(Audio)Book Review: The Last Romeo [2018]

The Last Romeo by Justin Myers, narrated by Joe Jameson [lgbt+, contemporary, comedy]

‘If only men knew how charming, how attractive it is to admit fault. To say they fudged it, to confess they don’t know something, to be willing to learn. It’s hot. Refreshing. […] It is all powerful. But men must come to this conclusion themselves. They can’t be told. They don’t like to be told.’

The Last Romeo is an utterly charming novel! It follows James on his quest to find love and the problems that come from being too open on the internet. After his breakup with his long term beau Adam, he begins documenting his attempts at navigating the dating world on a blog, vaguely keeping things anonymous but not quite as anonymous as he probably should have been. Along the way, he meets numerous kinds of men. The dates range from the utterly awkward, to the gross and uncomfortable (the description of one man’s bathroom will stay with me for ETERNITY), to the heart-fluttery and love-struck.

James, or ‘Jim’, makes a lot of mistakes in his quest for the perfect man. He gets bitter, even mean in his blog posts, but the other characters are quick to point out his bitchy moments and don’t shy away from telling him when he’s in the wrong. I quite liked the background characters as well, which is hugely important for a story. His friends Bella, Richie and Nicole, and little Hayden are all awesome; Nate, the (closeted) sports star, was adorable and totally stole my heart; then there’s Finn, the writer, and Luca, the blog fan who James gets to know over months of posts. They’re all very well rounded. You get more characters on the dates, but those really stick out in my mind. There’s also James’ rival at work and his dealings with his boss, both of which come up quite often throughout the novel.

I adored Nate especially. PROTECT NATE AT ALL COSTS. But James does spend a good bit of time thinking about his actions and reflecting; he admits his faults and tries to change. There’s good character growth. He acknowledges enjoying the fame his blog eventually brings him and how it negatively impacted his own view of things. He also gets some very sage advice: ‘If you don’t give your critics any meat, they can’t tear it from your bones.

My prediction of the ending changed a few times and I kept wanting him to end up with different characters at different points. Ultimately, I quite liked the ending! If you’re looking for a fun rom-com novel, I totally recommend this one. And I’m definitely adding the author’s new novel The Magnificent Sons to my list.

{signal boost} The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence (2020) | free download!

!!! FREE FOR A WEEK !!!

The author posted on Twitter that his book is free for the next week, and what a fine time to add this one to your library. Go to Chicago University Press to get it. | Goodreads to add.

‘Between 1972 and 1991, approximately 125 African American suspects were tortured by police officers in Chicago. […] Beyond these verified instances, in 2003 journalists documented other episodes of torture before and after these dates, and elsewhere in the city, placing the total number of survivors of police torture in Chicago at roughly two hundred.’

#blacklivesmatter

Films, Poems and Currently Reading Roundup and Review Post [02/06]

JONAS (2018) | lgbt+, french, drama

Jonas [aka I Am Jonas] is a gut-punching, haunting addition to lgbt+ films. The film follows the eponymous main character Jonas after he’s arrested on night out at a club, Boys. One of the police officers knows him from school and they reminisce for a little while in the back of the car. The film then begins flashing from the past to the present and we learn how Jonas ended up so angry and adrift. We see Jonas as a teenager meeting Nathan, a new boy in school. They quickly fall in love and, despite homophobic peers, start a relationship that’s kind, sweet and supported by Nathan’s mother, who also welcomes Jonas into her home.

Back in the present, Jonas follows a man around the city, keeping his distance until he goes into a hotel where the man works. They talk a little. The man doesn’t know him, but it’s clear Jonas knows the man. After setting off the smoke alarm in his room and getting kicked out, the pair start to talk in the lobby. When Jonas is invited to go drinking, he accepts, and we slowly start to learn more.

The story moves along with slow determination. There’s clearly some mystery to be unfolded. This is definitely a heavy kind of drama. Prepare for tears. I do recommend it, though. Félix Maritaud is an incredible actor and I really want to see him in more films! A very well done film over all.

