Review of Pansies by Alexis Hall

Pansies (Spires Universe)Pansies by Alexis Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewing an Alexis Hall book is always difficult. Mainly because the man’s writing is so poetically beautiful that you hardly feel worthy of writing anything after having read it. The prose is flowery and beautiful and probably not for everyone, but it speaks to me. And so does the stories behind the words. Pansies is no exception.

Alfie Bell is a small town Northern boy, who have moved up in the world. He is working as a banker in London, living in a penthouse in Canary Wharf, driving a sports car, visiting the newest and hippest clubs and bars with his friends and earning loads of money. He apparently has it all.
Unfortunately Alfie is in no way comfortable in his life or in his own skin. He is finally out, after a lifetime in denial.

A trip home to South Shields for his best friends wedding ends in a chance encounter and hook up with a man Alfie doesn’t recognise until after the deed. Fen was the slight effeminate boy whom Alfie used to bully mercilessly growing up and now he is suddenly everything Alfie wants.

This slow moving romance is beautiful and the characters are complex real people with all their flaws, insecurities and cowardice. This is mainly Alfie’s story. Alfie who has to find out who he really is, now that he is Alfie Bell, gay. And not Alfie Bell, one of the lads.

I read this is one sitting, so even if it is slow moving and quite long, it still kept me engaged all the way through. In pacing it probably feels more like ‘Waiting for the flood’ than the other Spires stories, there is not a lot of action per se, but there is loads of character growth and relationship growth. And once again Alexis Hall explores the cultural diversity in modern Britain, dialects and all, which I always find fascinating.

To summarise: this is another achingly beautiful romance from Alexis Hall, which I believe will once again be a love it or hate it type of book. I loved it!

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Review of One of Those Days by Zathyn Priest

One of Those DaysOne of Those Days by Zathyn Priest

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful story of high school tormentor turned love interest. My only complaint was that it wasn’t longer. Would have loved a drawn out enemies to lovers story between these two. Yummy. But putting aside the fact that this is only 25 pages long, you do feel like you have read a complete story when you finished.

Beautiful writing and storytelling, really made me want to buy everything by this author. 4.5 stars

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Review of Zach’s Secret by Matthew W. Grant

Zach's SecretZach’s Secret by Matthew W. Grant

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book made me sad: there was so much potential there, and none of it was realised!

This should have been fantastic:
Nerdy high school boy struggling with his sexuality
New transfer kid, star basketball player, who’s gay
First boyfriend
Evil school principal
Teacher with dead gay son
Religious best friends
Bullying jocks
Demonstrations and court cases

Come on! All the ingredients were there for a fantastic dramatic and angsty coming out story! And instead we got treated to the longest most boring rendition of a senior year, ever! Seriously! This story is told in the first person and yet Zach feels NOTHING! Not once do we get treated to emotions or his feelings about things. Nothing! So sad! So much potential wasted.

The evil principal story was a bit OTT, but I could have lived with that, if we had had the teen drama at the foreground. But we didn’t. Things happen and Zach doesn’t react to anything, he just tells us that it’s happening. Also I never felt that he was in any way shape or form actually attracted to Key? I know this was YA, but still… they were 18 years old. A bit of sexual tension or at least a kiss could surely have made it on page without insulting anyone’s sensibilities?

The writing started out ok, but became clunkier along the way. And the few trips outside Zach’s head felt completely off, as they were still narrated as “My mother did this and that…” even if Zach wasn’t actually there to witness it…

So yeah, very disappointing, even if the premise was good. I listened to the audio version, which might have made it even worse, as the narrator chosen was a very mature male voice, which was all wrong for the 1st person narrative of a teenage boy.

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