Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Y/A)
Park and Eleanor's first meeting, their first touch, that first kiss, and their first breakup is expertly detailed in alternating POVs. Being able to witness Park's shy advances and Eleanor's tentative responses just made me love these two more. I cheered them, I cried when they argued, and I laughed at their jokes both public and private. I loved how the things that made Park and Eleanor different, misfits, were also the things that looked completely wonderful through each other's eyes. To Eleanor, Park has "magic eyes", And to Park, Eleanor's freckled body becomes "candy sprinkled."
The ending is a blend of despair mitigated with a touch of hope. Eleanor & Park is not light and fluffy. You won't see any cute, blonde cheerleaders paired up with football heroes or tattooed bad boys in this book. What you will get is a book filled to the brim with a rich storytelling about wonderfully complex characters who meet, fall in love, and try to hold on to those feelings despite huge obstacles. Parts of Eleanor, and Park, resonate deeply within me, and this is a book that stays with me long after I finished reading the last page.
The Tied Man by Tabitha McGowan (Contemporary Erotica)
The Tied Man is brilliantly written, the pacing is spot on, the characters are different and complex. There are passages that painted such stunning visuals in my brain. This one in particular still lingers days later:
"His head was tilted back and turned towards the two-way mirror, and hs glazed
eyes were open, the left one stained crimson from a burst blood vessel, staring
straight at me in blank despair. His arms were outstretched as if in supplication
and his fingers twitched against the sheets."
It's dark in ways that made me shudder, cringe, and catch my breath. It moved me to tears in parts. The Tied Man is stark in its realism. There were times I was 100% certain that the horrors that went on at Albermarle Hall are probably actually occurring somewhere. It is an intense, page turning, breathless, insane roller coaster ride. I did not want it to end. The Tied Man is an experience I will never forget.
Edward Adrift by Craig Lancaster (Fiction)
"Edward Adrift" is written in a clear, elegantly simple, straight forward style which lets the reader experience all the emotions, both good and bad, as well as the successes and failures along with Edward. There is nothing superfluous to cloud the wonderful experience of Edward Stanton. I re-read the last chapter several times. It was emotional, optimistic, and hopeful. I sincerely hope there is more Edward in the future.
It Happened One Midnight by Julie Ann Long (Historical) (Pennyroyal Green #8)
It Happened One Midnight is funny and heart wrenching. The characters are so well developed, and the story moves at just the right pace. The romance between Tommy and Jonathan is superb. This book hit all the right targets and was a joy to read.
Tommy's quest/heart's desire to know her father was just heart wrenching. The image of her standing outside his house peering into his window, wondering what book he's chosen to read was so poignant and filled with yearning.
Glitterland by Alexis Hall (Contemporary m/m romance)
I found this book so compelling. As I said at the beginning Glitterland is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I read the excerpt at Riptide's website months ago and was riveted, and the rest of the book is just as brilliant as those first few chapters. It's compelling partly because the characters jump off the page. I was completely immersed in Darian and Ash and Niall and Chloe and Max and Amy. It's compelling in its wit, its realistic portrayal of bipolar disorder, but mostly because it is an amazing story of recovered hope, rekindled joy and finding love in a person who should be all wrong for you but is inexplicably just right. When you face crises and troubles, finding those moments that lessen the burden, those bright, shining moments of shared laughter or loving arms around you, live in the moment, relishing each second and minute of "now." We can worry about what may happen (or not happen), but we'll waste all those chances to experience joy that "tastes a bit like tears, but it's as bright and sweet as sherbet." Cause you know, "you could get hit by a bus or summin tomorrow."