Mr. Right (2015) | action, comedy, romance

Okay, I honestly really liked this one. It’s silly and over the top and implausible and ridiculously good fun, and it is totally worth a watch! The movie follows Martha (played by Anna Kendrick), a risk-seeking woman who’s allergic to good advice and wise decisions, and Francis (played by Sam Rockwell), a notorious killer for hire, apparently (?) and former spy, allegedly (?). Basically, you’re not sure what’s up with Francis for most of the movie, or whether he’s good or bad, but he’s clearly had a lot of training and is good at dancing and has enemies coming out of his ears. Oh, and he wears a clown nose. You’re just not told why for a good bit. You only know that he’s kind to Martha and completely honest with her. (She thinks he’s joking when he talks about his job and how he got his scar.)

I think what I liked so much about this one was how honest and straight to the point all the characters were. There was no side-stepping around topics or slow, predictable build up. It’s kind of like when you’re watching a movie about someone first learning about magic and they keep denying it and you’re like, c’mon, just believe in it already. This movie isn’t fantasy, it’s action, but it’s great that the characters just jump straight to the point.

Martha and Francis are clearly made for each other (and clearly on a frequency that no one in their lives finds normal), but they suit each other. And their chemistry is fantastic. If you like fun, romance and action, I recommend giving this one a shot!

POEMS POEMS POEMS (/◕ヮ◕)/ Seriously, why don’t I read poetry more often? I’ve read so many poems this weekend and I have missed poetry. *chef’s kiss* These poems are all from Uncanny Magazine Issue 21.

‘Found Discarded: A Love Poem, Questionably Addressed’ by Cassandra Khaw was absolutely breath-taking.

The Greeks believed
that a human being
is one entity unseamed at the spine,
opened at the breastbone, parted at
the lips, which is why we spend all our lives pressing
together at the hips, at the fingertips

RIGHT?! How lush. I’m in awe. Read it here.

‘The Fairies in the Crawlspace’ by Beth Cato is so dark and twisted and really, really well done. If you like Grimm’s faerie tales, this one is for you.

the fairies needed no web
to snare the girl

Read it here.

די ירושה by Sonya Taaffe is short and poignant. I really liked it!

History drops a hot potato in your hands,
tells you to walk uphill with it, both ways.

Read it here.

I also quite liked ‘The Sea Never Says It Loves You’ by Fran Wilde. Poems about the sea are some of my favourites.

But the water is warm and the salt spray tastes your lips
And you say yes.

Read it here.

I hope everyone has a lovely week. Stay safe out there, my friends.

Poetry Roundup & Mini Reviews [01/06]

Uncanny Magazine Issue 26

I’m definitely on a poetry kick. There are some seriously wonderful poems published by Uncanny! I do find there’s not enough poetry these days. Which is such a shame. Poetry’s so fantastic. #poetrystan

In this issue, I’ve so far read ‘Steeped in Stars’ by Hal Y. Zhang, which was beautiful. Some great turns of phrase!

but the ghost
of the old stone wall still
streams your meteor shower

Read it for yourself here.

Jennifer Crow’s ‘Red Berries’ was also wonderful.

Tell me what the winter whispered to you

Read it for yourself here.

Cassandra Khaw’s ‘A Letter from One Woman to Another’ was fantastic. This one was probably my favourite from this collection! There’s something very raw and brutal about it.

not love he proffers, but lies
by the dozen, semen-thick and
serpent-slick.

Read it for yourself here.

I also read ‘The Watchword’ by Sonya Taaffe.

a song must outlive its singer
or it dims bitter in a land of milk and honey

That line really struck me. I kept rereading it. Read the whole poem for yourself here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 27

The poems in this are beautiful! I’ve read three so far and I recommend them all! The word play is just lovely.

a city whose heartbeat I’m learning to carry
in a pocket left of a sound like the word home

‘things you don’t say to city witches’ by Cassandra Khaw. Read it here.

