Here I am, once again, with mini reviews. This time, I am here with my Pride reads and what great books each of them were! They were varied and lovely in their own way. I learned something with each one of them just as much as I enjoyed them. I wish I could have read more but I was mostly in fantasy mood most of the month and a very specific trilogy had my attention for at least half the month. So, there’s that.
So, here are the three books I read recently.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Title: Giovanni’s Room
Author: James Baldwin
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Published Date: February 19th 2019
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+
Baldwin’s haunting and controversial second novel is his most sustained treatment of sexuality, and a classic of gay literature. In a 1950s Paris swarming with expatriates and characterized by dangerous liaisons and hidden violence, an American finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. After meeting and proposing to a young woman, he falls into a lengthy affair with an Italian bartender and is confounded and tortured by his sexual identity as he oscillates between the two.
Examining the mystery of love and passion in an intensely imagined narrative, Baldwin creates a moving and complex story of death and desire that is revelatory in its insight.
To say this book is heartbreaking is an understatement. The writing is detailed and immersive. I absolutely loved the way we glimpsed into David’s past and present and how much of a flawed human being he really was. While David is trying his very best to be the kind of American he ideally should be, he falls for Giovanni and ruins a life. Or two. Or three. This is the sort of book that would stay with you for a long while after you have read it. In fact, I have a feeling that I would be going back to this one again in future. It’s a sure thing, not an empty hope. For a book that’s easily under 200 pages, it packs such a punch that it leaves you breathless and heartbroken at the end of it. There’s so many layers and secrets to this one that to review it is a bit hard for someone like me who almost always lacks the proper words for such things.
For all that it is a book about two men in love in a time when it was still very much a struggle to even hint at being anything less than straight, it is also a story of two people who fell for each other, who are deeply flawed and who react in different ways to circumstances surrounding them. Giovanni looked at that love as it was, just love whereas David couldn’t even accept himself let alone that love, it’s a story of struggle and living with the choices they make. I will definitely be reading more of Baldwin’s books for sure.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: T. J. Klune
Published Date: February 19th 2019
Length: 393 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, LGBTQIA+
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
This book is warmest of hugs in book form. That’s what I said when I wrote the immediately upon finishing the book and I stand by it still. It’s just such a good book and such a pleasant feeling about it in general, I am not able to put into words. It is a story of perceptions, of how we look at things and take them as they are instead of looking deep into the matter. Of talking about hard lives orphans lead and how much society really cares about them. It’s also accepting that rules and regulations aren’t always right, that there’s more to life than that. Sometimes you have to decide if what you are doing is right and if what action you take is going to affect the people in the right way. Linus Baker is the sort of character that on surface might seem like the most boring character on earth but it’s his journey that makes the book.
When he meets with Arthur and his kids at the orphanage, that’s where Linus’ carefully crafted life starts to splinter, wherein before order and fairness and rules were the primary guides, there comes children who have feelings, who are flawed and yet, they are just children who need love and guidance and acceptance. It’s just such a lovely book, so lovely in fact that it was only when good things were happening that I cried. Not before where uncertainties lay but right when the good things happened. I think I would like more of that in life, the whole crying while good things are happening.
Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye
Title: Date Me, Bryson Keller
Author: Kevin van Whye
Publisher: Tim Duggan Books
Published Date: February 19th 2019
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, YA, LGBTQIA+
What If It’s Us meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this upbeat and heartfelt boy-meets-boy romance that feels like a modern twist on a ’90s rom-com!
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
Kevin van Whye delivers an uplifting and poignant coming-out love story that will have readers rooting for these two teens to share their hearts with the world–and with each other.
Okay, so this one was cute! It was so cute and really soft and fluffy. I loved it a lot despite a few things that ticked me off once I got over the whole ‘cute, omg what a soft, soft thing this is’ phase. It has fake dating, it has soft boys and it has some real problems that cannot be ignored even in a book like this. I loved that Kai was a flawed person, he was hiding something so great from his religious family and he was also brave in accepting that when he was dating Bryson, he was really going to enjoy the whole thing. I think I loved that about him, while he might have had moments of ‘does he really like me? do I like him? do I actually have a crush on the boy I am fake dating?’, he was also ok with it not being the truth. Bryson was so supportive and understanding and he seemed perfect. That’s my one complaint. He was a little too perfect but hey! I am not gonna deny that I loved Kai and Bryson and their shenanigans throughout the fake dating.
It also handled some tough themes as well. Such as being mixed race while in a mostly white school, being in the closet and having a religious family, facing scorn for actually wanting to accepted as a person is. It’s handled well except for the last bit where the ‘thing’ happens and I can actually totally see it happening in real life too but I just wasn’t prepared for it. (Now that I think about it, that’s the intention, maybe. Of experiencing it when you are absolutely not prepared for it.) The secondary characters are fairly well written and I really enjoyed Kai and his sister’s relationship along with Bryson and his sister’s relationship as well! Overall a good read!