REVIEW: The Dreamers

Originally published as The Holy Innocents, Gilbert Adair’s novel was re-released as an updated edition after he had the chance to write the screenplay for the 2003 film, The Dreamers based on his work. I was so happy to get my hands on a copy of the re-released The Dreamers novel and was not disappointed.

This book came on my radar while I was revisiting the history of people running through the Louvre. I was familiar with the film (though I have not seen it save for the running scene) because of my love for actor Michael Pitt, but once I found out it was a book I was determined to get my hands on a copy. The day my copy of The Dreamers arrived, I was over the moon. And then proceeded to read the entire book in a day.

The novel follows twins Isabelle and Theo as they welcome American student Matthew into their tight little circle of obsessive French cinema worship. As their friendship grows, Matthew learns of the debauched relationship between the twins and is welcomed into their way of life. As the three are left to their own devices, secluded alone in the twins’ apartment, they lose all sense of the world around them and the only world that exists is the one inside the flat. Meanwhile, the riots of May ’68 are grasping the nation, creating a huge contrast between the two ways of life.

While I know this book is problematic by the standards of many, it was exactly what I was hoping it would be and was absolutely magical in the way Adair manages to create such an intense relationship and make the isolation of the trio feel natural. The style and flow of the writing was so beautiful and hypnotizing, I absolutely adored it from cover to cover. The Dreamers was exactly what I had hoped it was going to be and it was such a breath of fresh air after struggling through the book I had finished prior to starting this one.

In all honestly, the only part that grated on me was whenever French New Wave director, Jean-Luc Godard, was mentioned. As a film grad, I had to watch Breathless (1960) every damn semester and I hate it so much. Considering this isn’t even an issue with the book (and me mentioning it is literally a joke to any of my fellow grads who feel my pain about that stupid movie), I couldn’t have asked for anything more from this book.

Adair’s books seem to be mostly out of print these days, but I look forward to tracking down his other novels because I am obsessed with his style of writing.

COVER REVEAL: Marauder

I spent the early days of my quarantine season curled up with Bella Di Corte’s first Gangster’s of New York book, Machiavellian, and I adored it.

Coming later this summer is the second book in this series: Marauder! It’s Cash’s turn to be in the spotlight and I’m so excited for this book. I mean, check out how gorgeous he is on the cover!

Available as of August 7th, I can’t wait for the story to continue and congratulate Bella on her success so far! You can learn more about Marauder below:

Synopsis:

He stole my heart out of revenge.

There was one thing I always thought was mine to give: my heart.

I never imagined a marauder would steal it out of vengeance—vengeance that had nothing to do with me. His greatest enemy happened to be the man in love with me, and somehow I became nothing but a pawn. I was no damsel in distress, though. More like an archer, ready to battle.

And my target? The marauder himself.

Cashel “Cash” Kelly.

Kelly might have been as gorgeous as he was ruthless, but he had no idea what I’d do to steal it back. Or better yet, get even.

She was determined to keep what was mine.

They say hearts can’t be stolen unless they’re willing to be. Tell that to the man everyone on the streets called “the marauder.”

Me.

Because by the time I was through, Keely Ryan’s heart would be mine. And my enemy’s? As good as broken. Trouble was, the archer was precise with her aim, and her arrow was pointed at my heart.

Marauder is the second of three books set in the savage world of the Gangsters of New York series. Each book can be read as a standalone, but they are all based in the same world.

Patreon Announcement

Time and again, I have tried to start a Patreon for my writing. I have put a lot of pressure on myself for putting together these huge writing projects that are so far out of what I am able to produce that the idea of a Patreon crashes and burns before it can even begin to take flight.

This time I am determined things will be different.

Thanks to an outpouring of support via Instagram, I have decided to put together an affordable Patreon to share more stories about Gethin and Renoir (the protagonists of my recent short story). The majority of the stories will still be free to read both on my Patreon as well as here on my blog, but the paid tiers include early access, NSFW stories, and the opportunity to commission stories.

I want to do this for fun and for me rather than for the sake of marketing or profiting. I do hope you will consider joining.

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patreon.com/lucienwelsh

 

REVIEW: The Sun Down Motel

One of the books I was incredibly excited about reading earlier this year was Simone St. James’s latest novel, The Sun Down Motel. A mystery novel with a synopsis that had me asking “People or ghosts?”, this was just what I needed to get me out of my reading funk as brought on by my attempt to get through A Little Life.