I never liked the trick
with the girl and the swords.

‘Other Forms of Conjuring the Moon’ by Chloe N. Clark. Read it here.

aromas of caramel arnibal mingle with
the tangy bite of auburn dust

‘Taho’ by D.A. Xiaolin Spires. Read it here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 28

The fire is her mother’s arms, it is the love
in her mother’s breast, as hot as a train furnace.
If you have that kind of love, not even death
can defeat it.

AMAZING POEM IS AMAZING.

Theodora Goss’s ‘The Cinder Girl Burns Brightly’ is definitely worth a read. It’s Cinderella with a twist. Read it here.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 30

I started with ‘Monsters & Women—Beneath Contempt’ by Roxanna Bennett.

Dismiss reversal of promises & missing curatives,
who notices holes in the old narrative

Read it here.

I really liked all of the poems I read from these issues. It’s reminded me that I ought to take the time to read more poetry. Let alone write more poetry.

Also, aren’t these covers so beautiful?

Anyone have any favourite places to find current poetry? 🙂

Mini Review Roundup [30/05]

I’ve been having trouble with longer fiction novels of late. Being elbow deep in study definitely affects that, as I went through quite a bit non-fiction this week. I do really love reading old newspapers and archives, but I am missing fiction! I combed through two memoirs, this week, though. Both are from the Korean War.

I am really enjoying Days Without End on Audiobook. And Humankind, which is so darn optimistic and upbeat. I totally recommend it given what I’ve listened to so far. Bregman reframes so many moments and shows a different take on the narrative that makes headlines. It’s very hopeful.

mini reviews;

Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer

If you can bring me more such books, I will leave you every scrap of gold I can find.

Oh my goodness, I really liked this one. A little free library becomes a way to correspond with a mysterious, grateful seeker of books. J’adore!

3 a.m. Blues by Joseph Fulkerson

doing the backstroke in the ocean of other’s opinions, navigating the minefield of could’ve and should’ve

This was quite a good collection of poetry, I only wish it were longer!

When Two Swordsmen Meet by Ellen Kushner

It’s a beautiful fight. They each want the other to win. Not so much duel as duet.

Ooooh, this was goooood. Something very lyrical and fanciful about this one. I definitely recommend it. Available here

What’s everyone reading this week? 🙂

Currently Reading [27/05]

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman [nonfiction, philosophy, history] I’m a huge fan of Bregman’s talks and I’ve been meaning to get into his books for a while now. His recent story on the real Lord of the Flies was just wonderful, too. Really looking forward to this one.

Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky [dystopian, science fiction] This is one BIG book! I’m really enjoying the audiobook, but it is 23 hours (!), so it’s gonna take me a while. The descriptions are great so far.

Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation by Imani Perry [nonfiction, feminism, history] The introduction was absolutely mind-blowing! The author relays the story of the novel Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, which was written in 1688 and is apparently one of the first English novels ever written. It’s about the love between the eponymous hero, and Imoinda, his true love. Perry writes: Behn’s bifurcated tales of fortune and misfortune, The Forc’d Marriage and Oroonoko are, in turn, comedic and tragic. They are twin narratives of the development of modern patriarchy. Another part that struck me was the case of Amanda Dickson that Perry highlights. Dickson was a biracial woman in the late 1800s whose white father sought to bestow his fortune upon. Perry writes, But in [Amanda Dickson] we have a record of a life that surely must have been dizzying, anxiety-rendering, and rife with heartache. In that she wasn’t alone; she certainly was a part of a staggering majority: those who failed to be and were failed by the patriarchs in their midst.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry [historical fiction, lgbt+] Not far into this one yet, but so far the main lads Thomas McNulty and John Cole have spent an enjoyable stretch of time working as dancers and enjoying the dresses they get to wear and the dances they have with the men. Lovely prose as well!

Some great covers for these ones, too: