Book Reviews

Review - Gaysia Adventures in the Queer East

Posted in Book Reviews on May 06, 2014

Gaysia Adventures in the Queer East

“Gaysia” offers an interesting, if highly selective, portrait of gay life across the vast stretch of Asia, home to 60% of the world's population. This was clearly a personal journey for Chinese-Australian Law, but he manages to maintain a very journalistic approach throughout, allowing the people he meets to tell their own stories, with minimal editorializing. Sometimes what comes out is surprising, sometimes funny, and often poignant.

While the book covers a lot of ground and offers a lot of insight into the lives of some gay men and lesbians, it is by no means an exhaustive study of LGBT issues in Asia. That would take a lifetime to write and would probably not be as readable as this entertaining little tome. Instead, the author shines a light on very specific groups or issues in each country. Like a stereotypical Australian, Law ignores the other 15,000+ islands of Indonesia and zeros in on the tiny speck of Bali. With the small Hindu enclave practically over-run with tourists, it's only natural that there are men willing to satisfy the more carnal desires of some of the island's visitors. We get some rather surprising answers as to why these men do what they do. More

Review - I Look Divine

Posted in Book Reviews on Apr 29, 2014

I Look Divine

Nicholas is dead. His older brother has come to start cleaning out his New York apartment, but everything around him holds memories of the dead man. Through this brother, who remains nameless throughout the story, we learn about Nicholas and his life.

From a very early age, Nicholas is aware of his extraordinary good looks, and the leeway it buys him. He quickly becomes accustomed to accepting favors from men, and even comes to see it as his due. Already well-to-do, he doesn't see any need for his life to have any purpose other than to be the object of adoration. In short, he is a narcissist. More

Review - Stasis

Posted in Book Reviews on Apr 04, 2014

Stasis

The powerful city-state of Praesidium considers itself more civilized than its neighbors. Rather than kill their most dangerous criminals, the rulers and the wizards who serve them put the men in stasis, a sort of suspended animation, for decades or even centuries. Once they're awakened, the convicted then serve out long terms as slaves. When his father the Chief takes Ennek's older brother “Under” to see the prisoners in stasis, the young boy convinces them to let him come along. The sight of the naked, not-quite-dead but not-alive man they are shown disturbs Ennek. When he returns Under on something of a dare to show off the men in stasis to another young boy visiting from a neighboring city, Ennek gets an even bigger shock when he encounters a different prisoner, one who seems caught between life and death. More

Review - The Boy Who Belonged

Posted in Book Reviews on Mar 25, 2014

The Boy Who Belonged

Derek and his sub Lane are getting ready to celebrate their first Christmas together, and perhaps the only one who is more surprised than Derek is Lane. The much younger Lane was someone Derek was prepared to hate on sight. His parents cheated Derek and hundreds of other people out of their life savings in a Ponzi scheme. For a while it looked like Lane himself was involved, but it eventually turned out that he, like Derek, was simply used and duped by his own parents. When they are sent to jail, Lane is left with nothing, and at the mercy of those seeking vengeance for what his parents did. More

Review - Artist's Touch

Posted in Book Reviews on Mar 13, 2014

Artist's Touch

Kenon is the art world's equivalent of a rock star. The young painter can pick and choose which commissions he takes on. The portraits he creates for the rich and famous help keep the private artists' club he has created afloat and at the center of New York's art scene. Kenon is used to getting what — and who — he wants. When a man catches his eye, he can be rather ruthless in pursuing them, but it's the pursuit that thrills him. Once he beds his quarry, he doesn't hold on to them for long. Kenon has been used and betrayed in the past, so he avoids letting anyone get close. What he doesn't see is that now he has become a user himself. More

Review - No Flag

Posted in Book Reviews on Feb 27, 2014

No Flag

This review originally appeared in slightly different form at BDSM Book Reviews.

With the new freedoms afforded by the repeal of the army's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, Captain Mike Kelly decided to check out local bar scene near where he is based in Philadelphia. When he spots Will tending bar, Mike thinks he may have found someone he can begin to build a future with, but he still fears exposing his true desires to the younger man.

For his part, Will is fascinated with the army captain, and frustrated. He isn't used to meeting guys who don't want to hop in bed at the first opportunity, but he respects Mike's desire to want to get to know him first. He also suspects Mike has a secret, but when he learns that Mike seeks a domestic discipline relationship, he isn't entirely turned off. Quite the opposite, in fact. He has misgivings, but only one condition: Mike cannot re-enlist when his current tour is up. Mike agrees, but of course the army doesn't cooperate. So, when Mike is shipped off for a year in Afghanistan, Will makes him promise to come back. There will be “No Flag” for Will. Mike does come back, but not all of him, and this brings a whole new set of challenges for their relationship. More

Review - The Opera House

Posted in Book Reviews on Feb 15, 2014

The Opera House

When cancer takes away his young son Jason, it all but destroys Raphael, sending him into a deep depression. He drives away his partner, Warren, who helped raise Jason and ultimately he loses his home and business. He ends up living on the streets, in a sort of limbo of grief, where he splits his time between a homeless shelter and his son's grave.

After nearly a year of this non-existence, Raphael meets Brian, a young boy around Jason's age who was thrown out of his home when he came out as gay. Brian has lived on the streets longer than Raphael, and learned how to make money by selling his body. The boy sparks Raphael's paternal interest, and when he bumps into Warren at Jason's grave, it seems that he might well be turning the corner of his depression. More

Review - The Weekend

Posted in Book Reviews on Feb 09, 2014

The Weekend

A year after his lover Tony passed away, Lyle returns to the country house where he died, with a new boyfriend, Robert, in tow. The house belongs to Tony's half brother John and his rather unstable wife Marian. It's an uncomfortable weekend for everyone, especially outsider Robert.

“The Weekend” harks back to old school gay novels, where all the homos are tragic characters that can't be happy. Of course, almost none of the characters in this story are happy. This is a rather moody piece, although not so depressing you'll have trouble reading on. In fact, the writing is rather simplistic and very easy to read. More

Review - An Arrow's Flight

Posted in Book Reviews on Feb 05, 2014

An Arrow's Flight

In the old legend of the Trojan war, Pyrrhus is the son of Achilles. After the death of his father, Pyrrhus is drawn to Troy and plays a part in the ultimate fall of the city. This retelling of that chapter of the classic tale sets the story in recent history and translates many elements of the story into cultural terms that almost any reader (especially gay ones) will understand.

Bored at home, even as a prince, Pyrrhus runs away to the big city, where he makes ends meet as a waiter, hustler, and even a go-go boy dancing on a bar, which is where his father's old retainer Phoenix finds him to tell him about his father's death and to try and lure him to Troy. More

Review - Magic By Button

Posted in Book Reviews on Jan 04, 2014

Magic By Button

Joe has it all, a successful career as an artist and the love of a man who adores him. The only problem is that, lately, he has been distracted. The ideas for his latest project just aren't flowing as smoothly as he would like. Although he is barely conscious of it, the source of that distraction is his friend Button.

A trip to the southern English countryside that inspired Joe's latest project seems to be just the thing, and when Button invites himself along, Joe's fate is all but sealed. The two embark on a road trip that takes them into the land of ancient myths and legends and alien cows. More

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