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Steve (UK)

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The Days of Anna Madrigal
The Days of Anna Madrigal
by Armistead Maupin
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A saga drawing peacefully to its close?, 1 Mar. 2014
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Is this really the last tale of the city? Apparently so, although the book's ending closes no options. Maupin writes as beautifully as ever and he can amuse and move in equal measure. But, inevitably, the excitement of the early novels has waned. Then, the characters were bold and daring and it was bold and daring to be seen reading about them. A generation grew up and came out with Mouse and others. With age has come a certain weariness. Maupin has sought to counter this by cleverly taking Mrs Madrigal back in time to when she was the young boy Andy, son of the whorehouse - and that story within this novel is original, exciting, powerful and sad. But to bring all his great characters together in what may be their grand finale has required some contrivance, and it is more charming than compelling. But I would not have missed it, and it tempts me to go back to the beginning.


Gay Romance at Cambridge
Gay Romance at Cambridge
Price: £3.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy fun. Very sexy fun., 9 Feb. 2014
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Alan Hollinghurst's novels have less and less gay sex with each passing book. Anthony McDonald is going in the other direction. And who's complaining? This book is charming, romantic, very sexy and occasionally stretches credibility as much as the lycra covering, or not covering, the most appealing physical attributes of its oarsmen heroes. But no one else does sweet and sexy heroes as well as AM does. In his usual, wonderful way he conjures up time and place: this time it is Cambridge which he magics up from the misty fens conveying, not just its beauty but also the bitter old which no one who has ever rowed on the Cam will ever forget. The college authorities seem to have changed massively over the generations and Charlie and George, the book's central characters, have the good fortune to be roomed together as freshmen in their first term and to take about three minutes to discover their mutual attraction and to put theory into practice. They have the equal good fortune to meet the best of the rest of the gay men in Cambridge and, with equal alacrity, to go to bed with them in various permutations which only a family tree could accurately track. It is fast paced and fun. Despite my tongue-in-cheek comments, I loved it.


Out In The Army: My Life As A Gay Soldier
Out In The Army: My Life As A Gay Soldier
by James Wharton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Extra-ordinary, 6 Feb. 2014
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James Wharton was a squaddie like many others; except that he is gay. He has written a remarkable book. It is a heart warming and, at times, heart wrenching, love story. It is a warts and all account of life in the army where bullying which would be unacceptable in almost every other profession is part of the institutional culture, but where there are also exceptional levels of camaraderie. It is the story of what it is like to face up to life threatening danger, with a particularly poignant passage about what it feels like to write letters to your loved ones that will only be opened if you die. James Wharton writes with candour. When he is proud, he tells you. When he is ashamed or afraid or sad, he tells you. For any gay reader of any age it is an empowering book. It is also a piece of contemporary history from a front line, brave man, who saw, experienced and was an agent of profound change. Bravo!


Gay Romance in Paris
Gay Romance in Paris
Price: £3.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Seductive and Sexy, 3 Feb. 2014
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This is another great read from Anthony McDonald. It perfectly evokes the atmosphere of Paris and of French life as seen and experienced by an expatriate; it explores hitherto undiscovered sexuality with realism and subtlety and it maintains the tension of an intriguing 'will they won't they' love story until almost the end. It has a rich and credible cast of characters and is both a brilliant portrayal of French social life and a captivating gay love story.


Guardians Of The Rainbow
Guardians Of The Rainbow
Price: £3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Young gay James Bonds?, 3 Feb. 2014
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This is a fun adventure story about two gay teenagers who fall foul of an increasingly homophobic and powerful vigilante group and are rescued by an older gay Scarlet Pimpernel. Their various adventures read like a cross between James Bond, John Buchan and the Famous Five, but none the worse for that.


Cost of Repairs
Cost of Repairs
Price: £3.84

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling gay love story., 31 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Cost of Repairs (Kindle Edition)
Two men, scarred by personal experiences too painful to talk about, worm their way into each others' lives. The story is exciting, the two guys sweet and sexy and it's a great read if you like gay romance with hot heroes, which I do.


