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Found 17 results

  1. It is Hollywood, Los Angeles, 1943 and 19-year-old Nathan Reed’s life is turned upside down. Nathan, an innocent who has recently moved to Los Angeles, has everything changed when Hoyt Stubblefield ambles into his life. Within a week of their first meeting, in the Hollywood Boulevard bookshop where Nathan works, Nathan is living with Hoyt in Hoyt’s run-down upstairs apartment and sharing his bed. This marks the start of a whole new life for Nathan, an adventurous roller coaster ride of experiences. Hoyt, an artist and painter, introduces him to a whole new world of ideas, books, music, painting and the underground world that was gay life in 1940s Los Angeles. In return, Nathan is his pupil, model and lover. But this is no easy, romantic love story. Hoyt is as mysterious and secretive as he is handsome and charming, leading Nathan into an increasingly fraught and confusing life. Joseph Hansen is best known for his series of detective novels, featuring Dave Brandstetter (one of literature’s first openly gay detectives), but with Living Upstairs he again proves he was an accomplished novelist. The central relationship, between Nathan and Hoyt, is drawn with sensitivity and care. This is Nathan’s first relationship and Hansen perfectly captures that heady rush of lust and romance that so often makes up our first love affair—in this case it is also all on Nathan’s side. This novel is also full of other extremely well-drawn characters, the kind of characters that are not present in Hollywood films of the time or later. Hansen shows his ability to capture his characters in one or two well-drawn paragraphs, so from the moment we meet them we recognise the person. The atmosphere of this novel is evocative of a very different time and place. Not just period detail, though there is plenty of that, but this novel also has a deep feeling of its time and place. Hansen knew this world well, the fringe world of 1940s Hollywood, not just the underground homosexual world but also that of American communists and the poor on the fringes of tinsel town, and evokes it equally as well (the scene where Nathan and Hoyt, in a desperate bid to raise money, sell a pair of homoerotic paintings to a deeply closeted gay man is so telling). The novel is written in the present tense and solely from Nathan’s perspective. This style of writing is not to everyone’s taste, but I would suggest persevering with it because otherwise you might miss an excellent novel. This is Joseph Hansen at his very best and not to be passed over. Find it here on Amazon
  2. There have been many different theories about the spread of AIDS, some of them bizarre, but here James Chin returns to a very old one; AIDS is not a threat to the heterosexual population. Chin is an epidemiologist and bases all his arguments on a narrow reading of the HIV/AIDS statistics. He seems to want to turn back the clock to when we talked only of “risk groups”. There are no political, cultural, social or psychological elements in Chin’s arguments, which leaves this book very one-sided. Between 1987 and 1992 Chin worked for the World Health Organisation (WHO) on HIV/AIDS surveillance until he abruptly resigned over what appears to have been a personality clash. This book seems to be an attempt at settling his old scores with WHO. Throughout it there is a relentless attack on WHO’s HIV/AIDS programs, the main argument being that WHO is wrong in saying that AIDS will affect the general population because, Chin claims, they have overestimated the figures. This book is written in the first person; while appropriate for a biography it does not enhance an academic work. It only shows the one-sided nature of Chin’s arguments and highlights the lack of depth to them. There is little analysing here, only Chin’s singular views. This book does show the dangers of using only one discipline to tackle a complex problem and the narrow findings this can give. All this book offers the reader is number crunching and the rehashing of a very old argument, HIV/AIDS prevention needs to be far more than just that. (This review was originally written as a commission by the Nursing Standard magazine) Find it on Amazon here
  3. I used to be an avid reader, and read tons of books when I was in school. Lately, with work and busier life I end up reading mostly online stories in GA (thanks again you wonderful authors), but I still like to hold "real" paper books from time to time. My idea with the blog entrances Book Club Suggestions is to share some a book in a particular category, and have you guys do the same (if someone joins me). When growing up I felt that most books I found and read were "strong heroes, sensitive princesses, ugly villains", and rarely touched "atypical" sexuality and/or gender differences. Thus being in GA I will probably have that in mind, but please feel free to share any good book. My suggestion for today in Fantasy is not actually a book, but a series of 3 books I read when I was a