Change, Reading, and Recommended Reads… ~ Sunday Spotlight by Lirtle Gratfton

To say that my life has changed over the last twelve months or so would be a rather healthy understatement. My brother got married and I gained another kick ass sis-in-law. Well, I call her my sister. My position at work was expanded, a situation that definitely fits the category of being both a blessing and a curse. Very unexpectedly, I lost a parent at the beginning of this year. From this, my heart is still trying to heal along a rocky, memory and love-filled road.

Change also came in the form of discovering this LGBTQ world of fiction in which I count myself so fortunate to now be an involved reader. Yes, involved. Whether you’re politically minded or not, whether you count yourself as an activist, or make your statement by letting your every-day life be an example, we’re all involved at one level or another in trying to make this world of ours a better place for everyone. For equality. Within this community, I’ve encountered fellow readers that have become friends, discovered so many talented and new-to-me authors and expanded my own ways of demonstrating my unwavering belief that equality is a worthy struggle that must result in actual change.

Change also came in being asked to become a reviewer here on Prism Book Alliance. Reading has always been an important and <i>fun</i> part of my life, from early childhood on. Thankfully, both of my parents were avid readers, people who felt it important to be knowledgeable about the world around us, real and imagined. I can without doubt thank them for reinforcing what was already a part of me: that everyone has a right to equal opportunity. Anything less than that is unacceptable. Often times, books, the written word, are a piece of the animation pie when trying to make this a reality.

Now that I’ve gotten all serious on yo’ asses, let’s make a turn to that fun part I mentioned. I love reading these books!!! Specifically, for me, those that fall under that very large umbrella of “M/M Romance”. Which, to me, is rather vague and sometimes works to pigeonhole some stories that currently find residence under that wide and varied umbrella of a genre: incredible sci-fi, family fiction, fantastically creepy horror, meaty historical, exploration of nature and religion, fantasy, contemporary struggles and many, many more. By pigeonhole I speak specifically of the “romance” part of this equation. In fact, the most recent book I read in this wide open genre could barely be called a romance, but was more of an example of modern-day people trying to deal with their lives and the unexpected difficulties we all face. Ok, we all know this particular subject can morph into a much larger discussion, but it does lead to and is a part of what I do want to talk about: why and how I read and review the stories that I do.

This same umbrella that can sometimes confound by the very nature of its large landscape also affords a great joy by way of opportunity: to begin by reading about young space jockeys trying to survive an invasion, then jumping right into the 1820’s Scottish highlands, while finally landing somewhere in the middle of present-day Chicago with all of its troubles – I find it difficult to think of another ‘realm’ of fiction that can offer all of this in essentially one place. <i>And</i>, more importantly and <i>definitely</i> more fun, the ability to discuss these stories with others who share the interest or want to hear about it. How cool is that?!

 

When it comes to stepping beyond reading and then wanting to review a story, I try to start the read in the same place each time: I go in with little to no expectation (read as pre-judgment) about the story, the writing style I may encounter, or the author themselves. This creates an initial bonus or buffer when it comes to my reactions and resulting opinions about any one story. I start from a place of benefit as opposed to being on the lookout for detractions. This is different than when deciding to start a book in the first place. Like anyone else, several factors go into that decision. This refers to when the decision is already made and I’m diving in.

 

Diving. Sinking. Floating. Lazing. Grazing. Loving. Gritting. There are so many fantastic ways by which I find myself getting sucked into a story. If that happens?  I’m going to grab a hold and hang on for the ride, whatever that may be. If I get a good story? I’ll enjoy hating on a character because they’re a jerk. I mean, there are jerks in the world. If I get a good story? I’ll likely buy into whatever world’s been built in which the characters are basing their reactions, their emotions – mine will follow suit. If I get a good story? Gemmy word-play no longer becomes an example of what could have been done throughout the entire story and realistic imperfections no longer become lamentable. Instead, it’s a veritable goldmine of the fantastical. If I get a good story, it makes me want to shout from rooftops and I’ll do my best to translate that into a review in the hopes that it is helpful.

 

This leads to one last point: ratings. A double-edged sword if there ever was one in this world of reviews. Annoyingly and yet sometimes helpful. For me, even a book I may rate five stars is not perfect. Nothing is perfect. But this speaks to that ability to skate past those imperfections if everything else that makes a story great is humming, thrumming and rolling along. I may say something like “I could not find fault”, but that is in relation to those very ingredients that create an unforgettable literary meal. Keeping this in mind, my hope is and goal would be to communicate as best as I can my reactions to any story in the form of a review that may be helpful in deciding if it’s something you’d like to read.

To hopefully bring this all to a point, our awesome leader here at PBA has recently decided to enact “Recommended Reads” from reviewers who submit candidates each month. Just like the joyful, arduous, fun and challenging act of reviewing, so goes the making of those recommendations.

Given all that I’ve shared here today, and if you so choose, I’d love to hear what you think, if this helps in deciphering my reviews and the thoughts contained within, and deciding whether to take a chance one of our recommended reads. ☺

~ Lirtle Grafton aka AD aka Honeybunch aka One who loves to read ~

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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