and diverse characters. It’s interesting to see how two characters in a romantic relationship of the same gender are depicted and how their relationship functions in contrast with a more mainstream romantic relationship with people of different genders. Even a romantic relationship between two girls is vastly different to a romantic relationship between two men. You have to remember that even if you are reading about a gay couple, they are still men and how that relationship functions needs to reflect that.

I studied the myth of Achilles a bit in college and I know a fair bit about him. The Song of Achilles deals with Achilles’ childhood through his death during the Trojan War. In that time, Patroclus sort of gets dragged along for the ride.  Achilles is the son of a goddess but Patroclus is simply a mortal of no great reputation and yet he ends up doing astonishing things, mostly in the name of his love for Achilles. Amazing things happen to Patroclus and he does amazing things simply because these things are happening around him and there is no other choice but to deal with it. It’s a very human reaction, creating a character that could be anybody and a man who may be more of a hero than Achilles himself.

We examine what it means to be a hero or a coward. Is Achilles worthy of his praise as a warrior because he allowed thousands to die when he refused to fight? His beauty and fighting skill is given to him through his blood. He didn’t have to work for it. Is Patroclus’ compassion and the fact that he learned to be a healer and even risked his life to turn the tide in the war worth more than Achilles’ exploits? I think Achilles and Patroclus loved each other because they were all each other had, especially when they were young. Patroclus loved Achilles because he was beautiful, inside and out, and Achilles loved Patroclus because he knew the other boy’s love was pure. The Trojan War changed Achilles and he was no longer beautiful. He valued his pride and his promised glory more than Patroclus and Patroclus’ love could no longer withstand the changes in Achilles.

Sorry if I went all academic essay on you there. The Song of Achilles is a good book and will definitely appeal to readers of historical fiction and Greek history. Like most myths transformed into novels, it can be a bit slow in places. Novels often don’t have the luxury of skipping all the little boring bits and getting straight to the action the way a myth does. It can make the slog toward the Trojan War seem a bit much. This is a story about people, about love and personal worth. Don’t expect a war epic. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ended up being less about Achilles and his myth than it was about the people trapped in the wheels of fate.

Rating 4 out 5

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