The story follows a double timeline between Viv in 1982 as she works at a dodgy motel after leaving her home life, and Carly in 2017 as she digs into the past to discover what happened to her long-lost Aunt Viv who went missing thirty-five years earlier. Right away there is tension and suspense to chill your veins and I absolutely loved it from cover to cover.

The way the story jumps around between the timelines is impeccably done as the story unfolds and honestly, I just want to scream about the setup and the characters as both Carly and Viv uncover the mysteries of the Sun Down, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. If you’re also asking “People or ghosts?” about this book in regards to the cause of what’s going on, I’m going to leave you asking.

Forgive me for this short review, but I highly recommend picking up this book.

Move Me at Samothrace

He was a work of art, staring at the Winged Victory of Samothrace where she stood at the top of the stairs. His dark curls hanging in his face just enough to bring out the youth of it as large, grey eyes looked up, mesmerized by the softness of the stone, the movement in the carved fabric. In this space, Renoir was like an ancient patron of Nike, herself.

Gethin came behind him, hands snaking around Renoir’s sharp hips as they pulled the smaller man against him. Ren’s love of art, his fascination with the motion such stillness could create, made Gethin’s heart flutter. To see someone become so completely enraptured when faced with something they loved… It was a beautiful thing. As beautiful as Ren was in that moment. Gethin nuzzled his nose into lush curls and placed a kiss just behind Ren’s ear with a smile. The both of them each had a Bluetooth earbud in, classical music playing so they could feel like they were in their own little world as they walked through the gallery, steps paced with the violins in their ears.

Ren was leaning back against Gethin’s chest, humming softly along with the music and swaying slightly. It gave Gethin an idea, the perfect idea, and it consumed him instantly. Reaching into Ren’s pock to take out his phone, Gethin thumbed through the various playlists until he found what he was looking for. The gentle beat of the drums filled their ears and, as the lyrics began, Renoir turned in Gethin’s arms, a puzzled look on his fine-featured face.

“Dance with me,” Gethin whispered, taking Ren’s hand in one of his own, the other remaining on Ren’s hip.

Renoir’s lips twitched at the sides, a smile before he started the song over again and set his hand on Gethin’s shoulder. As the lyrics began once again, they moved slowly, side to side at first like high school students at prom, before their steps developed into something more akin to choreography. Gethin guided Ren into careful spins, arms extended to set him back before a controlled tensing of the muscles in his shoulder brought Ren safely back into his chest. Neither of them were dancers, just two people who found a guilty pleasure in talent competitions, but that was hardly relevant to two young men in love at the Louvre. They simply allowed the song, the flow of words and drums and the gentle passion of the music’s makeup, to dictate their steps, their hands, their look-but-don’t-touch grace as their faces came close enough to kiss, but neither leaned in to do so. It wasn’t time. Not yet.

If people were watching, neither noticed nor cared. As far as they were concerned, all that existed between Gethin and Renoir was each other and the Irish singer in their ears encouraging them to move.

A proper smile came to Renoir’s lips as the song built, their dance growing faster. A passion took over, a need that brought heat to every point of contact, each step hitting harder as the music came to a climax before growing quiet once again and coming to a tender end. As Renoir crashed into Gethin’s chest for the final time, breathing a little heavier and cheeks a little bit flushed, Gethin placed a kiss to his forehead just between his eyebrows. A small rough of applause pulled them from themselves and the young men smiled as they offered a polite wave to the tourists before continuing, hand-in-hand, through the gallery.

“I think I’m ready to leave,” Ren said, his usually quiet voice sounding smaller in the vast space.

“Okay,” Gethin replied. “Do you want to go home?”

Renoir squeezed Gethin’s hand slightly, leaning against him as they walked. “Not yet.”

“How does getting some lemonade and making out in the courtyard sound?”

“Perfect,” Ren answered, a smile on his lips as he placed a kiss to Gethin’s jawline. “That sounds perfect.”


This story is dedicated to the future Mr. Welsh who will tolerate my undying love of art galleries, and to Hozier, whose song “Movement” was the main inspiration.

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REVIEW: A Little Life [ part one* ]

This month I decided to tackle one of the bigger books on my shelves. At 800-ish pages, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life seemed like what I wanted. Contemporary, set in New York, I heard it was gay and came highly recommended by someone I was close to.

