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review 2018-01-21 00:29
Out in May
Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day - Peter Ackroyd

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                One of my closest friends is a gay man who is twenty plus years older than me.  Most days, we take a walk though the local cemetery, The Woodlands (where Eakins and Stockton are buried among others).  Early on in our ritual, we noticed a headstone for a couple, but the couple in this case were both men.  Sadly, it was one of those couple headstones where one partner is still alive, and the other has died years ago.   My friend said that it was likely that the husband had died of AIDS.  When I asked him why, he pointed out the death date and the link to the AIDS epidemic.  Seriously, after a conversation like that, you never look at tombstones the same way.

 

                I found myself thinking about that as I read Peter Ackroyd’s Queer City.

 

                Queer City is another entry into what I call Ackroyd’s London History series (London, The Thames, London Under), and, as the title indicts, follows the history of London’s Queer residents and culture.  Queer here meaning homosexual and trans, which dates further back than you would think.  Ackroyd’s Queer City is a bit close to a chronical history, in a way that the other London books are not, though much of the flow and hither and there is still present.  You are either going to love this poetic style or hate it.

 

                There is a level of almost catty gossip and sly humor to Ackroyd’s non-fiction books.  Even a massive tome that is London doesn’t feel anyway near that long because of his tone.  It engages the reader, moving the book far past a simple history book.  So, we have observations like, “They were a tribe of Ganymedes and he was their Zeus”.

 

                Yet, the book covers so much.  Ackroyd starts during the Pre-Roman/Roman era, detailing even how gladiators weren’t perhaps quite the men we think they were (apparently, they really like perfume).  He then moves to the advent of Christianity and the Anglo -Saxons.  He does discuss not only homosexual men but women as well, noting that society’s view of women was also reflected in how society (not law, but society) viewed homosexual relationships.

 

                Being Ackroyd, he is particularly interesting when discussing literature.  There is a detailed look at Chaucer’s homosexual pilgrims as well as the view of the erotic theatre of Elizabeth’s time (“the codpieces were padded so the cods looked plumper”).

 

                But he also doesn’t hesitate to describe punishment dealt out to those who did not fit the norm.  We learn not only of whippings and beatings, but also of women slicing off a penis of an accused homosexual.  We hear of what happened to two women, one of whom had married the other while disguised as a man.  We learn more about those women who Waters wrote so well about in Tipping the Velvet.  As well as certain Mrs. Bradshaw, who will get approving looks from Disc fans.  We learn about the view of homosexuality and the arrival of AIDS in Britain.  This last section of the book is perhaps the quickest and almost glossed over.  I found myself wondering if this time period was too personal for Ackroyd to comfortably write about, at least in times of his story (Ackroyd’s long term partner Brian Kuhn died of AIDS in the 1990s).

 

                It is this last section of the book that is at once the most hopeful and most touching.  In the same chapter where he discusses the AIDS epidemic, he looks at the legislation of gay marriage as well as the phrase “check our privilege”, and this too made me think about the differences between then and now.  How some younger members of queer culture (or transgender culture) are somewhat dismissive of those that came before.   A trans person was dismissive of older homosexual because of lack of awareness of what that generation had endured.  He was not aware of men and women being unable and even forbidden to attend the sick and death beds of loved ones.  The word Stonewall to this young person meant little more than a Civil War Reference. The student lacked awareness and inability to see beyond or outside his own pain/frame of reference. It is also possible that this young man (his preferred description) had been condensed to by older homosexual/trans population.  One can sense a missed discussion between groups.  It is case like this that Ackroyd seems to be thinking about when he talks about checking privilege.  He doesn’t claim immunity, but he is pushing towards an ability to talk, to discuss, to learn, to be better.  Ackroyd is making a cause of understanding each other, in a way that the city he writes so passionately about seems to understand its residents.

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text 2018-01-18 19:26
4 hours and 17 minutes in
The Fold: A Novel - Peter Clines

I'm having trouble with searches on Booklikes right now, so the best I could do was link this post to another edition of The Fold.

 

"If something went wrong, then it's been going wrong every single time we've used the Door and nobody ever noticed anything."


Someone has died, and now everybody is scrambling to figure out why this has happened now, when the previous hundreds of tests went perfectly fine. In some ways this has been better the second time around than it was the first, although I think I still prefer 14. Certain lines keep jumping out at me.

