Tag Archives: sexuality

Nothing to Lose – Clare Lydon

dreaming of books 9

Rather than a full book review, in these posts, I simply jot down a few lines on books I’ve enjoyed.

Nothing to Lose by Clare Lydon

Nothing to Lose by Clare Lydon

While lesbian romance is not my usual fare, I am pleased I made an exception for this heart-warming novel. And this was the adjective that kept coming back to me as I read: heart-warming. It is a novel about all the best things in local communities; it celebrates the humanity, compassion and solidarity that are dredged up out of even the stoniest hearts when disaster strikes. Truly comfort food for the soul.

Scarlet (yes, after O’Hara), burnt once too often, has now closed her heart to love and chiselled herself a survival existence in a basement flat in a small town. But when the rain comes down and leaves her world underwater, finally the floodgates must be opened. She takes shelter with Joy, “local mayor and sunshine specialist”, who helps her see that life can indeed return after the deluge. As a gay man (for whom sex is the bit before you ask someone’s name), I found the age it took for these two to get together both excruciating and tantalising. However, when they finally do, not only are they consummating their relationship, but reaffirming their links to the family and friends around them. Their relationship becomes a celebration of community.

Spoiler: as it says on the tin, this is lesbian romance, so there are a couple of raunchy, blow-by-blow, no-holds-barred yet elegantly rendered, girl-on-girl action scenes which, had I been of the right sex and persuasion, I would have found incredibly hot. In the event, I was able to skip nimbly forward with my modesty intact, but if this what you came for, you will receive full satisfaction.

Above all, it is a tale of love between two strong and honest women, both very different yet who each have a lifetime of experience to offer the other and, together, two lifetimes to do it in. This book does what a romance is supposed to: it leaves you feeling fabulous!

Get it here.


Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas

dreaming of books 5

Rather than a full book review, in these posts, I simply jot down a few lines on books I’ve enjoyed.

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Uncompromising obsession and its consequences

I first picked this book up in my local bookshop and read the opening paragraphs without purchasing it. They left me with a rankling desire to know how the book develops. Once I finally bought it, I devoured it in hours rather than days. It is truly one of the un-put-down-ables.

Like Christos Tsiolkas’s first book, Loaded, Barracuda is a compulsive, emotional read, told with enormous sensitivity and passion. It occupies the same shelf in my mental library as Jamie O’Neill’s At Swim, Two Boys, Agustin Gomez-Arcos’ The Carnivorous Lamb and Yukio Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask. Like these works, it is not so much a “gay” novel as an exploration of humanity – in this case, the probing of one young man’s uncompromising obsession and the consequences of this on his own life and the lives of those around him. It explores the dynamics of competition with unflinching honesty, and carefully documents the protagonist’s journey through hell and his ensuing catharsis in its most primal expression.

Definitely the best book I read in the year.

Available from Amazon


One thousand entrants in Goodreads giveaway – Winners announced!

Congratulations to everybody who entered this one-month giveaway on Goodreads. The competition to give away ten signed copies of Celia’s Room plus an original bookmark was open to Goodreads members from the US, UK, Canada, Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand. It is now closed, having attracted over one thousand entrants (1056 to be exact)!

Goodreads have notified me of the winners and I will be sending their copies out in the next few days. If you would like to stay informed about further giveaways, news and blog posts, you can sign up for email notification using the mailing list widget to the right. I promise not to divulge your email address to any third parties and only to contact you with upcoming book news, never more often than once a month.

If you would like to share your thoughts and comments about Celia’s Room, you can join in the open discussion here, or post your own independent review on Goodreads. I will be posting discussion topics in the next month.

The winners are: Nuria Costa, from Reus, in Catalonia, north-eastern Spain (close to the character Joaquim’s village); Davin Dmitruk-Cook, from Ontario, Canada; and from the United States, Lindsay Durflinger, Anthony Festa, Marisa Gist, Jenna Osborne, David Knepler, Kelli Kapp, Etta Wagner and Maggie Horie. Congratulations to you all. I do hope you enjoy reading Celia’s Room.