But then I got 400-ish pages in and was in such a horrible mental state because of it, it’s not even funny. This is not a fun book. If anything, it’s a horrible book. So to start off this review, let’s get to the list of trigger/content warnings, shall we?

This book contains:

  • child abuse
  • sexual assault of a child
  • child abandonment (a baby literally in a dumpster)
  • child death
  • sexual assault
  • domestic abuse (that has the potential to lead to a possible murder)
  • gross dismissal of chronic pain
  • gaslighting
  • manipulation
  • graphic depictions of self-harm
  • suicidal ideation with mild intent
  • drug abuse

And that’s just the part of the book that I managed to get through.

As someone who is constantly battled chronic depression, this book actively made me want to jump in front of a train. Things only get worse and worse as the story progresses, even when you think things might turn around, the punch in the stomach is only a few paragraphs down the page.

The story itself follows four friends – JB, Jude, Willem, and Malcolm – in New York as they navigate their lives as artists, actors, lawyers, architects. Moving from post-college life into the real world is a struggle as they all fight for dream jobs with terrible pay and discover routes to where they feel their purpose is. Bouncing around in time, the narrative goes over the histories of each of them, talking about their privileged to not-so-privileged to terrible lives before they met each other.

The sad thing about this book is that all of the friends are incredibly likeable, even when they’re making asses of themselves (cough, JB, cough cough). Their histories really make you want to keep reading and find out what happened to them just as much as wanting to know where they’re all headed. It’s so beautifully prose-y and I absolutely adore the way with words that Yanagihara has, but I just couldn’t continue after the half-way mark of this book.

But this book very quickly reached torture porn levels of terrible as one of the characters gets sucked into a beyond incredibly abusive relationship. The character in question doesn’t believe he deserves a truly rewarding relationship and allows the most gruesome things to happen to him. After something of a “cliffhanger” of a chapter at what I hope was the climax of the abuse, I had to stop reading. I couldn’t take it anymore. A Little Life is literally like walking down stairs coated in broken glass barefoot into the vast depths of hell with no end or light or hope in sight.

This is not a book to read if you have any kind of major depressive issues.

I would not recommend this book to a single human being.

Ever.


* I’ve marked this as “part one” in case I do decide to go back to this book at a later date in order to try and finish it

 

REVIEW: And The Hippos Were Boiled…

The lives of the Beat Poets are something I’ve been in love with for ages. I just can’t resist the romanticized tragedies of their lives and the film Kill Your Darlings, certainly made me love them even more and tossed me headfirst into reading everything I could find about Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and – of course – Lucien Carr. When I learned that Kerouac and Burroughs wrote a fictional retelling of when Carr killed David Kammerer, I was all over that. I was even more excited when the fancy second-hand book store in my neighbourhood had a first edition copy of that same book.

And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks is the story of Will Dennison and Mike Ryko, the two narrators written by Burroughs and Kerouac respectively, as they go about their bohemian lives in New York and deal with their friends’ troubles. When one of their friends, Phillip Tourian, decides he is desperate to get away from the affections of Ramsay Allen, he and Ryko make a plan to ship out with the war relief and run away to Paris. For those who know what happened in the true story, I don’t need to remind you that this plan doesn’t exactly work out.

What I wanted from this was Kill Your Darlings. I was hoping for more about the murder, more scrambling during the aftermath. I was really hoping for a fun insiders look at what happened even if it was only a functionalization. Sadly what I got was a bunch of drunken youths for 80% of the book and then maybe twenty pages at the end involved the murder.

The writing style was interesting to see because this was written many years before Burroughs and Kerouac truly became famous but published only in more recent years. Knowing how the two authors came to write, it was kind of cool to see how they grew and developed as writers. Honestly though, the best part about this book was the afterword by James W. Grauerholz, who broke down more of the history behind the events of Kammerer’s death. I’m sad to say I was disappointed in it, but I think that might result in being too connected to the original story.

Ginsberg and Carr honestly mean so much to me, so – again – I think that had something to do it with. Either way, I’m happy to have read it and learn even just a little bit more from the afterword.

RELEASE BLITZ: Machiavellian

Happy birthday, Mac!!

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Today is a big day for author Bella Di Corte, as she releases this incredible story to the world! Machiavellian is the first book in the Gangsters of New York trilogy and it is a book that will steal your heart with every chapter. Full of pain, love, and the importance of deep connections, Machiavellian is a story you won’t want to miss out on.