teenager/young adult: The Stone Dance of the Chameleon series by Ricardo Pinto starts with The Chosen, followed by The Standing Dead and finally The Third God. The author is a gay man, Portuguese descent that lives in the UK, and you can find the books on Amazon. These books tell the story of a teen boy in a strange world with a strong stratified society that values the purity of the blood above all. Being nicer than his peers, he doesn't seem to fit in the complex scheme of the imperial court, and we will learn how he deals with the notions of good and evil, of finding love and betrayal. The story is a little slow to start (which is reflected in the 3.5 stars on Amazon for book 1), but becomes more complex and interesting in the following books (book 3 has a rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon). What I liked in this story is that while it is fantasy, there is no magic of the usual kind, just a very complex caste society that it is very human in all its atrocities. Hope you enjoy, and please share a fantasy story you liked. PS: next entry will be either historic fiction or crime novels, so start thinking about your favorites =P
  4. I have mentioned before that I enjoy Tom Clancy's epic length novels. He had three intertwining series all set in the same world. This is another thing I like. Having a created world where you can do different series of books and the characters bump into each other. Without Remorse is where we meet the major recurring character of John Clark. This is a good solid book that is a pageturner. It's been entirely too long since I've last read it, so it is back into the queue for the next time I'm devouring books. If you like political and military stuff, or Tom Clancy's stuff in general, this is a good book to read.
  5. Rick Riordan has become a juggernaut through Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse Mythologies with his interlocking series of books. They all started with Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief being the first book) I've read this 5 book series and I have the other 15 or so books in the interlocking series, but I haven't read them yet. The man is just cranking these things out. They are aimed at teens, so they make a great light read for those that like modern fantasy, a la Harry Potter.
  6. This is an interesting fantasy world that doesn't really have magic. There is a very large series of these books, including a couple of spin-off series. It's a well-developed world and the books do have some good emotional impact. There is one note of caution here. For some strange reason, the books in this series are NOT stand alone. They end abruptly without warning and start right back up in the next book. So be aware, that if you pick up this book and like it, you're looking down the barrel of 9 books to get the full story with them getting a little more book-like towards the end. Definitely an enjoyable series!
  7. This is a 7 book series. It is also a complete classic, though most people are only familiar with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. (Book 1 in published order) There has been a long debate amongst fans of what order you are supposed to read the books. This single volume version puts the story in chronological order, instead of published order. It makes a lot more sense this way. The books Chronologically: The Magician's Nephew The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe The Horse and His Boy Prince Caspian Voyage of the Dawn Treader The Silver Chair The Last Battle They are a pretty quick read and if you've never taken the time, they are well worth it.
  8. I Am Number Four is an interesting book. Human looking aliens are amongst us and they are being hunted by some really bad aliens. It's quite the romp and an enjoyable book. It's the first in a whole series that has a follow up in the pipeline as well. I enjoyed it and I really need to spend some time to finish reading the whole series. Check it out!
  9. So, there are times where I want to read a little lighter fare that is still good. Alex Rider series definitely fits this niche for me. His adventures are all over the top. He's pretty much a teenage James Bond. The author is good across multiple genres as well. I've read a few different things. He's also written a well-received James Bond novel and two Sherlock Holmes novels. Anyway, if action-adventure is your thing, the Alex Rider series of books (11 and counting) is worth a read.
  10. This is another coming-of-age story by Mercedes Lackey that she does so well. This story is powerful and emotional, like so many of Mercedes Lackey's first book in a new series. (This is a pattern with her. Pretty much every first book in a series she does is a powerful coming of age story). The dragons in this story are fairly unique compared to others. They are characters in their own right, though not speaking or human intelligence. They are definitely not stupid either. If you haven't read this story, and you like fantasy, this is definitely worth a read.