“Celia’s Room” FREE download 3 days only!!!

Barcelona, the night, love, angst and bloodshed… the perfect Christmas gift!

I’ve taken the plunge! Celia’s Room will be available to download FREE for 3 days only: Fri 14 – Sun 16 Dec. (US Pacific Standard Time)*. Download here (world): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007OXDC7O or here (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007OXDC7O. Or you can borrow Celia’s Room for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Read more and see the Celia’s Room book trailer here: http://www.poblesecbooks.com

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* This free promotion will start at approximately 12:00 AM on 14 Dec. US Pacific Standard Time and end at approximately 11:59 PM on Sun 16 Dec. PST.


The Zeitgeist of Barcelona

Reviewer Francis Barret has awarded four out of five stars to the novel Celia’s Room in a recent Goodreads review. I reprint it below in its entirety.

Nothing is quite as it seems. This book rejoices in ambiguity and ambivalence, successfully capturing the zeitgeist of Barcelona in the period when the optimism and openness precipitated by the restoration of democracy in Spain was fading as the ETA terrorist campaign continued to take lives, political corruption was exposed by the uncensored media, and the city began to undergo massive redevelopment for the Olympic Games of 1992.

Set mainly in the medieval Ciutat Vella (Old City), occasionally moving out to Camp Nou and the leafier uptown districts, the story unfolds through events narrated by two young men with very different backgrounds, perspectives and prospects. Both are engulfed by a nocturnal social milieu that will be immediately recognisable to anyone who experienced the last days of the notorious Barrio Chino before swathes of it were demolished to make way for the antiseptic Rambla del Raval.

Eduardo, a diplomat’s son used to a cosmopolitan life of privilege but traumatised by violent loss, is simultaneously dismissive of and drawn to tawdry “lowlife” decadence, distracting him from his career path. Joaquim, escaping a stultifying rural Catalan background and intent on becoming an artist, is easily entranced by flamboyance, and soon exploited to paint and decorate the interior of an aristocratic but dilapidated old mansion inhabited by a colourful cast of exotic characters with shady sources of income. Of these, the most enigmatic is Celia, a beautiful outsider who remains out of focus until the climax.

While most of the protagonists are recognisable Barcelona “types”, their personalities are not so much stereotypical as archetypal, rendered believable by ordinary human frailties. This is particularly true of Celia, whose mystique is heightened by infrequent but powerful utterances.

The narrators’ depictions of alcohol-driven, drug-fuelled bohemian nights of poetry and song, revolving between bars, after-hours dives and shared flats in the Gothic Quarter, contrast with their personal moments of unease and self-doubt. Misunderstandings amongst the revellers induce mistrust, jealousy, anger and shame. The inaugural house party held in the mansion to celebrate the pagan Vispera de Sant Joan (Midsummer’s Eve) brings these tensions to a sharp explosion of revelations and epiphanies.

The author’s knowledge and love of Barcelona are clear from his vivid descriptions of places, architecture and ambience. Another reviewer (at www.amazon.co.uk) rightly admired the “passages of almost scholarly historic reference and beautiful expositions of particularly poignant works of art that give the plot a rich cultural context”.

There are some lovely turns of phrase, with flashes of poetic imagery, startling similes and curious metaphors. The tone ranges from lightly self-deprecating to deeply philosophical, with some parts written in an almost scientifically disinterested style and others using language so alluring and sensual as to qualify as genuinely erotic, without being pornographic.

Celia’s Room is not a flawless masterpiece, and could have done with some editing. However, this is the author’s first adult novel, and given the theme(s), he can hardly be faulted for beginning in a somewhat fumbling style, increasing in confidence and rhythm as the story unfurls.

As a meditation on sexuality, I found Celia’s Room insightful and thought provoking. Perhaps more importantly, I enjoyed the story a lot, and at times laughed out loud. This intelligent and entertaining book is fun, and definitely well worth reading!


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