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced digital copy of this book so I could participate in the blog blitz for release day and I honestly didn’t think I would fall so deeply in love with it as I did. When it comes to romance novels, they are pure escapism for me and I grew up laughing at them before I started to appreciate the stories they were telling. My guilty pleasure, above all else, has always been mafia-based romance. I saw the word “mafia” and jumped right on being a part of this blitz, and wow am I so happy I did.

I’ve included a full description of the book at the bottom of this post, but the gist for this top-half review is this: Mariposa has been running away from pain her whole life, always just shy of absolute suffering on the rough streets of New York. Her trauma weighs heavily on her when it comes for asking for help, which means she doesn’t. But when things reach an absolute peak of unbearable, she ends up in the arms of Capo Machiavellio, a reclusive gazillionaire with more than intimidating connections to the dark underbelly of the city. As the two work circles around each other to get to the core of who they are and their connections to each other, there are other wolves on the prowl that threaten to take away all that they have and more.

When I first started reading this story, I went in with My Fair Lady vibes where a rich man takes a rag of a girl and makes her into something beautiful, but the story of Capo and Mari is so far from that. To break them down a little as people, Mari is the kind of take-no-shit woman who has been dealt hand after hand of shitty cards. She has fought for every last thing that she owns – even if she doesn’t own that much – and is determined to survive by the very skin of her fingernails. But despite all she has been through, Mari is not a cutthroat person. She is still kind herself, thinking of others before herself (to a fault in some cases), and still enjoying the little things in her life such as colouring her anxieties away in children’s colouring books. On the other side of the coin, we have Capo. Capo has literally been put through hell at the hands of his own family and it has made him hard, cruel, and vengeful. He is a rough man who had what he wanted torn from his hands and now he is demanding it back, no matter what it takes. However, Capo is not just a ruthless prick. There is warmth deep within him and he fights hard because he wants to protect those who have more warmth than he feels he is capable of himself. He walks a fine line in the jerk category, but is very good about not crossing it.

The way the relationship builds between Capo and Mari, and the way they tug each other back and forth, finding buttons that shouldn’t be pushed but pushing them anyway, is so wonderful. Written in dual first-person perspectives between the two of them lets us into their minds and allows us to see the reasons behind their actions, even the stupid actions. It’s a beautiful back and forth that stole my heart on several steamy occasions.

Ripe with intense mafia action that is edge-of-your-seat stressful, it’s funny that my favourite part of the book is a quiet moment. No spoilers, I promise. As Capo’s family in Italy slowly comes into the picture, we get to meet his grandfather. All of the moments with Nonno are so picturesque and in these current moments of unrest, made me cry. To make things personal for a moment, at this time I am unable to see my 98-year-old grandmother as visitors are not permitted in her retirement home (understandably so). The moments where Mari gets to talk with Nonno and connect with him, on top of the moments where Capo gets to be a little less hard with his grandfather… They both made me miss my grandmother so much while also reminded me to cherish every memory I have with her until I can see her again. In a book that gets pretty rough, pretty quick, the soft moments felt like home and I applaud Bella Di Corte for truly capturing these moments.

I could honestly go on and on and on forever about how I was touched by this book but then, I think, it would almost be shorter to read the book itself. I was honestly not expecting to love this book as much as I do and I’ve been dying to post this review for over a week now. The violence is just as real as the love and if you love mafia stories but are looking for something new and fresh, I implore you to buy this book. Let Capo steal your heart just as much as Mari does. And then send me an email so I can have more people to yell about it with, haha!

I know that Mac is only just on shelves today, but I’m already itching for book two. Let’s hear it for Gangsters of New York!


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Title: Machiavellian (Gangsters of New York, Book 1)
Author: Bella Di Corte
Genre: Mafia Romance
Release Date: May 8, 2020
Hosted by:
Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Add on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51802347-machiavellian
Buy on Amazon:
https://amzn.to/2xZQHvd

Book Description:

Machiavellian is the first of three books set in the savage world of the Gangsters of New York series. 

I hungered to be seen.
There were three things I knew about Capo Macchiavello:
He was gorgeous.
He was reclusive.
He was considered one of New York’s most savage animals.
And he wanted me as his wife. A simple arrangement – you do for me, I do for you. Nothing owed, no expectations. Except for one: never leave.

 Life was never that simple, though. By the age of twenty-one, I was parentless, jobless, and homeless, and I had come to learn the hard way that nothing was ever free. Even kindness comes with strings.

