Category Archives: Book Review

Not Sure Boys by Rick Bettencourt

Rick BettencourtRick Bettencourt has shared with me his first published work, an eBook collection of short stories that are available for purchase on Amazon.com entitled, Not Sure Boys.

Some of you may remember Rick who wrote the blog Bandit Talks (named after his adorable dog, Bandit).  He ultimately renamed and moved the blog to talk more about his writing and this book. You can follow Rick’s blog, here.

About the Author: Rick Bettencourt is a gay fiction writer from Greater Boston who happens to live with his husband and dog, Bandit.

Book review: The House of Special Purpose

John BoyneIt has been a long time since I posted a book review, but recently I finished reading a book that I think would appeal to people who enjoy historical fiction. The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne.  The 469 page book published by Other Press is narrated by the main character, Georgy Daniilovich Jachmenev, and opens with him reminiscing from his home in London in 1981 near the end of his life. 

Born in rural Russia, the son of a peasant farmer, Georgy’s life takes a dramatic turn after a bizarre incident that brings him to St. Petersburg to serve as a friend and bodyguard to the Tsar’s only son, Tsarevich Alexei.  The narration vacillates between life in Russia and his emigration to London via Paris after escaping his home country with his wife, Zoya.

Beautifully written, I found it difficult to put the book down. Although the twist that Boyne slowly gives away is easy to figure out, it doesn’t diminish the tale.  I found myself totally absorbed by his descriptions of what it was like growing up in Tsarist Russia and during the Bolshevik Revolution.  Additionally, his description of what it was like living in London during World War II was hard to stop reading and kept me up very late reading for more than one night.

If you are looking for a book to read and this appeals to you, go to your local bookstore or you may purchase it here on Amazon.

Book review: The Back Passage

James LearSummer is in full swing in the United States and I’m taking full advantage of the beautiful weather.  I love reading mindless but entertaining books sitting poolside or on the beach.

James Lear’s 2006 kinky mystery The Back Passage is the perfect book to bring with you.  I can assure you the book’s racy cover had some unexpected benefits of nervous parents shooing their children away from you while you are reading (bonus!) and or should you be reading this some place like Provincetown or Fire Island – it is certain to initiate a few conversations with guys (double bonus!)

The Back Passage is dubbed a murder mystery à la Agatha Christie.  No disrespect intended to Lear, but the book isn’t quite that caliber however that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth reading.  The book is set on a country estate in England in 1925 and has so much sexual innuendo and trysts it probably would have to be rated X if ever made into a movie.  While I found that distracting and overall a detractor, the book was filled with humorous settings and was a quick read making it perfect for the long weekend get away.

If intrigued you may read more about the book and purchase it online here.

Book review: Spade and Archer

detective literatureLooking for summer reading to pass your time at the beach or pool?  I’d suggest checking your local library or inquire at your favorite bookstore for Joe Gores 2009 novel Spade & ArcherPublished by Knopf the hard cover is 337 pages but it’s a quick read thanks to Gores’ easy writing style and short chapters.

This prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s most famous novel, The Maltese Falcon, tells the story of Sam Spade and his detective agency in San Francisco. I do love mysteries and detective novels and Gores does a great job bringing Hammett’s fictional character, Sam Spade, to life.  In addition to detective literature fans, the book will appeal to those who live in San Francisco since the book traces Spade’s every movement through the city’s streets.

A little about the book that inspired Gores’ novel, The Maltese Falcon is a famous American detective novel penned by Dashiell Hammett in 1930 that was made into a movie by the same name in 1941, which starred Humphrey Bogart.

Book review: The Last Dickens

A few weeks ago I wrote a book review of Pearl’s first novel, The Dante Club.  I was so taken with the story that I picked up a copy of his latest mystery, The Last Dickens.

This historical fiction mystery takes place in 1870 and spans three nations: the colony of India, England and The United States.  While the novel revolves around the Boston publisher, James Osgood, who travels to Charles Dickens home in Kent after learning of the authors untimely death, there are two related back stories that Pearl does a fantastic job weaving into the book. The first is about Charles Dickens much celebrated second visit to America in 1867 and the other is about the Opium trade then regulated by England in their colony of India.

While I preferred The Dante Club, this was still worth the read for those who enjoy this genre of literature. There is plenty of drama and plot twists to keep you glued to the book.

You can read more about the book and the local author, Matthew Pearl, who lives in Cambridge, MA on his website, www.matthewpearl.com.

Paris versus New York

Last weekend when I was over at Frenchie and the Yankee house dinner party I happened to notice this book.  Graphic designer, Vharam Muratyan, playfully pits Paris and New York in a visual homage in page after page of images that offers a bit of whimsy and humor.

I loved this particular comparison. Boston GuyLike? You may buy Paris versus New York on Amazon, here.

Book review: The Absolutist

John BoyneStarting July 10, 2012 Other Press will be publishing The Absolutist, a novel by John Boyne. The book is worth putting on your summer reading list and a story I won’t soon forget.

The story opens in England in 1919 and revolves around Tristan Sadler a twenty-one year old who has seen more adversity and tragedy than anyone his age should know.  His suffering (both physical and emotional) is touchingly told by Boyne who teases out a story about Tristan coming to terms with both who he is and the horrors he’s survived after serving on the front lines in The Great War.

The first pages of the book start with Tristan traveling to deliver personal letters to the sister of a fallen comrade who lives in Norwich.  Really two stories unfold in this book;  Tristan’s time in Norwich with Will Bancroft’s sister as well as his memories as a 17 year old kid enlisting, training and finally on the front lines in World War I.

The intensity of Tristan’s feelings for his comrade, Bancroft, become more apparent as the story unfolds, but Boyne does a great job of weaving Tristan’s emotions into a larger story which makes his suffering all the more human. I’m not normally a fan of war stories but Boyne’s easy to read writing style drew me in and made it difficult to put the book down, and I think you’ll feel the same. Readers will also appreciate how far the LGBT community has advanced over the past century.

Reserve a copy on Amazon today