  11. Hi everyone. When thinking about private detectives, most would think of the eternal Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or the brilliant Hercule Poirot, by Agatha Agatha Christie. I want to share with you one of my favourite detectives. Again, this suggestion is not a book, but a whole series of novellas and short stories. This time the character is not LGBT, but it’s an odd character indeed. What’s not to like in a misogynist man that thinks most women are hysterical, lives by a very strict schedule that has him spending 4 hours a day with is orchids (2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon), drinks beer religiously every day, and behaves as if high quality food was the only reason for living? Did I say that he hates to work and almost never leaves his brownstone house in New York, that he shares with 3 other males, his assistant investigator (that actually do the leg work), his gardener and his chef? He is Nero Wolfe, first published in 1934 by Rex Stout. There are more than 30 books, so today I am not recommending a particular on since I haven’t read them all, but I found delicious the several stories I read, in that half-depressed, half-stunning environment of the 30s. If you like XX century detective’s stories, you should try. PS: There are some movies, old radio, and TV shows as well, and after Rex Stout’s death, he authorized the continuation of the Nero Wolfe series. Can’t recommend though, since I have not read any yet.
  12. In an age when books are still being banned for LGBTQ content all over the world, I thought this might be relevant. Here are some quotes by authors about book banning: 11 Quotes From Authors on Censorship and Banned Books
  13. Thought it might be fun to discuss off-site reading. I'm changing my diet to include more "standard" reading. I've indulged in too much paperback pulp over the last year and need to train my literary eye a bit. Finishing up: Tiger Heron, by my old prof Robin Becker. Spare, lovely meditations on aging. Currently stalled in: Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It by Jennifer Michael Hecht. It's a discussion of how to form an ethical standard for suicide prevention that's not anchored in religion. I got a bit bored by the classical grounding but am going back. Listening to: Death at the Bar, by awesome Ngaio Marsh. British Golden Age-style mystery. Cyanide in a Devon hamlet! I have Audible, but I only use my monthly credit and make it last the whole month by only listening when I'm cooking or exercising. Blasted through: a Clara Benson mystery I forget. These were discovered in an attic by the author's descendants and they're cleanly written, with no real impossibilities beyond the standard ones for the genre, but they're a bit dull. Edit---Was completely shattered by: The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me: Two Plays by Larry Kramer. The Normal Heart is being released on HBO Memorial Day weekend. I knew I wasn't going to have the emotional whatnot to watch, so I read the play instead. How about you?
  14. I just read Giovanni's Room ... Now I want to drown my existential sorrows with a bottle of cognac.
  15. I buy a lot of books for new faculty members, and this one is the best title I've seen in ages: From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate I know nothing about this book and want to read it based on that title alone.
  16. Hi all I have been full of work, so of course to escape that i decided to make a new suggestion. I will finally suggest a single book, and although to be honest the author did wrote a "kind of a series" around the same subject, Alexander The Great rise and rule, it can be a stand alone read. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault, tell as the story of a young boy that captured, made an eunuch and sold as a slave to the King of Persia. After Alexander conquering of the Persian Empire, he becomes Alexander servant and lover. I know many in the gay community might already know this book, but I decided to make it my suggestion because this was a book that always stayed in my mind. My parents have a considerable book selection and I read this book when I was a teenager in high school. I am not sure of the details anymore, I think at that time I already new I was gay, but before I found online fiction or GA, it was actually the first book I read that can be considered a gay story, and it was important for me at the time. Hope you guys enjoy it. PS: these entries don't have to be my suggestions only, you can leave another book suggestion of the featured category in the comments.
  17. So, @RainbowPhoenixWI suggested I needed more books. I thought I'd show off the mancave I have built myself a bit. The mancave is still in process. I have to build my custom desk and still have to move the rest of my stuff in. (when I get a job here and move here).
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