Capo might’ve been the only man to ever see me, but I had made a vow to myself: I would never owe anyone anything. Most of all, the man I called boss.

 I killed to stay hidden.

Mariposa Flores thought she owed nothing to no one, but she owed everything…to me, the ghost the world had once called The Machiavellian Prince of New York. 

About the Author: 

Bella Di Corte has been writing romance for seven years, even longer if you count the stories in her head that were never written down, but she didn’t realize how much she enjoyed writing alphas until recently. Tough guys who walk the line between irredeemable and savable, and the strong women who force them to feel, inspire her to keep putting words to the page.

Apart from writing, Bella loves to spend time with her husband, daughter, and family. She also loves to read, listen to music, cook meals that were passed down to her, and take photographs. She mostly takes pictures of her family (when they let her) and her three crazy dogs.  

Bella grew up in New Orleans, a place she considers a creative playground.

She loves to connect with readers, so don’t hesitate to email her at belladicorte@gmail.com if you’d like to reach out. 

You can also find her:

At Home: http://belladicorte.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BellaDiCorteAuthor
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/belladicorte
VIP Access: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BellaDiCortesRoseRoom

Follow:
On Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2UsKj89
On Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/belladicorte/
On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B085949YN9
On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/belladicorte
On BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/bella-di-corte

2020 TBR: May Edition

HAPPY MAY DAY COMRADES!

It feels like it’s been longer than two months that we’ve all been in lockdown and I know that things have been wreaking havoc on my brain. As a result, I’m hoping to get a little more “academic” in my reads for this month. I’m not holding my breath on finishing these three specifically since I know for April, I only read one of my planned three books, but it’s helping to just set goals all the same.

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Technically, I’m reading Mostly Void, Partially Stars as an audiobook since it’s the script for the first 25 episodes of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and I’m listening to the podcast itself, but it’ll make for something lighter between And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks (a fictional retelling of Lucien Carr murdering David Kammerer by Carr’s friends, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs) and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

I’m also finishing an incredibly fantastic ARC by Bella Di Corte, Machiavellian, and will be hosting my review as part of a small blog tour type release next week, so stay tuned!!

What are you hoping to read this month?

2020 Monthly Wrap-Up: April

We’re at this point again, and I can’t tell if it went by ridiculously fast or not. With the pandemic, it’s been tricky keeping track of passing time. But I did get a decent amount of reading done even if – once again – I didn’t get to all of the books on my planned TBR.

What I did read included:

Of this list, three of them were review copies from NetGalley and I didn’t get to review two of the manga novels in individual posts as I like having an Instagram photo for my reviews and it’s tricky to get nice ones on a Kobo. But I can review them in this post!


HELL’S PARADISE #1 by Kaku Yuji

This was a prime example of a flawless manga.

Having read a lot of first volumes of new series lately, it feels like something is always missing. Either the story is lacking or the emotional connection isn’t there or the artwork is rough. However, this first volume of Hell’s Paradise is perfection. The story had me right from the beginning with how it got right down to the gritty details, and the artwork is so gorgeous I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.

I already can’t wait for volume two and for those who are long time manga readers, this has major Big 3 energy. The potential in this story is huge and I can’t wait to read more.

BEASTARS #1 by Itagaki Paru

I enjoyed this volume well enough. It was a solid introduction volume and the world is solidly fleshed out through both dialogue and narration script so it made for a fast read. As a fan of animal stories like this (or furry stories I guess would be more useful of a term), I enjoyed the way the plot is layering itself and seeing how the different species interact with each other. That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the rough art style but it is definitely a stylistic choice rather than a “quality” thing. I’m unsure if I’ll be continuing the series but I’m glad I gave it a shot. Maybe the anime would be more my speed.


There was another book from NetGalley that I only got half-way through before I had to mark it as DNF, and that was We Are The Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian. I was really excited about the book and the idea of the girls getting back at their gross coach was a theme that I was hyped for. However the six POVs and the fact that the books “technically” takes place over 24 hours – despite repetitive flashbacks that never seem to end – just makes the book feel really jagged. Unimportant things seem drawn out and important things don’t seem to be present. I also found the switching back and forth between past and present tense was distracting. Sadly this book was not for me.

I’ve got fun plans on Instagram for May with my good friend, Sophie (of Outer Rim Reviews), hosting a Star Wars themed photo challenge and I’ve got a blog tour post coming at you next week for a current read. Here’s to May getting a little easier for all of us.