Thoreau in Love
Thoreau in Love
Price: £3.90

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant evocation of an economically burgeoning society and a sadly doomed love affair., 31 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Thoreau in Love (Kindle Edition)
Was Thoreau gay? He never married, dedicated at least one love poem to a male friend and over two hundred pages were excised from his diary.
This charming novel imagines the love affair which, perhaps, occupied those missing pages. The brilliant thing about this book is not just the love affair between Thoreau and young sailor, Ben: passionate, credible, beautiful and doomed. The author excels in recreating both the character of Thoreau and of his times, especially of nineteenth century New York and its society on the cusp of an industrial and economic revolution. American society, both vibrant and exciting and closed and conservative, leaps to life. Thoreau yearns to break free and to be the person he knows himself to be. In the end, he feels compelled to choose respectability over the love of a lifetime but the few months which this story tells are vivid, colourful and moving. It is an original and remarkable book.


Woodcock Flight (Seville Trilogy / Orange Bitter Series Book 3)
Woodcock Flight (Seville Trilogy / Orange Bitter Series Book 3)
Price: £3.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful elegy to life and love., 15 Jan. 2014
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This final book in the trilogy which began with 'Orange Bitter Orange Sweet' centres on most of that book's characters, and on Nick and Andy from the second book. The surviving characters, notably Alex and Borja, are thirty years older. Where the first book was about self-discovery, passion, betrayal and the desperation of love found and lost, this is about contentment and continuity brutally torn apart by illness and death. The ups and downs of life have brought, not a state in which all passion is spent, but one in which the depth of love is matched only by the extent of loss.
But that is only part of the story. In a Seville as seductive as in the first book, the surviving youngsters of post-Franco Spain meet up to revisit their old haunts and rediscover their friendship. Of course, the place as well as the people, has moved in time: you cannot step into the same river twice. All this, and the changing, complex dynamics between people who have lived unpredictable lives, are portrayed with charm, humour, tenderness, insight and pathos. Most of the characters have more of their lives behind them than in front of them. Possibilities are no longer limited and, anyway, are constrained by past experience and relationships. But there are new beginnings. The story is compelling and uplifting and made me want to read the whole trilogy once again.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2014 8:46 AM GMT


Barracuda
Barracuda
Price: £3.66

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive but unsatisfying., 10 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Barracuda (Kindle Edition)
I found this book compulsive reading. It creates a sometimes creepy feeling of tension around Danny, the gifted young swimmer powered by even more rage than talent. The writing is powerful and the characterisation of Danny is credible. But he is not a sympathetic character, so that, for me, made the overall experience of reading the book powerful, but uncomfortable and ultimately unsatisfying. It is hard to like a nasty, self-absorbed brat who grows into a man who, even at the end, is barely in control of his anger. Of course, he has redeeming features and the lack of true resolution at the end is probably realistic, though I also felt that the author was like a pilot finding it difficult to get his plane to land: the last few pages whir away inconsequentially.


Gay Romance: The Van Gogh Window
Gay Romance: The Van Gogh Window
Price: £3.29

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliantly atmospheric gay love story., 4 Jan. 2014
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Anthony McDonald has a genius for evoking the atmosphere of places and events, especially France and Spain. This novel, largely set in Paris and Provence, brilliantly brings to life the scents and heat of the French countryside, the smells and other associations of cooking and, in doing so gives a seductive and memorable quality to a touching, heart-warming and passionate love story. Its central character, David, is 28 and unaware of, or blind to, his sexuality as a gay man. If this seems implausible to some, it is by no means unique: I've been there. So this is a journey of self-discovery, of associated loss and regret and, ultimately, of the triumph of love. It is a beautifully told tale and the heat and scent of the French countryside are enough to warm up a cold winter's day. Anthony McDonald is also rare among writers of gay fiction in being explicit about sex in a way that is matter-of-fact and realistic while also conveying brilliantly the erotic charge of arousal and the desperate intensity of love.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2014 5:24 PM GMT


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