Olaf and his complaints about the "prank," Arthur and his wedding anniversary, Jamie's explanation of what Johnny does.

(spoiler show)
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review 2018-01-16 14:36
Marital Advice to my Grandson, Joel: How to be a husband your wife won't throw out of the window in the middle of the night. - Peter Davidson

Marital Advice to My Grandson, Joel: How to Be a Husband Your Wife Won't Throw Out of the Window in the Middle of the Night by Peter Davidson
What I like right off the bat is the male perspective about things females flock together to discuss: fashion, wedding planning, etc.
So much helpful advice to keep the marriage alive and on track.
Years of experience are the priceless part of life and so generous of the author to share it.
Hilarious events that occur that had me laughing out loud because they are 100% true! Take heed of the advice in this book, it's true north.
So much down to earth advice no matter if you are a male or female reader. I think females will find this as a book they'd want to gift to a male.
Compromise til you get your way, it takes time and patience like the toilet paper roll. LOL
Brutal at times and it's not sugar coated. Brownie points ROFL.
There are SO many great parts to read about I don't want to spoil them for you, you gotta read them firsthand and you will have tears in your eyes from laughing so hard.
Received this review copy from the author via LinkedIn and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2018-01-16 01:03
The Snow Leopard
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen

DNF.

 

Damn. This book started out so well.

 

However, after only a few pages it seems to have turned into a version of Log from the Sea of Cortez, complete with philosophical and religious musings on the author's own life, his experimenting with different drugs, and his understanding of Buddhism - in none of which I have any interest at all.

 

The parts where Matthiessen describes the natural environment of his trek through Nepal are fascinating. Unfortunately, these are too few and too far between for my enjoyment.

 

I read 85 pages, then skipped to the end. The only sighting of the snow leopard is literally mentioned in the last 3 pages - and he doesn't go into much detail because he wasn't even there. He simply included a very short letter from George Schaller which briefly stated that he did manage to see one in the end (and after Matthiessen had returned home). 

 

I get that there may be some beauty in Matthiessen's writing, his musings, and his dealing with grief after the loss of his wife, but all that esoteric babble just isn't for me, especially not when I expected the book to focus more on the expedition and the wildlife.  

 

Next!

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review 2018-01-15 23:10
Light It Up by Nick Petrie
Light It Up (A Peter Ash Novel) - Nick Petrie

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book! This book reads like an action movie in a lot of ways. It was exciting and there are so many adrenaline filled scenes that keep the excitement level high. This is the third book in the Peter Ash series but I do think that it could be read as a stand alone since it tells its own story. I had such a good time reading this book and found it to be quite the page turner.

Peter is such a great character. I almost think that he can do anything after reading this book. He is smart. resourceful, and incredibly tough. I am not sure that a real man could do all the things that Peter was able to accomplish in this book but I don't care since it was such a fun read. Peter must deal PTSD as a result of some of the things he has seen and done as a Marine. For Peter, this manifests as claustrophobia and he cannot stand to be inside for long which adds an interesting twist to things. Most of this book happens outside so it didn't come up quite as much in this installment but there were a few scenes where it did come up.

The mystery in this book was interesting and fairly complex. I can tell you that I had no idea how things would work out. There were some people that I didn't trust as much as others but I had no idea how they might be involved. This was a multiple layered mystery and as soon as one puzzle was closer to being solved another would begin. The legal cannabis industry was a big part of the story which thought provoking. It was really nice to read such an original and unique story.

I enjoyed seeing a couple of characters from previous books play a role in this story. Lewis has been around since the first book and he is back for some action again in this story. I really enjoy seeing Lewis and Peter work together and think that they make a really great team. June played a big role in the last book and plays a key role once again. I really liked seeing the development in their relationship in this installment. There were some new characters in this book as well. The chapters that were from told from the point of view of the culprits were my least favorite parts of the book simply because I didn't enjoy spending time in their heads.

I would recommend this book to others. This is a great installment to an exciting and action packed series. Once I got started reading, I didn't want to set the book aside because I had to know how Peter would save the day. I can't wait to read more from Nick Petrie!

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group - Putnam G.P. Putnam's Sons via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was a pretty exciting read. Lots of action and great characters. Peter proves himself to be very resourceful and tough in this story. The mystery was pretty complex and kept me guessing. The fact that the mystery is connected to the business of selling cannabis legally made everything a little more interesting since it is a topic that I have really given no thought to before.

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